A Game of Thrones, book one of A Song of Ice and Fire series

A Game of Thrones

by George R. R. Martin
A Game of Thrones is the first book in the epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.  In the Seven Kingdoms, we come to find out that the seasons last for years, summers can span decades, and winters a lifetime.  
This first novel centers around the Seven Kingdoms, the current king, the history of how he got to be king, and the contention for the throne.  The story follows the (principal) Houses of the lands: Stark, Lannister, Targaryen, and Baratheon.  There are many characters in A Game of Thrones, and each chapter is told in the third-person from the point of view of one character, who is indicated by the chapter title.  At first, I was not sure that I liked this narrative style, but when there are many characters and locations, it does seem to be effective.
There are hints of dragons, giants, and other fantasy creatures throughout the novel, but the only direct experience with the fantastical, in book one of the series, is The Others.  The Others seem to be some sort of Zombie, killing and inhabiting/reanimating the dead.   However, the main fantasy point of the novel is definitely the fictional time, land, people, etc.  
NOTE (8/29/11):  I’ve read books two through four as well at this point (A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows), and will be starting on the 5th book later this year.
I have highly enjoyed the series thus far, but would only recommend it for those who truly enjoy fantasy novels. as these are epic novels, and not short, easy reads.

The Stray Dog – “Pepper”

On 3/11/11, my co-worker found a stray dog in downtown San Jose, running in traffic. She took him home to her condo, lured him into the bathroom with a bowl of dry food, locked him in and went to work.

Since he obviously couldn’t stay locked in her bathroom, I went to her place on my lunch break and took the dog to my place.  I have a small backyard and a doggie door that goes into the garage.

My co-worker had been calling the dog “Cookie”, but it was clear that he was NOT a Cookie.  David and I started calling him Pepper, which was still not the right name for this dog, but a big improvement over Cookie.

On Saturday, we took him to Silicon Valley Animal Control to be scanned for a microchip (none, and no tags either) and filed a found pet report.  We did the same at San Jose Animal Care since he was technically found in San Jose.

On Sunday, we visited C.A.R.E. Pets adoption event in Campbell, to see if they would be able to provide a foster home for him or assistance in finding him a home, in the event we couldn’t find his owners. I have been considering volunteering and/or fostering for a while now (but for a small dog that can come in the house), and C.A.R.E. was at the top of my list.  Until I met them.  Granted they were busy.  Granted they already have a lot of dogs to find homes for.  BUT THAT’S WHAT THEY DO.  We explained our story, how we got the dog, etc, what we were doing to find his owners (everything we’re supposed to and then some) and finally we were told “We can’t take him, you need to post him online and find his owners, bye”.

Umm…Gee, thanks for the help.

Over the course of the 10 days we had Pepper, we had some adventures.

We went on walks.  We went on walks with Indy too. Pepper tried to herd us. Pepper tried to herd me and ended up biting my leg (ouch!). Pepper and I went running. Pepper loves to chase cars…not a good combination when you are trying to go for a run with a dog who is trying to chase cars, especially when they are going in the opposite direction.  Pepper chewed through the wires for our brand new sprinklers for our grass. Pepper ate.  And ate.  And ate.  I started feeding him at the low end of the recommended amount because he didn’t seem scrawny or skinny. I was soon feeding him double that (4 cups) and he was inhaling it all without really chewing. Only the last day or two did he actually seem to eat like a normal dog.  

We even spent one evening in the garage with him, to see if he could calm down enough to be allowed into the living room.  Nope.

After trying to contact any and all rescue organizations that I knew of or thought might be able to help us find a home, I finally got an answer from DPS (Doggie Protective Services).  Unfortunately, their answer was that they didn’t have room for another large breed dog.  I quickly thanked the woman for her reply and asked for any assistance they could offer (such as posting him on their website for adoption, etc).

And then… they wrote back on Tuesday and said one of their members had seen his pictures on Facebook and that if I brought him by on Sunday to their adoption event they would take a look and see if they could help him (and us).

So, we were very happy when we got there, and they agreed to take him!  He’s available for adoption from their website, Doggie Protective Services.  They are calling Memphis, so look for that name to find him.

After they took him, he got neutered, got all his puppy shots (turns out he’s only about 10 months old!), and has been having a great time romping with other dogs…. I know he’ll be happy in his new foster home and will have a forever home soon once the right people find out about him!

The Clan of the Cave Bear (Earth’s Children Series)

The Clan of the Cave Bear

by Jean M. Auel
The Clan of the Cave Bear is a saga that starts with a Cro-Magnon child who is orphaned during an earthquake.  The child is then adopted and raised by Neanderthals.
This child is Ayla, who turns out to be a remarkable young woman.  She learns the ways of “the Clan”, her adopted people, and is trained as a medicine woman by her adoptive mother, Iza. Along the way, Ayla realizes how different she is, and eventually sets out on her own.  
I’m currently reading book 4, The Plains of Passage.  So far, books 1-2 were my favorites, and it was only in book 4 that I started to get bored.  Ayla and her companions are making a long journey in this book, and there are often pages and pages where nothing significant seems to happen.
Apart from this, the series has been interesting and very compelling.  I am looking forward to finishing book 4 and reading book 5, so that I can be ready to read book 6 when it comes out later this month!

Room: A Novel

Room: A Novel

by Emma Donoghue
This is not typically a book I would have selected myself, but it was promoted by Amazon as an editor’s pick of the month.  After looking at it several times, I finally decided to give it a try.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?
Room is told from the perspective of Jack, a 5 year old boy who has never been outside of the  11 x 11 room he shares with his mother. I won’t go into any details other than that, as I don’t want to spoil the plot!  It can be a difficult read at times due to the perspective and the limited vocabulary and incorrect grammar of the 5 year old narrator, but I truly enjoyed this book.  There are a fair amount of negative reviews, but there are also many great reviews.  I think you just have to try it and if you like the first chapter, you should keep reading.
I found the story to be very involving and moving, and the whole novel was a quick, enjoyable read while I was traveling home from Romania.