Monday, March 27, 2017

The Wanderers

The Wanderers (The Wanderers, #1)

The Wanderers is a book that's been on my TBR for a long time. I finally got to reading it and it turned out to be quite good. It's the story of a girl named Flo who can shift into a horse, and she's part of a circus comprised entirely of shifters. They go from location to location, barely scraping by, always on the lookout for hunters- covert agents who are aware of them and will kill or capture them on sight. I liked the idea of a circus of shifters, and this is the first book I've read with so many different animals- there are elephants, bears, cheetahs- and no paranormal creatures like werewolves. That was kind of a refreshing change, and so is the idea that shifters are so widespread- there are rogue packs out there that are often found and neutralized, and members come and go from the circus. There are also three elders that run the circus- all three of them lions- and they have secrets as well. 

Flo is mostly likable and I thought her depiction was pretty realistic. She's only sixteen so it's realistic that she would be afraid, or uncertain, and every time I thought geez Flo get it together, I had to remember she's so young. And she's going up against experienced hunters who know what they're doing and are well- armed, including with special items that are anathema to shifters. Not only that but most of the other performers are young as well, so you have kids going up against adults. 

I didn't think this had a lot of action, but it didn't feel slow. In fact the short punchy chapters kept the story flowing and I wanted to learn more about this world. Other reviews have said the action doesn't get going until the second half, and that's somewhat true, but it kept me turning the pages. I thought it needed more action in the front end but it wasn't a dealbreaker for me. And whenever I thought Flo a little whiny or indecisive, I had to remember- she's sixteen. And it made it feel more real that she's not a killing machine even though I wanted her to kick a little more ass. 

In fact the whole group- we're talking bears, big cats, elephants for crying out loud- could have been a little more fearsome, more effective, but again these are teens going through a traumatic experience. They're not natural killers. And they've been trained to suppress their animal selves, so when the time comes that their animal instincts would be useful, they're not accustomed to doing that. I like that that conflict was explored a bit. 

The other thing I really liked was the idea of the packs. This particular one hid in plain sight as a circus, but it's mentioned that that there are other packs, hiding away or occasionally even preying on humans. A lot of it has to do with how they address their animal selves. I look forward to learning more about this in the next one, and also seeing where the shifters go next. So again, this is a nice shifter read, it could have used more action and I wish the shifters had been more formidable, but I had a lot of fun and if the premise appeals to you I would definitely give it a shot. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Sunday Post #187

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

Well the big news this week was... my internet went down. For three days. I tried some things, plugged and unplugged, talked to Tech support... no dice. Then on Monday it came back up after my second call in and we did some more rebooting. Who knows? It got me thinking though- just how dependent on the internet am I? Apparently quite a bit.  

Otherwise a pretty good week. It feels like March now with (slightly) warmer temps, but the big thing was- sun. Hey sun- missed you for the last few months! I read a ton while I was down so that at least was something. And I'm still watching Big Little Lies and Riverdale. Oh and Iron Fist. Speaking of- here's the GIF of the week. When Ward Meachum discovers he's being surveilled- in his own office. 

So The Wanderers was pretty good, Starfall wasn't bad and The Winter Over was chilling (!) I reviewed that one last week and this week is Distress Signals. The reviews for Wanderers, Starfall and Queens of Geek are on the way.   
Starfall (Starflight, #2)The Winter OverDistress SignalsThe Wanderers (The Wanderers, #1)

Song of the week



Queens of GeekRefuge for Masterminds (Stranje House, #3)Child of a Hidden Sea (Hidden Sea Tales, #1)


Some fun with last weeks Big Little Lies. 


Humans is rocking it this year. 

This is nice- as usual the large version (click on the link) is awesome.  

Some of the latest Campion artwork 


3.5 seconds.. feels like a lifetime. #pascalcampion #Alaska Jumping off rocks.. a theme I like drawing a lot! Pascal Campion:

Summer Night on the Beach 

Sleepless Nights

Sleepless Nights. #pascalcampion by PascalCampion

Friday, March 24, 2017

Big Little Lies (HBO) Once Bitten

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This episode was a collage of images and we're left trying to sort out what was real and what was skewed. Jane is becoming increasingly stressed between her terror of encountering the man who hurt her, and the problems at school with Ziggy. Amabella was bitten by someone in her class, and of course Renata Klein assumes it was Jane's son. Jane is trying to hold it all together even as she feels events slipping out of her control. And Madeline is starting to wonder if Jane is out for revenge, especially when Nathan saw her at gun range. Madeline and Celeste were going to go with Jane to San Luis Obispo to confront the man they think may be her attacker, but after things come to a head Jane ends up going alone. 

