Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Lineage of Tellus Book1: Memories & Murder by Lauren J. Hasbrouck (Read 4/5-4/21)

Memories and MurderThis was a book I received from’s Early Reviewers.  I guess I should have read the description better before I said I would read it, I read the part about the fantasy quest to avenge Ashei’s Mothers death.  I missed the disclaimer that this was a high fantasy series for fans of adventure, dry wit, and broad sexuality.

In fact the “broad sexuality” threw me for a loop at first, it was just so in my face.   That it really distracted me from the story line.  I mean I don’t mind reading about sex, and I made it through Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty Series, and this has nothing on that series, but because I missed the disclaimer I was a bit unprepared for it and like I said distracted trying to figure out what I had gotten myself into checking the box for this book.  After awhile all the gay jokes became offensive, just because there were SOOO many of them.  I think sex and sexuality can add a lot to a story, this book just wasn’t written well enough to do that, so instead the sex and sexuality was a boring and upset me because I really wanted to get to the heart of the storyline and I couldn’t get through the fluff.

Laying all of that aside, this book is obviously a first attempt at a novel.  There was too much background in the first few pages, I felt a bit hammered over the head.  And Lauren’s writing style is a bit difficult to read, it is very choppy.  The storyline seems like a great concept if Lauren’s writing skills didn’t distract form it so much.  I think she felt she needed to add to much to the story to fill it out, when she had a great underlying base that could have really flourished if she had just let it be a little less fluffed.

The characters are a bit stereotypical, the barmaid with the courage of a warrior, the harlot with a heart of gold, the effeminate elf, the strong man who’s downfall is love, the evil wizard….I’m sure you get the idea.  Tellus is a strange mix of modern and medieval landscape.  I like it, and I think it is a great background, I just wish the characters were as deep.   The entire book felt a bit teenage cliché to me.  Why in the world would the characters act the way they did, and yes I know the obvious reason is because they had to in order to move the story in the direction Lauren wanted it to go.  Why was Ashei so sure her mom was murdered and part of some big conspiracy?  I mean from what I could tell until she died, Ashei thought she was perfectly normal. 

Why do Tris and Anne agree to go on the “quest”?  How do they even know where to start looking and why to start looking there?  And Finn…why the heck would he ever say yes.  The entire first part of the book I was was asking myself these sorts of questions, because the actions just seemed so random.  I think part of the problem was that Lauren was so focused on setting up the sexual tension scenario’s that she forgot to actually write about the characters. 

This is the 1st in a series and by Chapter 6 I knew Finn was a dragon and the son of the evil wizard.  I also knew the whole book was going to ramble and be one pointless adventure after another that really didn’t help move the core storyline along.  They could have if only they had been written better.  I am sorry to say, but I have no desire at all to read anymore of this series, I usually don’t say that but this was just awful…the writing was crude and the sexuality became tedious and offense after a while.  I applaud Lauren for following her dreams, but I’m sorry that this book was not a dream come true for me.

The Wasteland (Dark Tower #3) by Stephen King (3/18-4/5)

The wastelandNext up in the BOTM reading is The Wastelands.  This continues the story after Roland pulls Eddie and Susannah through the doors.   But now Roland is going mad because he save Jake.   I love that King didn't ignore the paradox Jake's death created.  That paradox is a main part of the story line not just for Roland, but for Jake too.  The drawing of the actual third is Jake, not jack…maybe that is why the names were so close. 

My Favorite character of the whole series is Oy. I couldn't wait for him to show up.  He is just so adorable and smart and funny, the most lovable character of the whole series in my mind.  I guess it helps that I am such a dog lover, but Billy Bumblers are better than dogs and I really want one.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale (Read 3/12-3/18)

