Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Kindle to Kindle comparison

Since I am a Kindle junkie and happen to own 3 versions of the kindle (I have yet to shell out the dough or find it even remotely necessary to buy the DX yet) I thought I would give my reviews on each.

Kindle Version 1 - awkward to hold.  I was always hitting the page turn buttons on this one.  It is also very thick compared to the two latest versions which also makes it harder to deal with but with a good cover this one works fine. Kindle 1 also has a memory card which you can replace to create more space on your kindle. Uses whispernet to download books.

Kindle Version 2 - much more streamlined but doesn't have the removable memory card so you can't transfer books or improve the storage.  Uses 3G whispernet to download books.  This version I found very durable.  It is thinner than version 1 but also bigger.  The buttons are in much more convenient locations and I didn't find myself accidently turning the pages. I have a silicone cover for my version 2 kindle and it has held up really well.

Kindle Version 3 - smaller and more light weight than version 2 also much more delicate.  I'm actually a little afraid of it.  I didn't necessarily need a new kindle - version 2 was fine, and I actually really liked it but I was lured by the black color of the new one (silly I know).  I ordered a cover because after the 2nd day of having this one the screen broke (not sure how) and I had to have it replaced. I'm actually not sure if I like the smaller size or not I think I'll have to get used to it.  My kindle 3 is wifi only so I have to be near a hotspot with wireless internet access in order to download books or access the store, unless I want to hook it up to the computer to download books which is kinda redundant since if I can download books from the computer I must have wifi.  The e-ink seems to be darker on this one or it might just be my imagination and the pages are milliseconds quicker.

Anyway the jury is still out on Version 3 I like the lighter weight but I'm a little concerned over how fragile it seems to be.  My Kindle 2 was very durable and has been knocked off a couch stepped on by dogs and has weathered the storm, I'm not sure version 3 would fair as well but I guess time will tell.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Female Sleuthing

Title: Deadly Illusions by Brenda Joyce
Publisher: Harlequin
384 Pages
Genre: Historical, Mystery

This book is due to be released 12/28/10.  I received an advanced electronic galley of this book through netgalley.com

Synopsis: Irrepressible heiress and intrepid sleuth Francesca Cahill moves from her own glittering world of Fifth Avenue to the teeming underbelly of society, a place of pride, passions…and sometimes deadly perversions.

Despite the misgivings of her fiancĂ©, Calder Hart, Francesca cannot turn away from a threat that is terrorizing the tenement neighborhood of Lower Manhattan. A madman has attacked three women, but while the first two victims survived, the third is found dead. All the victims are impoverished but beautiful Irishwomen—and Francesca fears that her dear friends Maggie Kennedy and Gwen O’Neil could be next.

Soon she is working with her former love, police commissioner Rick Bragg—Calder’s half brother and worst rival. But even as Calder’s jealous passions leave his relationship with Francesca teetering on the brink, Francesca is frantically on the killer’s trail, certain the Slasher will strike again, afraid she will be too late…

Review: The relationships in this book are complex and the insecurities familiar.  Brenda Joyce has capture the complexities of love, jealousy, passion and envy.  Many romance novels include these themes but Joyce's characters seem to come alive and the mysteries could have been taken from the news today.  I liked that this wasn't your typical sappy sweet romance, that there is more than one major player in the plot and all the characters seem to work well together.  Joyce does not give a rose colored look at relationships in fact all the relationships in the book have their own struggles and complexities.  They are all somewhat flawed and thats what makes them all the more believable.

My only disappointment with this book is that although it says its the first in the series, Francesca has already solved several other cases and there are underlying relationships that play and integral part in the relationships of the present.  I felt like I had found the series somewhere in the middle instead of at the beginning.  That being said Joyce does a good job of explaining things and even though I wish I had been there with Francesca solving her first mystery or even when she decided to become a sleuth I was happy to finally meet her.  I look forward to the next books in this series.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Teenage Struggles

Title: So Hard To Say by Alex Sanchez
Publisher: Simon & Shuster
230 pages
Genre: YA 

Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Latina chocoholic-chatterbox Xio can't keep her eyes off blond-haired, steel-eyed Frederick, the intriguing transfer student just in from Wisconsin. At first, the soft-spoken newcomer, unsure of his new Southern California junior high and maybe his own sexuality, doesn't know what to make of her pursuits. Slowly and surely, Xio charms her way into his life and soon absorbs him into her group of fabulous girlfriends whom she dubs the "Sexies." Content with this new niche, and his position on a pick-up soccer team, Frederick gradually becomes aware of Xio's real agenda: to make him her first boyfriend. All the while he finds he can't keep his eyes off Victor, his soccer buddy. Frederick's sexual confusion escalates, as do his dodging techniques when it comes to Xio's advances. However, when she gets him in a closet with her and at last gives him a smooch, things boil up to crises.

Review:  Alex Sanchez has an uncanny way of getting into the head of a teenager.  The voices of both Xio and Frederick ring very true.  But this isn't just the story of a boy struggling with his sexual identity.  Its also about struggling to fitting in, dealing with estranged parents and glimpses into the Latino culture.  Frederick, a white, blonde, blue eyed boy moves from the midwest to California and finds himself in a very different culture. A lot of the kids at his school are Latino and speak in a mix of Spanish and English, and the boys are a lot more physical with each other than the kids from his old school, throwing their arms around each others shoulders, pushing each other in jest...it was like a whole new world.   Xio sets her sights on Frederick from day one and attempts to woo him by using her popular group of friends but things just don't seem to be going as planned and she starts to wonder if its her or if Fredrick is hiding a secret.  There are so many subtle layers to this book but the main theme is the struggle to fit in.  

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Livin La Vida Loca

Title: Me by Ricky Martin
Publisher: Celebra
291 Pages
Genre: Autobiography

Synopsis: International superstar, Ricky Martin, who has sold more than 60 million albums worldwide, opens up for the first time about memories of his early childhood, experiences in the famed boy band Menudo, struggles with his identity during the Livin' la Vida Loca phenomenon, reflections on coming to terms with his sexuality, relationships that allowed him to embrace love, and life-changing decisions like devoting himself to helping children around the world and becoming a father.

Review: I could stare at the cover of this book forever. Damn what a mighty fine man Ricky Martin is.  His eyes are just piercing as if he could see straight into your soul.  Ricky Martin is not only an international musician he is also an incredibly spiritual and humanitarian person.  Reading his biography is a lesson in living. Even some of his not so great memories hold lessons for him that made him who he is and he feels grateful for the experience.

Instead of being bitter about a lost childhood spent traveling the world at breakneck pace and rarely ever having a moments peace he is thankful for the experience because of the lessons it taught him that eventually helped him to advance his career.  Instead of thinking he knew everything he spent a great deal of time looking inward to try to figure out who he was.  When fame hit again instead of being self centered and arrogant instead he looked to those who were less fortunate, a lesson he learned while in Menudo.

Ricky Martin is not just some musician tooting his own horn or writing a book to speak of his woes and horrible childhood, instead this is a book of self exploration and self discovery.  He freely admits his struggles with his sexuality and the surprise and freedom he felt after he came out and was embraced by his fans.  His children are lucky to have such a grounded and spiritual father and the world gifted with his music and now his story.

