Tuesday, December 30, 2008 13 comments By: Suzanne

Tuesday Teaser: Not what you think...

The Teaser is hosted at Should be Reading. Be sure to go there for this and more fun!

This from page 5 of The Hour I First Believed. I deliberately chose this quote because it is misleading and if you know who he's talking about, haunting.

And I remember thinking he'd make a good Marine. Clean-cut, conscientious, his ironed T-shirt tucked neatly into his wrinkle-free shorts. Give him a few years, I figured,
and he'd probably be officer material
Monday, December 29, 2008 1 comments By: Suzanne

Twilight Question

Ok, to all of you who actually liked the series and might remember better than me, who was the friend of Bella's dad that dies in the second book? Someone named Waylon in the movie is attacked and I thought that was name of his friend that dies of a heart in the second book. Am I just confused or did they change that?

Musing Mondays: Recommendations

Rebecca at Just One More Page asks the following:

How often do you recommend books to others, and who do you recommend them to? Do you only recommend books to your “reading friends” or to anyone you think might find the book interesting? What does it take for a book to make it to your ‘recommendation’ list?

I often recommend books that I've enjoyed to friends, family, and the people that read my blog because if I liked a book then I want the whole world to read it and enjoy it too! Often I find that a book that I loved is just not the type of thing someone else would like but I still keep going, recommending. There's a whole list of books I've enjoyed over the years posted on my blog on the right hand side for you to browse and decide on for yourself. I've liked each of them to a page where you can read about it.
Sunday, December 28, 2008 1 comments By: Suzanne

Twilight Update

Ok, so I went to see the movie finally. I think I liked it better than the book but it's hard to remember exactly how I felt after the first book because it was the second one that turned me off and I read them so close to each other. I think the girl playing Bella was wonderful. She was just as I pictured her both physically and in personality. I didn't like the guy playing Edward. I know he's supposed to be in the body of a perpetual 17 year old, but he didn't read that way to me. He seemed much more cultured and of a different age in the book than this guy playing him. The actor was too much of a modern teenager. Plus, he wasn't all that cute. Now the guy playing Jasper. WOOOHOOOO!!! More my type I guess.

On a somewhat freaky note, James looks just like my neighbor. Weird.

The Hour I First Believed

So I just finished reading Wally Lamb's newest creation, The Hour I First Believed. I was very moved by this book. Lamb doesn't let his characters off easy. They have hard lives and have to make hard choices. His first two books, She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True, are witness to this. In those first two books, the main characters are often dealing with one personal tragedy that has made their life spin out of control. The same is true for The Hour I First Believed, with the exception that the first trauma is more like a jumping point. Life will not only never be the same, it's almost impossible to stop the following tragedies that are a result of the first.

The book is about a couple, Caelum (teacher) and Maureen Quirk (school nurse), who are witnesses to the Columbine massacre. Caelum is out of town seeing to his aunt's funeral when he sees the footage on television and rushes home to find out if his wife, students, and colleagues are still alive. Maureen is still alive, but having been in the library during the shooting, she is a different woman when she walks out of the school than she was when she walked in that day. (This is all on the cover, so I'm not spoiling anything!)

Although Caelum and Maureen are fictional characters, many of the real victims are featured in the story. Lamb takes the time to detail exactly what happened that day and the planning that went into it by the two boys for those who may not have spent every minute in front of the television watching it unfold as it happened (as I did). Ironically, it is Caelum that makes the statement that although many kids are bullied, they don't go out and commit mass murder while Maureen (briefly) sees why it might happen in the first place. In her role as school nurse, she has been giving comfort to the students who feel like outsiders. Maureen's PTSD is debilitating in the aftermath and Caelum's life is turned in so many directions that it can't even be called up-side-down. The later tragedies of 9/11 and Katrina make appearances in the story as well as the Civil War.

I saw a review that stated Lamb takes too many tangents from the main storyline. I didn't feel that was the case at all. Every generation in Caelum's family, going aback to the civil war, has a prominent role at one point in the story. However, I don't feel these were "tangents" but integral parts of a story that would have been incomplete without them. It is true that his and Maureen's story could have been told well without these bits of history and the book may have been much shorter but I felt that Lamb was making the point with these "tangents." We are not solely the product of our parents and those who have been in our lives from birth but every major decision in the lives of those before us, continues to affect us whether we realize it or not. Those people made decisions that would have made our own lives very different if another choice was made.

