Saturday, July 30, 2016

Sunday Post #153



The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer


Another nice summery week. No shortage of sunshine and it's been pretty warm again. We're having a nice summer but it's going quick. Lots of fun stuff going on, I may or may not make it to the Coast Guard festival and the Renaissance festival returns in a few weeks. Hard to believe it's that time of year again. And the Olympics start next week. 

This past week I did the Bookish Time Travel Tag and some other stuff - I also reviewed At The Edge of Summer which I won in a Goodreads giveaway, and started The Woman in Cabin 10. Loving that one so far. 

Mind Meld the monthly discussion feature at sci-fi blog SFSignal  has a new home. Barnes & Noble.com has a science fiction blog as well and they have picked it up. You can find the first post here. I've been a contributor to Mind Meld in the past and I'm happy to see it has a new home. 



The Chicago to Mackinac race is underway and here's an update.  



What is the race?



And I'm listening to... 



Last Weeks Stuff:

Cover Characteristics 
The Bookish Time Travel Tag      
 
A Dance with Dragons     
At The Edge of Summer
Bookcover Spotlight    

Next Week:

Cover Characteristics 

Top Ten Books I'd Buy With A Gift Card  
A Dance with Dragons  
The Woman in Cabin 10 
Bookcover Spotlight  

And here's some more pics I took. 









PULP COVER OF THE WEEK: 

  


NEW ARRIVAL/ UPCOMING REVIEWS:

Time Siege (Time Salvager #2)The Wanderers (The Wanderers, #1)Truly Madly Guilty

BOOKISH LINKS


Here's a fun car chase from the Bond movie For Your Eyes Only. It takes place on Corfu and below it is someone recreating the route. And just to show that the Internet has everything they have here a website that revisits the Bond locations. And nice scenery. 





Friday, July 29, 2016

Thursday, July 28, 2016

At The Edge of Summer

At the Edge of Summer

At The Edge of Summer is the follow up to Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole. Like that book it takes a poignant view of two people and the way their relationship changes over time, as events take their lives in different directions, only to bring them back together later. Clare is a fiercely independent girlwhose mother has left her and whose grandfather is off traveling the world- she is taken in by a friend of her mothers and spends a summer in France at the chateau Mille Mots. It's a crumbling place but it's a haven for Clare as she struggles with the betrayal by her mother and her sense of loss, and she gets to know Luc over the course of the summer.

Luc is the son of her mothers friend and they are both drawn to the arts, and over the summer they become friends and perhaps more. Clare's mother was an artist and felt that her freedom and arty lifestyle was more important to her than raising her daughter, so she left, but Clare also has an artists touch. Together her and Luc spend a glorious summer exploring the grounds and getting to know one another, until her grandfather arrives to take her back to Scotland. Their lives take them in different directions as Clare travels with her grandfather and Luc goes to war- they stay in touch by letter but as time goes on the letters cease for various reasons and they lose touch.

Luc eventually returns to Paris where he will cross paths with Clare again. They're different people now though - will the connection still be there?

I think the author does a great job showing us pre-war France and the changes brought by WWI, and the first part of the book paints a vivid picture of Mille Mots and the idyllic countryside. The bonds that Clare and Luc forge that summer see them through years of heartbreak and adversity, and so it's fascinating to see them come back together as different people- and yet the same.I especially liked Clare's perspective and really felt for her with all she went through, and it was interesting to see her character develop through the years of traveling throughout Africa.

At The Edge of Summer is a fine story, well told,  and hits many of the same notes that Letters from Skye did. A long distance relationship in an era when communication was sketchy, the uncertainty of not knowing if someone is even alive or thinking of you, a love that crosses years and great distance, and two well drawn protagonists. And France isn't a bad setting either. A good read.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Dance with Dragons The Kingbreaker/ The Dragontamer

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)

This week we revisit Barristan the Bold as he makes his move, in concert with the Shavepate. The two of them are trying to keep Dany in power and foil Hizdahr's attempt to take over and accede to her enemies. Then we check in with Quentyn and his Dornish companions as they put their plan into motion- to steal a dragon. Lots of action and intrigue in Meereeen this week. We're getting to the end of the book- lots of things are happening now and the pace is rapidly picking up.

