Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Favorite Fictional Character --- Perry Mason

Who doesn't love Perry Mason?  If you are one of those strange people who don't love him, I would have to assume that you were born on Mars and have 4 eyes in the middle of your forehead, maybe a tail as well.  If that's not the reason, well then you are just plain strange.

Perry starred in a series of novels and short stories by Erle Stanley Gardner, over 80 of them actually, and he has been in the collective memory of us all ever since.  Now my memories of him don't come from the books.  I'm actually reading my first one right now, The Case Of The Daring Divorcee, and I'm loving it so far.  Instead I first grew to know, and yes have a crush on, Perry by watching the TV show that aired from 1957-1966.

Since I'm only 33 years old, I wasn't able to watch the show when it first aired, but every time it would come on in syndication I would gobble the episodes up like Halloween candy.  There was something so imposing but attractive about the way Raymond Burr brought the character to life.  Perry was an intelligent defense attorney who with the help of his secretary Della Street, and his PI, Paul Drake, would take on those cases that seemed the most dire and undefinable.  He would take on for the most part murder cases where the defendant looks extremely guilty.  He actually seemed to enjoy the case the most when it was harder than what he had dealt with before. 

What really set him apart were his tactics and the way he would play the trial as if it was a board game.  He was great at manipulating the evidence and the actual people involved in the case.  He would deliberately mislead the police, keep information back, and do whatever else it took to protect his client.  Lucky for him he always did it ethically (for the most part) and he could get the real murderer to crack on the witness stand.  Those breakdowns on the stand were always the pay off for me.  Watching Perry wear down the real culprit and get them to confess under oath was always a pleasure to watch.

I think the other thing I always found fascinating about Perry Mason, was the mystery about who he was outside of work.  His personal life was really never explored in the show or in the books for that matter.  The reader/viewer, with the help of very, very few random clues, were left to their own devices to fill in the gaps about him as a man.  His motivations, his wants, and desires are all left undisclosed, making Perry probably one of the most famous characters that we know very little about.  He is a brilliant enigma that I never get tired of being around.

For anyone interested, has 39 full episodes of the TV show to watch online.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Death Mask by Graham Masterton

Synopsis From Back Cover:

He appeared as if from nowhere, brutally slashed a man and a young woman in an office elevator, then vanished again without a trace.  The woman survived and gave the police a detailed description of the killer's bizarre face, yet the police can find no sign of him anywhere.  It's as if he never existed.  But now he's killed again.  And again.  One woman holds the key to his terrifying secret...but how do you stop a murderer who isn't there?

With a body count well over 30 (maybe even over 40, I lost track) this has to be one of the bloodiest books I have read in a very long time, and I loved every minute of it.  I haven't read much of Graham Masterton's work, but of the few books I've read, I loved every single one.  This one is no different.

Molly is a gifted artist who has worked with the police in the past, sketching pictures of suspects and missing people.  Lately her work is coming off the page and appearing in the real world.  So far it's only happening with roses, but who knows what's next, or why and how it's happening.  So when she is contacted to do a sketch of the man who attacked the victims in the elevator, she is presented with a killer who has a very red face, almost mask like in appearance, and black slits for eyes.  He is then dubbed Red Mask and his reign of tear is just getting started.  Through twists and turns Molly, with the help of her psychic mother-in-law Sissy, must figure out a way to stop Red Mask before he slaughters more innocents, including Molly's young daughter.

Death Mask explores the idea of where art ends and life begins.  Did the Red Mask exist before he was sketched or did he jump off the page the way the roses did?  If he did jump off the page, then who attacked the first two victims in the elevator?  Why does two attacks happen at the very same time in two different locations in the city?  Molly and Sissy must explore all the questions and more to figure out where the Red Mask came from and why he's doing these horrendous acts of violence.

Now while this book is classified as horror, which is where it belongs, I think a good argument could be made for fans of mystery and urban fantasy to give this one a try.  There are strong elements of both genres that serve to explain, highlight, and serve as a catalyst for the bloodletting action.

If anyone is still reading this review by this point I would like to share something I found.  While I was wandering around all things Graham Masterton I came across a gem of a short story.  As most of you know I'm a big fan of "The Lady of Shalott" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.  It's my favorite poem and I'm addicted to all things associated with it, so when I found this short story, "Half-Sick of Shadows", that combines the story of that tragically doomed Lady and the Lamia legend, I almost fell out of my chair.  Please go read it yourself, I promise you won't be dissapointed.

This will qualify for two challenge, the Typically British Reading Challenge 2010 and the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge 2010 both of which are hosted by Carolyn of Book Chick City.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mailbox Monday for 6/28/10

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

I went into Barnes & Noble to pick up The Mageborn Traitor by Melanie Rawn, which was a rebuy for me, and I ended up walking out with two other books.  On A Pale Horse by Piers Anthony, another rebuy, and Peril at End House by Agatha Christie went home with me as well.  All three of them are in paperback.

At Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie was a bargain book hardcover from Borders.

Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure and Zan-Gah: And the Beautiful Country by Allan Richard Shickman were both recieved by the publisher for review.

Noah's Castle by John Rowe Townsend was received from the publisher for review.

I bought The Actor's Guide to Adultery by Rick Coop in hardcover for $1 from the Friends of the Library bookstore.

