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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Book Chase's Sam Locked Out

I just received an email from Sam Houston at Book Chase asking me to help spread the word about his silence. Blogger has somehow mistaken him for a spammer (the result of some software program) and has locked him out of his blog.

Sam has posted comments on many blogs -- he wants the book community to know about what has happened so people will realize that he has not simply disappeared. He is trying to get an interview with a real person, but doesn't know how long it will take to get it straightened out.

He has no access to his blog at present, and they have threatened to delete Book Chase in 20 days!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Magic of Twilight

Farrell, S. L. A Magic of Twilight.

6 words: Neither awful nor awesome. Over-complicated names/titles.

Characters never really come off the page. Some interesting elements, but I didn't really care for this world... I mean, this world and its characters never really captured me or made me truly concerned for the individuals or about the events. Not sure exactly why it missed...

Fiction. Fantasy. 2008. 526 pages.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Excuses, Excuses

I'm not sure what is going on with me.

I was reading, but not blogging.

Now, I'm not reading, but blogging.

But not reviewing.

I don't feel so bad about that, however, after reading Bookfool's list of books to be reviewed. :)

Reviewing aside, my books in progress list is pretty chilling. Let's go through the drill:

1) Oh, this looks interesting. Worth a try. This one, too.

2) Hmmm, just found this one under a stack of 7; let's see, I think I started it 2 months ago. Forgot about it. Move to "in progress" stack.

3) Just arrived from Amazon - a book that I had looked forward to. Five pages in...maybe later. Maybe never.

4) ARC books...what did I do or say to indicate that all I wanted to read was self-help? I may need an occasional positive thinking book, but not 15. Nor do I really want to read about someone's suicide, so put it in the stack titled "What do I do with these books? Who could I give them to?" Would they take it as an insult?

5) I like this one, but only for a chapter at a time...then let's have a little mystery or fantasy time.

6) Oh, I've finished all the mystery and fantasy. Schedule library trip.

7) This biography of Alice Roosevelt Longworth is terrific. I love reading about smart, witty women. Background on Teddy is interesting, too.

8) A little Pratchett. Smile.

9) Two more unsolicited ARC's from different publicists yesterday. Goody, goody! Oh, one is another self-help! Still, the other is a good possibility.

10) Hold it! What about the long list of those that I've already started? The "in progress" stack? Discipline. Must. Practice. Some. Discipline.

Do not begin another book until having finished some of the "in progress" stack OR AT LEAST until I've written reviews of those that are already overdue at the library. The ones I didn't return with the others because I had not reviewed them.

11) Learn to admit that I have abandoned some books. Move from "in progress" to "abandoned" stack.

I think I'll sew instead.

I know I've been absent here, but I've been busy over at Bayou Quilts, playing with fabric and thread.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Light of the Moon

Rice, Luanne. Light of the Moon. I wasn't familiar with the author and was interested because the novel deals with the white horses of the Carmarque. Susannah Connolly, the main character, is also an anthropologist...another point of interest. Turned out to be more Chic Lit. Sappy.

However, watch this video if you want to see why the white horses and their riders fascinate me.

Fiction. Chic Lit. 2008. 386 pages.

The Crows

Soule, Maris. The Crows.

When P.J. is shot at in the woods, she manages to get home only to find a dying man in her house. From deadly Ladybugs to counterfeiting. And a dead father. This one never really made me believe, but it was short. Which was a good thing. Nice cover, though.

Fiction. Mystery. 2007. 262 pages.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Poisoner of Ptah

Doherty, P.C. The Poisoner of Ptah.

6 words: Has the Rekhet returned? Prisoner escaped.

Set during the reign of Hatshepsut (or Hatusu, as Doherty uses the shortened version of her name), the female pharaoh who ruled Egypt for 22 years, this mystery requires Judge Amerotke to discover who poisoned 3 scribes during an important ceremony to confirm a peace treaty between the Egyptians and the Libyans. Is it the Rekhet, the poisoner of Ptah, who poisoned so many people several years earlier?

