Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mailbox Monday for 2/1/2010

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page

I won Secrets of a Christmas Box by Steven Hornby and the audio book of 9 Dragons by Michael Connelly from Sheila of One Person's Journey Through a World of Books.

I received Dream House by Valerie Laken and a ARC of The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen for TLC Book Tours.

Ruins of Ambrai by Melanie Rawn (Quick Review)

Synopsis From Back Cover:

A thousand years ago, Mageborns fled prejudice and persecution to colonize the planet Lenfell-pristine, untouched, a perfect refuge for those whose powers were perceived as a threat by people not gifted with magic.  But the greater the magic, the greater the peril-and Lenfell was soon devastated by a war between rival Mageborn factions that polluted land, sea, and air with Wild Magic and unleashed the hideous specters known as the Wraithenbeasts.

Generations after that terrible war, with the land recovered from crippling wounds and the people no longer threatened by genetic damage. Mageborns still practice their craft-but under strict constraints.  Yet so long as the rivalry between the Mage Guardians and the Lords of Malerris continues, the threat of another war is ever-present.  And someone has been planning just such a ward for many long years, the final strike a generations-old bid for total power...

This is going to be a short review, not because I don't like the book.  I actually love this book which is the first in the Exiles Trilogy by Melanie Rawn.  The review will be short because I'm not very good at reviewing Epic Fantasy of which this is a beautifully written example of.  Epic Fantasy has so much going on with world building and history, magical systems, societal structures, and a cast of hundreds that it's hard for me to separate in my head in order to talk about it in a blog format.  I could discuss this book for hours and touch on maybe half of the relevant points I would want to get across.  All I will say is if you like fantasy and enjoy richly developed stories, I would highly urge you to pick this book up and lose yourself in world filled with magic and intrigue.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Who is the beautiful actress whose trail leads to a perfectly staged murder?  What are a mother and daughter to do when a haunted house becomes their deadly inheritance?  Where better than a costume ball to conceal the identity of a masked killer?  A variety of uncanny crimes calls for a variety of resolve.  In this "hilarious burlesque of detective fiction", (New York Times), two of Agatha Christie's most adventurous sleuths, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, adopt the methods and manners of every major literary detective from Hercule Poirot to Sherlock Holmes to piece together an increasingly complex series of delightfully different-and deadly-misdeeds.

Tommy and Tuppence have always reminded me of Nick and Nora Charles of The Thin Man movie series, and I mean that in the nicest way possible.  Both couples have a wit and style that I find admirable and have a relationship that I am envious of.  Now, Tommy and Tuppence are a little bit more restrained in their manner however which leads to a couple that I enjoy just as much as Nick and Nora but for different reasons.  They play off each other brilliantly and make up for what the other lacks in such a seamless way that I'm not even sure they truly recognize how perfect they are together.

As you could tell from the synopsis, this is a collection of short stories that have two common threads running through them.  In the first story they are approched by an old intelligence services pal and they are quickly roped into running a fake detective agency to ferret out a spy.  For the most part the stories are well written and only one or two fail to make the grade for me.  There were even a couple that I would have loved to have been fleshed out and turned into full novels. 

The other thread was how they would "play act" at being famous literary detectives by trying to solve every case using the methods and sometimes madness of their fictional counterparts.  It was a clever device and it kept a light tone to even the darker stories.  With this collection of stories, Agatha Christie has once again proved to me why she is the biggest selling mystery author of all time.

This qualifies for both the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge 2010 and the Typically British Reading Challenge 2010 both of which are hosted by Carolyn of Book Chick City.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Word Verification Balderdash

For those of you unfamiliar with the greatness that is Balderdash, here is what you do. You write down all the word verifications you come across as you are commenting on other people's blogs. Then you play balderdash with them. Now for those of you who don't know how to play, you take a made up word and come up with an authentic sounding definition of it. Do this for a week and post your best ones on Thursday.

Come back and leave a link to your post and I will add it to the bottom of the post.

Here are mine for this week:

Newpac:  3rd cousin of Tupac who just realeased his first gospel rap album, "God the Smiter".  Newpac grew up living under his famous cousin's shadow and has vowed to make gansta rap that Jesus would be proud of.

Tyroduck:  Form the creators of Howard the Duck comes the next installment in the Ducks Take Over the World series of comic books.  Tyroduck is a wayward mallard who thinks he's really a fierece dinosaur.  He ramapges through the streets of New York not realizing the citizens are laughing at him, not pointing and screaming in fear.  The first comic will hit store shelves on March 2nd.

