I felt myself getting more and more excited about this book as the release date drew closer. I've enjoyed the Twilight books and I'm looking forward tI felt myself getting more and more excited about this book as the release date drew closer. I've enjoyed the Twilight books and I'm looking forward to their conclusion in Breaking Dawn, but I found myself pretty intrigued to see what Stephenie Meyer would do when she set out to do something different. Plus, I was just in the mood for some science fiction. I've loved sci fi ever since I picked up my first Ray Bradbury and, even though Meyer states it's science fiction for people who don't read science fiction, it certainly qualifies. What with the aliens and all. And there ended up being more (and a wider variety) of them than I was expecting.
You're undoubtedly familiar with the premise of this novel already, so I'll leave it at this: it's invasion of the body snatchers, but the body snatchers are benevolent and the humans are, well, human. Flawed, emotional, corruptible. You name it. And there are very few of them left at all. But the few there are are....tenacious. Especially Melanie, the human whose body has just been taken over by the soul called Wanderer. Known for her extreme skill at taking over a body, as well as her penchant for never staying on one world for more than one life, Wanderer has been hand-picked for insertion in the rebellious Mel in the hopes that she will be able to glean details from Mel's memory about possible leftover humans in hiding. As you might expect, all does not go smoothly for Wanderer. Or Mel.
The great thing about The Host is that the main character is one of the "bad guys." As a result, the reader's emotions (and loyalties) are wonderfully conflicted throughout the beginning of the story. It doesn't take long, though, to fall in love with Wanderer and I really liked the way Meyer interspersed Wanderer's narrative with flashbacks from Mel's life as she hurled them, one after another, at Wanderer's mind in a bid to save herself as well as the ones she loves--her younger brother Jamie and her human love Jared. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, contrary to the whole love story being central to the plot scenario I'd been prepped for, the book was not at all ruled by romance. It is a story about love, but it's more a story about what it means to be human and humane. The love in the story encompasses all forms: familial, friendship, platonic, and romantic. I was particularly drawn to Wanda's fierce love for Mel's little brother Jamie and the lengths she went to to protect him. The Host is in many ways (despite its length) a small, intensely personal story. I loved it, was sad when it was over, and will reread it again soon....more
RAW BLUE has been skirting the edges of my consciousness for awhile now. I knew it was a debut novel. I knew it was written by an Australian author. ARAW BLUE has been skirting the edges of my consciousness for awhile now. I knew it was a debut novel. I knew it was written by an Australian author. And I vaguely knew that it wasn't really available here in the states. But I wasn't really interested until a few days ago, when for some odd reason I started investigating it seriously. I'm not sure what made me do it. All I can say is, I saw a reference to it somewhere and I got a feeling. You know what I mean. So I went on the hunt. As far as the cover goes, well, I'm not wild about it. I like the title font and color just fine. But nothing about the rest of it reels me in and, having read it, this neither looks like how I picture Carly, nor does it really capture the many complexities of what is going on in this novel. But. As I looked into tracking down a copy, I remembered I'd read very positive reviews on several of my favorite sites, and after checking out Kirsty Eagar's site, it quickly became clear that my best (and fastest and cheapest) shot would be downloading the eBook and going from there. So I did. And, wowzers, am I glad!
Carly is 19. She's on her own. She dropped out of university awhile ago for reasons both complicated and painful. She lives in a messy apartment, which she shares with a Dutch woman named Hannah. She works nights as a cook at a somewhat dicey cafe. She avoids answering calls from her disapproving mother. But most of all--Carly surfs. She lives to surf. Eats, sleeps, and breathes the sport. And she has very carefully arranged everything in her life to accommodate that one pursuit in the hopes that she'll be so absorbed in it, she'll never have to think about what happened to her two years ago. And life is . . . well, if not precisely stimulating, it's her life. And as unbelievably private as she is, Carly is comfortable with the way things are. Until she meets Ryan--another avid surfer who starts showing up at Carly's favorite spot. Ryan is older and seems to have a slightly checkered past. But he seems genuinely interested in Carly. He's quiet and not intimidating. He loves the sport she lives for. And gradually she begins to wonder if it might be worth responding to one of his many offers of friendship. If she might be ready, finally, to not be alone anymore. At the same time, Carly runs into a quirky kid named Danny. Danny is fifteen and has synesthesia, which means he sees people as colors. For reasons passing Carly's understanding, this young kid latches onto her, and suddenly Carly has two people trying to be her friend, to claim pieces of her heart.
I loved this book from start to finish. It dropped me into another world, full of surfing lingo and weather reports, charmingly different speech patterns, and the ubiquitous word "mate." I have absolutely no familiarity with surfing whatsoever, but I love reading about characters who are so passionate about what they do. No matter what it is. The surfers in this book are bonded together by their common passion and, as a result, the detailed descriptions of waves and tides and impending storms fascinated me to no end. But even more than surfing, this book is a love story. And it is an exploration of what happens after. How survivors survive. And just how much it takes to move on and reach out to another human being in the aftermath of violence. A favorite passage from early on (I know it's long, but it's worth it):
We're still sitting there when my mobile starts ringing an hour later. I decide to leave it, thinking it must be Emilio.
'But Cookie, your phone is ringing.'
So I get up and run inside--leaving a phone ringing is the sort of thing that messes with Hannah's mind.
The phone dies as I pick it up and I check the menu for missed calls. It wasn't Emilio who called, it was Ryan.
I wait to see if the message icon comes up, but it doesn't.
What to do? Maybe my board's ready. Maybe he wants Hard Cut back. Maybe curiosity is killing me.
He answers on the first ring, which sort of jolts me.
'Carly, how're you going, mate? Mark's rung to say the boards are done.'
'Oh, okay. Thanks.'
There's a pause long enough to be filled in with static.
'Been getting out much?' he asks.
I clear my throat. 'Yeah, a bit.'
'Haven't seen you down there for awhile.'
'Um, I've been going different times. Because of work. Different shifts and stuff.'
'Yeah? What do you do?'
'I'm a chef. Sort of.'
'Like a cook?'
Another long pause. The air feels heavy.
I make myself say it. 'I'm sorry for being rude to you the other day.'
'No biggie, mate.'
'And thanks for getting me a board to use.'
'How is it, all right?'
'Yeah. Bit harder to duck dive through, and turn.'
'Don't tell Mark that. He fancies himself a gun shaper.'
I laugh. 'So anyway, when you're ready to pick it up they're down in Harbord Road,' he says, sounding like he wants to wind this up. 'You know it? I've forgotten what number, but just drive along slow and you can't miss it.'
'I can find it.'
'Big Hard Cut sign out the front. I've told Mark if you try and give him money not to take it. He did it as a favour.'
'Are you sure?'
'Yeah, no worries. All right then, catch you later.'
I put the mobile down and rub my face. I feel like my stomach's dropping away. And that's that, then, I think, walking towards the deck. Before I get there my mobile rings again.
'So, it's me again--Ryan.' His voice is different this time, not as brisk.
'So, ah, there's supposed to be a big swell building for the weekend, from the south. They reckon it's going to hit Sydney on Sunday. Biggest swell in twenty years or something. Hear about it?'
'Um, yeah.' Coastalwatch has been going on about nothing else all week, sounding like the voice of doom: If you want to live, do not venture out on Sunday.
'So I'll be down at the break, 'bout eight or so. They'll be towing in for sure. And probably off the Long Reef Bombie, too. Be worth a look if you're interested.'
He stops talking as though he's waiting for something. I'm quiet because I'm not sure if he means I should go with him. I'm not sure what he means at all.
'That's if you wanted to--ah shit, this is hard.' He blows out some air. 'I've been thinking about you, Carly. If you want to come down, come down. And if you don't want to come down, don't come down. It's up to you.'
'Okay.' I would like to ask for some clarification, but I don't have the guts.
'So--yeah. I'll leave it there. All right?'
'Might see you Sunday.'
He hangs up before I can say okay again.
Hannah doesn't look up when I come back outside, and she doesn't ask me who called either. But when I'm sitting down, flexing my feet and pointing them, eyes shut and face raised up to the sun, she says, 'But you're happy, eh?'
I blink at her, surprised. She's right.
My happiness is crunchy. Snapping, crackling and popping in the sun.
I think that passage gives you a feel for Carly and Ryan and the halting way their relationship begins and progresses throughout the novel. I fell for them both immediately. Kirsty Eagar does such a fine job of pacing the story and allowing the reader to really take the time to get to know Carly, her past, and what makes her tick, before introducing new characters and new elements. The result was that I was thoroughly on her side for the long haul. And it should be pointed out that this is not an easy story to read. It is definitely for the more mature reader of YA, as the language, tone, and subject matter are all quite gritty and not for the faint of heart. I, for one, loved it because the characters were a bit older, definitely more in the New Adult region. Carly's out of high school, done a stint at college, and is living on her own and holding down a job. Ryan is a few years older at 26, and he has seen his share of life as well. It's refreshing to read about characters in this particular stage of life. RAW BLUE is painful, dangerous, beautiful, and wonderfully romantic all at the same time. For the space of time I was reading it, I, too ate, slept, and breathed surfing. I was with Carly every step of the way, and I was incredibly satisfied with the ending she carved out for herself by the skin of her teeth. Definitely one of the best reads of my year so far....more
Well, it's only a few days away now. You can practically taste it, can't you? You know, I really hadn't planned on waiting this long to review CATCHINWell, it's only a few days away now. You can practically taste it, can't you? You know, I really hadn't planned on waiting this long to review CATCHING FIRE. Honestly, I don't know what was wrong with me. I started it over a month ago and was totally into it. I got to the halfway point and started to feel more and more anxious. Like twitchy anxious. And since gone are the days of sitting around all day doing nothing but reading a single book, I found myself moving through my regular day thinking about it constantly, worrying about the characters I care about so much that at night when I went to pick it up I COULDN'T BRING MYSELF TO DO IT. The steady building up of tension and pain that Suzanne Collins does so fiendishly well was too much and my mind skittered away from it in favor of less treacherous waters. I'm not proud of it. But there it is. On to the spoiler-free review.
