Search This Blog

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

 There are several different story lines intertwined in Bury Your Dead: a mysterious death in Quebec City where Inspector Gamache is recovering from physical and emotional injuries, flashbacks and references to the events of a tragic operation that resulted in the deaths of several of his men (and his own injuries), and a re-visiting of the closed case in The Brutal Telling

There are also some minor story lines that explore the social constructs of Quebec City, expand the character of Jean Guy Beauvoir, and explore possibilities about the missing remains of Samuel de Champlain, founder of Quebec.

What I enjoyed most was that the history of Quebec, the information about the social divide of English/French,  and the mystery of Champlain's missing remains were so seamlessly embroidered into the mystery.  It was also nice to see Jean Guy Beauvoir open up a little as he visited Three Pines to look at the closed case involving Olivier a little more closely.

At first, I was confused about Gamache's memories concerning the operation that led to the death of his men and his own injuries, and I wondered if I had missed a book.  No, that story line is revealed slowly through Gamache's thoughts as he continues his emotional healing.

A good read!  In fact, this is my favorite (by far) of the series!

Other reviews:  Book ChaseSo Many Books,

Fiction.  Mystery.  2010.  384 pages.

The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade

The Hunchback Assignments is another YA book; this one fits in the steampunk sub-genre of fantasy.

When Mr. Socrates rescues a young hunchback from a traveling Victorian freak show, he is astounded by the child's ugliness, but suspects that his efforts will be rewarded.

He names the child Modo and has him raised in seclusion.  Modo, an extremely bright child, is well-fed and well-educated mostly by a kind governess.  He is also trained in the martial arts by another mysterious associate of Mr. Socrates.  When Modo is fourteen, Mr. Socrates takes him to London for an important test.  Modo is left alone in the unfamiliar city and must survive until contacted again by his mentor.  Initially terrified, the boy uses his native intelligence to find a niche for himself and his unusual talents.

He is then given his first assignment for the covert organization whose goal is to protect Britain at all costs.  On this assignment, Modo meets another young agent, Octavia Milkweed, another young orphan who has also been rescued and well-trained. 

Slade has created an interesting cast of characters, including some evil villains, and a plot that is interesting for both the adventure and for the relationships among the characters.

A fun and interesting little book that should appeal to youngsters of all ages!

Other Reviews:  Kailana at The Written WorldSteamed,

Fiction.  Steampunk/Adventure/YA.  2009.  278 pages,

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Blue Fox by Sjon

I'm somewhat at a loss to describe The Blue Fox.  It doesn't fit neatly into any one genre.   Fairy Tale, Fable, Myth, Folk Lore, Revenge Tale...

Very short and poetic (the Icelandic author is a poet and lyricist), the book reads quickly and leaves you thinking.  The setting is Iceland in 1883.

Other reviews:  Beauty Is a Sleeping Cat,   Stuck in a Book

Fiction.  Fairy Tale?  2004.  112 pages.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden

Tomorrow When the War Began has been recommended by different bloggers, especially the Aussies!  I loved it.  A very fast moving plot with likable characters.

Ellie and her friends go on a week-long camping trip into a secluded area called Hell.  The area is difficult to access, but once they get there they feel removed from the world.  As it turns out, they are, indeed, removed from the world as they know it.  On their return home, they find one house after another deserted, empty of family, no notes or explanations, and the animals dead or dying of thirst and neglect.

During their absence, their country has been invaded and their loved ones incarcerated.  The teens must work together to survive and discover how to deal with the invaders.  Surrender?  Fight?  They investigate, gather supplies, make plans.  Gradually, they realize that the world they've known will never be the same.

Leaders, sometimes unexpected, emerge as the teens prepare for what they now realize will be a long siege.  Mistakes are made, but they learn to work together and trust the individual strengths of their fellows.  Lots of action and suspense!

I really enjoyed this novel and will be continuing with the series!

 Other reviews:  Whimpulsive,

Fiction.  Adventure/Suspense.  1993, Australia.  2006.  276 pages.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Guardian Give Away

Just used the Random Number Generator to choose the Give Away winner.  The winner is #2, Raych of Books I Done Read

I'll need your address, Raych, and will get this little girl in the mail as soon as I can.  Hope you like her! She is small in stature, but large in heart.
I've been reading and enjoying my library books, but continue to put off reviews from last week.  I'm going to force myself to a couple tonight, and just keep them short.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!
Yesterday was library day for me.  I indulged in a bunch of mysteries and some YA novels that I've been reading about in the blog world.  This is the Library Loot for Friday:

The Grave Tattoo--Val McDermid
Death Echo--Elizabeth Lowell
Bury Your Dead--Louise Penny
Mortal Engines--Philip Reeve
Predator's Gold--Philip Reeve
The Hunchback Assignments--Arthur Slade

I read The Hunchback Assignments by Slade last night and enjoyed it! 