Catch me if you can I read this book because I was in between book club reads and I needed something quick to read.  This turned out to be just that.  I had seen the movie, so I knew the basic storyline.  I have to say the movie glamorized it much more than the book did.  It was a bit of a dry read, I mean the story itself was interesting Frank became a pilot because he saw one and wanted to be adored that way.  Everything fell into place for him to pull the scam because people were so trusting.  He would just walk in somewhere and get what he needed, that would never happen in today’s society.   The fact that he could pull off his impersonation for so long, is a sign of his intelligence, and his luck.  He did get caught eventually, but there were some tight spots before then he charmed his way out of.  When he was finally caught, I though France’s punishment seems too harsh for his crime; I mean he isn’t a murderer or a rapist.  They just about killed him for scamming some airlines.  Little bit of a let down at the end, I mean he just escaped in the US and the book ends.  Like a I said a quick read, but not a literary masterpiece.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Drawing of Three (Dark Tower #2) by Stephen King (2/23-3/10)

The Drawing of ThreeBOTM voted to read the whole Dark Tower series, so I will be reading and reviewing the remaining 6 books in the series, and I may even try to fit in some side books.  I like the Dark Tower series, it is a fantastic mix of old west and fantasy that just gives me happy thoughts. 

The story of The Drawing of Three picks up with Roland on the beach we left him on at the end of the Gunslinger.  But there is a new danger, these crazy lobster monsters attack him wile passed out and he looses two of fingers and a toe.  for the rest of the series we will be constantly reminded that he has lost two fingers, but the toe is never mentioned again that I can recall.  I have always wondered what was the point of Roland loosing his fingers?  Did he need to be maimed to create a need to draw in other gunslingers? The shock of Roland loosing his fingers isn't the violence of losing his fingers, it was a that he lost such an essential part of who he is. I mean, who is Clint Eastwood or John Wayne without his guns? There was some debate in my book club about the simplicity of naming the monsters Lobtsrocities.  I like Lobstrocity, Roland isn't an imaginative character, so he wouldn't come up with anything that wasn't descriptive and based on what his realist mind sees.

After Roland is maimed he then wanders further down the beach and finds a door that says the “The Prisoner.”  Now if it was me and I found a random door on a beach, with no building or frame attached I’m not sure I would walk through it, but because he is Roland, and the fantastical seems to have no effect on him, he opens it and walks through.  Just like in the movie “Being John Malcovich” (which was made after this book was written) he is now in some other guy’s head.  Roland is a passenger in the head of Eddie Dean, a heroin addict about to be busted on a drug run.  So what does Roland do?  He magically takes the drugs back to the beach so Eddie doesn’t get busted, but that still doesn’t save Eddie’s ass from the Drug Dealer/Crime Lord he was running the drugs for.  In true Gunslinger fashion, this leads to a shoot out at the Drug Dealer/Crime Lord main base of operations, a night club called Tower.  Coincidence?  I think not.  I LOVE the image of Eddie fighting naked – all cracked out and crazy.   When all is said and done, and all the bad guys are dead, Roland takes Eddie back through his own head, i.e. door, to the beach and the door disappears.  I I like the Eddie, and I think Roland draws Eddie because even though he is from our world he is a gunslinger, that is after all why he was sent on the drug run, because even cracked out he still held it together. Roland can relate, and he even compared him to one of his old buddies.

Roland has gotten a really bad infection from loosing his fingers and toe, and Eddie, even cracked out had been smart enough to grab some antibiotics before going through the door.  So Eddie takes care of Roland and gets clean, and the ka-tet starts.   now I’m not saying Eddie, wanted to get clean, but all the heroin had been taken back before the big shoot out.  Just imagine a deathly ill gunslinger and heroin addict going through withdraws on beach, both probably hallucinating, have fevers and chills, raging at each other, doesn’t it sound like fun.  So Roland and Eddie both start to get better, not cured but better and the next door appears, titled “The Lady of Shadows.”  Eddie wants to go through and get a fix and Roland won’t let him.   Roland goes through the door, and again is in the mind of another person.  This time it is a black woman, shop lifting from Macy’s, her name is Odetta Holmes, but she also is Detta Walker.  O/Detta suffers from multiple personality disorder, and strangely enough Roland meets both women in the 5-10 minutes it takes him to haul her back through her door.  Which is timely because Eddie was just about to cut Roland’s throat. 

