Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Melusine; Sarah Monette

My introduction to Sarah Monette's writing was in a short story she wrote for a fantasy anthology titled The Winter Queen, my review HERE. Her voice was very strong and unique, I was immediately captivated. I went to the bookstore not long afterward & bought the only book of hers they had: Melusine. Time went by. More time went by. Eventually I found the second title (The Virtu) and bought that as well. Normally I only buy a series after I've tried the first title & like it enough to continue, but I made an exception for Ms. Monette. There are four books in the Doctrine of Labyrinths series. The next title in the series is The Virtu. I think this would be categorized as dark fantasy, explanation of that term here.

Before I attempt a plot overview, it'll be helpful to click here to read an explanation of the calendars used in Ms. Monette's series. A map is available as well, if you find that helpful in 'seeing' the action. The city of Melusine, set in an indeterminate late medieval/renaissance type world, is ruled by an aristocracy of magicians. The seat of their power, both political and magical, is a building called the Mirador. The populace uses one calendar system and those in power use another- that is only one of many ways class is delineated here. This is a world where indentured servitude is morally and legally permissable. In Melusine, one type of indentured servitude is called being a kept-thief, which, like indentured servitude, is a form of debt bondage.

Felix Harrowgate is a gay wizard living in the Mirador, whose lover is a member of the ruling family. In one horrifying episode, Felix's former master/owner Malkar (whichever term you prefer) uses Felix to break the symbolic focus of the magicians' power, called the Virtu. In so doing Malkar wraps Felix in powerful spells that break both his mind and his spirit. Malkar escapes, leaving Felix to shoulder the blame for what happened.

Down in the Lower City, former kept-thief and assassin Mildmay the Fox, who just happens to be multilingual (among his many talents), manages to stay one step ahead of the law & his enemies while earning a precarious living 'taking assignments', as it were, from people who need things done. Things that are definitely illegal. Another wizard,one Mavortian von Heber, from another country, uses magic that brings Mildmay to him. Von Heber wants Mildmay to help free/kidnap,depending on your point of view I suppose, Felix from wherever he is.

The narrative relates how Malkar manipulated & then ruined Felix in order to destroy the Virtu. How Malkar escapes. What happens to Felix. Who Mildmay is & what his life is like. Mildmay then meets von Heber & von Heber's brother Bernard, who hire him to either free or kidnap Felix, depending on your POV. This takes up roughly two thirds of the book. The remaining third tells how our intrepid little band (Mildmay, Bernard & von Heber) manage to get out of Melusine and find Felix. Then they cross the neighboring countries, sail over the sea & land in a place where the magicians there manage to heal Felix.

There is quite significant world building in this book. Much detail. Felix is an antihero- very difficult to like, even taking into consideration what was done to him. It's a safe bet to say I really don't like him much, but that's ok- he probably wouldn't like me much either. LOL :) Mildmay is more likeable: lives by his own code, his own sense of honor. He's actually a good person underneath the exterior shell he shows people, the one that he had to learn to keep himself alive in the Lower City of Melusine. I suspect Ms. Monette intended that one of them had to be more palatable in order to keep the reader invested. von Heber and Bernard, I came to like them all right, but I'm a cynical and suspicious reader & I wonder if they're really as harmless as they seem.

Hmmmmm..both Felix & Mildmay are red heads, which isn't found in Melusine. Mildmay, in fact, used to dye his hair to hide better. Wonder what that portends in the next book?? Favorite quote, p. 199:

"Consider the stars. Among them are no passions, no wars. They know neither love nor hatred. Did man but emulate the stars, would not his soul become clear and radiant as they are? But man's spirit draws him like a moth to the ephemera of this world, and in their heat he is consumed entire."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dark Need; Lynn Viehl

Dark Need is book three in author Lynn Viehl’s Darkyn series. The first book is If Angels Burn, the newest title, released in January of this year, is Stay the Night. Click link in title above to see info page at Fantastic Fiction. Cover image also found there. The series is contemporary alternate reality paranormal (vampires) primarily set in the United States. Ms. Viehl also writes science fiction under the name S.L. Viehl, among other genres. In my opinion it isn’t necessary to read these in order & a reader won’t miss too much by picking up the series in the middle. Similar to a mystery or SFF series, there is an overarching plot that continues through all of the books, however Ms. Viehl is skilled in bringing a new reader, or in my case a lapsed reader, up to speed without doing an ‘info dump’.

