I've been a book worm for pretty much my whole life. I've read many types of books over the course of my life, but currently the sorts of books I enjoy the most are fantasy and science-fiction. I particularly like it if these genre's are mixed with comedy like the style of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. I definitely can enjoy more serious fantasy and science-fiction though. I also enjoy vampire books, but not quite as much as I did when I was younger.

This blog is mainly for my book reviews, but I also post quotes and other random book related things. If you'd like to know more about the books I've read and am planning to read, I'm a member at several different book sites, and links to my profiles are listed under My Pages.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Review of A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle

A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle is the sequel to A Wrinkle in Time. In this story there is an evil that is wreaking havoc on both a cosmic and a microscopic level. On the cosmic level stars seem to be disappearing and on the microscopic level people are getting sick with a strange disease affecting the mitochondria in their cells which causes fatigue and respiratory distress. Charles Wallace has come down come down with this condition. His sister Meg and her friend Calvin are called upon by some strange extra-terrestrials to help both save his life and to help fight the evil running rampant throughout the universe.

Like A Wrinkle in Time, this story has both elements of science fiction and fantasy. It also has some strong spiritual themes, but I feel that they are less religion specific than they were in the last book, so it bugs me less. This book is one of my childhood favorites, and as anyone who has read the book can see, it is very special to me considering that I took my screen name from one of the concepts described in the book. It was very strange reading the book again after all these years because my screen name feels very much a part of me and it was so odd seeing it constantly in a book despite the fact that this book is where it came from. Other than that, I really did enjoy reading it again very much and I would highly recommend it to others of all ages.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Should Reading Be Competitive?

On a couple of new and upcoming book sites that I've joined(LeafMarks and Literally) they've added achievement like systems where you can earn badges for your profile by doing certain things on the site. I think this is pretty cool. I love achievements and personal challenges. However LeafMarks(and I think something similar to this is planned for Literally as well) has added a competitive aspect to the achievements.

In addition to personal challenges where you can set how many books you want to read in a certain amount of time, there are also friend challenges where you have to compete with your friend to see who can complete a goal first and there is a badge that you can't earn unless you participate in this aspect of the site.

They have also created badges that you can't earn unless you rank in the top 100 for number of reviews written, liked reviews, and followers. This really rubs me the wrong way. I guess I just really don't like leader-board type things at all as I'm not a competitive person, but since I love achievements, and there are achievements that I can't get without being competitive, this creates a real conflict. With the friend competition badge I could get that one just by winning one(and then the number on the badge would change with each additional win). Trying for the top 100 badges would require a ton of competitive work though.

Perhaps I'd feel differently if I thought I actually had a chance at gaining the top 100 badges. Other members have distinct advantages over me though. I've only been tracking/reviewing my reading for the past year, so members who started doing that long before me have a big head start that I will likely never be able to catch up with, not to mention that lots of people read much faster than I do. Then the top 100 badges for most likes and followers bothers me even more because it pretty much just amounts to a popularity contest. I guess for those badges you have to have a ton of reviews as well as being well known/liked and I've never been a highly social person.

I really wish that all of the achievements were things that everyone could get if enough time and effort was put in so no one would have to feel left out. I guess I'm just going to have to accept the fact that I won't be able to gain all of the achievements. I don't know, maybe it would be possible for me to get in the top 100 ranks if I worked hard and long enough, but trying to be competitive about reading would just take the enjoyment out of it for me and I really feel like reading isn't something that should be done competitively. Obviously a lot of people feel differently though, or this sort of thing wouldn't be added to these sites to begin with.

This really reminds me of an online biofeedback/meditation website I used to use a lot. There were personal achievements for completing certain goals/activities and I loved that, but then they started putting in leader-boards for competitive group meditation and also for "meditation for charity" type events. It might be debatable whether reading should or shouldn't be competitive, but I would vehemently state that meditation should not and I was extremely disappointed in the direction that site took.

I guess I just don't understand why everything has to be a competition with people. Reading should be about the journey you take every time you open a book, not about who can read/review the most or who can gain the most likes and followers.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Review of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle is one of my favorite books from childhood. In this story two children, Meg and Charles Wallace, along with their friend Calvin, meet three extraordinary extra-terrestrials who take them on a journey to save their father who is being held prisoner on another planet. The children must learn to use both their strengths and their faults and think outside the box in order to succeed in their mission.

