BTT ~ Dune Thief’s Daughters

btt button

Jackie says, “I love books with complicated plots and unexpected endings. What is your favourite book with a fantastic twist at the end?”

So, today’s question is in two parts.

1. Do YOU like books with complicated plots and unexpected endings?

2. What book with a surprise ending is your favorite? Or your least favorite?

My answer to the first part, “do I like complicated plots and unexpected endings?” is a resounding YES!  I think it’s one of the things I liked best about Dune.  All the intrigues and plots and subplots made it like taking a long trip down a winding road and checking out all the historical markers, garage sales, and tourist traps along the way.  I hate reading a book where I know what’s going to happen, it really takes a lot of the fun out of it.  Maybe that’s one of the things I didn’t like about The Blue Notebook, none of it was a surprise… except just how far human depravity can go.

As for what book with a surprise ending is my favorite, I’d say The Book Thief is my favorite book.  I don’t know whether it was a “surprise” because we know Liesel is going to die by page 3, and yet… somehow… her death is still a shock, like when a person with cancer dies in a car crash.  You knew their end was coming, but when it happens it’s a shock.  It wasn’t the fact she died, but the how and what all happened in the book before that.  I actually cried for several minutes, and couldn’t start a new book for a few days because of how much emotions it had wrought in me.  That’s why The Book Thief is my all-time favorite book.  I’ve never had a book reach me so deeply.

As for my least favorite “surprise ending” book, that’d be BoneMan’s Daughters.  By the time the end came, I was hating the book so bad, there was nothing Dekker could do to bring me back.  I’d lost my willing suspension of disbelief, so the ending was ridiculous to me.

So how about you?  Do you like complicated and twisty books?  What’s your favorite surprise ending?

Check out other Twisty Booking Through Thursday answers!

Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert

Title:  Dune Messiah

Author:  Frank Herbert

Paperback:  279 pages

Published: 1969

ISBN:  0425074986

“I prefer the cynical view,” Paul said, testing.  “You obviously are trained in all the lying tricks of statecraft, the double meanings and the power words.  Language is nothing more than a weapon to you and, thus, you test my armor.”

“The cynical view,” Edric said, a smile stretching his mouth.  “And rulers are notoriously cynical where religions are concerned.  Religion, too, is a weapon.  What manner of weapon is religion when it becomes the government?”

-Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert, pages 108-109

Earlier this year, I read and reviewed the first of the Dune novels by Frank Herbert, which is arguabley one of the greatest science fiction books ever written.  And while Dune Messiah isn’t as beloved as the original, it is, in my oppinion, every bit as good as the first.  It is intellectual, even philosophical, and the characters are tangible and relateable.  There is one caveat I’d warn you if you plan on reading it.  Dune Messiah is NOT brain candy.  It requires thinking as you read it.  At times, it gets a little deep in thought, but it’s well worth it.

Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert picks up about 12 years later after Paul Muad’Dib has led the Fremen in a galactic jihad.  He has not only become the emporer, but also has become the religious central figure, along with his sister Alia.  Officially married to the Princess Irulan, she functions more as his ettiquette and political advisor, while Chani, his Fremen concubine, is his love and true wife.  He refuses to allow Irulan’s desire to be the mother of the imperial line, deferring that to Chani.  The trouble is, Irulan isn’t the only one who want his genetic material, but the Bene Gesserits and the Bene Tleilaxu do, as well.  The latter two want to make a kwisatz haderach that they can control.  Irulan seems to want it out of pride.

Also going on is the declining appoval of the new world Muad’Dib has brought to the planet Dune, also called Arrakis.  Fremen ways are passing, as water has become more abundant and the society is becoming more fragmented and people become more isolated.  Really, it’s no surprise ot me, considering a second term president can go from a 60%+ approval rating before being re-elected and plummet to a less than 30% rating before leaving office. 

Paul, too, has undergone change.  He has become more sullen and feels trapped by his own mythology.  He has known for a long time that no matter which way he turned, fanatics would take up his name as a banner in jihads, that they will worship him whether he is alive or dead, so he tried to pick the best of all the crap paths through his presience powers to lead them.  Unfortunately, however, he’s become a bit of a despot, and he hates what he’s become.