Ft. Lauderdale homicide detective Samantha Brown and her soon to retire partner Harry Quinn are tasked to solve a case in which the murder victim was drowned in fresh water and then placed on a park bench within several hundred yards of the ocean. Interestingly enough, she’s also across the street from a goth nightclub called Infusion. Samantha is tall and statuesque and lives alone in a security conscious gated complex. She’s one of those people who allows their profession to be all consuming & her only emotional attachment is to her partner and his wife.

Lucan, who was called Noir de l’Anfar centuries ago, is the Darkyn managing the club and the new gardin in Ft. Lauderdale. Once he was the Darkyn high lord’s pet assassin and enforcer, but has left Europe and Ireland for America and, perhaps one day, peace of mind if not actual peace. Someone is framing him, but whom? And for what purpose? One of his enemies? Or one of the high lord’s enemies? Could it be the Brethren of the Light, that supersecret order within the Roman Catholic church who were all sworn to unquestioning obedience and the eradication of the Darkyn?

Ms. Viehl keeps the pacing high and the plots whirl in my head like the circus professional who spins several plates at once, never dropping one. Lucan and Sam, Michael and Alex (the couple from the first book) are central to the action. John Keller (Alex’s renegade brother & former member of the Brethren) sidles into town as well. The high lord himself shows up & then things really start to happen. As if it was quiet & plodding before. *snort*

Lucan’s secondary gift is unique and unusual & made me smile. I understood his motives when he attempts to push Samantha away, although the use of forced sex made me very uncomfortable and unhappy. The typical Romanceland shortcut of having the heroine end up a) understanding what he was actually trying to do and b) sexually respond in a positive way to his aggression didn’t do much to ease my discomfort. There is only one instance of this in the book. Lucan believes he will not survive the coming confrontation & is attempting to protect Samantha’s life. Each reader will have to make up their own mind about how this is treated. Speaking for myself, I was ok with it although I wish Ms. Viehl had come up with a different way to achieve the same goal.

Obviously, in real life I don’t condone or accept that there is any instance of this type of sexual coercion & violence being acceptable in any way at all. In fiction, though, I can generally give it a pass depending on how the author frames the episode and what the ramifications are.

An excellent installment in the Darkyn series. Spurred me to run to the UBS and buy the next book. I absolutely had to know how a certain plot point that carried over was resolved. I rushed over to my shelves & discovered that the fourth title is the only one I didn’t have. The next one is fabulous as well.

Friday, April 24, 2009

ANZAC Day 2009

Remember the Fallen

Waltzing Matilda

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"
And he sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

Down came a jumbuck to drink at that billabong,
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee,
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

Up rode the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred,
Down came the troopers, one, two, three,
"Where's that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag?"
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"
"Where's that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag?",
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

Up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong,
"You'll never catch me alive", said he,
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me."
"Oh, You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me."

Images found on Wikimedia and Austrialian gov't Defence website; lyrics found on Wikimedia

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The War of the Flowers; Tad Williams

I has been a long long time since I've read a book written by Tad Williams. In fact, I've not read anything by him since I was _____ year old, lo those many many years ago. The only other book I've read by him is Tailchaser's Song. I don't remember how I heard of this book except that someone on my feed reader mentioned it in a post I read. I think I've almost eighty blogs on my reader though, so I've no idea which person mentioned it. Sorry! In my opinion, The War of the Flowers is a combination mystery/political thriller that's set in Faerie. Since it has been so long since I've read his work, I'm counting Mr. Williams as a new to me author. Overall I'd say it's a positive impression. :)

Theo Vilmos is a thirty year old man, chronologically speaking. Averse to "growing up", he behaves and has the emotional depth and mentality of an overgrown teenager. In the space of nine months or so Theo loses his girlfriend, their baby (to miscarriage) & his mother (to cancer). After settling his mother's estate he settles into a remote mountain cabin to try and put himself back to rights after an eventful several months.