I would consider this story to be a combination of science fiction and fantasy. Although the methods of space travel are based in scientific theory, there really isn't any explanation for how it is supposed to work or any technological devices used, so the effect is pretty much the equivalent of magical teleportation. I enjoyed reading this book nearly as much as an adult as I did when I was a child. In some ways I got even more out of it as an adult since I understand many of the scientific concepts talked about in the book much better now.

The only thing that bugs me about this book at this point in my life is the overt Judeo-Christian themes present in some places in the story. It would have been nice if the author could have stuck with the basic good vs. evil theme without bringing religion into it. I don't necessarily mind spiritual themes in the books I read, but it just felt like a bit much when it was implied that the characters were chosen for a mission by God, especially in what is supposed to be a science fiction story. Though if I recall correctly, the author also uses religious themes in other books in the series as well. In any case I felt that as much as it bugged me, that I could overlook these details in a book that is a childhood favorite, and it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book too much. I would strongly recommend this book to both children and adults as it contains some very powerful messages in addition to being a great science fiction adventure story.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Reading Goals I'd Like To Make That I Know I Won't Stick With

Over the past year in particular I started really hoarding free indie ebooks, but have only read a couple of them. I snag them when they are free even if I know I'm not going to read them any time soon because why pay for them later when I can get them for free now? It makes me feel a bit guilty though because I know indie authors put their books out for free hoping for good reviews that will help generate sales in the future. Of course I will give an honest review when I've read the book, but the fact is that it could take years before I get to their book.

In general I'm not really reading as much as I'd like to for a variety of reasons. A part of me would like to make it a goal to read at least one indie book per month to alleviate some of the guilt, but I know myself well enough that I probably won't be able to stick to that. It's hard enough for me to get any reading done when I'm just reading whatever I happen to be in the mood for. If the mood strikes me to read an indie book I've downloaded, then fine, but I'm just not sure I see myself going out of my way to make sure I read them just so I won't feel guilty.

Another thing I sort of feel bad about is not really reading many fantasy and sci-fi classics. I'm not really sure why I feel bad about this. I think it might be more to do with feeling I should read them so I'm more well read rather than having any specific craving to read the classics. So I guess it's largely about wanting to be able to say that I have read them and also to not feel so left out when people talk about these books in online book groups. So in addition to reading one indie book per month, a part of me would also really like to commit to reading one classic fantasy or sci-fi book per month.

The big problem is that for me, there's simply not enough time in a month. It would be easy to commit to these goals if I was able to read 5 or more books in a month, but most months I'm lucky if I finish two books. So if I were to commit to these goals, then pretty much all of my reading would be indie and classic books leaving no room for the other stuff I want to read. I suppose I'll just have to accept the fact that as much as I'd like to make and stick to these goals in order to broaden my reading horizons, that it's just not doable for me at this point in my life. I suppose I'll just keep reading whatever I'm in the mood for as I have been and I'll get to the indie and classic books whenever I get to them.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A lovely sentiment, but it almost makes me feel bad about reading ebooks. Then again less trees are dying if I read ebooks.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Review of The Princess Bride by William Goldman

The Princess Bride by William Goldman is a satirical romantic fairy tale. A young girl named Buttercup falls in love with the farm hand Westly. After she declares her love to him, Westly leaves to seek his fortune promising to send for her. When Buttercup receives news that Westly's ship was attacked by a pirate that is known to leave no survivors she is inconsolable. When the local prince learns of Buttercup's beauty he orders her to marry him or face death and seems not the least bit concerned that Buttercup will never love him. Shortly after the engagement Buttercup is kidnapped as part of a conspiracy to start a war.

I found the story a bit hard to get into at first but it picks up after the first couple of chapters. I would say that I didn't find the book to be quite as funny as the movie, but I think that's just because the actors really bring out the humor with the inflections of their voices and the way they say the lines. I found it really enjoyable though to read the background stories of some of the characters that they really don't go into in the movie. One thing about the book that's a little annoying is that the author as a narrator often interrupts the story and goes off on tangents. Some of it is amusing and often starts out as sort of relating to what is going on in the book, but tends to end up far off course before you return to the actual story. Overall I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who has seen the movie or anyone who enjoys humorous fairy tale like stories with plenty of action, adventure, and romance.

One final thing I want to mention is that there is no unabridged version of this book. No matter how much the author tells you that he abridged a story originally written by S. Morgenstern, don't believe him. This is merely a humorous plot device and there is no such person as S. Morgenstern(though the author has used it as a pseudonym in other works). Many details of the author's life in the introduction to this book are also completely fabricated.