31. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Paranormal, Romance · Tags: , ,

Bloodspell by Amalie Howard, 294 pages, read by Angie, on 03/31/2013

On her 17th birthday Victoria receives a music box and an amulet that belonged to her grandmother. In the music box is a journal of her ancestor Brigid. Brigid was a witch and her blood contained powerful magic, magic which has been passed down to Tori. With the magic comes a familiar, Leto the cat, who helps teach her magic. Tori is drawn to a mysterious boy she sees on her high school campus. Christian is cultured and beautiful and surrounded by mystery. Turns out he is a vampire. Tori and Christian soon find themselves falling into forbidden love. But there love cannot be. There is an ancient prophecy about La Sang Noir, which seems to be about Tori and her magic blood. Christian’s twin brother Lucian discovers Tori’s existence and wants her magic and her blood.

This is so obviously a Twilight ripoff. Innocent girl with a vampire lusting after her. Her blood smells so sweet it is hard to resist. At least Tori has powers and isn’t the limp dishrag Bella was. But there is still the love you/can’t have/must have you/can’t live without back and forth between Tori and Christian that gets old really quickly. There is also a lot shoved into this book. It is like Howard took everything paranormal she could think of and threw it into the book. We have witches, warlocks, vampires, werewolves, fairies, seerers, a prophecy, a vampire council, and a magic talking cat. Seriously, I don’t think she left anything out except zombies. Not all of these things are fully explored or necessary. I think the story would have been better off with a tighter plot and less extra stuff. Not that it isn’t entertaining. There is a lot of action and adventure. They travel from New York to Paris and back. The magic is fun and exciting, although I think Tori became proficient way faster than possible. At times it seemed like she just always knew how to do the spells. Of course there is a love triangle which turns deadly (how could there not be). Overall, not a bad read but definitely not original or new.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.com.

30. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Ladies in Waiting by Laura L. Sullivan, 336 pages, read by Angie, on 03/30/2013

Eliza is the daughter of a rich merchant with dreams of bending the king’s ear. She dreams of being a playwright. Zabby grew up in Barbados with her scientific father and dreams of making discoveries. Beth is the daughter of impoverished nobility; raised at court by a crazy mother she dreams of a man she knew as a child. These three Elizabeths become ladies in waiting for Queen Catherine in the Court of Charles II. Together they learn the way of the court, they fall in love and they await their futures.

This was an interesting historical book. I like that the book was focused on the ladies, but I also enjoyed the court politics and the machinations of the court players. All three of the ladies were interesting and different. They all have dreams to strive for, but not all of them come to fruition. I like that not everyone gets a happy ending and we don’t know how they all turn out. After all, life is not a fairy tale.

30. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Pamela

Milk Glass Moon by Adriana Trigiani, 256 pages, read by Pamela, on 02/28/2013

milkglassmoon-hardcoverMilk Glass Moon, third in the Big Stone Gap series, continues the life story of Ave Maria Mullilgan MacChesney. Her family and friends grow up, experience heartache and crisis, and fall in love. Mother and daughter, Ave Maria and Etta, move to a new level in their relationship, one of love and leaving. The characters continue to be as ordinary as they come, making you think you could look within your own circle of friends and see some just like them. Trigiani brings these characters alive with down home humor and everyday happenings written with that southern tone that sets the mood for a good read, once again.

30. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Pamela

Big Cherry Holler by Adriana Trigiani, 272 pages, read by Pamela, on 02/16/2013

big-cherry-holler-adriana-trigiani-paperback-cover-artThis second book in the Big Stone Gap series focuses on Ave Maria Mulligan’s life after several years of marriage to Jack MacChesney, two children, and a shift in their relationship. A trip to Italy, the “old country”, brings her face to face with who she is and who she wants to be. The characters are endearing; some odd, some ambitious, some just like friends we all have. Their experiences are normal, although Trigiani writes as if they are special and unique. Five stars, again.

30. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

Bloodring book 1 Thorn St. Croix series by Faith Hunter, 319 pages, read by Kira, on 03/29/2013

BloodRing

Thorn is living in the end of times, though an its ambigous end of times, seraphs and demons are still fighting in a post-apocalyptic-ice-age.  Thorn is part of a new species, neomages, who are able to bend leftover creation energy to their will.  Specifically she is a stone mage, and since mages present a threat to both humans and seraphs they are confined to luxurious Enclaves.  Thorn is passing for a human, working as a jeweler, in a remote icy town.  When her ex-husband Lucas is kidnapped and her friends are threatened, she risks revealing her true identity in order to save her adopted family.

