Friday, October 14, 2011

Review: Fifty Shades Darker by E. L. James

Title: Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James
Publisher:The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House
Published: September 13, 2011

When we last left Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, they were reeling from the ruin of their relationship, if that's what you call it.  Luckily, that issue is resolved fairly quickly into Fifty Shades Darker.  Our lovebirds quickly get back into the swing of things.

Christian starts to open up to Anastasia realizing that he may have to relax some of his boundaries to keep her around.  Anastasia veers between trying not to be disturbed by Christian's desires while still maintaining her own boundaries.  The issue starts to come to a head when one of Christian's past lovers starts stalking them and eventually confronts Anastasia.  The crises causes Anastasia's doubts about her ability to satisfy Christian to resurface.  As she continues to be confronted by evidence of his past, she is plagued by worry about their future in light of Christian's needs.  Add the introduction of  "Mrs. Robinson" and this girl is dealing with tons of drama due to her relationship with Christian.  When she realizes Christian is extending himself to meet her halfway, she makes some concessions of her own that make him very happy!

That E. L. James was able to continue this story in an interesting way is a testament to her skill as a writer.   It would have been easy to make this book a rerun of the first book but by furthering the character's back stories and continuing to deepen her characters and their relationships to each other, E. L. was able to add to the original story. And it just as steamy as the first book.  If you liked Fifty Shades of Grey, you will like Fifty Shades Darker.

*This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion*

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Way Back When

The Cold OneOne of my favorite authors as a teenager was Christopher Pike.  I read all the books and requested some of my first inter-library loans to get my hands on his books.  Remember Me, The Last Vampire series (I thought I had read every one bit apparently he's released two more books since 2010), Sati, and The Cold One.  His books were totally delicious - creepy spine-tinglers that had plot but weren't babyish.  His characters get into typical adolescent shenanigans as well as way more serious activities.    I probably wouldn't read him now but his books were perfect as a voracious teen reader.  Not to mention a lot of his covers were fairly innocous so it was pretty easy to disguise what you were reading.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Follow Friday

  Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's view and alison can read every Friday.  Every week we get to answer questions and visit other blogs.

 Q. What book that hasn't been turned into a movie (yet) would you most like to see make it to the big screen, and who would you like cast as your favorite character? 


I was going to say Night Circus but that was Parajunkee's answer.  I guess my next choice would be one of Occtavia Butler's books, maybe Fledgling or Parable of the Sower

Review: The Taker by Alma Katsu

Title: The Taker by Alma Katsu
Publisher: Gallery Books
Published: September 6, 2011
ISBN: 9781439197059
Pages: 448

       In a sleepy New England town, a sheriff drops off a confessed murderer to a hospital for a physical exam before imprisonment.  Dr. Luke Findley is excited yet wary upon seeing the diminutive young patient - nothing exciting happens this far out.  The young lady admits to committing the murder but swears she had good reason and even shows him something unbelievable.  In exchange for helping her escape, the good doctor can hear her mysterious story and learn about her mysterious skills.

     Lanny McIlvrae needs to get away from Maine as soon as possible.  Now that she has convince Luke to help her escape she fulfills her promise to fill him in on her past. Starting from her first meeting with Jonathan St. Andrew which sparks her eternal, unrequited obsession.  For years she pined for him while he tom catted around town even cleaning up the mess caused by one of his more serious entanglements.  So you can imagine her joy when Jonathan finally looked at her as a woman.  Their short interlude leads to a pregnancy, causing her parents to pack her off to a convent till it was born.  Instead of going to the convent, she decides to roam the streets of Boston where she bumps into the charming Adair and his motley crew. 

  Gradually she gets swept in to their world of excess and debauchery and becomes Adair's favorite.  A sudden illness requires extreme action from Adair and Lanny comes to learn of the true bond that keeps this "family" together.  When Adair hears of Jonathan's renowned good looks, he pesters Lanny to invite him to join the household.  Only after Jonathan becomes part of the household does Lanny ascertain Adair's true reason for seeking Jonathan's company.  She and Jonathan imprison Adair and flee creating a life for themselves together and separately across the centuries leading to the events where she meets Luke.

The Taker, Alma Katsu's debut novel,  is part History Channel and part SyFy Channel.  It's a cool play on the concept of immortality that doesn't include vampirism or other typical supernatural creatures.  The villain was greatly developed although I wish the other housemates were more developed. Lanny's devotion/obsession with Jonathan was kind of annoying though.  She still couldn't get that even with centuries passing he wasn't that interested in her and had trouble letting go. 