If you want to be inspired and see how an international star can be humble and grateful for everything he has then read this book.  I was so drawn in I finished it in a day.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Government Conspiracies

Title: Divided in Death by JD Robb
Publisher: Berkley Books
354 pages
Genre: Mystery Romance

Synopsis: Reva Ewing was a former member of the Secret Service, and then a security specialist for Roarke Enterprises- until she was found standing over the dead bodies of her husband, renowned artist Blair Bissel and and her best friend.  But Lieutenant Eve Dallas believes there was more to the killings than jealous rage - all of Bissel's computer files were deliberately corrupted.  To Roarke, its the computer attack that poses the real threat. He and Reva have been under a Code Red government contract to develop a program that would shield against techno terrorists.  But this deadly new breed of hackers isn't afraid to kill to protect their secret - and its up to Eve Dallas to shut them down before the nightmare can spread to the whole country.

Review: Eve Dallas is a fabulous character, all cop yet married to the richest man in the world.  She despises being pampered, shudders at even the thought of a beautician, doesn't understand fashion and can't seem to get her husband to stop buying her expensive jewelry to wear.  Her husband Roarke is a reformed thief who seems to own just about everything.  He is completely kind hearted but don't mess with the people he cares about.  When his personal assistants daughter is framed for murder he is determined to not only prove her innocent but also to find out who is behind it.

When he uncovers evidence of a government conspiracy and information that the Homeland Security Office has information on his wifes past that could have protected her as a child things become shaky at home.  He wants revenge on the people who ignored a child in danger but Eve doesn't want that to happen.  She says it can't change the past and doesn't want him at risk for something that is over.

There is more than one story in this book, the story of the set up and murder of HSO operatives and the cover up and non action of the HSO involvement in Dallas's past.  The usual cast of characters is involved in this story and Dallas's partner, Peabody is always there to bring comic relief to a strained situation.

I love these books, they are great mind candy when you just want something fun.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My Favorite Books of 2010

Here is a recap of my top 10 favorite books for 2010. Not all of these books were reviewed on this blog because I didn't start the blog until half way through the year.

This list is in no particular order I just put them down as I remembered them. I don't want to list an author twice so if I've read more than one book by this author this year  that I also believe should be on this list I will put a star after their name.


  1. Room by Emma Donoghue*
  2. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
  3. The Physick book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
  4. House Rules by Jodi Picoult
  5. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest by Steig Larson
  6. Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian*
  7. Wildthorn by Jane Eagland
  8. Little Princes by Conor Grennan
  9. The Girl in the Green Sweater: A life in Holocausts Shadow by Krystyna Chiger
  10. Down River by John Hart

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Past Always Comes Back to Haunt You.

Title: Vieux Carre Voodoo by Greg Herren
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
264 pages
Genre: Gay Fiction, Mystery

Synopsis: When an old family friend apparently commits suicide from his French Quarter balcony, Scotty’s life accelerates from boring to exciting again in a nanosecond. Why would anyone want the old man dead, and what were they looking for in his ransacked apartment? It’s up to Scotty, Frank, his crazy family, and friends to get to the bottom of this bizarre mystery—and when an old, all-too-familiar face turns up, it’s not just Scotty’s life that’s in danger, but his heart.

Review: Out of all of Greg Herren's books I love his Scotty series the best.  There is just something about him that just pulls me and won't let me go.  I love his quirky family and the messes he always seems to be finding himself in and the cops have a love hate relationship with Scotty.

People are being tortured, houses are being ransacked and Scotty once again winds up in the middle of it all.  With his partner Frank out of town and his special gifts returning to haunt him the last thing Scotty needs is for his hot ex lover who is wanted for murdering Scotty's uncles to show up.  Swearing he had nothing to do with the murders Colin arrives back in New Orleans with a bang, literally since he shows up sporting a gun shot wound and a story about being undercover.  Scotty isn't sure what to believe, his heart is saying one thing and his memory of the heart wrenching happenings of the past are saying another.  But before he can sort that out he has to figure out what three young soldiers from the middle of nowhere did with a precious relic and why they took it in the first place, all while trying to stay alive.

These books remind me of a gay Janet Evanovich book because Scotty always seems to stumble his way into trouble and by the skin of his teeth and the help of good friends finds his way safe just like Stephanie Plum.  Houses might burn down, people might get beat up but Scotty always prevails.  One fortunate difference is the setting, New Orleans is infinitely more colorful and fun to read about than New Jersey.  There are also plenty of beautiful men. Hot for either Joe or Ranger...you should check out Frank and Colin.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Holiday Hop....

As we are now between holidays I thought I join the hop again.....

This weeks question is:

What is the thing you most like about reading book blogs? Is it reviews, author guest posts, articles, giveaways or something else entirely?

 I just like getting new book recommendations.  I love to read peoples reviews.  I'm not into the giveaways, or the author guest posts, and I burn out on the differently daily things...like mail tuesday, or wish list thursday etc...The hop is the one exception I've found to my aversion to these weekly themes because it exposes me to other blogs that I may not have found any other way but some of the other things out there I can do without.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Saving the Lost Children of Nepal

Title: Little Princes by Connor Grennan
Publisher: William Morrow
304 pages
Genre: Autobiography, biography

I received this book as an advanced electronic copy from the publisher through netgalley.com  It will be released in January 2011

Synopsis: In need of some fun and adventure, 30-year-old Conor Grennan traded in his day job for a year-long trip around the globe, a journey that began with a three-month stint volunteering at the Little Princes Orphanage in war-torn Nepal. But what began as a lark became a passionate commitment that would transform the young American and the lives of countless others.

Within minutes of his arrival, Grennan was surrounded by a horde of gleeful boys and girls showering him with warm welcomes. Yet as he soon learned, the children’s cheery smiles belied years of pain and abuse, for many of the boys and girls at Little Princes were not orphans at all, but victims rescued from human traffickers. Moved by their plight, Grennan vowed that when his trip was over he would return to the children of Little Princes and eventually reunite them with their families—a promise he would risk his life to keep.

Little Princes is the powerful story of a soul’s awakening and a reflection of the noblest and darkest of human intent. It is a heartwrenching true tale of the power of optimism, love, and dedication to overcome greed, violence, and hate. And it is an unforgettable account of children, families, and one man whose decision to take a stand makes the world a better place for all of us.

Review: I don't have enough words to express how inspiring and real this book was.  Conor Grennan started his journey to Nepal as a way to feel better about taking a year off to travel and what he found there inspired him.  As someone who has visited orphanages abroad I can completely relate to many of Conors experiences.  Children have amazingly resilient spirits and are overwhelmingly giving.  Its very easy to be drawn in and moved by these children and while it may be hard to walk away its even harder to decide to do something to help.  Conor decided to help, he started his own NGO and was determined to save the lost and trafficked children of Nepal.  He didn't want kudos for this, he didn't do this for fame and fortune, he did this because he couldn't not do it.

His story is heartbreaking, inspiring and amazing.  What started with just seven lost children became many many more.  I think the most appealing part of this book is how Conor doesn't sugar coat his initial motives to go to Nepal, his total lack of experience with children and his frustration and lack of understanding of how things worked in Nepal.  But he stayed with it and he is to be commended because mission is not an easy one and often leaves you heartbroken, distraught, frustrated and angry, but when things go well, it is inspiring, heartwarming, and filled with such incredible joy.  It is people like Conor and the others who work with him that are helping to make this a better world.  We need more people like Conor who are willing to take a risk and walk the hard path in order to do what is right.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What do Statues have to say?

Title: Stone Kissed by Keri Stevens
Publisher: Carina Press
electronic book
Genre: Paranormal Romance

This book is due to be released on December 27, 2010 through Carina Press the ebook store.  I received  an advanced electronic copy through netgalley.com

Synopsis: When Delia Forrest talks to statues, they talk back. She is, after all, the last of the Steward witches.

