Monday, November 28, 2011

Just an update......

why yes, I am a bit grouchy......
 I know I usually post book reviews, and photos on wednesdays, and sometimes a brunch here and there....   and have not really posted much lately.

Yes, this is a personal post ... so if this isn't what you'd like to read, please come back on wednesday to see a photo of Verona, Italy.

Anyway ....  just wanted to say that I am trying to get back on track, and I am reading .... I'm just feeling a bit grumpy and out of sorts.  What I'm reading I then don't feel like writing about (even though the books have been great).  I guess I'm just not feeling super-inspired.   And, I'm feeling a bit thick in parts, so cutting down on the food and upping the exercise to deal with that.  ugh.    And, frankly, in addition to not feeling inspired about blogging, I'm feeling like Cranky Librarian after 2 straight work days of grouchy patrons.  And, coming to the work-filled ending of an online class.   see?  grump, grump, grump.

So.  What I am doing is reading, and reading what's on everyone else's blogs, even if I'm not commenting.  I will be making more of an effort to pull up my socks and find some inspiration.  Getting a new HVAC system in the house on Wednesday (oh yes, the awesome fun of being a grown-up and a homeowner), so maybe will go for a short walk in the woods and re-set my attitude.  And hopefully, will have a book post by the end of the week.  

Thanks for your patience.  And, if you have any words of advice on what inspires you, I'm all ears!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

2012 Challenge -- selected!

After some deliberation, I have chosen my one challenge for 2012:  The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Challenge from Booking in Heels. 

Here's the skinny about the challenge:  For those who don't know, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was a film released in 2003 based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore (of Watchmen fame). The movie features various classic book characters who all form a League to stop various classic villians from taking over the world. 

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read the original book featuring each of the main characters and post a review of each between 1st January 2012 and the 31st December. 

I think I can definitely do this.  I've seen the movie (yes, it's not the best movie in the world, but I do love me some Sean Connery.....).   I've updated my Challenges Page accordingly, so stay tuned for reviews!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Library Lagniappe .... being thankful

Library LagniappeI am not a huge fan of Thanksgiving.  I'm not anti-Thanksgiving, but I tend to see it more as just a "food holiday."  I usually work the day before and the day after, and while I like turkey, I have it when I want it, not just on Thanksgiving.

But I digress.  What I do like about Thanksgiving, other than the amazing pumpkin pie crunch I'm making to bring on Thursday, is that it is a good opportunity to take a bit of time and reflect on what I'm thankful for.  So, I thought I'd work that into a Library Lagniappe post.

I am thankful for the fact that I changed careers to become a Librarian, because even though it meant taking a pay cut from my previous career, it means that I am in a position where I can help people and make a difference (instead of working through in-bins of paperwork every day and feeling like it made no difference at all). 

I am also thankful for the patrons who come in, and return my smile, even if they don't stop at the desk.  I'm one of those people who smile at everyone, and I will tell you --- not everyone smiles back.  In fact, many people don't smile back.   So, when someone does, it just makes your day.  Extra points go to one of my favorite patrons, a man I call "Tall, Dark and Handsome" -- he is not only one of the nicest people to look at, but he has an amazing smile.   Yes, I know I'm married .... so is he, and it's perfectly okay if we smile at one another.

I am thankful for the people who say "thank you" because they make up for the ones who don't.  Simple, really, but it can give you quite the lift when one person says thank you.

I am thankful for these kinds of interactions, because now that I work with the public, I am much more aware of how I am when I interact with people.  I make sure I say please, and thank you, and smile.  Even if I'm grumpy --- because I know how it feels to be on the receiving end.

And, I'm thankful to be where I work, with people I like, in a nice work environment.  Even on the worst day, I can always count on a smile from a co-worker ---- or, at the very least, a stroll down an aisle to find some great reading material.

Thanks to everyone who visits their library, and supports us!   I didn't want to leave that out.    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book Challenges and me .... the truth comes out...