*The review copy was provided by the publisher Gallery Books in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Review & Giveaway Safe from Sea

Safe from the Sea 

Title: Safe from Sea by Peter Geye
Publisher: Unbridled Books
Published: September 28, 2010
ISBN: 9781609530082
Pages: 256

 Olaf Torr is dying so it's only natural that he call his estranged son and ask for help getting his cabin ready for winter.  Even though he has held his father at arm's length for years, it's only natural that Noah would leave Boston for a small town in Minnesota.  As he travels, still unable to understand why he agreed to his father's request unsure what extended contact to do to their relationship.

Olaf's work as a sailor left him offshore for extended periods of time and makes him somewhat of an unknown quantity to Noah.  The major turning point in Olaf's life was the wreck of the epic ship Ragnarok one frozen winter.  After surviving the wreck, a piece of Olaf seemed to be missing.  To the detriment of his family, he turned to alcohol for solace.  Noah's memories of Olaf are dominated by these alcohol soaked episodes.  He and his wife have been trying unsuccessfully to have a child and he can't imagine why a devoted husband and father would become the man Olaf became.  Yet he is willing to sacrifice a fertility cycle with Natalie to fulfill his duties to his father.

Seeing his father, he realizes Olaf is not joking about his impending death.  Olaf has even started creating the anchor for his hoped for watery grave.  Noah realizes now is finally the time to put to rest some of the differences he has with his father.  The worn out old man he sees is definitely not the harsh, demanding father of his youth.  Over the course of several days, Olaf shares stories of his youth, memories of his mother in Norway, and the true unabridged story of the wreck of the Ragnarok and his rescue the next morning.  From the stories, Noah is able to see alternate stories to the ones that have been the basis of his resentment towards his father.  He feels his issues with his father pale in comparison to the massive cross his father has born for decades and feels sorrow for the wasted years. 

This was a great book.  The action takes place over the course of the week yet feels neither prolonged nor rushed.   The classic story of an estranged parent and child was given a twist with the shipping back story, the wreck of the Ragnarok,  and the ending.  The characters were richly portrayed.  Olaf could have come off as detestable but his story lent so much depth and he came across as real not a caricature.  It was great seeing the arc of emotions Noah has toward his father from beginning to the end of the story. 

*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher Unbridled Books in exchange for my honest opinion.  Would you like a hardcover copy of this book?  Enter below with your name and email.  Contest open to residents of US and Canada.*

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent by Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Published:May 3, 2011
ISBN: 9780062024022
Pages: 498

So I literally just finished reading Divergent and had to write a review immediately.  I initially picked it up based on Wanda from Good Choice Readings rave review.  Once, I got it I couldn't put the book down.  From the minute I picked it up from the library on Friday to about 11 the same evening, I was super absorbed by Beatrice and all her adventures.  This book totally lived up to the hype.

In a future Chicago, society is divided into five groups, each defined by their chosen personality type.  There's Amity (Peace), Candor (Honest), Dauntless (Brave), Abnegation (Selfless), & Erudite (Intelligent).  Each faction bases their culture on the development of the character trait they presume to be the basis for a peaceful, prosperous society.  Everyone is born into a faction.  Yet every year sixteen year olds are required to undergo simulations to identify the faction they will be a member of for the rest of their life.  On a special day, every sixteen year old must declare the faction they choose. Imagine having your life decided by the results of your personality test.  Your job, your mate, your family (old or new) is decided by which faction you choose.  The only thing harder than choosing a faction is being factionless, doomed to a life of poverty and neglect.

Beatrice Prior is having a hard time making her choice of faction.  Her simulation classed her as divergent.  Does she put her feelings aside and remain in her faction of birth or does she follow her heart and choose another more to her liking?  All of this on top of keeping her divergence a secret.  After making her choice, she must come to terms with the effect her choice has on those around her.  Left to find her own way, she has to deal with her new surroundings while watching for those who have ill will toward her.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Review: The Traitor's Wife by Kathleen Kent


Title: The Traitor's Wife by Kathleen Kent
Publisher: Reagan Arthur/Back Bay Books
Published:September 26, 2011
ISBN: 9780316068642
Pages: 352

  The Traitor's Wife is the prequel to the Heretic's Daughter.  This book is the true start of the story of the Carrier family.  We get a glimpse into life in the colonies when they were still a raw place that offered promise to anyone willing to seize their destiny (as long as they minded the parson and other busy bodies). 

Martha Allen is a 20 year old spinster who is hired out by her stingy father..  At the start of the story, she is being deposited at her cousin's house.  All of this because her reputation as a mouthy woman with sharp wits has diminished her marriage prospects.The indignity of being servant to one's own kin is further compounded by the fact that her actual wages are paid to her father.  Her first task is to stake her place in the family as more than a maid.

