My First Blog Award

Oh boy....I am SO late in posting this! Kat from Kat's Books blog gave me a blog award a few weeks ago  (January 15 to be exact) and in my laziness, I am just writing about it today. It's not that I didn't appreciate it because I do. I thought it was so nice of her to mention by blog! Honestly, I have trouble accepting praise for some reason and it contributed to my sloth about posting the award.

Here are the rules for the Our Lovely Blog Award:
Accept the award, and post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his/her blog link. Pass the award to 5 other blogs that you've newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know that they have been chosen for this award.
I am passing the award on to these 5 blogs:

  • Ready When You Are, C.B.  - I am really enjoying his Read the Book, See the Movie Challenge, and he always has thoughtful reviews on interesting books.
  • Misfit Salon - I love the thoughtful posts on this blog. They are always thought provoking.
  • Exploring Worlds - Cam runs the Anne McCaffrey and All Her Worlds group on Shelfari and I love reading her insights on fantasy novels.
  • Caroline Bookbinder - I initially took a look at Carin's blog because she is the only person I have EVER seen with the same spelling of name as I have! Not only does she have the same name as I do, but she runs a great book blog with really interesting blog entries. 
  • Post Grad Haircut - I just discovered this blog this evening when Samantha visited and left a comment on my blog. I went and had a look at her blog which is devoted to different art forms and her small business, SamMade. I also took a look at her business website, and I have to say that I love her bags! They are super cute!
...And last, but certainly not least, I want to give a BIG THANK YOU to Kat at Kat's Books! Please go and check out her blog. I also follow her blog which I read regularly. She always reviews interesting books that I usually end up putting on my TBR list. 

Anne McCaffrey BotM - The White Dragon

I feel a little sad after reading this month's Anne McCaffrey and All Her Worlds BotM. We are finishing off the last Dragonriders of Pern book, The White Dragon and moving onto the Tower and the Hive series. As you know from my previous posts, I love the Pern series and have really enjoyed revisiting these books.

The White Dragon is the story of Jaxom, a boy who will become Lord Holder of Ruatha Hold. He has inadvertently Impressed a dragon that is unlike any other dragon on all of Pern. His white dragon, Ruth has thrived and grown along with young Jaxom. Still, Jaxom has to endure the taunts from holder and weyrfolk alike at the small, odd dragon. Jaxom knows Ruth is unique and Ruth also has special talents that other dragons do not possess. This sets up for a very interesting adventure when a queen dragon egg goes missing from Benden Weyr.

When I read the books the first time through, I read The Harper Hall trilogy first. This time around, I have read The Dragonriders of Pern first. I have to say that I think I like reading it in the order I originally read. There are a few characters that McCaffrey throws in as if you already know who they are in The White Dragon. If I had not previously read The Harper Hall Trilogy, I would have been a little confused as to who Menolly and Piemur were. I also think you get a much fuller version of Masterharper Robinton in The Harper Hall Trilogy which makes him even more likeable in the Dragonriders of Pern.

I have heard that the recent release of the film Avatar has a lot of people wishing they could live on a planet as beautiful as Pandora. I readily admit that when I was reading The White Dragon I looked at my husband and said, "I just want to live on Pern." I think I always have! Too bad it is a fictional place! I think Anne McCaffrey fashions her characters so that readers find themselves able to relate to them and even think of them as people that we might either like or hate to be friends with. I love how she describes the Southern Continent as well. It sounds like such a beautiful place. I think I also find myself wanting to be part of a society that truly does work together instead of only looking out for #1.

Honestly, I am looking forward to The Tower and the Hive series with the group because I have been so fixated on Pern for so long that I really feel like I need to explore Anne McCaffrey's other work. I am hoping that we go back to the Pern novels though because I really enjoy them. The series is my favorite....yes, I love it more than Harry Potter, Twilight, Lord of the Rings, The Sword of Truth, The Song of Ice and Fire,'s my absolute favorite!

List of Pern series I have mentioned in this post:

The Harper Hall Trilogy

The Dragonriders of Pern
The White Dragon

Wizard's First Rule - Terry Goodkind

There are a few fantasy series that most every fantasy fan has read. The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind seems to be one of those series. Every fantasy group on Shelfari seems to have loads of people talking about it and how great it is. Because of this, I decided to pick up the series and give it a try. Wizard's First Rule is the first book in the Sword of Truth series. Richard Cypher is a young woods guide who meets and aids a young woman on the run from a group of men in the forest of Hartland. Little does he know that this encounter is the beginning of his destiny. The woman Kahlan is searching for the wizard that can help her save her land from Darken Rahl. Richard decides to help her and in the process finds out that he is the Seeker. He is given the Sword of Truth (which can only be used by The Seeker) by his wizard friend to aid him in his quest to stop Darken Rahl from opening the Three Boxes of Orden which would give him control over all life and death.

