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.

Rules:

  • 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?
georgejacobs.jpg

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

Swallow
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

Poetry

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.