Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Warning, slow ahead

Talking to the DeadTalking to the Dead by Harry Bingham

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Talking to the Dead is such a boring and slow book, that reviewing it is boring. I actually feel badly for anyone reading this, for surely they must be bored.

Fiona Griffiths is a "copper" in Wales. Yup. You read that right. A COPPER. Every time copper appeared in the text I heard, "YEAH SEE! CAN'T CATCH ME NOW COPPER!"

Side note:

Apparently Wales doesn't do a whole lot of psychological profiling before hiring detectives because Fiona!

Fiona has issues, some of which involve talking to the dead and having boring conversations with them. She does happen to stick her finger in a skull cavity, but that lasted two paragraphs, then I was bored again. Also, I was disturbed, but hey, it's Fi, folks! She sticks her fingers in skulls out of love.

Back to the book:

Yes, there is a mystery that involves a couple of murdered prostitutes and a little girl, but the real mystery is what the hell is wrong with Fiona?

As a bored reader, I was rewarded with a diagnosis/label for her utterly morbid behavior, but by the time I got to the ta-da moment, I was just happy to have completed the book.

Why did I give this book two stars rather than one? Well, Fi is so bizarre and has such an honest voice, she kept me coming back. Without her, I would have simply given up. Still, it just wasn't enough.

Your friend Alisha says, "Yawn".

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Keye Street is the Coolest!

Stranger in the Room: A NovelStranger in the Room: A Novel by Amanda Kyle Williams

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hey you guys! I have a fantastic book for you. Stranger in the Room is an exciting thriller that is fast paced, funny, and just smart. I knew nothing about it prior to obtaining my ARC, so I was beyond thrilled when I found myself in the midst of a new girl crush named Keye Street.

Reasons I love Amanda Kyle Williams' Keye Street:

1. Chinese American recovering alcoholic with a southern accent, white parents and a gay, African American brother.

Did you get all that? Yeah. That's right, this ain't your typical blonde, blue-eyed, big busted detective novel. Do not misunderstand me. I am fine with hot, white characters, but let's be honest, shall we. Hot and white is not only cliche, but unrealistic given the diverse world we actually inhabit.

2. Street's taste in guys does not involve a complicated douche bag who is always saving her at every turn.

Believe it or not, Rauser actually trusts Keye and respects her abilities. And, this is important: Rauser is good looking, but he's not so good looking that he couldn't kinda, maybe, sorta exist on this plane. You know, Earth?

"You want some breakfast? I'm going to have some Shredded Wheat."
"No, I'd rather eat a bale of pine straw. But I guess you have to think of fiber at your age."
He grinned at me, pointed a finger. "You better be nice to me, Street. I'm probably the guy that's going to go through menopause with you. And we all know that ain't gonna be pretty."

Sigh. L'Amour.

3. Badassery (is that a word?)

Definition: behavior resulting is brave, but smart decisions that reflect positively on a character or person. Being a total and complete badass that Alisha loves.

Keye can handle Keye.

Keye is not stupid. She does not get so close to the bad guys that she is always in danger of being beaten or raped. I hate those novels. I mean, how stupid. No, Keye enjoys backup, and she has a healthy sense of fear. In other words, she's normal.

4. Best name for a cat EVER.

White Trash. Nuff said.

Beyond Stranger in the Room being simply awesome, it is also lovingly written. There are passages in the book that I connected with that brought me closer to Keye.

In explaining her mother, Keye describes her childhood thusly:

"Our mother, a child of the Albermarle Sound and pulsing marshes and tundra swans and striped bass, had searched for and found the secluded marshes and private seascapes in her city life. And because we had been witness to this delicate beauty in her humanity, it was all the more confusing when her touch turned arctic and her tongue caustic.

A real mom, guys! With flaws and everything!

Professional Alisha says: Williams takes her time with this novel, building characters, and a unpredictable, suspenseful plot.

Alisha, your buddy says: Oh, that bad guy is incredibly creepy too. You'll love it!

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012


QuarantineQuarantine by John Smolens

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Quarantine by John Smolens is set in Newportbury, Massachusetts in June of 1779 on the eve of a Malaria outbreak. The fever sweeps through the small fishing town both literally and figuratively.

Dr. Giles Wiggins and Leander Hatch bravely risk them own lives as they strive to see their families, neighbors, and town through the summer of 1779.

The plot behind Quarantine is both interesting and rich in in detail.

