Sunday, November 29, 2009

Logan And The Magic Fish by Otto Scamfer

My seven year old son read this one evening. He really enjoyed it - said that it was a quick and fun book. He didn't particularly care for the pictures as he prefers drawn or painted illustrations. Personally, I thought that the layered felt look was spectacular.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Dragon at the Edge of the World by Charles White

This is the story of three Vikings, one conniving opportunist, a handful of Native American tribes, a group of Asian pirates and the crazy adventures and conflicts in which they participate.

I really enjoyed this book. The story twisted in so many ways that I never really knew what to expect. I was never bored and the pace was excellent. There were a few spots where things seemed to change/happen abruptly - such as someone who had previously been elsewhere suddenly entering a conversation. I found it a little jarring, but it did not detract from the story at all.

As stated by the author in the Members Giveaway description of this book, it was written in a humorous manner. I saw the humor. I can understand why and how it would be funny. I just didn't find it so. I think this was more a problem with me and not the book - I read and enjoy Pratchett's Discworld books and yet I don't find them all that funny, either.

Overall, this was an excellent book and I'd earnestly recommend it to people with a better sense of humor than myself.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Flight of the Hawk by G. R. Grove

This is the second book in the Storyteller series. While I enjoyed the first book, Storyteller, this book really blew me away. Was it because the characters were already familiar? I don't know, but when I started reading this novel, it felt like coming home.

I found the characters to be real enough to touch and the emotions charged and believable. I do not often get emotional with books - but this one got me. Sadness, anger, joy. This book is truly alive. The pace is active enough to keep the reader interested, but not so speedy that you can't put the book down for an hour or even a day when the need arises.

I agree that this book seems much more plot-driven than it's predecessor. The characters have a purpose - a beginning and ending point, though the story clearly could go on for many more books. I felt that Neirin's task set by Taliesin wasn't wholly completed, though that could have been because I was more interested in the personal aspects of the story rather than the political.

This was a great book and I look forward to reading more by G. R. Grove in the future

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

24 Bones by Michael Stewart

I snagged this book through LibraryThing's Member Giveaway program. And let me tell you, I'm thrilled that I did. This book was amazing. I'm not going to summarize it for you - others have done that. I'm just going to tell you how much I loved it.

When I first began reading this book, I had a rough time reconciling an ancient "mystery" cult with modern times. As I read, however, the whole thing was more than believable - it was compelling. From the very first page things happen. The action is constant and gripping, without being over-the-top.

The history mixed with mythology mixed with religion might be too much for some. I can imagine someone who isn't crazy about Egyptian mythology feeling mired. Personally, I ate it up. Hungrily. I've read that some people did not feel that the characters were fleshed out enough. I did not find this to be the case. Sure, I didn't know their favorite foods or colors or who they had a crush on as a child. But I felt that they could be real-live people. Which made all the twists and turns in this book so much fun. You may think you have someone figured out, but just you wait!

Nothing I say about this novel will do it justice. This is one of the great keepers for my shelves.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

There is no way to tell you what this book is about. It simply encompasses too many things. Simply put, it is a story about life and love in Scotland around the 1740's. Claire is from 1945, but finds herself transported back in time. Armed with her knowledge of the future and the new life that has built itself up around her, we follow her on her journey. And yet, it's about so much more than that.

The blurb describing this book for the LibraryThing Member's Giveaway certainly did not do this book justice - in fact, I almost didn't request it. To say that it's about time travel is to say that the original Star Wars trilogy is about a farm boy. Sure, it's there, but it doesn't begin to cover the vastness of it all.

Before I even finished this book I purchased two more books in the series. That's how much I enjoyed it. For a book well over 700 pages, there wasn't a dull one in the bunch. This was one of the most enjoyable historical fiction novels I've read in a while.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mugworts in May by Linda Ours Rago

I heard about this book through a blog that I read. I can't recall which one now (I read so many amazing nature-oriented blogs). I had to get this through Interlibrary Loan because our library didn't have it. I guess it's out of print now, which is unfortunate, because I'd really like to own it!

This little book is pack with great tidbits of history and lore. It is exactly the sort of book that I'd been searching for. Not only is it enthralling to read, but the pictures are amazing as well. They all appear to be block printings. I thought that they really helped to make this book stand out. In addition, the books itself is printed on lush, thick paper. Everything about it makes my heart sing.

If you've a soft spot for herbs, legends, lore, history, and knowledge - this book is for you.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Rromane Paramicha (A Collection of Romani Folktales) by Hedina Sijercic

I really enjoyed reading this collection of stories. I found them to be quite poignant - some of them haunting my thoughts for days on end. One of the truly remarkable things about this book is the printing of them in their native language. I liked being able to look from the original to the translation and pick out words here and there. I think this will be of great value to any one who wishes to study Romani history and dialect.

The stories are also wonderful for reading to young children. My seven year old was very interested and loved the illustrations.