I received an extra copy of Never Wave Goodbye by Doug Magee from the publisher, so expect a giveaway with the review next month.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

CSN Stores Review Coming Up!

Can I say how super excited I am to be given an opportunity to review one of CSN Stores great products.  They seem to have every thing imaginable under the sun so narrowing down what I'm going to review is going to be a little hard.

They have every item of furniture you could ever need to have in your home.  I've been needing to look at new TV stands for a while now so that was the first place I looked.  I'm absolutely in love with this one, Nuevo Silva TV stand.

Of course you can never have too many bookcases and I'm thinking of getting a smaller one corner that I currently have nothing there.  It's screaming for adornment.  This one caught my eye, Sauder Studio Edge Akimbo Bookcase Bronze.

Or I may get a globe for Aidan who is fascinated by geography right now, a larger crock pot so I can start cooking whole chickens which my son loves to eat, or maybe even a new rug for my living room, maybe even new wall sconces for my bathroom, the possibilities are endless.  I'm going to leave my final decision a secret right now but I promise it's probably something I mentioned in this post.  Come on back to find out what I'm reviewing.  In the meantime please head on over to CSN Stores to look around and discover what they have to offer.

The Blue Moon Cafe by Rick R. Reed

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Someone--or something--is killing Seattle’s gay men.

A creature moves through the darkest night, lit only by the full moon, taking them, one by one, from the rain city’s gay gathering areas.

Someone--or something--is falling in love with Thad Matthews.

Against a backdrop of horror and fear, young Thad finds his first true love in the most unlikely of places—a new Italian restaurant called The Blue Moon Cafe. Sam is everything Thad has ever dreamed of in a man: compassionate, giving, handsome, and with brown eyes Thad feels he could sink into. And Sam can cook! But as the pair’s love begins to grow, so do the questions and uncertainties, the main one being, why do Sam’s unexplained disappearances always coincide with the full moon?
After the disaster that was The Secret Keeper, I was a little gun shy about reviewing anymore gay fiction that was written by an author I was unfamiliar with.  I would happily read if for my own enjoyment, but I wasn't sure I would wanted to agree to reviewing a book that I wasn't sure I would enjoy.  After a few days of thinking about it, I realized that I was being a little odd about it.  Why should I hold back on gay fiction when I wasn't having any doubts about other genres of fiction.  If I was willing to take a chance with a book that sounded good I shouldn't be holding gay fiction to a different standard.  I'm not even sure why I was thinking those thoughts to begin with, and I'm too tired to figure it out now.  Needless to say I agreed to review the book, and for the most part I'm glad I did.
Now some of you may remember a guest post I had written for Tasha at Truth, Beauty, Freedom, And Books about my take on male/male romance written by women.  While the book I'm reviewing this time around is written by a gay man, I must say that some of my qualms hold true even here.  I've never been a big fan of erotic fiction because for the most part the sex doesn't come across as believable, the storylines normally dont' for that matter either.  For the most part erotic fiction is sex fantasies put down on paper, at least that's what I normally get out of them.  So I'm always a little hesitant when reading a book that I know is going to have quite a few sex scenes, which as you can tell from the cover, this book does have.  Enough chatter from me, let's get to the book and it's review.
Despite all my reservations this was a quick paced romp of werewolves and sex told using a sexy couple who have an obvious attraction to each other.  What I loved about the relationship between Thad and Sam is that while it's definitely sexual, there is deep if rather quick connection between the two of them.  A connection that neither one can deny, even if they wish otherwise.  Theirs is a believable relationship that works despite the obvious mistrust that secrets can create between two people.
The only thing that bothered me was Thad's fickleness when things wouldn't go his way.  When he is faced with complications between him and Sam he turns to his friend Jared, who he may have feelings for.  This is explored at the end of the book, which while believable given the circumstances, leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth for Thad.  I still like him, just not sure I would ever want to date him.
Overall I enjoyed this one.  If you like hot sex between two guys with a dash of murder, mystery, and werewolf mayhem thrown in, I strongly recommend this book to you.
This will qualify for the GLBT Reading Challenge 2010 hosted by Amy of The Zen Leaf.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wild Hunt by Margaret Ronald

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Genevieve Scelan thought she was done with magic.  She was wrong.

Sure, six weeks earlier Evie - bike messenger, supernatural tracker, and avid Red Sox fan - had been instrumental in bringing down the Fiana, the organization of magicians that had ruled Boston's undercurrent for hundreds of years. But now they were gone, Boston could breathe easy again, the Sox had a chance at the pennant, and Evie was ready to relax.

Except it turns out that when you take down the guy on top, everyone assumes you're going to fill his spot, and now Evie finds herself at the center of a whole lot of unwelcome magical attention. On top of that, a new client needs her to call up a family ghost and ask about a stolen inheritance; Evie's friend Nate has a supernatural problem of his own; and a legendary pack of hounds has been terrorizing Boston's undercurrent. And try as Evie might to deny the legacy that runs through her blood, when the Hunt is called, the Hound must run...
This is going to sound really strange but if I had written this review even a few days ago, I feel it would have been more positive.  For some reason over the last few days I've been going over in my head what I thought and felt while reading this book, and I'm now coming away with different thoughts.  I still really enjoyed the book and felt it was a good follow up to the first book in the series, Spiral Hunt, but now I'm also thinking it was a bit more confusing as well.
I'm absolutely in love with both Evie and Nate after this book and I was ecstatic to see them grow as characters and as a couple. Evie is forced into a situation where she is out on a limb with no sign up being able climb back down. With the defeat of Fiana, she is now being looked up to as the assumed leader of the magical community of Boston. Who else but the one who defeated the magic mob would take over? Nature abhors a vacuum, power can't survive in one. Evie needs to decided what she cares about more, her own life or that of the city. The choices she makes on the way will thrill and fascinate you. Evie is written with such a sense of humor that you can't help but like her and root for to come out on top.

