Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Which is Better? The Magicians

At first, I thought the show was terrible. I was confused by the complexity and rushed first episode. Josh had read the book before I did and inform me that the first half episode covered about 200 pages of the book.

We're not given much of a set up as Quentin and Julia are hurried into Brakebill's to take their exams, with Quentin passing and Elliot to show him around while Julia, being told that she's not good enough, is exported back to NYC. She leaves a mark on her arm so she remembers through the strong memory spell they put on her. 

Throughout the episode, it seemed like characters would say things without any background or context, expecting the audience to go along with the fact that though we hadn't seen Alice and Quentin interact before, we are expected to believe that Alice is ace at magic and Quentin sucks at it. Everyone, including Quentin is incredibly good looking, but we're expected to believe that Alice is a gross nerd and Quentin is a weird geek. Oh, and there is a lot of sex, 'cause pilot.

By the end of the first episode, the Beast arrives, but I was so darn confused for the entire episode that I had no idea who the Beast was, or why he was so dangerous, or why he arrived for the first episode. If he's a big bad, like the characters stated, briefly, that he was.. shouldn't he have been wielded out for a episode later on in the season? It seemed a bit unnecessary with Dean Fog getting his hands and his eyes removed by the Beast right off the bat.

The writers aged up the characters, made Brakebills University a magical graduate school and Josh disclosed that Julia's story was from the second book, instead of the first.

I figured that was my cue... So, I read the first book, wrote a review, and discovered that they added a few characters, took away a few characters and even changed a few characters' names.

As I continued watching the show, I just blatantly ignored "graduate school" since the book so expertly placed them in college. Hollywood has a habit of casting much older people in younger parts anyway. 

The pilot was confusing and terrible, but we hoped that the pilot followed the rule of most pilots: the first one of a series is never any good. Josh and I turned in week after week, dismantling the show and making fun of it's disconnected episodes. However, our snarky comments and  ripping apart every episode diminished as we watched, and after the episode where they turn into geese, Josh turned to me and went...

"Do we like this show now?"

And the answer is.. Yes, yes we do. Somehow, the show stumbled through way more voiceless episodes than allotted for a new show, especially during "peak TV," and managed to become a funny show about the price of magic sans Harry Potter.

As Josh and I recapped, we maintained that if we hadn't read the books, we still wouldn't have known what was going on in the series. However, it did get renewed for a second season, so I guess people that didn't read the books liked it.

I since read the second book, and soon I will read the third book. I can't wait to see where they go with this, providing they keep the steam they built over the last several episodes.

My only hesitation is Alice. Quentin finally came to the conclusion that Alice was the one, and not him, which lead to their demise in the season finale. I hope they use Alice the way she was used in the book, because she turned out to be an undeniable bad ass that saves the day. So, don't undo all the goodwill you've mustered, show! Keep a good thing going! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Servants' Hall: A Real Life Upstairs, Downstairs Romance by Margaret Powell


Oh man, I am all about that GIF life now. Thanks, new job for making me more tech savvy! (I can actually look at HTML code without getting cross eyed. I know what I'm looking at now!)

But seriously, Herman Munster was appropriate for this book. I feel like I've wasted my "buy one, get one" free Audible book sale because this book was completely useless.

I purchased the book because of it's connection to Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs shows on BBC. I think it's actually the author who inspired those shows... which I thought would lead to some juicy stories and tidbits about the wealthy back in the day. The title of the book has "romance," but it's not the main character's romances, though she discusses the various duds she dates before she meets her husband. It's about a romance of her friend, Rose, who is incredibly pretty, but Margaret doesn't pull any punches in the beginning of the story, stating that Rose is a bit of dullard.

Margaret dutifully tells us all the things she experiences as a cook, going from house to house, all the while keeping contact with her friend Mary and her friend Rose. However... she doesn't experience much. I almost wanted her to embellish or make some stuff up to make the story more interesting. I love food, and I like cooking, but damn, I don't want to hear about the dishes that were made.

I had this never ending sensation that I was waiting for the book to start, but really, I was waiting for Margaret to tell the reader something exciting. I thought that Margaret was going to still away Gerald, or find a rich man of her own... but no... Rose just remains a stick in the mud and Margaret remains jealous of her the entire book. She has a good sense of humor and I laughed a few times, however, when she made fun of Rose and her lot in life.