Katniss and Peeta are home once more. Heralded as heroes they reluctantly take up residence in the mansions reserved for Hunger Games victors in their beleaguered District 12. Given the Capitol's idea of "enough time" to recover and lick their wounds, they must soon set off on the obligatory Victory Tour of the districts of Panem. As always, they are accompanied by their mentor--the irascible Haymitch--as well as Katniss' faithful entourage, including the savvy stylist Cinna. As always, they are under the watchful eye of President Snow. For in the interim time between Katniss' unprecedented ending of the Hunger Games and the launch of the Victory Tour, the Powers That Be have learned a thing or two about just how much of a survivor Katniss is and what and most particularly who she cares about. Knowing what they know, and without any doubt at all of what horror will rain down on her head should she set one toe out of line or let fall one word off script, Katniss herself must do what she does best and figure out a way to stay alive.
Remember how you felt the whole time you were reading The Hunger Games? Like you might never find the bottom of your stomach again? Like the tips of your fingers were permanently flattened from pressing too hard on the book? Well, multiply those feelings by ten and add to it the interminable guessing game of what will happen next and you will have the approximate effect of CATCHING FIRE. That is why I put it down halfway through. It was just too stressful! I could feel all the pain laid out neatly in a row just waiting to befall Katniss and Peeta and Gale. And honestly it made me a bit angry because it felt like I was trapped in there with them and there was nothing was going to stop the inevitable heinousness. This is not to say it's not a fabulous book. Because it is. Seriously enjoyable. I just had to stop and let my fingernails grow back a bit before I could continue on. Because when I did pick it up again I sat down and read it through to the end. Suzanne Collins brings the intensity like you can't believe. Even having read The Hunger Games, I wasn't prepared for it. And it's so much worse when you're already hurting for the characters when you open the book. But that's also the lovely thing about it and it is why I loved this one more than the first. There's more Gale (Team Gale!), more Peeta (the boy really is rather alarmingly sweet), more Haymitch (grrr), more Cinna (yay!), more Effie and Co. (hehe). You get to know them better, you care about them more, but what I loved most about this sequel is Katniss. Strong, dogged, always herself Katniss. She has moments of weakness, moments of sweetness, moments of humor, and a couple of hardcore moments when she is made of awesome. I may have punched the air once in solidarity. And then, just when you don't think you can take another shock to the system, it ends. Just like you knew it would....more
I've been hearing about this book for what seems like awhile now. I'd never run across it until Ari from Emily and Her Little Pink Notes started talkiI've been hearing about this book for what seems like awhile now. I'd never run across it until Ari from Emily and Her Little Pink Notes started talking it up as a diamond in the rough. She has such similar taste to my own that I rather suspected at that point I would someday be seeking this one out. Then Lit Snit featured it on their BBAW Unexpected Treasure post and those suspicions turned into beliefs. Finally I broke down and searched my library's catalog. They had it in! So I grabbed it on my way to work that day and settled into bed with it that night. I went in expecting chick lit with a splash of art history thrown in for good measure and I read it in one sitting that night.
Jane Laine works for the most notorious art gallery owner in Manhattan. Possibly in the whole of the art world. She remembers a time when she loved and understood art and why it pushed her into pursuing a degree and a career in the field. But almost every ounce of joy in what she does has been systematically sucked out of her by her rapacious and reptilian boss. Coming off the heels of a particularly devastating break-up, she flubs up a particularly delicate situation at work and is sure she'll be fired without a by your leave. Instead, she is sent on a unique sort of venture with Dick Reese's primo client--the current darling of the art world--Ian Rhys-Fitzsimmons. Jane is to accompany Ian on a five-month-long international art tour and see to his every need. Mystified but counting her blessings, she sets out wondering how she'll manage to spend five months with a man she does not like and whose art she does not understand. Fortunately, fate has a few surprises in store for her and the trip does not go the way she thought it would. On so many levels.
Ari was right. This is smart and fun and not exactly what you'd expect from the title or the cover. I think what I enjoyed most was Jane's observations on her travels and the effect being in those countries had on her. The way Rome changed her perspective was particularly moving to me as I have lived in Italy several times and love it with a deep and unfathomable sort of love. I was so jealous she was there and I was not! And like Ian tells Jane in that perfect quote from Wuthering Heights:
I could fancy a love for life here almost possible.
That's it. That's tears-in-my-eyes it! How Italy makes me feel. How wonderful to encounter just the right sentiment in this light and lovely book about an art gallery manager in search of something or some place or someone to remind her why life is worth living. We all need those reminders every so often and Jane had gone for quite long enough without some spark in her life. It was fun watching her fumble around and find it again. IF ANDY WARHOL HAD A GIRLFRIEND is the kind of book I could hand anyone, without worrying at all. It's a sweet, fast read and it leaves you feeling good about life and love and the human capacity to both create and appreciate beauty. I laughed several times and smiled more. If you're looking for a warm and thoughtful way to spend an evening, Alison Pace's debut novel is an excellent way to go....more
Glowing recommendations from my trusty Chachic and the lovely Laura Florand put this book (and series) on my radaOriginally reviewed here @ Angieville
Glowing recommendations from my trusty Chachic and the lovely Laura Florand put this book (and series) on my radar awhile back and I proceeded to add it to my ever-growing TBR. And then I just sort of continued to put it off since a copy wasn't readily available at any of the usual sources and the ebook was (and is) a whopping $7.99. Then I hit a sick weekend and nothing, but nothing was hitting the spot. So I bit the bullet and dove in. It's worth pointing out that I'm not a huge connoisseur of small town contemporaries, and I was not a little concerned that it would prove to be (as has happened a number of times in the past) a little too cozy for my taste. But of course the range within that subgenre is as wide as it is with any other, and I think I just hadn't come across the right recipe. Happily, Virginia Kantra's Dare Island series hit just the right spot for this quasi-cozy-phobic reader.
Allison Carter came to Dare Island in the hopes of shedding the scales of her parents' expectations and finding fulfillment teaching high school English in the somewhat isolated fishing village. Matt Fletcher spent his early life at the whim of his father's career in the Marines, but has called the island his home long enough now for it to mean something. As a single father who captains a charter fishing boat for a living and lives with and helps support his aging parents at their inn, he is not in any way looking for a long-term relationship. Longing for just the sort of permanence Matt is working hard to avoid, Allison is nevertheless reluctant to get into any sort of relationship with him, especially given the fact that his son Josh is one of her students. But the two somewhat isolated individuals continue to be thrown together by circumstance (and Josh's performance, or lack thereof, at school) and soon it becomes a not inconsiderable struggle to find reasons give at least some semblance of togetherness a try.
Growing up, I spent many summers at my aunt and uncle's house in North Carolina. I have countless fond memories of sweltering summer days, chasing fireflies at night, and trips to the coast full of hours of splashing in the turf and falling asleep tangled in a bed of cousins listening to the crash of the waves. All of this to say that it took Dare Island and I no time at all to appreciate each other's charms. The setting is such a strength in this novel, and that is saying something, because it is a novel full to the brim of swoony romance and heady glances, weighty family drama and genuine humor. Given how many elements Kantra was balancing, I kept expecting at least one to veer into the cheesy, the melodramatic, or the overwrought. And yet not one did. Somehow she made me care for not only Allison and Matt, but every single one of Matt's family members, from his sweetheart parents and his scalawag son, to his somewhat heedless younger brother and his unexpected niece. This attentive character development made it a pleasure to follow whomever the narrative revolved to with each chapter. The focus definitely hinges on Allison and Matt's relationship, but so much of what goes down plays against the very important background of the Fletcher family and the charming inn they all inhabit. I loved how good Allison is with children, from the teenage students in her classes to Matt's troubled niece Taylor who gets dumped in their laps after her mother's sudden death.
The Fletchers themselves are a very loving family, but they need Allison, no matter how much Matt might like to think he's a lone reed. And Allison herself is so careful and conscientious when it comes to carrying on a relationship with a single father and being there to help as much as she can without stepping on any toes. I always loved Allison. It's no small challenge she and Matt face in daring to test the waters of their attraction. But what was between them fit itself unobtrusively into the spaces inside them that were empty. It felt real and sweet, and it so clearly made their hours and days better. I love it when a romance manages to demonstrate that. And while there were a couple of expected misunderstandings here and there, I appreciated how they were handled and how my emotions never felt toyed with or forcibly disengaged by unnecessary drama or inconsistencies. The whole thing builds to a particularly lovely resolution scene in the inn and I put Carolina Home down completely satisfied. Of course, I immediately binged on the rest of the series. And a good time was had by all....more
I have my pal Li to thank for steering me in the direction of Elizabeth Harmon's debut novel Pairing Off. She cluOriginally reviewed here @ Angieville
I have my pal Li to thank for steering me in the direction of Elizabeth Harmon's debut novel Pairing Off. She clued me in to its existence, pointed out that it featured Olympic figure skaters, and well . . . that was all she wrote, folks. I am a huge figure skating fan. And while I actually haven't read many books that focus on the sport, there was simply no way I was going to not read a book billed as "The Cutting Edge with a Russian twist." I adored that movie as a kid. As you can probably tell, I haven't been so much with the review writing of late. Happily, that is in no way an indication of how my reading has fared, because I have been reading up a storm. But lately I never seem to get around to sitting down and hashing it out. But with the figure skating World Championships coming up in a couple of weeks, I thought it was the perfect time to highlight this little gem.
