Sunday, October 19, 2014

From the Archives: Urban Fantasy

I began keeping a reading journal several years before I began blogging. I find it interesting to sift through my thoughts of books that I read back then. My reviews were often brief and contained little substance, but I thought it'd be fun to document them here on my blog as well as share them with you. Here are two from November and December of 2005: 

Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn
Grand Central Publishing, 2005
Fantasy; 259 pgs

Laurell K. Hamilton and Kelley Armstrong whet my appetite for tales of werewolves, and so I could not resist reading Kitty and the Midnight Hour. Kitty is a werewolf who, practically over night, becomes the host of a popular radio talk show that deals with the supernatural. She's the last person on earth one would expect to be a werewolf. Suddenly, she finds herself on the hit list of the vampires, in the middle of a pack power struggle, and working with the police and a werewolf hunter to solve the brutal murders of prostitutes in the city. This was a light and sometimes funny novel. Kitty is a likeable and endearing character. I look forward to reading more about her adventures.

Bite by Hamilton, Laurell K. et al
 (Fantasy) (297 pgs)

Anita Blake, Vampire Executioner and Animator, is hired by a mother to stop her teenage girl from willingly being turned into a vampire; Sookie Stackhouse, telepath, has unexpected visitors who have come to give her more than just the legacy of her recently deceased cousin; Dr. Sophie Tourneau veterinarian and vampire, believes several recent suicides are not what they seem and she is determined to uncover the truth; witch and former school teacher, Caroline Lang, joins forces with the vampire Galahad to stop an evil army from multiplying; and microbiologist, Daniel Hart’s dreams are dashed when a vampire steals everything from him, including his fiancée and is so bent on revenge, he is determined to destroy the vampire and free his fiancée, even if it means turning into a vampire himself. Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, Mary Janice Davidson, Angela Knight, and Vickie Taylor join together to create this anthology of short stories. Tough, mysterious, sexy, and fun, it’s hard to resist being swept into the worlds created by these five authors. Angela Knight and Vickie Taylor are new authors to me and although I doubt I will be seeking their books out, I did enjoy their tales.  It was fun to revisit some of my favorite heroines in Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris' and Mary Janice Davidson's stories.  

© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bookish Thoughts: A Penny for the Hangman by Tom Savage

This is a day unlike any other day, ever, in the history of the world. ~ Opening of A Penny for the Hangman

A Penny for the Hangman by Tom Savage
Alibi, 2014
Crime Fiction; 259 pgs

New York journalist, Karen Tyler, has ambition in spades; and so when an anonymous caller offers her a juicy story about unknown facts in an infamous murder case, how can she resist? Fifty years before, two privileged teenage boys were arrested and convicted for the brutal murder of their parents. A new movie is about to be released and renewed attention in the case is high. Karen jumps at the chance to go to the scene of the crime on the beautiful Caribbean Island of St. Thomas when invited by her secretive source, sure that he is one of the killers. Karen's best laid plans are upended when her host implements his own. Then it's a race to see who comes out alive, if anyone.

Let's set aside the fact that Karen seems a bit too naive for an experienced reporter, and that she needs a good dose of skepticism and caution, my only real quibble with the book. Even with that, I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Penny for the Hangman. It was intense and suspenseful with an interesting twisty plot.  Much of the time I was felt the author knew the reader would be on top of everything going on and it was really more a matter of seeing how Karen handled it all. Whereas in some books this style of writing takes away some of the intensity, it felt perfect for this type of tale.

The novel is written as if it is a book compiled of Karen's journal entries, her news articles, book excerpts from a book written by the arresting officer, and journal entries of one of the killers, along with narrative of events as they unfold. It was an effective mode of storytelling, especially in building up the suspense as the story went along. You get a little history into the boys' mindsets and their relationship as well of Karen's experiences too.  Wulf and Rodney, the two boys convicted of the murders, were interesting characters to say the least.

This novel brought to mind the Lyle and Eric Mendendez trial that took place while I was in the middle of my undergraduate studies back in the early 1990's.  They were two real life murderers who killed their parents. I had a professor who knew the family and was very upset by the allegations that came out. While this particular case was never alluded to in the novel, other famous murders were mentioned that the reader is sure to recognize. I always like it when an author adds real life details into novels that way. It lends an authenticity a novel, I think.

While some might find events in this novel to be a little over the top at times, it was all a part of the roller coaster ride that made the novel so fun and exciting. A Penny for the Hangman was an entertaining and difficult to put down novel. It makes for a great read, especially if you want something fast paced and full of suspense.  

Rating: * (Good +)

To learn more about Tom Savage and his books, please visit the author's website

I hope you will check out what others had to say about A Penny for the Hangman on the TLC Book Tours route!

Many thanks to the TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour. The publisher provided me with an e-copy for review.

© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Young Love

(My Grandparents)

© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Where Is Your Bookmark? (10/14/2014)

My work days have reached the level of crazy busy, and the weekends so far this month have been jam packed with autumn cleaning. Even Mouse has lent a hand, giving away some of her "baby" toys. There are the usual other activities: soccer, park, library visits . . . I am pleased with the progress made on my Christmas shopping, although I know I have already spent more than I had initially planned. I may just have everything done I wanted to get done by mid-November after all. I hope. Pretty please.

