Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The First Not So Epic Snag in The Epic Reading List

There's a bit of a trend in my reading habits. I finish a book, spend the next day doing no reading whatsoever. Start the book the day after that but only read a chapter or maybe two. The day after that usually finds me sitting up all night and finishing the book. Then the cycle starts again.

This is usually how my reading habits go. That is until there's a snag. Snags come in a variety of forms.
I could spend a week or more completely caught in my own head and then I do nothing but write when I'm not at work.
Or I could struggle to get into a book and then I find other things to do in order to avoid struggling through the book.
It's also possible that I'm still stuck in the last book I read and have found my reading time spent rereading the previous book.
Sometimes I just have a whole bunch of movies or seasons of television shows from the library and need to watch them before they go back.

Snags are many and various.

Right now I'm in a mix of snags. I did struggle to get into Graceling a bit (though 117 pages in I like it much better) but I also have a whole bunch of stuff from the library. Not to mention I've been resisting the itch to pick The Hunger Games back up (a feat that was easier before I bought my own copy and it was so accessible).

I have not abandoned the Epic Reading List, I've just slowed down a little.

-A.M.Y-A

Monday, December 19, 2011

Epic Reading List Updated: 'In The Hand of The Goddess'



List Update as of December 19th

1. 'The Hunger Games' -Suzanne Collins
2. 'Alanna the First Adventure' -Tamora Pierce
3. 'Anna Dressed in Blood' -Kendare Blake
4. 'In the Hand of the Goddess' -Tamora Pierce

5. 'Graceling' -Kristin Cashore
6. 'The Woman Who Rides Like a Man' -Tamora Pierce
7. 'The Name of the Star' -Maureen Johnson
8. 'Lioness Rampant' -Tamora Pierce
9. 'Tale of Two Cities' -Charles Dickens
10. 'Wild Magic' -Tamora Pierce
11. 'Catching Fire' -Suzanne Collins
12. 'Wolf Speaker' -Tamora Pierce
13. 'Matched' -Ally Condie
14. 'Emperor Mage' -Tamora Pierce
15. 'Divergent' -Veronica Roth
16. 'The Realm of the Gods' -Tamora Pierce

*Content Sigh* It's so hard to be in a bad mood after reading Tamora Pierce. In the Hand of the Goddess has always been my favorite of the Song of the Lioness books. This is not just because it has the best cover of the four.

Yeah, I have the old covers and I like them better.
There's so much to this cover that it makes me happy. Plus, it's pretty.

After my last Tamora Pierce post is occurred to me that I spent the entire time gushing about the book and my undying love for the author. While this is still all true, the books are by no means perfect. So I'll actually take some time this post to talk about the faults with my favorite of them.

In the Hand of the Goddess is a fantastic book and I'm fairly certain it will still be my favorite of the four when I finish the series. But, as I said, it has its faults. For one, I love the story in this one. Delia and the showdown with Roger, the battle, all of it but so much happens for a book of 209 pages. Perhaps too much. Now, I'm not saying events should have been cut out, they all have their importance, just that the book should have been longer.

One great way of doing that would have been to have her characters talk more. I've noticed that this happens in her later books, which get longer. Her characters are witty and have fantastic interactions when we get to see them interact. I like dialogue and absolutely love reading about character relationships. In Pierce's books we definitely get a sense of these relationships because when the characters do interact she makes it count. However, more everyday scenes would allow for more subtlety.

That's my main issue with the book and perhaps the whole series. The length. As they are the books make for great quick read books that never fail to be entertaining.

And can I just say that I love Gary and that he laughs when Alanna tells him the truth, or how Raoul sulks when she leaves, and Myles has to hold Jon back when she wrestles with Demon Grey. Also, Myles. I adore Myles. Like I mentioned, the interactions count when they're there.

Over All Rating: Epic (She's been too much of an influence for me to be totally objective here and for that I ask for your pardon.)

