Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):   Every first Sunday in June, members of the Moses clan gather for an annual reunion at a sprawling hundred-acre farm in Arkansas. And every year, Samuel Lake, a vibrant and committed young preacher, brings his beloved wife, Willadee Moses, and their three children back for the festivities. In the midst of it all, Samuel and Willadee’s outspoken eleven-year-old daughter, Swan, is a bright light. Her high spirits and fearlessness have alternately seduced and bedeviled three generations of the family. But just as the reunion is getting under way, tragedy strikes, jolting the family to their core and setting the stage for a summer of crisis and profound change. 

And here's what I thought:  I finished this book a few days ago, but have spent some time thinking about how I can put my feelings about it into a review.    This was one of the best books I have read lately --- I got so caught up in this story, and in the different characters, that I twice emerged from my reading and looked around, blinking, because I was surprised I wasn't in Arkansas with the Moses family.

This is one of those stories that is, at various times, funny, and scary, uplifting and heartbreaking.  

The story doesn't quite begin with the family reunion, but gives us some background on some of the family members --- enough so that when tragedy does strike, you at least know who's who and how they're connected to each other.   I liked how the author ties together many stories --- this isn't just Swan's story, or Willadee's story, or even Samuel Lake's story ---- there are several people's stories that make up this book.    And there are such clear voices for each of them --- the author writes in a way that made me feel like I could see these people, and hear them speaking.  

I did have my favorites in the family. It's hard to resist Swan, seeing as she's smart, fearless, and pretty unstoppable.  Even though she's always getting into trouble, it's clear that she is loved.   I liked Willadee and Calla (Swan's mother and grandmother, respectively) - they are interesting women, who have a quiet strength about them.   And I will admit .....  I completely fell for Toy Moses, Swan's uncle.   He's a quiet man, and at first, you don't really know him .... but as the story continues, this man really becomes a hero.  Toy's no angel, but he's a good person, with a good heart.

This story does have some less than wonderful characters, though.  Toy's wife Bernice is a piece of work; she's determined to have Samuel Lake for herself, and engages in some pretty shameful behavior as a result.  And there is a clear villain: Ras Ballenger, who is a nasty, vicious person whose path crosses that of more than one Moses family member.   The author does a nice job with him ---- he's just as clearly written as the other characters, which means he's easy to visualize (and doing that just makes me shudder).

I really enjoyed this book because it had a realistic feel to it, and was written so well that I felt at times like I was there.  I got caught up in this family's stories, and I laughed when I was reading, and I got choked up at other points.   To me, that's the best kind of story -- where you feel like you're part of something when you're reading.

Definitely check out the other reviews on GoodReads -- there are a lot of readers who have expressed their feelings about this book.   This book is due to be published in July, 2012, if you want to keep your eye out for it (and encourage your local library to purchase a copy for their collection).

First lines:  John Moses couldn't have chosen a worse day, or a worse way to die, if he'd planned it for a lifetime.  Which was possible.  He was contrary as a mule.  It was the weekend of the Moses family reunion, and everything was perfect - or at least perfectly normal - until John went and ruined it.

And a bit of writing I liked:  (p 34)  Willadee was not a woman for protecting her husband's image.  She was a Moses and the Moses family didn't believe in lying.  There were a lot of things the Moseses would do without a qualm, but they plain would not lie.  This didn't necessarily hold true for their children.  Swan lied daily.  Took pleasure in it.  She fabricated the most wondrous, the most atrocious tales, and told them for the truth.  The good thing about lies was that the possibilities were limitless.  You could make up a world that was just like you wanted it, and if you pretended hard enough, it would start to feel real.

Please note:  I read an ARC of this book, received courtesy of LibraryThing's Early Reviewers -- and thus, any page numbers/direct quotes may differ upon final publication.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Dead End Deal by Allen Wyler

Summary (Courtesy of GoodReads):   World renowned neurosurgeon Jon Ritter is on the verge of a medical breakthrough that will change the world. His groundbreaking surgical treatment, using transplanted non-human stem cells, is set to eradicate the scourge of Alzheimer’s disease and give hope to millions. But when the procedure is slated for testing, it all comes to an abrupt and terrifying halt. Ritter’s colleague is gunned down and Ritter himself is threatened by a radical anti-abortion group that not only claims responsibility, but promises more of the same.

