Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

I can't even pretend to write this review without revealing spoilers so be warned now:

Well, hell's bells. I was really really put off by this book at first. For some reason, I have no problem with magic and it's hijinx but I have issues with ghosts and heaven/hell stuff. Since Harry died in Changes, we know he's a ghost now. Fairly obvious by the title of the book. As Harry works his way through the "system", he's sent back to earth as a spirit to help his friends fight another helluva battle. Six months have passed since his death and bad things are overtaking Chicago since lunatic wizard Dresden is dead. (Important to note that his body was never found). After the entire Red Court was destroyed in the previous book, thanks to Harry, there's a big void to fill for evil.

Getting past the learning curve of the ghost world, this really started taking off as another great Dresden book. His magic comes back and he gets to lead another army to army of spirits but hey, they fight well.

I ended up being pretty satisfied with this book and was even able to be surprised at the identity of Harry's killer. And SPOILER.....Harry's back from the dead! Thank goodness the ghosty stuff only lasted one book.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Side Jobs by Jim Butcher

A nice little series of short stories featuring Harry Dresden. The new Dresden book comes out Tuesday so this made an excellent bridge between now and Tuesday.

All of the stories were good, some even told from Thomas' point of view, but the last novella, Aftermath, was the best. Told from Murphy's point of view, it takes place a few hours after the ending in Changes, where Harry died. It was a fitting story of the troops soldiering on despite the loss of their friend.

Short review, short stories. It was all good.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

After watching the first season of Game of Thrones on HBO, I had to dive into the books. Seeing as how I refuse to read fantasy type books, this was a leap of faith. And it was a good one.

GoT isn't the regular fantasy series that I despise. This is incredibly well-written and focuses heavily on the characters. I get the dragons, kings, castles, and all that. But it was the people that made me want to read the books. Ned, Dany, The Lannisters, they are all such good characters that you cannot possibly be ambivalent about any of them. You either love or hate them.

Several things were different between book and TV show, but I really really liked reading this and getting all the extras that couldn't have been done on TV.

Since the books are so old, these can't count as spoilers. Book one ends with Ned beheaded (and millions of people wanting to kill Joffrey), Winterfell at war and a Lannister captured. And lest we forget my favorite, Dany and her dragons.

Really looking forward to the next one.

Friday, July 15, 2011

You Grow Girl by Gayla Trail

I wanted to do a garden this year, but stopped short because I also seem to ruin them. I did a bit of container gardening and only got basil in return. I found this book and just wanted to see if I could get gardening figured out.

This is labeled as a punk rock gardening book, but I think that's a stupid label for anything. It actually had a lot of great information about gardening, if you have a big yard or just a rooftop or fire escape. There is a lot of info about plants, what is good where, edible pretties, soil and much more.

I've dogeared this book to pieces already and am happily planning a real garden next year.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Devil's Cloth by Michel Pastoureau

I think this could have been a really great book but I felt that it fell a little short. It's a very small book, only about 90 pages, and it's lacking in pictures or illustrations that would have really demonstrated the points the author was trying to make.

He goes into depth about the history of the stripe. He does explain in pretty good detail how the stripe was seen as repugnant, only to be worn by outcasts of society (convicts, servants, prostitutes, etc). The book traces the path of the stripe throughout history and finally into its acceptance (with the help of America and her flag). The stripe soon became patriotic and even romantic.

The author seems to jump to some wild conclusions without answering his own questions ("Oh well, I guess we'll never know" type of writing). He also seems to contradict himself, or at least stretch a little, like putting children in stripes in the same vein as