I waited a long time for this book, having greatly enjoyed his first two, and Wally Lamb did not disappoint.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008 4 comments By: Suzanne

Ender in Exile

I will start this post by thanking Julie at FSB Associates for sending me this book. I have been a fan of Orson Scott Card's for a long time, so when I read about the give away for Ender in Exile I was very excited.

If you've read my post about re-reading Ender's Game, then you'll know that I recently met Orson Scott Card at a book signing here in my own town of Denton, TX. It made me realize that a person should never meet their idols! Not so much for myself but for my mother. She's the one that started my love of Ender and all the other stories in his world, so I was very sad that she had such a bad experience at the signing that she refuses to buy anymore of his books. For me, the wait in the line (more than 2 hours and I was close to the front!) was not so bad since I met another fan of Ender and Buffy. We got to talk for the entire two hours about the fantasy worlds we love. Meeting Card afterward, and talking to him about Speaker for the Dead (my favorite in the series) was a great experience for me after that. As for my mother, I hope this book will change her mind. She did say she would read it (simply because she doesn't have to buy it!).

On to the book. Again I impressed with Card's storytelling ability. When I heard the premise of the book, I just couldn't imagine that he could find enough for a full novel. The book takes place in between Ender's Game and the second book Speaker for the Dead, specifically between chapters 14 and 15, which he wrote to bridge the novelette of Ender's Game to the novel and the sequel. I just wasn't sure what he could say that would be different than what was ALREADY said. Of course, that's why he's the writer and I'm not. The book opens with a very touching scene between the Wiggin parents that made me see them in an entirely different light. They are finally given dimension, whereas before they seemed more like caricatures of parents.

A good portion of the book takes place on the ship between the base he is at in the end of Ender's Game and colony he becomes governor over afterward. It's mainly about the relationships that are formed and broken on the ship not only with Ender but with characters we've maybe never met before (at least I don't remember some of them). I truly enjoyed this part of the book and felt that when he actually arrived at the colony and settled an important conflict, the best part of the book was over. The rest was the icing on the cake.

One of the themes throughout the series, whether intentional or not, has been Ender's constant soul searching. "Am I a good person? Can I do what's expected of me? Should I bother?" Even though Ender's age in Earth years is well beyond his physical age of 17, in some ways he continues to think as a teenager. Card constantly tries to make the point that Ender is not like other children, through the first book, Ender's Shadow, and this new one, but I believe that his soul searching questions are more typical of teenagers than most people believe. For all his intelligence and training and separateness, Ender is still a teenager in need of reassurance and love. He eventually writes a very moving letter to his parents that hit a chord with me, as it could have been written from me to my grandparents. Parts of that letter were exactly things I have said and things I wish I could have said.

As good as this book was, I do not believe it could stand on it's own or even be considered the second book in the series. Now that I've read it I feel that, of course, this should have been written and completes the series like nothing else can. However, if I read this directly after reading Ender's Game for the first time, I think I would have been very disappointed and I can't even explain why. It simply doesn't work as a second book in the series even though, chronologically, that's where it fits. Maybe it's because there is too much recap and expanding on previous themes. Maybe it's because Ender is never really in danger of any kind because we know what happens later. Or maybe it's because I just love Speaker for the Dead so much that it will always be the perfect sequel to Ender's Game. Either way, this book is very well written and the story is captivating, but it could never be anything other than a stand alone novel about characters we already love.
Thursday, December 18, 2008 5 comments By: Suzanne

The Friday 56: Atlantis

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
*Post a link along with your post back to this blog.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

This is from Orson Scott Card's newest collection of short stories, Keeper of Dreams. This quote is from the story Atlantis.

Glogmeriss gasped and clung to his father's hand. "A giant indeed," said his father. "Look at those legs, that powerful tail."

