Monday, January 30, 2012

Black Heart Loa.

Title/Author: Black Heart Loa by Adrian Phoenix.

Genre: Urban Fantasy. 

Publisher: Pocket Books.

Source: Purchased.

Favorite character: Kallie.

Synopsis“An eye for an eye is never enough.”
Kallie Rivière, a Cajun hoodoo apprentice with a bent for trouble, learned the meaning of those ominous words when hoodoo bogeyman Doctor Heron targeted her family for revenge. Now, while searching for her still-missing bayou pirate cousin, Kallie finds out the hard way that someone is undoing powerful gris gris, which means that working magic has become as unpredictable as rolling a handful of dice. The wards woven to protect the Gulf coast are unraveling, leaving New Orleans and the surrounding bayous vulnerable just as an unnatural storm—the deadliest in a century—is born. As the hurricane powers toward the heart of all she loves, Kallie desperately searches for the cause of the disturbing randomness, only to learn a deeply unsettling truth: the culprit may be herself. To protect her family and friends, including the sexy nomad Layne Vallin, Kallie steps into the jaws of danger . . . and finds a loup garou designed to steal her heart—literally.
My Thoughts: Black Heart Loa starts at the exact moment that Black Dust Mambo ends. There are many problems that the main character Kallie Riviera and her friends and family experience in the first book and they have to deal with the aftermath of those original issues along with some new ones:  Finding her cousin Jackson, taking care of her love interest Layne, dealing with secrets and a hurricane that is on it's way to Louisiana.

I feel that this book is a bit more focused than the first and the points of view didn't overlap, which I liked better.  Also, a lot of the banter that I feel is distracting in the first book is not present, but there is still snappy one liners and sarcastic teasing.  The dialogue is more focused on the story and the problems at hand.  There are several points of view, but not as much in the first book, or maybe I'm just more used to it and it didn't throw me off as much.  However, there are a lot of characters in certain scenes and I had trouble keeping a few of them straight, but the point of their feelings came across and this didn't interfere with the plot.  Also, their physical characteristics are described well and I feel this is not only the author's style, but it helped me a little more in keeping track of certain people.

I love Kallie.  What's that saying? "Women want to be her..." Well I certainly do.  She is a gorgeous young lady with violet eyes ala Liz Taylor, studying to be a Hoodoo practitioner who has a very hunky, hot, self possessed, protective and caring Nomad named Layne interested (okay, more than interested) in her.  And she lives near New Orleans (a city I love).  So yeah, I'd like to walk in her shoes, which reading these books allows me to do.  Like in Black Dust Mambo the setting of the Bayou and the swamps are rich and detailed.  The magic, the danger and the beauty of that area are prevalent.

I love the main plot device that has to do with Kallie's past and her mother.  It is so intriguing and I'm so impressed with the author's ideas on that.  There are also several surprises in Black Heart Loa that are directly related to the aforementioned secret making the characters pull together, even Layne's ex-wife McKenna, who really dislikes Kallie, joins in to help.  McKenna wasn't featured a whole lot in this book, but I just want to point out that I love this triangle between Layne, Kallie and McKenna.  It's not a typical love triangle since Layne and McKenna still care about each other yet Layne and Kallie have an attraction that to me is akin to being soulmates.  I also love the out and out friction between Kallie and McKenna. There is also quite a detailed intimate scene and some people have complained that it is just a plot device for them to engage in sex, but it read believable to me and I just went with it.  I'm not into erotic fiction, but the love scene is well done and steamy without being vulgar.

This is a fun, fast read with non stop action and I want to find out what happens next and discover the secrets of Kallie's past.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Anna Dressed in Blood

Title/Author: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake.

Genre: YA/Supernatural.

Publisher: Tor Teen.

Source: Purchased.

Favorite character: Cas.

Favorite quote:  "...where the scent of death is carried to you every seventh breath."  ~Cas.

"Death is my world." ~Cas.

