Fugue Macabre: Bone Dance by C.J. Parker - This book is by a friend of mine. I loved the first one Fugue Macabre: Ghost Dance and book two did not dis...moreFugue Macabre: Bone Dance by C.J. Parker - This book is by a friend of mine. I loved the first one Fugue Macabre: Ghost Dance and book two did not disappoint. I am sad to say that it took me forever to finish reading it due to technology problem ( right tech, wrong format ebook, etc.)I thought I'd get it to work on my NOOK, but must have done something wrong. I finally finished reading the book on my iPhone, and I thought I was going to hate that as an experience. But, once I was caught up in the action of the story I totally forgot I wasn't holding a book. I was "flipping" pages as fast as I could. This is the story of three friends ( who formed a strong bond in Ghost Dance) that head down to the Louisiana Swamp to defend a shape-shifting population under threat from both internal and external forces. They need a leader and Bobbie Luckman must step into the role she was destine to play. I like what the author has done with world. She has build a whole mythology full of prophecy, spirit warriors, and visions that carry you to this world wind plot. Also, she has included enough back story to make book two stand alone, without sounded repetitive to those who have read book one. There are many gems in the colorful side characters. I hope the next book comes out soon. I'd love to find out more about Rhonda! So far, Bone Dance is an eBook only title, but it is available in lots of formats from the publisher or from Barnes & Noble and Amazon in their respective formats. (less)
The Nativity Collection is a set of six story beautifully packaged in a medium size gift book. Each story houses some gem of the true meaning of Chris...moreThe Nativity Collection is a set of six story beautifully packaged in a medium size gift book. Each story houses some gem of the true meaning of Christmas. That meaning which we seem to search for amongst the decorations, school plays, and snow every year. At first I thought the stories were going to be too Hallmark Moment as staged as the photographs that are sprinkled among the pages of this collection. But, the first one “Ollie,” about memory and compassion, brought a tear to my eye. The stories are very quick reads and you might even see the ending coming long before it get there, but they will still touch you. One of my favorites in this collection was “Nativity Seen Smiling” which has a touch of the Gift of the Magi about it. I’d recommend this book as sort of a pre-Christmas gift (there is a thoughtful inscription page at the front). The introduction said they were read by the author to his congregation, a new one every year. I think that and what it says about stories making up our lives is so true. (less)
This is an odd novel, though I was fascinated by it. Time plays very funny within its pages and I don't think I truly understood why until I got to th...moreThis is an odd novel, though I was fascinated by it. Time plays very funny within its pages and I don't think I truly understood why until I got to the end. It was something I should have suspected from the beginning, but I guess I was a little slow. My whole approach to this book has been slow. I saw it first listing in the Advance magazine, then when I actually purchased it, I left it sitting on my shelf for exactly a year (the recipe was tucked into the front cover) before I every picked it up.
At the heart this seems to be a novel about story telling through many media. There are story-recipes, clock-work stories, ballads, plays, pamphlets, and love notes. There is all sorts of language in the book too, while written in English, it is peppered with foreign words German, Yiddish, and more. None of it will put off your understanding of the book, but it gives it texture and it adds to the sense of time and place.
This book is set during WWI-through the beginning of WWII, with its epilogue in 1946. The majority set in Berlin during the Weimar Republic. There is lots of talk of war and revolution, and every chapter give a year, but the history challenged you'll have to piece the extra conflicts together yourself. There is mention of Bavaria, which I never could figure out if it was part of WWI or some separate conflict in this great time of turmoil.
Turmoil both internal and external is what sets these characters spinning. They are an eclectic assortment. Our narrator is a Jewish chef, who is 7th tall, with two different color eyes. She is often the subject of fear and superstition because of her looks, and later celebrated because of her talent with food. But, in these times attention is not always a good thing. There are her friends who are a used clothes seller, a seamstress, a Auntie Mame like woman who drives a motor car badly, gambles, and conspires with revolutionaries, there are more revolutionaries, playwrights, chefs, restaurateurs, artist, actresses, and clock-makers. They are all struggling against a world that doesn't make sense anymore, and struggling with one another over love and fame and ideas.
The book moves fast and it as if you are just catching snatches, we've barely gotten over a fight and we've landed into something new. Having said that, it is not confusing. I'd have liked to read more of Esther's cooking and less of Kaya and Thomas relationship, but it made sense giving how Esther was so emotionally tied to them.