Still haven't finished reviewing books read during the last week, but I'm getting to them gradually.

Don't forget to check this post for the give away.

A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner

A Conspiracy of Kings is the fourth in Turner's series of YA fantasy novels concerning the countries of Attolia, Eddis, and Sounis.

I've loved each of the previous novels, but I when I started this one, I was wondering whether I'd like it as much.  It didn't take long, however, for me to become completely involved with Sophos' story.  I do wish  the gap between reading the previous novels had  been smaller, but that's the way it goes.  At some future time, perhaps I'll sit down and read them all through from the beginning.

Although my favorite will always be the first one, I like the way Turner has taken the characters through their journeys, allowing them to evolve and mature.  Gen remains my favorite character, and I truly look forward to the time in which he seems less bound by his circumstances as King of Attolia and takes a more active part in the story again.

When you've learned to love the characters in the first novels, it is fun to watch them travel the different paths laid out for them.  By changing the focus on the characters, the series widens its horizons.

All right, back to Sophos.  Sophos had disappeared from the scene in the last novel.  As it turns out, his father, disappointed in Sophos' lack of interest in his role as heir to the kingdom of Sounis, has sent his son to an island where he is confined with his mother and sisters.  The hope of his father is that Sophos will abandon his love of poetry and become more interested in ruling his future kingdom.

Then events (avoiding spoilers as much as possible) change Sophos' life forever, and he learns another kind of despair, loses the privileges and responsibilities of his former life, makes friends among a class of people with whom he would never have had the opportunity to mingle, grows in strength and initiative, and finally, is prepared to be the kind of king that Sounis needs.

One of the most difficult things he has to face is the change in his relationship of Gen. Sophos is angered and saddened by Gen's treatment of him, especially since thoughts of Gen's courage and imagination have helped him survive the events he has been through.  On the other hand, his relationship with Eddis grows and supports him.

I recommend this YA series highly.  There is no dumbing down of circumstances, neither is there the tendency to use sex to draw an audience.  Megan Whalen Turner focuses on character, and no one's is perfect.  Friendship and trust must allow for the vagaries of imperfect individuals.  Duty, honor, and courage are not always easily obtained.

Don't forget to check this post for the give away. 

Fiction.  Fantasy/Adventure.  2010.  316 pages.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd

I'm glad I tried An Impartial Witness, second in the Bess Crawford series, by the mother-and-son writing team of Charles Todd.  Although I was disappointed in A Duty to the Dead, this novel was much better.  Not as good as the Ian Rutledge series by the same authors and not as good Jacqueline Winspear's series featuring Maisie Dobbs, but an enjoyable read.

Bess Crawford is a WWI nurse, now stationed in France.  After accompanying severely injured men back to England, she happens to notice a distressed woman at the train station and recognizes her as the wife of one of the men for whom she has cared.

On her return to France, Bess reads a newspaper and learns that the woman was murdered on the same day that Bess saw her taking an emotional leave from the young officer (who was not her husband).  She volunteers her information to Scotland Yard by letter and becomes drawn into the case by her own curiosity.

There are a lot of coincidences and frequent leaves from her nursing station in France, but Bess manages to unravel the mystery with perseverance.  None of the characters are especially well-developed and the historical detail is skimpy, but it is a nice little historical mystery.

Don't forget to check this post for the give away.

Fiction.  Mystery/ Historical Fiction.  2010.  352 pages.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Guardian Give Away

  I've finished the guardians and decided to give away a small one on each blog.  This one is just a smidge over 5" tall.  Cloth head, covered with paper clay.  Paper clay body.

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post.  I find all the other requirements on a give away too tedious, especially at this time of year.  On December 6, I'll use the Random Number Generator to select the winner.  Good luck and please be sure that I have a way to contact you if you do win!

The Tourist by Olen Steinhaur

The Tourist involves Milo Weaver, a former CIA operative (tourist) who is no longer in the field, but behind a desk.  When he is sent to take down a terrorist whose exploits he has been tracking for years, it seems that the terrorist intended for Milo to be the one who catches up with him.

The terrorist, known as The Tiger, explains he wants Milo to find out who has infected him with AIDS.  Next, Milo is informed that a former partner has been leaking secrets.  Against his better judgment, Milo returns to field work to untangle a web of lies and misdirection.

In spite of the fact that George Clooney bought the film rights and several respected authors gave this one a thumb's up, I wasn't thrilled with it.  I found Milo difficult to believe in and was unable to feel terribly involved with the action.  Actually, there wasn't all that much action.

Nothing new here, and the novel lacked that certain something that allows this reader to enter into the spirit of events, regardless of how unlikely they may be..

Fiction.  Spy novel/ thriller?  2009.  408 pages.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear

The Mapping of Love and Death is the 7th novel about Maisie Dobbs. I have enjoyed this series since the first novel, and  Maisie grows with each installment.  Her growthseems a natural evolution, as she learns to live with the consequences of the first world war.

