Archive for the ‘Books’ Category


I’ve read some interesting books during the past few weeks. Here is a quick run down of just a few that I think were notable:

I Loved You More – Tom Spanbauer

Fucking Tom Spanbauer, man. My personal favorite author. His writing connects with me, heart to heart. His latest, a sort-of love triangle between two men and a woman, is probably his most personal book. Beautiful and touching as usual.

The Hoke Moseley Series – Charles Willeford

Charles Willeford wrote a series of novels starring detective Hoke Moseley. There are only four (not counting the unpublished Grimhaven). But they are unique and exciting and incredibly engaging. I can’t believe all of the pieces that Willeford keeps moving in these books. He must be a juggler.

Miami Blues (they made a cool film out of that one). New Hope For the Dead (I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that had as much going on in it as this one did), Sideswipe (After the previous book, I can understand Hoke’s mindset), and The Way We Die Now (A fitting final entry).

The Girl Next Door – Jack Ketchum

Jack Ketchum writes brutal horror pretty well. Most of his books are entertaining throwaways (The Off-Season series), but this one stands above the rest. A girl is held captive in her foster mother’s basement under the watchful eyes of the neighborhood kids. What makes this different than Ketchum’s terrible Right To Life, is that the idea of authority and mob psychology are explored. You get a POV of one of the children and you can see how this incident developed from the ground up. I reviewed the film here.

The Wind Through the Keyhole – Stephen King

Stephen King gets a lot of flack for being a perceived hack but that is just not true. This Dark Tower entry is excellent. The novel focuses on a story that Roland tells while hiding out from a Starkblast (A cool idea by itself). It recounts one of Roland’s first missions as a Gunslinger. Nostalgic, fantastic, exciting. Great character’s too. A good example of what Stephen King can still do.

The Rithmatist  – Brandon Sanderson

This is the best book I’ve read by Brandon Sanderson. The cornball chalk-drawing magic system is much more interesting than it sounds. The book moves quickly, has an intriguing mystery, and builds to a cool ending. And it full of the charm that young kid in magic school books can have if done well.

Deadman’s Crossing – Joe R. Lansdale

A set of hilarious and action-packed weird west novellas by the master of the genre, Joe R. Lansdale. They all star Reverend Jebediah Mercer, and each one is better than the last. Very pulpy, in a good way.

The King in Yellow – Robert W. Chambers

More of an interesting oddity than an engaging read. It’s a set of short stories that all revolve around a made-up play called The King in Yellow. If you read the second act of that play, you will go insane. It’s a cool idea, but not all of the stories were engaging. The ideas in this book did influence Lovecraft, though.  So that should be good for something.

In Game of Thrones and the rest of the Song of Ice and Fire series we know that he is not kind to those that hold the title of King’s Hand, for sure. But I’m talking about actual hand injuries and arm injuries. Have you ever noticed how many injuries to those extremities are inflicted upon characters?

For some reason, I have. And for some further unknown reason, I have decided to make a list. And here they are, in no particular order: SPOILERS FOLLOW!!!

  • Jon Snow burns his hand on a lantern when fighting a white walker.
  • Caitlin Stark cuts her hands on a knife while defending herself from Bran’s assassin.
  • Theon Greyjoy has his finger flayed by a Bolton.
  • Sandor “the Dog” Clegene gets his arm burnt white fighting Beric Dondarrian.
  • Great John Umber gets his fingers bit off by Grey Wind.
  • Davos had parts of his fingers cut off by Stannis.
  • Jaime Lannister gets his hand cut off by Vargo Hoat.
  • Qhorin Halfhand, you guessed it, has half a hand due to a Wildling axe.
  • Victarion Greyjoy injures his hand in a duel. Then has a weird mage set it on fire to heal it.
  • Ghost finds a lone hand in the woods, leading the Night’s Watch to a two corpses.
  • Arya gets her hands scratched up pretty good while trying to catch cats.
  • Urrigon Greyjoy lost half a handplaying The Finger Dance, the axe game of the Iron Islands. (Countless hands and fingers have been lost by people playing that game…)
  • Lady Hornwood chews off her own fingers because her dear husband, Ramsey Bolton, locked her in a tower with no food.
  • Marillion the singer  confesses to killing Lysa Arryn, and as punishment gets a few fingers cut off.
  • Narbo, a theif in Braavos, gets stabbed in the hand a prostitute, losing the use of three of his fingers. Poor guy can’t pickpocket anymore!
  • Tanselle had her finger broken by Prince Aerion in The Hedge Knight.
  • Way back when, some guy named Silver Denys tried to tame the wild dragon Sheepstealer, and got his arm bit off in the process.
  • Lancel Lannister obtains an arm injury in the Battle of Blackwater Bay. It turns him religious.
  • Nymeria bites Little Shit Joffrey’s arm, hopefully inflicting great pain.

 

There are probably many more! Maybe some day I’ll create a comprehensive list. It will be the most useless Game of Thrones list ever. If you would like to contribute any I missed, please leave your suggestions in the comments.

Also, I found an appropriate Q+A from Mr. Martin in this interview:

I have a question that’s been bothering me for six books now – what’s with hands? How come characters keep getting hand injuries?

