31 March 2012

Toes in the sand: A Review of World Divided, Mercedes Lackey

I am back.  To be truthful it has taken me over a week to fully tap back into my life.   My daily struggle was mentally removing myself from the warm salty seas that I was blissfully floating in so I could complete the most mundane tasks. As I sit here with the weekend before me, I am fully back and ready to read, and support the genre I love so much.  And on that note, let's get to the matter at hand.

Have you been dying to know what book I took on vacation? Let me put the rumours to rest, I took probably the oddest book ever to bring to a tropical haven, World Divided, Mercedes Lackey.  That is right.  I am insane.  Not only was the darn thing in hard cover, making it next to impossible to squeeze into my purse for quick reader access but it wasn't exactly chalked full of beachy feelings.  When you have white sand between your toes you don't automatically think "If only I had an apocalyptic battle involving super humans vs. aliens to read right about now."   Oops, spoiler alert.   I highly doubt I have ruined things for you.  For example,  I can't imagine my Mom ever  going out to buy the first two books in the Secret World Chronicles, even though I am her daughter and she should really expand her reading viewpoint.  I doubt she is sitting at home in the desert storming out of the computer room because I let slip that not only do these books have super heroes, super villains, witches, angels, robotic armoured super Nazis, but aliens as well.   Wouldn't it be awesome if she did though?  

World Divided is the second in a new series from Mercedes Lackey.  Once again Mercedes  co-authors the book with a list of people who live and die by the City of Heroes world.  As you all remember, City of Heroes in an online interactive game that swallows you whole.  At least this is my interpretation to the huge fan base around this game.  Single, looking for love? Don't play City of Heroes or you will end up alone at 50 with 10 cats living in a dank basement rental happily munching on popcorn at 4 a.m. while you kick some type of super villains ass in cyberspace.   As I typed this sentence out I realized that spending one's time this way sounds pretty awesome.  (The hours spent playing Lego Batman on the Wii brings tears to my eyes.)  Note to self, kick tenant out of basement so I can play some vids.  

My suggestion is to take my review with a grain of salt; more specifically with a grain of salt from the side of my margarita glass.  Now that I am back home amongst the concrete sidewalks, traffic noise and obstructed sunrises from neighbouring houses  I am enjoying the book.  A week ago, not so much.  That being said, the writing just isn't at the level that the first book in the series is.  And that is saying something because these books are not full of  Frank Herbert level of prose.    Don't get me wrong I like to read a well thought out super fight but the first 100 pages of the book lacked the detail that the first book had.  It reminded me of Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom.  The authors decided to go with monkey brain lunches and heart ripping out paragraphs rather than character driven action.  If you have no idea what I am referring to  then you have some serious movie watching ahead of you tonight or we just cannot be friends.   

As you can see I have a lot of parameters around friendship.  I never said that reading my blog would be a piece of cake.  

14 March 2012

Choose wisely

Some of us spend an immense amount of time deciding what clothes to bring on a beach vacation.  Some of us even spend an immense amount of time lying under a tanning bed to be already tanned for the vacation that was supposed to get you tanned.   And then there are some of us who spend an immense amount of time deciding what book to bring.  Can you guess which person I am?  

Yes, it is true, I am going away to visit water.  Lovely, warm waters with dolphins  jumping in them and beers magically appearing as soon as you sit in a lounge chair...this is my dream.  Dune girl is still Dune Mommy and has Dune Son with her so there will be less beer lounging and more beach chasing than anything but I digress.  Choosing the book to accompany one on a vacation is rather an important decision.  You will be stuck with this narration in your head the entire time that you are away.  There is the chance that you might arrive at the waters of your choosing to discover that you do not want to read about horses but would rather read about cows.  There you are stuck with horses in your head the entire time, rereading the same pages over and over again because you just cannot connect.  Once home and years later your only memories of the trip that you spent a bazillion dollars on so you could  sit next to water is  forever memorialized by an unhappy feeling about horses.  The wrong decision can ruin, RUIN, an entire trip.

So, with this in mind I begin to pack.  

It is quite daunting but I believe in my abilities in choosing wisely.  After all I am a seasoned vet with many book memory scars and triumphs to learn from.  For example do not pack  The Kite Runner  if you are looking for an uplifting tale to accompany a trip home.  Tears, only tears came out of that trip.   When I look back on some of my happier trips I wonder if the book I chose has more to do with the overall success or if I was just too drunk to remember.  Ah, booze, how I miss you.  I seemed to have digressed again. 