Carrie Parker is fairly certain life as she knew it is over when her career as a pairs figure skater comes to a grinding and spectacular halt courtesy of a scandal involving her partner and a judge. Which is why she literally jumps at an unexpected and unusual invitation to travel to Russia and audition for a suddenly open position. What she does not expect is that the male partner will turn out to be a familiar (and wholly unwelcome) face. Anton Belikov is in need of a partner STAT. His longtime skating partner (and girlfriend) Olga has up and left him for greener pastures and a partner more likely to see her to the gold medal podium at the Olympics. Determined to achieve his dream and make a go of it without her, Anton warily follows his coach's advice and auditions the disgraced but unquestionably talented American. However, with the barriers of language, culture, politics (and a distant night only Carrie remembers) looming between them, success on or off the ice is no guarantee for this unlikely team.
I was just so taken with Pairing Off, you guys. From the very start, I could tell the story was going to wrap itself around me. Carrie is immediately sympathetic, and though the narrative touches ever so briefly on the long ago night she and Anton met, it is nonetheless clear to the reader how it affected both of them and how it will play an uneven but key role in their development as an actual pair. What I was not expecting was how deeply I would fall in love with Moscow and Carrie's experiences there. Harmon writes with great affection and joie de vivre when it comes to the streets and alleys, gardens and soaring architecture of the Russian capital. It is nothing short of a delight accompanying Carrie on her explorations, and I was so pleased that aspect of her new life was allocated adequate page time. Carrie's willingness to fight her attendant isolation and uncertainty in a foreign clime with an open and inquisitive mind and with consistent forays out into her new home endeared her to me even as it filled me with wanderlust. And as she learns the ropes of her adopted country, so does she learn the ways of her adopted partner. A favorite passage in which Carrie gets into a spot of trouble and calls Anton to help her out:
"I've never been happier to see someone in my life."
"What the hell were you doing?" he shouted. "Trying to get killed? I told you to stay near city center!"
She stared, looking for Anton, not this furious, wild-eyed stranger. "And you also told me about the park where I could go hiking! Look, I'm not your employee and I'll go where I please. I got a little lost. It could happen to anyone."
"But it didn't happen to anyone. It happened to you!"
Carrie felt her eyes grow wide. Was he suggesting she wasn't expendable? Or was his real concern the hassle of finding another Olga replacement? Much more likely. Her chest tightened and it was hard to breathe. "Yeah, well I'm sorry to be an inconvenience. If I'd known you were going to yell at me, I never would have called." She fumbled for her map and shook it open. "The subway's two blocks that way. Drop me off. I'll get home just fine."
"Don't be ridiculous. I'm not dropping you at subway," he muttered. "I was close by anyway. It's good you called."
"Otherwise you'd be auditioning new pair girls tomorrow."
He jerked his head around, and shot an angry look across the car. "Is that what you think I care about?"
The tense silence was filled by the muffled sounds of traffic outside. Jaw tight, Anton turned his gaze back to the road. "You and I are in this together. Partners, like I said before." His voice softened. "Not just two skaters making tricks."
There is very little not to love about Anton. Yet I appreciated how slowly their relationship developed. He was still handling a long distance relationship with a girlfriend who abandoned him professionally. She was struggling to reconcile the man she sees before her with the one she spent only a handful of hours with years ago and who does not seem to remember her at all. Their respective families are complicated and play strong roles in shaping the way they see the world and the fears and hopes they harbor for their futures. There are layers upon layers between these two, and I relished the gradual dismantling and rebuilding they had to go through on their way to forming a firm and equal partnership. This quiet, romantic book is such a lovely read and one of my favorites of the year thus far....more
Teenage Sherlock Holmes, Watson is a girl, and the story is told from her perspective. This is essentially all thOriginally reviewed here @ Angieville
Teenage Sherlock Holmes, Watson is a girl, and the story is told from her perspective. This is essentially all the information I needed in order to make the decision to dive into Every Breath at the earliest opportunity. But in case you're wavering, it's also fun to know that this is Australian author Ellie Marney's debut novel, that it is a YA contemporary mystery, and the first in a series to boot. Next up, I think we should just take a moment to talk covers. I have yet to purchase my own copy (that's earmarked for the next paycheck), but both the US and Aussie covers have a lot going for them. The Aussie one gets tons of points for having Watts actually on the cover, for one thing. But in a very rare move, I'm leaning US if only because it's not a photo of actual people (never works out well for me) and because, well, his throat. Also his hair and his entire posture. But his throat. That's Mycroft. I love him this cover.
Rachel Watts' friendship with her neighbor James Mycroft is something of a full time job. Newly (and unwillingly) arrived from the countryside, Rachel struggles to find a place for herself in Melbourne. Unused to navigating city life after the loss of the family farm, she and her older brother and parents find themselves acting almost like strangers as they adjust to their new home and environment. But then Mycroft enters her life, with his jittery brilliance, his obsession with forensics, and his ongoing allergy to school. And soon her days are not quite as numb, filled as they are with contributing her powers of observation (and cooking skills) to the latest in a long line of Mycroft's investigations. But this most recent involves a murder. And not just any stranger, but that of Homeless Dave—a man they both knew. Unable to accept the official police verdict, Mycroft and Watts set themselves to the task of tracking down the truth behind Dave's violent death and bringing the mysterious killer to justice.
I'll admit, I was a little nervous at first. I was nervous the high school setting, and possibly the nature of the relationship between Watts and Mycroft, would pall too quickly or somehow not resonate with me in just the right way. As nerves go, basically your run of the mill stuff. But I've read one fantastic Sherlock Holmes adaptation and I was so keen to find another. Happily, Rachel herself was the first to set me at ease. Her transition to the city has been a particularly difficult one, and the dry but upfront way in which she expressed that difficulty struck a chord of sympathy within me:
I like it in his room—the starry lights, the feeling of sanctuary. I'm still not used to dealing with a lot of other people. I've known Mycroft, and Mai and her boyfriend, Gus, since last November, and they still feel like "a lot of other people." Actually, Mycroft alone could probably qualify as seeming like "a lot of other people." He does so much crazy stuff you could imagine more than a single offender.
That passage could just as easily been an entry from one of my high school journals. Other people, man. Not for the faint of heart. I love that the story is told from Watts' perspective. She has very honed powers of observation, though she herself might decry that claim. But it means that not only is she vital to Mycroft's ongoing efforts, she also does an incredibly effective job of introducing the reader to her singular friend. And if her focus is more frequently drawn to to Mycroft than it is anyone else in the room, it isn't any wonder as his magnetism and zaniness and pain fairly claw their way off the page. Gratefully, his presence never overshadows Watts. Not even a little bit, as we are firmly grounded inside her viewpoint and know just how hard she works to keep everyone in her life afloat and not lose track of her own needs, even if she is reticent about voicing them aloud. The mystery itself makes for a fun, often dark ride, and I enjoyed sitting back and accompanying them in their rounds. But the heart of Every Breath is, without question, the chemistry between Watts and Mycroft. Ms. Marney quite simply nails their need on the head. The pacing and development of Watts-and-Mycroft is one long and delicious thread running alongside the unfolding of the murder investigation. As the precarious hold they each have on their lives begins to unravel against the backdrop of Watts' uncertainty and Mycroft's desperation, the solace they take in being together, the rightness of their fit, is so soothing it is tangible. I currently have the sequel on order from Australia and am sitting here feeling antsy just thinking about what these two might be getting up to without me....more
I started a Meredith Duran book some time ago and stalled out early on for reasons I can no longer quite rememberOriginally reviewed here @ Angieville
I started a Meredith Duran book some time ago and stalled out early on for reasons I can no longer quite remember. I know it wasn't the writing, which definitely struck me as adept. I think it was more to do with the setting and I not clicking. Also the sense I was getting that the characters were going to hurt each other—possibly at some length—before they found any middle ground. Either way, I wasn't up for it at the time. And then I'm fairly certain I went on to mix Ms. Duran up with Tessa Dare and forgot to return after trying and sort of spectacularly failing to engage with Dare's Spindle's Cove series. Which is why I'm very glad Fool Me Twice was brought to my attention a few days ago. It jogged my memory and I remembered I'd always meant to go back and investigate Duran's work further to see if there might be a better fit among her backlist. As it turns out, her most recent novel and I were destined to get on in spades.
Olivia Mather has set her scruples aside in favor of staying alive. With her mother's husband's dangerous henchman lurking around every dark corner, she decides to use the only weapon she has and infiltrate the home of the Duke of Marwick. As a maid in the duke's home, she feels certain it won't take her above a week to root out his correspondence containing the evidence she needs to ensure the villainous Bertram will leave her alone for good. When she accidentally stumbles into the role of housekeeper, Olivia figures so much the better. But it quickly becomes clear that the home she has walked into is not so easily navigable as she presumed. For the duke is rumored to have run mad at the revelation of his dead wife's betrayal. He has not left his room in above a year. His terrified servants tiptoe about the house and shirk their duties. With time running short and her only hope residing in the duke's rooms, Olivia must take charge of the crumbling household and find a way to lure the crumbling man inside out into the light.
