Welcome to my bookshelf


I am a voracious reader who is constantly found with her nose in a good (although sometimes not so good) book. I felt the need to share my experiences and suggestions, so here it is. Recommendations and comments are most definitely desired.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Religion...ugg

Currently Reading: The Folk of the Fringe

This is very reminiscent of The Road. Post apocalyptic America and what the survivors have to go through in order to remain survivors. It is such a shame that it seems like this dismal future is quite a possibility for us as we are today. Many leaders are making bad decisions and those decisions can ruin us with just one push of the button.

Card is very political and it shows in most of his books, including the Ender series. Sure that one takes place in a very technologically advanced society, but all in all, it is about people and the decisions they make. How unfortunate that the future seems so bleak. I do find that I agree with much of what he is thinking. In this book religion played a big role in who was persecuted and the political climate of today is strife with religious undertones. AHHHH! Religion ruins everything!! Just like in Dune. It's a shame that we can't speak for ourselves as ourselves. We have to justify everything by saying it is the will of a higher power. From all I've seen, these higher powers are all pretty much jerks. From jihads to crusades and all the little stuff happening closer to home (not that those things aren't close to home these days), lives are being destroyed and personal liberty is at stake. It's time to speak for ourselves. We have free will, whether you believe it was bestowed or innate, and we need to take advantage of it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Secrets, secrets are no fun...

Currently Reading: Object Lessons

The Girl Who Played with Fire was fantastic, but unlike it's predecessor, it is a cliffhanger and now I have to read the next one now! I have to know what happens to Salandar. I love these endings and hate them at the same time. Great because they keep to guessing until the end and bad because they keep you guessing even after the end. This is definitely a must read.

Now a math thing from the book. Salandar spends some of her freetime research and working on various higher level math problems, one of which is Fermat's theorem. This was finally proven by Andrew Wiles in the 90s however, he used math that would have been unavailable to Fermat. But in the middle of a very precarious situation, the proof Fermat discovered dawns upon Salandar and she snickers about it. Of course, the proof itself is never revealed. I want to know. I wish Larsson was still around so I could ask him what he was considering. Obviously it wasn't the true solution or we'd have heard about it, but still. I'd love some insight.

Object Lessons is looking to be an OK read. It's from a child's perspective, which I love. I'm frustrated because it reminds me of something else I read, but I can't for the life of me remember the book itself. That's what I get for reading so much.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Better Than the Original

Currently Reading: The Girl Who Played With Fire

Talk about awesome. I haven't posted in a bit since I have been wanting to spend every free minute reading. One of the jacket quotes talks about forgetting sleep as you read this book. I don't always totally agree with quotes, but this one is totally true. I think I like it better than The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It's not always that the sequel is better than the original. Of course The Empire Strikes Back is one other example. This book gets you right from the get-go. The first one started slow and I know several people who started it and then put it down because they couldn't get with it. Here's what I have to say to them, "Finish it. It gets more awesome!" And you have to know what happens so you can get a lot of the stuff that goes on in this sequel. Well I'm going to go read a bit more. Yes, work will wait.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Really...that's it?

Currently Reading: The Prefect

So it ended, but not really. It was one of those endings where things end up OK for the moment however, the bad guys are still out there. They are just dormant for the moment. Kinda a letdown. Not the going out in blazes that you usually get with science fiction stuff. All in all, it was OK, but certainly not my favorite from Allistar Reynolds.

I'm not running back to the emotional, character driven stuff yet though. Next on tap: The Girl Who Played With Fire. I loved the first one and this one sounds like it's going to be good as well. I love reading modern books that take place in other countries. It's a neat way to expand your horizons. Not all places operate like we do in America. From cars they drive to foods they eat for breakfast, there's always something new to learn and like I've said before, I love to learn.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hairless

