A Dialogue on Movies, Books and More

Posts tagged ‘Rick Riordan’

The Idle Banter Book Club

Justin: HEY ZOE, HOW’S IT GOING!?

Zoe: Shhhhhh….

Justin: Why are you shushing me?

Zoe: Because we are in a library, that’s why.

Justin: Well, whose bright idea was it to do our dialogue in the library?

Zoe: Umm that would have been your idea. You thought it would be a nice atmosphere for our blog on books today.

Justin: Well that back fired on me just a bit.

Zoe: Just a bit. So, what has been going on with you lately? It seems like it’s been a while since we’ve done a proper dialogue.

Justin: I think it has; both of our lives have been pretty busy and last weekend was a holiday so that just completely threw off everything. For Memorial Day, I was in Illinois down near Decatur for a family reunion. I have to say, southern Illinois is not the best place to go when you are on a diet. There was some wonderful food there. For lunch on the last day we had homemade fried chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans.

Zoe: Well at least the green beans were healthy.

Justin: That is what I thought as well, until I saw there were huge slabs of bacon in it. It was freaking delicious. What were you up to this past holiday weekend?

Zoe: I went home to Chicago for a high school friend’s wedding.  It was just so lovely, and of course it was just great to see some of my best friends and just hang out.  The weather was nutty–rainy and cold the first two days, then 90 the last day!  And the flights were actually easy, not to jinx future flights…

Justin: Bummer on the rain but at least the flights were good. That is usually the tricky part. So, let’s talk about books. You reading anything good lately or is there anything you are looking forward to, that is coming out soon?

Zoe: Let’s see, I just finished a super disappointing historical romance called Wicked Surrender.  Naughty name, right?  NO.  The set up on the back cover was misleading, the resolution was way past trite and cliched–in which the characters were forced to make no serious decisions after 200 pages of stressing how well-equipped they were to make the tough choices–and the characters’ personalities shifted drastically with no real rhyme or reason.  Normally, I love a good historical romance, there are tons of ways to make them creative and fun even using strict societal settings like 18th century London.  I love Ransom by Julie Garwood, Judith McNaught, Connie Brockway, and Eloisa James, and none of them has to resort to a plot that has embarrassing similarities (minus the baby–only 2 actual instances of sex, which is like super lame for the genre!) to Pearl Harbor.  Yeah, I said it.  But whatever, to get that bad taste out of my mouth, I’ve started Maybe This Time, by Jennifer Crusie, probably my all-time favorite romance writer; she has eccentric characters, quirky set ups and no melodrama.  Oh, and I’m looking forward to Laurel K. Hamilton’s Hit List (even though the last several books in the Anita Blake series were… not the best) and Naamah’s Blessing by Jacqueling Carey, both released this month!

Justin: Yeah, there is nothing worse than getting all the way through a story only to find out there is no resolution. I know authors sometimes do that to make sure you read the next in the series, but it is annoying. Finish it up, bring some closure and let me move on. If that doesn’t happen, I am probably not going to pick up the next book. Anyway, I am currently reading something recommended to me by your husband. It is a collection of short stories called Welcome to Bordertown by editors Holly Black and Ellen Kushner. The series started back in 1986 and Matt described it as the “birth” of urban fantasy. From what I gather from the intro to this collection, by one of the original authors, Bordertown was created to be a “shared-world series.” This means that a ton of authors would all write stories that all took place in this land that they created between the human world and the elfin realm. From there it apparently exploded. Well, it has been 13 years since the last collection and now Welcome to Bordertown has been put out. To be honest I was a little hesitant to start reading this book because I had never read any of the collections before and apparently they are really hard to find. However, I have now read the first story and am working on the second and I have to say they are fabulous. The world that has been created is amazing and makes me want to not only “go” to Bordertown but write my own story as well. I am glad Matt mentioned it because it was an excellent find and as a Noob to the series I don’t feel left out. If any of you like Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files, then you will like this collection of stories because this is where the genre started. Oh and if you haven’t heard of The Dresden Files either, I would recommend them as well. Even the short lived TV series was pretty good.

Zoe:  Wow, Justin, that was an incredible speech you just wrote down there.  Got anything else you want to put out there?

