Monday, June 28, 2010
Title: Raised by Wolves
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Edgmont, USA.
Release Date: 2010.
Source: Received at Book Expo America.
Favorite character: Bryn and Lake.
Favorite quote: “Triumph was sweet. The aftertaste bitter.”
All in all: A good story. I liked it. Good ending.
What I liked: The cover! I was very drawn to the image and the beautiful moonlit shades. Very appropriate for this novel. I enjoyed Bryn and her voice. I liked the way the story was told and I liked her willfulness and independence. She was also fun! She could be a smart alec and still be (mostly) respectful and yet still tried to get around the rules. I thought it was cute when she was contemplating things she would count out her theories. I thought the plot was clever and the author’s concept of pack dynamics and the importance of the pack was shown well. The fact that Bryn was an outsider within this “family” created tension and drama, something many people can relate to. The book had slow parts and fast parts but I thought the fast parts were engaging and exciting. I loved the way the reader sees Bryn mature in the course of the story, how she comes to certain conclusions, how she empowers herself and at the same time shows great empathy to others. In fact she practically gains her strength because of her empathy. I also really liked the last few chapters. It held a few twists that surprised me.
The book has very little “container”, which is interesting to me. (If only for the fact that in all my writing classes container/setting is empashized). The story is mainly action and Bryns’ thoughts. The setting are described very simply; Bryn ran to Callum’s house, in the classroom, etc. On one hand it cuts right to the action and what Bryn is going through and also allows the reader to imagine the settings. This is not something I liked nor disliked, just something I noticed. However, sometimes I had to re-read to figure out what was going on.
What I liked less: Although most of the writing was lovely, sometimes it was a bit confusing and I had to go back and read a sentence or phrase more than once. I also would have liked Chase to be more developed. For such an important character, he almost seemed like a ghost. I know that we are viewing the story through Bryn’s narration, and we know that she is drawn to him because they had similar experiences, but I guess I needed more of these thoughts in her head to justify her actions and feelings. There were also a couple of parts of the book that I had a hard time accepting. *SPOILER ALERT: The two that come to mind were when Bryn could communicate with her friends through their thoughts (although this did make more sense toward the end) and also when Lake gave her the silver knife retractable wrist cuffs. That just didn’t ring true to me. END SPOILER ALERT*
I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Okay, some people may find this creepy...well probably more than some. But I like it creepy (and I mean spooky and eerie, not "stalker creepy"). One subject that I find, well interesting, is Memento Mori or Victorian Death Photography. In the 1800's and early 1900's pictures weren't taken liberally like they are today. I mean think about it. Cameras weren't even that common. Usually people only had a few portraits taken in their lifetime. But what if someone passed away before a photo could be taken? Their family may have opted to have a portrait taken before that person was buried. They weren't being macabre. They simply wanted a "keepsake" to remember their loved one.
What got me writing about this subject? I was checking out the Dark Faerie Tales blog and there is an excellent article about the topic by the authors of Picture the Dead, a book about a young woman dealing with the turmoil of the Civil War. Check it out! You can read the first chapter and enter the contest to win a copy of the book. I'm entering, so wish me luck!
Friday, June 18, 2010
Title/Author: A Twisted Ladder by Rhodi Hawk.
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates.
Released: December, 2009.
Source: Purchased at Borders after I read a good review in Rue Morgue Magazine.
Favorite quote: “Instead the midnight hour came as a whisper.”
“But fear ain’t nothing but what you get when you’ve yet to understand.”
Favorite character: Daddy Blank, Madeleine’s father. He sprang to life off the page and I wish I had known him.
All in all: Suspenseful and Spooky!
What I liked: A book that takes place in New Orleans? (Happy sigh). A spooky book that takes place in New Orleans? Even better! I enjoyed being in “The Big Easy” with the author. Walking in the French Quarter, traveling on the bayous, listening to Cajun accents. I even learned a little bit of history about the area and about the Intercoastal Waterway.
This book was a supernatural thriller complete with murders and spirits. I loved the spooky parts and they were described in a way that let me suspend my disbelief. I have never heard of River Devils or River Magic before and appreciated this unique aspect of the story. It made sense to me that the characters borrowed magic from the powerful water forces that were all around them.
The main character Dr. Madeleine LeBlanc is trying to help her schizophrenic father by finding the key to his type of mental illness. What she discovers is that her father may not be mentally ill at all but a victim of a haunting, a puppet of malevolent creatures that live in a veil beyond what we can see in this world. She realizes that her brother was also a victim and as she gets closer and closer to this other world she realizes she is in danger also.
