Thursday, April 29, 2010

Into The Darkness by Barbara Michaels

Synopsis From Dust Jacket:

When Daniel Mignot, the roguish and mysterious founder of a majestic jewelry empire, dies after a sudden illness, his granddaughter, Meg Venturi, is drawn back to Seldon-the small New England town she ran from so many years ago.  Expecting only to pay her respects and to act as a pillar of strength to her fragile Gran, Meg receives the shock of her life when she learns her beloved grandfather has left her the local antique jewelry store that was his greatest joy.  With this inheritance comes another, even more startling, legacy as Meg is forced into a business partnership with the man Daniel Mignot selected-the man half the town whispers was responsible for the old millionaire's death.

Amidst rich blood-red Burmese rubies, shimmering baroque pearls of a deathlike pallor, and a delicate gold ring whose foreboding message reads "Here I lie and wait for you," Meg is haunted by a mysterious and increasinly dangerous chain of events.  And when she discovers a legacy of dark revelations older and more intriguing than the glittering jewels they surround, Meg must wage a battle of wits to protect something even more precious-her very life....

This was my third Barbara Michaels book and I keep falling in love with them harder the more I read.  For me this book was all about secrets that families keep and the lengths people go to make sure they are never found out.  The suspense is build up slowly with a few hints of danger and malicious gossip floating around in the air.  The tension slowly builds until it boils over in a chaotic finale that gives you the pay off you are wanting the entire time you are reading this.

Like the other two heroines I've read in Michaels' books, Meg is a strong, feisty indiviudal who doesn't have any problems giving her opinions or holding her own against the rest of the characters.  She has her own distinct personality that is shaped by her and her own experiences, she isn't overly influenced by her family, eventhough she has a strong sense of loyalty to them. 

I'm really looking forward to reading even more of her books, though I haven't got one lined up yet.  So if any of you have a favorite book of hers to recomend, please do so.

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

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Favorite Fictional Character --- Brin Ohmsford

Ever since I started this feature I've had a myriad of character from Terry Brooks' Shannara series running through my head vying for consideration.  Would I pick Shea for the way he is able to grow in confidence and work his way through all the doubts to win the day?  Would I go with Allanon, who has to be one of the most stoic but in the end lovealbe characters in all fantasy?  Maybe one of the Leahs for their loyalty and friendship would have been a good choice.  In the end I've decided on Brin Ohmsford from The Wishsong of Shannara.

Brin starts off as a young lady who plays with magic in the way that a toddler will play with a rubber duck in the bathtub.  It's something fun, it's not to be taken seriously, it doesn't have any serious ramifications, it's childsplay.  That's what she thinks anyway.  Little does she know that her power of the Wishsong will save the world once again from the evils that threaten the races.  The Wishsong alone is enough to qualify her for a FFC post.  With her magic, she is able to control nature, through song.  Through wishing for it, she can sing a tree through it's life cycles within minutes.  Leaves changing from green to brown, then falling off all within a few seconds, over and over again.  There is almost no limit to what her magic can accomplish.

When the Duid Allanon shows up to take her with him on a quest to destroy a book that is evil as it is sentient, she isn't sure she should go.  She doesn't see how she would be able to help or even if she wants to help.  Throughout the journey her power and her sense of self are tested to the harshest limits, and she comes out on top.  She rejects all the self doubts and insecurities, she fights off the growing corruption that using her magic allows into her.  Watching her grow from a naive young woman into an intelligent and strong woman is a wonderful pleasure to read.

For those of you unfamiliar with The Shannara books, I would strongly urge you to pick them up and discover for yourself some of the best written characters in fantasy.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Vanish With The Rose by Barbara Michaels

Synopsis From Dust Jacket:

Who knows what long-forgotten family secrets lie hidden in the eighteenth-century mansion which is being restored by a pair of wealthy eccentrics?  Not Diana Reed, who arrives at the house with a false name and a false identity and who lives in constant fear of betraying herself.  For Diana, posing as a landscape architect trained in the esoteric specialty of "old roses," is determined to uncover a darker and more personal secret-one that may have begun and may well end in murder.

But the dead past intrudes on the present as Diana is haunted by eerie visions, strange music coming from nowhere, and the scent of roses wafting through empty rooms, and she is forced to confront forces more deadly than any she could have imagined. 

