Saturday, September 29, 2012

Up Next: Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs

Well, it's been fun, but we are moving on to the next novel: Deja Dead Kathy Reichs.

Get your copy soon, and read a long with us! We plan on covering two chapters per review, but if certain chapters fit well together, we will group them as needed.

This should be fun. I have high expectations!


Kicks to Six - Review of Part Six of Treasure Island

Amanda duh Panda here!

So...This is the last part. I'm happy to finish up the first book for this year! I feel accomplished. But, I'm not really sorry to see this book go. Not to say I didn't like it, but it didn't change my life. It's not really an old friend. Maybe a second reading in the future will give us a chummy relationship, but right now it feels like I finally got rid of an unwanted house guest! Not that I dislike them, but it was just really hard to entertain them and make time for them and they threw off my schedule.


Now, this is going to be short because I've got to get stuff done. I'm going to be busy reading J.K. Rowling's new book A Casual Vacancy - which we didn't think to consider putting on the list! So, hopefully I can cram it all in, in a few days. Otherwise, I'll be reading two books at the same time for this 'month'!

Okay. Here it goes.

I really really really started to fall in love with Silver in this part. I still didn't know if I could trust him, but Stevenson gives him a lot of the spot light. I love how Stevenson describes some of his actions - like talking with his pipe and his long 'speeches'

They talk a little more about the black spot in this section, but I'm still confused. I don't know if I get it or not. Really, it just seems like a jury vote. Did I miss something? Why all the dramatic mystery surrounding it? Why not call it a vote again?

I liked the part when Gunn shows up. Situational irony right there.

Then, it pretty much ended the way I wanted/expected it to. I wish I had read this as a younger girl. I would probably have enjoyed it more.

Move on over and let me at it, Panda.

First off, we were really daft not to add Rowling's new book. What were we thinking?!

Second, your opinion is the same as my own. Silver is definitely a hero-villain, but an evil one, through and through. His allegiance will change depending on who can benefit him the most. Whatever role he's in, he plays it perfectly. He's like the bad boyfriend who has his sweet moments and you can't bring yourself to leave him because when he's sweet, he's sooo sweet.

When it comes to Ben Gunn, I really thought he was going to be a bad guy. The way the doctor was hinting at Silver, I imagined something gruesome had happened to them when they went to find the treasure, and that's why they had given up the map. Obviously it was all a ruse. Disappointing.

I don't regret reading thing, but I can't really recommend it. As Panda said, I am glad this unwanted house guest is gone, and now I can change back into my sweats, kick my feet up, and not have to worry about Silver stabbing me in the back....

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

5 Bottles of Beer on the Wall - review of part 5

Hey there, it's Hel!

So here we are at part five, second to last section of Treasure Island. If I had been reading this for fun, I would have given up by now for sure, but I am finally starting to enoy it.

Our hero Jim really begins to blossom. As you will see if you read the book , he actually saves the day - although everyone assumes he has abandoned ship. I laughed out loud when he sees sea lions for the first time and confuses them for giant slugs. I guess that kind of makes sense if you've never seen a sea lion, and giant slugs would be a nightmare. Another thing that really tickled me was his description of big things - one more than one occasion he says the phrase "goodish bigness". Har har.

One thing that really frustrated me about good ol' Jim was his stupidity with Isreal Hands. He knew Israel had a knife and was planning on attacking himself, yet he didn't do anything to arm himself. But, it all turned out alright and his interactions with his enemy show that he has grown as a person, over all. Blossomed, as you will. Just as my Wen conditioning shampoo is supposed to do to my hair, but it doesn't. Alas.

It's really easy to compare Jim to Frodo, as Panda has done in the past. After Jim kills Israel, he talks about having become used to dead bodies. It's really sad that anyone would get used to that, and it reminds me of the loss of innocence even the hobbit Frodo suffered. But I suppose we all grow up at some point. Except Peter Pan.

Panda here! 

First off, Hel made a Pan reference and that makes me happy. 

Second, I just took a sleeping pill, so I'm going to keep this short. 

I could forgive a lot of Jim's stupidity because he is so young. A lot of the time it was like this was all a game to him - a game he eventually wins at (despite his high risk taking). He even calls it a game at one point - one he "thought [he] could hold [his] own at." It's an ode to youth. They think they're invincible. But then again, if he didn't do something he'd probably die on the island. He didn't have a lot to lose at this point, I guess. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dooty is dooty - Review of Part Four of Treasure Island

Amanda here!

When the narrative switched perspectives, I was a little pissed. I knew I would have to start paying closer attention then.

...Don't judge me.

Most of this part I had no idea what was going on. This is probably because there were a bunch of action scenes. But I powered through it.

