Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin

This is book number four in George R. R. Martin's "The Song of Fire and Ice" series. I know several people that read this before me, they all warned me that it is a much slower read than the previous volumes in the series, much like books five and six of the "Wheel of Time" series. They attributed this slowness to the absence of their favorite characters. I did not start to feel this until about the last 200 pages of the book, but I did feel the aforementioned slowing in the pace of the story. Maybe I didn't feel it earlier, because I had been forewarned about the characters that were missing and so did not expect them to make an appearance.

Don't get me wrong, the story is still engaging and the action never stops. However, it's difficult for readers to maintain their pace when well-loved characters such as Tyrion and Daenarys are not seen at all, and Jon Snow barely makes a blip on the story's radar. There are a few new characters introduced, and they are interesting in their own right but I have not bonded with them as of yet. If the new characters had appeared in the story before, it was usually through passing mention in a conversation. One of the great, and frustrating, things about Martin is that you can't predict who will be an important character and who will become a side note or disappear all together.

I am aware that this occurred because the story was becoming so massive that Martin had to split the book in two, in order to make it possible to publish and sell for a reasonable amount of money (and to avoid it being so large that it threw out the readers' backs). Thankfully, as I said in my A Storm of Swords post, the other half of this story will be available in July.

Despite the fact that some of my favorite characters are absent, there is a lot of story progression. Jaime Lannister continues to develop as a character and become more likable (at least to me). Cersei continues to be, well, Cersei. Tommen, the King, continues to be a charming boy of 8, sheltered from the realities of ruling a kingdom, and his mother's scheming. Things on the Wall are dire, yet there is hope as well. John sends Sam Tarly away to become a Maegster. So many threads on the web of this story.

So many things to tie up before the end. There is suppose to be just one more book after A Dance with Dragons, but I'm not sure that will be possible.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

I'm pretty sure that this 1983 movie was my introduction to Ray Bradbury. I only saw it once, but it really stuck with me. I don't remember the details, just that it was the first creepy movie I'd ever seen from Disney. I really need to re-watch it as an adult and see it if holds up after 20 plus years. I wonder if Netflix or Hulu have it available on instant watch.

I've had the book version on my to read list for years now, and finally started to read it during our shut down day a week or so ago. I found that though I liked Bradbury's style, I couldn't get into the book. It felt like it should be a radio program, that someone should be reading it to me. So I had my spouse find it in audio format, read by Paul Hecht. His voice fit the feel and vernacular of the story perfectly.

Something Wicked This Way Comes is the story of two best friends born hours of each other, and complete opposites. They are 13, one light, one dark. The boys are Jim Nightshade, an only child of a single mom, and William Halloway, a late-life child. They first strange encounter occurs when they are lying under a tree, letting their minds drift in the way which comes naturally to boys. They are approached by a strange lightning rod salesman, and instead of selling them a rod, he gives them one, informing them that a storm in coming and that Jim's house will be hit by lightning and burn to the ground without the rod. He then wanders off, William wants to put the rod up immediately, while Jim tries to blow the situation off as nothing. In the end, Will gets his way.

There is anticipation hanging in the air through out the town, more than just the usual eagerness among the children for Halloween. Even the adults sense that something is coming. Suddenly there are playbills all over town for Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show. The boys sneak out in the early morning to check it out, because carnivals do not usually arrive late at night and they are curious. The carnival is setting itself up when they arrive, but there is no sign of any people. This both fascinates and horrifies them.

They are scared yet can't stay away. They get in over their heads, as teen boys tend to do and reach out to the only other person that seems to know that something is wrong at the carnival, Will's father. Will and his father have been distant from one another his whole life, through this adventure they come to know each other.

I really enjoyed the pacing and verbage used in this book. Mr. Hecht's voice adds to the period feel of the story. I usually don't read audio books because I am distracted from auditory input easily, often even when the reader and the story are both very good. To focus on an audio book I must be driving a car or cleaning the house. If you enjoy suspenseful adventure horror stories, or Bradbury, I recommend this book.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

6th Period Class Reward

A reward for 6th period. It was made with German chocolate cake mix. I know that this isn't an authentic German Chocolate cake, as my husband repeatedly told me. However, they also wanted Spiderman and I had to consider the possibility of nut allergies in the class.