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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.

Catching Up!

I'm catching up on some of the books to be reviewed with relatively short posts, scheduling them for the next few days. 

 Bobble-head dolls on baby food jars.  I found the label for the witch jar at The Graphics Fairy.

The Ring of Death by Sally Spencer

         The Ring of Death  is the first of Sally Spencer's series I've read.  Evidently, the first ones featured DCI Charlie Woodend, but this one features his protege, Monika Paniatowski.

Monika has had some difficulties in her new position, but she is determined to succeed.  She gets some unexpected (and not entirely welcomed) aid from a colleague she doesn't completely trust and who has just returned to active duty after severe psychiatric problems he suffered when his wife died.

The two (and the rest of Monika's team) must discover the serial killer who is posting his victims on hands and knees.

Finished this over a month ago, but I'm going to try to catch up with all of my reviews.

Fiction.  Mystery/ Police Procedural.  2010.  240 pages.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Halloween Tree Completed!

 I have a new laptop that is taking some time to get used to, but is better than being off-line as I have
been.  While I was taking this lengthy, enforced blogging-break, I've continued to work on Halloween decorations and have finished the Halloween Tree and tiny ornaments and several other projects.
click on any picture to enlarge
some of the tiny ornaments
Most of the ornaments are paper clay, but there are a couple of signs made from little pieced of wood that I painted.
I have books to review, but I'm still in the creative mode.  Before finishing one project, I begin another.  Little bobble-head jars are some of my current favorites, but only one of the projects I've been working on.  Ho-Ho-Halloween!

Catching up on email and blogs is also taking some time.  Just got the new computer yesterday and am overwhelmed in so many ways!