Faced with a dangerous reality but determined to succeed, Ritter turns to his long-time colleague, corporate biotech CEO Richard Stillman, for help. Together, they conspire to conduct a clandestine clinical trial in Seoul, Korea. But the danger is more determined, and more lethal, than Ritter could have imagined.After successful surgical trials, Ritter and his allies are thrown into a horrifying nightmare scenario: The trial patients have been murdered and Ritter is the number one suspect. Aided by his beautiful lab assistant, Yeonhee, Ritter flees the country, now the target of an international manhunt involving Interpol, the FBI, zealous fanatics and a coldly efficient assassin named Feist.

And here's what I thought:   I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy Robin Cook, James Patterson, or generally, like medical thrillers.    I'm putting that first here, since I usually don't review this genre on my blog (just in case you were thinking this was a YA novel).

The author has a medical background, and that is clear in this book --- when he writes about medical research, it's completely believable, and makes sense.   I also liked how there were a lot of twists in the story --- just when I thought I knew what was happening, and why, something would happen to completely turn me around.  I also wasn't always sure if the characters were good guys or not (which is a lot like real life, isn't it?).   Like a lot of good thrillers, I was kept guessing, and I enjoyed that.   I also liked how the author took the story beyond the United States and into the international arena.  

Author Allen Wyler 
As far as the characters in this story were concerned, I really didn't feel like I had a strong connection to any of them.  It was more the storyline that kept me interested -- the "what's going to happen next" factor, compared to the "I really care about this character."  That's fine with me --- I don't need to love a character to be curious about what's going to happen with them (or to them).   The author did such a good job with the pacing and the storyline that I just kept turning the pages.

Please note -- if strong language is a turnoff for you, then be advised there is a fair amount in this book, especially when Feist is our primary viewpoint.  I believe that the strong language used suits the character using it, but I know some readers find the frequent use of the F-word to be unsavory.

Thanks very much to Anna at Blue Dot Literary for sending me the info about this book.   To learn more about this book, and the author, please visit Astor + Blue Editions.

First lines (Prologue):  Seemed like a dynamite idea twelve months ago.  Still did, for that matter.  But now Marge Schwartz was killing him because of it.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Commenting back ...... working on that

In an effort to make sure I am paying full attention here,  I am determined to comment back, to anyone who leaves a comment .......

and I'm still fiddling with the settings on Blogger to make it happen.  Bear with me, please (and any helpful suggestions are welcome).   I've followed the instructions, set the Commenting setting to "full" and "embedded", and it's still not letting me reply back to individual comments.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday --- rainy day

Portland Zoo goat looking at rain-ww

Interview with author MJ Fletcher

Author MJ Fletcher (The Doorknob Society series) was kind enough to give me an interview, so without further adieu ......

* I read your guest post on Pure Textuality (I'll include that link), where you mention that you were frustrated by female characters in the books your daughter was reading.  I know I sometimes get frustrated by characters who are pretty, and sexy, and smart, and perfect ....  but what were some of your frustrations?

I think what frustrated me most about female characters is that they always took their lead from someone else. My daughter is very independent and I wanted a character who reflected that. They also have a tendency to be the most beautiful and almost nearly perfect. Chloe, the main character of The Doorknob Society Saga is a someone who has serious doubts about herself and how she handles things. What she doesn't realize is that she is a natural born leader. That is part of her journey of discovery.

* I saw on your page that the Doorknob Society series is to be five books.  Do you have the storylines already planned out?

Yes, I am just about finished with Book 4 only a few pages to go and then onto Book 5. The Saga has been planned out from the beginning with several clues left in each book. Once it is all complete I think quite a few people will go back through and see all the breadcrumbs I left leading to the finale.

I’ll be happy to wrap up the series but that doesn't mean we will never see the characters again. I do have an idea for a second series and the foundation for it has already been laid down in these books.

