Monday, October 31, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - Sizzling Sixteen

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

----------
I'm almost done with The Way of Kings, and I'm a little bit sad about it, because it's been a fantastic book even if it is taken me forever to read it.  But I thought that this week I would do a Teaser from the book that I'm about to start next.  In fact, I'm going to use the first few lines of Chapter 1.  Many of you may already be familiar with the Stephanie Plum series.

The Tease:
 "My Uncle Pip died and left me his lucky bottle. 
I suppose I'm fortunate, because he left my Grandma Mazur his false teeth. 
So I've got this bottle now, and I don't exactly know what to do with it.  It's not like I have a mantel."
 -Sizzling Sixteen, by Janet Evanovich

What's your Tease?

Happy Halloween!!

I just wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Halloween!!

And don't forget, there's still time to participate in All Hallow's Read!

But if you, like me, have already given away all your scary books, then please have a very happy - and safe! - Halloween evening!

Now, bring on the candy!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Covering the Cover - Redshirts, by John Scalzi

All the really Kool Kids are talking about this today, so you might have already seen this.  John Scalzi's upcoming stand-alone novel now has a cover!

You can go to Tor.com to read about the cover art process and see alternate version of the cover that were discarded for various reason.   I think they made the right decision, as I like this one the best.

Also, check out what the author himself has to say about the cover at his blog, Whatever.

Synopsis:
Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory. Life couldn’t be better...until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that 
(1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, 
(2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations, and 
(3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.
Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy belowdecks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is...and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.

Redshirts is scheduled to be released Summer 2012.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Review - Movie Catch-up - October 2011

The Three Musketeers (2011) * * * * *
Starring: Orlando Bloom, Milla Jovovich

Bob & I rarely go to movies on opening weekend, but we made an exception on Saturday, as we hadn't seen any movies in a few weeks and I was starting to get withdrawal symptoms.  So we hopped over to the theater to see The Three Musketeers.

Now, I've read a lot of negative reviews of this movie over the last few weeks, complaining that the dialogue and bad writing disgrace the memory of Dumas, and how the release of this movie signals the end of western civilization.  (OK, I'm exaggerating - I do that from time to time - but not by much!).  Nonetheless I went into the theater with high expectations.  The previews had all been incredible, Milla Jovovich is awesome, and it's The Three Musketeers for crying out loud.  It had no choice but to be wonderful!

My high expectations were blown out of the water!

I don't want to give anything away, so I'm not going to talk much about the plot.  The things that were awesome though?

Milla Jovovich as Milady De Winter, a double-agent secret spy with fabulous hats and gowns and mad skills at Breaking & Entering!  Awesome!!  (Minor Spoiler - The scene where she breaks into the Queen's Chamber to steal "Something" from the secret vault was so freaking cool I couldn't even contain my excitement).

Orlando Bloom as the Duke of Buckingham.  He totally stole every scene he was in!

Various Musketeers fighting in slow-motion against the Cardinal's soldiers?  Amazing!!

The Airships?  Oh. My. Gosh. I can't even tell you how awesome!

Dueling on top of the Cathedral?  Amazing, with Awesome Sauce on top!

Realizing that a certain someone has more of a brain than people give them credit for?  Oh so very cool!!

Are you sensing the theme here?  This movie rocked hard, and it was amazingly awesome, and I loved it and I want to go see it again already so who wants to go with me ohmygodIcan'twaitletsgorightnow!!!

The Three Musketeers is now my favorite movie of 2011, knocking Rise of the Planet of the Apes into the #2 spot.  It's fun, exciting, and adventurously swashbuckling.  It is not great literature, though, which I think might be what those other negative reviewers might have been looking for.  This isn't a faithful representation of the book and it isn't meant to be.  It's got some great steampunk elements that modernize it and make it into a great story apart from the original novel, and I think that's OK.  Very, very OK, in fact.  A lot!

All right - I'll quit rambling now.  The Three Musketeers gets 5 stars from me, and Bob said he really enjoyed it.  That's pretty high praise right there, folks.