At this point in the story I realized that all my going-in assumptions about T.I. were completely wrong. For some reason I thought there was going to be a little magic and a few mermaids in the story. I don't know why. I think I saw a Disney version when I was a little kid and there were mermaids in it.

Disney clearly took creative freedom.

...Davey Jones is mentioned at one point. And that made me happy.

This is Hel, hear me roar!

Anyhoot, yes, confusing section! I think what makes this section so confounding is the ship talk. Poop deck, starboard, yadda yadda, blah... As a Navy wife, maybe I should know a few of these terms. Alas, I do not. And so I really didn't follow very well. I do know this -

Most of the crew has joined Silver in the mutinee of Captain Smollett and the good doctor, squire, and our hero, Jim. The pirates have taken over the ship, and the two groups are coming to blows, losing lives on both sides (though our main cast remains unscathed). This is the part that is really confusing. Though I usually like action sequences, these just don't make any sense to me. I've still got a grasp of the big picture, but many of the finer details are lost on me. What a headache.

Panda and I agree that this book, thus far, is not written for our time and is somehow "lost in translation".

As a side note, I'd like to add that the book has been made into a movie at least once. I saw it at one of my local Reboxes last week!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Gunns blazing - Review of Part Three of Treasure Island

Amanda here!

So, in this part everything you expected to happen...happens.

Ben Gunn is dear to my heart. Especially since he likes cheese so much. I suspect that his name is a play on words for "Been Gone." Because that's what he's been. He hasn't seen another human in quite some time.

I want to parallel him to Friday from Robinson Crusoe, because he's the non-human human - the character portrayed with below-average intelligence, yet he still has something to offer. He's described as "lurking" like some animal, so that's where I'm coming from.

I thought it was funny that Jim automatically assumes he might be some sort of cannibal. Jim had obviously been reading too much Defoe. But I will admit, the dude is crazy.

Hey-ho, it's Hel :)

I have to agree that Ben Gunn is an interesting/funny character (nice observation about his name, by the by). He seems to be what I imagine Captain Sparrow would be like if he remained stranded on an island instead of continually managing to escape. Ah, good old POTC.

The way he is introduced is hilarious. He is described as being really fast. I guess he's gotten good at maneuvering on the island since he's been there. But the way he was described, I pictured the whole thing like a Scoobie Doo cartoon or something - Ben creeping from behind one tree to the next, stealthily but quickly, on tip toes.

Interestingly, Ben claims to be very rich, which leads me to believe he is in possession of the treasure. I guess we will see!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Two fer two - Review of Part Two of Treasure Island

Hel here :)

I hope you enjoyed "International talk like a pirate day" yesterday! It was very fitting for our theme.

Moving on to business.

Part Two of Treasure Island introduces the infamous Long John Silver, who is the "hero-villain", as my copy of the book describes him, and your stereotypical pirate, peg leg and all.

Silver is an interesting character because you never know whether to believe him or not. He is very charismatic and everyone loves him. I love the way he uses the word "dooty", but I find the pirate/sea talk hard to follow. Half the time I feel like I don't know what's going on.

Arr, matey.

I love love (double love means it's true love) the captain that the squire hires to run the ship. He is, clearly, a bad a**, and very suspicious of the crew the squire has hired. However, everyone, including the captain, agrees that Silver is trustworthy.

Is he? Is he? I guess we have to keep reading to find out. Hopefully I can stay awake through the rest of this.

Amanda Panda here!

Okay, so, at this point in the story the hero starts on the adventure. The Fellowship - er, I mean, crew - is assembled and they are on their way. No surprises yet. Same old same old. 

Silver steals the show - kinda like when Orlando Bloom was supposed to be the main character in P.O.T.C. but Depp ended up in the spotlight. To me, Silver's a Mad-Eye Moody character. And we all know how he turned out. 

I love the names of the others. Israel Hands's name, for some reason, reminds me of the old line "Call me Ishmael." Don't know why. Maybe someone else can elaborate on this point, if there is any possible connection - I've never read Moby Dick and I don't intend to. 

Silver's parrot, Captain Flint (named after the real Captain Flint), is a direct ancestor of the Monkey from P.O.T.C. "We named the Monkey Jack." ...Seriously, you guys, Pirates of the Caribbean is making this book less enjoyable because it's all been "done before." But the sad thing is, is that this book was actually first. 

But on another note, I think that they should do a film adaptation of this. Is there one out there that I don't know about? Is it any good? Well, whatever the case, I would watch this. 