The trouble lies with Wiggin's mother, Miranda, whose namesake ship is quarantined under a yellow flag and as the distinct honor of bringing the town to its knees. Smolens keenly weaves the real Miranda with her yellow flagged counterpart. Miranda only leaves death in her wake.

Sitting at Miranda's right hand is her sleazy grandson, Samuel who has recently dethroned his less sleazy father, Enoch. Samuel bribed his way off the Miranda and once ashore, commences to scam and swindle.

The deck appears stacked against the good doctor Wiggins, who just so happens to be Miranda's youngest son and Enoch's half brother. Giles super power seems to be intuition. Like the fever, Giles understands his mother better than any other character.

In a discussion with his mother, Giles describes Miranda thusly:

"Mother, you can be hot and cold, ruthlessly arbitrary, much like this..."
Involuntarily she stepped back from his cot. "Like this fever? Perhaps, you have a better chance of understanding this disease than your own mother."

As if things weren't bad enough in the town of Newportbury, we have crazy Christians to deal with, corrupt law men, and mob mentality to boot.

The novel suffers from some slow pacing in the middle of the book, but readers can look forward to a swift pace as the novel makes its way towards to finish lines.

ARC provided by Pegasus in association with Netgalley.com

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Something Red

Something RedSomething Red by Douglas Nicholas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The perfect book for fall! Lovers of mystery, thrillers, and the unknown unite! There's something in the woods and it's hungry.

Something Red centers around a troupe traveling the snowy Pennine mountains of England in the 13th century when they encounter a pervasive sense that something evil is hunting for its meat, and has its unholy eye on their troupe. What inhabits the woods and how to avoid it is the central problem for Molly, Jack, her lover, Nemain, her granddaughter, and our young Hob.

Something Red is told from Hob's point of view in third person limited. This choice lends to further mystery. Hob knows little about his mistress, but he cares for her deeply and understands she is well respected. She is clearly more that an Irish troupe leader and a kind of medicine woman, but what we learn is based on Hob's understanding of his dire situation. Hob is a sweet, hard working boy, with a sensitively to the thing that stalks them through the woods, but he is still a young man, and hard work makes Hob sleepy. When things go bump in the night, Hob willfully dismisses his fears and trundles back to sleep like a good lad.

The mood of this thriller is perfect for the fall as the weather begins to turn. There are four distinct setting in the novel and each so perfectly rendered to the reader that we can't help but feel closed in by the forest, or smell the fresh rushes strewn on the castle floor. Nicholas masterfully recreates 13th century life if a way that is as believable as it is beautiful.

Nicholas has created a book to love that is simply magical.

ARC provided by Simon & Schuster in association with Netgalley.com

A great thanks to Mr. Nicholas who suffered my complaints with grace and lent me courage to wade through the formatting issues that plagued the earlier e-galleys

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Coming this fall: League of Strays

League of StraysLeague of Strays by L.B. Schulman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After the controversy here on Goodreads surrounding The League of Strays, I was apprehensive to begin the novel.

The League of Strays is about a group of four kids who are loners for various reasons. Richie is gay, Charlotte is an introvert, Zoe is combative, and Nora has a single-minded goal to make valedictorian. Enter Kade, a charismatic bad-boy, who knows just how to manipulate these fine, but lonely seniors and bend them to his will.

Kade wants soldiers to help him seek revenge on bullies at Kennedy High. The League (but mostly Kade) selects and plans attacks on supposed "bullies" that have hurt the Strays.

Warning***Spoiler Alert!

The attacks begin with some vandalism and threats, and grows to assault in quick succession. Kade soothes worries with sexual charm and it seems to work like magic on these inexperienced teens.

Meanwhile, Charlotte is swept up into a secret relationship with Kade, which seems to serve Kade far more than it does Charlotte.

Blessedly, Charlotte finally gets a clue and a spine. It came a bit late, but better late than never.

The story is fast-paced, which works well. The characters seem much younger than seventeen and eighteen, but from studies we know that readers prefer characters that are about two years older than the readers are themselves.

Schulman does a decent job conveying that popular "bullies" are not all bad people. Schulman maintains her light touch on these themes, which again, lets readers reach their own conclusions.

In another, more controversial section of the book, Schulman fails when Zoe becomes Richie's' beard, becoming his public girlfriend. However, the secretive nature of The League couldn't have been maintained if the members all donned Pride t-shirts. Also, it's important to remember that as real characters, the girls may actually believe that giving Richie a girlfriend will fix the problem.