So he has to figure out how he’s going to manage to ensure his child lives to carry on the emire without being under the thumb of either of the Bene schools, that he can escape the weight of being a living god, and somehow return the Fremen to their ways while still having his contributions of planetary changes remain. 

I think one of the biggest reasons why those who loved Dune and hate Dune Messiah do so because this book shows Muad’Dib in a very human and flawed light.  Pride, arrogance, and even cruelty at times are all part of who Paul is and he shows it.  He goes on walks around the city after dark, despite council against it from Stilgar, his closest friend and advisor.  He take in Hayt, the ghola (a reanimated corpse, or a clone of a dead person, not sure which) of Duncan Idaho, despite his warning to get rid of him, as well as his own feelings that Hayt’s meant to be a weapon and every advisor telling  him it’s unnatural.  In this second book, Paul is a bit less likeable than in the first.

I do plan on re-reading both Dune and Dune Messiah, as well as read the third book in the series, Children of Dune.  There is a mini-series made that combined the second and third books, which I’ve watched just the part for this book.  Like most movies-from-books, it left a lot out and failed to completely capture the book, but I’m sure it was doomed from the start, given just how much is in the book.  I give Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

The Sunday Salon ~ Jane Austen and Henry III in a throw down… who’d win?

The Sunday Salon.com

Read.  Read read read read read.  and then Read some more.  Having been distracted by life and video games, it would seem that the end of the year has snuck up on me.. again.  This is very familiar.  It seems that I was racing to the end of the year last December, as well, only Second Life was my distractor then… World of Warcraft has done it this year (the facebook games don’t help, either).  But I think I’ll make the 75-book goal this year.  I’ve already read more this year than last.  I ended with 63 last year, but I’ve read 71 already, and with only eleven more days to go, I’m confident I’ll hit 75.

This week I finished three books ~

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen is the fifth of the sixth Jane Austen novels.  Though it was written first, it was published, posthumously, next to last.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and have to admit that it’s my new Austen favorite.  I crushed harder on Henry Tilney than I did on Mr. Darcy, and that’s saying something.  Tilney has a bit of an edge over Darcy… Henry is actually a nice person, as well as being funny and smart.  Darcy, while sweet in his private way, was a bit of an ass.  I guess that went along well with Elizabeth, since she liked to jump to conclusions and was a bit proud herself, but it did a little to put one off.  Of course, the ingenue.. the innocent, country flower.. who is a blank slate and, therefore, non-threatening to Tilney’s intellectual authority, ready and willing to be molded by him, which suits his fancy, I think. 

All in all, I enjoyed Austen’s wit and sarcasm, as well as her parody of Gothic novels of her day.

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar is a humorous walk through many schools of philosophy.  The authors, Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, use jokes to illustrate what each school of thought is about.  Like with Teleology, the philosophy that all things exist for a purpose, one joke used to illustrate this is:

Mrs. Goldstein was walking down the street with her two grandchildren.  A friend stopped to ask her how old they were.  She replied, “The doctor is five and the lawyer is seven.”

I also finished my appointment read, Three to Get Deadly, the third book in the Stephanie Plum numbers series by Janet Evanovich.  I’d been missing Stephanie lately, so I picked this, the next in the series for me, up to read when I was away from home.  I learned an important lesson with it.  Just because a book can fit in your coat pocket doesn’t mean it’s a good appointment book.  By the time I’d gotten to the end of the book, I’d forgotten some of the beginning.  Also, it lost a bit of it’s momentum this way.  In the future, I think I’ll stick to short stories for appointment books.