GRRM: Well, actually hand injuries were very common in the Middle Ages. When you fight with swords and axes and do a lot of hand labour, you get a lot of hand injuries. In fact, even leaving out the swords and axes you get a lot of hand injuries. my father was a longshoreman, a stevedore, and I know they would always get hand injuries. They would wear protective gloves, but they would still get injuries. There are other touches of realism; my characters who fight in repeated battles in these books tend to get scars. They lose noses and ears and become disfigured, and that’s a consequence of those battles. That’s where the icon of the Scarred Warrior comes from. Every time you go into a fight you risk emerging a little less pretty than when you went in.

I was thinking recently of what books I consider must-reads. Books that I can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone, regardless of their personal preferences or reading habits. These may not be my favorite books (some are), but they are books that I think are important, entertaining, and make the reader a better person in one way or another.

What follows is a list of those books. Feel free to argue with me or leave your own additions in the comments.

Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

This started when I was writing about Ender’s Game in my last post. So I’ll kick this list off with that one. A commentary on war and the cost of winning, and a thrilling read to boot.

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

A classic for a reason. The story of a sad time in history (depicting events that probably still happen, unfortunately), but a story still full of hope and innocence.

Lord of the Flies – William Golding

Another classic for a reason. On the surface a great story of survival, but layered with interesting ideas and comments on civilization and religion.

Sandman – Neil Gaiman

A series of ten graphic novels (and some miscellaneous additions) that chronicle the life of the titular character, a member of a family that influences the lives of everything in the universe. It really is incredible the journey that Gaiman takes the reader on throughout this series.

In the City of Shy Hunters – Tom Spanbauer

I was tempted to put three Spanbauer books on this list, but I decided to narrow it down to just one. And this one speaks to me the most. It’s the story of a young mid-western man searching for his lost lover in 1980’s New York City. This book feels like Spanbauer poured out his entire heart and soul into every sentence. It’s dazzling.

Maniac Magee – Jerry Spinelli

A young orphan boy becomes a local legend because he lives his life ignorant of the racial issues in the area. It’s a book for children that will probably help adults more. Children aren’t racist unless adults make them so.

That’s all for now. I’m sure I’ll think of more as time goes on. And I might be adding the Game of Thrones series as well. I’m waiting to read all the complete series first.

endersgame

I have heard the term “The Ender’s Game Conundrum” online before. It’s something that has come up recently when discussing people’s conflicting emotions about the film and the auther of the book, Orson Scott Card. Here are the two statements that people are trying to reconcile:

1) Ender’s Game is one of the best, most exhilarating, and most important sci-fi books ever written, and I would love to see it come to life on the big screen.

2) Orson Scott Card is an ignorant homophobe who is using his fame to try to convince the public that his hateful personal beliefs are the correct way of thinking.

Every fan wants to see this film, but no one wants to give Card any of their money because they do not believe in his personal philosophy. I feel the same way.

But Ender’s Game is that the film itself does not expose anything relating to homophobia or anti-LGBT ideas. I personally, got the opposite impression while reading it. So the thought to boycott the film is not based on its content. It is purely based on one of the people involved.

The average movie the size of Ender’s Game employs thousands of paid employees. This includes writers, directors, cast, crew, catering, transport, special effects, props, music, post-production, advertising, etc. Every time you buy a ticket to a big-budget film you are giving money to thousands of different people. Statistically, you are giving money to a bunch of homophobes, a large amount of racists, lots of chauvinists, and a pedophile or two.

Should we boycott films because Tom Cruise, John Travolta, or Giovanni Ribisi are involved? How about if an Isaac Hayes song appears in a movie? They are all Scientologists and Scientology promotes that homosexuality is a disease that can be cured. The difference, I guess, is that Card is outspoken about it. Just like Chuck Norris, and we all know how many people hate him.

But that is neither here nor there. Ender’s Game is the work in question, and I am going to judge the work on its own merits. So I will be going to see the film. And yes, Orson Scott Card will probably get 1 cent of my ticket price, and a bunch of other horrible people will get some money, too. But I hope a few other things happen as well. I hope that some hard-working, decent, compassionate folk get some money for the work they did. I hope the film stays true to the novel, and I hope the ideas presented in the book incite someone to think about and how we treat people other than ourselves.

GoodReads

on February 21, 2013 in Books, GoodReads, News No Comments »

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I am now a member of GoodReads as a reader and a writer. Even if I’m not up on cataloging or social networking, I do enjoy the website data immensely. It’s like the IMDB for books. My favorite thing to do is just to tag books I want to read so I don’t forget. It’s a great tool.

Check out my Author Page, I have added a link to it up to the right.

I also get to use Widgets! Pardon me while I play with m widgets.

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P.R. O’Leary’s books on Goodreads

Frightmares: A Fistful of Flash Fiction Horror
Frightmares: A Fistful of Flash Fiction Horror

reviews: 1

ratings: 11 (avg rating 4.82)


Sand: Strange Tales: Year One
Sand: Strange Tales: Year One

ratings: 1 (avg rating 5.00)



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