Archive for July, 2014

Realm of the Elderlings: 1/5

20%

Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 5Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb
Series: Liveship Traders #3
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Anne Flosnik
Length: 33 hrs and 38 mins
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudibleeBooks.com

Progress: Ship of Destiny 58% complete.

I made reasonable progress today, although I don’t have much to comment on.  The various plotlines are really starting to come together now.  I enjoyed the Kennit/Paragon interactions.

More tomorrow!

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Realm of the Elderlings: 1/5

20%

Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 4Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb
Series: Liveship Traders #3
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Anne Flosnik
Length: 33 hrs and 38 mins
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudibleeBooks.com

Progress: Ship of Destiny 45% complete

I made reasonable progress on my Realm of the Elderlings challenge today.  I’m now 45% of the way through book two.  In today’s reread I entered the section entitled Winter.  This is fitting as it’s the lowest point of most of the storylines in the Liveship Traders series:

Dragon Tintaglia is despairing that she will be able to guide the tangle of sea serpents to the dragon spawning ground so that they can undergo their transformation.  She is doubtful if she will be able to persuade the humans to assist with redirecting the river.  The sea serpents themselves are losing hope of fulfilling their dragon destinies.

Things aren’t going too well for the humans either; Bingtown is on the point of being destroyed either by Chalcedon or internal feuding, take your pick.  Reyn is distraught in his belief that Malta has perished in her flight from Tremaug with the Satrap. In actual fact, she must cater to the Satrap’s every whim in order to receive his protection necessary for her survival.

Those on the Liveships Paragon and Vivacia aren’t doing that great either.  On Paragon Althea is losing hope of recovering her family’s liveship.  Paragon himself is struggling to remain sane; we learn that part of his mental anguish is the pain he took from Kennit when he was younger.  Vivacia has returned to her dragon roots with a new personality leaving Wintrow struggling to find meaning in his life.

All in all, rather a bleak section.  However, I’m hopeful it will turn the corner soon.  Threads are beginning to come together.  

I also added Golden Fool to my Audible library today in preparation for the next part of my reread.  It wasn’t as straightforward as I’d hoped; officially it’s not available on Audible to Canadians – I had to use my company’s US address.  The publisher assured me that it should be available to Canadians, so I’ve taken that up with Audible.  This is the second book in the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed showing as not available to Canadians.  I hope this is not a trend…

Realm of the Elderlings: 1/5

20%

Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 3Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb
Series: Liveship Traders #3
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Anne Flosnik
Length: 33 hrs and 38 mins
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudibleeBooks.com

Progress: Ship of Destiny 27% complete

So I didn’t make a lot of progress today.  Darned work keeps getting in the way!

A few thoughts on what I read today.

Hobb is really pushing the contrast between Ronica and Serilla.  I can’t remember how that ends up, so I’m enjoying following that Bingtown storyline.

The whole issue of women’s rights in Bingtown compared to the Chalcedon states and how it impacts Malta’s storyline is also very interesting.  It also ties into the Ronica/Serilla plot with their respective attitudes to power.

Both of the Liveships – Vivacia and Paragon are going a bit nuts.  I don’t think good things can come of this.

More tomorrow!

Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update 2Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb
Series: Liveship Traders #3
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Anne Flosnik
Length: 33 hrs and 38 mins
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudibleeBooks.com

Realm of the Elderlings

My Summary Post
Progress: 2/5 (40%)
24 July, 2014 — 16 August, 2014
In Progress

40%

Progress:  Ship of Destiny 17% complete

So, onto book two of my Realm of the Elderlings reading challenge, Ship of Destiny.  Ship of Destiny is the third in the Liveship Traders trilogy. I chose not to include the first two, Ship of Magic and Mad Ship in my reread for two reasons. One was time constraint to meet my deadline, the second is that I had dipped into the trilogy fairly recently (fairly recently being about 18 months ago).  I did a quick Wikipedia lookup to bring myself up to speed.

So, a few thoughts.

Whispersync for Voice, welcome back!  YAY!  I didn’t realise how much I missed it when I didn’t have it for Assassin’s Quest.  Sadly, I see it’s also missing from The Tawny Man.  Ah well.

I miss Fitz and the Fool.  We do get to see the Fool’s alter ego, Amber and my heart just about broke when she mentioned the slave pin that had been given to her by her true love.  I’m not certain at which point we are supposed to realise that Amber is the Fool, but once you know she is, it’s hard to avoid picking up these little hints. I’m shipping Fitz and the Fool so hard right now.  I’ve forgotten how they left things at the end of Fool’s Fate, but I’m hoping they’ll get together in the new trilogy.  That could be a very interesting romantic relationship for Hobb to explore.

