Sep 10, 2010

Homeland – Do or Die

Mr. X loves fantasy and I love science fiction. Is it a match made in Heaven or are we doomed to never see eye to eye on fictional choices? The one advantage is that science fiction and fantasy are most commonly shelved together. Mr. X and I are able to stand together in front of the shelves and mock each other's book selections.


It took me years and years to realize I LIKED science fiction. People are always trying to convince me that it is just a matter of time before I embrace fantasy the same way. To test this I decided to ask Mr. X for his favorite fantasy book of all time. He replied with Homeland  almost immediately. So the pressure was on. One of my biggest problems with fantasy is the language used. The made up cities and characters and races can be hard to muddle through. I decided my best chance at enjoying Homeland was via audiobook.


There is a secret you need to know about Mr. X, he is a bit of a nerd nugget. The world of Homeland is the city of the Dark Elves, also known as the Drow. Drizzt’s homeland, the cite of his birth, is called Menzobarrenzan. The interesting thing about this city is that it is not a pure creation for this book, but was originally created to be part of the Dungeons and Dragons game. D&D was part of Mr. X’s interest in the Forgotten Realms series.


Forgotten Realms is the novelizations of the worlds involved in the game Dungeons and Dragons. While you would expect that these books, being an off shoot of another franchise, would not be very good, But many of them are and Homeland in particular has an amazing amount of depth.


R. A. Salvatore has been writing books for the Forgotten Realms series for a long time. His first novel, The Crystal Shard, was published in 1988. It was the second book in the Forgotten Realms series. (The series is written by various authors.) It was the first novel to feature Drizzt.


“That's the thing about fictional characters: they have a way of becoming real-- and not just real to the people reading about them, but surprisingly multidimensional to the author as well. I come to love, hate, admire, or despise the characters I create in my books. For that to happen, each must act consistently within the framework of his or her experiences, whether those events appear in the books or not.“ 
– R. A. Salvatore on writing more about Drizzt


I felt an immense obligation to not only finish, but enjoy this book.  I was in the midst of a budding relationship. What if when push came to shove Mr. X loved Mr. Salvatore more than he loved me? What if my unenjoyment of the book equated me to uncultured swine in his book?


Well, I needed not worry. It was not very far into the book that I started to feel connected and engrossed by it. The story had such depth. There characters had such interesting motivations.  But it is the horrible violent city of Menzobarrenzan that really captured me. It appealed to my dystopian longings. And then Drizzt, fighting against this dystopia, to seemingly no effect. It was great.


I also found that audiobooks are a great way to deal with my fantasy block. I don’t have to struggle over all the strange worlds and I can close my eyes and become a part of this world. I am not completely sold on all fantasy, but books like Homeland I definitely want to read more! Does anyone have any recommendations of similar type books? I am planning on reading more books in this series. In fact, I was actually waiting until this review was finished to get started on that. But this book has left me craving even MORE. So please leave me some recommendations in the comments.

Sep 9, 2010

Who Doesn’t Love a Contest?

Today I am going to highlight two contests for you from two great blogs. Twitter is a great resource for finding out about all the great contests going on around the blogosphere. I love keeping up on all things bookish through tweets. I actually never thought I would be publically proclaiming my love for Twitter, because those people have always REALLY ANNOYED ME. And now I get the pleasure of annoying myself.


First up we have a fun little contest from Padfoot and Prongs. This one is more FUN based than prized based (at least for the moment) but since this will be a weekly feature, make sure you keep checking in on the fun.


We gals over at GoodBooksInc [aka Padfoot and Prongs] have thought up a fun new literary game for us all to play together and we hope that every single one of you will get the urge to participate.


You ready to feel the UUUUUUURGE? Here’s how it works.

So lets break it down. Essentially this new feature will be a weekly 'literary' caption contest participated in by you all and refereed by us. Each week we will provide you all with a fun and interesting photo which is in dire need of some sort of caption.


They want you to be CLEVER and LITERARY. Do you think you have it in you?

Go to their blog NOW and see the image you have to caption.

Be funny. Be witty. Be you.

Okay, just pretend you are those things, I won’t tell.



Next up we have a really nice interview and contest on Literary Escapism. I really like Ann Aguirre and I think she is making a great little niche for herself in the science fiction world.


Please check out the contest post for all the details, but in the meantime start to ponder the following question:

What is it about science fiction that draws you in?

I honestly can’t wait to read some of these answers.

What’s up for grabs:

Ann has graciously offered to give away a copy of Skin Game and a Sirantha Jax novel (winners choice) to two lucky readers.

I hope you have fun with both of these contests and follow these tweeps on twitter.

@GoodBooksInc and @LiteraryEscapis


It’s true! I finally finished a book I was reading. Mr. X was determined that I finish Mockingjay tonight so I couldn’t  disappoint. Sure, it’s 1:30 in the morning. I should be fast asleep and not typing up some celebration post. But things don’t really happen rationally around here.


First of all, I am happy that the first book I finished after this long dry spell was connected to dystopia. Although this is my passion, I am starting to worry that maybe I am getting a little burnt out on it. There are so many things racing though my head, most of which are not even relevant and many directly connected with the joy of being over that hurdle. I really felt like there was a road block up there for me for some reason.