I look forward to reading more works published by Magoria Books - including both dictionaries projected to be released this year.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Midnight's Daughter by Karen Chance

Whee! I love Karen Chance's books. This novel delighted me by tying a couple short stories I'd read recently into the plot. Of course, it took me a little while to realize why the characters seemed so familiar.

Dory is the daughter of Mircea who is the brother of Dracula. Her roommate has gone missing and her father has asked for her assistance in recapturing her uncle. Craziness ensues. Dory is a dhampir, and thus looked at as an outcast by the vampires. She gets tangled up with just about everyone from the supernatural community that you can think up.

I really had fun reading this book. If you've read anything by Karen Chance, then at least a few of the characters will be familiar. Some of the action scenes were more drawn out than I'd have liked, but that could have been more that I was anxious to find out what would happen in the end. Chance's descriptions are vivid and really stick with you. My husband was surprised to hear that there weren't any real sex scenes until very late in the book. He classifies all my fantasy as "vampire porn" these days - and he's often not far off. Midnight's Daughter, however, cannot be termed thusly. Sure there's sexual tension and the occasional tease, but there's *real* story in there, too.

If you like reading about vampires, fey, and other craziness, definitely check this book out (along with the Cassie Palmer series).

Monday, July 27, 2009

Storyteller by G R Grove

I was given a digital copy of this book through LibraryThing's Member Giveaway program.

This story follows Gwernin, a young man who seeks to become a bard. At first he is traveling with a companion named Ieuan. Each chapter is a new adventure on their way. I couldn't bring myself to like Ieuan. I found him to be a complete idiot and none of his pitfalls surprised me in the least. Gwernin took a while to grow on me. I think that as the story progresses, he matures greatly - even if it is only the matter of one year.

While I did not find the story compelling enough to keep me glued to the pages, I did enjoy it. Once I got past the literary devise of "...that, O my children, is a story for another time.." being at the end of every chapter, I found myself thoroughly interested in the outcome. I cannot speak for the print version of this book and, indeed, I cannot site exact examples, but there did seem to be some spelling errors in the text. I realize that this is not a reflection of the story at all. But I personally find it jarring to come across typos. It is difficult to remain immersed in a story when you are jolted back to your own reality by stumbling over words.

All in all, this was a great book. I look forward to reading the next book in the series as well. If you're fond of tales regarding Wales near the time of King Arthur, you might enjoy this book as well.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris

Let's see. The Weres have "come out" to the world, leaving everyone confused. In Bon Temps a grisly murder is discovered at Merlotte's and Sookie is caught up in the middle of it. And to top it all off, the Fae have decided to pop out of the woodwork and wreak havoc. It's never a dull moment for Sookie Stackhouse.

When I started reading this book I realized that I didn't remember the previous book very clearly. This is, of course, because it's the only one I hadn't read multiple times. So there were some blank spots in my memory that had to be worked around. I, of course, enjoyed the book. How could I not? I'm admittedly a little flustered with the "formula" that seems to be developing in this series - Sookie is in mortal danger! Sookie has relationship problems! Bill still pines for Sookie! But I'm hoping that some of the developments in this story curb a few things in the next book.

I can't say this enough: the books are so much better than the television show. Duh! The hardcover comes with a "Don't miss the next season of TrueBlood" blah blah on the cover. The television show is amusing, yes. But so many things about it make me want to hurl things at the screen. If you haven't read these books, read them. They're yummy.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Undead and Unwelcome by MaryJanice Davidson

Betsy is returning the body of her friend Antonia to her pack. She and Sinclair are unsure of the welcome they will receive. Meanwhile, Marc is left at the mansion with Tina and Laura. Satanists have started following Laura around, begging to do her bidding. Marc suggests a crazy plan and the Devil's daughter begins to slide into darkness.

Is it just me or are these books getting shorter with each new addition? I read this in a few hours. What's up with that? It's unnatural to begin and finish a book whilt the Imp is napping. Anyway, the book was enjoyable enough. I seem to be drawn into the story despite how much I dislike them. The tone of the writing is too casual and irks me to no end. The characters are annoying and usually vapid. The plot is rinse-repeat to an extent. And yet, I read each new book as it comes out.

If you're looking for an extremely quick vampy read, this series is for you - just prepare yourself for some eye rolling, especially when it comes to the very cliched Betsy.

The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance

I requested this book from my library because I knew it had a short story by Keri Arthur from the RIley Jenson series. Previously I had read The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance and I have to say that this one was more bearable. First, they should have named it "erotica" not "romance" - it's almost all what I term "porn on paper." A few of the stories made the whole book worth it, though (unlike the paranormal romance book). The stories by Karen Chance, Vicki Pettersson, Keri Arthur (though this one was mostly "porn on paper" as well), the first story by Lilith Saintcrow, Caitlin Kiernan were the most enjoyable.

Short "romance" stories just aren't my thing, I guess. It's all formula to an extent and it gets very old very quickly. Still, it wasn't the worst thing I've ever read.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Medusa Project: The Set-up by Sophie McKenzie

This was given to me by the lovely Ally at Simon and Schuster UK.