Numerous rumors have Thomas Carrier as the axman to Charles the First.  His reticence to even discuss his past in the Old World intrigues Martha and she starts snooping through his things for the truth.  Eventually Thomas comes to tell her of his past so that she may see the path she is choosing for herself.The more she finds out about Thomas the less the actual facts of the past matter to her.  Even when assassins and their agents attempt to locate Thomas and spirit him away to England, she decides to stick by his side. 

Thomas Carrier, her cousin's hired man, is an enigma to her. She feels both attracted and put off by him.  Several events including a festival and wolf attack bind them together and allow these proud people to display their mutual admiration and growing love for each other.United by their mutual place outside of societal norms assassins, ill will from Martha's cousin, and ill health cannot bar the joining of Martha and Thomas. 

Having read the Heretic's daughter, I was pretty excited to read the Traitor's wife. I really wanted to read the back story of Martha Carrier, who stood up to the bullying of the Salem Witch Trials, and Thomas Carrier, who refused to force his wife to compromise her principles.  Discovering their back story gave a richer depth to the people they were in the Heretic's Daughter. The Traitor's Wife offers a peek into early colonial America and the culture and mores of the early colonist who seemed to spend their time fighting illness, Native Americans, and the harsh terrain.  The Traitor's Wife more than delivered on the promise of the Heretic's Daughter as well as being a great standalone novel.

** This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.  **

Giveway of the Traitor's Wife

Luckily, the publisher was kind enough to offer a prize; 3 copies of  The Traitor's Wife and 1 lucky winner gets a copy of The Heretic's Daughter.


  • US and Canadian residents only.  Canadian winners will be asked for phone numbers.   Information will be forwarded to the publisher  for shipment to the winners.
  • No Post Office Boxes allowed.
  • Only 1 winner per household.  If you winthe book from  multiple sites, you will only receive one copy of the book.
  • Your information will be forwarded to the publisher for direct shipment to you.  
  • Enter your name and email for 1 entry.  Tweeting about the contest is 1 additional entry.  Blog links are an additional entry.
  • Winners chosen at random.

Good Luck!

Now a word from Kathleen Kent, author of A Traitor's Wife

Kathleen was kind enough to do a guest post.

Query: Do you think the accusations were based on these women’s deviation from the proscribed role of women in those days?

The Salem witch trials of 1692 were a unique and tragic episode in American history. The trials and executions, which took place in Salem Village---now the town of Danvers, Massachusetts--- included close to a hundred and fifty people, mostly women and girls, arrested from twenty two towns all over New England; including the territory of what is now Maine. The accusers who took center stage during the trials, and who did most of the finger pointing, were all girls or young women from the ages of nine to eighteen. The witch hysteria, and the ensuing legal actions, took a little more than a year from January 1692 to May of 1693, and yet the fascination with the Salem “witches” has never diminished.

One of the nineteen people hanged in August of 1692 was Martha Carrier, my grandmother back nine generations. She was so vocal in her own defense, denying the charges of witchcraft leveled against her, that Cotton Mather, one of the leading theologians of the day, named her “The Queen of Hell” and called her a “rampant hag.” In my novel The Heretic’s Daughter, I wrote about Martha’s bravery confronting her judges and accusers; she is perhaps the only person to have called the magistrates to task for their part in sentencing innocent women to death by saying, “It is a shame that you should listen to these folks who are out of their wits.” In my second novel, The Traitor’s Wife, Martha challenges her family and society by marrying a man who was a soldier for Cromwell in England and who, reputedly, was one of the executioners of King Charles I of England.

Who were these women who were hanged solely on evidence that could not be perceived by any tangible, earthly means, but were “spectral”, or invisible, in nature? Even though the accusations began in Salem Village, women were arrested from neighboring towns with alarming rapidity. What began with neighbor turning against neighbor soon became family member pitted against family member with spouses, siblings, and children accusing in great numbers the women of their households. One man, Moses Tyler, accused six female members of his extended family of witchcraft. They were all imprisoned in the Salem jail.

It’s no coincidence that changes in Puritan life--- in medicine, in law and in religious practices---had an impact on the witch trials. The perception in the rigidly patriarchal society of the day was that women were the daughters of Eve, and therefore to blame for all the initial evils and ills of the world. Women as a whole were considered innately flawed, unable to participate ethically in religious practices, intelligently and rationally in matters of law, and effectively in matters of healing and medicine. Further to being ineffective in practicing medicine, it was believed by the wise men of the age that women would use their powers in herbalogy for their own purposes, even conjuring up the Devil to gain worldly powers.

