Category Archives: books

Scott Sigler’s Ancestor arrives!

Cat keeping the book

Originally uploaded by 3nglishN3rd

My copy of Scott Sigler‘s Ancestor arrived in the mail today!

After I stopped jumping up and down, I set the book down to get some water. Which is when the BlackandWhite cat made her move.

As you can see here, she’s stolen the book from me. She was more protective of her new book but never kept the pose when the camera came out.

I was prepared to fight her for my book, because I’ve been looking forward to this one for the last several months, but I remembered one important fact – She’s a cat.

So I waited her out. When she wandered away to get food (or take a bath, or plan the destruction of the FDO, or collude with aliens), I moved my book. And I’m thoroughly enjoying it!

Now I know not to leave The Starter anywhere near her when that shows up at the end of summer. There’s no way I’m sharing that one with her.

Bookmark Scott Sigler's Ancestor arrives!

Free Comic Book Day!

Today’s the day! Today is the day comic book stores all across North America give away free comics.

I first heard about this day last year from Twitter, and it’s what pushed me back into comics. And I’m not sad about that at all.

So get out and support your local shop and have fun! Hope to see you at the store!

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Three Shadows

Cyril Pedrosa’s graphic novel handles the difficult topic of loosing a child in a gently beautiful way.

The story is constructed in such a way that the reader can understand and sympathize with the characters. Each action comes from a believable place and brings out a concerned response from the reader.

I heard about this graphic novel awhile ago and searched for it in nearly every brick and mortar store I went into. I finally bought it online because I really wanted to read it (and it pushed me into the free shipping category). This story was definitely worth the effort and the wait.

“In this our springtime there is no better, there is no worse.

Blossoming branches burgeon as they must.

Some are long, some are short.”

Stay upright.

Stay with life.

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Odd and the Frost Giants

I loved this story. Neil Gaiman is a master at taking a stable mythology and weaving a new story into the established set.

This story of Odd is one of the shortest. Not to say that it is in any way inferior to his other tales, it’s just that the scope of this story fits nicely into its well constructed cover.

Odd, a rather small human child, is delightful as he interacts with some of the more famous Norse gods in the same manner he interacts with humans. His practicality makes him endearing and worthy of the cheering he encourages. One of the best examples of his interactions happens early-ish in the story.

Odd sighed. “Which one of you wants to explain what’s going on?” he said.

“Nothing’s going on,” said the fox brightly. “Just a few talking animals. Nothing to worry about. Happens everyday. We’ll be out of your hair first thing in the morning.”

This exchange between Odd and the gods at the beginning of their interactions solidifies Odd’s reactions to the rest of his experiences before this tale ends.

The best part about the American edition is the biography Neil Gaiman writes at the end. The single page takes very little time to read, but those few moments are some of the best in the entire book. His last page supplies an excellent example for caring about writing, even when there is no guarantee no one will read it because there are always readers like me who will leave no word unregarded.

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favorite book moments

This will have to spread out over a few posts because I probably won’t remember all of them, and I’m sure I’ll add more as I read more. This comes from a conversation that I had with a friend about moments that stand out to me in books. Since I read obsessively, there are many moments that I’ve read that stand out in a way reminiscent of my lived memories.

So the first favorite moment comes from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis. {Side note: It should be the third book, but since most of the publishers annoyingly number by the story chronology, it is often number 5}  There’s a character named Eustace Scrubb and he is obnoxious through the first part of the story. Like super obnoxious. Most of the story takes place on a ship (hence voyage) and the first time I read it, I wanted to throw him overboard. That was until the middle of the story.

See Eustace turns into a dragon and while the mean part of me thought he deserved it for being such a jerk, he’s so miserable that I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for him. And I felt really sorry for him when everyone starts to get ready to leave the island they were on because they would have to leave Eustace behind, and I don’t like for people to be alone.

So here comes my favorite moment.

Eustace meets Aslan and Aslan tells him that he needs to take off his dragon suit so that he can get all cleaned up. So Eustace begins to peel off his dragon skin, but he can’t quite get enough of it off. So Aslan offers to help, and Eustace lets him. Aslan pulls off almost his entire dragon covering in one go, and Eustace goes through a lot of pain, but it’s the kind of pain that helps him to grow. And he even helps pull of the bits that he can despite his pain because he knows that this is the only way that he can stop being a dragon and reconnect with his friends.

