Lady Julia Grey has finally spread her wings after her wake-up call during the investigation into her husbands death. She’s spent some time in Italy w...moreLady Julia Grey has finally spread her wings after her wake-up call during the investigation into her husbands death. She’s spent some time in Italy with two of her brothers, but after her father gets word that her brother Lysander up and married a random Italian woman he calls the three home to Bellmont Abbey, the family’s huge sanctuary-turned-home. Not wanting to upset their father even more so close to Christmas, Lady Julia, her brother Plum, Lysander and his new wife Violante, and their friend, the Count Fornacci all head back to England to deal with father. But what’s supposed to be a simple meet-the-new-member-of-the-family and Christmas holiday becomes something more when Nicholas Brisbane appears with a fiancée and a body turns up in the old sanctuary. It appears Lady Julia will be getting her hands dirty again solving another murder with Brisbane and maybe the mystery of the man himself.
When I reviewed the first Lady Julia Grey novel, I mentioned that it had me hooked. The second was no different. While I didn’t finish it in one sitting like the first – after all I did start this at 4:30 in the morning – I did read the majority of it and finish in a second sitting later that night, I just couldn’t put it down. All of those pluses from book one (characters, writing, plot) were in book two as well.
While a part of the mystery is that a man was found murdered, a part of it is also the situation with Brisbane and his fiancée. And, let me tell you real quick, I was pissed when he announced he was getting married to someone other than Lady Julia. Of course, as the story unfolds you understand more, but I was still a bit angry at the start.
I found that, while I enjoyed the investigative parts of this book, I was much more attached to the characters and what was happening to each of them personally with this one. It’s hard not to love them all. The relationship between Brisbane and Lady Julia continued to be a constant source of frustration and there was a time or two when I considered throwing the book across the room because of them. By the end of the book, which was almost 1,000 pages of Brisbane and Julia they still weren’t together (much to my dismay) but the rest of the story was amazing, and of course I wanted nothing more than to pick up book three to see what would happen next.
All in all, Silent in the Sanctuary was another superb read. I admit that my attachment to all of the characters continues to grow, especially as the characters themselves grow. These books fit into the ‘Once you start, you don’t want to stop’ category. I absolutely recommend this series.(less)
When Sir Edward Grey collapses during a house party, the last thing his widow expects to hear is that he was murdered. When Nicholas Brisbane explains...moreWhen Sir Edward Grey collapses during a house party, the last thing his widow expects to hear is that he was murdered. When Nicholas Brisbane explains to Lady Julia Grey what he believes to be the truth she doesn’t believe it – refuses to believe it.
It’s been almost a year since her husband has passed, and Lady Julia decides to start cleaning out her husbands office. What she finds tucked away in his desk startles her to be sure, for it’s one of the threatening notes that Brisbane told her about nearly a year ago. Needing to know the truth, Lady Julia teams up with Mr. Brisbane in an attempt to find the person who murdered her husband. In doing so, she stumbles into an unknown world of danger and thrills.
So, uh… WOW. It seems, over the last couple of weeks I’ve been seeing the name Deanna Raybourn everywhere I look, so of course I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I’m glad to say that I see it.
Silent in the Grave was addictive, I was glued to the pages. So glued that I read the last sentence of the book, squealed and ran to my bookshelf to start the second… at 4:30 in the morning. Raybourn simply kept me wanting to read.
The investigation into Sir Edward’s death was intriguing. I wanted to know what would happen next. Once I thought I had it all figured it out, Raybourn would toss another curve ball leaving me whirling… and wanting more. Silent in the Grave certainly kept me on my toes.
The characters, specifically Lady Julia and Mr. Brisbane… well, that’s just another reason to read this book. The tension between the two is palpable. Lady Julia, throughout the investigation begins to find reasons to enjoy life instead of living in the haze she inhabited while her husband was alive. Nicholas Brisbane was a bag of jolly’s to get to know. He is mysterious, infuriating, and swoon-worthy all at the same time. Lady Julia’s family, the Marches, are simply fascinating. Really, each and every character in the book is someone I wish I could know in real life.
Silent in the Grave was absolutely fantastic and I highly, highly recommend it for the story, the characters… everything about it. I’ll be continuing and revisiting this series without a doubt.(less)
All too often, religious beliefs make their way into arguments surrounding law-making. The huge debate over whether or not gay marriage should be made...moreAll too often, religious beliefs make their way into arguments surrounding law-making. The huge debate over whether or not gay marriage should be made legal is only one example, but it is a good one. No matter where you go in the U.S. (even in my liberal home state) someone is going to say that The Bible says homosexuality is not to be tolerated, therefore, allowing gay marriage is not okay. But, what does The Bible really say when it comes to matters of sex and desire? In Unprotected Texts, Jennifer Wright Knust, a bible scholar and American Baptist pastor answered just that.