Justin: Tons, we are talking books so I could go on for awhile, but how about you talk for a bit.

Zoe: Oh, Justin, I kid, I kid.  Okay, I don’t know if I could exactly talk that long about something that I’m reading just now, but I can say that I am currently exceedingly disappointed by the San Francisco Public Library system.  First of all, if I go on a wait list for a book currently all checked out, I’m on it for like 6 months and then I give up and find a copy another way.  Second of all, the reference librarians, even at the main branch, just do searches on their computer (which CLEARLY I can do myself) and have no extra suggestions or helpful librarian-like advice!  Third of all, each branch has very little books.  The one I go to the most has a children’s section downstairs, which is good-sized but not great, and then half of its upstairs is full of non-fiction (small amount, for a sampling for all the knowledge there is), DVDs and computers (half-taken by homeless people).  The novels are pitiful.  A few classics peppered in with some large print, some romance and sci-fi / fantasy paperbacks, a few narrow bookcases of mysteries, and then the most random supply of novels after that.  I wouldn’t mind except my favorite part about libraries, like bookstores, is browsing.  Not just having the names of a few authors I like and hoping they have other books by that author, not just hoping they have the first book in a new series and not just the like second and third, but finding new authors.  These libraries are so limited that there’s really not a lot of room for exploration or discovering authors that you like, and if by chance you do, you get annoyed because it IS the second book in the second trilogy of a series and the library doesn’t own the first book at ALL…  See, it makes me completely pissed off just writing that.  It makes me HUFF in ANGER.  Come on, people, e-readers are nice options, but I should not have to have one in order to read books I want.  Isn’t reading enough of an endangered species that my library should be more than less-than-mediocre?

Justin: Feel Better?

Zoe: Pfft… Not really.  California’s broke as hell and frankly I’d rather they have schools and pay teachers and cops and stuff.  I mean, I know lame libraries won’t make me give up on reading, but what about everyone else?  Money.  It’s just… complicated.

Justin: Well, don’t feel bad, it is happening everywhere. Heck I have two different library systems near me and a college and I still have trouble finding books I am looking for. It saddens me when I go into the library and see young kids browsing the movies and video games (yes that is correct, video games) rather than looking at books. Libraries are a dying breed and unfortunately so is reading. If you can’t find it on the Internet, it must not be worth it. However, that isn’t going to stop me from reading. As you all know, I am constantly reading more than one thing. For instance other than Welcome to Bordertown, I am also reading Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith and The Spook’s Apprentice Series by Joseph Delaney. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is an interesting twist on the life of Abraham Lincoln and I was kind of shocked about how interesting it is. You are learning a bit about Lincoln himself woven in with this great fiction of vampires in early America. Joseph Delaney’s series is equally as good. It is about a young boy who is taken on as an apprentice by the county’s spook whose job it is to get rid of ghosts and witches and other things that bump in the night. The books in the series are ones that I regret starting late at night because I end up staying up to late trying to finish them. The story so far is interesting and has kept me engaged. Both Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and The Spook’s Apprentice are worth taking a look at. Maybe you can even find them in the Library.

Zoe: … Another mini-novel!  You are good.  All your talk makes me seriously excited for “True Blood” to start up, I think next week.  So that’s awesome.  But back on the books, I usually read more than one thing at once, but recently I’ve been busy with my actual walking-around life and attempting to write some stories of my own.  I’ve been reading some free fiction on my e-reader apps on my iPhone and mostly they’re pretty amateurish, but I’ve read some fun ones.  They’re more like short stories, but they’re actually the perfect length for my morning and afternoon commute.  There are some good supernatural vampire / werewolf / witch kind of ones, and some straight-up romances too.  Some of these have awesomely NC-17 stories too but I’m a lady so I’m not going to tell you whether they’re good or not… not that I’d know, being a lady and all.

Justin: Riigghhttt…. You know you love that stuff. I think it was you who introduced me to the NC-17 version of Y Tu Mama Tambien. But I know where you are coming from. I enjoy getting on Fanfiction.net every once in awhile and seeing what is out there. Some times you just need a break from well-written novels and have to read something absolutely ridiculous. That and at times some of the stories don’t go the way you want them to go, but thanks to the power of the Internet, someone has already written about it somewhere. Alright, any other books you are excited about before we take off for the night?