After my dissapointing time with Neverland I had to read something that I knew would be a great read and since I had a few Barbara Michaels' books waiting to be read, I picked one up and I was dissapointed.  Michaels is a new author for me, as I've only read one other book of hers but I enjoyed it so much that I figured I would at least enjoy another.  So when I picked up Vanish With The Rose and started reading, I wasn't dissapointed.

Diana is a wonderfully headstrong woman who sets out to discover what happened to her brother, who has been missing for almost a year.  Now her method of putting herself into a situation that allows her to do this is a little shady, but you forgive her for it, even after she discovers the family she is duping are kind, welcoming and overly likeable.  The guilt she ends up feeling is very real and her desire to make it right with them but also to find out the truth start to war within her, which creates an intersting dynamic.

The mystery itself has a solution that I did not see coming and I'm still thinking of the interpersonal issues that such a solution finale would create.  It was such a anguishing outcome that you could feel the sorrow and horror the Diana feels when she discovers not only what happened to her brother but who was responsible.

As in the previous book I've read by the author, and the third who's review will be coming up shortly, this is a masterful blending of mystery, suspense, romance, and just the right amount of the supernatural to concot an engrossing novel that is almost impossible to put down.  I think I've found a new favorite author to keep Agatha Christie and Mercedes Lackey company.

This book will qualify for the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge 2010 hosted by Carolyn at Book Chick City.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mailbox Monday for 4/26/2010

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page

Black Water Rising by Attica Locke was sent for a TLC Book Tour.

The Secret Keeper by Dorien Grey was sent by the author for review.

When Dreams Bleed by Robin Cain was sent by the author for review.

I bought Midnight Graffiti edited by Jessica Horstings and James Van Hise in hardcover for $1 from the Friends of the Library Book Store.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Neverland by Douglas Clegg

Synopsis From Book Jacket:

For years, the Jackson family has vacationed at Rowena Wandigaux Lee's old Victorian house on Gull Island, a place of superstition and legend off the southern coast of the U.S. One particular summer, young Beau follows his cousin Sumter into a hidden shack in the woods—and christens this new clubhouse "Neverland."

Neverland has a secret history, unknown to the children...

The rundown shack in the woods is the key to an age-old mystery, a place forbidden to all. But Sumter and his cousins gather in its dusty shadows to escape the tensions at their grandmother's house. Neverland becomes the place where children begin to worship a creature of shadows, which Sumter calls "Lucy."

All gods demand sacrifice...

It begins with small sacrifices, little games, strange imaginings. While Sumter's games spiral out of control, twisting from the mysterious to the macabre, a nightmarish presence rises among the straggly trees beyond the bluffs overlooking the sea.

And when Neverland itself is threatened with destruction, the children's games take on a horrifying reality—and Gull Island becomes a place of unrelenting terror.
I was given the chance to read this by the publicist and I have to tell you I was really excited to get it in the mail.  I was giddy the rest of the week, antsy with anticipation, wanting to dive into this as soon as time allowed.  The synopsis sucked me in, the cover gave me the chills, and the illustrations throughout the book were brilliantly done.  So when the day came for me to finally get started on it, I was on cloud nine.
Then reality set in and I was left feeling a little gray, a little down in the dumps.  I don't want anyone to think that this book wasn't good or didn't have a storyline that wouldn't horrify you, because it does.  The character of Sumter belongs in the pantheon of "demonic" children, right alonside Damian and the gang from "Children of the Corn." 
My problem with the book and in writing this review, is that the book left me feeling nothing once I was done with it.  There was no lasting memory or image from the book that was burned into my brain for all time.  Which is what I want from a horror novel, I want to be so horrified that I can't wait to read the book again in order to feel those goosebumps raising on my arms and find my breath catching as I get to a really scary scence. 
This one just left me a little underwhelmed and a little disappinted by the "surprise" explanation given to explain Lucy.  Anyone who is paying attention to the story should be able to figure it out way before the big reveal.  There is no shock or awe to it and the way it's explained feels hurried, almost as if it was an afterthought.
I wish I could say I either loved or hated this book, but I can't.  All I can say is that it's ok, nothing to horrible but nothing that screams at me to read it again.  I do think it's worth reading if you are a big fan of the genre and enjoy being scared, even if the thrills don't last long after the last page.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Favorite Fictional Character --- The Green Hornet

What is it about the characters we fell in love with as children, were we can't let them go?  Why, even after decades, do they hold a place in our hearts and imaginations?  It seems that most of my FFC posts have been about characters that I either identified with, or looked up to as a child.  This week will be no different.