As you know, I can never resist a Beauty and the Beast tale and Fool Me Twice situates itself nicely in the genre with a wonderfully game, feisty heroine and a decidedly bitter, wounded beast. The novel itself is a study in contrasts. Duran's writing is light, often taking an elegant turn. The characters enjoy sparring with one another—verbally, physically, emotionally—you name it. There is much wit and teasing. But. These high and light emotions often run unchecked into much darker fare. Olivia and Marwick excel at demolishing one another, raging beautifully when the thread of their connection dances too close to the gaping lesions they so ferociously protect. While Alistair's injuries are clearly the fresher, Olivia makes a rather shattering command decision not to sidestep her goal in order to save him additional pain. The results are . . . well, devastating for both of them. And I'm really not sure who I was more angry with. Or who I ached for more. I just wanted them to wash their hands of the pain of their pasts and agree to stop pouring salt into old wounds. An example of the light:
"Have you a death wish?" he snarled. "Or have you, perhaps, lost the ability to understand English?"
She backed away from him, angling toward the door. He matched her step for step, prowling like a lion on the scent of a lamb—not a comfortable analogy. But these innocent books. She was stumbling over them, gilt-edged, calfskin-bound, priceless. She must save them from him.
She had one foot out the door when she caught sight again of the illustrated manuscript. She could not abandon it here. The poor darling! She lunged forward and snatched it up.
"Put that down!" he roared.
"You may keep them all," she cried. "Move the entire library up here, but you will not keep them on the floor!"
She hopped backward and pulled the door shut in his face.
It was no longer clear to him who was in control of this conversation. How absurd. He was not bound by her terms; in return for her answer, she could demand the moon, and it would make no difference to him. "Very well, then, answer me: why were you crying?"
"Because I am not the person I hoped to be. And I dislike myself for it."
That told him nothing. "What do you mean? Who had you hoped to be?"
"Someone better. Someone who abided by her ideals."
Christ. Blackly amused, he turned away from her toward the bookshelves. "Then we both were drawn here by the same mood. But I assure you, Mrs. Johnson, you will overcome your disappointment."
"As you have?"
He ignored that. "Good night to you."
"You haven't yet answered my question."
"Welshing," he said coldly, "is the duke's special privilege."
"Very well, don't answer. But I will ask it anyway: why do you read Austen if you lack all hope for yourself? Why torment yourself with happy endings if you don't believe one is possible?"
He stared at the books. This had gone too far. Why did she think she had the right to speak to him in this manner?
Why did he constantly invite it?
"You have every advantage." Her voice was fervent. "There is no reason you can't go back into the world, have everything you feel you've been denied. I tell you—if I had your advantages, I would remake myself!"
And the elegant:
Olivia took a long breath. It now sounded as if Marwick was banging things against the walls. Not his head, she hoped? Or perhaps she did. No, she couldn't wish harm to his brain. It might yet heal, and it had once been very fine.
One of my favorite aspects of the narrative is how it continually refers to what has been lost for both of these individuals, engaging with the agonizing question of whether or not those things can (or should) be regained. To say nothing of how far they will go to stave off danger (in Olivia's case) and exact revenge (in Marwick's). Duran's style, setup, and execution requires the reader be rooting for both Olivia and Marwick in order to make it through the utter hell they hand each other on an hourly basis. In order to reach the point where their eyes finally open enough to see beyond the surface implications of their actions, which are admittedly questionable in a number of cases. I wondered a moment or two whether I might lose my grip on my affection for one of them. But then I do like my protagonists flawed. And I am not at all certain I would have responded to Olivia if she had been a little less ruthless or Marwick had he been a little more malleable. And because their innate admiration for each other is unwavering, I remained with them lo, unto the end. Fool Me Twice is a decided highlight among historicals and of my reading year thus far....more
Clocking in at over 700 pages, this doorstopper has no right to be anywhere near as entertaining as it is. But it is so entertaining. Kostova knows hoClocking in at over 700 pages, this doorstopper has no right to be anywhere near as entertaining as it is. But it is so entertaining. Kostova knows how to pace a tale so that her faithful reader never tires or wavers in her interest to see what happens next. I thought for sure I'd bog down somewhere in the middle and have to press on through but I never did. There were points where I stopped to marvel in bewilderment, "How many layers deep is the narrative running now? 4? 5? And yet I can't put it down!" This followed by a smile of intense satisfaction and more fevered page-turning. The story follows an unnamed narrator who recounts for her reader the decidedly unfortunate and increasingly bone-chilling events surrounding the finding of a medieval book, empty but for a rough image of a dragon and the single word "DRAKULYA." And, just like that, the hunt is ON. Kostova's characters are easy to empathize with and she handles scenes of great tension and layered emotion with a deft hand. Highly recommended....more
Holding true to form, I always get on well with the first in each of Shalvis' Lucky Harbor trilogies. This one was no exception. Sam and Becca hit allHolding true to form, I always get on well with the first in each of Shalvis' Lucky Harbor trilogies. This one was no exception. Sam and Becca hit all the right notes....more
This anthology is worth it for the Ruthie Knox story alone. I read several (if not all) of the other novellas, and was mildly pleased with each. But RThis anthology is worth it for the Ruthie Knox story alone. I read several (if not all) of the other novellas, and was mildly pleased with each. But Redemption is head and shoulders above the rest and that's all there is to it. Knox is pretty much always a safe bet, but she plain kills it with this sad, wintry tale of two lonely individuals who are dead certain they're using each other to stave off utter despair. It's sober and aching and simply lovely. I loved Jessie and Mike, their anger, their desperation, and the difficult choice they make in the end. So, so good....more
13 Stephanie Plum books! It boggles the mind. And it's beginning to be the sign that summer is here. My old friend CK from [http://www.readerville.com13 Stephanie Plum books! It boggles the mind. And it's beginning to be the sign that summer is here. My old friend CK from [http://www.readerville.com] turned me onto the Plum saga when she asked me if I was a babe or a cupcake. I did not know the answer to this question so I started One for the Money. The two men in Stephanie's life, Super Bounty Hunter "May Actually Be Batman" Ranger and Trenton Cop Joe "Reformed Bad Boy" Morelli, refer to her by these nicknames respectively. Roundabout book six I knew I was definitely a babe, being all about the Ranger. Seven books later, Aaron and I read each new installment aloud together, just waiting for another classic Plum moment when all hell breaks loose and Lula stun guns Joyce. Or a stuffed beaver explodes in her living room. I'm still all about the Ranger, but I have to admit (because he's proven it time and again) Morelli's one of the good ones and I'd really miss him if he were gone. ...more
There's nothing like a new Sookie to cheer you up. And this one (#7) is the best one since #5. Harris skillfully weaves in threads from each of the prThere's nothing like a new Sookie to cheer you up. And this one (#7) is the best one since #5. Harris skillfully weaves in threads from each of the previous books in complex ways. It becomes very clear that the events of the past six books have changed Sookie. Her life is not what it was when she met her first vampire (who shall remain nameless here) in a bar in Bon Temps. This theme dovetailed particularly well with the focus on how Louisiana itself was altered by Hurricane Katrina. I like the direction Harris is taking with Sookie and Eric's relationship. I like that she's given her a friend in Amelia. I like where this series is going....more
I have Allison over at The Allure of Books to thank for this recommendation. I believe I had heard the title of tOriginally reviewed here @ Angieville
I have Allison over at The Allure of Books to thank for this recommendation. I believe I had heard the title of this Victorian mystery bandied about some and never did chase it down on account of the title itself. Something to do with a proliferation of the so-and-so's wife titles at the time, I would imagine. But. I'm so very glad I listened to Allie and gave it a shot. Anna Lee Huber's series (which stands at three novels at the present time with a fourth due out this summer) is excellent. As you might have guessed, this series is a straight shot for you Deanna Raybourn and Tasha Alexander fans out there. While the Lady Julia Grey series is a touch more dramatic and the Lady Emily Ashton one quite a bit lighter, Kiera Darby is compelling entirely on her own merits and I can't wait to further my exploits with her in future installments.
Lady Kiera Darby wants only to hide away and lick her wounds. Gone to her sister's estate in Scotland to recuperate from the tumultuous events of her husband's death and her own criminal trial, Kiera takes refuge in her painting and in the satisfactory distance she's finally put between herself and the prying eyes of London society. Unfortunately, her well-meaning sister and brother-in-law have planned a house party and invited some of the very elite members of society she so longs to escape. Knowing what they think of her and her role (albeit unwilling) in her husband's distasteful profession, each day becomes an endless struggle. But when a murder takes place on the premises, Kiera's skill is called upon by private inquiry agent Sebastian Gage. At first put off by Gage's somewhat pedestrian talent and clear suspicion of her, Lady Darby is reluctant to pursue the increasingly disturbing events at the estate. But determined to prove her own innocence, she concedes to work with Gage and the two fall into a competent and intriguing partnership.