The Shavepate tells Barristan that the Yunkai'i dumped Groleo's head in front of Hizdahr to give him an excuse to kill the dragons. He says Hizdahr's own family members amongst the hostages were returned with no harm done to them. Barristan's plan is to take Hizdahr and form a council to rule, and only attack the Yunkish if they fail to withdraw and return the hostages. Shavepate says that's dumb and they should attack immediately. He agrees grudgingly to go along though and they move.

They also discuss whether to free the hostages (if possible) with Shavepate arguing that it would be better for Dany if Daario died. Barristan thinks it would be better for Dany and Westeros but knows she loves him. They also disagree about killing the Harpy hostages in kind if any more of Dany's are slain, but Barristan refuses.

I am not made for this, he reflected as he looked out over the sprawling city. The pyramids were waking, one by one, lanterns and torches flickering to life as shadows gathered in the streets below. Plots, ploys, whispers, lies, secrets within secrets, and somehow I have become part of them.

Barristan goes to the king's chambers in the night and confronts him about whether he is the Harpy, and did he try to poison Daenerys. He also points out the men in the arena obeyed Hizdahr when he told them to kill the dragon. Hizdahr sputters and denies all but is clearly nervous and calls for his guard- Khrazz the pit fighter. He and Barristan fight and the old knight kills the pit fighter, and takes Hizdahr in hand. Then a serving boy comes and says that the dragons have been loosed.

MY THOUGHTS: 

We're told here that Summerhall happened after Aegon V let three of his sons marry for love rather than duty, and this led to treasons and grief culminating in the Summerhall incident. More hints. We also learn here that Varys was whispering to Aerys about his son Rhaegar, that he meant to depose his father- Varys' games go way back don't they?- and we also discover that was in love with Ashara Dayne. She killed herself after her daughter was stillborn, and perhaps also over grief for the man who had dishonored her. What's going on there?

I also get the sense that Barristan wanted a fight in the king's chambers, the way he drew his sword and was happy when Khrazz came at him. Barristan is a soldier, a knight and he lives for that- the intrigues and the secrets are not to his liking.

THE DRAGONTAMER

Quentyn is nervous about his plan, and Drink tells him he should go to the Temple of the Graces and have a woman- apparently the Temple has pleasure gardens. Quent wants to marry Gwyneth Yronwood and be home. In spite of his misgivings the three of them dress up as Brazen Beasts and meet with Pretty Meris and her crew, who have a wagon and chains to bind the dragons. When they get to the holding place the doors dented and dinged as if something has been trying to get out...

They give the code word but it's the wrong one and they have to fight the guards, killing them. What I think happens here is the word they were given was correct, but this is happening at the same time as Barristan and the Shavepate are executing their plan, and Shavepate's men are using a different word.

The dragons, Prince Quentyn thought. Yes. We came for the dragons. He felt as though he might be sick. What am I doing here? Father, why? Four men dead in as many heartbeats, and for what? "Fire and blood," he whispered, "blood and fire."

They enter the vault and feed a sheep to Rhaegal, hoping to make them full and drowsy, but it goes wrong. Viserion has dug a burrow or cave out of the brick walls and comes down and everything falls apart.

The woman, Quentyn realized. He knows that she is female. He is looking for Daenerys. He wants his mother and does not understand why she's not here.

Quentyn thinks he can cow the beast into submission but one of the mercenaries shoots Viserion with a crossbow, and the dragon kills him. They fall back but Quentyn tries to lash Viserion with his whip- unfortunately Rhaegal is behind him and Quentyn realizes he's burning.