"I wouldn't touch New Orleans with a ten-foot pole. That town is haunted as shit, and all the better for it.  Nowhere in the world loves its ghosts more than city." ~Cas.

SynopsisJust your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story. . . Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.  So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.  When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.  And she, for whatever reason, spares his life. ~Product Description.

My Thoughts: Would you look at that cover??? Just look at it! It’s amazing!  Especially coupled with the title. How could I not read it? And when I started hearing great things about it, I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

At first the color of the font threw me off and hurt my eyes.  I think it's supposed to look like blood or dried blood, but the story quickly had me enraptured.

Anna Dressed in Blood reminded me of a spinoff of Supernatural. You’ve got an uber cool male main character, Cas, who is a ghost hunter, an urban legend and a killer ghost. The formula smells like success, but let’s face it, not every author can do it right. But this book? Perfection.

I don’t really swoon over book males that often, especially teen age ones, because let’s face it, the age difference is embarrassing even if it is all fictional…but Cas (sigh). He is just so awesome and I've turned into an awestruck teenager again. His voice grabs you right away with an observant ease and a self possessed awareness of who he is and what he does.  I love his contemplative mind, his disdain of the silly girls and bonehead jocks at his school and his humor.  I have to say, I also loved the cursing that Cas used.  It wasn't abundant but it was definitely noticeable.  It made me feel more connected to him, maybe because I have a potty mouth, or maybe because it made me feel that it made him more human, more real.

I love the secondary characters that Cas befriends as well.  From Carmel, the popular girl to Thomas, the geeky misfit.  These characters go beyond their stereotypes to being integral to the story and to Cas. All of their friendships grow throughout the book.  Cas's understanding and attachment to Anna is central and integral to the story as he journeys to understand this ghost that intrigues him and haunts him in more ways than one. 

The plot weaves together and is surprising and strong.  The ghost story, Cas’s mysterious past…I just loved it. There were spooky scenes and very frightening scenes and I love how they were done. From ghosts to…well, I don’t want to give too much away. But I love the eerienesss of it, the danger of it.  This book could have ended a certain way, but the author took the story and went one step further.  The next installment, Girl of Nightmares, is due out in August and I can't wait to visit Cas and his world again.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"What is SOPA?" I asked myself when I saw hashtags on Twitter.

~It's explained very well in this short video HERE.

~Check out this post as well from Mission to Read.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Book Blogger Confessions #2

Book Blogger Confessions is a meme hosted by Tiger from All Consuming Books and Karen from For What It's Worth Reviews to discuss issues unique to book bloggers.  To find out details, click HERE.

Q. Have you ever had reading/blogging slumps? How do you work through them or work around them?

A: Ironically, I'm sort of in one now.  And, I've sort of been in it for about a month now.  I won't go into all the reasons I'm in one, but basically it's just a lot of real life stuff that I have to take care of and I feel like when I do have time to read, blog or visit other blogs I either watch TV, surf the net or play the Sims2.

One way I thought I'd try to work through this slump is by having a Read-a-Thon.  New Year's weekend we usually don't do anything, so I did one then, but I only got 2 books read.  So, that's one way maybe other bloggers can get out of their slump.  Join a reading challenge.

Another way I am trying to work through this is that I know that many bloggers have had this problem, so I know I'm not alone.  Also, I just have to tell myself that it's not the end of the world.  It's my blog and when I can read and review, I will.  This book blog is supposed to be a fun and creative outlet and I have to remember that!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Feature & Follow #79

Feature and Follow is hosted by Parajunkee and  Allison Can Read.  This is a way to find other blogs and let others find you!  For more details click on the button above.

Question of the Week: Many readers/bloggers are also big music fans. Tell us about a few of your favorite bands/singers that we should listen to in 2012.

I have to admit that I do prefer reading to listening to music, but when I do listen to music it really depends on where I am and what I'm doing.   While exercising I listen to one kind, while driving another and of course I like to dance to another kind.  My tastes run the gamut from pop to heavy metal to Celtic.