After an arsonist torches her ancestral home with her estranged father still inside, Delia is forced to sell the estate to pay his medical bills. Her childhood crush, Grant Wolverton, makes a handsome offer for Steward House, vowing to return it to its former glory. Delia agrees, as long as he'll allow her to oversee the restoration.

Working so closely with Grant, Delia finds it difficult to hide her unique talent-especially when their growing passion fuels her abilities.

But someone else lusts after both her man and the raw power contained in the Steward land. Soon Delia finds herself fighting not just for Grant's love, but for both their lives...

Review: Delia's relationship with the statues that she works with and grew up around is hilarious.  They are often either extremely feisty, parental, or childish which make for interesting relations.  Grant is Delia's fantasy.  She has been in love with him since she was a child but doesn't believe that he could care about her other than as a fling.  As Delia and Grants passion grows so to does Delia's power and she find that the statues that have been her friends forever are now beginning to move.  So now not only does Delia need to hide her ability to talk to the statues but also run all over town retrieving them and putting them back where they belong.

Keeping her secret is proving too difficult with Grant so she finds herself telling him about the different statues even though she knows he doesn't believe her. In fact Grant believes she is mentally unstable and delusional but that her little quirk of talking to statues is just that and not something to be too alarmed about.  However, circumstances turn when Grant finds himself noticing strange things happening with the statues around them.  Maybe Delia isn't so crazy afterall, or maybe its catching!

While the passion grows between Grant and Delia, another woman in town is setting her sights on Grant and Delia's land.  She believes it is her birth right since she is also a descendant of the Steward family.  But Cecily is dangerous and men around town are disappearing at an alarming rate.

This book was faced paced and fun. The characters came to life and I really felt vested in them.  I've read my share of romance novels and you can't always say the situations seem natural but for a paranormal romance these did.  The romance didn't seem forced.  I loved the statues and the situations they put Delia in.  A great fun read!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

BBC Top 100

I stole this from the blog all the books I can read .  I thought it would be fun...feel free to grab it and post on your blog. The average that the BBC believes most of the population has read would be about 6.

Bold the ones you have read in their entirety and italicize those that you have read in part, even if just an extract.


  1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien 
  3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte 
  4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling 
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  6. The Bible- Historians 
  7. Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte
  8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell 
  9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
  10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
  11. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
  12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
  13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
  14. Complete Works of Shakespeare (Not completed)
  15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier 
  16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
  17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
  18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
  19. The Time Travellers Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
  20. Middlemarch – George Eliot 
  21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
  22. The Great Gatsby  F Scott Fitzgerald
  23. Bleak House – Charles Dickens
  24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
  25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams (all 4 books in the ‘trilogy’)
  26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
  27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  28. Grapes of Wrath –  John Steinbeck
  29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
  30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
  31. Anna Karenina –Leo Tolstoy
  32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens 
  33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
  34. Emma – Jane Austen
  35. Persuasion – Jane Austen
  36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis 
  37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
  38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere
  39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Willaim Golden
  40. Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
  41. Animal Farm – George Orwell
  42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
  43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabrial Garcia Marquez (hated it...too painful to finish)
  44. A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
  45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
  46. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
  47. Far from the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
  48. The Handmaids Tale – Margaret Atwood
  49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
  50. Atonement – Ian McEwan
  51. Life of Pi – Yann Martell
  52. Dune – Frank Herbert
  53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
  54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
  55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
  56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  57. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
  58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
  59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
  60. Love in the time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Own this – going to be attempting it 2011 for my Global Challenge!)
  61. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
  62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
  63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
  64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
  65. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas (Loved it!)
  66. On the Road – Jack Kerouac
  67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
  68. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
  69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
  70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville
  71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
  72. Dracula – Bram Stoker
  73. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson
  74. Notes from a Small Island – Bill Bryson
  75. Ulysses – James Joyce
  76. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
  77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
  78. Germinal – Emile Zola
  79. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
  80. Possession – AS Byatt
  81. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
  82. Cloud Atlas – Charles Mitchell
  83. The Colour Purple – Alice Walker
  84. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
  85. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flauert
  86. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
  87. Charlotte’s Web – EB White
  88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
  89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
  91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad 
  92. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint Exupery
  93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
  94. Watership Down – Richard Adams 
  95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John  Kennedy Toole 
  96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
  97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
  98. Hamlet – William Shakespeare 
  99. Charlie & the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
  100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
I did better than I expected 37! Whoo Hoo, there are plenty of classics on this list that I would love to read, I guess I should try to fit in one or two of those next year....how many have you read?


    Monday, November 29, 2010

    A Story of Generations...

    Title: The Good Daughter by Jasmin Darznik
    Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
    336 pages
    Genre: Non-Fiction - family, relationships

    This book is set to be released in January 2011.  I received an advanced electronic copy from the publisher through netgalley.com 


    Synopsis: One day when Jasmin Darznik is helping her mother pack up to move, a photograph falls from a stack of old letters. The girl in it is her mother. She is wearing a wedding veil, and at her side stands a man whom Jasmin has never seen before.

    At first, Jasmin’s mother, Lili, refuses to share any information. Months later, Jasmin receives the first of ten cassette tapes revealing a wrenching hidden story of her family’s true origins in Iran: her mother’s troubled history of abuse and neglect, and a daughter she was forced to abandon in order to escape that life. The final tape reveals that her sister, Sara, is still living in Iran

    Review: I got a bit side tracked while reading this book thanks to the holidays and family coming in from out of town but ..........I was about half way done this book before I remembered it was a true story.  Jasmin's telling of her families journey is riveting and swept me up immediately.  I was completely enthralled by what her grandmother and her mother achieved and fought to overcome for their children. Her grandmother manipulated a system that did not favor women to help her children achieve an education and escape a dangerous situation.  Her mother survived, became educated and helped her family thrive in Iran, and then again in America.  She may have had to leave her 1st daughter behind but situations and cultures being what they are she did the best she could with a rotten situation.  Jasmin had no recollection of what her family went through or what it was like to live in Iran.  Her mother and grandmothers history was new to her and something her mother never talked about.  But after listening to her mothers tapes she started to understand many of her mothers actions and what drove her.

    Jasmin and her parents moved to America right before the Iran hostage situation and then the Iran/Iraq war.  Growing up in American during that time was not always easy and Jasmin's experience was vastly different than her mothers who like most new immigrants like to hold tight to old cultures and traditions while the younger generation wants to "fit in" and doesn't understand why they need to follow traditions from their old country when they are now in America.

    A true story of culture, survival, perseverance, loss and survival.  



    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    Destiny or Choice?

    Title: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
    Publisher: Harper Teen
    448 Pages
    Genre: YA paranormal

    This title will be released in January 2011. I received a free electronic copy from the publisher through netgalley.com.

    Synopsis: Clara has known she was part-angel ever since she turned fourteen two years ago. But now she is finally getting visions of what her Purpose-a rite of passage for every part-angel-is to be, and it happens to involve a gorgeous guy. Of course, there is the raging forest fire surrounding them, too. When Clara's Purpose leads her family to Wyoming, Clara finds the boy of her visions, Christian, but complicating her mission are her growing feelings for another guy, Tucker. As the day in her visions draws closer, Clara discovers that her Purpose may play into a larger struggle between angels and Black Wings-fallen angels who spread sadness and misery wherever they go. But when the fire erupts and both Christian and Tucker are in danger, who will she choose to save?