Currently Reading: The Prefect

So this is by one of my favorite science fiction authors, and yet it is not tantalizing me as much as some of his other stuff. I am not really into it and find myself reading and reading just to get through it so that I can move onto my next book. I hate it when that happens. I still want to finish it and find out what happens, but I don't really care about it too too much. I'm worried that all the emotional nonsense I've been reading lately has dulled my wits. I still love science and have always adored the sci-fi stuff I've read. Maybe it's just this book. We'll see. The future is always in motion. I love reading about what others predict may happen. What we'll be like as the eons go by is an interesting question to ponder. One thing is for sure though (and this is my personal feeling, so don't go quoting it as scientific fact), in the future we will not have hair.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Little Engine that Could

Currently Reading: Trying to Save Piggy Sneed

So the best short story by far had a car in it, and the car was actually the most moving character in the entire story. It wasn't animated or anything, but you felt for it and could almost feel it's emotions. You cared about the fate of this little Volvo far more than the fate of the main character, his driver. There was a unique relationship between the two that Irving quite poignantly captures. I know the story is actually about divorce, but I chose to read it as a friendship tale. If nothing else, the guy could depend on his car. Maybe he depended too much on the car therefore the divorce. It did totally make me hear, "I think I can, I think I can..." in my head though.

The last section is basically reprintings of some introductions Irving wrote for a few books. It is neat to hear all the details about Dickens. It is clear that he is an influential presence in Irving's life. He makes me want to read more of Dickens' work. Or at least re-read Great Expectations.

Next up hard core science fiction! Hooray!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Male Perspective

Currently Reading: Trying to Save Piggy Sneed

Isn't it interesting that most of my favorite male authors also write fantastic memoirs. Maybe it's not such a coincidence. The World According to Garp was most certainly reflective of John Irving's personal life. More so that any of the other books of his that I have read. I really liked the fact that he was honest and wrote from experience. I have also loved the personal stories told by Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut. Apparently Vonnegut was one of Irving's early mentors of a sort. Yet another coincidence? Now that I think about it, it seems that most of my favorite authors are males. I think I have a thing with books about sad, middle aged men. Saul Bellow is another of my favorites. Is it because I can't relate and so can truly lose myself in the main characters? Or maybe I just don't relate enough to females. Something to ponder.

Regardless, this is turning out to be another great book. I just finished the memoirs section and am now about to start the fiction part. It is filled with some of Irving's short stories. I haven't read any of these before and am looking forward to them. I like short stories because they usually get to the point quickly and don't ramble on for too long. Sometimes authors go off on too many tangents and lose focus. With a short story, it is hard to do that. There isn't room for rambling. We should all be restricted to short stories at times. Get to the heart of the matter and then move on.

Friday, March 19, 2010

You light up my life

Currently Reading: The Illuminator

What a cool job title. I think I'm going to change mine from teacher to illuminator. What do you do? I illuminate the mysteries of mathematics to children. Sounds pretty good and it works too.

This is an interesting tale of love and intrigue back in the day. What I find most interesting is that the court is so against the use of English as a written language. The English hate English. How silly! Of course it is the tongue of the common folk. No one would want to sully themselves by appearing a rube. But really, this is turning out to be a fairly decent tale, although not as gripping as some of the others I've written about. You don't care about the characters nearly as much as you do when reading books like The Pact. I love it when I get all defensive about things happening to a certain character. That means you truly care. This current book is illuminating more things for me about medieval England though and again, I love it when I learn things. You usually just read about the lords and ladies or the peasants and serfs. This one is mainly about the middle class. Sure they have some servants, but the relationship is much different from what you usually see. None of that "Come hither wench" stuff. The lady in question is more lamentable towards her workers and is often helping them out of a bind. Still, it sucks that she has to devote so much energy to keeping up appearances. Oh and did I mention the church! They are always the most scandalous and deplorable of the lot. (Not that I can't agree in many respects.) Why are they always lording it over everyone? Sure they work for the big man, but in those days, they were more than just spiritual advisers. They run the whole show and you're damned, figuratively and literally, if you oppose their will. Or rather, God's will. Speaking of which, the one thing I did like about Mathilda Savitch was that god was not capitalized. How refreshing.

Well, I will stop droning. Just one last thing. I am oh so sad that Spring Break is coming to a close since that means less time reading and more time working. It was fun while it lasted though.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

She did what?

