Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Lately my tastes have been straying away from young adult fiction, mainly YA fiction that's geared more towards adults than kids (which I think ruins it most of the time), but this movie looks pretty good, see here, so I decided to listen to the book first before I take my kids in February.

My review will be short.
It was okay.
But as a side note, I probably shouldn't have listened to it, as I was not a fan of the reader. His voices seemed too cartoonish, like they were straight off of Sesame Street, and kept reminding me this book was for kids (you know like Trix), and I think I'd have liked it better if I'd have just read it and invented my own voices in my head. I plan on reading the rest of the series eventually and see if my little theory holds true.

Kudos to Riordan for keeping the content in this one for young adults. Imagine a young adult book that is actually for young adults! Perish the thought!

As for content, just think Harry Potter/Greek mythology, but I like mythology (I am a huge Clash of the Titans fan after all), and even though it's not half as good as Harry Potter as far as predictability and character development goes, I will give it full marks for excitement. It was good fun. Any kid would like this book. And the movie looks even better. Maybe we'll even see it on the first weekend. For me that's really saying something.
3 stars.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Rose of York - Love and War by Sandra Worth

The more I read about the early monarchs, the more I'm convinced - a lot of them were loony birds. They were paranoid (probably because most of their extended families wanted them dead), often delusional, unable to form stable relationships after being raised by multiple people in multiple places usually amongst a war for dominance, forcing them to grow up too fast. I wonder, can they be blamed for their erratic behavior after such odd and bizarre upbringings?

Richard the III is no different from these. I've seen how he's depicted in Shakespeare's plays. His hump, his paranoid and murdering behaviors are legendary. Author Sandra Worth's depiction here argues that may not be true about him. Was Shakespeare's view skewed by the reigning, rival Tudors? He may have been handsome. A shy product of his violent environment. In love with a beautiful woman as depicted on the cover of her book, Love and War.

I'm a big fan of John Waterhouse paintings. A lot of authors use them for covers. In fact when I notice a Waterhouse on the front, I have a hard time resisting a book's contents, regardless of how good it may or may not be (the one below was on Mistress Shakespeare.)

His paintings of mainly women are so lovely and filled with emotion. He had a way with catching just the right expression, the slope of a shoulder, how their hands lay atop each other. And I've always wondered who the woman was he painted the most. Her face and red hair. Her absolutely flawless pink skin. Talk about giving me a complex!

While I thought the cover of this one beautiful, I had a hard time stomaching it as Richard III sitting there with his lovely Anne Warwick, the woman it took him nearly a decade to marry amidst the war between the Roses. I thought more of this knightly clad hero as his earlier ancestor, a younger John of Gaunt and his mistress and eventually third wife, the beautiful Katrine - who also had red hair. Worth's take on Richard and Anne is obviously modeled after their lives, and from a favorite book of mine by Anya Seton entitled Katherine, about their courtship and later marriage.

In truth, Love and War, is much more about the history of the epic battle between York and Lancaster than it is about Richard and Anne. And I liked that because I'm a big English history buff. But the love stories themselves seemed more like filler than anything, definitely running second to the battles and treason that took place during the time period. Maybe that story line evolves more in the second and third books in the series.

So don't be fooled by the cover! If you want a fantastic love story amidst war and strife, read Katherine. If you want to learn about the history of the War of the Roses, read this one, the first in The Rose of York trilogy.

And most importantly, wear sun screen so you'll have beautiful skin like the ladies in these pictures!

We can dream anyway...
3 stars

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Road

By Cormac McCarthy

Generally speaking, I am not a fan of depressing books. Nor am I fond of loose ends and unanswered questions. The Road by Cormac McCarthy has all of those characteristics in plenty, but I kind of liked it.

None can argue that this book is very, very (very, very) depressing. Some horrible disaster (what kind of disaster is one of those aforementioned unanswered questions) has occurred, leaving the earth a desolate wasteland. There are no plants, no animals, just a handful of straggling humans who have been reduced to thievery, murder, and even cannibalism just to survive.

Our heroes are a man and his son. They have no names, but they are two of the “good guys” simply because they will never, ever resort to cannibalism. They are on a road, heading to the sea where they hope things will be better, scrounging for what canned food they can find and avoiding all other humans because as far as they know, they are the only good guys left. The father lives for his son, the son for his father.

