Eder’s Game Sequels

9780812550757_p0_v4_s260x420This is for our fellow Ender’s Game fans!

When I first read the Ender books the sequels that follow Ender began with Speaker for the Dead.  It is the second novel Scott Card wrote in the Ender universe.  If you want to read the series in chronological order of Events Ender in Exile would follow though there are things that will make more sense after reading both the Ender and Shadow sequel sets.

As I will not be giving away any endings or any big secrets, I’ll start with Exile. It has been decided that Ender can never return to Earth, and he really has no desire to do so.  Instead he decides to join the colonization project by becoming a governor.  The surviving members of the International Fleet are landing on the nearest planets to their final location from the war.  They have become colonists.  People all over Earth are signing up for the project as well so that they can have families as they’d like to, there will be no worries about 9780765344151_p0_v1_s260x420limiting the number of children to two per family in space and it will help reduce the population of Earth. Ender will not be alone on the trip his sister Valentine will be joining him.

Back in Italy Alessandra Toscano’s mother has come home and announced that they will be heading off to space.  Alessandra is tired of her mother and her mother’s crazy ways so she takes off to find her grandmother.  At her grandmother’s home she discovers why her mother has never introduced the two of them.

Once everyone is on board the ship Alessandra is pushed towards Ender much to her dismay.  Ender is in contact with the current governor of the colony now known as Shakespeare while trying to head off the suspicions of Admiral Quincy Morgan who believes he will be the actual governor while Ender is merely a figurehead.

9780812509250_p0_v3_s260x420I enjoyed this book for the most part but some of it did feel decidedly retconny, not a word I know but it works.  Several of the chapters were originally short stories featured in Orson Scott Card’s webzine InterGalactic Medicine Show.

There is a short story in First Meetings that is next chronologically about how Ender obtains his “assistant” Jane.  It’s not necessary to read but it is a nice little addition.

Ender and his sister Valentine seem to have finally found a planet to settle on in Speaker for the Dead.  They have both become professors on Trondheim and Valentine has married a fisherman and is pregnant.  On another planet, Lusitania, a xeonlogor has been killed by the species he has been studying, a sentient pig-like group called the pequeninos or piggies.  This is the first sentient species other than humans found since Ender killed the buggers in the 9780812522396_p0_v4_s114x166third and final Formic War.  Novinha a thirteen year old apprentice xenobiologist under the tutelage of Pipo the xenologer that has just been killed, calls for a Speaker for the Dead to come speak for Pipo.  Afraid that it is her fault that Pipo is dead because of files she showed him she locks up all her work as she can not delete it and does not allow Pipo’s son, her best friend, Libo to see them.  Light years away Andrew Wiggin, he no longer uses the name Ender as he is now known not as the hero of the human race but as the killer of an entire species the name Ender has become an epithet, has heard of the call for a Speaker and decides to accept it.

While Ender is in flight to Lusitania, Novinah cancels her call and two others are issued by her son Miro for the death of Libo, and her daughter Ela for the death of their father.  The piggies become very excited when they learn that Ender is coming and insist they must see him.

The story continues in Xenocide and Children of the Mind.  I loved this set of sequels more so than the Shadow I think because this set is about Ender, about his struggle with himself and what he did, his struggle to find a life and to be accepted for who he is.  I have read and reread these books several times and will again.

The Dirty Life

9781416551614_p0_v1_s260x420Kristin Kimball is the woman behind the Dirty Life blog.  She is also the author of The Dirty Life, which was published in 2011.  I’ve just finished this book – and I really liked it!

It is a chronicle of her departure from her busy writing career in New York City to a farm in a rural part of New York state.  This is not only a departure from life as she knew it, but it’s also a conversion from city life to farm life, in which she becomes more in touch with the earth, the soil, and her partner in this adventure, Mark.  I’ve never wanted to live in New York City, and I’ve also never wanted to live on a farm, yet this book was incredibly interesting.  It was also a tale of how opposites attract.  The reason why she leaves NYC is because she meets a man so intriguing she was willing to make this astounding leap.

Mark had been farming for a while, on a small scale, before they met.  She was working on a story that led her to interview Mark.  She became interested not only in his way of life, but also in finding out how and why this college-educated man would choose this lifestyle.  And once she understood, she became a convert as well.