Each novel in the series provides an interesting look at life in post-war London, and each one features events that hark back in some way to war itself.  This one is no different.

It is 1932, and when the remains of a young soldier are unearthed in France, the family wants Maisie to discover the identity of the young nurse whose love letters were discovered with the body.  It also becomes evident that Michael Clifton didn't die as a result of the shelling that buried him in the trench.  It appears that he was murdered before the shell that buried Michael and his companions hit the trench.

Maisie's mentor is also very ill, and Maisie shifts between her concern for the case and her concern for her friend whom she deeply cares for.

As usual, Winspear has created a fine mystery with great characters.  All of England is still suffering from the aftermath of the war even in 1932. Unfortunately, WWII is looming on the horizon, and I fear Maisie must live under the threat of the coming conflict.  

Fiction.  Mystery/Historical Fiction.  2010.  338 pages.


I have several books to review, just have to make myself write them.  Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and are merrily preparing for Christmas.
Our Thanksgiving was full of family, fun, and food.  Children and grandchildren gathered for a nice long weekend of activities.  The girls took the kids to see Tangled, which they all loved, there was roller skating, playing with blocks, making Christmas cards, etc.  More pictures over at Bayou Quilts.

Mila and Max loved making their cards; there was plenty of glitter and lots of sequins and some images from The Graphics Fairy...

Yesterday, I cleaned a little and relaxed a lot.  My morning practice had slipped during the long weekend, but I went to yoga last night to work out some of the kinks.  Today, I should feel like accomplishing something, but I'm still feeling pretty lazy.

I AM going to begin writing some reviews, though.  I really am.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Operation Mincemeat by Ben MacIntyre

Operation Mincemeat:  How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory is the account of a British Intelligence operation that, despite the odds, succeeded during WWII.

MacIntyre reveals details that have been secret for years about how MI5 officers decide to use the plan, find a body, come up with a complete backstory, forge the documents, and eventually get the forged documents into the hands of the German High Command...all the way to Hitler's desk.

What makes the work so fascinating is MacIntyre's cast of characters who are so varied and so interesting--not only the individuals working for MI5, but also those who played small roles in finding, delivering, and transporting the body and in transmitting the information.

Maybe the reason the entire plan reads something like a novel is that so many of the individuals involved in one way or another were already novelists or became novelists.  While truth is often stranger than fiction, it helps if those who conceive and construct such a complicated plan have the imagination of fiction writers.  I lost count of how many writers were involved from start to finish.  The most famous, although his role was small, was Ian Fleming.  No wonder the Bond stories were so popular, Fleming had all the experience one might need with espionage, double-thinking, and dreaming up ways to confuse or mislead the enemy.

Ewan Montague takes the lead in the book, partly because his partner Charles Chalmondeley was such a modest and retiring man.  When Montague was finally permitted to publish his limited account (The Man Who Never Was), he offered Chalmondeley one quarter rights to any profits (print or film), and Chalmondeley refused to even be named. 

The spies and double agents were intriguing.  At least one of the most famous Spanish agents has remained anonymous to this day, known only by his code name, Agent Andros.  Agent Garbo's story is unusual because although he hated the Germans and offered to spy for the British, they turned him down.  Until, that is, they discovered that he was feeding the Germans false, often ridiculous information on his own.  When the British realized what was happening, they swooped up Juan Pujol Garcia and installed him in a safe house where he delivered misinformation in high style.  His real life adventures are the basis for Graham Greene's Our Man in Havana.  (And although Greene was not involved in Operation Mincemeat, he, too, was in the British Secret Intelligence Service in MI6)

Major Karl-Erich Kuhlenthal, the gullible German agent who happily transmitted Agent Garbo's falsehoods, was much admired for his efforts by his superiors.  Oddly, Kuhlenthal had a Jewish grandmother and a half-Jewish mother.  No matter how his superiors felt about him, he was always a dark horse who depended on his uncle, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, to intercede for him.

Near the final stages, Baron Alexis von Roenne, the man who pretty much guaranteed the information concerning Operation Mincemeat to be true, detested Hitler and almost certainly knew the information to be false.  Colonel von Roenne was a decorated war hero and Hitler's favorite intelligence analyst, but a secret opponent of Nazism.  While not directly involved in the plot to assassinate Hitler in 1944, his friendship with Claus von Stauffenberg and other members of the Black Orchestra led to his arrest and terrible death. 

It would be impossible to mention all of the individuals who played a part in a brief post, but MacIntyre brings them back to life.  Even the "dead man," who was in fact, a derelict becomes in history, a hero.  Glendwr Michael was transformed in death into Major William Martin, RM and was responsible for saving the lives of so many men who met little resistance on invading Sicily.

Nonfiction.  History/WWII.  2010.  235 pages + notes.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Black Friday and TBR Pile

Want to do a little shopping on Black Friday without leaving the house?  Visit The French Cupboard!

