Crunch, crunch, crunch . . . again, I need mindless potato-chip like entertainment while the rest of my brain tackles the end of semester piles of stuCrunch, crunch, crunch . . . again, I need mindless potato-chip like entertainment while the rest of my brain tackles the end of semester piles of student portfolios. This is the third novel in the Blood Ties series by Tanya Huff, featuring Vicki Nelson, private investigator and former cop; Mike Celluci, Vicki's former partner and on-again, off-again friend with benefits; and Henry, romance novelist, vampire, and bastard son of Henry VIII.
We had demons in the first book, werewolves in the second, and now . . . mummies. You know there's going to be trouble where a museum Egyptologist brings a sealed sarcophagus back to the museum and the curator's beautiful assistant says, "It looks like something interred in this coffin wasn't supposed to get out." You also know that someone is going to open the tomb and chaos will ensue. Sure enough.
An ancient creature is set loose upon Toronto, the servant of a minor but evil Egpytian god, and it's the creature's goal to build a new temple to his master and enslave the population of greater Toronto in the process-beginning with the police and government ministers. It will be up to Vicki, Mike, and Henry to foil his plan but that prove's much easier said then done.
I'm enjoying this series but I still wish the writing was a little tighter. There's something in both the plot structure and the characterization that keeps this from being really good. However, it's a fine place to lose myself for a few hours....more
Crazy end of semeser frenzy = fun detective & vampire book.
As I noted on the first book, this is the kind of literary equivalent of kettle chips-Crazy end of semeser frenzy = fun detective & vampire book.
As I noted on the first book, this is the kind of literary equivalent of kettle chips--very little nutritional value but hard to put down. This 2nd installment of the series finds Vicki and Henry helping out a pack of werewolves outside of London (Ontario, that is). Turns out Henry isn't the only supernatural game in town. Someone is killing pack members in wolf form--picking them off at isolated moments and the pack turns to Henry for help. Since Henry can only be helpful when the sun is down, he asks Vicki for help on the case. Needless to say, Mike Celluci (Vicki's former partner) gets pulled in as well. All I can say is this vampire/werewolf dynamic is about 800 times more interesting than that of the Stephanie Meyer ilk....more
I had no expectations coming into this novel and so was pleasantly surprised by how engaging it was (and by how off the description on the back). TheI had no expectations coming into this novel and so was pleasantly surprised by how engaging it was (and by how off the description on the back). The lives of Caroline Winters and her sister, Madeleine are forever changed by the disappearance of their five-year-old sister, Ellie. The Winters live in upper class splendor but even before Ellie vanishes, there is darkness beneath the shiny facades. All this is revealed in scattered flashbacks.
The actual novel begins fifteen years later. Caroline is not living up to her potential, working as cocktail waitress in New Orleans and drinking way too much. Back in New York, the police are pressuring Caroline's mother, Isabella, and sister to declare Ellie legally dead (in order to prosecute a suspect in a more recent murder/kidnapping). When Isabella shows Caroline a picture from People of a girl in Montanna looking incredbily like a grown-up Ellie, Caroline is intrigued even as Madeleine dismisses it. Eventually, Caroline hits the road, determined to play amateur detective and find her lost sister.
Interspersed into this narrative are a series of letters from a young librarian to one of the Alaska hunks she's chosen from a website as well as flashbacks to Isabella's younger years and her choice to leave a fiance in the South to run away to New York. Though all the pieces fit together a bit too neatly and I actually wanted the writer to slow it down a bit, I still found myself unable to put this down....more
A great title followed by a solid, if not totally riveting, coming of age story set in the hot swampiness of a small town in Florida sometime in the 1A great title followed by a solid, if not totally riveting, coming of age story set in the hot swampiness of a small town in Florida sometime in the 1950's. Thanks to some book group materials in the back of the book, I now know that this novel tiptoes over the line into creative nonfiction now and again since many of the details of Berry Jackson's life in Pinetta, Florida, mirror those of the author. Kincaid captures the rhythms of a sleepy Southern town where gossip is the one thing that keeps everyone alive and there is much to gossip about during the summer this book focuses on. Berry is an awkwardly realistic narrator, seeing everything through highly charged 13-year-old eyes, which means that you want to thump her over the head one minute and give her a big hug the next. ...more
Though I don't love coming into a series several books in, my inability to read Norwegian means I had to start with this one. I liked it a lot and theThough I don't love coming into a series several books in, my inability to read Norwegian means I had to start with this one. I liked it a lot and the flawed hero, Harry Hole, reminds me of other anti-heroes I've grown to love (Arkady Renko, Matthew Scudder, etc.) Harry is a raging alcoholic but also a brilliant homocide detective and the strange case of a serial killer targetting seemingly random folks, torturing them, hacking off a digit, and leaving a particular cut of diamond behind (not overly valuable, just rare) is one that both pulls him back from the brink briefly and then drives him mercilessly towards it again. There are other interesting characters--a smooth fellow detective who might also be a murderer, a super intelligent woman detective who can spot patterns with ease, etc. The pace was fast, the writing tight, and the world view dark . . . just how I like it.