CrawlWay:  From the Director of "Demon Knight" and the Producers of "Bordellero of Blood"
 comes a brand new horror film that answers the questions of what really lives in the crawl space of your apartment building.  When your neighbors start dissapearing one by one and the only clue is a few drops of blood underneath all the vents how do you protect yourself from being next?

Pluvita:  The latest SciFi novel from Paul Atreyu set on a Pluto that resembles our Earth.  This books answers the questions we have all been asking ourselves.  What would life be like if humans evolved on Pluto instead of Earth?  This story follows the lives of 3 wayward teens set on discovering the secret behind the curtain.  Who is the strange, unseen ruler that is never seen in public.  The only clue they have to start with is a bone and dog tag.  Join them on their voayge of self discovery and you will never look at a mouse the same way again.

Other Players This Week:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Buck A Book Challenge

I found this challenge over at The True Book Addict hosted by Michelle and it sounded like a great way to save a few dollars for more books at the end of the year.  So head on over to DelGal's Book Reviews and get signed up.

Here's a great way to reward yourself for reading persistence and save money at the same time. Read as many books as you'd like, there is no minimum, and there is no maximum. BUT, here's the "catch", you MUST physically take a dollar and save it somewhere safe where it won't be spent, every time you complete a book. At the end of the year, your total money saved will be the total amount of books read, ideally the more book read, the more money saved.

Now, once Dec 31 comes, you're must spend this saved money on something fun just for yourself (no paying bills, no buying gifts for someone else!), to begin the next year... Maybe more books for the new year? A nice dinner out to celebrate reading? The possibilities are endless! Finally, once this challenge completes on Dec 31st, please let your blog fans, and fellow challenge participants, know what you decided to spend your money on by posting whatever it may be. If it's $5 or if it's $100, we want to know what you rewarded yourself with for a year of hard yet enjoyable fun reading!

In short - put aside a dollar for each book you read. Post in the comment section your progress if you don't have a blog, or a link to your blog. At the end of the year update us as to what you did with your saved money. That's it!

Favorite Fictional Character --- Richie Rich

I guess I'm still in a cartoon frame of mind, this will probably be the last one for a while, but I couldn't talk about cartoons without talking about the coolest boy I ever saw on Saturday mornings.  I don't know any boy or girl for that matter, that wouldn't have traded place with Richie Rich in a heartbeat.  I can tell you that I would not even have to think about it, even if I did have to wear a bow tie.

This kid had it all; two loving parents, a cool butler named Cadbury, a robot maid named Irona that acted as a body guard and could change into tanks or jet planes, and his own scientist that could make anything Richie could think of.   Of course you can't forget about Dollar, his faithful dog that was his constant companion.  Richie and his friend Gloria would go on fantastic adventures or stay home fighting off crooks with the help of Irona.  He always had a good time doing it and got to play with the coolest gadgets, how I envied him.

I have really never read the comic books so I don't know much other than that there is some connection to Wendy the Witch and Casper the Ghost.  I used to see them all the time when I was young next to the Archie comics but like the Archie stuff I always stuck to the cartoons.  I'm starting to think I spent way to much time watching TV on Saturday morning.  When I was finding the youtube video for this my son was watching what I was doing and we ended up watching a episode and he really enjoyed it, maybe we need cartoons like this one so kids can actually experience something that stimulates their creativeness as opposed to cartoons that just play on gross jokes and card games.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Drawing Blood by Poppy Z. Brite

Synopsis From Backcover:

In the house on Violin Road he found the bodies of his brother, his mother, and the man who killed them both-his father.  From the house on Violin Road, in Missing Mile, North Carolina, Trevor McGee ran for his sanity and his soul, after hisfamous cartoonist father had exploded inexplicably into murder and suicide.  Now Trevor is back.

In the company of a New Orleans computer hacker on the run from the law, Trevor has returned to face the ghosts that still live on Violin Road, to find the demons that drove his father to murder his family-and worse, to spare one of his sons...But as Trevor begins to draw his own cartoon strip, as he loses himself in a haze of lines and art and thoughts of the past, the haunting begins.  Trevor and his lover plunge into a cyber-maze of cartoons, ghosts, and terror that will lead either to understanding-true understanding-or to a blood-raining repetition of the past....

This is a reread for me, since I've read it quite a few times since it was first published in 1993 and I never get tired of it.  The simple terror and horror that this author is able to put across in her prose is simply stunning and it never fails to make an impression on me.  What has always impressed me with the author's style is how simple and elegant her word choice is.  She is a true wordsmith who picks her words carefully and none of them are wasted.  Whether she is describing a young boys abuse by his parents, autopsy reports, or two young men having sex for the first time she does it in a style all her own.