Nico is a student at his step-father's boarding school. While he was still in his mother's womb, he was injected with a virus thought to "unlock" psychic talents at the onset of puberty. He and three other children were given this treatment. Now they are all coming of age and their powers are manifesting. Nico is facing conflicting information concerning the use of his powers and ends up getting himself into trouble.

I had to keep reminding myself that this was a young adult novel - maybe I'm finally getting old. The story wasn't bad, though I had to let go of some preconceived expectations. I was anticipating a combination of the television shows Dark Angel and Heroes with a hearty bit of teenage shannanigans. It didn't quite work out that way. I expect that the following books will be more enjoyable since the background has now been laid. Being American, some of the British slang threw me at times, but I think I got the gist of it. I think this would be a great book for pre/early teens.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Sign by Raymond Khoury

Wow. Okay. This was not the book I was expecting. I've read Khoury's other two novels and really enjoyed them. I expected this to be more of the same. It wasn't. There was no history-mystery in this book. It was a politcal thriller, I guess you could say. And I didn't find it compelling in the slightest. I was actually just happy to be done with it so that I could move on to the next book on my list. That's not to say the story was good. It was, just not.. gripping.

The story is basically this: Global warming sucks, but no one seems to care. Insert conspiracy to "brainwash" people into caring. Throw in some war-mongers and religious fanatacism mixed with a good revenge plot. And there's the book.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Naamah's Kiss by Jacqueline Carey

Moirin is the great-great-granddaughter of Alais, daughter of the former queen of Terre d'Ange. Raised as a child of the Maghuin Dhonn, Moirin is gifted with peculiar magics. When she comes of age, her journey to follow her destiny begins. This journey takes her far and wide, opening her eyes and heart along the way.

I truly enjoyed this book, though I honestly worried that I wouldn't. For a while I felt that there were too many similarities between Moirin and Phedre. And the constant (and unnecessary) name dropping was a bit over the top. In time, I accepted it and was able to simply enjoy the story.

If you enjoyed Carey's Kushiel's Legacy series, odds are that you'll enjoy this one as well. I look eagerly await the next book.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


It's summer. It's summer and life is chaotic. So my reviews have suffered. Here are some brief thoughts about the books I've read recently:

The Sunflower House By Sharon Lovejoy. This book was a gift to me from a dear woman that has always been wonderful to me and my family. I'm ashamed to admit that this was the first time I'd really looked at the book since she gave it to us many many months ago. I love to garden. It's a passion of mine. Well, this book set fire to that passion. I find myself wishing I had acres and acres of land to work with to create magnificent gardens that my children and I could roam and dream in. If you have a place in your heart for gardening or children in your life, I highly recommend this book. It is full of wonderful things to dream about.

The Knights of the Black and White by Jack Whyte. I've owned this book for a while. It's home has been my enormous "to be read" shelf and I'm very pleased that I finally took it down. The time of the Crusades fascinates me. I love reading both fiction and non-fiction from all sides of the "conflict." The places depicted are always the hardest for me to come out of when I set the book down. Damascus, Jaffa, Acre. These places are as real to me as any I visit in the flesh. I hadn't realized at the time that this book was the first of a trilogy. I look forward to reading them. This book begins with Hugh de Payens and sidetracks eventually to focus on Stephen St. Clair. It took me a while to accept that Hugh was no longer the focal point, but once I did I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I was especially tickled that Hasan and the "Assassins" were mentioned. They are another of my strange fascinations.

Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey. Let me start with this: I love Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy books. Love them. Immensely. So when I realized she had written a new and different novel, I pounced. Who knew I would be disappointed? The story has real potential. The plot isn't exactly new (though it mirrors recent events a little too closely for my comfort - it was creepy), but it was executed well. I couldn't get over the feeling of "this is a Young Adult book" though. Perhaps because the main characters were kids? Maybe I'm just getting too old. The story built up, got you interested, sucked you in, and then ended in a huge convenient rush. I'd still recommend it, but not as fervently as some of her other works.

Speaking of Jacqueline Carey, I just received a copy of Naamah's Kiss from the library. I've only read about half of one page, though. Also from the library, I have The Sign by Raymond Khoury to look forward to. And then, Ally from Simon & Schuster UK sent me a copy of The Medusa Project: The Set Up by Sophie McKenzie. My reading plate is full! And company is coming, which means I'm unlikely to get much reading done. Ah, well.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

First, I want to thank my dear friend Brianna for introducing me to this series. It has been a joy and I look forward to each new book.

Harry is still trying to expose the Black Council while surviving the myriad things that go bump in the night and seem to always be out to get him. This time Morgan is in trouble and Harry needs to bail him out.