Next up is (much to Sam's excitement), Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

-A.M.Y-A

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Epic Reading List Updated: Anna Dressed In Blood

List Update as of December 15th

1. 'The Hunger Games' -Suzanne Collins
2. 'Alanna the First Adventure' -Tamora Pierce
3. 'Anna Dressed in Blood' -Kendare Blake

4. 'In the Hand of the Goddess' -Tamora Pierce
5. 'Graceling' -Kristin Cashore
6. 'The Woman Who Rides Like a Man' -Tamora Pierce
7. 'The Name of the Star' -Maureen Johnson
8. 'Lioness Rampant' -Tamora Pierce
9. 'Tale of Two Cities' -Charles Dickens
10. 'Wild Magic' -Tamora Pierce
11. 'Catching Fire' -Suzanne Collins
12. 'Wolf Speaker' -Tamora Pierce
13. 'Matched' -Ally Condie
14. 'Emperor Mage' -Tamora Pierce
15. 'Divergent' -Veronica Roth
16. 'The Realm of the Gods' -Tamora Pierce

It took a little bit for me to get into the fairly epic 'Anna Dressed in Blood.' As a matter of fact I just spent five minutes staring at the star rating on Goodreads, bouncing the arrow back and forth from three to four stars.

Don't get me wrong, I liked to book and look forward to reading 'Girl of Nightmares' when it comes out in August. My favorite part of the book is its dashing hero Theseus Cassio Lowood. I mean, how could you not love a boy with a name like that? His dry wit, his calm analytical affection for the realm of the dead, and his reckless heroism. He thinks realistically, swearing, scolding himself, getting confused, and always being the last person to see things about himself that everyone else has already noticed.

Cas' blunt and cynical view of death kept the book entertaining. The character of Anna is also beautifully imagined and described with such clarity that I got chills. She's a great character and (seeing as how she's on the front of the second book) I look forward to seeing more of her personality develop should we be given the opportunity.

What I did struggle with was the pacing. The beginning did a great job of setting the book up to be about Anna and Cas and I was totally okay with that. The addition of the Obeahman felt distinctly rushed to me. I am not going to say just yet that we've seen the last of him, he's crafty. While it appears a more heart-string tugging approach was attempted with the end of the book I feel it would have benefited more from a cliffhanger. Just barely introducing the Obeahman would have worked a little bit better. It's a plot that deserves more attention and more reaction from Cas.

That being said I really enjoyed how Blake managed to speed everything up as the showdown with the Obeahman approached. She showed great skill with suspenseful pacing and edge of the seat writing.

Overall, I did enjoy 'Anna Dressed in Blood.' The writing is fantastic. Cas is glorious. It just felt a little like Blake wasn't sure she was going to get another book. Perhaps that was the case but she needn't have feared she's crafted a beautiful story.

Up next is the second in my Epic Tamora Pierce reread: 'In the Hand of the Goddess.'

-A.M.Y-A

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Epic Life Lessons Learned From Books Post One

If anyone follows me on Twitter they may or may not have noticed that I occasionally tweet something with the hashtag #LifeLessonsLearnedFromBooks.

This occurred to me randomly one day while I was reading Tamora Pierce's 'Mastiff' and I just sort of started keeping up with it. I don't do all of the potential life lessons from every book because I'm usually caught up in reading and not hunting for them. Usually I just post them when they strike me. This is why there are so many from books I've already read before.

I'll do more posts as I collect them further. Feel free to suggest some. The only rule is that they must be direct quotes. Some of mine are excerpts from full quotes mostly because they needed to be shortened for Twitter. It would be far too easy to take general lessons from things that happen in books.