By the end of the book, I was so bothered every time she mentioned 'people now' v. 'people back then.'Largely, it seems, she prefers how things are now, but has that annoying habit of just assuming that all young people are a certain way. I didn't listen to the book with the intention of listening to someone compare lifestyles. Yes! We know! Women can wear lipstick now and not be considered a harlot!

Finally, for most of the book, she laments over the fact that she can't find a good man. She has some funny antidotes for some of the men she meets, but effectively leads the reader into the moment where she meets her husband... until she just glosses over the whole introduction to her husband! He was the milk man that she knew throughout the entire book. Couldn't she had thrown in some antidotes about meeting him, and assuming he had a wife, and maybe even the freaking story about how they actually met?! She just glosses over all of it! It would have been a far better book to just... make up a friendship with the milkman or something in the beginning of the book, and a chapter about the revelation that he was asking her out or something of that nature.

Overall, this book is a waste of time. Don't waste your money. Is her first book better? Has anyone read it? 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Which is Better? Shadowhunters by Cassandra Clare

Much like the Hannibal series, I felt like by the time I actually got to the book, I was oversaturated with seeing the movie and watching the TV show. I'm going to try and get the second book so when I watch the second season of Shadowhunters, I'll be able to properly compare both the show to the book. As it stands, I feel like the shine has gone off all three, so I'm not sure if my opinion on the TV show and the movie is actually accurate.

The reason I said all of that, however, is because it's been a while since I saw the movie, and then the TV show, and it's been a few months since I read the books, so it's all mashed together now. Also... I missed a whole bunch of episodes of Shadowhunters, so I saw the first 6, and then the season finale, and the one before the season finale...so... I hope this post is more amusing than really informative.

Let's talk about this bomb of a movie. Poor, poor Lily Collins, trying to become an actress, and the agency that thought it was a good idea to sign her because she's Phil Collins' daughter. Sure, we can teach her how to act... she can take acting classes, right? It'll be fine!

Her eyebrow game and her last name are the only things she has going for her. She's not a bad looking girl (she's not a troll, but she's just a pretty face with all the benefits of a life with a chef, a nutritionist, stylist and personal trainer), but man, oh man. She's a terrible actress.

Hollywood tried to make her a thing in that other movie with Taylor Lautner (Right? the Werewolf from Twilight?), and though she was better in this movie, this poor girl can't act to save her life. Her eyebrows did more work than she did in the movies she was in.via GIPHY
Look at much those eyebrows work for their money.

However, let's not forget the rest of the cast of this doomed movie; Jonathan Rhys Meyers (who did this movie to fund his coke habit), Lena Headley, whose single requirement for roles is that she gets to play the mother of child-prodigies, for better or for worse and Lane Pryce, who, much to his surprise, woke up in an alternate universe after hanging himself in his own office.

There is also this guy:

Who... the only reason I remember him is because he got that, "oh yeah, he's been in something" reaction, and also because after watching the show, I realized how the movie cut the love subplot between him and Jace. Who is played by

this guy:

Who, and again, I don't want to piss on people that don't fit my standard of beauty or attractiveness, but he should really be a character actor. Not only does he and Lily have the zero onscreen chemistry, I don't look at him and go, "man, he should play the guy that turns Clary from a high school girl into a full fledged Shadowhunter, and after all of that, when they discover they are "siblings" still question whether kissing your brother is such a big deal."

However, this guy?

If a girl is going to question whether kissing her long lost sibling is such a big deal, I'd buy him.

On that note, the movie feels way too rushed with the attempt to shove all the folklore and urban mythology that Clare meticulously builds up in her first book into one movie... and the movie feels jumbled together and long, despite the twists and turns and googly eyes that Clary and Jace make at each other. With the final reveal of Clary's father and Jace and Clary/Lily long lost siblings, instead of being shocked with wonder of how Jace and Clary/Lily will ever recover, you marvel at Rhys Meyers attempt to sell the terrible script and try to take Lily Collins seriously (though I think there must have been a contingent in his contract that he had to try to act in order to get his coke blocks) to get through his scenes.

