Monthly Archives: September 2010

The August/September Roundup

August and September were quiet months for me, reading-wise. I’ve combined the two months into one post.

Score: 5/5 (Books I loved and will definitely read again)

Score: 4/5 (Books I liked and might read again)

Score: 3/5 (Books that are alright)

Score: 2/5 (Books I’ll probably get rid of)

Score: 1/5 (Books I actually hated, or couldn’t finish)

Fun Stats: Over the two combined months, I read 18 books, totaling 4,726 pages, 4,433 pages of which I actually read. 2 of them were anthologies, containing 8 stories I read. 11 were library books. I had 1,399 blog-views. I could not finish 1 book. I participated in Diana Wynne Jones Week, and worked on the Local Library Challenge, and the Short Story Reading Challenge.

Leave a comment

Filed under Not a Book Review

Blood Lite (Anthology)

Anderson, Kevin J. (editor). Blood Lite (2009). 379 Pages. Pocket Books. $16.00

It’s very, very rare that I cannot finish a book. I made it through the first four stories, and gave up. I don’t foresee surviving the rest of this book at this pace.

It opened with Kelley Armstrong’s “The Ungrateful Dead,” which I did really enjoy. You do need to know the basics of her main series, because the main characters are Jaime and Savannah. Do I think that the book is worth picking up, considering all the other stories? Yes, as long as you’re not paying for it.

The second story, “Mr. Bear” by Joe R. Lansdale was a strange interpretation of Smokey the Bear, if he were a child star gone wrong. Jim runs into “The Bear” on an airplane, and gets dragged along on an adventure he never wanted to have. There are dead hookers, greased weenie pulls, and a lot more vulgar things. I don’t think I enjoyed a single thing about this story.

I figured it could only get better from there, and in a strange sort of way, it did. “Hell in a Handbasket” by Lucien Soulban. A mysterious baby is left on hell’s doorstep, and it messes with every demon it comes across. It ends with a huge poop joke. I was moderately entertained.

The fourth story, “The Eldritch Pastiche from Beyond the Shadow of Horror” by Christopher Welch, was trying too hard. Our narrator– an “I” who may be “Christopher”– has been writing what boils down to bad Lovecraft fanfiction, and struggling to get published most of his adult life. He attempts to find help, because it has ruined his life, and instead he finds out that he has a greater purpose.

After that, when confronted with the title of the next story: “Elvis Presley and the Bloodsucker Blues,” I gave up. I’d laughed once or twice while reading Kelley Armstrong’s story, and had not laughed since. I really wish I had enjoyed it, but I didn’t. I’d picked up the book expecting paranormal stories with a bit of funny, which the book failed to deliver.

In Conclusion:

I’m sure there are people out there who would enjoy this. People who like poop jokes and vulgar “humor.” I am not that audience. It gets a 1/5 for being unreadable. (It has a 3/5 rating on amazon.com).

Leave a comment

Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

Banned Books Week…

Every year I tell myself that I’ll do something interesting, something meaningful, something special to mark the passing of a week which is 50% anger and 50% amusement for me. On the one hand, people are idiots, banning books because they don’t like them. On the other hand, people are hilarious, thinking that anyone else will listen to them.

So I’d like to take just a brief moment to mention that banned books week is upon us. The top 10 most challenged books of 2009 were:

1. ttyl, ttfn, l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs

2. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: Homosexuality

3. The Perks of Being A Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide

4. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Reasons: Racism, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

6. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

7. My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult
Reasons: Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide, Violence

8. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

9. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

10. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

Have any of you read these? Are you going to read any of them now that you know they’re on this list?

I’m going to be picking up at least a few of these– most notably the ones I have not yet read. (I will not read The Color Purple again. Once was enough.)

I’ll say what I’ve said so many times before, in so many places: We need to allow children the freedom to read. We need to allow teens the freedom to read. We need to allow adults the freedom to read. And if that means that we’re allowing them to read books that say “thong” or that talk about more than kissing, then that’s what it means. Because really, kids know about sex, and as long as the books aren’t giving them some warped, abusive, violent representation of it (without good cause), then why shouldn’t we let them read it?

Also, we need to let children set their own curve. When I was 8, I was ready for some more grown up books than could be found in the children’s section. This does not mean that all 8 year-olds are ready, and it does not mean that no other 8-year olds are. It means that children mature in different ways at different speeds.

To round out the post, some sources:

ALA: Banned Books Week, Sept 25-Oct 2

ALA: Top 100 banned/challenged books 2000-2009

Robin McKinley on Banned Books Week

5 Comments

Filed under Not a Book Review

The Giveaway CLOSED

As I hope you’ve all seen, I’m giving away several things, and you have several choices in prizes. If you’ve already entered, I’m asking that you take a moment to fill out this form, so I have everything in one place, and you don’t miss any entries.