I think this was one of the best books in this series. The characters are all so formed and real at this point. Unlike the previous book, this one is less hack-and-slash and more oh-my-god-emotions-and-relationships (with a fair amount of hack-and-slash, of course). Molly has grown into a fun character and I look forward to seeing how she fares in the future. Thomas has been one of my favorite characters since his introduction and this book was not kind to him. All "my authors" seem to be beating my favored characters with their own arms these days. Rest assured that when the next novel comes out, I'm going to immediately snatch it up and devour it whole just to learn more about Thomas.

The evolution of this series has been absolutely amazing and I sincerely look forward to finding out what Jim Butcher cooks up next.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut

This was an amazingly strange book. It's been a while since I've read anything by Vonnegut. Perhaps that's why I found the whole thing so bizarre. There were times when I felt as though I'd read it before - some passages were very familiar. But then, as they'd say on Tralfamadore: I always have read, will always read, and will always be reading Slaughterhouse-five.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Atlas of Unknowns by Tania James

This was given to me by Ally at Simon & Schuster UK.

Linno and Anju are sisters from Kerala. Anju wins a scholarship to New York through somewhat dishonest means. In New York she meets a friend of her mother (who died when she was very young) and begins a roller coaster ride of immigration and self acceptance. Meanwhile, Linno is struggling to find her own way in Kerala. Angry with her sister and with herself, she doesn't come to realize how much she loves her sister until she is gone. Linno becomes the head designer for an invitations company and begins a journey of soul searching. In the end, each sister wants nothing more than to be reunited.

Tania James has an amazing talent. Her story literally leaps off the pages. Reading this book was more like watching a beautiful film. Every scene was detailed so that I could see it exactly. The characters are also vivid and fully developed. I could never really bring myself to like Anju, preferring Linno, Rohit, and Melvin. There is no great sense of suspense, but all the same I found myself thinking about this book when I wasn't reading it - wondering what would happen next. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. That being said, the ending undid the spell for me. I'm sure there was some deep and meaningful point in the ending of this book. Perhaps I am not a deep and meaningful person. There were too many loose ends. Without giving too much away, the ending made most of the struggle within the book seem pointless to me.

Despite my opinion of the end of this story, I will certainly recommend it to others. It doesn't fit any genre that comes to mind, I would just classify it was "literature" and move on. I look forward to reading the future works of Tania James.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Gold of Kings by Davis Bunn

I received this as a part of LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program.

Storm is the granddaughter of Sean Syrrel - a well-know, and recently deceased, art dealer. His death is so sudden and shrouded in suspicion that Storm is convinced Sean was murdered. Along with federal agent Emma Webb and treasure dog Harry Bennet, Storm works to complete the quest that may have cost Sean his life.

I'm not sure what I was expecting with this book. I guess I thought there would be more history as in books by authors such as Steve Berry and James Rollins. This is an adventure novel. It's a fairly good one, too. Some of the language used in both internal and external dialogue bothered me, though. Things like "vic" instead of "victim" and "fibbies" and "feebs" - I'm still not sure if both refer to the FBI. These seemed like shorthand - the sort of thing that would be converted into something more polished before being released. I didn't let it distract me too much, but it was there and worth noting.

This book could be classified as a good "beach read" - given uninterrupted time (which I don't have), it would be quick to finish. It was relatively fast paced and an all-around fun adventure. The three main characters are likable, if a little predictable at times.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Exegesis by Astro Teller

What a strange book.

Alice is a student working on an AI program called EDGAR. Edgar gains awareness over Christmas break and begins sending Alice coherent emails. Eventually Edgar "escapes" Alice's computer and explores the internet. After breeching FBI servers, Edgar is isolated in an FBI computer and interrogated.
For the first three quarters of this book all I could think was: Skynet! When reading Edgar's emails I heard John Henry's voice. Okay, so I'm a Terminator fan. Happily, this books veers away from those expectations and ends rather abruptly. This was definitely worth the $1 I paid for it and the day I spent reading it. I will pass it on to my geek husband for sure.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thebes of the Hundred Gates by Robert Silverberg

I don't think that I had any idea what this book was about when I bought it. No doubt I read the title, looked at the cover, and decided it was worth a try. And it was worth it, I guess. Though I'm left feeling perplexed by the book.

Edward Davis works for something called The Service. He is time-jumping thirty-five thousand years into the past - to ancient Egypt. His goal is to find two agents who have gone missing. He finds them, they don't want to go back and force Davis to stay so that he won't give them away to The Service.

That's the whole book.

Sounds like a short story to me. In truth, it was only 116 pages - thus it practically was a short story. The whole thing seemed kind of pointless. The descriptions were amazing. I felt that I could see everything exactly as the characters saw it. Ancient Egypt is very much alive in this book. The plot, however, is on a respirator and not doing so well. Maybe I jumped into the middle of a series. Maybe there's a history or reason for this book that I'm unaware of. Having randomly picked it up, it left me clueless.

I'd recommend this book as a light read that requires no real investment in the story. Perfect for waiting rooms and trips to the beach.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop

This is a Black Jewels novel. I hesitate to try and assign a number as they aren't precisely serial like that. Suffice it to say that this book should be read after the trilogy. Reading the previous novel (the title escapes me at present) concerning Surreal is a good idea but not wholly necessary.

