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review 2017-02-15 07:15
Quick Reading Updates, Book Bingo, & Musings on Writing
Hellboy, Vol. 1: Seed of Destruction - John Byrne,Mike Mignola


I finished Hellboy Vol. 1 Seed of Destruction & loved every bit of it. I would have loved it even more, if there was more Liz to go around. The artwork is so beautiful but what do I know because I haven’t read more than ten graphic novels/comics in my life.

However, that is all about to change!


Currently Eyeing.jpg




Another graphic novel that I am loving because look how pretty!


Almost done with Asimov’s Science Fiction: Hugo & Nebula Award Winning Stories, which is the book that got me thinking. At the moment, I am engrossed in one of the stories featured in it, Barnacle Bill the Spacer, by Lucius Shepard. It is so unabashedly geeky and based on barnacles that I had to stop and think. It includes chunks about Barnacle biology & yet I am loving it. It reminds me of my 5k-word long short story, The Better to See You With. Not being able to publish it so far, I have been thinking if its the science that is preventing its acceptance. Shepard’s story has given me hope. Now all I have to worry about is that it might not get published because it is a sucky story. Phew!

Book Bingo continues with my girls from work. We already finished one round of reading & rolled the dice a second time. Check out the categories that we included in that super-bad picture below:




My teammate & I have complete our book for O i.e. New to You Author & are now looking for a book that will fit the requirements for N i.e. Non-Human Character. So far, I am looking at these three:






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review 2016-11-27 17:16
Review: Hogfather (Discworld Book 23 of 53ish)
Hogfather - Terry Pratchett

It finally happened.  I finally made it up to Hogfather in my Discworld reading list.  I was a bit early for Christmas, but at least I reached it within the general winter holiday time frame.


Hogfather is the fourth book in the Death subseries.  The Hogfather, for those uninitiated in the madness of the Discworld, is the Disc’s version of Santa Claus.  He delivers gifts to children on Hogswatch Night.  There are problems this year, though.  The mysterious beings known as the Auditors have hired the Assassin’s Guild to kill “the fat man” and now the Hogfather is missing.  Death decides to fill in for him, and he really warms up to the role.


This book was quite funny; there were a lot of parts that made me laugh.  One of the things that was starting to get tiresome to me in the Death subseries was the way Death always seems to be in the middle of some internal crisis, shirking his responsibilities while others take up the slack.  This book was a nice change of pace from that.  Although Death did occasionally lose sight of his “real” responsibilities, he was taking up the slack for somebody else this time and he took the whole thing very seriously.  I thought he was more fun to read about in this book than he had been in the previous Death books.


This story, on the other hand, seemed like one of Pratchett’s more disjointed stories.  There were a few different pieces to the story, and they did all tie together, but the ties were pretty tenuous.  This was one of those stories where you may be told something happened and why, but it still doesn’t seem terribly sensible or logical.  I know, I know, this is the Discworld.  Things aren’t supposed to be sensible and logical.  But I like sense and logic. :)  For the most part, I was able to just enjoy the humor in the current part of the story I was reading without thinking too hard about the over-all plot.

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text 2016-04-01 22:26
2016 Reading Challenge- End of March Update
Hogfather - Terry Pratchett
Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus - Rick Perlstein
We the People: The Modern-Day Figures Who Have Reshaped and Affirmed the Founding Fathers' Vision of America - Juan Williams

A total of 3 books finished to bring my total up to 12 through the first quarter of 2016.  To finish the 40 books I wanted to get through this year, I need to buckle down and get through the dense ones faster than I am but then again I do have some pretty lengthy books on my list as well so I'm going to have to kick it into a higher gear.


1) Revolutionary Heart by Diane Eickoff
2) The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume II by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
-> The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin
3) A Short History of Byzantium by John Julius Norwich
4) Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett
5) A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin- REREAD
-> The Separation of Church and State edited by Forrest Church
6) The Crusades Through Arab Eyes by Amin Maalouf
7) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
8) Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
--> Before the Storm by Rick Perlstein- REREAD
--> We the People by Juan Williams [LibraryThing Early Reviewers]
9) Nixonland by Rick Perlstein- REREAD
10) The Invisible Bridge by Rick Perlstein
11) Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
12) Jingo by Terry Pratchett
13) The Sworn Sword: A Graphic Novel by George R.R. Martin, Mike S. Miller, & Ben Avery
14) Legends II: Dragon, Sword, and King edited by Robert Silverberg- REREAD of The Sworn Sword
15) Marlborough: His Life and Times I by Winston Churchill
16) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
17) The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett
18) How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill- REREAD
19) Marlborough: His Life and Times II by Winston Churchill
20) Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
21) Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett
22) A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin- REREAD
23) The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
24) Mockingjay (THG #3) by Suzanne Collins
25) The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett
26) The Gifts of the Jews by Thomas Cahill- REREAD
27) Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham
28) The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
29) The Truth by Terry Pratchett
30) Warriors I edited by George R.R. Martin- REREAD of The Mystery Knight
31) The Black Count by Tom Reiss
32) The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
33) Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett
34) Desire of the Everlasting Hills by Thomas Cahill- REREAD
35) The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 1 by Edward Gibbon
36) Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavendra
37) The Last Hero by Terry Pratchett
38) A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin- REREAD
39) The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 2 by Edward Gibbon
40) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
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review 2016-03-06 00:57
Hogfather (Discworld #20, Death #4, Gods #3)
Hogfather - Terry Pratchett

I Believe


The snow is falling, the nights are longer, and the Disc is getting ready for the most wonderful time of the year only for the most important man of the hour to disappear.  Terry Pratchett satirizes Christmas in his 20th Discworld novel “Hogfather”, featuring Death and his granddaughter Susan attempting to save the entire holiday and the Disc’s sense of belief.