Trevor is a horribly damaged young man who through sheer strength of mind has kept himself alive in the physical sense but he has never really allowed himself to truly live life.  Twenty years after the scared 5 year old was pulled out of the house in a catatonic state he goes back to discover for himself why he was left alive by his father.  He has never understood why his father spared his life when he took a hammer to the rest of the family.  Part of him truly believes his father didn't love him enough becuase if you love someone you want them with you when you leave this existence.

When he meets Zach for the first time he almost kills him but the two quickly realize that they need each other in a way they have never needed anyone else.  They compliment each other in a way they have never experienced or wanted in the past.   By having Zach in his life, when he has never even let someone else touch him, Trevor may have found the only thing that can help him survive what's to come.  Zach finds the one person that can help him truly move past what his parents did to him as a kid.  These two character are what glues this story together.  They are the focal point for all that happens and their relationship is what keeps this from being your everyday haunted house story.

I would highly recomend this book to anyone who loves horror or simple craves a well written, modern haunted house tale.

This will fall under the GLBT Reading Challenge 2010.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Guest Post at Heidenkind's Hideaway

I just wanted to let everyone know that I have a guest post over at Heidenkind's Hideaway which is a terrific blog written by Tasha.  She had dedicated the entire month of January to m/m romance and she asked me to write a guest post from my perspective.  So please go on and over let me know what you think.  Have a great day!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mailbox Monday for 1/25/2010

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page

Ok, I'm going to be honest with you guys I went a little over board on buying books this week but I came across so many fantastic sales that I couldn't help myself.  Admiting you have a problem is the first step, right?

I got The Italian Slow Cooker by Michelle Scicolone from the publicist for review.

I bought The Sunrise Lands by S.M. Stirling in hardcover from Barnes & Noble for $.22, this was a bargain book plus I got my discount, a coupon, and the remains of a gift card.

Our last Waldenbooks closed this week and I bought Urban Gothic by Brian Keene, Death Mask by Graham Masterton, Street Magic and Demon Bound by Caitlin Kittredege all in paperback and Imager by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. in hardcover for about $25.

I bought Pride of Lions by Morgan Llywelyn, The High House by James Stoddard, and Houses of Stone by Barbara Michaels in hardcover from the Friends of The Library Bookstore for $3.

I went to Wal Mart to buy a bookcase and ended up picking some extra stuff up.  I bought A Madness of Angles by Kate Griffin and since Sleeping Beauty was going back in the vault at the end of the month I had to pick that up as well.  Red Dawn was a bargain DVD for $4.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Explorer X-Alpha by LM Preston

Synopsis From Back Cover:

After receiving a camp immunization needed to travel to Mars, Aadi finds that the immunization is the catalyst of an insidious experiment.  Lucky for him, he was engineered to survive, thrive, and dominate.  Without realizing he is being trained to conquer worlds, and manipulated under the guise of a camp, he unfolds the plot too late for a change of fate.

Aadi's world is shaken upon the revelation that life before camp was not what it appeared.  this solidifies his plan to save them all from the company that seeks to control him, only for his rescue to end abruptly due to a freak accident on a field trip to Mars.

The full experiment is set in motion when he and his co-pilot, Eirena, crash in  a distant galaxy called Shrenas, where they change and realize the full extent of their power.  Holding onto his humanity, in thie midst of turning into a god is Aadi's biggest battle yet.  This turn of events causes him to put his childish thoughts away, forcing him to accept his change, and to decide to save a world, or to do what he was trained to do, dominate it.  In the midst of his stuggles with his changes, his power is coveted by the warring leaders of Shrenas, and he is forced to chooses sides to save a life, or to save himself.  A  decesion that proves just how much humanity he has left.

This review is going to show my bias towards Fantasy over SciFi simply because I can't really review this book without talking about it.  I'm a hug Fantasy fan and tend to like almost every book I've ever read in that genre.  My views towards SciFi is the opposite, there are few books in that genre I enjoy and would want to read over and over again.  Explorer X-Alpha had fantastic characters and one of the most interesting plot lines I've read in a book written for middle schoolers but I couldn't help wishing that the story was set in a world of magic and dragons instead of one with science and outerspace.  If you were to switch the settings I would be in love with this book instead of just liking it.  The author, regardless of the setting, was able to hold my attention and left me wanting more in the next book.

Aadi, Eirena, and their friends are a great bunch of kids who find themselves in the middle of an experiment gone horrible wrong and they struggle to not only find the answers they need but to stay alive as well.  They are for the most part believalbe given the situations they are in and I rooted for them the entire time I was reading the book.  I was horrified when they were and I was enjoying myself to the nth degree when they are playing the live action video games.  I cared about these kids and I want to make sure they survive to finish out the series.