In another related, Heathers like section, The League makes it look like one of Richie's homophobic bullies, a "jock" football player is gay and waiting for a hookup from another "jock". The falsely lured football player waiting, gets beat by his team mate, landing him in the hospital.


As a reader, I had a hard time with this scene, not just because a hate crime was being committed, but because there didn't seem to be enough of the right kind of why-this-is-SO-wrong narration coming from Charlotte's inner monologue. However, in defense of Charlotte, she is 17 and imperfect, which is real. Because Schulman is not in the reader's face, it allows readers to draw their own conclusions and form their own outrage.

As a YA novel, League of Strays offers a disturbing look into the act of retaliatory bullying, the consequences of lying, and the resulting confusion that sexual attraction has on behavior.

ARC provided by Amulet Books an imprint of Abrams in association with Netgalley.com

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Fifty Shame of Earl Grey is Full of Laughs and Snorts

Fifty Shames of Earl GreyFifty Shames of Earl Grey by Andrew Shaffer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When this book landed in my arcs I was was stoked to read it even though I am one to admit that actually enjoyed
Fifty Shades of Grey.  I know, I know...  It's one of my fifty shames.

Fifty Shames of Earl Grey is a wonderful parody of the Fifty Shades trilogy.  It has everything including, but not limited to:

1.  Shopping at Walmart
2.  Butt Chugging
3.  Brony Fanfic (based on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic)
4.  Tom Cruise
4.  Helicopters, stock cars, and F-14s
5.  Nose picking
6.  LARPing
7.  Jersey Shore
8.  16 and Pregnant
9.  Magical stalking
10. Out of season McDonalds' cuisine such as the McRib and Shamrock Shakes

Shaffer starts out strong with lots of laughs in the first part of the book.  I was snorting along to this one, and woke my husband up:

"The Earl Grey Corporation headquarters in downtown Seattle is a ginormous 175-story office building that juts into the cloudless sky like a steel erection.  I walk through the glass doors and into the lobby, which is floor-to-ceiling glass and steel.  This fascinates me to no end, because buildings in Portland are made of grass and mud."

There are more where that came from, which is why I was disappointed when the laughs began to lag towards the middle and end of the book.  It's not to say that it wasn't amusing, because it was.  I just couldn't help feeling like I was watching the parody, Scary Movie, especially when Earl Grey kept popping up magically wherever Anna happened to be. For instance, he appears behind a bar (think Tom Cruise in Cocktail), a Starbucks bathroom stall, from under Anna's bed, Walmart, and other ridiculously laughable places.

The book moves from laugh out loud mockery of Fifty Shades,its character similarities to Twilight and the legalities of fanfic, to more slap-stick/situational comedy that pokes fun at moments in the book such as the car chase scene, to Christian Grey's eating issues.

Overall, this book is a humorous parody of the million-dollar-per-week pop culture phenomenon.  Though it lags at times, it still held my attention and kept my husband waking all through the night.

ARC provided by Perseus Books Group in association with NetGalley.com

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Baby blogger has feeling! My random rant concerning the batshit site that is stopthegrbullies.com

I sit in my home, working on completing another galley and watching my children swim. I make copious notes on the book, considering how I might discuss it on Goodreads and my blog. I might occasionally fold the radom piece of laundry, but really, why?

It would be like any other day, except that I can't concentrate on what should be an enjoyable book. I keep thinking about Lucy, and The Holy Terror, Kat, and Ridley. I keep thinking about what I have to assume is a very messed up author and her revenge bullying, vindictive nature. I'm thinking about the bullshit site that is stopthegrbullies.com.

The site, which I will not link discusses how one of the reviewers is a bad mother who has a drinking problem. It posts real names, places of employment, etc.. It suggests that they are giving the reviewers a taste of their own medicine, all while they themselves remain anonymous. Wow!

There's a lot going on in this site. Some of the complaints deal with the ways in which reviewers can shelve books. Apparently shelving the book under, "pile o'shit" is offensive. There's a good deal discussing language and profanity, and the ways in which the reviewers describe books. Somehow this is labeled bullying because the language is deemed violent. Okay-dokey.

Profanity and the dickish response:

Can I just explain to those who are new to Earth and the interweb that not everyone is appalled by profanity. It's actually quite the thing to do today--or so I'm told. My favorite internet mag, Jezebel begins most headlines with a good old fashioned swear word. It's a style of writing I'm quite fond of. Does that mean that those using profanity are bullying? No. It means that have a wonderful handle on the art of cursing. I salute thee! Fuck yeah!