I love this part because I know I have much that I hold onto that I don’t really like simply because I’m too chicken to face the pain of letting it go. But when I read this part of Eustace’s story I feel that maybe I can face that pain too and come out better for letting all that other stuff go.

So there’s part one of my favorite moments in books. I’ll post another later.

Break time!

I decided that once I had finished grades and the dolls from Ana Paula that

I made for Christmas I would take time off and just do fun things until after the first of the year. For most people this would mean going places, but since I’m boring and poor, this meant catching up on the fun things that I’ve been wanting to read but haven’t had time. So this is what I’ve read so far…

Sandman by Neil Gaiman 1,2,3,4 (I borrowed these from my friend and I read the first 4 vloumes in about 3 days. Luckily she myspaced me and asked when I wanted more. I loved them and Dream!)

The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer (I got the whole series for Christmas and finished it by the Saturday after. See the post on that to read my thoughts on the subject.)

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite story by Gerard Way, art by Gabriel Ba (I heard about this on the radio because Gerard Way is the lead singer of My Chemical Romance, and I loved their last album The Black Parade, so I checked this out and I loved it. It’s like a noir superhero story and I just want to read more.)

Vampire Knight (My friend recommended this manga because I said that I like vampire stories. It is really good and feels like it’s finishing up, so I’m hoping that it won’t drag on too long. I like the characters, and I want to know how their story ends.)

Now I’m gonna start in on DVD series and Agatha Christie mysteries because I can take my time with those since I need to start working again. I really need to submit articles for publication and I need to propose papers for conferences. Break time is almost over…

Twilight books

Ok, so first off, there will probably be spoilers in this post. If you don’t want to know anything about the series, know that I enjoyed the story and stop reading.

So I got the books for Christmas. I opened them Christmas morning, and I started reading them around 6pm that night. I finished the first book about 3 am, started book 2 around 8am the 26th, finished book 3 around 2am the night of the 26th, and finished book 4 (and thereby the series) on Sat., 27 Dec.  Yes, I had nothing better to do. And I also wanted to read books 2 & 3 in one day because I thought it would be a fun goal. I also liked the story as a whole.

We’ll start with positives. I liked that Bella was very rational and yet still emotional. This might also be because I find myself reflected in her character. What I especially like is that she just goes with the crazy in her life. Vampires? Were-wolves? No problem! Sweet, what are we having for dinner? I like that kind of approach to life. I like the love and connection between Bella & Edward. I LOVE Alice & Jasper. I wish that they were around so much more. I would love to know more about them and hear about them before they met up with each other and the Cullens.

So what I didn’t care for so much in this story will take more time because I feel the need to explain why I don’t care about these parts. So here goes…

I don’t like that Edward requires Bella to marry him. I can kind of see where that fits with Edward’s character since he was born in the beginning of the 20th century and that would be something that would be part of his cultural upbringing. But he’s a freaking vampire who wonders about his soul! And I really don’t see how that fits with his character. It feels forced.

And speaking of Edward, I feel like his character is the one that I don’t know very well. I understand Bella; I understand Alice; I even understand Jasper and Rosalie! I don’t understand Edward as well as I would like for a major character. Why does he really want to marry Bella? Why does he get along with Alice so much better than Rosalie? Why didn’t he find someone to bond with earlier? What did he do during his rebellion? What were his parents like? How was he brought up? Why is he always smirking?

But really what I don’t like about the story is that it ends too happy. I know that Americans tend to really like happy endings, but this ending is close to perfect for them. Everyone we care about survives, and she doesn’t really loose anything. She even figures out how to become even more intimate with Edward by figuring out how to let him see her mind! Life doesn’t happen that way! It only works to perpetuate the fallacy of the happily ever after. The ending to the series in Breaking Dawn is the exact reason that people keep their kids from reading fairy tales because it sets up unreasonable expectations. And maybe I don’t like this overly happy ending because I’m slightly morbid, whatever; I think it’s over the top.

All-in-all I do like the story as a whole. I like a good vampire story, and this series develops the mythology of vampires in some interesting ways. If you read through this whole post, you’ll probably understand more about me than the books, but who knows…maybe you’ll see what I’m talking about.


Ok, so to begin with, I haven’t read the books yet (I’m getting them soon, but I needed to stay focused on my work through the end of the semester), and I might have spoilers from the movie.