I'm going to share two videos with you that will give an example of some of the music I like and illustrating how different my collection is.  

Loreena McKennett has been a favorite of mine practically forever.  She writes original music as well as taking old poems and setting them to music.  Her voice is magic. 

If the above video of Loreena McKennett is not working you can click on the link HERE.

Several years ago I went to the Festival of Fear in Canada and one of the parties that Rue Morgue Magazine threw featured the band Crud from Detroit.  The lead singer's scream opened the show and caught my attention.  Then their hard beat, catchy songs, in your face music and adrenaline powered show made me a fan.  If you like what you hear, you can like Crud on Facebook HERE.

If the above video of Crud is not working you can click on the link HERE.


Title/Author: Enclave by Anne Aguirre.

Genre: YA/Dystopian.

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends.

Source: Purchased.

Favorite character: Deuce.

Synopsis:Welcome to the Apocalypse.  In Deuce's world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed 'brat' has trained into one of three groups-Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember.

As a Huntress, her purpose is clear--to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She's worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing's going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce's troubles are just beginning... ~Product Description.

My Thoughts: Enclave is an entertaining and dramatic romp into a potential harsh future, told through 15 year old Deuce, who has only known life in her community or "enclave." She has a clear, straightforward voice and she knows her place in her world, or so she thinks. She has trained from childhood to be a Huntress and to obey her leaders, but then she faces some discrepancies and realizes that her position (and others in her community) may not be so secure.  She starts to have doubts about the elders who make the rules and when someone she cares about is in jeopardy, she makes a brave choice.  I feel her sacrifice is admirable especially in light of the fact that she has always wanted to be a Huntress and is proud that she finally has that title, yet gives everything up without blinking.

Her hunting partner is Fade, a boy with a mysterious past and a rebellious heart. But it is he alone who helps Deuce when she really needs it.  I was surprised and touched that he stood by Deuce's side.  He didn't have to and therefore he also made a sacrifice.

The author paints a vivid picture of the life of the enclave citizens and their rules and hardships. I really like the fight scenes and it made me want to go out and take karate, or kickboxing or at the very least play World of Warcraft.  The details made the harshness and danger more real and I loved the descriptions of the tunnels, the Freaks and their surroundings. These details had me visualizing the scenes using sound and smell as well as sight.

I enjoyed the turn in the story when the pair went Topside was clever as well. Deuce is leery of the enormity of the sky, the heat and brightness of the sun, the animals and the huge buildings.  But she adapts quickly enough to be able to survive and thrive. I’ve read that some people had a problem that she adapted too quickly, but it didn’t bother me. Maybe her Huntress skills and training made her tougher than a person who wasn’t trained to protect herself.

What I thought was fun was trying to figure out where they were through the clues that were described (the subways, Nassau, the library) and the items they found, (SPAM, canned cherries).

There were some parts that I thought could be fleshed out a bit more. The romance seemed sudden, but it didn’t seem instantaneous and the bottom line is I believed it and enjoyed it. I also wondered about Pearl and Deuce’s suspicions about her. I thought there was going to be something more going on with her, but maybe I picked up on something that wasn’t there.

Deuce's dealings with the two Topsiders they meet, Taegan and Stalker, is also interesting.  These are people who have lived in a different environment, a different world really.  But I enjoyed her relationship with Fade the most and I look forward to what becomes of all of them in the next book.  I thought it was cool how Deuce's worldview changes from the start of the story to the end and I will continue to read this series.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

NOLA Reading Challenge 2012.

I live near NYC and by default it's my favorite city in the world.  However, I also absolutely love New Orleans!   The magic, the music and the mayhem!  I try to visit as often as I can.   I've heard people say it's an entirely different world, separate from the rest of the country with it's own unique history and culture.