Nate on the other hand is going through changes of his own.  He is still taking care of his younger sister, who seems to be growing in her own powers, and having to deal with a long absent father who wants to talk to him.   Little does Nate know but he is about to need Evie in a way that he never anticipated or that his father will be the catalyst for the change he is about to go through.
The characters and how the events they are participating in change their lives, is what I loved about this book.  They are both so human and so real that you as the reader are not only able to understand every decision they make, but you are hard pressed to think of a different way to handle them.
Now to what I'm not so sure I liked as much, namely that this book had way too much going on.  Evie is such a fun character that you want more of her and less of the crazy circumstance she finds herself in.  This book is chalk full of Chinese mythology, ghosts, time travel, lycanthropy, the Wild West, spirit roads, water spirits, the Wild Hunt, and the Gardner Museum.  There is so much going on that you almost feel sorry for Evie, she is never really able to stop and catch a breath.  Now since this is an urban fantasy book, every single element comes together at the end, but sometimes it's a little distracting to keep track of everything that is going on.
Even with all that being said, this was a solid second book in a series that I plan on following for as long as it lasts.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

BBAW 2010 Registration Is Now Open

Well it's almost time for Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2010.  It's just around the corner and now is the time to get registered.  Registration ends on July 7th, so if you are interested in nominating your blog or even in voting you need to get over and register.

BBAW is a celebration of all things book blogging.  It's a time for awards, interviews, prizes and getting to know our fellow bloggers on a level you may not have before.  I had a blast last year and got to know some fantastic bloggers who I now consider friends.  So needless to say I'm very excited to participate this year as well.  Now I'm a little self effacing at times so for me to submit myself into the awards process took a little prodding from some friends (thank you guys).  Now that I've decided to take the plunge I'm excited to see what happens.

As part of this year's nominating process we are being asked to select a niche that we feel our particular blog falls into.  I'm rather all over the place as far as the books I review so the only niche that I would feel comfortable saying I'm in would be Best Eclectic Blog.  Once we decide on the niche, we need to select 5 posts that paints the picture of our blogs. 

So with no further ado here are my 5 posts for Best Eclectic Blog:

In The Sanctuary Of Outcasts by Neil White

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Daddy is going to camp.  That's what I told my children.  But it wasn't camp....

Neil White wanted only the best for those he loved and was willing to go to any lengths to provide it - which is how he ended up in a federal prison in rural Louisiana, serving eighteen months for bank fraud.  But it was no ordinary prison.  The beautiful, isolated colony in Carville, Louisiana, was also home to the last people in the continental United States disfigured by leprosy - a small circle of outcasts who had forged a tenacious, clandestine community, a fortress to repel the cruelty of the outside world.  In this place rich with history, amid an unlikely mix of leprosy patients, nuns, and criminals, White's strange and compelling new life journey began.

I had first heard about this book while I was driving in my car listening to NPR, which is always on if I'm in the car.  It was June 3. 2009 and it was sometime between 10:00 AM and 12:00 PM.  I only know the time because it's the only time that The Diane Rehm Show is on here in Wichita.  I remember sitting in my car and listening to the author talk about his experience in the prison as well as what landed him behind bars to begin with, and I was utterly fascinated by the story.  I actually sat in the car until that hour was over, just so I wouldn't miss anything.  I'm listening to the show now while I'm writing my review, you can click here if you are interested in listening to it, which I would advise anyone interested in this story to do so.  So needless to say when I got a chance to read the book for myself, I grabbed it with both hands.

Now that I got that rather lengthy introduction out of the way I will get to what I thought of the book once I did get a chance to read it.  In a few words, I loved it.  This was a fascinating memoir into a short period of time in the author's life, that thankfully changed him for the better.

Neil White was a magazine publisher who was living the American dream.  He had a loving wife, two adorable children, and a thriving business.  He published various regional magazines serving the Gulf Coast.  Little did anyone else know that the only thing keeping this "successful" business afloat was the fact that Neil was kiting checks between two checking accounts.  Now he didn't know, or didn't want to know, that what he was doing was against the law and when he got caught, he had to pay the consequences.  Those consequences sent him to the federal prison at Carville.  What he did not realize was that Carville also served as the last leper colony in the United States.

What this book accounts is how Neil, who was  initially scared of the patients he was sharing this space with, grew to accept these people without fear or suspicion.  Through encounters with various patients Neil began to understand who they are as people, not as "lepers".  They became friends and bonds of trust grew between patients and prisoners.  Neil relates his story with humor, some of which is self effacing at times, which allows the reader to not only get to know him, but his fellow prisoners and the patients.

