Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bookish Thoughts: Erased by Liz Strange

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. ~ Opening of Erased


Erased by Liz Strange
Dark Continents Publishing, 2014
Science Fiction; 226 pgs
From GoodReads: 
Grey Singer doesn’t know who she is or what she’s done. All she knows is that the InterStellar Collective wants her dead. Her memories are muddled, she has no money, and no one to watch her back except a much younger bartender who claims to be her boyfriend. According to him, she’s been erased. 
But how can she trust him to help her get through this when she can’t even trust her own mind? While caught in the middle of warring factions her very life, and the lives of countless others, might depend on the answers.

I admit I am not the world's largest science fiction fan.  It is not a genre I gravitate towards generally. I am a huge fan of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series and absolutely loved the Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness.  Both tend to be series that attract readers of all genres, regardless of their science fiction tie in.

When I first heard about Liz Strange's Erased, I hesitated. It sounded different than anything else I normally read, but a quick reminder that I tend to like science fiction movies made me decide to give this book a chance.  I am glad I did.

Erased is a nonstop action, extremely intense novel, featuring a heroine that is kick-ass in every way. Grey Singer rose to her high position in the InterStellar Collective for a reason--her dedication to the cause, her tenacity, her ambition, and her skills.  She is a force to be reckoned with in a flight and quick thinking on her feet.  Let me just say, I wouldn't want to be on her bad side.

With the loss of her memory, a more vulnerable side of Singer comes through, mostly through her fear and confusion about what she is experiencing, not knowing who to trust or exactly what happened to her and why. There's also her attraction to and feelings toward Jeremy, who seems to be a stabilizing force in her life, at times her only one. It's also her only weakness.

There is space travel, fist and fire fights galore, romance, double crosses,  and quite a bit of intrigue as Singer tries to maintain her sanity and figure out exactly what kind of trouble she is in. There is one part in the beginning which I found quite jarring in which Singer is in one place one moment and a completely different place the next. This happens several more times throughout the novel, but by the second time it is much more clear what is going on. In an effort to get her memories back, Singer had taken a drug that is now affecting the way her brain works.  She goes in and out of memory loss and suffers blackouts.

What I liked best about the novel was how well the author was able to put me in the mind of Singer. At times I was just as confused as she was, just as in the dark.  I had lots of ideas about where the story might go, but I never really knew.

I have read several books by author Liz Strange: two detective novels, a fantasy novel and now this science fiction novel. She continues to entertain me and keep me guessing.  I do not know if I would have bought a copy of Erased had it not been by an author whose work I have enjoyed in the past. It would have been a mistake though.  It pays to step outside my reading comfort zone now and then.

Rating:  * (Very Good)

You can learn more about Liz Strange and her books on the author's website.

Source: I purchased an e-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.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Where Is Your Bookmark? (10/28/2014)



We had a little mishap last week where Mouse fell in such a way as to land on my ankle just so, causing a very mild sprain. It isn't bad, fortunately, and despite my failing to baby it as I probably should, it seems to be healing. It was too busy a weekend to be off my feet.  

I went with my daughter and her class on a school field trip Friday, followed by my daughter's best friend's school carnival that evening.  Mouse had a blast playing the different games set up for the kids. Saturday Mouse had her final soccer class of the season. This was her first season playing with the older children, and it was a bit challenging for her at times. She's the smallest and not as fast as the others. Regardless, she enjoys herself and likes playing with the other children. Sunday, my family and I participated in the Cure SMA Walk-n-Roll fundraiser in an effort to raise money and attention for Spinal Muscular Atrophy. The walk was well attended and everyone seemed to have a good time. Mouse got to try on a pair of handcuffs for the first time and sat in the back of an arson investigator's car. 

I am looking forward to this weekend, the passing of Halloween, and when we can settle in and relax a little. Hopefully.

Yesterday I finished reading Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, just in time for the final week of the read-a-long hosted by Jennifer at  Literate Housewife.  I have not yet attempted to write a review--I am not sure where to start. I have enjoyed being part of the discussion of the book.  Feel free to hop on over and join in, if you'd like! 

I am back to reading two books at once, Jim Snowden's The Summer of Long Knives, a mystery set in Nazi controlled Germany just before World War II, and Last Train to Babylon by Charlee Fam (which I featured last week). 

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.


The draw for me to this particular book, The Summer of Long Knives by Jim Snowden, was more the setting and time period rather than the crime itself. Lately when I see mention of a "young girl" as a murder victim I tend to run the other way. Still, I enjoy a good mystery. I have not paid too close attention to the reviews of this one coming out knowing I would be reading it now, although I know they are somewhat mixed.
As his car crunched his car crunched the gravel on the side of the road next to the Epp Farm, Kommissar Rolf Wundt once again had to lean forward, pinch the bridge of his nose, and force his eyes open. Last night, he and Klara had left the dishes for the next morning, so the French press that usually provided him with sunrise fuel was lying in pieces in the sink when Inspector Hans-Josef banged on his door at a quarter to five. As a consequence, Rolf's perception of the ride from Munich consisted of snatches of crime related mutterings--body found, young girl stripped to the waist, message carved in chest--blended with fading images of last night's dream whose narrative was gone but whose imagery had been dominated by bats, moons, and a strange hurdy-gurdy melody.
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.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bookish Thoughts: Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn

"I say, if you're running away from your wedding you're going about it quite wrong."  ~ Opening of Night of a Thousand Stars


Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn
Harlequin MIRA, 2014
Fiction (Historical, Romance); 368 pgs

I knew I would enjoy this novel from the very first sentence, and I was not wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Poppy Hammond's world.  Yes, she was a bit presumptuous at times, but what a great character--I love how she took charge of her life. Then there is Sebastian, whom I adored (maybe even had a little crush on).