* I read in your bio that you wrote a comic for the Hero Initiative --- how did you get involved with that group?   

The Hero Initiative is a wonderful organization that helps comic book creators who are down on their luck or have hit hard times. I always loved comic books and when I was writing my comic book series; Adam Zero: the Last Man of Earth I met some great creators. The editor of the charity book they were putting together asked me to contribute and I was more then happy too.

* Are you doing any comic book work now?

As a matter of fact The Doorknob Society will be appearing in comic book form in issue 7 of Digital Webbing Presents. Chloe, Slade, and even Nightshade make an appearance. I’m also still working on Adam Zero, we have new issues in the works as well as the webcomic over at

I am also working on a graphic novel of The Doorknob Society with the uber talented Wendell Cavalcanti. So keep your eyes peeled for that.

*  Any favorite comic books / comic book creators you'd like to give a shout-out to?

I’m really enjoying the new Scarlet Spider comic by Christopher Yost. Valiant comics new XO Manowar. I also like SIlver Bullet by Brett Wood, Los Luchadores Mysteriosis by Evan Quiring and there are a bunch of people who inspire me in comics; Rich Woodall, Jamie Gambell, Eric Dotson, and Diana Greenhalgh.

* Who are some of your favorite authors right now?

I have so many. I’m currently rereading a lot of Sherlock Holmes, but I’m also enjoying Cherie Priest, Alison DeLuca, and Elise Stokes.

Thanks very much, MJ!   You may read all about MJ Fletcher, and his books, at his site.  You can click on this link to learn more about the Hero Initiative.

And, I'm including two more links:  a guest post by the author on Pure Textuality, and an interview with the author on Laurie's Paranormal Thoughts.   Definitely check these out!

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Doorknob Society by MJ Fletcher

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads): Chloe Masters’s world changed in a heartbeat - and all she did was touch a doorknob.

When she was young Chloe’s mother vanished. Wracked by feelings of abandonment and anger she lost herself traveling with her father's magic act, where illusions were part of her everyday life. Yet everything changes when they are pursued by a mysterious man in black out to kill her father. Touching a doorknob activates abilities she never knew she had and she finds herself thrust into a world of ancient societies and secrets.

When her father disappears it is a race against time to find answers before she loses what is left of her family. Now Chloe must choose who to trust, the man who will do anything for her or the one she can’t stop thinking about.

 And here's what I thought:   I thought this was an interesting story, with descriptive writing, quick pacing, well-written characters, and a nice mix of magic and suspense.

I really enjoyed how the author gives us a main character who is smart, thinks quickly on her feet, and keeps her wits about her.  And .... her physical description is not a major element of the story.  That might sound odd, but think about some of the female characters you've read about in other stories; are they pretty, and smart, and talented ... and pretty?   Chloe is described just enough that I have a vague idea of what she looks like, but I never got the impression that being pretty is a major part of who she is --- and it doesn't have any impact on the story, or how she interacts with other characters.  Instead, there is an emphasis on how smart she is, and how street-smart she is --- and she's not perfect.  She's got a bit of a smart mouth, which can get her into trouble .... but she never checks herself first, thinking, what would a boy think if I say this.   While there is a bit of romantic intrigue with two male characters, her actions are not driven by those relationships -- and I found this refreshing.

The book does have a fairly even pace, which quickens once Chloe realizes that there's more to her father, and her family, than she originally thought.   She also begins to discover why it is that when she grasps a doorknob in her hand, especially when she's in danger, that her stomach churns and the world seems to spin.   Once she starts classes at Paladin Academy, she learns that there is Doorknob Society, a group where people have the ability to use doors to travel interdimensionally.   And that's just the beginning ....