As to the ending, well without giving anything away, all I can say is, I guess I was naïve to believe it could conclude any other way. There were clues right from the beginning, but I didn't pick up on them. This book wasn't a tear-jerker for me. There was certainly tragedy throughout, but there was distance in the writing. Not the kind of distance that is off-putting, but that made the action feel slightly less immediate. I understood at the end.
I recommend this book. It is different from my normal genre reads and given that my last venture into literary fiction was disappointing, I am glad this one was not.(less)
The title here is pretty self-explanatory. This is a collection of early picture postcards featuring animals and people. The first few of chapters Pet...moreThe title here is pretty self-explanatory. This is a collection of early picture postcards featuring animals and people. The first few of chapters Pets, Mascots, and Workers are definitely the beauty half of this book. According to the beginning “photo postcards, postcards printed from negatives directly on commercially produced postcard stock” (p1) was very popular during the early part of the 1900’s. It was “during this postcard era animals were becoming a more meaningful part of human family life, not merely as workers and showpieces but as significant others and ‘members of the family’”(p27). The peoples delight in there animals showed in many of the humorous shots and in some cases the pride in there faces. The commentary that goes along with many of the pictures is insightful to the time period. But, as the book progress into Food, Patients, Games, etc. I could no longer handle it and didn’t finish them. There were some interesting bits about the rise of the veterinary profession and how the postcards helped vets document strange cases, but I simply could no longer look at the photos. I skimmed to the end and the finial chapter on Symbols, had some interesting pieces including a bit about “His Masters Voice” which I though was cool because some of my relatives collect gramophones. (less)
The Women of Nell Gwynne’s by Kage Baker Subterranean Press, 2009
This was a fun novella. A romp, if you will. Gothic esta...moreSteampunk Challenge Review # 1
The Women of Nell Gwynne’s by Kage Baker Subterranean Press, 2009
This was a fun novella. A romp, if you will. Gothic estates, silly costumes, funny sex, cool Steampunk gadgets (that work within the plot), and a happy resolution. I purchased it from Amazon, and it sat on my shelf for over a year, because I tend to acquire books faster than I can read them. Like a hidden treasure, I pulled it from the shelf today and was entranced.
Lady Beatrice, suffered myriad atrocious and had the audacity not to die! Fighting her way home she found the only path open to her was that of a street-walker. Providence intervened and found her a ‘home’ at Nell Gwynne’s – a house (brothel) for ladies like her, to employ their talents in service of the crown. Supplied with the latest technological gadgets by their brother organization, The Gentleman’s Speculative Society, the ladies set off to locate a missing member of the GSS and to determine what a mysterious Lord is offering to auction off to the highest bidder.
It is a shame that I’ve discovered Kage Baker only after her death. I understand that her Company novels are very good and that the GSS, is supposed to be a precursor to them. This is a novella which craves a sequel and while I understand there will be a short something out at the end of this month, they’ve appended it to the paperback edition. I hate when they do that! There are some books I’m quite happy to buy over and over, and while I did enjoy this very much, it just isn’t a must have multiple copies type book.
This title was nominated for a Hugo and I believe that it won the 2009 Nebula.(less)
This is the story an orphan girl who learned real early that boys get the better end of the stick. So she cut her hair, changes her name, and passes h...moreThis is the story an orphan girl who learned real early that boys get the better end of the stick. So she cut her hair, changes her name, and passes her self off as a boy. She also, through a mix of natural talent, gossip, and bribery won herself the position of The Folk Keeper. The one person who is in charge of keeping THE FOLK (faeries, brownies, hobgoblins, and the ilk) at bay down in the dark cellar. Suddenly, she is summoned to a strange old man who wants to adopt her. Still insisting she's a boy, she agrees if she can be the new Folk Keeper of the manor. Looking to hold on to her vision of power by being the Folk Keeper at such a large estate aspects of herself and her secret powers begin to change. Secrets to her past begin to unfold. It is interesting the way she comes into to her own. The whole story is told in a collection of diary entries.
I really liked this story. This novel takes place in a historical setting where the old magic was alive. The boy we meet at the beginning has quiet a ruthless in his out look on life and very defensive of his position as Folk Keeper. But, pride of position made and a chance to increase the power he has creative for himself leads him to accept a dying man’s offer. We soon learn that he is a she, hiding in a world that she has created. The boy is a cloak, the hardness a mask. I love the way this book was written. The diary entries serve as a place for Corin/Corinna to tell us about her the hard shell and illuminate the cracks as they appear for us to see and for her to discover.