Madeline struggles to come to grips with her affair and Perry and Celeste continue to abuse each other. Although it's really Perry doing the abusing and Celeste finding excuses to stay. Things get rough again (are they ever not?) and Celeste ends up going to see their counselor alone, while Perry is out of town. In an extended sequence we juxtapose the counselor's calm probing of what's really happening with Celeste's at times painful attempts to justify her relationship, even as she clearly wants help desperately. 

Madeline meanwhile tries to find some passion with Ed, even as her affair a year ago with Joseph comes back into focus. He wants to talk to her, exasperated that she won't acknowledge what he thinks they have, and they're in a freak car accident while in mid- conversation. Luckily no one is hurt seriously, but things are more complicated now- and it looks like Joseph's spouse suspects that something is happening. And Renata crashes Jane's meeting with the principal, who is clearly not prepared to referee that little soiree. 

This episode was chaotic at times with jarring transitions and sudden musical interludes. I think this was meant to cast doubt on the events, to give the impression that perceptions are skewed. Everyone is being overtaken by events, and we are reminded several times that trivia night is rapidly approaching. Everything seems to be heading for that fever pitch, and someone- or maybe several someones- are going to break soon. 

Random Thoughts

"There's more than one person I'd like to shoot in this town," says Madeline as she discusses Jane's target shooting with her.  

Why isn't Amabella talking? 

Chloe is the absolute best. "Watch your mouth, woman," she tells Madeline after hearing her mom call Nathan "a fuck." Nice, Mom.  

"Something's up with Ed MacKenzie," says one of the dads. I think he's right- it's just the little side looks he gives at times, like when he sees Abigail the night she comes home. Weird. 

What happened in SLO? Jane dropped her bag and a gun went off, she flees the scene and we end with her getting pulled over. But in the aftershow the writer mentions that Jane may be an unreliable narrator, as it were, in this one, and I think that's where the chaotic editing comes in. What really happened? 

Bookcover Spotlight #93

Distress Signals

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Winter Over

The Winter Over

I tried this one on a lark and I was pleasantly surprised. I always like a story set at the north or south pole, they're such harsh environments and great settings for mystery and mayhem. This one is no exception. It's set on Antarctica at a fictional research station where the long austral winter is about to begin, and the crew of the station are settling in for nine long months of darkness. Unfortunately a body is found on the ice just before the last plane leaves for the season, and that throws everything off. 

Cass is a woman with a past and she's come to Antarctica to start over and find herself. We're reminded over and over that she is fragile, and the base psychologist seems unsure of her, but we quickly see that she is smart and capable. She's a mechanic and takes care of all the snowmobiles and various machines, and even though she's flawed she's tough too, and quickly realizes something is not right at the base. She doesn't have a lot of friends she can confide in though, and she's kind of a loner, but she does have an outlet- she keeps up a clandestine radio contact with a friendly Russian guy at a base not far away. When things get really dicey she turns to him as the only person she can talk to. 

I could tell right off the bat there was some misdirection going on here, and that's the fun of it. Not only do we have Cass but we also get the occasional perspective of the station manager, the psychologist, and various other crew members. It's fun to read their thoughts and try to piece together who is lying and who isn't. As the long winter takes hold and it's eighty below zero outside, paranoia starts to set in as things happen and trust rapidly erodes among the forty- four people on the winter over. 

I can see where some may get a little bored in the early going- there's not a lot of action and lots of dialogue, but for me this was a page turner. I enjoyed the dialogue because you're always looking to see who has answers and if you can spot the lies- it becomes obvious that something is going on at the base but it's unclear if the station manager and/ or senior staff are aware of it or are victims themselves. I think the atmosphere of isolation is captured quite well, and add to that lonely ice tunnels dating back to earlier settlements and some people who clearly are not psychologically suited to be there, and you have a recipe for bad stuff. 

So all in all this was a winner. I loved the howling winds, the paranoia, the sense of creeping doom- the only thing I didn't care for was the explanation. While it made sense to a certain extent, it also didn't go far enough for me- I was looking forward to more weird stuff, I like a touch of the paranormal or SF with my thrillers and didn't get that here- but if this sounds good to you I'd give it a shot. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Game of Thrones- Let's Talk About The Kingsguard

Something his father had told him once when he was little came back to him suddenly. He had asked Lord Eddard if the Kingsguard were truly the finest knights in the Seven Kingdoms. "No longer," he answered, "but once they were a marvel, a shining lesson to the world." 

