Sunday, May 30, 2010

Embers by Laura Bickle (Anna Kalinczyk, #1)

So, is it hot in here, or is it just me?   Ok, couldn't resist that one.......     I had posted a teaser from this book, and finished it a few days ago.   

Here's the summary, courtesy of Goodreads: By day, Anya Kalinczyk is an arson investigator in the Detroit Fire Department. At night—accompanied by her elemental familiar, a salamander named Sparky, and an eccentric group of ghost hunters—Anya pursues malicious spirits. The rarest form of psychic medium, a “Lantern,” Anya doesn’t allow spirits to communicate through her with the physical world like most mediums, she devours restless harmful souls and incinerates them. She’d like to get closer to Brian, a ghost-hunting techno-wiz, but a lifetime of those she loves getting hurt makes her hold back. Her two roles mesh when, on the trail of a serial firebug, she discovers an arsonist is attempting to use the fires to rouse Sirrush, a supremely powerful elemental, from the salt mine beneath the city of Detroit. Anya must capture the arsonist before Devil’s Night, when the spell will be complete and Sirrush will rise to raze the city.

And here's what I thought:  I could definitely hang out with Anna Kalinczyk.  She's a down to earth person, who just happens to be a Lantern, a rare kind of psychic medium.  But she's completely cool --- she's not unearthly beautiful, impossibly smart, and just too amazing to be real; she's a real person who just happens to be a Lantern.  I really appreciated that Laura Bickle wrote Anna to be this way; she's not too perfect, and that's what makes her a great character.   Bickle also created a really interesting story here, where there is a real-life setting, completely with some real-life situations, mixed in with the magical.  There's just enough of both elements to make the story gritty and intriguing, and somehow, pretty believable.

And did I mention that this book has a little humor, and a little romance mixed in?  Anya's salamander, Sparky, is a great character all by himself and is creatively written to be a foil to Anya's character.   There are some deep emotions explored in this book, and Sparky sometimes acts as a bit of a counterpoint, or a grounding element.  To me, without him, the story wouldn't be as good.   Anya definitely struggles with being a Lantern, and feeling completely alone at times, just because of her abilities.    Lucky for her, she's got some good friends to help her out.

The romance element could have been completely left out and the story would still have been good.   For any of you younger readers -- heads up -- there's a brief (and only sketchily described) bit of sex towards the end of the book.   The romance didn't detract from what was going on in the story, and I can see where it lent a certain edge to Anya's personal struggles.   That said, though, if this book had been an urban fantasy romance (with the romance being a definite stronger flavor in this mix), I wouldn't have gotten through it.    I was really more interested in Anya's own story, and the mystery and danger building throughout the book.

All in all, a good read.   Whipped right through this book, and will be reaching for the next one, Sparks, just so I can see what happens next.  

* and extra bonus points to the author for including a very nicely written librarian in this story, who does a great job helping Anya.    :)       Well-written, non-stereotypical librarian characters always get extra gold starts in my book!!!

And where did this book come from?  Library, of course!  :)

Friday, May 28, 2010

It's Friday! And you know what that means........

it's time for another Book Blogger Hop!    Hosted by Crazy for Books, this is a great weekly event where you can discover new blogs, cool people and oh yeah -- post your blog in the list.   :)      I have a few days free now, so I'm planning on hopping through the list over the next day or so.

This will not only let me discover some great blogs, but will also help me not be cranky about not being able to go to BEA .....  and not find black sandals in my size.   ;)

So hop on over to Crazy for Books to start your weekend off right!   !!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Teaser Tuesday!!!

Tuesday already?!?!?   Must be time for Teaser Tuesday, which is this fun and cool thing hosted by Miz B over at Should Be Reading.  This meme asks us to:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
This week's teaser comes from a new book I've been devouring: Embers by Laura Bickle.   "In Vross' view, police work was a game for the boys.  They took Anya's marbles and went back to their fort to play with her evidence and set their plastic soldiers out on the street to hunt for the villain she'd described to them."   p. 108

Really liking this book --- should be finished in a day or so.   :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pastworld by Ian Beck

I posted a Teaser from this book last week, and just finished it over the weekend.   Shall we start with the quote on the cover?  "The dark secrets of the present are living in the past...."    Creepy?  Intriguing?  Yes.