But what's next, you ask?  Well I'll tell you!  Here's what I'm still looking forward to seeing:

In Time - (This looks A-Frickin'-Mazing!  Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Matt Bomer, Alex Pettyfer, Cillian Murphy, & Johnny Galecki)
Anonymous (Political thriller theorizing that Shakespeare didn't exist. Vanessa Redgrave & David Thewlis).
Immortals (Henry Cavill, Freida Pinto - Looks awesome!)
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Jude Law, Robert Downey Jr. Hooray - The boys are back!!)
Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol (I am such a sucker for this theme song!)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Daniel Craig and, oh who cares? It's Daniel Craig! Hopefully this will rock!)

Did you see The Three Musketeers Yet?  What did you think?  Leave a comment below, or a link to your review of the movie - I'd love to hear what you thought!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TV News - AMC's The Walking Dead



You may have already noticed this, as it seems to be making the rounds today - but only two episodes into Season Two, The Walking Dead is breaking cable ratings records all over the place, and so it comes as no surprise that AMC announced today that they have already renewed the show for a third season.  Hooray!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - The Way of Kings

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

----------
I don't think that we've yet had a Teaser from one of Dalinar's chapters, so let's have one now, shall we?  Dalinar is the king's uncle and close adviser, and also a high ranking officer in a seemingly endless war of revenge.

The Tease:
 "Father," Adolin said, pacing in Dalinar's sitting room.  "This is insane."
"That is appropriate," Dalinar replied dryly.  "As - it appears - I am as well."
"I never claimed you were insane."
"Actually," Renarin noted.  "I believe that you did."
 -The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

What's your Tease?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Book Review - The Lies of Locke Lamora

The Gentleman Bastards, by Scott Lynch
1. The Lies of Locke Lamora    9/18/2009 * * * *
2. Red Seas Under Red Skies    3/4/2011 * * * *

I totally thought that I had already written reviews for both of these books, but since I can't find them anywhere, it must have been in my imagination!  So here for your viewing pleasure is my impressions of Book 1 in the series.  (Great cover, too!  Right?)

Goodreads:
In this stunning debut, author Scott Lynch delivers the wonderfully thrilling tale of an audacious criminal and his band of confidence tricksters. Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part Robin Hood, one part Ocean's Eleven, and entirely enthralling.

An orphan's life is harsh—and often short—in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains–a man who is neither blind nor a priest. A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans–a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.

Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld’s most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful–and more ambitious–than Locke has yet imagined.

Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men–and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game–or die trying.

My Thoughts:
As the blurb indicates, this debut novel from Scott Lynch truly is stunning.  It really is!  But be warned - you have to work at it just a little.


Don't get me wrong, because I cannot say enough about how fantastic this novel is, and how much I loved it.  The world-building that Lynch has done is amazingly detailed and endlessly intriguing, but Lynch wisely never hits the reader over the head with it, instead working the details into the dialogue or brief views of the surroundings.  The characters are fun and unique.


Locke's story is told both in the present and in the past, so the reader slowly learns about Locke's childhood and training and is able to see how those events shape and mold the thoughts and actions of the adult Locke and his crew.  The style is a little hard to follow at first, and sometimes the time jump is slightly disconcerting, as the jump from the present to the past is usually right at a cliff-hanger moment.  There were several sections of his training and childhood that got a little tiny bit tedious while I was reading them, but later on in the story I was glad for the insight they provided.


There are also several gaps in the narrative of Locke's youth, years that are skipped over, which I found odd at the time, but now that the series is continuing it looks as if the author will be filling in some of those gaps through future story lines, which I find exciting.  It appears that in book three we will gain more knowledge and information regarding a section of his youth and a romance that is only barely mentioned in the first 2 books, and I'm hoping that will fill in at least one of those "gaps."


What I loved most about the story were the characters themselves, specifically Locke.  The pacing of the second part of the book is perfectly intense, never slowing down, as Locke and crew fleece the rich for their own benefit.  When things in Locke's world begin to fall apart, Locke must juggle multiple cons to keep not only himself and his crew from being killed, but also to save his beloved city from an insidious attack.  But finding his way through the many webs of lies to discern the truth of the situation is more difficult than Locke ever thought it would be, and the author handles the twists and turns of the plot like a master.  This is one of those roller-coaster stories that you hang on to for dear life and never quite know what to expect next.