Her husband Mark had a vision of starting a farm co-op, in which individuals would pay a yearly membership in exchange for crops, fresh meat, eggs, cheese, and other goods.  At first this is quite a lofty goal, with  Kristin as his partner, who has no farming experience at all.  She certainly had her doubts, several times throughout the book she questioned whether or not they would be able to make their farm co-op successful.  It took a little bit of love, a little bit of luck, and a lot of hard work.  One thing that made this project work was their commitment to each other, and their commitment to this goal.  Her faith was shaken quite a few times – and she’s open about that, yet she continues to work tirelessly alongside Mark.

In reading this book, I have gained a better appreciation for the fresh food that I eat.  Through her words, I have a better understanding of just how hard farming can be.  I guess I forgot to mention that when they started this project, they weren’t married yet.  So, in many ways, this challenged their relationship.  Because they survived and succeeded at getting their farm co-op off the ground, what other challenges couldn’t they face?  They eventually did get married, there on the farm that they owned, and were able to feed the wedding guests with food they had grown themselves.  It was a proud moment in so many ways for them; and it was especially surprising for Kristin’s family and friends who thought she was crazy for getting involved with Mark and leaving her career in NYC behind.

I was really inspired by this book!  I probably won’t be starting my own farm anytime in the near future, but I will be more mindful of where my food comes from.  I also have a greater appreication for food, how it is grown, how it arrives in the supermarket, and for the people who worked hard to grow and cultivate it.

New Fiction Friday: Read It and Weep

9780425242186_p0_v1_s260x420This book is the newest in the Library Lovers Mystery series by Jenn McKinlay.  I discovered this series randomly at the library this summer while looking for new books to read.  One of the things I love about my library is they have several displays of books set out: new books, books recently returned, books on a theme, and popular books to name a few.  I came across the first book, Books Can Be Deceiving on the recently returned shelf.  I then ran, ok not ran it is the library after all, but I did hurry back to the mystery section to find the next two books Due or Die and Book, Line and Sinker.

This series is set in Briar Creek, Connecticut (side note I’m a teacher and I just now realized it’s spelled connect-i-cut, oh I’m so ashamed).  Lindsey Norris is the head librarian and quite the curiosity struck lady as well, in case you hadn’t guessed she would be our Nancy Drew, our Jessica Fletcher, our Sheryl-lock Holmes.  Ok yeah, I apologize for that last one it was really bad.

9780425260722_p0_v1_s260x420Briar Creek, which has always been a quiet little town, well not always there have been a few incidents that come back up throughout these books.  The town and that includes the Thumb Islands, about a hundred small islands off the coast (perhaps modeled after the real-life Thimble Islands, off the coast of Stony Creek, Connecticut.  Lately however there has been a frightening number of murders, well including this book four.

It’s time for a new play to be put on at the local theatre in Read It and Weep.  Lindsey’s friend Violet, a former actress former in the sense that she no longer acts for a living, is producing A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Heartthrob and good friend of Violet, Robbie Vine has come to town to play the role of Puck.  Robbie takes an interest in Lindsey which seems to intrigue and fluster her.  Many of the townspeople audition for parts including “the lemon” old school librarian Mrs. Cole.

Rehearsals begin and so does the trouble.  Someone is out to get one of the actors, from injuries, to a blackout and attack, and finally poisoning everyone is on edge and Lindsey is determined to figure out what’s going on.

I have come to really enjoy mysteries, which should come as no surprise as I was a HUGE Nancy Drew fan as a kid, used to check them out ten at a time, it just took a bit for me to find an adult mystery series I enjoy.  Hope you enjoy this series too!

Milford Years

Any fans of The Mitford Books out there?  If you haven’t heard or read any of Jan Karon’s books, you may be pleasantly surprised!

9780140254488_p0_v1_s260x420This series of books by Jan Karon follows the life of Father Tim, an Episcopal priest living in a small town in North Carolina.  In the first book, At Home in Mitford, we meet many of the citizens of this small town, especially the congregants of Lord’s Chapel.  Miss Sadie, an octogenarian is an especial delight.  She has found an old painting in her attic of Mary and baby Jesus that she wants to donate to the church to be hung on the wall.  Then one of the church board members thinks the painting was done by the famous Veneer, and things get a little crazy.  On top of that their church bells that have been on order from England continue to be delayed, a Buick of a dog has attached himself to the priest, and Father Tim finds himself in charge of a young boy.  Dooley Barlowe is the grandson of the church sexton who is incapacitated.  In the midst of all this a charming and very pretty children’s author moves in next door to the rectory.

