#18 – The Death of Dulgath, Michael J. Sullivan (Riyria Chronicles… the missed one)

#18 – The Death of Dulgath, Michael J. Sullivan (Riyria Chronicles… the missed one)

So.  Somehow I missed this third book in the early adventures of Hadrian and Royce.  Don’t know how I did it but I cannot tell you how glad I am that there is another one.  Although I really love the fact that this author is truly protective on these beloved characters and is careful to not overdo or over-write them, I truly cannot get enough of their adventures.

I’ve slowed down some in my reading of late.  I don’t know why,  but it happens sometimes.  Recently I have been restless.  I am a fiber artist and design geeky/historical cross stitch samplers for fun and profit, but that bit of creativity has been on the lulled side as well… mostly my fingers have been busy with crochet hooks and a whole lot of no thinking… of which I have become tired of.  I miss the things I love and I have begun to take daily steps toward a better routine…

In the meanwhile I’m slow… but, this time I think it was no real loss, it was nice to lazily work my way through this story… almost savored even.  I almost think this particular installation of the duo was my favorite.  I’m not sure why.  Can’t put my finger on it, but there was a lovely amount of character growth and a very interesting elven encounter which gives you an really good peek into their by-gone world and does a lot to set up the other trilogy.

So this is a short entry, but, at least there is an entry.  My apologies… but it will get better.  Honest.

I’m going to leave you with this recommendation… if you like fantasy stories, read these.  This author has the right mix of everything… humor,  horror, love, secrets, character and more character.  Just.  Yeah.  If you miss this series don’t blame me…. it won’t be my fault and will totally be your loss.

 

# 17 – Kings of the Wyld – Nicholas Eames

# 17 – Kings of the Wyld – Nicholas Eames

I discovered this book through Barnes and Noble’s Science Fiction and Fantasy blog.  It was described as being about aged adventurers.  Which is of interest to me, as I am also an aged adventurer.  I have often pondered what it would be like and in truth have taken to creating older characters because I just don’t have the interest in playing the 20 something’s just starting their lives anymore.

Okay.  A little about me time.  My name is April and I am a pencil and paper table top roleplaying gamer.  I’ve been one since 1979 when I “tricked” the tall, skinny, pimply faced geek in my art class into inviting me to play.  Little did I know that the denizens of the gaming world at that time would have welcomed me with open arms for many different reasons…two of which were my breasts.  You see, I’d seen the group of guys playing this game on the bus during an honor roll field trip (yeah.. geeks AND nerds) and I wanted in on it BAD.  But, I was too shy or uncertain of myself to just ask to play.  I thought and thought and decided that if I played too I could approach them with common ground, instead of just being a silly girl who wanted in on their fun.  So I asked for the Dungeons and Dragons game for Christmas… and low and behold, on Christmas morning there was a box full of the things you need to play, rule booklet, adventure pamphlet, character sheets and soft plastic chewable dice.  I spent the rest of the holiday break pouring over everything and I convinced my dad to create a character and play with me.  My dad really was awesome and I think he really loved the idea of the imagination play.  But.  When it came to melee we just couldn’t seem to wrap our heads around the rules.  So, finally, back in school… and then almost an entire year to work my courage up and realize the geek chieftain was sitting next to me in art class later, I asked him (knowing full well) what was in that funny brown bag he ALWAYS carried.  D and D you say?… Wow.  I have that game, but I can’t figure out the melee…. Oh come play with us!  We’ll help you figure it out!  We play Friday after school in Mr. B’s room! … and I was IN… and I was hooked for life.

That geek chieftain and I are celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary (going on 39) this year.  Needless to say, we are now said aged adventurers and I find myself wondering where all the fantasy stories about older people are?  .. and then BAM!  BnN blog points me to a treasure.

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My favorite view of this man…  no longer so skinny or so pimply, but still a huge geek and an amazing useless fact hoarding nerd.  Oh… and I believe I forgot to mention that we raised two gaming geek boys who have found two gaming geek chicas to liven up their lives!

My youngest, DeForest with his pixie Kristen… and my oldest, Hans with his Zelda queen Olivia…  Yes they are cosplaying and yes they are gaming… at their parent’s table, with their parents.  Can’t ask for more than that!