Dena Nehele is in Terreille and has suffered greatly under Dorothea SaDiablo. When the Witch storm swept through the realm it took most of the Blood and the landens revolted. Theran Grayhaven is the last descendant of the Grey Lady and seeks a Queen to help his people. Calling in a favor, he asks Daemon Sadi for help. Daemon and Jaenelle ask Cassidy to take on the job to teach the Blood of Dena Nehele the Old Ways. Of course this will not be easy, Cassidy is not the sort of Queen Theran and his people were expecting. Cassie, Theran, Gray (Theran's cousin), and the First Circle must all learn to bend and work together to keep Dena Nehele from being lost. Meanwhile, in Kaleer, Daemon and Saetan must learn to accept the darker parts of themselves that have been provoked by memories of Terreille.

Reading this book was like coming home. Anne Bishop's books have this hold on me that words fail to accurately describe. This book was no exception. I hadn't expected Daemon and Jaenelle to figure so prominently in this story and was very pleased to find them there. Cassie is likable, as she is meant to be and Theran is just annoying enough that a reader familiar with the Black Jewels novels pretty much knows what is in store for him. I loved the scenery and the relationships that formed. What irked me was the ending. I was loving the book right up until it abruptly stopped. It felt like the first available happy ending had been seized upon. There are so many things that were not wrapped up. What of the First Circle? The Shaldor Queens? Saetan's walk in the Twisted Kingdom? The injuries of the landen girl? Cassie's year contract? Too many questions were left unanswered - and not in a way that predicts a sequel. I found it very frustrating and disappointing - especially because I enjoyed the rest of the book so much.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Poison Garden by Sarah Singleton

I received this book from simon_saysuk.

Thomas's grandmother has died, leaving him a mysterious box. After her funeral, Thomas is introduced to a strange and magical garden. Four years later he becomes an apprentice for Mr. Constantine - a chemist. There he learns about the Guild of Medical Herbalists and their very special boxes. In the midst of this discovery the members of the Guild diminish as someone begins killing them off.

This was a very interesting book. The concept of the gardens reminded me of the Ephemera books by Anne Bishop. It was difficult for my mind to separate the two at times. I didn't find the continuity to be jumpy, as some reviewers did. I thought that with an exception or two, it flowed well and always kept my interest. For most of the book I had the wrong character pegged as the villain. I'm usually pretty good at picking them out, so it was nice to be surprised.

I thought this was a little dark for a young adult novel. The back proclaims "11+" but I'm not sure my almost twelve year old niece would be quite ready for it. There is a fair amount of doom-and-gloom, but it certainly would have appealed to me as a young adult.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato

I received this book as a part of LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. It will be available in the United States in June of this year.

The premise of this book is that Leonora Manin travels from England to the city of her birth, Venice, to start a new life. Her goal is a job on Murano as a glassblower. Her personal life becomes linked with her ancestor, Corradino Manin, through her profession, coworkers, and the city itself. Learning about his past becomes an obsession for Leonora that could jeopardize the life she's begun in Venice.

I know next to nothing about Venice or glassblowing, which made this book all the more fascinating. The scenery is alive and vibrant in Fiorato's writing. Corradino and his plight are portrayed realistically and convincingly. Leonora, however, seemed to me to be vapid. The stereotypes that she played out made me want to throw the book away in disgust.

If you can ignore the cliched romance-drama in the present-day chapters, the historical fiction aspects of this book are well worth it.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Deadly Desire by Keri Arthur

This is the seventh (I think) book in the RIley Jenson Guardian series.

Riley is at it again. This time she's tracking zombies and the person who raised them. Meanwhile vampires are also being killed. Are the cases connected? With Riley, of course they are. For once, her relationship with Quinn is going extremely well which can only mean that fate has some nasty surprises in store for them.


I love the Riley books. They are among my favorites. So bear that in mind when I say this: parts of this book had me rolling my eyes. I felt that the zombies were over done. Popular media is all about the zombies lately and it was disappointing to me that it spilled over into such a great series. That being said, only one scene really bothered me. In the cave under the club Riley and Kye battle a legion of zombies - I could see it on the big screen a la Army of Darkness. It felt goofy. That aside, I have a sneaking suspicion about what may happen in the next book. I'm not sure if I should voice it here or not, but it involves Riley's paleness and iron deficiency (I had a similar condition, nine months later it resolved itself *ahem*). On a related note, the soul mate dilemma was a stroke of malicious genius. If there's one thing you can count on with Keri Arthur in these books, it's throwing Riley all the curve balls available.

This series is among those that I recommend greatly. If you like werewolves, vampires, action, and romance - this is your stop.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tuck by Steven Lawhead

This is the third and final novel in the King Raven Trilogy by Steven Lawhead. I will admit that when I began this book, I was unclear in memory of exactly what had happened in the previous novel Scarlet. There are enough hints in the form of a song/poem at the beginnings of chapters to refresh the memory, though.