    Review: Most of the YA books these days focus on vampires, werewolves, and witches.  This was a refreshing twist.  It was a fast read and the characters were incredibly believable.

    Clara's mother is half angel, Clara and her brother are a quarter angel.  Her mother has kept them from knowing what they truly are until they are in their early teens when some of their unearthly powers start to manifest.  But Clara's mom holds a lot of information back.  Keeping Clara and her brother at arms length when it comes to knowing a lot about being an angel and what this whole purpose in life is all about.

    When Clara is 16 she starts having visions about her "purpose".  These visions lead to the family moving from California to Wyoming.  Moving to a new city is hard enough but when you find yourself struggling to balance a normal high school life and finding the object of your purpose in life who just happens to be the most popular boy in school, life can be very complicated.

    Cynthia Hand does an excellent job of putting us right back in high school. All the pressures to conform, the secret crushes, the desperate need to fit in.  Imagine all this while hiding the secret that you have wings and can fly! I was a little worried that this book would be religious in nature due to the fact that they are angels but it really isn't and no matter what your religious views I think you would enjoy this book.  Its more about the characters, figuring out your place in the world, making decisions that could effect you for the rest of your life and whether or not there is choice in fulfilling your destiny.

    I was so invested in these characters that I was extremely disappointed when the book ended.  I'm glad to discover that this is only book one of a trilogy.

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Strange Happenings in the Woods

    Title: Sorceress by Greg Herren
    Publisher: Tiny Satchel Press
    419 pages
    Genre: young adult

    This book will be released on November 23, 2010 - I purchased this book at a book signing by the author and publisher in Philadelphia on 11/14/10.

    Synopsis:Laura Pryce, 17, has just completed her junior year of high school when her parents are killed in a car accident and she must go live with her Great Aunt Melisande, whom she has never met. Once at her aunt's huge and rambling house, she discovers a series of paintings. The faces of the women--all from different historical periods--are the same as hers. Her aunt tells her it's a weird genetic anomaly--that each generation has the face and that it brings with it an exciting future.
    But Laura begins to have strange and terrifying dreams. She seeks out friendship in her aunt's assistant--Jake. Jake, however, has secrets of his own. What happened to his family?As Laura feels increasingly isolated by her surroundings where cell phones fail to work and internet connections easily die, the dreams escalate until Laura cannot discern the difference between what is really a dream and what is happening at the strange, huge house. All she is certain of is that she is in danger..


    Review: I am a huge fan of Greg Herren's two adult mystery series and now he has ventured into the world of YA fiction. Sorceress is filled with mystery and disturbing answers.

    Laura believes that she has no other relatives but her parents but when they die in a car crash she is contacted by a long lost aunt. Her aunt begs her to come live with her for the summer just to reconnect with family. She consents and leaves all that she knows behind.

    When she reaches her aunts in California strange things start happening that she can't explain, and voices in her head keep warning her of danger. The woods behind her aunts house are spooky and she keeps having strange dreams about them that seem so real but they can't be, can they? Then there is her aunts houseboy Jake, he's gorgeous, moody and has a darkness that surrounds him.  She isn't sure if she should be afraid of Jake or if its her aunt that is the real danger but she gets caught up in a mystery that if she can't figure out could claim her life.

    I found myself sucked into this story. It wasn't the most complex but it was a fun quick read. For Herren's first YA book I think he did a good job of capturing the teenage characters in the book and the story held your attention and the action kept it moving along. I know that he has a few more YA books in the works and I look forward to seeing how they progress.

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    Divorce Drama in Victorian England

    Title: The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue
    Publisher: Mariner Books /Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
    389 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

    Synopsis: Miss Emily "Fido" Faithfull is a :woman of business: and a spinster pioneer in the British women's movement, independent of mind but naively trusting of heart. Distracted from her cause by the sudden return of a once dear friend, the unhappily wed Helen Codrington, Fido is swept up in the intimate details of Helen's failing marriage and obsessive affair with a young army officer.  What begins as a loyal effort to help a friend explodes into an intriguing courtroom drama complete with accusations of adultery, counterclaims of rape, and a mysterious letter that could destroy more than one life.

    Review: The Sealed Letter is by the author of Room and based on a scandalous divorce case that gripped the UK in 1864. I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book or not but it sucked me in very quickly.  Emma Donoghue has an uncanny way of making her characters so believable that you find yourself wherever they are.  You can almost smell the smoke and pollution of Victorian England, feel the grit on your body from the streets and you quickly find yourself caught up in the same mess that Fido finds herself.

    Helen Codrington is an unhappily married woman just returned to London from living abroad with her Military husband and two young daughters.  She seeks out her old friend Fido, a spinster woman of business.  On the pretense of friendship Helen involves Fido in her torrid affair with another officer.  Fido, the youngest child of a reverend is appalled by her friends behavior and attempts to "save her" but finds herself quickly becoming more entangled in her friends scandal.

    Harry Codrington is a military man, from a military family.  He loved his wife when he married her but her disdain for him and his suspicions of her adulterous behavior have lead him to consider divorce.  Knowing that  divorce will be considered scandalous doesn't deter him from wanting to untangle himself from his unhappy marriage.

    Fido, a feminist business woman who runs a womens paper that employs women finds herself torn between  her regimented life and her old friendship with Helen.  She cares deeply for Helen, more so than she has ever felt for anyone including male suitors.  When Helen first finds herself on the brink of divorce Fido starts envisioning a life with Helen, the two of them raising Helen's children but as she gets dragged further and further into Helen's torrid affairs, she starts to question what is best and if she can stand by Helen while compromising her morals.

    Emma Donoghue has distinctly captured each character and the period in time when woman were seeking equality and freedom yet still slaves to convention and keeping up appearances.  A fascinating and educational read!

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    Book Blogger Hop Hop Hop

    Its Blog Hop Friday...and the question of the week is.....

    "If you find a book that looks interesting but is part of a series, do you always start with the first title?"


    I like to try, but sometimes I don't realize a book is part of a series until I'm half way through.  It really depends on the series.  I've found that some series really need to be read in order and others each one almost reads like a stand alone book.  For the most part I try to read series in order but I've found now that I am receiving some advance books that they aren't letting me know they are part of a series in the synopsis, and I don't realize it until I look it up later.

    Anyway, enjoy your weekend, enjoy my blog and I'll see ya round the hop!

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    Solving Murder without Forensics

    Title: A Lonely Death: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery by Charles Todd
    Publisher: Harper Collins
    352 pages
    Genre: Mystery

    This book was received as an advanced electronic galley from the publisher via netgalley.  This title will be released in January 2011.


    Synopsis: Three men have been murdered in a Sussex village, and Scotland Yard has been called in. It's a baffling case. The victims are soldiers who survived the horrors of the Great War only to meet a ghastly end in the quiet English countryside two years later. Each had been garroted, with small ID disks left in their mouths. But even Scotland Yard's presence doesn't deter this vicious and clever killer. Shortly after Inspector Ian Rutledge arrives a fourth soldier is found dead. With few clues to go on and the pressure building, Rutledge must gamble everything to find answers-his job, his reputation, and even his life.

    Review: There are apparently 12 other Inspector Rutledge books and I would never have known that if I hadn't looked up the author.  I love reading books in series that just flow without really having to know anything that came before.

    I really loved this book.  I loved the detective work that went into solving a case before forensics took over.  Imagine how difficult it would have been to solve a crime when you couldn't use trace evidence, dna and things that we now take for granted.  This was just a case of good old detective work.

