Friday, December 18, 2009


The books have been purchased. Mission accomplished! I didn't pay a penny, either, since I used old gift cards that have been sitting in my wallet for years. Woohoo!

I'm also done with finals, which is a big yay (YAY!) and I'm heading home tomorrow morning with my parental units. I think it'll be good to get away from school for a while. I'm rather in need of a good break, and this semester has been murderously abusive.

Sir Winston Churchill (pictured at right) says that I deserve victory (he IS pointing at me, isn't he?), but I guess that remains to be seen until my grades get posted. In the meantime, I intend on doing little besides relaaaaaxing. Mm.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Book Wishlist

I have literally hundreds of dollars in Borders and Barnes & Noble gift cards sitting in my wallet, and I think it's high time I use them. I have every intention of going on a crazy book binge as soon as my finals are over, and while I'm taking a break from the difficult fifteen minutes of studying I just did, I figure I might as well list some of the books I want to include in my mass purchase. Let's see...

-Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. She wrote what is possible my favorite novel of all time (namely, The Time Traveler's Wife).

-Lucky by Alice Sebold. By the author of the nationally-acclaimed novel The Lovely Bones. Girl's got talent. And it's been a while since I've read a good memoir.

-The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. One of my best buds here at college is a Dawkins lover, so I figure I should give his stuff a try.

-Better by Atul Gawande. I read his book Complications a few years ago and loved it. Though I was pretty burned out in terms of medically-related books after my introductory seminar last Fall, I think it might be time to reopen that sector of literature.

-Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. She writes absolutely amazing short stories. I'm curious what this new anthology looks like in comparison with Interpreter of Maladies, which has to be one of my most favorite short story collections.

-Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Haven't seen the movie yet, and I usually like to read the books before I see the film adaptation. I've been poked and prodded by tons of people to watch the movie, so I should probably get cracking on the book first.

-Book of A Thousand Days by Shannon Hale. I've read some of her other work (see: Austenland, among others), and am curious about this new addition to the litany of books she's written.

I think that's enough for now. My "To Be Read" pile at home is already prodigiously large, and adding to it is probably a really bad idea. OH WELL.
Something I've been wondering about books: What is it with authors these days and book titles like "The _____'s Wife/Sister/Daughter"? When did this title form become so daggone popular? I saw it with The Time Traveler's Wife, and before I knew it it was everywhere! Curious...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Life Update 4

Fully in spite of the general hopeless that is my life right now (finals week starting Monday. Need I go on?), I can safely say that today was one of the best days of the entire semester. I saw something awesome happen today. Sometimes I forget how amazing the people around me are, and then it all comes back to me in a sudden rush that makes it absolutely impossible for me to feel sorry for myself and my pitiful knowledge of chemistry.
To life. L'Chaim!
Watching and waiting is for squares. I hope we've all learned a valuable lesson today.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Book 11: The Realm Of The Gods by Tamora Pierce

This will be the end of my Tamora Pierce kick, or it will be for now. The Realm Of The Gods is the satisfying finish to Tamora Pierce's IMMORTALS series, and the conclusion to Daine's story.

Daine and Numair are facing what is certainly their doom when they are pulled into The Divine Realms by none other than Daine's parents, whose are both lesser gods. Though it is a very tearful reunion for Daine and her mother (who, when still mortal, was murdered by bandits) Daine and Numair must return to the Mortal Realms to help Tortall in her fight against Ozorne, who is back--this time as a conniving Stormwing instead of a conniving emperor, and with plenty of mortal and Immortal allies.
Since the war in the Mortal Realms is going on at the same time as a war between The Greater Gods and the Queen of Chaos (Ozorne+ Chaos=cohorts? Yes.), none of the Gods can be bothered to help Numair and Daine get back home, so the two are forced to make the perilous trip across the Divine Realms to request help from the Dragons. They also discover that they love each other--a wonderfully tender note in an otherwise plot-driven novel.
Once transported back to the Mortal Realms (courtesy of the Dragons), Daine takes on Ozorne in a bloody, decisive battle that ends the fighting in both the Mortal and Divine Realms.

The Realm Of The Gods provides a very fitting end to the series, and quite a satisfying one as well. Though quite fast-paced, the story is still imbued with detail and with enough character development that it doesn't rely completely upon plot. Though the trek through the Divine Realms got a tad monotonous at times, Pierce navigates the story well and does a good job of bringing the series to a fulfilling conclusion.

Grade: A-
Rating: 13+ (violence, mild cursing, romance)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Book 10: Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce

This is easily the most intense of Immortals Series novels. In Emperor Mage, the friction between Tortall and Carthak passive-aggressively comes to a head. Tortall sends a delegation of some of its most important, most powerful personalities to Carthak to negotiate a peace with the southern empire and its government. Included in the delegation are the King's Champion, the king's powerful uncle, Numair--once a resident of Carthak and a former friend of the emperor--, and others. And then there's Daine, who was asked by the Emperor Mage himself to come along with the delegation and heal his prized but suddenly sickly pet birds.
In spite of past evidence of his ill intentions towards Tortall, Emperor Ozorne of Carthak proclaims innocence and seems to be the very picture of a benevolent host, which somewhat reassures the very antsy delegation party and confuses Daine, for whom the image of the Emperor's concern for his birds and the devastation visited upon Tortall in his name are at extreme odds. The dynamic between the delegates and the Emperor is complicated by the presence of Numair, who fled Carthak and the Emperor years before the beginning of the series and had been admitted back into the Empire on a tenuous pardon from Ozorne.
Though Ozorne works hard to uphold the image of his "perfect" empire, it becomes increasingly clear that there is something amiss in Carthak. Through the action of the patron goddess of Carthak, the Graveyard Hag, Daine becomes unwillingly involved in both the political and religious struggles of the empire.
All of a sudden, things begin to go wrong. The gods, it is clear, are displeased with Emperor Ozorne, and pressure increases on Daine to act as their chosen vessel.
When everything begins to go wrong and Ozorne commits the most base treachery, Daine uses her powers--both her wild magic and a new power bestowed upon her--to bring Carthak to her knees and destroy the rule of the Emperor Mage.
Clearly, Daine is a total bad-ass.

Emperor Mage is my favorite in the series for a lot of reasons, but especially because of the new landscape we get to explore through Daine's eyes. There is also a great deal of movement in both the emotional and the physical plots, as relationships between the characters deepen and the series begins to realize its final trajectory. It's a pretty rich, evocative read, especially for a book of its sort (let's be honest, now--Tamora Pierce isn't a Tolkien or anything, but she is very good at what she does), and it's quick as well. I flew through this one in four days without sacrificing any work or sleep (though I did spend a lot of time at the gym...I get all of my fun reading done at the gym these days).
For fans of Wild Magic and Wolf-Speaker, this next book in the series will really knock your socks off. It's a fabulously fun read, and it benefits from the fact that it is a later book in the series. It seems to me that Pierce is more comfortable of her characters in this volume than she was in the previous books of the series, and that comfort translates into much more effective writing.
All in all, a job very well done.

Grade: A
Rating: 12+ (advisory: themes of doom, treachery, violence, "canoodling" [though this is only ever made vague mention of])