In some ways Quentyn is an idiot, thinking a scheme like this would work. Martin does a great job here showing the majesty, and the terrifying power, of the dragons- Quentyn is awestruck when he gets in there and soon forgets all his plans. Of course it all goes to pot, and it appears here that Q is done for. There is a theory out there that Q is still alive, but I don't put much stock in it. We'll check in one more time with these characters, and it's pretty clear there that the goose is cooked. Not only that, but this is how the dragons get out, as referenced in the previous chapter.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Bookish Time Travel Tag

The Bookish Time Travel Tag is hosted by The Library Lizard. I was tagged for this by Mareli Thalk ink and thought it sounded like a lot of fun. And I love time travel. So here we go...

The rules are:

  • Answer as many of the questions as you can/ want
  • Tag other people- as many as you like. share the love!
  • Please leave a link to this post/ blog
  • Tag the post as "Bookish time Travel" 
  • Explore! Try and visit other people's Bookish Time Travel posts and leave a comment. 

The questions.

1) What is your favorite historical setting for a book?



I like the Victorian era, both for murder mysteries as well as fantasy or vampires/ strange creatures. There's just so much atmosphere... give me foggy streets, gas lamps and perhaps a werewolf or creature of the night on the prowl...

2) What writer(s) would you like to travel back in time to meet?

I would say JRR Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. To sit with them and discuss their creations as well as philosophy (I think Lewis would be fascinating in that regard).

3) What books would you travel back in time and give to your younger self?

The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings #1)

Maybe The Lord of the Rings- although I did read it young I had read other, derivative fantasy first.

4) What book(s) would you travel forward in time and give to your older self?



Not really sure- I think maybe a Peanuts compilation or something humorous. There's a tendency to lose the sense of wonder as you get older, and as a kid these were a refuge from the humdrum. Maybe having these as an older person would remind me to lighten up? :)

5) What is your favorite futuristic setting from a book? E.g Panem from the Hunger Games.

I love futuristic, cyberpunk- ish settings so probably something like that. A futuristic city with starports and neon- something like Blade Runner. Or maybe Chicago from Divergent- it was a lot of fun wondering what was outside the wall. Too bad the answers were ultimately disappointing. But I always like ruined cities in the future...

6) What is your favorite book that is set in a different time period (can be historical or futuristic)?

A Princess of Mars (Barsoom, #1)

A Princess of Mars is a childhood favorite that I'm still fond of today. I'm not sure it's a favorite anymore, but it had such a impact on me as a kid it deserves mentioning. It's set in Civil War times but the majority of the book is set on Mars and could be any time period really.

Behind the Shattered Glass is one of the country house mysteries I've read. I read a fair amount of these and this is a good example. All the stuff you need- a beautiful estate, a murder, servants and gentlefolk, and lots of secrets.

7) Spoiler time: Do you ever skip ahead to the end of a book just to see what happens?

I've been known to do this... from time to time. I don't do it as much now, but in the past I have done it, especially if it's something I'm really anxious to know. Sometimes in split POV books I'll skip a chapter if I have to know how a cliffhanger resolves. :)

8)  If you had a Time Turner, where would you go and what would you do?

Wow, tough one. I have several answers.

The age of dinosaurs. Forget Jurassic Park, I want to see dinosaurs in the primordial world and see what they really look like. As long as I could get out again...

Egypt at the time of the pyramids. How did they really build them?

The birth or crucifixion of Christ. So many questions could be answered... or maybe Easter.

9) Favorite book (if you have one) that includes time travel or takes place in multiple time periods?

Tunnel Through Time

As a kid my favorite time travel book was Tunnel Through Time. These kids and their scientist dad go back in time to the dinosaur era, and also visit the Ice Age and end up bringing a prehistoric girl back with them. If I remember right she jumps back into the past...

Time Salvager (Time Salvager #1)

A more recent might be Time Salvager. While it's not a favorite book necessarily, I do like the concept of going back in time to acquire resources- things that are no longer available but can be used in the future.

10) What book/ series do you wish you could go back and read again for the first time?

Probably the Lord of the Rings. When I read it as a kid some of the stuff in Fellowship bored me... all the Shire stuff. Now I appreciate it more and as an adult I think it would be a blast to discover for the first time.