If you have not entered yet, you still have time, as the giveaway remains open until September 30th, 2010 (Midnight, PST/GMT-8).

I’ll decide the winners on October 1st, and with all likelihood things will be purchased/donated/mailed by October 5th.

2 Comments

Filed under Not a Book Review

Wolf-Speaker

Pierce, Tamora. Wolf Speaker (2008 ed). 344 Pages. Simon Pulse. $6.99

The Immortals: Book Two

From the back cover:

When Daine is summoned by the wolf pack that saved her life a year earlier, she and Numair travel to Dunlath Valley to answer the call. But when they arrive, Daine realizes with a shoc kthat it’s not just the animals whose lives are threatened; people are in danger too. Dunlath’s rulers have discovered black opals in their valley and are dead set on mining the magic these stones embody. Daine learns that Dunlath’s lord and lady plan to use this power to overthrow King Jonathan– even if it means irreversibly damaging te land and killing their workers.

Daine has to master her wild magic in order to save both her animal friends and her human ones.

I do like Daine, a lot. I love the idea of being able to speak to animals, or transform. Her adventures in Dunlath, however, are not my favorites. I do really like Maura of Dunlath*, and some really cool magic is used. This plot really throws you into the middle of things, which is fine if you’re familiar with Tortall, less fine if you’re picking it up for the first time. I’d strongly suggest starting with Alanna’s series, because the realm and culture are much better explained.

As much as I love Daine, I feel like her story might be one of the weakest in the series. She’s fascinating, and the plot is clever, but it’s clear that Pierce becomes a stronger writer in her later series.

In Conclusion:

This particular review has been brief, because it’s really a bridging-book. Daine learns more about herself and her powers, and we’re taught a lesson about how humans can be more horrible than real monsters. Characters and situations are set up for the plot in books 3 and 4. This book gets a 3.5/5– I really liked it, but it’s the weakest book in the series. (Books 1 and 4 are my favorites.)

______________________________________________

*Per Tammy’s website, Maura is likely getting her own series down the line. (Slated for 2015.)

2 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Children's Fiction, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Soulless

Carriger, Gail. Soulless (2009). 357 Pages. Orbit. $7.99

The Parasol Protectorate: Book 1

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations.

First, she has no soul. Second, he’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquitte.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire– and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia is responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart? ( From the Back Cover)

There’s a lot going on in my brain right now, largely because of this book, which I really enjoyed reading. On the one hand, I hate you– those of you who reviewed Soulless and made it sound so very appealing, so I had to start reading it, which then led to me staying up all night reading it because I just could not put it down— and on the other hand, I wonder how you guys felt about some of the issues brought up by The Book Smugglers when they reviewed it.

“It’s an awful lot like Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody.” (among other issues) which could very well be the case, and which I could perhaps agree with, if I’d ever read the series in question. Coincidentally, I have several Elizabeth Peters books sitting here– I was digging through boxes and boxes of books which my grandmother gave me last time I went to visit. The vast majority are mystery/suspense/thriller, which is not my genre of choice, so they’ve sat, largely untouched, since she gave them to me. I was going through them, trying to ascertain exactly what I had in the boxes, so we could deal with them appropriately. ( My mom and I intend to go through them and figure out which ones we each want to read, and which ones neither of us are interested in, so we can donate/sell those that we are not interested in.) So perhaps my next read will be one of those Elizabeth Peters books.

Disconcerting similarities to already-published works aside, I’m pretty sure I really liked Soulless. I didn’t notice any of the issues which so perturbed the ladies at The Book Smugglers, but perhaps that is because I had no trouble suspending my disbelief, and had no experience with similar characters. Despite the (inappropriate) Fantasy/Horror genre tag which my copy sports, it was definitely supernatural/paranormal period romance. I was expecting that, so it didn’t throw me too badly. I also really enjoyed the characters, their banter, the way it was so clear they did care about each other, even though they didn’t really know it yet.

Lord Akeldama annoyed the hell out of me. (From page 46:)

He minced into the room, teetering about on three-inch heels with ruby and gold buckles. “My darling, darling Alexia.” Lord Akeldama had adopted use of her given name within minutes of their first meeting. He had said that he just knew they would be friends, and there was no point in prevaricating. “Darling!” He also seemed to speak predominantly in italics. “How perfectly, deliciously, delightful of you to invite me to dinner. Darling.”

Gee, wonder what his sexual orientation might be? I mean, he takes more badass out of vampire than sparkling in the sun did. Ugh. I don’t have a problem with gay characters, but I do have a problem with inexplicably flamboyant, annoying characters who are described as speaking in italics. Ugh.

