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Thursday, September 29, 2011

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

When She Woke was an ARC from Algonquin Books.

Hannah Payne is a chrome; chroming is the punishment for all sorts of crimes in Hannah's world.  A method has been devised to color the skin of those who have been found guilty of crimes ranging from theft to murder, with different colors assigned to each transgression

Hannah's crime is abortion,  considered murder in this dystopian world, and to make matters worse, Hannah will reveal neither the father of the child nor the doctor who performed the abortion.  Hannah is chromed red and, because of her refusal to reveal the father and the doctor, given a longer sentence. When released back into the world, Hannah (as are all other chromes) is a pariah, easily recognized and vulnerable.

Connections to the Scarlet Letter?  Definitely, down to the initials of the protagonist and of the fundamentalist minister who fathered child.

The premise is fascinating, and the novel has its high points.  Ultimately, however, the novel does not live up to its promise, and the conclusion feels unnatural and incomplete.

I would still recommend the novel because it offers some interesting concepts and raises some questions.  It isn't as if I didn't enjoy it, because I did, but I  feel as if the most interesting portions didn't receive enough time and attention.

I have to agree with Kailana, there are some things that didn't work for me, but still...a worthwhile read.

Other Reviews/ opinions:  Bookfoolery and Babble, Kailana

Fiction.  Dystopian/Speculative Fiction.  2011.  352 pages.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In the Mail

Steplings - an ARC by C.W. Smith
Plaster Studio:  Mixed Media Techniques by Stephanie Lee &amp Judy Wise (I'm loving this one)
Stitch Alchemy by Kelli Perkins

Happy Returns by Angela Thirkell - ARC from  Beaufort Books (I remember seeing positive reviews of Thirkell,so when offered copies, I gladly accepted!)
Enter Sir Robert by Angela Thirkell -   Also from Beaufort Books
I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can by Barbara Gordon -   Another one from the nice people at Beaufort Books

Murder at Beechlands by Maureen Sarsfield - I ordered this after seeing the review at In So Many Words

I'm going to have to forego the library for a while....because there are more ARCs and Amazon orders on the way.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fall Crafting

I love these tea towels from Word Up, Nerd Up!
Aren't they great?

I'm thinkin' bookish quotes on pillows would be great, too!

Not reading as much lately because I've been busy crafting.  Since I'm so behind on book reviews, not reading as much helps me trim down the back list of reviews.

Here's what I've been up to:

Some old-fashioned Izannah Walker inspired dolls.

 A cage doll.  I made a Santos style cage for her and have just finished her.

Some new Halloween fabrics, a paper mache skull, a circle cut from burlap with a gathered strip of Halloween fabric.

Just finished a scrap and skeleton garland for the fireplace and am working on two Halloween dolls.  I've half a dozen more projects in mind, but don't know if I'll get to them all.

More craftiness at Bayou Quilts.

Time to get out all the previous Halloween's crafts and begin decorating.  I love this time of year, don't you?  Cooler weather, fall color, Halloween.

Although I made the bobble head and the witch on the log, I've had the "Nalloween" sign for
 several years.   I didn't notice when I bought it that there was a slight problem with the letters!

I've ordered a few books that I can use for the R.I.P. Challenge,
some on fabric art, and some mixed media books.
Looking forward to quite a few welcome deliveries.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill

I love Reginald Hill.  I love Dalziel and Pascoe.  The Woodcutter, however, is a stand-alone novel and not part of the Dalziel and Pascoe series.

Wolf Hadda comes from a pretty common background, then there are several missing years.  When he returns, he gets the girl he wants, a Knighthood, and becomes very, very rich.

His perfect world comes apart one morning when the police storm his house and accuse him of having child pornography on his computer.  Absolutely certain that he doesn't, he gives them permission to comb through his computer, where...of course, they find pornography.