Well, now that we're nearly to the end of 2011, I am looking back at the Challenges page on this blog and have come to some conclusions: Yes, I signed up.  Yes, I read books.  No, I really didn't participate.  So, started with a clean page.

I always have the best of intentions.   I see new, shiny book challenges on everyone else's blogs, and I think: yes, of course, I read so much, yes, it will be fun and awesome .... and I start off on the right foot, I really do.  And then.....  I read other things, not for the challenges.  And when I do read challenge-fulfilling books, I forget to link them to the challenge.

I am now accepting that it tends to all be for naught, as I reach the end of another year and have yet to complete a challenge.   So, I have decided, that in 2012..... I will choose one challenge.  Just one.   I have found a simple one that sounds good, so I will do my bit and post about it soon.

I do admire everyone who keeps up with their challenges, and if I can get through the one I chose for 2012, without mishap, I might be brave enough to tackle a second one.

this should be a stack of books....

Re-set from previous Brunch ......

So, yes ..... apparently, I was whipping along and landed on the wrong date.    It was very nicely pointed out to me that the previous Brunch giveaway is STILL OPEN--  it's meant to last until dec. 15, 2011.

So, please keep commenting, if you like.   And please visit today's Brunch, where there is another giveaway!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bookie Brunch and giveaway

 Bookie Brunch is a weekly meet-up, held every Sunday, where book bloggers can have a cup of tea and chat about a particular bookie question of interest. The discussion is open from Sunday through Wednesday, and you’re welcome to drop by any time to add your opinion or read what other people have to say. This discussion is open as well to general readers or bloggers in a different field, authors, 
publishers and publicists.

Courtesy guidelines: Thank you for coming! All thoughtful comments will be considered and probably get a response from fellow bloggers. In fact, you’re encouraged to talk about it and share viewpoints or include links to relevant materials. We’d like everyone to have a nice time. Differing viewpoints are just fine, even if strongly expressed, but inflammatory or off-topic comments will be removed.  

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This Brunch, my guests are: Amanda-Lee, who blogs at StoryWings, Jenny at Let Them Read Books,  Tiffany from About to Read, and Brenda from Reading Fairy Tales.

Our discussion question is: How do you discover new books?  Do you look for recommendations on book blogs, ask your friends, go to the library?  All of the above?  None of the above?  Have you ever received a book recommendation from a completely unexpected source?

 First up is Tiffany, who said:
I discover new books from other bloggers, publisher catalogs, and Goodreads. Bloggers typically get me really excited for a title--especially if a lot of people are raving about it. I also get recommendations from friends, and will read a book they suggest if they loved it themselves or think it is something I would enjoy.

I have a few close friends who love to read, and whenever we find a book that is to-die-for, we share it with each other. While we were in college, it was a bit like an informal book club (miss those days!).
Jenny added her thoughts: 
Hey ya'll! Thanks for having me today! This morning I'm sipping on my hazelnut coffee with Almond Joy creamer . . . mmmm!
I discover new books just about every day! I find most of them on blogs and on Goodreads, but I also find them at the library and *gasp!* at the bookstore! I follow many bloggers who have the same tastes in reading as myself. Last week I added my 1000th book on Goodreads and I've created a series of shelves to help me keep track of how I find books to read. So far, "Saw it on a blog" has the most books with 96. I know book bloggers work hard and I believe they are instrumental in helping books find an audience, and I wanted to prove it by keeping track of the books I add to my reading list because of a blog. Goodreads comes in a close second. I love the daily emails that tell me what my friends are reading and I end up adding many books to my list and also striking up great book conversations. My Goodreads friends recommend books to me all the time, and I have three fantastic reading gal pals in real life who also share their favorite books with me.
I find new books from other online sources, too, like NetGalley, Shelf Awareness, Amazon Vine, and publisher newsletters. My library sends out an email every week with all of the new titles they've acquired, and mostly I find books I already wanted to read and add them to my check-out list, but occasionally I find a new one to add to the list. And lastly, I don't visit physical bookstores very often, but when I do I usually walk out with twice as many books as I'd intended to buy going in. I'm usually shopping the sale tables, and though I'm looking for books from my wishlist, I usually pick out one book that's new to me. I don't know that I've gotten a recommendation from an unexpected source, but I have been amazed at how wonderful Twitter is for readers, writers, and publishers. I put off signing up for ages, and in the four months I've been tweeting I continue to marvel at what a fantastic networking tool it is. And yes, I do have a "Saw it on Twitter" shelf! Thirteen books and counting . . .
 Amanda Lee, sipping on a skim mint hot chocolate, had this to say:
Most of my new books come from other bloggers. Whether I just happen to be checking out what they're doing and see a cover I like or if it's a reviewer I regularly read giving a rave review on a certain book. It all depends if I like the cover though, I never read a book that I don't like the cover of.