Richard and Kahlan's relationship is very interesting throughout the book. She keeps a secret about herself from Richard because she is afraid that he would not receive the information well. Goodkind did a good job keeping up the suspense and weaving the secret into the story so that I was constantly wondering what it was myself! Almost every chapter ends on a cliffhanger as well so I found it difficult to stop reading. The book's 820 pages read so fast that I didn't even realize how fast I was going. I really got sucked into the story and adventure of their journey. There were a few parts in the book that are not appropriate for younger readers -- there is torture in the book and a few absolutely brutal scenes which might bother a really young reader. An employee at Barnes and Noble told me that there were younger kids around 10-12 that were coming in to get the books because they had seen the Legend of the Seeker show which is based on The Sword of Truth series. If you are a parent, you might want to read the book first to see if your child can handle those parts.

Overall, I thought the book was excellent. I gave the book 4.5 out of 5 stars because there were two things that really irritated me. There was a very Tolkien-esque character in the book which made me groan a little. The Sword is also somewhat similar to Tolkien, but it didn't bother me because Terry Brooks also had a book with a sword that in my opinion, borrowed from Tolkien. Let's face it. Tolkien was great and it's hard not to be influenced by him! There was also another part of the story which made me groan a little because to me it was obvious, but to others it might not be so I am not going to give it away here. Besides those two relatively minor things, I absolutely loved the book and can't wait to pick up the rest of the series.

Read the Book, See the Movie Challenge

TV Show: Legend of the Seeker

As part of the Read the Book, See the Movie Challenge that I'm taking part in this year, I decided to watch the Legend of the Seeker show by streaming it off of Netflix. There are 22 episodes in the first season and to avoid ruining any of the other books for me (I am going to start book two of the series, Stone of Tears in a few weeks), I have only watched four episodes so far, but I feel like I can safely say that the series isn't anything like the book. The characters and their occupations are from the books, but the story is vastly different from the book. I am not very impressed with the series and would prefer if they said that it was "inspired by" the Sword of Truth rather than "based on" the series.

It's not that the series isn't enjoyable. If I hadn't read the books, I might enjoy the series. The producer of the series, Sam Raimi, also produced Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. I really enjoyed the schlockiness and tongue-in-cheekness of Hercules. I just think that too much of the story is completely different from the books to say that it is "based on" the books. That being said, I have only read Wizard's First Rule and have only watched four episodes of the show. It's possible that I could change my mind later on. I think I am just disappointed that Terry Goodkind's masterful story has been taken apart and turned into something that is almost not recognizable as his work.

If you have read the books and watched the series, what do you think?

The Cold Spot - Tom Piccirilli

My first book for the Thriller and Suspense Challenge was The Cold Spot by Tom Piccirilli. The story is about a man named Chase who was raised to be a getaway driver in a crew run by his grandfather after his mother and father both die in separate incidents. After a witnessing a member of the crew's murder, Chase decides to go his own way and moves to the South to start a new life that doesn't involve criminal activity. While there, he meets and marries a police officer. Eventually they move back to the Northeast where they begin their life anew until tragedy strikes and Chase once again has to decide whether or not to take up a life of crime.

I have to say that this book was a REALLY quick read for me. It was not very long and read really fast. I finished it in a few hours. The story is pretty engrossing although I found the characters to be a little less than compelling for the first 100 pages or so (there are only 303 pages in the book). I don't think I ever truly connected to the characters even though the story had some pretty exciting moments. Still, I am going to pick up The Coldest Mile which is the sequel to The Cold Spot because it was a nice little weekend read. If you are looking for a crime thriller that is not overly complicated and helps you escape from your boring day at the office, this book will give you a few hours of enjoyable entertainment.

The Waste Lands - Stephen King

The Waste Lands is Book 3 in The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I got so caught up in The Drawing of the Three that I wanted to read The Waste Lands a few months ago but ended up getting sidetracked by other books. So, here I am months later finally getting to it and I have to say that I think it was phenomenal! In the series, King has created these minor characters in each book that I really fall in love with. I loved the lobstrosities in The Drawing of the Three, and now I absolutely love the Tick Tock Man, Charlie the Choo-Choo, and Oy. Oh if I could only have a companion like Oy!

The story picks up with Susannah, Eddie, and Roland continuing their quest to find the Dark Tower. Along the way, Roland's boy, Jake comes back into the story and has one of the more scary parts of the series. For most people I wouldn't say Jake' story is scary, but there is one scene that a lightweight like me would be a little freaked out reading. Let's just say if there is a Dutch Hill in Brooklyn then I don't want to visit! The group travels to a few places and meet some very interesting people.

