A wild 2014 challenge appears

Well, now that I've completed all my 2013 challenges, I guess I better sign up for some 2014 ones, right?! I think next year I'm going to challenge myself to a bit less, because I already know that I've got all kinds of stuff that's going to prevent me from reading 100+ books like this year.

I had so much fun with the color coded challenge this year that -of course- I am going for that one again!

Maybe more challenges will come, maybe not =)



Dan Simmons - Hyperion
482 Pages - Spectra
For the Mind Voyages Challenge - Won Hugo Award 1990

Omg why haven't I read this book before now?! Soooooooo good.

Here's the skinny: 7 people are sent by the 'Church of Final Atonement' on a pilgrimage to the planet Hyperion, to the Time Tombs, home of the Shrike, a creature of unknown origins and power whom they worship as a god. They all have different reasons for coming on the pilgrimage, so they decide that they'll tell their stories on the journey to the tombs to see if that gives a better idea of just what will be waiting for them there. It was a brilliant way to bring each character to life for me, while advancing the plot along.

When I first picked up the book I had a really hard time getting through the prologue because it seemed like really samey-sounding sci-fi. I felt it was kind of pulling a 'Let's throw some techno-jargon for stuff that doesn't exist in real life out there to make this sound spacey!' He really does just throw you right into his world with this one. Hold on tight though, because it gets gooooooooood. I was totally hooked about 5 minutes into Father Hoyt's story. I started out with 'well, I'm certain the next person's story can't top that!' and then it kept freaking happening!

Kassad's story made me WTF. Out loud. At 1am in my living room- just 'What the WHAAAAAAAAAAAT?!' and then reading Silenus' story, I laughed out loud. Goddamn poopoo.

Then there was Sol's story, which started out telling us about how he taught at a university, which was in a small bit of civilization amongst cornfields and cornfields and cornfields and cornfields. I found out that Dan Simmons is from Peoria, Illinois, a city just down the road from the town I spent the last year living in, a college town, a bit of civilization among cornfields and cornfields and cornfields and cornfields, and it made me laugh. Then, as Sol's story went on, it made me sad.

I originally didn't really like Brawne Lamia's character (her name is really quite clever once you know her story, too) until we got to her story. I read it and I saw, not only a detective story, but a cyberpunk detective story. Oldschool William Gibson style sometimes. With a definite nod or two towards Gibson, in fact. Ended up loving it. Probably my favorite of all of them, really. What sci-fi author can seamlessly blend a romance, the sort that makes my romance novel reading brain do a little 'squee', into a cyberpunk detective story within a science fiction novel basically about a large pointy metal creature that likes to impale things. Uh, this one I guess!

This book is a freaking masterpiece not only of science fiction, but of several other genres as well. Read it. Really. Do read this book.


And with this book, I have (somehow, to my own surprise mostly) finished my reading challenges for 2013 =) Yaaay!


World War Z

Max Brooks - World War Z
342 Pages - Crown
For the Book to Movie Challenge

Book - Oh, World War Z. I would never have experienced you if it wasn't for Audible. It's true, I would never have picked this book up unless someone from reddit started a thread that said 'hey, what are some audiobooks that are better experiences as an audiobook' and World War Z was right at the top of that list. So, audiobook it was. It had a full cast, with one actor per interview or close to. Martin Scorsese, J├╝rgen Prochnow, Nathan Fillion, Simon Pegg, etc, etc, etc, etc. It made it a really unique and awesome experience.

Basically, it's a series of interviews from the point of view of several different people in different parts of the world detailing the rise of the zombies and the war against them. Panic leading up to it, actually fighting it, and what have you.

Movie - I totally skipped over this movie when it first came out. I'm not a big fan of zombie stuff, you see. So, I saw a trailer, and it looked dumb, so I moved on. Now, I figured I'd like to see the live interpretation of the book at least, even if it ends up being bad. I pretty much do this with all books I read which I know have been made into movies, lol. It's kind of interesting how much of a strange occurrence that the whole experience of this book and movie were to me. I usually have my books and my reading challenges planned out like a madwoman and this one was totally spontaneously unplanned. Fun fun!

Obviously, the movie isn't in the same format of the book, because that wouldn't make it very Hollywood, but they did try the interview angle a little bit, as the main character goes from place to place. It's from the point of view of one guy and his family. My biggest problem with the story was that, this guy and his family had -no idea- what was going on, when millions of zombies just appeared out of nowhere and pretty much took out Newark in an hour. Now, in the book, people knew what was happening. There was a progression from outbreak, to global outbreak, to panic, to global panic, to all out war.