That's why I like going into book stores, because if any covers jump out at me, I will pick the book up to see if it interests me. I haven't actually discovered many "new to me" books recently, I am currently trying to catch up on all of my series books and working through my Shelfari wish list. I also regularly check my favourite author websites - particularly those that write stand alone novels such as Jennifer Echols - to see what they are currently doing.

I don't have any friends who read, so I don't get any new books from that kind of source. Probably the most surprising book rec I got was from a publisher I am on good terms with, they sent me their current release (Embrace by Jessica Shirvington) for review. I had never heard of it but I thought the cover was nice. When I picked it up...I couldn't put it down, it's become one of my top series.

And me?   Well, I get almost all of my books from the library, with a smaller number of them coming from publishers or authors who ask for a review.  Since I'm a librarian, I'm always ordering new books for the collection, and I'm always reading reviews (professional journals, newspapers, online sources, book blogs) ----  and it's easy for me to place holds on things that are coming in to the library.   I'm also surrounded by reading material, both old and new, so I never run out of books to take home with me.    There's no way I could buy all the books I read, or have room in my house for them -- and I probably wouldn't want to buy everything I read, anyway.   Getting books from the library lets me try before I buy.   And if my library doesn't have something?  No problem --- I look for it through interlibrary loan.  

The blogging community has been both a wonderful thing and a bad thing, as far as alerting me to new books.   It's wonderful, because I learn about books from other bloggers, read reviews, and see beautiful cover art.   The bad thing is ....   my tbr list is out of control.   Seriously -- it's like that demon plant, Audrey, from Little Shop of Horrors.   However, is that such a bad thing? 

A HUGE thank you to all of my guests!!!    And, I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's comments, as well!!
And now, we have the details on the giveaway, courtesy of Sasha Soren!  

Now you won't have to wonder if the movie is as good as the book or not - win this classic novel and matching movie version. This set features a paperback edition of The Age of Innocence with  a new, beautifully designed cover and a DVD of the feature film, nestled together in a sturdy case. This could be a nice treat to keep for a rainy weekend.  
About the book: Edith Wharton's novel is a masterful portrait of desire and betrayal set during the sumptuous Gilded Age of Old New York, a time when society dreaded scandal more than death. This is Newland Archer's milieu as he prepares to marry conventional socialite May Welland. But when the mysterious Countess Ellen Olenska returns to New York, Archer falls deeply in love with her. Torn between duty and passion, Archer struggles to make a decision that will either courageously define his life - or mercilessly destroy it. (Publisher desc.)

I have been having issues with Blogger and embedding videos --- so to see something quite cool, please click HERE.   
note: Music track is Un día llegará (Amazon MP3)

About the DVD: Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer star in this luminous adaptation of Edith Wharton's novel about heartache and hypocrisy among the high society of Old New York's Gilded Age. Day-Lewis plays Newland Archer, the upstanding attorney who is engaged to lovely but ordinary socialite May Welland, but who secretly longs for the more passionate life represented by Countess Ellen Olenska. The psychologically astute and powerfully romantic film was nominated for five Academy Awards. (Publisher  desc.)

