Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman Review

There won’t be a video this week. Some events have arisen in my family and I won’t be to give the time and attention to filming and editing that I would like so I’m going to do a slightly more comprehensive written review here.

subtle_knife

 

The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman

Rating: 5/5

SummaryLyra finds herself in a shimmering, haunted underworld-Cittàgazze, where soul-eating Specters stalk the streets and wingbeats of distant angels sound against the sky. But she is not without allies: 12-year-old Will Parry, fleeing for his life after taking another’s, has also stumbled into this strange new realm. On a perilous journey from world to world, Lyra and Will discover an object of devastating power. And with every step, they move closer to an even greater threat-and the shattering truth of their own destiny.

 

I loved this book. I thought it was a good step up from The Golden Compass.  If you missed my last review the summary is that I enjoyed the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy but I thought it was flawed. Particularly the main character.

In The Subtle Knife, the reader is following many different characters. Lyra(the main character from the first book) is hardly ever front and center. Instead you follow Will. A boy with a tragic past who accidentally finds himself in a world similar to his own world but also significantly different.

You also follow a group of witches and a couple of men with their own agendas.

All of the characters have their own purposes that is driving them in the same direction. Towards an imminent war with God (called the Authority)

The Divinity aspect touched on towards the end of the first book gets a little bit heavier and detailed in book 2 with some interesting takes on Genesis towards the end which I enjoyed a great deal.

The idea that Dust is Divinity and that it has a consciousness was fascinating and I’m looking forward to seeing it expanded upon.

The biggest weakness with this book, for me, is Lyra once again but fortunately in this book she takes a back seat to the more interesting characters.(I don’t know that interesting is the right word…what is happening with Lyra herself is very engaging. Lyra herself is not which, for me, sometimes  taints the events themselves)

It was very good and I am interested to see the climax to this war that has been building for two books.

See you next week with the final book of His Dark Materials: The Amber Spyglass

-m-

 

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The War On E-Readers

kindle

 

Four Christmases ago my boyfriend bought me a Kindle. I use my Kindle all the time. I have sooo many digital books it’s not even funny.

I also have five bookshelves, each over six feet tall and four feet deep stacked and double stacked with books. I also have books stacked on each of the side tables by my couch.  I am going to make book ends for them so I can actually set them up and have them look as pretty as the rest of my books.

I would have a library  in my apartment right now if it had not been more practical to have a guest room when one has out of town family and friends you want to come stay.(It’s a decision I know was the right one but I still try and find my way around…a rug and a bean bag chair would look so good surrounded by shelves on all sides instead of a bed…just saying)

I don’t prefer my library to my Kindle. I don’t think most people really do once they have an E-reader.

And yet everywhere online I go-Pinterest, Reddit, Facebook-I am inundated by the sentiment in the picture above. That E-Readers are somehow inferior. (That was honestly a nicer picture than some of the others I have seen) and quite frankly it’s tiring.

Why is it your business how someone chooses to read? Sometimes I want to be able to carry an entire series of books with me without weighing down my purse or suitcase. I also read a lot of Fantasy and those books can get INCREDIBLY heavy. Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson is a 1300 page, 5lb paperback that exhausted my fingers about halfway through reading. The sequel, Words of Radiance, that is coming out in March I have already pre-ordered on my Kindle. My hands won’t hurt reading that one. (I don’t even want to think about how heavy the Hardcover would be)

And sometimes I crave the weight of a book in my hands. The feel of the different kinds of paper as I turn the page. I like pulling out a book on a bus or on a trip and sometimes I like to see what other people are reading. I like not worrying about a battery if I’m going on a trip. (I don’t have to worry about my Kindle most of the time but I do anyway)

E-readers and real books are different experiences from one another. Someday I will have enough money to buy real books for every Kindle book that  I buy and then I will be able to go back and forth at my leisure and the balance will be perfect.