The Lies of Locke Lamora gets 4 stars.


Have you read this book?  Do agree with my assessment?  Leave a comment below and tell me what you think!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

All Hallow’s Read - Tor.com Staff Picks

Over on Tor.com, they've posted a list of scary books recommended by their staff and others.  There are some great books on the list, so head on over and check it out!

All Hallow’s Read Tor.com Staff Picks | Tor.com

Monday, October 17, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - The Way of Kings

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

----------
One of the main viewpoint characters in this novel is a young woman, Shallan, who has been taken as a ward and student of the Princess Jasnah.  In this tease, Shallan contemplates her escape after committing a theft.

The Tease:
 "It seemed a fitting deadline.  That would put her departure at three weeks after stealing the Soulcaster, as she'd told Nan Balat to expect.  If Jasnah hadn't reacted to the Soulcaster switch by then, Shallan would have to take it to mean that she wasn't under suspicion."
 -The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

What's your Tease?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Book News - The Republic of Thieves

Yesterday, Simon Spanton, the Deputy Publishing Director at Gollancz, posted a bit of news on the Gollancz Blog about the expected release date of the new novel by Scott Lynch.  "The Republic of Thieves" is the third novel in the Gentleman Bastard series, following the story of Locke Lamora and his partner Jean Tannen, thieves extraordinaire.  I love the cover art for the new book - very dramatic and fantastical!!


Simon Spanton says:
"We know how eagerly many of you are waiting for the publication of Scott Lynch’s third novel, The Republic of Thieves. We know how frustrating the delays have been. We know this because we share your eagerness and your frustrations. But as you may know Scott has had a very difficult couple of years and consequently the novel has been delayed. Several times. If you knew the circumstances for these delays I’m sure you’d understand why we have had to wait for the book. We’re now waiting for final delivery of the manuscript and are hoping to publish the book in March of 2012. The moment we have final delivery we will confirm a publication date.

No-one is more eager to see this book published than Scott or myself. The delays have been forced on us. The moment we can put those behind us we will let you know and then we can all start counting the days to publication. Locke Lamora will return.

Simon Spanton,
Deputy Publishing Director, Gollancz"

This is fantastic news, as I, like many others, have been eagerly awaiting the third installment in the sequence!  I thought that I had reviewed Red Seas Under Red Skies, but apparently not.  Look for that in the not too distant future.  Meanwhile the reading order and the number of stars I've given each book in the series so far are listed below.

The Gentleman Bastards, by Scott Lynch
1. The Lies of Locke Lamora    9/18/2009 * * * *
2. Red Seas Under Red Skies    3/4/2011 * * * *

Teaser Tuesday - The Way of Kings

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

----------
I'm almost halfway through The Way of Kings now (Page 605 of 1252).  It's a massive book, and I'm loving it!  In this section, Kaladin and his fellow Bridge Crew wait to see if they will be called to dash into battle.

The Tease:
 "He cut off as a horn call blared over the camp, echoing against stone buildings like the bleat of a distant greatshell.  Kaladin grew tense.  His men were on duty.  He waited, tense, until the third set of horns blew."
 -The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

What's your Tease?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bits & Pieces

Now that October is uponst us, I just want to remind everyone about All Hallow's Read!!  My post on that is here, along with links to more information about the event. 

The short version?  Give someone a (age-appropriate) scary book for Halloween!  It'll be fun!  Come on!! 
(You know you want to...)

------------------------------

Also I would like to officially welcome the most recent followers, Lee from Bookish Boy, and Amie at Mom Reads My Books.  Check out both of their blogs if you get a chance, they're both quite entertaining!

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If you don't already know all about TheBloggess.com, then you are totally missing out.  She's hysterically funny.  Go check it out.  Now! 
(Seriously - she has a picture of Wil Wheaton collating paper.  Go now!!)
(But don't forget to come back when you're done, okay?)