I love reading and learning about New Orleans and many times I choose to read a book based only on the fact that it takes place there, or the main character grew up there or the author stopped by there once...okay, maybe not that last one, but I just wanted to illustrate my obsession adoration for The Big Easy.  Because I love reading about New Orleans, I thought I'd give myself more of an excuse to do so by hosting the NOLA Reading Challenge 2012.

Please note: This is not to be confused with the AAD NOLA Challenge. If you are interested in that challenge, please click on the button in the sidebar.

  • This challenge will run from January 1, 2012 - December 31, 2012.
  • Books must be read and reviewed in 2012.
  • You can choose fiction or non-fiction.
  • You do not need a blog to participate.
  • You can join at anytime during the year.
  • You can choose any genre (Romance, UF, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Non Fiction) as long as it has some connection to New Orleans.  (Even if the story or book takes place near New Orleans, such as a Louisiana plantation or the Bayou, it can be used.)
  • I will be having contests and giveaways with this challenge!
If anyone has any suggestions for this challenge let me know!

  • Write a post about this challenge with a link back to this post.
  • If you want to make a list of books you wish to read you can, but it's not mandatory.
  • Your list is not set in stone.  You can change, add or subtract books
  • Sign up on the designated Mr. Linky below.
  • Choose a level: 
    • Gator: Read 1-4 books. 
    • Jazz Musician: Read 5-8 books. 
    • Mardi Gras King: Read 9-12 books. 
    • Voodoo Queen: Read 13-16 books.

To post a review:
  • Link to the designated Mr. Linky below.
I'm going to try for the Jazz Musician Level. 
1. Black Heart Loa by Adrian Phoenix.
2. Nine Lives: Mystery, Magic, Death and Life in New Orleans by Dan Baum.
3. Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson. 
4. TBD.
5. TBD.

Grab the button!


This is the SIGN UP Mr. Linky!  (Use only to sign up for the challenge).

This is the REVIEW Mr. Linky.  (Use only to link up your NOLA Reading Challenge reviews.)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ghostly Reading Challenge 2012.

I found yet another challenge and it is right up my alley. Lila from Babbling About Books and Stuff is hosting a Ghostly Reading Challenge. I read tons of books about ghosts and spooky stuff as it is, so this challenge is a perfect fit for me.

Please click HERE for details and to sign up.

I am going to go for the Still Living Level which is to pick 6 books.  Here are my choices as of now:
1. Ghost Story by Peter Straub.
2. Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready.
3. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gamain.
4. Dark Souls by Paula Morris.
5. Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake.
6. Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Title/Author: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.

Genre: Thriller.

Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard.

Source: Purchased.

Favorite character: Lisbeth Salander. Duh!

Favorite quote: "What she had realized was that love was the moment when your heart was about to burst."

Synopsis: Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch--and there's always a catch--is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson's novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don't want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.~Goodreads.

My Thoughts:
I read this because it was on my TBR pile for a long time and I wanted to read it before I saw the movie. I can see why this is an international bestseller as it has so many elements; intrigue, mystery, danger, great characters and complicated plot threads.

There is a lot of telling in this book as it’s an omniscient POV. I usually don’t like being told what is going on, what went on, what people are thinking, etc. However, while I got a bit bogged down by all the finance talk, I didn’t mind the "telling" as much in this book. The details are intriguing and although I may not have totally comprehended the content, it is written in a straightforward style.  I wanted to know everything that went on behind the scenes, from Mikael Blomkvist’s relationships, to what led him on his chase of Wennerstrom  to begin with. Maybe it is also because it is just so well written and I knew that it had importance and I wanted to get as clear a picture as possible

What I really loved is the detail that showed the investigation. Everything that Mikael and Lisbeth did to solve this mystery is given a lot of attention. There are no leaps or missing puzzle pieces. The only elements I wasn’t clear about were the computer and bank transaction details, but that’s just me.

As I look back on the book I can’t help but think that at times yet it was unrealistic, but at the time it was just exciting and I went along for the ride no matter where it took me.

