Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why My Third Husband will be a Dog by Lisa Scottoline

I have a confession to make.   Until fairly recently, although I knew about Lisa Scottoline's books, I had never read any of them.   It wasn't that they didn't sound good -- it was just that I never seemed to get around to them.  However, I was at a conference a few months back and had an opportunity to hear Ms. Scottoline say a few words (actually, as part of a group of authors at a tea.   Yes, a tea.  With little sandwiches).   At any rate-- she was so funny, and so likeable, that I found myself really wanting to read her books.     And then, I forgot again, no doubt because I was distracted by the shiny new books on the library's display shelves.

I did, however, see that she had a new book out, a series of essays, and it sounded good.   So, I put a hold on our library's copy, and then promptly forgot about the book until it came in for me the other day.    And then I read it.   I started it while I was in bed, thinking it would make for good before-sleep reading.   This was a mistake on my part, because I was laughing so hard right away that I knew that it would keep me awake.  So, I read for a while, and laughed a lot, and then put it down.  Until I was up at 3:00 am ... picked it up, and finished it.    The book lasted about a day.    And now, I'm going to go to the library and find her other books and check them out.    And I'll be looking up her column in the Philadelphia Inquirer, too.

Just goes to show you --- sometimes, an opportunity to hear an author can be a really wonderful thing, even if you don't know all of their books (or any of them, as it was in this case).    If you ever have an opportunity to see Lisa Scottoline speak, got for it --- she's very cool, and very funny (and really smart, too).    And this book is great.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Secret Santa Loot!!!!

I got a nice surprise this afternoon when the mail came --- a nice little box from my secret santa blogger!   Carol very sweetly sent me 3 books (see picture) -- a Meg Cabot book I haven't read, and 2 more books that I haven't read, or even heard of!   So, 3 nice things to read and discover during these cold weeks!   Thank you Carol!!!     I know I didn't give a lot of information when I signed up for the Secret Santa blogger exchange thingie -- so if I do it again next year, I promise to be better, like the person I sent stuff to was.   :)

Happy Holidays!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!

It's been an interesting few days ----  we have a nice layer of ice on everything outside right now, and it's been raining on and off (which is always helpful for adding more layers of ice......).   One of our bunnies wasn't feeling well, so we got to take him to the vet yesterday (we're thinking positive -- he seems to be feeling much better since they took care of a few tooth spurs).   Hopefully, the roads will get better, and dinner will turn out tonight.

Merry Christmas!   

Monday, December 21, 2009

Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

I received a galley of this book as part of the Flight of Fiction from Viking Books (and thank you very much!).   I needed to take a break from reading paranormal books for a December book challenge, so I started on this.    The basic premise is that there is an ongoing, 1000-year conflict between the Society of Angelologists and the Nephilim, who are the descendents of angels and humans.   I think most people think of angels as being nice, beautiful beings, but the Nephilim are very strong, and not very nice, and they'd like to rule the world (thus, the struggle).   Sister Evangeline discovers a cache of letters from Abigail Rockefeller, the famous philanthropist, and someone named Celestine, whom she suspects is really Sister Celestine.   It turns out that Evangeline's discovery brings her into the path of some very dangerous people, and also brings her further into the world of the angelologists and the treasure they have been protecting for years.

Sounds a little like Dan Brown doing his bit on angels, but it's really quite good.   There's really an interesting premise here, and the author does such a wonderful job of not only developing the characters, but also building the story, and the suspense.   Evangeline is a complex character, enhanced by the other characters in the book, who are, for the most part, equally fascinating.   I found the pacing to be pretty fast, but maybe that was because I got caught up in the book and just needed to know what happened next.   I also enjoyed how I felt like I was learning things in the book (which reminded me a little of Dan Brown, but nowhere near as lecturing and annoying).    And, actually, I had a moment of remembering a movie called The Prophet, which had Christopher Walken as Gabriel.....   not a very good movie, but something in it has stuck with me all this time.   One of the main characters is talking about angels and says how, what if, instead of wonderful things, they were actually quite fearsome -- after all, some of them do the more horrific work for God -- and he says something about how it would be, to always have one wing dipped in blood.    As I said, not a great movie (although it's worth it just to see Viggo Mortensen as Lucifer), but the whole idea of the scary, intimidating, and fearsome angel has stuck with me ever since.

