Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Where'd I Put That?

You know what? I’m at work right now. I probably have some semblance of work I could be doing. But I’m not going to. Want to know why? Besides the fact that the work is really just some make work project my boss gave me because he sees me sitting here at my desk, Facebooking and reading Pajiba on the fucking spy-cam he had installed over my desk (it’s for “security”)? I haven’t posted in a month of Sundays and I miss you yahoos and I know that if I don’t pay y’all at least a wee bit of attention you may just up and hop the fence. Which, I can’t have. I’ve grown accustomed to your affections, I’m afraid.

I’ll explain my absence. I have developed an alarming case of apathy. Yup, my give a fuck is fubar’d. Seems no one knows how to fix it either. Could be that I hold the secret to refilling my well of interest. Could be. I can’t really be bothered to go looking right now. It’s a vicious circle, folks. - No. Not that kind of circle. Pig! – I suspect the time of year has a great deal to do with it. Truth be told, I’ve known for awhile that my so called seasonal depression is not really seasonal. I’ma do a little Scarlet and deal with that tomorrow.

The good news is that I have read 4 books (none of which I have written a review for. D’oh!). Three of which are young adult novels. You see, I have a thirteen year old daughter, so there are piles of this shit lying around my house. And ‘shit’ is a generous description, but you’ll understand when I get around to writing the reviews. I feel compelled to read them because I should know what my daughter is reading. It’s trash, seriously. There are good books out there, I know there are, why do we keep ending up with crap? I shouldn’t complain too much though because while she was happy to read Twilight, she was more excited to begin reading the Sword of Truth series and several Stephen King novels. And you naysayers can keep your opinions about the Sword of Truth series and Stephen King to yourself, ya hear? But feel free to lay into Twilight.

More bad news? I have completely fallin’ off the weight loss wagon. Dani and I went to the local grocery store to supplement our lunches today. With what? Barbecue chips and brownies... ...with chocolate chips. It may or may not have anything to do with PMS. It has absolutely nothing to do with helping me achieve my weight loss goal. I can’t tell you exactly what that is, ‘cause I don’t want to ruin your image of me. You know the image where I’ve got a body like Brittany Spears before she flipped her bicky and showed the world her cooter. That being said, it wasn’t the trip to the grocery store that was my diets demise. No, the defeat of the mighty diet can be traced back to Christmas. I took a vacation from my attempt at a healthier lifestyle. Because, really, what fun is Christmas when you’re counting the calories in your rum and eggnog and turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy? So, yeah, I’m just hoping I haven’t exhausted the supply of will power I had.

Hmmm. More good news? I want to end on a high note like George Costanza. It has been gorgeous weather wise in my corner of the world. Gorgeous! Yesterday it was plus 15 (59, my Ameri-friends) in the sun. Here in Canadialand during the winter months that is something to sing Hallelujah about. Today, it is plus 5 (41!), the sun is shining and there is not a cloud in the sky. Loverly. Sadly, it’s supposed to start raining tomorrow, turn to snow tomorrow night and then snow off and on until Wednesday. Oh! That high note? Lemme see... ... all the snow is good for skiing. Maybe I should start skiing? You have no idea how amusing that thought is!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Loss for Words

That would be the reason I haven't posted much lately. I'm not lacking for topics but I seem to be having trouble putting it to words.

That isn't going to stop me tonight, though.

It's No Whining Wednesday and true to form I had plenty of reason to whine today. But I tried not to. Mr. Sprite was promoted last year and because the Department of National Defense here in Canada takes the motto "hurry up and wait" very seriously, Mr. Sprite has only just been scheduled for his leadership training. He's scheduled to leave for 2 months of training two days after I return from Toronto. Sucks, no? But in the interest of adhering to the rules, I tried to look at the brighter side.

1. Queen size bed all to myself!
2. Lots of one on one time with my children (this can also be viewed as a bad thing).
3. Rent all the movies I wouldn't get to see when the hubby is home.
4. Eat the things the hubby doesn't like.
5. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and by that I mean we are guaranteed at least one week of really fantastic sex when he comes back!

See? Not so bad, right? Tomorrow I'll tell you all the reasons it sucks ass. That's gonna be a much longer list!

On the very bright side: I am going to Toronto in 43 days! You have no idea how much I am looking forward to 6 days of my cousin and my sister and very little responsibility. You may envy me, I don't mind. We've decided we're going to have dinner in the revolving restaurant at the top of the CN Tower, we may go skiing (I am hopelessly un-athletic, so this may prove to be dangerous, hilarious and pathetic all at once) and we are definitely going to drink more than our fair share. Expect drunken shenanigans.

That's all for tonight boys and girls. Stay outta trouble!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cannonball Read II - Book #6: The Law of Nines by Terry Goodkind

Warning: If you have not read this book, leave now. It's about to get all spoilery up in here. If you like Terry Goodkind and don't think you can handle someone questioning him, you should also leave now. If you cringe at strong language, you too, should head for the exit and perhaps not come back, cause let's face it, I can make a sailor blush.