I had to cheat this week :)) since the closest book to me was Ender in Exile and I did that one a couple weeks ago. I figured this was as good!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008 3 comments By: Suzanne

A wonderful find

Yesterday I discovered something wonderful. It's a website called LibriVox. They record works that are in the public domain and allow you to download them for free! All the works are done by volunteers and so some have several different chapters read by different people. The lack of cohesion is more than made up for by the fact that I can download books and listen to them in my car when I'm driving. Also, these are definitely not professionally mastered recordings. Every stumbled of word is still there. I began listening to Athem today. Figured that I might as well, while I'm on an Ayn Rand kick. Luckily, this particular recording is done all by one person but she often hestitates before some words. Takes you out of the story only briefly. It's not too much of a bother and I will say again IT'S FREE!! I can listen to it and read Ender in Exile when I'm not in the car. Yayyyy! More books at the same time!

Yesterday I went to Barnes and Noble (where I spend way too much money) and was looking at their audiobooks. Unfortunately, the cost of these depends on the length of the book. The new book by Wally Lamb is $75 on audio!!! I think I may have to wait to read this the old fashioned way, and may even check it out from the library. Me and the library are probably going to get to be real good friends soon. I think my book habit is starting to eat at my budget!

So once again: http://librivox.org/ IT'S FREE!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008 5 comments By: Suzanne

We the Living

I finished reading We the Living, the first novel by Ayn Rand, a few days ago but have not written about yet simply because I didn't know what to say. First off I will say that read The Fountainhead about ten years ago and loved it. It changed me. It is the book that made me interested in fiction with a purpose. I have been a fan of Fantasy and Sci-fi all my life and had been putting aside practically everything else. Directly after reading this I read 1984. It is odd that in school they make us read Animal Farm instead. I understand all the symbolism and blah, blah, blah of the book, but 1984 makes a much bigger impact. It is what made me begin to sit up and take notice of the world around me. I began watching the news and trying to figure out our political system, because no one in school ever made it make sense, even with all their history and civics classes.

So, I was obsessed with the characters from The Fountainhead for a long time after reading it. Years. I'm not joking. I still think about this book and the main character's view on life and the world around him quite often. Maybe it's because I've never been good at kissing ass and trying to be friendly to the "right" people. In junior and high school that meant I'd never be popular. In college it meant my professors (especially my music history and band director) did not look at me as their favorites. There's a surprising amount of ass-kissing that goes on in music departments. I was just trying to get my degree and move on. I kind of related to Howard Roark.

So, looking back it is very surprising that I never read Ayn Rand's first novel. (On a side note, I also recently found out her name is NOT pronounced like Ann but like I-an). Maybe I was afraid it would not make as big an impact. Maybe I wasn't ready for more mind opening ideas. Maybe I needed to digest what I had just read first. I don't know, but I never read any other novels by her. I read about her philosophy and other things but no other novels. Until now. I was inspired recently by quotes from a person I went to college with in another discussion on The God Delusion to take it up. Or at least one of her other novels.

Rand states about We the Living: "It is as near an autobiography as I will ever write. The plot is invented, the background is not...The specific events of Kira's life were not mine; her convictions, her values, were and are."

Kira is 18 years old, living in the early years of Soviet Russia when the book begins. She truly does not care about the political climate of her country. She doesn't care about much of anything that is not directly related to her getting what she wants: a degree as an architect. She states that she wants to build bridges of aluminum, and believes she will one day. Nothing is more important to her than that, until she meets Leo. Leo is mysterious and idealistic. He opens her up to the possibility of something else being important in the world. Her love for Leo leads her to do things she would never otherwise do. The love of another man for her brings complications beyond her imagining. Andrei is a communist who believes whole-heartedly in the ideals that began the revolution. He was involved in bringing the revolution about. Leo's father was executed for being a counter-revolutionary. Kira is caught not between two men but between to extreme ideals. She wants to fight against the communists but their treatment of the people have taken a toll on Leo and he changes. Not for the better. She doesn't know how to fight in the face of this. Andrei's staunch support of the original revolutionaries sets him in opposition to the corrupt individuals who have wormed their way to the top of political system. He also changes because of Kira. For the better.

I will not give away anymore of the plot except to say this story does not have a happy ending. I want to leave you with a quote from Kira, another character that I believe will live with me for a long time. This quote is not about the unhappy ending. That is something else.