In the meantime, I go by feel. When I’m shopping on Amazon for books I think “Do I feel like holding a real book or do I feel like holding my Kindle?” Not even joking. That’s a huge factor in my decision. And sometimes I want to go to a real bookstore and peruse the shelves. Not very often where I live. (If I lived in Portland that would be a WHOOOOOLE other story)

So I guess the point of this post is  to ask people to just  stop trying to make people feel bad for how they read. If they read on a Nook and you read on a Kindle and you feel yours is superior that’s fine. Keep your mouth shut. And Vice Versa, obviously.

If you have a library full of books and you think that E-Readers are somehow trying to take that away from you fine. Keep your mouth shut.

The point is not how we read. It’s what we read. The person in the park who you lectured about owning an E-reader and why real books are superior might have, at that very moment, been reading one of your favorite authors. You could have made a friend instead of someone who probably doesn’t want to go back to that park to read.

Books are wonderful no matter what form they come in.

-m-

P.S. I know “War on E-readers” is an over-dramatic title but you get the point…

Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader Video Review

 

In honor of local band Authmentis’ Kickstarter(launching Monday the 27) I sat down with Sam Spivey(author of my guest blog here) to nerd out about Comics, Neil Gaiman and to review “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader” A.K.A The Death of Batman.

It was a lot of fun and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did

-M-

 

Rain Soaked Soil Reminds Me of Home

At the beginning of the year, WordPress released a PDF’/Kindle format ebook type thing with 365 days of word prompts. I downloaded it and then didn’t look at it again until a couple days ago.

I don’t intend to do one every day but I liked the one for today so I thought I would post it.

January 18
Free association

Write down the first words that comes to mind when we
say . . . home. . . soil. . . rain. Use those words in the title of
your post.

Naturally the first thing that came to my mind was the start of a short story. So here it is and I hope you like it.

*****************************************

When I close my eyes I can still see it clearly. That old wooden house with the decrepit and barely functional wrap around porch; a chain still hangs there holding a lopsided and abandoned swing.

In front of the house there is an old oak tree.  I can’t help but smile when I think of summer afternoons climbing that tree with my brothers. There was something pure about it. Natural. The kind of perfect day you lose as an adult.

But nothing so much reminds me of home as walking through the park-even a thousand miles away-in the rain.

The smell before it has ever touched ground fills my nostrils and I’m back home, running through the mud with my Golden, Roxy.

And when it starts to fall, hitting my warm,clean skin I could swear I’d never left. Momma is in the kitchen, cooking her special “rainy day gumbo” which is really nothing but leftovers she finds in the kitchen that are about to go bad.

I never minded it. It was food and I was a growing boy.

I know I had to leave there. Growing up in the South isn’t for everybody and it sure as hell wasn’t for me. It takes a certain kind of person to be a Southern boy. And I’m just not that person.

I don’t think about home that often. My parents are gone and my brothers have scattered to the four winds. I’m happy with my life in the big city. It makes more sense to me, I guess.

Sometimes I miss the purity of the South though. Church on Sundays followed by family dinner and football-either watching or playing it never mattered much.  Beers with the co workers on Friday and, on warm summer nights, maybe even Saturday too.

When I stopped going to church, things changed.  It wasn’t anybody’s fault. It’s just how it was. And I left.

No, I don’t miss it.

Except when it rains.

www.depositphotos.com
http://www.depositphotos.com

Golden Compass Book Review

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Synopsis(via Amazon)In a landmark epic of fantasy and storytelling, Philip Pullman invites readers into a world as convincing and thoroughly realized as Narnia, Earthsea, or Redwall. Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford’s Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the compass of the title. All around her children are disappearing—victims of so-called “Gobblers”—and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person’s inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.

Rating:

4/5

My take:

I know I know. I’m late to the party on this one. It seems most people have read this book which I was actually surprised to learn because I have almost never heard it talked about nor has it ever been recommended to me(at least not prior to my buying it. After I mentioned I had it one of my friends suggested I read it) But I guess better late than never, right?

I liked the book. I had trouble concentrating for more than a few pages at a time(though the pages in my version of the book are abnormally large while the type is a normal size and font) I don’t take this as a slam against the book just something I found while reading my way through this.