Women in the New World, up to the mid to late seventeenth century, were acknowledged for their experience with herbal healing and midwifery. But new colleges, open only to men, were teaching newer, more “advanced,” methods in medicine. One of the results of men practicing midwifery was that twice as many women and their infants died during childbirth with a male midwife as a female one.

The so-called witches of Salem were hanged for many reasons. Some of them were mentally unbalanced, some of them were propertied and a target of covetous neighbors, and some of them, like Martha Carrier, were simply strong-willed, outspoken women who went against the expectations of what a Puritan woman was supposed to be: subservient, docile, obedient and, most of all, silent.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Habits of A BookWorm

Personally, I prefer trade paperback followed by mass market paperbacks and in last place hardcover books.  I prefer paper books to ebooks although I'm sure that will change once I stop dillydallying and just buy an ereader.  I'm not loyal to genres but am loyal to authors.  If I find an author I like, I try to read all their work.  I like checking the new book section of the library; it's a great place to find authors and books you would have never found otherwise.I found Swallow by Sefi Atta this way.  What are your book habits.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I'm going to put myself out there and say 'I don't really like poetry.   A lot of poems are like ceaseless blather to me.  Maybe it was all the rote learning of the Song of Hiawatha (by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow), but poetry usually doesn't appeal to   me.       Now I will admit to loving the The Bells (my absolute favorite poem) and The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe.  Now, I have a massive book of Rumi (Persian Sufi mystic) to get into.                      I actually like this one:                                                                                                                                               You were born with potential.
          You were born with goodness and trust.
          You were born with ideals and dreams.
          You were born with greatness.
          You were born with wings.
          You are not meant for crawling, so don't.
          You have wings.
          Learn to use them and fly! 

         Any poetry suggestions, feel free to add.                                                                                                           

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Blog News

Great news!  Massive Book Deaf post coming up!

There will be reviews and giveawaysof a couple cool books:  Safe from Sea, The Traitor's Wife, Sex on the Moon, etc.

I'll also be reviewing my backlog of indie authors and some cool interviews.

I will be dedicating December to books by and about people of color.  So, I would really appreciate any suggestions.

Thanks for sticking around!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Review: The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok

The Memory Palace
Title The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok
Publisher: Free Press
Published: August 9, 2011
ISBN: 9781439183328
Pages: 336                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The Memory Palace is Mira Bartok's haunting memoir of the profound affect her mother's schizophrenia had on her life.  The title refers to a mnemonic device of creating a palace and populating it with facts and events one wishes to remember.  Ms. Bartok uses this method to reinforce her memory after sustaining a head injury that lead to cognitive deficits in her memory, language processing, and other executive functions of the brain.  In the book, she lays the foundation for her palace and builds several rooms using her mother's diaries to supplement information about her mother.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As she sifts through memories, she begins to understand her mother's plight - frustrated by the limits of society in a time of rigid standards of proper behavior and struggling with her disease in a time of relatively primitive methods of treating the mentally ill.  Her mother muses in her diaries of what could have been if she didn't have schizophrenia.                                                                                                                             How best to manage a parent with severe mental illness who due to the very nature of her disease is unable to seek assistance herself  After surviving her childhood and her mother's increasingly paranoid and aggressive schizophrenia, Mira thinks by moving to another city she can simply rid herself of her mother.  When plans to get guardianship of their mother fails, both she and her sister resort to changing their names.  Mira keeps a special Post Office box to keep in contact with her mother.  Finally the sisters can find some peace of mind after years of impromptu visits and  police visits due to their mother's paranoia.  For a long time Mira struggles with her choice to essentially abandon her mother but feels its the only way to maintain her artistic life and her own sanity.  Vacillating between avoidance of her mother and worry over her mother's state, Mira eventually realizes that there is only so much she can do.    Sharing her mother's last days and interacting with the women from the shelter, reaffirm to her that her mother despite the schizophrenia was loving, kind, and still capable of bringing light into others lives.                                                                                                                                    A memoir of schizophrenia, this book could have become a jumbled mess but Ms. Bartok's writing is fluid enough to keep one from getting overwhelmed.   She weaves a tale using fragments of her memory and excerpts from her mother's diaries finding several parallels between her urge to be an artist and her mother's abbreviated artistic life.  This book is beautifully illustrated to match the theme of every chapter.  All in all the book is a difficult read but well worth it. *This book was provided by the publisher Free Press in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

When She Woke             When She Woke by Hillary Jordan (Algonquin, Oct. 4, 2011)

Per Amazon:
Hannah Payne’s life has been devoted to church and family, but after her arrest, she awakens to a nightmare: she is lying on a table in a bare room, covered only by a paper gown, with cameras broadcasting her every move to millions at home, for whom observing new Chromes—criminals whose skin color has been genetically altered to match the class of their crime—is a new and sinister form of entertainment. Hannah is a Red; her crime is murder. The victim, according to the State of Texas, was her unborn child, and Hannah is determined to protect the identity of the father, a public figure with whom she’s shared a fierce and forbidden love.

