Thursday, August 30, 2012

R*I*P My first challenge!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the first challenge I’ve EVER participated. I’m off course not counting my yearly reading challenge, because that’s a goal I give myself every year, but is not a “communal” challenge.

This time however, Miss Grace from Books without anypictures (she has a great blog, you should check it out) talked about R.I.P. VII. What is that, you ask? R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril is a “challenge” organized by Carl V from Stainless Steel Droppings, although he doesn’t like calling it a challenge: 

While I don’t have any personal grudge against folks challenging themselves to read a certain number of books, or books outside their comfort zone, this event is primarily about the great pleasure that can be found in embracing this type of fiction/non-fiction during this season of the year.

The season goes from September to end of October, and invites us to enjoy books or television/movies that fall into spooky categories (Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror and Supernatural). 

There are different Perils depending on how you want to participate, and I’ve chosen “Peril the First” which involves me reading 4 books that fall into the genres mentioned before. I checked my reading progress this year, and it didn’t seem farfetched to go for this number, and I had a couple of books either in my bookshelf or in the library waiting to be read, so voilà! 

For the first time I will have a stricter list of books that have to be read in a limited period of time, and they are:

That’s more than 4 you say? Well…yeah, but the last three I’m taking from the library, and they are all taken right now, so I’m not 100% sure I will get them on time. I also have a couple “jockers”

               Anna dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (this one I might buy this weekend, because is on sale)

         Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe…but A) I’ve already read most of the tales in this version, even though I wouldn’t mind re reading them. B) is a 842 pages, so I could only read it at home. This could mean not being able to finish 4 books in total. 

           Four Past Midnight by Stephen King...same problem as the one before

Anyway, I will keep you posted, as soon as I finish The Ice Princess I will start the challenge officially. I thought I could count it as part of the challenge, but I think is more of a crime novel, with some dark twists…so I'm not sure about it.

**Note: for know the links to the books will take you to GoodReads, as the challenge progresses I will change the links to my reviews ^-^**

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Living adventures in Science by Henry Thomas and Dana Lee Thomas

Note: I couldn't find the original cover picture, and my book has a green cover with nothing on it...

Book Summary (from of the book)

The story of men who struggled to add to the domain of scientific knowledge is a drama that surpasses the ordinary invention of fiction. Out of the efforts of these daring men has evolved our modern world –our freedom from disease, our ease of communication, the most powerful weapon against the forces of nature.

In these stories of twenty-five vital discoveries, the Thomases place their emphasis upon the great accomplishment, but never lose sight of the man whose spirit was the prime mover. There is the tale of Major John Wesley Powell, the one-armed scientist who shot rapids of the Grand Canyon in a rowboat; of John Lloyd Stephens, who searched the jungles of Central America for the buried grandeur of the ancient Mayan civilization; of Alfred Russel Wallace, who navigated the crocodile-ridden waters of the Orinoco; of the men who struggled to climb Mount Everest; and of the men in the laboratories –the Curies, Roentgen, Baekeland- whose experiments into other unknown worlds were no less exciting. 
The Thomases have chosen a representative band of scientist; there are astronomers, explorers, archaeologists, inventors, doctors and artists. Each chapter is a lesson in personal courage, a narrative of victory over great odds, an illustration of what man has accomplished in his quest for knowledge. 

My Review

I got this book on the Public Library sale. The premise was good, adventures in science. Plus the books was really old looking and I loved the old book smell (is tie for me between that and new book smell). But somehow it ended up in the library and I started other books. So the other day, when I finished Game of Thrones I saw the book again, and decided it was time to read it.

It started nicely, the introduction left me with a nice phrase to start my reading:

               Practically every scrap of knowledge has been bought with human agony

You see, as a scientist, I know what that agony is all about, is a bitter sweet pain when you spend the whole day in the lab, and at the end you only have one tiny result, but oh boy, you love that result. And then I kept reading, and started learning, I learned that James Watt learned German, only so he could learn subjects in the original language; I learned that Louis Pasteur was the type of kid teachers sometimes dislike because they make questions, questions they cannot answer; I learn that poor Dr Noguchi worked and partied hard…but I also learned that there was only one woman who made it into this book, and that was Madame Curie…although her chapter was dedicated both to her and her husband.