Here's the summary, from Goodreads:  What if all of London were really an amusement park—a whole city returned to Victorian times to entertain visitors from the twenty-first century? That's the wildly original premise of Ian Beck's Pastworld, a high-stakes mystery set in a simulated past.
            Eve is a lifelong resident of Pastworld who doesn’t know she’s living in a theme park until a mysterious threat forces her to leave home. Caleb is a visiting tourist who finds the lawlessness of the past thrilling—until he suddenly becomes a fugitive from an antiquated justice system. And in the midst of it all, in the thick London fog a dark and deadly figure prowls, claiming victim after victim. He’s the Fantom, a creature both of the past and of the present, in whose dark purpose Caleb and Eve will find their destinies combined.

And here's what I thought  (**spoilers**):   I had originally picked this book up because it was on a display in our library, and then realized it had been on my TBR list for a while.   I have a bit of a fascination with Victorian London, and this sounded like a cool twist on that.   The premise is interesting all by itself: a London preserved into a park, where visitors are required to wear period clothing, carry period money.... and on their own in this very real world where crime (and punishment) are all very, very real.   The characters of Eve and Caleb were well-written, although I sometimes found some of the supporting characters to be a little more interesting.  Bible J in particular was someone I wouldn't mind getting to know better --- he'd make an interesting main character in another book.     What I really felt was thought-provoking, and what stayed with me was what was revealed to be the purpose of Eve.  Not just who she was, but her purpose.  And stop reading now if you don't want a spoiler ----   but Jack the Ripper is alive and well in this London.  And Eve is involved.    Okay -- spoiler done.

This was an interesting book that made me think, and I enjoyed it.   I found wonderful reviews done by other bloggers, as well:   Wondrous Reads and The Book Smugglers, if you'd like another opinion. 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hoppin' around.... must be.....

Friday!!!!    And that means it's time for another Book Blogger Hop!   The Hop is this great thing hosted by Crazy for Books, and it lets people not only put a little link in to their own blog, but more importantly, discover other bloggers!     Every week, I seem to discover a few new blogs to add to my Reader, and it's a lot of fun!   :)

So stop on over to the Hop!!!

seriously... I look forward to this each week because not only do I discover cool blogs, but it also means it's the end of another week  (whew!)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Teaser Tuesday!

I finally feel like I'm getting back on track again!   And it's that time again --- for Teaser Tuesday!!!

Teaser Tuesday is this very cool, weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
 This week's teaser comes from Ian Beck's PastWorld, a book which I picked up from a display in our library.    "Even Caleb gasped.  He hadn't wanted to give his father the satisfaction of seeing how interested he really was in the city below them, didn't want him to see that a great flicker of excitement had just at that moment grown, doubled, trebled, as the airship slipped gracefully through the gloomy fog bank and floated over the dream-like city itself."   p. 69

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Kraken by China Mieville

Summary (partial summary -- courtesy of Goodreads): With this outrageous new novel, China MiĆ©ville has written one of the strangest, funniest, and flat-out scariest books you will read this—or any other—year. The London that comes to life in Kraken is a weird metropolis awash in secret currents of myth and magic, where criminals, police, cultists, and wizards are locked in a war to bring about—or prevent—the End of All Things.
             In the Darwin Centre at London’s Natural History Museum, Billy Harrow, a cephalopod specialist, is conducting a tour whose climax is meant to be the Centre’s prize specimen of a rare Architeuthis duxbetter known as the Giant Squid. But Billy’s tour takes an unexpected turn when the squid suddenly and impossibly vanishes into thin air.
             As Billy soon discovers, this is the precipitating act in a struggle to the death between mysterious but powerful forces in a London whose existence he has been blissfully ignorant of until now, a city whose denizens—human and otherwise—are adept in magic and murder.
All of them—and others—are in pursuit of Billy, who inadvertently holds the key to the missing squid, an embryonic god whose powers, properly harnessed, can destroy all that is, was, and ever shall be.

Ok -- I don't always like to take summaries from another source, but for this book, I thought it might be best.  For me to attempt to summarize what's going on in this story would be .... confusing.  No doubt I'd miss something, or not explain it well enough...  and there's so much here, so much wonderful rich detail, that I know I wouldn't be able to do justice to this book by trying to tell you what it's about.