The Green Hornet first started as a radio program, then became a film series, and later a TV show in the 60s.  It is this version of the character that I was familiar with growing up.  It only aired for one season but has been on TV almost every year since in syndication and for one year as a kid, I ate up every episode I could watch.

The Green Hornet was the masked alter ego of Britt Reid, the grand nephew of John Reid aka The Lone Ranger.  As Britt Reid, he was a respected newspaper publisher who's good lucks got him attention from the ladies.  As The Green Hornet, he was a masked vigilante who fought crime along with his assistant Kato (who was played by Bruce Lee).

Looking back on it, I'm sure some of the appeal this show held for me was the striking good lucks of it's star, Van Williams.  However, the vast amount of pleasure I took from this show, and it's character, was the idea that a normal guy can take on the criminal element and come up on top.  He doesn't need to have super powers or millions of gadgets to get the job done.  He just needs a strong sense of justice and a clearly defined path to accomplish his objectives.  The action was always fun and never over the top and the acting was actually great compared to alto of the other shows in this genre.

I've read that they are making a movie with Seth Rogen playing Britt Reid, I'm not sure what I think of the idea yet, but I can't wait to see the results.  Hopefully it will stay true to the character and feel of the original show.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mailbox Monday for 4/19/2010

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page

I stopped in at the Friends of the Library book store to drop off a few books and I ended up walking out with 3 hardcovers for a total of $2.  I bought 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs, Death of Riley by Rhys Bowen (thanks to Deb of Bookmagic for the recomendation), and a hardcover that combines The Case of the Daring Divorcee by Erle Standley Gardner and Try Anything Once by A.A. Fair.  The picture I found for the book looks just like the one I bought except for the first story.

I bought Ghosts of the White Nights by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. in paperback for $1 from the Dollar Tree.  It's the third in a trilogy so now I have to get the first two books.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sex Gone Wrong....Songs Done Badly....Contest!

This is a contest that grew out of a discussion I was having with a few friends the other day.  After listening to Lick It from Roula in my friends car, we got into a argument about how bad the song truly is.  We all loved it when it first came out, a thousand years ago, when we were in our early 20s and going out all the time, not so much anymore.  Now I listen to it and find it horribly silly and immature.  The sadder thing for me is that with all the songs about sex, which there are thousands of, most of them are not that sexy.  A lot of them are just down right absurd.

So this is what I want to do, I want to hold a contest asking everyone what they view as the worst "sex song" ever made.  It can be done right silly to the point you can't take it seriously, written with such horrible analogies and comparisons you never want to have sex again, or just down right gross and nasty that it leaves mind numbing images in your head.  Even if it's the video that makes you blush and cringe at the same time, feel free to nominate it for that reason as well.

So Here Are The Rules:  The contest will run in two stages.  The first will be the nomination stage which will run for two weeks ending on 05/01/2010 at 11:59 PM.  Anyone who wants to nominate a song will have to write a blog post detailing the contest and either a video or a link to a video that showcases the song they are nominating.  Please write a short reason for why you think the song you are nominating is the worst of the lot.  Come back to this post and leave a link to your post.

The second stage is that I will pick my 5 "favorite" nominated songs which will be announced in a second blog post.  You will then have1 week, starting on 5/2/2010 and ending on 5/08/2010, to vote for your pick for Worst Sex Song Ever.

And Here Is The Reward:  The winner will get a $15 itunes giftcard.

I'm going to nominate a song as well, though it won't be eligible to win.  I'm going to nominate "Peaches and Cream" from 112.  This is another song that I didn't mind too much when it first came out but when I listen to it now or watch the video, I find myself cringing just a little bit.  The imagery in the video, with the falling peaches dripping juice just isn't neccesary.  We already know what the song is about, we really don't need to be grossed out by produce.  One of my pet peeves with sex songs is we don't need to be told or asked whether or not we get it.  If you need to explain it or wink at us, come up with a better analogy, don't say "know what I mean".  So with no further ado, here is the video for the song.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"My Heart's In The Highlands" by Robert Burns

In honor of National Poetry Month, I though I would share one of my favorite poems by my favorite poet, Robert Burns.  There is something about this one that makes me want to get on a plane and visit those Highlands.

"My Heart's In The Highlands"

Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North,
The birth-place of Valour, the country of Worth;
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.

My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;
A-chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go.