What the fuck, Terry Goodkind? What the hell is this shit you are trying to pass off as literature? OK, so maybe this might pass as literature, 'might' being a stretch. But for you, Terry Goodkind? For you? Oh no, Sir. No, if you expect your devout fans to accept this steaming pile of dung, not only have you apparently pissed away all of your talent but you seem to have lost your ever lovin' fuckin' mind too!

*deep breath*

Sorry, let me explain.

I bought The Law of Nines for my husband for Christmas. My husband and I have both read The Sword of Truth series and loved it. My husband had mentioned what a talented writer he thought Terry Goodkind to be. So, upon seeing this new book on the shelf I thought I should pick it up, because my husband liked Goodkind for both his imagination and his ability. I was even a little excited to see what kind of "electrifying new direction" (this is what it says on the inside flap of the dust jacket) he might have taken. It promised "Longtime fans and new readers alike will not forget...THE LAW OF NINES". Because it ruined any good fucking will I had for Terry Goodkind? Sorry, back to the review. Now, Mr. Sprite is still thoroughly engaged with the books I bought him for his birthday, The Outlaws of the Marsh, and I needed another book before I started the next Diana Gabaldon one and I knew I would have it read in a jiffy, so read it I did.

The Law of Nines begins with Alex, a young man celebrating his 27th birthday, standing on a street corner waiting for the light to change when he notices a plumbing truck careening toward him. It's then that he realizes there is woman (whom he doesn't remember seeing before now) waiting for the light as well and she doesn't seem to have noticed the approaching danger. He grabs her arm and yanks her out of the trucks path in the nick of time, saving her life. Then he invites her into the gallery where his paintings are on display. He's an artist, he paints trees and stuff. In the gallery she calls him by his name, he's shocked! But wait, she must have been to the gallery before and seen his paintings. When he pointed out his, she remembered the name, right? Well, turns out.... ....this is your last warning... ...go now if you don't want to be spoilered... ...she's from another world. She's from a world much like Alex's world but her world has magic and his doesn't.

We just slipped outta thriller folks, and put on a nice comfy fantasy. That's okay. I can handle that, because I've read Terry Goodkind's brand of fantasy and it kicks all kinds of ass.

The girl disappears into thin air again and we're left with Alex pondering his sanity because he's 27 and his Mom lost her shit when she turned 27 and she's been institutionalized and heavily medicated ever since. So he goes to see his grandpa because grandpa is also a little loopy but harmless and he always makes Alex feel better, or some shit. Grandpa has something for Alex. It seems Alex has inherited approximately half of Maine! Why, because it's his 27th birthday (grandpa thinks it has to do with the 7, something about the 7) and because he's a Rahl. Yes, you read that right. And yes, I also got all warm and tingly, like any good Goodkind fan should. But it's not what you think, my friends and what it is is not freakin' pretty.

This book is essentially a continuation (1000 years in the future) of The Sword of Truth. But there is no sword and no one names Alex the Seeker. But he has a pretty knife that has a mate with the letter R for the house of Rahl carved in the hilt. Oh and the mysterious woman? Yeah, the hints dropped that she's a confessor would sink a fucking boat, but he never comes right out and says so. Which would all be a-okay, if Terry Goodkind wrote this book in the same style as the others. But he didn't because of that "electrifying new direction" we read about on the dust jacket. Mr. Goodkind wanted to write a thriller! So we have what is either a continuation of the last book or a blatant bloody knock off of the first book of The Sword of Truth with choppy, clipped writing. Examples (the following examples are not only short sentences but entire paragraphs! For emphasis, I suppose): "He looked like a man stepping out of a nightmare." or "The world seemed to rush back in." or "Her voice was as captivating as her eyes." and one more for good measure, "It was as wicked a grin as Alex had ever seen". And this is only the first seven pages! The entire book is like it! It's horrible. It's disheartening.

Don't even get me started on the climax. Honestly, it isn't worth it.

Please, Mr. Goodkind, I implore you; do not change your writing style! Your fall from grace need only be a short one if you go back to fantasy. Hell, I'm not opposed to you beginning a new chapter in The Sword of Truth, but do it right! Oh! But don't let your political ideals and objectivist beliefs seep into the story like you did in Confessor. That was glaringly obvious. Preachy too.

Cannonball Read II - Book #5: Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

Voyager, the third instalment in the Outlander series, has Claire discover that Jamie may not have died in battle at Culloden. Confirmation forces her to face the most difficult of decisions: should she leave her grown daughter in the hopes of seeing Jamie again? The decision is made at the 11th hour at Brianna’s behest – Go or I do! So Claire does. She travels through the stones and across Scotland to seek out Jamie. She finds him right where she expects to and one of the most adorable scenes every committed to paper unfolds. When they finally determine they are both real and not a figment of the others imagination, they get on with familiarizing themselves with each other again and not just in ‘that’ way! And of course the adventure begins. I know it wouldn’t make for very interesting reading otherwise, but these two sure do seem to find their share of trouble. There’s a brothel, a fire, bigamy, a kidnapping, long lost jewels, slaves and voodoo! They cover Scotland, France, the West Indies and more!