I think the author did a great job of setting up this first book, with an intriguing concept and storyline, and characters that I quickly connected to (and not just Chloe, but some of the supporting characters, as well).  Chloe is pretty consistent throughout the story, even as she's learning about the Society, and then searching for her father --- which I liked.  What I mean is: Chloe is consistently herself --- there's not a point where she's smart, and handling herself just fine, and then, suddenly, in the face of danger, collapses and turns to a male character for help (I call this Bond Girl syndrome, after what happens in so many of the older James Bond films).   I also liked how the author created the Paladin Academy --- it's got some Hogwarts-esque elements that it feel like a familiar place, but enough different elements to it that it stands on its own -- and takes things in a different direction.  I don't want a reader thinking this is a Harry Potter knockoff story --- it's totally not.  However, if you liked these things about the Harry Potter books:  unusual magic, strong friendships, and daring adventures -- then I believe you'll really enjoy this story, as well.    I'm already looking forward to starting the second book, The Impossible Engineers.

This book is the first in a series of five.  If you'd like to check it out, please visit GoodReads --- and stay tuned for my interview with author MJ Fletcher, tomorrow!

First lines:  "This is a dumb idea," I said more for my own benefit than anyone else's.  It's not as if someone could hear me from where I stood...on the ledge of a building in Paris at three o'clock in the morning.   I moved quickly along the edge, a stiff breeze suddenly whipping up and shoving me against the cool stones.  My palms hit flat against the building while my fingers deftly searched for grooves in the stonework.  It was a narrow hold, but I held tight until the wind died down.  I snuck a glance over the edge to the street five stories below.  Tomorrow's headlines flashed in mind, Sixteen-Year-Old American Plunges To Her Death."

Thoughts on the cover:  Well-suited to the story, it gives us an idea of our main character, a bit of magic, and the definitely gets across the theme of opening doors.

Information about the author:  If you'd like to read more about MJ Fletcher, this book and the series, please visit the author's website.

Thanks very much to Pump Up Your Book publicity for sending me an invitation to read and review this book!

Book Blogger Confessions .... to meme or not to meme ?

Book Blogger Confessions (hosted by For What It's Worth and Tiger's All-Consuming Media) is a meme that posts the 1st and 3rd Monday of every month, where book bloggers "confess" and vent about topics that are unique to us. Feel free to share, vent and offer solutions.   

Today's question is: Memes. Love em or hate em? How many do you participate in? Which kinds do you like best? Do you feel like there are too many?

I have gone back and forth on some memes, and now, I feel like I've settled into my groove with them.  I admit that I don't participate faithfully every single week (because some weeks just get away from me).  Also, for the ones with a weekly question (or semi-weekly question), I don't always find I have a lot to say, so I might not choose to participate that week.  However, the ones I participate in are ones that I not only enjoy posting for own my own blog, but ones where I have an opportunity to spend some time visiting other blogs.

The ones I participate in are Wordless Wednesday, TGIF, and Book Blogger Confessions.   This is enough for me to keep up with, more or less.  I like WW because I like the opportunity to post my own photos, and also see all the wonderful photos other bloggers are posting.  The other 2 memes create discussion, which I really like.  

I do try to make sure that my blog isn't just memes -- I try to post at least 1-2 reviews per week, so that there's a balance here.   And that's my answer --- what are your thoughts??

Friday, May 18, 2012

Book Blogger Hop ---- books, by the numbers

I haven't participated in the Book Blogger Hop for ages .....  but came across a Hop post on a blog I read, so I thought I'd participate this week.   The Hop runs from May 18-24, so there's plenty of time if you'd like to participate.

This week's question is: How many books do you own?    

I checked my LibraryThing account, and my number is: 1,042.

I'm also on GoodReads, although I use that for not only the books I own, but also the books I review (helps me keep track).   You can find me on either site, under the name Naberius.

Keeping track of my books on LibraryThing is helpful, especially if I'm trying to figure out what books in a series I might be missing.   I will admit that my bookshelves in my home library are pretty full --- but I'm not quite ready to get rid of some my books.  So, I set aside a few stacks to box up and put in the closet.   I've also declared a no-new-books rule for a while (including any used books, or library sale books) ... at least, until I can find somewhere else in the house to install some more bookshelves.  I can always dream.......

TGIF --- and a book blogger is born

Now that I'm feeling much more like myself, I am ready ready ready to celebrate the fact that it's Friday!   Ginger over at GReads always hosts TGIF, and today's question is: A Book Blogger is Born:  What made you decide to start your very own book blog?