Details: To win this charming book-and-DVD set, please leave email info and thoughtful or interesting comment below. A winner will be picked at random. If host and guests agree that a specific visitor comment is substantial, outstanding, or in some other way has particular merit, they can override pick at their discretion.  Please note - open internationally, but DVD manufactured for Region 1 only. Check your region . Through December 31, 2011, 12 midnight EDT.

Brought by: Sasha Soren (Random Magic).More about Random Magic can be found below - feel free to browse:  Find Random Magic: Print | Kindle
Explore Random Magic: YouTube 
  | Tumblr  |

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Be a guest at an upcoming brunch: @StoryWings
Bring goodies for a giveaway: @StoryWings
Suggest a question: @LiederMadchen
Browse Bookie Brunch discussions (after July 2011, archive): The Fluidity of Time

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bookie Brunch - with a giveaway!!

  It's Sunday, which means it's time for Bookie Brunch!!!    Bookie Brunch is a weekly meet-up, held every Sunday, where book bloggers can have a cup of tea and chat about a particular bookie question of interest. The discussion is open from Sunday through Wednesday, and you’re welcome to drop by any time to add your opinion or read what other people have to say. This discussion is open as well to general readers or bloggers in a different field, authors, publishers and publicists.
Courtesy guidelines: Thank you for coming! All thoughtful comments will be considered and probably get a response from fellow bloggers. In fact, you’re encouraged to talk about it and share viewpoints or include links to relevant materials. We’d like everyone to have a nice time. Differing viewpoints are just fine, even if strongly expressed, but inflammatory or off-topic comments will be removed.
This Brunch, my guests are: Sarah (Sarah Says Read), Melody (Book and Music Lover), Jessica from Shut Up! I'm Reading and Gabriel (Gabriel Reads).

Our question is: Does cover art influence what you read?  If you aren’t familiar with an author, and you don’t like the cover art, would you try the book?   Have you ever loved the cover art, and didn’t enjoy the book?

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Jessica has a great feature on her blog, called Judging a Book by its Cover, so I figured she'd be the perfect person to invite to Brunch this Sunday.   And here's what she had to share with us:  
Does cover art influence what you read? 
I try not to let it influence what I read too much... but sometimes I can't help myself.  Take the book I'm reading now, for example, Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. The cover art for it is GORGEOUS and the moment I saw it, I knew that I needed to read it.

If you aren’t familiar with an author, and you don’t like the cover art, would you try the book?  
If it's an author I don't know, and the cover art is particularly awful, then honestly I probably wouldn't pick it up. However, if I then heard great things about the book or author, I'd pick it up and ignore the cover art. 

Have you ever loved the cover art, and didn’t enjoy the book?
Actually, yes, this has happened in quite a few cases: Untraviolet by RJ Anderson, Anxious Hearts by Tucker Shaw, Dark Parties by Sara Grant, and Possession by Elana Johnson. So there's some definite proof that the cover definitely isn't always as appealing as what's inside.
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Sarah had her own thoughts to add,  *Enjoying hot orange tea with lots of honey*

Cover art definitely influences what I do and don't read, to a certain extent. Who doesn't love a good-looking or interesting cover? There are books that I picked up off a shelf because the cover caught my eye and I read for no other reason - and I ended up loving most of them. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory was one, Eragon by Christopher Paolini was another. The covers were just so pretty that I had to check them out!
As for bad cover art... I'll still try the book if it looks interesting or if it comes really highly recommended. Perfect Fudge by Hazel M. Larsen is a great example - it's a self-published book so the cover art wasn't great, but Jenn (at recommended it and she was so enthusiastic about it. I read it, and it was actually a pretty great read, so don't let bad cover art fool you. Another good example is The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula le Guin. She is an amazing sci-fi / fantasy author, but most of her older covers are just awful.

