Comments on Classics: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

Comments on Classics posts often contain spoilers,
so go read the book first and then come back. It’s ok, I’ll wait.

Comments on Classics

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – 1865 – Lewis Carroll
Through the Looking-Glass – 1871 – Lewis Carroll

In a nutshell:
A little girl has a remarkable imagination.

Curiouser and curiouser…

Everything is an adaptation of a classic these days, especially Alice. In the recent years there has been a SyFi channel mini-series, Disney movies, and a TV show, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (even if it only lasted one season). There’s an Alice-based video game and Otherland’s Eight Squared. These two children’s stories have been referenced in so many ways and inspired so many new creations that I felt like it was time for me to experience the original. Long story short, I liked it.

Alice is a wildly imaginative, if somewhat bossy, little girl. Her journeys in Wonderland are the subject of two separate stories, one where she travels down the rabbit hole and the other through the looking glass. The Cheshire Cat features in the first while the connection to chess is in the second. I’m sure quite a few things went right over my head since the stories are very historically British, but it was still enjoyable. However, both the Bandersnatch and the Jabberwocky barely show up at all. In fact, they are only mentioned briefly in a poem, which was a little disappointing. Those characters have been featured so prominently in the 2010 Disney version of Alice that I thought they would show up more in the original stories.

With so much strangeness I can see why Alice’s adventures have spawned so many adaptations. There is just so much to expand upon. I can also understand why there are so many suggestions of madness among them.

While I liked both stories, I feel I’ve been a bit spoiled by all these flashy new versions of the story. In comparison, it can seem a little lacking.

But Alice is only the beginning because I also have all the rest of Lewis Carroll’s works in my pretty pink book. Someday I’ll share my thoughts on those too. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

Stone and a Hard Place

Stone and a Hard PlaceStone and a Hard Place
(Alistair Stone Chronicles 1)
by: R.L King

(Supernatural/Magic)

305 pages [Nook Book]

Occult Studies professor and mage, Alistair Stone, reluctantly accepts an apprentice and attempts to assist an old lady who senses something sinister in her home. Things don’t go according to plan.

Thanks to the wonderful ebook-hunting-entity known as BookBub, I got the first four books of this series for $.99. The excerpt that I read seemed promising. As it turned out, this book was alright, but also a little disappointing. I’m hoping that perhaps the second book will be better. Fingers crossed.

It starts off well enough. Cool nerds are my favorite, and Alistair fits that description nicely. Also, he’s British. I don’t know why that makes his character more appealing, especially since I can’t hear his charming accent in the dialogue, but it does, just a little.

There are two main problems with this story, lack of depth and a plot based on mistakes. Regarding depth, we know absolutely nothing about Alistair’s background. Even just a hint of something greater would have been nice, something to create a greater arc for the series, like in The Dresden Files books. Regarding plot, I can forgive the apprentice, Ethan’s, stupidity to a certain extent, but Alistair is continually unprepared and often overlooks key elements. I prefer a plot where people make good decisions and things still go wrong, rather than things going wrong because he was too busy to pick up the phone or grill Ethan on his extracurricular activities. There were just so many assumptions on both character’s parts driving the plot.

The magic was well enough thought out, with some rules and such to govern it, but I would like to know more about it. The supernatural “thing” was pretty cool, and its presence built up slowly, which kept it interesting. The ending was a surprise, even if it was a bit abrupt.

I feel like there is potential with this series and I’m not quite ready to give up on it yet, and not just because I want to get my 99 cents worth. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

The wonder that is BookBub…

(Not a Sponsor)

My discovery of the lovely service that is BookBub has been both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because I’ve found so many titles to fill my Nook. A curse, because I keep adding titles to my Nook.

This is what the inside of my Nook looks like.
Actual depiction of the inside of my Nook.

I have a propensity for collecting books. I go to book sales, I fill my Nook with free titles, I make long lists of what to track down at the library, and every now and then I buy brand new ones at Barnes & Noble. Whether I’m collecting just titles and authors, or gathering actual books, it doesn’t seem to matter. Sometimes I wonder if I like collecting them more than reading them…

So, when I got my Nook a while back, I wanted to use it primarily to read indie books, since so many of them are strictly ebooks. One day, I stumbled upon BookBub, which so graciously offered to dig around barnesandnoble.com for me and present me with free and discounted ebook titles from the genres I’m interested in. (Just to be clear, BookBub is a free website/service, not a sentient being, where I signed up, chose where I wanted to shop from, and what authors and genres I like.)