Anyway, I digress from the Liveship Traders.  After three books of male protagonists, it was a refreshing change to see strong women characters come to the fore, notably Ronica and Malta.  If I remember Malta from Ship of Dreams this shows some real character development.  I enjoyed that their strength of character was contrasted with that of the Satrap’s Companion, Serilla.  Hobb’s skill as a writer were shown in how well Serilla’s actions and motivations are relatable, even though they are working against one of our protagonists.

The whole Bingtown Trader politics confused me, but that’s probably my own fault for not rereading the first two books first!

The whole prologue with She Who Remembers didn’t do much for me.  However if I remember correctly, it’s one of the pivotal points of the series.  Sigh.

That’s all for today.  I’ll be back tomorrow with more updates.

Reading challenge – Realm of the Elderlings Update1Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb
Series: Farseer Trilogy #3
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Paul Boehmer
Length: 37 hrs and 39 mins
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudibleeBooks.com
five-stars

Realm of the Elderlings

My Summary Post
Progress: 1/5 (20%)
24 July, 2014 — 16 August, 2014
In Progress

20%

Progress:  Assassin’s Quest 100% complete

So this weekend I powered through and finished Assassin’s Quest, the third book in the Farseer Trilogy.  As a side note, this book is not Whispersync for Voice enabled, so switching between the Kindle and audiobook versions was a hassle.

I loved this book.  The two magic systems invented by Hobb – the Skill and the Wit – are tightly drawn and are used in very interesting ways.

Each chapter begins with an excerpt from a history book which indicates the main theme of that particular chapter.  They tie in very nicely together.

Initially the first book of the trilogy – Assassin’s Apprentice – is very slow and boring, but once the trilogy picks up, it moves along at a great pace.

The Fool is one of the most intriguing characters for me in epic fantasy.  I look forward to continuing the character’s story in The Liveship Traders and Tawny Man trilogies.  Of course now there is the prospect of even more Fool to come in the new Fitz and Fool trilogy :o)

That’s all I have for tonight.  Onto Ship of Destiny!

This week I have been continuing to work my way through Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings series.  I am just over a third of the way through Assassin’s Quest, the third book in the Farseer Trilogy.  I hope to follow that with Ship of Destiny, the final book in the Liveship Traders trilogy before starting on the three books of The Tawny Man trilogy.  My aim is to have these all completed by August 12th when Fool’s Assassin is released – or at least by the following Friday when I leave for vacation.  Fool’s Assassin is the latest book in Fitz’s story after a publication gap of 13 years.  I really can’t wait to see what Hobb has in store next!

To read all that in that period of time is a tiny bit of a challenge – they are huge tomes – but I’m aiming for it.  I have the Farseer trilogy and Liveship Traders in audiobook format as well, and I see the Tawny Man trilogy is making its way to Audible this month too, so that will help.   I find mixing listening with reading is an excellent way to enjoy books.  I have read all three trilogies before, but I’ve not started the Rainwild Chronicles yet.  I leave for a trip on August 16th which involves a VERY long coach trip – eighteen hours, save me – so hopefully Fitz can keep me company.  

In between following the tale of Fitz and Nighteyes, I have been listening to Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, which I hope to discuss with my friend Natasha this weekend.  Much as I have been enjoying the book, I’ve rather resented the time it’s taken me away from Fitz and Co!  Hobb’s characters and worldbuilding are just so absorbing I don’t want to leave.  

Added to my library this week

Dissonance by Erica O’Rourke.  The concept for this book sounded fascinating:  Delancey knows for sure that there is more than one universe. Many more. Because every time someone makes a choice, a new, parallel world is spun off the existing one. Eating breakfast or skipping it, turning left instead of right, sneaking out instead of staying in bed—all of these choices create alternate universes in which echo selves take the roads not traveled. Del knows all of this because she’s a Walker, someone who can navigate between the worlds, and whose job is to keep the dimensions in harmony.   I’m not certain when I’ll get round to reading this, but it did sound good.  I picked Dissonance up in Kindle format.

Next up was The Iron King by Julie Kagawa.  I’d borrowed this series of books about the fae from my local library and loved the worldbuilding.  I decided it was time to add them to my own Kindle and Audible libraries.  I will probably add the rest as and when.

As I mentioned, The Tawny Man trilogy is coming to Audible.  This week I picked up Fool’s Errand.  Brilliance Audio’s website suggests Golden Fool will follow on July 29th so I will be keeping an eye out for that.