I guess my point is, if you are one of the uptight crowd who doesn't need a swear jar in every room, or youve smashed yours (mozel tov) please ask yourself if the reviewers deserve the treatment that they have received simply because they choose to use profanity in their responses? I ask this because it seems to be a major selling point on STGRB website and has shown up in the comments section on The Passive Voice. This alone seems to count for many of the positive comments. It's rather stupid. The content of the message is completely eclipsed by the use of the word, "shit". REALLY? REALLY! Goodness, me oh my! Vulgarity!

Some books are bad:

Hey! Did you know that some books should actually come with a free recycle bin? I have actually been so pissed at certain books that I can't even have them around for doorstops. I can't even look at the things any longer than it takes to hurl them across the room, pick 'em again, and walk them to the recycle bin. Franz's Freedom comes to mind, along with The Shack. As the consumer, I am perfectly within my rights to say that I think that these books suck donkey. That is not bullying. I could even say that this book should come with a picture of it pleasuring donkeys, but it still wouldn't be bullying. Just as a side note, I get great pleasure from imagining that stupid bird on the cover of Freedom loving a donkey. It takes the sting out of the experience out having read the piece of crap.

The American Idol effect

I started to think about the person who could author a site like STGRB, and it came to me that they must be self centered and immature. Some have suggested that this person is a YA author. This got me thinking about teenagers, and American Idol. For who else is more self important than a teenager who thinks they are going to be the next Jay Z?

Think of these authors/or author like the folks who show up for the American Idol tryouts. EVERYONE knows these guys suck except their mom, dad, and a handful of tone deaf buddies there to lend support. They cannot believe that they aren't going to be the next Carrie Underwood. They are in fact so astonished that they believe that the judges have a grudge against them. As viewers, we all find this laughable, especially when they flip off camera, but really, is it much different that what is going on over at STGRB.com?

Some authors will never be popular or well received, so when they write a book that isn't good, that's just par for the course. It's sad, but it's not the reviewer or reader's fault. We aren't the tone deaf family and friends. Propping up and providing encouragement isn't our job.

Hey STGRB! This is for you!

Do the writers at STGRB.com have the right to post their views about profanity? Sure they do. If you guys want to dig in to that age old debate, be my guest. Maybe they can even have some t-shirts and wrist bands made! I'm sure it will be super popular!

Even better? Like, a real solution?! Lobby for stronger moderators on Goodreads! Change Goodreads! Beg for the profanity police to stop threads that have become toxic. Sure, Goodreads won't be the once free place it used to be, but then that doesn't seem to matter to you folks anyhow.

There are a few other things that you can do to improve your situation. Here's a short list.

1. Pick up books on debate techniques.
2. Seek therapy/medication for your stalking tendencies.
3. Read up on real bullying. It's really sad and should in no way be mistaken for what has happened to you.
4. Write better books.
5. Grow some impulse control. Don't respond to negative reviews.

What you shouldn't do:

You know what should not be done? Like AT ALL! Above all, you should not harass your readers. It actually IS bullying. I mean, you know that right? You know that being outsmarted in a debate does not constitute bullying? You know that the F word is not really bullying don't you?

If you are reading this STGRB, you should know that I'm not buying your bullying story and neither are most readers. Your internet traffic is, and it's just a strong guess, based on readers at Goodreads getting the skinny on the hate mongering happening on your site. They want to see a real asshat in action before the lawsuits get slapped on your doorstep or Go Daddy shuts you down.

Oh, and one more thing. Revenge bullying doesn't work in the long run. You should know that too.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Shadow of Night Delivers

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2)Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It begins with absence and desire. It begins with blood and fear. It begins with a discovery of witches.

The second installment of the All Souls Trilogy is as dense as it is enjoyable. Harkness does a beautiful job maintaining the plot while spinning an ever increasingly involved story. Much like Diana Gabaldon who pens the Outlander series, Harkness is not one to rush. Instead, she remains constant, creating a world that is rich and brimming with life. And, like Gabaldon, Harkness is a published academic, which shows in the quality of the work. The word choice alone is food for the reader's soul.

In Shadow of the Night, Diana and Matthew must seek shelter in 1590 to escape the creatures who want them dead in the present. The goal of the trip is not just to preserve their lives, but to find a witch willing to teach Diana how to better control her roiling witchy powers, and procure the Secret of Secrets, Ashmole 782.