My one complaint, if you can call it that, was that I wanted the book to be fleshed out more.  There is so much packed into this book that I found myself wishing it was broken into two different books.  The training on the ship and all the events that lead up to their discoveries should have been seperated from the final section of the book that took place on Shrenas.  There was so much more to say in both these segements that I think they would have benifited form having their own books.

That being said, I'm wishing for good things for the next book in the series and can't wait to find out what happens next.

Linda Eder Sings "Man of La Mancha"

It's 1:28 in the morning and I can't sleep so I've been playing on the computer and listening to my iTunes.  About 2 minutes ago, one of my favorite songs came on and it made me want to share it with you all.  Linda Eder has a fantastic voice and she sings "Man of La Mancha" better than most men that I've heard.  I hope you enjoy it.

While I'm at it I thought I would share her version of "Don't Rain on My Parade".  Now Babs is still queen with this song but Linda holds her own with it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Guest Post by LM Preston author of Explorer X-Alpha

I am a huge fan of SciFi/Fantasy novels and the one aspect that fascinates me the most is how these talented authors create the worlds they set their characters into.  So when I was offered a chance to review LM Preston's Explorer Alpha-X and gain insight into how she developed her world, I jumped at the chance.  So with no further ado, I give you LM Preston and her insight into world building.  (By the way I will have the review up either later today or tomorrow.)


I once participated in a Sci-Fi critique group, where one of the authors asked about World Building. Our leader never expanded on this topic. When this topic was bought up, I pondered what I did when I build the many worlds I create for my books.

When I built the planet Shrenas, in which Aadi and Eirena crashed on, I used the extremes of Earth as a basis for the harshness of that planet. I had a collage of cut out pictures in a folder I kept, and sticky notes of the species of the planet. I loved creating Shrenas. Read below to find out the secrets of a world builder.

I believe everyone has their own methods. However, here are some of mine that help me throughout the process.


I love to travel, and do so very often. Traveling and exposing yourself to different wonders of our world can be a catalyst for the creation of your new world. Always look and observe people, places, art, colors, temperatures, and other oddities that reside in the world around you. It will help you to push your imagination further as you create your own worlds.


Take time to study and observe your surroundings. Things that may not seem interesting initially can become an integral part of the world you create. When you are walking, or touring areas take your time, allow your imagination to go beyond the obvious and ask yourself many questions.

I ask myself many questions about my surroundings. What if the clouds were black, blue, and gray? What if the sun was white? Or lower to the ground? What if the plants had fingers? Push yourself to expand on the world around you and morph them into something different.


I do a lot of research on the internet. Truth be told, I don’t do a lot of reading, I just look at pictures. I tend to look at pictures for a long time, and sit back and see if it fits into my world.

I note what extremes I want my world to have.

I note what rules my world should have.

I note what kind of species could live in that world.

How would a human sustain this environment?

Should I create something artificial in order to allow my humans to live here?


I draw out parts of your new world or cut out pictures of places or things that fit in the world you create. You don’t have to be a writer to do this. Try it and you will realize how fun it can be.


I tend to create these elaborate worlds, and then I take out a lot of the microscopic pieces that I believe the reader can fill in. However, I give the backdrop in the world the reader creates. I note the rules for that world, its species, animals and weaknesses.


Address the main guidepost of your world. How is it powered? Is it advanced? Is it rugged? What’s the climate? What does the land look like? Does it have a sun or moon? Are there animals there? What are the major species? How does your character fit into it all?

When I world build it comes natural to me, because I’ve always loved science and like to spend time pondering its wonders. However, taking notes, going exploring, drawing it out, kicking things up a notch and making DA RULES has helped me greatly in creating the worlds in my novels.

by: LM Preston, Author of EXPLORER X - alpha

Word Verification Balderdash

For those of you unfamiliar with the greatness that is Balderdash, here is what you do. You write down all the word verifications you come across as you are commenting on other people's blogs. Then you play balderdash with them. Now for those of you who don't know how to play, you take a made up word and come up with an authentic sounding definition of it. Do this for a week and post your best ones on Thursday.

Come back and leave a link to your post and I will add it to the bottom of the post.

Here are mine for this week:

CSNYOPS:  The newest album by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.  The album has been met with very critical assesments so far as most listeners feel like they have heard it all before.  Of course that would assume that anything they have ever done doesn't sound the same.