So what did I think about this book?   This author is one my all-time favorites.  The worlds he creates in his stories are awful and wonderful, terrifying and beguiling, horrible and beautiful.  I know that might not make any sense.   I don't often encounter other readers who love his books like I do.  And they're not easy reads.  This book isn't an easy read (at least, I don't think it's an easy read.  Doubtless, there's someone out there who'd argue with me about this, but they're not the one writing this post, are they?).   When I pick up one of Mieville's books, I tell myself:  don't think too much --- just relax back into the story and let it wash over and through you.    This book was no different.   There's a lot going on here, and it can be tricky to keep everything straight.    There's a lot of tension, and scary moments, but there's also some sly humor to balance things out when it gets too dark.  I know the description above says this book is strange, funny, and scary --- it's all those things and more.  It's dark and uncomfortable, but I can't stay away from it.   Does that make sense?  Maybe only to my mind.

I have met people who loved Un Lun Dun (a book group I'm in read that book), but I tell them:  even if you love that story, you might not love anything else by this author.   Just because I love The Scar and Perdido Street Station and Iron Council didn't mean I was going to love The City and the City (although yes, I did love that book, as well).   I find this author extremely compelling just because what he writes is strange and uncomfortable, and like nothing I've ever read.  

Let's leave with a little sentence that made me smile.....  "The world lurched again.  Reeled, as in the was punched sense, rather than the dancing."   p. 391       

And where did I get this book?   I treated myself to a copy from The Book Depository UK

And, this book met the guidelines for the Chunkster Challenge by being 450+ pages of adult literature.  This weighs in at 481.

Hunger (a Gone novel) by Michael Grant

I'm not sure what I was thinking when I picked this up ---- I had already started Kraken, and this book's 590 pages, all by itself!   However, I had put a hold on it at my library, and when it came in, I just had to bring it home......

This is the second book in Michael Grant's "Gone" series.  The basic idea is that one day, without any warning, everyone that's 15 years old and older just disappears from this one area (Perdido Beach).    Once that happens, kids who are 14 years old and younger are left to fend for themselves.   The quote about "Gone" on the back of "Hunger" does a nice job of summing this up:  "If Stephen King had written Lord of the Flies, it might have been a little like this."  VOYA         If you'd like to read a nice summary and review of Gone, here's a link to Teen Book Review.

Getting back to this book, the summary from GoodReads is: "It's been three months since everyone under the age of fourteen became trapped in the bubble known as the FAYZ. Things have only gotten worse. Food is running out, and each day more kids are developing supernatural abilities. Soon tension rises between those with powers and those without, and when an unspeakable tragedy occurs, chaos erupts. It's the normals against the mutants, and the battle promises to turn bloody.

But something more dangerous lurks. A sinister creature known as the Darkness has begun to call to the survivors in the FAYZ. It needs their powers to sustain its own. When the Darkness calls, someone will answer -- with deadly results."

It definitely helps if you've read Gone, because without that, this book doesn't make much sense.  It's been a while since I read that first book, but a lot of it came back to me, and I was able to remember who the characters were once I got going.   This book has the same amount of tension as the first book (maybe a little more), and even though I thought some of the characters were a little too simple to be real, the reader really gets to know them better and really follow how they're handling everything that's happening in the story.    I like how Grant builds this world and makes it scary just because of the normal things, like food running low.  There are a lot of frustrating things that happen just because it's a bunch of kids (although I'm not sure how well some adults would handle this situation).   The idea of the Darkness, or "gaiaphage," is also an interesting concept --- I think that sometimes, the partially unknown can be a whole lot scarier than something completely known.   Kind of reminds me of the best scary movies or books:  there's some hinting, and then your brain is left to fill in all kinds of details.

The third book in this series, Lies, is out now --- definitely planning on grabbing that one from the library, because I can't wait to see what happens!

This book doesn't quite count for my Chunkster Challenge, because the rules say it has to be an adult book.  However, I'm going to count it in anyway --- because I think that at 590 pages, it's definitely a chunk.  And, because I think there are adults that would totally enjoy this series.    

Thursday, May 13, 2010

It's a Good Neighborhood!!!