Diana and Matthew naively believe that they will be in the past less than a month, which is their first problem. Diana, like most historians has always dreamed of living in the past and therefore thought she would simply slip into the past. Unfortunately, her accent and manner of speech is so foreign, it takes longer than a month just to be able to present her in public.

The relationship between Diana and Matthew is at the heart of this constantly shifting novel, whose overarching theme of tolerance and change is challenged from beginning to end. It is their marriage that beings a new day for all creatures, but change doesn't come without sacrifice. It is then appropriate that Diana and Matthew learn to be one during the
Renaissance when science and learning were thriving, and change is expected and welcomed.

Readers might find the opening of Shadow of Night difficult, as Harkness jumps right into the story adding new characters left and right. Likewise there are some parts of the story that lag. Despite these small weaknesses, Shadow of Night is a beautifully crafted story that will leave the reader bleary with tears, but satisfied.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Good in Bed

Bared to You (Crossfire, #1)Bared to You by Sylvia Day
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn't going to write a review about this book, but then I got to thinking about the popularity of books like this one (#4 on the NYT Bestseller's List) and the Fifty Shades trilogy.

Fifty Shades is poorly written, but it's scratching an itch, if you will, much like Bared to You, which touches on that something that women readers crave every now and again. They crave it so much so, it was recently reported that the Fifty Shades author is pulling in a cool million a week this summer.

When I was growing up in the late '80s, my mom read books about sexy highlanders or some such dominate male who would "claim" and "possess" said heroine.


We look at modern romances and find very similar situations. The differences are minor. Instead of the highlands of Scotland, we have the skyscrapers or Manhattan. This is where our warrior/hero/misunderstood man waits.

The women in our modern romances are only slightly different from the bodice rippers of the past. Sheading petticoats for sheath dresses, these women are beautiful and smart. They might make more suggestions concerning their desires, but in bed, they are typically submissive.

So why is there a sudden a backlash against these modern romances when we've been reading them for years? Is it just the writing or is it the subject matter?

Women are still not supposed to be as sexual as men. Women are supposed to be above it all. When we read, we shouldn't give in to our baser desires, but read something more enlightening--something worthy of our sex. Sigh. Isn't this the same bullshit society has been pushing for decades, if not centuries? Women should read contemplations concerning Christ or needlepoint. Yawn.

It seems that today it is other women sending the message that women should avoid these topics, rather than men.  In our desire to get away from fantasies of the past, we tell other women that they must avoid such dribble.  How can women want a man who is controlling and possessive?  That isn't the modern woman's fantasy!  Well, according to sales, yes it is.

Bared to you takes a modern woman who is smart and beautiful and screwed up and places her with her soul mate, an equally screwed up dominate male. Hold up reader! These two have more in common than looks and money. Both Eva and Gideon have been sexually abused in their pasts. And this is what makes Day's book both compelling and emotional. These two survivors are learning to make their way in a relationship while also being in the limelight. It's an interesting concept that works.

What we have is a book that is pro-human and possibly, for some, worthy of our sex.

For those female readers who are hung up on what we as women should be, I ask you to question those values. At the end of the day, we are still sexual human beings, who might crave a little fantasy. And that does not make us less intelligent. Women can be both smart and sexy, not sexy, but also smart--as though being smart is something rare when discussing a woman who is beautiful. Gak.

If you can unshackled yourself from both modern and antiquated conventions, you might enjoy this book quite a lot. To read is human, and when we read, our human craves a variety of subjects. Giving it the occasional romance should not be held against us; it should be just one more subject that titillates and excites our largest sex organ, the brain.

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Caught in a Bad Romance

Tempted by the Highland WarriorTempted by the Highland Warrior by Michelle Willingham
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Every once in a while I decide that I need to read a good romance. They are good for the soul. How I've decided this bit of wisdom doesn't really matter. Let's just say I have amassed quite a collection of romances following my own sage advice. So, when I was offered the chance to read Tempted By The Highland Warrior, I said, "Sure!"

Overall I was fairly disappointed in this book. The writing left a lot to be desired. There was very little description of the overall surroundings, which resulted in a generic feel. I kept thing about the opportunities Willingham was overlooking.
Similarly, the characters were horribly simple, which was likewise distracting.