Here is a lis to of some of my favourite vacations and the books that accompanied me.
  1. Maui, Hawaii  with Bruno and Boots by Gordan Korman - I was in grade 6 with my parents and brother and it was awesome.
  2. 1st, 2nd and 3rd trips to Newfoundland with books from the Harry Potter series - For some reason every trip we took a new book from the series came out.  It was awesome.
  3. Honeymooning in Italy - Agatha Christie collection of bound books and yes, it was awesome reading mysteries from the 20's while relaxing on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean.  I saw intrigue everywhere that trip.
  4. P.E.I. and Nova Scotia -  Anna Karenin by Tolstoy (odd choice I admit but you cannot get more awesome than Tolstoy if you are driving through the Atlantic provinces, pregnant and unable to drink.)
I guess I should address the two elephants in the room. The first being that yes, I am going away.  My posting most likely will dramatically drop down to nothing.  I have to be honest here, I am going to be by water with a slight chance of drinking.   I really can't see myself typing away at a computer even though I love it so.   The second issue is of course that I have not mentioned a single science fiction book in this post.  I hate to say it but yes I do read other things.  I am quite mad about mysteries and will venture into "literature" from time to time.  Try not to freak out.  There is a 99% probability that the book I choose for this  trip will be sci-fi.  

As I am about to pack up my suitcase and fly, fly away would you like to know what book I am taking?  So would I, I cannot decide! 

12 March 2012

Let's Get Nuts

Sometimes, and I do mean sometimes, I read things from the interweb.  Yes, I know that is  not supportive of me being a blogger and all. It's even worse considering that Dune Husband's job is a writer for the internet.    My house is basically paid for by the net but I can't be bothered to click on things.  Actually it is not about being bothered, it comes down to finding things that are of interest to me.  I also give up too easily.  I click, I look, I leave.   Like all things Dune girl related it comes down to time.   Who has the friggin time!  I've got four fabulous books stacked waiting for me on the bedside table,  a very cute Dune Son who likes to spend time with his Dune Mommy and don't even get me started on Dune Husband, good lord that is another post all together.  To be truthful I could make money off of a blog just about Dune Husband but I enjoy staying married at this present time.  Last night Dune Husband decided that the people in the apartment next door are either spies or aliens.  He hasn't figured out why they have (what appears to be) a large satellite in the bedroom but I am sure it is high on his to do list this week.  I will keep you up to date. Don't you all worry about that.

I have three sites I check religiously:  Facebook, my email account and thesuperficial.com. If you don't know The Superficial then you are most likely smarter than me and I congratulate you on being a self-possessed person who is not gob-smacked by the happenings of celebs.   However if you do know The Superficial then you most likely like the colour fuchsia, look at things that glimmer and are considered one of my closer friends, or soon to be!  Lucky you!  As I was saying , currently I am not one to read things posted on-line but am trying.  I spent a day (don't tell work) researching e-readers and was this close to buying a Hobo, or was it Kobo and realized just as I was on the pay page that in fact I truly like books, real books with pages bound into a cover that one can hold.  This post is about, are ready for this, The Adventures of Dr. McNinja.

Things are going to get nuts.  No shit, you say.

The Adventures of Dr. McNinja is an on-line comic strip about a Doctor who is also a Ninja.  Are you smiling as wide as I or have you just crawled under your sofa?  Dr. McNinja has a very productive practice and thanks to his secretary Judy, a gorilla he is able to keep up a high standard of fear in his waiting room.  Beyond his practise he fights bad guys, and uses his honed Ninja skills to kick ass. Dr. McNinja comes by his sweet ninja skills naturally.  His Dad, Dan McNinja and his mother, Mitzi McNinja are in their own right pretty darn good ass kickers.  They have a high standard which results in their son  having some parental issues. Don't we all just want our parents to be proud?  For me it was all about bringing home good grades, for the ole' Doc here it is all about being able to take out a gang of pirates (his nemesis) with a single judo chop.

So, say good-bye to your day because here  is the first issueYou are welcome.

5 March 2012

Ladies First

With International Women's Day on Thursday, I would like to highlight a few of favourite authors who so happen to be to be women; each with extensive catalogue of works. Before Before diving into my little fandom crushes I would like to dedicate this post to Kage Baker.
It was a very sad day in 2010 when the news of her passing was announced. The literary world lost not just a great story teller, but a very talented, uniquely hilarious lady.  So Kage, here is to you, dear. Thanks for entertaining me, (continuing to) and inspiring me to write.  

Kage Baker: The Company Series

The basic premise involves The Company:  a 24th century company that is in the treasure business.  They recruit children from various points in the past to become immortals. These immortals are then sent back in time with each one specializing in one very specific theme.  For example, Mendoza was saved from the Spanish Inquisition trained as a biologist whose passion is for maize.  Okay, okay sounds boring right, but it is not, trust me on this.  You want to take a wild ride into the past, follow believable characters and grieve with them as they fall in love and out of, these books are for you.  