Unfortunately for him, shortly after he's up there Theo gets attacked by a mysterious "thing" and to save his own life he's spirited through a magical doorway into Faerie. Little Applecore, a tiny sprite, was sent to open the door and bring Theo through. Applecore works for Lord Tansy. It was supposed to be a one time deal, but Theo's life becomes exponentially more complicated. Applecore becomes Theo's guide to all things Faerie. The "thing" following him has crossed as well. And Faerie has serious political problems. But what does all of this have to do with Theo?

Theo appears to be crucial to the power games whispering loudly through the lush homes in the City, but he doesn't know why or how. The "thing" is still following him, though. We follow Theo and Applecore and a few other friends Theo picks up along the way as Theo tries to stay one step ahead of both the "thing" and the political shenanigans. Then there's the question about Theo's great uncle's notebook & who & what the old gentleman had to do with anything in Faerie.

There are a lot of things I like about Mr. Williams' Faerie. For one, the surnames are all flowers (duh!) but most of the personal names are subtypes of flowers within that type. Er..for example, the Apple family all have related names: Seed, Skin, Pie, Pip, Doll, Tart, Tree, Wood, etc. The fairy aristocracy are all named after flowers: Tansy, Daffodil, Hollyhock, etc. you get the idea. The highest caste fairies don't have wings and are generally human size or larger.

Certain aspects of the mystery I figured out & others caught me totally by surprise. I guess that was the best thing, actually. When I realized I'd figured out one of the plot issues by page fifty or so I wondered what else Mr. Williams had up his sleeve. I wasn't disappointed. It is a little slow, things unfold in their own time. The reader really has to pay attention over the entire span of the book to get a glimpse of what might be coming.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Meme: What We Read

This is a fun meme I first saw at The Written World by Kailana and over at The Book Smugglers.

1. What author do you own the most books by? PG Wodehouse

2. What book do you own the most copies of?
Our apartment is too small to keep duplicates. However, I have two copies each of:

3. What fictional character are you secretly in love with? Valentine Corbett in:

4. What book have you read more than any other?

5. What was your favorite book when you were ten years old? I'm unsure, but most likely:

6. What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year? Generally I don't finish books I don't like, but I'd have to say Cherished by Elizabeth Thornton or Light of the Moon by Luanne Rice.

7. What is the best book you’ve read in the past year? I couldn't pick only one. Maybe Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian.

8. If you could tell everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be? Only one?! Wow. I'll have to think about that one. I think my choice would be: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

9. What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read? I absolutely can't stand Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

10. Do you prefer the French or the Russians? Haven't read any of the Russians, so it's the French by default.

11. Shakespeare, Milton or Chaucer? Shakespeare

12. Austen or Eliot? Neither. I like the Brontes.

13. What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading? Classics.

14. What is your favorite novel? This is probably similar to #8, but I think it would be either: Uncle Fred in Springtime by PG Wodehouse or any of the Bertie and Jeeves novels.

15. Play? Midsummer Night's Dream

16. Poem? Mab in Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare:

O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate-stone
On the fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Over men’s noses as they lie asleep;
Her wagon-spokes made of long spinners’ legs,
The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,
The traces of the smallest spider’s web,
The collars of the moonshine’s watery beams,
Her whip of cricket’s bone; the lash of film;
Her waggoner a small grey-coated gnat,
Not half so big as a round little worm
Prick’d from the lazy finger of a maid:
Her chariot is an empty hazel-nut
Made by the joiner squirrel or an old grub,
Time out o’ mind the fairies’ coachmakers.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love;
O’er courtiers’ knees, that dream on court’sies straight,
O’er lawyers’ fingers, who straight dream on fees,
O’er ladies ‘ lips, who straight on kisses dream,
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are:
Sometime she gallops o’er a courtier’s nose,
And then dreams he of smelling out a suit;
And sometime comes she with a tithe-pig’s tail
Tickling a parson’s nose as a’ lies asleep,
Then dreams, he of another benefice:
Sometime she driveth o’er a soldier’s neck,
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
Of healths five-fathom deep; and then anon
Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes,
And being thus frighted swears a prayer or two
And sleeps again. This is that very Mab
That plaits the manes of horses in the night,
And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,
Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes:
This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
That presses them and learns them first to bear,
Making them women of good carriage:
This is she—"

17. Essay? Anything by David Sedaris, but especially Holidays on Ice.

18. Short Story? Anything by Edgar Allan Poe

19. Non Fiction?

20. Graphic Novel? Haven't read any of these, unfortunately.

21. Science Fiction? Catherine Asaro's Skolian books, Linnea Sinclair, anything by Robert Heinlein, Scott Westerfeld's Risen Empire duology.