I've never experienced Black Friday except by watching the news or reading the paper.  Shopping in a crushing sea of people would be an unbearable experience for someone who dislikes crowds.

But shopping online?  Sounds like a good idea and many online shops are participating in BF sales from the comfort of your home.

I've finished Operation Mincemeat and will review soon.  It just happens to be one of those books that can send me scurrying to research names,events, and historical accounts. Fascinating if you are interested in WWII espionage; this work of nonfiction has so many real people who could inspire a dozen fictional novels. 

Because I haven't been reading as much lately, my TBR pile just keeps increasing.  I went ahead and started the latest Jacqueline Winspear last night because it is so hard to resist Maisie Dobbs. 

Also in progress, Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle, and I'm still moving through The Bard on the Brain:  Understanding the Mind Through the Art of Shakespeare and the Science of Brain Imaging , which has been disappointing.  Maybe I just haven't been in the mood for it, but it hasn't captured my attention as I'd hoped.

In the TBR pile (the ones that are really calling me):
A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Turner that I can't wait to begin.  I love her YA series and have thoroughly enjoyed the previous three novels.  I actually buy these instead of checking them out at the library because I want to have them for Mila (precious brown-eyed granddaughter) to read.

Class Collision: Fall from Grace by Annette Mackey which is set in the  Depression Era.

An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd.  Although I wasn't as impressed with the first Bess Crawford mystery as I'd hoped, I've loved the Ian Rutledge series over the years, and hope that Bess can eventually satisfy me.  It often takes a series a while to settle into a niche with plot, characters, pacing, and time period nicely intertwined.  So while A Duty to the Dead, the first Bess Crawford, didn't measure up to Ian Rutledge for me, I expect this one will work better.

The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer (not the same as the new film).  "Milo Weaver used to be a 'tourist' for the CIA..."   I think that line on the book jacket got my attention.  I was wondering about its connection to the new Johnny Depp film-- but two different stories, although both involve intrigue.

What are you reading?  What books are edging to the top of your TBR pile?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Finds

Friday Finds:  What great books did you hear about/discover this past week

Here is the book I found:  Wherever You Are my love will find you.  One of Amelia's (our daughter) dear friends bought this book for Bryce Eleanor (our granddaughter).  It is mostly a picture book, but the poem is as lovely, or more so, than the illustrations.

I love, love, love it!  It would make a great Christmas gift for any young children you might need to buy for.  Or for the parent of a young child.

Visit Friday Finds to see what others have discovered!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

teasertuesdays31 Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
 Operation Mincemeat:  How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory by Ben Macintyre:

"Hillgarth's own life reads like something out of the Boy's Own Paper or the pages of Rider Haggard."

     "The son of a Harley Street ear, nose, and throat surgeon, Hillgarth had entered the Royal Naval College at the age of thirteen, fought in the First World War as a fourteen-year-old midshipman (his first task was to assist the ship's doctor during the Battle of Heligoland Bight by throwing amputated limbs overboard), and skewered his first Turk, with a bayonet, before his sixteenth birthday."  p. 141


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Poems on Demand

"You can't order a poem like you can order a taco,"  says, Naomi Shye in one of my very favorite poems, 
"A  Valentine for Ernest Mann."

Ahhh, but now you can!  Jacqueline Suskin operates the Poem Store  and will create a poem for you.  Examples here.  How cool is that?  To be able to spin an idea into gold, just like that, in a minute, with a typewriter on your knees!

I love Naomi Shye, and I love "A Valentine for Ernest Mann," AND I love Jacqueline Suskin; although I've never met her and never will, I will spend lots of time thinking about the subject I will choose for my poem.

Here is a visual poem of Bryce Eleanor's visit.  Last night, she put all of her hair bands in her Granddaddy's boots, then emptied all of the hair bands out, and stepped her tiny feet in. 

Monday, November 08, 2010

This and That

Because I'm still in the creative mode, I'm not doing much reading, and I've actually got a couple in the stacks that I'm eager to get to...when I quit playing in the studio.

Received an ARC today:  Class Collision:  Fall From Grace by Annette Mackey.   Another one added to the stack just when I'm not reading much, but it is something to look forward to.

Sometimes I read a book a day, sometimes just a few pages.  I'm still managing a few pages a day in The Court of the Air and since I'm already nearly 500 pages in, I do want to finish it, may end up abandoned.  Forcing myself to read a few pages at a time hardly seems worth the effort.

I'm afraid I may have to give up on Steampunk novels.  I do want to try Philip Reeve (suggested by Katharine Langrish), but right now, I'm ready for more mysteries.

I've begun Operation Mincemeat:  How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory.  With a title like that, you might think it was fiction; but no, it is an account of a British intelligence operation in 1943 to deceive the Germans and make surprise landings in Sicily.  It is quite interesting so far.

How about these end tables on Etsy?  Bet some of you could make them yourselves.  I could have before I donated so many books to the library, an assisted living home, and Goodwill.