But anyway.  I digress.  Back to the book…

What if groups of heroes acted like, and were treated like rock stars?  What if the members of an adventuring band had qualities and weapons that matched their role and instruments?  Within the Kings of the Wyld you will find a lead singer who wields a sword and charm with equal skill, a guitar man with an axe, a drummer with two knives and the ever-present, quiet, unassuming, stalwart bass man whose “weapon” of choice is a shield, and a wizard… well… I’m not sure what instrument player the wizard represents unless he is key or soundboards, with a bag of holding that he pulls the most amazing and quirky devices from.  This book will break your heart on one page and have you snorting coffee, laughing out loud or groaning at the puns on the next.  The author dances a fine line and does a fabulous job of not falling into the abyss of trite.  Indeed, many of the quotes heard uttered are from popular sources and at one point I began to wonder if Mr. Eames had been given a challenge list by his friends to see how many he could actually include.  I would say Mr. Eames won the bet and used the entire list, which does nothing to detract from the depth of the story or the heart of the characters.  In truth it reminded me of so many gaming sessions over the years where one could have heard “Fritz!  They killed Fritz!”… or “It is known”… or “I’ll be back” (full horrible Arnie accent and all) echoing through the house from the game room.  As I read I found myself putting the book down and reminiscing about past characters and their exploits.

This is a great read.  Humor, heroes, heart.  How can you go wrong?

I’m looking forward to the next installment in his “band” series, where he promises to move on to the next generation of heroes hoping to make a name for themselves like the rock stars of old.

5 of 5 Mr. Eames, and a shout out to my older gamer friends, telling them this is a “must read”!

…and just for giggles, since this book does make one giggle… here is a photo of my beloved GM way back in the day…

Pril grad

# 16 – Psycho, Robert Bloch

# 16 – Psycho, Robert Bloch

We have been enjoying the series Bates Motel and were glad to see that they were wrapping it up with this final season.  So often television series outlast their stories, in our humble opinion, and many times they go to great and usually lousy lengths to keep milking the cash cow.  Although we are sad to see it go, the writers and such are doing a great job with the story and the wind up to the finale.

::Spoiler Alert::… if you haven’t seen Bates Motel and want surprises I would suggest you skip a bit..

I don’t know about you, but as we watch shows we are often struck by questions or thoughts worth pondering and often resort to googling information to satisfy our curiosity.  There have been several times during the run of this show that we have googled info, like, we were curious about the house and hotel…  But now as things are drawing to a close it seems they are ramping up the easter egg hunt.  We started noticing things when my hubby saw this and wondered if it was significant.

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A quick google search yielded a game  that is played from the end to its beginning… much like the TV show to the movie… and then scenes began to look very familiar… and it ramped up to the infamous shower scene from the movie… only to fool us…

Which prompted us to stop watching the finale and go watch the original movie.  Which, if you haven’t seen, or haven’t seen in a long time, still holds up to watching/re-watching, even when you know how it comes out.  Just plain good cinema.

So.  Original movie fresh in our minds we went back to the TV finale… and were amazed by how many nods to the movie there were.  Not whole dialogs, but sentences in their entirety fitted seamlessly into the modern dialog.  Nuances of characters, little details like Norman eating candy corn, and Norman stroking one of his stuffed birds as he speaks.  The shower scene… although not the woman you expect… it is her lover… and the iconic bits, the water, the blood down the drain, the grab for the shower curtain, pulling it off the rings… the body over the edge of the tub… and that shot of the eyeball.  Nice.  Really nice.

Then I began to wonder what they might have incorporated into the series from the original book.  So I acquired a copy and gave it a read.  It reads fast, it reads intense and I can see why it was a bit of a shocker for its day.  Mr. Bloch got his story from a real life serial killer Ed Gein… although reading his biography I think the thing that truly inspired this tale was Gein’s psychosis…  if you’d like to read up on this mama’s boy, you can find it HERE.

:: Safe reading continues::…  :-D

So.  Psycho was a good, curl up in your afghan with your hot drink of choice, finish in an evening and sleep with the lights on read.  I highly recommend it.  Especially if you’ve watched Bates Motel and Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho… oh… and if you haven’t seen it, the movie Hitchcock, starring Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren takes place during the time that Psycho is being filmed and released  (to keep with the theme).  It is also a very enjoyable watch.

#7, 9, 11, 13, 15 – The Riyria Saga – Michael J. Sullivan

#7, 9, 11, 13, 15 – The Riyria Saga – Michael J. Sullivan

Okay!  Finally!  I can tell you all about the series I have been reading… because, sadly, it is completed!  Such a mix of emotions coming to the end of a good read.  You want to see how it winds up, but you don’t want it to end!  Which is why I read it the way I did.  One book at a time and another book in-between each.  I’ve learned that although I love to be immersed in a series, I can get bored, no matter how good it is, book after book and the details start to get muddled and my eyes glaze over.  To counteract that I mix it up a bit!  I actually read the first volume in the epic several years ago when I was only reading self published authors.  (we had to downsize and put everything in storage, so to keep from buying paper books I treated myself to an e-reader and my first year with it was spent exploring only self published authors… found some treasures, read a load of crap… but it was an interesting experiment)  It had been my intent to go further and buy more of the books, but apparently I got sidetracked until I read about the author and his series in the Barnes and Noble Sci-Fi/Fantasy blog.  So back into the series I dove.