22. Who is your favorite writer? Living Writer? Don't have just one, there are several: Patricia McKillip & Jane Yolen, Katherine Kurtz & Anne Bishop, Jacqueline Carey. Deceased writers? PG Wodehouse & Robert Louis Stevenson.

23. Who is the most over rated writer alive today? Um..Stephanie Meyer?

24. Best Memoir?

25. Best History?

26. Best mystery or Noir? Any of Laura Joh Rowland's Sano Ichiro

Newest release, 2008

Or else anything in Peter Tremayne's Sister Fidelma series:

July 2009 release

27. What is your desert island book? Any omnibus collection of PG Wodehouse books. Anything off of my keeper shelves.

28. Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for literature? Uh..no opinion. I read mostly "ghetto" er..I mean genre literature, which as all Nobel panelists know is never worthy of such on honor. *SNORT*

29. What book would you most like to see made into a movie? The Risen Empire duology by Scott Westerfeld.

30. What book would you least like to see made into a movie? No opinion.

31. Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character. Generally I don't remember my dreams. Except the ones that come true.

32. And ... what are you reading right now?

Beyond Heaving Bosoms by the Smartbitches:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Light of the Moon; Luanne Rice

Dunno where to start with this one. I don't think I've been more disappointed with a new to me author in a long long time. First impressions are crucial & mine is pretty low..so I don't know if I'm even willing to try another book by her. I finished this a while ago I've been so reluctant to put it all in writing.

Susannah Connolly (Mary Sue extraordinaire), professor at a small Connecticut college, has decided to take a short sabbatical after the death of her mother. She travels to a rural section of France that was very important to her parents. While there she meets Grey Dempsey out on the marsh in what could have been a near fatal encounter with wild bulls. Over the next few weeks Susannah becomes increasingly attracted to Grey and makes friendly overtures to his young daughter Sari, who suffers with the aftereffects of a serious closed head injury. Susannah's pushy ex boyfriend makes an appearance as well.

Grey, an American who runs a horseback tour ranch, and his daughter, who is half Roma/French and half American, have an uneasy, prickly relationship partly due to her injuries and partly due to the fact that her injury directly stems from her mother's flight from the family household with her lover. Grey used to be a relatively well established journalist whose dreams of running an equine based business with his wife have all evaporated. Sari's best friend Laurent seems to know better than Grey does, when and how far to push Sari, when to back off. Then there's the Roma community, and Sari's mother and her lover.

Now, on the face of all that it should have been relatively easy to like this book. There are too many coincidences and cliches and things left unexplored in this book. Too many plot threads that got wrapped up in pretty pink bows. The time line was too short, for one. Less than three months, if I totted it up properly. Three months for so many miracles to happen to Grey, Susannah, Sari & her mother. It was ridiculous.

The problems:

1. Susannah travels to rural France, but miraculously falls in love with an American whose parents live in Rhode Island. Which is a little too convenient for me. No language or cultural conflicts. Of all the fifty states, he's from Little Rhody? which is right next door to Connecticut. Yeah ok. Very convenient for the bicontinental relationship we can see coming at the end of the book.

2. Grey has lived in France full time at least since his marriage, roughly ten years ago. However, he speaks English at home with his daughter. Pardonnez moi?? You don't even speak French at home with your French born child? Not to mention her Roma cultural heritage, which I believe includes their own language. But no. He's American so they speak English.