 

BloodRing isblodring a fastpaced page turner.  Lush imagery and really interesting world-building (especially the magic-working of the gems) add to the tale.  Though the book does NOT end on a cliff-hanger, it fails to wrap up a number of the mysteries.  Who is the Amethyst Mistress?  Why did Lucas haul all that amethyst back to the store/house for his ex-wife? did he really cheat on Thorn voluntarily and what is his latest wife up to?

30. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Pamela

Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani, 272 pages, read by Pamela, on 01/26/2013

Big Stone

Ave Maria Mulligan, the self-proclaimed town spinster of Big Stone Gap, is the town pharmacist, part of the Rescue Squad, and director of the town’s outdoor drama. She discovers a family secret after her mother passes away and life changes for her forever. She has much to learn about her family and herself. And, for most of us, it’s never too late for that.

You’ll love how Trigiani intertwines the ancient art of face reading into her book and weaves the characters lives together. This is a delightful read. I’ve read the series (four in all) and couldn’t wait to get the next one in my hands to see where these characters were going. Five stars.

I sincerely wish someone had suggested Adriana Trigiani to me before I just happened to stumble upon her at Missouri River Regional Library.  I am truly transported to the place and era for which she is writing and it’s so refreshing to escape the toils of the world we live in today with characters such as these.

29. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley, 378 pages, read by Tracy, on 03/24/2013

Another delightful book with 11 year old genius amateur detective Flavia de Luce. She discovers a dead body in the local church and her scientific curiosity is peaked. With a large laboratory full of books and chemicals at her disposal she again helps find the solution.

29. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Thriller/Suspense, Tracy

Bad Luck And Trouble by Lee Child, 378 pages, read by Tracy, on 03/18/2013

Fans of Jack Reacher know he is a real tough guy. In this book his former elite team from the Army is threatened. Jack is contacted by a number code from his ATM account since he doesn’t have a phone or address. They all trained together so the threat is very personal. It’s another page turner with a satisfying ending.

If you were wondering what it would be like to open a used book store, this book is for you. Wendy and her husband Jack found a house for sale in Big Stone Gap Virginia and they both thought it was perfect for a used book store. A lot of the townspeople thought they were crazy but it turned out to be a good location. With big chain book stores and on line retailers as competition they found that a used book store is still in demand. I agree.

29. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense, Tracy

Gideon's Corpse by Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, 368 pages, read by Tracy, on 03/14/2013

Another thriller by Preston & Child. Gideon is again asked to help with a eminent national disaster. He does it reluctantly but realizes he is made for this type of work.

29. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, NonFiction, Tracy · Tags:

Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: Seeking History and Hidden Gems in Flea-Market America by Maureen Stanton, 326 pages, read by Tracy, on 03/10/2013

If you spend a lot of time at flea markets and antique malls this book might interest you. Maureen followed an expert on antiques and how to make money buying and reselling. You also learn a lot about
the people who are hooked and those who go to auctions. It’s a hobby for me but a life style for many. Every object has a use and a history. It may not mean a lot to you but it did to the previous owner. A lot of people are experts in certain areas like china or tools. Before you head out to a swap meet read this book and it might help your buying skills.

29. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Thriller/Suspense, Tracy

The Haunted Air by F. Paul Wilson, 544 pages, read by Tracy, on 03/10/2013

Really enjoyed this thriller. Repairman Jack fixes problems for people. He is off the radar, no paper trail, so he can do whatever he wants. He also helps with problems from other dimensions. There are a lot of these books so I am happy to find another author I enjoy.

29. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, NonFiction, Tracy · Tags:

Drinking with Men: A Memoir by Rosie Schaap, 288 pages, read by Tracy, on 03/05/2013

Rosie Schaap’s second home is a neighborhood bar. Or maybe it’s her first home since she spends a lot of time drinking and socializing at bars mostly with men. Each chapter is devoted to a bar she became a regular at. She says she isn’t an alcoholic, just likes to be with other people in a bar where everybody knows your name, as the Cheers song goes. She even got married and tried to settle down but it didn’t last. It’s a very honest and tell all book. I couldn’t imagine drinking the amount she says she drinks and not have an alcohol problem.

29. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Tracy, Westerns · Tags:

Double Crossing by Meg Mims , 257 pages, read by Tracy, on 03/01/2013

Nice to find a Western written by a woman. And the main character is a woman who is out to avenge her fathers death. She heads out west by train to California to find the deed for the gold mine her father left her. Other people are interested in the mine so she has hired a young drifter, Ace Diamond, to protect her since her life is always at risk. I enjoyed the train ride and also the main character was very determined and ready to defend herself.

29. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Historical Fiction, Horror, Teen Books

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd, 420 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/24/2013

Juliet Moreau has been working as a maid and living rather humbly after the scandal that rocked her family’s world. Her father, the infamous Henri Moreau, managed to escape London rather than facing jail time and left Juliet and her mother destitute. After her mother died, Juliet was left to fend for herself. After intruding on a late-night vivisection, Juliet finds a diagram being used by the medical students that was drawn by her own father. A bit of investigation and the desire to see if her father was indeed still alive leads her to an apartment where she runs into her father’s former servant, Montgomery and a hairy, malformed man called Balthazar. Montgomery and Balthazar are in England to pick up supplies for Juliet’s father and agree to take her with them to the isolated island off the coast of Australia. They set sail on a rather sketchy vessel and pick up a castaway named Edward along the way. Edward is full of secrets and refuses to discuss any of the details of his former life. Montgomery grudgingly agrees to allow Edward to join the small group.
Juliet is shocked to find that her father doesn’t seem in the least bit surprised to see her setting foot on the island. She’s also shocked when her father shoves Edward into the water and stands aside to watch him sink. Montgomery saves Edward at Juliet’s behest and, after a private conference with the doctor, Edward is allowed to stay on the island until the next ship passes by to pick him up.
Juliet finds her father to be cold, arrogant and largely dismissive of anyone else. He locks himself into his laboratory night after night, confirming the rumors that had been circulating around London. Meanwhile, Juliet tries desperately to get used to the odd appearance of the islanders, all of whom seem to regard her father as a god. Juliet discovers that a series of murders have been plaguing the islanders and Juliet suspects that her father’s experiments might be even worse than she ever thought possible. Oh, and she might just be falling in love with both Montgomery and Edward, neither of whom seem to particularly like each other.
Based on the Jules Verne classic, The Island of Dr. Moreau, this story asks the question: if Moreau had a daughter, what would her relationship with her father be like? There are also a whole host of other issues at the heart of the story, for instance, what makes humans human? A fast-paced and absorbing tale. Readers don’t necessarily need to have read the original to understand this tale, but it might help. I have not read the original, but am familiar with the plot. I would be interested to hear what a fan of the original would have to save about the points where this new version diverges from Vernes’.

29. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction

Ex Machina Deluxe Vol 4 by Brian K. Vaughan, 272 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/21/2013

This series never fails to impress and delight. In this volume, Mayor Hundred goes to Rome for a chat with the Pope but forces are at work to turn his visit into an assassination. Can the Great Machine actually be hacked?
This volume isn’t the most exciting of the series, but still gets the job done.
Concludes with an interesting story featuring the author and illustrator, which is always fun to me. Love it when the fourth wall is breached.

29. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Teen Books, Thriller/Suspense

Homeland by Cory Doctorow, 384 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/20/2013

Marcus “M1k3y” Yallow’s story continues two years after the events in Little Brother. We catch up to him at Burning Man where he is attempting to show off his 3d printer with the aid of his girlfriend, Ange. Regrettably, the playa dust is causing some technical difficulties, so Marcus and Ange have given up and moved on to enjoy the Burning Man scene. Imagine Marcus’s surprise when he encounters a face from his not-too-distant past: Masha. Masha has tracked Marcus down to deliver a USB drive with thousands of incendiary documents from various government and corporate entities. He is told to release him if he hears about Masha being captured.
As soon as Marcus returns home, he is thrilled to discover a job waiting for him with a local independent politician who is impressed with Marcus’s technological acumen. Desperate to keep the first job he’s had in years, Marcus holds back on releasing the documents until he can find a way to distribute them to maximum effect with minimum connection to him. This is obviously going to take a little help from his friends. Good thing he’s still got them. Only problem is that Marcus is not nearly as anonymous as he used to be and he still has enemies who have left Homeland Security to go into private mercenary work (which is even more intimidating due to the complete lack of oversight).
Scary and exhilarating all at once, Homeland is a thrilling read. As always with Cory Docotorow’s works, I’m left both smarter and more paranoid than ever. The technologies discussed are never entirely fabricated; some may still be in their infancy, but the implications are played out so well. This is the type of book that makes one realize how important a free and open internet is, how corrupt the laws governing the transmission of digital information can be and what we, as citizens, can do to move towards a better future.

29. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Paranormal, Teen Books

The Archived by Victoria Schwab, 328 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/16/2013

Mac and her family have just moved into the Coronado, an aging LA hotel-turned-apartment building. Mac is not particularly thrilled about it. The move was precipitated by the death of her little brother and Mac’s not ready to let him go yet. This unwillingness to let him go is beginning to severely interfere with her secret job as a Keeper for the Archive. The Archive isn’t an ordinary repository; it is a place where the lives of the dead are stored. These are called Histories. Each History has his or her own coffin-shaped shelf. Each History is physically similar to its former living state. Trained by her late grandfather, Mac was the youngest Keeper in history. Most Histories are calm and remain in the Archives, but a few “wake up” and escape into a sort-of-purgatory called the Narrows. It is here that Mac must apprehend these escaped Histories, who typically become increasingly distressed and violent the longer they are “awake”, and return them to the Archive. Mac’s pretty good at her job, but things start going awry shortly after her arrival at the Coronado. For one thing, there’s another Keeper on the premises. And Mac might have a tiny crush on him. This, however, becomes eclipsed by the volume of work skyrocketing to unprecedented levels. It’s normal for a few Histories to wake up now and then, but multiple instances every day? And then there’s the strange boy lurking in the Narrows whose presence makes no sense. And the mysteries of the hotel itself….Mac’s got her plate pretty full. Assuming she survives her work.
Fascinating concept, but not as well-realized as I had hoped. This is, however, the first book in a series, so there’s necessarily a lot of world-building going on. Very little of the book takes place outside the Coronado, so it begins to feel a little limited at times in spite of the “real world” setting. Still an interesting examination of the nature of death and grief with a distinctly supernatural twist.

29. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Teen Books, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal, 319 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/12/2013

Nalia has spent the better part of her 16 years preparing to become the Queen of her country. Shortly after her 16th birthday, she is informed that, due to an ominous prophecy, she was switched at birth and is, in fact, a false princess. The real princess has been living in a convent and is equally clueless as to her own identity. The prophecy only indicated death for the princess prior to her turning sixteen, so now that the deadline has passed, the real princess can be crowned. Nalia, now called Sinda, is sent to her aunt’s cottage in a country village. After failing at the wool dyeing trade and accidentally discovering that she possesses magic, Sinda decided to head back to the capitol. An attempt to join the Wizardry school fails on account of her “common” ancestry and Sinda finds herself being taken under the wing of an eccentric witch who offers to teach her control in exchange for scribe work. In the capitol, Sinda uncovers evidence that may suggest there is more to the official royal story than anyone suspects, even the royal family. In order to figure out her place in the world, Sinda feels compelled to set everything straight in spite of the danger it may cause her.
This is a lovely stand-alone fantasy. The plot moves exceedingly fast and covers a lot of ground, something that seems rare in a publishing world focused on series. Sinda feels like a genuine person; she is flawed, she second-guesses herself, she works hard to figure out who she is and how she fits into things. The concept of a character being forced to completely redefine themselves is fascinating. The use of magic in the book adds to the overall flavor without being the centerpiece of the action. Elements of faith, trust, corruption, love and friendship round out this story that is largely appropriate for all ages.

29. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Historical Fiction, Teen Books

Dodger by Terry Pratchett, 353 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/08/2013

How much do I love Terry Pratchett? I can’t even think of the correct quantitative word to answer that question. Dodger might just be his best yet. Dodger is an orphan who has spent most of his life on London’s streets. He makes ends meet by toshing (collecting coins, etc. from the sewers) and is notorious among those that inhabit the workhouses, sewers and streets. He’s most emphatically not a thief (but, if something is just lying around, well then…); he’s the Dodger. Here one moment and gone the next. Things might have continued on like that if it weren’t for Dodger’s admirable sense of chivalry. He hears a scream and finds himself rescuing a girl from two very nasty thugs. Shortly after, he comes across another well-known London-ite with good intentions, a Mr. Charlie Dickens. Dickens finds a safe place for the strange woman (who has yet to tell anyone about herself or her provenance). With the young lady, dubbed “Simplicity” by her caretakers, safety in hiding, Dodger becomes determined to see those guilty for Simplicity’s beating held responsible for their actions. Dodger’s mystery takes him all over London, meeting some very historically important personages and finding a bit out about himself as he goes along. In spite of his lack of education, Dodger proves himself to be, at all times, completely capable of handling any situation he finds himself in.
It took me a long time to read this one. Over a week, even. It took so long not because the pacing is slow, but because there’s so much detail and so many delicious puns that I didn’t want to miss a thing and frequently found myself going back over various paragraphs to make sure not a single joke was missed. Pratchett’s attention to detail is stunning. The city is as much a character as any of the human variety; the smells are palpable and the fog stings your eyes. The slang took some getting used to, but ultimately excelled in giving me a sense of place and time. I love the characters in this book so much; the real and imaginary (and canine…Onan, you stinky, lovable rascal). What’s even better is that, while there is a definite plot with a definite trajectory, there are themes and messages in this book that make its story timeless. Dodger’s era was one of tremendous change and each and every character seems to find themselves on the verge of potentially altering the course of history, if they haven’t already. This book has everything and then some going for it. I highly recommend Dodger to anyone who enjoys history, word play and good literature.