V9780140254549_p0_v1_s260x420isit Mitford again in A Light in the Window.  Dooley continues to live with Father Tim.  He and Cynthia begin to find their way toward each other.  An Irish cousin Tim doesn’t recall meeting, though he met so many who could keep track, arrives to take up residence in his guest room.

The next book in the series to read is up to you.  When I originally read the books These High Green Hills was next, and is in publishing order but after she had written the first four books Jan Karon went back and filled in Tim and Cynthia’s wedding story with A Common Life so when I reread the series now, as I do almost yearly, I read this book third.  The final book of the original four is Out to Canaan in which Father Tim announces his retirement to the consternation of it seems the entire village even those people who are not members of Lord’s Chapel.

9780140270594_p0_v1_s260x420Tim and Cynthia are off on the adventure of retirement as he is sent to fill the post of parish priest on a little island on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Whitecap in A New Song.  I admit to being worried about no longer keeping up with all the wonderful characters back in Mitford, but my fears were laid to rest as the rector and his wife get letters and phone calls from home while also meeting and tending to the needs of a new flock.

Home for three years from Whitecap in the book In This Mountain, Father Tim has become dissatisfied with his life in retirement and his diabetes seems to be one of the biggest thorns in his side.  Cynthia however is blossoming as her career as a children’s author and illustrator seems to just keep growing.  Tragedy strikes though and leaves Tim even further in the pit of despair. What will it take to find his way out?

9780670031207_p0_v2_s260x420Christmas is coming to Mitford and Father Tim is seeking the perfect gift for Cynthia in Shepherds Abiding.

The final book of the Mitford years, Light From Heaven, finds Tim and Cynthia spending a year on Meadowbrook farm, house sitting while their friends Hal and Marge Owen are off to Europe.  It also brings the Father a challenge and with it a unique helper.

While this may be the last of the Mitford books it is not the last the Kavanaughs they return in the Father Tim books.  Jan Karon has also written other books based in or around this series including a cookbook, Patches of Godlight: Father Tim’s Favorite Quotes, written as if it is Father Tim’s own journal, The Mitford Snowmen a short Christmas story bound in a great little gift sized book, A Continual Feast another of Father Tim’s journals, The Mitford Bedside Companion, and Ester’s Gift, another gift sized short Christmas story.

Flowers in the Attic

9781476775869_p0_v1_s260x420So Lifetime aired a new movie version of Flowers in the Attic Saturday night.  I’m not a huge fan of Lifetime, so I was interested how well they would do with this version.  I had no idea a new movie version was in the works until I saw the three female stars of the movie interviewed on the Today show a few days ago.  Anchored by Kiernan Shipka, the talented young actress who also plays Sally Draper on Mad Men.  She has certainly experienced her share of drama and difficult subject matters at such a young age, and it shows.  Heather Graham plays Corrine, darling and doting mother to the four perfectly blonde children.  In the book she is described as an ornament; beautiful, charming, and airy – yet useless at providing for her family in her husband’s absence.  I’ve never seen Heather Graham in a real dramatic role, but I think she has done well portraying this cunning woman.

Ellen Burstyn plays the evil grandmother, Olivia Foxworth.  Because part the story is so utterly disturbing, I imagine this is a difficult role to take on.  She does it well, were it not for these three actresses this movie would not be as great as is.  It’s really difficult to find anything bad to say about the movie. Of course I’m not a TV critic, only an amateur book critic!  But if you loved the book and missed the movie – you should definitely watch it!

I loved the book, and have read it multiple times.  Each time I’m shocked by how cruel the mother and grandmother are – and also why the children stay so long without trying to escape.  I am now interested in reading the follow-up books Andrews wrote (and I believe there were 4!).  The movie certainly left things off with a hint that there would be a sequel.  Andrews actually wrote 3 follow-up books, and I heard that the movie sequel is already in the works.  I’ll definitely be watching!!!

New Fiction Friday: After Dead

9780425269510_p0_v1_s260x420It’s here, it’s here, it’s here!  I love when a book I’ve been waiting for comes in at the library.  I’ve been waiting for this one since Amy posted the preview of it.  I actually did something I’ve never done before.  I went on a few sites and looked at reviews of the book.  I was surprised to see how many people seemed to hate it and be seriously disappointed.  Then again as you may remember from the vampire posts, I’m not a major Sookie fan.  I enjoyed the books but I wasn’t nearly as invested in this series as in others.  I know there are people who were furious at the end of the last book.  Me not so much, I liked it.  I felt it was a great end to the series.  I was happy with who she ended up with.

