2013 TBR Pile Challenge

2013tbrpilechall

 

 

I didn’t do so hot with the 2012 challenge.  Sort of fell off the reading wagon in the early spring,  and while I still read a good bit during the year, I just never got back to my list.

So, with hopefully a little more FOCUS this year, I’ve got some old standbys from last year, and some new to me works to work on.  Because even if we aren’t reading, we still buy books, right?

Here’s my list:

Cajun Racing by Ed McNamara

Horse Breeding in the Medieval World by Charles Gladitz

The Byerly Turk by Jeremy James

Dragonsdawn by Anne McCaffrey

Fire by Kristen Cashore

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

(anyone sense a theme?)

Enna Burning by Shannon Hale

Behold the Dawn by K.M. Weiland

War Horse by Lou DiMarco (not the recent fictional work, this one is non fiction)

So here’s to binging on good books.

Do any of you have any books you are itching to read?  Anything on my list pique your interest?  Give me a shout and let me know!

Magical March book review– Game of Thrones

Well.

I’m rather at a loss for how to sum up this book.  I finished it in a sleep deprived binge Friday into Saturday morning, and as soon as I have an opportunity to, I’m going to re-read it.

Game of Thrones is a book you don’t simply read.  It is a book you experience.  From the opening prologue through the stunning conclusion, you get sucked in and dragged along for a ride you aren’t sure you really want to be on, but you can’t manage to get off of.  You find yourself seeing things coming, and trying to shout a warning to the characters to JUST FREAKING STOP RIGHT THERE! But they can’t hear you.  Or don’t want to listen.

Martin does a brilliant job of creating complex, believable characters with strong motivations who are usually their own worst enemy, as we all are in real life.  And, as many of you well know, he isn’t afraid to treat them badly.  Very badly.  And because you come to see yourself mirrored in them, it hurts when things go wrong for them or when they do stupid, stupid things.  Just like life.  A happily ever after is not a given.

SPOILER ALERT

 

 

 

 

 

Because of my stupendous ability to be a spoiler magnet, and HBO’s ability to give me free service at exactly the wrong time, I knew Eddard Stark would meet an untimely end.  What I didn’t realize until reading the book was that his demise was a direct result of his own failings, his own ability to completely underestimate Cersi Lannister.  And dude, she warned him!  Multiple times.  I tried to also, but apparently he couldn’t hear me either.

I have a friend who is a major Martin junkie, and she told me that a lot of people who watched the HBO series were outraged when ol’ Ned got done in.  Apparently they hadn’t read the books.  But I think part of the problem was that they mistook Ned for the protagonist, which he is not.  In a story as complex with as many story lines as this one, it’s hard to pull out just one main protag, but at least in this first book, it’s definitely Cersi.  The protagonist drives the story, and Cersi is definitely the driving force here.

The other great thing about Martin’s writing , for writers, is that he presents a clinic on story tension with every paragraph of this book.   Every word serves to create micro tension, and as much craft as there is in every paragraph, I can see why it takes him so long to write the next damn book.  He also does a brilliant job of writing in different POV, and yet giving you enough that you realize what the POV character doesn’t.  Example:  Sansa.  All I’m going to say about her is that her choices led her to where she is and I really can’t feel sorry for her.  And plucky little Arya.  I’m afraid to get too attached to her, but it’s tough.

Anyway,  Game of Thrones is definitely not casual reading, but it’s great reading.  Experience it for yourself.  But…

I warn you…

Photo courtesy of Better Book Titles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will read all the rest of the books, and as long as it takes me I may be caught up by the next time he releases a book, say in five years or so.

* Bummer.  Apparently I didn’t get this posted in time for it to count for the Magical March challenge.  I didn’t remember seeing a deadline, but oh, well.  My bad.  So I won’t get my sorceress button.  Maybe next year.

Full Metal Jousting Pt. 2 — Back in Black!

So, anyone who tuned in last week will fondly remember what will always be known as “The Testicle Episode”.

Two guys got carted off in ambulances with injuries to…well, down there, ya know, that spot guys are a little overprotective of.

But, I guess a little blood reminds us that this is for real, and not for show.  And they should both still be able to pass on their genes.

Anyway, last week I shared a couple of picks for the red team, and today, I want to give some love to the black team.

The black team has had it’s share of drama, two weeks ago a comptetitor got sent home for committing the unpardonable sin of punching a horse. For stepping on his foot.  No, really. Pay attention.  You can see your feet, the horse can’t.

(I thought he was a little too pretty anyway)

Anyway, my faves for the black team:

Hopefully nice guys finish first...or don't get broken bones.

Rope Meyers.

Rope is a former world champion steer wrestler.  Now, for those of you who aren’t familiar with steer wrestling, a bit about that sport:  Picture yourself diving headfirst off of a perfectly good horse running at about 35 miles an hour, onto the back of a 500 lb steer (with horns for an added challenge), grabbing it about the head and neck, planting your feet in the dirt, flipping the steer over and giving it a good noogie, and leaving both you and the steer able to walk away.  Not for wussies.  I personally prefer to stay aboard my galloping horses thank you very much.  Dirt is not tasty.

Rope is just one of those genuinely nice cowboys, who had the good fortune to be born in that era when cowboy moms and dads named their kids evocative western names like Rope, Quirt, Colt and Hoof.  He probably takes his hat off every time he enters a room, goes to church every Sunday and says Yes Ma’am and No Ma’am.  More importantly, his kids probably say Yes Ma’am and No Ma’am.  The affection and respect the other jousters have for him is obvious.

Yep, I’m crushing on ol’ Rope a bit.

Whadaya mean, I'm over the top?!

Josh Knowles.