Life Lessons Learned From Books:

- "I make it a rule never to eat things that glow." -Beka Cooper, Mastiff (Tamora Pierce)
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- "Never listen to what my enemies say. They're very confused people." -Farmer, Mastiff (Tamora Pierce)
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- "Reality [is] a fragile thing." -Dustfinger, Inkspell (Cornelia Funke)
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- "The handsome young fellow who's trying to rescue you from a hideous fate is never wrong." -Will Herondale, Clockwork Angel (Cassandra Clare)
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- "It's bad form to bite." -Will Herondale, Clockwork Angel (Cassandra Clare)
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- "Beauty fades, but cooking is eternal." -Will Herondale, Clockwork Angel (Cassandra Clare)
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- "One must always be careful of books...and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us."-Tessa Gray, Clockwork Angel (Cassandra Clare)
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- "Inanimate objects are harmless indeed...But one cannot always say the same of the men who use them."-Henry Branwell, Clockwork Angel (Cassandra Clare)
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- "Never trust a duck." -Will Herondale, Clockwork Angel (Cassandra Clare)
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- "Megalomania is an interesting character trait."-Dustfinger, Inkspell (Cornelia Funke)
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- "Whatever you are physically...male or female, strong or weak, ill or healthy--all those things matter less than what your heart contains." -James Carstairs, Clockwork Angel (Cassandra Clare)
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- "Frosting. The final defense of the dying."-Peeta Mellark, The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)
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- "All good things pass away." -Lord Asriel, The Golden Compass (Philip Pullman)
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- "They rationalized their fears away. People shouldn't do that." -Cas Lowood, Anna Dressed In Blood (Kendare Blake)

And there you have it. They're taken right from my tweets so the quotes I had to shorten remained that way. Maybe I'll post the complete lessons of those one day.

-A.M.Y-A

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Epic Reading List Updated: Alanna The First Adventure

LIST Update as of December 10th:

1. 'The Hunger Games' -Suzanne Collins
2. 'Alanna the First Adventure' -Tamora Pierce

3. 'Anna Dressed in Blood' -Kendare Blake
4. 'In the Hand of the Goddess' -Tamora Pierce
5. 'Graceling' -Kristin Cashore
6. 'The Woman Who Rides Like a Man' -Tamora Pierce
7. 'The Name of the Star' -Maureen Johnson
8. 'Lioness Rampant' -Tamora Pierce
9. 'Tale of Two Cities' -Charles Dickens
10. 'Wild Magic' -Tamora Pierce
11. 'Catching Fire' -Suzanne Collins
12. 'Wolf Speaker' -Tamora Pierce
13. 'Matched' -Ally Condie
14. 'Emperor Mage' -Tamora Pierce
15. 'Divergent' -Veronica Roth
16. 'The Realm of the Gods' -Tamora Pierce


I love Tamora Pierce. Love her. She is beyond epic in so many ways.

As a matter of fact, if you read my Harry Potter post you know that it was a Tamora Pierce book that made me want to write. It wasn't the 'Song of the Lioness' series but it doesn't matter. No matter how much time passes or how many other books I read Tamora Pierce will always hold a special place in my heart.

I sat down and read the entire book after work tonight. It is just as entertaining as it always has been. I would love to have friends like Jonathan, Raoul, and Gary. They are fantastic. I've grown so used to reading books that are longer in length and cover a much shorter amount of time. It took a little adjusting to read a book of barely above 200 pages that covers multiple years.

I still devour it. I still laugh at Raoul and Gary. I cheer on Alanna, chuckle at George's reaction to Alanna's secret. It just doesn't get old.

Each time I read any of her books I am struck by how much Tamora Pierce's writing style has impacted my own. Especially the interesting narrative style where sometimes the narrator is in the character's head and sometimes it isn't. It's not always abundantly clear if the narrator is commenting or the characters are. These are comments I've gotten on my own writing.

I can't wait to read the next one again (I am noticing a trend here). But I still have another book to go first!

Next up: The much hyped 'Anna Dressed in Blood' by Kendare Blake!

-A.M.Y-A

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Epic Reading List Update: 'The Hunger Games.'