Farewell to the mountains high covered with snow;
Farewell to the straths and green valleys below;
Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods;
Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.

My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;
A-chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go.

For those of you want want to learn more about this Scottish poet, Robert Burns Country is an informative site.

Favorite Fictional Charcter --- Brainy Smurf

Growing up a know-it-all kid who argued with the adults about stuff I thought I knew more about than I did, made me empathize with Brainy Smurf more than I would ever care to admit.

Brainy is that guy who can never be wrong and would never dream of giving someone else credit for being smarter than him.  He thinks he knows everything and has written many books on just about every subject you can imagine, including how to give birth.  The funny thing is he actually ends up being right sometimes but is so obnoxious in the way he presents himself, nobody is willing to listen.

Brainy for me was that inner nerd that always felt wronged by those who were more popular.  He was that part of me who hid behind my "brains" because I didn't know how else to deal with people at first.  He was that part of me, that as I aged, I slowly grew out of but never totally let go of.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

Synopsis From Dust Jacket:

When Colonel Protheroe is found dead from a single gun-shot wound to the head, none of his neighbors in the village of St. Mary Meas is much surprised.  So many people wished this local official would say farewell-if not quite so permanently.

First of all I have to say I love this book for one major reason, it's the debut of Miss Jane Marple, my favorite Agatha Christie detective.  Miss Marple is that old lady who lived down the block from you that knew everything that went on in the neighborhood but never used the information maliciously or for her own gain.  Miss Marple, by hobby and habit, is a student of human behavior and one thing she has learned after many years is that human behavior rarely ever changes.

When Colonel Protheroe turns up dead, Miss Marple uses her many years of observation to solve who killed him.  This is her first chance to test her knowledge in a serious way, instead of figuring out who absconded with funds or missing fish.  Now Miss Marple has a slew of  suspects to observe.  Is is the Vicar himself or maybe his much younger wife?  After all it was in the Vicarage the body was found.  Or could it be someone in the Colonel's family?  Maybe his new, younger wife Anne or the his wayward daughter.  You musn't rule out the young artist Lawrence Redding who is getting too close to more than one woman.  It may very well be someone they all know but probably shouldn't have trusted.  Through all the hazy clues and misdirections Miss Marple is able to see clearly not only who killed the unfortunate Colonel but the why as well.

Now for myself, I can't wait to read the next Miss Marple book, which will hopefully contain much more of her since this one didn't showcase her enough.  With each Agatha Christie book that I either read for the first time or revisist once again on my quest to read all her mysteries in order, my appreciation for her talent and creativity only gets stronger.

Now this will qualify for both the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenger 2010 and the Typically British Reading Challenge 2010 both of which are hosted by Carolyn of Book Chick City.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Watermark by Vanitha Sankaran

Synopsis From Back Cover:

The daughter of a papermaker in 1320s France, Auda has an ability to read and write that comes from a place of need.  Silenced, she finds hope and opportunity in the intricacies of her father's craft.  But the powerful forces of the ruling parties in France form a nearly insurmountable obstacle.

In a time when new ideas were subject to accusations of heresy, Auda dares to defy the status quo.  Born albino, believed to be curesed, and rendered mute before she'd ever spoken, her very survival is a testament to the strength of her spirit.  As Auda grows into womanhood, she reclaims her heritage in a quest for love and a sense of self.

I'm happy to report that I enjoyed this one for what it was, a look at a young woman's life in France during the Middle Ages.  One thing that stood out about me in this book is something I rarely ever think all that much about.  I'm always amazed when reading a book, fiction or non, that refers to the base supersition that the human race found itself living under in the past.  I was horrified when the healer's assistant cuts Auda's tongue out right after she is born so she won't be able to sprend Satan's lies, all that because she was born albino.  I was even more disturbed to be reminded that such men and women were routinely left to die when they were born or blamed for the troubles of a particular town, and were killed as a result.  Throw in The Inquisition and you have a mixture ripe for chaos and bloodshed.

When I read such accounts, I'm always saddened by what humans are capable of, especially when it comes to those we view as "different" from us.  Luckily we have evolved a lot since then but we have miles to go still.  All we have to do is look too the genocides in Rwanda and Darfur, the way women are subjugated in many parts in the world, and all those countries that execute men and women for being gay, including teenagers, to realize how far we still have to go. 