    Inspector Rutledge works for Scotland Yard and isn't well liked by his superior officer.  He is hardworking but plagued by incidents that happened while at war in France.  He is haunted by a man named Hamish who he fought with in the war and had to send to the firing squad for not following orders while in battle. Rutledge respected Hamish for his stand and believed he was correct in denying the order but Rutledge had to follow his orders so now Hamish haunts him.  Hamish talks to him, helps him solve his cases, protects him and taunts him.  He is a partner that you can't escape.

    While investigating the garroting murders of several men in a Sussex village, he also gets sucked into an unsolved case that has taunted his mentor who just recently retired.  The murder of an unknown man who was strung up at Stonehenge and the murderer and the murder weapon were never found. When not working on his own case Rutledge finds himself thinking about this other.

    I can't say enough about this book.  I loved the play between Rutledge and his ghost Hamish they made for an entertaining couple.  As for the other characters they were all well done and so many of their stories could have taken place today.

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    Accident, Suicide or Murder?

    Title: Indefensible by Pamela Callow
    Publisher: Harlequin (Mira)
    512 pages
    Genre: Romantic Suspense, Thriller

    This book will be released in December 2010.  I received this from the publisher as an advanced electronic galley from netgalley.com

    Synopsis: When Elise Vanderzell plummets from her bedroom balcony one gorgeous summer night, her children awaken to a nightmare.

    THEIR MOTHER IS DEAD. THEIR FATHER IS CHARGED WITH HER MURDER.

    Lawyer Kate Lange knows all about nightmares. She’s survived the darkest period of her troubled life and the wounds are still raw. Now she’s been handed a case that seems utterly unwinnable: defending her boss, high-profile lawyer Randall Barrett. A prosecutor’s dream suspect, Randall is a man who was cuckolded by his ex-wife. A man who could not control his temper. A man who had argued bitterly with the victim the previous day in full view of the children.

    With limited criminal law experience, Kate finds herself enmeshed in a family fractured by doubt. Randall’s teenage son is intent on killing him. His daughter wants only to feel safe again. And the entire legal community would like nothing better than to see Randall receive a public comeuppance. As Kate races to stay a step ahead of the prosecution, a silent predator is waiting for the perfect time to deal the final blow.

    Review: I didn't read the first Kate Lange book but there were several times I wish I had.  There were many references to cases and incidents that happened prior to this book.  The cop who is investigating the death of Elise seems to harbor bad feelings toward the main suspect but you are never completely sure why and the angsty teenage son's behavior and actions are exaggerated to the extreme.  In fact this character almost spoiled the book for me.  I didn't hate this book, I just didn't love it.  It was an easy, slightly predicable but entertaining read.  It would probably make a good summer beach read.

     The plot came together toward the end of the book, when it seems like the author finally hit her stride. I think this is when I actually started to feel for the characters.  Actions seemed more realistic and not over played and the story began to engage me instead of preach to me.

    I  don't know for certain but it seems that we haven't seen the last of Kate Lange.  Indefensible seemed to open the door to more stories and surprisingly by that time I was interested in reading more.

    Sunday, October 31, 2010

    No past, no future only now

    Title: The Mindfulness Revolution: Leading Psychologists, Scientists, Artists and and Meditation Teachers on the Power of Mindfulness in Daily Life by Barry Boyce, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Thich Nhat Hahn, Daniel Siegel, Jack Kornfield
    Publisher: Shambhala
    288 Pages
    Genre: Self-help, Psychology

    This book was received as an advanced electronic galley from the publisher via netgalley.  This title will be released in March 2011.


    Synopsis: In recent years there has been an explosion of interest in the art and science of mindfulness. Simply put, mindfulness is a means for developing greater awareness of our moment-to-moment experience—for fully experiencing what is happening within us and around us. It has been scientifically shown to reduce stress and improve health. Recent studies also indicate that mindfulness can alleviate depression and anxiety, improve attention and performance, and increase an individual’s overall levels of happiness.

    Mindfulness is being applied in a wide variety of fields, including health care, education, leadership development, the law, and the military.The Mindfulness Revolution is a collection of the best writing on mindfulness from leading figures in the field.

    Review:  If you are new to the theory of meditation and mindfulness this is a great book.  Some of the top writers on the topic explain it in simple terms and help guide you on your way to learning this simple yet not so simple technique.  I've been doing yoga for years and am a certified yoga teacher so some of this information was redundant for me but I think it would be great for people just looking into this practice.  Focused breathing can help reduce stress, help sleep, and generally improve your overall health and outlook on life.  Its  so simple its amazing more people aren't doing it.  But here is the catch, just because it seems simple and the method is simple doesn't mean that it doesn't take work to achieve.  It takes discipline, patience and time to actually master it.  We often judge ourselves too harshly and thus drop things because we feel we just cant do it or think its too difficult or we don't give it enough time.  Those people who think that mindfulness "doesn't work" might need to come back to it or maybe just aren't ready to experience life in the now and life in the future or past is serving them in some way.

    Each author of the different chapters of this book have their own way of explaining things, some are easier to understand than others and I think that different teachers speak to different types of people.  I love that this is just not another book on meditation and mindfulness but it is also a way for those who write and teach this every day to share their knowledge.  If this was written by one teacher you may find that you don't understand them and move but with so many different voices explaining it there is something for everyone.

    Friday, October 29, 2010

    Hoppy Halloween Weekend...

    Its that time again...The Friday book blog hop...

    This weeks question is, What is the one bookish thing you would love to have no matter the cost?  


    Hmm...this is a tough one.  I'm not really sure.  I mean I have a kindle, I have a ton of books, the only thing I really need is more time to read!

    But if money were no object I guess I would have to say that I would want a bigger house where I could have a library with shelves all around and one of those rolling ladders...a big fireplace and a really comfy chair just like in the movies.

    Happy Halloween everyone...have a ghoulishly good time!

    Secrets, Ghosts, and Hidden Agenda's

    Title: The Lovers by John Connolly
    Publisher: Atria
    344 pages
    Genre: Mystery, fiction

    Synopsis: Parker is working in a bar in Portland, having been deprived of his P.I.'s license. He uses his enforced retirement to begin a different kind of investigation: an examination of his own past and an inquiry into the death of his father, who took his own life after apparently shooting dead two unarmed teenagers, a search that will eventually lead to revelations about Parker's own parentage.

    Meanwhile, a troubled young woman is running from an unseen threat, one that already seems to have taken the life of her boyfriend, and a journalist-turned-writer named Mickey Wallace is conducting an investigation of his own into Charlie Parker in the hope of writing a non-fiction book about his exploits.

    And haunting the shadows, as they have done throughout Parker's life, are two figures: a man and a woman, the lovers of the title, who appear to have only one purpose, and that is to bring an end to his existence . . . 

    Review: This is the 8th Charlie Parker novel and I really believe you have to read these in order.  Each one seems to build on the next and if you jump in somewhere in the middle I think you will lose too much.  Charlie was an NYPD cop like his father but the brutal slaying of his wife and daughter (which is dealt with in the first book, Every Dead Thing) lead him down a different path.  With the help of his notorious criminal friends Luis and Angel, Charlie often finds himself involved in cases that lead to people dying.  But those people always seem to deserve it.

    I love this series but it is very dark, and sometimes downright scary.  Connolly's writing is fabulous and his characters are fascinating.  They definitely don't live in a world where things are black and white but rather are always viewed in shades of grey.  Charlie's life seems to attract darkness, darkness that he seems to vanquish but always seems to lead him to trouble.