LIST Update as of December 9th:

1. 'The Hunger Games' -Suzanne Collins
2. 'Alanna the First Adventure' -Tamora Pierce
3. 'Anna Dressed in Blood' -Kendare Blake
4. 'In the Hand of the Goddess' -Tamora Pierce
5. 'Graceling' -Kristin Cashore
6. 'The Woman Who Rides Like a Man' -Tamora Pierce
7. 'The Name of the Star' -Maureen Johnson
8. 'Lioness Rampant' -Tamora Pierce
9. 'Tale of Two Cities' -Charles Dickens
10. 'Wild Magic' -Tamora Pierce
11. 'Catching Fire' -Suzanne Collins
12. 'Wolf Speaker' -Tamora Pierce
13. 'Matched' -Ally Condie
14. 'Emperor Mage' -Tamora Pierce
15. 'Divergent' -Veronica Roth
16. 'The Realm of the Gods' -Tamora Pierce


I know, I know, I know. It took me ages to read 'The Hunger Games.' It was always on the epic mental reading list but it was continually pushed back and back until I finally decided that I wouldn't read them until they were all out.

Well, all of them have come out and I still hadn't read them. With the advice and suggestion of my dearest friend Sam it was decided that 'The Hunger Games' would be my post-'Clockwork Prince' read.

It was a good choice. I love it. I borrowed my sister's copy and am already deciding how I plan to buy them all. (I think Barnes and Noble is my best bet. It's actually cheaper to buy them individually in hardcover than the box set...)

Anyway, I read the first 287 pages in a single sitting and all I wanted to do was read more but I had to be at work in four hours. I spent all work itching to come home and read. With a few others delays I devoured the last 100 pages.

It was so worth waiting this long.

The pacing was fantastic. While reading my pulse was thudding, my breath was held. It didn't seem to matter that I was fairly certain about who would live and who wouldn't. I wanted to know what happened next. How far she'd take things with Peeta, how the next player in the games was going to die, what the next challenge was going to be. Everything.

It was brilliantly put together and gripping. I can't wait to read the next one and see the backlash of Katniss and Peeta's actions. My only regret is that I put 'Catching Fire' so far down on the list.

Next up is the first in my Tamora Pierce reread. 'Alanna: The First Adventure.' I do so love Tamora Pierce.

-A.M.Y-A

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Epic Reading List 12/6/11 Edition

I have this thing where I get really excited about books and I buy them. Seems logical right?

Eh, not so much. There are books I buy an immediately read (Clockwork Prince...OH DEAR GODS but we'll get there later (as in another post)) and then others that I get excited about then distracted. It's not the book's fault, at all, I just go through periods where I do more writing or editing or stick figuring than reading and it'll take me a little while to read a book. By the time I finish whatever I am reading there are 60 other new books I have acquired and want to read.

Then there are the books I reread...oh dear...

It's unfortunate really.

So, today I decided that I would make a list and this list would make it up on this blog. Not that there are really people who read this to make sure I stick to this list but it feels official this way or something.

So here we are. My list of the next 16 books I plan to read (why not 16?). It's a mix of random books I bought and haven't read and rereading the works of the lovely Tamora Pierce, something I have been tempted to do since I read 'Mastiff.'

1. 'The Hunger Games' -Suzanne Collins (I know I haven't read it yet and it's a Y-A life fail. I'm fixing it)
2. 'Alanna the First Adventure' -Tamora Pierce
3. 'Anna Dressed in Blood' -Kendare Blake
4. 'In the Hand of the Goddess' -Tamora Pierce
5. 'Graceling' -Kristin Cashore
6. 'The Woman Who Rides Like a Man' -Tamora Pierce
7. 'The Name of the Star' -Maureen Johnson
8. 'Lioness Rampant' -Tamora Pierce
9. 'Tale of Two Cities' -Charles Dickens
10. 'Wild Magic' -Tamora Pierce
11. 'Catching Fire' -Suzanne Collins
12. 'Wolf Speaker' -Tamora Pierce
13. 'Matched' -Ally Condie
14. 'Emperor Mage' -Tamora Pierce
15. 'Divergent' -Veronica Roth
16. 'The Realm of the Gods' -Tamora Pierce


And there we have it. The next 16 books I plan on reading. In order, did I mention that part. I need to read them int his order for no particular reason other than an exercise in self discipline.

