Monthly Archives: April 2013

I Look Remarkably Like An Elf

Apparently, I look remarkably like an elf, according to a customer today.

Now there’s a statement that opens up a lot of questions you probably don’t want the answers to.   What kind of elf?  Like Cate Blanchett in Lord of the Rings elf, or Will Ferrell? Lawn gnome or Keebler?

And remarkably like an elf he’s seen in a movie, or like the little green men he sees in his mother’s basement?  Does he like elves or are they terrifying?  Compliment, or deadly insult?

This is going to bug me for a while.

Currently reading: The Reckoning, by Kelley Armstrong, thanks to Rolanda who hooked me on her teen stuff like a literary crack dealer.  Her adult stuff is also super fun, by the way.

 

Happy elfless reading.

Christie

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The Keeper Chronicles and Why You Shouldn’t Drink and Read

Reasons to love Tanya Huff’s Keeper Chronicles trilogy: Hilariously funny, great light fantasy reading, Jerry Springer is literally from hell and lots of Buffy references.  I think I could be friends with this woman.

Tanya Huff is a successful sci-fi/fantasy writer who used to work in a bookstore, so she gives me hope.  Her stuff is wonderfully fun and offbeat, and she has a twisted sense of humour.

If you’re looking for pure escapism, I highly recommend her stuff.

 

Speaking of working in a bookstore, here are some highlights from the past week:

“Do you give dishcountsh to cushtomersh who have no money caush they shpent it on vodka?”

“Can I pay one cent in cash and the rest on debit?”

“Do you have anything I can buy that’s free?”

 

Happy reading!

Christie

 

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River of Stars – Post II

Mmm.  Reading River of Stars was like having a fantastic meal with good wine.  I feel replete.

Guy Gavriel Kay (GGK) seems to do that well.  He also almost always makes me want to visit the places his novels are set – he does such a beautiful job of describing them with an appreciative eye that you feel like booking a ticket to go see the real-world version that inspired them.  Right now.   Maybe we could organize a charter tour of locales?  Anyone else in?

Despite the fact that GGK insists that River of Stars is not the sequel to Under Heaven, I think you will enjoy it more having read Under Heaven first.  They are set in the same world, albeit a few hundred years later, and reference is made more than once to the events of Under Heaven as history.

Under Heaven was based on the Tang dynasty, which was a time of glittering society, ultimate artistry, the pinnacle of sophistication.  And then it fell.  River of Stars is an homage to that old cliche – those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it – but also a twist on it where you can cling to the past too tightly, so that you can’t go forward because you won’t let go.

Regular readers of Kay will see this as a recurring theme in his work, how the past, and history affect us, and how the past and history change over time, and things are forgotten, or purposely rewritten.  He seems to view poets and musicians as vital to both remembering and rewriting the past as well as changing the future – a recurring theme, and one I greatly enjoy.  It makes me feel a little subversive every time I read a book or listen to a song.

I’m not sure this is the GGK book I would start with, if you’ve never read his stuff before.  I would go with either Tigana or A Song for Arbonne, and go with Under Heaven and River of Stars after – he writes so differently from almost everyone else out there that you need to ease into it .  Kay writes beautifully, like Monroe or Shields, but with a can’t put down story, like… I don’t know, no one.  He’s not like anyone.  Cross a best-selling political thriller with poetry and you get Kay.

As always, I feel you can’t go wrong with GGK – I hope you enjoy his books as much as I do.

 

Happy reading!

Christie

 

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Above All Things

I came out of this book hating George Mallory.  George Mallory, if you don’t know, is the first person to try to climb Mount Everest – and disappeared during his attempt.   Above All Things, by Tanis Rideout, is a fictionalized account of that climb, and of Mallory’s wife Ruth, left at home in England to play second fiddle to a mountain.

It was an interesting read, set just after WWI.  No satellite phones or pony bottles of oxygen.  No high-tech fabrics.  No GPS.   Why climb Everest?  Mallory is the one who said “Because it’s there.”  He was obsessed with conquering the summit, addicted to the challenge.   When it came to the mountain or his family, he chose the mountain.

The story was interesting, but I found myself not liking the book because I didn’t like the main characters.  George Mallory was an arrogant jerk, who didn’t really care about anything except his own desires, constantly chasing the adrenaline high.  Ruth spent a lot of time trying to keep up appearances, and making allowances for her husband’s behaviour.   The book was well written, but if I can’t like the protagonists I can’t like the book.

They still don’t know whether he made it to the summit – in fact his ultimate fate wasn’t discovered until 1999, 75 years after his climb, when his body, dressed in completely inappropriate clothing for a mountain climber, was discovered.

If you like the man versus the elements type of story, and you , unlike me, can cope with not liking the people in the book, it’s worth a read.  It does give you some interesting perspectives on that post-war era, and the depression that was starting.  The writing is well done, and the suspense is excellent, which is quite a trick when you know what the ending will be.

 

Happy reading!

Christie

 

 

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How a Girl Without a Voice Becomes an Author – Carly’s Voice

The miracle of computers – we take them for granted, but what a boon to communication they have been in ways we never imagined.  It has enabled Carly Fleischmann, a young woman with autism, to give a true expert opinion on what living with autism is really like, and to smash everyone’s preconceptions in wonderful ways.

She writes about how it feels to have all your senses turned up to high volume, and no way of filtering the input.  She speaks of taking thousands of “photos” of someone’s face if she looks at them, which is why she doesn’t like looking people in the eye.  It’s too overwhelming.  And she does all this through her computer, since she doesn’t speak.