One would make a nice conversation piece.  It is always interesting to see what people can do with books...even people who don't read them.

I don't think I ever showed you the tee shirts I ordered for my lawyer/roller derby daughter.  From Caustic Threads on Etsy--aren't they cute? If you are into Roller Derby...or have a daughter or friend who is.  Erica even included free hand warmers with the package!    I love Etsy. 

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Studio Overload

The last few days have been busy ones in the studio.  A rush of ideas and possibilities, and I will stop whatever I'm working on and begin something new.

  Sometimes that only means hunting and gathering items that come to mind to use on the project.  I'll rummage through fabric scraps and abandoned fabric pieces, through old jewelry parts and beads, through the various junk vintage items I've collected, through ephemera and embellishments-- and sometimes find items that might work.

At other times, it means beginning a new Eccentricity right then, in fabric or clay, using a new shape or with a new idea in mind for a particular item.  A phrase, a quote, a lyric from a song, seeing a camel made of spoons, whatever....  Sometimes, I'll just jot down notes that get lost or buried and then find them again.

And then I have to begin something with that idea in mind.  Occasionally, this means that in spite of having so many other works in various stages of completion, I'm compelled to put them aside and start several new projects at once.  The enthusiasm for a new project is often transient, so I have to make an immediate effort.

This is what happens:
Chaos.  At which point, I have to stop and clean up, place things in little boxes or baskets for assorted ideas, and clear some space to work again. 

This is where I am now.  Preparing to create a clean workspace here and at the sewing machine.  If I don't get distracted....

Saturday, November 06, 2010

How To... :)

Received an ARC from Hudson Street Press:  How To Raise Your Adult Children by Gail Parent and Susan Ende, M.F.T.  Erin and Amelia need to be prepared.  Mothering never dies, even if it does fade away.

From the book jacket:  " this irreverent yet practical guide, two professional women with adult children provide a much-needed dose of perspective for the millions of us who (wrongly) assumed that we'd be finished raising our children once or kids legally became adults."

Other praise:

"How to Raise Your Adult Children would be a great book for every parent in the world except me.  I don't need it.  My Melissa is a perfect child.  And if she continues to be really nice to me, I'm going to tell her which of my jewelry is real."  --Joan Rivers

"I love this book.  It begins where Dr. Spock left off.  If only Mama had it, Eunice wouldn't have been so  aggravated."   --Carol Burnett

Sounds like I might really like this one!

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Boneshaker is the second book I've read by Priest.  The first was Four and Twenty Blackbirds, which I  read and reviewed not long ago.  Although I saw a lot of potential in Four and Twenty, it wasn't really a series I was intent on pursuing.

Boneshaker has some of the same qualities, and is, in my opinion, a far better book.  Of course, Four and Twenty was Priest's debut novel, and she has put several books under her belt since it was published.

The characters are interesting, the writing (especially at the beginning) is quite good,  the setting is exceptionally and appropriately dark and gritty, and there is plenty of action.

 Briar Wilkes, widow of Leviticus Blue and daughter of Maynard Wilkes, takes her maiden name after her inventor husband builds a drilling machine, the Boneshaker, that apparently runs amuck and destroys a portion of Seattle, killing a great many people outright.  Those who don't die in the initial catastrophe are threatened by a deadly, malevolent gas called the Blight, and the majority of the citizens are forced to rehabitate on the outskirts of the city after building a huge wall to protect themselves from the carnage, the effects of the Blight, and the "rotters" who have succumbed to the deadly gas.

Briar and Zeke, her son, born after the chaos, are outcasts living a hand-to-mouth existence fifteen years later.  Zeke, however, has become determined to prove his father's innocence and disappears into the "city" to find evidence.  The filters on his mask (the Blight gas, remember?) have a limited time span.  When Briar realizes what he has done, she goes in after him.

An interesting novel, with flaws, but one that I did  enjoy.  Set during the Civil War and full of alternate history, the novel allows you to visit a strange, but familiar world of the past.  Some concepts didn't hold together and the conclusion felt incomplete somehow.  Not the part at the very end where Priest leaves the possibility of a return to world she's created, but the denouement, the final battle portion, which seemed rushed and not quite satisfactory.  Can't explain without spoilers.

Other reviews: 
Thumbs upStainless Steel Droppings (Carl),   Shades of Grey, Fantasy Book Critic
Neither up nor down Spiral Galaxy, Song of Ice and Fire
Thumbs down: Dminoz, Bright Dreamer

Fiction.  Steampunk/Urban Fantasy/Alternate History.  2009.  416 pages.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Burn by Nevada Barr

Burn is Barr's 16th Anna Pigeon installment.  It is also the darkest one I've read.  The subject matter concerns pedophiles and child sexual abuse.  She doesn't go into graphic detail, but enough detail to give the imagination full range.