I have always been an avid reader (actually, I'd say I'm a reading addict), and when I discovered LibraryThing, and GoodReads, I was all kinds of happy.  I started reading book blogs around the same time, and I really liked how I could read about how other people felt about books I was reading, and also that I could enter into a bit of conversation about books.   I also discovered that book bloggers were a great way to learn about all kinds of books --- things I'd never heard of were making their way into my book bag, and the stack of books by the bed started to get bigger.

I wasn't sure about blogging, myself, because I wasn't sure if anyone out there would care about what I was saying.  However, I started to like the idea of just getting my thoughts down, and writing, even if no one read any of my posts.  So, I did a bit of looking around to get some inspiration, and then created my own blog.  I've been blogging now for almost three years, and I think I've come a long way since those early posts (some of them make me cringe a bit, but I keep them anyway).   I've also come a long way since my early blog design --- once I hired Lori to do up my design, I felt like I was really myself, and comfortable on my blog.

I may not have a large number of followers, and I usually don't have many comments on my posts, but I still really enjoy blogging, and making connections with other bloggers.  I had to get up some courage to start, but now, I'm comfortable, and I'm looking forward to reaching out and connecting a little more with other bloggers (the nice thing is, if you're shy like I am, talking about books, and blogging, makes it a lot easier).

Happy Friday, everyone --- and have a wonderful weekend!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Dark Time by Dennis Bradford

Summary (courtesy of the author):    A college student vanishes.  Her worried grandfather asks one of her favorite professors, Max Stephansson, to solve the mystery.  What Max discovers is tragic.  The suspense surrounding her disappearance unfolds to yield insight, but at the cost of danger and death.

And here's what I thought:   I'm going to keep this review relatively short, as this was really not my kind of book.  I gave it a try because I was curious, and unfortunately, it just didn't resonate with me.

As you can see from the summary, this book's main character is a professor, who has been asked to look for a missing college student.  I will say that at various points in this story, I was reminded quite a bit of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (by Stieg Larsson), because there were some similarities:  a person who is not a detective is asked by someone to investigate the disappearance of one of their family members; once the main character starts investigating, it turns out that the family has many dark secrets, some of them pretty nasty.   I quite enjoyed the Millenium Trilogy by Larsson, but, as I mentioned, I didn't find this book, A Dark Time, resonated with me.

I think part of my issue with this story is the main character, Max Stephansson.   To put it plainly, I didn't like him.   Unfortunately, this dislike was strong enough that it impacted how I felt about the overall storyline.   I didn't take issue with why the girl's grandfather hired Magnus (this is explained in the beginning), but I took issue with Magnus, himself.    I suppose I just found his personality to rub me the wrong way.   Here's an example: "With that we both returned to our own thoughts.  Mine were about the nature of the familiar, yet always unexpected, almost inarticulate yearning that I suddenly had for her.  It was more than merely the desire to possess another's beautiful body.  I knew from experience that sex alone wouldn't slake that thirst."  (p 21).    I'm not quite sure about what it specifically is that irritates me about how he speaks/thinks, but his kind of over-analysis and thinking isn't my cup of tea.    But, I kept reading --- maybe I would get used to him.

And then I got to page 82, where Magnus is reflecting on what he has been learning in his investigation so far, and he says/thinks: "The best way to get to know a woman quickly is to make love to her.  The best way to get to know a man quickly is to observe carefully how he reacts to physical stress, for example, in combat or playing hockey or under some heavy iron in the gym."   Ok.  This is NOT the kind of man that I would want to speak to, or be around --- the best way to get to know a woman quickly is to have sex with her?  I found Magnus' thinking really made me a bit irritated.  Not how I want to feel when I'm reading.

But, I kept reading, because I suppose I felt a bit obligated.... and then I got to the part where Magnus gets to know Brian (one of the family members of the missing student) .... and I gave up.  Let me just say this:  Brian is a nasty piece of work, and the very descriptive writing about Brian, and his sexual preferences (graphically described, by the way --- with so much detail that I felt like I had stumbled into a completely different kind of book entirely) really was a turn-off.   I skim-read through the rest of the story, just to see how it ended, but really, by this point, between the graphic sex and my dislike of Magnus, I really didn't like this book.   I am not opposed to sex in books --- what I don't like is violent, graphically described sex in a story where it doesn't seem necessary at all.