An unbelieving Wolf (a man with a short temper at the best of times) lashes out at the policeman in charge.  Things go from bad to worse when his attorney (and supposed friend) proves to be more hindrance than help.
His life continues to deteriorate, partly from his own actions, and Wolf ends up badly disfigured and crippled from an accident, and eventually convicted crimes he didn't commit.

A reviled man, he spends seven years in prison.  When a new psychiatrist arrives at the prison, she eventually manages a break-through in Wolf's claims of innocence and gets Wolf released on a  British version of parole.  Wolf Hadda (who had done some reading about denial and about the psychiatrist) is determined to discover who was involved in setting him up and why.  Pay back, is in order.

I was glued to the pages.  So different from the Dalziel and Pascoe novels (which I adore), The Woodcutter is an excellent novel!

Other reviews/opinions:  Auntie Em,   Kittling: Books,  My Shelf Confessions,

Fiction.  Drama/Mystery/Thriller.  2011.  528 pages.

Friday, September 23, 2011

To Be Sung Under Water by Tom McNeal

to be sung underwater is an ARC from Blue Dot Literary, LLC.  I've struggled for a long while trying to decide what to say about it.  For some reason, it has been difficult to put into words my perception of the book.

Tom McNeal writes beautifully of Judith Whitman, a woman who realizes that she is disconnected from her life--from her husband,  her daughter, her mother, her friends, her work.  She has everything she thought she wanted, but now, Judith seems to be having a mid-life crisis.

Her way of dealing with this realization is to withdraw even further, to return to memories of her adolescence, her parents divorce, and her father's move to Nebraska.  As she allows these retreats into memory more space in her life, she begins to focus on Willy Blunt, her first love, and eventually decides to get in touch with him.

This is a compelling story of a woman who wants, at least temporarily, to return to an earlier time in her life, to have the feeling of possibilities.

I thought of John Greenleaf Whittier's poem Maud Muller, and these lines:

God pity them both! and pity us all, 
Who vainly the dreams of youth recall. 
For of all sad words of tongue or pen, 105
The saddest are these: "It might have been!"

When Judith contacts Willy Blunt,  he asks her to come see him.  She returns to Nebraska for a brief interlude with Willy, not a sexual assignation, but a kind of reunion and possibly a rapprochement.  In the end, however, Judith is not sure of Willy's purpose and there is no sense of resolution for Judith.

I loved Tom McNeal's voice and the lovely language of the novel, and as I mentioned, I was quickly engrossed in the story.  However, it does have distinct echos of a longer, more complex, and definitely better-written Bridges of Madison County.  Maybe that is one reason why it has taken me so long to get to this review; I loved reading it, but the after-thoughts aren't quite as positive as the process of reading.

The thing that saves it, perhaps, is the ambivalence at the end.  Willy's actions, the plan he set in motion, leaves Judith in an emotional limbo.  She can never know his intentions for having Malcolm there.

Other review/ opinions:  S. Krishna's Books, Book Chase, Pamela Leavy,

Fiction.  Contemporary Fiction.  2011.  436 pages.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Heaven Is High by Kate Wilhelm

Heaven Is High is the latest in the Barbara Holloway series that I've been reading for years.  There are 12 in the series, and I haven't read them all, just the ones the library has, but I enjoy these legal mysteries.   This novel isn't a courtroom drama, really, so the cover is misleading, but Barbara Holloway is a lawyer, and her cases all involve mystery and suspense.

Barbara  is a courageous and compassionate advocate for her clients.  In Heaven Is High, Barbara is attempting to block the deportation of  Binnie, a young woman and a mute to Haiti.   The more she discovers about the case, the more suspicious she becomes about the reasons and individuals behind the tips that brought Binnie to the attention of the Immigration Service.

Time is short, and Barbara decides to go to Belize to attempt to persuade Binnie's grandfather to establish that Binnie is not a native of Haiti.  Once there, however, she discovers that the grandfather has recently been murdered .  Her next step is to locate Binnie's aunt, but Barbara discovers that she herself is in danger.