When She Woke is a fable about a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of a not-too-distant future—where the line between church and state has been eradicated and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned and rehabilitated but chromed and released back into the population to survive as best they can. In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a path of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith.

What are you looking forward to reading this fall

Friday, August 12, 2011

Follow Friday

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read as a way to find new blogs and make some new friends.  Go to Parajunkee to find the other participants.  This week's question:
Q. How has your reading habits changed since you were a teen? or If you are still a teen what new genres are you in love with currently?
I haven't really changed my habits that much.  I've always read across the shelves not really paying attention to genre.  The only difference is that I can afford to buy books and don't have to wait for the library to get them.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Review: The Butterfly Cabinet by Bernie McGill

 The Butterfly Cabinet: A Novel
Title The Butterfly Cabinet by Bernie McGill
Publisher: Free Press
Published: July 26, 2011
ISBN: 9781451611595
Pages: 240

Ripped from the headlines (the late 19th century ones), The Butterfly Cabinet is based on the death by suffocation of young girl. We learn the background story via the maid Maddie and the lady of the house's narration.  Maddie narrates from her entry in to service of the family and the lady of the house Harriet Ormond narrates from her prison.  As the story unfolds, the web of secrets that cloaked this family tragedy is unwound. In addition, we get an idea of the political turmoil and pandering that contributed to Mrs. Ormond's conviction.

Based on the "facts" as they stand, Mrs. Ormond is irrefutably guilty of excessive cruelty to her children and by extension the death of Charlotte.  In her prison diaries, she details her difficult relationship with her parents and her resultant difficulties with the rearing of her own children.  Harriet details how she bristles at the attitude and actions expected from a woman such as herself.  Striving for self-control, she expects the utmost discipline from every one - servants and her children alike.  Unfortunately, her inability to be flexible leads to her downfall.

Maddie finally has a chance to unburden herself of the secrets that have plagued her for nearly eight decades.  Her story allows us to see the story from the angle of the working class and servants, who are viewed looked down on yet necessary for the class system to continue.  Her seemingly unimportant presence belies the significant part she plays in this family's history for several generations.

The book was a great peek into a past era that still informs the present.  The seemingly unnecessary elements are all wound up at the end to complete the story.  Politics, religion, class system, and culture all collide to create the perfect storm to ring in the end of an era.  Bernie McGill manages to create a suspenseful and detailed story from a mysterious true event from an age gone by.

**This book was provided by the publisher Free Press in exchange for my honest opinion.**

Review: Angela Sloan by James Whorton

Angela Sloan: A Novel 
Title Angela Sloan by James Whorton
Publisher: Free Press
Published: August 2, 2011
ISBN: 9781451624403
Pages: 224

For Angela Sloan, life is a never-ending CIA mission.  Rescued by CIA agent Ray Sloan after her parents' murder during a rebellion in Congo, Angela learns from day one how to start crafting a new identity.  Ray gets assigned to teach at the CIA training academy and spend his spare time training Angela on how to maintain one's cover and how to use others to supply information and goods that further the mission.  Other than Ray's drinking himself into a stupor and refusing to discuss the past, life is going swimmingly until Ray gets involved the Watergate break-in.  First they hide out under new identities at a hotel hoping to avoid repercussions of the event.  When it becomes clear that the situation is even more volatile than he planned for, Ray leaves Angela to the next phase of their mission which is rendezvousing when the coast is clear.
    Angela is left to fend for herself and figure out the rendezvous point while avoiding any agents sent to look for her.  She gets the first kink in her plan when the waitress from the Chinese restaurant she bought her fake ids from sneaks into her car for a free ride.  Starting to feel comradery and responsibility for Betty, Angela circles to reconnect when they part ways.  This leads to her bumping into Marilyn, a CIA agent sent to recover her and Ray.  While running away from Marilyn, the two girls fall in with some hippies who are about everything except peace, love, and sunshine.  Angela has to use all her lessons in spying to reach the rendezvous point while worrying constantly about Ray.
  Having read books from the 70s, the book seemed really 70s with all the agitating and mysterious movements in the background.  This book was somewhat confusing to follow.  There were so many twists regarding every body's identity and Angela's suspicion of every one's intention toward her.  Add in all the confusion about Ray's past and Angela's origin and it can get a bit crowded.  Even though Angela tried to come across as an agent on a mission, a good portion of the book is spent exposing her naivete and the preposterous situation Ray leaves her in.  Once you read the book and see where he's coming from, you understand what he did even if you don't agree with the method.  Some of the characters are really wacky, but I guess it wouldn't be an interesting book if everyone was normal.  Having read books from the 70s, the book seemed really jam packed with the zany characters that always fill stories from the 70s.