I'm sure there's a book I've read that had a great cover that I didn't like, but I can't think of any examples. They either must not have been that bad, or were so bad that I just blocked them from my mind. I definitely support judging books by their covers - I think that if a cover appeals to you, there's a good chance the book itself will as well. Just don't forget that there are always exceptions out there!

Thanks, Sarah!!!
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And now, I'll weigh in with my own opinion ---- I think cover art has more influence on readers than some people think it does.    If a book has an appealing cover, I think it gets picked up more.  I see this all the time in my library ---- there are books with beautiful covers, and they get checked out, even if they aren't probably the most amazing read, and there are other books which get great reviews, and sound good, but because the cover art isn't too good, they just sit on the shelf.     I was talking about this with one of my friends recently and we thought it could make an interesting book display if we were to grab some good but ugly books, re-do the covers, and then put them in a display.   It would be a bit of work (especially since books aren't all one size), but I think it could definitely be interesting.

much better.
Personally, while I do sometimes pick up a book because of the cover art, I grab most of my books at the library based on reviews and summaries (which, as a librarian, I'm always reading), and, actually, the title, if I happen to be browsing the new book area.  I have read great books with uninspiring cover art, and so-so books where the cover art is gorgeous.    I've also read books where the copy I have has ugly cover art, but then a newer edition comes out with a much prettier cover (this happened with one of the books I got for the library and it was annoying ---- I was glad people have checked out the book many times, despite the ugly cover).

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Melody had her bit to add in:  Cover art definitely influences what I read. I know I should never judge a book by it's cover, but I do it a lot anyway. The cover art is what makes the first impression and I feel it is very important. If the cover is interesting then I want to read what the book is about. If I'm not familiar with an author and don't like the cover then I will not try the book unless someone recommends it to me. There have been some cases where I really liked the cover art but did not like the book. Fallen by Lauren Kate is one of those. I absolutely adore the cover of that book, I think it is very beautiful, dark, and mysterious. However when I actually read the book, I did not enjoy it at all. It is very disappointing when that happens.

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And now, here is the GIVEAWAY!!! About:  Once a month on a Monday night, eight students gather in chef Lillian’s restaurant kitchen for a cooking class. The students have come to learn the art behind Lillian's soulful dishes, but it soon becomes clear that each one unknowingly seeks a recipe for something

beyond the kitchen... (More)  and please click HERE to see the author discuss her book (because the html doesn't want to cooperate today) Clip courtesy of PNWA
Browse: Excerpt   | Recipes

Details: This could be a nice gift for a favorite foodie, or just a cozy read for chilly weather. To win this book, please leave email info and thoughtful or interesting comment below. A winner will be   picked at random. If host and guests agree that a specific visitor comment is substantial, outstanding, or in some other way has particular merit, they can override  pick at their discretion. International. Through December 15, 2011, 12 midnight EDT.

Goodies brought by: Sasha Soren (Random Magic)     

Find Random Magic: Amazon | Kindle
Explore Random Magic: YouTube |  Tumblr | Twitter

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Be a guest at an upcoming brunch: @StoryWings
Bring goodies for a giveaway: @StoryWings
Suggest a question: @LiederMadchen
Browse Bookie Brunch discussions (after July 2011, archive): The Fluidity of Time

A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd

 Summary (courtesy of GoodReads) : World War One battlefield nurse Bess Crawford is featured for a third time in A Bitter Truth. Bess reaches out to help an abused and frightened young woman, only to discover that no good deed ever goes unpunished when the good Samaritan nurse finds herself falsely accused of murder.

And here's what I thought:   Well, that summary doesn't tell you much, does it?   I hadn't been familiar with Bess Crawford as a character before this book, but I quickly warmed up to her, and to this story.

I read Anne Perry's books, including her Inspector Monk books -- where there is a character named Hester, who is a nurse (she nursed during the Crimean War).   This book is set during the time period of World War I, so Bess has seen some time on the front lines of war.   Needless to say, she's a very straightforward, capable person who thinks through things rationally.