Well now that I'm done with that soapbox, I will get back to the book itself.  I found it to be a well written account of one person's life as she is trying to find her plac in the world.  Auda, is obvisously a very intelligent woman who would fit in will in today's society.  She is also a very head strong charcater, once she makes up her mind on something, she sticks to it no matter what the consequences may be.  I enjoyed reading her life story including finding love in a world that didn't make it easy for her.  This was a book, that even with it's happy ending, took a couple of dangerous curves that I greatly appreciated and felt added to the story.  This wasn't a "safe" happy story and I'm so happy I go the opportunity to read it.

Speaking of the ending, I sort of had a teeny, tiny issue with it.  Now this is a issue I've had with a lot of books lately and I'm not sure if it's that I'm getting older or something else I haven't thought of yet.  I found the ending of the book to be a little rushed.  The begining and the middle sections sort of stayed at a nice pace, neither plodding along slowly or rushing forward like a runaway train.  The ending on the other hand felt like the author ran out of time to tell her story, so she had to rush the action a little.  The only other issue I had was the lecherous nobleman, he just felt out of place and not necessary to the story.  It was almost like he was an afterthought.

I want to thank Trish of TLC Book Tours for the pleasure of reading this one.  I may end up being a convert to historical fiction afterall.

For more on Vanitha Sankaran, please visity her website.

For More Reviews, Please Stop By These Other Stops On The Tour:

Monday, April 5th: Bibliofreak

Wednesday, April 7th: Savvy Verse & Wit

Thursday, April 8th: Serendipitous Reading

Monday, April 12th: Wordsmithonia

Tuesday, April 13th: Book Nerd Extraordinaire

Wednesday, April 14th: Rundpinne

Monday, April 19th: Raging Bibliomania

Wednesday, April 21st: Thoughts From an Evil Overlord

Thursday, April 22nd: Devourer of Books

Monday, April 26th: Café of Dreams

Tuesday, April 27th: Starting Fresh

Wednesday, April 28th: A Few More Pages

Thursday, April 29th: Reading, Writing, and Retirement

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mailbox Monday for 4/12/2010

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Marica at The Printed Page

I found Boundary Waters by William Kent Krueger in paperback at a thrift store for $.99.  It's a mystery set in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota so I had to get it.

I got The Pack by LM Preston from the author for review.  I'm really looking forward to this one.

I got Neverland by Douglas Clegg from the publicist for review.  I'm really looking forward to this one, I need to read a good dark fantasy/supernatural book right now.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dixie Carter, 1939-2010

I would like to take a quick second and say goodbye to Dixie Carter, the fabulous actress who played Julia Sugarbaker on Desinging Women for 7 wonderful years.

She passed away today and while I never agreed with her politics, I always appreciated her style, grace, and acting ability.  She was a phenomenal actress with an incredible voice to go along with it.

I would like to thank her for the hours of enjoyment she has given me throughout my life.  She will be missed. 

"Back In The Day" by Missy Elliot & Memories of British Knights

I was listening to this song the other day on my iPod and it brought back a lot of memories of my childhood, from the music to the clothes.  It mentions dances like the "cabbage patch", tons of artisits that I listened to then and still do revisit, and my favorite shoes from my youth.  I had a pair of black and yellow hightop British Knights, or BKs.  So since I was going down memory lane I thought I would share the song with you, there was never an official video for it but youtube did have a fan made video.

My shoes were very similar in style to these in style, I really miss those shoes.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Calling by David Mack

Synopsis From Back Cover:

No one would guess by looking at Tom Nash that he's extraordinary, and that's just fine with him.  A tall, broad-shouldered jack-of-all-trades from Sawyer, Pennsylvania.  Tom has a knack for fixing things.  He also hides a secret talent: he hears people's prayers.  Stranger still, he answers them.  Maybe it's because he's a handyman, but Tom feels compelled to fix people's problems.  Which is all well and good-until the soul-shattering plea of a terrified girl sends him on the darkest journey of his life...

Heeding the call and leaving his home for New York City.  Tom discovers a secret world beyond the range of mortal perception-a world of angels and demons and those who serve them.  With the guidance of a knowing stranger named Erin, Tom learns that he himself is one of The Called, born with a divine purpose and a daunting task: to help the powers of Heaven in the war against the agents of Hell, an army of fallen angels known as the Scorned.  Thrust into an epic battle of the sacred and the profane, Tom Nash must find the girl who prayed for his help-because her fate will determine whether humanity deserves to be saved, or damned for all eternity....