These are not cozy novels, but neither are the hard-edged, darker type of authors like Jo Nesbo.

I was not aware that Wilhelm also wrote SF and has won a Hugo and 3 Nebula awards.  Will have to look into this side of the author.

Other reviews/opinions:  Genre Go Round,

Fiction.  Mystery/Legal thriller.  2011.  304 pages.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tomorrow is World Alzheimer's Day

Put Your Loved One on FaceBook

Put Your Loved One on FaceBook
World Alzheimer's Day is Wednesday September 21st. Please change your FaceBook profile picture to a photograph of a person who has/had Alzheimer's that you wish to honor and remember on September 21st and always.

Please include this statement in your status update:

I support the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative at 

If you make a $5 donation (below) to the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative before midnight on Wednesday post the invoice number generated by your donation to the AAQI FaceBook Page*, we will capture the image of your loved one from your profile picture and add it to the 2011 AAQI Virtual Wall of Remembrance where it will remain for one year. Names will not accompany photographs.

If you are not on FaceBook, or wish to make multiple donations to honor more than one person, email one photograph of each of your loved ones and the invoice number generated by your donation ($5 per photograph) to Diane at Pictures may be cropped and sized to fit the wall.

As it is somewhat time consuming to snag and post your profile picture, please do not change it until you see it appear on the "wall" on the AAQI Update Blog. It may take several days to keep up! We'll do our best.

*If you've never been there before, you may have to click the "LIKE" button. What's not to like?!


All donations to AAQI go directly to AD research.  The entire organization is made up of volunteers.  I don't know any other charity that does this.

I've donated in memory of my father, 1924-2010.  His birthday is coming up, so it is nice to be able to celebrate World Alzheimer's Day in his birth month.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hell Is Empty by Craig Johnson

I' d only read one other book by Johnson (The Cold Dish -- you know, revenge is a dish best served cold), but I liked it a lot, and Hell Is Empty ("Hell is empty and all the devils are here."  The Tempest) only made me eager to read more.

The Cold Dish was the first book in the series and the setting was a  blizzard and an arduous journey.  Strange that I've read the first and the latest in the series and that both have the weather as almost another character.  Now, I've got to seek out five books published after the The Cold Dish and before Hell Is Empty.

Walt Longmire is the sheriff of Absaroka County in Wyoming.  When several murderous convicts escape during a transfer to the FBI, killing several FBI Agents and taking two hostages,  Longmire goes after them.  The trail leads higher and higher into the Big Horn Mountains in the midst of a blizzard.  Cold as hell seems an apt description.

I missed Henry Standing Bear's presence (he has only a small role in this novel), but I liked Virgil quite a lot.  The novel has suspense, endurance, and mysticism

One of the minor characters, Sancho (a Basque deputy) has been reading Dante, and his copy of The Inferno (yall know I love The Inferno) plays a role in Longmire's hunt for the convicts.  Here we have hell featured once again.

  In the back of the novel, Craig Johnson includes the reading list that has been given to Sancho. Walt Longmire, Henry Standing Bear, Victoria Morelli, and several other characters each added 10 books to the list.  It is interesting to see the books each character deems important.  I'm always curious about what other people recommend, even fictional people.

As with the first in the series, I found Hell Is Empty to be a page turner.  Now, I've got to go back and try to pick up the other books in the series, hopefully in order.

Other reviews/ opinions:  Unruly Reader, My Random Acts of Reading,

Fiction.  Mystery/Western.  20ll.  320 pages.

Around the Blog World

I first saw Thomas Allen's work on Sam's Book Chase blog.  What fun!
This one is a favorite.

Carl's R.I.P. Challenge is going on and this is the first year since it started that I haven't participated.  At least so far.  Must do something about it.  I've read a number of books this year that would have qualified for this challenge--now I wish I'd held back on some of them.   I need some new gothic-type titles.         
You can turn your blog into a book.  Jeez, I wonder what that would cost for those of us who have been blogging for years?         