I’ll write up real reviews for these books later this week… I hope.  I’ve already jumped into my next book, and I’m about 40 pages in it already.  Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert is the second of the Dune series.  I read the first book earlier this year, and I was in the mood for a good sci-fi book, so I picked this up.  I had forgotten how fascinating and fantastic the first book had been, and the second book is, so far, every bit as good.  It is also, however, as much a thinking book as the first.  My brain hurts after a while.   Trying to picture Edric, the fishy-humanoid Guildsman in his tank… picturing the Tleilaxu Face Dancer Scytale manipulate his physical body to be one form one second, then turn into the ghola version of Duncan Idaho (also a mind-bender of a thought), then back again… it’s all an exercising of my imagination muscles… both enjoyable and tiring at the same time.

Reading may be a little easier to do here… but I won’t guarantee it.  Sam, my oldest, has gone to her dad’s for the two-week vacation, and Gwen will go closer to Christmas day, but only stay gone for a week.  Maggie, however, will be here throughout, as her dad has moved back to town.  She’s happy about this, but it has it’s downside, too.  He’s here more, which means he’s nit-picking about my housekeeping more… which means less time to read.   And it means that he no longer needs to take her home with him to spend time, since he can see her whenever he wants. 

LOL.. the remainder of my reading may be Magic Treehouse books with Maggie.

I’ve been watching the Tudors, also.  I got hooked on it when I was sick with the flu last month.  I watched Seasons 1 and 2 straight through on Netflix’s Instant thing.  When the third season came out on DVD this past week, it was on the top of my queue.  I watched the first two discs last night, but I’ll have to wait for the third to come on Monday.  Watching it reminds me how we tend to judge history with modern day values.  Henry VIII was quite a tyrant through 21st century eyes, but was he all that bad or different in his own time-frame?  Sure, he had the north of England hung without trial for rebellion, but the Catholic Church had the Inquisition.  I suppose it all balances out.

I have to admit to a bit of cheating.  I had forgotten which wife Henry took after Jane, so I watched this video.  Now the rest of this season’s lost all suspense for me! 

Happy Reading and have a safe and Merry Christmas, everyone!

LibraryThing’s Full of Beans…

Okay, I love LibraryThing.  It was my inspiration to start blogging in the first place.  Well, not technically, since I had already been blogging for a year or so before that, but it was the inspiration for THIS blog, which is the only one I do now and I enjoy it much more than what I was doing before.

But sometimes… LibraryThing is full of beans!  Check it…

On every LT works page (that’s the page for a specific book, if you don’t LT) there’s a bar right under “recommendations” and above the first review.  This bar is titled “Will you like it?”  and when you click the “Will I like it?” link, it tells you whether you LibraryThing thinks you will enjoy a book or not.

Let’s try an experiment.  I just recently read and reviewed The Last Lectureby Randy Pausch and it’s one of my new favorite books, but does LT think I like it?

I won't like it

Not only does LibraryThing think I won’t like it, but they’re certainty of this fact is very high.

Okay, then… Maybe that’s a fluke…  How ’bout Dune, then…. I loved the award-winning sci-fi/fantasy classic and think about the book every time I thirstily guzzle a bottle of water.  I wouldn’t have this luxury on Arakis, I tell myself.  I’ve got the next book in the series, Dune Messiah, on my Books on Deck Pile, even.  Surely LT will say, with a very high certainty, that I’ll LOVE Frank Herbert’s masterpiece Dune.

wtf?  I won't like DUNE?

Even with my all-time favorite book, The Book Thief, LT says I’l probably like it. “Probably like” is the middle of the graph, and the majority of books I check are “probably likes.” Occasionally I get a “You’ll love it!” but that’s a rare event, and I can’t think of the last book I got one on. Oddly enough, about half the books I give 4+ stars on gets the “probably WON’T like it” result.

I love to play with the graph and see if LT thinks I’ll love or hate books I’ve read, but I avoid checking it before I read a book because, even though I have such great proof it’s unreliable, I’ll actually give weight to the thing and NOT get a book if it says I won’t like it. Dumb, I know… and think of the books I would have missed if I had checked to see if I’d like it first.

By the way… LT thinks I’ll love The Gun Runner’s Daughter.