**This book was provided by the publisher Free Press in exchange for my honest opinion.**

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pick and Pan

Wildefire by Karsten Knight is a great YA novel. The action starts from the very beginning of the book and continues on throughout.  Dealing with the aftermath of her impetuous older sister's actions, Ashline Wilde transfers to Blackwood Academy for a fresh start.  Everything is going great until she learns she is part of a group of gods and goddesses meant to save the world from destruction via methods and forces unknown.On top of all that, Ash must figure out her powers and decipher her message. 

I liked this book and would love to follow the adventures of Ash and her fellow gods and goddesses.  I almost didn't read this but I'm glad I gave it a chance.

Bed: A Novel
Bed by David Whitehouse is the story of Mal Ede narrated by his brother.  We never learn the brother's name.  Mal has always been a problem child - fussy, contrary, and demanding of almost constant attention.  Despairing of the responsibilities of adult life, Mal goes to bed on the eve of his 25th birthday and never gets back out.  The rest of the book is everyone scrambling to accommodate him. 

I didn't like this book whatsoever.  I couldn't understand the motivations of anybody in the book.  The younger brother clearly resents Mal but chooses for the most part to live in his shadow in almost every sense (even dating Mal's old girlfriend).  He doesn't even identify himself.  I could get into this book; I couldn't even invest time or energy into the character's lives.  I couldn't understand anybody's motivation in this book.  They all seem to have too much time on their hands.

*Both these books were provided by the publisher Simon and Schuster via Galley Grab.*

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

 The Sun's Heartbeat: And Other Stories from the Life of the Star That Powers Our Planet

Title:The Sun's Heartbeat: And Other Stories from the Life of the Star That Powers Our Planet
by Bob Berman
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Co.
Published: July 13, 2011
ISBN: 9780316091015

The Sun's Heartbeat and Other Stories from the Life of the Star That Powers Our Planet is Bob Berman's engrossing biography of the sun.  Chronicling from the creation of the Sun to it's predicted future, The Sun's Heartbeat gives many facts about the Sun previously unknown by the average person.  Examples include:
  • Every rainbow is unique to the person viewing it. Two people can never see the same rainbow; One person can never see the same rainbow twice.
  • The sky is really violet but on that end of the color spectrum, our eyes easily perceive the blue.  Hence, we see blue skies.
  • Our eyes are designed to see the color green.  Green is the last color the human eye can see in the dark.
  • Shockingly contrary to everything we've been told, sunblock might be more of a con than a pro due to the reduction of vitamin D production in its wearers.
From the cataclysmic events that led to the sun's creation to the wacky behavior of the sun in recent, we see how the sun has shaped human civilization and continues to affect our daily life.  It's really startling to see the progression of sun science from ancient temples designed for various equinoxes and eclipse viewing to people being harassed for espousing doctrine that varied from the Church's stance on the Sun, its origins, and its relation to earth.  We seemingly have made a loop recently from massive gains in our knowledge of the sun to the denial by many of global warming even with vast and mounting evidence.  (Yes, it exists even though many places had brutal winters recently.  Most of our temperature gain will be during the winter nights when most people aren't awake or outside to tell the difference.)

For us amateur sky observers, Berman details the varied solar events (eclipses - full and partial, rainbows, diffraction, aurora borealis, etc. and how to observe some of these.  He also includes a handy list of solar eclipses in case the reader wants to see one. 

This book is right up my alley with all the random cool and strange facts about our Sun.  If you are a science fan or enjoy learning about new things, this is a great book for you.  Bob Berman was able to explain pretty complex science in understandable language.  He uses sources from various cultures not just European to show the way earthlings have dealt with the sun and used it to develop cultures (some ancients using their knowledge of eclipses and such to lord it over other less advance cultures).  He gives plenty of evidence of the whole global warming phenomena that explains the cold winters/moderate summer in many place.  Get this book to increase your solar awareness.