How I love Kiera. I love that the story opens after the horrible spectacle has taken place. The whole opening has an exhausted, almost gun shy feel to it as we come to know Kiera and gradually find out just what led to her ostracizing from society and the slow death she suffered at the hands of the most indifferent and cruel of husbands. The entirety of The Anatomist's Wife is quiet. In the best sense. Quietly affecting. Quietly horrific. Quietly strong and hopeful. I was immediately fond of it and its occupants. Which brings us to Gage. I found him engaging (forgive me) from the beginning, though he does initially come off a bit of the fop to both Kiera and the reader. While unerringly confident, he doesn't ooze brooding arrogance in quite the same way that others of his ilk do. I wasn't sure which way the wind would blow with Gage. But I appreciated the healthy dose of skepticism that flourished between he and Kiera. And I unquestionably relished the accompanying slow, slow burn as their eyes were opened to how effective they could be as an investigative team, as well as how close they were growing as friends. Such partners they were. Such kindred spirits. I am with them. To the end....more
I read this in one big gulp the day it showed up on my doorstep. I've flirted with the thought of reading an Alex Flinn book for awhile now and just nI read this in one big gulp the day it showed up on my doorstep. I've flirted with the thought of reading an Alex Flinn book for awhile now and just never got around to it. Beastly was the perfect point of entry. Loved the title, loved the cover, loved the back jacket excerpt. Set in contemporary NYC, this version is told from the Beast's perspective as he recounts the tale of how a scorned gothgirl witch changed him into a beast and his subsequent efforts to regain his human form (and perhaps a little actual humanity while he's at it). What I loved about this book was the way Flinn absolutely threw her story (and her characters) into the modern world of teenagedom. If a 16-year-old former cock of the walk high school student suddenly found himself a big beastie, he'd, well, once he got over the social mortification of it all, he'd totally find himself a chat room for transformation survivors where he could take advantage of his anonymity and make snarky remarks. And that's exactly what Kyle does. The book opens with a transcript from one of these chats, and they are interspersed throughout the rest of the narrative. They are the most hilarious parts of the book. BeastNYC, SilentGirl, Froggie, and GrizzlyGuy talk about their struggles as three transformed beings (and one wannabe). The discussion is moderated by the mysterious Mr. Anderson and as the familiar fairy tale characters took shape I couldn't stop myself laughing out loud. This B&B story hits everything right and the changes Ms. Flinn made enhanced her grittier version of the tale. For instance, Flinn's Beast is more akin to a dark superhero. Batman prowling the streets of Gotham City at night. He even takes a new name--Adrian--symbolizing his complete reversal in fortune, bleak new outlook on life, and ultimate rejection of the boy he used to be. In addition, the reader gets to catch the whole transformation thing as it happens. In most versions, we come to it way after the fact. Often the Beast has been languishing under his curse for hundreds of years. In this case, Kyle/Adrian has just two years to find true love and break the spell. I liked that we got in on how he coped with it all, as opposed to getting it in retrospect. This is also the first version I've read where Beauty's family didn't want her. Where, by all accounts, she's had a rougher life than he has. It makes it that much sweeter when these two people who have suffered much find not only love, but a way out. ...more
A new Robin McKinley. It's got the word "dragon" in the title. And it's narrated by a boy. As I'm constantly telling long-suffering family members (aA new Robin McKinley. It's got the word "dragon" in the title. And it's narrated by a boy. As I'm constantly telling long-suffering family members (anyone who will listen, really), with McKinley you never know what you're gonna get. I mean, yeah, she's known for her fairy tale retellings. And her fantasy stories about girls who kick butt. Oh, and that one vampire book about the baker. But just when you think you know what to expect, she writes a contemporary only sorta fantasy about a boy who grows up in a national park inhabited by dragons nobody's ever seen but who are nonetheless there. Jake finds this out firsthand when he stumbles across a dying dragon and her litter of dragon kits. Without thinking about it twice, he stuffs one of the babies inside his shirt and heads for the hills. Thus the adventure begins. Jake's wandering, frantic, self-deprecating narration was right up my alley. I loved it. I loved that she gave her all to get inside a fifteen-year-old boy's head, threw in a few dragons, a heckuva lot of governmental red tape, and decided to see where it took her. Bottom line: Sequels or no, Damar or no, I am up for anything you are, Ms. McKinley....more
I am so into this series. I stumbled across Charlaine Harris right about the same time I discovered Janet Evanovich--just after my son was born. I cI am so into this series. I stumbled across Charlaine Harris right about the same time I discovered Janet Evanovich--just after my son was born. I credit the two of them for getting me through those postpartum blues, for making me laugh when all I felt like doing was cry. While I always look forward to the next Sookie Stackhouse book, it's Harris' Harper Connelly mystery series that's really got me champing at the bit for more. Harper finds dead people. With the help of her stepbrother Tolliver, she travels from town to town helping police departments and grieving families alike get to the heart of mysterious deaths. The best thing about these books is the unexpectedly complex relationship between Harper and Tolliver (two people who don't have a thing in the world except each other) and the increasingly mesmerizing/horrifying events they find themselves mixed up in. Harper never fails to find the body(ies) in question, but the two of them just can't seem to make it out of town before all hell breaks loose. This third installment is by far the most chilling and Harris wisely balances out the heinous with some great interpersonal stuff between Harper and Tolliver. I like that she isn't dragging this series out. Plenty of bank for your buck....more
I picked this book up for one reason and one reason only—because Sarah MacLean recommended it as one of her top hOriginally reviewed here @ Angieville
I picked this book up for one reason and one reason only—because Sarah MacLean recommended it as one of her top historicals ever, like ever. Apparently, that's all it takes for me when it comes from the lady who gave us Callie and Ralston. And I have my suspicions that might be all it took for a few of you, too. We are in good company together then, yes? This was my first of Lisa Kleypas' historicals. Having read and been mildly okay with one of her contemporaries and read and absolutely loved one of her others, I figured the wind could reasonably be expected to blow any number of ways with The Devil in Winter. Some authors transition beautifully from one genre/time period to another. Others, I feel, face more of an uphill battle. Spoiler alert: Ms. Kleypas appears to know her way around whichever she feels like tackling at the time. I will say that I initially read a library copy and held off on purchasing my own because I was not fond of the U.S. cover. So much lavender. I can't . . . with just so much lavender. But then. The UK cover waltzed onto the scene. With Evie standing in the snow. Just . . . looking. It is everything the book deserves and it, of course, had to be mine.
Evangeline Jenner has summoned what remains of her flagging courage and made a command decision. Said decision involves sneaking into the home of vaunted rake Sebastian St. Vincent and demanding he run off to Gretna Green with her to be married before her hideous relatives can stash her in a closet and force her to marry her cousin, thereby gaining control of her dying father's gambling money. (Did that last sentence put a silly grin on anyone else's face? Just me?) Having been beaten down and pushed aside her entire life, Evie just wants to be free. If a loveless marriage to a known dissolute is what it takes, she will gladly pay the price. St. Vincent will get the money he so desperately needs to pay his father's debts and the two can happily live the rest of their lives separately. After his initial amusement and disbelief at the shy wallflower's proposal, the wayward viscount finds himself accepting and the two of them go haring off for parts north as fast as possible before anyone can say them nay. Before either of them know it, the marriage has been solemnized and it's back to London and the grim reality of bidding farewell to Evie's father along with the unexpectedly complicated feelings they experience in the face of the prospect of going their separate ways.
The Devil in Winter has one hell of a beginning and that's all there is to it. Talk about hook, line, and sinker. I fell in love with Evie almost with her first exhalation. What a sad and dim life she led leading up to the moment she felt forced to go to St. Vincent with an offer she wouldn't let him refuse. And how I liked her for the way she faced him down and stutteringly told him the way things were going down. As for Sebastian, I grew to like him quickly for how quickly he grew to like Evie. For his wicked wit and hilariously cavalier attitude toward life and the ton. And for the appalled look on his face when he realizes he might . . . he just might be falling in love with his wife. It was a pleasure watching Evie's shoulders slowly relax while in Sebastian's company, just as it was a treat watching that very attitude of his grow less and less cavalier when it came to his wife and the altered way he saw the world as a husband. So very much against his will. But there it is. The story did bobble just a bit for me back in London as the two take up residence in Jenner's gambling hell and I felt things veering a touch close to the shallow. But the ship rights itself soon enough as they stumble up against each other's expectations and the scars (in Evie's case) and indiscretions (in Sebastian's) of their respective pasts. This was helped along by Kleypas' uncanny knack for suddenly and unceremoniously shoving the two of them in a hallway or billiard hall or sick room at just the right moment so they could sort themselves out. I'm ever so fond of them, Evie and Sebastian. I will always be glad they came to stay....more
First of all, that cover. I love everything about that cover. And, as such, deciding whether or not to read JackaOriginally reviewed here @ Angieville
First of all, that cover. I love everything about that cover. And, as such, deciding whether or not to read Jackaby involved me sitting on my hands, dithering about whether or not the insides would match the outsides. As I am wont to do. But the truth is the mash-up of historical fantasy and the Doctor Who-meets-Sherlock Holmes teaser made it no kind of question at all as to whether or not I'd be picking it up. This is William Ritter's debut novel and the first in a series (happy day) as the ending clearly indicates. I picked it up a few weeks back on vacation and read it through in one big swallow. And while my body may have been sitting on the beach, my mind was far away tramping down a cold, winter street in New Fiddleham. The whole experience was deliciously dark and dreary. Of course, it was also ineluctably charming and smart. Which is to say I didn't stand a chance and cannot wait for the next one to come out.