All and all, it was a sort of entertaining movie based on the book slightly. That's about it.


So Much Nostalgia...

Peter S. Beagle - The Last Unicorn
294 Pages - Roc
For the Book to Movie Challenge

Book - holy crap I just got nostalgia'ed in the face. I loved this movie when I was a kid. Love Love Love Love Loved. I had my mom put it on as often. I had a thing for unicorns.... hey... I was 8, gimme a break. I didn't actually know that this was a book until I was in my 20s, and then I put it on my to-read immediately. When my husband grabbed it in one of the humble e-book bundles, I put it on my kindle and then forgot about it for a bit longer. Man, this story is so much better when you truly understand what's going on. It's much darker than I remember though. Plus, I had forgotten how it really ended.

The Unicorn hears from some hunters passing through her woods that she is the last and goes on a quest to find the rest of her people. Aided by Schmendrick the magician and Molly Grue, they find themselves at the end of the world in King Haggard's dark castle, under which sleeps the Red Bull, rumored to have banished all the unicorns from the land.

Movie - I hadn't seen this movie since I was probably about 12 years old and yet as I was reading the book I was recalling entire scenes and even quoting bits of it. I watched it that much back then. Watching it again made me nostalgic even more. Ahh, it's been a while. This movie is remarkably true to the book. I can tell you that I didn't truly appreciate the casting of the movie until I saw it this time, because when I was 12 I didn't appreciate how awesome Christopher Lee and Alan Arkin are. It's just.. a good movie. For an animated movie from the 80s, it's good. It's got a much darker feel to it then most animated movies I've seen though.

Awful lot of boobs in here for a kid's movie, too. I'm just saying. That harpy puts Total Recall to shame, lol.


The Big Book Challenge - Wrap Up

I only got 3 books done for this challenge but they were good ones!

The Big Book Summer Challenge
hosted by Sue @ Book By Book

1. 629 Pages - Brent Weeks - The Black Prism
2. 436 Pages - Gillian Flynn - Gone Girl
3. 592 Pages - Stephen King - The Green Mile

Thanks again to Sue for hosting!


I also love it when things inadvertently help with my reading challenges so, seeing as Redshirts won a Hugo award this year, I added it to my list of Hugo winning novels. Yaaaay!


Sub-Genre Challenge - Wrap Up

I honestly didn't expect to finish this one up this fast. I thought the mystery and horror categories were going to drag on forever, because I don't partake of those genres as much as I do fantasy, sci-fi and romance.

I had tons and tons of fun with this one! Thanks again to Gina for hosting!
Here are my reviews~

The Sub-Genre Reading Challenge
hosted by Gina @ Book Dragon's Lair
1. Paranormal - Sherrilyn Kenyon - The Guardian
2. Historical - Teresa Medeiros - The Devil Wears Plaid
3. Contemporary - Tracey Garvis-Graves - On the Island
Fantasy/Science Fiction
1. High/Epic Fantasy - Robert Jordan - Winter's Heart
2. Comic Sci-Fi - John Scalzi - Redshirts
3. Urban Fantasy - Jim Butcher - White Night
1. Crime Suspense - Gillian Flynn - Gone Girl
2. Romantic Suspense - Elisabeth Naughton - Stolen Fury
3. Psychological - SJ Watson - Before I Go to Sleep
1. Detective Mystery - James Ellroy - Brown's Requiem
2. Amateur Detective - Janet Evanovich - High Five
3. Mystery Thriller - Dan Brown - Inferno
1. Supernatural Menace - Beck Sherman - Revamp
2. Comedy/SciFi - David Wong - John Dies at the End
3. YA Horror - Neil Gaiman - The Graveyard Book

Finishing up the Sub-Genre Challenge

Quite a bit earlier than expected too!

SJ Watson - Before I Go to Sleep
359 Pages - Harper
For the Sub-Genre Challenge - Psychological Thriller/Suspense

I started a new shift at work and so I now work a 10 hour Sunday shift, which, if you've ever worked in a bank call center, who the hell calls a bank on Sunday? Nobody is the correct answer here so I've managed to read an entire book between calls.