Soooo....I liked the mystery portion and the characters Clare and Jordan, but absolutely hated the subject and the image of New Orleans.  We all know, those of us who have been there and those who have not, that there is an unbelievable amount of corruption in New Orleans, and I don't think Barr's intention was to leave that as the only image, but the truth is that many will never look on New Orleans the same way.  While I might believe that many of New Orleans' police and political representatives are corrupt, sanctioning this kind of corruption takes it too far for me.  Bribes, yes; drugs, yes; child sexual abuse, no.  Not in the wholesale way depicted here.

Fiction.  Mystery.  2010.  378 pages.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Ghost in Trouble by Carolyn Hart

Ghost in Trouble in the third in a new series featuring Bailey Ruth Raeburn by Carolyn Hart (author of the Death on Demand series).  Not a ghost, but an emissary from the Department of Good Intentions to assist those on earth who need help, Bailey Ruth is assigned to protect Kay Clark who finds herself in danger as she investigates the death of her former lover.

Less than completely dependable emissary in many ways, Bailey Ruth is good-hearted, if head-strong (and self-involved), and her failures to follow all the Precepts of the Dept. of Good Intentions might keep her supervisor a bit on edge, but often turn out for the best.

Initially, I wasn't sure I'd care for this cozy, but it grew on me. I did get tired of the emphasis on wardrobe changes and references to her red hair, but I ended up enjoying the novel.  Enough to go back and pick up the first two in the series?  Probably not, but if I ran across them on the library shelf, I wouldn't turn them down.  Fast and light.

Fiction.  Mystery/Cozy.  2010.  276 pages.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Changeless and Blameless by Gail Carriger (a twofer)

 Changeless takes up the story of Alexia, now Lady Woolsey.  Unfortunately, several things weren't as much fun in this novel.

1)  Ivy Hisselpenny turns into a real dope.  Not a little flighty, as in the first novel, just...dumb and annoying.  I really liked her in Soulless, but not at all in this one.
2)   Other characters were slightly off-kilter, including werewolf husband.  No, he was more than just off-kilter at the end.  It will be difficult to see him in any other light.
3)  Some of the wit that was fresh in Soulless, was repetitious and stale in this second go round.
                                                      4)  Wrapped up current sequence of events, then a bad cliffhanger.

Can't say I didn't enjoy it to a degree, but certainly disappointing.

Blameless didn't much improve my attitude.  If at all.  Ivy Hisselpenny improves some, but not enough.  The reconciliation made me doubt Alexia's sanity.  The plot races from England to France to Italy and new characters are added (and some are subtracted), but I didn't really feel any suspense.  I still like Professor Lyall, Lord Akeldama, Floote, and Madame Lefoux.

I had so looked forward to these books, but won't be waiting breathlessly for the next two in the series.

Other Reviews:
Kalaidoglide (neat name, eh?)
What I'm Reading

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Affinity Bridge by George Mann

 I finished The Affinity Bridge, but was disappointed in this novel.  The characters didn't work for me, nor did the plot.  It was outlandish, which is fine, but beyond my ability to "suspend disbelief" -- and I'm pretty good at suspension.  Had to force myself to finish the last pages, but finish, I did.

I'm finding steampunk so variable.  At heart, steampunk is fantasy, but as with any novel, the author's ability to create believable characters (even if in unbelievable settings and plot) is paramount.

Including dirigibles, automatons, a revenant plague, an asylum, a mad scientist, and steam engines isn't enough for a good story, and sharing a good story with characters the reader can care about matters in any genre.

Lots of intertwining plots, but I found reading this one a chore.

I did like the cover!

Other reviews:  Thumbs Up:  Bookgirl's NightstandWhat Mark Read
                         Thumbs Down:   Creative Criticism  Graeme's Fantasy Book Review,

Fiction.  Fantasy/Steampunk.   336 pages.  2009.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Steam Punk Novels and Inspirations

 I've been reading steam punk novels....some are very good, some less so, but they have inspired ideas for my little eccentricities.
The Courier
The Time-Keeper
More on my other blog.

My favorite steam punk novel so far is Soulless by Gail Carriger, which I reviewed a few posts back.  I've finished Changeless and Blameless, too, but haven't reviewed them yet.  Almost finished with The Affinity Bridge and have begun The Court of Air. Also have a copy of Boneshaker in the TBR pile.  Hoping for some more interesting ideas.

Steam punk probably originated with Jules Verne.  I loved Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in 80 Days, and Journey to the Center of the Earth when I was a kid.  The steam punk concept is a mixture of Victorian and Industrial Advance during the Victorian Age. 

Have you read any of these?   Do you have recommendations?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu by Sax Rohmer (R.I.P. Challenge #7)

The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu... Dr. Petrie and Nayland Smith may have thought the problem of the devil doctor was solved, but alas, not so.  Actually, considering the popularity of Rohmer's stories during the first part of the 20th century, perhaps "alas" is the wrong word.  The first novel was published in 1913, and films and radio shows took the novels to an even larger audience.