Talk about larger than life, on several levels.  This guy is big, and has a bigger personality.  Another professional theatrical jouster, you just can’t wait to see what he does next.  Complete opposite of Rope.  But too much fun to watch.

The Rules

Jousting, believe it or not, is a bit more sophisticated than just a couple of guys bashing each other with 2X4’s.

There is a scoring system, and a very specific set of rules.  You get 1 point for striking your opponent, 5 points for breaking your lance on your opponent, and 10 points for knocking your opponent off his horse.

The catch?  You have to strike your opponent in the Grand Guard, which is a metal plate not much larger than a liscence plate.  Nothing else counts, and if you hit your oponent in the head or too far below the Grand Guard, you lose 5 points.

You also get deductions for not dropping the reins when you are about to hit (this protects the horses mouth from being jerked on should you lose your seat) or failing to control the horse. Yes, this is challenging when you have to drop the reins.

At then end of eight passes, the competitor with the most points wins.  Unless one of you can’t get up, and then it’s last man standing.

So, did any of you check out “the testicle episode”?  Do you have a fave for the black team?

Next week starts the final round of jousts, so check back then, and as a bonus, we’ll talk a bit about the history of jousting!

Charge on!

Full Metal Jousting

Okay, so I’m the first to admit that I didn’t think we needed another reality show.

I mean, we have Top Shot, Pawn Stars, Gold Rush Alaska, Auction Hunters,Real Housewives of Pick a City and at least 14 shows featuring people chasing down alligators in the swamp.  Enough be enough, all right?  I usually maintain an air of sophisticated ennui when faced with any of them, tisk tisking and all, because oh, can you believe the display people make of themselves?  Give me the remote, please dear.

So imagine the plate full of crow I’m working on now, to find myself totally hooked on History Channel’s Full Metal Jousting.

In my defense, it features horses, which I’ve yet to see on any episode of Swamp Rush Auction Houswives.  Big, sexy horses with feet like platters, and enough mane and tail that I pity their grooms. Been there, done that, got the calluses.

Anyway.

The show features a cast of 16 horsemen from various disciplines, competing in an elimination tournament for a pretty nice chunk of change.

And it better be a large chunk of change, considering these guys are wearing full metal armor (hence the title!) which weighs upwards of 80 lbs.  This is kind of what it feels like.  Just to wear it.

All of these guys have some sort of equestrian experience, and I give kudos to the History Channel for the breadth of talent they came up with. They have everything from a polo player to a steer wrestler to a show jumper, so it’s impossible to pick someone who has an advantage in the horse area.

Now, me picking any sports team, individual competitor, or lottery numbers is the kiss of death for winning, so I hesitate to curse any of these guys with my favoritism.

But, for the red team, a couple of picks come to mind:

James Fairclough. 

James is a professional show jumper, who has ridden at the Olympic level, and that for sure ain’t nuthin.  If the horses they are using for the jousts have a modicum of training, James ought to be able to thread a needle with the animal without batting an eye, saying “look ma, no hands!” the whole way. One of the smaller competitors, he apparently has an iron clad seat and can hit like a Mack truck.

And he looks a bit like Hugh Dancy, which is always a nice thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My other current red team favorite is Josh Avery.

Josh is a professional theatrical jouster (who knew that was a real job?!)  He won one of the best matches of the FMJ (that’s what we hard-core fans call it) season to date by just a few points.  A double unhorsing! Dude, that was nailbiting!  Whew!

And for my writer peeps:  Anyone but me feel like casting him as the hero in a steamy medieval romance?  No? That’s just me?  Cool!  (Tucks that away in her special happy place)

Anyway.

This show is one of my weekly highlights.  There haven’t been many shows I will actually recall the time they air and actively wrestle the remote from my hubster to watch.

I can vouch for the fact that falling off a horse is not fun.  Falling off a galloping horse wearing that 80 lbs after being hit in the chest with a baseball bat seems as if it would even be less fun.

I wouldn’t do it.

Oh, hell, who am I kidding?!  Is there a geriatric version?  Sign me up.

Next week I’ll be back with a few picks for the black team, and a little 411 on the sport.

Have any of you seen Full Metal Jousting?  Do you have a fave?  Tune in with me this Sunday at 9 central and…

Charge on!

New Book on the Pile

Yeah, I knew I wasn’t going to do so hot with my unspoken resolution not to buy any more books until I finished most of my TBR pile challenge.

I’m a book junkie.  Sue me.  It’s the curse of literacy.

I did finish the first book from the TBR Pile challenge list I made, and I’ll be posting a review of The Rebel Prince per the challenge rules soon.  I’m still digesting the book.

Anyway, the latest book to arrive in the mail via Amazon is a used copy of The Medieval Warhorse: From Byzantium to the Crusades by Ann Hyland.

I’m fascinated by history, and I’m fascinated by horses, so I expect most of you won’t be floored by this selection.  I’m a sucker for a good medieval romance and I think part of my lifelong love of medievals is linked to a fascination with war horses in general.

There’s no doubt that the domestication of the horse is one of, if not the, most pivotal happenings in the history of the human race, right up there with the wheel, the written language, and beer.  And it never ceases to amaze me that an animal that 40 million years of evolution has hardwired to “run very fast in the other direction and ask questions later” when faced with something very dangerous can be trained to “run towards danger and kick it’s ass when you get there”.

Yeah, I’m weird, but you guys love me.  😉

So, I figure I can allow myself one new book for each one read from the TBR pile list.  That way I maintain the status quo, and can keep the current level of entropy intact.

And if anyone else is interested in any little pearls of info about medieval war horses,  let me know!  I don’t want to keep all that glorious weirdness to myself!

Happy weekend, peeps!