SPOILER ALERT* But then in another turnabout, the whole notion of hauntings, ghosts and psychic ability is explained as being tied to a person’s brain neurons and evolution. So the theory shifted back to science again. May not be the way I would go, but it was explained to my satisfaction. *END SPOILER ALERT. I felt that Hawk revealed mysteries and intertwined characters and events with skill. There are several story arcs, but I wasn’t confused at all and I felt that the events pertained to each other well.
Throughout the novel Madeleine tries to solve family secrets, find out the intentions of her great grandmother, Chloe, and fend off the attentions of childhood pal, Zenon, who has a few secrets of his own.
I also liked the parallel story that took place in the 20s. It gave the present day story a mirror as to what was happening and insight into Chloe’s intentions.
What I didn’t like: I thought it was a little long. Towards the end I was getting impatient as to how everything was going to be tied up and honestly, I didn’t love the resolution. I felt that the payoff wasn’t as large as the rest of the book. The last chapter alluded to a sequel which frustrated me. I also didn’t really like the sex scene. I felt it went on too long and was a bit over the top. SPOILER ALERT* The other thing that bothered me was that the author didn’t seem to explore Madeleine’s feelings regarding the death of her father. Yes, she cried and got murderously angry at one point, but these were actions. I wanted to feel her sorrow as I felt it when her brother died. Maybe it was because I was so personally attached to Daddy Blank and I felt I had no one to mourn with in a way. *END SPOILER ALERT.
Despite what I didn't like I still give this book 4 out of 5 stars because what I did like was so strong.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Please note that the author gave me this book at the Book Blogger Convention reception, but there was no agreement regarding reviewing it.
Lil, the former self-proclaimed original Fairy Godmother of Cinderella is now living in New York City after being banished from Faery. What happened on the night when she was supposed to get her charge to the ball? She has to cope with her life in this world while at the same time try to figure out how she can go back home to the world she dreams about and misses.
A favorite quote: “These crazy humans, clawing out their hearts when they loved and weren’t loved back.”
This re-telling of Cinderella from the Godmother’s perspective took place mostly in the main character, Lil’s, head. The reader was enveloped in her memories, her dreams and her desires. The writing was lovely and emotional. It seemed as if Lil was trying to find beauty everywhere she looked because at the same time felt lost in this world and in her own skin.
Lil longed for something in the human world when it is usually humans longing for Faery. It made me appreciate the unique qualities of what it means to be human. And like humans, Lil learned the lesson; “Be careful what you wish for.” Ironic, because then all she wanted was to get back to where she came from. She thought if she redeemed herself for the mistake she made in Faery she would be welcomed back there. Her redemption came in the form of her boss, George, the bookshop owner and a young hairdresser, Veronica. Although I related more to Veronica than George, Lil’s affection for them both was clear.
Although easy to read, the story itself isn’t fast paced. It is slow, deliberate and takes it time as it weaves in and out of Faery, in and out of New York City, in and out of Lil’s psyche. It is like sucking on a lollipop not biting through it to get to the tootsie roll.
As a reader I experienced the details of the Garment District, city streets, even nurseries and museums in a magical, musical way that rivaled the descriptions of the enchanted Fairy Tale. Could the author be trying to convey that this world is a Fairyland in its own way?
Lil drew me in, but not all the way. She was likeable but a little confusing. After reading the end, I think the author did this on purpose and her behavior and thoughts made sense. While not all the details of the mystery are spelled out it is clear what is going on and when the light bulb went on it was a big OMG moment.
I really don’t want to give too much away. I even hesitate to hint that there is something to give away. But I wanted to know what had happened on that fateful night when she had to get Cinderella to the ball, I wanted to know how Lil ended up in New York City and I wanted to know if she would get back to fairy and how. This was a book I couldn’t put down.
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Ever hear of Cherry Bounce? I’m reading A Twisted Ladder by Rhodi Hawk, which is excellent. It takes place in New Orleans and they mention foods throughout. I googled it and this is a recipe I found on Cooks.com. I’m a bit dubious about how this tastes, but my obsession for New Orleans will probably lead me to try it.
Cajun Cherry Bounce
1 lb. fresh firm ripe cherries.
2 c. sugar
1 fifth inexpensive bourbon
Wash and scald a gallon jug with an adequate opening at top to drop in cherries and a tight fitting cap. Remove stems and wash cherries, but do not pit or peel. Drop cherries into jug. Pour in sugar, then bourbon. Cap tightly. Turn upside down and back every day for at least a month to help sugar dissolve. Let age at least 6 months at room temperature. After six months, transfer cherries and liquid into an attractive bottle for serving on ice cream or cake topping or for gift giving.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
I also got one of my favorite authors newest books Neverland. Douglas Clegg is an excellent writer who specializes in horror. His books haunt me. I can't wait to read this one!
Last but not least is two books that were recommended to me because of my obsession with New Orleans.