It started as a nice book, but then…it wasn’t so adventurous. So I started having trouble reading it. I was really looking forward the Curie chapter, thinking it would show more about Mme Curie…but no.

So this is a short review for a book that took me long to read. I didn’t dislike the book…I just had bigger expectations for it. I mean, it was a book from 1954, so I knew it wouldn’t have 24/25 female based chapters…but half? And then, let’s face it, it wasn’t very adventurous, except for a couple of them (archeologists, pfff crazy people). So…that’s why this book is not getting high marks in my review. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Game of Thrones: Book one of a Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

Book Summary (from the back of the book)

In A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin has created a genuine masterpiece, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill the pages of the first volume in an epic series sure to delight fantasy fans everywhere.

In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes of the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

My Review

The first time I heard about this series was through HBO, and just like what happened with True Blood, I decided I wanted to read the books before watching the series. And then, my boyfriend bought the books, and devoured read the first book and started pushing me to read it so we could watch the series. So here I was, reading GoT.

I’m not sure how to talk about this book without giving much away, but I will try. The book starts with the notion that something is dark and sinister is coming back to the world, and it will take more than the book to know what exactly “The Others” are. But is enticing, and just as the teaser from HBO, it leaves you wanting to know WTH just happened? 

Then, the “real” story stars. The book is written in a way that every chapter is told from the point of view of a different character. We have 3-4 main houses, the Starks, lords of Winterfell (as you can imagine, they are winter people); the Baratheons, the Lanisters and the Targaryens. All separated and yet intertwine in their stories.  Long time ago, the Targaryen king was defeated and now the king from the house of Baratheon rules.  But, not surprisingly, there is people who want that throne too…hence, the Game of Thrones. 
Unlike LOTR there is no magic all over the place; you can imagine a neo feudal world, even Tudor like if you want, but there is talk of ancient times when dragons where around.  Like LOTR you will consult the map at the beginning of the book quite often and at first (at least it happened for me) will have to pay close attention at the number of secondary characters spawning here and there.

Something I really liked about this book was that you cannot take sides. Why? Because all the characters are full of flaws and virtues, so I ended up liking characters that will at the end be enemies (or will they? I don’t know, I’ve only read the first book!). No “team Eddard” vs. “team Daenerys”, no, you kind of want both of them to succeed, and then again no, because the other, and so on. 

I do have a character that I didn’t like…for most of the book, and that’s Sansa Stark. Why? Because for most of the book she is this obnoxious tween obsessed with her prince, oblivious of how she is being used and manipulated even when horrible things are there in front of her! But I think she will redeem herself on the second book…well, I hope. 

Favourite characters? Arya and Daenerys, one young and strong from the beginning, and the other young and learning her own strength. I love a book with strong, non bitchy female characters.  Oh and Tyrion, someone so in touch with his own disabilities that manages to makes them his own strengths.

                Let them see that their words can cut you and you will never be free of their mockery. If they want to give you a name, take it and make it your own. Then they can’t hurt you with it anymore.

The rest of the boys and men in this book are still growing on me. Don’t get me wrong, they have their moments, but sometimes they are a bit too…I don’t know exactly, but that’s that.
The descriptions of the areas are really good, but sometimes there is a bit too much…like in a moment where the trumpets are calling…tutururu tuturuuuu tuturuuu…ah? Really? You don’t need to be THAT literal about the situation!

Did I like the book? Yes, I did. In the end it kind gave me hope that it would give me more than I was hoping for, but it left me in a cliff hanger. This is not bad, is just that it will wait until the second book. And is not a cliff hanger like the one in The Girl who played with fire, in which you HAVE to start The girl who kicked the hornet’s nest ASAP, otherwise you cannot sleep. No, is more like a : hmm I wonder what happens, but I can wait, is ok.