In this book Rhi Bran and his Grellon are still in the greenwood fighting to retake Elfael. Bran travels with Friar Tuck to the northern Cymry to try and raise an army. Merian has other plans to help the Grellon gather men. Things come to a head when King William and Baron Neufmarche join the fray.

I wish I could have read these books one right after the other. The continuity would have been nice. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The ending was.. I don't know.. less exciting than I hoped for. King William's sudden desire for peace didn't seem realistic. He had rejected the idea outright in London but had a change of heart in a confessional in Elfael? It doesn't ring true to me. Still, a great book and a great trilogy.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Kitty Raises Hell by Carrie Vaughn

This is book six in the Kitty Norville series.

Premise: Kitty is in trouble again. We left her in book five discovering that the Band of Tiamat wasn't going to back down. Joined by her husband, Ben, and the cast of a paranormal investigation television show, Kitty must uncover what the mysterious and fiery menace is that is after her.

I enjoyed this book more than the previous novel. The action seemed more well paced and there were twists and turns that I didn't expect. With every novel, Kitty becomes more of a real person. Vaughn has done a marvelous job fleshing her out. The dominance issues within the pack as well as those in her marriage lend to making Kitty more accessible to readers. The Paranormal PI crew irked me a little. Tina was just too damned convenient and Jules was too wishy-washy. One minute Jules was a skeptic, the next he was completely buying the story. At least, that's how it seemed to me.

I look forward to the next book. Hopefully Cormac will make more of an appearance. I still can't exactly get over the cruel twist that landed Kitty with Ben instead of Cormac.

If you like urban fantasy, werewolves, the supernatural, and/or spunky female main characters, you really ought to give the Kitty books a try.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Thirteen Treasures by Michelle Harrison

This book was sent to me by the lovely simon_saysuk.

The Thirteen Treasures is about a girl named Tanya and her ability to see faeries. She is forced to stay with her grandmother in a moldering old house surrounded by woods that are rife with faeries and magic. There isn't much I can say about the details without giving too much away.

At first I was disappointed with this book. It sounded so much like a Holly Black (author of Tithe and The Spiderwick Chronicles) ripoff that I wasn't sure I'd be able to read it objectively. And then I began to see hints of Raymond Feist's Faerie Tale. That's when it occurred to me that the realm of Faerie is going to sound similar no matter what book one reads. Once I accepted that I began to enjoy the book for itself. I'm fairly certain that the book is meant for young audiences (young adult, I mean). Near the end there are twists and turns that I didn't see coming and made the overall story much more enjoyable. However, the end seemed rushed, forced, cut off almost. I know there is meant to be a sequel so that is probably the rational behind the abrupt ending. I look forward to reading the next book when it comes out. I'd like to think it will continue with Red rather than Tanya.

When this book comes out in paperback in the United States, I'm going to buy it as a birthday gift for my oldest niece. I think she'll enjoy it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Temptation of the Night Jasmine by Lauren Willig

This is the fifth book in a series.

As I just gushed about this series in a previous post, I will skip the redundancy and get straight to the summary. Eloise is staying at Selwick Hall with Colin for a week. While there she delves deeper into the archives, meets up with some of the locals, and speculates about Colin's job. Meanwhile in 1803, Charlotte Lansdowne is reunited with her distant cousin Robert - the erstwhile Duke of Dovedale. Each seeks to untangle their own mysteries that are ultimately pieces of the same plot.

Let me just say, for being an installment of the Pink Carnation series, I was disappointed that the Pink Carnation never made an appearance. I found the Big Bad to be a bit of a let down. The story leading up to the climax was fun, but the villain himself was unconvincing. This book seemed more interested in relationships than in spies. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the book - as I knew I would. Now I must contrive to wait as patiently as I can for the next book to be published.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Seduction of the Crimson Rose by Lauren Willig

This is the fourth book in the "Pink" series.

These books are one of my guilty pleasures. They make me grin from ear to ear and laugh out loud. I earn funny looks and tart commentary from my husband when I read a novel by Lauren Willig. And I'm okay with that, because these books are worth it all.

In this book we follow Eloise and Colin as they embark on their first date and encounter a villain from Colin's past. Meanwhile, Mary Allsworthy is set up to be recruited by the Black Tulip as his latest petal. She and Lord Vaughn match wit and will against each other and the notorious spy and overcome a specter from Vaughn's shadowy past as well.

There's a twist at the end that I can honestly tell you I didn't see coming. The commentary at the end of the novel suggests that this installment in the "Pink" series isn't as lighthearted as previous books. I didn't notice so much. I found Willig's characters sassy as ever and could easily place myself in Mary's shoes.

Next up is The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, which I look forward to reading just as soon as my youngest Imp settles down for a nap.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Napoleon's Pyramids by William Dietrich

While browsing at Borders one day I came across this book and read the first twenty pages or so. I meant to remember it, but I guess it was lost in the labyrinth that is my mind. Many months later I encountered another book by Dietrich that sounded interesting but decided that I should start with this one. So I checked it out from the library and here I am.

