Category Archives: Bibliophibian

those who are drowning in books to the extent they develop special gills

Shutterfly Photo Books

With all of the losses that have happened this past week in my family, I find myself looking back at our photo books to remember the good times with the people and pets that have passed.  Once of my favorite sites to make photo projects on is Shutterfly.  They have many different templates, their print quality is great, the price is not too high, and they frequently have sales and free photo book offers that I take advantage of.  I make yearly books for each kid since their respective births, a family calendar each year for the past 5 years, and various other photo books and prints as the occasion warrants.

If you are new to Shutterfly, and use the link below, you will get a free photo book and I will get a $10 credit for referring you.  Win/win right?

Free Photo Book Referral Link!

Divergent – Veronica Roth

Purchase Divergent on Amazon

I was recommended this book because I read The Hunger Games and did not think it was a horrible book. I will give that same shinning assessment to this book.

Beatrice is a young woman in a dystopian future world.  Raised in the Abnegation faction, she has a choice to make about her future; she can follow what society wants, follow her family, or follow her own path.  Through her journey of self discovery and world saving, she finds friendships, rivals, and a love interest.

My favorite part of this book was the descriptions of the divisions of society and the rituals that surrounded it.  The five factions and selection process of choosing your faction was a unique concept and the execution of it was excellent.  The idea was simple and easy to understand without being a typical lord and serf type of arrangement.  Typically, this is my favorite part of a book, the different reality from the one we live in.

My least favorite part of this book was the relationship between the two main characters.  How they "fall in love" and deal with the struggles in their relationship seems very immature.  I guess that is to be expected from a YA novel.  I wish the book was not quite so predictable.  If you have read Ender's Game, you will see some similarities in the training of children and conflicts between the teenagers.

By the time I finished this post, I had actually read the rest of the trilogy.  The second and third book are not as good as the first, but the ending of the third book was great.  It really surprised me!  It was a wonderful change from the predictability of the first two books and most of the third.  I would recommend this series if you are looking for an easy read and don't have anything better on your shelf waiting for you.  Not a glowing recommendation, but I do not regret the time I spent reading it.

Beggars in Spain – Nancy Kress

Beggars in Spain is a novel by Nancy Kress.  It was first written as a novella and won the Hugo and Nebula awards as such.  The premise of the story is that there are genetically engineered people born that no longer sleep, called the Sleepless.  The moral question that is the center of the novel is “What do we owe the unproductive masses (the beggars in Spain)”.

I talk about this book, not because I want to review a book (it is awesome, btw), but because the question was posed to me “Would you choose to never sleep and never be tired if it meant that you would never dream again?”.  I thought about this a lot when I first read this book and my answer is a resounding YES!  As much as I love my sleep, I would gladly give it up if I could never be tired.  Dreaming is not something that I value very highly; most of my dreams that I remember are actually nightmares.  I never feel like I have the time or energy to get everything done that I need to.  I sound like a mom, right? Either way, it is true.

I am a huge fan of this book.  The writing flows very naturally  making it easy to read, and the characters have depth and emotions that are relate-able   There is change and development is the characters as the book progresses, no one is stagnant in this novel, which is what truly makes this a great book in my mind.  Buy it, read it, thank me later.

A Hard Copy of my Digital Life

I love reading books.  Real books with pages, smells, and the complete tactile experience of reading.  I also have way too many books (last count was around 800+).  Since realizing that my book collection would likely take over the house if I did not do something different, I have been reading some books on my eReader (Nook). Previously   I had only been buying the novels that are quick reads that require little thought to absorb the story.  I like to call them “airplane novels”.  Recently I started purchasing books that I will want to read multiple times on my Nook, mostly books with higher page counts.  Too many times have I been smacked in the face by a Tad Williams novel because I fell asleep while reading.  Getting hit in the face with a Nook hurts considerably less and you don’t lose your page.

This is all well and good, but I still feel the need to have paper copies of these massive books that I love.  I am so afraid of having the digital copy get lost or destroyed that I find it unnecessary to have a hard copy of it as well.  Totally not saving any money here.  I have the same fear of the pictures that I take getting lost as well.  This fear is well founded as all of the digitals of my color wedding photos are now gone due to a hard drive malfunction in our NAS (network attached storage).  All I have now are the wedding albums that were printed for us.  This is all anyone had before we entered the digital era, I guess.

Due to this fear, I have been making a family yearbook each year with my favorite pictures of the past year.  It makes a great coffee table book and gives me the feeling of security that I need.  To go one step further, I have started making a bound book of each year of blogging on my other blog.  That blog is a just for family one (too many personal details to be public) and is a chronicle of life with L.  It is basically his baby book with more pictures than you can put in the pre-made ones.  I cannot trust that our blogs will be around forever, so I want hard copies of my words and thoughts.  Maybe it is just my ego expressing a need for me to make something lasting in this world.  Maybe I just like to make things I can show people.  Maybe I just like to spend money needlessly.

