Monday, April 30, 2012

Musing Mondays

This week’s musing asks…

Do you listen to audiobooks? If not, why not? And, if so, what has been one of your favorites, so far?

No. I can't concentrate with audibooks. My mind starts to wander and I end up thinking about what a nice voice (or ugle voice) the narator has, or what a peculiar accent, anything other than the book itself. Nothing beats reading the book myself.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Shaman, Friend, Enemy (Olivia Lawson, Techno-Shaman #2) by M. Terry Green

Patients with fractured souls, clients threatened by deadly ancestor spirits, and now the paparazzi–it’s all in a day’s work for techno-shaman Olivia Lawson. Livvy has rocketed to the top of the shaman world, bringing old friends with her but also attracting new enemies.

Even as her career soars, her personal life spirals downward. Broken bonds and lost love finally force her to confront the terrible secret of her beginning in shamanism. Despite being attacked by dark shamans and navigating a spiritual plane that seems out of control, Livvy’s single-minded quest steers her into dangerous territory and puts her on a collision course with those dearest to her.

No longer interested in walking a fine line, Livvy discovers that–when the one thing you need is the one thing you can’t have–you’ll risk everything.

What a fun series this is! It has a little bit of everything and is a wonderful example of urban fantasy.

The best part of this book, the second in the series, is the relationship development between Livvy and Sk. There is a great sense of tension between these two characters, making for some thrilling romantic scenes that are handled with care and not overdone. Livvy is a great character that we slowly get to learn a bit more about in this book, delving into the darker parts of her psyche. But all the characters are good, even Dominique, the antagonist, is someone you love to hate.

The plot was fast paced, with all the neat twists and turns we got in the first book, and with even more action. The different viewpoints, some chapters seen through Livvy’s eyes, others through Dominique’s, and still others through SK’s makes for exciting reading. The writing is good, although there are a few grammatical quirks here and there. But overall, a great, complex plot.

I highly recommend this series to all of you who love a good paranormal story. The shamanic world the author creates is wholly engrossing. I will be waiting eagerly for the next installment.

In My Mailbox

The Innocents by Francesca Segal

Walking on Glass by Iain Banks

Trial of Tears by Chris Semal

The Good Dream by Donna VanLiere

The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt

Purity by Jackson Pearce

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale by Lynda Rutledge

Friday, April 27, 2012

The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe

Still reeling from the deaths of her mother and sister on the Titanic, Sibyl Allston is living a life of quiet desperation with her taciturn father and scandal-plagued brother in an elegant town house in Boston’s Back Bay. Trapped in a world over which she has no control, Sibyl flees for solace to the parlor of a table-turning medium.

But when her brother is suddenly kicked out of Harvard under mysterious circumstances and falls under the sway of a strange young woman, Sibyl turns for help to psychology professor Benton Derby, despite the unspoken tensions of their shared past. As Benton and Sibyl work together to solve a harrowing mystery, their long-simmering spark flares to life, and they realize that there may be something even more magical between them than a medium’s scrying glass.

From the opium dens of Boston’s Chinatown to the opulent salons of high society, from the back alleys of colonial Shanghai to the decks of the Titanic, The House of Velvet and Glass weaves together meticulous period detail, intoxicating romance, and a final shocking twist that will leave readers breathless.

A lush historical fiction, this novel brings a little bit of everything to the table: mystery, paranormal occurrences, romance and even drug addiction come to play in Ms. Howe’s new book.

This is certainly an interesting read. There are many wonderful moments written in a manner that can’t be faulted. I was, however, left a little disappointed. The troubling thing is that I’m not exactly sure why I felt kind of neutral throughout the book. It might be that Sybil, the protagonist, is not as fully realized as I would have wanted. She never comes to life in a believable manner. Sometimes the setting overwhelms the characters themselves, the lushness shadowing them to the point where the reader stops paying attention to who is speaking, instead focusing on all the richly written, if cloying, details.

It might also be that the book is too long. I can’t understand, in all honesty, what purpose the scenes that take place in the Titanic serve. They don’t do much to advance the story, or for character development, so I don’t know why they weren’t cut. It wouldn’t have simplified the novel, just made it tighter, more cohesive.

It’s not a bad book; it’s not a great book. It’s one of those in-between ones that are so hard to recommend. In one hand, I think that a lot of historical fiction lovers will enjoy it, and on the other I have to think that some, like me, will be underwhelmed.

Follow Friday

Q: Have you had a character that disappointed you? One that you fell in love with and then “broke up” with later on in either the series or a stand-alone book? Tell us about him or her.

Yes. I'd have to say it was Lestat, from Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. He was just so awesome throughout the first few books, being his deliciously complicated self, but then I picked up Blackwood Farm, in which he also appears. Lestat, you were so boring! So "eh". What happened to you? Where did all the coolness go?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Booking Through Thursday

Has a book ever inspired you to change anything in your life, fiction or non-fiction alike?

Probably not one book in particular, but a bunch of them. When I was struggling with anorexia, I read everything I could about it. I've always been a firm believer in knowing your enemy before you can defeat it, so any book that dealt with eating disorders, I read. Mostly they were non-fiction, memoirs and diaries and stuff like that. They were invaluable in getting me out of that hell I was in.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Matadors by Steve Bauman

Michael Norton has been seeing ghosts.

Not the romantic or friendly variety, of course. These are the Ghostbusters kind, creating chaos whenever they appear. They keep him up at night and his ambitions down at his low-end retail job in lovely and scenic Vermont.

Mostly, they keep his social calendar empty as he pines over wasted years and lost loves. Lots and lots of pining. Piles of pine, even. Enough to build a nice end table with.

As Michael stumbles towards his 40th birthday, he creates a Facebook account. While everyone else uses it as a social hub, it serves as his daily reminder that he’s getting older, less photogenic, and more anti-social.