It was a pleasure to read how Neil grew as a person in prison and how he learned to see life in a new way.  Through interacting with the patients and his fellow prisoners, Neil was finally able to understand that what he had done to those he hurt, including his family, was his fault.  That the harm he caused was real and he needed to make amends.  Through the friendships he built, he was able to see his life in a new way and when he got out of prison, he was able to take those lessons and build a new one for himself and his children.

I'm going to end this rather rambling review here, as there is so much I could talk about that if I don't end it now, I'll never stop.  All I want to say is that I encourage everyone to read this book, that there is a lot all of us can learn from Neil and from those who suffer from Hansen's Disease (the more accepted name for leprosy).

I would like to thank Trish of TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read this wonderful book.

To find out more about Neil White and his book please visit his website.

To read more reviews of this book please visit the other stops on this tour.

To read more about Hansen's Disease and Carville, please visit The National Hansen's Disease Museum.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Favorite Fictional Character --- Mona Robinson

As most of you can tell by now I have a special fondness in my heart for the sitcoms from the 80s and the crazy characters than inhabited them.  So today I thought I would bring to your attention one of my favorites that doesn't get the recognition she deserves.

While a lot of attention is given to the character of Blanche Devereaux, who was portrayed by the brilliant Rue McClanhan, of The Golden Girls fame, not enough is given to Mona Robinson of Who's the Boss?, one of the funniest characters to ever grace a TV screen.

Like Blanche, Mona enjoyed men and would date everyone from a college student to a silver fox who controlled the boardroom and the bedroom.  Mona, as played by the vivacious Katherine Helmond, was what could only be called a sexually liberated woman who was comfortable in her own skin and though everyone else should be as well.  She was independent of needing a man but she also knew what having a man around added to her life.  She never felt the need to apologize for who she was and I have a lot of respect for anyone who is willing to live life without worrying about the judgements of others.

She also never held back while pushing Angela and Tony together or commenting on how the odd situations those two found themselves in would look to anyone else.  She was motherly and always good for advice.  Both Angela and Samantha would turn to her when they needed someone to talk to, as did Tony.  She was the glue that held this family together through the good times and bad.  She was the one who brought the laughs and the sage wisdom all at the same time. Mona was a dynamic character who just when you thought you had her figured out, she would surprise you with another layer to her personality. 

I can only wish that the current crop of TV writers would begin to pay more attention to characters like Mona, instead of the one dimensional stereotypes that seem to inhabit our screens today.

Winner Of The Pack by LM Preston

It is time to announce the winner of The Pack by LM Preston.

Using, I typed in the number ofentries and the winner was..........


I will email her and let her know.  She will then have 48 hours to send me her shipping info so I can forward to the author.  If not, I will select another winner.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Spiral Hunt by Margaret Ronald

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Some people have the Sight. Genevieve Scelan has the Scent.

They call her "Hound," and with her unique supernatural sense Evie can track nearly anything—lost keys, vanished family heirlooms . . . even missing people. And though she knows to stay out of the magical undercurrent that runs beneath Boston's historic streets, a midnight phone call from a long-vanished lover will destroy the careful boundaries she has drawn. Now, to pay a years-old debt, Evie must venture into the shadowy world that lies between myth and reality, where she will find betrayal, conspiracies, and revelations that will shatter all she believes about herself and the city she claims as home.

I read this one while I was out of town for business and I must say while I'm not head over heels in love with it, I'm pretty damn close.  This was an interesting introduction to a new series that will have a long, and prosperous futures, at least I'm hoping so.  As some of you may know, I'm a little new to the world of urban fantasy, and while I sill prefer traditional or high fantasy, I'm learning to love the world of magic and monsters set in our modern world.

Evie is a unique character even in the world of urban fantasy, well at least for me she is.  I've never run across another character who's sole magical ability seems to be a really strong sense of smell.  She can sense the scent of anything, whether it's a person, object, or even an event.  Everything, and I mean everything, leaves behind an odor and Evie can pick up on it.  She uses this ability as a detective to supplement her income as a bicycle messenger. 

Evie has been straddling the world we all know and that of magic all her life, never really fully in one of the other.  The magic world is controlled by the Bright Brotherhood, a cabal of magicians that seeks to control everything that goes on in the city of Boston.  She has tried to stay out of their way and as a result, while she may know about the world they inhabit, she really doesn't understand the rules.  When she gets that late night call from her ex lover, Evie is forced to learn those rules really quickly.

Outside of a few close friends, Evie is a loner.  She prefers her own company and that of a Red Sox game most of the time so when she is forced to team up with a sexy magician, she isn't sure whether or not to trust him.  He seems to be all right and is always there to get her back, but is he who he claims to be?  Or should she trust the guy she's known for years who is raising his kid sister, who seems to have talent of her own, but is unaware of the world that Evie is finding herself being enveloped by.  The back and forth pull that Evie feels for both of these men is an interesting dynamic to the book, and one that I thought the author did a wonderful job in portraying.