Original Sin: Thor and Loki.  Now, I normally do not read comic books, but I was really intrigued by Marvel’s announcement that from October Thor will be a woman.  I wanted to follow the story.  I must say comics are not my own favourite format – I prefer words to pictures – but it is intriguing.

Upcoming Releases

August sees the publication of two of my three most anticipated releases of the summer – the aforementioned Fool’s Assassin on August 12th – preorders are already in for both Kindle and Audible formats.  

The second is the third book in Brent Weeks’ Lightbringer series.  I loved the first two – especially in audiobook format.  It was actually Simon Vance’s superb narration of Weeks’ fantastic story that got me into audiobooks in a big way.  For various reasons it’s been nearly two years since we had an update on Kip and Gavin Guile and we’ve been dangling on the edge of a cliff since then – I’m kinda ready to get off.   

For the curious among you, my third most anticipated upcoming release is, of course, Rick Riordan’s The Blood of Olympus.

That’s all folks.  Have a good weekend.

    As I anticipated in my reading roundup, this morning Amazon launched its ebook and audiobook subscription service, Kindle Unlimited.  It’s not yet available to Canadians, but I was able to use my company’s US address to sign up for the 30 day free trial to check it all out.

    Kindle Unlimited is competing with other ebook subscription services such as Scribd and Oyster.  I currently have a Scribd subscription, but I tend not to use it very much, mainly because it’s not tightly integrated with the rest of my ebook library.  Also, I’m not so fond of the app for Android – it doesn’t have the same options as full Kindle books.

    The good

    Like most of the Amazon ecosystem, Kindle Unlimited is very easy to use.  You can browse the titles from the Kindle Unlimited link on the homepage:

    Kindle browse

    When you choose a title it will say Read for Free

    Readforfree

    Also you can navigate from your Kindle Fire:  a KU book will say Read for Free

    Screenshot 2014 07 18 09 56 07

    Note that you cannot pick up audiobooks on their own.  They must be paired with a Kindle Unlimited ebook with Whispersync for Voice.  There is a section called Listen and Take the Story with you.  If you choose a book from there, it will be paired with the Audible audiobook.

    Once you click on read for free, the book is added to your Kindle library like any other book.  It does have a symbol beside it stating it was from the Kindle Unlmited selection

    Kindleucontent

    Any matched Audible audiobook appears in your Audible library with a similar note

    Audible

    All of the books I tested worked perfectly.  In addition, they remained in my library when I switched back to my Canadian address, although I was unable to add any more new books.

    In terms of ease of use Kindle Unlimited integrates perfectly with the Amazon/Audible ecosystem unlike its competitors.

    The bad

    US only.  Sigh.  

    With Kindle Unlimited you’re renting the books in a sense.  If you let your subscription lapse, they will disappear from your library.  

    The selection doesn’t include books from the Big Six publishing houses, so the selection doesn’t include a great deal of popular titles.  None of the books I had on my Amazon wish list were available for Kindle Unlimited. I did found several that interested me, mainly The Lord of the Rings.  I had the one volume compendium, but the three individual books came with the audiobooks.  There were also a few cat mysteries which I picked up as well as a supernatural suspense or two.  Scribd on the other hand is partnered with HarperCollins so, for example, all of Robin Hobb’s backlist is available.

    I will certainly be monitoring the selection over the next month, but given that apart from the Lord of the Rings audiobooks there was nothing I picked up today that I would be sorry to lose from my library I suspect I will not be renewing my subscription.  Maybe IF it comes to Canada and IF the selection is expanded I might consider it.

    By all means, take advantage of the free month to check it out for yourselves, if you’re in the US.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

    First of all, I’d like to share my thoughts on the Emmy nominations which were announced earlier today – congratulations to all nominees.  No Tatiana Maslany for Orphan Black?  That is very disappointing.  She has done incredible work portraying all these different clones and it would have been great to see her gain some recognition for that.  Another name I would very much liked to have seen was Pedro Pascal’s for his work as Red Viper Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones.  His performance was wonderfully nuanced and consistently excellent.

    Representing Game of Thrones we have Lena Headey and Peter Dinklage and supporting actress/actor roles. Dinklage has been nominated several times and won once, this is Headey’s first I believe. My gut feeling is that Headey will have to wait a year for her win – knowing the books, Cersei has some wonderful material coming up next season, which I think will clinch it for her then.  She faces competition from fellow Brits Dame Maggie Smith as Downton Abbey’s Dowager Countess of Grantham and Joanne Froggatt who plays Anna Bates – Anna had some very strong storylines this year, sensitively portrayed by Froggatt, but I’m not certain if that will be enough to win the award from the Americans.  Game of Thrones also is represented in the guest actress category by Dame Diana Rigg – another Brit – playing Lady Olenna Tyrell.  I really enjoyed her portrayal, but I don’t think it will be enough to win the Emmy, unfortunately.