We all love creative bookshelves, but this older idea is such an easy DIY.
These are amusing:

I love the way I can explore the creative world from right here at home!


Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Return of Captain John Emmet by Elizabeth Speller

The Return of Captain John Emmett was a pleasure to read. It is Speller's first novel and is  beautifully written and skillfully plotted with well-rounded and interesting characters.

The setting is London, 1920, in the aftermath of the Great War.  All of England is still reeling from the loss of life and the domestic tragedies that have ensued.  Laurence Bartram has pretty much isolated himself from the world, associating almost exclusively with his friend Charles, who is also a veteran.  Charles is social and full of interesting gossip, providing Laurence with a connection to a society he mostly avoids.

When Mary Emmet writes him a letter asking for his help in discovering why her brotherCaptain John Emmett committed suicide after surviving all the horrors of the war, Laurence finds himself intricately involved in asking questions that lead him to more questions.  With the help of Charles, Laurence determines that not only Captain John Emmett has died after returning from the war, but so have several other veterans who have ties to Captain Emmett.

As Laurence searches for answers, he also begins to come to terms with his own war experiences.

A compelling novel.  I recommend it!

Other reviews/ opinions: A Work in Progress,

Fiction:  Mystery/ Historical Fiction.  2011.  442 pages.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

www: wake by Robert J. Sawyer

w w w: wake is an unusual book.  It is the first in a trilogy about...the awakening of the web.

Young Caitlin Decter is young, a math prodigy, web savvy, and blind.  When offered a new and experimental implant that might help her see, she is thrilled and jumps at the chance.  The implant, however, provides a view into the web realm, and she discovers (as it is discovering her) something else, another consciousness.

Many well-known specialists in the fields of neuroscience, linguistics, mathematics, and web science and computer geekdom,  become part of Caitlin's reading and studying:  Steven Pinker, Julian Jaynes, Stephen Jay Gould, Stephen Wolfram, Claude Shannon, and Doug Lenat of Cycorp.  Fascinating stuff and intricately woven into the story.

Or stories, I should say, because there is more than one story going on here, and although they involve different people in different countries and different fields, the relationships become more and more evident.

Robert J. Sawyer has won all three of the world's for science-fiction:  the Hugo, the Nebula, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award -- only one of seven writers ever to do so.  He has, in fact, won forty-one national and international awards for his fiction.

The library is holding the next book in the series for me now.  Yes!

Other reviews/ opinions:  Starmetal Oak Book Blog, Rhapsody in Books, The Great Geek Manual,

Fiction.  Speculative Fiction/ SF.  2009.  354 pages.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear

A Lesson in Secrets adds another episode in the life of Maisie Dobbs, and I always enjoy a new Maisie adventure.

In the 8th book in the series, Maisie finds herself, for the first time, more than financially comfortable.  Maurice Blanche, Maisie's mentor and dear friend, made her the chief beneficiary in his will.

The series began in the aftermath of WWI, with all the problems England faced having lost almost a generation of young men.  Recently, Winspear has been incorporating hints about the problems in Germany, and A Lesson in Secrets sees the threat of WWII being manifested in Germany and England.

Maisie is approached by the British Secret Service for help in keeping an eye on individuals with a leaning toward Communism.  She accepts a job as a philosophy teacher at a college in Cambridge, and she finds that what alarms her is not Communists, but students who are leaning toward the Nazi party.

When the head of the college, a man who wrote a remarkable children's book with pacifist themes during the Great War, is murdered, Maisie wants to find out who and why.  Her brief remains unchanged by the Secret Service, but Maisie intends to follow her own feelings concerning the murder and the Nazi influence.

Other reviews/opinions:  A Work in Progress,    Of Books and Bicycles,      Daisy's Book Journal,  The Reader of the Pack,

:)  Lee Child (of Jack Reacher fame) interviews Jacqueline Winspear at Amazon.

