Monday, May 28, 2012

Neverwhere Group Read Part II

Welcome back everyone for the second installment of the group read of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. Stainless Steel Droppings is our friendly instigator and supplier of witty, deeply insightful questions. Make sure to stop by his blog and see his thoughts on this book.

1.  Chapter 6 begins with Richard chanting the mantra, "I want to go home".  How do you feel about Richard and his reactions at this point to the unexpected adventure he finds himself on?

I see two things: a) Richard is still scared, uncertain, and not welcoming of this new life with open arms. He isn't seeing the potential or the good things about London Below; b) He is desiring to return to his old life because it is familiar, not because he has really great friends, an awesome girlfriend, and a kickass career waiting for him.

2.  The Marquis de Carabas was even more mysterious and cagey during the first part of this week's reading.  What were your reactions to him/thoughts about him as you followed his activities?

Is he playing everyone? How did he know where and when to meet with Croup and Vandemar? What is in that box he gave to Old Bailey? It's been years since I read this book, and some of the answers to these questions have faded.

I have to say the dude is playing everyone and doing it stylishly dressed. But I don't remember what his end goal is, so I am very curious about what is motivating him.

That scene with him and Croup and the T'ang Dynasty figurine was great.

3.  How did you feel about the Ordeal of the Key?

Talk about Richard's inner doubts pulling out all the stops! But I think he faced those self-destructive demons in the end and made a decision to live and to live well. That quartz bead reminder was a nice touch to ground him in reality.

4.  This section of the book is filled with moments.  Small, sometimes quite significant, moments that pass within a few pages but stick with you.  What are one or two of these that you haven't discussed yet that stood out to you, or that you particularly enjoyed.

Hunter's dream sequence which is more of a memory concerning the 300 pound weasel that she slew. She then presented the hide to a special young lady who was appropriately grateful. Such a simple phrase - how was she grateful? Hmm.....

Also, Old Bailey telling punny jokes to his birds. That is funny in a pathetic kind of way. But I can relate, since I am very bad with telling jokes.

5.  Any other things/ideas that you want to talk about from this section of the book?

Croup needs to take Vandemar to a buffet every once in a while.
That whole scene at the museum with Jessica and Mr. Stockton - I was really hoping that things would go wrong for Jessica some how because I felt that by things going right it would reinforce her self-centered traits (which isn't healthy).
Did the Atlanteans know how to make wine, or what?
Lady Serpentine - I Want The Back Story!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Neverwhere Group Read - Part I

It has been years since I last read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. It was my first Gaiman novel and it has had a special place on my bookshelf ever since.

Big thanks to Stainless Steel Droppings for hosting, organizing, and inspiring this groups read. Stop by his blog to see his thoughts on the book.

1.  What do you think of our two villains thus far, Messrs. Croup and Vandemar?

At first glance, they didn't seem to be too formidable. Vandemar likes to eat questionable things and Croup has a way with words. Both enjoy intimidating folks. But then they take out a very skilled bodyguard. Hmmm.....And that scene with the knife throwing at the hand - I now have to wonder how much, if at all, these two can be hurt.

2.  Thus far we've had a small taste of London Below and of the people who inhabit it.  What do you think of this world, this space that lies within or somewhat overlaps the space the "real world" occupies?

London Below needs a suite of cleaning ladies and lads. I am not too keen on the whole roasted cat idea. I like that all the folks Richard has met so far have some sort of power or ability that he wasn't expecting and completely lacks himself.

3.  What ideas or themes are you seeing in these first 5 chapters of Neverwhere?  Are there any that you are particularly drawn to?

The Portico family - Arch, Door, etc. Very interesting how they are all some sort of gateway between things.

Richard is an average guy who is treated below average by nearly everyone, except maybe Door. I am glad Jessica is out of his life.

4.  We've met a number of secondary characters in the novel, who has grabbed your attention and why?

The Floating Market (not really a character itself but has lots of character) has a huge potential to be a very central location in the book.

I was taken in by Anasthesia....but that didn't last long.
I would love the back story on Hunter.

5.  As you consider the Floating Market, what kind of things does your imagination conjure up? What would you hope to find, or what would you be looking for, at the Market?