I understand the attempt to try and cash in on the rising tide of the Harry Potter and Twilight movie phenomenon, but this movie was a hot garbage mess. Though I think Lane Pryce was relieved that no one asked for the money back and no one bought up the embezzling.

All the fans were disappointed with the movie, and many were concerned with the development of the TV show. With the... 6 (I'm guessimating), that I watched, is a definite improvement from the movie. They cast much better actors and actresses, including the Old Spice guy, who, in my opinion, is the best part of the show.
I wish he would be given a bigger part... or did he have more of a part to play in the episodes I didn't watch?

As well, Magnas Bane is played by an actor who was on Glee; Harry Shum! The only reason that was exciting for me was because I just watched him in the Netflix Original Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel.

I gathered there is a lot of material for the show to use from her books, so I hope they continue with the show and keep both Isaiah Mustafa and Harry Shum employed. As for the rest of the actors... they look and act like your typical young teen ABC/CW show actors, which is perfect for a show like this.

The TV show is silly and entertaining, though I will have to say it wasn't engaging enough for me to keep tuning back in week after week. Hopefully Hulu brings back the episodes I missed so I can binge. I think it'll be a good binge series. Free Form is literally a no name network, so they need to take the cue from CW and renew everything, regardless of ratings!

And besides, anything is better than that movie.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Imago by Octavia E. Butler

It was like lightening struck when I realized I could buy audiobooks of my favorite sci-fi author, Octavia E. Butler when Audible did their 50% off sale.

I dutifully listened to the voice actor and concluded that she had a clear voice with no annoying quirks. It had been a while since I picked up a Butler book, and since she passed away in 2006, I wanted to stretch them out before they were all gone. Also, Butler's books are hardly ever on sale, audiobook or not, so 50% off sale was pretty sweet.
I enjoyed the first two bookx of the Lilith's Brood Series, or the Xenogenesis series. The books are about an alien race that discovered Earth right when a major war unleashed nuclear bombs on a large part of the world, effectively killing off most, if not all, humans. The Oankali rescued many dying people, starting with Lillith and restored her to optimal health. However... there is a catch.

In order for the Oankali to survive, they must combine their species with that of humans, effectively creating a new species. The Oankali are perplexed to why the humans, Lilith included, want to do anything other than combine their genes with theirs, simply because they perceive their way of life to better, no sickness, violence and the drive to learn and continually educate themselves by traveling the stars.

Each book has a different perspective. First it's human, with the introduction of Lilith, then it's a male construct by the name of Akin, and finally, it's a human construct named Jodahs that turns into an ooloi, a third male/female gender that goes by the pronouns of "it."

Sooo.... at first when I read Dawn and Adulthood Rites, I thought they were entertaining and different and I was pleased that Butler continued to write good books. However, when I read reviews of the books, many critics pointed out about how hetero-normative both humans and Oankali are, and how Butler seems to ignore homosexual relationships as well as other aspects of gender and sex. So, with that in mind, I listened to the third book.

I was underwhelmed.

First of all, the voice actor blew. Hard. She was OK when she was simply talking in her own voice, but then, she dropped her voice to talk in Jodah's voice (when he had dialogue with others), which had me adjusting my volume as I worked constantly. Then she had a completely different voices for other characters, and all of them were grating and annoying. By the end of it, I hoped that all the characters died horrible deaths.

Speaking of the end of the book... it was very anticlimactic. I thought Butler was leading the reader somewhere, and then she makes a left hand turn out of nowhere to make sure that all the characters essentially get what they want.

 I thought overall, this book was the weakest of trilogy. Dawn and Adulthood Rites was so exciting to read with Butler's philosophical musings of the purpose of humankind without it being preachy or even knowing that Butler is exploring what it means to be human. However, Imago just seems to be an afterthought. It's a natural progression to shift the perspective from different people who are affected by this alien invasion, but... Imago wasn't very interesting. It didn't have interesting characters or a very interesting plot.

I have Wild Seed on the dock and I hope this audiobook is good and her audiobooks aren't inherently bad.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Which is Better? 11/22/63

I definitely tried to do a weekly thing with the comparison of the TV show and the book, I really did. However, as the show progressed, I found myself disliking it immensely to where I stopped watching it. I didn't catch up, nor did I watch the finale. I saw all that I needed too.