Christine wakes up every morning with absolutely no memories from before she was in her twenties. She's forty-seven. She wakes up every morning next to a man she doesn't remember but finds out every day that he's her husband. She begins to keep a journal of things she finds out every day when her doctor suggests it and she begins to find out some pretty crazy things about the memories she's lost and how she's lost them.

Basically it's like 50 first dates only more suspenseful then funny. I thought it was pretty suspenseful, anyways, and thought that it was well written. I couldn't predict what was going to happen and I found myself surprised by the ending, kind of. Pretty good first book by this author and I would totally read more of his work. 4 stars!~


The Dispossessed

Ursula K. Le Guin - The Dispossessed
387 Pages - Harper
For the Mind Voyages Challenge (Won Hugo 1975 & Nebula 1974)

This was an interesting book that I've had on my to-read list for approximately ever, but had never gotten around to reading, until now.

You know, I'm not going to be able to sum this one up. It's just about dripping with themes and ideas, mostly political and it's hard to do the book justice with a plot summary, so I'll leave it to wikipedia to handle that part for me. Le Guin brings up some really interesting ideas about society, and I will admit to really liking it, not thinking that I would because, well, I usually don't get too deep into books that are intended to be very deep and densely themed. If you look at some of the goodreads reviews, you'll see that people take this book all kinds of serious, and I don't want to mess up that vibe, so, let's just say that I recommend it thoroughly and skip the part where I can't explain why because I'm not as astute as others who have reviewed the book.

This book certainly made me sit back and think a few times though, which is, I'm sure, the point, and I did quite enjoy the ride. Shevek is a great character, and I wish there was more story, honestly. I'm definitely going to be reading more books in the Hainish cycle sometime in the future.


The Graveyard Book

Neil Gaiman - The Graveyard Book
312 Pages - Harper Collins
For the Sub-Genre Challenge (Young Adult Horror) & The Mind Voyages Challenge (Hugo Award - 2009)

I freaking love Neil Gaiman. I just gobble up everything he writes and love every second of it. He's got such an eye for detail that I could imagine this book in my mind's eye remarkably well.

Nobody Owens, or Bod for short is a living boy who was raised in a local graveyard when his family is killed one day and the residents of said graveyard agree to raise him as one of their own. He's not allowed to leave the graveyard, because the man who killed his family is still out looking for him, but instead is given the run of the place and goes on all sorts of adventures in the graveyard and meets all kinds of interesting people (and other things) along the way.

Young Adult books are typically pretty short and this one was no exception. I managed to finish the entire thing at work in between calls, which is quite impressive really, lol. It didn't feel overly kiddy to me, though, which sometimes happens when I read YA novels, but instead felt like Coraline did, which was another of Gaiman's novel that is, well, ageless really. I gave this one 4.5 stars.


John Dies at the End

David Wong - John Dies at the End
378 Pages - Thomas Dunne Books
For the Book to Movie Challenge and the Sub-Genre Challenge (SciFi/Comedy Horror)

The Book:

This book was all kinds of bizarre, and it was really quite difficult for me to get into it. I did, eventually and it was sort of entertaining in it's own way but it was hard to follow what was going on.

Let's see if I can sort of break it down. David Wong and his friend John get some drug called 'Soy Sauce' from a magical levitating Jamaican and when they take it, some really bizarre things start to happen. The drug seems to open a parallel world and those who use it seem to end up being no longer human. I dunno... I couldn't really follow it too well. I'm hoping that the movie makes it visually easier to understand.

I admit that the puns that John uses throughout the book were mildly funny and that some of the stuff that happened were just too entertaining for me to stop reading the book, but I admit that it was really tempting to put it down and just say 'I give up' more than once. I gave it three stars, because I didn't hate it but it wasn't as awesome as I had heard it was.

The Movie:

Sooooo.... Just as bizarre as the book. I still have no freaking idea what the hell is going on.

It seems to be represent some of the book pretty well, considering I sort of remember some of this stuff happening in it somewhere. Bratwurst phone. Meat monster. Giant tentacled eye thing. You know.

Some characters were changed or omitted. I can understand. It's a movie and a strange one. It probably needed a bit of editing to make it flow a bit better, but it seemed like a really huge chunk of the book was taken out because the movie skipped over a huge part of the plot. Like an enormous part of the book was really... really missing from this movie, and parts of the book that really didn't matter to the plot of the book were still in it. So freaking weird.

And why change Molly's name to Bark Lee, though? Molly is Molly. That's all.