And there are other issues, political and national, at stake. Will the peace treaty be sidetracked? What do the gangs of the Egyptian underworld have to with events? What about the deaths of a wealthy merchant and his wife?

I like Doherty's Egyptian mystery series. They read quickly and have a way of re-creating ancient Egypt --from the palace, to the temple, to the streets --that I enjoy.

Fiction. Historical Mystery. 2007. 378 pages.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Shadow Gate: Book Two of the Crossroads

Elliott, Kate. Shadow Gate.

6 words: What has happened to the Guardians?

I read many series out of order and don't usually have any trouble, but I would highly recommend reading this series in order as Elliott makes few concessions to back story. I read Spirit Gate: Book One of the Crossroads last year (and loved it) so the characters and various plot lines were still fresh. However, without having read Book One, the sequel would be most confusing.

The world of the Hundred is a turbulent one; the religions and politics are diverse; the races, customs, and traditions often antithetical. The Reeves and their eagles struggle to preserve some sense of order in the midst of the violence. Aiding the people of the Hundred are the Qin, soldiers in exile who are following their leader Anji and his wife Mai, ahead of threats from their own country.

But what has happened, is happening to the Guardians -- theNine who are supposed to provide protection and justice? How many are corrupt? Will Marit discover her role in the confusion she awakes to find herself in?

Many, many characters and threads in this fantasy. I eagerly await the next in the series.

Fiction. Fantasy. 2008. 475 pages.

The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square

Lippi, Rosina. The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square.

6 words: Chic Lit. Predictable. A beach read?

O.K. So I liked the title, the idea of a small Southern town with quirky characters, the idea of a shop named Cocoon that sells antique and luxury linens and where the owner and her employees wore pajamas to work, and the idea of a Scrivener's, "an odd little shop that specializes in collectible pens."

A light little time-waster that has you making many critical remarks in your head while you continue to read.

Fiction. Chic Lit. 2008. 351 pages.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Older Characters in Contemporary Fiction

DesLily brought up an important point in her comment on my review of The Sorcerers' Plague. Two of the most important characters are old. Unfortunately, the author doesn't give as much time to them as they deserve. Licaldi, the antagonist, is talked about, but rarely appears and when she does appear it is always in the same role...until the very end of this volume. Besh, the village elder who feels required to put an end to Licaldi's deadly activities, is better developed, but still has only about 10% of novel time.

I find DesLily's point about old protagonists an interesting one, especially given the "graying of America." The protagonists in literature are predominantly young, but there are authors who have created some fascinating elderly leading characters. I'm thinking of two in particular. So a couple of questions for you:

Which authors or titles feature dynamic older protagonists?

How do you feel about older main characters?

Because I'd rather begin a new book than write a review, I've 5 more reviews to write. Received an Amazon delivery and made a library run yesterday, and so have added to the already huge stack of TBR.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Sorcerers' Plague

Coe, David B. The Sorcerers' Plague.

6 words: A plague spreads. Revenge at work.

As a child, Licaldi witnesses the deaths of her family and village; 64 years later, she begins her revenge against the race she holds responsible.

Besh, a village elder, is concerned when Licaldi disappears from his village -- without fully knowing why. When he reads the journal of the woman who took Licaldi in and raised her all those years ago, his fear increases, and when he suspects Licaldi of spreading a plague to avenge herself against the people she blames for the deaths of her family, Besh decides he must, even at his own advanced age, be the one who prevents Licaldi's terrible vengeance from continuing.

I wasn't all that taken with this fantasy, perhaps because so many of the characters introduced quickly fell victim to the plague. I didn't like being introduced to characters who appear to have a role to play only to discover that their roles are solely as victims.

Fiction. Fantasy. 2007. 393 pages.

A Pale Horse

Todd, Charles. A Pale Horse.

6 words: Didn't live up to previous works.