Fiction.  Mystery/ Historical Fiction.  2011.  336 pages.

Interpreting Classics :)

Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries, interprets literary classics...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Three More Reviews

Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink has a great cover, but offered little else.  I'm using a canned review for this one.

Lia and Alice buried their father on a rainy day in the fall of 1890. His death was sudden, and strange happenings are keeping the twins from resuming their wealthy, well-educated lives. Lia begins to dream of flying and Alice, while reserved, does not appear to mourn her father. Lia's boyfriend, James, uncovers an ancient tome that cryptically tells of two sisters, one the Gate and one the Guardian. One has the power to return Satan to Earth, the other the responsibility to keep her sister in check. As Lia investigates the prophecy, a fortuitous trip to a fortune-teller, Sonia, unlocks new doors. With school friend Luisa joining in the adventure, the cast of characters is complete. Lia, Sonia, and Luisa band together to solve the riddle while preventing the increasingly malevolent Alice from discovering their findings. Zink's choice of first-person present sadly emphasizes her lack of character development. None of the perils the heroines face invoke fear or sympathy, as they are all half-explained and resolved too quickly for real concern to set in. Pass this title over for better historical fantasy fare.—Cara von Wrangel Kinsey, formerly at New York Public Library 

Fiction.  Supernatura/YA.  2009.  352 pages.

Dark Fever (Book 1) by Karen Marie Moning-  I don't think I'll continue with this series, either.  One review on Amazon said the heroine's IQ was "slightly above that of a rutabaga."  The sexual elements were a bit disturbing, especially since you can't imagine the barbie doll heroine having enough sense to make decisions.  Not that she always has the choice of making decisions...
Fiction.  Supernatural.    2007.  384 pages.
The Medusa Amulet by Robert Masello.  Sounded good; fell flat.  An art historian, a missing artifact, some supernatural, mystery, and adventure--but the plot is contrived, the adventure difficult to believe, and the characters shallow.  Even Benvenuto Cellini and the supernatural element fail to provide real interest.  All ends happily.
Fiction.  Supernatural.  2011.  464 pages.

Please remember these are just my personal opinions of these books.  Many others, without doubt, found them thrilling.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tripwire by Lee Child

Tripwire  is another Jack Reacher novel, and I love me some Jack Reacher.  This was the third in the series, and the last "catch up" novel for me.  Now, I've read all of the 15 novels in the series and eagerly await the imminent release of #16 this month.

Who is Jack Reacher?  At 6'5", he is a giant of a man, an ex MP, and a current vagrant of sorts.  After leaving the army, he moves from city to city at will, never staying very long in one place, and owning only what he wears and can carry.

  He is quiet and slow to anger, but has a propensity for violence when called for, as his villainous opponents discover to their chagrin.  He has a strong moral sense, and although it often is more personal and immediate than the legal system, his moral code has a sincere sense of justice.

 Reacher's skills include terrific hand-to-hand combat techniques, the ability to know time without referring to a watch, an unusual awareness of his surroundings, great reflexes; he is also a skilled marksman.  He is a sort of superhero whose feats are pretty remarkable and whose adventures are suspenseful and exciting.

He is a sort of Paladin.  (Remember Paladin?)  Not as fancy a dresser and not a "gun for hire," but a good man to have on your side when fighting the bad guys.

Trip Wire, the third in the series, is a case involving Leon Garber, his former commanding officer.  Garber, before his death, was looking into something that made him curious (and suspicious) for the elderly parents of a young soldier whose death in Vietnam the military won't confirm.  Garber sends for Reacher, but dies before Reacher arrives, and Reacher is determined to get to the bottom of the puzzle his friend and mentor was trying to solve.

Fiction.  Action/Adventure.  2000.  432 pages.

Reviewing, etc.

I'm still trying to finish all the reviews left undone in July and August.  Like everyone else, I get distracted from the reviews by life and current reading.