Golden Compass(U.K. Title: Northern Lights) is the first of a trilogy and it is a fantastic start. The world and the characters are set up so I look forward to seeing what happens now. What worries me, however, is that at the end of the book they are going somewhere wholly new so it’s possible a good deal of Subtle Knife(Book 2 in “His Dark Materials”) will be more set up rather than adventure.

Pros: 

Good pacing. Not a lot happens that doesn’t matter to the overall story.

Interesting, thought provoking story

Incorporation of philosophical elements near the end added a lot of depth to what had come before it.

I like most of the characters, particularly the side story Pullman takes going into the world and the characters of the Armored Bears on Svalbard.

Ending compels me to pick up the second one

Cons:

I didn’t care at all about the main character.

The main character more or less seemed to be only a vessel for the author to explain his world through rather than a fully realized character with a distinctive personality.

I feel Pullman lingered in areas where he could have skimmed over and skimmed over areas(including characters) that I would have liked to see more of. But that’s just me. I was kind of disappointed by the constant influx of new characters only for them to be left behind and never/rarely spoken of again. BUT it’s not over yet so my analysis might change by the end of book three.

Look for my video review going into more detail about The Golden Compass this weekend!

-M-

The Amazing Thing About Technology

Stock Photo courtesy of Google
Stock Photo courtesy of Google

 

I love living in the technological age.

A few days ago, Sam and I hooked my custom PC up to our television. I wanted to show him the latest season of Sherlock but he didn’t want to watch it on my computer screen  so we pulled my VGA cable, audio cable and keyboard and mouse over to our entertainment center and hooked everything up.

And here it remains. And here it may stay.

This has kind of changed writing /working for me. I’m typing this from my rocking chair, feet on my piano bench and WordPress wide on my HD television. And it’s beautiful.

See, I don’t have a laptop anymore. The battery is(and really always has been) a piece of crap and the cord is frayed on the inside so if it’s not in the EXACT right position my laptop shuts down. I would get those things fixed but the laptop also has serious overheating issues. There are things I could do to fix it but, at this point, it’s really more worth it to get a new laptop and pull files from my old hard drive as needed.

And I love my PC but the desk is next to my kitchen under some cabinets with glare from outside making it hard to see on my computer screen And when I close my blinds, even with light on, that corner is too dark. And my desk chair is old, chewed up and held together with duct tape.

I have my ipad I write on when I want portability but the keyboard that is attached to my case is so small I have blisters on my pinky fingers from typing on it. Which is fine, but uncomfortable before too long.

But using Scrivener on my HD television in the living room is amazing. I’m bordering on  blind so having my text filling a 60 inch television is tremendously helpful. Editing my Youtube videos is great on such a big screen as well.

So I just wanted to take a moment to appreciate the fact that in this day and age all I need to change my writing experience is a couple of cables and I can sit with my feet up and work far easier than I can at my desk.

All I need now is a wireless keyboard and mouse and I will actually be able to sit on my reclining couch and work. Though my cats may object.

I’m going to go continue my latest novel from the comfort of my rocking chair.

Til next time,

-M-

God of Clocks Video Review

Hey!

Here is my video review of God of Clocks by Alan Campbell. You can see my initial, less detailed review here on my blog. This video is much shorter than my last one (and framed better) Hope you enjoy it! Leave your feeback below or on my youtube channel.

As always, don’t forget to follow here for written reviews and subscribe to Youtube for video reviews.

Next review will be Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman, the first of the His Dark Materials trilogy.

Also, if you pick up the Deepgate Codex Trilogy (Scar Night, Iron  Angel, God of Clocks) and you enjoy them he does have two novellas that go along with the series. One, Lye Street, is a prequel of sorts. Happening before the fall of Deepgate, it introduces new characters and expands upon the actual Scar Night event introduced and explored in Scar Night the novel. The other is called Damnation for Beginners and it takes place similarly to Iron Angel in Hell but with wholly new characters. I don’t think I am going to do video reviews on them because they are so short and really just extensions in a way) of the trilogy I have already reviewed. I may write reviews for them, however. We’ll see.

In any case, I thought if anyone picked up the trilogy and was looking for more I would inform them of the novellas.