Trussoni's writing is very smooth, and the idea here in this book is very well developed.   I took my time reading it because there were a lot of details to catch, but also because it was a pleasure to read.    According to what I've found, this book is due out in March 2010, and I expect there will be some buzz about it (hopefully!)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Viking Books very nicely sent me a package of books, so I'm now working my way through them. Finished Beth Hoffman's Saving CeeCee Honeycutt last week, a coming of age story that reminded me a little of Secret Life of Bees. Short summary: At age 12, CeeCee's mother passes away (which, although tragic, is almost a blessing, considering how strange her behavior was getting) and she is taken in by an aunt who lives in Savannah. Aunt Tallulah (Tootie) and her housekeeper, Oletta, are great characters, and CeeCee is very well written, herself. I enjoyed this book and found it a smooth read, typical of good Southern storytelling. Does make me wish I could visit Savannah at some point (although I'm sure it has changed since the story, which takes place in 1967). Uncomplicated, but a nice read, especially when it's snowing outside.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gorging on Books

I don't know what I was thinking, but I agreed to rise to the challenge of a YA paranormal reading challenge set up by a few people at my library. Not that I don't read paranormal, but I already had a list of books I wanted to get to this month..... but I have been happily steered off my usual track and on to this one. I have already read a number of books on the list, so I'm working my way through the Morganville Vampires series (I had stopped at #4, so I'm re-reading that one and trying to get through the rest), and also just took the opportunity to re-read Tithe by Holly Black, which I really liked. Not sure how many I'll get through on the list I was given, but I figure between now and the end of the month, I'll keep myself busy. And then I'll probably be so tired of paranormal books that I won't read any more of them for a few months. We'll see.....

Fierce mousie.....

Years ago, at one of my office jobs, I had a co-worker who had a phrase "fierce monkey." As in, "You should have seen how upset she was --- she got all fierce monkey on me." I still use this phrase myself, once in a while, because I think it's funny.
But enough about monkeys --- this post is about 2 books I recently got from the library: Mouse Guard Fall 1152 and Mouse Guard Winter 1152. I had read about Fall 1152 and ordered it for our collection, read it, and then had to wait for Winter 1152, which took a while to be published. I originally picked up the first book, not just because it sounded interesting, but because the art is so beautiful. The mice are beautifully drawn, and are very expressive, which really gives the story depth, especially when there are panels, or even pages, with few words, if any. And these mice, as cute as they might look at times, are fierce. (and no, not in a Christian Siriano-type way, either). The adventure story here is pretty serious. The first book, Fall 1152, has three members of the Mouse Guard investigating the disappearance of a traveling grain merchant. However, all is not as simple as it might seem; along the way, they uncover a plot to attack Lockhaven, the home of the Guard (and there is also danger along the way in the form of nasty snakes and other things). In the second book, the story continues on into winter, with the Mouse Guard wading into even more dangerous territory. The plot in the second book seemed a little thinner to me at times, but the beautiful art carried along the story with no problem.

I had ordered these books for our adult graphic novel collection, although I think a younger audience would enjoy them, as well (even though there are some scary parts). It's not the usual kind of book I read, but they were a nice break from my stack of to-be-reads. If you're looking for something a little different, these might be just the trick. I know there's a third book on the way, but no idea when that'll be published.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Devil's Alphabet by Daryl Gregory

Ok -- finished this library book this morning. I had been looking forward to reading it, ever since I read Gregory's Pandemonium --- and this was just about how I thought it would be. Interesting, thought-provoking, and a little weird. The concept of a town where there have been huge changes (and I do mean huge) is very cool, but sometimes, I wanted a little more from the characters. Sometimes, I got impatient or annoyed with the main character -- but I was always interested in what was going to happen to him, so I kept on reading. Not sure who I would recommend this to, although I will definitely put it out there as an interesting book. Gregory is an author I'd like to keep an eye on -- he has some fresh ideas, and his books aren't easy to categorize (for example, is this book fantasy? Horror? Just plain odd?), but that's fine with me.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ash by Malindo Lo

Another pleasant surprise found in a library book. I had ordered this for our collection, based on a number of good reviews (plus, it has a cool cover). It's already gone out 5 times (counting my check-out), and now I know why.
I knew this was supposed to be a re-telling of the Cinderella story, with a few twists, but I had no idea I would be so pulled into the story. There are elements of the Cinderella story in that Ash loses her mother, father remarries a woman who is less than wonderful (and who has two daughters of her own), father dies, and Ash basically turns into her stepmother's servant. There is a prince, and a ball, and there is magic. However, this story is more complex, adding in elements of fairy magic with a serious undertone. The Wood in the story is a primary component and holds both comfort for Ash, as well as danger. There's a fairy, Sidhean, whose ethereal nature seems to barely cloak a dangerous nature underneath. As he is the one who grants her wishes, this turns into something darker than the typical fairy-godmother character (especially if you envision the Disney version of Cinderella). Then, there is the part of the story that deals with Kaisa, the king's huntress (and a pause here -- is huntress such a cool word??). Kaisa starts out as a friend, but then something changes. And that's where I'll stop with any description because any more would completely give away what happens in the story.

Ash is a strong female character, and the story has a lot of layers to it. As an adult reading this book, I found it fascinating, but I think that if I had read this when I was much younger, I would have found a lot of elements to be thought-provoking. Ash is an interesting person, made even more so to me through her interactions with both Sidhean and Kaisa. Malindo Lo really weaves a rich story here, which I found hard to put down (I mean, I was reading this while I had the Blackhawks game on, and I was concentrating more on the book, which never happens). I won't say the story was completely flawless, but it was beautifully written, and something I'm looking forward to recommending to other readers. I'll be interested to see what Lo writes next -- and will definitely look forward to having her next book in our library, too.
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