Currently reading: The Pact

An interesting thing about this book is that one of the main characters is dead and we are forced to learn about her through flashbacks and the impressions of the other characters. This skews our perceptions about her because most things are seen through "rose colored glasses". I don't like her much at this moment. The main character, Chris, was her boyfriend and it is her fault he is in his current predicament. This hearsay clouds our vision in reading and such hearsay can mess our perceptions up in real life as well. If you base your opinions on those expressed by others, you miss out on the whole picture and end up making snap judgments. Sure, use others to help guide your research, but be sure to seek out other sources as well. Ill formed judgments are another of life's banes. Just like false expectations.

More "not so Great" Expectations

Currently Reading: The Pact

No not that one, the one by Jodi Picoult. Everyone always mixes it up with the true story about the group of inner city boys wanting to be doctors.

Today is all about expectations. I always make snap judgments and formulate expectations before doing or experiencing anything and I really need to stop since I am really bad at foretasting anything. I actually read another book in between Roses and this one, Mathilda Savitch, which I was expecting to love. That was not the case. I actually didn't enjoy the book at all and skimmed my way through the last 70 pages. It just didn't hold my attention. Now this book, which had come highly recommended by a student, I was expecting to drag on and on and I was really not looking forward to another sob story. Instead, I find myself enthralled by the characters and really getting into the story. I want to be reading more right now. Picoult is very good about seeing everyone's side on an issue and presenting all viewpoints equally. That is very refreshing in this time of finger pointing and name calling. If we all calmly listened to each other, maybe more misunderstandings could be avoided. Of course that is asking for maturity which may be a bit much for our esteemed politicians. Anyways, off to more reading as it is Spring Break and I can do that. More as the story unfolds.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Southern Belles

Currently Reading: Roses

Well the epic has come to a close and while it was not all sunshine and daisies ( or should I say roses), the other did manage to gloss over the bad and focus on the happy outcome. What is funny is that the characters did as well. No one thought about the bad stuff that happened and it was just happily ever after. It does seem that the author meant this to be a serious novel taken as is. No subversive messages. After I finished, I went to put the jacket cover back on and noticed her picture and description. Yes, she is an old southern belle and was probably writing from experience. I did enjoy learning a bit more about modern farming and plantation owning. I like it when I can learn something new. The writing was not too difficult to follow, but some of the techniques employed were cool. As mentioned earlier, each part switches between the perspectives of different characters and even time of occurrence. This actually helped the story flow better because when something cryptic from the past was brought up, the author made sure to explain it with another flashback or storytelling section. All lose ends were tied up in the end, although I must say, some of the loose ends were tied using predicable or common knots. Really, if you don't want to deal with a character, they don't necessarily have to be killed off. At least the main character, the plantation, Somerset, survived relatively unscathed. All in all, I would recommend it if you have a free weekend or a few days at the beach. If you are looking for deep historical fiction, turn to Taylor Caldwell.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Timeless tales of greed and love

Currently Reading: Roses

I can't say I'm not enjoying this read, but I'm having a hard time figuring out the author's motive. It is reminiscent of Gone With the Wind just in a more modern (1930's and on) setting. Also in Texas, which makes it more significant to me. Part of me thinks this is an excellent social commentary on what things were like in these insulated communities with family feuds and whatnot, but the other part thinks the author is really writing a serious novel about these families. When you read it, you find yourself rolling your eyes a bit and almost laughing at the absurdities that occur for the stupidest reasons. From the jacket, it seems she is serious.

Now don't take this as a negative review. This is an interesting tale and I am still intrigued by what will come in the end. It is written in a style where you switch perspectives and time periods, something I absolutely love. I have some inkling as to what is on the horizon, but we'll just have to wait and see. Hooray for it being Spring Break. That means more reading time. I'm sure I'll arrive at the outcome by tomorrow.

