Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Heretic's Daughter

Written By Kathleen Kent
Original Publication Date: 2008
Rating: 2 Stars

Book Notes:
Well, it's been a while.  This book took me quite a while to get through.  I just started a new job and I needed to be focused on that; besides, my new boss has been changing my schedule every 24 hours, so it's been hard to find much time to read.  I think it's finally settling down, so the reviews should come quicker again.  I will not let this job affect my reading.

Page 151
Finally the story's picking up!  Maybe I'll actually finish this sometime in the near future!

As a modern-day Pagan, with roots in modern Wicca, I was incredibly excited to finally find this title used, for cheap (hey, I was unemployed for a long time).  I had been wanting to read it for quite some time, as I have read a fuckload about the Salem Witch Trials, and love to visit the place.  To read a fictional account of real people who were part of the fiasco sounded awesome enough.  Add to that that Kathleen Kent is directly related to Martha Carrier?  Sounded like a gold mine to me.

Unfortunately, I found myself incredibly disappointed.  I guess I was hoping that because Kent is related to these people that she would have had a journal or something that would have added something more to these events that swept the colonies.  Maybe my hopes were simply too high.

I found the first 151 pages fairly boring, they were the day to day life of Sarah Carrier, daughter of Martha Carrier - one of the women hanged for witchcraft.  They were boring, but they did a decent job of exploring the conflicted relationship that every woman/girl has with her mother.  We love her, we hate her, we resent her, we need her, we blame her, we rely on her, we take her for granted.  By the end of the novel, I had actually decided that this relationship building part of the novel was more interesting than the Witch Trails themselves.

I thought it would get more interesting and pick up, once the Witch Trails came to Sarah's front door.  Damn, was I wrong.  I felt very little emotion come up from the page when Sarah's mother was arrested.  I felt very little when her brothers were arrested.  I felt very little when Sarah was arrested.  It plodded.  Somehow the drama of the Witch Trails was made boring.  Seriously, how is that even possible?  I've read completely non-fiction accounts of the events and they were less boring than this fictionalized account.

Some of the absolute best writing came from the last 50 pages or so, when Sarah is describing the prison scene and how the women either came together or pulled away to survive.  That, was the only part of the novel that I didn't label as boring.  The human emotion was truly raw and awesome during this time.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Mini Review: Deadpool MAX, Nutjob

Written By David Lapham
Illustrated By Kyle Baker
Original Publication Date: 2011
Rating: 2 Stars

I've read a handful of Deadpool comics, and this just didn't stock up against the other ones.  It simply wasn't as funny as it should have been.  In the comic book store where I bought this, I was flipping through the issues of the new story arc and they had me rolling.  Come on, his nemesis this time around is bringing presidents back from the dead to fight him.  There is nothing funnier than Deadpool punching Abe Lincoln in the face.  Sorry man, you know I have the greatest respect for you.  

This Deadpool, because the main perspective was Bob, his handler, lost a lot of the Deadpool charm.  Yes it was vulgar and silly, but seeing Deadpool through the eyes of someone who can't understand him is a little annoying.  Deadpool is wonderful in his self-deprecating randomness that goes on in his brain, and that was simply missing from this book because of the perspective.  Not a Deadpool win, in my opinion.

Mini Review: Wonder Woman, Love and Murder

Written By Jodi Picoult
Illustrated By Drew Johnson, Ray Snyder, Rodney Ramos, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, & Paco Diaz
Original Publication Date: 2007
Rating: 2 Stars

Note: I decided to start a new kind of review for my graphic novels: Mini Reviews.  Graphic novels are simply hard for me to review as I'm not an artist, and don't have the kind of grasp of what good versus bad art is to give the novels the reviews they deserve.  So, now I've got a tag for those comic books/graphic novels/other books that I don't know how to review.

First of all, this is technically a second story arch in a series.  There is however a "Previously on Wonder Woman" page, where you can read what happened in the first novel.  Basically, Wonder Woman did something that society and the other heroes don't particularly agree with, and she has to go into hiding.  She is working as Diana Prince and is given the assignment to bring Wonder Woman in for her crimes.