After having a very frustrating morning, I finally brought up my Reader and saw that the lovely Whitney over at She is Too Fond of Books (have I said how much I love that blog title???) had very nicely passed along a Great Blog Neighbor Award to me.   Thank you !!!!!!!    :)

According to her blog, "This was originally created by Felicia at Geeky Blogger's Book Blog who wants to show appreciation to those who makes others day with their comments and content of said blogs."

This is just what I needed today ---- I'm finishing up an almost 14 straight days of working, and I had two very.... shall we say, trying.... calls at the library this morning.   So, this has given me a spot of sunshine in my otherwise dreary day.    :)        And, I'll pass it along to a few more people, as well.   Don't forget to check out Whitney's blog, along with Felicia's, too!   

Great Blog Neighbors:   Amanda

I'm sure I'm leaving out some good neighbors, so I'll most likely re-visit this award!  

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

wednesday poppet picture

This isn't a weekly thing, by any means.  However, I stayed up way too late last night to watch a hockey game (playoffs), and I'm having a very slow day today.   Still making my way through Kraken, but I plan to read some more before I go to work today......     in the meantime, just posting this pic:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Teaser Tuesday!!

I almost forgot about posting a teaser today!  

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
 This week's teaser comes from China Mieville's newest book, Kraken:  "The streets of London are stone synapses hardwired for worship.  Walk the right or wrong way down Tooting Bec you're invoking somethin or other.  You may not be interested in the gods of London, but they're interested in you."   p. 97

Ok -- that was 3 sentences.   Sorry!    I've been taking my time with this one, but with luck, I'll have a review up by Friday.

Guest post!

I have a nice surprise today ---- Vanessa over at Today's Adventure is featuring my guest post!  :)

She had put out a query to anyone interested in posting a Top 5 on Tuesday, and I thought it might be something different.   Of course, I didn't anticipate this week being so crazy, so I didn't get my stuff to her until yesterday ---- but she has made it look great, and even added in some images!   

If you'd like to check out my little Top 5, head on over to her blog -- and while you're there, check out what she's got on her blog -- she's got some great stuff !   :)

** just figured out how to add a playlist --- so now these Top 5 are right at the top!  **

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dirty Little Secrets.....

From the back page: “Everyone has secrets.  Some are just bigger and dirtier than others.  At least that’s what I told myself.  I stood at the bottom of our cracked cement walkway, the ache in my stomach starting the minute I saw Mom’s car in the driveway.  If you were paying attention, you could spot the black mold gathering along the edges of the living room windows and the way the curtains were pressed against the glass by stacks of boxes.  Those were just small hints about what was really behind the shingled walls, but nobody on the outside every noticed.  From out here, it looked pretty normal.  All of our secrets started at the front door.”

 This doesn’t give too much away, but it makes you wonder what’s going on in this house, right?   C.J. Omololu has written a really interesting book about something that probably happens a lot more than we think. 
Lucy’s got a good head on her shoulders, which is a really good thing, considering she’s living with her mother, who happens to be a hoarder.  Big time.  The way Lucy describes it, there are narrow trails through her house, but some rooms are so full, they can’t even go in them any more.  And there’s no working kitchen anymore.  And no working bathroom anymore.  Lucy’s doing her best to just make it through the two years until she graduates, but it’s hard.  Her brother’s at college and doesn’t seem to want to help her out, and her sister’s no help either.   Lucy’s been hiding her home situation from everyone, but then something big happens that is going to change her life forever.   And no, I’m not telling you what it is.  No spoilers here – you’re going to have to read this one for yourself.
I picked this book up as a diversion from Kraken, which I’m still making my way through (slowly).  I have to admit, even though the story was making me a little anxious, I had to keep reading, just to find out what was going to happen to Lucy.  She’s actually a very likeable character, but I sometimes wished that she had reached out to someone on the outside for help (although I could understanding her motivations for wanting to keep everything a secret).   What’s really horrifying here is that this is a real situation for some people.   I think more of us are aware of this problem, thanks to reality television, but this is the first book I’ve read which really brings up this topic, and what it must be like to live with someone who is a hoarder.   If you’re an adult, and the person you live with has this disorder, you can always leave – but what do you do if it’s your parent?  And you have nowhere to go?   Although this book was at times hard to read, I appreciated that the author wrote this story because I think it’s okay to read something and have it bother you.  I got frustrated with Lucy, and with her mom, and with her siblings --- but that just meant that these characters were well-written, and I was getting into the story.   I also found myself thinking that the next time I’m not feeling too happy about the dust bunnies in my own house, I should think about living in the kind of house Lucy’s in.
I wanted to wash my hands and clean my house from top to bottom when I finished this book.  I’ve tried to keep from letting any spoilers sneak through here, but let me say this: if you read this book, you’re going to get a real shock when you get to Chapter 20.  At least I did.  This might not be the easiest book to read, but it’s a good story, and I’m glad I picked it up.
 Where I got this book: my library