Most of the Disc is getting ready to celebrate the end of the year on Hogswatchnight when the Hogfather comes to give presents to those that have been good throughout the year, mostly kids but some adults would like some stuff as well.  However, the Auditors of the Universe want the ‘fat man’ dead and hire an Assassin to do the job who then attacks the Tooth Fairy.  How can the Hogfather survive?  Only Death himself can fill in for the ‘fat man’ and tricks his granddaughter Susan Sto Helit in figuring out what happened to the Hogfather especially as new deities start popping up in his absence.


The TV miniseries adaptation of “Hogfather” was what made me want to read the entire Discworld series in the first place, so finally getting to read this book has been both an exciting and somewhat hesitant moment because I didn’t know if the actual book would meet my expectations.  Happily I was more than happy with the book and think it’s one of the best books of the series because of story, characterization, and satire.  There is nothing more I can say because I would just be repeating myself.

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review 2016-01-05 12:33
Terry Pratchett's Christmas Special
Hogfather - Terry Pratchett

I started reading this book because I thought it was going to be a great book to read in the lead up to the festive season, however the only problem was that my timing was completely off – I finished it five days into the new year, which sort of defeats the purpose of reading a book for the festive season. I guess the next time I decide to read such a book, such as Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, I should time it so that I finish the book, and thus write the review, before I get to Christmas Day. Mind you, considering my personality, reading a Terry Pratchett book is probably more my style for the festive season than a Charles Dickens book.


Anyway, as you can probably guess from the above paragraph, this is a book about Christmas – sort of. The thing is that this isn't Earth, this is the Discworld, which means that Pratchett has actually created a completely different, yet similar, tradition. On Discworld we have Hogswatch Night, and instead of a jolly round man dressed in red (with white fur) riding a sled being pulled by reindeer, we have a jolly round man riding a sled being pulled by pigs. Such is the nature of Discworld.


The Hogfather



Well, as it turns out, the Hogfather disappears, which means that all of the kids aren't going to get their Hogswatch presents, so Death, of all people, decides to take the job instead. The problem is that Death isn't the Hogfather, and despite the fact that he is probably one of the most feared men on Discworld, he actually has a heart of gold. This means that when he rocks up at a house to give a child a gift he actually gives the child what he wants. This, as you can imagine, ends up causing some problems, because the whole idea of the Hogfather giving gifts actually isn't to give the child what he wants, but what the economic situation stipulates. Unfortunately, by giving a poor child an incredibly expensive gift upsets the balance somewhat.


While at first it seems that all the Hogfather's role happens to be is to give children presents (befitting of their economic situation of course) there is mush more to it. By the end of the book it becomes quite evident that the role of the Hogfather is to make the sun come up in the morning. The reason for this is that Hogswatch night (as is the case with Christmas in our world) falls upon midwinter's night. The thing with winter, as we are probably aware, to the pre-industrial world is that it was the harshest time of the year, and midwinter was the harshest day. Thus it is not surprising that people held a celebration on midwinter to encourage each other that the worst had past, and that everybody has spring, and then summer, to look forward to.


It is a shame that Christians have suddenly started to claim that Christ was actually born on December 25th in an attempt to add legitimacy to their claim over the midwinter festival. However I am going to say that I reject that allegation. I am not going to go into details, but I still hold the modern belief that the Christians moved Christmas to 25th of December to hijack the original midwinter's festival. To me it makes sense, because to Christians Christ was born during what they believed as humanity's darkest day, and what his birth signified was that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and that they could look forward to a time when things would be restored. However, this is looking back and if we consider the context in which he was born, I would have to say that it was hardly Judaism's darkest day – that was to come seventy years later when the Romans stormed Jerusalem, and levelled the city and the temple to the ground. Even though I am a Christian, it really annoys me when people try to rewrite history to add credence to their arguments.


Another interesting thing about this book is that it is all about belief. The idea is that a god only exists as long as somebody believes in the god. The Hogfather ceased to exist namely because an assassin, Teatime, managed to create an immense amount of disbelief. However we also encounter a number of other gods, such as the oh-god of Hangovers, who came into existence because people began to believe in him. The ironic thing is that this is actually quite a modern phenomena. The ancients (as far as I am aware) did not have this idea of a god existing based on people's beliefs. My first encounter with this idea was through a trilogy of Dungeons and Dragons novels. In reality, the ancients believed in their gods, and it didn't matter whether people believed in them or not, they existed, and simply by not believing in them didn't make them any less real.


The final thing I wish to touch upon is this machine called Hex. He has appeared in other novels, and is becoming more and more prevalent. Hex is basically a computer that was created by the wizards of the Unseen University. This is an artist's impression:





The reason I mention Hex is because I watched a video on Youtube once (I can't remember the details so I can't link it) about some guy (Charles Babbage) in the early part of the 19th Century developing a computer using gears. To me computers are all about integrated circuits and electricity, but apparently they can exist without them, such as this one (which is a replication because Charles Babbage never actually built it):


Babbage Computer


In fact, some have suggested that the Antikythera Mechanism is also a type of computer that was built by none other than Archemides himself.


Antikythera Mechanism Replica




(This is a replica by the way, the one that was pulled up from the ocean floor looks nothing like that one).


Actual Antikythera Mechanism





Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1474484200
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