Coclimnt:  A new fruit hyrbird dreamed up by the scientists over at Bath & Body Works after they realized they hit paydirt with the coconut/lime verbena scent.  This new fruit is slightly larger than a typical lime, has a dark green, hairy outershell that needs to be cracked open as a normal coconut does. The flesh is still green in color but has the texture and taste of coconut.  The aroma is the same as the body lotions and hand soaps and will transport you to sunny beaches everytime you enjoy this luscious fruit.  They will be sold in Bath & Body Works stores for the next 13 months before being sold to supermarkets worldwide.

Higgle:  What you call a giggle that is interrupted by a hiccup.  This is typically casued by giggling while drinking or eating and can cause severe damage to the diaphragm if not treated quickly.  Anyone suffering for from this affliction for over 8 minutes needs to consult a doctor immediately or run the risk of hiccuping the diaphragm up and choking on it.

WasacateThe following is a small part of a confidential report by the United States Biological Research and Development Corporation to the Presidents Council on Exploiting Natural Resources
 We have spotted a small bipedal animal high in the Andes Mountains.  We know little of this timid creature other than it's apperance which is quite amazing.  From a distant you would mistake these creatures for human children with sunglasses and fur coats on.  Once you get closer to them the differences stand out.  The fur coats are in fact a 1 inch layer of white and grey spotted fur that cover the entire body head to toe.   The sunglasses are areas of black fur that encirlce the eyes which are black as well with no visible distinction between a pupil and iris.  All communication has been rejected and after the frist 2 inital sightings they are quick to run away and can no longer be spotted after a time of only 17 seconds.  We are not even sure if Wasacate is the correct name for them as we have no clue what they call themselves, they were named after the first human to see them, Dr. Wassilia Wasacate.  Further research and study is needed to determine if they will be a threat to our development of the mountain range to make way for condominiums and highways.  Once that determination is made, we can proceed further.

Other Players This Week:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Favorite Fictional Character --- The Snorks

Just in case you couldn't tell, I'm still on a cartoon kick right now so I though I would post another group of characters that got me through my time in the hospital.  The Snorks have been compared to The Smurfs but I have always failed to see the analogy.  They were so much better for me because they seemed to have completly different personalities from eachother, more like real kids.  The Smurfs were different but only by what they did for a living or as a hobby.

For those of you who aren't familiar with I guess I should introduce you to the characters, at least the ones in the picture.  Now this isn't a indepth character description, more of a drive by that probably won't give you a really clear picture of them, but at least you can tell them apart in the picture.

Dimmy is the orange guy and was the jock character of the show.  He hated being called his full name which was Demetrius and if I remember right he only lasted a few seasons. Now I personaly am not sure if I would prefer Dimmy over Demetrius but I'm not a orange Snork who lives under water so the point is rather moot.

Tooter was the odd man out in a lot of ways.  I think he was the only green snork, though I may be wrong about that one.  He couldn't talk but was able to communicate by "tooting" and everyone was able to understand him anyway. 

Allstar Seaworthy, was my favorite charcter of the group.  He's the yellow guy in the picture and I wanted to be him.  He was brainy and athletic, he had it all including a red octopus for a pet, Occy.  This was the character that I owned as a stuffed animal, my mom actually gave it to me the first day I was in the hospital having my appendix removed.  Of course we didn't know I would be in there for a few weeks due to some serious complications,  Allstar kept me company the whole time.

Casey was the adorably pink girl that was Allstar's girlfriend.  She was nice and sweet and she never put up with bullying or snorks being unfair to others. Daffney, the coral colored young lady, was an interesting mix of contrasts.  She was vain and giving all at the same time which made her more real to me.

This cartoon helped me get through a rough time when things weren't going to well.  For that reason alone it will always hold a very special place in my heart.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mailbox Monday for 1/18/2010

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page

This was a light week for me this, I only bought one book and it was from the Friends of the Library bookstore.  I bought The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason in harcover for $1.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

3 Great Awards

Once again I've been pretty lax in getting awards passed out so I thought I would take a quick second and get three of them handed out.  I think this will catch me up for the time being.  I want to thank all the fantatic bloggers out there who think of me when they do awards post, it means more to me than you will ever know.

The first award is the Super Comments Award given to me by Carol of Carol's Notebook.  She is a terrific blogger and commenter herself and I find myself visting her blog every day.  If you are unfamiliar with her, please stop by and say hi.

This is a really hard award to narrow down as I've had tons of fabulous comments and commenters recently but since it has to be done, I will be giving this award to 10 bloggers who have left me kind and heartfelt comments lately.  There are others I would give this to as well, but I've already passed this award along to them.