3. After Susannah and Grey and Sari make peace and try to become friends a little bit, miraculously Sari begins to heal from her mental and physical scars. Naturally, there had been little to no improvement in the previous five years. Until Grey and Susannah show signs of becoming friends. Nothing like a little female rivalry to get the healing flowing. HA! >:(

4. The whole entire storyline involving the mother, her lover, & their Las Vegas equine revue. I can't say too much without revealing the plot, but Jeez. Really. There have been several too many coincidences & "wow it's a small world after all" moments. The explication and sudden healing of all actual, physical and metaphysical rifts between all involved parties is just too much. Really.

5. There is no discussion of the reality of the life the Roma actually live in Europe- which is degrading, painful, squalid and full of what most Americans would identify in our own country as pre Civil Rights attitudes and issues and living conditions.

One or two of these, properly done, would have been more than enough for one single book. All five of them in one single volume? Not gonna fly. At least, not with this reader. Every single plot thread is wrapped up with its own resolution and neat pink bow, although Sari's needs aren't totally solved it's made plain that she's well on her way to total health.

Light of the Moon was published in 2008 in hardcover, and is currently out in mass market. It's published by Bantam. Luanne Rice is a prolific author with a huge backlist. It seems that most of her works could be categorized as women's fiction with strong romantic overtones. Link to her backlist is in the title above.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Feeling Human Now

For the first time in a long time, I managed to combine two of my favorite things in the whole wide world: stomach flu and my monthly. How lovely. Thrilling even. Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely despise, loathe and abhor being sick. Not only that, I'm bitchy mean and cranky and want to hide. Don't ask me anything. Actually- don't talk to me. Pretend I don't exist. Poor hubby. He hates it. Being a nurse, he's one of the most nurturing men I've ever met. Likes to hover, bring juice, fresh boxes of tissues. Chat. Will watch endless Lifetime TV movies. Willing to read me Smart Bitches and Dear Author posts. It drives me batty. Fortunately, he's learned that I really dislike being fussed over and he spends these energies on the kids when they get sick. Add in my monthly and, well, let's just say the fellow inhabitants of Bookwormom Central were more than happy to escape to those more civilized places: school and work.

I did read. Quite a bit. Reviews to come. I'm falling desperately behind (7 books). Chat more tomorrow.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Access Romance Post

Posted a column over at Access Romance this morning asking if book reviewers give inflated grades. Check it out & tell me what you think.

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I won't be posting much over the next few days, I've picked up a stomach bug that's giving me hell. I'll post as soon as I feel better.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Where Serpents Sleep; CS Harris

Where Serpents Sleep is the latest installment in C.S. Harris’ Sebastian St. Cyr mystery series. Published by Obsidian in November of 2008, it takes place in May of 1812, several months after Why Mermaids Sing. As I mentioned in my reviews of the previous books, HERE and HERE. I don’t think it necessary to read the previous installments of St.Cyr’s mysteries unless you are interested in the depth of characterization and the back story of St. Cyr’s family history and his love life. I try very hard in these reviews not to give away significant plot details while still giving readers a sense of what did and didn’t work for me as well as a general overview of the story.

A little history is helpful though. Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is heir to the Earldom of Hendon after the untimely death of his older brother. Devlin’s sister, I think her name is Amanda, is older, married, conventional and seems to dislike both her father Alistair and her brother. The Countess of Hendon was presumed deceased in a boating accident years ago until Devlin recently learned otherwise. Devlin’s lady love, the Irish actress Kat Boleyn, is now out of reach, having lately married a pirate. Yes, really. A pirate. The hows and whys of this turn of events is related in the previous book Why Mermaids Sing.

In Where Serpents Sleep our hero is pressed into investigating the disappearance of a young prostitute who was being helped by Devlin’s nemesis’ daughter, one Miss Hero Jarvis. Ms. Jarvis is interested in doing good works and is an intelligent and curious young woman. Her own father says in effect that Hero would’ve been a wonderful son, but makes an awful daughter. One of Ms. Jarvis’ particular interests is helping prostitutes get off the street to learn a trade. In one horrifying incident a young woman is murdered in Hero’s arms while the building that houses them burns to the ground. Hero wants Devlin to investigate this young woman & find out how and why she ended up as a prostitute. Devlin acquiesces only because he knows that helping her will infuriate her father, Lord Jarvis (who happens to be the power behind the throne & thus nearly unstoppable).

