Saturday, December 17, 2011

2012 Book Challenges

I have finally decided on the challenges that I am going to participate in for 2012.

50 Books Challenge

For 2011 I should finish out at 36 and for 2012 I really wanted to do 75, but I must be realistic. I will be joining the Goodreads challenge group. I will be under the Personal Challenge: 1-50 folder. I will be duplicating at the LibraryThing 50 books group.

Off The Shelf Challenge

I have many books in my library that I need to get to. I am going to set a goal of 30 books that are currently on my shelves or in my eReader library. These books must be acquired by Dec 31,2011. I will be at this LibraryThing group

2012 Big Book Challenge

This idea was from Debs at YouTube's DebrasBookCafe and I set it up for her. It is simply keeping track (or setting a goal if you want) of books you have read that are over 400 pages. The group is here: Goodreads 2012 Big Book Challenge. Come join us!

A + P Book Reading Challenge 2012

This is challenge created by two YouTubers - pbookbuddy and amirasbookreviews. It has 12 categories and you only need to read 1 book from each group. Below is a links to videos explaining things.
(pbookbuddy) A + P Book Reading Challenge 2012
(amirasbookreviews) A + P Book Reading Challenge 2012

Saturday, September 17, 2011

BT: The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

Secrets and elements of mystery, war and the inevitable changes it brings are just some of the major themes in this book. It is difficult to review without giving away spoilers.

Grace's destiny, or so it would seem at the time, will be a life of service. She is first hired at the Riverton house when she is fourteen years old in 1914. Her mother worked there before her and it is her mother who sends her off because of a lack of money. Grace's first position is a house maid and has various cleaning duties. During her cleaning of the library, she comes across three children from a visiting relative who are playing there. The lives of these three children and Grace's interaction with them will govern the remainder of the book. The story takes place in England.

The narrator is in first person, Grace, as she is recalling her life of servitude as an elderly woman at an assisted living apartment. She has a daughter, Ruth and a grandson, Marcus. Grace decides to tell her story to Marcus by recording them on cassette tapes and sending them to him in America. The book is written in flashbacks with most of the book occurring from 1914 ~ 1926. A movie is going to be made about some of the events at Riverton and Grace is contacted by one of the producers for an interview. Floods of memories come back to Grace, but she is ever the faithful servant and does not give away all of her mistress's secrets.

I enjoyed this book, but it does have a flow of sadness, of melancholy in the writing. I think this was intentional as this is how Grace's memories come back to her. I found this aspect rather difficult and the book seemed to weigh heavy on me. I hope Ms. Morton's other books have a lighter feel. Still, it is a recommended read.

She doesn't know I cry for the changing times. That just as I reread favorite books, some small part of me hoping for a different ending, I find myself hoping against hope that the war will never come. That this time, somehow, it will leave us be.
All Good Things, pg 71.

The House At Riverton
This edition published: 2008, hardcover, 473 pages
Atria Books, New York.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Book Thoughts: Crossing Lines by Paul Volponi

This is a disturbing novel of how cruel humans can be to someone or some group that is different from the societal norm. This is a work of fiction, but I am sure that the events in this book could really happen - and this is sad.

You find out right away that Alan is different; perhaps colorful or flamboyant would be better words. Alan hangs around with the girls and is President of the high school Fashion Club. The boys feel uncomfortable around him, try to stay away from him in the gym locker room and generally avoid him at all costs. The football team players start to hackle him. Alan does dish it back out with his "distinctive" wit, which may not have been in Alan's best interest.

The book is written in first-person and is narrated by Adonis - one of the football players. Adonis, through out the book, is put in situations where he has to interact with Alan. For one, his sister and girlfriend are in the Fashion Club. The girls tell Alan that Adonis will help keep the football players away from him. Adonis half-heartedly agrees to help only to impress his girlfriend. Alan was holding his own up to this point until, one day, Alan turns up the heat a bit and things go downhill for him from there.

This book is as much about Adonis as it is about Alan. It is an excellent novel that makes you think about how you may treat people who are different and that everyone has a place in this world and deserves to be accepted or at the very least, respected. Highly recommended.

Crossing Lines
Published: 2011
Viking - Penguin Group
Widely available in hardcover and ebook forms.