If only I would write the review as soon as I finish the book, all would be well.  Of course, I don't.  And from reading your blogs, you all have the same problem and frequently find yourself way behind in the reviewing.

Then, of course, you can't quite catch up because you have continued reading, working, and living!  Blahhhh.
Two of the activities that are important to my version of living are doll-making and quilting.  I've made several small art quilts for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative.
We all hope that research will help find a preventative, a cure.  In fact, this morning, I heard that insulin in a nasal spray showed promising results in slowing the slow deterioration of the brain.
We carry the hearts of our loved ones with us whether they remember us or not.

When Laddie was in assisted living and then a nursing home, patients would frequently approach me to ask if I would take them home.  I wanted "home" to be cheerful, even if I couldn't take them.

These will be sold at an AAQI auction and the proceeds donated to Alzheimer's Research.  My quilts have been sent, but are not yet assigned.

The organization is all volunteer, all quilts are donated, and all proceeds are donated.
Some of my most recent doll finishes are Izannah Walker inspired.  Harriet and Matilda are cloth and clay with weighted bottoms.
Very old-fashioned ladies.  I have two more in the works.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 1) is an excellent venture into fantasy.  I didn't want it to end, but at least I knew I had the second one in the series waiting.

The story is told in three days.  On the first day, an unassuming innkeeper rescues a biographer called the Chronicler.  The Chronicler realizes that the innkeeper is none other than the famous Kvothe (pronounced Quothe), The Bloodless.  He wants to record Kvothe's story, but Kvothe who has abandoned his former life and lives anonymously in a tiny, secluded village insists that the tale be told his way.  And his way may contradict all the famous stories, legends, and myths about himself.

He begins with his childhood because, as is true of all of us, our childhoods and upbringings have much to do with the way our lives develop.  I fell deeply into the novel, and although it is long, was eager to get to the next volume in this trilogy.

Fiction.  Fantasy.  2007.  662 pages.

The Wiseman's Fear (Kingkiller's Chronicle, Day 2) continues the story of Kvothe's life and adventures. I continued to be engrossed.  Only as I came closer and closer to the end of the book, I became more and more despairing that the third book has yet to be released.

Loved both books.  Loved the world-building, the characters, the adventures.  There are flaws, but I can easily overlook them because I became so immersed in these two books, it was almost as if I lived there.

Fiction.  Fantasy.  2011.  1008 pages.

Other reviews the Kingkiller Chronicles:  Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings, Fyrefly's Book Blog,

If you've read one or both let me know, and I'll add you to "other reviews."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Oh, gosh.  I never published this review!

Unbroken by  Laura Hillenbrand is the story of  Louie Zamperini, U.S. track and field star and a participant in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, who hoped to run in the 1940 Olympics.  The war, however, put an end to dreams of the 1940 Olympics, and eventually, Louie found himself a bombardier in the Army Air Corps.

In May, 1943, Louie was part of a mission searching for a missing plane when the engines failed, and his own plane went down in the Pacific Ocean.  Only three men survived the crash, and Louie and his two companions spent a record-breaking 47 days adrift, threatened by a lack of fresh water, a lack of food, and circled by sharks.  The story  of the survival of Louie and the pilot, "Phil" Philips (the third man did not survive) is remarkable enough, but not the end of this tale of courage and endurance.

Louie and Phil were captured by the Japanese.  The Japanese POW camps were notorious for the cruelty, and Louie and Phil were separated and sent to different camps.  From interviews with Louie, Phillips, and other Japanese prisoners, Hillenbrand is able to depict the hell in which these men found themselves.  The Japanese did not abide by the Geneva Conventions, and the camps were a place where minds, emotions, and bodies of many prisoners were broken beyond repair.

The perseverance, the tenacity of these men is inspiring.  The camps in which Louie was held were harrowing for their brutality and cruelty.