The politics involved really speak to the times, but there are also several parallels to what is happening today. The have's trying to dictate what should happen to the have not's. I hate that. Especially since I find myself in the middle, sympathetic to the have not's but regrettably understanding the arguments coming from the have's. Why is balance so hard? It seems elusive not matter which facet of life one is trying to find it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's All in the Details

Currently Reading: The Sigma Protocol

As promised, Robert Ludlum fluff. He is frustrating the heck out of me though because he leaves all these cryptic hints and omits all this important information. Occasionally you'll get a glimpse of the mind of some unknown character and then he'll switch back to the main story. I think this must be one of his signature moves. This is the first Ludlam I've read. Still, it's exciting, fast paced, and not too bad for an adventure/spy thing. Well I guess I'd better stop procrastinating and get back to my homework.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Stupendous Stuff

Currently Reading: A Reliable Wife

It is over and it was crazy! I would totally recommend this to anyone who loves a suspenseful tale featuring fantastic characters with cryptic pasts living secret lives within a "typical, traditional" setting. The history comes through without being overbearing or boring. I loved it. The author interview revealed some of his inspirations, but I wonder how he came up with these twisted personalities. One of the interesting things he said was that the characters really dictated their reactions and emotions. He was definitely not in control. Too cool. I hope Goolrick writes some more fiction. He surely has at least one big fan.

Next on tap, some Robert Lundlum fluff. (Hey, I said I was busy with school!)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Twisted to say the least

Currently Reading: A Reliable Wife

Whoa! Talk about twisting and turning. I have no idea what I will find on the next page and I've only just started. This is turning out to be one suspenseful read. Thanks to my momma for lending it to me. Very intriguing characters and a totally unique setting. When have you ever read a book that takes place in the early 1900's in Wisconsin of all places? When I first saw the location, I was stunned. The cover and jacket descriptions make it seem like a tale from Victorian England. I appreciate someone taking the time to talk about America in this era. Sure some of it takes place in more metropolitan locales, but still, the main home is in Wisconsin. And what topics to be talking about in such a rural "puritan" place.

The main character, Catherine, is quite a delectable woman who seems to have several men wrapped around her fingers. This is sometimes the case, but she is also cleverly manipulated by the men in her life. It's interesting how we can be so sure of ourselves and strong when it comes to some aspects of our lives, but begging for leadership or guidance in others. I guess we each thrive in certain situations where we are comfortable and are wary or unsure of ourselves in others. To each his own. I'm off for more ready as I am anxious to see what happens next.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Fluff

Currently Reading: Gods Behaving Badly

I know! It's embarrassing, but I am so overwhelmed with my grad school stuff right now that I needed something quick and easy that I didn't need to think about. Sometimes I need to intersperse the deep stuff with something light. This one is ridiculously light and stupid, but I've started it and so cannot stop. The grad school reading and writing is keeping my mind occupied enough. Speaking of which, posts may be few and far between these next couple of weeks. I was so excited that I had found a program that allowed me to get a degree in as little as 18 months, but now I see that it still requires the same amount of work. Ah well, I hope to come away from it better informed and ready to better serve my kiddos.

The Swan Thieves is done now and it was fantastic. I don't want to give away the ending to those of you who may want to read it, but it is definitely good to the last word. I guessed some of the ending, but was still surprised by most of what happened. A satisfying outcome. Not all sunshine and roses, but I felt sated. All the art references were fantastic and I feel more informed about what is out there. It makes me want to head over to the museum. Maybe after all the school work is done. Spring Break is only a week away!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

That Special Someone

Currently Reading: The Swan Thieves

Marlow is coming out of his shell. He has found someone unique who he can share his thoughts and feelings with. Unfortunately for him, she is a former lover of his patient, Robert. I am enjoying learning more about Marlow's character that we couldn't see when he was so insular. His youth and vigor for life is coming out. How wonderful to find that one person who understands you and shares your interests. It seems like most people have that one person they can go to at any time. Someone who will listen without judgment. For many, that is a spouse or significant other, but it doesn't have to be. I would like to find that certain someone. I'm not dying for a romantic relationship or anything. It would just be nice to have someone who can say "I know exactly how you are feeling" or what you mean. Of course for me, that person would have to love to read, think and of course, Star Wars. I'm sure that person is out there somewhere. It just may take some searching or a coincidental meeting like Robert and Mary. I'm coming to the end and since this story is told in the past tense, I am anxious to see what is happening in Marlow's life currently. Is she still a part of his life? Could she be the elusive wife he talks about. Anticipation is an emotion I love to experience when reading. It totally means what I'm reading is a good book.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lonely

Currently Reading: The Swan Thieves

Pg 107: "And when, my restless body asked my teeming brain, had I agreed to be excluded?"