The year is 1892. The place: New England. Abigail Rook has fled her staid life. Leaving her disbelieving parents behind in England, she has sailed to the new world, specifically to the dockside town of New Fiddleham in search of . . . she knows not what. Gifted with the ability to parse the importance of ordinary details, she is sure that with a little fortitude (and a lot of luck), she will be able to make a place for herself in this unfamiliar clime. And it turns out, she's right. Her first night in town, she runs across an extraordinary personage who appears to carry an unholy amount of bits and bobs on his person and who goes by the unlikely moniker of R.F. Jackaby. Jackaby, it turns out, is a private investigator of the unusual variety. He takes cases that involve the inexplicable, the paranormal, the ones that regularly stymie the local constabulary. Stumbling into Jackaby's latest case, Abigail is intrigued and finds herself following the odd man home and inserting herself into his daily routine as an investigative assistant. She is, of course, not the first to fill that role (the fate of the last one remains a bit murky) and she fears she will not be the last. But for the present, she can think of nothing else she would rather be doing. And so the two are off as they trace the footsteps of an increasingly erratic serial killer.
Abigail and Jackaby are immediate magic. I say that acknowledging that there is not a romantic note between them, though there are a couple of jokes along that vein and their reactions are priceless. There is a lovely hint of romantic potential for Abigail and a certain young detective who is not as disbelieving in Jackaby's ability as his supervisors are. But the hint dances around, remaining in the realm of potential for this volume at least. And that is all to the good, because this entertaining and absorbing debut is a charming and twisty mystery at heart. Chock full of Celtic mythology and regularly terrifying glimpses of the macabre, Jackaby is a recipe for a ripping good romp. I loved how excellently Abigail and Jackaby complemented each other and how quietly but firmly they came to respect and care for one another as colleagues and as accomplices (only when the occasion required, of course). Every scene that features them rambling around Jackaby's home is a delight, as the house itself constitutes one of my favorite characters. The hysterical fate of Jackaby's former assistant, along with the mysterious and heretofore lonely fates of a few of his other lodgers captured my affections. I know why Jackaby chose Abigail, but I was so pleased Abigail chose him. They needed each other. Their enjoyable banter and madcap dashes through the seedy underbelly of New Fiddleham kept me on my toes all the way to the exciting conclusion. As I believe a good book never reveals all its secrets, I know there is much more just waiting to unfurl in the sequel. I am all anticipation....more
Another great Meg Cabot recommendation. Last time she led me to the funny and quirky novels in verse of Sonya Sones. Now I find myself completely imAnother great Meg Cabot recommendation. Last time she led me to the funny and quirky novels in verse of Sonya Sones. Now I find myself completely immersed in Liza Palmer's second novel, laughing out loud, wiping tears from my eyes, as DH stares at me warily and scoots a bit closer to the far side of the bed. The title, cover, and marketing indicate your standard chick lit fare. But I found Seeing Me Naked to be a distinct cut above the rest.
Elisabeth Page is a pastry chef at the most exclusive restaurant in L.A. She chose the culinary arts as a way of escaping the overpowering influence of her father--a double Pulitzer prize winning Norman Mailor/Truman Capote/Ernest Hemingway composite. Elisabeth and her big brother Rascal (full name: Raskolnikov. Yeah.) have spent the majority of their privileged lives trying to get out from under dad's shadow. As a favor, Elisabeth donates a set of baking lessons at an auction for one of her mother's charities. Enter Daniel Sullivan: newly transplanted from Kansas assistant basketball coach at UCLA. Daniel bids on the lessons after Elisabeth rather snobbishly questions what a guy like him would do with baking lessons. And, just like that, we have a recipe for conflict. Elisabeth and Daniel have nothing in common and, after the first lesson, Daniel seems quite keen never to set foot in a kitchen again. But. He doesn't know who her father is. He's kind and funny and oh so far away from the cutthroat, upper crust, grin and bear it world Elisabeth has been living in. Plus (if she can manage to quash her knee jerk overeducated patrician reactions, aka Big If) he just might help take her mind off Will Houghton--her war correspondent boyfriend who she sees once every two years for one night at the most. A host of interesting and funny side characters fill Elisabeth's life and keep the story interesting.
This book is a treat from cover to cover. The characters are complex and carefully rendered. There is no black and white in the intricate web of family relationships they navigate. Difficult, messy, and painful as they are, Palmer shows how such relationships shape us, how influenced we are by our roots, and how, despite all this, we are still capable of becoming more than the sum of our parts and of allowing more people into our hearts than we thought they could hold. I look forward to checking out Palmer's first novel....more
This charming, madcap Victorian romp was originally published in 1997 and has just recently been translated into English and reissued by First Second.This charming, madcap Victorian romp was originally published in 1997 and has just recently been translated into English and reissued by First Second. The French pairing, Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert, have infused their girl-meets-mummy love story with equal amounts whimsy and longing. Lillian Bowell is the daughter of renowned Egyptologist Professor Bowell. During one of her father's many absences, Lillian befriends one of her father's many mummies, Imhotep IV. Lillian soon feels safe with the debonair mummy and Imhotep finds the lovely lady reminds him of his long-dead wife who was not mummified and therefore will not be around to enjoy eternity with her spouse. Together these two unlikely confidantes spend a day out on the town, strolling through the streets and parks of 19th century London.
Mayhem ensues when Imhotep gets into a drunken pub brawl and Lillian is forced to drug the police who come to investigate the matter. Unfortunately, the sedative turns out to be poison and Lillian is put on trial for murder. Both fathers attempt to come to the rescue of their besotted children, but the British justice system will not be perverted and the two lovers must find a way out on their own. Always zany, at times hilarious, this original tale rushes headlong toward a satisfying, if slightly cringe-worthy conclusion. The text is enchantingly abrupt and fast-paced, and the accompanying artwork is utterly beguiling. Highly recommended....more
Baltimore Blues was an Ellen Emerson White recommendation I am extremely glad I followed up on. I got it for Christmas and saved it for the work tripBaltimore Blues was an Ellen Emerson White recommendation I am extremely glad I followed up on. I got it for Christmas and saved it for the work trip to Florida I took last week. I ended up spending seven hours sitting in airports so it was a good thing I had such an engrossing read with me. Although the result was an instant and urgent need to find a bookstore in Orlando (a shockingly difficult task) to get my hands on the sequels. Eventually I managed to do this and I've been on a Laura Lippman binge ever since.
Baltimore Blues introduces the reader to Tess Monaghan, former newspaper reporter turned odd-job girl. Tess is a native Baltimorean and the city itself is without a doubt a main character in these novels. Lippman's love for and knowledge of Baltimore saturates every line--a real treat for readers who love ambiance and a real insider look into a city or region. Unemployed Tess is a creature of habit, filling up her time rowing on the Patapsco, eating breakfast at Jimmy's, mooching off her Aunt Kitty, and avoiding dinner with her disapproving, disappointed parents. Danger disrupts Tess' routine when she agrees to unofficially investigate a good friend's fiancee. A simple bout of snooping leads to a full-blown murder case and Tess soon finds herself fighting to clear her friend's name and watch her own back at the same time. ...more
Charm City picks up a few months after the events of Baltimore Blues. Tess is still living above her Aunt Kitty's bookshop, and the endearing musiciaCharm City picks up a few months after the events of Baltimore Blues. Tess is still living above her Aunt Kitty's bookshop, and the endearing musician/bookseller Crow seems to have worn down some of Tess' reservations about a possible relationship. She's even relented enough to accept a job as an apprentice investigator for the curmudgeonly lawyer/rowing instructor Tyner. But this unusually "normal" period doesn't last long, as the editors of the Beacon-Light hire Tess to investigate a case of a reporter undermining the system, publishing a controversial article that was never meant to run. In no time, the subject of the article turns up dead. An apparent suicide. Tess follows the trail through the ranks of the newspaper, convinced the suicide was, in fact, murder. Several secondary characters get some great fleshing out in this second volume, notably Tess' best friend (and crack reporter) Whitney and the always awesome Crow. I am now completely hooked on this series and thrilled to find there are, count them, seven more to go and a brand new installment coming out in March. Bring on the fun....more
You all remember my love for Diana Peterfreund's Secret Society Girl novels, yes? A certain patriarch of a certaiOriginally reviewed here @ Angieville
You all remember my love for Diana Peterfreund's Secret Society Girl novels, yes? A certain patriarch of a certain . . . well. You remember. The thing is, those are my kind of New Adult novels. And I think I've been sort of quietly looking for more in that vein ever since. And then a couple of months ago I ran across Diana enthusiastically recommending a new series for fans of the SSG books. It's called the Ivy Years series and it is written by Sarina Bowen. Needless to say, I investigated further. When I found out the books were also sports-related, I said to the internet, Say no more, internet. You have my attention. And that night I jumped in and started the first book—The Year We Fell Down (which, by the way, such a great title)—and I thoroughly enjoyed Bowen's easy style, down to Earth characters (well, most of time, I'm looking at you Hartley), and the fabulous college setting. So when the second book came out, I was all set to dive right back into life at Harkness, particularly when I heard it featured Bridger—a character from the first book who I really liked but who I had more than few concerns about.
Bridger McCaulley's life does not resemble what it used to be. Not that it's ever been easy, but there was a period there where he worried . . . less . . . and partied more. And he played hockey like nobody's business. Those days are gone now that he's wholly responsible for his little sister. And it doesn't help matters that it's all on the down low since child protective services would have a heyday if they knew a college hockey star was hiding a little girl away in his dorm room. Scarlet Crowley's life also altered suddenly and irrevocably and for the worse. She's come to Harkness to escape as many of her problems as possible, starting by enrolling under a different name in order to stave off as much of the media as possible. When the truth about her father's charity was made public, the life she led became impossible and she hopes distance from her parents and her father's crimes will allow her to build her own life. When the two meet, sparks fly, but they agree not to take things any further than study dates in the cafeteria. Bridger has no time to speak of and a pack of responsibilities weighing him down to the ground. Scarlet fears discovery and the look on Bridger's face were he ever to find out the kind of family she comes from. But it proves to be difficult for each of them to give up that regular human contact again. With someone who might just understand.