It blew. 

To be fair, adaptation of King's books don't really do that well as TV shows. Other than The Shining and IT, I don't even think movies do a good job either. My husband really enjoyed it, but he also read the book four years ago, so he was a bit hairy on the details.

What I really disliked about the TV show is the fact that they glossed over a lot of really good plot points, and focused on making time travel spoooooky. What King does really well in this novel is the ability to make things creepy without it being over the top. In the first episode, Jake Epping calls... someone, I think his parents? and a car crashes into the telephone booth moments after Jake hangs up the phone. The dead woman says something creepy about Jake being not wanted there.

Which... ugh. It would have been way more effective to actually just follow the book and show Jake going through, do all the things with the Dunning family (which by the way, Josh Duhamel was an excellent choice for Frank Dunning), then go to 2011 with Al Templeton, and discover that alternating time didn't really do much for Harry Dunning. This would have shown that time has a funny way of doubling back and righting itself. Then could have been a montage of him going back to that time and shooting Frank Dunning at the grave site.

I also hated the fact that the show made up a male character to basically his sidekick, instead of Sadie, because apparently a woman can't be both his accomplice and his on screen romance. Nope, she has to be the innocent love interest and not be scarred by anything. Also, this same male character, (What's is name, George?) also wants to rescue Marina, Oswald's wife. What I found so fascinating about the book is the length Jake Epping is willing to go too in order to succeed at his mission. Allowing Marina to be beaten on the reg by Harvey to ensure the timeline isn't altered is morally ambiguous, which is something the writers just blew past by having George agonize over Marina and Harvey having sex. Ugh. Boring and overdone. via GIPHY

I also thought they blew past the Yellow Card Man, which scared the crap out of me when he went back and found him dead. I was curious to know what that meant and how Jake's actions would affect the timeline. Nah. Just had a weird scene where the Yellow Card Man was almost ran over by Jake when he's driving.

I know a lot of people had problems with James Franco playing Jake Epping/George Amberson (Or Jake Amberson), but I thought he wasn't the problem. I liked him... it's everything else that was the problem. If the book was cheesier, or I just didn't enjoy the book that much, I probably would've enjoyed the show more. As it stands, though, don't bother watching the mini-series. The first episode was cheeky because there were lots of montages of James Franco walking through the 50's time period... but after that? Totally sucked. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Calling the Reaper by Jason Pere

Full Disclosure: This book was given to me by Rambunctious Ramblings Publishing, Inc. in exchange for an honest review. I can't be too hard on an author who only self-published before signing with a fledgling publishing company. I admire authors like this, because eventually I would like to finish writing and publish myself. I also can't be too tough on these sorts of authors either, because I feel they are still rough around the edges and they need to go through rounds of polishing before they find their stride.

Calling the Reaper is a book with a lot of good ideas, and Pere attempts to go about it in a unique way. It's clearly the start of a series and the book introduces the reader to a set of characters that meet their demise. Sometimes in noble ways, but most often in committing in one of the 7 deadly sins. With each "Part" or set of stories, there are excerpts of letters, various quotes and sayings of individuals that make up Purgatory or the underworld and the suggestion that something big is about to happen. 

Pere's world building surrounding Purgatory almost takes a backseat in this novel. He uses well known characters, such as the 4 Horsemen, and for quotes and sermons he uses to illustrate Purgatory are from books simply title 'The Book of Life." You know something is coming, and a war is brewing, but Pere wants you to focus on the characters that the Reaper takes in order to pull back the curtain later on. It's important to really understand the characters and how they died before venturing into the world. 

Pere pulls a GRRM. He throws a ton of characters at you. I could have done without the Parts, but I understand the need for consistency, especially when time would elapse within a character's timeline. I'm not sure how else I would have organized the characters' stories, nevertheless. Maybe tighten them to individual stories and titled them without the Parts? 

However, Pere's greatest strength, sneaking in world building between the Parts of the characters' stories along with grabbing the reader by the collar to venture into his world through the eyes of his characters, is also his greatest weakness.