One night, coming home for Christmas leave, she finds a woman huddling in her doorway, trying to keep out of the bad weather.  In helping her, she gets pulled into the woman's family drama, and ultimately, a murder mystery.

I thought Todd had a really nice touch with this story, and with Bess.  I had thought Charles Todd was a male author, but, as it turns out, "Charles Todd" is a mother-and-son writing team.  The writing is so seamless - I'm not sure how they write together, but they do a great job!  There are enough characters to make things a bit confusing, so just when I thought I knew what was happening, there would be a twist.   I also liked how realistic things were -- both the English customs and manners of that time, as well as the horrors of war.   This is the third Bess Crawford book, and I'm now looking forward to finding the first two and settling in for some good reading.
First sentences: A cold rain had followed me from France to England, and an even colder wind greeted me as we pulled into the railway station in London.  As I handed in my ticket, I looked for my father, who was usually here to meet me.  Or if he couldn't come, he generally sent Simon Brandon in his place.

Thoughts on the cover:   I really like the juxtaposition of the fancy iron and the softly blurred figure of a woman -- it's a great choice for a mystery.

Wordless Wednesday - poppet in milkweed

poppet in milkweed fluff

Monday, November 7, 2011

Brightwing by Sullivan Lee

Summary (courtesy ofGoodReads):  Edgar and Mallory Battle are on the run after a spectacularly violent escape. Now, with a trail of bodies behind them, they need a hostage against the inevitable standoff with the police. Their first doesn't last long, thanks to sociopathic Mallory. Edgar has been hiding his brother's crimes since they were kids. Now he's torn between family loyalty and self-preservation.

They carjack Lucy Brightwing, a criminal fresh from her own heist, with a fortune of uncut gems hidden in her vehicle. She could escape - but she won't abandon her millions. She could kill the Battle brothers, but she has to be careful. For one thing, if the law investigates, they'll find her ill-gotten loot. For another, her own life is sacred. She's the last member of a Florida paleoindian tribe thought to be extinct - the Tequesta. With her share of the money she plans to buy, bribe and blackmail her way into her own ancestral tribal lands in the heart of the Everglades: a Tequesta nation.

Lucy leads the brothers into her beloved swamp, determined to kill them. But when she falls for Edgar she must decide whether to risk her heritage and the future of her tribe to save the doomed brothers.

And here's what I thought:   Actually, I was intrigued even before I started the book, because here is what the Acknowledgments page says: "For my sister M.   Who begged me to kill Mallory."  Okay -- color me curious.      While I thought this book was a bit of a slow starter, I got the impression that the author did that on purpose ---- you start out a little slow, and you think: Oh, okay, I know what's going to happen.....         And then, the pace starts to pick up.    We have two stories that are interconnected:  Lucy, who is on a mission, and the two Bartle Brothers, who are also on a mission (to escape being caught by the police).   The two brothers reminded me a little bit of the two men in Of Mice and Men, in how Edgar was always trying to keep an eye (and a handle on) on Mallory.  Or, you could think of these guys as the two brothers in From Dusk 'Til Dawn.   Either way, it makes for an interesting pairing.   When the two brothers first encounter Lucy, Edgar thinks she's going to be an easy target, but it soon becomes very clear that Lucy's no wimp.  I liked that.   I liked how Lucy was smart, and pretty matter-of-fact about things --- she completely throws Edgar for a loop, and I liked how that added to the story, and created some tension.   I also liked how Lucy's background was worked into the story -- she's a fully developed character, not just some cardboard female. 