The most compelling parts are when Lisbeth comes on the scene. She is complex and abrasive, but very sympathetic and not only did I root for her, I admired her. Her strength and cleverness feature prominently. It is no wonder she is becoming one of the most celebrated characters in literature.  Mikael is another character who is very likeable, heroic and vulnerable at the same time.  I felt that events happened to Lisbeth and Mikael and they both struggle in different ways to survive and overcome very different hurdles. When this unlikely team join forces it is a fascinating combination and they mesh well.

I did enjoy seeing the characters come to life in the movie. Although of course they changed some things in the film, it didn’t take away from the story or detract from the plot or mystery. I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed the movie as much if I hadn’t read the book because, of course, a lot is left out as it just simply couldn’t be conveyed on the screen.

This book does have explicit sexual content and violence so be warned if you are squeamish.

And just a bit of trivia. Rooney Mara who plays Lisbeth is sisters with Kate Mara who plays Hayden on American Horror Story.

Other Editions:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge and Horror & UF Reading Challenge (2012).

I wasn't going to sign up for any challenges this year!

But then I found the 2012 Witches and Witchcraft Reading challenge hosted by Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf.  How could I not join?  These are the kinds of books I love to read anyway.  Melissa's even included a wonderful book list to give you ideas.  I haven't picked the exact books yet but I am going to try for the Initiate Level which is 1 - 5 Witchy books.  Click on the button for rules and details.

Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf

While I was at it, and because again, these are the kind of books I like to read anyway, I decided to once again join the Horror & Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge (2012) hosted by Book Chick City.  I did this last year and it was quite fun to peruse all the Horror and UF links that people posted.  Will I be able to read 24 books for this challenge?  Only time will tell.  Click on the button for rules and details.

Book Blogger Confessions #1

Book Blogger Confessions is a meme hosted by Tiger from All Consuming Books and Karen from For What It's Worth Reviews to discuss issues unique to book bloggers.  To find out details, click HERE.

Q. How has the "job" of book blogging changed your reading habits? Both pro and con.

A: Like Karen stated in her answer, I now look at books more critically. It really doesn’t serve anyone if I simply say I thought a story was stupid or the characters silly. How is that helpful? I need to figure out what didn’t work for me and what would have worked for me. Same way the other way around. If I think a story is awesome and the characters rock I need to support this opinion as well. This also might have to do with the writing classes I’ve taken in the past several years and what I’ve learned in my writing group. I notice details that I may have not noticed before or maybe just didn’t pay as much attention to. This is both pro and con. Pro, because obviously it can be a learning experience to read a book, not just in what the message is or details of the book provide (like learning about another culture), but in figuring out structure, characterization, etc. Con, because it makes it more difficult to just shut my brain off and simply read.

Book blogging has also changed my reading habits for the better because I have been introduced to so many different books that I may not have otherwise known about. I have gotten to know more authors, more series and I’ve learned about all the different genres out there and the world of publishing. I also think more about what I’m going to read next, but this always depends on my mood.

The negatives - I feel the days when I just read with no agenda are gone, when I didn’t have to explain why I liked or didn’t like a book. But then again, I didn’t have a lot of people to share my reading opinions and ideas with before I started blogging. Now, I have a ton of people to share with and sort of report to. And therefore, I get more validation and more satisfaction from reading. I know I’ll find someone who will have an interest in what I’ve read and what I have to say about it.  And of course, I get to read a vast amount of opinions on books which to me is priceless.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge.

This is a fabulous idea hosted by Jennifer at Reading With Tequila!  I've found so many great books via other blogger recommendations.  Yet, I still have a ton of these books on my TBR pile, waiting for me to crack them open.  So this challenge is perfect.

Jennifer has researched and compiled an awesome comprehensive list of books recommended by book bloggers.  I'm happy to see many of my own favorites on the list as well!

I'm going to start with Level I and complete 5 books from the list.  My choices are below.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.
Enclave by Ann Aguirre.
The Passage by Justin Cronin.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.

Click HERE to find out more details about this challenge.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...