This is definitely some good reading. I am almost enjoying this more that Kostova's previous work. The main character, Marlow, had the above thought and it also applied to the second main character, Robert, as well. Marlow is a singular psychologist and he is working with Robert, who went crazy and tried to attack a painting in a gallery with a knife. The story switches between Marlow's daily experiences and Robert's life before the attack. Robert is an artist who ends up with a family, but is not really a part of their lives. He spends most of his time living in his mind and through his paintings and sketches. He purposely excludes himself from life with his wife and daughter. He is also exiled from his colleagues at the school where he teaches. Robert seems to thrive in his insular life, but Marlow finds himself missing people and being part of society. What is interesting though, is that both men have excluded themselves through their own actions.

I have also excluded myself from society so much that no one even asks me to participate in events or even tries to invite me out. They just assume I will say no, which I have for quite some time now. Recently, I have found myself missing companionship and am ready to rejoin the human race, but am having a hard time reinserting myself. How do you go about being assertive and putting yourself out there? I keep waiting for others to do the work for me, when in actuality, I am the one who needs to take the first step. Of course, living vicariously through books is not the way to go about things. I need to join a real book club or something instead of just blogging about my reading. Unfortunately, it is hard to find a group not filled with old ladies and gossips. See, this is me making more excuses. It is time to get out and be proactive no matter how daunting it may seem.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Crazy

Currently Reading: The Machine Crusade
Pg 718: "The mind is a crazy thing."

Yep. My worse enemy is my mind. It seems like we have no control over what we are thinking and feeling. Our minds create whatever they will. We are lucky to have people with incredible minds, like Frank Herbert, who can come up with worlds like Dune and give us an escape from our own wounded minds. Composers, writers, mathematicians, they all contribute to society in a positive manner. They give us fodder for thoughts. I love having something that challenges my thinking and gives me cause to ponder. Like I said, who knows what the mind will come up with. Another idea from this book is that the mind does not have to operate in the real world and so is not limited by the laws of physics like our bodies. Of course, the products of our thoughts must be able to exist in the physical world and so we need always be mindful of that. It's one of the things I love best about science fiction though, it transcends life as we know it.

Pg 702: "Time. We always have too little, or too much - never just enough."

When it comes to reading, I feel I never have enough time to read all the things I want. Life keeps getting in the way. As for having too much, that's where the craziness of the mind comes into play. Without occupation, who knows what could pop up in our thoughts. You all have seen the results of too much thinking. Too much time for posting. I'd better get back to work.

PS- Next on tap, The Swan Theives by Elizabeth Kostova. I'm too excited!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Assumptions

Currently Reading: The Machine Crusade
Pg 489: "Life is about choices - good or bad - and their cumulative effects."
Pg 568: "I feel I can do anything - except perhaps, live up to the expectations others have of me."

So the same thing happened again, my original post was lost. No more attempting to update from my iGoogle homepage.

These quotes are really reflective of what I am going through right now. I feel like I am making tons of bad choices and nothing I do is right. Making the choice isn't the hard part for me, it's dealing with the consequences that sucks. I am constantly defending even bad decisions because I feel like I need to live up to the expectations of others. They will judge me by my choices. This is funny because most of the time, the expectations I feel addressed towards me are actually of my own imagining. We are all so focused on ourselves that we feel everyone else is focused on us as well. When in actuality, people are so self centered that they don't have time to think about others. We may be thinking, "Everyone thinks I look ugly in this shirt. I am ugly." But since everyone is thinking the same thing about themselves, they don't really focus on your ugly shirt (bad choice by the way). They are thinking of their own ugly shirt. This is really easy to say and think about, but hard to actually believe. That is one of my personal quests. Let others think their own thoughts and make their own decisions and then you will only have to live up to your own expectations. Of course I am also contradicting myself because I am so mad at my students for making a billion bad choices and pissing me off. Don't they have lofty expectations for themselves? Life is way too complicated sometimes.