I bet rat tails are out. Cat tails in.
Did you ever see the movie rendition of Stardust, another Gaiman novel? I would expect the Floating Market to by a grittier and less wholesome version of the market just beyond the Wall.
And I would want to sample the local bangers and mash. Maybe.

6.  If you haven't already answered it in the questions above, what are your overall impressions of the book to this point?

London Above is really boring and full of boring and self-important folks.
The theme that there is so much more going on around us, outside of our little life, is beautifully illustrated.
Who should Door trust? Hmmm.....I am thnking she might be a little too trusting.

Other Thoughts: 
Very funny that Richard's first idea of Hunter is that she is a prostitute. 
Everyone in London Below has interesting clothing, not dictated by the latest fashion star.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Red Seas Under Red Skies Week 3

Hey everyone, and welcome to another Red Seas Under Red Skies Read-Along post. This week the questions were provided by @ohthatashley. I'll be responding to these a bit later than I had planned (summer kids stuff has kept me away from the blog for far longer than even I planned, sorry), but feel free to jump in and reply yourself before my answers are up. Thanks!

1. Locke and Jean's ability to find themselves at the center of a serious mess seems unparalleled. At this point, do you think that Stragos will get the return he expects on his investment in them?

2. Merrain's activities after our boys leave Windward Rock are interesting. What do you think her plans are?

3. Does anyone know why having cats aboard the ship is so important?

4. The word "mutiny" creates a lot of mental pictures. Were you surprised? Why or why not?

5. Ah, the Poison Orchid. So many surprises there, not the least of which were the captain's children. Did you find the young children a natural part of the story?

6. Jean is developing more and more as a character as we get further in to the book. Ezri makes the comment to him that "Out here, the past is a currency, Jerome. Sometimes it's the only one we have." I think several interesting possibilities are coming into play regarding Jean and Ezri. What about you?

7. As we close down this week's reading, the Thorn of Camorr is back! I love it, even with all the conflict.  Several things from their Camorri background have come back up. Do you think we will see more Camorri characters?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mistborn: The Final Empire Group Read Part V

The Conclusion is upon us! At least until we tackle the second book in the series.

This week's questions were supplied by Stainless Steel Droppings, who masterminded this whole group read, so make sure to stop by his place and see what his thoughts are on the end of Book I.

With much begging and pleading from those who reign above (at my local internet repair headquarters), El Internet was returned to service this morning after roughly 36 hours of me being left to my own devices. Which mostly involved cooking and cleaning. Having risen this morning to view that tell-tale light upon the modem, joy surged through me, only to find my desktop monitor had died in the night. A second of silence please.

Luckily, this is a geek and nerd household and there is this trusty little laptop.

Without more pissing and moaning, here are the final questions.

1.  So, what do you think of Kelsier's plan now? Or his 'plan within a plan'?  How do you feel the late introduction of the kandra and how it fit into Kelsier's plan?

It was very touching to find out that Kelsier planned all along for him not to come out on top, and yet for the rebellion to continue on. At the beginning, even tho I liked Kell, I kind of felt this was about his ego, his need. His ending showed that his drive went beyond that.

2.  The final section of the book was very Vin-centric.  How do you feel about the choices she made and did you have any worries/fears about what might happen to her before everything was resolved?

OMG - there were several points where I wanted to slap her and tell her it's OK to regroup and fight another day. You don't have to get yourself killed today! But I think it held true to form - what we have seen of her stubbornness. Yeah, but I was concerned that Vin might be joining the ranks of the daft & dead sooner than anticipated.

3.  After all that we find out that the Lord Ruler wasn't the prophesied one after all.  Surprised? Had you figured it out?  What thoughts do you have about the big reveal, including how it tied into Sazed's people?

Another blogger last week (forgive my memory, can't recall who) had guessed this, and I thought it was a pretty interesting idea. So, when the reveal came I was still surprised, but it all clicked right away.

I wonder if the Terrismen will have some sort of racial grieving over all the damage the Lord ruler has done over the years and will, in some way, feel as tho they must apologize to the world.

Whatever their motivation, they will now be free to share all that stored knowledge, dance in the streets naked, and breed freely.

4.  There was some back and forth about Elend throughout the story and we finally got to see him take a greater stand.  Any predictions about what might happen in book two with Elend taking on leadership duties?