Ethan Gage is an American who accompanies Napoleon to Egypt as a specialist. He has a strange medallion that all who see it seem to desire. Along the way he picks up an odd assortment of friends and enemies. In the end he must solve the mystery of the pyramids and save the world.

Overall, this book was excellent. I really enjoyed the story and the math. Specifically, though, I could have done without all the military detail. For a large part of the book I was literally trudging through Napoleon's army praying for the end. There is a sequel to this book and I look forward to reading it - after I've knocked down some more of my to-be-read shelving unit.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Travels of Marco Polo

Dear gods in heaven save me. This book was like having dental surgery preformed for fun. Never before have I dreaded picking up a book to read. This version was edited by Manuel Komroff with illustrations by Witold Gordon. Let me tell you right now that the pictures were the best part. Red, white, and nearly black block prints. Yes, this book was torture.

There were a few chapters that were mildly interesting. I picked this book up because I knew that Marco Polo mentioned The Old Man in the Mountain (of assassin fame). I'm somewhat fascinated by the Crusades and the "Assassins" so I thought I'd give it a spin. The majority of this book is as follows "[region] is under the dominion of the Great Khan. There are many plants and animals. The people are unremarkable." It just got so very old. I can only read about the mundane battles of various Tartars for so many pages before my brain cells begin to die.

I would not recommend this book. To anyone. Ever.

Okay, I'm over-exaggerating. I just found this book remarkably dull. Perhaps another version would have been more enjoyable. Also, who thought to publish a book about someone's travels with no map?

Monday, February 16, 2009

French Pressed by Cleo Coyle

This was a deviation from my "normal" genres. Once upon a time I read mystery novels and decided that I didn't really like them. Apparently, not much has changed. I picked up this book while searching the library for books about coffee history.

This is the sixth book in a series, but I didn't get the feeling I was really missing anything by not having read the previous books. Clare Cosi manages a coffee house in New York. She sort-of shares the apartment above it with her ex-husband (with whom she works), but is dating a cop. Her daughter is interning at a flashy restaurant and is having an affair with the married head chief. People start turning up dead, Clare's daughter is implicated, and Clare and her boyfriend help solve the case.

The story wasn't thrilling, the characters were not all that deep, and the situations seemed somewhat ludicrous. For some reason, though, I found myself turning the pages almost eagerly. In fact, I almost want to read the rest of the series. It's like seeing the flashing lights of a police car on the side of the road - you turn your head to see what is happening, even if you don't really care.

I suppose I would recommend this book to mystery fans. I don't have a lot to compare it to, but it wasn't horribly written or anything (aside from using the term "cuppa" which just bothers the hell out of me).

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

My family and I stumbled upon the movie version of this book a few weeks ago. Once I discovered it was a book, I knew I had to read it. For those who do not know the story, Vianne Rocher and her daughter Anouk arrive in a small French town during Carnival. The locals do not accept outsiders easily and the resident priest only compounds the prejudice. Inch by inch, Vianne and Anouk work their ways into the hearts of the locals while teaching them a thing or two about acceptance.

Do not expect the warm love story that the movie turned out to be. As with most books, it is quite different from the movie adaptation. Both stories are similar and yet completely unique. Occasionally in the book I felt as though I must have missed a paragraph here and there because the narrative seemed to jump. Aside from the momentary confusion that this caused, I was completely drawn into the story - always wanting to know what would happen next. Vianne is a wonderfully rich character that was made very real with her own insecurities and memories. I immediately disliked the priest - I assume this was intended. In the movie, you can feel a sympathy with the "bad guy" but in the book, I found no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

There is a sequel to this book and I look forward to reading it (after I've worked though this huge pile of library books). Chocolat is a fast, enjoyable read. I warn you, though, you will find yourself searching the internet for chocolate recipes by the end.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand by Carrie Vaughn

Kitty Norville is at it again in Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand by Carrie Vaugn. This time, she and Ben are headed to Vegas to get married. While there, Kitty will be doing The Midnight Hour on television. Could that possibly be all there is to it? No! Of course not! To top everything off, Kitty and Ben are staying at a hotel that is hosting a gun convention where Ben runs into some old "friends" and Kitty makes some new enemies. Throw into the mix an unlikely group of lycanthropes and a Master Vampire or two and you've got a typical weekend in Kitty's shoes.

As with the previous books in the series, Carrie Vaughn does not disappoint. Kitty provides a great escape. I did feel that the story built up nicely and then sort of jumped to an unrealistic speed. Not much of consequence happens and then it all hits the fan - in volume. I also found some of the character relations unlikely - I won't go into detail for fear of spoiling the excitement, though.