This book is flavored by Irish and Celtic mythology, which the author must have spent an inordinate amount of time researching.  Fin Mac Cool makes an appearance and he is actually the vehicle to explain Evie's ability.  I won't go into too much detail of what happens in the book, though there is a lot of action and characters making decisions, that while you many not completely understand at the time, all make sense by the end of the book.  I have already finished the second book in the series, Wild Hunt (review to come later), and I can't wait to see what happens to Evie next.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mailbox Monday for 6/21/10

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

I've been pretty hard on Stephen King as of late, namely I haven't really liked a new release from him in a very long time.  Michelle of The True Book Addict is a humongous fan of his and is always trying to convince me to give him another try, so when I saw Nightmares & Dreamscapes and The Talisman by him and Peter Straub in hardcover for $1 a piece at the Friends of the Library Book Store I figured I would give them a try.  The Talisman will be a reread, but not one that I've read for many years, and Nightmares & Dreamscapes will be a new one for me.  I also picked up Archangel by Michael Conner in hardcover for $1 as well, it's an alternate reality story set in Minneapolis, MN in the 1920s after a virulent plague that only kills whites.

The Secret (Of Happiness) by Demosthenes Armeniades was sent for review.  It calls itself an offbeat fairytale-thriller so I'm really looking forward to this one.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

I just wanted to quickly tell all the fathers out there, both biological or otherwise, have a Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Award Time

I have been horrible about passing along awards for the last few months and while I've thanked everyone who gave me one, I did not get them passed along to my fellow bloggers.  Unfortunately I've lost the list I was keeping of the awards and who gave them to me, so I will not be able to rectify that lapse now.  What I can do is promise that I will do a better job at it and will get them posted and passed along in a timely manner starting today.  So with no further explanation I would like to pass along the last award I got from two wonderful bloggers.

I was given this award by the witty Joemmama of Life Happens While Books Are Waiting and from the always lovely Laurel of Laurel-Rain Snow's Explorations.

The Rules for the award are:

1. Thank the person who gave you this award

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason! (in no particular order…)

4. Contact the bloggers you’ve picked and let them know about the award.
I've already thanked Joemmama for giving me this lovely award, so rule number 1 is taken care of.
Now Onto The 7 Things About Myself:
1.  My favorite ice cream used to be Chubby Hubby from Ben & Jerry's but now that I can't find it anymore I settle for Pistachio Pistachio from the same company.
2.  I have a fasincation for bunnies and I probably run into one at least once a week everytime I step outside.
3.  I'm addicted to All My Children and One Life To Live and no matter how ridiculous the storylines get, I can't stop watching.
4.  I hate to shave and go as long as I can get away with between shaving, which means if I don't have to work I don't shave.
5.  I have every intention of retiring back to Minnesota since the older I get the less I can stand the heat.
6.  I'm considering converting to the church of most of my anscestors, the Roman Catholic Church.
7.  I hate riding a bus.  I can't stand the smell and they always give me a headache.
I am not going to be following the rest of the rules however because I think everyone reading this post right now deserves this award for being brilliant, versatile bloggers who I have learned so much from.  You guys are fantastic and I'm so honored that you take the time to read what I put out on my blog.  Thank you so much form the bottom of my heart and I hope we can continue this relationship for years to come.  Please feel free to post this award on your own blog and pass it along to those you feel are Versatile Bloggers.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Solstice Wood by Patricia A. McKillip

Synopsis From Dust Jacket:

When bookstore owner Sylvia Lynn hears her grandmother's voice on the phone, she knows she must finally return to her childhood home in upstate New York. Her beloved grandfather has died, and though she has put a country between her and the past, the time has come for Sylvia to face the grandmother who raised her and the woods which so beguiled - and frightened - her...

Though Lynn Hall is nearly ramshackle, Sylvia's grandmother is just as spry as ever. There is no escaping her scrutiny - and Sylvia has something to hide. But it's not until she meets the Fiber Guild - a group of local women who meet to knit, embroider, and sew - that Sylvia learns why her grandmother watches her. A primitive power exists in the forest, a force the Fiber Guild seeks to bind in its stitches and weavings. And Sylvia is no stranger to the woods...

I've only read one other book by Patricia A. McKillip, though I wished I could remember the name of it, but she now has a fan for life.  She is such a lyrically beautiful writer, every word is sacred and every scene in the book is lovingly set for the reader to enjoy.  This is a haunting book of family secrets and longing for a place to call home, it just so happens to be set in a old country manor surrounded by woods that holds it's own secrets.

I don't want to get into too much detail about Sylvia and what happens to her family in this book but reading the internal torment that forced Sylvia to leave home to begin with is all to familiar with me.  Who doesn't struggle with their identity at times?  When that identity forces you to leave all you love behind, the pain is horrific but the strength it builds in you can be your salvation.  Sylvia needs all that strength to confront her past and her family's present when she returns home for the funeral of her loving grandfather.

This is a book of magic set in the modern world and not once did those two opposing ideas clash with each other.  Patricia A. McKillip crafted the story to be believable and she more than pulled it off.  Not once did it feel out of place for there to be fairies living in the wood or for magic to be created by knitting, weaving, and sewing knots.  This is a fairy tale for adults and I can't wait to get lost in this world again.

Watermark & Creation Of Eve Winner Announced

It is time to announce the lucky winner who will be getting an ARC of Watermark by Vanitha Sankaran and an ARC of The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen.  Using and using 1 through 12 as the drawing numbers.....the lucky winner is.....