Book Thoughts: High Country Bride by Linda Lael Miller

iddy up cowboy! I ventured into the world of what, to some, would be called the "typical" romance novel. I wanted to see what it was about these that some people hated so much, and honestly I think it may be more the fault of the book blurbs than the actual narrative. It is likely that the "haters" have not actually read any, so how can one judge?

The story is about the son, Rafe McKettrick, of a wealthy Arizona Territory ranch owner. Let me stop here and just say that, yes, the names are stereotypical of what we might think that western names would be for the time period. Actually there are three (well four) sons, but Rafe is the focus of this book. The father (Angus - like the beef) thinks it's time for his sons to marry and bear progeny; after all, he is 75 and wants grand-kids. He tells his sons that the first one to marry and have a child (girl or boy) will inherit the ranch. Rafe is the oldest son and he writes to a mail-order bride outfit. This leads us to Emmeline who through circumstances in her life, decides to respond to the ad and journeys to Arizona from Missouri.  Emmeline is a strong woman, but she does have some weak moments. She definitely held her own in this family of strong male characters. What happens after Emmeline shows up is what the book is all about, so you will just have to read it!

I read this rather quickly - yes it is that captivating with a mix of action and character development that keeps the pages turning. The author does, at times, write a little bit too "western" with some typical phrases and words, but these just made me chuckle and I moved on.

Lesson: Don't always judge a book by it's blurb! I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would, and intend on reading the rest of the books in the series by this author and maybe some others.  They are interesting and fun with only a few sex scenes thrown in; these scenes where short and I thought added to the story at the appropriate times.

High Country Bride - Book 1 of the McKettrick Cowboys
Published: 2002
Pocket Books - Simon and Shuster
Version: eBook in ePub format.
Widely available in paperback and ebook forms.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Incidental Musings: August Reread!

Since August is my birthday month, I decided to read a book that I have read in the past. I got this brill idea from Blair on YouTube's BittenByBookLust channel. For the glorious year of 2011 I am reading

Jaws by Peter Benchley

Yep, the version I read back in the 1970s looked just like this - the mass-market paperback. I wish I could find it. Not that I am complaining since I am reading an Easton Press Collectors Edition published in 2009. It is leather-bound and this image does not do it justice. The only illustration is a frontispiece somewhat like the paperback version.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Mundahlia by R.J. Gonazles

Deception synonyms: trick, stratagem, ruse, wile, hoax, imposture. This is a central theme running throughout Mandahlia. We see this early on in the novel when a wolf is encountered by one of the main characters, Rini. The wolf, of course, is much more than he appears to be i.e. he is a shape-shifter. We come to know this wolf in his human form as the second main character, Jett. Rini and Jett form a relationship. For Rini, this is her first "boyfriend" even though she is 18 so this makes for an enjoyable read as she discovers how to deal with her feelings. A horrific event early on in the novel reveals to Rini who Jett really is which leads us to the main villain in the novel, another shape-shifter and Jett's half-brother Bane.

So, now you are thinking this is a novel about werewolves and pack dynamics and you would be wrong! The shape-shifters can be from various "clans" and each clan is a different animal form. The novel explains all this and the land where most of the Mandahlians are living. Other creatures besides shape-shifters appear in the book such as the angel-like Enthiduans, and the nasty faery-like Floradelias and hint of many other creatures in the world. I don't want to give away too much so let's just say that Mundahlians and Humans have not gotten along in the distant past. Humans have forgotten about them but the Mundahlians have not forgotten the Humans and this novel sets in motion events that are about to change the Human world forever.

This book reads like a contemporary romance in the first half and the second half is a full-blown paranormal fantasy. Both halves are necessary to the story and I enjoyed them equally. R.J. Gonazles writing flows nicely. I am hoping to see more from him. I think he would do well in several genres like contemporary romance, paranormal and fantasy. This book certainly proves his capacity. Highly recommended.

Mundahlia is available in ebook form at Amazon for the Kindle and at Goodreads for other ebook reading devices (ePub). The paperback will be available at Amazon in mid-August 2011.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Shadowcry aka Wintercraft

I REALLY enjoyed this book. Go get it somehow and read it now. A MUST READ!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Reading Like a Writer - Francine Prose

an the love of language be taught? Can a gift for storytelling be taught? These are questions posed at the beginning of Reading Like a Writer. Francine Prose admits that you can be taught the technical aspects of writing. The real writing which would be the storytelling is learned, for most writers, by example and examples it what this book is about.