From one adventure and near disaster to the next, Sax Rohmer keeps the action going  throughout the second of the novels featuring Dr. Petrie and Nayland Smith in their battle to defeat Dr. Fu-Manchu and the yellow peril.  I reviewed The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu not long ago and pretty much stick by what I said in this post.  I have enjoyed Sax Rohmer and his novels certainly fit in the R.I.P. Challenge category.

I wasn't able to find a review of The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu, but here is a link to a review of The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu at  The Caffeinated Symposium,  

Fiction.  Mystery/Suspense/Gothic.  Originally Published in 1916. I read a Kindle version.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Journals from Book Covers

Ex Libris Anonymous converts Little Golden Books (and others) into journals.  He also posts pictures of the children's drawings he finds in the old books.  :)

Check out his journals here.  I like the Little Golden Books and Dr. Seuss journals best!

Kidnapped by Jan Burke

I like Jan Burke and have read many of her novels so Kidnapped was a pleasant return to her series featuring Irene Kelly, reporter for the Las Peirnas Express, and Frank Harriman her policeman husband.

When Irene begins a series about missing/kidnapped children, it evolves into an investigation of the five-year-old murder of Richard Fletcher and the disappearance of his young daughter.  I evidently missed a novel that presents some background to this one, but didn't find it a drawback.

While the premise of the story is a little far-fetched, (I had difficulty understanding the motivation of the bad guys, or at least putting it into a logical prospective),  the novel kept me eagerly reading.  Several intertwined story lines and lots of characters, but a suspenseful narrative with a likable protagonist in Irene.

Other reviews:  Counting My Blessings, I'll Never Forget the Day..., Crime Doesn't Pay    

Fiction.  Mystery/Crime.   2006.  384 pages.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Waters Rising by Sheri S. Tepper

The Waters Rising is the first novel I've read by Tepper in a long time, and in spite of the mostly positive reviews, I found it less than riveting.  I could almost like the characters, but not quite.  I don't mean I disliked them, but that I couldn't quite believe in them.  They felt thin, for the most part;  there were plenty of details, but the characters just didn't quite breathe.  The plot didn't really create a sense of suspense for me, either.  The novel seems heavy, pedantic.  Yes, human beings are destructive, to themselves and to the environment--a worthy, if not original theme, but the imagined result of the novel didn't work for me. 

The little twist at the end was not a surprise either.

Other  reviews: Killing Time Reading, Between the Covers

Fiction.  Fantasy/SciFi.  2010.  512 pages.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Four eccentric figures in progress, a bit steam-punkish, a lot odd.  Appropriate.

I have gotten some of the books I ordered, but not all of them.  Still waiting on several.  Eagerly.  I love anticipating mail, and I've ordered a couple of things from Etsy, too, so it should be a good mail week!

Some of the books I've ordered are for me, but several are for the grandkids.  Maybe I should  begin reviewing children's books...I read enough of them.  Most of them, however, are the same ones over and over.  :)
 Have several  of Jon Muth's books on order, including Zen Ghosts, Zen Shorts, Zen Ties, and Three Questions (Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy).  My husband heard an NPR interview  with Jon Muth and called to tell me; he was so impressed, I ordered them immediately.

Aside from Ariel, the mermaid, and Richard Scarry books and Olivia, Bryce Eleanor loves A Dignity of Dragons: Collective Nouns for Magical Beasts.  Who can resist collective nouns like a dignity of dragons, a splash of mermaids, a grace of unicorns, a vengeance of harpies, a chord of sirens?  The illustrations are beautiful; it is an altogether charming book for children and adults.

I really am going to review some books later today.  Need to do that before I go to the library!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Souless by Gail Carriger (R.I.P. V #6)

Soulless was great fun, witty, tongue-in-cheek!  I loved it.  Yes, loved it with a passion and enjoyed every moment from first to last.  I didn't want to put it down and finished in short order (and ordered the next two in Carriger's series).

Vampires and werewolves and bluestockings and preternaturals and mad scientists and romance and steampunk  and endearing characters!  It was fresh and fun and somehow, as comforting as tea and scones. 

It was a perfect choice for the  R.I.P. V Challenge, and for anyone who enjoys a bit of witty repartee and a novel that keeps you smiling, it is a must read.  Jane Austen meets Jules Verne.

Also reviewed here:  The Written World,  Books & Movies,  The Secret Lair 

Fiction.  Supernatural/Humor/ Adventure/Alternate History.  2009.  384 pages.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hammer Films and The Woman in Black

I mentioned Hammer Films in a previous post and discovered that they are once again making horror flics.  Susan Hill's The Woman in Black is scheduled for production starring...Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame.  Hear that Susan Hill fans?  He looks like a good fit for the part to me.

