Look What I just got!

18 May
Ice Song Book Cover
Ice Song, by Kirsten Imani Kasai

I just bought this book yesterday from a used book store!  I probably won’t get to it for a while, but was wondering if anyone else has read it?  What did you think?

From Amazon:
“Kasai’s strikingly original but uneven debut posits a world where DNA has gone wild, producing Traders with amazing abilities and somatics with a mix of animal and human genes. Sorykah Minuit, a gender-switching Trader, arrives in the dirty, dangerous polar town of Ostara to meet her twin children and their nursemaid. She encounters an octopus-woman who tells her the children have been abducted by the Trader-torturing Collector. Passages of stunning imagery veer abruptly into purple prose as Sorykah heads into the perilous, icy wilderness, only to pause her maternal quest for an extended romp at an isolated pleasure-house. After a brush with death, she abruptly becomes a man with no memory of female life. Kasai’s imaginative reach exceeds her grasp, and she squeezes in numerous intriguing ideas that languish only partially explored. (May)  Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.”

The Darkest Night, by Gena Showalter

11 May

“Always before, Maddox had wished to fade into nothing when the fire overcame him, never to return to hell or to earth.  He’d wished to end his miserable existence and finally stop the pain.  Always before—but not tonight.  Not this time.  Tonight, pain was eclipsed by desire.”

The Darkest Night Mouthwatering cover
How can you resist this cover?

I don’t know why I haven’t read more of Gena Showalter’s novels.  I’ve read her Atlantis series and loved them.  Her book covers are mouthwatering.  There are so many Lords of the Underworld books that I wanted to be sure to start from the beginning.  So at a used bookstore recently, I bought the first two.  I just completed The Darkest Night, a truly decadent treat!

Maddox is an immortal warrior bonded with Violence and cursed to die a painful death every night.  Most of his days are spent struggling to control the violent urges, until the day Ashlyn smiled at him.  Ashlyn has her own struggles to face, so when Maddox brings much-needed peace to her life, not even the threat of Violence can sever her loyalty.  Together, Maddox and Ashlyn face the beginnings of war.  They forge an impossible passion to create their own fairytale! 

There are currently eight Lords of the Underworld novels, another on its way, and a few smaller stories in between.  This means I have a lot to read!  This book was clearly Maddox and Ashlyn’s story, but it also served to set up the series and introduce us to more than one upcoming adventure in store for us.  There are many players in the search for Pandora’s box, and I’m so glad that these heroes will all get their own love stories as the larger plot continues.

Remember how I said that the cover was mouthwatering?  Well, the passion within the novel doesn’t disappoint!  There were times when I was embarrassed to be reading this book in public.  I love how hot and sexy this book was without losing its story or ending up over the top.  I very much loved The Darkest Night, and can’t wait to continue with The Darkest Kiss!  Five Stars, easy.

Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld

8 May

When I found Scott Westerfeld’s novel Uglies at a used book sale, I jumped at the chance to finally start this series.  I don’t intentionally seek out Young Adult novels, but I love how engrossing they can be, and they’re often such fast reads.

Uglies book cover

“But it’s a trick, Tally.  You’ve only seen pretty faces your whole life.  Your parents, your teachers, everyone over sixteen.  But you weren’t born expecting that kind of beauty in everyone, all the time.  You just got programmed into thinking anything else is ugly.”

“It’s not programming, it’s just a natural reaction.  And more important than that, it’s fair.  In the old days it was all random—some people kind of pretty, most people ugly all their lives.  Now everyone’s ugly…until they’re pretty.  No losers.”

The idea behind this novel is very interesting, and hits close to home.  On every person’s sixteenth birthday, they are given a surgery to transform from an ugly, into a pretty.  The pretties get to have big parties and don’t have a care in the world.  Children are taught from a very early age that making everyone pretty fixes the problems and inequality that the old “Rusties” faced in the past.