The Sunday Salon ~ Guaranteed Job-Winning Interview

The Sunday Salon.com

I’ve been travelling through space and time a lot this week.  I’ve been to the desert planet of Arrakis, 8000 years into the future.  I’ve been to late 19th century England and Narnia (again) to watch the world’s beginning and the entrance of evil before it was even 5 hours old.  And now, I’ve just returned from a frightening not-to-distant future United States.  Oddly enough, they have more in common than just time.

In all three books, Dune, The Magician’s Nephew, and Fahrenheit 451, there is oppressive rulers and the reaching into the minds of people to control their very thoughts.  With Dune, the Bene Gesserit wish to control who gets knowledge and sight, who marries whom, and even what sex a child will be.  The Harkonnens and Sardukars viciously hunt and kill the Fremen in a pogrom, because the Fremen are independent and refuse to kiss the perverse butts of the disgusting Harkonnen “rulers.”

With The Magician’s Nephew, the Witch destroyed her own world in a bid to control it and take the throne from her sister, using the deplorable word to kill all life except the one who speaks it.  Then she tries to take over England, but without her magic, she’s just a violent nutter on a thieving rampage.  Once in Narnia, however, she’ll hide and bide her time… then make the move to enslave and opress the land for her own pleasure.

Fahrenheit 451, though, is the one I’ve most recently finished, so the thoughts about it are still tumbling around.

The fun thing with Fahrenheit 451 is that it’s been on Mt. TBR since before there was a Mt. TBR, way back when it was just an “I’m gonna read that soon” pile, when there were maybe 20 books on that pile.  I have NO idea how many books are on Mt. TBR now. Library Thing says I have catalogued almost 1000 books, but some of those are books I’ve read, or books I’ve mooched away and NOT read.  I have tagged 493 books either unread or TBR, but I’ve gotten lazy and haven’t been tagging any of the books I add, so I’d say Mt. TBR is well over 300 books (simply “unread” don’t count as TBR books).

So, some of my thoughts on Fahrenheit 451… 

One of the things that Guy Montag has to do is to decide which book he’ll sacrifice.  Captain Beatty knows he took a book and tells him if he turns it in within 24 hours, it’ll be forgiven.  Montag’s not sure if Beatty knows he has one book, a hundred books or which title, so he figures if he brings him one book, any book, he’ll pass without suspicion.  But how can he choose?  He decides not to turn over the last known surviving copy of The Bible, which was a funny moment with his wife, who asked him:  Which is more important, me or that book?  Der, easy answer… 

*SORTA SPOILER ALERT*  After running from the police, Montag finds a group of men hobo’ing who have memorized a chapter of a book, or even entire books, and burned the hard copies, and now wait for a time when society will return to it’s senses and want literature again.  They half-jokingly introduce themselves as the particular book title, i.e. “Hi!  I am Plato’s Republic, and Simmons is Marcus Aurelius.”  Knowing how the statement “I am” is an affirmation, and also that the more you say it, the more it takes hold and becomes a truth about you,  I wonder who they’ll be in 20 years.  Their personalities, and such.

In Fahrenheit 451, Mildred, Montag’s wife, is very attached to her “family,” the people on the television.  These “relatives” yell at each other, call each other names, act the fool, and are otherwise “entertaining”.  They have a device that allows the owner to hear their own name in messages and shows, and the picture is even adjusted to make the actor’s lips appear to say the name.  So that for her, the announcer says, “Mrs. Montag, wouldn’t you love to try Denham’s Dentifrice?”  And their living room, or parlor room, has wall-sized screens (remember, this was written in the late 40′s – early 50s), and when you had all 4 of your wall-screens installed, it would be just like being in the show… surrounded by your “family”.  Creepy!  and sad…

Clarisse McClellen is the oddball neighbor that sets Montag’s feet on the road of awakening.  She tells him of how kids her age frighten her.  They enjoy killing each other and themselves and destroying things.  They go to the “amusement park” and break windows in “Vandalism Town” or drag race legally, as long as they have enough insurance they can destroy whatever they want. 