I'm usually a big fan of Inspector Rutledge, but this one felt slow and a bit awkward. Even the conversations with Hamish have palled a bit. Several things - the many trips back and forth to London (it would have taken an awful long time in 1920 to make those many trips), a lack of connection to the characters (admittedly, with Rutledge's own problems this is not an unusual aspect of this series), the pattern of the interviews...I don't know, I was just not as involved with Rutledge as I was in the first several novels. And Jean? Sometimes, I just want to shake the man and say that, with his past, Jean was just a hiccup.

Fiction. Historical mystery. 2008. 360 pages.

Dark Summit

Heil, Nick. Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest's Most Controversial Season. An ARC that has been sitting around here for a while.

6 words: 2006: 11 deaths attempting Everest's summit.

Heil attempts to determine exactly what siren call lures so many climbers to Everest and to discover what went wrong in 2006, when 11 people lost their lives attempting the climb. Almost 12 people, for Lincoln Hall was reported dead, but by some miracle survived a night alone and without shelter at 8700 meters. (Hall has written his own book about his experience - Dead Lucky).

Heil admits that he didn't entirely succeed in either attempt for an explanation, yet he is able to give an interesting and detailed account of that particular season. He also gives some interesting historical background about Everest.

There were so many groups on the mountain and so many climbers in each group that it was sometimes difficult to keep track, but Russel Brice's Himex (Himalayan Experience) group included "a double amputee; a ...mechanic whose back, knee, and ankle were bolted together with metal screws; and an asthmatic who intended to summit without using oxygen."

I'll never understand the desire to risk one's life for such a miserable experience (temperatures often 30-40 degrees below zero, months on the mountain at various camps with little comfort, frostbite and loss of fingers and toes, cerebral edema - a frequently fatal form of high altitude sickness, and on and on), but climbers flock to Everest.

While I found the book interesting, I did not find it enthralling and felt it lacked a sense of continuity as Heil followed all of the threads and groups and climbers of that season as well as "flashbacks" to previous seasons.

Nonfiction. Adventure. 2008. 251 pages.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy July 4th!

Bookfool is giving away an autographed copy of The Questory of Root Karbunkulus. Check it out here. I'm hoping to continue my winning streak.

Just placed an order with Amazon. I'm so weak. There are stacks of ARCs around here that I've not yet read and a brand new stack from Wednesday's trip to the library, but...

I just had to have this one - Resurrecting Virgil by Dorie LaRue. Why? Well, there are several reasons including some excellent reviews:

"Winner of the Omaha Prize for Novel for the year 2000, selected by Mark Spencer. A modern comic-romance with a generous dollop of Southern Gothic, Resurrecting Virgil will keep readers turning the pages long into the night."
I love good Southern Gothic, and the setting and characters are loosely based on Shreveport and the surrounding areas.

And, of course, I know Dorie. Or knew her...way back when. We worked at the Tech Theater together when we were students at Louisiana Tech in Ruston. She always made me smile, and the last time I saw her, years ago on the LSU-S campus, she was exactly the same: friendly, down-to-earth, vital.

When I had lunch with my friend Thomas the other day, he asked if I knew a Shreveport author named Dorie LaRue. All I could do was grin. I knew Dorie, but didn't know she had written a novel (she has two published works of poetry), and immediately thought of an incident involving a washateria back in Ruston all those years ago.

Oh, yeah. I can't wait to get hold of Resurrecting Virgil.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Wonderful Mail!

I was lucky enough to win one of Iliana's handmade journals, and the little beauty arrived yesterday!Now, just look at the detail. Isn't it lovely? Thanks so much, Iliana! I adore it and now must go through the waiting period.

You know, that time after you have a new, blank journal, and you just can't bear to write in it? When you turn the pristine pages and fear marking on them because you might mess them up? Maybe this is not a problem for everyone, but I always go through this transition period while I gather the courage to actually WRITE in a new journal.

Here is the postcard that arrived with it - our old friend Nancy Drew! Just perfect.