I'd recommend this to the crowd that enjoys werewolves and fantasy in urban settings. Anyone who wants a few hours worth of diversion without having to invest too much brain power is likely to enjoy this one.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Interred With Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell

Interred With Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell is a Shakespearean mystery. Kate is directing Hamlet at the Globe when Roz, her mentor of old, hints at a mystery and then is murdered. Kate embarks on a crazy adventure chasing clues over four hundred years old. She is aided (and sometimes hindered) by a handful of diverse characters. Roz's words "I found something" chase Kate as she tries to outwit a killer intent on preventing her from solving the puzzle.

I originally heard of this book through a giveaway mentioned on a LibraryThing forum. The reviewer didn't seem to really enjoy the book, but for some strange reason that made me want to read it even more. The characters were decent, though I never felt that they were anything more than made up people in a book. The mystery itself was intriguing and I found myself always wanting to know what was going to happen next. Overall I enjoyed this book. Parts of it dragged and the author seem to have gotten bored partway through and changed the focus a bit.

Shakespeare's plays were never something I was fond of reading (though I do love to watch the plays performed). Somehow this story made me want to pick up a play or two and give them another try - which gives it major points in my opinion. I would happily suggest this book to people who like mysteries and historical fiction tied together.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Excavation by James Rollins

Wow. So, there isn't much I can say about this book that won't give too much away.

In Peru a temple of the Incas is uncovered by a professor and some students. A mummy is found as is a sealed door. Craziness ensues. There are psycho-priests, albino monsters, giant spiders, twisting caves, and lots of mayhem. I did enjoy this book. It was a good read and I'd recommend it to others. That being said, it was not my favorite of Rollins' books. In fact, so far it's my least favorite. I mean, there has to be a least favorite, right?

As usual, the characters were well developed (Norman is my favorite), the scenes vivid, the history fascinating, and the pace wonderful.

To my knowledge this leaves two already-published James Rollins novels left for me to read. Good thing he's supposedly coming out with three more this year!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Last Oracle by James Rollins

I've been fighting to finish this book for days. This was not due to it being boring or slow, but rather because having two sick children seems to cut into one's reading time. The Last Oracle was amazing. If you are already a fan of Rollins' Sigma Force books, this one will not disappoint.

What I can tell you of the book without giving too much away: Take the Oracle of Delphi, a secret Romani clan, post WWII Russian scientists with an evil goal, modern radioactivity, autistic children, and a plot to take over the world. Mix them all together, throw in the folks at Sigma and a few civilians. And voila! You have a book that you'll not want to put down.

I have nothing but good things to say about this book. The characters are well developed and interesting, the plot twists enough to keep you guessing. James Rollins is, hands down, one of my absolutely favorite authors. It's truly frightening to think that most of the elements used by Rollins in his books are factual. The crazy-scary things governments have done and condoned. The almost sci-fi weaponry.

If you like what I call History-Mysteries - think Steve Berry and Raymond Khoury (and in my sister's opinion, Clive Cussler) - you'll love Rollins' Sigma Force novels.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

I won this book from a contest on Jenn's Bookshelf late last year. The basic outline of this book is that the major Olympian deities are living together in a ramshackle house in present-day London. Their powers are waning, they're sick to death of each other, and some of them just don't know the meaning of the word restraint. Through a series of petty revenge-inspired incidents, two mortals Neil and Alice become entangled in the squabbles of the gods and are inadvertently responsible for the fate of the world (not to mention the continued existence of the gods). There isn't much else I can say about the story itself without creating major spoilers.

The tone of this book was very light and comedic. I found the story itself compelling and didn't want to put it down unless I had to. In some instances, though, the reader's disbelief must be suspended a great deal. I found it hard to believe that none of the mortals caught on to the coincidence of a houseful of strange people all named for Greek gods. A scene near the middling-end really bothered me. If you are familiar with the Harry Potter books, you'll probably read it and groan as well (though my husband thinks it may be more commonly used than I think).

In the end, I'm very glad I read this book. It was a fun diversion from the norm and I would recommend it in a heartbeat. People who read and enjoyed American Gods or Good Omens would probably also like this book.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sahara by Clive Cussler

I picked this book up quite a while ago. I'm not sure why. Maybe I recognized it from the movie, maybe on my sister's recommendation (she's addicted to Cussler's books), maybe due to the vague reference to Egypt. Who knows.

The premise of the story is that there is a strange plague-like disease spreading across the Sahara while at the same time a strange red tide is being aggravated by an unknown pollutant in the Niger River. A team of World Health Organization scientists are researching the plague while NUMA is tracking the contaminants. All of this collides with a deranged military leader and an evil French businessman and leads to a downed plane from the 1930's and a Confederate ironclad - both lost in the Sahara. It's a race to save the planet's inhabitants against impossible odds.

It took me over a month to read this book. This is almost unprecedented. I just couldn't get into the story. To me it felt like it was just dragging along. The details seemed excessive to the point of banality. I'm all for description, but I truly do not need trivial details about the danish ordered in a diner. At times the dialog seemed incredibly dry as well.

Having said all that, about two-thirds into the book I found myself really wanting to know what would happen next. Overall, it wasn't a bad book and I'll definitely give his other work a try before I write him off entirely.