When Eddie and Roland discuss the O/Detta situation, Roland immediately understands the diagnosis, and by instinct knows the treatment is for O/Detta to be joined.  Of course Eddie had to fall for Odetta, before her Detta personality came out.  Seems a little cliché to me, but I know it is important to the storyline, not telling how though at this point.  Although, I personally think it would have been worse if it had been Odetta and Roland, because I know King always has a couple.

Did anybody else catch that Eddie mentions The Shining movie? This book was published in 1987 and The Shining movie came out in 1980, so there was only 7 years between the movie and the publishing, when King wrote this did he know his move would become a cultural icon, or did he just add the little blurb to pat himself on the back?

After a while of dealing with crazy Detta, which does seem to take forever!  The third door appears, title “The Pusher.”  Roland once again goes through alone, not because he feels he needs to hold Eddie back from a fix, but someone has to guard his body for Detta, or she is going to kill them both.  Roland’s infection has come back and maybe that is why I always feel the pusher chapter is rushed compared to the rest of the book. Maybe because Roland is sick and rushing the storyline, but still it is really a quick read to me.  When Roland goes through the door this time, he is in a sick man’s mind, and I don’t mean sick like as in ill, I mean sick as in likes hurting people.  While in there Roland saves Jake from being pushed, and then once he has his antibiotics he throws the pusher in front of a train.  Thereby forever saving Jake.  But now there is a paradox....Jake wasn't pushed in front of the car and sent to Roland's world...what does that do to the timeline...who did Roland let fall? Will Roland forget Jake? Is that the man in black's plan? Does Jake still die just some other way? 

When Roland comes back through, there is a brief fight with Detta, and Roland forcers her to face Odetta, and they join to become a whole new woman, Susannah Dean.  Now Roland has two new gun fighting companions, and they set off in search of the dark tower, and leave the beach behind.

This is an easy read, everything moves along at a nice pace, except the end of course, it seems to move to fast.  It stays pretty true to King’s writing style and we can see influences form other books.  I really enjoyed this book, it’s not my favorite in the series, but it is a good one.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai (Read 3/3/14 to 3/8/14)

I am malala

This is a story about a girl born in Pakistan who stood up for women’s rights against the Taliban.  On October 9, 2012 her courage became around the world because she was shot while riding the school bus home.  Against all odds she survived a head shot and the world prayed and held its breath, and now we hear her story in her own words.

Malala comes from a non-traditional family, first of all her parents marriage is a love match, not an arraigned marriage.  Secondly, her mother had strong women as her role models, and although they never stepped out of their traditional role as women, she still had her opinions.  Mala’s father again bucked tradition by not only talking to but listening to Malala’s Mother’s advice.  Finally, and I think most importantly her father father loves/proud of daughter instead of ashamed that she wasn’t a son.  Malal’s father felt that education was just as imprortant for girls as for boys and he encouraged it in his own school.  Although he was a Muslim,Malala’s father did not prescribe the the stereotypical woman oppressing Muslim male image.  He believed in woman’s rights and would often say “Malala is free as a bird.”   Malala’s father was proud of her public speeches advocating for women’s education and condemning the oppression of the Taliban.  He never thought that Malala would be a target, their mistake was in thinking the Taliban would view him as the threat.  When Malala would discuss the potential danger her education and public speeches posed he would say to Malala “I will protect your freedom, Malala. Carry on with your dreams.”   I think he really did think she was safe, and that if anyone would be shot it would be him.

What I really liked about this book was that it provided a history of the Swat Valley of Pakistan and surrounding regions.  This explains how the Taliban took over and emphasis how lack of education, especially in women, contributed to the take over.  Malala lovers her her country and despite the terror and suffering she suffered in it, she still wants to return and make it a better place.  She has a love and a drive to make it someplace safer, someplace better.  Her dream is to become a politician and make actual changes and improvements for her people.  I hope that Malala does become a politician and betters the lives of her people.   This book made me want to support her dreams, and follow her story.  I’m hoping that years from now I will be reading about the differences she has made, and I hope she goes down as another Nelson Mandela type for the Pakistani people.