    There are more Brits in the miniseries category – Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman for Sherlock.  No Adventure in Space in Time?  No David Bradley? That was disappointing, although I’m certain Sherlock will take home more than one award.

    So… onto more bookish matters.

    This week I’ve been continuing to enjoy the audiobooks of Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy.  I’m still around half way through book two, Royal Assassin.  

    Added to my library this week

    Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen.  This YA fantasy novel was my most anticipated release of this week.  I’ve started reading it already, but so far it’s not quite grabbed my attention as I’d hoped it would.  I picked this one up in both Kindle and Audible format.  

    Landline.  Rainbow Rowell’s latest adult contemporary romance.  This one is the story of a couple in a strained marriage – the wife then finds she can phone her husband through space and time to a much earlier and happier point in their relationship.  I’ve loved everything I’ve read so far of Rowell’s – she writes such quirky, endearing characters – and I’m looking forward to listening to this one.  This is one I picked up in Audible format.  There’s a Landline giveaway going on at Kindles and Wine – why not go ahead and enter?  

    A Plunder of Souls. This is D.B. Jackson’s third book in the genre bending Thieftaker series.  Part crime mystery novel, part historical fiction, part fantasy, these books are a lot of fun to read and I look forward to reading this next installment.  I picked it up in both Kindle and Audible format.  

    I had completely forgotten that the two other short stories in the Divergent world told from Four’s point of view were released this week.  I’ve not read them yet, but they have already downloaded to my Kindle.  Sometimes that’s great fun when you forget when a book is due!

    I also went a bit mad and finally added the German and Dutch versions of The Lord of the Rings to my library.  I had them in hard copy but they got lost in one of my moves.  That’s the beauty of allowing Amazon or another provider to store your books for you.  Assuming you trust Amazon that is!  It’s weird that I was unable to find ebooks of the French versions.

    I did borrow one book from the library this week – Anthony Ryan’s Blood Song.  I started reading it and haven’t been able to put it down.  This is a fantasy novel very much in the vein of Name of the Wind.  It’s garnered a lot of interest in the UK, but I’ve not heard so much about it here in North America. A review will come at some point.   

    This weekend I will be away visiting with family in Ottawa so there will be no posts on Monday.  I look forward to catching up with you next week!

    Recently at work I won an iPad Mini (non Retina display) in a raffle.  I never win anything so I was ecstatic – my coworkers joked that I was like a kid at Christmas.  I FELT like a kid at Christmas!  Now, I already have a much loved Kindle Fire HDX and iPad 3, so I knew I was going to rehome one of them.  It’s an understatement to say I read a lot and listen to audiobooks a lot, for which the Fire is perfect, so it was the iPad 3 or the new Mini. 

    I was very surprised when my mother expressed an interest in the iPad and going online.  My parents did have internet access several years ago, but let it lapse because of slowness and lack of use.  Since then, better broadband coverage has come to their area of Scotland, so I hope slowness will no longer be an issue.  My father doesn’t seem as enthusiastic about the internet at this point.  I suspect my mother was always the more interested, but previously the internet was connected to the computer my father uses for video editing and she was always too nervous to use it in case she accidentally damaged it or my father’s work.  

    So, in the meantime broadband service has been arranged and will be installed at their home at the end of next week.  I chose to send them the iPad Mini, mainly as my mother has commented on the weight of the Kindle Keyboard being a little heavy for long use.  It should be with them at the beginning of next week. Before sending it off I configured a few things for them.  I tried to setup the iPad so that it would be useful for them straight off and only have the most basic icons at first.  My parents are smart people, but being older, technology was not part of their working lives as a veterinary surgeon and nurse as it would be today.  

    This is what I configured:

    Apple ID

    With iDevices, an Apple ID is almost a prerequisite.  I set one up for my parents.  It’s not yet hooked up to a credit card; I’ll leave it up to them if they want to purchase paid apps.

    Email, FaceTime and Skype

    My biggest frustration with my parents not being online is not being able to email them.  Email is such a practical tool, whether it’s a simple hello to keep in touch or emailing detailed information (such as an itinerary) or photos.   So often I’ve thought, I wish I could email this to them.  Well, now I can!  I have setup an email account for them and emailed a couple of things to them.  When they had internet access earlier, they didn’t check email at all unless someone told them to.  I’m hoping that with the iPad alerting them to new emails automatically they may actually use this.