So... there you have it. It's been fun traveling through the mists of time to answer these questions. A big thank you to Mareli Thalk ink for tagging me... and feel free to tag yourself and join the fun!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Cover Characteristics Robots



Cover Characteristics is a meme by Sugar and Snark- every week a characteristic is selected and we post 5 books with that week's theme.  

This week's pick- Robots/ Androids  


This week I decided to go with robotic/ android cover art- this is one I've been wanting to do for a while. 

Alex + Ada #12

I decided to include some comic covers this time around- I like this one for the simplicity of it.
Alex + Ada #10

This one reflects a bit of a love triangle in the story. 

Alex + Ada #5

An interesting cover- really captures the anguish which is at the heart of this series. 



Obviously an old school cover but I am intrigued by the robotic arm.

Robopocalypse (Robopocalypse, #1)

This one's just kinda freaky. 

Robots and Empire (Robot, #4)

Another older cover- art is by Michael Whelan.  

Freak of Nature (IFICS, #1)

I remember seeing this around a year or two ago- always liked this cover. 

Fractured Innocence (IFICS #2)

Nice cover  - but my favorite part of this is the title. 

Replica

This one is kinda terrifying.

Revolution 19 (Revolution 19, #1)

This might be my fave- this or the first Alex and Ada.

And for a bonus...  

This is a great movie about artificial intelligence.  





Saturday, July 23, 2016

Sunday Post #152



The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

It's been a pleasant- but HOT- week with temps in the 90's. Reading has been okay- I'm getting through about a book a week which is good for summertime. Didn't make it to the beach but there are some festivals going over by the lakeshore. So maybe this week. In show news I'm pretty much caught up on everything, and I'm looking for something to watch on Netflix. I've been binging so much the last few months that I've gone through pretty much everything on my list. 

I reviewed The Girls in the Garden this week and it just might be one of my favorites of the year so far. I also talked about Weird Titles in books and had the usual discussion on A Dance with Dragons as well as Bookcover Spotlight. There are a few movies I'd like to see but I never seem to make it to the theater... and the Olympics are getting closer. Two weeks to go!

The Girls in the Garden

This Suicide Squad promo dropped this week and it looks as fun as ever. 



PULP COVER OF THE WEEK: 

Stone Cold Blonde (A Steve Conacher Mystery)
  
NEW ARRIVAL/ UPCOMING REVIEWS:

Time Siege (Time Salvager #2)The Wanderers (The Wanderers, #1)

BOOKISH LINKS

Boats Against the Current talks about book covers


Friday, July 22, 2016

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Girls in the Garden



The Girls in the Garden starts out with a party and a girl in a coma. Pip and Grace are brought to the Victoria Park development to live after their father goes into a hospital for his mental illness. Their mother is a bit distracted and they make friends with the other kids in the complex- there's a mix of upscale and more modest homes and they all back onto a communal garden area, complete with a rose garden and paths and even an enclosed "secret" garden. It sounds like a wonderful place for kids to hang out- but one night after a summer party in the park Grace is found unconscious- and there are signs of an assault.

The story is told from the point of view of Pip, her mother Clare, and Adele who lives across the park. And a fascinating story it is. Clare deals with being a single mom while Adele has a beautiful home, three daughters that she homeschools, and a husband who is popular with the kids- perhaps too popular with some of them. Grace is hospitalized after the incident and while Clare and Pip try to hold it together, and figure out what happened, it's Adele who starts digging into the secrets and lies that permeate the community, even as the police are doing the same thing. I loved switching from Pip's perspective to Adele's- both had fascinating personalities and such a different perspective on things, and both were equally compelling.

This story explores the question of how well do you really know someone- your kids, a husband or wife, family? Adele realizes over time that in some ways she doesn't know her kids at all- even though they live together, the kids have their own world in the park and it's a little scary to realize that in real life there's a lot of things we don't know about the people closest to us. To me that was the message of the book- how much do you really know? And does it matter? Here it clearly matters as we slowly learn more about what happened that summer night.

