Kythe42's Astral Library

I've been a book worm for pretty much my whole life. I've read many types of books over the course of my life, but currently the sorts of books I enjoy the most are fantasy and science-fiction. I particularly like it if these genre's are mixed with comedy like the style of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. I definitely can enjoy more serious fantasy and science-fiction though. I also enjoy vampire books, but not quite as much as I did when I was younger.

 

I'm not going to add any books to my shelves that I read before 2012 just because I've read so many books in my life and it's difficult to remember when I read them and how well I liked them, and I'm sure there are a great many books that I've read in my life that I've completely forgotten about.

 

The editions that I have displayed on my shelves do not necessarily correspond to editions that I actually own. I generally just use whatever edition has my favorite cover which may or may not match the covers of the books I actually own. If I own more than one copy of a book, in most cases I won't have multiple editions displayed on my shelves. An exception to this would be collective books/omnibuses in which the individual stories are all available separately. In this case I will probably use the individual books for tracking my reading, but will display the omnibus or anthology just as a book that I own.

 

Because BookLikes does not have any suitable way to track re-reading books, I have created a shelf called "all books read" in which I will permanently place every book that I have read. Books that I am re-reading will get transferred back and forth between the official "read" shelf and the "planning to read" and "currently reading" shelves.

Farewell for Now

It's with a heavy heart that I've decided to stop participating here at BookLikes. I really liked this site when I first joined. This site was the first site to combine a blog with a virtual bookshelf and it inspired me to start book blogging my reviews and other book related things. Unfortunately over the past several months BookLikes has made multiple changes to this site that has made it harder for me to use. I've stuck it out because as I said it is unique amongst book sites with it's blogging feature. However a recent change was the straw that broke the camel's back.

 

BookLikes recently changed tags so that special characters could no longer be used. I assume this wasn't a big deal to most people since there weren't too many people other than me that complained about it, but for me this is a big deal breaker. It doesn't matter to me so much on other sites like GoodReads or LeafMarks if I can't have shelves/tags with special characters, but a blog is much more personal. I put a lot of work into customizing my blog on here exactly how I want it, and if I can't have it look exactly how I want it anymore including formatting my tags how I want them, then it's not worth me sticking around anymore. Fortunately I've already made a mirror blog on Blogspot, so I don't have to worry about copying all of my blog entries elsewhere.

 

I don't plan to close my account here, and I will keep an eye on things to see if they improve, but I don't plan to update my shelves/blog or participate in any group discussions anymore.

 

For those that are still interested in following me I can be found at the following sites under the name kythe42:

 

Shelfari

LibraryThing

GoodReads

LeafMarks

Libib

Blogspot

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Review of The Dark Side of the Sun by Terry Pratchett

The Dark Side Of The Sun - Terry Pratchett

The Dark Side of the Sun by Terry Pratchett is the story of a young man named Dom who has been appointed to a powerful position on his planet, but unfortunately there have been multiple attempts on his life. It has been foretold that it is his fate to discover the world of the race of beings that seeded life in the universe and there are those that would prefer that this information not get out. This book follows Dom's adventures as he sets out on his quest to find answers and fulfill his destiny.

 

I have to say that I honestly didn't enjoy this book very much. It was completely different in style to everything else I've ever read by Terry Pratchett and if it weren't for the use of some terminology that was also used in his Discworld series, I wouldn't have even known I was reading one of his books. The humor that I've come to know and love in his writing just wasn't present in this book. There were some things that seemed like they were meant to be funny, but really just weren't. I did try to be open-minded about reading something more serious by Pratchett, but the lack of humor in the book wasn't the only thing wrong with it. I just found the book very hard to follow and I found myself feeling lost and confused at least a third of the time when reading it if not more. I think it would have helped if the author had spent more time explaining the various alien races in more detail as well as the technology used. I also felt the ending to the book was weird and really not that satisfying. It's a shame because the premise of this story was interesting and I did like how ancient alien theory was worked into the story, but it could have been done so much better than it was. At least it was a fairly short read so I didn't waste too much of my time on it. I really wouldn't recommend this book unless you're a hardcore Pratchett fan who absolutely has to read everything he's ever written.