Elend had some nasty shocks, didn't he? His father leaving him to face certain doom alone, taking charge, turning himself over, going on a suicide mission to rescue Vin; the boy became a man in a few hours and did it well.

I look forward to watching his character grow in Book 2. It should be interesting to see how many of the nobles follow him, what they think of his alliance with Vin and the rebel leaders, and what happens if his father returns. I think someone might be due for a spanking and it won't be Elend.

5.  Lastly, provide a little wrap up of your experience with the book.  What do you think Sanderson's strengths are?  How does this book stack up against other fantasies you've read?

Sanderson builds a fascinating world, with rules and class norms, and holds to them throughout the book. Then, he builds an awesome plot to stick in that world, one that allows his characters to have a past and a future. My first Sanderson book was The Way of Kings, which is his latest and greatest; In reading Mistborn: TFE, I am impressed at how much of that writing skill was there all those years ago, and merely has been refined over time. 

This has been an awesome ride and reading the book for the first time as part of a group read made it more enjoyable. Thanks everyone!

Other Thoughts:
Vin kicks ass!
I wonder which, if any, of the rebel leaders will be opposed to joining forces with the nobles?
Will folks trust Marsh even tho he basically saved Vin? Can he rule the remaining Steel Inquisitors? Will he have to destroy them too?
I want to learn more about gold, the 11th metal, and atium; are there more metals for them to play with?
Where is all that atium anyway?
What was the Lord Ruler protecting the world from?
Vin kicks ass!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Red Seas Under Red Skies, Week 2

It's week 2, and The Little Red Reviewer's questions are good. I mean really good.

So, make sure to jump straight over to her sight to get in on the awesome discussion. I apologize for not being more active lately. Family life has really taken over, and it's going to be tough for me to have as much time as I used to for blogging-related activities. We'll figure it out, though and get things moving along smoothly soon enough.

So, answer me these awesome questions and let's get chatting. Also, feel free to check out my answers below.

Now that we know a little more about Selendri and Requin, what do you think of them? I worry Locke is suddenly realizing this con might be a bit tougher than he expected.

Isn’t the Artificers’ Crescent just amazing?  If you could purchase anything there, what would it be?

What did you think of  Salon Corbeau and the goings on that occur there? A bit crueler than a Camorri crime boss, no?

The Archon might be a megalomaniacal military dictator, but he thinks he’s doing right by Tal Verrar: his ultimate goal seems to be to protect them.  What do you think he’s so afraid of?

And who the heck is trying to kill Locke and Jean every few days?  they just almost got poisoned (again!)!

Do you really think it’s possibly for a city rat like Locke to fake his way onto a Pirate ship?

Now that we know a little more about Selendri and Requin, what do you think of them? I worry Locke is suddenly realizing this con might be a bit tougher than he expected.

Agreed. Locke has tough times ahead for him, no doubt.

Isn’t the Artificers’ Crescent just amazing?  If you could purchase anything there, what would it be?

It's so hard to answer a question like this. In this fantasy world there are so MANY things that I'd love to own or try. I really can't choose.

What did you think of  Salon Corbeau and the goings on that occur there? A bit crueler than a Camorri crime boss, no?

Absolutely crueler. I have a wacky theory about this place and later books, but I don't think it's even close to right, so I'll be keeping it to myself.

The Archon might be a megalomaniacal military dictator, but he thinks he’s doing right by Tal Verrar: his ultimate goal seems to be to protect them.  What do you think he’s so afraid of?
Good question. I find him to be an interesting character. He's smart like the gray king, but seems to have less crazy and chaos surrounding his thoughts.

And who the heck is trying to kill Locke and Jean every few days?  they just almost got poisoned (again!)!
I think one of the great things about this series is that someone will ALWAYS be around to try and kill Locke and Jean. If they aren't half a step from death's door then they're not being themselves.

Do you really think it’s possibly for a city rat like Locke to fake his way onto a Pirate ship?