It took several chapters to get hooked on this story, though I’m glad I got past it.  My initial turn off came from the “preachy” feeling that I got from the narration.  There was an obvious message to readers about how we view beauty.  Also, I was more aware that the book was written for a younger audience than I was, for example, when I read The Hunger Games.

While the narration started with a very young feel, it improved exponentially as the novel moved forward.  Actually, Tally, the main character, matured throughout the novel, and her voice evolved with her.   Kudos to the author for accomplishing this so subtly.   I also loved the other characters that we met along the way.

Of course, Uglies ended with a huge cliffhanger, and I’m already desperate to read the next in the series, Pretties.  I can’t wait to learn more about this world.  It’s been a while since I’ve read a five star book, but even with its slow start, this is a highly recommended read!

Book Blogger Hop

6 May

This is my second weekend since discovering the Book Blogger Hop Book Party hosted by Crazy for Books. I’m especially pleased to answer this week’s question:

Book Blogger Hop

“Which Book Blogger would you most like to meet in real life?

This question appeals to me because I’m pretty new to the blogging community.  I blog mostly to help me with my own memory, but I love books and would love discussing them further with fellow readers and bloggers!  So I guess my answer is I’d like to meet others. Period.  If you are stopping by, please take a moment to introduce yourself.

And thanks!

My First Book Blogger Hop

1 May

Book Blogger Hop

I‘m joining the hundreds of others for a weekly blogging party hosted by Jennifer, a book lover who is Crazy for Books. I’m pretty darn excited to find new blogs to follow. I also get to answer a fun, book-related question every weekend.  Here is this week’s question:

“Summer is coming quickly – what 2011 summer release are you are most looking forward to?”

Dead Reckoning cover

I know it’s a bit short-sighted, but right now all I can think about is the fact that Dead Reckoning, the latest Sookie Stackhouse novel byCharlaine Harris, comes out this week.  May 2nd, to be exact.

Just Like Heaven book cover

I’m also a big fan of Julia Quinn’s cute romance novels.  Her latest paperback, Just Like Heaven, will be released May 31st.  In the meantime, I’m behind on my reading and need to get to my copy of Ten Things I Love About You! 

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel, by David Wroblewski

30 Apr
“Life was a swarm of accidents waiting in the treetops, descending upon any living thing that passed, ready to eat them alive.  You swam in a river of chance and coincidence.  You clung to the happiest accident–the rest you let float by.”

Edgar Sawtelle book coverI’m embarrassed to say this book took me forever to read. I didn’t dislike it, and it was well-written. It made me sad, though. I was afraid to become too invested in the story and the characters.  Occasionally, something good would happen, and I could whizz through a few chapters.  For example, Edgar met a man named Harry.  This was by far my favorite part of the book.  Upon fearing an ending to this section, I put the book away for a few weeks before I could bring myself to keep reading.

Edgar Sawtelle is an endearing character.  He was mute from the moment he was born, for no discernible reason.  Still, he grows up happily in rural Wisconsin with his parents, his dog Almondine, and a thriving dog breeding business.  The Sawtelle Dogs are renowned for their unique abilities, with almost a mysterious quality to them throughout the novel. 

Edgar’s life takes a dramatic turn, however, when his uncle Claude returns home.  With a nod to Hamlet, Edgar’s story is somewhat creepy, adventurous, and sad.  Througout it all, the characters maintain a very human quality–Even the dogs!

This book isn’t for everyone.  I prefer a story with a bit of the supernatural, but despite that, it has a very realistic quality.  It merges topics and genres smoothly to a somewhat ambiguous result.  Although it has Oprah and Stephen King’s praise, I’m going to give it three and a half out of five stars.  Deeply appreciated, but not really the escape it’s sometimes called.  Hamlet is, after all, a tragedy. 

 

The Brief History of the Dead, by Kevin Brockmeier

7 Mar

Yes, I am actually posting.  No, I didn’t exactly read a book.  This is the review of an audiobook I listened to this weekend, narrated by Richard Poe.