There are no topics left alone in Unprotected Texts. Want to know what the different books of The Bible have to say about whether desire is good or bad and what to do about it? You can find it here. Curious about premarital sex and same-sex relationships, you can find that here too. How about the physical body? There’s an entire chapter devoted to circumcision, semen, and menstruation. Gender roles, monogamy and polygamy, marriage… You name it, if it’s in The Bible, Knust has presented it here.
Not only are the contradictions of The Bible pointed out, but Knust also takes a look at some of the interpretations as well. She states that some of the translations aren’t literal, but educated guesses. In addition, she points out that our present day understanding of certain words and phrases (Sodom is the example that comes to mind right now) did not come along until centuries later. If that’s the case, how can we really say that the destruction of Sodom happened because of same-sex relationships, when it’s far more likely that the destruction of Sodom happened because of human/angel sexual relations or the attitude of the people.
Knust, in my opinion, very successfully argues that The Bible is too contradictory to use as a guidebook for anything, let alone sex and desire. She states, up front, that something that is tolerated in one book will be prohibited in the next, and glorified in another. In that case, sure you can argue that The Bible says one thing, but they guy next to you will probably point out that it says another entirely – and there you have the not-so-merry-go-round of The Bible, as I’ve chosen to call it.
There are a couple of things I think it’s important to mention about Unprotected Texts, both positive. First, we all know that there is a stereotype assigned to religious books. That’s the idea that the author is going to try to push their beliefs on you. Does Knust acknowledge her beliefs in this book? Yes, she mentions them in the introduction. Does she at any point try to say her beliefs are right or that you should believe as she does? No, Knust stays on topic the entire book. Second, you don’t need to be a bible scholar to understand Unprotected Texts. As someone who has yet to successfully read The Bible, I was able to follow along with her discussions of the different stories and books of The Bible quite well.
Overall, Unprotected Texts was a great book. It was easy to read, easy to follow along with, and it answers the questions regarding sex and desire in The Bible.(less)
The Meowmorphosis is the story of Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman working his hind-end off to pay off his fathers debt and provide for his parents...moreThe Meowmorphosis is the story of Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman working his hind-end off to pay off his fathers debt and provide for his parents and sister. One morning, after a fitful night’s sleep, Gregor wakes up to find that not only is he late for work, but he appears to be a kitten! Of course, Gregor’s new status as a kitten means he’s not exactly able to work – what with the lack of opposable thumbs and perhaps the whole communication thing, which leaves his family in an uproar trying to figure out how they will keep the bills paid.
Shortly after turning into a kitten, Gregor finds his chance for escape, and so he bolts for freedom from the family apartment to the streets of Prague. It doesn’t take Gregor long to find out that he isn’t the only man turned cute little kitty-cat. That one crazy night with the men-turned-cat’s of Prague leaves Gregor reeling, and so he returns home.
Of course his father is still miffed, his mother still can’t breathe with him in the room, and his sister no longer wants to cuddle him… so much for the rainbows of love he was hoping to go home to, eh? And so Gregor lives out the rest of his days with a family that is quite content to leave this no longer kitten-sized, but overgrown cat be.
So, was The Meowmorphosis better than the original? Most definitely.
This is a mash-up, so there are many parts of The Meowmorphosis that mirror the original, and for me this ended up giving the story a slow start. Once stuff actually started happening though, namely Gregor’s escape from the apartment, I became far more involved. I loved the addition of meeting the other man-turned-cat’s and all that came along with Gregor’s discovery of this group. Even if he did go back home towards the end, which I had hoped wouldn’t happen, I still really liked the book.
Coleridge Cook’s writing fit in really well with the essence of Kafka and consequently, the story has a good flow to it. There were some pretty humorous moments as well. This is, after all, a story that happens from the perspective of a cat and while a lot of the story was about what was going on around Gregor, there were moment’s of very cat-like interjections (you know, ear scratching, pouncing, kneading, all that stuff that cat’s adore – on their schedule of course). Gregor’s night on the town and seeing the different perspective of Josef K and Franz (other men-turned-cat’s) made for some good moments as well.
The Meowmorphosis is a fresh take on an old story joined by those ridiculously awesome illustrations that Quirk novels always have, an fairly hilarious Appendix titled ‘The Curious Life of Franz Kafka, author of The Meowmorphosis,’ and what I think are some of the best discussion questions I’ve ever seen in a book. Basically, I consider this one definitely worth checking out.