“I tried to speak, but the furniture of my mind had all been rearranged, my words neatly folded and stored out of site.” P36
I really liked the language that Billingsley uses to build her world. Corinna’s got a really great voice and manner of writing for someone who had to bribe a fellow orphan to teach her to read and write.
“Like pieces of a Kaleidoscope, the ladies and gentlemen fell into patterns of color on the Ballroom floor.” P77
I loved this book and hated it all at the same time. It is a beautiful confession written in such a way that that you feel as if you are watching the...moreI loved this book and hated it all at the same time. It is a beautiful confession written in such a way that that you feel as if you are watching the whole story through a snow globe. That distance combined with Wallace’s wonderful way with words give this slim volume the enchantment of a fairy tale. There is a surreal feel to the characters that could only exist in such story, at once beloved but unattainable. The Blind Contessa’s New Machine is the story of a young woman who is going blind. The novel pays meticulous attention to what she can and can not see painting for the reader lavish and sometime fanciful watercolors of words as the Contessa moves about both in the waking world and that of her dreams. There is only one soul who seems to understand her – his is a long time friend and fellow dreamer a few years her senior. They both seem to have an easy acceptance of the others eccentricities, and would seem a match except that he is married and she is about to be. I finished this novel with a notebook full of quotes that had to added to my collection and a general dissatisfy feeling as I wanted this to be the fairy tale I’d felt it was in my mind and instead I got the mundane world ending that I suppose was enviable. I am far too much a romantic dreamer myself to be able to easily reconcile this things in my mind. I believe the author herself provided a quote that captures a bit of the feeling I had when I turned the last page.
“She found herself wishing for the Pietro her heart had constructed over the previous years: sure-footed, understanding, and fearless, to come rescue her from Pietro himself as he rambled on at her side. The wish made her dizzy.” P 47
"...he found the literature could sometimes take his mind off the pain."
Now there is a true statement. You can always find them in good fiction. I ha...more
"...he found the literature could sometimes take his mind off the pain."
Now there is a true statement. You can always find them in good fiction. I had wanted to read Blood Soup since I saw it reviewed elsewhere on the web. Its cover look seductively creepy and the synopsis sounded cool so I put the book on my Wish List. I thought wistfully, "One day," and then to my immense good fortune the author, Kelly A. Harmon, contacted me and I found myself in possession of a review copy. I got started reading right away. This was a short novella of my favorite sort. I couldn't see the conclusion from the opening, there was recompense paid at that end, and just enough open-endedness to let the imagination fly.
This novella covers a lot a time, but never feels fractured or too compressed. It also feels like it belongs to a different time. I don't mean it's the historical setting. Harmon's story feels like it belongs to the myth and legend class of stories or maybe just a scary tale told in the dark. I loved its dramatic feel (in the theatrical sense).
I was completely shock during the second major scene, but I could tell the nurse maid (archetypal crone/witch) would have something in her basket. The Old King is most interesting character esp. at the end. He's the one whose decisions turn the plot. You have to read it for yourself.
In one of those odd convergences of life, the son Amal in this story has the same vibe as the petulant king Lionel in the audio book I'm listening to right now. In the Accidental Sorcerer by K. E. Mills, the new King is also power hungry and unwilling to take advice. I always think it is neat when this happens.
In a real world note: I never realize there were so may ways to actually make Blood Soup or so many foods in which blood was a main ingredient. Did I mention I also love books which inspire research! (less)
This is Classic Crusie and it has been so long since we've had a single author book from her it was like drinking a cool glass of water ( or was it Am...moreThis is Classic Crusie and it has been so long since we've had a single author book from her it was like drinking a cool glass of water ( or was it Amaretto, Andie perfers). I can't really tell you how many times I laughed out loud! This book is Funny.
The whole time I was reading this book, I couldn't help but feel the story was familiar. We had the creepy Gothic home, the weird Housekeeper, and the out of place nanny. The text mentioned Jane Eyre, but that wasn't it.