The Hammer Trivia game should be fun for fans of the undead, bats, and vampires.  You can play for free or pay a fee and play for cash although not dollars.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu by Sax Rohmer (R.I.P. #5)

The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu-- :) despite the fact that Rohmer's works are so awfully politically incorrect (publication date 1913), I have this weird fascination with his writing.  His books are Gothic and yet modern for the times (I think Steampunk aficionados would love him).  It was also a great R.I.P. read.

This is the first novel in the Fu-Manchu series with a different set of characters than in Bat Wing (I reviewed Bat Wing  here with some notes on Fu-Manchu, as well), but the same dynamic.  Dr. Petrie is the side-kick, although a very active one, to  Nayland Smith a government official in Burma and formerly of Scotland Yard.

Smith is on the trail of the insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu, a member of the Yellow Peril.  whose apparent goal is to take over the world (perhaps not too far off from more recent Chinese aspirations), and the brilliant Dr. Fu-Manchu is in England with plans to assassinate anyone who knows enough to be a danger to  the group.  Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie are hot on his trail, but find themselves in some difficult circumstances.

You can read it on-line here, or at least get a little taste of it.  I found the novel interesting in many ways and suspenseful (if a bit repetitive) and somehow...charming, but I don't know if it will appeal to everyone.

Fiction.  Mystery/Suspense/Gothic.  1913 original publ. date. Kindle.

Maids of Misfortune by M. Louisa Locke

Maids of Misfortune:  A Victorian San Francisco Mystery sounded like it would fit the R.I.P. Challenge, but it didn't.  Annie Fuller is a young widow who runs a boarding house and works as a clairvoyant on the side, giving advice on investing.  Her father was as investment banker, and since women weren't accepted in the financial world of 1879, Annie uses her alter ego, Madame Sibyl as invest advisor.

Then one of her favorite clients is murdered, and Annie is determined to discover the culprit.

A cozy mystery that just didn't work for me.  Couldn't believe in the characters, plot elements were cliche, and knew the villain very early on.   I guess it was an average read, and I suppose many will enjoy it, but  I'd looked forward to this one, and it didn't deliver.

Fiction.  Mystery/Historical novel.  2009.  386 pages.

Friday, October 15, 2010

R.I.P. -- Peril in Films and Books To Be Reviewed

I've watched Shutter Island for the R.I.P. Peril in Films category, but didn't care much for it.  Also watched the very first of the daytime version of the soap opera Dark Shadows.  Oh, the awful acting, but then it WAS 1966. Anyway, it was kind of fun in a weird way.  I may order the next one or switch to the 1991 version which was in color.

Still to be reviewed:  The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu and The Return of Dr. Fu Manchu  by Sax Rohmer (R.I.P. Challenge; Widow's Tale and Maids of Misfortune (mysteries); The Waters Rising by Sherri Teppler (fantasy), and Kidnapped by Jan Burke.

...AND I'm almost finished with Soulless  by Gail Carriger and have found it a delightful experience and a perfect R.I.P. Challenge read!  As soon as I turn the final page, I will order the next books in the series.  I can only hope that the next two in the series are as much fun as this one!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Survival of the Fittest

What a great little video!  I do wish my library would perform a number like this!

Found at Let Them Read Books...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Halloween Figures

I'm still playing with my little figures...

Luna Moon-Candle is set on a little wooden trinket box.

Finally, got Fred  A-Stare mounted so that he can stand without leaning on the shelf (which he has been doing for months completely ignored).  I painted a wooden round, drilled some holes, and now he's ready to join Luna on the dance floor.
click to enlarge                          

The Crimson Rooms by Katharine McMahon

The Crimson Rooms .....  set in London in 1924, Evelyn Gifford is awoken one night to find a young woman and her son at the door.  The young woman says that the boy is the son of Evelyn's beloved brother James, who died in the war. 

The Gifford's who are left in the house are all women still grieving the loss of James and both suspicious and resentful about the new arrivals who cause an upheaval in the established household.

Evelyn is a lawyer, one of the very few women who have managed to attend college and who are struggling to achieve a place in the all-male realm of the 1920's.  She finds herself dealing with a case involving a mother trying to regain custody of her children and a man accused of killing his wife-- at the same time she is dealing with the new arrivals in her home and the interest of a handsome lawyer.

Evelyn learns some hard truths about life, the law, and her brother James.

Fiction.  Mystery/Historical Fiction.  2010.  384 pages.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Small Death in the Great Glen

A Small Death in the Great Glen by A.D. Scott...

 A child is missing and later found dead, and the only two witnesses are children themselves who are reluctant to reveal what they've seen.  Set in a small village in the Scottish highlands, the members of the local newspaper get involved in the investigation.

 Who killed Jamie Fraser and why?  The plot threads begin to twist and tangle in this little gem set in the changing Scottish highlands of 1956.

I liked the characters in this novel and suspect they may return in a new novel.  I  hope so because I'd enjoy visiting the staff of the Highland Gazette again!

Fiction.  Mystery.  2010.  416 pages.