My feelings are really mixed about Mockingjay and I am trying to figure out the source of this confusion. Is it the genre? The expectation?  I am still not even sure. When I read Hunger Games I had no idea what it was about. It took me completely by surprise. Suzanne Collins complete transported me into this amazingly horrible world. I saw this world fully fleshed out with a strong female character striving for something of so much value. It was paced perfectly and I loved that the character had appeal to both male and female readers.  The haunting concept of the Hunger Games is as genius as it is terrifying and Collins took us deep into the psychology of that world.


But for me when I closed the back cover on Hunger Games, that is where the creativity ended.  There was a million ways for the story to go and I think I liked pondering them more than reading one that definitely was not in line with my picture of Katniss’s future.


There was so much of Catching Fire that I didn’t enjoy. I felt so refreshed when I read Hunger Games dealing with a new situation and a fresh character. I didn’t like how Catching Fire played up the love triangle issue, which I thought should play a minor role in the story telling. And it didn’t present me with anything new. There were no new and appalling details about this dystopian world that I could really sink my teeth into. Also, as most people know Catching Fire ended with a serious cliff hanger.  Maybe I just wanted paying enough attention but I never could get grounded in the story of Catching Fire. I found it confusing and anytime I thought I had my footing the rug was pulled out from under me.


So in a way I guess I kind of wanted to Mockingjay to start in the same breath Catching Fire stopped in. And it didn’t and there was a lot of back explaining. The book was just starting and I was already sick of it. Of the lack of drama. The  lackluster reports of what had happened. Again I am lacking little juicy tidbits of world building. There are a few nibbles but they are mostly tough sinew. The book is a bit of a roller coaster ride. That would be a good thing if I was 5 and riding on one of those train “coaster” kiddy rides. I just didn’t connect with very much sincerity in this book.


Really, I could go on and on about why I didn’t LOVE Mockingjay and maybe in another post I still will. But  want you to know I didn’t hate it. It was a decent ending to a trilogy excluding the horrible epilogue, which I guess I am just not into. Finishing a book can be at time about day dreaming what will come next. The end of this book robbed me of that experience a little bit. But as I was saying, I didn’t hate the book and I would recommend that people read the whole series. It is enjoyable, if dark and has some food for thought. Smaller portions as the series moves on, but I think this series would be particularly good to co read parent with child and discuss the world and the characters.


Without a doubt I will always highly recommend Hunger Games and leave judgment on the rest of the series to those who continue on with it.  It disappoints me a little bit that the end of the series didn’t ignite in me as much as I had hoped. But, in case you missed it. I FINISHED A BOOK. And that is what this post is really supposed to be about. Every time I try to wrap it up and bring it back to the subject at hand my critical side takes over and starts spurting out issues I had with the book. (Kind of like my first date with Mr. X and the latest Alice movie.)


Now it is my job to keep the trend going. What next? Well I am still in the middle of quite a few books. I have to finish at least one more before I can start another book. I am working on Grass on audio and I am so close to being finished I thought it would be the first book I finished reading in who knows how long. I am also in the middle of a handful dystopias and a great little humorous YA?MG novel called Framed. But really I have no idea where I am going next. The wind blows and my inclination changes.


In the meantime make sure to tell your friends I finished a book. Give them a link and encourage them to come and celebrate with me. Ready? OK!

Sep 6, 2010

Why Can’t I Finish a Book? Part 2

UPDATE FROM PART 1: Nope, didn’t finish a book yet, here’s hoping. But I did find my copy of Never Let Me Go so here’s hoping I get it finished soon.


About a year ago I was taking a looking at female science fiction authors. And really there are not as many as you might think. You can probably think of a few off of the top of your head, but when you try and push further you find that is all you got. At least that is what happened to me. But it was in my search for great science fiction by a female author that the name Sheri Tepper came up. There seemed to be  some dispute about the quality of her writing, but most agreed that Grass was a masterpiece. And so far it has not disappointed.


Grass is the book I am the closest to being finished with. And with my inability to finish any books lately this is quite encouraging.


I am working on this book through audio and though the narration is good, I would not recommend listening to the audio version of the book.


The world and characters of Grass are quite dense and it was extremely difficult for me to keep track of everyone and everything. I still feel that even though I am being attentive I am really missing a lot of the story. I definitely want to read this in paper some day but I am also really looking forward to that because the story has so much depth.


It is my hope in just a day or two more this book will be on my completed list! It will be a big triumph for me. But will another book get finished first?


Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron is a book that has been on the top of my wishlist for a WHILE. It’s young adult, it’s dystopian, it has an amazing cover. And people keep recommending it to me. I have thought about buying it a few times or taking it out of the library, but the timing has never been right.


Last week I decided I couldn’t wait the anticipation and decided to try it on audio. I thought this would be a profound moment for me. But, it ended up being a big mistake. Once again the timing wasn’t right.


I totally could not connect with the audio at all. i found it confusing even after trying to listen to it 2 or 3 times over. Also certain audiobooks are just easier to zone out and this one just happens to be one of those.


I really want to read this again so I am thinking that if I ever get another book finished I may try this one in paper or on the Nook.



Speaking of the Nook, on Mocckingjay release day we could not find a single copy in my town. So Mr. X got me the ebook and handed over the Nook for a few days.

But again things got unfortunate when Mr. X had to go home and I hadn’t finished Mockingjay yet. It will be interesting to see how this series ends, but for some reason I am not that into it. Over the past weekend I went to Mr. X’s house and got close to finishing the book but again had to turn the Nook over to its rightful owner on my way out the door.


Are there any books that you are struggling to finish? If a book actually gets finished I am going to have one heck of a celebration. Hope you will come back and celebrate with me.

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