Friday, February 22, 2013

Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception

Well, that was intense.
First of all, despite yesterday's post where I longed to curl up and read War and Peace, I honestly can't stop reading Artemis Fowl.
I guess it's the fact that I managed to grab the first six books from the library at one time and when I begin a series I like, it's nearly impossible for me to put them down.
So yeah.


The adventures of Artemis and his fairy friends are becoming more dangerous and definitely more life-threatening. The Opal Deception is no exception. Opal Koboi, the pixie behind the goblin rebellion in The Arctic Incident, is back, though no body knows how at first because she's supposed to be in a coma under heavy guard at the hospital. Supposed to be. But when it appears that Captain Holly Short has shot and killed her own commander and then taken off for the surface, the LEP (Lower Elements Police -- forgot to cover that) clearly could have looked elsewhere than Holly.

In fact, Opal has killed Commander Julius Root and was after Artemis Fowl and his bodyguard Butler, as well. Holly had only a short time before they were vaporised by a bio-bomb. Of course, they are saved, but Artemis and Butler don't have any memories of the fairies. They were, after all, mind-wiped at the end of the last book. Look how that turned out. Not well.

Holly brings them up to speed, Mulch Diggums joins the crew, Artemis and Butler get their memories back, and the chase is on. Unfortunately, Holly and Artemis are captured before Artemis even has his memories back. They are nearly killed by trolls, which certainly doesn't help anybody.

With the LEP completely hoodwinked into not even considering Opal's deception (see what I did there?), this book is jam-packed with crazy happenings. I don't want to go any further into the storyline because there's a few spoilers already. But it all happens so quickly at the beginning of the book anyway.


If the books get progressively better like this, I can't imagine what the final book in the series will be like. Unfortunately, I do know a few major spoilers for the end, but I can pretend I don't. And I will give this book 4 stars. Not 5, but 4. I was sufficiently shocked and sad and happy by turns with all the events in this book. I was incredibly sad that Commander Root was murdered, to the point that when Maggie called me last night (to talk about Doctor Who mostly, what else?), what I said to her by way of hello was "Is Commander Root really dead????" Yeah.

If you ever tried to get into the Artemis Fowl series and couldn't get past the first couple of books, please, keep going. They get better. I promise. And you just might find yourself attached to more than a few characters.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

bookish thoughts

Keeping up with more than one blog is not easy. I sort of wish I had kept to one and just made multiple sections, etc. Perhaps that will happen in the future, though it's not likely. I have to organize and categorize things. It's the librarian in me.

Seriously, all the books in my house are (loosely) catalogued in Dewey Decimal. I spent about a month last autumn doing that, much to my husband's dismay. Half the books are his, though, so he shouldn't complain. And now it's super easy for me to find a book! (Doesn't mean we have enough bookshelves, of course....) I did have my own system beforehand, but Dewey makes everything simpler. It's too bad Dewey can't really be used with kitchen cabinets.

I'm almost halfway through the Artemis Fowl series, which is excellent. I have the third book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, but I kind of want to finish Artemis Fowl first. But this snow is making me want to curl up with a big ol' classic tome. Like War and Peace or something Russian. The problem with that is the books already mentioned are library books. Oy vey.

I haven't read a classic in a couple of months, and it's starting to wear on me. Classics are my comfort novels, kind of like PG Tips with a jigger of whiskey is my comfort drink, and any version of Alice in Wonderland is my comfort film. (Or old black and white films. LOVE.)

Do you have a comfort novel?

Anyway. It's tempting to put down Artemis Fowl and pick up War and Peace. It really is. But I did make a promise to my youngest sister that I would finish Eoin Colfer's series. I don't really know what the point of this post is. Just a reader's ramblings, I suppose.

Also, do you like my new background?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code.

After all the complaining I did about Eoin Colfer's writing in the first two Artemis Fowl books, I was pleasantly surprised when I realized the third book wasn't nearly as choppy and badly-written. I guess he grew into the story a bit more? Or something?

Anyway, The Eternity Code was excellent. Fairy technology stolen by a tech magnate (at least that's what I consider Spiro), Butler killed and brought back to life, and apparently even the great Artemis Fowl II's plans can go awry sometimes.

What I found interesting about this book is that it actually didn't seem like Artemis was only in it for himself this time. He had his own motivations for showing the fairy technology to Spiro, but after that he was kind of helpless for a (very) short period of time. And though the entire fairy population was in danger, Holly Short and Mulch Diggums genuinely wanted to help Artemis, not only save themselves.