A little about the book, set in 1920: Penelope "Poppy" Hammond, step daughter to a wealthy industrialist, ditches her stiff groom on their wedding day, enlisting the aid of Curate Sebastian Cantrip. They flee to Poppy's father's country village home in England. It is there that Poppy reflects on her life thus far--how little she's accomplished and how often she's failed to follow through. Deciding to change that, Poppy is determined to return to London to find Sebastian Cantrip and thank him for his help as well as maybe find herself a little adventure.  And adventure she finds in spades! For the mysterious curate is not who he says he is--nor is he where she thought she'd find him. Poppy, along with her lady's maid, Masterman, begin their own investigation into the identity and whereabouts of Sebastian.

Their adventure takes them from the ports of London to Damascus and the deserts beyond.  There is intrigue, treachery, romance, and danger at every turn.  Poppy is quick witted and intelligent. She is ever tenacious.  Her wealthy upbringing showed a few times, her privilege and class being both a hindrance and a help.

I especially enjoyed the references to the political and social turmoil in Damascus and among the Bedouin tribes throughout the novel.  As well as the descriptions of the city itself.  Damascus was very much a character all its own, as was the desert. There was a romantic air about it and a dangerous one.

There is humor throughout the novel, and I found myself laughing as often as I found myself holding my breath in suspense, waiting to see what would happen next. This book wasn't quite what I expected in that I expected more romance and less adventure, but the level of adventure and intrigue was quite high. I liked how the romance progressed through the novel--more of a slow tease and less of an "in your face" type.

While things may fall a little too conveniently together in the end, this did not bring down my enjoyment of the novel in any way. It does make me anxious, however, to read City of Jasmine. When I first volunteered to read Night of a Thousand Stars, I had no idea it was a companion book to another that features some familiar characters. My only quibble with not reading that book first is that I did not get to experience the excitement others did about running into those familiar characters again.  Just the same, Night of a Thousand Stars is perfectly fine as a stand alone, and, I feel, nothing is lost in reading them out of order or even just one or the other.

I look forward to reading more by Deanna Raybourn in the future.  I can see why she's such a well-liked author.

Rating:  * (Very Good)

To learn more about Deanna Raybourn, and her books, please visit the author's website.


I hope you will check out what others had to say about Night of a Thousand Stars on the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours route!






Many thanks to the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour. E-Copy of the book provided by the publisher.


© 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 21, 2014

Where Is Your Bookmark? (10/21/2014)

Hello from my little corner of California! The weather lately has been so pleasant. I can only hope it will be this way come Sunday, when my family participates in the Annual Cure SMA Walk-n-Roll. This will be our second year participating. My friend's teenager son (and my daughter's bestfriend's uncle) suffers from a rare form of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), an illness that, over time, gets progressively worse. There is no cure as of yet, and testing for such illnesses can be long and arduous. My friend's son has had to switch to home study because the pain in his body has become too great. He is beginning to lose feeling in his feet. He hid his pain from his mom for quite a while, not wanting to give up going to school with his friends.  It is a heartbreaking illness.  The walk is a way to raise money for a cure and also a way to bring SMA families and those who suffer with it together in support. It will be a great day.

 This past weekend we took time out to visit the pumpkin patch, which Mouse had been talking about nonstop for the last few weeks. We had a nice time.  There was a petting zoo, a pony ride, and a few carnival type rides to keep the children entertained.  Mouse went crazy in the petting zoo, she was so excited. She picked out a little pumpkin to bring home.



October has proven to be a month of challenges. If it is not one thing, it's another. Life gets that way sometimes, doesn't it? When I'm feeling at my lowest, I just have to look at my smiling daughter or remind myself it could be worse. Reading has helped too. I recently read Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn which was the perfect escape--adventure and romance in 1920. I also finished Liz Strange's Erased, a science fiction novel, which I enjoyed quite a bit. Talk about intense! And I am back to Fingersmith and loving it just as much as I was before I set it aside to read Night of a Thousand Stars for the upcoming tour. I plan to lose myself in Fingersmith over the next few days as much as I can (darn work--always getting in the way) so I can catch up to the read-a-long schedule.

What have you been up to lately?  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.


I have a couple books on tap I hope to begin after I finish Fingersmith, one of which is Last Train to Babylon by Charlee Fam.  It's a story about a young woman who returns home after the death of her former best friend. Memories of their friendship and just what ripped them apart come back full force. The book is getting good reviews, and I am looking forward to reading it.
The rain assaults my car in the far corner of the empty train station lot, and the wipers dance to a furious beat, so awkwardly out of sync with everything else. 
Smoke streams off the end of the lit cigarette. It's balanced against the car's ashtray--masking the scent of three-year-old air freshener--vanilla and sandalwood. I don't smoke it, but I crave the thick mist spreading beneath my ribs, filling my lungs--filling the space where you hollowed me gutless.
 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.

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
(2005)
 (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.