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 fiancĂ©e and is so bent on revenge, he is determined to destroy the vampire and free his fiancĂ©e, 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.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Bookish Thoughts: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

Ghosts didn't have much substance. ~ Opening of The Book of Life


The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
Viking Adult, 2014
Fantasy; 561 pgs

From the Publisher: 
After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.
It did not take me long to purchase and read the final installment, The Book of Life, of the All Souls Trilogy when it went on sale.  I had been anxiously awaiting the conclusion to the trilogy I began reading back in 2012.  I thoroughly enjoyed A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night, both books so very different from one another and yet delicious in details about characters I have come to love. And so it was with great anticipation that I began reading The Book of Life, both excited to see what would happen and sad to know the story would be coming to an end.

It is no wonder The Book of Life is over five hundred pages.  Deborah Harkness fills them well.  She continues to breath life into her characters and the world she began creating years ago, each growing and evolving with time and circumstance.  I love the depth she has gone to in building her world, the history, science, religion, and lore.  I found this final installment of Deborah Harkness's trilogy to be satisfying in every way--except perhaps I did not want to see it end.

Diana and Matthew are not the same people they were when they first stepped back in time.  They have returned changed and they face a whole new set of problems along with the old ones.  The Book of Life picks up hot on the heels of where Shadow of Night left off.  I liked the way the author captured the suddenness of it all for Diana and yet the distance in time it has been for those who knew her centuries ago.

The couple's love is stronger than ever and it continues to be tested time and again as they race to solve the mystery of Ashmole 782, otherwise known as the Book of Life.  They must deal with other obstacles as well, including Matthew's blood rage, family politics, and possible war between the preternatural creatures on earth, all as Diana continues to struggle with her identity and accepting herself.

I liked Diana from the very first book, and I like her even more now, after having read The Book of Life. She continues to be a strong woman in her own right, intelligent and thoughtful.  She truly grows as a person over the course of the novels, her attitudes and ideas shifting based on her experiences.  I appreciated how far Matthew has come in respecting that about Diana--how hard it had been for him in the beginning given his natural inclination as a vampire to control those he loves.

I love how the author is able to balance the supernatural and science throughout the trilogy, especially in this book as she brings her story to a conclusion.  It was nice to revisit Diana and Matthew's friends and families.  I think I most enjoyed my time back at Diana's childhood home.  I just love her house. However, I also really enjoyed the time spent in London.  The magic of one and the history of the other.  Oh, how I wanted to step inside the pages of this book many times as I read!

There is much to this novel, many story threads woven in, and so much I would like to say.  In an effort to avoid spoilers, however, I am trying to remain vague.  I thoroughly enjoyed The Book of Life, a contented smile spread across my face as I finished the last page.  Deborah Harkness did not tie every loose end up with a neat little bow, but I did not really want or expect her to.  She did just enough.  I cannot wait to reread this trilogy again one day.

Rating:  * (Very Good)

You can learn more about Deborah Harkness and her books on the author's website.

Source: I purchased an e-copy of the 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 07, 2014

Where Is Your Bookmark? (10/07/2014)



These aren't the best photos, I know, but they are the stacks of books my husband and (mostly) me culled from our book shelves this past weekend. It was an unplanned project that came into being with the moving of furniture and shelf space (I finally got my curio cabinet thanks to my saving my Amazon gift cards for the past several years.). I lost three bookcases in the process (the curio cabinet isn't that big, but we also re-purposed three of our existing book shelves). I now have empty shelf space. It is a strange feeling. The sooner I get these books out of my house the better--before I change my mind . . . And can I tell you how difficult it was to touch and hold every one of my books, especially those I haven't read yet, and just plop down on the floor in front of the bookcases and just read, read, read?

I saw the movie version of Gone Girl in the theater Friday and thought it was very well done.  I expected more of a change than there actually was--so that was a little disappointing.  Too much hype about the change that wasn't, I think.

My car was back in the shop yesterday. I was having such a great morning, got in a four mile aerobic workout, got a couple of chores done, and then when I went to get into my car, it wouldn't start. I was hoping it was just the battery. No such luck. Granted my car is 10 years old, but it really needs to hang in there for the next several years, until we get my husband's car paid off. Just what we don't need though, more car repairs to pay for.

I did not get any reading done this weekend. I was hoping to make more progress in Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, but the time just was not there. I do not want to fall behind right at the beginning of the read-a-long, but that may just well happen. I am really enjoying the book though, and as soon as I open the book, I am swept into Sue Trinder's life. I love the way Sarah Water's writes. If only I could take a day off of work and just read it!