I like Holly. She's feisty, a good soldier, and clearly has a soft spot for Artemis. She also isn't afraid to disobey orders when they aren't going to help. Not that that's something to always condone, but within the frame of the story, it works.


I'm currently reading The Artemis Fowl Files, which has two short stories about Holly and Mulch, the Gnommish alphabet, interviews with various characters and the author, and various other info about the People. I won't review it in a separate post, but I will say that it's a good addition to the series!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

my first love was a novel

Though of course I can't remember which one.
Perhaps I could say it was Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery, because that's the first book I recall reading that I would consider a novel.
I was nine years old, and Mom had been trying to get me to read the Anne books. Just the first one, she coaxed. I refused, because it seemed to me in my headstrong brain that any book my mother recommended wasn't something I would enjoy. Eventually, I ran out of books to read, so I secretly started reading Anne of Green Gables. So secretly in fact, that I was hiding the book in the kitchen cabinet by the phone. Not even kidding. I also don't know why, fifteen years later, I can remember this with such clarity. Actually, maybe I do. It was my entry into the world of classic novels and absolutely beautiful worlds. Plus, Anne Shirley is definitely the first character I came across that made me want to be a redhead.

I never did finish the Anne series; I reread the first three a few times, though. I've read other books by L.M. Montgomery, too. Such an idyllic world, there on Prince Edward Island. I have a feeling it's also Anne Shirley's fault that I'm in love with the Victorian and Edwardian eras. (And the Betsy-Tacy series.)

So, my first love was a novel. (Incidentally, age nine was also when I had my first real crush on a boy...which lasted until we were fifteen.) Since then, there have been many other novels I fell in love with. On this Valentine's Day, let me share with you a list of novels that I love and are, incidentally, kind of about love. And not just the romantic kind. Friendship love is just as important!

  • Persuasion, Jane Austen (and her other novels, but this one is the sweetest, I think.)
  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
  • Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte (this is one of my favorite novels of all time.)
  • Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh (NOT a woman. this book is a great story about intense friendship and love and how they can entangle themselves in ways that aren't good.)
  • Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
  • To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee (more about friendship and acceptance.)
  • Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell (just a powerful tome all around.)
  • A Girl of the Limberlost, Gene Stratton-Porter (more about familial love, and heart-wrenching, too.)
  • I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith (I liken this a bit to Brideshead Revisited in theme.)

There you have a short list. I will add one honorable mention, because it's one of my favorite novels ever and should have "classic" status: The Scottish Chiefs, by Jane Porter. Published in 1809, this is a highly Romanticized version of the Scottish fight for freedom with William Wallace and Robert Bruce (who I might be related to!), but oh, so excellent. I made it an honorable mention because the love story between Wallace and his wife is so incredible, Biblical, and pure.

So, what are you favorite novels (classic or modern) about love? And why?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident

Mmkay, so I read this entire book yesterday.
It was just one of those days.

In Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, we see the same cast of characters returning, though not for all the same reasons. This time it isn't Artemis attacking the fairies. Well, not attacking, exactly, but at any rate it isn't his fault. Captain Holly Short, with a score to settle, thinks the thirteen year old criminal mastermind is behind the goblin uprising (clearly someone is doing weapons trading), and Commander Root believes her. They kidnap Artemis and his bodyguard, Butler, and bring them belowground, where it is quickly discovered that the kid had nothing to do with the goblins. But he could probably help.

The result is that Root and Holly end up assisting Artemis to rescue his father, who is apparently alive (though not quite well) and being held captive in Murmansk, Russia. Fairies hate the cold, and they don't handle radiation well at all. So this is a big thing.

Naturally, both problems become entangled when the goblins stage a revolution in Haven, the fairy capital city, and attempt to assassinate Root and Holly in northern Russia. Yeah. It isn't pretty. And by the end of the story, everything is resolved (as usual). But this time Artemis and the fairies part on good terms After all, they did help save Artemis Fowl the First. It seems that perhaps Artemis isn't destined to be an enemy to the magic folk for all time....


Again, short and slightly convoluted summary. Colfer's writing wasn't really any better in this book, either. And I think the editors for the edition I read were not doing their job. SO MANY SPELLING MISTAKES AND MISSING LETTERS. Erm. Yeah. It was really incredibly annoying. But it's cool to see the relationship between Artemis and Holly going somewhere. I don't mean romantically; I think they could genuinely have a friendship in the near future. They've seen the best and worst of each other already.