Thanks, Julia, for sending me your copy. ;)...more
Ironically, I read this book in its entirety on my flight from Milwaukee to Las Vegas and it made the time go quickly. Sherman Alexie’s novel, classifIronically, I read this book in its entirety on my flight from Milwaukee to Las Vegas and it made the time go quickly. Sherman Alexie’s novel, classified as young adult, starts out in a realistic fashion—Zits (he says, “Call me Zits,”) is a teenage Indian boy in foster care, who is angry, angry, angry. In the first couple of pages of the story, he has run away from his millionth foster home after mouthing off to his foster dad. By the end of the day, he finds himself in jail, again, and talking to a fellow teen named Justice. Justice inspires Zits to do something that has dire consequences but instead of dying, Zits finds himself jumping from body to body in the past—each experience connecting to Zit’s identity as an Indian and as a boy who has lost his parents. The adventures that Zits has and the lessons he learns are not easy and sometimes scarily violent, and Zits struggles to develop a new path for himself. Alexie tells this story with humor, vivid detail, and an eye to making Zits as realistic as possible. At the end of the book, I wanted to stand up and clap as Zits attempts to create his own community....more
Another entertaining romp with the Spellman clan. I think you either love this series or find its quirks annoying . . . I find myself in the former caAnother entertaining romp with the Spellman clan. I think you either love this series or find its quirks annoying . . . I find myself in the former camp. In this third outing, Izzy's court-ordered therapy sessions (extended due to "bad" behavior) are the reoccuring theme. As Izzy avoids telling Dr. Schwartzman and then Dr. Rush anything but the bare minimum of details of her therapy-worthy life, typical Spellman hijinks are ensuing. Her sister Rae scores unbelievably well on the PSATs and is immediately accused of cheating. Harry Stone starts dating Maggie, a assistant district attorney and neither Rae nor Izzy know what to do with the fact that they kind of like her (though Rae hides this by doing things like changing Harry's locks after Maggie gets a key and hacking into Harry's e-mail and breaking their dates). David, Izzy's brother, goes on a mysterious trip and while house-sitting for him, Izzy finds and subsequently secretly squats in David's in-law unit. Meanwhile, Izzy's parents have given her a one-month deadline to decide if she wants to come back to the family business (from which she took an indefinite hiatus after book #2). I'm leaving out a lot of plot points but this gives you the gist . . . a lot of stuff is hitting the fan in Izzy's life and she needs to start figuring it out. Thankfully, she does . . . but in ways that nicely subvert your expectations....more
As my grandmother once said about old age, this book is "not for sissies." Even though I had a vague idea of this novel's topic (due to some clips I'vAs my grandmother once said about old age, this book is "not for sissies." Even though I had a vague idea of this novel's topic (due to some clips I've seen promoting the movie, Precious, reading the opening chapters of this novel were like getting socked in the gut . . . repeatedly. Precious's life seems like hell on earth--pregnant by her now absent father a second time (the first time was at age 12), verbally and physically abused by her mom, and at the opening of the story, tossed out of high school . . . for being pregnant. Precious is barely literate and verbally inarticulate, but her inner life is angrily complex. She dreams of being a thin, light-skinned beautiful girl as if her problems were simply a result of her physical appearance.