Every day I get a little email with a list of titles for my perusal. So far, I’ve mostly stocked up on freebies and the occasional $.99 title.  I already have more than 75.

I absolutely love being presented with book options every day, but I’m a little worried about my current rate of digital hoarding. But, when you hoard towers of digital books, you don’t have to worry about them falling on your head, so that makes it ok, right?

The Saga of Seven Suns: A Forest of Stars

A Forest of StarsA Forest of Stars
(The Saga of Seven Suns Book 2)
by: Kevin J. Anderson

(Science Fiction/Space Opera)

496 pages [Hardcover]

The conflict with the Hydrogues escalates as humanity struggles with dwindling fuel, political challenges, and inscrutable aliens.

Oops! I completely forgot to review this one!  That’s what I get for reading too many books at once and just letting the reviews pile up. But don’t worry, I have a system now that should make sure no more books slip through the cracks. Now, I’m not sure I remember enough details to write a decent review, so I guess I’ll write an indecent review? Wait, no, that’s not how that word works…

I think I’ll be sticking with this series long term. I’ve mentioned often how much I love a deep history in a story and this series has that. Perhaps what I’m really saying is that I like depth in a story and epic histories provide that quite easily. I’m really loving the mystery of the Klikiss robots, and the mysteries within the Saga of Seven Suns.

Things escalate in this volume, as would be expected. With the Hydrogues vigorously defending their gas giants, humanity is facing a dramatic fuel shortage, causing some to go outside the law to get their hands on what they need. There’s a lot of destruction as the Hydrogues get more aggressive, but humanity doesn’t seem to be their true target. We’re just in the way. I was pleasantly surprised by some interesting new powers who enter the conflict that have the potential to be pretty awesome.

If you’re a hardcore science person this might not be the series for you. Personally, I don’t think that a story set in space is required to be researched so extensively that the author might as well have a PhD in engineering and astrophysics. It’s not a bad thing for a book to be that well researched, but being the layman I am, I enjoy a story just fine with a little less research.

As for the pace of the story and its characters, it was not always attention-grabbing. There was a time when I probably wouldn’t have bothered with this series because of that. However, I have learned, in my more recent book-obsessed years, that a slower paced and more detailed story can still be worth reading, even if I’m not over-the-top excited about reading it. I may not have been completely absorbed for every minute of it, but I enjoyed it overall. This is why I now read a few books at a time. When I have a slower, longer book to read, I make sure to have something more immediately gratifying in the mix too. It keeps the energy flowing and prevents me from getting bored.

In spite of a couple of flaws, I enjoyed this book and am curious enough about the plot to keep reading. Also, I would like to hug a world tree. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

Comments on Classics: The Great Gatsby

Comments on Classics posts often contain spoilers,
so go read the book first and then come back. It’s ok, I’ll wait.

Comments on Classics

The Great Gatsby – 1926 – F. Scott Fitzgerald

In a nutshell:
Gatsby acquires immense wealth to impress a girl.
Things go badly.

I was going to do some research on this book for this post, but then I decided against it. The whole point of my comments on classics section is for me to share my opinions and thoughts on a book, not the thoughts and opinions I’m supposed to have. I’m not one to hunt for symbolism and obscure themes in literature. Either it hits me or it doesn’t. I read for fun, though I have no problem with a little learning rubbing off on me now and again.

So, what did I glean from this classic work? Rich people suck. Ok, perhaps that is a little ungenerous, allow me to rephrase; these rich people suck. Better?

The main characters are all horrible people in their own special ways, with the exception of our narrator, Nick Carraway; there may be some hope for him yet. Gatsby himself is either second best or the worst of them, I can’t seem to decide. He has a pure(ish) heart and was willing to go to such lengths to be financially worthy of the woman he loves. The thing is, if you have to be ridiculously wealthy for the girl to love you, then, she’s probably not worth it in the first place. Not to mention the fact that Gatsby got his money through many a shady business deal, hurting who knows how many people. Doing something for the one you love is a noble thing. Accomplishing it by any means necessary isn’t so noble.