So I went and saw Twilight tonight, and while I still want to read the book, I felt very lost and confused. I felt like I did when I watched the fourth Harry Potter movie, except that I had read that book, so I could feel in the details. So I guess what I’m saying is I felt like what I assume people who hadn’t read the books felt like – very lost and confused. This was definitely a movie whose intended audience was readers of the series. Elements of the story seemed to be taken for granted, and the character development seemed to jump from stage to stage in rather large bounds. I’m sure all of that will make more sense once I finally get to read the books, but for now it was a little disconcerting. We got to the pivotal moment in Bella’s character development for this book, and I felt as though I had been side-swiped because I didn’t see where it came from.

And all of this is without comment on the acting.

I’m not entirely sure when we shifted to the “act like you would in real life” but I don’t care for it. The characters were supposed to be in high school, so I prepared for awkward moments. I did not prepare for excruciatingly long awkward sections. Especially since most of the awkwardness was communicated through the slight twitches in the actors’ faces. And the cinematography leaned heavily on the artistic side, which is fine, except when the same movement was repeated for the 50th time.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie. I’m looking forward to reading the books because I felt like I just heard a dis-jointed re-telling of the story by a young uber-fan of the series, so I want to see what really happened. I’m also interested in what the movie makers left out from the books. I love a good vampire story, so I am interested to see how the author plays with our ideas of vampire and our conceptions that go along with those.

“We Are Wizards”

The Christian Science Monitor has a blog post from Marjorie Kehe about a new documentary on the world of Harry Potter fans called “We Are Wizards.” She says in the introduction:

When it comes to Harry Potter enthusiasts, it’s a wacky world out there. Parents, of course, want their kids to learn to love to read. But could it really be a good thing for anyone to obsess over any books the way some young readers do over Harry Potter? This is a question you may find yourself asking as you watch “We Are Wizards,” Josh Koury’s documentary film released in theaters last week about some of Harry Potter’s more, well, let’s say “dedicated” fans.

I’ll be honest – I’m excited for this. I enjoy documentaries, and I have found that the ones that follow people who are completely devoted to fantasy worlds are fantastic. I hope it’s as good as “Trekkies” because that will only make the Harry Potter fan-world even better, especially for Harry Potter scholars.

Golden Compass series

Ok, so first of all, I feel the need to put a warning that this will contain spoilers for the whole series of books. Also, it has the great potential to degenerate into a rant.
So there’s a controversy about the Golden Compass book and movie. The story is written by an atheist and does not paint Christianity and the Church (particularly the Catholic Church) in a favorable light. And the email that’s going around talks about how two characters kill God and how that is a horrible thing. Well, if the character called God in the book was actually like the God described in the Bible, I could understand being upset. But as it stands, they aren’t at all the same thing. The God character in the series sounds more like satan than anything else. And the God in the book is very sad, and the moment of his death (which was not at all malicious or intentional on the part of the kids in the book) is actually a relief. And the presentation of the Church in the books resembles that of the Catholic Church around the time of the Reformation (which is generally agreed to be a dark time in the history of the Church), with its Inquisition style committees and preoccupation with sin and works and labeling most any new scientific advance heresy, and really should not be allowed to continue.
What I find most striking is that the critics focus on the words as they stand and not what they mean in the context of the story. I think if they looked beyond the words on the page, those critics would find that Pullman’s story really does represent what the story of Christ and Christianity is truly about – the need for us to love and live the life we have in love for others. I think this really is what God wants from us – for us to love and live our lives as if that love actually mattered to ourselves and those around us. This is what Lyra and Will discover in the end, and while it’s painful for both of them, they know it’s the best way to live. There are many times that Christians and the Church lose sight of that, or stumble in the implementation, but, much like the angel who comes through in the end, we cannot give up trying, no matter the ways in which we fail. Stopping without even trying is the ultimate failure, and I think that’s an important point that Pullman makes in his books. He also emphasizes the importance of love and actually living, and I don’t know how we can honestly argue against that.
Sure, if a person doesn’t want their child being exposed to that when they are young, keep that from them. But I can’t stand it when I am then judged because I don’t abide by the rules that someone else has laid out. The gospels have Jesus saying “If you love me you’ll keep my commandments.” The commandments that are recorded in those same gospels are loving God with all that I am, loving my neighbors as myself, and, as I am going, to preach the good news that God really does love humanity. There are other social rules that he doesn’t nullify, but the actual commandments from Jesus are few in number. They cover a lot, but they focus more on the attitude of people than they do on the actions of people. That to me seems like the best course to take. And I think I have a broader perspective on what it means to love and live after reading the His Dark Materials series.