Pretty good synopsis, right?  I agree, the back cover makes this book sound like an epic battle of good vs. evil, which I can never turn down.  For the most part, the book lives up to it's potential, there were only a few issues I had with it.

I'll start with what I really did enjoy about the book, which is Tom himself.  Tom is that guy that lives on your block who is always willing to give you a hand and never asks for anything in return.  He is the all-American good guy who tries to do the right by people.  He has one of those faces and smiles that you instantly trust and like.  Were a lot of people would run away from such a gift, not wanting to get involved in the problems of others, Tom feels a strong sense of purpose to help those who's prayers he hears.

Now that I got that out of the way I will let you know the first "problem" I had with this book.  I understand that a book like this should be a little violent at times, actually I would be dissapointed if it hadn't of been.  I don't even have a problem with the level of violence in the book itself.  My issue is with how Tom ends up reacting to the violence.  There is one segment where Tom is being chased, plus doing some chasing of his own, through the subway system.  There was supposed to be a ransom drop off but it goes horribly wrong.  Police officers, national guardsmen, and innocent bystanders who just happen to be in the way get blown away by the bad guys.  I lost count of how many people die in this segment but I think it would be safe to say that it would be in the mid double digits.  Some of those people die because Tom is running from the bad guys and since they are obviously really bad shots they end up shooting everyone else but Tom. 

A guy like Tom, at least the guy we've gotten to know throughout most of the book, would be racked by guilt or at the least feel a real sense of responsibility for all those deaths, even if he wasn't the one who pulled the trigger.  Other than a few words sprinkled throughout the scene you really don't feel that Tom is really caring all that much for the innocent llifes being lost.  Now you could chalk that up to being in the heat of the moment, running for your life, so you may not really have time to care.  I could accept that actually, but what I couldn't accept was the face that it really isn't mentioned after the scene either.  Tom doesn't really seem to react to what just happened.  Even at the end of the book, when Tom meets one of the guys in charge, it's never brought up except in a off handed way that had more to do with how Tom used his powers to get out of the situation.  I wanted more from him, I wanted him to feel something about what happened.

Now the second issue I had with the book has more to do with the publisher than the book itself.  It's also a issue I find with a lot of books, the synopsis on the back cover.    The last line "Thrust into an epic battle of the sacred and the profane, Tom Nash must find the girl who prayed for his help-because her fate will determine whether humanity deserves to be saved, or damned for all eternity...." gives you the impression that if this young girl is not saved, the Earth as we know it and all of humanity will be doomed too suffering beyond our wildest dreams.  Now do I really need to tell you that the last line was a tad bit overstated?  Yes the girl, when she grows up, will be on the side of The Called, she has powers of her own that will come in useful to them down the line.  However, everything I understand about the book and The Called gives me the impression that there will always be others ready to step in when one of them falls.  That no one person, except maybe Tom which is hinted at, is all that instrumental to the cause.  Each loss is felt and grieved but there is always someone else ready to do the job.  Like I said, this is a issue I have with a lot of books, especially in the fantasty/scifi/paranormal genres.  I just wish the publishers would quit overstating the plot and let the reader discover it for themselves.

With all the being said I will leave you with the knowledge that I really did enjoy the book overall.  It was a fast paced thriller set in a world of angels and demons, a world of danger that can come out of anyplace or from anyone.  I am really looking forward to the next in the series so I can get caught up with Tom and his journey.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Favorite Fictional Character --- Samantha Stephens

As the star of the hit TV sitcom, Bewitched, which aired from 1964-1972, Samantha Stephens paved the way for all those other witches currently inhabiting paranormal fantasy.  She was one of the first witches in popular culture that overcame all the typical stereotypes that face witches in today's society.  She didn't have a warty nose or cast curses over a bubbling cauldron.  She was the typical homemaker who had a few advantages on the rest of us.

Samantha was a witch who fell in love with a mortal despite what her family thought of it, including her over bearing mother, Endora.  She wanted to raise a family and support her husband without having to give up a part of herself.  Her husband, Darren, wanted a normal family so he made her promise him to give it all up.  Well fortunately for us, that was a promise she couldn't keep, so we were treated to various spells and enchantments used to get her husband out of those pesky situations he always found himself in.  She was the mother every child would want and the wife any husband could be proud of.

All of us who enjoy a well written paranormal book about the good witches and wizards coming up on top, owe a debt of thanks to Samantha for blazing the way.