The prickly relationship between Lord Jarvis, Hero and Devlin was fun to watch. The relationship between Hero & her dad was unique & ..on the cold blooded side, I guess. Then again, the glimpses into the Jarvis household prove once again that surface appearances hide the truth in the deeps. Honesty compels me to say that I found the whole 'sea cave scene' to be straight out of the romance genre- a little unusual, I suppose, but not wholly unexpected. I would've been pleased if the scene had played out differently. It sets up intriguing possibilities for future books.

Overall, another enjoyable episode in the St. Cyr series. Well worth the time!

Image found on Fantastic Fiction.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Why Mermaids Sing; CS Harris

This is the third title in Ms. Harris' Sebastian St. Cyr regency mystery series. The first title is What Angels Fear. I don't think it's necessary to read them in order, like most mystery series each stands easily on his own. However, if you're a reader who enjoys digging deeply into a character's personality and motivation than I suggest you begin with the first book. Ms. Harris has written romance novels as well (under the name of Candice Proctor), but if you're a romance reader I think it best to set aside the standard romance genre 'rules' and read these strictly with your "mystery reader" hat on. According to Ms. Harris' blog the next Sebastian mystery will be titled What Remains of Heaven. She's also busily plotting the book after that one. I'm thrilled to know that there are plenty of books to come!

Sebastian St. Cyr is investigating yet another gruesome case. Young well born men are being murdered, partially dissected and left in prominent public places. Because St.Cyr (or Devlin, if one calls him by his title) moves in these circles, he is asked to make discreet inquiries. His sister and his father are scandalized by both his inquires into the murders and by his quiet but well known amorous relationship with a well known Irish actress. Not that St. Cyr cares much for their opinion mind you. St. Cyr has some trouble linking these disparate young men together at first, the Ton, after all, is not a monolith. On the surface there is little to link them together.

In the midst of all this Devlin proposes to his ladylove, Kat Boleyn. Unbeknownst to Devlin Kat was a French spy in the recent past. Kat is now attempting to shed her past role, but she finds that doing so is like trying to get out a modern street gang- impossible. Powerful political figures know who she is and what she used to do. People who are willing to resort to nefarious techniques to try and force her to do what they want. Apart from that, Devlin's father, Alister St. Cyr, Earl of Hendon, and Kat discover something that irrevocably changes the relationship between the three of them. Something that Devlin may never forgive him for.

All in all, a wonderful installment in the series. Kept me on the edge of my seat wondering just how it would all shake out in the end. The relationship issue between Kat & Devlin was a huge-huge surprise. Yet, Devlin never asks questions of Kat. His head is buried firmly in the sand & he wanted it that way. So..his reactions kind of perplex me. It's hard to discuss this aspect without revealing what happens, but I really think that if your lover has a dubious past & you don't ask questions or do a little quiet questioning you get what's coming.
As for the mystery part, I was completely at a loss for a good while, and Ms. Harris had me questioning and trying to figure out plot twists all on my own.

Image found on Fantastic Fiction

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Reading reading & more reading

Sorry I've not been around much these last few weeks. I've been glomming all of Anne Bishop's books on my shelves. Reread & reread & become supremely annoyed that I've got every Black Jewels set novel she's published. My only outlet now is to try & collect all of her short stories.

Other than that I've also read:

1. Hope's Folly~ Linnea Sinclair

2. Dark Need~ Lynn Viehl

Ms. Sinclair is a new to me author who I also plan to glom, initially from the library. Luckily, Keishon's TBR Challenge is science fiction romance this month (post due up April 16th if you're participating) & I've had Linnea Sinclair's Gabriel's Ghost for a long time now. Currently reading Night Lost by Lynn Viehl.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Spring is here

Hubby and I finally managed to do a couple of gardening chores this week. Just before several days of drizzle, as it happens. My parents gifted me with a small mesh bag of gladiolus bulbs. He dug me a deep trench along the edge of the front steps & I planted about 2/3 of them. I still have about ten more. They're planted behind my daylilies. I hope they make it ok.I have terrible squirrel problems & my bulbs don't always last very long.