Here is the book trailer (have I mentioned I love book trailers?):

I am gaining a whole new perspective on autism, thanks to Carly.  This book is like mind yoga – it stretches out and wakes up all kinds of notions you had, which is great.   She has a blog, and is active on Twitter – @CarlysVoice .  She created an interactive site called Carly’s Café to let users experience what it is like to be autistic.  This young woman is a force to be reckoned with, and I’m looking forward to the changes she helps make.

Happy reading!

Christie

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Kobo Aura

Kobo has now officially announced the Kobo Aura.  It seems to be a bigger, prettier, fancier version of the Kobo Glo.  It will have a 2 month battery life, and the e-ink will be HD quality. The price point is going to be $169.  Would you buy one?

 

Christie

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New Kobo Models Coming?

I have heard, through my top-secret industry contacts (see, I know stuff), that a new Kobo model is coming.  “Like Kobo Glo on steroids.”  What does that mean?  No idea.  Faster? Stronger?  Hormonal problems?  Stay tuned, and I will endeavour to find actual information instead of vague murmurs.

Kobo seems to also have solved whatever manufacturing issues have been going on, and Kobo  readers are becoming widely available in stores again.   I have to say, I was a little worried we weren’t going to have them for Mother’s Day, and it is going to be my main recommendation, because I’m a mother and I feel responsible for making sure other moms get decent presents, hint hint to guy in store who was going to get his wife a new blender.  Honestly.

I will answer a question I have been receiving a lot lately: Kobo Arc or Nexus?  Depends what you want.

The Nexus 7 is powerful, has Bluetooth, and lots of cool little touches like GPS.  The speakers are terribly positioned, on the back so that if you lay it flat they’re muffled.  Quad-core processors are handy if you want to run something that requires some muscle, or are incapable of closing apps/windows.  Terrible, draconian return policy.   Once that seal is cracked, no matter where you got it from, you have to deal with Asus, even for a straightforward manufacturing defect.

The Arc is less powerful with dual core processors, but better speakers, positioned in the front.  The screen is retinal display, same as Nexus.  Honestly, once it’s a retinal display, the resolution just starts being numbers.  If your eyes can’t tell the difference, who cares?  No Bluetooth, so you can’t use wireless speakers or keyboard.  Available in 16GB, 32GB, or 64 GB, at $199/$249/$299 price point, so not bad.  Kobo apparently made some adjustments to the screen coating to lower the glare levels, making it friendlier to users who want to read on it.

If you need something with more oomph, and are willing to chance dealing with Asus customer service, go with the Nexus.  If you want a decent Android tablet for Facebook, reading, and Angry Birds, the Arc will suit your needs (and bank account) just fine.

Happy (e)reading!

Christie

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Discworld Reading Order

Thanks to L-Space for this.  I’ve been referring to it a lot as my husband is reading his way through the whole thing.  Click on the image if you need a larger version (that can be zoomed in) for easier reading.  I would update this by putting I Shall Wear Midnight after Wintersmith in the young adult series, and adding Snuff after Thud in the Watch series.

To all the Pratchett fans out there, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you’re skipping his young adult books.  They’re just as well written as the adult stuff, the only real difference being younger protagonists.  And the Nac Mac Feegle are in them, who are hilarious.  If you aren’t familiar with the Nac Mac Feegle (I feel bad for you) I refer you to the Wikipedia article.  Start with The Wee Free Men.  This is also an excellent way to addict your children to Terry Pratchett <evil laugh>.

Christie

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Bunnicula – A Review by Jade

I think that this book should be republished because it does not have the right adjectives.  I thought that harold the dog was a small little puppy that was brown. But turned out that he was actually a big golden retriever. I also thought  that chester the cat was a black cat like the ones that witches have.But i dident even know that BUNNICULA was black and white. Just read the book and go back to  your child hood in grade 2. Then look at the first chapter it has no adjectives for what chester and harold look like or BUNNICULA.  So you have an entirely diffrent picture in your head just like my teacher Mrs.Saunders told me.If Mrs.Saunders is reading this thank you so much for teaching me about adjectives. Or i would not know what to say.Any way i love this book. You should realy read it or give it to your kids just like my mom who owns this blog. so happy reading!p.s.My most favorite part of the book is on the cover TODAY VEGETABLES TOMORROW THE WORLD!

Jade

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River of Stars

I met Guy Gavriel Kay (henceforth referred to as GGK, because I’m lazy) last week.  The occasion was the launch of his newest book, River of Stars.  I am about halfway through it, and it is as beautifully written as everything else he’s done.

Have you ever met one of your heroes?  I’m not sure hero is exactly the right word, but you get the picture.

I have read everything GGK has written, except his volume of poetry, which I intend to lay hands on at some point.   His A Song for Arbonne may be my favorite book of all time.  I have strong-armed family members into reading his books, including my husband, who now counts the Fionavar Tapestry trilogy as his favorite books, having edged out The Lord of the Rings and David Eddings’ Sapphire Rose trilogy.  At the bookstore, GGK is my author.   I must have sold hundreds of his books by now, guaranteeing that customers will love his writing.   And he has no idea who I am.

That’s the strangest feeling.  Someone who has been such an influence in your life, through his writing, and it’s entirely a one-sided relationship.   It’s not that he doesn’t appreciate his readers, because he does.  At the book launch he mentioned that he’s especially lucky to have readers who are willing to let him write slowly, taking years between books, so he can be a perfectionist.  But I’m just one of the faceless thousands, and after having signed my giant pile of his books, he will forget me immediately.

I wasn’t really expecting him to hug me like a long-lost relative, but I hadn’t really thought about it until I was actually face-to-face with him.  It was very… professional.  Oh well.

The library will be posting a video of GGK’s reading and interview on their site soon, if you’re interested.

I’m going back to River of Stars, now.

Happy Reading!

Christie

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