Again, Diana Gabaldon does not disappoint. I am so in love with these two characters I may follow them even if they led a normal quiet life. I usually encounter some form of disappointment in the portrayal of a beloved character this deep into a series. So far, I’ve no cause to complain, Diana Gabaldon has done a fantastic job of not deviating from what we’ve come to expect of the people in her story. And while the sheer volume of excitement is a wee bit unbelievable, her use of historical detail is always accurate.

I have only two complaints, one being her verbosity. I hold to my belief that she could have used a braver editor. The second, and this is no fault of the authors, only my apparently unreasonable expectations, I wanted Brianna to go back in time too!

There, now I’ve written this review as I promised myself I would before I began the fourth book, Drums of Autumn. My procrastination has had a palpable effect and I am dying to begin the next one (although Spot has made me just the teeniest weary).

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Cannonball Read II - Book #4: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Ah ha! I didn't think I could count Coraline toward Cannonball Read because it weighs in at a very feathery 162 pages, but I checked the Facebook page and Woo hoo! Nicole has graciously allowed a length of "150 pages or so"!

I had seen the movie Coraline having not known it was based on a book. It was visually stunning and incredibly creepy. I enjoyed it thoroughly. You understand then, how happy I was when I came across the novel at a local used book store. I read it one afternoon while my husband drove us to and from an away hockey game.

Coraline's family has just moved into a new apartment in a house that has been divided into apartments. Coraline is an explorer and having met the other eccentric inhabitants of the house, one of whom warns her to steer clear of the dangerous well, she "set off to explore for it, so that she knew where it was, to keep away from it properly". When the weather prevents her from exploring outdoors her father encourages her to explore indoors, "Count all the windows and doors. List everything blue. Mount an expedition to discover the hot water tank. And leave me alone to work." She discovers 153 blue things, 21 windows and 14 doors, one of which will not open. It is behind this door that adventure lies. Behind this door is the other mother and near perfect copies, creepy copies with button eyes, of all of the tenants in Coraline's divided house. The other mother has promised Coraline happiness, heavenly food and the attention her emotionally absent parents fail to give her, but at a cost.

Coraline is the adventurer just about every kid wants to be. She exhibits the courage every kid wishes they had in but she still experiences the fear they know they would feel. When she realizes her parents are gone, the police won't help and her neighbors are useless, that she is utterly alone, despite being terrified, she fights back.

Neil Gaiman paints the picture perfectly. He does a fabulous job appealing to children and parents alike. He had begun writing Coraline for one child and ended it 10 years later for another. The eldest read it when it was completed and when Neil said he hoped she wasn't too old for it, she responded by saying "I don't think you can be too old for Coraline." I'd have to say I agree.

Cannonball Read II - Book #3: Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

It happened. I was afraid it might and it did. I forgot. Not what the book was about but the specifics of this particular entry in the Outlander series that would make a review relevant and coherent. I wiki'd and read other reviews, I asked Dani all to little avail. The story has become a whole, it would seem I may be unable to view its parts going forward. Which begs the question - I understand I may have used that phrase in the wrong context but to be quite honest, I don't understand how the other context works and old habits die hard and can a phrase not evolve/adapt? Commence freaking out- Where was I? Oh yeah, begging the question; how will I treat the remainder of the series? We shall see.

Outlander concluded with Claire in Jamie's arms and the very strong hint of pregnancy on her lips, everyone firmly in the 18th century. So you can imagine my surprise when Dragonfly in Amber opens to find Claire in the 20th century. She has just returned to Scotland and has her 20 year old daughter Brianna, in tow. Claire has returned intent upon revealing that the man Brianna thought her father, Frank Randall, was not and her biological father was in fact an 18th century Highlander. In her attempt to convince Brianna of the truth Claire has recruited the help of an historian and family friend.

Clarie's return to the 20th century is explained by way of a lengthy flashback. We learn that Jamie and Claire attempt to change the course of history and save the lives of many highlanders by doing every thing they can to prevent the Jacobite rebellion. When they fail, they return to Jamie's home, Lallybroch, in hopes of avoiding the battle and weathering the subsequent hardship endured by the Scots. Jamie is forced however, to support the attempt on the throne. Knowing what Claire has shared with him of recorded history and the results of the battle, Jamie begs Claire to return to her own time because he knows she is pregnant and wants to ensure the safety of her and the child.

Suffice it to say, the writing is fantastic albeit a bit lengthy. I don't mind the more than 750 pages, but I don't think an editor with a slightly heavier hand would have hurt the tale any. I continue to love/hate the many characters both old and new and when I finished Dragonfly in Amber, wild horses could not have kept me from Voyager, the next installment in the Outlander series.