For some reason, I haven’t been in the mood to sit down and read a book.  I’ve been focused on a lot of transitions in my life, and I’ve also been writing.   This is embarrassing for me to admit, but since I don’t want to give up on the Blook Bog, I have to be honest about it.  I think this is the longest time I’ve gone without reading a book since grad school!

Anyway, I’m really glad I didn’t try to read this book.  The Brief History of the Dead has been a book that I’ve wanted to read for years now; I’m glad I can finally cross it off my list.  It took a while to get into this novel, but it did have its high points.

Imagine a book that combines The Road with The Lovely Bones.  That provides some of the framework for Brockmeier’s concept.  There are two worlds with two stories that slowly come together.  As the people of the world pass on, they find themselves in The City, a world that closely resembles the one they left behind.  Married couples are re-united and best friends can meet up in a bar to have a drink in the afterlife.  Occasionally, residents vanish and no one knows what happens to them.  They have a theory that The City holds the dead as long as they are remembered by people living on Earth.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Laura Byrd, researcher for the Coca-Cola Corporation, struggles for survival in Antarctica.  She and her two teammates lost contact with the base, and when the other two set out to find help, they never return.  Through amazing endurance, Laura journeys across the frozen land, and begins to suspect that she’s the only person left on Earth.

“How many people was any one human being likely to remember? A thousand? Maybe if you were cursed with a particularly slipshod memory. So then—ten thousand?…

He was thinking about himself, his own life, and by extension, he was thinking about Laura. She was the common element, after all, the link or what have you. After all the discussion he had heard in the city, that much was obvious.”

This book poses a lot of topics that would make a good discussion.  The author’s look at life and death is very creative.  As a story, however, it fell flat for me.  There isn’t much dialogue, but lots of long descriptions.  There is a lot of symbolism, and I won’t pretend I understood it all.  For me, the symbolism got in the way of getting to know characters and staying engaged in the story.
I found Laura’s struggle to stay alive to be the most engrossing part of the book.  She faces freezing weather, deep caverns, and plague.  I can’t imagine the loneliness she experienced!
Overall, I’m going to go with three stars in my evaluation of this book.  If you’ve read it, I’d love to have a discussion about it; there’s a lot to talk about.

A Kiss at Midnight, by Eloisa James

27 Nov

Kiss at Midnight cover

 

“The only thing completely clear about the situation is your infatuation,” Wick said.  “Let me sum it up for you: Kate, very sensibly, shows no interest in you.   Frightened by the imminent arrival of your bride, you are now running shrieking in the direction of the one woman who not only doesn’t want you, but isn’t eligible.  Really, could you be a bit more original?”

 

I was planning on reading a more sophisticated book this weekend, but sometimes you just crave something light.   So I went to my bookcase dedicated to paperbacks and picked out this little gem.

A Kiss at Midnight is Eloisa James’s version of a fairytale.  Usually, I turn to Christina Dodd (highly recommended!) for that kind of thing.  Still, this has its cute moments, including a wicked stepmother, quirky godmother, and glass slippers!

The story starts slowly, introducing Kate Daltry and Prince Gabriel.  I really liked Kate right away, but it took some time to get used to Gabriel. The circumstances bringing Kate and Gabriel together are pretty random and far-fetched.  As a connoisseur of romance novels, I’m used to accepting the implausible, but some of this plot seemed unnecessarily strange.  Still, this was a fairy tale, after all, and it was easy to root for a happily ever after.

One of the easy pitfalls for Regency romance is having too many characters.  I know it leaves the possibility open for spin off stories, but sometimes it just seems too cluttered. In this case, I could barely keep up with all the characters, and it was a bit odd how they were involved in the wrap up in the end.  The best character was definitely Henry, the industrious godmother.  Her fun personality carried this book. Add in some of the hottest…ahem…romantic scenes I’ve read in a long time, and this book was a solid three stars. Overall, this is cute and enjoyable as long as you are willing to accept some of the weird parts in the plot.