If you do stumble upon this feel free to harass me for list updates or via Twitter (AMCatastrophe)

-A.M.Y-A

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Not At All Epic Lack of 'Clockwork Prince.'

I am, like many other people, beyond excited for Cassandra Clare's 'Clockwork Prince.' Today is officially it's book birthday.

In my immense excitement I ventured off to Walmart about twenty till twelve. I am not a Walmart shopper for the most part but they're open at midnight and I have been there before around 11:30 and they had books on shelves that were not supposed to be out until midnight. I was hoping it would be out, if not I would wander the store until they put it out.

So, I wandered and wandered and wandered and around 12:20 I finally asked someone. They only knew they were supposed to put movies out but nothing about books. I asked someone else they gave me a blank stare and told me they didn't know. So I went to Customer Service and asked. The woman had no idea and got a man. He had no idea what I was talking about. I mentioned the display they had attached to the sensor things by the door and how they had an exclusive edition.

He told me that they didn't have it and that a third party vendor stocks the books and hadn't been in yet. That might have been okay. I would have been disappointed but I could have dealt with it graciously.

And then he said: "Call next time and not waste time."

Okay, hold on. What?!

I didn't say anything that I wanted to. Instead I thanked them and left. He shouted something about calling before I come in tomorrow after me.

First, I firmly believe that no time spent in pursuit of a book is wasted. Even if they don't have it as was this case you tried and that is never a waste. If you care enough to be there at midnight or waiting for them to unlock the door than I already think well of you for unabashedly pursuing what you love.

Second, I am terribly sorry for taking up the almost literally minute of your time asking for help when two other people couldn't assist me. At this point I would rather drive the twenty minutes to a completely different Walmart tomorrow to acquire that edition than deal with that store again. And I just might.

This may all seem rather over dramatic for a book release. Admittedly, I might not be quite as upset about them not having it as I am if this week at work hadn't been particularly bad.

I'll tell you just a little about it, you don't want the full rant, I promise.

I work in a chocolate shop. If you've seen my Twitter (AMCatastrophe) you've probably seen tweets with the hashtag #ChocolateShopWoes. It's not a particularly bad job for the most part. To avoid the bulk of my work rant we'll stick to this week.

I am one of two people in the store who makes caramel from scratch. Caramel apples are kind of our thing, you see. We make around 400 apples a week on a regular basis. It's not bad. I do 200 and the other caramel maker, my friend Laura, does the rest. Sounds good.

But we've had these massive apple orders lately. 500+ apples. It's gotten so bad that shaking the excess caramel off has been difficult on my wrist so I've started wearing a brace.

So on Friday I made 200 apples. On Sunday I made 250 and Monday I did another 200. I totally ripped up my hand. Blisters, bruises, burns, cuts on top of my wrist being sore and generally in pain for a great deal of the time. My boss is sort of crazy so on top of trying to not only dip these apples in caramel but then top them in chocolate and such I'm trying to deal with her disorganization and general craziness.

Basically what I'm getting at is that this was a very stressful week. The only thing keeping me going is 'Clockwork Prince.' On top of that, I was supposed to go to South Carolina for the Cassandra Clare signing on Saturday and everyone I was supposed to go with bailed on me and my mum is uncomfortable with me driving from Cleveland by myself. So, I'm not going and I'm not happy about it.

So this little upset got a rant.

Thanks for reading/listening. You get even more props and virtual hugs (I'm not really a hugger but virtual ones are okay) if you've read this far.

-A.M.Y-A