He doesn't quite master forging the connection between character and reader. It would have been beneficial to restructure the book in a different way and possibly divided the book into two. Expand on half the characters, keep their small stories and show the start of their journey in Purgatory. The second book would reveal the other half of the characters, and the start of their journey into Purgatory.

The overarching theme of warriors meeting their end due to the demonstration of a deadly sin would have been enhanced if different cultural backgrounds were used. We as a culture are fascinated with Samurais, knights, cowboys, Romans and Vikings and personally, I feel oversaturated. I felt like these stories could have that extra bit of spice and uniqueness if different tribes and cultures were used. Zulu nation and Maoris are also proud warrior societies and I'm sure with some alterations, I would have found it riveting.

Finally, because I review books through a feminist lens... only 2 women?! Come on, Pere! You can do better than that! Unless you had plans already to bring in more interesting women (note: I said interesting, and not just "strong"), that is something you need to pay attention to in the future.

One last thing. I don't claim to be the best writer in the world. I'm sure my blog is riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes, but RRPI needs to have a copy editor, or even a few people that haven't read the book who come in and check for spelling errors. The amount of spelling mistakes in this book is unacceptable. Money is spent on the cover and printing the books and thus far, it reeks with unprofessionalism, which I'm sure is not what the company wants.
Overall, it was a decent read and I'm curious to read the next book in the series. I think this is a great start for Pere and he has the makings of a great writer. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Magician King by Lev Grossman

Thankfully my job now allows me to listen to music and audiobooks (I don't have to talk to anyone!) soo..... that's how I was able to listen to The Magician King in two days. I really enjoyed the first book, The Magicians so when Audible had their 50% off sale, I dove right in and snatched up the second book of the series.

As I really get into audiobooks, I realize just how much the voice actor really does matter. Man, the voice actor really does affect the audio of the book! It's a shame because if the voice actor is bad, well, then it doesn't matter how well written your book is.

However, The Magician King has nothing to worry about, because the voice actor is awesome. It's the same one from the first book, and reads Quentin's and Julia's, this time around, with just as much snark as the first book. I really like it when the voice actor doesn't go too off base when they read other characters because it's how I would read it inside my head. I really can't stand it when the voice actor tries to do different accents and different pitches, because... I totally know that you are just one person. Ugh!

Anyway, the reviews of the book on goodreads are up and down. Some people love this book and others... not so much.

I personally thought it was excellent. I loved the Quentin snark, and though some were frustrated with Quentin not learning ANYTHING from the first book, I felt like it was organic. Quentin is now the King of Fillory, and as par for the course, he hates his life. It seems that he hadn't learned anything from his misadventures of the first book, which should annoy the crap out of me, but it doesn't. He reflects upon the death of Alice, and is almost resigned to living a boring, comfortable life of Fillory, which of course, gets him in trouble.

To me, he represents a couple of people in my life, where even though they obtained everything they wanted (even at the expense of others, i.e Alice), they are still unhappy. He was eye roll-y until he used the key to be dumped back into Chestertown. HAH!

From there, Grossman really explored Quentin and Julia, including their adventure to get back to Fillory. I already knew from the show, that in this book, Grossman tells Julia's story, which is harrowing and heartbreaking at the same time. I think what struck me the most was the hand that was given to two students who worked the same, were in the same classes growing up and simultaneously given different "rewards" for their hard work. We learned that magic is arbitrary. Julia became, through sheer will, a great magician, though at a terrible price.

There wasn't any reason, other than maybe initial talent, that Julia didn't get into Brakebill's. Quentin at first is convinced of his own superiority, but when he goes to Fog for help, he realizes just how snobbish and elitist his own education had been. Finally, when he sees the world through Julia's eyes, he repents and for the first time, actually starts to grows up and reflect his journey so far.

Grossman has such a way with words that is admirable, and I only hope to write fantasy as well as he does. Grossman still has a literary style, it's more action packed, especially his time with Julia. I wished his story with Julia was a bit tighter, and maybe even a stand alone book before The Magician King? Or a novella? The reason I say that is that Fillory, the outside islands, the seven keys adventures and the underworld seems to be just a sketch, not an actualized world, like Brakebill's was. I can argue that it was never meant to be a world that we knew much of because Quentin, though obsessed with getting there, and then getting back there, just used Fillory as a goal, not as a place to live. However, I would have liked to understood more of Fillory, and then the underworld when they obtained the 7th key.