Last week I also began reading Liz Strange's Erased, a science fiction thriller, which also has me glued to the book as I read. Science fiction isn't a genre I gravitate towards on a regular basis, but I do enjoy it now and then. Erased has its flaws, but it's an intense read, and I am enjoying it. It has a Total Recall type feel to it.

Later this week, I will begin reading Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn for an upcoming tour. Set during the 1920's, it is the story of Poppy Hammond who goes on  an adventure to find the man who helped her escape an aristocratic marriage during the 1920's. Scandal, political intrigue and mystery ensue.

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.


Here is the opening of Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn. I'm already intrigued!
March 1920 
"I say, if you're running away from your wedding you're going about it quite wrong." 
I paused with my leg out the window, satin wedding gown hitched up above my knees. A layer of tulle floated over my face, obscuring my view. I shoved it aside to find a tall, bespectacled young man standing behind me. His expression was serious, but there was an unmistakable gleam in his eyes that was distinctly at odds with his clerical garb.

 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 06, 2014

Bookish Thoughts: Hexed by Michelle Krys

Exactly twelve minutes into cheerleading practice, and I already wish I were dead. ~ Opening of Hexed


Hexed by Michelle Krys
Delacorte Press, 2014
Fantasy (YA); 384 pgs

From the Publisher: 
If high school is all about social status, Indigo Blackwood has it made. Sure, her quirky mom owns an occult shop, and a nerd just won’t stop trying to be her friend, but Indie is a popular cheerleader with a football-star boyfriend and a social circle powerful enough to ruin everyone at school. Who wouldn’t want to be her? 
Then a guy dies right before her eyes. And the dusty old family Bible her mom is freakishly possessive of is stolen. But it’s when a frustratingly sexy stranger named Bishop enters Indie’s world that she learns her destiny involves a lot more than pom-poms and parties. If she doesn’t get the Bible back, every witch on the planet will die. And that’s seriously bad news for Indie, because according to Bishop, she’s a witch too. 
 Suddenly forced into a centuries-old war between witches and sorcerers, Indie’s about to uncover the many dark truths about her life—and a future unlike any she ever imagined on top of the cheer pyramid.
So. The opening paragraph of the publisher's blurb turned me off immediately.  Based on the description of Indigo Blackwood, our heroine, alone, I already did not like her.  Not a good start for a book.  But, well, witches. I do like stories about witches. Why not give it a try?  I crossed my fingers as I began reading that this would be a light and entertaining book to read.  

Fortunately for both of us, Indigo and I made our peace quickly and I enjoyed reading Hexed. It was fun and at times quite intense, especially towards the end.  Indigo, or Indie as her friends call her, narrates the story and I came to really like her snarky attitude and sensitive nature.  She grows over the course of the book and is someone I wouldn't have minded hanging out with in the end.  

My favorite characters, however, have to be Paige and Bishop, both of whom  proved to be handy in tight situations.  I especially liked how strong a character Paige was.  She came across as a little desperate in the beginning--if you are to believe Indigo--but she's actually got a good head on her shoulders, which includes some self-respect.  Bishop is all mystery at first, but the more of his character that is revealed, he proves he is a force to be reckoned with.  

I liked the world the author has created, the mythology around her witches, including how and when they come into their powers.  There are two opposing magical forces in Hexed, the witches who are good, and the sorcerers who are bad.  The differences between them is slight, but evidently the two groups do not like each other.  The sorcerers covet the power and want to destroy the witches once and for all.

The bad guys in the novel were more caricatures than anything else, which was both good and bad.  It fit with the overall story's style--a balance of dark and comedy--but it also took away from my enjoyment a bit.  It was hard to take them seriously as a threat at times.

While the mystery in this story comes to an end, the story isn't quite over.  There is a cliff hanger at the end of the novel.  And based on the epilogue, I am guessing the next book in the series will focus on another of the characters.  As entertaining as Hexed was, I am looking forward to seeing what Michelle Krys comes up with next.  It's always nice to be proven wrong, and I am glad I did not let the synopsis of the book put me off it completely.  Hexed was an enjoyable book--just what I was hoping for: a mystery, humor, suspense, romance, and a lot of magic.

Rating: * (Good +)

You can learn more about Michelle Krys and her books on the author's website.

Source: I purchased both an e-copy of the 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.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

From the Archives: The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates

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 is one from December of 2005: 


The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates
Ecco Press, 2004
Fiction; 512 pgs

The novel, The Falls, opens with the suicide of a man on his honeymoon. This is the story of his bride, Ariah, and the life she leads after his death, her new family, their struggles, and their achievements. 

I was a little put off in the first 180 or so pages of the book, wondering if I should set it aside and move onto something more interesting; however, because I was reading the book for as a group read, I plodded along. I had a difficult time getting through the portions of the book devoted to Ariah and her thoughts. I did not care for her as a character through much of the book, I’m afraid. I felt some sympathy for all she had been through; however, her personality and quirks left me feeling irritated with her more than anything. 