The characters are unbelievably selfish. Daisy’s husband cheats on her regularly, driving her into Gatsby’s arms, only to completely abandon Gatsby’s memory in the end, because it was inconvenient. Nick was the only one with any sense of loyalty, and if anything, he felt sorry for Gatsby, as did I.

The moral of the story? Money won’t buy you love or happiness, it’ll just get you killed. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

The Providence of Fire

The Providence of FireThe Providence of Fire
by: Brian Staveley

(Fantasy)

608 pages [Hardcover]

Royal siblings, Adare, Kaden, and Valyn, continue to fight for survival and vie for the Unhewn Throne after the emperor’s murder. Startling revelations are made as the empire prepares to face off against an unstoppable force.

I would love to tell you all about my favorite things from this book, but I can’t. So many of those things are details and revelations that would ruin the story for anyone planning to read it. So, allow me to construct a vague impression of this story. The short version is, this series is pretty awesome. Just trust me.

At 600 pages this book can feel a little long from time to time, but when certain things are revealed, all of that extra information was worth it. It was important for the characters to follow a particular journey, in order to set them up for the epicness that follows. There is plenty of character development, and the siblings go through an awful lot: making impossible decisions, facing the consequences of those decisions, and questioning everything they thought to be true.

I love a story with a deep history. The deeper the better. The Gods, the Cestriim, and the Leach Lords kept me coming back, hoping to learn some new little scrap of information about them. Thankfully, this book goes deeper into that history and we get to learn more about my favorite things. I’d really like to tell you about it but I can’t.

On the subject of violence… I don’t seek out violent stories, but sometimes violence is necessary to make the story grounded and powerful. While this book has significantly more violence than the first, it never felt violent for the sake of violence. It all has a specific purpose, to show just how scary a character is, or how powerful, or to give him/her a reason to doubt themselves.

As I said earlier, this is shaping up to be a pretty good series. The combination of a deep history, world building, and the characters’ differing personalities keep it interesting, even when the pace slows a bit. And with everything revealed in this book I’m very much looking forward to the final installment. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

Comments on Classics: The Chronic Argonauts

Comments on Classics posts often contain spoilers,
so go read the book first and then come back. It’s ok, I’ll wait.

Comments on Classics

The Chronic Argonauts – 1888 – H.G. Wells – Short Story

In a nutshell:
A mad scientist builds a time machine in a rural Welsh village.

Before he wrote The Time Machine, H.G. Wells penned The Chronic Argonauts, another time-traveling tale. I only became aware of this story because it was briefly mentioned in Felix J. Palma’s The Map of Time. Naturally, I looked it up to see if it was real. It’s actually a pretty good story, but sadly there is very little time travel in it. The story mostly focuses on the build up of the strange Doctor Nebogipfel (great name by the way) and his occupation of a house with a violent history. Within this house, he performs strange experiments that involve odd lights and noises which frighten the locals and ultimately cause them to turn on him.

The reader doesn’t get to see much of his experimentation or the construction of the time machine and I wish there was a lot more there. I’d love to follow Nebogipfel’s struggle, being a man ahead of his time, unlocking the secrets of time travel.

The actual time travel in the story is brief and related by a secondary character after the fact, and there is very little detail there either. It seems the most interesting parts of the story were glossed over rather quickly. I want to know more about what happened in the years 4003, 17, 901 and 2. Mention of the abduction of a ward and assaults on public officials is hardly enough information in my opinion. Although, then it wouldn’t be a short story anymore. I feel like there is an opportunity here for an experienced author to fill in the blanks of this lesser-known story. If done well, it could be really awesome.

The final thing that struck me, as I was re-reading a bit before writing this post, was how much, by the end, Dr. Nebogipfel reminded me of Doctor Who. He seemed lonely and even suggested the reverend be his companion on his travels. Something about that had that lonely Doctor vibe to me.

If you have an interest in H.G. Wells, an interest in Victorian science fiction, or you are simply curious about this story, you can read it here for free. Until next time…

Happy Reading!