I will say, I was shocked by the ending. I did feel sorry for Quentin, but I'm excited to read where the 3rd book takes him. He is in the Neitherlands completely alone and this... this is when Quentin is really going to come into his own. I just hope the snark doesn't go completely away, but maybe use it to make fun of others, like I do! I can't wait to read the final book in the trilogy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Which is Better? The Martian by Andy Weir

Oh man! I haven't done one of these in a while! I really should catch up on them, but my initiative of writing shows as they airs is really challenging. Movies are a lot easier to do, hence this is being posted before 11/22/63 and Shadowhunters.

My husband and I watched The Martian this past weekend after I read the book. I've heard really good reviews of the movie, and after reading the book, I couldn't imagine the movie messing too much of it up. It's pretty direct and action packed, but I did wonder how they were going to shift the first person perspective to an entire movie third person (for the most part).

There were a few things I knew and didn't know before I read the book and then watched the movie. Obviously, I knew that Matt Damon played the guy that gets stuck on Mars. Though it was never explicitly told to me, I figured out that the guy that got stuck on Mars eventually goes home.

(Usually when it's a sad space movie, people eventually spoils it for you).


I still haven't seen Gravity.

Anyway, I didn't realize how funny the book would be and though Matt Damon would be good regardless, I was pleased to see him in such a likable role.

I really enjoyed the movie, and they stayed pretty truthful to the book. However, I felt like there needed to be more with Mark and his time on Mars. I know they had to shoot different scenes with NASA and the various plans to get him home, but I thought they could have done less of those and more with Mark trying to survive on Mars. In the book he was so charming that I didn't mind him talking about science and what he was going to do. It would have been more exciting to me to see him struggling with survival rather than Kristen Wiig looking alarmed the entire time.


Oh yeah, a lot of other people are in this movie too. I'm not sure why though? It's a fun film, but I guess they all like science and NASA? This movie and the book did make me enthusiastic for Space again.

I do have 1 bone to pick with the movie. Mindy Park... should have been an Asian girl. I'm sure there are white people with the last name Park, but come on! I imagined her as Asian in the book, and again, not saying that white women can't have a job at NASA, but... we're already having a problem with diversity in movies and the least that could have been done was case an Asian person with the obvious Asian name. Its not as if there aren't any Asian actresses that are up to the task of staring at the computer screen and acting smart. I'm sure Lucy Liu is always looking for a job... is Elementary still on? She was a Charlie's Angel, she could have definitely been in two places at once.

In all seriousness though, that role was poorly miscast. Mackenzie Davis did a fine job, but I'm sure she doesn't have a shortage of auditions looking for a tall, blonde lady. Asian actresses have it much harder, and with something so obvious as Mindy Park should have been given to an Asian actress.

Overall, if you want a fun way to spend a few hours, watch the film. It's not much different than the book, other than seeing lots of famous faces on screen. There is less technical jargon, which is more user friendly than the book.. but if your conceited like me and want to feel smart, read the book too.

Friday, May 6, 2016

House of Hades by Rick Riordan

There is not much of an introduction except that I've read all of Rick Riordan's demi-god book series. There something about reading them that takes me back to that YA time in my life, though to be completely honest with you, I read the first one when I was 23.

These books are also guilty pleasures because it also reminds me of a time when I was a complete fanatic and watched Hercules and Xena TV shows every single day from ages 9 to 11, when they moved the show from it's 4:00 and 4:30pm spot respectively.

Did anyone else dream of the day you discovered you were a daughter of a Greek god or goddess and miraculously had powers and they needed you to fight their battles for them? Or that you would wake up one day and actually be in the same universe as Hercules and Xena and get to hang out with them?

Anyone? Just me, then?


You can't deny how bad-ass Lucy Lawless is. I just wanted to BE her when I was younger.

Anyway, back to Rick Riordan. Not only am I a sucker for books with Greek Mythology, I am incredibly jealous of Riordan's career. He simply took all the mythology (Roman, Egyptian, Norse), gave them all young protagonists and the books practically wrote themselves. I still feel like my love of Xena and Hercules should have given me the kick in the pants to write them, but I digress.