Whatever the reason, I will keep making my paper copies of my digital life.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

I have never read Pride and Prejudice, but I have seen multiple versions of the movie. As a result, I do not know how accurate Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is compared to the original; that hardly matters though. Why would you want accuracy when you are adding zombies to a classic novel?  If you are even reading this review, you must have some appreciation for the absurd, and that is exactly what this book is.  Let me clarify that statement.  I enjoyed this book and read it without stopping the first time through.  I was also not expecting a life changing literary experience from it.

This book focuses on Elizabeth Bennet, who while being the second of the five Bennet daughters is also a skilled warrior when it comes to slaying the zombies.  Actually, regardless of personality, all of the Bennet girls are quite skilled in the arts of slaying monsters.  The zombies are introduced as a plague that has been harassing England for many years, causing many families to move from the countryside to London.  The story then progresses as the original did, with a few zombie encounters scattered here and there.  There are a few changes that I found delightful; the dreadful fate of Mr. Wickham and the zombifying (is that a word?) of one of the side characters, who shall remain nameless here.  Of course there is a happy ending, to do otherwise would be too much of a change from the original.

In summation, I think that this is a great comedic novel for light reading, and airplane novel.  The addition of the zombies keeps with the style of Jane Austen’s original writing and flows smoothly.  The illustrations are not necessary in my mind, but I am sure that some people will enjoy them.  I think that this book would make a great gift to an avid reader that has a good sense of humor, or to someone studying British Lit.

Otherland: City of Golden Shadow

I have read Otherland: City of Golden Shadow so many times that the binding on the book is starting to fall apart.  Granted, it is a paperback novel and I am none to gentle with my books, but it takes a special novel for me to read it enough for it to fall apart on me.  Tad Williams is one of my favorite authors; which one is my #1 favorite changes depending on who is actually publishing right now (not very scientific, i know)  

Rather than write my own summary, here is what the author has on his website:

Otherland. Shrouded by secrecy, it is home to the wildest dreams and darkest nightmares. Incredible amounts of money have been lavished on it. The best minds of two generations have labored to build it. And somehow, bit by bit, it is claiming the Earth’s most valuable resource – its children.

Only a few have become aware of the danger. Fewer still are willing or able to take up the challenge of this perilous and seductive realm. But every age has its heroes, and unusual times call for unusual champions.

Renie Sulaweyo, a teacher and the backbone of her family, proud of her African heritage, has fought all her life simply to get by. She has never wanted to be a hero. But when her young brother is struck down by a bizarre and mysterious illness, Renie swears to save him. When people around her begin to die, she realizes she has stumbled onto something she is not meant to know, a terrifying secret from which there is no turning back….

!Xabbu is a Bushman, come to the city to learn skills which may save the spirit of his tribe. With the heart of a poet and the soul of a shaman, he will journey with Renie on this quest into the very heart of darkness….

Paul Jonas is lost, seemingly adrift in space and time. As he flees from the bloody battlefields of World War I to a castle in the sky, and onward to lands beyond imagining, he must not only evade his terrifying pursuers, but solve the terrible riddle of his own identity….

Fourteen-year-old Orlando is also the invincible barbarian Thargor, but only in his imagination. However, youth and frailty are not enough to get you excused from saving the world….

And Mister Sellers, a strange old man on a military base, a prisoner of both the government and his own body, may be the greatest mystery of all. Is he part of The Grail Brotherhood? Does he oppose them? Or, as he sits like a spider at the center of a vast web, does he have ambitions of his own?

The answers will only be found in Otherland…

I cannot decided if this novel is science fiction or fantasy.  It has the high tech computers and virtual reality that would make it a SF novel, and yet the characters travel to fantasy worlds, interacting like the Fellowship of the Ring.  I guess it will have to be filed under both for my purposes.

The novel is very well written, with full use of the English language (meaning that there were a few words that even I had to look up).  Tad Williams does not pander to the lowering standards of literacy that America is falling to, but writes in full and descriptive sentences.  He even uses ::gasp:: semi-colons!  The characters are very well developed by the end of the first novel, and the challenge/quest is clearly described.

Unfortunately, this book is not one that you can read without having the next one ready when the first is finished.  Tad obviously wrote these books with a single train of thought; this is great for a consistent story without false endings between books, but inconvenient if you do not have the next book handy.  Hence, I recommend purchasing all 4 of the books in this series at the same time and get ready to stay up late for a week at least!