Before he’s able to delete his account, he’s contacted on the site by an old roommate, a fellow “Matador” from college, and before he knows it he has an actual social engagement. As the drink count rises, what starts out as a night of catching-up quickly spirals out of control as decades-old secrets are revealed, militant vegans go on the attack, boxes are opened and then quickly closed, stoners philosophize about videogames, and Michael finds himself in the arms of a pierced college student. It’s a night that will either save him or expose the boiling sea of crazy that he’s always trying to suppress.

Matadors is a humorous and heartbreaking novel about reconnecting with your past and trying to maintain some measure of dignity, even when you had none in the first place.

This was a different kind of story than I expected. I don’t mean this in a negative way; on the contrary, I really enjoyed it.

What drives the novel is the main character, Michael Norton. He is a wonderfully real character, with plenty of flaws that come out throughout the book. He is seriously un-cool, but the reader begins to like him despite this, or maybe because of this. He’s envious and obsessive, and feels at odds with the world around him. Who’s not felt this way? That’s why he’s so effective as a protagonist.

The writing is good, although I do wish the story had been a bit longer. There were a few loose ends which deserved a tidier conclusion. Also, a few editing errors got in the way of the sentences’ flow, but this is easily fixed and might not bother some of you.

I definitely recommend this to all of you who love to read things that are different. There is a tinge of philosophy to the story that elevates it to one that will linger in your head days after you finish it. I’ll be looking forward to more books by this author.

WWW Wednesday

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently, I'm reading The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe

And Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I just finished reading Cratchit and Company by Garrett Gilchrist . You can find my review here.

Next, I'll probably read One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

From The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe

"Their father turned to make his stately way down the second-floor hall, and Sybil caught Harlan's eye. She motioned to wipe at the corner of her mouth with a thumb, and raised her eyebrows at him."
pg. 270 (ARC)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Cratchit and Company by Garrett Gilchrist

Bob Cratchit, a poor, underpaid clerk at the counting-house of Scrooge and Marley, has lost his youngest son. He is alone and freezing to death on a cold Christmas Eve, when he is visited by three spirits … Garrett Gilchrist brings you a new perspective on the classic characters from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

This is a wonderful new take on the characters from A Christmas Carol that will satisfy those of you who love the original.

It’s never an easy thing to take another author’s characters and make them your own, but I think in this case it worked very well for Mr. Gilchrist. They retain their core, the way Dickens intended them to be, but the reader can also spy out slight tweakings that make them just different enough to be able to re-engage with their stories. It’s cleverly done.

The writing is not as crisp as Dickens', but the author certainly understands the style and is able to twist the Victorian mood to his advantage. Something that caught my attention and which reminded me quite a bit of Dickens, was the way Gilchrist infused a bit of lightness, easing some of the more dramatic elements in the story. There is a nice tug of the reader’s emotions as we begin to fear the worst only to be granted small, important emotional reprieves.

This is a very fun one to read. I can easily recommend it to all lovers of the classic story.

Musing Mondays

This week’s musing asks…

Other than working at a job, what is your biggest interruption to reading? What takes you away from your book(s)?

I have a lot of pets. A bunch of dogs, cats, snakes, birds, rodents. A little bit of everything. So, of course, taking care of them, making sure they have water and food and everything they need to stay happy and healthy takes up a lot of my time. This is not to say that I don't enjoy taking care of them. On the contrary, they make my days all the more special.
(The lovely in the picture with me is Loki, my mynah bird)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Follow Friday

Q: Fight! Fight! If you could have two fictional characters battle it out (preferably from books), who would they be and who do you think would win?

Ooh, well, there are a few that would be really interesting to see. I'd love to see Voldemort in a wizard's duel with Raistlin Majere from the Dragonlance series. Although, I love both characters, so I don't know who I'd be rooting for!

(Okay, that's a little bit of a lie. I'd probably be cheering for Raistlin. Sorry, Dark Lord)

Blog Tour: God's Eye by A.J. Scudiere

Katharine Geryon is living the life her family name has dictated, and why not? After all, it has given her a good job in the family company and a fine life with all the things she should want. But all that changes as increasingly disturbing events begin to occur: soot stains on the carpet, glimpses of strange black animals, and cryptic messages written on her bathroom mirror. Baffled and afraid, Katharine begins to doubt her own sanity.

At the same time, two charismatic men enter her life: Allistair, her new assistant at work, and Zachary, a well-heeled neighbor who just moved into her building. Katharine soon finds each of them inextricably entangled in her affairs. As her life becomes stranger and her dreams more terrifying, she realizes neither man is what he seems and that she’s caught in something far beyond her own comprehension. For the first time, she must reach beyond her own boundaries. There Katharine forges her first true friendship with Margot, a librarian who helps her discover what these men really are, why she’s drawn to them, and what they want with her.

The answer places Katharine in the middle of a fierce battle that forces her to decide between the two men fighting for her soul.

In the end, only one can be saved, but all three will be judged.

I read and reviewed this book a few months ago, but since Utukku has been seen making his way through the world, I knew I had to join in and say hi!
It was quite...surprising,to say the least, to see him out and about in Miami's beaches, but hey, even demons need some sun, right?

I wonder where he's going next.

I also wanted to let you all know about the wonderful new way in which you can read this book. This was completely new to me. It's called an AudioMovie. It's very cool, because you hear the entire book, but it's much more animated than just a simple audiobook. No, there's music and they really build a nice atmosphere, making it really creepy and fun. It reminded me of those old radio shows that were almost like plays.
I'd definitely recommend this for all of you who love audiobooks. It's even better!
You can see download a sample here.

You can buy the book or the AudioMovie either here or here.