I will email Amy the good news and she will then have 48 hours to get back to me with her mailing address.  If for some reason she does not get back to me, a new winner will be picked and announced.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Eye of the Crow by Shane Peacock

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Sherlock Holmes, just thirteen, is a misfit. His highborn mother is the daughter of an aristocratic family, his father a poor Jew. Their marriage flouts tradition and makes them social pariahs in the London of the 1860s; and their son, Sherlock, bears the burden of their rebellion. Friendless, bullied at school, he belongs nowhere and has only his wits to help him make his way.

But what wits they are! His keen powers of observation are already apparent, though he is still a boy. He loves to amuse himself by constructing histories from the smallest detail for everyone he meets. Partly for fun, he focuses his attention on a sensational murder to see if he can solve it. But his game turns deadly serious when he finds himself the accused — and in London, they hang boys of thirteen.

I've had this one sitting around since late last year and I'm now wishing I had picked it up sooner.  This was a fascinating look into the childhood of one of literature's favorite characters.  Now granted, this may not be the childhood Sir Arthur Conan Doyle envisioned for Sherlock Holmes, but it worked for me.

This was the story of a lonely, introverted young man who would rather be in a town square observing others than in the school he didn't feel comfortable in.  He is highly intelligent but doesn't seem to care about much other than his parents who are outcasts from society for their unconventional marriage.  That all changes when the murder of a young woman grabs his attention from the pages of a newspaper specializing in sensational stories.  He is of the mind that maybe he can put his skills to the test and solve the murder on his own, but when his actions inadvertently cause him to become a suspect in the case, he must use those same skills to save himself.

When he is befriended by a young woman, who becomes his first friend, he realized that their is more at stake than his own life or the life of the young man who is in jail waiting trial for the killing.  He is forced to utilize every resource at his disposal which puts them all in danger.  His new friend, the gang of youths who help supply him with information, and even his own mother are now in danger and only Sherlock can figure a way out of it.

I'm in awe of this story and of the way that Sherlock solves the case, as wild of the ride Sherlock takes to discover the truth, not once does it come across as unbelievable.  Even when crows are used as eye witnesses, this story never enters the realm of over the top.  I don't want to get into too much detail since I don't want to ruin the story for you.  I will say that I was engaged from start to finish and I can't wait to get my hands on the next book in the series. 

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

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Favorite Fictional Character --- Thundarr the Barbarian

The year: 1994. From out of space comes a runaway planet, hurtling between the Earth and the Moon, unleashing cosmic destruction! Man's civilization is cast in ruin!

Two thousand years later, Earth is reborn...

A strange new world rises from the old: a world of savagery, super science, and sorcery. But one man bursts his bonds to fight for justice! With his companions Ookla the Mok and Princess Ariel, he pits his strength, his courage, and his fabulous Sunsword against the forces of evil.

He is Thundarr, the Barbarian!
So goes the opening narration of one of my favorite cartoons growing up.  I can still remember laying on the floor of my grandparent's living room (which they had just had recarpeted) and watching this show as many times as I could get away with.  This was a vision of a post apocalyptic world, of course I didn't know that word back then, gone mad and I couldn't get enough of it.

Thundarr was a captive slave of a evil sorcerer king who was bent on domination of all those weaker than him.  With the aid of Ookla the Mok, who was a fellow captive he managed to escape the chains of bondage.  They were joined by the king's stepdaughter, Princess Ariel who was a sorceress in her own right and they traveled the ravaged world, helping the weak and destroying those who wished to dominate their wills on the general populace.  

Theirs was a hybrid world of science and magic.  Most of the evil tyrants they fought were sorceress who used science to amplify their powers.  Our heroes were committed to defeating these same tyrants and did so with a style all their own.  In a landscape that was totally alien but hauntingly familiar to our own, they battled evil and corruption everywhere they went.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Demon Bound by Caitlin Kittredge

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Thirteen years ago, Jack Winter lay dying in a graveyard. Jack called upon a demon and traded his soul for his life. and now the demon is back to collect its due. But Jack has finally found something to live for. Her name is Pete Caldecott, and because of her, Jack's not going to Hell without a fight.

Pete doesn't know about Jack's bargain, but she does know that something bigger and far more dangerous than Jack's demon is growing in the Black. Old gods are stirring and spirits are rising--and Jack doesn't stand a chance of stopping them without Pete's help.
Before I get started in on the review I just wanted to say, this cover is so much better than the first book in the series.  Jack still looks dangerous and oh so sexy and Pete looks almost normal now.  I do find it odd that on both covers, Jack is featured quite a bit more than Pete.  I can live with that though, Jack is just hot for a blond boy.
This book lived up to the potential that I saw in Street Magic.  The characters of Pete and Jack were developed beyond my expectations.  You get a better sense of who Jack is and where he came from, why he is and acts the way he does.  I even found myself liking Pete more after finishing this book.  She is a little softer in this one and doesn't seem to be as angry all the time, that last part goes for Jack as well. 
There is starting to be a little more sexual tension between the two and when it becomes too much to bare, it's pretty intense.  Now normally I'm not big on sex scenes in books, unless I'm reading erotica, but this felt natural and not out of place in the book, which is what causes me to skip most sex scenes.  Most of them feel forced, that the author feels they need to slide in a sex scene to keep the reader interested.  Not this one, this was hot and after all the misunderstanding and mixed emotions between the two of them, it's welcomed by the reader.
As to the storyline itself, I even enjoyed that more than the first book.  Street Magic, served as a introduction to the characters and their basic backgrounds.  Demon Bound, had more meat on it's bones.  The story was fleshed out a bit more and I cared about the ending a lot more than I did before.  I won't give the ending away, but I'm now dying to read the third book, I have to have it or my head will explode....well not really but you get the point.  Did I mention that there is a old haunted house in the country?  How can you go wrong with a haunted house?
Bottom line is that I loved it and I can't wait to find out what happens to Pete and Jack next.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Street Magic by Caitlin Kittredge

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Her name is Pete Caldecott.  She was just sixteen when she met Jack Winter, a gorgeous, larger-than-life mage who thrilled her with his witchcraft.  Then a spirit Jack summoned killed him before Pete's eyes-or so she thought.  Now a detective, Pete is investigating the kidnapping of a young girl form the streets of London...a case that brings her face to face with Jack.

Strung out on heroin, Jack is a shadow of his former self.  But he's able to tell Pete exactly where Bridget's kidnappers are hiding: in the supernatural shadow world of the fey.  Pete follows jack into the fey underworld, where she hopes to discover the truth about what happened to Bridget-and what happened to jack on that dark day so long ago...

I had been going back and forth on whether or not I wanted to read these books.  A lot of my friends and fellow bloggers love this series but every time I picked up Street Magic, which is the first book in the series, I would get turned off by the way Pete is depicted on the cover.  If you look at it, Jack is sexy and looks dangerous while Pete just looks ridiculous.  She posed with her head leaning down and her shoulders pulled back which causes her arms to hang straight down, behind her back.  She looks like a sexed up B-Movie vampire ready to pounce on her prey.  I think it's a really poor representation of a what I discovered to be a dynamic character. 

With all that being said, I must say I really enjoyed it, I finished it about a day and moved onto the second book in the series, Demon Bound (review coming soon), which I also finished in a little more than a day.  Jack and Pete have a very interesting relationship and one that I found myself getting drawn into even with all the mistrust and anger that is festering under the surface.  They are both twisted up inside over what happened 12 years ago when the spirit Jack summoned turned on him.  But when the ramifications of that night bring them back together, sparks start to fly and fireworks blow up.

While the plot was interesting, if a little bit predictable, it was the characters that engrossed form the beginning and while I enjoyed both of them, it was Jack that I found myself connecting with the most.  He had been through so much, most of which he had done to himself, which has made him angry and bitter, but you can still see the good in him.  The side of him that still cares and wants to live again is there, fighting to get out, and the transformation he makes throughout the book is wonderful to witness.  He is such an interesting character, as is Pete, that I can't wait to continue the series to see how they both develop.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mailbox Monday for 6/14/10

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

The Blue Moon Cafe by Rick R. Reed was received from the author for review.

Never Wave Goodbye by Doug Magee was received from the publicist for review.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Out of Town For Work I Go.....

I just wanted to quickly say I'm going to be out of town for work over the weekend so I won't be around to read your wonderful comments or comment on your posts.  I'll be back late Sunday night, so if I have the energy I will check in and see what took place while I was away, if not I'll be back on Monday.  Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Psychic: My Life in Two Worlds by Sylvia Browne

Synopsis From Dust Jacket:

At the age of seventy-three, New York Times–bestselling author Sylvia Browne is ready to tell the whole story of her extraordinary life. In Psychic, we meet the woman behind the public figure: from the teenager doubting her own sanity to the new mother living through staggering highs and lows; from the burgeoning celebrity to the successful, happily married woman she is today. Filled with never-before-told stories, Psychic is a riveting account of how Sylvia Shoemaker, a traditional girl from Missouri, became world-famous psychic Sylvia Browne.

Nothing is off-limits. Sylvia tells the little-known truths behind her three failed marriages — including physical abuse, bankruptcy, and legal troubles — and the financial and emotional damage they wreaked. She revisits her personal demons and describes her physical challenges, from a series of painful hip surgeries to her relatively recent discovery that she’d suddenly gone blind in one eye. And then there is the greatest surprise of all: Sylvia tells how, once she had reached her seventies and believed her romantic life was over, the real Mr. Right finally — impossibly — showed up.

I've never known much about Sylvia Browne outside of the fact that she was a psychic and appeared on the Montel Williams show a lot.  That lack of knowledge is the main reason I wanted to read this book and hear her life story from the source, not some tabloid you find at the supermarket checkout counter.  For the most part I was disappointed, I felt that I cam away from this with a little bit of an understanding of who she is a woman who passionately loves her family and who takes her ability and the help that she can provide to people, seriously but with gratitude as well. 
Throughout the book she comes across as a woman of strength who has overcome and lived through some truly horrible times, including an abusive husband.  Growing up in a household where my father wasn't exactly the nicest person on the planet and who would show that on my mom, I have a great deal of sympathy and respect for women or men who come out of abusive relationships stronger for it and who are willing to give life a second chance.
The rest of the book has Sylvia explaining her beliefs on where we come from, where we go when we die, who the angels are, and various other segments of her beliefs.  Now I'm going to be honest, I'm not sure how much of what she says I believe myself.  I'm not even sure it matters, all I know is that she truly believes it.  The odd thing, at least to me,is that her beliefs made more sense to me than I thought they would when I first started in on this book.  The way she views life and the afterlife meshes to a degree with my own personal beliefs, though I think we may think of them in completely different terms.  I will say this, my curiosity has been grabbed and I have every intention of checking out some of her other books. 
Sylvia Browne is a number one New York Times–bestselling author and world-famous psychic. She has appeared regularly on The Montel Williams Show and Larry King Live and has made countless other media and public appearances. She is also the founder of a church, the Society of Novus Spiritus, which will celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2011.  Visit Sylvia at her website,

I would like to thank Tricia of TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book.  For more stops on the tour please visit the TLC Book Tour page.

Favorite Fictional Character --- Mandrake the Magician

Growing up, I was always fascinated by stage magicians.  There was something so wondrous about a elegantly dressed man wearing a a top hat who can make things disappear or appear at will.  So when I came across a bunch of old comic books, during the 4th grade, that showcased a stage magician who not only performed real magic but fought criminals and saved innocents, I was hooked.

Mandrake the Magician started as a syndicated comic strip appearing in newspapers are the country in the 1930s.  He quickly became so popular that he started to appear in his own comic books, the ones I fell in love with plus a radio series in the 1940s and a movie serial from Columbia pictures, which is now available on DVD (I'm so buying them).

Needless to say with all the moving we did as I kid I eventually lost track of those comic books and Mandrake had slowly started to fade in my memory, so when the animated series, Defenders of the Earth, came out in the late 1980s I was hooked once again.  Defenders paired Mandrake up with his old sidekick Lothar (who was one of the earliest black heroes to appear in comic books), The Phantom, and Flash Gordon, both of which where first created by King Features, the company behind the Mandrake comic strip.  I loved this show, these heroes, along with their younger heirs, fought off Ming the Merciless from conquering our world.  It was only on for about one season, but every once in a while I find episodes of it for sale on DVD.

I have a lot of fond memories of Mandrake as he fought evil villians like The Cobra.  He stuck to his guns and never let the situations he found himself in, get the best of him.  He was strong and kind and I owe a big thank you to whoever put those comics in that box, then forgot about then.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Pack by LM Preston, Plus A Giveaway At The End!

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Shamira is considered an outcast by most, but little does anyone know that she is on a mission.  Kids on Mars are disappearing, but Shamira decides to use the criminals' most unlikely weapons against them-the very kids they have captured.

In order to succeed, she is forced to trust another person, something she is afraid to do.  However, Valens, her connection to the underworld of her enemy, proves to be a useful ally.  Time is slipping, and so is her control on the power that resides within her.  Yet in order to save her brother's life, she is willing to risk everything.

Shamira is a interesting character to read about.  She starts of blind, which was caused by a childhood incident, and at first you think this will hold her back.  She is walking home from school, but she is baiting the bad guys, she wants them to make a grab for her so she can kick their butts.  When her wish comes true and one of them makes an attempt, it's interrupted by Valens who assumes that since she is blind, she can't take care of herself.  Little does he know that Shamira is more than capable of kicking a little butt.

Her vigilantism is quickly discovered by her parents, who are members of the elite defense force that rules and patrols the Martian populace.  When things start to get a little too dangerous her father brings her back to Earth to get her eyes fixed, along with a few other enhancements.  After the surgery, they find out that her little brother, who is her only friend, has been kidnapped by the drug dealers who are trying to take over the planet.

Once they get back home, and while her parents are busy trying to keep the planet from plunging into chaos, Shamira takes it upon herself to find her brother.  With the help of Valens and other kids who have freed themselves from the bad guys, Shamira sets off to do just that.  At first, she doesn't trust these kids, but as time goes on she not only starts to trust them but to like them as well.  For the first time Shamira is allowing herself to be liked by others and to form relationships with others outside her family.  The growth she experiences in both her physical capabilities and her emotional state of being are truly something worth reading and what I think makes her a dynamic character that kids can look up to.

Now back when I reviewed the author's previous book, Explorer X-Alpha, I stated that if the setting was high fantasy I would have enjoyed it more than I did reading something set in outer space.  I still feel that way after reading this one, but I'm starting to understand the appeal of science taken to the next level and of stories that take place on other planets.  This was a fast paced book where the characters were constantly having to react to the events around them, I'm not sure that would have worked within a fantasy setting.

Aidan and I read this one together and I think that's the other reason I enjoyed this one a bit more.  While reading Explorer X-Alpha I kept getting annoyed by the writing and would have to remind myself this was aimed at readers quite a bit younger than I am, well a lot younger than I am.  This time around by watching and hearing Aidan react to the story, I found myself getting into quite a bit more and the writing style seemed to be at just the right level.  Obviously, while I was reading this to Aidan, I did leave out some parts that I don't think a 7 year old should hear, but don't let that stop you from giving this to your older children, which this book is aimed at.  I'm really looking forward to sharing more of LM Preston's work with my son.

Time For The Giveaway

One lucky commenter on this post will win a copy of the book, a poster, and a magnet.  Plus every one who wins during this blog tour will automatically receive a copy of Bandits, LM Preston's upcoming book, which will be released in Spring of 2011.

To win, all you have to do is leave a comment about what intrigues you about this book or even the genre.  All entrants must be a follower of this blog, either through Google Friend Connect or some other avenue.  Please let me know in the comment how you follow my blog.  I will assume this giveaway is open to US residents only, but if I find out different I will let you know.  The giveaway will run till 11:59 pm CST on 6/22/10.