The doctor said he was going to die. And I loved him. He didn't need much. Only rest, and fresh air, and food. He had no right to that, had he? Your state said so. We tried to beg. We begged humbly. Do you know what they said? There was a doctor in a hospital and he said he had hundreds on his waiting list...You see, you must understand this thoroughly. No one does. No one sees it, but I do, I can't help it, I see it, you must see it, too. You understand? Hundreds. Thousands. Millions.... And they had a chance to go on living. But not Leo... That is why you had sentenced him to death, and others like him, an execution without a firing squad. There was a big commissar and I went to see him. He told me that a hundred thousand workers had died in the civil war and why couldn't one aristocrat die - in the face of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics?

Tuesday Teaser: Ender in Exile

Check out Should be Reading for the rules and to join.

My teaser comes from Ender in Exile, which I finally started reading! I received the review copy a couple weeks ago but have so busy that I haven't had to time to read it!

But the image of somebody blowing Ender up or shooting him or whatever method they used - all the methods kept flashing through her mind. Wouldn't it be ironic - yet typically human - for the person who saved the human race to be assassinated?
pg. 19
Friday, December 12, 2008 1 comments By: Suzanne

The Friday 56: 12/12/08

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
*Post a link along with your post back to this blog.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

From We The Living by Ayn Rand:

He looked at her; she sat on the steps at his feet, looking up at his face. He saw no fear and no appeal in her eyes, only an insolent calm.
Thursday, December 11, 2008 1 comments By: Suzanne

Jack London

I drive a lot for work and get bored with listening to the radio after a while. A lot of times I'll listen to audiobooks but they're so expensive that I haven't listened to one in a while. So I was happily surprised when I found White Fang and The Call of the Wild on audio for $4 apiece at Half Price Books. If you are not familiar with this store, I am very sorry. It's absolutely wonderful (but not near as wonderful as our own Recycled Books here in Denton - I really love that store).

So I remember reading The Call of the Wild when I was kid and I think I saw a movie on White Fang at some point in my life but they're both very fuzzy and needless to say I had the two confused in my head. Well, maybe not confused but merged is the better word. I had somehow remembered a wild half-wolf dog that was captured and tortured to fight other dogs then rescued and taught be a sled dog who eventually went back to the wild. Yeah. Just remember it had been a long time.

After listening to the two back to back, I believe that The Call of the Wild is my favorite of the two simply because I'm not fond of the narrative in White Fang. The narrator keeps referring to people as "gods" in White Fangs eyes. Also, he sees power as coming from material possessions. This is a human qualification and I have never seen animals give deference to another animal because of possessions. They base power on strength. It is possible with some animals that the leader may have access to more food and other possessions but that is because he/she is ALREADY leader. Those things do not make the leader. So, because the wolf apparently sees materials possessions as power he sees white people as being superior to all others. See where I'm going here? Very irritating.

Ok, here's another problem: inconsistency. I realize these are different stories but they both concern sled dogs at some point. In The Call of the Wild, the sled dogs regard the lead sled dog with deference and treat him as leader in all other aspects of life. In White Fang, the other dogs view the lead dog as running away from them and therefore a coward to be tormented. The lead dog must sit with the people in order to be protected. WHAT??!! I don't know anything about sledding but I know about dogs and this simply doesn't make sense. The Call of the Wild was written first so maybe he discovered something that I don't know about. I tried to find some other reviews to see if there was any mention of this but all I could find were school papers and descriptions of the book. Anyone know where I can find good critiques not written by 6th graders?

Ok, so I didn't completely dislike White Fang. I was irritated by those things but the storyline is very good. I was surprised when I found out it was written after The Call of the Wild because it seems a little more rough. It reads like a first book, where The Call of the Wild seems more polished. In both books I really enjoyed the interplay between the main characters and the other dogs. The dogs seemed more real than the people. This makes complete sense, since the story is told from the point of view of the dog. The other dogs would be the ones that Buck and White Fang knew the best. London accomplishes this very well. I also enjoyed the exchange between Buck and Thornton and White Fang and Scott. Being an animal lover and having dogs all my life, I know the power of the love from an animal. I was impressed by how Scott won over White Fang. His devotion to Scott reminds me of my boyfriend's dog, Skillet, who treats Jeff as if he hung the moon and my dog, Loki, who treats me the same way. Both of these dogs were rescued also. There seems to be something that happens to a dog who is rescued and loved that makes them more devoted than a dog who comes to you as a puppy, like my other dog, Aurora. She obviously loves me and I love her very much but Loki and Skillet become visibly upset just being out of our presence. I was also impressed that Buck remained with Thornton even when he wanted to be free simply because he loved this man. Many people may say this is anthropomorphizing, that animals can't love like this. I say they have never given themselves to an animal enough to feel that love.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008 4 comments By: Suzanne

Teaser: SEMTAP

The Teaser is hosted at Should Be Reading. Be sure to check out the page for the rules.