Alexia at Alexia's Books and Such...
Bella at A Bibliophile's Bookshelf
Zia at My Life In Not So Many Words
Michelle at red headed book child
Stephanie at Misfit Salon
Stephanie at Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-A-Holic
Staci at Life in the Thumb
Ceri at Not in the Pink

I really like the picture on this award and it's making me rather hungry for something sweet.  I was awarded this by Angel at story on a page who is a fabulous blogger and a gorgeous layout.  I'm now supposed to list 10 things that makes me happy and then pass this along to 10 other bloggers.

10 Things That Makes Me Happy

My son's laughter
The smell of popcorn
The Denver Broncos winning a game
The upcoming Winter Olympics
A good scary movie
A well done kiss
A nice glass of Merlot
The smell of coconut/lime verbena
Going to the fair

10 Blogs That Make Me Happy (Should be longer but can only be 10)

Melissa at My World
Deb at Bookmagic
La Cocccinelle at The Ladybug Reads
Krista at Life or Something Like It...
Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books
Celia at Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia
Carol at Carol's Notebook
Tasha at Heidenkind's Hideaway
Jennifer at Rundpinne
Susan at Well-Mannered Frivolity

I was given the Humane Award by La Coccinelle at The Ladybug Reads and I'm very honored that she thought of me for this one.  She has a fantastic blog that I encourage everyone to check out.

This award is to honor certain bloggers that are kindhearted individuals. They regularly take part in my blog and always leave the sweetest comments. If it wasn't for them, my site would just be an ordinary book review blog. Their blogs are also amazing and are tastefully done on a daily basis. I thank them and look forward to our growing friendship through the blog world.

I would like to pass this along to these 10 bloggers

Elena at With Extra Pulp
Amanda at A Bookshelf Monstrosity
Angel at story on the page
Michelle at The True Book Addict
Velvet at vvB32 Reads
Jaime at Revenge Of The Book Nerds
Kim at My Eclectic Reads
Kristen at Bookworming in the 21st Century
Peter at KyusiReader
Nikola at Nikola's Book Blog

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mario Frangoulis sings "Nights In White Satin"

I've been in a rather mellow mood all morning and I've listened to this CD twice already so I thought I would share my favorite song from it.  I hope you guys enjoy it.

Friday, January 15, 2010

In The Woods by Tana French

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Three children leave their small Dublin neighborhood to play in the surrounding woods.  Hours later, their mother's calls go unanswered.  When the police arrive, they find only one of the children, gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, Detective Rob Ryan-the found boy, who has kept his past a secret-and his partner Cassie Maddox investigate the murder of a twelve-year-old girl in the same woods.  Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him, and that of his own shadowy past. 

I love a good mystery, as a matter of fact I can get enough of them lately, but I'm normally not a big fan of police procedurals. I would rather read about a brilliant amateur detective who uses his brain and guile to solve the murder, over the police doing their job.  With that being said between all the positive review I've read about this particular book and the absolutely gorgeous cover I was leaning in the direction of reading this one, so when Michelle of red headed book child ran a contest a few months ago to win a copy, I signed up and luckily I won.

It's been laying around since then waiting to be picked up but since it was still a police procedural, I wasn't in a hurry to read it.  Well I finally picked it up last week and I'm trying to remember why I didn't read it earlier.  This was way more than a typical novel about the police running around trying to crack the case, this was a brilliantly written account of what happens in the mind of someone who went through hell as a child and once again has to start thinking of those events.

This was about the characters for me more than the overall plot line, though I did enjoy the story on it's own merits.  Reading the psychological breakdown of Detective Ryan, who is the one telling us the story, was heartbreaking.  He had managed to, if not put the past behind him, at least shove it away so it didn't rule his life.  When this case lands on his desk, his world slowly starts to fall apart.  The reader really doesn't get the full sense of the breakdown until later in the book when Ryan starts being a little more honest with the reader about his behavior and actions.  It eventually destroys the relationship he has with his partner, Cassie Maddox, and seriously damages his career.  In the end he solves the murder of the young girl, but still has no clue about the events that happened twenty years earlier, the lack of closure is horrible for the character but satisfying to me as a reader.  You are left hoping that even if Ryan never knows what happened to him that he will at least be able to finally put those events behind him and start living his life, which he has never truly done.

Cassie is a brilliantly written character and I can't wait to read The Likeness, the authors second novel which has Cassie as the main character.  In this book she comes across as a complex, vulnerable woman who has had to make her way in a world that is dominated by men.  You can't really get a clear picture of her because everything we know is told through Ryan's eyes, but what I did discover I liked and I'm ready to read more.