That aside, I think Alexia was an interesting character, to a point. She was a little too inclined to lean on being half-Italian* as an excuse for well, being blunt. What I loved was the whole idea of a preternatural, set in Victorian England. I wish this had gotten a bit more page-time, because it was perhaps the most unique and outstanding thing about the entire book, and it really got glossed over. She’s soulless– enough so that the book is titled Soulless– and per a few early comments, this has a lot to do with her ability to relate to other humans, and her grasp of emotions, but she has absolutely no problems with lust or “love.”

In Conclusion:

I’m pretty sure I liked this book. I mean, I started reading it at about 10pm, and could not put it down until 4am. That is a very good sign in a book, being that involved in it. It gets a 4.5/5 because it wasn’t until well after I was done reading that I began to even think about the flaws (which is a good sign.)

______________________________________

* No love from me here. I’m basically 50% Irish, 50% Italian. Acting like that’s a handicap? Not cool.

6 Comments

Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Chick-Lit, Fantasy, Historical Romance, Mystery & Suspense, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

You Suck: A Love Story

Moore, Christopher. You Suck: A Love Story (2008) 352 Pages. Harper Collins. $13.99

Sequel To: Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story (1995)

As I have said previously: I am not allowed to read Christopher Moore in public. It has become increasingly obvious to me that I should also avoid reading Christopher Moore at work. When you’re sitting awkwardly in the corner of the break-room giggling to yourself, coworkers tend to ask questions like: “What are you reading?” Sometimes, that’s not a problem, but there are times when I just want to read, and do not want to be asked. (Nor do I want people leaning and moving to where they can read the cover without asking, because that is somehow more annoying).

Anyhow, because this is a sequel, my review will likely contain at least a few spoilers for the first book. (Though I will try to keep a lid on any spoilers for the book at hand.) Proceed at  your own risk…

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Contemporary Romance, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

Why I Need a Time Machine

We all have them, books we know are coming, which we can’t help longing for, though we know we’ll be waiting. There are a few that I’m dying for, that I can’t wait to get, and some which I’ve even pre-ordered. I’ve gone so far as to sketch my plan for stealing the TARDIS so I can get all of these books now, instead of having to wait.

1. Pegasus by Robin McKinley (Out November 2, 2010)

It was announced a while ago, and I’ve been reading bits and pieces about it on her blog. I even made the mistake of reading the three-chapter teaser she’s released, which made the wait all the worse, because I can’t wait to find out what’s next. And to make it more painful, she’s gone and warned us it will be a cliffhanger! Will that stop me from devouring it the day I get my hands on it and lamenting about the wait for part 2? No, it will not. Despite the warning, I will be a silly girl who reads her pre-ordered book the day it arrives and freaks out when she hits the cliffhanger she was warned about in advance.

2. Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales by Tamora Pierce (Out February 22, 2011)

I haven’t heard a lot about this one, but I grew up reading Tortall, and I haven’t not-loved a single book. Sure, I’ve loved some less than others (the Trickster pair, for example. Alianne was a little too Mary-Sue for me), but I know I’ll love this book, too. I love short stories, I love Tortall, and all the memories it evokes. A lot of my love-affair with Tortallan books is that I have memories of sitting with my friends (in bedrooms, on porches, in yards, on busses, in classrooms reading beneath the desks, to name a few places) and enjoying her books, and giggling together about how great they were and how cool it would be if we, too could speak to animals.

3. Mastiff by Tamora Pierce (Out Mid-2011?)

There’s no cover picture yet, and the publishing date keeps getting pushed back, and I’m agonizing over the chance to read more. I mean, I’ve even stooped to reading Beka Cooper fanfiction, which concerns me a little, because it takes a lot for me to hit that point. That being said, it’s the last book in Beka’s series, so it makes me a bit sad, though I’m sure I’ll love it. Oh but the anticipation is so agonizingly sweet.

4. River Marked by Patricia Briggs (Out January 25, 2011)

Mercy Thompson is back again (in the sixth installment, actually), still tattooed and sexy on her cover. (Which as I think I’ve said before, is funny to me because she’s not into provocative dress, and her only tattoo is the paw print.) Anyway, Mercy finally gets to meet some of her own kind, as they work together to defeat an evil thing from the river. I don’t know a lot of the details yet, but that’s fine by me, as Patricia Briggs hasn’t disappointed me yet. Interested? I’ve reviewed Moon Called, the first book in this series. I’d suggest this series to anyone who likes werewolves, ass-kicking females, and romance.

5. Hunt the Moon by Karen Chance (Out June 2011)

There are two parallel series set in one universe– Dorina Basarab and Cassandra Palmer move within the same world, and know many of the same people without knowing each other really– and the next book announced in their world is Hunt the Moon, which is distant enough that there is not yet a cover. I can’t wait to read it, because I love the way Karen Chance manages to make her vampires both human and inhuman.