**This book was provided by the publisher Little, Brown, and Co. in exchange for my honest opinion.**

Friday, July 29, 2011

Follow Friday

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read as a way to find new blogs and make some new friends.  Go to Parajunkee to find the other participants.  This week's question:

Q. Let's step away from books for a second and get personal. What T-Shirt slogan best describes you? 

 I can't stand blabbermouths.  I often wish people would be quiet so I could think and read in peace.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review: Vanished in the Night by Eileen Carr

Vanished in the Night 

Title: Vanished in the Night by Eileen Carr
Publisher: Pocket Books
Published: July 26, 2011
ISBN: 9781439183878

    Vanished in the Night begins with the discovery of human remains at a construction site in Sacramento, California.  When the police arrive to notify Veronica Osborne that the remains belong to her long missing brother Max, she is both saddened and relieved.  She finally knows what happened to her brother.  Panic takes over when she realizes that the officers suspect her father in the death which is quickly ruled a homicide.  She knows her father, George Osborne, is a hostile drunk with a history of abusing Max but she can't give in to the possibility that he might have killed Max.  Veronica decides to conduct her own investigation to protect her father and find out what happened to Max.  Her desire to keep her dad out of harm's way is only intensified by her annoyance and lust for the detective on the case Zach McKnight.  Neither does Zach expect to develop feelings for Veronica who utterly annoys him with her meddling in the investigation and refusal to let him do his job. As more deaths occur, the police delve into the past to figure out the killer's motivation and try to stop him.  The increasing danger of the case brings Zach and Veronica together.  This togetherness sets the killer off and he makes Veronica his next target.  Now Zach has to stop the killer before he gets Veronica.

Vanished in the Night is a pretty quick,enjoyable read; I read it in one day. We learn pretty early in the book who the culprit is but we are on edge waiting for him to finish his plan or be caught by the police.    The main characters are well written - Veronica as the eager to please child of violence and alcoholism and Zach as the reform school graduate turned cop.  The choices made by the characters seem in keeping with their personality as described.  The only detraction for me was some of the pop culture references and dated slang; all in all, this book was a great read for a summer's afternoon.

**This book was provided by the publisher Pocket Books in exchange for my honest opinion.**

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review: The Skin Map by Steven Lawhead

The Skin Map (Bright Empires) 

Title: The Skin Map by Steven Lawhead
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Published: August 2010
ISBN: 9781595548047

  On an ordinary day, Cosimo "Kit" Livingstone is rushing to go shopping with his girlfriend, Wilhelmina.  However, this is no ordinary day.  Rerouted trains, a malfunctioning transit card, unhelpful station agents, and traveling an unfamiliar part of London, all seem to conspire to keep him from his shopping trip.  Ducking down an alley for a shortcut, Kit stumbles into an isolated storm.  After emerging from the storm, he meets a man purporting to be his great grandfather Cosimo Livingstone.  The elder Mr. Livingstone requests his help for an epic mission.  Initially Kit scoffs at the old man, but when the old man calls him by his given name and peaks his curiosity, Kit agrees to a short conversation.
  As they make their way to a pub, Kit starts to suspect he's not in London anymore.  At first he thinks, he is in one of those historical villages for visitors.  Over a quick drink, his great grandfather enlightens him to the existence of ley lines, energy trails recognized and marked by ancient man.  The markers were placed at the spot where one could jump from one dimension of the galaxy to the next.  The ancients had knowledge but in the present ages the knowledge of the leys and their uses and how to navigate them have been reduced to superstitions.  Cosimo needs Kit to help him on a quest for a relic related to the use of leys.
  Kit is understandably flustered and refuses to get sucked into a scheme by some random old dude.  When he manages to return to his London, he treks to Wilhelmina, who is none to happy to see him.  Somehow eight hours have passed between his entrance and exit from the other dimension.  Wilhelmina is pissed to have spent her day off waiting for Kit only for him to arrive late telling some weird story.  Determined to prove his story, Kit takes her to the alley and shows her the ley.  In the journey between dimension, they get separated and Kit reunites with Cosimo and sets of to find Wilhelmina before it's too late.

I found the concept of the book enjoyable and somewhat original given my limited forays into sci-fi, time travel, quest literature.  The characters are ok.  Kit and Wilhelmina are ok main characters.  In the beginning of the book, Kit seems like a loser so I guess the choice between his boring life and interdimension travel was pretty easy.  Wilhelmina is way more interesting because she manages to assimilate to her new reality and accomplish many things and really hits her stride - all with only the barest understanding of what has happened to her.  Nevertheless while there are original plot points and characters, some of the other characters are pretty much from central casting.  New world, same old plot.  Reading through the book, I noticed a pretty massive inconsistency in the logic of the books universe; it happened several times.  While I realize this is the first in a series and maybe the inconsistencies will be explained later in the series, these are still pretty big plot holes.  For me, it was like watching a car get swallowed by a pothole.  That being said, I honestly can't say whether I would read book two of this series.  I find the whole idea interesting but what if the inconsistency is stll there.