I don't know if Stephen King does this in every book he writes, but I often feel like I'm missing something that I'm so close to understanding with The Dark Tower books. It's not a bad thing of course. It means that the story has enough nuances to it that it keeps me guessing about things that aren't necessarily a huge part of the story. I admit that his writing sometimes isn't the greatest, but the man is a masterful storyteller. The story is truly original and is unlike any fantasy I have ever read. I highly recommend this series to anyone that likes westerns and wants to break into the fantasy genre. What can be cooler than a gunslinger in another world?!! I can't wait to start the fourth book in the series, Wizard and Glass!

Read The Book, See The Movie Challenge

You know how I said that I was done signing up for challenges? Well, I lied. I have been following C.B. James' blog and he is running a challenge that I couldn't pass up. It also doesn't add any actual reading to my 2010 list (though it does add to my movie/TV watching), and I am a movie/TV addict so I figure why not just add one more?!! So, here it last challenge sign up of 2010 (we can only hope)...

From C.B. James' Blog (you can click on the image to go to his Read the Book, See the Movie Challenge page):

The Read the Book, See the Movie Challenge is based on a simple idea--read a book, see a movie based on the book, include both in your review. Whether yours is a book blog or a movie blog, this could be a way to add some spice to your posts, expand your outlook, have some fun. Mostly, have some fun.

You don't have to write full reviews both the movie and the book. You can write a review of one then add a brief paragraph or just a sentence or two about the other at the end.

Here's how to join:

1. Select a challenge level:
  • Matinee: one book/movie
  • Double Feature: two books/movies
  • Saturday Movie Marathon: four books/movies
  • Film Festival: eight books/movies
  • Festival Jury Member: ten books/movies
2. Copy and paste the Read the Book, See the Movie Challenge button to your blog. (Optional. If you don't have a blog, you can still sign-up and play along. You can post reviews here.)
3. Sign up using Mr. Linky below. Please list your challenge level in a comment.
4. Get together a list of books/movies that you plan on reviewing. (Optional. You can just see what comes along during the year if you'd rather.)
I'll post monthly link lists so you can post links to your reviews here and I'll try to feature a few reviews each month.

The challenge will begin on New Year's Day 2010 and will last all year. There will be prizes. I don't know what the prizes will be yet, but expect several. I'm a big fan of giveaways. See herehere and here.

You can double count this challenge with any other challenges you're doing in 2010.

Hope you'll join and play along.....

**I will be doing the Film Festival since at least eight of my books have films adaptations of them. Wish me luck!

Anne McCaffrey BotM - Dragonquest

Well, it's time for my Anne McCaffrey Shelfari Group Book of the Month post! I am so excited. I am really enjoying revisiting the Pern books. It has been so many years since I first read them that it is like reading them for the first time in some ways. I am already very attached to the characters, but the stories I have forgotten somewhat over the years. Last month, I wrote about Dragonflight and how much I enjoyed rereading it. Can it be possible that I liked Dragonquest that much more? Yes! I have to admit that Dragonquest blew Dragonflight out of the water. I loved every minute of the story and fell in love with the characters all over again.

Dragonquest introduces Brekke of Southern Weyr and her gold dragon, Wirenth. I loved Brekke because of how solid and hard working she is. I wish I could be more like her in some ways! I also really enjoyed the growing friendship between her and F'nor (who by the way is my Pern crush...yes, I am that nerdy) as he recovers from wounds he received in an altercation. I also enjoyed reading about Lessa and F'lar whose relationship has really grown in the seven Turns between Dragonflight and Dragonquest. This book embodied how I remembered Lessa: a strong, competent woman who made solid decisions and was very self-assured. I really admired her character growing up and this book really brought that out.

Some of the other books in the Pern series focus on Hold life, but this one is much more focused on the Weyrs and their interactions with the Holds and other Weyrs. It also continues the story in Dragonflight of the Oldtimers after their journey forward through time to help Benden Weyr fight Thread. All I can say is, "Wow...things have changed!" The story is also much more focused on the bond between dragon and rider which I find so engrossing.

Over the years I have recommended the Pern books to so many people. I am not sure if any of them have picked the series up, but I think it's a great series to break into science fiction and fantasy. The reason I say this is because there are no magic/spells, elves, dwarves, space battles, or other weird creatures that people associate with fantasy and science fiction. It reads more like a novel out of the middle ages with the added fantastical element of dragons and fire lizards. These are some of my favorite books of all time and I am sincere when I say that I had to live on any other planet, Pern would be my first choice! I love the books, and I love Anne McCaffrey for bringing so much life to her fictional world that it almost feels real to me. It's one of the best reading escapes around!