If you are looking for depth and character development, don't look here. Willingham misses the mark, having written a luke warm romance with a predictable outcome. Advance Reader Copy provided by Halequin Publishing.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

A review oh Tululla Rising

Talulla RisingTalulla Rising by Glen Duncan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blood, birth, and the rise of Tululla

This would be my choice for Tululla. Thank you, American Werewolf in London--which has THE best props. Way better than the cycles of the moon.

Oh, you know me...

I didn't read The Last Werewolf, but when I was offered the chance to read the newest installment in the series, I hopped on it. Who needs a first book anyway, I thought. So away I went, and immediately began second guessing my decision. If I'm anything at all, it's tenacious. I surged ahead.


The book opens on what I assume was the last place we left Tululla--pregnant and on the run from the vampires that would have her for their Helios project, which uses werewolf blood in the effort to produce a serum that would allow the undead to stroll in the sun and WOCOP, who would like to study her, amputate parts, then fill her full of silver bullets. Both situations would best be avoided by the very pregnant woman, who once a month, howls at the moon, runs amock, murders folk and devours them. Num!

Elitist Bull

I suppose if I'd read The Last Werewolf the first half of the book would have been far more enjoyable. As it was, I found the inner workings of Talulla's mind to be snobbish and high brow. Yes, I know that many would correct me and say that this was the stuff of real literature, but frankly, real lit is often full of itself. I should know. I'm an elitist myself, but most of the time try to tone it down. Duncan does not. He loves nothing more than to examine every dirty nuance of the human experience before grinding it beneath a mortar and pestle. This depth can be unnerving, and maybe it is this essence that Duncan means to extract. The essence is what real literature is made of. Duncan somehow does this to great effect.

Does this then mean that I take back my opinion of snobbery? No. Duncan gets it done. How he gets it done was often hard for me to stomach. The truth is, this book is not your typical genre novel and I had a hard time adjusting my expectations. Talulla is a über cerebral character whose thoughts often made me uncomfortable, but like most characters, I learned to accept her. I had to adjust my expectations. Once I did, and the plot progressed, I found myself liking this book.

So what? I needed the attitude adjustment and suddenly I liked it? Well no. If I'm honest, so much of Tululla's feelings about being a mother--both her ambivalence and her devotion struck a nerve with me. I connected in this one area and everything else fell into place.

I love that Tululla doesn't want to love her own. I love it that she doesn't want to lose, but then can't help but love. Isn't that the way of it? I love that she denies God, because it's magic and hocus-pocus, but prays in her own unique way. I love that she is appalling, and horrific, and real.

Here's the other thing about this book, I like the way Duncan thinks about outcome and plot. I get tired of predictability, and apparently so does Duncan. This is a horror in so many more ways than the mere presence of vampires and werewolves. Survival. Life. These are at stake always. This is what kept the pages turning.

Hey, You're Being a Real C-U-Next-Tuesday, if You Know What I Mean.

Is this book for everyone? Uh, no. Let me be clear. This book is rated R. Maybe examples are required? Listen, Tululla refers to her vagina as her c-u-next Tuesday. This is one of those instances that I was referring to when I mentioned über cerebral BS. Maybe Duncan thinks that all liberal feminists go around offhandedly talking about their c$&@s, but we don't.

Tululla Rising is unapologetically sexual and violent. You should know this before going in. If you are squeamish or beyond offended by the C word, this is not for you. If you are like me, and just about anything goes, then dig in and hang on. Tululla is indeed rising.

Advance Reader Copy provided by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Naughty Nicky: Why Gone Girl Should be on your Summer Read List

Gone Girl is the definition of thriller. It is smart and well crafted. But there are a lot of books that fit this definition, so why should you read this particular thriller?

Okay, first let me get this out of the way. I am 34, so I was all over Nick's character. I got him. Sure, a lot of the time I wanted to slap him upside the head, but really, I couldn't blame him. Nick is smart. Nick is dumb. Nick is screwed.

The novel shuffles between Nick's present and Amy's diary, with Amy slowly catching up to the present.

Nick's present keeps the action going. This day is also known as the first day gone, also known as Nick and Amy's 5 year anniversary. Happy anniversary!

Amy's diary is the beating heart of the thriller. The unknown. She tells us about her life with Nick from the beginning to the end. It is interesting to say the least, and casts horrible suspicion towards Nick.

The story is a very Scott Peterson, Nancy Grace train wreck. If you don't remember Mr. Peterson, he was the beautiful man who murdered his pregnant wife. Such a gentleman.