**I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.(less)
Calliope Reaper-Jones has been content to live a normal life for the last three years. She lives in her New York City apartment, working too much and...moreCalliope Reaper-Jones has been content to live a normal life for the last three years. She lives in her New York City apartment, working too much and playing too little. One day at work, out of nowhere her father’s executive assistant tricks her and that memory-forgetting charm she put on herself – the one that let her forget the insanity that is her family – is broken. So much for that normal life… I mean how can anyone be normal when they are Death’s daughter, right?
When Callie realizes that Jarvis was the one to ruin everything for her, she’s ready to tell him just how she feels about that, but when she finds out several executive members of the Death, Inc. board have been kidnapped, including her father and her older sister she realizes she has to go home to help out.
Taking over the position of Death was not something Callie had ever intended to do – in fact she’d done everything she could to avoid it, but after being guilt-tripped by her mother, Callie agrees to take the reigns, assuming she can complete three tasks she’s given.
Facing family members who believe the worst of her, monsters the likes of which she’s never heard of or seen before, and the world she’s only wanted to avoid, Callie has to accept unwanted responsibilities, fight the bad guys, and find everyone who has been kidnapped.
Death’s Daughter was interesting enough, but it’s filled with positives and negatives. Basically, I liked it, but I didn’t love it. Why?
Firstly, the writing – it just wasn’t consistent. At times the book was very easy to read, it was well written, even witty. The rest of the time though, I found myself struggling, wanting to put the book down and pick something else up. Things would go from this fast paced ‘don’t look away, we’re moving!’ to ‘pardon me, reader, but I appear to have found myself some molasses.’
Secondly, the main character – I can’t decide whether I want to like her or hate her. Calliope had her moments, but all too often I found myself shaking my head at her whininess and immaturity.
Regardless of the above two points, the story itself was pretty catchy. I mean, death’s daughter, who becomes death after going so far as to block her memory to avoid exactly that, c’mon! I know I was intrigued.
Death’s Daughter boasts some really good characters, outside of Calliope. I absolutely loved Jarvis and Callie’s younger sister Clio. Kali, too, was one of my favorite characters, even if she did egg Callie on at times. There is also Daniel, whom I really liked once I figured out what was going on towards the end of the book, though I must admit to not being happy about his disappearance. I’m determined that he’ll be back though – he has to be.
Bottom line, Death’s Daughter is an interesting story with some equally interesting characters, and also some negatives. While I won’t be waxing poetic about this one, I will continue the series to see what happens next – hopefully I’ll being seeing some growth in Calliope and maybe better writing…(less)
On the afternoon of May 13, 1945 a group of 24 officers and enlisted military personnel hopped on a military plane to see the popular Shangri-La, a pi...moreOn the afternoon of May 13, 1945 a group of 24 officers and enlisted military personnel hopped on a military plane to see the popular Shangri-La, a picturesque valley hidden away in the mountains of New Guinea. The only way to see Shangri-La was by air, flying through a particularly tumultuous mountain pass. On this day, one man’s questionable decision, one co-pilots inexperience, and possible mechanical problems paired with the unpredictable mountain weather all lead to a tragic fate for the men and women aboard the plane dubbed the ‘Gremlin Special.’
After the crash, only three of the 24 passengers survived – one woman and two men. Armed with few supplies and an array of injuries – broken bones, burns, cuts, bruises, and gangrene, not to mention the grief of losing friends and acquaintances and in one survivors case a twin brother, the three started their hike down the valley into an open area they were able to spot. Living off of small tins of water and hard candy, they never gave up. Eventually they made it to the field where they were spotted by American pilots and the native peoples.
Soon after the survivors are spotted, supplies start coming in raising morale and a group of Filipino-American paratroopers volunteer to make a daring jump into the valley. Finally, with the attention of medics, things start to look up, but they still have a long way go to heal, hike back to the main base set up by the paratroopers, and get out of the valley – safely. Almost seven weeks after the crash, a daring attempt was made, and in a matter of days, the survivors, the volunteer paratroopers, and one man from Hollywood all made it out of Shangri-La.
If I was limited to one word to describe this book, it would be: phenomenal. It’s hard to believe that Lost in Shangri-La is a non-fiction book because the story is so amazing. However, this is a true story, and it is pretty epic. Lost in Shangri-La isn’t just about a plane crashing and what happened afterwards. It’s an extremely comprehensive telling of the history of New Guinea, what life was like for the native peoples and soldiers stationed there, the men and women who went down in the plane as well as the men and women who were willing to risk their lives to help the survivors, what was happening during WWII at the time, and the rescue that one has to be crazy to attempt.