You do have to get used to the back-and-forth narrative in this book, but once you do, I think it's a good story.   I got the impression that the author really enjoyed writing this story, and her characters (yes, even Mallory -- he's a real nasty piece of work, but I see how writing a character like him could be kinda fun).    I also got the feeling that the author was very familiar with her setting --- everything in this story felt very real.   That's always nice, because you don't find yourself being snagged on some detail that doesn't add up (that always bugs me, when the rhythm of my reading is interrupted).    There is some romance here, which I guess I didn't feel was completely necessary, but which added some interesting tension to the story.     The way Lucy is written, I wasn't surprised that Edgar was drawn to her.   And what happens to Mallory in the end?  Not telling!!!!    

This was a quick-paced story with interesting characters.   If you're looking for a book that's a combination of thriller and drama, with a bit of romance mixed in, you might want to give this one a try.
First sentences:   It was a shame about the hooker.      Lucy Brightwing left the high class call girl tied with her own thigh highs and convincingly roughed-up in the lobby of a diner that opened for breakfast. The early fry cook would find her, and probably not rape her, since she knew from a background check he had a clean criminal record.     Lucy always did her research.  

Thoughts on the cover:   A bit too much mist for me.  I don't mind the woman, or the gun, and I like the Everglades-y touch .... but the mist makes it look like there are elements of a fantasy novel here (like there's some kind of magic surrounding her).    I'd like a bit harder looking image, to drive home that this is a fast-paced thriller.  

If you'd like to learn more about the author, you may find her on her blog, or on GoodReads. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - steel roots spiky sculpture

looking through

Smoketown by Tenea D. Johnson

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):    The city of Leiodare is unlike any other in the post-climate change United State. Within its boundaries, birds are outlawed and what was once a crater in Appalachia is now a tropical, glittering metropolis where Anna Armour is waiting. An artist by passion and a factory worker by trade, Anna is a woman of special gifts. She has chosen this beautiful, traumatized city to wait for the woman she's lost, the one she believes can save her from her troubled past and uncertain future.
When one night Anna creates life out of thin air and desperation, no one is prepared for what comes next-not Lucine, a smooth talking soothsayer with plans for the city; Lucine's brother Eugenio who has designs of his own; Seife, a star performer in the Leiodaran cosmos; or Rory, a forefather of the city who's lived through outbreak, heartbreak, and scandal. Told through their interlocking stories, Smoketown delves into the invisible connections that rival magic, and the cost of redemption.

And here's what I thought:  This book reminded me a lot of what I like about many of China Mieville's books: a fascinating setting that is both intriguing and disturbing, and a story that completely captures me.   As you can see from the above summary, there are multiple characters in this story who encounter each other, and whose stories are intertwined and woven into each other, as well.  Anna is, I feel, the real main character in the story -- we get to know her as the story progresses, and she is the focus of much of the book.  What I really liked about this story, other than the setting (which is a character wholly unto itself; it is that alive), is that Anna's story is revealed bit by bit, sometimes without much of an explanation.  She is not an open book, but rather, like an intricate puzzle box; you have to carefully go bit by bit to get to the center of her.   I loved that.

This book is also beautifully written.  The author's prose is descriptive without being overwrought, and most of the time, I had a very clear picture in my head of a character, or a setting, or what was happening to someone.  I loved how it seemed the author would set something up, and then reveal it through her words -- does that make sense?   It's almost like watching some detailed film where details are a bit smudgy, and then start to come into focus.   Sometimes, I felt like what I was reading was crafted, not just written --- the words chosen as if the author were writing a poem.   Here's an example (p. 14): "Already the night looked lighter, as if dawn were a short nap away and here she sat, a crime on her lap and unleashed power in her hands."
Maybe it's just me.  But I really, really liked this book.  Reading it made me feel quiet and thoughtful, and it made me want to read more from this author.  

First sentences:  Anna Armour had had her fair share of failed resurrections.  There had been the lichen when she was three and the dragonfly at six - the sad twisted platypus that her mother took away before it ruined her tenth birthday.  Since the day of her mother's death when Anna was fourteen, she hadn't brought anything to life.

Thoughts on the cover:  I really like this cover -- it's simple, but it captures the feel of the story perfectly.
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