Now, for my opinion of this 'Part.' ...Of course the first thing you do when you find a treasure map is to collect a crew of rascals to help you search for it. Forget telling the government about it and asking for their help and their men. I mean, there is NO POSSIBLE way when you bring the treasure on board that the men will want a cut of it. No, all the men will just stick to what they're paid and never give the gold a second glance. 


Heck, even I would overthrow the captain if they were dumb enough to hire me and wave gold in my face - a history of piracy or not. There is NO good way to bring back treasure. Why do you think the last dude had to leave it behind? 

Only money-hungry men would bother with this futile mission. This should tell you something about our main characters. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Treasure Island Review Part One

Amanda Panda here!

Okay, so apparently there are six parts to Treasure Island. And, after some confusion (on my part) we decided to do a review-thing for each one.

So, here it goes.

First of all, the reason I wanted to read this book is because one, Stevenson wrote Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde which I loved, and two, J.M. Barrie references T.I. several times in the novel version of Peter Pan. And, I’ll admit it, if Barrie likes something then I’m going to like it too (don’t ever make me choose between Peter or Harry because the decision will make my head explode).

Okay, now. Down to business. The first part is promising. I was having fun. All the brilliant pirate tropes are there – the man with one leg, the drunkard, the secret chest. I can see where Pirates of the Caribbean got a lot of their inspiration.

I’m still trying to figure out how to think about the black spot. And the blind man that gave it to Billy Bones, well, he was freaking creepy. Billy Bones is a Gollum character – one whom Jim begins “to pity.” And speaking of Gollum, Jim is a Frodo character. All the normal plot set ups are there – the story gives its main character an object that catapults him into adventure. Thus, you know where the story is going. (And yes, I’m going to be referencing LOTR a lot in this blog. It applies to everything).

The only bad thing about it so far is the lack of strong female characters. Granted, I did not expect this from Stevenson. So far, I’ve gotten what I wanted. I give it four out of five peg legs. Let’s see how the score changes as we go along, matey!

                                                                                  ~ ~ ~
Hel's Turn!

To start off with, let me apologize for the format/font issues our blog is having right now. We are still trying to figure out the best way to make a distinction between Panda and myself, but copying and pasting fonts into blogger isn't working so well!

Anyway, to get to the review of Part One...

I was thinking much the same as Panda. She tends to be on my wavelength a lot. However, I am not a huge Barrie fan like she is. I loved  Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde but I honestly had no clue that it was by the same author. I don't pay much attention to author names. So I wasn't looking forward to this book very much, even though I love pirates. But so far it's been good.

I really like the character Pew. I think he was entertaining and well defined. (I especially like the part where he gets run down by the horse; made me laugh a little). The other characters seem a bit wishy washy in their personas. In novels where the personalities are well defined, you can get to know a character and predict their reactions in given situations. This isn't the case here, and I suppose it often isn't in classics. Take Billy Bones, for example. I can't decide if I like him or not. My opinion is probably influenced by Jim's view of the pirate, as he too fluctuates between loyalty and hatred. I do agree that Pirates of the Caribbean got a lot of inspiration from this book.

I'm curious about the black spot as well. It remind me of the Death Eaters mark in Harry Potter, which appeared whenever Voldemort wanted to summon his minions. 

Stevenson was on a roll during the squire and doctor monologue after Jim handed over the treasure map. The conversation was witty and entertaining. Here's a brief clip:

" 'That we shall soon know,' replied the doctor, 'But you are so confoundedly hot-headed and exclamatory that I cannot get a word in' " (pg 33).

I hope this sort of dialogue continues. 

Amanda and I both listened to a CD of real-life pirate music (collected and produced by Johnny Depp) called "Rogues Gallery". So now we leave you with a sampling from the CD: Baltimore Whores.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Chosen Few

The suspense is killing me! Is it killing you? I’m sure it is, so sure…
Here are MY picks, i.e. the books I chose off of Panda’s lovely little list:
1. Treasure Island
2. The Last Oracle
3. Redshirts
4. The Fault In Our Stars
5. Deerskin
6. Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Yay! I’m very excited to be reading all these great picks. I hope you guys will read along with us. If not, what are you reading right now? More importantly, I wonder what Panda has chosen from my list!

Amanda here! These are the six I picked from Hel’s list! 
2.Déjà Dead
3.All the Pretty Horses
4.The Grapes of Wrath
5.The Marriage Plot 
6.The Paris Wife

(In Captain Planet voice) WITH OUR LISTS COMBINED…these are the 12 books we’ll be reading this year.  

The reading schedule isn't fixed, but we’ve decided to read Treasure Island first (it’s actually the shortest!). It will give us time to get our act together (I need to buy used books off of Amazon, etc., etc.).  