2010 Reading List

For 2010, I am trying a new way of posting my reading list. I have a chronological list on the left sidebar of my main blog page. For the ratings, click on the 2010 Books tab at the top of the main blog page. I hope that works out better than my plan for 2009--I accidentally deleted all my list and had to redo it!

Excellent, a favorite!

1. Dragonquest - Anne McCaffrey
2. The Waste Lands - Stephen King
3. Storm Front - Jim Butcher

Great read, almost perfect but not quite.

1. Wizard's First Rule - Terry Goodkind
2. The White Dragon - Anne McCaffrey
4. American on Purpose - Craig Ferguson

Really good read. Recommend it to people who like the author.

2. Stone of Tears - Terry Goodkind
3. Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
4. Blood of the Fold - Terry Goodkind
5. Temple of the Winds - Terry Goodkind

Good read. Something was lacking for me, but the story was good or it was well written, but not both.

1. Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
2. The Bourne Identity - Robert Ludlum
3. The Rowan - Anne McCaffrey
4. The Killing Floor - Lee Child
5. When the Bough Breaks - Jonathan Kellerman

OK, entertaining but not the best read around

1. The Cold Spot - Tom Piccirilli
2. Beat the Reaper - Josh Bazell
3. The Way of Shadows - Brent Weeks

Pick this up if you are out of other things to read and can't get another book.

Better left on the shelf and turn on the boob tube instead. I did not enjoy this book.

Why is this book in my possession? Well, at least I finished it.

I tried. I really did, but I just couldn't finish this book.
(I probably won't ever review books I don't completely finish)

RYOB Challenge Book List - 2010

It's January 1, 2010 which means it's time to start the RYOB Challenge! I am so excited! I ought to be banned from buying anymore books until I read what is on my shelf, but I know that won't happen!

Here's my list (28 in total):

  • The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower: Book III) - Stephen King
  • Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower: Book IV) - Stephen King
  • Wolves of Calla (The Dark Tower: Book V) - Stephen King
  • Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower: Book VI) - Stephen King
  • The Dark Tower (The Dark Tower: Book VII) - Stephen King
  • Wizard's First Rule - Terry Goodkind
  • Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • Dragon Heart - Todd McCaffrey
  • Across the Nightingale Floor - Lian Hearn
  • The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien
Science Fiction
  • Against a Dark Background - Iain M. Banks
  • Freedom's Landing - Anne McCaffrey
General Fiction
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini
  • The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios - Yann Martel
  • Dreaming Water - Gail Tsukiyama
  • Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding
  • Ceremony - Leslie Marmon Silko
  • The State Boys Rebellion - Michael D'Antonio
  • All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
  • Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein
  • Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
  • The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway
  • Guilty as Sin - Tami Hoag
  • Through Harsh Winters: The Life of a Japanese Immigrant - Akemi Kikumura
  • The Professor and the Mad Man - Simon Winchester
  • American on Purpose - Craig Ferguson
  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Behrendt

Fantasy Challenge 2010

After thinking for weeks about whether or not I should sign up for one final challenge, I decided that the Fantasy Reading Challenge hosted by Royal Reviews wouldn't be too difficult for me to complete in 2010.

For my level, I have chosen Addicted and will read 12 Fantasy novels in 2010. Shouldn't be too hard since Fantasy is my favorite genre, right?!!

Here are the instructions from Royal Reviews in case you are interested in signing up:

The Fantasy Reading Challenge can include YA Fantasy or Historical Fantasy, Science Fiction Fantasy or any other sub genre of Fantasy. There really are no limits to this challenge as Fantasy is such a wide and varied genre. Just enjoy and have fun! I'm planning on reading the Katherine Kerr Deverry series if anyone would like to join me in a read along.

Challenge Guidelines:
1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.
--Non-Bloggers: Include your information in the comment section.

2. There are four levels:

-- Curious – Read 3 Fantasy Fiction novels.

-- Fascinated – Read 6 Fantasy Fiction novels.

-- Addicted – Read 12 Fantasy Fiction novels.

-- Obsessed – Read 20 Fantasy Fiction novels.

3. Any book format counts.

4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.

5. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010.

6. When you sign up under Mr. Linky, put the direct link to the post about the Fantasy Fiction Reading Challenge. Include the URL so that other participants can find join in and read your reviews and post.

I lied. I am going to do OBSESSED and read 20 Fantasy novels because I realized that this month alone I plan to read three fantasy novels. 
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