One of Mrs. Montag’s friends tells how she thinks it was nice having kids, and she does her best to accommodate them the 3 days out of a month she has them (the rest of the time they’re away at school… grade schoolers, btw).  She just plopped them down in the parlor with the “relatives” as soon as they got home from the hospital.   But, she doesn’t know why they hate her.  Hmm…

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And now for something completely random and different  (because the vid clip I wanted to post is embedding disabled).

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So, If you had to sacrifice one of your books to save the rest, which one would go into the fire?

I’d be tossing the Babysitter’s Club ones… maybe the stray Captain Underpants one I think’s somewhere around here. The Reader’s Digest condensed books could be chucked, too… if they’re still here.

If you were one of the books (which was the vid clip, btw… Montag meeting the Books), what book would you be and why?

It’s a book I’d re-read mentally and recite every day… it’d become a part of me and eventually I’d become that book to an extent…. I think I’d pick the book of Proverbs (Montag was the Book of Ecclesiastes) because it’s wisdom. Everything you need to know about dealing with people, living life, psychology… everything…. is in Proverbs.

Your turn! What book would you sacrifice? Which would you be? Why?

Friday Fill-Ins ~ I’m Too Broke to Come Up With a Great FFI

ffi

And…here we go!

1. Apparently there’s some sort of glitch in the system.

2. It’s harder to hide the graves in the backyard on a  sunny day.

3. 2009 seriously has sucked dog’s dookey so far.

4. You’ll recognize your opportuninty to get rich when it comes.   Ooops!  Too late… that was it.

5. For too long I’ve been broke beyond recognition.

6. I am not obsessed with butter toast; I am not!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to finishing up Dune, tomorrow my plans include pissing and moaning about being broke and wishing I could get some books at the library sale… they always have them when I’m broke, dang it! and Sunday, I want to get a serious jump on The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, which is for a blog tour and my day is May 11th!
Posted by Janet at 12:26 PM

For those of you who didn’t get the “butter toast” reference:

My First Dewey 24 Hour Read-A-Thon :-D

Read Nekkid!

Dewey’s Read-a-Thon

Mt. TBR’s first post was on June 11, 2008, and was the WordPress standard Hello, World!  Not long after I started blogging my reading, there was a 24 hour read-a-thon.  I didn’t participate, but I read a lot of the updates of those who did.  I was unable to join in the October one, but read several of those as well.  So this time when I read S. Krishna’s announcement that she’s throwing in her hat, I decided to give it a try.

One of the reasons I haven’t joined before now is that I’m intimidated by the “updating.”  What if I mess up?  What if I do it all wrong?  I don’t want to screw it all up and make the whole blogosphere collapse because of my ineptitude!

Okay, so maybe that’s a littleexcessive, but still…  Do I have to collect donations?  Is it like the Math-a-thon I did as a kid, going door to do collecting pledges on how many problems I solved?  Do I get my friends and neighbors to donate a penny a page?  Ach!  It’s so confusing!

So okay… I’m not doing giveaways or mini-challenges here…. at least not this time, at least not now.  And I’m not going to put together a list of what I’ll read… I’ll read what I would normally.  If I’ve not finished with Empire Falls by then, I’ll finish it, though I’ll probably be deep into Dune by then… If I’m not done with that one, too.   I’ll probably read a couple of books Maggie and I picked out, maybe pick up Warrior Cats with Gwen again.  There are a couple books Sam’s read and she’d like me to read, too… So maybe I’ll make it a family “read and share” read-a-thon. :-)

So… beginning bright and early at 8 in the morning (Indiana time) on  Saturday, April 18th, 2009, I shall check in to let you know I’m awake… coffee and Krispy Kremes in hand, preparing to read like a maniac :-D

Click target=”_blank”>Dewey’s Read-a-Thong if you’d like to join in the fun! PS, like my button?

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From his book, Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders, Neil Gaiman reads the poem “Instructions.” I love Gaiman’s writing, and look forward to reading more of his books sometime. Stardust and Neverwhere sit on Mt. TBR right now, and I think there may be a third somewhere in there. I suppose I could pull Fragile Things out again… not like it stays on the shelf long, anyway… for when I get board with reading on Saturday.

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