This book is another installment using the famous Percy Jackson character, but it isn't apart of the Percy Jackson and The Olympians series, but The Heroes of Olympus series, which combine Roman and Greek gods, mixing Greek and Roman culture as well. The Mark of Athena ended on a cliff hanger, which enraged me, but by the time it actually came out, I moved on to other books.. but I was glad to eventually get around to reading it.

Now, are they meaningful, deep books that will change your life once you've read them? No. Are they well written books that build on the themes of friendships, responsibility, duty and commitment that is appropriate for the YA audience? Yes. It was an enjoyable read for me, and it's nice to read books where the author took care to age his characters appropriately, but also allow them to keep a bit of their innocence for just a tad bit longer... and to encourage kids that are reading them to enjoy fantasy and magic for just a bit longer as well.

I have the next book in the docket, and I hope to read it soon. My husband did throw Infinite Jest on my book pile... so... we'll see.
For old times sake.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

This book was part of a "buy one, get one" free deal at Audible, and I used 1 of my credits to purchase two books. There wasn't much else in the deal, unfortunately, but I was curious to read Orange is the New Black since the Netflix show came out a few years ago.

The book isn't the jammed packed comedy-drama depicted in the show, but that's to be expected. It's entertaining in a different way and I appreciate the narrative. It's also incredibly informative and her passion for the corrupt prison system (and sentencing of nonviolent drug crimes) is easily seen. She makes a compelling case on what is wrong with the prison system and gently pushes the reader to wonder exactly how much the prison system is affecting the rest of our economy and way of life in America.

Piper Kerman starts off as an eye rolling lost 20 something wasp who is in need of a good adventure and some time to "find herself." She meets Nora, who is 10 years her senior and has the allure that some middle aged men sometimes do for young women. Nora is a drug smuggler working with an African drug lord and quickly pulls Piper into her fold. Piper is mesmerized by the glamorous lifestyle and the exotic places, but soon she sees the cracks of her fantasy life. It all comes to a head when Nora asks her to smuggle money into the country, and she barely does it without getting caught. Piper realizes that she doesn't want this, and soon makes her getaway.

Piper chronicles her life since her tumultuous time. She meets Larry and though dated women prior, they fall in love. Thinking her brief stint with Nora would just fade away in the past, she moves on, climbing the professional ladder and moving to NYC with Larry. However, it all goes south, and she is indicted on a drug trafficking and money laundering.

It takes the federal courts 6 years to finally sentence her and close her case. She's less eye roll-y during this time, though I am never a fan of describing deep and personal moments with significant others with cliches ad nauseam. She routinely goes back over how much she is cared for and how much people love her, which, to me, felt a bit off. Maybe it was to drive home the fact that her life outside of prison would be vastly different than many of the women she would meet on the inside? That her time in jail didn't really mess up the rest of her life, just the brief period?

Anyway, she gets to jail at Danbury and the characters mentioned in the book are different, though you can see where the inspiration came from. The cast of characters rotate much more frequently in the book than on the show and there is a lot less sex in the book than on the show, hah.

Again, she provides a much needed perspective of an educated woman going through the prison system. It's clear that socioeconomically she benefited from the system, until her rebellion led her being named in a criminal case and though she will leave (relatively) unscathed from her time in prison (she even had a high paying job that her friend created for her), she realized what her participating in the drug ring did to others, and how the prison is just failing those who made mistakes and need rehabilitation, not punishment.

Upon further research, I'm glad to see that she used her experience to continue to push for prison rehabilitation and prison education. I'm also glad to know that her and Larry are still together, despite the show breaking them up.

It was a really good listen and an easy listen. However, the audio wasn't consistent. I really liked the voice actor, though sometimes I felt like her voice kept getting lower and lower in pitch and I had to bump up the volume to hear her and then she would switch to another character and I would have to hurry to turn down the volume again.

Overall, a great listen. I have to rewatch the first season (and the second possibly) to do a "Which is Better?" but I think they are great pieces of work on their own. Their messages are different but both stand alone as individual pieces.