The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet by Myrlin A. Hermes

Synopsis From Back Cover:

A poet and divinity scholar at Wittenberg University, Horatio is able to argue both sides of any intellectual debate, but he himself, a skeptic, never fully believing in one philosophy.  That is, until he meets the Prince of Denmark-an outrageous, provocative, and flamboyantly beautiful young man-who teachers Horatio more about Heaven and earthly pleasures than any of his philosophy books.  But when Prince Hamlet attracts the attention of Horatio's patroness-the dark, seductive, manipulative Lady Adriane-and when a mysterious rival poet calling himself "Master Will Shake-spear" begins to court both the Prince and his Dark Lady, Horatio must take up his pen to fight for his love- and his destiny.

After my last foray into historical fiction, I was a little hesitant to get started on this one.  What if I was disappointed in this one as well?  Would I be willing to try another historical fiction book if this one was a failure?  I had first read a review of this book at Misfit Salon, and since then I've been dying to read it.  Needless to say, once I got over my fear and started to read it, I loved it.  It was everything I wanted it to be and more.

Myrlin A. Hermes has a way with words that I could only dream of one day being even close to possessing.  She picks each word carefully and has fun with them, she is a master wordsmith in every sense.  This book plays with words and their meanings.  It uses them in such a way that as a reader, I found myself getting lost in the story, savoring the way each word felt on my tongue and the way they would roll around in my mind, gaining new meanings and layers as time went on.  She uses them to describe life, love, and even sex in terms that makes them feel like new discoveries. Concepts that were familiar to me seemed new once again.  The words almost take on a life of their own, almost becoming a character themselves.

Words aren't the only thing that gets played with in the book, gender and sexuality get tossed around, like the proverbial beach ball, right along with them.  Gender and sexuality almost feel fluid in this book.  Horatio falls in love with a man who is impossible to marry and with a woman already married.  He loves them both though on is more palatable to him over the other.  He seems conflicted by both loves, at times he is disgusted by them and at others he craves their affection and approval.  In Hamlet, Horatio finds everything that he doesn't find within himself.  In Lady Adriane he finds a patroness and a seductress, she is the outlet of most of his unfilled desires for Hamlet.  He wants them both and when circumstances and a new poet on the scene starts to interfere, he seems to be at a crossroads.  I won't let you in on which fork he takes, though after reading the book you actually hope he walks away from both.  Neither relationship is healthy, both are destructive and one can end in death.

Hamlet and Adriane are both flawed characters that you can't help but like a little bit, despite what you think of them.  They are both fickle and manipulative.  They are control freaks who's own desires comes before anything else.  They use deception and guile to get what they want, yet they both love in such a way that you can't help but be drawn in by them.  Even when Adriane is dressing as a man to seduce another man's  lover, you understand it, if not empathize with her. They are flawed, human characters in every way. 

Now I'm not a huge fan of Shakespeare, never have been actually, and I'm not overly familiar with Hamlet.  I know some reviewers felt like it was necessary to be, I didn't think it was that much of a issue.  I was able to enjoy the story for what it was, not what it was based off of.  Now I am familiar with some of the sonnets that were used to come up with the whole bisexual nature of Shakespeare that this story seems to have grown out of, so I was able to understand more of those references.  It is a fascinating subject matter and one my review can not due justice too. 

I want to thank Tish of TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review the book.

Please visit the author's website by clicking here.

Other Stops On The Tour:

Wednesday, March 24th: Regular Rumination

Thursday, March 25th: Book Addiction

Monday, March 29th: Life in the Thumb

Thursday, April 1st: Steph and Tony Investigate

Monday, April 5th: Raging Bibliomania

Tuesday, April 6th: Wordsmithonia

Wednesday, April 7th: BookNAround

Thursday, April 8th: Laughing Stars

Monday, April 12th: Eclectic/Eccentric

Tuesday, April 13th: Books for Breakfast

Wednesday, April 14th: Worducopia

Thursday, April 15th: Write Meg

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mailbox Monday for 04/05/2010

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Marica at The Printed Page

I bought Wizards edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois in hardcover off the bargain table at Barnes & Noble.

Since I got V: The Complete Series on DVD for Christmas last year I've been wanting to get the two miniseris that came before it.  So I bought V: The Original Miniseries and V: The Final Battle on DVD for $10 a piece at Wal-Mart.