Monday, February 27, 2012

Still not much snow, but that didn't stop me!

A couple weekends ago I took a mini vacation back to Tahoe.  The main purpose of this trip was to go skiing.  Over Christmas break there was no snow and that’s usually when I get a lot of my skiing in (especially since I was about to move to Kentucky!).  Well, a month and a half later they’ve had a least one storm but the snow was still very, very sad.  It’s quite a bummer when you go visit a town that relies on a good winter (read: lots of snow) and they just haven’t got it.  It’s all anyone can talk about and it just makes everything feel depressing.  Despite all this I was determined to go skiing, I was flying across the country fergodsakes!  I was determined to make the best of my three days there and I’m pretty sure I did.

Day 1: I flew out of KY super early and was in Tahoe by noon.  I went downhill skiing at Squaw Valley because  they have a great program where they will give you a free afternoon lift ticket if you flew in that day, all I had to do was show my boarding pass and I was on the mountain.  Luckily, my mom and one of my closest friends have season passes so I was able to ski the afternoon with them.  Squaw is one of the biggest resorts in the area and there was only one run that had decent snow.  It was still fun and worthwhile get those few hours in.  Just being out there is one of the best parts; these pictures only give you a taste of the beauty.

Day 2: I headed out cross country skiing with my parents, which was a nice afternoon activity.  My dad and I decided to try a trail that didn’t look like it had been groomed lately and ended up having to take a longer trail (an extra 4 kilometers).  Not only that but part of the trail was just dirt and we had to hike “a little bit” (my dad’s words).  It was nice to be out there but it was so obvious the lack of snow.
Dirt patches we had to cross, carrying our skis.
Day 3: Back to the nordic center for more cross country skiing, but this time skating! Met up with the same close friend I downhill skied with on Friday for a nice morning ski.  We basically went as far out as the trails were groomed before we had to turn around.  Luckily, it got us out to this beautiful lookout
Ah silver, such a rewarding view.
Update:  It looks as though Tahoe is getting lots of snow as I post this, I must be good luck, y'all can thank me for that!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Audio Book review: The Magician King by Lev Grossman

How did I come into possession of this book?
This is a sequel to The Magicians which I read a couple years ago.  I had wanted to read The Magicians when it first came out, but I restrained myself from buying it until I found it at a used book store for a very good price.  Soon after I started reading it, RoB and I went to the LA Book Festival and Lev Grossman was speaking on one of the panels.  He was a little strange, but I guess to be a good fantasy writer you probably need to be a little strange.  After the panel he signed my book and RoB was suddenly interested in reading it once I was done.  I thought it was a good book but RoB was obsessed with it, he couldn't stop talking about it.  So, of course, as soon as the sequel came out he had to have it.  He read it and it has been lying around our house for a while but just when I was about to pick it up to read I saw the audiobook at the library and decided to try out that version.

What is it about?
A group of Magicians finds the land in which they dreamed of living since they were children.  They become Kings and Queens, but one of them, King Quentin, feels like he wants more.  He heads out to sea hoping to find a quest and ends up on an adventure he never wanted to take.

What did I think?
Everything about this book should appeal to me and it does, but for some reason I don't love these books as much as I should.  This one had a great story with just enough fantasy elements involved.  It also had a much more original story line than most fantasy stories.  I enjoy the way they are written, a little more sophisticated than a young adult fantasy book.  I think my biggest issue with these books is that I don't like any of the characters.  Quentin bothers me so much, he is so entitled and NEVER changes.  So I never feel bad for him if things go wrong, which they do, often.  Julia is not there mentally, and I never really felt bad for her before that either, she was just such a mess and a sob story.  None of the other characters have enough depth for me to ever connect with them so I feel a little empty.  Besides strongly disliking the characters I enjoyed the book, but all I could enjoy was the story.  The audio version of this book was good, the narrator kept my interest, however he didn't really do any different voices so it might be boring to some.

Who would I recommend it to?
This is a little tough.  I'd say if you like fantasy that borders on reality you would like this book.  Definitely read The Magicians first (which I would recommend to most sci-fi/fantasy fans), and if you like it read this one.  Even if it's not your favorite, the sequel deserves a chance since it is a good story and it seems like there will be a third which will hopefully bring closure to the series.  Just the fact that I know some are obsessed with these books and some or more meh (like me) I don't think I can pick out a specific type of person who would or wouldn't enjoy them.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Book Review: The Handmaid's Tale

How did I come into possession of this book?
I think I picked up this book at a thrift store in Tahoe.  I figured I should read some of the classic dystopian books, since it is one of my favorite genres.  I've also been given a couple other of Margaret Atwood's more recent books, so I guess I should start with her best known novel.

What is it about?
It takes place in a future after many things have gone wrong with the government.  It takes a while to actually figure out how the world is and how they got to where they are.  It is a society where women have a much different place in the world, a much lesser place.  The story follows one handmaid and how she fits into this society.  There start to be flashbacks of her life before the world changed and you can fit the puzzle together a little to see how she got to where she is now

What did I think?
I really enjoyed the way you don't know how the society works off the bat.  Details are revealed here and there and the flashbacks help with that.  A lot of the book is learning how the world is now functioning which can lead to some slower reading, but still held my attention.  I wasn't a big fan of the main character, she just seemed so passive to everything going on in her world, but I guess that's a product of what she has experienced.  I also wish there had been more to the ending, but I'll try not to get too spoiler-y about it.

Who would I recommend it to?
Anyone who enjoys a good dystopian novel or anyone who just enjoys good literature.  It is very well written and doesn't get to far out as far as some dystopian novels will.  So it's a good book for pretty much any reader, if you like books you should probably read this one.  It would also be a great book to discuss, so if you enjoy that sort of thing, this is a good book to read.

Sidenote: My copy of the book is pretty old, but it said that it was now a major motion picture.  Has anyone seen this movie? Is it any good? I had no idea it existed!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

New Year of Reading

One of the downsides of taking a temporary assignment was that I couldn't bring all my stuff with me.  This meant leaving behind a bunch of books.  I have a book problem, I will go to a used book store (or free book exchange!), or even an awesome local book shop and walk out with an arm full of books.  I also get books passed onto me by my mom and other literary obsessed friends.  I can't read books as fast as I acquire them, which meant I had a great collection of "to-read" books back in California.  This comprised most of my book collection since I rarely hold onto book after I read them (unless they are a favorite or signed or something). I like to pass them on to someone who will like them, sell them back to a used book store to get credit to buy more books (!), or just donate them to a free books exchange/local thrift store.

Of all those books I only brought about 15-20 with me, thinking I would still be acquiring books at a fast rate and if I take a trip home I can always get some of those books I left there.  I also got a library card at the Lexington public library (which is a very nice library).  I'll keep a to-read list here with all the books I currently have and add to it the more books I acquire, along with links to the books I review.  Hopefully that will also remind me which books I've read and should review.  I think I'll make a goal of reading 50 books this year, about 4.17 books per month, and yes that will include audio books (since I drive 30 minutes to work everyday and sometimes have mindless tasks at work).

Yay, reading!

I also got a fantastic little journal as a late xmas present from my wonderful mama!  Its a cute little readers journal where I can keep track of all the books I read and I love it!

Isn't my mom great?