Zoe: Right, I like Fanfiction too, and if I weren’t a lady, I might like its more NC-17 cousin RestrictedSection.org.  And Y Tu Mama Tambien is a fantastic story about manhood and brotherhood and what it means to grow up, so you can shut it, it’s not sleazy in the least.  I’m not sure the same could be said of Commodore Norrington / Captain Sparrow slash at Fanfiction.net…  Back on track now: There are some books that were turned into movies that are coming out soon, and I want to read some of those before the movies are released.  The main one is One Day, about a man and a woman (played by Jim Sturgress and Anne Hathaway in the movie) who almost get together in college and then meet once a year that same day, and it’s about what’s happened in that year, how they’ve changed, etc.  Oh, and I went on a little movie trailer binge yesterday and for movie lovers, you should check out the trailers for: 50/50 with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen, One Day of course, the first Breaking Dawn Part 1 with the first sign of the AWESOME baby Renesmee in utero, the new Muppet Movie with Amy Adams and Jason Segel (thanks for the reminder, Justin), and A Little Help with the American “Office”actor Jenna Fischer.  (All at: http://www.imdb.com/features/video/trailers/.)

Justin: I just saw X-Men: First Class and have to say it is great and I hope this is the “Reboot” the series needed. I will also say, that the more I see The Green Lantern trailers the more I am liking it and not just because Ryan Reynolds is an amazing actor. So we shall see how it goes. In books, I am looking forward to reading The Throne of Fire which is the second book in The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan. It is already out and sitting on my shelf. Also looking forward to his next book in the Heroes series which is due out this fall at some point. Oh so many books and so little time. I am just glad the weather has become nicer than it has been. Means I get to sit outside on the deck more with a good book. So hopefully it will stay this way. With all this talk of books, I think I am actually going to go read for the rest of the night. What about yourself?

Zoe: Hmm, I’m going to eat some dinner and settle in with Maybe This Time, and dream about a package my friend in Seattle sent me with tea for Matt and another Jennifer Crusie novel for me!

Justin: NICE!!

Librarian: Ok, that’s enough you two have been here long enough and are starting to get loud. It is time to go!

Justin: Well, I think that is our cue. See you all next week.

Zoe: Bye! Don’t forget to enjoy nice weather (if you’re having any) and dream about the day you can buy all the books your grubby hands can take hold of!

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“Take a Look, It’s In A Book.”

As promised in the last dialogue, this week I will be talking about books. I feel this is a good balance from my last solo post which revolved completely on movies that I had seen over the blog’s hiatus. As I’ve mentioned previously, books are an important part of my life and something that I have grown up loving. I feel that books are a dying thing and it makes me sad. I see more people these days watching movies on their phones or iPods than I do people reading books. With special effects and outstanding actors who needs a book and some imagination. Well, I do for one and hopefully so do many others. That is why I am happy about the invention of the eReader and how much I have seen it pick up over the last year. You couldn’t go anywhere during the holidays without hearing about how someone was getting someone else a Kindle or Nook or one of the many eReaders for Christmas. It is still technology in people’s hands rather than a stack of paper, but at least their reading (and I guess saving the environment). I also have to say that lately I have been enjoying the Sony Reader that my brother got me for my birthday. I find myself wanting to use that more. I still prefer a book but I must admit that they are nice and it travels well.

However, enough talk about all of that. Let us talk books. Most of the books I have read lately, I would classify in the teen/young adult level. Think Harry Potter level. I like these books because they are easy and quick to read. It is easy to just jump right into a book and finish it in a day or two as you fall asleep at night. This doesn’t mean I don’t like more “advanced” books but I really have to be in the mood to sit down and read something like Zoe’s favorite Song of Fire and Ice series. I am sure they are great books, but they are definitely epic books that take a little more thought than something like Harry Potter. I have tried twice to get into the first book and believe I have stopped reading at the exact same place twice. One day I will get through it because I trust my friends who have read them and said they were excellent.