We also moved the young maple tree that had been growing hard up beside the front porch into the backyard. It's about..7-8' tall & has little leaf buds on the branches. Poor tree would never have survived in its original location. Someone would've had to cut it down. Too many branches, too big, roots all under the porch, etc. Now it's about 5' away from the back porch in full sun. Hubby dug a deep hole and we put a layer of composted manure in the bottom. I nipped off a bunch of the lowest branches. He's tied to a stake. Hopefully he'll survive our attempt at transplantation. His new location gives him a fighting chance at a long life. The power lines aren't too close so maybe he'll have a chance to grow to his full rounded shape. The deepest roots were under our concrete front steps & porch, we had to cut them to move him. I'll be sure to baby him over the next couple of summers so it won't suffer with the heat and the drought. Our neighborhood has quite a few mature trees considering we live in suburbia, maybe he'll make it. I've no idea what type of maple he is except that he's not a silver maple. I just recognize that he's a maple. His leaves were red last fall. Pictures to come.

Image found on answers.com

Friday, April 03, 2009

Jacqueline Carey News

Found over on Suduvu: Jacqueline Carey has posted an excerpt from her upcoming release Naamah's Kiss, click here to read it. Naamah's Kiss will be released in hardcover in June.

Evernight; Claudia Gray

I saw this somewhere on my feed reader & borrowed it from the library. Evernight was published by Harper Teen in 2008. The newest one is Stargazer, released in March of this year. Evernight is a young adult vampire-coming of age-adventure book. This is projected to be a four book series, a la Harry Potter, one book per school year. I lost my notes, so the little details have vanished out of my head like morning mist, but I remember most of it.

Bianca Olivier & her parents have moved to Evernight Academy from a tiny town. Her parents will be teaching and Bianca will live in the dorms (it's a boarding school) with Patrice. From the beginning it's clear that Bianca won't easily fit in here. She makes friends with Lucas Ross after he chases her through the woods and she tries to muddle through her first year. The reader only finds some things out as Bianca does, which adds to the suspense & the feeling of dread that slowly seeps into the book. Bianca's first "feed" is Lucas, and she doesn't cope all that well with the resulting feelings and consequences. When the truth behind Lucas' presence in the school is revealed in a violent and devestating scene involving her parents Bianca reacts in a totally understandable way. She runs away with him.

I really really struggled to finish this one. Bianca swung between TSTL, hormone addled, angst ridden to insightful, thoughtful and protective. It drove me batshit crazy. I read quite a bit of young adult lit, I expect and understand that teens naturally swing from one emotional and behavioral extreme to another. I get that. Really I do. I have three of them. Teens that is. But somehow Bianca drove me over the edge. Which made me wonder just how much do I really have to like a protagonist to keep reading their story?

There is nothing resolved in this episode. Both Bianca and Lucas survive their stupidity. There is quite a lot of implied behind the scenes goings on with the adults. This reader wonders if the Headmistress Mrs. Bethany is really the archenemy. How much does Bianca, and by extension, the reader not know? I am very glad I borrowed this book from our local library, I think I'd've been furious if I'd actually bought it. They have the second one, but I'm unsure if I'll continue with them. If I do it'll be because a) I want to prove to myself I can finish a series when I despise the protagonist b) I want to know who & what the motivating factors behind the scenes are and c) I like Balthazar More much more than I like Lucas and I hope to see more of him in future books.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

March Synopsis

Listed in totally random order. Reviews for 1-3 & 7 coming. #8 is a reread but hadn't been reviewed, so I'm counting it towards my annual total.

1. Evernight, Claudia Gray

2. Why Mermaids Sing, C. S. Harris~

3. Where Serpents Sleep, C. S. Harris~

4. The Risen Empire- Scott Westerfeld

5. The Killing of Worlds- Scott Westerfeld

6. Mistress of the Art of Death- Ariana Franklin

7. Light of the Moon- Luanne Rice

8. Daughter of the Blood- Anne Bishop


To the Last Man Jeff Shaara- took him over 100 pages to introduce all of the protagonists. Let's have some action already!

Correction-April 2- #8's correct author is Anne Bishop, not Anne Rice as originally listed.