The Kingsguard- seven knights who forswear all lands, take no wife, leave noble families behind. They serve the king alone and protect him with their life. The Kingsguard are a storied brotherhood, the best of the best. Or were. Alas, in the time of A Song of Ice and Fire, the once proud Kingsguard have fallen from grace. No longer the best, no longer a shining example of virtue and righteousness. Lesser men have filled the places once occupied by the greatest knights of their generation. Does anyone in the current Kingsguard deserve the honor? Hoe about Jaime Lannister- the current Lord Commander?

This post was inspired by a discussion over at Chuckles Book Cave. I got to thinking about the knights via a vis Jaime and his honor- or lack thereof. Jaime is of course known as the Kingslayer, for his act of treachery in killing the Mad King Aerys. He is despised and scorned but as we get to see his story in the books we realize that there is more to it than treachery. For this discussion I focus on this storied brotherhood and what we learn about them through Jaime's eyes. This post will have extensive spoilers for the book series.

Jaime (along with Barristan Selmy) is probably the only one alive who knew the big names- Arthur Dayne, Gerold Hightower, Prince Lewyn Martell- from the perspective of serving with them. Imagine a young knight of promising ability joining a brotherhood of the greatest knights in the land. And he clearly admired them.

That boy had wanted to be Ser Arthur Dayne, but someplace along the way he had become the Smiling Knight instead.

What should we think about Arthur Dayne? Here's what Ned Stark told his son Bran.

The finest knight I ever saw was Ser Arthur Dayne, who fought with a blade called Dawn, forged from the heart of a fallen star. They called him the Sword of the Morning, and he would have killed me but for Howland Reed. 

Jaime becomes Lord Commander of the Kingsguard in A Storm of Swords and quickly realizes that the White Swords are not who they used to be.

He wondered what Ser Arthur Dayne would have to say of this lot. "How is it that the Kingsguard have fallen so low," most like. "It was my doing," I would have to answer. "I opened the door, and did nothing when the vermin began to crawl inside."

Jaime takes the measure of his fellow White Swords and is not pleased with what he discovers.

"I learned from Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, who could have slain all five of you with his left hand while he was taking a piss with the right."

And Jaime himself? Does he deserve to be considered one of the greats of the Kingsguard? Here's what Brienne of Tarth had to say after fighting him in a weakened condition (and she's no slouch).

He was weak from imprisonment, and chained at the wrists. No knight in the Seven Kingdoms could have stood against him at his full strength, with no chains to hamper him. Jaime had done many wicked things, but the man could fight! His maiming had been monstrously cruel. It was one thing to slay a lion, another to hack his paw off and leave him broken and bewildered.  

But of course fighting ability is not the measure of greatness. What kind of a man is Jaime? Well a complex one to be sure, arrogant and confident but also a man who wanted to live up to the ideal of a Ser Arthur Dayne. At the same time a man who let a boy fall to his apparent death and killed others without compunction. Jaime's a work in progress, but in one of my favorite quotes from the series we get a look at what Jaime is thinking... now.

Ser Gerold Hightower had begun his history, and Ser Barristan Selmy had continued it, but the rest Jaime Lannister would need to write for himself. He could write whatever he chose, henceforth. Whatever he chose...

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Top Ten Books I Read In One Sitting


 Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new Top Ten list will be posted. Everyone is welcome to join. Link back to The Broke and the Bookish so everyone can check out other bloggers' lists. It's a fun way to get to know fellow bloggers.

This week is a Read In One Sitting Theme but the specifics are almost like a free one. So I'm going with books that are hard to stop once I start. These are all books that take over my life when I read them. :) 

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

The combination of relatively short chapters and fantastic characters makes this an obvious choice.  

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1)

My favorite SF book in a long time. 

Big Little Lies

Compulsively readable. 

Planet of Exile

One of my favorite books- and very short

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)

The third book of A Song of Ice and Fire- and perhaps the best? So much happens here- not least the redemption arc of Jaime Lannister. 

Lost Girls

This one kept me reading. 

The Blue

I had to know what happened... 

The Girls in the Garden

Same here. 

City of the Lost (Casey Duncan, #1)


The Girl from the Sea

I kinda blew through this one.