One last comment about a character and then I will get this wrapped up.  I read a lot of mystery novels and for the most part the villain, murderer, criminal, etc. come across as somone who does bad things for reasons of their own, but aren't truly evil.  This is one of the few books, in my opinion, that does have a selfish, evil villain.  The best part is they get away with it, not because the police didn't find out who was behind it, but because the villain manipulated the situation so well that they can't legally prove it.  Now I don't want you to think that the person who actually did the killing gets away with it, because they don't.  The person who did get away with it is the one who orchestrated the whole thing.  I tend to like movies, books that don't have clean happy endings, because life doesn't always have happy endings.  Sometimes the bad guy wins.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a complex, psychological thriller with a good dose of police work thrown in. 

This will count towards the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge 2010 hosted by Carolyn of Book Chick City.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Word Verification Balderdash

Word Verification Balderdash is a weekly meme that was started by Sheila of One Person's Journey Through a World of Books.  Sheila asked me if I would be willing to take it over and since I love this meme I jumped at the chance.

Here is what you do. You write down all the word verifications you come across as you are commenting on other people's blogs. Then you play balderdash with them. Now for those of you who don't know how to play, you take a made up word and come up with an authentic sounding definition of it. Do this for a week and post your best ones on Thursday.

Come back and leave a link to your post and I will add it to the bottom of the post.

Here are mine for this week:

Wazer:  A generic term for a water wizard.  It came into semi-common usage after a unnamed author starting writing second reate romance novels that starred various elemental wizards.  The novels really aren't very good so the chance of this term ever ending up in a dictionary are slim to none.

VowagesTips and or wages paid to members of the clergy when they perform ceremonies that require the reciting of vows rote speaking.  Weddings and funerals are the two main cash cows for them.

Skaman:  The newest superhero to move to New York City.  Skaman, who is a native of Jamaica moved to New York City when he was 19.  He discovered at a young age that he was able to control the minds of those around him when he started to learn Ska music.  By changing the words in the music he is able to manipulate people into doing what he wants.  At firs the thought of using the ability for personal gain but quickly realized he should be helping people instead.

RuBooks:  Fantastic new website that allows the user to insert themselve into their favorite books.  Have you ever wanted to flirt with Mr. Darcy or joing Mina and Jonathan on their hunt for the Count?  Well here is your chance.

Here is a list of some of the other great players this week:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Favorite Fictional Character --- Heathcliff

I'm still in a cartoon frame of mind so when I started thinking about cartoons that I enjoyed as a kid, which there are way too many, one of them that stood out in my head was the Heathcliff series that ran from 1984 to 1987.  I loved this show, Heathcliff was the cat version of what every boy wanted to be a one point in time.  He was fun and exciting and never followed the rules.  He did what he wanted when he wanted and always came out on top. 

The rest of the characters were just as cool.  The family he lived with composed of Grandpa, who he terrorized and Grandma and Iggy, their grandson.  When he wasn't with them he was with his girlfriend Sonja, who was hot for a cat and tormenting Spike the nieghborhood bulldog.

I think the reason this show has stuck with me for so long was that it was one of three cartoons I watched everyday while I was in the hospital having my appendix taken out.  It kept me company during that time and I'll always be grateful for the memories.

I'm gong to admit now that I've never read the comic strip that the cartoon was based off so I can't say how the character was different, if any. I have always wanted to check them out or even read the books that were published later on.  This trip down memory land may be the boost I needed to get started on them.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Changing the World edited by Mercedes Lackey

Synopsis From Back Cover:

The Heroes of Valdemar are the Heralds, and ancient order trained to be emissaries, spies, judges, diplomats, scouts, counselors, and even warriors. But they are more than just protectors of the kingdom. Chosen from all across the land, from all walks of life, and at all ages, these unusual individuals are Gifted with abilities beyond those of normal men and women. They are Mindspeakers, FarSeers, Empaths, ForeSeers, Firestarters, FarSpeakers, and others who are uniquely suited to protecting their realm. Sought and Chosen by mysterious horselike Companions, they are bonded for life to these telepathic, enigmatic creatures. With their Companions, the Heralds of Valdemar ride patrol throughout the kingdom protecting the peace and, when necessary, defending their land and monarch.

This is the newest collection of short stories set in Mercedes Lackey's world of Valdemar. Not all the stories deal with the Heralds and their brilliant Companions, Healers, guards, and everyday citizens all have their staring role in these 16 fantastic stories. The collection features a new short story by Mercedes Lackey as well as Tanya Huff, Mickey Zucker Reichert, and Fiona Patton.

For the most part I enjoyed all the stories and they added to the stories of Valdemar, however their were two that I absolutely loved and one that I could have done without.

