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, July 30, 2014

Review of Out of Avalon by Jennifer Roberson

Out of Avalon edited by Jennifer Roberson is a collection of Arthurian short stories by various authors. One story entitled The Heart of the Hill is set in Marion Zimmer Bradley's version of Avalon and takes place sometime in the middle of The Mists of Avalon during Morgaine's training to be a priestess. This story was the sole reason I purchased this book and I definitely enjoyed reading it. It should be noted that none of the other stories in this collection have anything to do with Marion Zimmer Bradley's Avalon, which I was aware of before reading this collection. Many of the other stories are retellings of familiar Arthurian tales, though sometimes the focus is on original characters within those tales. Other stories are merely inspired by Arthurian legends and that particular time period.

Of course some stories I enjoyed more than others, but I would rate most of them as three or four stars. Besides The Heart of the Hill, I also particularly enjoyed The Secret Leaves which is about a young girl that becomes Myrddin's(Merlin's) apprentice and lover, and The Mooncalfe which is about a child with strange abilities born of a human mother and an otherworldly father. The only story that I really didn't care for at all was Me and Galahad which was a search for the holy grail story taking place in an American Western setting. I enjoyed this collection overall, but at times it was a bit confusing just because the stories were all written by different authors, and as such there were many details that were inconsistent from story to story. It was mostly things like differences in character's names and differences in how characters were related to each other, but of course there were even plot details that varied from story to story. After the first few stories though, it was easier for me to go with the flow and not worry so much about the details. I'd definitely recommend this collection to fans of Arthurian or medieval fantasy.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Revisiting Paper Books

I made the switch to ebooks years ago and pretty much exclusively read them over paper books. I can't even remember the last time I read a paper book. There were so many things that I liked better about ebooks that I didn't really miss paper books despite the fact that there was a time in my life when I swore that ebooks could never replace paper books. Two major advantages ebooks had for me is that I didn't have to worry about my hands cramping up from holding the book open and I could make the font bigger to reduce eye strain. There's also none of that musty smell that older books get which really doesn't agree with me. I also love the fact that I can just click on a word I don't know and easily look it up. Reading ebooks on my tablet also means I can read easily in the dark without awkward book lights. It's also extremely convenient that I can carry hundreds of books around with me. Granted I don't actually need hundreds of books with me at once, but it's good because if I finish a book when I'm away from home and I'm not sure in advance what I want to read next, then I have lots of options. Probably the only thing I miss about paper books are physical bookmarks. There are so many beautiful and awesome bookmarks out there and I have some that I really love, but I obviously can't use them with ebooks. Though physical bookmarks also have the disadvantage that they can sometimes fall out of the book and you'll never lose your place with an ebook.

So if I love ebooks so much, why would I ever go back to paper books? Well unfortunately there are some books out there that just aren't available in digital format, either legitimately or as bootlegs. In these cases I have no choice but to use paper books. There are quite a few books I own that I'd like to read again that I can't find as ebooks, and recently I acquired several out of print used paperback books that were also not available as ebooks. I started reading one of these paperbacks yesterday and it was the first time I'd read a physical book in I have no idea how long. I have to say I'm not really enjoying the experience. My hands are cramping up even more painfully than I remember from when I used to read paper books years ago. I think I'd probably do better with hardback books as they would be easier to keep open, but unfortunately most of the books in question were never available as hardbacks. The strain on my eyes doesn't seem too bad, but I'm finding that I have to reread passages much more frequently than I do with ebooks. The musty smell of the book is quite irritating and makes me cough periodically. Of course it's also annoying having to make sure I have an external light source and having to keep my tablet next to me in case I need to look up words. I'm also reluctant to take my paperback books with me when I leave the house for fear that something will happen and they will accidentally get damaged. The only thing I'm really enjoying about reading a paper book again is that I get to use my favorite bookmarks that my grandmother gave me which hold great sentimental value for me. I'm doing the best I can to enjoy the content of the book despite all these frustrations, but I'm finding that I just can't wait to get to the end of the book and be done with it. I'll definitely be happy when the day comes where all the books I want to read will have digital editions.

Review of Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

In Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett an old fairy godmother dies and passes on her wand to the young witch Magrat. She travels, with the other two witches in her coven, to a far off city to complete the work her predecessor started. The trio encounter lots of strange events on the journey and things get even stranger once they reach the city. Someone's been making stories out of people's lives and they must be stopped before it's too late. This story is basically a retelling of Cinderella done Discworld style with a bunch of other fairy tales thrown in for good measure. There's lots of laughs on this adventure, and as always the footnotes are very amusing. I'd definitely recommend this book to fans of Discworld, British humor, and fairy tales.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

"A mirror can contain the reflection of the whole universe, a whole skyful of stars in a piece of silvered glass no thicker than a breath."

~Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad

Review of The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley is an Arthurian tale told from the perspective of women, including King Arthur's mother, aunts, sister, and wife. The story tells about their lives and their struggles, hardships, and romances both before and after the birth of King Arthur and the various ways they plot and participate in shaping the future of their kingdom. This is a very long and slow paced book, but I didn't find it at all tedious to read, which is more than I can say for other books in this series. I enjoyed nearly every minute of reading this book from start to end, and when it was over I felt such longing wanting to read more. I thought that most of the characters were very well done and had lots of depth to them. I especially connected with the character of Morgaine, the narrator and King Arthur's sister, and felt she was a kindred spirit, or as much of one as a book character can be. I also really connected to the spirituality of this book and many of the pagan beliefs described resonate closely with my own eclectic spiritual beliefs. This is definitely one of my favorite books and it will always hold a special place in my heart. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Arthurian fiction or medieval fantasy.

It is not necessary to read any of the other books in Bradley's Avalon series to enjoy this book, though the other books do give a lot of background history to Avalon and even to some of the characters in this book. If you want to read the other books in the series and want to read them chronologically as I did, then The Mists of Avalon should be the last book you read. If you prefer to read the books in publication order, then start with this book and work your way back chronologically.

I re-watched the made for TV movie after I finished reading the book and thoroughly enjoyed it despite the fact that there were many changes. I would say that the movie stayed fairly true to the first half of the book, but the movie changed and left out a lot of things from the second half of the book. Also some of the characters were altered and were nastier than they were in the book and things like that. There were a lot of instances where I could see why things needed to be changed or removed for the movie format, but there were some parts of the book that I really wish had been included in the movie. I suppose if they had included all of the stuff they left out, the movie would have been twice as long as it was. It's still a great movie though and I'm able to enjoy it in and of itself.