I was enjoying all the colorful characters too much for it to bother me. After all, I was happy to be back with all the Crusie hallmarks. I think the only one missing was the dog, and who needs a dog when you've got ghosts! Andie and North had already been married to each other TEN Years before, but it crumbled after only a year. And when Andie goes visits him in order to return 10 years worth of uncashed alimony checks( it is obvious these two aren't done), she somehow agrees to become a nanny to North's inherented nice and nephew. Hijinks ensues.
When North's brother Sullivan aka Southie enters the picture with a nosy reporter things get outrageous. She brings a medium and a skeptic. The the Ex-Mother in-laws show up to protect there interests and, their backstory is one I wouldn't mind seeing. As if two troubled children, a wacko housekeeper, three ghosts, weren't already enough the final guests arrive -- Andie's fiancé and North himself.
It is a volcano ready to blow and you will laugh and maybe even cry as this screw ball comedy works itself out. North, hasn't a clue about ghost, but Andie's in trouble so he's going to fix it. There is also a guest appearance from Gabe McKenna that makes you want to go back and read Fast Women (also excellent, it you haven't read it).
I really hope we don't have to wait 6 years for another one and I hope we will get to see Southie's story one day too.
The North and Southie and Lydia dynamic reminded me of Sabrina, but that didn't fit with the Gothic setting. Since the stories echoes where still nagging at me, I visited Jennifer Crusie's website and could have thumped myself. There on her home page where the words Turn of the Screw, well duh. This wasn't a mash-up like all the zombie/vampire + classic literature books that are out now. This was a modern retelling like Dean's Tam Lin, but with more out and out comedy.
The Many Deaths of the Firefly by Thomas Mullen is an amazing book. It is one of those rare titles where everything works. Starting with the outside,...moreThe Many Deaths of the Firefly by Thomas Mullen is an amazing book. It is one of those rare titles where everything works. Starting with the outside, it has a deep red jacket with a fedora clad silhouette walking towards the reader its trench coat flapping slightly. It has an intriguing title that makes you want to pick it up, and it is a hefty in size. The book is about a pair of Dillinger-esque bank robbers called the Firefly Brothers. As you read Mullen’s beautiful prose you settle into a non-chronological account of two men caught up in there own story. For this book is very much about story – the stories in the newspapers, the stories they tell each other (and the ones they don’t), the history and mythology of the era, and even the stories they can’t remember.
“…people need to tell there stories to place themselves somewhere solid in this great swirl…” – Mullen
Jason is the dapper one, as charmed as he is charming. He didn’t want any part of his father’s store and the two strong men butted heads. So, Jason took off to become a driver for a bootlegging operation. Sure it was illegal, but wasn’t Prohibition the real crime, seemed to be the thought process, besides he like the fast cars and the good clothes. Two jail stints and his father’s death, which haunts the book, escalated him bootlegger to bank robber. He honestly hadn’t wanted to get his brothers involved in what he did, but eventually he saw no choice, especially when it came to Wit.
Wit, the youngest Fireson, is rougher around the edges then his brother and not nearly so vain. He is on the path of anger fueled self destruction and Jason figures if he takes him along then at least he can attempt damage control. Together they have adventures galore and the next big score is always right around the corner. Jason tries not to think of the killing as his fault –self defense or an over zealous conspirator. He tries to reject the newspapers myth making and see himself as level headed.
But, little of this do you find out right away. See, Jason and his brother Wit are introduced to us waking up on cold metal slabs in a police morgue. They’d been killed and have the bullet holes to prove it. They know who they are, but not how they got there. The book bounces around in time telling you stories from various points of view. Some are from past, many are from the present and the all stitch themselves together nicely. Conjuring as if by magic, what it meant to live in that era, why people mythologies some criminals, and how these men found themselves in that life, even if they are not sure why they are alive.