So…you should totally read along with us. Or, if you've already read it, check in sporadically for when we put our discussion-things up. I already have A LOT to say about Treasure Island. (Where the f^ck are all the mermaids I thought were in it?)


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lists for the list...

Amanda Panda here! 

Okay, so here’s my list – the 15 books I compiled for Hel to choose from! 
Just a reminder, at the end there will only be twelve books altogether – six from my list and six from Hel’s. And thank God for that, otherwise you lot would be hearing solely about these little monsters (my own tastes sometimes annoy me): 

1- Looking for Alaska by John Green – because this seems to be the most famous of his books. 

2- Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace – because we need a f^cking magnum opus on the list. And it’s my favorite professor’s favorite book.  

3- Little, Big by John Crowley – because it’s got fairies in it but it’s for grownups or something.  

4- Redshirts by John Scalzi – because all my friends are raving about it and it has something to do with Star Trek.  

5- The Last Oracle by James Rollins– because it’s got an oracle in it or something. 

6- Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – because it’s got good reviews and it’s about a girl with blue hair and despite its clichés it’s supposed to be good.  And, and, and. 

7- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – because it’s his latest book and all the vlogs I follow have deemed it as sacred. DFTBA! 

8- Treasure Island – because we need a classic on there. Plus, pirates and sh*t! 

9-The Gate to Women’s Country by Sheris Tepper – because we need some feminism in our novels! 

10- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – because we need some dystopia or whatever. 

11-Deerskin by Robin McKinley – because I started reading it but got distracted and I really loved its fairy tale ambiance. 

12- A Clockwork Orange – because I want to be able to see the movie and compare…*No other reasons* O.o 

13- Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by What’sherface – because it’s supposed to be for people looking for a replacement to fill the HP void.  

14- A Very Long Engagement by Sebastien Japrisot – because it’s French and I saw the movie and loved it and started reading it back when I started college but it was due back at the library and I really loved the writing style. *Breathe* Audrey Tautou played the lead in the movie so you know it’s a good story, etc. (She does no bad films). 

15- The Reader by Bernhard Schlink – because I already have the book…somewhere. *Starts rummaging through crowded apartment*


Hel’s turn! I had advise me on my picks. I felt satisfied with them until I took a recent trip to Barnes and Noble and saw many pretty books calling my name. Now I feel a little sad. But, no worries, my list is still good! Okay, my picks were… (drumroll please)
1. “The Blackness of Spring” by Michael Nash. Nash is the husband of a very good friend of mine, so I’ve always wanted to read this. Plus, it’s supposed to be like Fight Club
2. “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. This is a memoir, and I love memoirs. What makes it even better is that Cheryl is basically the female version of Alexander Supertramp from “Into The Wild”. And she doesn’t even die.
3. “Some Assembly Required” by Ann Lamott. She documents her the transformation her first son undergoes when he has his first son. I recently had my first son. Hence. Yeah.
4. “Deja Dead” by Kathy Reichs. This is the first book in the series that the TV show “Bones” was based on. From what I hear, only the characters were used. I am a huuuge Bones fan (and an even bigger Booth fan…ahem) so want to see how the books and show compare. I also want to see Panda’s opinion/reaction to this, since that silly Pands does not watch Bones.
5. “The Grapes of Wrath” by john Steinback. Because we should have read this by now; because my favorite song by “Mumford and Sons” is about the dustbowl’ and because one time, at church camp, I was in a bible study group that went by this name.
6. “Pope Joan” by Donna Cross. Historical fiction is my lover, and Pope Joan rocks my face off.
7. “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain. So, this is about Hemingway, his wife, and their clique (including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound!). I hate Hemingway. “The Old Man in the Sea” ruined a good week of my life. But this sounds so…fabulous.
8. “The Help” by Katherine Stockett. Because I loved the movie.
9. “All the Pretty Horses” by Cormac Mccarthy. I should have married a cowboy. ‘Nuff said.
10. “A Reliable Wife” by Robert Goolrich. You can’t go wrong with quasi mail order brides. And because it’s some sort of thriller type book or SOMETHING.
11. “Year of Wonders” by Geraldine Brooks. Because who doesn’t love a good plague?.
12. “I Hunt Killers” by Barry Lyga. The main  characters father is a serial killer. I want to know what that feels like, without my dad actually having to murder anyone.
13. “The Marriage Plot” by Jeffrey Eugenides. Because I heard about this on NPR and because Sara from “Tegan and Sara” read this.  
14. “A Grown Up Kind of Pretty” by Joshilyn Jackson. This is supposed to be about three generation of strong women, and the closest I will get to feminism.
15. “Attachments” by Rainbow Rowell. To add some modern romance. And because the authors name is Rainbow.