These books are a buttload of fun.  Seriously.  You laugh out loud, you shout, you rail at the clouds, you sigh and you cry.  Some of the plot devices are predictable and you know from the beginning where it is going to go, but there are some that have lovely twists that I didn’t see until the reveal.  The characters have depth, are flawed, make mistakes, stick to their own code of conduct and generally are people you’d love to know in real life…  Well…  one definitely wants to be careful with Royce…  Loved them.  Really, really loved them and will recommend them right up there with Patrick Rothfuss… and these are better because the story is complete… not left hanging and hanging and hanging… but… that is a story for another day.

Also.  I wanted to show you this really cool pillow my hubby found a year or so ago at a thrift store.  At first I thought it was verra cool, but then stopped using it and didn’t really care.  Actually gave it away to my son, who left it here when he returned home… and all that to tell you this…  I’m not so thrilled about the trade format popularity of paperbacks these days.  I have a hard time holding the books comfortably so I found myself propping the books on my lap with a pillow… then I remembered this little pillow… and now my son cannot have it.  I take it back.  Mine.  It has become my favorite thing.  Here…

Just a little pyramid pillow with a tassel.  Brilliant!  Here it is in use…

The first image shows the flat side up, the second two show the pointy side up.  I like that as you get into the middle of the larger books they just stay open without any stress on the spine!  Is awesomeness!

So.  In case you want one for yourself…  they can be found HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#14 – The Collapsing Empire, John Scalzi

#14 – The Collapsing Empire, John Scalzi

I love me some John Scalzi.  Seriously.  His space epics are the best.  Seriously.

I was totally chuffed to see a message from Amazon saying my pre-order had shipped… and when it got here… first editioooooooon!.  Yum!  But.  I had (had to… cuz the book I was reading was such a chore.  Not.) to finish the book I was currently immersed in, and then I had to take a break for a day to let that story settle… kinda like waiting for that turkey and stuffing to settle before you head on in for pie and coffee…  But once I dug in…. I sat and finished before the day was over, and I didn’t even have to stay up late.

So, imagine a universe where faster-than-light travel is possible because of the discovery of a “thing” called the Flow… an extradimensional field that touch ours at certain points in space-time…. imagine humanity spread amongst the stars, on many planets that can only be reached through this Flow.  Now imagine that Flow, collapsing and disappearing, leaving pockets of humanity stranded… that beginning is where this book is set.  I will be having a hard time waiting for the next installment.  I should have probably read more slowly.  😛

Life has been a little bit like getting knocked down, dragged through the mud, propped up and fed into a taffy pulling machine, dunked into a barrel of sour beer and then left draped over the railing of the deck to dry.  A bit of a foot injury, which made it difficult to impossible to get around, had to call in to work and keep off the foot, keep it elevated, keep it iced, and then… something else pops in my ankle and a very odd divot has appeared in my  shin.. and well… it goes on from there.  Along with that I have been low on energy and in a bit of a funk.  My only escape has been the books.  I am so looking forward to telling you about the series I have been gobbling, but you will just have to wait.  For now.  Go, explore John Scalzi and his space epics.  Next time I will have a whole new series for you to get lost in.

For me… I’m headed to the porch, book in hand, to see what happens next with Hadrian and Royce.  Oop.  Little hint for you.

Oh… and here is Bearbear… keeping me sane even if I can’t go walkies like he wants… Just to leave you with a smile.

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# 12 – Holder of Lightening, S. L. Farrel

# 12 – Holder of Lightening, S. L. Farrel

So this one has been on my shelf for a while.  Decided to forgo the stacks of new acquisitions and headed down into the bookcave to see what might catch my eye.  Bookcave you ask?  Why yes.  April has a bookcave… where else do you keep your hoard if you are a book dragon?  Okay.  Yes.  There are book shelves in every room… but…  this room is the most specialistest of all…

See?… I love me my bookcave.  It is also the game cave… what you don’t see at the other end of the room is the 8 foot long gaming table and computer desk.  Yes.  We live rich fantasy lives. 😀

I really liked the sound of the back cover blurb.  Loved the idea of a strong female lead, loved the idea of a story steeped in celtic myth… little did I know, however, that the story would almost be lost in the unending parade of unpronounceable celtic names…. both people, place, and thing.  Now.  I don’t know about you, but as an old hand at reading fantasy and science fiction I am the queen of suspending disbelief and I can easily assign  weird names  easier alternatives while not losing the flavor the name is meant to imbue, either otherworldly or oldie timey or completely made up elven.  I am, after all, a 5 time reader of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and never got bogged down in those names or the verbosity.  But this one.  This one tested me, my imagination, AND my patience.