“She wanted to breathe the brothers back into life with their stories.” — Mullen
Books like this one enthrall me. I listened to this one audio (purchased from Audible.com) even though I love the physical book. The audio production is superb. It is read by William Dufris whose voice I remembered from listening to a Richard K. Morgan novel a while back. He really breathes life into all the characters. The author talks about the phoneme of someone speech or there geographically dialect and Dufris keeps pace with it all. In the end The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers is a wonderful historical fiction that I’m sure my co-workers will get tired of me raving about. It is the kind of wonderful that makes me afraid that any clumsiness in my review will turn somebody off to it, yet I can’t just leave it at, “A Must Read!” (less)
I read the ARC of this collection of erotic short stories which I received from netGalley.com. This was my first ever e-ARC and I enjoyed that experie...moreI read the ARC of this collection of erotic short stories which I received from netGalley.com. This was my first ever e-ARC and I enjoyed that experience as much as I enjoyed the book. Most of these stories are based on fairy tales of fantasy motifs and they are oh so steamy. While I’ve enjoyed most of the collections that I’ve read by Alison Tyler this one is the best. Almost every story is a winner and the best are “The Three Billys” by Sommer Marsden, “Fool’s Gold” by Shanna Germain, and “The Broken Fiddle” by Andrea Dale.(less)
I'm not sure if I can exactly articulate why I gave this book four stars. I enjoyed it because it was a little different then so many of the romance n...moreI'm not sure if I can exactly articulate why I gave this book four stars. I enjoyed it because it was a little different then so many of the romance novels I've read of late that seem to bleed into one another. I enjoyed it because it had social war games, rival brothers, an infuriating title, and touches of fairy tale. I wish it had been about 150 pages longer and filed in the fantasy section so that maybe there would have been more room to explore this world that the author built. (I know there is a sequel, but there felt like there should be more here and now.) That said I did enjoy the book. I loved the scene between Rose and her near cousin when discussing her former employment. I did not like the scene between Rose and her husband in the alley after Ambrose left. That needed more words. I like Beatrice and would love to read one of her stories. She seemed to me like everything I've come to expect from Fey royalty, Seelie or not. She was manipulative and possibly deadly, but capable of good when it suits her. I thought at first the ability for everyone to read everyone else's mind would get annoying given the convenience of failed shields etc., but it didn't wear as thin as expected which was a pleasant surprise. The final spell was a little predictable, though satisfying. And then there was just enough set-up for book two without it being infuriating. Speaking of infuriating the title of this novel was not fully explained until near the end. I kept reading and explaining to everyone who'd listen that I while I really like this book I've no idea why it is called "The Prince of Frogs." Does that sound like a four star novel to you? Well it was. It swept me up in a strange adventure, that I found myself in the middle of before I knew it. I'd started it last week, but hadn't the time to devote to it. This week I found myself getting really annoyed when I was pulled away from the book. I also found myself looking for book 2 before I was even in the final chapters.(less)
I LOVED the art and it is worth the price of admission which is good because the concept gets old fast if you are reading straight through from cover...moreI LOVED the art and it is worth the price of admission which is good because the concept gets old fast if you are reading straight through from cover to cover. This book might be one that is better if you dipped into it at random. (less)
I liked Changeless. Like it predecessor it made me laugh out loud while sitting in occupied rooms forcing me to explain and therefore spread the hilar...moreI liked Changeless. Like it predecessor it made me laugh out loud while sitting in occupied rooms forcing me to explain and therefore spread the hilarity to others. I have only to mention the words "squash blossom" to certain people in order to hear much merriment. I enjoyed the adventure that Ms. Carriger lead us on and the new characters she introduced such as the daring inventor and curmudgeonly lady alpha who where among the highlights. The only fault I could find with this delightful novel was that the last chapter, setting us up for the sequel, was so infuriating that I was tempted to throw the book clear across the room. If I hadn't been at work, I might have done just that. September seems like an awfully long way off. (less)
Avalon Revisited is a delightful farce! The whole time I was reading it, I couldn't help but share bits with whomever was with in earshot. The only fa...moreAvalon Revisited is a delightful farce! The whole time I was reading it, I couldn't help but share bits with whomever was with in earshot. The only fault I could find in this preposterous comedy was that of a zipper, and I'm not even sure you could call it a fault -- I just didn't think they came into common use until after 1920 (though there are whispers of it as far back as 1851). The best I can figure the book is set somewhere around 1852. Doesn't matter, I laughed my head off at during that particular scene with chartreuse dress. The whole time I'm reading this I can't help but think of it as some paranormal spoof of a Oscar Wilde-esque play. The Steampunk element for me is light -- the best use that seemed to serve the plot was a bloodletting device worn by the butler. (Which reminds me of another adorable cliche that I won't speak about as it will give away part of the ending and this is a must read.) The other novelties mention seemed to be window dressing, but they are nice windows. This is definitely an adult novel as oppose to recent steampunk fare, like Soulless, that would work well with teens. (less)