It's interesting to see how Wonder Woman handles a "normal" human life.  There is very little that she understands intuitively.  Amazons are obviously an entirely different sort of culture and that was the last time she was "normal."  At one point her mother is brought back, and the kinds of issues she has with her mother are very human.  She's struggling to differentiate herself as well as to learn who she is in this human world.

Unfortunately, the crap that happens after she's in her Wonder Woman gear is simply ridiculous, and poorly done.  It felt like Jodi Picoult gave DC her ideas to make Wonder Woman more relatable, and they said "Gee, Picoult wants to make Wonder Woman more relatable to real women.  I guess we could do that.  Especially since then we can go right back to her being a sex object and never think of her as anything more ever again."  It was bastardized Picoult.

It was interesting, (especially because I am a Picoult fan) but not awesome.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Man in the Empty Suit

Written By Sean Ferrell
Original Publication Date: 2013
Rating: 4 Stars

Book Notes:
I received this ebook for free from the publisher, via NetGalley.
I wish I'd finished it yesterday (the 5th of February), as that was it's publication date, but I'd gone away for the weekend and didn't have any time to read.

"Port Authority Terminal - redundant stairs, inexplicable turns, and filthy dead ends ..."
Yes!  Yes!  and Yes!  Gods, I hate that place.

So many paradoxes.  Brain.  Ouch.

Beautiful last passage, but, wait?  what?  I want more.

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My brain feels something like this after reading this novel: full of explosions.  The Paradox Problem has always been an issue when a good author takes on time travel.  Sean Ferrell not only takes on the Paradox Problem, but throws it in your face.  The book has a little bit of a Doctor Who in Pompeii feel to it.

A time traveler, whose first name is never given (correct?  Unless I missed it somewhere) decides, when he's 19, that every year on his birthday, he is going to travel to 100 years after the date of his birth and get drunk with all past and future versions of himself.  Everything changes on his 39th birthday when he is The Suit, that year, he finds the Body.  The Body appears to be 6 months to a year older than he is.  How could this be?  There are Elders in attendance of the party, and Youngsters that are far younger than the Inventor.  On top of all this, there is a mysterious woman who has been invited by some version of himself and he's never noticed her before.  What has happened!?  Can he possibly save the Body's life and the life of this woman?!

Wait, What?  Yes, it really is just that confusing and terrifyingly awesome and wonderful.  I'm writing this review and still trying to figure out exactly what happened in this novel.  Any book I can finish and then immediately decide it deserves a re-read because everything loops into everything else earns some serious points in my book.  

There are rules that the versions of himself are supposed to follow at the party, to prevent Paradoxes.  Of course, he doesn't always follow these rules, because you can only watch yourself break your nose so many times before you try to stop it.  Every choice The Suit makes that doesn't follow the expected timeline of the Elders, untethers more and more of them, freeing them to make their own choices and to change their own lives.  As is put succinctly quite a few times, "Fuck the rules."  The more I think about it, the more I'm deciding that "Fuck the rules," is really the point of the novel.  Rules are made to be broken, and we can only truly be free when we follow our hearts and own ideals, rather than listening to how other people expect things to go.

My favorite quote of the novel is the last few sentences, and I'll share them with you, because I really don't believe it gives anything of the plot away.
"The future vibrated with uncertainty.  I had failed.  I had ignorance.  I had hope."

I do think this requires a re-read in 6 months, after I've mulled it over for a while.  I need to let my brain soak in it before I start again.  I think I'll take even more away from it, the second time around.

In summary:  Wait, what?!  Oh!  Sweet!  Awesome.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Paper Books versus eBooks

Well, since my Kindle Battery up and died on me in the middle of reading Man in the Empty Suit, I figure right now is a great time to do this particular post.  Damn you, battery life, damn you!