    One of the arguments used in the decision to get online was that using Skype and/or FaceTime to call me would save them international calls on their phone bills.  I’m not certain how comfortable they’ll be using it at the beginning, but I have setup Skype and FaceTime accounts.  We’ll need to see how that goes.

    Photos

    I am an Apple fangirl through and through, so most of my photos are taken with my iPhone and stored in iCloud.  It was then very easy to setup a Shared photostream which I then set to share with my parents’ Apple ID.  Any time I add photos to that stream it should show up automatically on their iPad without their doing anything.  The photos have already downloaded to the iPad so they will have something to look at while waiting on the broadband being connected.

    Calendar

    With my job I work shift hours and my mother is often calling me to ask what hours I am working that week.  I already have my shifts entered in my iCloud Work calendar, so it was a quick click to share it with my parents’ Apple ID.  Again when I update it, it should update automatically on my parents’ iPad.

    Facebook

    I did spend some time considering whether or not I should setup a Facebook account for my parents.  Their hometown’s local newspaper has a very active Facebook page as does a local community group.  Often they hear about things going on in town because one of their friends has seen it on Facebook.  Other than Google searches and email, Facebook is probably what my parents think about most when they think about the internet.  In the end, I didn’t set up the account for them already – I was thinking of using that as a training exercise, but I may regret that.

    One thing I do regret not having installed was a crosswords app.  My parents both get a great deal of pleasure out of doing the daily crossword in their local paper.  Ah well, I guess it’s something they can choose to install later if they so wish. I also think I may have left Siri in Canadian English, not British English.  

    I’m hoping that my parents will get some use out of the iPad and the internet.  I know that, for me, the biggest challenge is going to be avoiding overwhelming them with all the things to be found on the internet.  I spend a significant portion of my life online and I’m looking forward to sharing that with my parents.  From conversations with my mother, I suspect the first things she will want to learn is how to search on Google and navigate Facebook.  The rest can wait.

    I am also going to wait to introduce them to Siri.  I’m not certain how she will react to their Scottish accents and I don’t want them getting frustrated.

    Do any of you have suggestions for introducing older people to iPads and the internet?  Please let me know in the comments.

    Here in Canada Tuesday was the national holiday, Canada Day, so I had a day off work.  I was particularly pleased it fell on a Tuesday as that’s the day new books are released.  I was therefore able to spend a pleasant afternoon listening/reading The Jedi Doth Return, the third and final part in Ian Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s Star Wars.

    Reading roundup – 3rd July 2014The Jedi Doth Return by Ian Doescher
    Series: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars #3
    Genres: Classics, Contemporary Fantasy
    Format: Audiobook
    Narrator: Various
    Length: 3 hours and 35 minutes
    Buy from AmazonKoboAudibleeBooks.com
    four-stars

    As with the other two in the series, Verily a New Hope and The Empire Striketh Back, Random House Audio has done a fantastic job with the audiobook – it is a full cast audio with a talented cast and enhanced with sound effects and John Williams’ iconic music.  (Doetscher had the backing of George Lucas for this undertaking). Like the two earlier books, this is one I would recommend in audio format.  The cast is superb.  Audiobook listeners should remain right to the end for a cameo appearance by the Bard himself!

    While I really enjoyed The Jedi Doth Return, I wasn’t quite a head over heels in love with it as I was with the previous two books.  Perhaps it’s because the novelty had worn off somewhat.  I still wish these had been available when I was at school studying Shakespeare!

    I gave The Jedi Doth Return four stars out of five.

    This week I have also been on a major Robin Hobb kick.  It’s been some time since I read her Farseer trilogy and as she has a new book in the Farseer series, Fool’s Assassin, coming out in August, I thought I should refresh my memory.  I’d forgotten how much fun the Farseer trilogy is, once you get over the initial painfully slow setup.  I read Assassin’s Apprentice and now I am onto Royal Assassin.

    Added to my library this week

    Random House of Canada was kind enough to give me an ARC of The Shadow’s Curse by Amy McCulloch.  This is the second in a YA fantasy duology started by The Oathbreaker’s Curse, which I also reviewed.  I’m interested to see if McCulloch does pick back up those plot points I in which I was most interested.

    Nancy Richler’s The Impostor Bride was on special this week on Amazon.  This has been on my watch list for a while, mainly because it is set in my hometown of Montreal.  It seems to be a character driven chicklit drama.  It may be a while before I get round to reading it, but I will review it when I do.

    That’s all for this week folks.  Have a good weekend!