As I said, I enjoyed (my impatience with Hartley aside) most everything about the first book in the series. But I loved everything about The Year We Hid Away. How lovely a thing it is when you get to know a previously secondary character better only to find out they were exactly who you were hoping they would be all along. Getting to know Bridger was just such an experience. There was so much more to him than his escapades the year before led you to believe, and every one of those added layers made him an infinitely sympathetic character. He is crazy strong, is Bridger. And determined to go it alone, if just to adequately protect his little sister Lucy from additional disappointment and pain. He rightly judges she has suffered enough. But then so has he. And it takes Scarlet entering his tightly closed off life to see that and know how to help. It was so interesting watching these two hockey players interact while on enforced hiatuses from the sport they love. In fact, one of my favorite aspects of this story is the equal treatment the two protagonists get. Their stories, their histories, they are equally valued and play appropriately weighty roles in their present. They are not just back stories, but fleshed out narratives explaining the way they are, the challenges they live with. And they fold so seamlessly into the force bringing and holding them together. An early encounter snippet:
"You never say very much about Miami Beach," Bridger said as we lingered over our coffee. "Or your family."
I didn't bother to hide my flinch. "Miami Beach is the best. My family . . . not so much. I don't really talk about them. It isn't a nice story." The truth was, I didn't want to lie any more than necessary to those deep green eyes.
Bridger's face flashed with sympathy. "Okay. It's exactly the same for me, but I didn't expect that. Because you look like someone from a family with a nice story."
"And you don't?" I countered.
He put one hand on his own cheek and covered mine with his other. "You make a good point. Maybe there's no look. I should probably stop thinking that everyone else in this room has it easier than me."
I turned my head, and together we both scanned the laughing, eating, bustle that was the student center at noon. It sure looked happy out there. For just a moment, I was a goalie again, analyzing the play, scouting for trouble.
"Nah," I said finally, turning back to Bridger. "I still think most of them have it pretty good."
Bridger grinned. "This is the cynical table," he said, tapping his fingertip on the wood grain.
"Party of two," I agreed.
Their Tuesday and Thursday lunch/study dates never failed to bring a smile to my face. And the natural and seemingly inevitable way they grew into a relationship with a healthy amount of depth kept the smile upon my face. They are able to take a breather of sorts and step away from being self-conscious when they're together. It feels like a reprieve, doled out in careful doses. No wonder they look to increase those doses. I also appreciated the way Bowen handles the "finding out" of the respective pasts. It was a recipe for maturity while still paying tribute to their actual ages and the extent of their life experiences. As is the case with the best romances, I am so very glad they found each other. As for myself, I am so very happy to have found a fresh voice in the new adult genre. Recommended for fans of Down London Road and, of course, Secret Society Girl....more
In Big Trouble picks up not long after the unsettling events of Butchers Hill. Just when this loyal reader was on the brink of breaking down and pleadIn Big Trouble picks up not long after the unsettling events of Butchers Hill. Just when this loyal reader was on the brink of breaking down and pleading for a sign of the missing Crow, there he is! Or rather, there his picture is. Sans dreadlocks and sporting an unfamiliar bitter look, Crow's picture is cut out of a newspaper clipping and mailed to Tess via her lawyer Tyner. The headline above the picture reads, "In Big Trouble." Unsure of who sent the hint, Tess struggles with herself for a week before driving down to Virginia to see if Crow's folks have heard from him. To Tess' surprise, his parents insist on hiring her to find their son and soon she's on the road to Texas, leaving her beloved Baltimore behind. It was so fun to see Tess transplanted into unfamiliar territory, forced to be the awkward outsider instead of the cool insider we know and love. Like Baltimore in the previous books, San Antonio is a character in its own right. There are beautiful descriptions of the food, culture, weather, and landscape that made me nostalgic for the years I lived there in my early teens. My favorite Tess book so far....more
Linda Collison's Star-Crossed reminded me of a mixture of The Witch of Blackbird Pond and a more mature The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. LikeLinda Collison's Star-Crossed reminded me of a mixture of The Witch of Blackbird Pond and a more mature The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. Like Kit and Charlotte, sixteen-year-old Patricia Kelley is forced into a radically new life, but remains stubbornly determined to shape it to her will. Orphaned, illegitimate, and penniless, Patricia stows away on a British merchant ship bound for Barbados. She was born there and is certain her father left her his sugar plantation before he died. She is soon discovered by bosun's mate Brian Dalton. But instead of exposing her, Dalton gives her a set of sailor's clothes and helps keep her presence a secret. In the dead of night, he spirits her up onto the deck and teaches her how to climb the rigging and track their progress by the stars.
Their secret is soon revealed, however, and she is only allowed to stay in the capacity of assistant to the ship's doctor, Aeneas MacPherson. Patricia gets through her days learning how to set a bone and stitch a wound, but she longs for the clear nights when she can climb to the top of the crow's nest with Dalton. Upon reaching Barbados events do not unfold as Patricia hoped. With no choices available to a girl in her position, Patricia numbly accepts Aeneas' proposal of marriage and Dalton leaves immediately for a gunner's position aboard a naval ship. The second part of the novel follows her life with Aeneas, while the third depicts the unexpected chain of events that lead to her crossing paths again with Dalton, once again disguised as a boy, this time aboard a naval ship in the midst of war with Spain.
Like its lovely cover, everything about this book is strong and vivid. Patricia's first attempt climbing the rigging to dizzying heights, gruesome descriptions of patients suffering from yellow fever, fiery battle sieges at sea, and the few stolen moments when Patricia and Dalton are able to speak freely. All of these leave the reader breathless and feeling as though she were actually there with them, desperate to survive. The novel is meticulously researched and I loved the map, glossary, background information, and particularly the closing quote by Sappho. "I tell you, someone will remember us." I look forward to Patricia's further adventures as Ms. Collison has indicated it will be a trilogy....more
I remember seeing Poison Study on the shelves when it first came out, but passed it up several times because of, yes, I admit it, the cover. It was thI remember seeing Poison Study on the shelves when it first came out, but passed it up several times because of, yes, I admit it, the cover. It was this older mass market paperback cover and not the lovely new trade paperback one. The girl on the old cover looked just a little too haughtily seductive for me. And I knew that Luna was the fantasy division of Harlequin and so I was suspicious it was a romance thinly disguised as fantasy. So when the new trade paperback came out, I went and read a few dozen more reviews just to "make sure" and decided to go ahead and give it a shot. I'm so glad I did. You'd think I'd have learned by now not to judge a book by its cover. Archangel, anyone?
Poison Study opens with a young woman named Yelena imprisoned for murder. A murder she freely admits to committing. When a pair of guards yank her from the dank dungeon she's languished in for almost a year, Yelena is certain she faces imminent death. She even welcomes it in light of the hell her life has become in the past few years. More to come on that bit of nastiness later, we learn. But instead of the gallows, she finds herself in the office of Valek, the chief of national security (i.e. the Commander's Personal Assassin) being offered a choice. To be hung by the neck until dead or to become the Commander's Personal Food Taster. The last one having recently died on the job. Yelena chooses life and immediately begins a crash course in the art of poison detection. To complicate matters, Valek slips Yelena a deadly poison known as Butterfly's Dust to ensure she won't attempt to escape the first chance she gets. In order to survive, Yelena must show up at Valek's door each morning for the antidote. Skip one morning and she'll be dead within 48 hours. And all of this happens within the first few pages of the book. I was completely sucked in by page ten.
The pace never slows throughout the rest of the book as we come to care more and more for this young woman who is forced to court death on an hourly basis. Piece by piece we learn more about why she was in the dungeon in the first place, her complicated background, and the demons that haunt her. Fortunately, her unquenchable will to survive and her quick mind earn her a few choice friends within the compound and these supporting characters are delightful and funny. Then there is Valek, the ruthless assassin who employs his vast array of frightening skills to protect Yelena even as he poisons her, convinced she is the missing piece of the puzzle in his quest to discover who is attempting to overthrow the government and why. I loved this book and I can't wait to read the sequel, Magic Study....more
I originally heard about Graffiti Moon around about the time I read Raw Blue and thought to myself, is every AustOriginally reviewed here @ Angieville
I originally heard about Graffiti Moon around about the time I read Raw Blue and thought to myself, is every Australian YA author crazy talented or what? (The answer, by the way, appears to be an unequivocal YES). Then some of the Usual Suspects read and reviewed and loved it, and so Cath Crowley got noted down on my mental TBR, despite the fact that it, too, was not published in the U.S. yet. Then a little while after, it showed up on NetGalley and there were no more excuses to be had.
Lucy's time is running out. Year 12 is about to end and she still hasn't tracked down the graffiti artist known as Shadow. Though his work is all over the streets and walls and broken down buildings of the city, he only comes out at night. And despite her best efforts, Lucy hasn't been able to be in the right place at the right time to see him at work. He works in tandem with a street artist named Poet. Together they put words to pictures and grace the worn out sections of the city with their unique blend of poetry and urban art. Lucy would be happy to find the mysterious Poet as well, but when it comes down to it, it's Shadow she cares about. Something about the pictures he creates strikes a chord deep inside her and she feels as though a chance will have been missed if she never meets him. Never gets the opportunity to tell him, even for a moment, what his work means to her. Then one night she and her two best friends Jazz and Daisy are out and run into Daisy's on again, off again boyfriend Dylan, and his two friends Leo and Ed. Dylan knows Shadow and Poet, and the group decide to visit the two's known haunts and see if they can find them. Lucy is reluctant to go as she and Ed have had encounters in the past that did not end well. Ed is just as loathe to renew the acquaintance. But Jazz and Leo talk them into it. And they're off.