The chapters are thus:
  • Close Reading
  • Words
  • Sentences
  • Paragraphs
  • Narration
  • Character
  • Dialogue
  • Details
  • Gesture
  • Leaning from Chekhov
  • Reading for Courage
Francine Prose weaves her teaching abilities within the examples. Many of which I enjoyed and wished they would go on, but that is left for you to explore later. The examples she chooses shows you why word choice, the sentence, the paragraph, the dialog, etc makes these elements of some writers great and if something was changed about them, they may fall flat.  The chapter on Dialogue was interesting in that she pointed things that were being said, but many times the story is being told in what is not being said.

This is a very good book where I have learned that the constructs of writing need to be looked at more closely while reading. In a story that may seem dull to some in plot may come alive with the aspect of simple word choices! Notice that Ms. Prose did not cover plot or setting.  I find that interesting since these are the main things that I usually first think about when entering a book. She knows that rules will be broken and many times to a brilliant outcome and also stated that in her opinions on things fluctuate all the time. Highly recommended.

This book can be purchased at bookstores, online and is available in ebook form in popular formats.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Book Thoughts: Violet Fury by Richard Denney

ethany is a typical 14 year old teenager, right? Well at least she seemed to think so until very recently. She has resorted to stay awake pills since falling asleep has been bringing her nightmares and these nightmares have been linear - meaning that the next nightmare is a continuation of the previous one. Strange things start happening to her during her waking hours also. Things get so out of control that she womps on a another girl at school - naturally she deserved it, but Bethany just doesn't act like this. Strange things are going on with schoolmates and a special boy in her dreams just may be more real than she would have expected. This has been happening since she and her mom moved to Crest View which, it seems, has a mysterious past and Bethany's family has been part of it. Her mother has been keeping secrets from her.

In this novella Mr. Denney has put together an intriguing start to what I hope will be continued. There are a lot of events that occur which get us - and Bethany - to the point where we are going to find what is going on with her and the town. But you will have to wait to see what that is!

You will enjoy this story. I know I did.  Mr. Denney how about part 2??

As of this writing you can download an unedited eBook version of this novella for free at Goodreads.
Violet Fury

Richard Denney:

Book Thoughts: Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres

rave is a place of repression and rules. You are born into an occupation like it or not. Then there is a walled enclave within Grave called The Seal. The Seal is even more repressive than Grave. The women here must wear veils, people can listen to only approved music, only information you need to know is learned. If you or someone in your family breaks the rules your whole family can be punished, monitored, and shamed. On occasion invitations fall from the sky aimed at young people inviting them to a place where they can be free. Joel took them up on their offer and sneaked out of The Seal on the designated night. With Joel now having escaped, this left his sister Retra and her family shamed and monitored. The fear from the Warden is that Retra may try the same thing. A device is fitted to her thigh that causes extreme pain if she ventures outside the Seal walls. Retra is determined to find her brother no matter what it takes. Thus begins her story.

Ixion is the place of freedom. An island where it is always, mysteriously, night. A place of clubs, dancing, drugs, and since this is a young adult book - a lot of fooling around. The young people soon find out that is it not of course without its rules too. Other important buildings are the churches which are old relics of ancient inhabitants that are considered a place of rest. There are lighted paths that connect the clubs and churches. Never stray from the paths. This is a primary rule. Listen well, baby bats. Burn bright, but do not stray from the paths. Remember, when you live in a place of darkness you also live with creatures of the dark.

Retra arrives here to find her brother where most of the others are here to party. The Ripers or Guardians who inhabit and control the island sense this in her and she becomes ironically, monitored. As the story progresses things are not all fun and parties. After you reach a certain age, the party is over and what happens to those is a mystery. There are power struggles going on within the Guardians, a pirate named Ruzalia, a rogue gang called The League, and of course the creatures of the dark.

This book for me was fantastic. I read most of it within 5 hours since I could not put it down. It's hard to believe so much was crammed into 306 pages, but it was connected and very well written. The book at this time is only available in Australia so I paid the extra shipping to the USA. It was well worth it.