Friday, May 7, 2010

Can it be Friday already ?????

Thank goodness for Jennifer over at Crazy for Books to keep me on track!   Today is the Book Blogger Hop, a wonderful way to connect with readers and other book bloggers.    Every week, I seem to discover a few new blogs I hadn't heard of before, and it's a lot of fun.   So, hop on over and check out the Hop!!!   :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010


couldn't help myself and went to Book Depository UK ---- treated myself to China Mieville's newest book, Kraken.    No time to blog.....  must read (when I'm not working).    More soon.   :)

It is so nice and shiny and new.....   

and the author has a new picture on the back flap.....    *sigh*

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Teaser Tuesday!!!!!

It's that time again!    Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week, I'm taking my teaser from a book I'll be starting tonight (after I finish The Help):  Carson McCullers' Member of the Wedding.    This is one of those classics that I've always meant to read --- and now, since it fits within the rules of one of my reading challenges, I've finally picked it up!

"But that was a wrong thing and not what Frankie wanted.  Or after the pale spring twilights, with the smell of dust and flowers sweet and bitter in the air, evenings of lighted windows and the long drawn calls at supper time, when the chimney swifts had gathered and whirled above the town and flown off somewhere to their home together, leaving the sky empty and wide; after the long twilights of this season, when Frankie had walked around the sidewalks of the town, a jazz sadness quivered her nerves and her heart stiffened and empty, in the kitchen door and say: I wish I could tear down this whole town."    p. 21

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Winner !!!!!

Congrats, Chelle!   I'll be sending you an email shortly so I can get your address and get your package sent to you.    And thanks to everyone who left a little comment --- and who read my blog!!!!    

I'm at 49 now, so maybe when I pass 50, I'll put together another giveaway.   :)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Chimerascope by Douglas Smith

Well, this was definitely a different kind of read.   I had bought this book for my library's collection (and I suppose I should clarify here - I work in a public library, and develop various parts of our collection.  SF/F is one of them), and grabbed it when it came in.     I wasn't familiar with this author, but I was intrigued by the idea of short stories --- and the title.  I love the word chimera.     What I found here completely met my expectations.    

But first, let's see what Goodreads has to say about what's in this book:  "Chimerascope-a story of many parts. A dinner conversation takes three lifetimes to finish. A geologist faces a planet-sized, eons-old puzzle to save her crew. The hero of the Fall of Earth must choose between love and revenge. A man is born each day into a new life-only to die each night. A sentient aurora threatens the last of humanity. A house as big as the world. These are some of the stories you will encounter in Chimerascope, the first full collection of short fiction from award-winning Canadian author, Douglas Smith. Sixteen stories of fantasy and science fiction that take you from love in fourteenth-century Japan to humanity's last stand, from virtual reality to the end of reality, from alien drug addictions to a dinner where a man loses everything."

And here's what I thought:   I like short stories, especially if I'm not familiar with an author, because I get to sample what their writing style is like, how well they build their characters, and how wide their range is.   Admittedly, I didn't love all of the stories in this collection, but I'm okay with that.   However, for the two I skimmed, I completely fell into the worlds in some of the other stories.  Scream Angel was especially horrifying and compelling, and I wound up re-reading it again after I had finished the book.  Some of the stories felt more fleshed-out than others, but Smith does a quick intro to each story, indicating when it was written, etc., and I found this really helpful.   However, I found Smith to be an especially talented storyteller.  His characters ring true, and he creatively crafts worlds and situations that I found haunted my thoughts long after I had finished reading.     Definitely a book I'm going to add to my "want" list.
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