The Tairen Soul Quintet

21 Nov

I’ve been holding off on this post because I’m smack in the middle of book four in a series of five.  Still, with the release of the final, fifth book occurring this month, I had to get this out there.

For at least a year, I had a cute paperback book on my bookshelf featuring a redheaded young woman laying in the grass, surrounded by magic.  I don’t know why I didn’t look too closely, but I’m very glad that it just sat on my shelf.  Eventually, I found another book at my favorite used book sale and recognized the same style cover and the author.  Still, both books sat, waiting.

How fortuitous that I decided to read the first in the series, Lord of the Fading Lands, so close to the release date of the final book.  When I started, I had no idea that I was about to plunge into an epic.  I’m still in the middle of the fourth book, but I had to share this with you as soon as possible.

The Tairen Soul is a very special version of the Fey, with the ability to change into a large, flying cat-like creature called the Tairen.  Rainier, the last Tairen Soul in the Fading Lands, serves as king over both the Fey and the Tairen.  Rain hasn’t left the Fading Lands in thousands of years, but the mysterious deaths of his kind have caused him to leave in search of a solution.

That solution just happens to be Ellysetta, a simple, mortal girl hiding a lot of secrets.  From the moment she meets Rain, Ellie is forced to face the magic and talents that she has spent her whole life meticulously hiding.  She’s afraid to accept her powers, but with Rain, her truemate, by her side, Ellie will begin a journey to accept her destiny.

The love between Ellie and Rain is wrought with conflict.  Ellie’s soul calls Rain down from the sky, and he immediately professes his love for her as her one true soulmate.  I thought that this would take away from the drama in their relationship, but that is not at all the case.  The couple must still find their way together, in the midst of war and danger.  Ellie is especially intriguing.  Initially, her story read like a Cinderella tale where a simple young girl suddenly becomes a queen.  However, her character is always evolving and growing in depth and strength.  Ellie is no delicate princess to be swept off her feet.  She’s powerful beyond anyone’s understanding, and deeply empathetic.

Written originally as a complete novel, there are really no good endings and beginnings among all the books.  I highly suggest collecting them all, and then reading all the way through.  I hesitate a little to rate The Tairen Soul Series prematurely, especially since I find that it’s the endings that always disappoint me.  Still, I already know that the journey is well worth the read.  I rate this five out of five stars!

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

6 Nov

The Road Book Cover

“Listen to me, he said, when your dreams are of some world that never was or some world that never will be, and you’re happy again, then you’ll have given up. Do you understand? And you can’t give up, I won’t let you.”

I am perhaps a little behind the times, but I finally read The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.  I’ve wanted to read this book for quite a while, but I always put it off because people were always telling me that it’s so dark.  Often, I just want to lose myself in a good story to escape reality.  People warned me that this was a hard book to read without getting depressed.

Well, I shouldn’t have listened to those people.  I found this tale to be very heartwarming.  The plot is simple.  In a post-apocalyptic world, a man and his son journey south for the winter.  They struggle to survive by hiding from others and scavenging for supplies.  That’s it; not much to it.

It’s the relationship between the two of them that makes this so much more.  Their relationship is so complex.  The boy has only known a dead, desolate world while his Papa is still in mourning for the world he knew.  Still, it’s this boy who acts as the moral compass for the two of them.   The father lives only for his son; his patience for him is endless. They love each other very much.  This fact makes everything beautiful, despite all of the ugliness that they encounter.

It took me a while to adapt to reading this book, however.  I don’t know what makes McCarthy think he’s so special that he can ignore the rules of punctuation and grammar.  This is the first (probably only) I’ve read by McCarthy, so I’m not sure if he always writes this way.   In some ways, the sparseness of his writing worked very well with the mood and the setting of the novel.  I adjusted.  It just took a while.

I can hardly imagine giving a Pulitzer Prize winning book a low rating, but thankfully I don’t wish to do so.  The Road is far more beautiful and heartwarming than its concept would appear.  Five Stars!

I’m curious to hear from others who have read this book.  The boy’s age is never stated.  How old do you think he was?