Graffiti Moon is a gem--a breath of fresh air. The narrative alternates between Lucy's, Ed's, and Leo's points of view and I enjoyed them all equally. Okay. I may have been just a teensy bit more partial to Leo's sections when it comes down to it. But that's because they're poems. Just freakishly good poems. I wanted to share my favorite of Leo's poems because they were such a highlight of the book for me. Here it is, fairly early on in the book:
Where I lived before
I used to live with my parents
In a house that smelled like cigarettes And tasted like beer if you touched anything The kitchen table was a bitter ocean That came off on my fingers
There were three doors between the fighting and me And at night I closed them all I'd lie in bed and block the sounds
By imagining I was floating Light years of quiet Interrupted by breathing And nothing else
I'd drift through space And fall through dreams Into dark skies Some nights
My brother Jake and I would crawl out the window And cut across the park Swing on the monkey bars for a while One the way to Gran's house
She'd be waiting Dressing gown and slippers on Searching for our shadows She'd read us
Poetry and fairy tales Where swords took care of dragons And Jake never said it was a load of shit Like I thought he would
And then one night Gran stopped reading before the happy ending She asked, "Leopold, Jake. You want to live In my spare room?"
Her voice Sounded like space and dark skies But that night all my dreams Had floors
That last line has been haunting me ever since. In such a good way. "But that night all my dreams had floors." A line so good it had me swallowing hard, brushing back sudden tears in my eyes, and turning to my husband to read it aloud, because I just had to share it with someone instantly. I love Leo. Comparisons between this book and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist abound, and I certainly understand why. Graffiti Moon is to be preferred, in my opinion, as the characters are more fully fleshed out and the writing is just a cut above. Here the focus is on art instead of music, and the combination of Shadow's evocative paintings and Lucy's burgeoning glassblowing skills is a lovely feast for the imagination. I could picture, without any trouble at all, the heart growing grass. That perfect shade of blue he's been searching for. The birds--their wings bound--struggling to break free. I could see it all. Truthfully, this book reminded me more of Lisa Schroeder's Chasing Brooklyn or Donna Freitas' This Gorgeous Game. It shares with those stories a certain elegance in the telling. I loved each of the main characters, with the real draw being the ethereal connection between Lucy and Shadow, and the complicated friendship between Ed and Leo. There's much of humor and heartbreak within these pages, and I read them through in one sitting, so happy was I to be with these kids, inside these words, as they expressed themselves the only way they knew how....more
I came across a mention of Halfway to the Grave on Rachel Vincent's blog and decided to give it a try because the notion of a main character who is aI came across a mention of Halfway to the Grave on Rachel Vincent's blog and decided to give it a try because the notion of a main character who is a half-vampire intrigued me. How does one become half a vampire, and what wicked cool/unbelievably lame attributes come with the package?
Cat Crawfield's mother had an unfortunate encounter with a vampire and five months later Cat was born. Her reclusive mother raised her to hate the darker half of herself, encouraging her to actively hunt the undead as a way of atoning for the fact of her existence. Being the good egg that she is, Cat obeys her mother and spends her youth isolated and alone, always in pursuit of her next victim.
Now 22 and about to start college, Cat firmly believes her mom's mantra: all vampires are evil and must be destroyed. Then one night a routine hunt goes bad when the vampire in question manages to take her prisoner, threatening to kill her unless she reveals who she is working for. Turns out this vampire, aka Bones, also kills other vampires for a living. And he suspects Cat of working for his enemy. The two strike up an uneasy alliance with Bones determined to train Cat as the ultimate vampire slayer and Cat determined to use the training to kill Bones the first chance she gets. Humor, mayhem, romance (not for the faint of heart...ahem), and lots and lots of slaying ensue. I really liked prickly Cat and the hilarious Bones. This book is funny and fun and the gangbusters ending left me very excited about book two, One Foot in the Grave, due out April 29....more
Once again I surface from a haze of mandatory rereading of each and every one of my favorite parts in the previouOriginally reviewed here @ Angieville
Once again I surface from a haze of mandatory rereading of each and every one of my favorite parts in the previous two novels in the Raven Cycle to write this review of the third and latest installment. I finished Blue Lily, Lily Blue and lay awake in bed, staring at the ceiling, seeing nothing but the quicksilver leaves of Cabeswater, hearing nothing but Adam's soft drawl over the tune of Ronan's inappropriate Irish jigs, and tasting nothing but mint on my tongue. It's a heady experience giving yourself over to one of Maggie's novels and not a decision to be taken lightly. Knowing that she persists in ending each book on a cliffhanger teaser (of sorts), I prepared myself for the worst (though I know she's really saving that for the fourth and final book). And, as ever, as the whole thing crashes to its temporary conclusion, some threads are flung far and wide even as others (the core ones) tighten their hold, both on each other and on me.
This is the third book in a quartet, guys. I shall attempt to minimize the spoilers. But not at the expense of THE FEELINGS. As Ronan might say, Vos admonitos.
Given her druthers, Blue Sargent would eat yogurt for every meal. She would grow a handful of inches taller. And she would spend each and every day with the boys. And while her mother disapproves of at least two of those three choices, her mother is not around anymore. To put too fine a point on it, Maura has up and disappeared. And the women of 300 Fox Way are at a loss as to know exactly what to do to fetch her back. And so Blue eats her yogurt. And she bemoans her diminutive height. And she spends as many and as much of her days as possible hunting with Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah. And all the while she quietly tries to will her mother back before the nameless evil that threatens to awaken does just that. Meanwhile, Adam is holding tightly to every shred of sanity and temper he possesses in order to mend his fences with Gansey, continue to heal Cabeswater as needed, and come to terms with his role in the group and in the grander scheme of the search for Glendower. And in many respects his work is rewarded with greater clarity on several fronts. Ronan Lynch continues to live with every one of his secrets (and to be keeper of a not insignificant portion of my heart). And Noah . . . vacillates . . . as only Noah can. To say nothing of the Gray Man's adopted quest, Calla's fiercely protective eye, Persephone's training of Adam, and Gansey's sometime mentor calling for tea. More threads are added to the weft with every step of this penultimate tale.
"You can be just friends with people, you know," Orla said. "I think it's crazy how you're in love with all those raven boys."
Orla wasn't wrong, of course. But what she didn't realize about Blue and her boys was that they were all in love with one another. She was no less obsessed with them than they were with her, or one another, analyzing every conversation and gesture, drawing out every joke into a longer and longer running gag, spending each moment either with one another or thinking about when next they would be with one another. Blue was perfectly aware that it was possible to have a friendship that wasn't all-encompassing, that wasn't blinding, deafening, maddening, quickening. It was just that now that she'd had this kind, she didn't want the other.
In the words of Whitman, "We were together. I forget the rest." This is precisely how I feel whenever I sit back down with Blue and her Raven Boys. Okay. We're together now. Everything else can fall away. I love how, despite Maura's absence, everyone felt less alone to me in this one than they did in the last. In Blue Lily, Lily Blue, three books in, they genuinely have each other. Even more importantly, they acknowledge that they have each other and just how much that means. Sometimes, in the case of Ronan, they acknowledge it in remorseless and epithetical Latin. Sometimes, in the case of Adam, in the minutest acceptance of an unexpected kindness. And sometimes, in the case of Gansey and Blue, only in the most glancing and breath-holding of looks or moments, drifting along the tenuous line of a telephone. But acknowledge it and rely upon it they do. And that seemingly simple step goes miles and miles to shoring up a few of this reader's myriad anxieties. The trust and surety that previously extended unilaterally here and there within the group expand in this volume to each relationship, in every combination. They find themselves reaching out, across status and gender and ley lines. And, as a result, Gansey (who has arguably been the most alone of all these kids who have been so very alone) is no longer quite so internally isolated. And the same goes for each of the magnificent individuals he has gathered around him. With all dark things looming ahead of them, this one change felt vastly important to me. And dark things do loom ahead. So dark at times it is difficult not to flinch. But there is always the glorious light to match the darkness—the lightning humor in Gansey's eyes, in Ronan's laugh, and on Blue's tongue.
Sometimes, Gansey forgot how much he liked school and how good he was at it. But he couldn't forget it on mornings like this one—fall fog rising out of the fields and lifting in front of the mountains, the Pig running cool and loud, Ronan climbing out of the passenger seat and knocking knuckles on the roof with teeth flashing, dewy grass misting the black toes of his shoes, bag slung over his blazer, narrow-eyed Adam bumping fists as they met on the sidewalk, boys around them laughing and calling to one another, making space for the three of them because this had been a thing for so long: Gansey-Lynch-Parrish.
This thing. Oh, this thing. The three of them. The five of them. The quest for the sleeping king. It's just that I love them, you know? I love that we get the sure sense they were going on before us and that they will continue on without us after the fourth book comes to a close. As for that close, we shall not speak of it. For I am full to the brim of fears and awful premonitions. As such, I plan on tucking myself away at 300 Fox Way until next October. Just to be safe. Safe as life....more