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I resisted the ebook revolution for a long time.  In fact my Kindle only turned a month old on the 25th of January.  I wasn't sure how I felt about losing my wall decor and how I felt about losing the charm of my physical books.  On top of that after the George Orwell Debacle of 2009, I was (and honestly still am) well and truly afraid of what would happen to all my precious books if companies went out of business (what did happen to folks who had the Borders ereader?).  So, not sure I was ever going to get over my want versus fear of ebooks, I basically decided to wait to see what happened.  What finally convinced me was that sometime during the past year, my father got a Kindle.  Getting to play with one from time to time and reading a  handful of books on it, decided me: I must have one.  Besides, Kindle just came out with a wonderful upgrade to their basic Kindle, the Kindle Paperwhite: an e-ink kindle with an adjustable light.  Did I mention that I think this should have happened earlier?  It was another feature I was waiting for before getting an ereader of my very own.

Now I have a New Toy.  No, my Kindle still doesn't actually have a name, because I'm still calling it New Toy.  I love it, I do.  However, I have to say, if my folks thought buying me an ereader was going to slow my buying of physical books, they were sorely mistaken.  My boyfriend knows me better than that, telling me that he was under no such illusion.  Now I just have two very large TBR shelves (physical and digital) that are constantly expanding.

Pros of Reading ebooks
  • You only need to bring one, fairly small, book shaped item with you on vacation to have access to your entire library.
  • There are many many many websites for finding free books, onehundredfreebooks being my particular favorite.  Sign up for their newsletter, and they send 15 free book options to your email account every evening.
  • Receiving books from publishers is instantaneous.  I don't need to wait for books to come in the mail from NetGalley - I just need to push a button and a few minutes later the book shows up on my Kindle.  Still need to be approved by the publisher, of course, but it cuts out a hella wait.
  • My Kindle Paperwhite makes it easier to read in bed when my boyfriend's still sleeping, because the light glows.  It's not very bright or harsh.
  • On the easier-to-read-front, those 1000 page books that we all love so much are now the same size as all the other books.  My wrists hurt much less after a couple of books on the Kindle.
  • Your favorite books don't fall apart. I go through copies of Clan of the Cave Bear every couple of years, I just read it a lot, and it'd be nice to have a copy that I could keep in pristine condition as well as one I can read anywhere, anytime.

Pros of Reading Paper Books
  • There is no chance of your book disappearing on you into the magical digital cloud in the sky.  (Yes, I understand how these devices work so well, don't I?)
  • You're more likely to be supporting small businesses.  I love my used bookstores, I could live in one and be totally happy.  Hm.  Retirement plans, mayhaps!
  • House Decoration.  There's nothing quite like walking into a library/study/bedroom that is lined with books.  The first time I walked into my boyfriend's biological mother's house I was transported by the books that lined just about every wall of her living room and kitchen.  My bedroom is lined with shelves, even using a closet as extra shelving, and I love the homey feel that the books invoke.  My dream house has a Beauty and the Beast style library.  I want big comfy chairs and ladders and every inch of every wall lined with books.  Oh!  And a hidden passage behind one shelf, of course.
  • The smell of books.  I find that the smell of a novel lends itself to the escapism that I want so badly from my books.  Especially the smell of used books.  When you crack that book for the first time and you smell perfume from an elderly woman or the dank smell of coffee that was spilled on the first page or even the crisp smell of a new book, the books becomes a portal not only to where the words take you, but to the life of the person who last read the book.
  • Loaning is so much easier with paper novels.  Has anyone else realized how fucking annoying it is that I can only lend certain books from my Kindle and only for 14 days?  Goddamnit, I bought the book, I should be able to let my friends and family read it.  Plus, I should be able to read my parents' books without having to switch Amazon accounts.  It's bullshit.  I have been introduced to some of my favorite authors from books lent to me from friends and family.  It's part of the culture that books bring.  The ereaders cut off some of the social aspect that I love about books.  Fuck you publishers, let me loan out whichever ebook I want to who I want for however long I want.
  • You never have to charge a paper book.

In conclusion: A book is a book is a book is a book is a story.  No matter how you read it, as long as you're reading.  Find a way to read, the way that is best for you.  I don't care if you read on scrolls, paperbacks, hardcovers, ebooks, just read.

Now, Goddamn you, Kindle.
Charge Faster!