Which I didn’t like.

It gave me pause, and I did consider giving up, but I was already 2/3rds of the way through and was engaged with the characters and quite interested in how it would end… so…  I stopped for a bit and thought about why this book in particular was giving me so much trouble.  I came to decide that it wasn’t necessarily that there were so many in a single paragraph (and there were often 3-5) but that because there were so many, I felt obliged and in fact it was necessary to try to sound them out because there were too many to attribute to “oh him”… and “that thing”… and… it really hit home that when I read, I vocalize the words in my head, and because I didn’t know how to pronounce so many words and names I began to feel silly… and dumb.  I hate when things and people make me feel dumb.

And then there were the magic battles.  Now, I’m not a huge fan of military fiction, although an all time favorite sci-fi author is William Dietz… I don’t mind battles and combat and war even, so long as it isn’t handled down to the crazy details only military historians and lead pushers are interested in.  I know that conflict happens, and I don’t mind reading about them… but something about these battles annoyed me.  The magic is very powerful nad seems to be the answer to everything, but also the cause of all problems.  I don’t know why, but I dreaded turning the page to discover that magic combat was about to ensue.

Having said all that, I did get to the end of the book cheering characters on, mourning the loss of others and being thoroughly fascinated by the mythos of this world.  I had told several people after I’d finished that I would not be looking for the second one in the series.  I think now that was an untruth.  I have added it to my book list and will watch for it in the second-hand stores and might even order it next time I’m shopping on-line.  I guess, despite the difficulties I had, the author did a fine job of grabbing my interest, pulling at my heart-strings and telling a fine tale.  I’ve given this one a 3, but a hopeful for the future 3.

 

#10 – Moon Dark, Patricia Wrightson – Illustrated by Noela Young

#10 – Moon Dark, Patricia Wrightson – Illustrated by Noela Young

EmFound this one rummaging at the Goodwill.  Sometimes it is hard to say what makes me pull a book off the shelf for perusal.  The look of the spine, the title, often the cover will convince to me either pull it out and read the fly or push it back, shaking my head thinking “oh noooooo”….  On rare occasion a book is chosen because there is an inscription.  In this case the story sounded interesting, a brief glimpse of the illustrations required a longer look and then the inscription was what made it wind up in my basket.

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“allegory” (like a parable)… and then the bit on the fly…  ancient magic and mystical night in the dark of the moon… you got me.  I’m interested now.

I almost quit this book several times and it took me far longer than it should have, partly because I started a new job, but partly because I found the beginning (truly, over half the book) to be quite dull and left me wondering when the story would begin.  Once it did begin, it got pretty good, pretty fast, although the way it ended was a little bit of a let down (and perhaps a relief) compared to the detailed and ponderous way it began.  I think one could have halved the set up of the real story.  Reading about Blue, the dog was neat and all the wildlife around him.  The author did a grand job of conveying the lives of the local fauna without humanizing them overly, but, in my opinion it went on just a little too long.

But.  To the good stuff.  There is an influx of flying foxes upset the balance of the territories and small animals are starving and have begun a war.  They wind up calling on an ancient power they call Keeting… who is… a moon man?… not the moon but the light that shines on the moon?… hard to say, but mystical and ancient and incredibly fascinating… cuz he sings… and glows…  and he comes to help them by showing them how they can help themselves.

I found the whole myth fascinating.  The thought of the animals being Eminent Men at one time and that they remembered when they were.  Eminent Man you ask?… yeah… me too… I could guess and gather, as I am quite familiar with Native American stories of the world, but I did go looking and found this eminent man entry in a document about native tribes of south east Australia.  I tried to find information about this Keeting… but… found nothing that seemed to fit.  Which was disappointing because now I am really curious to know more about Australian Aboriginal myths and astronomy.  Really cool stuff once she gets into the meat of the story.

What made this book totally worth wading into the middle were the illustrations at the beginnings of the chapters… here are some of my favorites…

 

So, although it was interesting, and I think well written, I did find this a bit slow going.  Not sure I would ever read it again, so will send it out to my Little Free Library and see if we can tempt anyone else!

Onwards to the next installment of me epic fantasy marathon…