Review of A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleign L'Engle

A Ring of Endless Light (Austin Family, Book 4) - Madeleine L'Engle

A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle is the fourth book in the Austin Family series. This is a hard summer for Vicky and her family. They are spending an extended vacation with her grandfather who is dying of leukemia, but as if that wasn't enough to deal with, one tragedy after another strikes the community. Vicky tries to keep herself busy helping out with a dolphin communications experiment, but all of the horrible things that are happening definitely take their toll on her. On top of the various tragedies, she's also got three different guys vying for her attention and she has to figure out who she really wants to be with. She spends a lot of time with her grandfather and in his illness he imparts a great deal of wisdom to her. Even that isn't enough to heal her soul though, and she can only find comfort and solace in the dolphins that she has come to know and care for.

 

This is a very sad book, but it's also probably my favorite in this series and I'd highly recommend it. I just love reading about the spiritual connection that the main character has with the dolphins and with the guy leading the experiment. This book can probably be read as a standalone, but would be a good idea to read the previous books in the series plus The Arm of the Starfish for background story.

Review of Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett

Men at Arms (Discworld, #15) - Terry Pratchett

Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett is the second Discworld novel featuring the Night Watch of Ankh-Morpork. There is a string of mysterious murders and the victims were killed by a strange new weapon. It's up to the Night Watch to investigate these murders and figure out how they were killed and by whom, all while the captain of the Night Watch is getting married and retiring and new recruits are being trained. This was quite a humorous murder mystery novel and I think I liked it somewhat better than the first Night Watch book, Guards! Guards!. This book takes place after Guards! Guards! and while it's not strictly necessary to read that book first, it does provide background on the characters.

Review of The Young Unicorns by Madeleine L'Engle

The Young Unicorns - Madeleine L'Engle

The Young Unicorns by Madeleine L'Engle is the third book in the Austin Family series. After moving to New York city, Dr. Wallace Austin begins research on a new device that will pave the way for major advancements in the field of medicine. Though he is unaware of this, there are those that would want to misuse this technology and his children are put at risk by people who want to get their hands on it. One friend to his children finds himself caught up right in the middle of this conspiracy with both sides vying for his assistance. He's not sure who to trust and by the time he figures it out, it may be too late.

 

This book is mainly a mystery thriller with some light science fiction mixed in and I thought it was an ok read. I think I did enjoy it more than the first two Austin books, though those two were more realistic fiction. It's not necessary to read the first two Austin books before reading this one unless you want some background on the characters. This book does connect with The Arm of the Starfish though and has a bit of character crossover so I'd recommend reading that book first, but again it's not entirely necessary. This book is in fact very similar to The Arm of the Starfish. Both books feature the head of the family making some sort of scientific breakthrough that ends up putting their family at risk as well as the world at large and someone connected to the family ends up caught in the middle of it and playing a major role. I should note that there aren't any actual unicorns in this book or anything in the book that would give me a clue as to why it was titled the way it was.

Review of A Book of God's Love by M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen

A Book of God's Love - M R Bawa Muhaiyaddeen

A Book of God's Love by M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen is a short book discussing spiritual topics such as unconditional love, forgiveness, and others. Some parts of the book definitely resonated with me more than others, but I didn't find it too hard to take the wisdom that was meaningful to me and discard the rest. Even when reading parts of the book that I didn't particularly resonate with, I still felt a sense of peace when reading it. One thing I particularly liked about the book was the theme that one should forever be a student and never stop learning and questioning the world around us. I think that people who have more traditional spiritual beliefs would get even more out of this book than I did.