This is one of the reasons this book appealed to me: that in spite of the desperation of the situation, there was a gleam of hope; that the love between a father and son could provide sustenance in such circumstances.

However, I must admit that the main reason I liked this book is that it supported one of my pet theories: that in the case of a widespread disaster, I am toast.

Allow me to explain. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a Mormon, My church encourages its members to have food storage. I love food storage, mainly because it looks so beautiful, all those jars and cans lined up on my shelves, but also because I can see its value for a short-term disaster or even in the case of unemployment. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will do me a bit of good in a disaster of Biblical proportions.

A major catastrophe will strip away the veneer of civilization. There are people that will do anything to survive, and I’m not sure I’m one of them. Even assuming I would have the nerve to kill a person for the good of my children (I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do it for myself), there are plenty of folks bigger and stronger and more ruthless than me. Sure, I’ve got my brains, but while I’m frantically trying to assemble a crude weapon out of a piece of bamboo and homemade gunpowder, someone with brawn is simply going to amble over and take me out with a large rock. And then they’ll take my food.

If you don’t believe me, read The Road. (But don’t read it if you dislike bleak stories, disturbing mental images, or the fall of human civilization.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

Having never heard of this book let alone Robert Heinlein (sorry my science fictiony meter must be running low, and I was concentrating on being born in the 60's and couldn't yet read), I had many assumptions about what the title meant before I read it:

- The moon was a hooker and the Earth her pimp.
- The moon was inhabited with an Amazon group of women who took over the Earth.
- And then Amazon women flew on a Wonder Woman spaceship and took over the galaxy, after killing all the men.

So, obviously, I really hadn't a clue what this book would be about, but now that I've read it the title makes perfect sense. It was ingenious really (the book did win a Hugo after all), as was obviously its famous author, Robert Heilein, a man so good at writing science fiction in the 60's, they named a Mars crater after him - no unnamed craters on the Moon I guess . That would've made more sense because....

Set in 2075, a former penal colony on the Moon (Luna) rebels against its masters on Earth. Having been transplanted, and some were even born there, on the Moon for so long now, this population of people have evolved almost into their own species (think Galapagos Islands) having there own novel ideas regarding marriage and family customs, some have their own dialects, and because of less gravity, they age slower and move their bodies differently than humans on Earth. Tired of being treated as second class citizens, a revolution takes hold.

Four unlikely cast of characters move this cause forward - a computer technician who can't figure out how he got dragged into this, a Marilyn Monroe type female anarchist who kisses instead of shaking hands, an elderly academic who probably wore tweed until his elbows wore through, and then there's Mike, a self-aware supercomputer who reaches his blinkety-blink orgasm by bombing things.

Will Luna be set free? Who will die in the process, because someone always dies if it wins a Hugo Award right?

It says in the book jacket - A great political novel and a great survey of the human prospect. I agree. This is a very forward thinking book, and it was written almost 50 years ago during the tumultuous 60's. A time when young people were battling against the hypocrisy of war, in academia, in government, and any authority that told them what to do. That spills over onto the pages here. But, Heinlein takes his time telling his story, and even though it's a mouthful, it still goes down smooth enough without too many rough edges.

Worth reading at least once. And I'm not even a Republican. (Oops, tea-bagger.)
4 stars.
Here is a new author I have found. Her name is Sarah M Eden and I love her regency romance books. She is trying to get her name out there and she does these funny interviews on Fridays so take a look at her blog. Also, Lula I thought you should be a guest on her little blog. You get a stick figure drawing of yourself. Sarah has a new book coming out in March and if you like regency romance you won't be dissapointed. Follow the link and have a grand day.

Sarah M Eden

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Yes I know I'm a dork - I can't wait for this movie.

Oh, so long ago, almost thirty years - gasp, included within the ranks of Grease, Sound of Music, Xanadu, and Star Wars I had one other favorite movie: Clash of the Titans

I almost wore out the book pages back to the dust from whence they came.
Witness the beautiful original movie trailer below, and don't hurt yourself in your rush to push play.

Awe inspiring isn't it. Harry Hamlin did have great hair didn't he. Sigh..
They just don't make movies like that anymore.
But alas, my Lord of the Rings void may soon be filled. They've remade Titans and it's coming out the end of March.

I think I'm going to pee my pants with excitement.

Yes. I truly am a dork.