Connie Willis:  Black Out/All Clear
I cannot gush over these two books enough. Masterfully written, Willis takes us back in time to document the Blitzkrieg of London during World War II.  These two books are probably the easiest of all the science fiction books I am going to present to you.  Yes, you will have to take a leap of faith over the fact that there is time travel and that historians in the future use this device as their research tool; honestly, is that not fascinating?!  I beg of you, read these books. You will not be disappointed.     

Octavia Butler:  Lilith's Brood  (First Contact)
Octavia is probably better known for her Parable Series but I am really tired of the Armageddon theme.  From 2003-2006 I gorged on  "end of the world, mankind implodes on itself" literature and am done with it.  If you are familiar with the movie "Dawn of the Dead" or the book Blindness by Fernando Meirelles (brilliant piece of work) then you know what I am talking about. Lilith's Brood introduces us to the Oankali: biological traders whose main purpose is to share their genes with other species. Through this series, Octavia explores the story of Lilith, Adam's first wife by following the genetically altered children of Lilith ( one of the few humans saved by the Oankali after, you guessed it, Armageddon.) I am not going to lie to you, it is pretty out there as far as sci-fi goes. You going to have to read about aliens. The good thing is you end up loving them.

Margaret Atwood:  Oryx and Crake
I find it rather annoying that Margaret refuses to categorize some of her works as Science Fiction.  It is as if she is embarrassed of the genre. I don't know what she is thinking, you cannot get any more sci-fi than Hand's Maid Tale or or for that matter Oryx and Crake.  I know I just said that I was over, "Armageddon, all hell breaks lose" books but being an Atwood fan, I have to add this. The book is what you think it is about, society has imploded, all shit breaks lose.  

Lois McMaster Bujold:  Vorkosigan Saga
I end this very short list with another cherished series of mine. The Vorkosigan Saga follows Miles Vorkosigan, a physically impaired interstellar spy and mercenary admiral from the planet Barrayar. If you are interested in reading a good ole' space opera, filled with likeable characters this is for you. You won't be bored, trust me on this.  Bujold has full control of the world she has created. She takes her readers on a fantastically emotional ride filled with all those good things:  mystery, love, humour and passion. Miles Vorkosigan is probably the most debonair character in sci-fi. You cannot but fall helplessly in love with him. (or maybe that is just me, but I doubt it).

3 March 2012

Contact: A Review of Stranger in a Strange Land

As I am embark of my first ever read of a Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein I am struck by the similarities this book has to other books sitting in my bookcase. The first three pages are reminiscent to Blindsight by Peter Watts and Titan by John Varley.  I like how I casually threw in two major works of fiction with one having a vampiric crew member and the other introducing you to a sentient god-like celestial body.  Hey, I never claimed I was going to take things slowly.  If you are going to explore sci-fi you kind of have to go for it.   

Like any genre, Science Fiction is multi-faceted. There are major themes and archetypes that make it quite easy for a reader to find his or her's niche.  While convenient it does tend to keep people from really exploring new authors.  Then again, this might be my problem not yours.  I know what I like but more importantly I know what I think I don't like.  Over this year of reader exploration I am going to look deeper into those themes and document what type of a reader I truly am.  

But back to the books.  All three fall under the "First Contact" theme.  Man builds space ship, man finds a suitable crew, man has first contact with new species, man's life becomes a living nightmare with the author successfully (or not) slipping in some type of lesson amidst all of the weirdness.  For some reason this theme is right up my alley.  I love the idea of being locked in a ship for possible decades  with a group of people I quickly will loathe to then end up somewhere that I did not expect and have to adapt or die.  What the hell is wrong with me?

Take my husband for example, this theme is not something he would gravitate to. When you are married to a man who discusses aliens in the same vein as other's discuss the war on terror, you know you really do not want to feed this person's anxiety.    One of the first things he had to tell me this morning was that there is documented proof of two Russian fighter jets following a U.F.O .   This was conveyed not in a gleeful, "can you believe that" tone but from a dead pan, "it's time to buy the generator and move to Newfoundland seriousness".  While some families have a house fire exist strategy in play we have an Armageddon strategy.  Basically it is high tail it to The Rock.  We (husband) haven't thought further than that. The sad thing is you think I am joking.  

So, yes if you would like go out and acquire Stranger in a Strange Land, let's  read it together and discuss.  And this current stage I am somewhat intrigued but somewhat annoyed.