Til next time,

-M-

God Of Clocks by Alan Campbell Book Review

God of Clocks (1)

 

Synopsis(via Amazon)In the cataclysm of the battle of the gods, a portal to Hell has been opened, releasing legions of unnatural creatures that have pushed humanity to the edge of extinction. While warring deities clash with fallen angels, the only hope for mankind’s survival lies with the most unlikely heroes: Former assassin Rachel Hael has rejoined blood-magician Mina Greene and her little dog, Basilis, on one last desperate mission to save the world from the ravages of Hell. As Rachel travels to the final confrontation she has both sought and feared, she begins to realize that time itself is unraveling. And so she must prepare herself for a sacrifice that may claim her heart, her life, her soul—and even then it may not be enough.

 

Star Rating: 4.5/5

Cons:

Two of the characters endings didn’t make sense

Pros:

Well Paced

Compelling Plot

Interesting characters

Interesting use of Time Travel

Who Should Read It:

Fans of Alan Campbell’s other work

Steampunk/Fantasy Fans

People looking for an quick and easy Fantasy Read

 

Look for more in my video coming tomorrow. I’m filming tomorrow morning so if you have questions you want answered about this book make sure to leave them in the comments and I will be sure to answer them.

Also make sure to follow my blog to see all of my book reviews! (and other fun stuff) and subscribe to my YouTube Channel for updates whenever I post a new video!

-M-

P.S. Forgive me for any growing pains my reviews may go through (i.e. different formats) as I work to incorporate the video reviews into my normal reviews without being too redundant. Suggestions are welcome!

Love Letter Project

On my Tumblr something came up on my dash. A project called “The Love Letters Project”

The post came from a blog I follow called “Writing Prompts” and it asked the person reading it to imagine the worst thing they have survived and write a letter to someone else going through it. I knew what I needed to write about.

So, this morning, I went on their site and I wrote a letter. I thought I would share it here, in case someone else needs to see it:

Dear Survivor,

My brother killed himself in February of 2012. It was, as these things usually are, unexpected. I had seen him the week before and he was laughing and smiling. We hugged. I had some things I was going to show him the next time I saw him because they wouldn’t load on my iPad in just that moment.

I never got to show him those things.

He was my other half in my family. We had the same dark sense of humor, same love of music and books that no one else in my family really shares. He was mine and I was his. And I will never see him again.

Most of the time I avoid the subject, but if it comes up I say “My brother died” It’s easier than saying “My brother killed himself.”

I don’t know why.

In writing this letter, I am not going to tell you the things you have undoubtedly already heard. “Time heals all wounds” “It gets better” etc…etc…

The truth is that you survive because you have to. In time you will be able to laugh about the things that you enjoyed in the life of the person you lost. But it never goes away.

In time, you will go an hour without thinking about them, and then a day and then a week and so on. It seems impossible now, but it will happen. In that way, I suppose, time does heal.

You survive because you have to.

I’m writing this letter to tell you not to fight the waves of grief and sadness and pain that overcome you. Don’t try to rationalize or push it away. That doesn’t help. Let yourself replay your conversations. Let yourself try and find the signals that would have told you this was coming.

Most importantly, let yourself be angry. I love and miss my brother with every fiber of my being but I am angry at him. I am angry at him for killing himself. I am angry at him for leaving me. I am angry at him for putting my mom through this. I am angry at him for what happened to my family because of this.

I used to feel bad because I felt angry. But I’ve learned that it’s okay to be angry. This person hurt you. Intentional or not you are hurting because of their actions. You can love and miss someone and still be angry at them.

I’ve probably gone on too long.

I guess I just wanted you to know, even if it doesn’t help much, that you are not alone. That your pain will fade even though it will sometimes sneak up and surprise you. Eventually the surprises will lessen too. Your feelings are valid. Don’t fight them. Don’t pretend they aren’t there for someone else’s benefit.

And if someone tells you to “Get over it” don’t get too angry. They have no idea what they are talking about.

You survive because you have to. But it does become easier.

I love you.

************

If you want to write your own love letter, visit the project here

-M-