***  This book was provided by in exchange for my honest opinion.  *** 

Monday, July 25, 2011

I'm Back!!!!!!!!!!!!

So last weekend, my network card in my laptop crapped out on me.  I thought it was my internet but after checking it was the card.  I ordered a new one, installed it yesterday, so here we are  I totally didn't mean to go a week without posting but posting from my Droid not Incredible is like circling the outer circle of Hades.

That being said thanks for sticking around and joining.  Hi new followers.  I had time to read tons of books and get some great posts going in addition to my backlog so without further adieu.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Follow Friday

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View as a way to find new blogs and make some new friends.  Go to Parajunkee to find the other participants.  This week's question:

This week's question: What do you do when you're not reading?

Lately, I've been fishing a lot at different piers around Brooklyn, going to free events around NYC, hanging out with friends, and wishing summer would never end.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine.  We post about all the books we are waiting to be published.

I'm waiting for A Taste of Salt by Martha Southgate.  I've loved her other work so far and have high hopes for this book.

The Taste of SaltFrom Amazon:
Award-winning novelist Martha Southgate (who, in the words of Julia Glass, “can write fat and hot, then lush and tender, then just plain truthful and burning with heart”) now tells the story of a family pushed to its limits by addiction over the course of two generations.

Josie Henderson loves the water and is fulfilled by her position as the only senior-level black scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. In building this impressive life for herself, she has tried to shed the one thing she cannot: her family back in landlocked Cleveland. Her adored brother, Tick, was her childhood ally as they watched their drinking father push away all the love that his wife and children were trying to give him. Now Tick himself has been coming apart and demands to be heard.

Weaving four voices into a beautiful tapestry, Southgate charts the lives of the Hendersons from the parents’ first charmed meeting to Josie’s realization that the ways of the human heart are more complex than anything seen under a microscope.

What are you waiting for this week?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Swag to the 4th Power

Miss Timmins' School for Girls: A Novel
Miss Timmins School for Girls by Nayana Currimbhoy

From Amazon:

A murder at a British boarding school in the hills of western India launches a young teacher on the journey of a lifetime
In 1974, three weeks before her twenty-first birthday, Charulata Apte arrives at Miss Timmins' School for Girls in Panchgani. Shy, sheltered, and running from a scandal that disgraced her Brahmin family, Charu finds herself teaching Shakespeare to rich Indian girls in a boarding school still run like an outpost of the British Empire. In this small, foreign universe, Charu is drawn to the charismatic teacher Moira Prince, who introduces her to pot-smoking hippies, rock ‘n' roll, and freedoms she never knew existed.
Then one monsoon night, a body is found at the bottom of a cliff, and the ordered worlds of school and town are thrown into chaos. When Charu is implicated in the murder—a case three intrepid schoolgirls take it upon themselves to solve—Charu's real education begins. A love story and a murder mystery, Miss Timmins' School for Girls is, ultimately, a coming-of-age tale set against the turbulence of the 1970s as it played out in one small corner of India.

Silver Sparrow
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

From the author's website

With the opening line of Silver Sparrow, “My father, James Witherspoon is a bigamist,” Tayari Jones unveils a breathtaking story about a man’s deception, a family’s complicity, and the teenage girls caught in the middle.
Set in a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, the novel revolves around James Witherspoon’s families– the public one and the secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters. It is a relationship destined to explode when secrets are revealed and illusions shattered. As Jones explores the backstories of her rich and flawed characters, she also reveals the joy, and the destruction, they brought to each other’s lives.
At the heart of it all are the two girls whose lives are at stake, and like the best writers, Jones portrays the fragility of her characers with raw authenticity as they seek love, demand attention, and try to imagine themselves as women.

Donatella Cooks
Donatella Cooks by Donatella Arpaia
From Amazon

Dubbed "the hostess with the mostest" by Zagats, Donatella Arpaia is a ubiquitous and striking presence on the national food scene. Literally raised in the business, she knows precisely what makes a guest feel welcome, whether in one of her wildly popular restaurants or one-on-one in her home. Yet every day she meets would-be home cooks—sophisticated, confident, successful women with discriminating palates—whose confidence evaporates at the kitchen door.
For these discerning diners, Donatella has written Donatella Cooks, a sassy, spirited guide to cooking and entertaining with flair. Writing with humor, wit, and practicality, she covers every element of a great evening, from super simple yet delectable food to the perfect music, drinks, and d├ęcor. Her foolproof recipes are brimming with bold flavor yet so easy to prepare even novice cooks can pull them off without breaking a sweat. Whether it’s a romantic dinner for two or a cocktail gala for dozens, Donatella Cooks has the winning formula for the perfect evening.