The author of this book has written quite a lot of nonfiction, and is an ex-philosophy professor.  So, he does focus on things to make the reader think about not only the characters, but their motivations, and the bigger picture, and it's clear that he really has an passion for philosophy.    I do understand the idea that in the darkest times, one can make significant discoveries about oneself, and I see how that works in this story --- but overall, I just didn't find that I enjoyed the book.  I will agree that this may not be my most balanced review, as I didn't find much that I liked about the story.

However, as with all things, you may find that you disagree with me --- you may look for this book, read it, and really love it (and that's the nice thing about books -- there's always a reader for every book).   So, if this story sounds like your kind of book, definitely visit the author's website (below), and take a look at the book.   

First lines:  "Who's there?"  A male voice mumbled something using the word 'client.'  Before the knock, that early Monday afternoon on June 1989, I had been revising the conclusion of my article on the intellectual impact in late 19th century France of Proudhon's mutualistic anarchism.

Where you may find this book:  The author has a website, where you can learn about him and his books, as well as read other essays and posts that he has written.

Wordless Wednesday - reading on the violet plant

reading poppet in violet

Monday, May 14, 2012

Getting back on my feet .... stay tuned for reviews this week

This is just a little post to say that I will be posting reviews this week ....   I'm just now getting back to normal after fighting off a nasty illness this past week.  I basically slept, went to work (doped up painkillers), and then came back home to go back to bed.   I just picked up a book again on Sunday (which tells you how bad this has been).

Anyway .... I'm planning on getting back on my usual schedule this week, with reviews and all.    Thanks for bearing with me in my absence.  

Friday, May 4, 2012

Undressing the Moon by T. Greenwood

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):   As a child, Piper Kincaid always felt her mother was on the edge of leaving. And then the summer Piper turns fourteen, it really happens. Devastated by this loss, and the rejection she feels from her increasingly distant father, she finds an uneasy comfort with an older man who is equally riddled with sorrow. Discovering desire for the first time, Piper is at first fascinated and strengthened by the attention. But with time, the growing weight of their secret and his need begin a devastating avalanche of events neither is able to control nor understand.

Now, Piper is thirty years old and dying of breast cancer. Reflecting on her life, she is drawn ineluctably back to that summer and haunted with regret. As she attempts to reassemble the fragments of her history, what emerges is the kaleidoscopic portrait of a young woman whose indefatigable spirit prevails, despite shattered dreams.

And here's what I thought:  Recently, I've discovered this author, and in no time at all, have read several of her books, gulping them down one at a time.   There's something about the way that she writes, and the relationships between her characters that just keeps me turning the pages, and then reaching for another one of her books.   To date, I've read this book, Undressing the Moon, Two Rivers, The Glittering World, The Hungry Season, Nearer Than the Sky, and Grace.  It all started with Grace, actually, and then I had to find more of her books. 

I didn't really feel like writing reviews of all of her books, but I just finished this one, and found that the story really affected me.   As you can see from the summary, this book's main character is 30, and is dying of cancer --- so it's a back-and-forth in time between when she's growing up, and in the present time.  I found Piper to be an interesting character, and I got completely caught up in her life --- and I guess that's what I've been enjoying about her books: I get completely caught up in the lives of her characters.  Twice now, I've started and finished a book in the same day .... staying up way too late past my bedtime, both times.  The author has a beautifully descriptive writing style --- evocative, without being over the top.   Example, in this part, where Piper is talking about her mother, who collected broken glass: "She never bought the glass; there were so many things already broken here.  Beer bottles break when thrown; so do glasses and vases and lamps.  Windows shatter with angry fists.  Debris is easy to come by in a place where people are sad."  p 9

Obviously, this is not a happy story (at least, not all the time), and it's pretty clear that Piper probably won't make a full, happy recovery by the last page.  However, the author leaves some things open to possibility at the end of the book, which I like, and which I found she did in the other books I read, as well. 