I loved Flynn's casual writing for Amy's character. Amy is a trust fund, only child, prep school, New York nightmare. Though we are supposed to like Amy, I kept getting the feeling that she was really quite terrible. Flynn's ability to give you just enough is pure art.

Flynn feeds the reader kibbles through the story followed by horrible revelations. It makes for a fantastic ride.

I did not give the book five stars because I felt that the end was not as well crafted as the first 3/4 of the book. Without spoiling the ending, I would just say that things are said by characters that are damning, and nothing comes of it. It's a frustrating conclusion, but not a total miss. Not everyone is snowed, but it's enough to leave me frustrated.

Gone Girl is wicked good.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Oh, wow! You need to read Wool

Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool, #1-5)Wool Omnibus Edition by Hugh Howey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was zipping around on Amazon the other day wondering what I would read after having experienced Pat Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind and A Wise Man's Fears, when I stumbled upon Wool.

I'm an adventuresome sort of reader, so it comes as no surprise that I picked up the Omnibus for my Kindle. Hey, any book that gets a rating of four or five stars by everyone and their brother cannot be bad.

The hook in the first part of Wool kept me coming back, but I wasn't sold on the characters. I was intrigued by this post-apocalyptic world of the silo that Howey created. What would it be like to live underground, to never know if a sky should be blue or grass green? If I'm honest, by the second night of reading Wool, it infiltrated my dreams. It's a very convincing world. A scary and convincing world.

At the heart of Wool is a struggle for control. Who controls the knowledge? Who decides the punishment, when the punishment is ALWAYS death? If an injustice occurs, who can you rely on? In Wool, the system is broken. Those in control have overstepped their bounds, and the push back in an enclosed silo, can be catastrophic, as you might imagine. I know I did!

I enjoyed Wool because like all good stories there were points where I felt out of control. I didn't like what was happening. I was angry at the blatant corruption of it all. Of course, that's the point. Well played, Mr. Howey, well played. But seriously, I wanted to hit something I was so upset.

As I said, it took me a bit to attach to the characters, mostly because there were so much big bad going on, I didn't want to attach to someone who might die. Yeah. People die. Lots of good people die and each death hurt. So, I was reserved about Jules at first. Oh well. It happened anyways. I LOVE YOU, JULIETTE!

Yes, our protagonist is a girl on the right side of the law. She is whip smart, and a free thinker. Just the sort of person to throw a wrench in the silo's gears. Get it? Wrench? No? Don't worry, you will.

Overall, Wool is a must read. You should read it NOW, before it blows up and all the wonderfulness is ruined by spoilers.

Favorite quotes:

"These buildings," he pointed to what looked like large white cans sitting on the ground. "These are silos. They hold seed for during the bad times. For when the times get good again."

"I'm not sure what you are trying to say," she told him.

He pointed at her. Pointed at his own chest. "We are the seeds," he said. "This is a silo. They put us here for the bad times."

View all my reviews

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Deadlocked Review

Published May 1st 2012 by Penguin Publishing (first published 2012)
edition language
                                                                                    Blurb from Goodreads:

It’s vampire politics as usual around the town of Bon Temps, but never before have they hit so close to Sookie’s heart… Growing up with telepathic abilities, Sookie Stackhouse realized early on there were things she’d rather not know. And now that she’s an adult, she also realizes that some things she knows about, she’d rather not see—like Eric Northman feeding off another woman. A younger one. There’s a thing or two she’d like to say about that, but she has to keep quiet—Felipe de Castro, the Vampire King of Louisiana (and Arkansas and Nevada), is in town. It’s the worst possible time for a human body to show up in Eric’s front yard—especially the body of the woman whose blood he just drank. Now, it’s up to Sookie and Bill, the official Area Five investigator, to solve the murder. Sookie thinks that, at least this time, the dead girl’s fate has nothing to do with her. But she is wrong. She has an enemy, one far more devious than she would ever suspect, who’s set out to make Sookie’s world come crashing down  

My Review:

Short on Story, Harris' Newest Book Fails Again***
**Or, How Harris Let Alisha Down (who loved Sookie forever and ever)**

Rating details: At first I was tempted to rate the book higher based merely on my love of the previous books, but that would be wrong. If I am honest, I would give this newest installment a D.