Anyway, much of the vitriol out there about this book is due to its length and price.  As many say, it is a 200 hundred page book but can easily be read in 30 minutes, yet it costs $18.  Yeah too much for what it is, it might be worth half that.

Now after reading these reviews I went in with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised.  I enjoyed the book.  For those that don’t know After Dead is not a story it is an update encyclopedia of characters from the series.  Fortunately I read the entire series this summer so I remembered more than I think people who simply read each book once as it came out, even with that there were still characters I didn’t remember but it didn’t bother me.  The characters are in alphabetical order which is nice because if there are particular characters you really want an update on, you know like Sookie you can go right to them.

I sat down to read this and ended up laughing out loud several times.  Charlaine Harris must have had a blast when writing this book.  Some of the updates are long and some are quite short as in one line though at least one of the one liners really had me laughing even though I didn’t remember the character “Hank Clearwater contracted gonorrhea.”  Then there were one line updates that are irritating and the reason for so many bad reviews like “Isaiah is still the King of Kentucky.” and “Freyda is still the Queen of Oklahoma and has never regretted her bargain with Eric.”  Um really?  That’s it?  Yes we get more information when we read Eric’s update but still this is annoying.

Bill and Sookie’s  updates are much longer and well worth the read as are several other of the main characters updates.  All in all I’d say read this before you buy it, borrow it from a friend, check it out from the library, something and if you like it enough to spend the money do it.  Or maybe wait and get it when it comes out in paperback.  Just don’t go into it expecting some majorly comprehensive update of the characters, this is really just more for fun.

When You Reach Me

9780375850868_p0_v2_s260x420Do you have a book on your bookshelf that you see every day and still haven’t read??  Maybe you’ve seen a particular book at the bookstore and think about reading it but never get around to it?  This is that book for me!  I finally got around to reading When You Reach Me, and I’m so glad I did!  This was published first in 2009, so I guess I had avoided reading it too long!!  The story is actually set in 1979, and is focused on the life of 12-year-old Miranda, living in New York City, whose Mom is preparing to be a contestant on the $20,000 Pyramid game show.  The author, Rebecca Stead, won the 2010 Newbury Medal for this book, and what’s really interesting is that there seems to be a bit of Rebecca in Miranda.  She too was raised in NYC, and would have been around the same age in 1979 as Miranda.

One of the reasons why this story is set in the 70s is that there is an element of time travel.  Miranda is interested in time travel and wonders frequently if it’s even possible.  It turns out, that in this story at least, it is possible!

As I am someone who was born in the 70s, it was interesting to pick out signs that this was set in that decade.  Of course the game show $20,000 Pyramid was a hit in the 70s, and it was hosted by a younger Dick Clark.  And although I wouldn’t refuse $20,000, the prize money today wouldn’t be exciting enough for a game show!  Miranda and her friends are allowed to wander the city streets alone – something that even in a much smaller town would almost never happen in 2014.  Especially after a confrontation with a crazy seemingly homeless man who is always on the corner near her apartment, these kids would not be walking New York City streets alone.

The target audience for this book is 9 – 12 years old.  One of those other signs of the 70s is that Stead mentions that one of the characters received a draft deferment during the Vietnam War.  This is kind of interesting to me as an adult reader, and it definitely gives a good description of that character.  I’m not sure young readers will have an understanding of that characterization.  That may be the only, even remotely, critical thin I have to say about When You Reach Me.  This really is a great story.

Miranda is being raised by a single mother who dropped out of law school after getting pregnant.  She works as a paralegal, and even her daughter knows that she is smarter and more capable than most of the lawyers she works for.  They have a very close relationship, yet face difficulty when her Mom announces her engagement to Richard, a close friend, right around Christmas.  The story pivots on a series of mysterious and anonymous notes that Miranda finds that in several locations around their home.  Her mom helps her to solve the mystery.  Who left these notes and why?

“Common sense is just a name for the way we’re used to thinking.”  She always seems to be challenging and challenged by ideas, concepts, and common beliefs.  As a character, she has incredible tenacity and wisdom, something to admire in a 12 year old.  This is such a great story, and so interesting the way time travel fits in – reminding me of The Time Traveler’s Wife, which I absolutely love!  Like other young adult novels, this is one adults will love too!