"Defending the Heart" by Kate Paulk and "Matters of the Heart" by Sarah A. Hoyt are the two that I found myself really enjoying. They are back-to-back stories that tell the tale of a young hobgoblin boy named Ree and Jem the young man he saved and has his heart. For those of you not familiar with the books hobgoblins are humans or animals that got caught in change circles during the mage storms (another long explanation that I will put off for now). Ree was one of those unfortunate souls and now has physical characteristics of both a cat and a rat. He escaped with his mind intact but since most hobgoblins are killed on sight, he hinds and starts to lose his humanity. He saves Jem's life and they escape together into the countryside where they come to a isolated farm ran by a lonely old man. The rest of both stories tells how through kindness and love they find a home and a family. It is a wonderful story that should give everyone who is a little bit different that their is a place for them.

"Interview With a Companion" by Ben Ohlander is one of those stories that takes something familiar and puts it into a setting that is so different from what you are used to. Sometimes it works, other times it fails, this is one of those times when I was disappointed. The premise is that a Companion is here in the United States and giving an interview to a reporter who normally does stories on horse racing. It played with the mythology of Valdemar too much for me to enjoy. It was well written and quite funny, but it still rubbed me the wrong way. Luckily it's the last story so if anyone else wants to read this book they won't have to skip a story in the middle.

If you are familiar with these books I highly recommend this book as a wonderful addition to the Kingdom of Valdemar. Heck, even if you aren't familiar with the lay of the land, you should still read it and get a nice taste for what you've been missing.

Aidan Turns 7!

Aidan turns 7 today and I just wanted to tell him how much I love him and cherish every single moment I spend with him.  I am so thankful to have him in my life as he is the best thing to happen to me. We will be spending the day doing whatever he feels like doing, it may be Chuck E. Cheese (lets hope not) or a pool party at the Y,  for all I know it may end up being both.  Whatever we do I know we will have lots of fun on his day.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mailbox Monday for 1/11/2010

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page

Conflicts With Interest by Michael Ruddy was offered by the publicist for review.

Explorer X-Alpha by LM Preston was offered by the author for review.

Ext Music by Ian Rankin was a win from Jackie at My Every Expanding Library

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith were won from Nikola at Nikola's Book Blog.  I was really excited by the win because I had lent both books to a friend and never got them back.

Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie was a purchase for my personal reading challenge and the Tuesday Book Talk on Twitter.

The Black Gryphon by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon was another purchase from the store.

The Forsaken on DVD was a $5 purchase from the store.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Rockstar Remix by N.E.R.D.

This is really more of a test run to see if I can get a video embedded into a post.  If it works, I hope you enjoy the video.  It's my favorite N.E.R.D song, at least my favorite remix of the song.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie

Synopsis From Dust Jacket:

Hercule Poirot is en route from Calais to Nice on the Blue Train when he finds himself as the center of a vexing crime. A young American woman, Ruth Van Aldin Kettering, is found brutally murdered on board the train. The killer is still at large, and it is up to Poirot to pick him or her out among a cast of suspicious characters. Among them are Ruth's husband, Derrek Kettering, to whom she is unhappily marries, and an exotic dancer with a taste for a man like Derek.

As he pursues the killer, Poirot encounters several passengers with a keen interest in a large, legendary ruby that Ruth possessed, a gift from her wealthy father. It's a race against the clock for the charming detective...

Hercule Poirot is once again the star of this book, and I must say he was easier to take this time around. I think it helped that the story is told from a few different arenas and he isn't on every page. There is something endearing about him when I don't have to listen to him pontificate on every page.

The best part of this book was another strong female character that reminded me of Anne Beddingfeld and Virginia Revel. Katherine Grey is a wonderfully strong woman who keeps her own counsel and has a sharper eye and mind than most give her credit for. I have to give Agatha credit for being able to write sharp, intelligent women who would feel at home in 2010 solving crimes all by themselves.

The other character I really liked was that of Derek Kettering, the murdered woman's philandering husband. There is something so innocent and naive about him that you can't help but like him, so when he starts to feel something for Katherine you can't help but cheer them on.

Now that I got the character part out of the way, I'm going to say a quick word about the mystery itself, which is the whole point of the book. After reading The Big Four, I'm so excited to be reading a book that is not only well written but has a mystery that is so beautifully crafted that I couldn't help but smile the entire time I'm reading the book. I will recommend this book to anyone who loves a well crafted, murder mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
I read this for my own personal self challenge as well as the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge 2010 and the Typically British Reading Challenge both of which are hosted by Carolyn of Book Chick City.