------------------------------

If you have a Nook you probably already know this, but each Friday Barnes & Noble does a "Free Friday" book on their book blog.  This week's is "Blood Safari" by South African writer Deon Meyer.  If you're interested.


------------------------------

Ok, I think that's it for now!  Have a great weekend, everyone!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Review - Movie catch-up - August & September

Conan the Barbarian * * * *
Starring: Jason Momoa, Ron Perlman and Rose McGowan

The story begins, of course, with the young Conan and the destruction of his entire way of life when his village is savagely attacked and his father murdered.  The narrative then jumps to the adult Conan, who years later discovers the identity of the men responsible for the massacre, and he sets out on a mission of revenge.

The story is mostly predictable, but that doesn't detract from the movie.  The sets and CGI work were quite good, giving Conan's world a sense of reality and history that most fantasy movies just don't have.  Jason Momoa was perfect for the part, and both Bob and I quite enjoyed this movie.

The Debt * * * * *
Starring: Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington and Tom Wilkinson

I really don't know how to describe this movie in a way that makes sense, so here's the plot summary from IMDB:
"The espionage thriller begins in 1997, as shocking news reaches retired Mossad secret agents Rachel (Helen Mirren) and Stefan (Tom Wilkinson) about their former colleague David (CiarĂ¡n Hinds). All three have been venerated for decades by their country because of the mission that they undertook back in 1966, when the trio (portrayed, respectively, by Jessica Chastain, Marton Csokas, and Sam Worthington) tracked down Nazi war criminal Vogel (Jesper Christensen) in East Berlin. At great risk, and at considerable personal cost, the team's mission was accomplished - or was it? The suspense builds in and across two different time periods, with startling action and surprising revelations."

This movie was amazing!!  There are indeed "startling action and surprising revelations," which several times had me nearly leaping out of my seat!  This is not, however, a comfortable movie.  There were several scenes which were psychologically  uncomfortable to watch due to the references to Vogel's crimes, (nothing depicted, just talked about), but that were important to the story.  Also the female agent gets beaten on fairly severely in both timelines, which was uncomfortable for me to watch personally, but was really relevant to the plot as well. 

The ending was amazing, but left us thinking about the value of lies vs. total honesty, which was one of the major themes in the film.  Helen Mirren was, naturally, bloody brilliant, as always.  So overall the movie gets 5 stars from me, with the warning that there will be moments where you might be uncomfortable and scenes that will make you think.

Abduction * * *
Starring: Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Maria Bello and Sigourney Weaver

A thriller (more like thriller lite) about a teenager (Lautner) who sets out to uncover the truth about his life after finding his baby photo on a missing persons website, and realizing that his parents aren't really his parents.  Completely predictable, a bit slow in some places, but overall not bad for Lautner's first post-Twilight film.  Fun and even humorous in spots, easy and light with no real thought required.  Sigourney Weaver and Maria Bello still manage to shine in their supporting roles, as they always do.  It would have been better with the romantic aspect, which felt forced and awkward, but I suppose the teenagers will enjoy the movie anyway.

Oh wait.  I enjoyed it too.  Hmmm - what does that say about me?

Moving on!! Movies I'm still looking forward to include:

In Time - (This looks A-Frickin'-Mazing!  Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Matt Bomer, Alex Pettyfer, Cillian Murphy, & Johnny Galecki)
The Three Musketeers (Milla Jovovich & Orlando Bloom)
Anonymous (Political thriller theorizing that Shakespeare didn't exist. Vanessa Redgrave & David Thewlis).
Immortals (Henry Cavill, Freida Pinto - Looks awesome!)
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Jude Law, Robert Downey Jr. Hooray - The boys are back!!)
Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol (I am such a sucker for this theme song!)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Daniel Craig and, oh who cares? It's Daniel Craig! Hopefully this will rock!)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - The Way of Kings

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

----------
I'm really getting into this book, and having a very difficult time putting it down long enough to do things like sleep and go to work!  In this tease, the King and his uncle are discussing what may have been an attempt on the King's life.

The Tease:
 "Well, so far we have nothing conclusive.  Nobody has taken credit for trying to kill you, even in rumor.  Nobody saw anything suspicious."
 -The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

What's your Tease?