Review of Return to Avalon by Jennifer Roberson

Return to Avalon - Various

Return to Avalon edited by Jennifer Roberson is an anthology of Arthurian short stories. With the exception of Lady of Avalon(not to be confused with the novel by the same name), none of these stories have anything to do with Marion Zimmer Bradley's Avalon. Lady of Avalon is set some time after the events of The Mists of Avalon and tells the story of the current high priestess being captured and turned into a slave by a Saxon king. It was a pretty good story and I enjoyed reading it. Most of the other stories I'd rate as three stars with some four star ones scattered throughout the book. Of the other stories there weren't any that stood out as particularly good or particularly bad. One thing that was curious is that a lot of the stories in the book I would hesitate to classify as Arthurian fiction. There were many that had more the feel of fairy tales to them and didn't seem to have anything to do with Arthurian legends as far as I could tell. There was also one Shakespearian short story that seemed really out of place. I thought it was a good story and I did enjoy it, but it just really didn't seem like it belonged in this collection. Overall I'd say this book was an ok read and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes Arthurian and medieval fiction, though I think I liked the Out of Avalon anthology better. To anyone wanting to read this book just for the Lady of Avalon story, it's probably only worth it if you can borrow the book or get it for a low price unless you are a really big fan of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Avalon series.

Review of The Arm of the Starfish by Madeleine L'Engle

The Arm of the Starfish - Madeleine L'Engle

The Arm of the Starfish by Madeleine L'Engle is the story of a young man named Adam Eddington who has landed a summer job abroad with a renowned marine biologist, Dr. Calvin O'Keefe. Due to unforeseen circumstances he winds up caught in the middle of an international conspiracy between Dr. O'Keefe and those that would steal his work. Adam must figure out who he can trust and decide whose side he wants to be on, but this decision is not as simple as he would like.

 

This book was an ok read. It was mostly a mystery thriller type novel with some light science fiction mixed in. The scientific concepts presented in the book were very interesting and there was a good bit of action as well. I'm not sure I entirely liked where the book ended though and felt it could have done with one more chapter to provide some additional closure, but I suppose the author wanted to leave that up to the reader's imagination. This book crosses over with L'Engle's Time Quintet series and features characters from that series, but all grown up with children of their own. This book takes place between books four and five of the Time Quintet and while it's not necessary to read the first four books before reading this book, I would recommend reading this book before reading the fifth book of the Time Quintet.

Review of Awakening: A Sufi Experience by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan

Awakening: A Sufi Experience - Hazrat Inayat Khan, Vilayat Inayat Khan

Awakening: A Sufi Experience by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan gives a good overview of the beliefs and ideals of Sufism. Admittedly there was some material that was over my head, but a surprising amount of what I read was familiar to me. This is because Sufism draws from many different religions and cultures and there were concepts discussed in this book that closely resembled things I had learned when studying new age spirituality. There is a lot of emphasis on meditation in this book and it describes many different meditation and breathing exercises. Some of these I was already familiar with, but many of them were new to me. One thing that I thought was really cool about this book is that scientific principles are often used to help explain metaphysical and spiritual concepts which certainly made them easier for me to understand. I thought this was an excellent book and I'd highly recommend it to anyone new to the subject. I really enjoyed reading it and just the act of reading this book helped me to feel more peaceful.

"If you think that you are handicapped in some way, you will find that your compensation for it is a quality that you wouldn't have cultivated if it were not for that innate flaw. Indeed, one is never so strong as when one is broken."
Awakening: A Sufi Experience - Hazrat Inayat Khan, Vilayat Inayat Khan

~Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, Awakening: A Sufi Experience

"Beware of confining yourself to a particular belief and denying all else, for much good would elude you --- indeed, the knowledge of reality would elude you."
Awakening: A Sufi Experience - Hazrat Inayat Khan, Vilayat Inayat Khan

~Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan and Ibn al 'Arabi, Awakening: A Sufi Experience

Review of Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

Lords And Ladies (Discworld, #14) - Terry Pratchett

In Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett the witches of Lancre return from their travels to find that a lot has been going on in their absence. Magrat finds that her boyfriend, the king, has been arranging their wedding before even proposing to her. There's also a new group of young witches who are experimenting with magic without really knowing what they are doing. With Magrat busy with her wedding plans and trying to learn how to be a queen, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg must put a stop to this new young coven and undo the damage they've done.