By page 186, the book took an interesting turn and from that point on, I was lost in the pages, barely putting the book down until the very end. I was especially drawn to the story of the infamous Love Canal, which was only beginning to make headlines at the time period in which the book was set, and what was to follow after in the novel. 

Dirk Burnaby’s character was interesting, and I especially was drawn to his children and their stories about their search to know more about the man their father had been and to find out more about themselves. They were each very different and dealt with their childhood and early adulthood in their own ways. 

The author’s descriptions of Niagara Falls brought back memories of my trip to that part of the country several years ago, and I could almost picture myself there again. It would have been a mistake to set this book aside after the first 50 pages as so many fellow book readers advise. I would have missed out on a wonderful story that will stay with me for a long time to come.


© 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 02, 2014

Bookish Thoughts: The Betrayed by Heather Graham

Adrian Mahoney woke with a start. ~ Opening of The Betrayed


The Betrayed by Heather Graham
Harlequin MIRA, 2014
Crime Fiction (Paranormal Romance); 400 pgs

This is my second full length novel by Heather Graham as well as my second in her Krewe Hunters series (the 14th book in the actual series), and I have to say I liked it even more than The Hexed, which I read in August. And what a perfect way to open October, I might add, given the setting of Sleepy Hollow.

FBI agent Aiden Mahoney is new to the Krewe Hunter team and is not sure why he was selected for such an elite unit, one that is known for dealing with "weird" cases--or more simply put, the paranormal. Although he doesn't deny that some people can talk to ghosts, he is sure he isn't one of them. One night, in a dream, however, he hears the voice of an old friend who Aiden is fairly certain is newly dead.

Sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate the disappearance of his friend who is also a popular rising politician, Aiden arrives too find his friend has, in fact, been murdered, his head severed from his body. Maureen "Mo" Deauville and her dog, Rollo, discovered the head. Mo and Rollo often help the police find missing people and have an extraordinary track record. Mo has her own special gift, but lets Rollo take the credit. Aiden and Mo, along with the other Krewe members and the local police, join forces to solve the murder, hopefully before the murderer strikes again.

Aiden is dedicated to his job and persistent in the hunt to find his friend's killer.  He is also in denial of his ability to communicate with the dead. He soon discovers, however, he is going to have to tap into the part of him he's kept buried if he is to solve the crime.  His friend's death is tied to history, he's sure, and the ghosts are the only ones who can help him connect all the pieces together.

I took to Mo instantly (and Rollo too!). She had long ago moved out of the city, tired of always being called upon to find the dead, wanting instead to find the living. Search and rescue isn't her main job, however.  It's something she does as a volunteer. She earns her living making greeting cards and is quite good at it. Mo, like Aiden, can communicate with the dead.  Only, she's been using her ability all her life. Her role in the investigation is key given its tie to the area's history.

I love history and so was quite excited to read a little more about the Hudson Valley, Sleepy Hollow included.  I did feel at first that some of the history, told through dialogue among friends, seemed too obvious and forced, but as the story went on, the author was better able to insert historical tidbits here and there in a more natural way. Washington Irving isn't exactly a new name to me, nor the legends of Sleepy Hollow.  There were other aspects of the areas history I did not know, however, and I enjoyed learning about them, especially by way of meeting the ghosts.

Through the area history and descriptions of the valley and its various landmarks, Heather Graham was able to create an atmospheric setting for the novel.  I felt like I was right there alongside the characters and in the midst of a sadistic killer. With Halloween fast approaching, it seemed a perfect setting for murder--headless horseman displays everywhere, the cemeteries full of tourists and actors playing their parts.

Heather Graham's cozy paranormal mysteries wouldn't be what they are without a little romance as well, and Aiden and Mo are quite suited for each other. They took a while to warm up to each other, more because they were fighting their feelings rather than a lack of attraction, but I did appreciate how natural their relationship progressed (even if still fast--it is a novel, remember, and everything happens quickly in novels like this).

The mystery was intriguing, and I enjoyed seeing how the pieces all fell into place. The motive isn't something that is immediately known and clues to what it might be are dropped right in the middle of the novel in a rather obvious way. Still, it didn't stop me from trying to guess who the murderer could be right from the start.

The Betrayed is an entertaining novel, and one that has me wanting to continue with the series. Now to go back and start from the beginning . . .


Rating: * (Good +)

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

I hope you will check out what others had to say about The Betrayed on the TLC Book Tours route!




Many thanks to the TLC 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.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Parker's Turn to Be in the Limelight








© 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.