I'm about to lay down the harsh on the newest installment in a series I adore and it isn't going to be pretty because quite frankly, I'm pissed. If you want to disagree with me, please do so. I have a lot to complain about and I didn't put it all down, so please, tell me HOW AWESOME this book is. Just try.

First, there wasn't much story. My head was NOT spinning with new info to absorb as some readers have expressed. Harris does not succeed in pulling her series out of a nose dive. It wasn't better than the last book. Those that maintain the opposite seem to have come by an advanced copy of the book. Perhaps you gave the book a few pity stars because you love Sook? Or maybe, you are like I was, HOPEFUL. Hopeful that the story would advance? Hopeful it would improve? I get you.

I'm sad that Harris is letting this series die, as Sookie has been much loved. I'm sick of her though. I'm sick of Harris too for all she complains about Sookie; in her 20+ years of writing she's never had a character that's been so popular.

**Warning--side rant about the TRUE BLOOD EXCUSE**

Too many times I've read the excuse that because It-Was-Made-Into-True-Blood-the-Work-Suffered. That line of BS does not follow, folks. Harris is the author of her books. Alan Ball is the creator of True Blood. Harris' book have lost their way. True Blood is HBO's biggest money maker since the Sopranos. If Harris was unable to continue quality story lines for the series, she didn't need to accept the contract. Instead, she accepted the contract, and punished her fans. That's right Charlaine, I'm feeling punished for having loved the previous books. It's quite cruel.

**Back to the book**

The plot did contain a mildly interesting mystery, but there wasn't much push to solve it. As a reader, I wasn't concerned the way I ought to be. For example, mysteries like Who is Plotting to Bomb The Pyramid of Giza Hotel?, Who Killed Maria Starr?, or Where the Hell is Bill? made me read on. Too many glossed over days left me skimming for actual story. Harris falls back on her standby Sook went to the store, picked up her mail, cooked dinner, and washed her hair because there were no great revelations today BS. Listen, you can't do that. It's cheating. There's no story. I'll let you do it once, maybe twice, but by the fifth time, if it weren't on my Kindle, I would have chucked the book across the room. Where's the beef? There was relatively zero Eric, and what was there became horribly flat. Bill has more moments, which are nice, but again, there's not much there either. What we are left with is head time with a character that needs a script for Zoloft. Being in Sookie's head isn't a pleasant place.

**Relationship Gripes**

If we are to buy that Sookie is in love with Eric, I'd expect more passion. Yell, fight, screw, but do something! If she were in love with Sam, I'd expect more than vanilla. I don't buy any of it. Rather than tell Eric where he could stick it, Sookie hung up on Eric or told him to go so many times I lost count--and what's worse is that in most cases, he'd only been present in the scene for a page give or take. Even if you don't like Eric, Sookie runs from nearly all confrontation, which makes me dislike her, and made me ask, why? I have a few theories, but the most plausible is that Harris simply didn't want to write it. Gosh, that would take effort! As an author, one doesn't need to destroy characters just to end a romance between them. Leave us with something, please, even if we end up hating Eric, at least we'll feel something for him, other than tired.

Absent from book 12
New and fresh descriptors
Physical attraction to anyone that is exciting
Fun, humor, anything interesting
Engrossing mystery

Present in excess
Cooking, picking up mail
Second tier characters doing boring town stuff

**WARNING: Bon Temps is a snooze, move to Monroe**

Harris spends too much time in Bon Temps with D characters. I don't care about Tara and JB. I don't care about Jason and Michelle, or Holly and Hoyt, or...you get the picture. Harris fails badly. They don't advance the plot. WAIT, Alisha. Isn't there a point to all the babies and weddings? Yes, but there are better ways to let us know that Sookie wants a family without Tara and JB--who are the poster couple for surrender-to-any-nice-man-so-you-can-have-kids message that is becoming all too familiar in this series. Gag! What a pessimistic point of view on love and marriage! Should Sookie settle for less like Tara, who married JB because she wanted kids and he loved her? Dear God, NO! In many ways, this is the most demoralizing aspect of book 12.

 Harris created a world of fantasy and romance, but is bull dozing it with a level of reality I find concerning. I miss Eric wearing leather, Sookie running from potential kidnappers and hiding in Bill's hidey hole--naked. I miss Sam turning into a lion. I miss Claudine showing up to a fight in pajamas. I miss the silliness and fun.

Listen, just get it over with. Send Sookie to Sam, send Eric away, leave Bill pining as he always has. I don't care anymore what happens to her and neither does Harris. D