    Charlie is now working in a bar, hoping to get his permit to carry a weapon back, but not sure if he wants his PI license back.  He likes not having a choice when it comes to taking a case, he doesn't want to be drawn back into the darkness again right now.  He wants a break, he also wants to learn about his past.  One of the darker characters from a past book revealed secrets about Charlies past which have haunted him and now its time to look into them.

    As Charlie digs into his past, the death of his father, the two unarmed kids his father killed and who are his true parents might be, he once again starts a chain of events that seems to take on a life of its own and of course people start dying.  His investigation leads to the revelation of a hidden group that seem to know everything about Charlie and the lovers that keep popping up through his life that seem to want him dead.  They may even know who they are.

    Biblical, creepy and absolutely absorbing I still can't figure out if Charlie is on the side of good or evil.  I guess its all in how you look at it.


    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Serial Killers and Closets...

    Title: The Killing Room by Gerri Hill
    Publisher: Bella Books
    385 pages
    Genre: Lesbian Romantic fiction

    Synopsis: Denver Detective Jake McCoy is trying to recover- both physically and emotionally- from the shooting death of a young boy that also left her injured.   She soon finds herself rehabbing at her cabin in the mountains, soaking in the remote natural springs - which is exactly where psychologist Nicole Westbrook vacations and soon stumbles across her...

    When Nicole leaves the next day , the two women know little more about the other than her first name - yet they are now lovers instead of strangers.

    When Jake returns to Denver, a serial murder investigation soon leads her to Nicole. As the investigation develops, their physical attraction threatens to compromise the case.  Nicole finds herself struggling to remain in the professional closet that she's been hiding in for so long - a place where an out cop like Jake McCoy simply does not belong.

    Review: As far as lesbian fiction goes Gerri Hill is one of my favorites.  Her writing is exciting and keeps you engaged.  There is always much more to the story than just the relationship between the two main characters.

    When Jake returns to work following an injury she catches a case that points to a serial killer targeting female abuse victims who are all clients of the woman she met while convalescing  at her cabin in the woods. No matter how hard they dig Jake and her partner Ricky can't seem to catch a break.

    Nicole is trying not to take the death of her clients personally but the coincidences are piling up and the target may not be her clients but Nicole herself. Relying on Jake to help keep her safe isn't so easy for Nicole who is deeply closeted but finds herself drawn to Jake despite all of her friends warnings about having a relationship with someone so open not to mention "beneath" her in status.

    This story has many layers...the murder mystery, the lure of new romance, the psychological aspects of abuse victims, the ending of relationships, the bond between friends, fear of being out ruining a promising career, and the pain and loss involved in not living an authentic life.

    All of the characters have a story and personality that make them feel real, not like stiff chess pieces moving around a board.  The play between Jake and her partner Ricky is completely amusing, they are like a married couple bickering and sniping at each other in a playful and fun way. I think thats what I like about Hill's writing her characters come to life and you become invested in their lives.

    Saturday, October 23, 2010

    Afghanistan before and after the Taliban

    Title: The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
    Publisher: Back Bay Books
    288 pages
    Genre: non-fiction - Islamic Culture

    Synopsis: This mesmerizing portrait of a proud man who, through three decades and successive repressive regimes, heroically braved persecution to bring books to the people of Kabul has elicited extraordinary praise throughout the world and become a phenomenal international bestseller.  The Bookseller of Kabul is startling in its intimacy and its details - a revelation of the plight of Afghan women and a window into the surprising realities of daily life in today's Afghanistan.

    Review: This book has generated a lot of talk from critics and from the people involved.  Apparently even though the author attempted to keep the bookseller and his family anonymous he was too well known so even with the use of alias's he was identified.  Now he is seeking asylum in Sweden or Norway with his family.  He is also suing the author for defamation of character, family and country in a Norway.

    This book is written as a story which makes it easier to read.  It was very interesting and gave an interesting look into Afghani life and the differences between the lives of women and men.  At first I didn't understand why the bookseller was suing the author but as the book progressed I could see why he might take offense.  Its not that he did anything particularly bad, but some of his actions to a western mind were harsh and offensive.

    Seierstad also gives a lot of history about how Afghanistan used to be before the Taliban and a glimpse into the current political climate.  Its sad that such a beautiful country and culture have been destroyed by constant war.  At one point one of the sons was making a pilgrimage and was passing through all different cities while one of his friends read from a tour book.  The city now looks nothing like the book described.  It is now a desolate location with bombed out buildings, no trees, and very few people whereas before it was known as a place of great art.  Beautiful pottery was sold by the road which was lined with cherry trees and people.

    The bookseller intrigued the author when she met him because of his love of books, and his passion for keeping the culture of his people alive even during the Taliban rule.  He frequently kept banned books in his shop.  He was imprisoned many times and his books taken out and burned in the streets.  I think somewhere within her time with him her respect for him dwindled and the book became less about him and more about his family.  His sons, one of who is completely dislikable and others that you feel sorry for because they really have no say about their lives.  The bookseller is the ultimate ruler of his family and what he says is law.  The women in the family which include his mother, his sisters, and his daughters are treated more as possessions than people.  Seierstad does show other families where womens lives aren't quite as rigid as the booksellers and have more freedom but she tends to focus more on the family.  It is fascinating to read the parts from the women's point of view, most of whom have accepted that they have no say, while others still struggle against this.

    All in all I would say this is a really interesting book that gives an interesting glimpse inside one Afghani families  world.  

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Torn Between Two Lovers

    Title: Runes by Em Petrova
    Publisher: Red Sage Publishing
    Genre: Paranormal, erotica
    Price: $3.99 ebook

    This book was received free from the publisher via netgalley.com

    Synopsis: When immortals Will Cochran and Evangeline Mayer are thrown together by a phenomenon known as The Calling, they breech the barriers of a conventional relationship.  By sharing their blood and bodies, their minds and souls are also entwined.  But Evangeline has been yanked from the arms of her mortal love, Sean Livingston, and the echo of his touch never leaves her.

    When she's kidnapped by a sadistic immortal seeking revenge for the loss of his own mate, Sean is summoned as a means to torture her. Their reunion both titillates and torments her new mate, Will. He and Sean make a pact to share the woman they both love, and find new desires arising in the arms of each other.

    Review: First I have to mention that it is very dangerous to just pick a book without reading the synopsis first or even knowing what genre it is from.  When I started reading Runes I thought it was a YA book until the scene turned a bit too racy for it to be considered YA.  So I looked it up and realized what book I had just picked!

    As far as erotic books go Runes has a fairly strong story unlike many erotic books and the author really delves into the minds of her characters.  Their struggles and thoughts are much more developed than most erotic fictions I've read.

    Will, an immortal saves the life of his sisters girlfriend from an overdose by "turning her".  It isn't until afterward that he discovers that they are bonded and "called" as soul mates.  If they don't come together the pain they feel will drive them insane.

    While Will fights the "calling" Evangaline, who doesn't know she is immortal, fears the voices in her head are her going insane not Will trying to calm her down.  Not wanting to scare her sister she turns to Sean a mortal friend of hers who offers her a place to stay.  While there they form a bond of their own, that borders on obsessive.

    So now Evangaline is torn between her mortal love and her immortal bond. After Evangaline is kidnapped Will and Sean find themselves in the awkward situation of trying to work together to save the woman they both love.

    In between all the action are long graphic sex scenes including menage a trois, and male on male scenes.  If this is offensive to you I would avoid this book.  All in all I would say one of the better erotic fictions I've read.

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Bones, Secrets and Ancient Gods

    Title: The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths
    Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
    336 Pages
    Genre: Mystery Suspense

    I received this book as an electronic galley from the publisher via netgalley. This title will be released January 2011.

    Synopsis: It’s been only a few months since archaeologist Ruth Galloway found herself entangled in a missing persons case, barely escaping with her life. But when construction workers demolishing a large old house in Norwich uncover the bones of a child beneath a doorway—minus its skull—Ruth is once again called upon to investigate. Is it a Roman-era ritual sacrifice, or is the killer closer at hand?

    Ruth and Detective Harry Nelson would like to find out—and fast. When they realize the house was once a children’s home, they track down the Catholic priest who served as its operator. Father Hennessey reports that two children did go missing from the home forty years before—a boy and a girl. They were never found. When carbon dating proves that the child’s bones predate the home and relate to a time when the house was privately owned, Ruth is drawn ever more deeply into the case. But as spring turns into summer it becomes clear that someone is trying very hard to put her off the trail by frightening her, and her unborn child, half to death.

    Review: This is the 2nd book in the Ruth Galloway series but it truly could stand alone.  It references the first book but you don't feel left out or in the dark by not reading it which is nice.  Its a fresh take on the whole Kay Scarpetta/ Temperence Brennan theme, forensic anthropologist finds bones, helps police solve the crime. This series is set in England which is also a nice change of scenery from the US or Canada.  Filled with celtic folklore, druids, and archeologist sites galore, this book is a fun new entry into this genre.

    Ruth Gallloway isn't as accomplished as either Scarpetta or Bones, she isn't the head of any lab, she teaches at the University and is considered an expert but on a more human level.  I think thats one of the reasons I liked this book.  Ruth isn't superhuman and the one who always saves the day and solves the crime.  She has a role in solving the case but its the police who actually do the investigating.  Ruth just seems easier to relate to, obsessing about being out of shape, how she is going to handle a baby on her own, dealing with ultra conservative born-again parents, and a best friend who is sleeping with her married boss.  The supporting characters are all quirky and interesting each with their own secrets that start to unravel in this book.

    In this book Ruth finds herself pregnant after a one night stand with a married man, trying to overcome morning sickness and figure out the origins of the bones of a child found buried in a doorway of a building site.  If that isn't enough to handle someone is determined to scare her off this case, leaving gruesome objects for her to find and stalking her at home.

    A great book to put on your "to be read" list for 2011.

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    Friday Hop

    Its that day again!  Today's question is:
    "When you read a book that you just can't get into, do you stick it out and keep reading or move to your next title?"


    The answer to this used to be yes I stuck it out...but now, it's getting harder and harder for me to do.  I will usually give a book about 100-150 pages to change my mind or grab me if it still isn't cutting it I'll reluctantly stop reading it.  So far I've only experienced this with one book that just really really sucked in my opinion.  Usually even if I don't particularly like it, if it has some redeeming quality I will continue to read it but I think I'm getting over this feeling of needing to finish the book despite feeling like I'm being tortured by reading it.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Science and Moral Dilemma's

    Title: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
    Publisher: Vintage International
    288 pages
    Genre: Fantasy/Sci fi

    Synopsis: Hailsham is a British boarding school for special students. The reminiscence is told from the point of view of Kathy H., now 31, whose evocation of the sheltered estate's sunlit rolling hills, guardians, dormitories, and sports pavilions is imbued with undercurrents of muted tension and foreboding that presage a darker reality. As an adult, Kathy re-engages in lapsed friendships with classmates Ruth and Tommy, examining the details of their shared youth and revisiting with growing awareness the clues and anecdotal evidence apparent to them even as youngsters that they were different from everyone outside.

    Review:I couldn't put this book down. It isn't until about 1/3 of the way through this book that you start to have a glimmer of what it is really about and since I don't want to spoil it my review is going to be fairly cryptic and for that I apologize.  If the little I reveal peaks your curiosity or if you like moral questions this is a book for you.

    Ishiguro reveals the true horror of this book slowly after you get to know the players involved.  Little by little like peeling the layers of an onion you are slowly shown the fate of the main characters of this book.  It makes you think, it makes you want to scream, it makes you want to shake them and scream "run" or "what are you thinking!".  Is this what our future holds? I hope not. Maybe this is a cautionary tale, one that shows what could happen, and investigates what makes one person more important than another.

    This is a more personal book but it reminds me of the out of print book World Enough and Time by James Kahn, which blends science and fantasy but asks some of the same questions, such as just because we have the technology to do something should we really do it and what are the consequences if we do?

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    Hoppity Hop Hop Hop

    Its Blog Hop Friday...This weeks questions is what is your favorite beverage to drink while blogging or reading?

    For me it has to be tea.  I am almost as obsessed with tea as I am with books.  I have an entire cabinet in my kitchen devoted to tea only! Black tea, green tea, white tea...you name it its probably in there.  Decaf, caffeinated it doesn't matter.  My favorites?  Depending on my mood, I like English Breakfast in the morning, something fruity in the afternoon or if its a rainy blah day that calls for Earl Grey. In the evening, something more mellow like a chamomile, or peppermint.

    Thanks for visiting! Enjoy.

    Imagine life in an 11X11 room

    Title: Room by Emma Donoghue
    Publisher: Little Brown and Company
    336 Pages
    Genre:

    Synopsis: To five year old Jack, Room is the world. It's where he was born, its where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. There are endless wonders that let loose Jack's imagination - the snake under Bed that he constructs out of eggshells, the imaginary world projected through the TV, the coziness of Wardrobe below Ma's clothes, where she tucks him in safely at night in case Old Nick comes.

    Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it's the prison where she has been held since she was nineteen - for seven years.  Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in that eleven by eleven foot space. But Jack's curiosity is building alongside her own desperation - and she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.

    Review: Emma Donoghue has written a remarkable book.  Disturbing, uplifting and powerful, Room is a fabulous book about the power of a mothers love even in the most dire of circumstances.  Jack and his mother are prisoners but Jack doesn't understand that.  Room is all he has ever known.  His mother does everything she can to make sure that he stays healthy and his mind stays sharp as she tries to make his childhood seem as normal as possible.  Together Jack and his mother come up with games, exercises, stories and routine that help them pass the time.  But as Jack gets older his mother worries about him and knows that she needs to try to escape in order to give Jack the life he deserves.

    Reminiscent of what happened to Jaycee Dugard, the woman who was abducted at age 11, held in a compound for 18 years and when she was finally discovered she had raised 2 children who were now 12 & 14. It is amazing the power of love and what a mother will do to protect her children.

    Donoghue is brilliant in helping the reader put themselves in the shoes of a 5 year old boy whose only world has been an 11x11 room. Her descriptions of the world as seen through the eyes of Jack are brilliant and well thought out.  She does an amazing job of putting us in his shoes.  Even the scenes with Old Nick show how Jack's mother has protected him from the harsh reality of their situation.

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    Rumshpringa Murder

    Title: Murder in Plain Sight by Marta Perry
    Publisher: Harlequin
    384 Pages
    Genre: Romance

    I received this book as an advanced electronic readers copy from the publisher via netgalley.com.  It is due to be released November 30, 2010


    Synopsis: There are secrets buried in Amish country...
    Did a sweet-faced Amish teenager brutally murder a young woman? To save her career, big-city lawyer Jessica Langdon is determined to defend him—against the community’s bitter and even violent outrage. Yet without an understanding of Amish culture, Jessica must rely on arrogant businessman Trey Morgan, who has ties to the Amish community...and believes in the boy’s guilt.