 

This book is a hilarious parody that is a mix of The Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night's Dream. It made me laugh a lot and I'd highly recommend it. Lords and Ladies takes place after Witches Abroad and while I would recommend reading that book first to understand some of the references, it's not entirely necessary. It might also help to be at least somewhat familiar with the Shakespearian plays mentioned and have some basic knowledge of quantum theories, but again it's not entirely necessary to enjoy this book.

"In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded."
Lords And Ladies (Discworld, #14) - Terry Pratchett

~Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies

Review of The Moon by Night by Madeleine L'Engle

The Moon by Night - Madeleine L'Engle

The Moon by Night by Madeleine L'Engle is the second book in the Austin Family series and takes place a couple of years after Meet the Austins. The father of the family gets a new job and they have to move, but they decide to take a road trip/camping vacation all across the country first to bond as a family. I'd say that a lot of the book was fairly dull and just described the various places they visited, though some of the scenery descriptions were quite nice. Things did get more interesting when the main character met a guy at one of the campsites and they seemed to become instantly fascinated with each other and he actually followed/stalked her around the country much to her delight and her family's dismay. There was still a lot of dull filler type stuff after that with a few exciting events here and there, but I did enjoy reading about the budding relationship which had a lot of ups and downs. Overall I'd say that I enjoyed this book a bit more than Meet the Austins, but I probably wouldn't rate it as more than three stars. There was one brief reference to A Wrinkle in Time which really made me smile.

Review of Backward by Rob Grant

Backwards - Rob Grant

Backwards by Rob Grant is the forth book based on the British science fiction comedy show Red Dwarf. The crew of Red Dwarf gets stranded in an alternate dimension on an alternate version of Earth where time runs in the opposite direction. Many years pass before they are able to escape this dimension and when they finally do, Red Dwarf isn't where they left it. With the limited supplies aboard their transport vessel, they must search for Red Dwarf in order to survive. This book was a fun quick read and left me wanting more. Unfortunately as of right now there are no more Red Dwarf books.

This book is an alternate sequel to Better Than Life so it picks up where that book left off and takes place parallel to Last Human. You'll definitely want to read Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers and Better Than Life before reading this book, but it doesn't matter if you read it before or after reading Last Human. I think this book resembles the events of the show more closely than Last Human does. It was also the funnier of the two books so I enjoyed it more. I'd say that Last Human is still worth reading though even if it wasn't quite as good as this book. To anyone looking to both watch the show and read the books, I recommend watching the entire show before starting on the books because the differences between the two will be less confusing that way.

An Easy Way To Remove Hover Popups on BookLikes

Since BookLikes seems to have no intention of removing the hover popups from the entire site and I find some parts of the site almost unusable with them(particularly when viewing other people's shelves), I decided to try to figure out a way to remove them myself.

 

I know that I could probably accomplish this with Greasemonkey, but I'm not much good at scripting and it was just too complicated for me. Then I found out that the Adblock Plus addon for Firefox has a companion addon called Element Hiding Helper which will easily remove any elements from a webpage that you wish to hide. Note, you must have Adblock Plus installed before installing this add on. Once it's installed you click on "Select an element to hide" from the AdBlock Plus menu and you can then select the parts of the webpage you want to hide.

 

You can also manually add filters to hide elements of webpages. To make it easier for you, I've identified three elements to hide that I think should eliminate all remaining hover popups from BookLikes.

 

booklikes.com###book-move (removes the hover popups from the main site)

booklikes.com###book-popup (removes the hover popups from people's blogs)

booklikes.com###book-loader (removes the hover popup loading animation)

 

If you still experience hover popups on any part of the site, please let me know and I'll look into it and identify the additional filters needed to remove them.

 

After the hover popups are removed, clicking on book covers will open up the book page in a new browser tab. This is less than ideal, but I would still prefer this to the hover popups. I only wish there was a way to restore the old hover tool tips that simply displayed the book title and author.

 

Please feel free to reblog this post and share it with anyone you know that hates the hover popups.

Currently reading

The Case of the Killer Robot: Stories about the Professional, Ethical, and Societal Dimensions of Computing
Richard G. Epstein
Progress: 23%
A Blink of the Screen: Collected Short Fiction
Terry Pratchett
Progress: 66%