I wish I could say my reading time has been a priority, but it seems to have taken a back seat. It has not helped that the new television season starting up again has pulled some of my attention away. Scandal, How to Get Away With MurderS.H.I.E.L.D., The Blacklist, and The Walking Dead (and what a great opening for the season!).  I am also watching The Voice for the first time this year. Since I do not get to watch television live, I record everything and watch it when I can.  I know, I know.  If I were a "true" reader, I wouldn't waste my time on television.  What can I say, I enjoy watching television.  Something besides Doc McStuffins (which is a great children's show), Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Caillou.

I am still reading (and loving) Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. The discussion has already started over at Literate Housewife for the first several chapters in the book. Liz Strange's Erased continues to be my go to book when I need something fast paced.  I really need to start on Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn.  I was glad to hear last week that she is a well liked author by many.

What are you reading at the moment?  Is it something you would recommend?

Every Tuesday Diane from Bibliophile By the Sea hosts 
First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where  
participants share the first paragraph (or a few) of a 
book they are reading or thinking about reading soon.

Science fiction is not a genre I read a lot of, but it is one I enjoy. Liz Strange writes everything from romance to mysteries to fantasy--and now science fiction as well.  Here's the opening to her novel, Erased, the story about a once very powerful woman who suddenly finds herself without a memory and on the run from the very dangerous people she used to lead.
The usual miscreants filled the bar--thugs for hire, men looking for redemption in the bottom of an empty glass, and those simply on the prowl. Considering she was one of three women in the place and the only one with her appendages intact, the male clientele with hopes of getting laid faced chances varying from slim to none. There would be a more likely chance of connecting with their next job, none of which she imagined would fall within the realm of legality. Though she'd declined their delightful offers of company, Pockmark and Twitch kept leering at her from across the room. To keep from making eye contact with them and any others with ideas of engaging her in conversation, Singer sipped her drink and counted the questionable stains marking the chocolate brown walls.

 Would you continue reading?

© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Bookish Thoughts: A Fistful of Evil by Rebecca Chastain

The interview was a catastrophe. ~ Opening of A Fistful of Evil

A Fistful of Evil by Rebecca Chastain
Mind Your Muse Books, 2014
Fantasy; 273 pgs

As I sometimes do after reading a blurb for a book that sounds interesting, I downloaded a free sample of A Fistful of Evil to my Kindle to give it a try.  By the time I got to the end of the sample, I did not hesitate in hitting the "Buy" button.  I was already invested in the story and the characters.

From GoodReads: 
Madison Fox just learned that her ability to see souls is more than a sight: It’s a weapon for fighting evil. The only problem is she doesn’t have a clue what she’s doing. 
On the positive side, her money problems are over, she’s possibly discovered her purpose in life, and her coworker is smoking hot. On the negative side, evil creatures now actively hunt her, and deadly experiences are becoming the norm. 
When she thinks it couldn’t get worse, a powerful evil sets up shop at a local hotel’s video game convention, and it’s got its eye on more than the gaming geeks: it is hungry for Madison’s soul. Madison needs to become an expert illuminant enforcer overnight to save her job, her region . . . and her life. 
If Stephanie Plum fought evil with magic, it’d look a lot like this.

It doesn't take much to connect with and like the character Madison Fox.  At least not for me.  She is not exactly your typical strong-out-of-the-gate and edgy female heroine, but rather is a somewhat awkward but determined woman who believes in doing the right thing. Madison can be quite stubborn as a result--and yeah, she does walk into a few situations on her own without back-up, making me want to shake her and ask her what she was thinking but also cheer her on.  Anyhow, Madison has a love for animals that I could totally relate to.  She also has a special gift. She calls it soul-sight. Madison has long done her best to hide it and avoid using it. When she applies for a job with a bumper sticker company, however, that changes quickly.

The bumper sticker agency is a front for the Collaborative Illumination Alliance (C.I.A.), an agency that fights evil, much of which the average person has no idea exists.  Completely untrained and not sure she is up for the job (by both herself and her coworkers), Madison finds herself in one difficult situation after another.  She comes across imps and hounds and a rather nasty demon.

Madison isn't the only character worth reading this novel for.  There is a great cast of characters from her boss, Brad Pitt (not to be confused with the actor), her babysitter, Rose, and the ever gorgeous Dark and Deadly, Niko, Doris the retired Illuminant Enforcer, among others.  I would love to know more about the Illuminea. I admit to suspecting the sexy veterinarian Dr. Love of being one himself at times.  Mr. Bonds, of course, was a favorite of mine.  For those who worry about talking cats in books--don't worry.  Mr. Bonds is very much a cat.

Besides the great characters was the mystery and story itself. I like the world Chastain has created and the story she built around it. Evil saw a weakness in the region and took full advantage of it. It got creepy at times, the way evil attached itself to ordinary people--how easily it spread.

The setting!  Having spent a good part of my growing up years in the Sacramento area in California, I was excited to find Madison lives in Roseville.  The mention of towns and cities in that area made me bounce in my seat a little as I read.  She mentioned Fair Oaks!  Nobody ever does that!  If it isn't obvious by now, I enjoy reading about places I have been or lived before.

I love books about magic and the supernatural, and so this book was right up my alley. It is a light read, but not overly so. There are some funny moments, and plenty of suspense.  A hint of romance to come maybe? While I knew early on who the big evil was (certain behavior by Madison was a dead give away), it did not hurt my enjoyment of the book. I found A Fistful of Evil to be an entertaining read, and I definitely will be looking for more by this author in the future.

Rating: * (Good +)

To learn more about author Rebecca Chastain and her work, please visit the author's website

Source: I purchased a copy of this book for my own reading pleasure.

© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.