    Jessica has threats coming from all sides: a local fanatic, stirred up by the biased publicity of the case; the dead girl’s boyfriend; even from the person she’s learned to trust the most, Trey Morgan. But just when Jessica fears she’s placed her trust in the wrong man, Trey saves her life. And now they must both reach into a dangerous past to protect everyone’s future—including their own.

    Review: I may not know that much about Phoenix (see my last review) but I know a lot about Philadelphia, the Main Line and Lancaster County.  I am fascinated by the Amish culture and have been stuck behind a buggy or two in my time.

    This book hooked me from the first moment and kept me interested the whole way through.  Who actually killed the woman in the barn?  Was it the Amish boy suspected of it or someone else?  Jessica is sent from her big Philadelphia law firm to help broker a plea but once she starts investigating she finds that there is much more to the case than meets the eye.  With the help of Trey the son of the local woman who hired her she uncovers links to secret societies, and a deception that runs so deep it will affect Treys family forever.

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    Gangs, Guns and Politics

    Title: South Phoenix Rules by Jon Talton
    Publisher: Poison Pen Press
    250 Pages
    Genre: Urban Mystery

    This book will be released in December 2010.  I received this as an advanced electronic galley from the publisher through netgalley.com

    Synopsis: A handsome young New York professor comes to Phoenix to research his new book. But when he’s brutally murdered, police connect him to one of the world’s most deadly drug cartels. This shouldn’t be a case for historian-turned-deputy David Mapstone – except the victim has been dating David’s sister-in-law Robin and now she’s a target, too. David’s wife Lindsey is in Washington with an elite anti-cyber terror unit and she makes one demand of him: protect Robin.

    This won’t be an easy job with the city police suspicious of Robin and trying to pressure her. With the sheriff’s office in turmoil, David is even more of an outsider. And the gangsters are able to outgun and outspend law enforcement. It doesn’t help that David and Lindsey’s long-distance marriage is under strain. But the danger is real and growing. To save Robin, David must leave his stack of historic crimes and plunge into the savage today world of smuggling – people, drugs, and guns – in Phoenix.

    Review: After some investigation I learned that this was the 6th book in the David Mapstone Series.  Since learning this I can definitely see the advantage of reading these books in order.  While I really enjoyed the book I felt like an outsider looking in.  I was missing some of the reason behind different characters behaviors and the relationships between them that I believe was established in earlier books.

    My other disadvantage was in not knowing much about Arizona. Taltons descriptions of the cities and the culture and politics are very vivid and I could see how they would be very appealing to someone who is familiar with the area. The descriptions of the neighborhoods included street names and neighborhood history making me want to know the area to better find myself in it.  It reminds me of how I feel about books set in Philadelphia or New Orleans which I am very familiar with and get a thrill out of following the characters as they walk around the city.  When you know the area and the people, its often easier to slip into the setting and feel of the book. Despite the lack of knowledge of Phoenix I did enjoy learning about it and you can tell the author has a deep passion for it.

    The mystery that David Mapstone finds himself involved in leads him to a very dark place.  This is a great Noir novel as we see the main character go from an innocent man to a jaded man who is willing to walk a very dark path.  It was fascinating watching the transformation and wondering how it would all play out. Leaving the police force, unsure of the future of his marriage and surrounded by death David relies on his training as a historian to help him discover the links that bind it all together and find a way out.  The deceptions and mysteries that Mapstone uncovers are fascinating and interesting.

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    Things that go bump in the night

    Title: Grave Peril by Jim Butcher (Book 3 of the Dresden Files)
    Publisher: ROC a division of Penguin Putnam Publishing
    378 pages
    Genre: Fantasy

    Synopsis: In all Harry Dresden's years of supernatural sleuthing, he's never faced anything like this: the spirit world's gone postal. All over Chicago, ghosts are causing trouble - and not just of the door slamming, boo shouting variety.  These ghosts are tormented, violent, and deadly.  Someone or something is purposely stirring them up to wreak unearthly havoc.  But why? And why do so many of the victims have ties to Harry?

    Review: Its always difficult to review books in a series without giving anything away but here goes nothing.  This is the third Harry Dresden book that I've read, and this one was better than the first two.  I was a huge fan of the SyFy series that only ran for one season and then realized that there were books!

    The books are different than the series but equally as good.  Harry is witty, faulty and heroic.  He often finds himself in no-win situations where his options both suck but he finds a way free often beaten to the point of death but alive.  Grave Peril is a bit of a vampire hunting, ghost adventure with wizardry thrown in.  It will be interesting to see where the series goes from here since his actions in this book start a chain reaction that will bring the White Council (those who guard the wizards) down on his head.  I'm going to assume they don't kill him since there are something like 12 books in this series.

    I like the Jim Butchers take on Wizards, and what they can do, can't do and some of their limitations.  For instance they don't seem to interact too well with technology so Harry's home has no lights except candles and a fire place for heat.  His office is constantly blowing light bulbs and he prefers to take the stairs instead of elevators so he doesn't get stuck.  Guns stop working, cars get fried etc...which makes living in Chicago a problem.  These are fun reads with amusing, sarcastic and witty dialog  that makes you chuckle.  If you're a fantasy, witch, wizard fan you will like this series and all the many characters that Harry meets, befriends and kills.

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    Inconvenient or mentally ill?

    Title: Wildthorn by Jane Eagland
    Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
    368 pages
    Genre: YA fiction

    I received an electronic copy of this book free from the publisher.  It is currently available in stores. 


    Synopsis: They strip her naked, of everything-undo her whalebone corset, hook by hook. Locked away in Wildthorn Hall—a madhouse—they take her identity. She is now called Lucy Childs. She has no one; she has nothing. But, she is still seventeen-still Louisa Cosgrove, isn't she? Who has done this unthinkable deed? Louisa must free herself, in more ways than one, and muster up the courage to be her true self, all the while solving her own twisted mystery and falling into an unconventional love . . .

    Originally published in the UK, this well-paced, provocative romance pushes on boundaries-both literal and figurative-and, do beware: it will bind you, too.

    Review: I was excited to read this when I read a review on another Reader of Fictions Blog, I was not disappointed.  Flip flopping between the past and present we learn how Louisa may have found herself in an asylum and out of the way of her family.  A common way of getting inconvenient female members of the family  out of the way, after all who would believe a woman?

    Louisa's father is a physician and her mother is overbearing and desperately wants Louisa to behave like a proper lady.  Louisa has other plans, she want to be a hero, and follow in her fathers footsteps.  Her brother is being groomed to be a physician as well, but school doesn't come as easy to him as it does Louisa, causing jealousy between the two.  When Louisa's father dies suddenly her dreams may die with him.  It is now up to her brother to help her fulfill her dreams of being a physician but old jealousy's die hard.

    Now Louisa finds herself in an asylum.  She doesn't know how she got there and she doesn't know why they keep calling her by someone else's name but how do you convince someone you're not crazy? The conditions inside Wildthorn are far from ideal where staff take their anger and frustrations out on the girls in their care and the living conditions are far from ideal. Dirty mattresses, vermin, and archaic treatments to "help" them get better.  But Louisa is a smart girl and with help she may be able to change her situation.

    While we eventually find out that Louisa is a lesbian this is really not a main theme of the story, it just is, and this fact is woven into the story and not made a big deal of.  Wildthorn is really more about Louisa and how she got to the Asylum, her life before and how she can get her life back. Wildthorn is a nice edition the young adult lgbt fiction out there.
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