Artemis Fowl

My youngest sister (she's almost 13) has been bugging me to read the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer for oh, at least two years now. I think. Being free of college at last (which was almost two years ago...), I have the freedom to read for leisure. But I kept forgetting about dear little Artemis. Sure, I read the first book about four or five years ago while I was working at the library. But that's as far as I got. So I have now taken it upon myself to read the entire series before winter is over. Not a huge problem, since the books aren't that long.

I reread the first book, to reacquaint myself with the characters. Artemis is likeable in a sad way; you feel sorry for him at the beginning -- a missing father (presumed dead) and a very sick mother because of that. Artemis' bodyguard, Butler, doesn't have too much of a personality in this book, but he's quite impressive. The fairies we meet in the first book are rather hilarious. I love Captain Holly Short for her spunk and willingness to disobey orders when they are dumb. Which, let's face it, many of the orders coming from Commander Julius Root are dumb. Root is absolutely hilarious, and I'm sure Colfer meant him to be. Always about to blow his top, it's a wonder that he's in charge at LEP at all! And there's Foaly, the paranoid centaur who controls all the techie stuff. Oh, and we can't forget Mulch Diggums, kleptomaniac extraordinaire. I'm not kidding. He's quite the convict.


As far as the story goes, it's a decent one. Fairies have hidden underground from humans, which they call Mud Men, for many centuries now. They go aboveground for few things, one being to renew their magic. This is how Holly gets captured by Artemis, who has an uncanny knowledge of the fairies. Commander Root stages an attack on Fowl Manor, they discover that Artemis has a copy of the Book, the fairies' holy writ, as it were, and things don't go so hot after that.

That's a simple summary.

The problem I had with this book is that Eoin Colfer is good with weaving a plot but he's kind of a terrible writer. So much of his grammar was bad. Plus, he doesn't use POV and omniscient narrator very well. There were more than a few pages where I couldn't figure out who was saying and/or thinking what.

I gave the book 3 stars because though it's badly written, it's amusing and a clever story.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Omnivore's Dilemma

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

I like books.
I like food.
So it stands to reason that I would like a book about food.

The thing is, I don't read much nonfiction.
I just have a hard time with it.
At least I used to.
But The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan, was one of the most fascinating nonfiction books I have ever read.
Not even kidding.


Journalist Michael Pollan sets out to capture the essence of the food industry in modern America. The book is divided into three sections, Industrial: Corn, Pastoral: Grass, and Personal: The Forest. In these three sections, Pollan travels the United States, examining how food comes to the table. It is an incredible journey, and one I admire greatly.

The first section documents the food industry, mainly corn. It amazes me how much corn is in the processed foods we consume. And not even just the processed, boxed foods on the supermarket shelves; even most of the meat we consume has been eating corn (among other disgusting things...) for most of its short and horrible feedlot life. Pollan concludes this section with a McDonald's meal that he discovers is almost 100% genetically modified processed corn. GROSS.

The second section documents the organic food industry, which basically comes down to food that is mass-produced, but without pesticides and antibiotics, etc. The question that he asks himself is this: Is this really what the organic movement was all about? The answer isn't exactly clear-cut, but I agree with him when he says that it shouldn't really be this way, but that it's better than the food in the first section of the book. But in this same section, Pollan visits Polyface Farm, run by Joel Salatin who is a champion of the "beyond organic" movement. His farm was incredible. I can't even begin to do it justice, so you'll just have to read the book. At any rate, I now wish to only consume grass-fed meats and eggs from pastured hens.

The third section, and probably the most fascinating, documents the food foraging that still goes on today. Pollan learns how to shoot a gun, gets himself a license, and goes with a friend to hunt wild pig in Northern California. He talks about the ethics and how he felt about the whole process. He also goes mushroom hunting, which sounds like a huge lesson in patience. And he explores the whole idea of gathering the food you eat, which culminates in a mouthwatering meal.


This is a book that I couldn't really review in detail without giving away some of the surprises within Pollan's story. But his journey and experiences are inspiring in more ways than one. If you read this book (and I encourage you to do so), I guarantee you'll change your mind about the way you eat. At the very least, you might think a little bit more before stopping at McDonald's or buying that prepackaged TV dinner. And please, for the love of everything truly delicious, stop drinking so much soda!!