In any special education music therapy eligibility assessment, the most important element is the comparison of a student's skills (as targeted by his or her Individual Education Plan) with and without the structure of music therapy.
From pg 5 of the SEMTAP: Special Education Music Therapy Assessment Process

No, I don't expect someone not in special ed or music therapy to understand it. :))
Friday, December 5, 2008 2 comments By: Suzanne

The Friday 56: 12/5/08

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
*Post a link along with your post back to this blog.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Spoken by Val in Ender in Exile:
You mean the way you control me.

I haven't started reading this yet but it's next on my list. I'm really excited about it.
Thursday, December 4, 2008 3 comments By: Suzanne

BTT: Authors

Today's Book Through Thursday over at Should Be Reading asks the following:

1. Do you have a favorite author?
I have many different favorite authors but for this questionaire I'll say Neil Gaiman

2. Have you read everything he or she has written?
Not really, only because I can't get into graphic novels. I tried, I really did because someone said if I was going to read any his were the best and since I already loves his novels I thought I would try. Still not for me.

3. Did you LIKE everything?
Of novels, very much so. He is a very talented writer and his imagination seems to know no bounds.

4. How about a least favorite author?
This hard because often if I don't like something I won't finish the book. I figure it's just not worth my time to continue reading something I'm not enjoying. However, I have recently read a couple book in a certain series that was made into a movie that I felt very strongly against! :))

5. An author you wanted to like, but didn’t?
Terry Brooks. I thought the ideas for his books were wonderful but the writing fell kind of flat for me and the plots were too cliche. It's all been done before, and better.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008 6 comments By: Suzanne

The love that doesn't love me back...

So I was in the bookstore the other day and realized how at home I feel in any bookstore. I can spend hours there (and sometimes do). I often will sit on the floor in front of a bookshelf and read from a book right there in the store. I was in the children's section because Neil Gaiman's new book is shelved for middle schoolers and I wanted to know if it would read like a children's book or if would still be interesting to me. I decided that I might enjoy it when it came time to buy it but seeing as I had already bought three other books that VERY SAME DAY at another bookstore, I figured maybe I should wait until I had read those and some of the others that are sitting on my shelves unread. (It's good thing I shop mainly in used bookstores). It occured to me that maybe a grown woman shouldn't sitting on the floor in the children's section of the bookstore but several employees and customers had passed me and no one seemed to think it strange so I didn't worry about it anymore. I believe I have a problem and I am seeking help now. The first step is to admit your problem so here it goes...My name is Tonya and I am a bookaholic.

To be fair I come by this addiction naturally. My mother is also a bookaholic. She can devour a large novel in the time that it takes me to find one. I befriended books young and sought their solace growing up when life was crazy and awkward. Luckily, I also love my animals, my friends, and family and they can love me back so I'm not so worried about my addiction anymore. Ok, time to read.

In case you're wondering, I'm currently reading We The Living.

Teaser: We The Living

My Teaser for this Tuesday comes from Ayn Rand's first novel We The Living. I decided to read it because even though I was profoundly affected by The Fountainhead, I never read her first novel. This statement is made by Kira, the main character:

Don't you know we that live only for ourselves, the best of us do, those who are worthy of it? Don't you know that there is something in us which must not be touched by any state, by any collective, by any number of millions?

From the back of the book:

She would die to live and love
This book is Ayn Rand's first novel. Its theme is one of the most significant of our day - the individual against the state. It portrays the impact of the Russian revolution on three human beings who demand the right to live their own lives and pursue their own happiness. It tells of a girl's passionate love, held like a fortress against the corrupting evil of a totalitarian state.
Ayn Rand said about it:
"...it is as near to an autobiography as I will ever write. The plot is invented, the background is not...The specific events of Kira's life were not mine; her ideas, her convictions, her values, were and are.