The three survivors of the Gremlin Special are the ultimate heroes. They found within themselves the motivation they needed to go on, even when they were in so much pain they could hardly stand and at times they were actually crawling through the jungle. They were confronted by a native people with whom they couldn’t communicate very well and whom they were lead to believe were a cannibalistic and cruel group of prehistoric warriors. In fact, these people ended up friends. On and on these three fought, never giving up no matter what was thrown their way.
A story put together from interviews, journals written by those involved in the crash and rescue, old news articles, along with pictures from the time spent waiting to be rescued and the rescue itself, Lost in Shangri-La is a book you have to read, to experience for yourself. It’s the type of book that you don’t want to put down because you want to know how these individuals fared.
Bottom line, Lost in Shangri-La is beautifully written, the chapters move very quickly, and the story is absolutely captivating. I highly recommend this book, not only for lovers of history, but for anyone who is looking for inspiration, for a story of struggle and triumph.
**I received a copy of this book as a part of TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own and have not been influenced in anyway.(less)
Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have married and now it’s time for Elizabeth to be introduced to London. Amidst dinner, dancing, and tea Elizabeth must find a...moreElizabeth and Mr. Darcy have married and now it’s time for Elizabeth to be introduced to London. Amidst dinner, dancing, and tea Elizabeth must find a way to fit into the social circles that Mr. Darcy has always been a part of. While there are some who shun Elizabeth and some who are simply jealous, she manages to find a friend in the Marchioness of Englebury – a very powerful woman within society. Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride is a great telling of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth settling into marriage.
Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride quickly became a favorite among the Pride and Prejudice sequels I’ve read. It is well written and fun and easy to read. The big plus of this book, though, is the characters. Halstead did a fantastic job writing Darcy and Elizabeth. In addition, Kitty Bennett and Georgiana Darcy get their stories here along with a few newer characters who were quite fantastic – the Marchioness of Englebury among them. This one is definitely worth picking up.(less)
Hush, Hush is the story of sixteen year old Nora Grey. Her father’s violent and untimely death a year before have only reinforced her issues with trus...moreHush, Hush is the story of sixteen year old Nora Grey. Her father’s violent and untimely death a year before have only reinforced her issues with trust and as a result she has put most of her focus into school. When a project forces her to get to know bad boy transfer student Patch, she goes on the defensive in response to her attraction to him. Patch isn’t any old bad boy though, he’s actually a fallen angel stuck in a body that can’t feel anything. Soon after starting to spend time with Patch, strange things start to happen to Nora and what was once a fairly ordinary life, if a bit boring, becomes a fight for life.
I may have read Hush, Hush in one sitting, but my reaction is still mixed. There is a part of me that really wants to (and in a way does) like this book, but there is a bigger part of me that is not at all impressed.
I have to say it, at various points throughout my reading experience I felt like I was watching or reading Twilight. The biology class, the strange city neighborhood, the hunky teenage boy who’s not actually a teenage boy with some sort of big secret, strange occurrences… This just didn’t feel original, at all.
I found the book to be plain aggravating at times. The inability to see through obvious lies and the best friend totally disregarding what is being said – way to be supportive… awesome examples to set for the teenagers reading this book. But what tops the list? Patch’s level of sheer asshole-ism (not a word, I know) and the situation with Elliot. Regardless of what is discovered after the fact, I don’t think it is appropriate to EVER have a character play down or dismiss violence against anyone. A scuffle is one thing, but being forced against the side of a house with a hand at your throat is not nothing. When the ‘best friend’ tried to say that it didn’t mean anything because the guy was hungover and wouldn’t do this normally, and obviously believing it, well I don’t really care what anyone says, its fiction or whatever else you might say to excuse it, I don’t buy it. As for Patch, well I think part of the reason I disliked the way he acted is because I saw a bit of myself in Nora, what with her attraction to the dangerous guy who acts like a jerk.
There was good stuff too, which is probably what kept me reading the book. I got really into the back story of being a fallen angel and everything that comes along with it. The idea of Nephilim, and the part they play, is interesting.
Personally, I just can’t get over the negatives and for me they outweigh the good. I feel like there is just so much bad that young readers don’t need to have as an example in this book. I’m not exactly the target audience, and obviously enough Hush, Hush has a story line that has, and will probably continue to, catch a lot of readers (especially those teenage girls!), so I don’t see it going anywhere. I just hope that there are adults out there to say hey, lets talk about what goes on in this book, because certain things are not okay.(less)