Even after surviving the camps, many men were unable to return to civilian life without great trauma.  Those who survived the Japanese camps had a much, much higher rate of suicide than those held in German camps.  On his return after the war, Louie tries to deal with his nightmares with alcohol.  Just when he is about to lose everything, he manages to pull himself out and redeem his life--once again.

Unbroken is a great read and a great testament to the endurance of the human spirit..

Nonfiction.  Biographical.  2010.  496 pages.

Another Tabby

After seeing Bookfool's Fiona pics and Annie's Homer the Office Cat, I must post a picture of our Tabby -- Edger the Purrfectly Magnificent.
He does have a few bad habits--like jumping up into the cabinets above the computer desk if the door is left open.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Ahhh, a steampunk novel that I really did enjoy!  I've not had much luck with liking most steampunk fiction, but this one is a worthy exception.  The Clockwork Angel is the first in the Infernal Devices trilogy.

When Tessa Gray arrives in Victorian London to meet her brother Nate, she is met by two strange women who say Nate sent them to accompany her to him.  In reality, the two are members of the Pandemonium Club and have their own sinister plans for Tessa.  She is held in their home and forced to confront and develop a talent Tessa was unaware of possessing.

Finally, realizing the purpose of her confinement by the Dark Sisters and that the mysterious Magister plans to use her for her skill, Tessa decides to escape.  Fortunately, a group of Shadowhunters have chosen to rescue her and arrive to do just that.

After an exciting rescue that reveals more about the sinister Dark Sisters, Tessa is ensconced in the London Institute where she must come to terms with a world she has never imagined.

Good characterization, exciting plot.  A fun read!  I'll be sure to get the next one!

Fiction.  Steampunk/Supernatural/YA. 2010.  496 pages.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Hangman Blind & The Red Velvet Turnshoe by Cassandra Clark

Hangman Blind by Cassandra Clark.  A medieval mystery set in 1382 and featuring Sister Hildegard, a Cisterian nun.

Sister Hildegard wants to establish a small priory with funds she retains from her marriage.  (After her husband death, she has spent 7 years with the Cisterians.)  In order to establish her priory, she must receive permission from Abbot Hubert de Courcy.

The historic setting is during the time of the peasant revolt and the murder of Wat Tyler and during the Great Schism in which there were two rival popes, one in Avignon and one in Rome.  Loyalties were problematic and dangerous.  Who to trust?  Where do loyalties lie?

I really enjoyed this first in the series and am glad I decided to read this one before reading The Red Velvet Turnshoe.

The Red Velvet Turnshoe is the second novel in this series featuring Sister Hildegard.

As civil war threatens as a result of the rival popes, Sister Hildegard must make the long and hazardous journey to Rome to retrieve a religious artifact.  The danger mounts as a murderer follows.

I like the characters in these books, the personalizing of historic events, and the intrepid Sister Hildegard.

Fiction.  Historic Fiction; Mystery.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Multiple (and Brief) Reviews

Since I haven't posted reviews in about a month, I'm doing some short ones of a sentence or two.

Chelsea Cain:  evil at heart &amp - the over-the-top, weird, gruesome kind of murder mystery; The Night Season - not as bad, but not really my kind of book.  I checked both out at once, but no more Chelsea Cain.

Jan Burke: Disturbance - I like Jan Burke's mystery series featuring Irene Kelly.

Peter Orullian: The Unremembered  - Fantasy that definitely needed an editor.  Almost abandoned it, but found myself more involved as I went along.  Didn't change the fact that it needed a ruthless editor for, among other things, length and repetition.  First in a series.

Andrew P. Mayer:  The Falling Machine  (Book One of The Society of Steam) - Another steam punk disappointment.

Graham Thomas:  Malice on the Moors - Not bad.  I enjoyed this one.

Peter Robinson:  Playing with Fire - I always enjoy Peter Robinson.

Deanna Raybourn:  The Dead Travel Fast - Oh, no.  Don't bother.