If this book sounds interesting to you, maybe check out this author and her books on GoodReads, or on her website.   I'm planning to look for any other books I haven't read, just to see if they're as consistently enjoyable as the others have been.

First lines:  When you know you are dying, things begin to make sense.  In the surprising bright light moment of one more day (stolen or granted, you don't know which), there is suddenly coherence where chaos used to reside, clarity where there once was confusion.  When you list your arms, amazed that they still work, and see your familiar face reflected - remarkably - in your bathroom mirror, coincidence promptly becomes destiny.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):  "In 1897 England, 16-year-old Finley Jayne is convinced she's a freak. No normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch. Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special . . . that she's one of "them."

And here's what I thought:  So ... that summary doesn't really tell you too much, does it?  And I'm going to try to avoid spoilers, so bear with me if I don't tell you much more.  Suffice to say, there's a lot more going on this book.  Things like: some steampunk-y elements, like steam-powered velocycles, and evil automatons.  Other things like: really smart girls (one who kicks ass, and one whose intelligence kicks ass).  And a little bit of romance between a couple of characters.  There are also some historical details and descriptions that I thought the author did a nice job with.  Example:  If the city of London was a body, Whitechapel would be the groin: a great unwashed area that only showed itself under the cover of darkness....   (p 91

I really liked this book, and thought it was a fun story, with a fast pace, and with characters that I enjoyed.   Our main character, Finley Jayne, is, as the summary suggests, more than she appears to be --- she's not your typical Victorian girl.  Instead, she's got something dark inside her that seems to give her a power-boost when she gets angry (no, she doesn't turn into a green, dress-shredding hulk of a girl).   The good thing is, she's not alone --- Griffin King, who has his own special qualities, takes her into his home, where he and his friends live.  And from that point, the story really begins.   There's some mystery and intrigue, adventure, and, as mentioned, a bit of romance.

If you visit GoodReads, you'll see that reviews are all over the place for this book.  I won't say that the book was perfect --- but I thought it was an entertaining read, with qualities I liked.  The author's descriptive writing allowed me to imagine the places, people, and clothing clearly, which was fun.    Sure, I sometimes got a bit tired of Finley being kind of perfect (she's pretty, she's smart, and she kicks ass.... while wearing a corset, of course).   And, on the subject of corsets ---- I did wonder at how she was able to do all the butt-kicking and properly breathe while wearing the various ones she had (which were always fully described).  I have worn a corset at Faire, and let me tell you -- while I do stand up much straighter, I'm laced tightly enough that I don't think I'd be able to do half the things Finley does in this book without passing out.   And, note to the author about the character of Emily: I know you describe her as a small, redheaded girl.  However, every time we seem to encounter her, she's "the small redhead."  I got it the first time --- please just use her name.  Thanks.

Anyway, I did think this was a fun read, so if it sounds like something you'd like, definitely visit your friendly neighborhood library and pick it up (because a library lets you try before you buy .... I wouldn't want anyone to purchase this book and then have buyer's remorse).

First lines:  The moment she say the young man walking down the darkened hall toward her, twirling his walking stick, Finley Jayne knew she'd be unemployed before the sun rose.  Her third dismissal in as many months.

More fun lines:  She bounced on her feet, waiting for him to recover.  She should run and hide.  She should be gaping in fear, lungs constrained by the tight lacing of her corset.  But she wasn't afraid anymore and she wasn't about to run.  She was going to fight.  But first, a little fun.  She hadn't hit the bully as hard as she could have.  She was going to let him think he stood a chance first.  (p 15)

Thoughts on the cover:  Not bad, although I imagined Finley as being a bit curvier than this girl.  I like how her back is turned, with the gown showing a bit of a steel corset, and I like the font --- an eye-catching combination.

Wordless Wednesday -- jellyfish

Newport Aq jellyfish 3-ip

Oddly enough, this is exactly how the photo came out on my camera --- other than adding the text, I didn't do anything to modify this.   (Taken at the Newport, OR Aquarium).
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