A way out of this hell emerges when Precious is sent to an alternative school and begins to connect with her teacher, Ms. Rain, and her classmates. Through literacy (and the opportunity to write about her life), Precious slowly and haltingly begins to imagine a different future for herself and her young son. These last two sentences make the novel's trajectory sound much straighter (more straight forward) than it actually is. There are no rainbows or happy endings here--just one woman "pushing" for something more and a reminder that for every Precious, there are far more women that don't make it....more
Though I enjoyed this vaguely supernatural, academic mystery set in a private arts high school in upstate New York, I felt I had definitely gone downThough I enjoyed this vaguely supernatural, academic mystery set in a private arts high school in upstate New York, I felt I had definitely gone down this path before. Carol Goodman has become a lot like Jodi Picoult, to my mind. Even when the story is different, the basic structure feels somewhat the same. The problem with this is I don't think I ever seriously worried about the safety of the characters or doubted that Meg Rosenthal would end up with the handsome town sheriff. Though there's a certain comfort to that sort of tidiness, it doesn't feel very real and neither does it make the novel very memorable....more
What's not to love about this book? There's a 16-year-old thief named Digger who escapes a job gone wrong by stowing away with a bunch of young "nobs,What's not to love about this book? There's a 16-year-old thief named Digger who escapes a job gone wrong by stowing away with a bunch of young "nobs," high class folk in this alternate, slightly medieval world (where multiple moons reflect the multiple religious forces in conflict). Digger, who takes on the name, Celyn Contrare, pretends to be a young novitiate running from a convent and ends up as maid to Lady Merista, a young woman about to come of age, who may possess magic, a skill forbidden and persecuted by the now dominant religion. If this all sounds complicated, it is. However, Bunce builds up this alternate world, where one religion attempts to dominate all others (with appropriately creepy echoes of the Inquisition) and alliances are always shifting, one nuanced character at a time and the result is a world I wasn't in a hurry to leave. Digger is a strong and feisty heroine--with smarts both street and otherwise. (Take that, you passive Bella!!!) I also loved how Bunce avoided certain common tropes in this young adult novel--though Digger might find a male partner in book #2, book #1 was refreshingly focused on the complexities at hand. Thanks, Lori, for loaning this to me....more
**spoiler alert** Though few novels could capture the adrenline ride that was The Hunger Games, this third and final installment in the trilogy is aim**spoiler alert** Though few novels could capture the adrenline ride that was The Hunger Games, this third and final installment in the trilogy is aiming for something different I think . . . something slower moving and more disturbing. As in her earlier "Gregor" series, Collins is interested in exploring the effects of war and violence on everyone involved and that is really the driving force of MockingJay. No one is safe and no one is safe from the taint that violence brings.
As Katniss and friends join the rebellion, compromises and sacrifices are made. It was the last few chapters that haunted me the most . . . from the return of a prodigal cat to the life that Katniss and one of the two men in her life attempt to make after the fight is over....more
On paper, I should have liked this book. It's about books. It's a mystery. The devil is involved ( well, sort of). However, from the moment that the nOn paper, I should have liked this book. It's about books. It's a mystery. The devil is involved ( well, sort of). However, from the moment that the narrator reveals he's a character in the story but then goes on to be an omniscient narrator, I was annoyed. I love me some antiheroes but Lucas Corso just bothered me (as did the author's descriptions) as well. The descriptions of "Irene Adler" made me feel like a dirty old man. I finished the book but I just never connected with it or really cared about any of the people....more
Like father, like son . . . the second novel by Joe Hill was as compulsively readable as the first and even more creepy. Ignatius Perrish wakes up oneLike father, like son . . . the second novel by Joe Hill was as compulsively readable as the first and even more creepy. Ignatius Perrish wakes up one morning, after a night of drunken debauchery he can't quite remember, and discovers he has two horns, of the devlish sort, growing out of his temples. This seems strangely fitting to him since the last year of his life has been, to put it bluntly . . . hell. His girlfriend, Merrin, was brutally murdered the day after she and Ig had a huge and very public fight, and though the police were unable to find any proof of his guilt, Ig has remained a "person of interest" and pretty much a pariah in his town.
Ig quickly discovers that the horns have a strange effect on the people around him--they confess their deepest, darkest secrets as well as sins they'd like to commit. Though somewhat baffled by the nature and the source of his power (and increasily disturbed by what the people closest to him reveal), Ig senses that this new dark side may be the key to finding out who murdered Merrin and exacting justice.
Like Stephen King, Hill does a great job of getting into characters' heads even when you wish you could stay far away from their psyche. I was reminded of The Dead Zone here and I mean that in a good way. More of a 3 1/2 STARS in my book....more
Okay, this is such a guilty pleasure. The writing is a bit clunky but I like the Toronto setting and characters of Vicki Nelson, former cop and now prOkay, this is such a guilty pleasure. The writing is a bit clunky but I like the Toronto setting and characters of Vicki Nelson, former cop and now private detective, and Henry Fitzroy, romance writer, illegitimate son of Henry VIII and oh yeah, a vampire are fun to hang out with. This novel is the first in a series and you can see Huff setting up the tensions to come--how will Vicki's on again, off again relationship with homicide detective, Mike Celluci, be affected by her friendship (partnership) with Henry. This isn't a romance (though there's some nice riffs on that genre as Henry grapples with a troublesome scene in his latest bodice-ripper) but instead more in the genre of supernatural noir. Written in 1991, this predates a lot of more current versions (Hamilton, Harrison, etc.) but I can't wonder if Huff was inspired by Forever Knight, a Toronto set TV series.
Like a bag of kettle chips, I'm sure this series will have me guiltily sneaking back for more....more