You know, the first time I read this book, I really did think he could pull it off. Locke has that kind of talent that just seems to be able to do anything he puts his mind to, or gets pressured with death to do.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

MIstborn: The Final Empire Group Read Part IV

Hello Everyone! This week's questions were supplied by Lynn over at Lynn's Book Blog - so stop by and check out her answers. Another big thanks to Stainless Steel Droppings for pulling this whole group read together! This section takes us through the end of Chapter 34 and there are SPOILERS, everywhere. You will probably step on, stumble over, and end up falling on them. Body armor will not help you. Next week, we will be concluding this book, so check back here next Wednesday for that.


1.       Well, we finally got our long awaited view of the Lord Ruler, firstly just a brief glimpse during the executions and then during the fight with Kelsier.  What do you now think about him and the myth’s surrounding him?  And, given his strength do you think he can be beaten?

Damn. Triple damn. He is real, and he hits hard! And has great fashion sense.

Yet, everything has a weakness; maybe not physical. So, yes, by the end of the trilogy, I expect there to be some way to get to him. Poison powder in his tailored undergarments? 

2.       We seemed to suffer a number of set backs to the plans this week.  The army had already been all but destroyed and following a bit of a rethink/regroup/coming up with a Plan B, things still have gone disastrously astray.  What do you think the Crew will do now?

I am hoping that the death of one of the rebellion's leaders after he defeated a steel inquisitor will rally the Skaa. I want the word to grow to legend and spread throughout Luthadel and then throughout the countryside, reaching all Skaa in the Final Empire. I want Sazed to send secret word to all Terrismen to rally with the Skaa. I want plantation work to cease, and hence food production. I want the government of the Final Empire to come to its knees!

I have a lot of wants because I am a complicated person.

Seriously - that last loss in the square was harsh. I am hoping that the Skaa rally, instead of scatter. I wonder if Vin will become the new driving force, and if she will join forces with Elend. That could be a formidable team. 

3.       What was your reaction to Kelsier’s response to finding Marsh dead?  I can’t help feeling that there are going to be some serious economic repercussions to destroying the crystals – what sort of impact do you think this will have, not just on the nobles but on the Skaa?

The Pits of Hathsin were the only atium mines that WE knew about. There could be other mines, that would be kept just as secret.

However, if these were the only mines, then there is less reason for the Skaa. I think things will become more oppressive for the Skaa, that those Skaa that are craftsmen (like Clubs) will be shunned by the ruling parties, if not burned out.

And there will be less shiny metal for the nobility to flash around. But that's OK, since we saw the last ball for some time. The nobility can play with their shiny things inprivate, including what little atium they have. 

Mistborns may be strongly affected - no more seeing 2 seconds into the future. Those that have hoarded atium will have an edge over those who have not.

4.       Finally, each week we learn a little bit more of the Lord Ruler’s history.  And each week it has a different impact.  This week’s snippets had the same impact – I was really interested in the excerpt when he mentions that the Darkness is not as oppressive when higher up in the mountains – do you have any more ideas about the Darkness?

That Darkness seems to be a bigger deal than The Lord Ruler. the terms 'Well of Ascension' and 'The Deepness' are still big unknowns. I theorize that The Lord Ruler has become what he is today by near-constant contact with the Deepness - holding it at bay. It has twisted him, made him cruel. I think this is tied to the atium production somehow. I think The Lord Ruler is not simply hoarding it, but using it in some fashion to stay in power, and perhaps to fight The Deepness.

But I might just be blowing wind up your kilts. 

5.   I was wondering about Elend and Vin – they’ve also had their ups and downs this week but seem determined to work round them – can you see anything of a future for these two or is there too much history between the nobles and Skaa and too much difference and prejudice between the two?

I am SO hoping that they can at least be allies. The Skaa rebellion needs all the help it can get and it looks like, with the destruction of the atium mines, House Venture, especially Elend (with his dad wishing him ill), needs an ally.

It would knock Elend's socks off to know Vin is Mistborn, and protected him. Ha! It would knock more than his socks off - probably his pants too. Which would be socially embarrassing. So I hope he finds out when he is sitting down. 

Other Bits of Interest:

Why is Vin the only doughnut at a sausage fest? 

Vin kicks ass. That scene where she tears off her ballgown and accoutrements and goes assassin hunting was awesome. I bet she will consider concealing a knife or two in the future.

Marsh got the beginner's eye tattoos! Now I have a finger tattoo, but getting the face, especially near the eyes, tatted takes some nerves of steal. Or Prozac.