Anyway, I believe in this week’s dialogue I mentioned that I was reading a Parody of Jesus’ life. The book is called Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff by Christopher Moore. I have not finished this book yet, but already I would highly recommend it. Well unless you are easily offended by parodies of the life of Jesus. That might take a little bit of the fun out of it. Still, it is a great book. The story is being told by Biff who is Jesus’ supposedly best friend who has now been brought back to life by an angel to write a whole new gospel. What follows is his account of who Jesus was and how he lived. Like I said, I have not gotten through the whole book as of this writing but am looking forward to reading more.

I also read the two newish Rick Riordan books who wrote the Percy Jackson series. The first one was The Lost Hero. This book takes place after the events of the first Percy Jackson series and brings in a whole other element to the story. I won’t give away too much other than once again it is about a group of friends who have to battle against the odds to figure out the mystery surrounding the lead character’s memory loss. Like the first Jackson series Riordan uses the mythology of the Greece and Rome and puts a new spin on them. It makes for an interesting read and I will be interested to see how the series plays out. The other book, The Red Pyramid, takes us out of Greece and Rome and puts us into the Egyptian myths and legends. This story is about a brother and sister who find out that they are descendants of a long line of magicians whose father has been kidnapped. Now it is up to them to save their father and also try to prevent the destruction of the civilized world. No pressure right? Being a history major I like the way Rick Riordan takes history and makes it fun. With some of the stories and adventures it gives you the bare essentials of the myths and makes you want to find out more about them. These books as well as the Percy Jackson series are worth taking a look at. Not the most challenging books in the world, but they shouldn’t have to be. Reading is just about having fun.

The next series that I have gotten myself sucked into is the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan.  I have finished the first two books and am excited to continue reading the next book. The series takes place in a Kingdom that is much like that of medieval England. It has a king and barons and knights and a slew of other medieval like characters. These stories take place around Will who has grown up an orphan with the hopes of becoming a Warrior. However, due to his small size, he is rejected from the battle school. After losing hope of becoming a warrior he is taken on as an apprentice to the local Ranger who sees potential in the boy. The Rangers are basically the kingdoms Spies. The first book is about the start of his training and the upcoming war. It actually wraps up nicely and doesn’t leave you hanging. I cannot say this about the second book. I got sucked into the story and stayed up one night just reading the story, only to be left with a cliffhanger. Not that this was a bad thing, but when you don’t have the next book readily available it was kind of frustrating. Once again if you are interested in fantasy books, this series is worth looking into. It is a great story to fall asleep to at night. That is if you can put it down long enough to sleep.

Finally, one of the last books that I read over the hiatus was the first Artemis Fowl book by Eoin Colfer. I know this is an older series, but it is one I have wanted to pick up for awhile. I was always seeing it in the books stores, often near the HP books or the Rick Riordan books. However, I just never found the time to pick it up. Well, my dad has similar taste in books as myself and we are often looking for things to read. We often share books that we buy that we think the other might like. So, since this was a book that I thought we both would enjoy, I bought it for him for Christmas. Sure there was an ulterior motive, but that is beside the point. Anyway, the book is about a 12 or so year old boy who is apparently a genius who comes from a long line of criminals. With his father missing and his mother bed ridden, Artemis takes on the task on trying to kidnap a fairy and take its gold. I kid you not, that is the story line. I am not going to lie; it took me a bit to get into the story. I am not sure if it was just a bad week or if the book started off to a slow start. About midway through though it picked up and I just kept saying to myself “I’ll stop reading after this section. Well that was a short section; I will just read the next. Well, I can’t leave myself hanging so I will read a tad bit more.” Yes it went on like this until I eventually finished the book. I can see myself reading more of the series, but it will be later down the line after the Ranger’s Apprentice.

Whether it is a hardback, paperback or eReader, I hope that people keep on reading and that authors continue to give us great stories to enjoy. With winter in full swing, this is the season to curl up next to the fire with a glass of hot coco and a good book. Well at least in Ohio it is. I will be happy when the white death ceases to fall from the sky and the rest of it has melted away. This 20 some degree weather just isn’t cutting it for me. Guess it is time to hibernate with a few good books.