6. The Unbearable Lightness of Dragons by Katie MacAlister (Out… ?)

If Katie’s trend holds, she’ll be releasing her book in November. I devoured all of her Dragon Septs books, back to back until there were no more to read. It will be exciting when this comes out (though it may be a while.) Thanks to silly facebook hijinks (that is, from the Baltic and Jim pages) I know a few plot points, but not a lot. The story revolves around Baltic and Ysolde, the Light Dragons. Someone dies. There is drama and intrigue and Ysolde wants to know about Baltic’s past. No more is known until the official blurb is released. As it is, this cover art is “subject to change,” but I get the feeling the only thing changing will be the tag-line (if it changes at all). (Thanks to Cover Lover for the image)

That’s all I’ve got for this issue of “Books I can’t wait for, and am making plans to steal the TARDIS so I can read NOW!” What books are you looking forward to?

3 Comments

Filed under Not a Book Review

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

As I’m sure most of my readers know (because most of you are book bloggers yourselves) this is Book Blogger Appreciation Week. Sure, it started on Monday, and sure, most of you have been posting daily, but I have not. So I’m condensing this down a little, because I’m: a) behind b) lazy. So here’s Days 1-4.

Day 1: First Treasures

The first book blog I discovered was Jenny’s Books, which is of course brilliant. Jenny is one of those bloggers who somehow manages to tell us about herself, her life, and the latest book all at once, and she does it with style and a great sense of humor. There are countless others who I read whenever they update (Emily & Her Little Pink Notes, and Lit Snit , to name the first few) and if I tried to name them all, we’d be here a while. There are a lot of interesting blogs, featuring people whose personalities shine through in their reviews, who manage to say things far more cleverly than I could ever manage (even on my best of days), who have (understandably) large followings, and who I wish I could be more like. So hooray for Book Blogger Appreciation Week, for making us take a moment to truly appreciate the people who write such fabulous reviews about such interesting books.

Day 2: Blogger Interviews

I’m skipping this because I am (again) a) lazy and b) behind.

Day 3: Unexpected Treasures

I haven’t actually picked up any new genres, but there are a few books I chose to read because of the bloggers who reviewed them.

For example, I grabbed Beastly because of the review on The Book Scoop, or maybe alita reads, or both. I finally broke down and bought Shiver at the suggestion of Bethany from The Musings of a Book Nerd. There are others I know I’ve grabbed because of other bloggers, but I can’t for the life of me recall which books from who. Ah, well. All of you folks I read have reviewed at least a few things which have been added to what feels like a miles-long to-be-read list.

Day 4: Forgotten Treasures

There are a couple books I’ve reviewed which were brilliant, and I adored, but which don’t seem to have much of a following. For example: Toads and Diamonds, which is a great fairytale retelling by a relatively new author. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot out there about it, but it’s definitely worth the time it takes to read it (not only because it has such a beautiful cover.) The other book which seems to have slid under the radar is The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet, which was excellent and a very fun read. It’s silly, a bit dorky, and well worth the time.

________________________________________

To close the post, I’m going to mention that I have a giveaway going on, which will be open until September 30th! So please, take the time to enter!

24 Comments

Filed under Not a Book Review

Kiss Me Deadly (Anthology) Part 1

Telep, Trisha (Editor). Kiss Me Deadly (2010). 430 Pages. RunningPress. $9.95

Review: Part 1 (Part 2, Part 3)

This was a definite impulse grab. I was at Borders, looking for a specific book, though at the moment I can no longer remember which book I sought. I don’t think I remembered what I was looking for then, either. When I walk into a building which contains more than a few books, I tend to get a little sidetracked. So I was staring at the Y.A. Paranormal section, feeling a little concerned for the sheer quantity of Twilight-knockoffs — we all know them, they’re the generic vampire romance that has exploded since sparkly vampires were first published — and my eye fell upon Kiss Me Deadly. I had a moment of oh dear, not another, but I’m such a fan of anthologies as a way to sample new authors that I couldn’t help picking it up.

I know it wasn’t an author’s name that grabbed me, because I have to admit that I do not know a single author from this volume. (Though I did also grab Shiver while I was there, because as a fan of romance, paranormal, and young adult, it seemed like a reasonable combo.)I think it was the Editor’s Note which opened the volume which got my attention;

Love in the time of… Zombies?

Somehow, that just doesn’t have the classic ring of Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s famous novel Love in the Time of Cholera* …  my bet, after titles like Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter**, is that this is likely in some publisher’s pipeline somewhere, probably slated for publication next year, or the year after that. (Intro)

Anyway, in a sort of gimmick-y “paranormal = horror” way, there are 13 stories in this volume. Because I do intend to talk at least a little bit about each of them, I’m going to cut this into several posts.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Contemporary Romance, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Historical Romance, Horror, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction