The further adventures of Ellie, Gavin, Will, Kalim and Hosanna the blood red horse. In this, the second installment of their saga, home (England) does not prove to be as welcoming as the brothers might wish. Gavin questions his worthiness as a leader because he lost an arm on Crusade. You'd think it would be seen as an honorable loss, in battle & for God etc. but apparently not. Will proves that it is always wiser to think before you leap into action. Kalim again proves that loyalty and honor can sometimes win out over the desire for vengeance. & Ellie? Well, Ellie and Old Nurse, that ale swilling, obese & beloved old woman? Together they prove that women too can be courageous and honorable and brave. Richard the Lionhearted, Prince John, Saladin and that evil swine Constable de Scabious all make their bows. As does a certain young lady named Marissa (I think. Again, it would be nice if I took notes before returning these books!), who like people everywhere, seems determined to make more trouble than she's worth.
Anyhow- the third in this series is titled Blaze of Silver and will be published next month.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Husband is in the middle of juggling applications at two different hospitals on opposite ends of our area. One is in his medical subspecialty (obstetrics & women's health), one is completely different (cardiac step down & icu). Each location has good points & bad ones, but one has vastly better benefits. The other, though, has two employees husband has worked with previously & respects. Don't know how it will fall out, but the situation where he is currently employed isn't improving, it has deteriorated. So we're on tenterhooks at the moment.
Son #1 continues to muddle along. The ballpark job has hit a snag. He thought the orientation was tonight, but we arrived & the place was empty. Not a soul. He says he tried calling twice to confirm the date and time, but never was able to speak to a live human, only phone trees. Poor guy is disappointed. We'll try & talk to a human tomorrow. OTOH, one of his buddies is trying to line him up with a part time job with a lawn service. We'll see how things shake out. On the college apps- two acceptances, one yet to hear from. We're holding off on decisions until we hear about financial aid packages from each place. GF is sick with stomach flu, but otherwise ok. She's in school part time & trying to hang tough. I'm attempting to get them to decide whose prom they're going to attend.
Daughter continues to hang tough with geometry. She volunteers at the county animal shelter & is thinking about getting a summer job at the mall, hopefully at her favorite anime store. *eye roll* On Easter Eve, the Great Vigil (April 7th) she will be confirmed at our church & we're planning a big family party to celebrate on Easter Sunday. The big trip her Sunday School class has been planning *snort* has hit that eternal snag- $$$. Supposedly airfares have risen dramatically in the last few weeks, eating into the budget. My problem is that the adults planning this little escape have known for months where the kids wanted to go & ought not have waited so long to pay deposits etc. Now the kids may have to completely retrench & choose another location. I'm angry about the whole situation, it has been mismanaged from the word go & there's no one to blame but the adults in charge, but the kids will pay for the lack of advance planning & guidance.
Son #2 has been accepted into the IBMYP magnet program in our school district. This is the same program Daughter is on the tail end of. It is an excellent program & we respect it highly. He's very very excited. Some of his friends have been accepted as well & he's looking forward to trading homework horror stories & having some of the same teachers Daughter had. Musically he continues to sing & play piano. No voice change yet. There's a new male choir member at church who sings tenor all the way to alto (& beautifully too). He & the Son have traded laughs a time or two, as he started as a boy soprano just as Son is now.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Finished this one over the weekend. Struggled to overcome wanting to smack the heroine for her self centered, 'me first & your side of the story doesn't count' view of past events with the hero. Previous to this novel Alexsandr & Abigail had a brief relationship in Russia. Apologies if I've mispelled his name. Sacha was a policeman/member of the secret police/spy. Abby fell afoul of the law, became a suspect and ended up being interrogated & then deported. Even four years later, Abby expected Sacha to drop everything & ruin his career to prevent her from being interrogated & imprisoned. Like the other Drake Sisters novels, this one takes place in northern California.
I had a very hard time wrapping my mind around her expectations which were based on a brief but intense relationship. I mean, they were is Russia for goodness sake. What did she think their justice system was going to be?To my mind, there aren't many marriages that would have withstood such events, never mind the fact that almost no one would flush an entire career down the toilet for a person they barely knew (even if the sex was fantastic). I thought Abby's refusal to read Sacha's letters or even to listen him or to consider that his side of the story was equally valid was stupid and juvenile. I'm not saying she had to agree with him or condone his actions, but for heavens' sake, woman, grow up!
Anyhow, the plot is that Abby has returned home to help plan her sisters' upcoming wedding. She witnessed a Russian mafia hit on an Interpol agent & the attempted murder of several locals. Sacha's partner is murdered. Who is smuggling art through the area & why? Why won't they just use a different route to get their goods into the country? That being the typical way things are done- when the route is too 'hot' it's dropped. More than that, now that Sacha's found Abby again he's determined to make her hear his side of the story & regain her trust and love.
I read this series for the relationship between the sisters as opposed to the romances. The hero, Sacha, is typical Feehan in that he's immensely devoted to his love interest & is emotionally wounded. Anyhow, I think I need to reread John Le Carre now!
Friday, March 23, 2007
An anthology of short stories, compiled by two prominent editors in the fantasy genre. Originally published by Viking in 2004. Several prominent authors: Patricia McKillip and Neil Gaiman among others. This is a wonderful title for those times when you're overly busy & need something you can pick up & put back down at random. I loved the artwork at the beginning of each story. Favorite pieces: Catnyp by Delia Sherman; the story by Bill Congreve who is an Australian author I'm adding to my library list, his piece was very evocative of his homeland; Never Never by Bruce Glassco, which attempts to set Capt. Hook straight as to the true purpose of Never Never Land. In truth all of the stories in The Faery Reel are good, these simply stick out in my memory more than most. Also included in an appendix is a list of related titles, a few of which I've already borrowed from my library. Each story is followed by an editors note about the author's career & lists titles recently comleted (as of publication date of this volume) or soon to be published as well a awards received.
Posted by Bookwormom at 12:54 PM
Thursday, March 22, 2007
I finished this a couple of days ago & needed some time to sort out my thoughts before posting about it. Cecelia Ahern is the Irish Prime Minister's daughter. Not that that affected what I think about the book or the author, I just thought that was an interesting tidbit. Set in contemporary Ireland, P.S. I Love You is about Holly. Just turning thirty, newly & unexpectedly widowed after the sudden death of her husband Gerry, PSILY follows Holly's emergence from grief into a new life of her own. I guess it's a chick lit, but the subject matter was surprisingly serious for what appeared (my mistake for judging the cover & the blurb) to be more light hearted than it turned out to be.
Gerry has written ten letters to Holly & mailed them to her parents' home, Holly doesn't pick them up until Gerry has been dead two months. One letter per month until the end of the year (March through December inclusive), each letter gives Holly a new task to help her move on. Some are funny (karaoke) and some are poignant & painful (sorting through his belongings). Holly & Gerry had quite a close circle of friends who helped her nurse Gerry through his illness & attempt to help her through grief.
My biggest problem is the fact that Holly's friends, while patient & supportive to an extent, all eventually tell Holly she 'needs to get a grip and move on.' One of the friends goes so far as to say so to Holly's face- and then says 'don't tell so & so I was here (his wife) 'cuz she doesn't know I came.' Oh & BTW, the wife is preggers & needs Holly to stop grieving & be a supportive friend. Someone else is getting married & tells Holly to stop moping & help her celebrate the upcoming wedding. Poor Gerry hasn't even been in his grave a year!
All of my problems revolve around Holly's buddies. I don't think they were truly friends. As far as I'm concerned they were shallow & thoughtless & drank like fish. On more than one occaision they drag Holly out to some event & proceed to get so drunk one or more of them black out- friends who help you like that? Don't need 'em. Finally Holly lands a job she loves & works like the devil to earn her boss' respect & help herself move on. What do the friends do? Berate her for suddenly becoming a workaholic. Never mind that Holly needs the cash & has no real work history & so does need to prove her worth to the boss.
In all honesty, I really like Holly. She sees most of her shortcomings & her strengths & copes admirably with all life throws at her. Her family, like everyone else's, is a mixed bag of ok, pain in the bum & supportive. I thought the letters were a wonderful construct to show Holly's personal growth & her close relationship with Gerry. But the friends? Could've been better. Then again, no friend can be everything you need in a time of crisis, but jeez. Too, Holly could've spoken up earlier & more often and told them what for. None of us are perfect though.
For all of my disike of Holly's friends I enjoyed Ms. Ahern's story about Holly & Gerry. Holly was a likeable person who measured up in the end & became a better person. I'm on the lookout for more of Ms. Ahern's work.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
And return to us soonest. I hope all is well. Brussels must be hectic. Hugs.
In case anyone's wondering, Maili's blog has disappeared. Last I heard she was moving to Brussels in January, but her blog addy was suspended & is now gone. If anyone has heard from her or knows if she has a new blog going please leave a link.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Just a quick synopsis of a young adult book I recently finished. It's first in a trilogy, second is out in pb & the third one comes out next month. Naturally I've lost my notes & therefore my mind, so I'm stuck with whatever I can remember (which usually isn't much).
Blood Red Horse by K. M. Grant an adventure laden coming of age tale set in late 12th century England & Jerusalem. Two brothers, Gavin & Will, set off with their benign & negligent dad to Crusade in the Holy Land, restoring control of Christ's country to the rightful Christians. Their father's ward, Eleanor (Ellie), is left behind at the mercy of Constable de Scabious (who turns out to be as horrible as his name). Will's beloved stallion Hosanna, what a great name for a horse BTW!, goes along and has more adventures all by himself than one would think possible. Young Kalim, an orphaned Muslim under the care of Sultan Saladin himself, proves to be a troubled but sometimes compassionate leader who is fated to love Hosanna as much as Will. Meantime, Ellie gets tutored, on the sly, in reading and ends up in serious trouble as a result. Naturally, Will and Gavin return barely in time to save the day.
I really enjoyed this first volume in the de Granville trilogy, the next one is titled Green Jasper and sits in the library pile waiting its turn. BRH is intense and dark, but also more true to history & (hopefully) less biased against Muslims than many other historical fiction novels, regardless of audience. Some of the early scenes with Hosanna are heartbreaking a la Black Beauty & I really struggled to like Gavin through the entire book. Kalim I liked & understood, but Gavin struck me as an overindulged whiner whose daddy ought to have disciplined more than he did. There are hints at the end, though, that Gavin will change quite a bit as the trilogy moves on.
Friday, March 16, 2007
The Traitor's Tale is the most recent installment in the ongoing Sister Frevisse 15th century historical mystery series. Link to descrption of book and image of book jacket in link in title. This one takes place a few months after The Sempster's Tale, which I read a week or ten days ago. Some of the dangling strings leftover from TST are merely mentioned in passing. I'm not altogether pleased with that, frankly, but there's nothing I can do about it.
Basically this is a political espionage whodunit. Frevisse has been dragged out of her convent again to provide solace and support for her bereaved and beseiged cousin Alice de la Pole, Duchess of Suffolk. Joliffe pops up. He and Frevisse and Alice must work together to try and save both Alice's young son John (the new duke) and the Duke of York from unknown but powerful political enemies.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
One is A Factory of Cunning by Philippa Stockley. This is set up so that the story evolves via letters written by the characters. Normally this doesn't bother me, but for some reason I just couldn't submerge myself into Ms. Stockley's creation. Another possible factor: vengeance appears to be a main motivation behind the lead character, "Mrs. Fox." Again, this wouldn't normally be an issue. It simply didn't gel for me. Another time, perhaps.
The second is Secrets of the Night by Jo Beverley. I find the whole premise shaky at best: well off young woman in a comfortable marriage of convenience finds a Malloren injured by the wayside, takes him home and has her way with him for an entire weekend specifically to conceive a child to prevent a sectarian relative from inheriting the estate. Not only that, but they manage to 'fall in love' over the course of the weekend, despite the fact that she insists on wearing a mask, keeps him locked in his room & swears no one can know the true course of events.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
So, you remember I said I'm not on the 'net much 'cuz of burnout? Ok, yesterday I discover my cell phone has RSS capability (at no extra charge! YAY!). Meaning, I can list a bunch of sites I want to keep track of & the phone stores it- saving me precious hunt & peck typing time, not to mention crackberry thumb (an authentic disorder, BTW). Unlike my Brother, living among the golden waves of grain, who could type 100+ wpm. Or at least, he claims he used to.
Anyhow, I've had fun entering sites & blogs & whatnot into my little phone so I can keep track of youse guys even while away from a full size 'puter. Only one or two hitches. One:I can't leave comments. The phone claims the sites have unauthenticated security certificates. Whatever. So, Jenster's adorable rant about her motormouth kid? Couldn't leave a sympathy comment. Two: some sites whose entries have hyperlinks won't come up. Example- Smartbitches won't come up either on the 'net (the phone surfs too) or on the RSS aggregator. However, Tara's blog comes up on both the RSS and on the phone's 'net fine even with hyperlinks (which work, BTW).
I'm not complaining. The phone was cheap (less than $100), as 'net capable phones go. So a glitch or two, here & there? No biggie. Son #2 has loaded Lemonade Tycoon onto it & plays it in the car. Also. The younger two kids have already beaten the other game (Tropical Madness) I put on it & now regularly beg me to pony up the $$$ for more games. Any reccs for cell phone games with great graphics? That my kids won't beat as soon as its loaded onto the phone?
Monday, March 12, 2007
Son #1~ Suffering with what is called 'short timers attitude' in the military. In other words, he can't seem to be bothered with homework, projects, etc. because, and I quote, "I'm graduating in June, mom." Well, let me tell you- if he keeps up with the current attitude it'll be a miracle if he makes it. Has been hired for the summer to work selling concessions for the local farm baseball team. Very excited, although the pay is minimum wage. Real life, here we come!
Son's GF~ He keeps telling me, "not really GF/BF, mom", but they talk on the phone an hour a day. I've been married nearly 20 years & we don't talk that much. LOL ;) Anyhow, she's been permitted to return to school on a greatly reduced schedule. Which is good news all 'round. Is back in hospital for a cardiac cath, but supposedly this is a routine check on her heart health & rejection status.
Daughter~ Hanging on in geometry by her fingernails. I've gotta hand it to her, though. She's persistant & disciplined & tries her damndest. I've already advised her not to choose a career field where lots of math is necessary. She tells me calculators are a girl's best friend. She and some GFs spent the night and pulled an all night Supernatural season 1 marathon. Very nearly went to an anime convention, but was derailed at the last minute by a previous obligation to volunteer at the animal shelter.
Son #2~ Still puttering along. Is finally done with his detested piano primers & has moved on to "real music". He has also had his first lesson on the organ at church & talked about stops & pedals & ranks & buttons for days afterwards. Very excited young man, let me tell you. Oh & BTW- he's nearly as tall as Daughter despite being almost 4 years younger. She's not best pleased either. What else? He applied for the same specialty program Daughter is going through. Notification letters to be mailed end of the week. Husband claims Son is nervous about getting in, but I've not seen that from him.
Husband~Works for the Army medical system here in DC. The same one that has been pilloried around the world for lack of adequate care, etc. Needless to say, the whole damn place is in an uproar, which looks to be worsening over time. Not exactly good for his stress level. On the upside, his birthday is coming up soon & he's requested b'fast in bed. After the kids go to school. ;)
Friday, March 09, 2007
They Call Me Naughty Lola, edited by David Rose and published by Scribner in 2006, is a collection of some of the most creative, painful and funny personal ads placed in the London Review of Books. I saw it on a table of new books at the library and couldn't resist. Occasionally I read the personals in our local paper for exactly the same reason- laughs. Yes, I'm mean enough to laugh at other people's desperation. Rarely have I ever seen ads quite as funny as these, though. Then again- I love the Brits' dry, ironic sense of humor. Best read in bed curled up beside your special someone so s/he too can laugh at humanity's gift for creativity even in the face of bleak despair and overwhelming loneliness. Whatever the well of inspiration, this is certainly worthy of a spot on your bedside table.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Wildwood Dancing was written by Juliet Marillier and published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2007. Link to the publisher page for this book is in the title above. This is an amalgamation of Eastern European fairytales set in Romania during the nineteenth century. I know I've forgotten one or two tales Ms. Mariller refers to, but the ones I recognized while reading WD are: 12 Dancing Princesses, the Frog Prince and Baba Yaga. Like other works in Ms. Mariller's backlist, WD features strong young women on the cusp of adulthood. WD is a young adult fantasy.
Five sisters: Tatiana, Jenica, Paula, Iulia and Stela live in a derelict castle in the Romanian countryside with their widower father and a few elderly servants. Their father is seriously ill with what appears to be a lung infection and must spend the winter at the seaside. Leaving the girls alone at the castle with only their uncle and an older male cousin to turn to for help should they need it. As soon as father leaves odd and sinister events happen. The uncle is killed in an hunting accident (but was it really?), leaving the girls at the mercy of their cousin-a greedy, deliberately intimidating older teen who belittles and bullies his cousins. Their father is out of touch- deliberately perhaps?
Like the best traditional fairytales, before they were judged "too violent" and subsequently rewritten, Wildwood Dancing is full of menace and threats. Yet it also lovingly depicts a close and loving family who care for each other and those they are responsible for. Will Tati and Jena make peace over Sorrow? Will their cousin spoil it all? Who killed the dwarf and the young lady down in the village? Why doesn't their father reply to Jena's letters? Who fixed the fence? Will Jena and Gogu figure it all out before it's too late??
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Unlike the first book in this series (Hunter's Moon), The Summer King is bittersweet & heartfelt. There are themes galore: grief and mourning, denial and acceptance, life and death, sacrifice for the greater good. All of which are universal, none of which have pat answers. TSK is aimed at young adult audiences and stars a young woman on the brink of adulthood.
Laurel is returning to Ireland on the first anniversary of her twin sister's death. Her twin, Honor, died in what appeared to be a freak accident the previous summer. Laurel is mostly in denial about Honor being gone, an attitude which is not helped when Laurel reads Honor's diary and becomes suspicious about what really happened. There is a push-pull relationship with the male lead (Ian) & a time deadline. Faerie and the fate of humanity is integral, but what stood out most for me was Laurel's struggle to come to terms with Honor's death.
Like Hunter's Moon, The Summer King is a quest storyline. To achieve her goal, though, Laurel is forced to confront her inner demons and external forces working both for her and against her. For me, it was hard to balance Laurel's emotional struggles against the adventures she and Ian have together (and boy are they prickly!). Without giving anything away, I found the denoument simulatneously deflating and a relief & the epilogue sort of confused me yet was hopeful. I'm very muddled about it all, to be honest.
Then again, my own expectations of a stereotypical happily ever after, all problems neatly wrapped into a neat bow color my thoughts. Just as Laurel was stuck in denial, so am I stuck with hoping for a hint at a happy future. The Summer King is a thought inspiring work not easily set aside.
Monday, March 05, 2007
This is the first in the Chronicles of Faerie series, originally pubbed years ago & is now being reworked & repubbed. Orla Melling is the pseudonym of an Irish Canadian author- or could be a Canadian Irish author, depending on how you look at things. Favorite little tidbits: the author supplies a glossary with pronounciation & translations & the book is filled with Gaelic poetry & lyrics & there have been at least two or three new words I had to look up. New vocabulary words for Scrabble games! Yay! Yes, I am a nerd.
Anyhow, Hunter's Moon is aimed at young adults. Ms. Melling's work reminds me of Tamora Pierce in that the heroines of this tale are young women on the cusp of full adulthood. HM is set in the present though & full of references to current musicians & technology. Gwen & Findabhair, which is pronounced fin-a-veer the book says (God I hope I spell that properly, I don't have the book to check), are cousins on a road trip/adventure in Findabhair's native country of Ireland. Gwen is actually American but the girls nurtured a close relationship despite the distance.
Gwen is a follower, thus when Findabhair changes the agenda Gwen goes along despite misgivings & disiking deceiving her aunt & uncle. Unfortunately, Findabhair has been bespelled by a hunky goth-type fairy guy & she ditches Gwen while they're illicitly camping inside a mound at Tara, the ancient seat of Irish kings (& fairies too). So Gwen wakes up alone in the mound. Where did Findabhair go & how can Gwen get her back? Will she prevail against the ancient magics conspiring to steal her cousin away for good? Also- hunky fairy guy #2 in command vs. young Irish guy who claims to be the hereditary king of his little island?? Decisions, decisions.
After that follows a wonderful road adventure, quest type storyline. Leprechauns and ancient magics older than faerie take their turn onstage. As I said- this book could be a tour guide for those of us in love with ancient places where the veil of the world is thin. Full of lore & poetry. Plus? An ending that made me cry. What more could a girl wish for?!
This is a library book, but I want one of my own. Enjoy!
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Another Sister Frevisse mystery, this one taking place in London. Sister Frevisse has a dual mission. Buy hard to get supplies for her convent, St. Frideswide's, choose fabric and patterns for vestments honoring the now deceased Duke of Suffolk (a commission from Frevisse's cousin Alice, the Duke's widow) and a secret, unknown mission on Alice's behalf.
The political atmosphere in England is fraught with strife. There are minor uprisings & generalized discontent- aimed primarily at the nobility around the king, but Henry isn't widely loved either. London has been the focus, being both the seat of power and the commercial and economic hub of England. Too, there are rumblings that there are heresies spreading through the kingdom.
Into all of this Frevisse and her fellow travellers from St. Frideswide are dropped. The commercial goods must be ordered and paid for, the vestment cloth and embroidery patterns must be chosen, negotiated and paid for. Not to mention figuring out Alice's secret mission. All in the hustle and bustle of London.
There are really two plots happening in this book. Frevisse must help solve a murder that occurs amid negotiations with a cloth merchant and she must complete Alice's mission too. A teenage boy is found murdered beneath a local church, his body defaced with odd carvings. Could it be a nasty heresy imported from the Continent? Or perhaps connected with the cloth merchant's hidden trade? Part of a political plot, even? This same merchant is also one of the contacts Frevisse had for Alice's mission.
Of the two plots, only the murders are solved. Frevisse's mission on Alice's behalf has been left unfinished, presumably to be continued in the next volume. I'm impatient to see what happens with Frevisse's mission for Alice. What kind of problems must Alice be having for her to ask a cloistered nun for help? Help that is, honestly, a little underhanded and deceitful? I also felt that Frevisse's actions after the murders in London was not as aboveboard & honest as I expected. Her actions, taken in concert with the assistance of the merchant's family, left me out in the cold. I was very surprised that Frevisse's conscience allowed her to go through with what she did. Even so- I want to know if she accomplished Alice's mission. What is happening in Alice's world? And can Frevisse really go through with it all?
Other questions- could you fall in love with someone knowing he lived a double life? That he likely had a family elsewhere? That you & he didn't have a chance at an honest future together? Love him deeply despite knowing he purposely hid things from you? Love him even though he was technically fobidden in your country & that your faith holds him anathema? Is love & sex worth all of these painful questions?? Maybe some of these questions too can be answered next.
The next book in the series is Traitor's Gate.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
I'm going through kind of a dry spell with the blog. Not feeling very motivated to post or surf (say it ain't so!) but I've been reading much more than before. So I decided to slow down with the posting a little and only put up my thoughts about what I'm reading. Hopefully, less time in front of the computer will help the creative juices replenish.
Meantime, I hope everyone else out there is ok & doing fine. I have been surfing a little bit, usually from my cell phone which won't allow me to post messages. So I'm kinda keeping track, but I'm not necessarily leaving messages. I feel kinda guilty about not being here every day, but I'm sure I'll be back to form soon.
During February, I managed to read the following books. In no particular order they are:
1.The Sharing Knife:Beguilement, Lois McMaster Bujold
2.If Angels Burn, Lynn Viehl
3.Once A Knight, Christina Dodd
4.Ithaka, Adele Geras
5.The Wind Dancer, Iris Johansen
6.My Wicked Fantasy, Karen Ranney
7. Clerk's Tale, Margaret Frazer
8. To The Castle, Joan Wolf
9.A Play of Isaac, Margaret Frazer
10.The Bastard's Tale, Margaret Frazer
11.The Widow's Tale, Margaret Frazer
12.The Hunter's Tale, Margaret Frazer
13.The Merchant's Partner, Michael Jecks