There are some chilling moments towards the end where we discover things that tie everything together, and I enjoyed trying to figure out what happened. Each revelation was a peek into a society centered around the park, where kids grow up too fast and parents don't realize it, where clues and links to past events provide a context to what happened. The only real complaint I have is the explanation at the end seemed a little bit contrived, perhaps a smidgen unrealistic considering how young the kids are, but overall this was a fantastic read that explores family and kids and what happens when it all goes wrong. One of my favorite reads of the year.

SPOILER DISCUSSION

For those who've read the book I wanted to talk spoilers a bit.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wednesday Reviews #7



"I've Seen The Other Side Of You" looks at the tension on the ship after the crew's recent escape from the security moon where they were held captive. Two wants to take on the corporations in the wake of One's death, and the three newcomers find their access to the ship restricted- which seems prudent since neither we or the crew know very much about them. Android, meanwhile, cannot re- establish her neural link with the ship, due to the injuries she sustained on Hyperion-8. So she shuts down to effect repairs- and then bad stuff happens.

Basically this episode is one of those exercises in what happens when people lose their memories? Two, Three and Four are all uploaded with their old memories, back when they were criminals- so they get to sneer and be ruthless and Five has to figure out a way to survive and restore them to their, um, new selves. Or whatever. Of course she does so in the end but we learn a few things- we get a glimpse into what made Two the way she is (er, was), we find out that Arax is the mole onboard, and we also find out that the crews old memories are available- but they decide not to upload them as Android warns it could make them into their old criminal selves again. I'm not sure any of that really makes sense, but whatever. A moderately entertaining episode.

I think Dark Matter has a lot of potential, I really liked S1 with the slightly claustrophobic feel aboard the Raza and the dark themes- and three episodes into S2 I'm not sure where this is going but I'm cautiously optimistic. This show isn't as polished or as well written as say a 12 Monkeys, like I said last week, but it is keeping my interest.



Speaking of 12 Monkeys- this week The Memory of Tomorrow  is the final episode of S2. We finally get to find out who the Witness is- but more on that in a moment. First we start off with Cole and Cassie in 1959, exchanging presents for Christmas. Awww... we want them to be happy, but of course it's not to be. The much ballyhooed appearance of Madeleine Stowe as a guest star happens- Cole encounters her on the street and time just... stops. It happens again and Cole finds her in an insane asylum. Guess what? She's a Primary... or something. She tells Cole he can go back to 1957 and try again to stop the paradox... the only problem is doing so will erase the happiness that he and Cassie have found in the last year.

The other wrinkle is- Cassie is pregnant. Yay Cole and Cassie- congratula- wait that's not going to happen if Cole does his thing. And sure enough... he does, drinking the red leaf tea or whatever and going back. And he doesn't tell Cassie- which is the biggest problem I have with this one. I HATE it when a show does that- I can't see him not telling her. Shouldn't she have a say? Anyway Cole succeeds and he and Cassie are pulled back to 2044. The happiness of their time together is erased- or is it? Later Cassie remembers their time together- yay! But what does that mean?

It's nice to have the band back together. Cole and Cassie, along with Jones, travel to Ramse's location and mount a rescue, along with Jennifer and the Daughters. Everyone in one place! But things go wrong, because of course, and Ramse ends up with Olivia and her dissidents while Cassie is snatched away just before the bad guys get away via time displacement. Argh- they're separated again! And no- Deac gets taken out after valiantly defending Jennifer. He really grew on me- if he's truly dead that's a shame.

It was nice to see Jones kick a little ass in this one- that image of her with a shotgun and a cigarette was a hoot. Cleaning house! And she has a dog. And her daughter wasn't too shabby with the weapons either! But we end with Cassie in 2163- they're in the future now, not the past- and Cole is determined to go and save her. And the big reveal... the Witness is- the child. Cole and Cassie's child will be the Witness? I was kinda hoping that wouldn't be the case- but at least now we know. Although on this show you never really know.