Burn Bright is book one of  The Night Creatures.

I purchased this book from Booktopia an online bookseller in Australia.

See Marianne de Pierres blog for information about this series and links to support the book being published in the USA.

Thanks to Krista at TheCubicleBlindness for reviewing and promoting this book!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Incidental Musings: The Fluctuating Intentional Reading List

Yep you read the title correctly. Of course as a computer developer/analyst/whatever-my-company-calls-me now, I have to have an acronym which would be FIRL!
  • Fluctuating - With all the new books constantly streaming across my visual spectrum and some even aural, I have to allow the list to be fluid.
  • Intentional - I needed a way to describe a priority or a way to separate a select few out of my entire library. So I intend to read these books sooner rather than later.
  • Reading - This covers not only visual reading but audio books as well.
  • List - I could write these within my mind but my memory is feeble. So something more permanent is in order.
Now I have a large and ever growing library of physical books and eBooks. I only have a few audio books at the moment, but this may be added to in the near future. I have several bookshelves which I love to peruse and I frequently refer to my eBook software's Books folder. Anxiety soon sets in as I think about how I want to read all these books but the decision as to which to read next is daunting. More anxiety sets in when I think about all the genres and series books. So I need to make an attempt at some organization and direction.

You can view the list here: FIRL

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Book Thoughts: Vampires Rule by K.C. Blake

ack died 10 years ago, well sort of. The victim of a vicious werewolf attack and, near death, was found by a vampire who I guess you could say "saved" his life by turning him into a vampire. Vampires Rule has a great cast of paranormals -  vampires, werewolves, a soul-sucker, and a dash of fairy. On the human side we have kick-ass "hunters" who hunt the vampires and werewolves and a few everyday normal people.

The story revolves around prophecies from a diary that was written by a fairy named Lovely many years ago. The head werewolf - the first werewolf - is the primary target of the action in the book. Jack shares the main character role with a girl named Silver Reign. When we first meet her she is wearing a fuzzy pink sweater and appears to be a typical teenager. Very soon we find out that is not the case. She is a hunter and a werewolf soul-sucker. A werewolf attack is the first action scene in the book and is where Silver and Jack meet. They are both attacked and the result of this first encounter is that Jack is made into a human again - with a twist. Jack retains his vampire powers and gains some new powers. Naturally Jack and Silver fall in love. It was predicted by the prophecies along with the path these two will follow.

I really enjoyed this first book in a The Rule series. The romance between Silver and Jack was written well and yes, I did get choked up once in a scene towards the end of the book - I am such a wuss!  The book has a lot of action which is balanced with character development. This is a book where you will care what happens to the characters - even main antagonist. I highly recommend this book!

The next book in the series is Werewolves Rule which I am looking forward to.

I won this book as a giveaway from the blog: CubicleBlindness.  Thanks Krista!

K.C. Blake's blog:

You can purchase this book in popular eBook forms from Smashwords, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Book Thoughts: The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

There has always been a mystery surrounding their connection to each other. Michael Scott's book The Alchemyst, takes advantage of this with Sophie and Josh Newman. Heck they may even save the world!

The Alchemyst is book one in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series. It starts out as normal everyday life with a little luck. Josh and Sophie have both gotten jobs and they are just across the street from each other. Josh worked in a bookstore and Sophie in a coffee shop. The bookstore was owned by Nick Fleming and his wife Perry. We soon find out that Nick is Nicholas and Perry is Perenelle and their last name is actually Flamel. They were both born in the 14th century. What has kept them alive are spells and potions in a book called The Codex or Book of the Mage.Within the first couple chapters, the twin's lives have changed forever.

The main villain in the book is Dr. John Dee and his primary goal is to acquire The Codex. Naturally he is very old too. In fact he worked for Queen Elizabeth I and was a student of Nicholas Flamel to learn the art of Alchemy. At some point Dr. Dee got mixed up with the "Dark Elders". The Elders are ancient beings we hear about in mythology. Many of them are still alive and live in places called Shadowrealms which hide them from the human world. There are other immortal beings too like the second generation of Elders and some humans that have acquired or found ways to achieved immortality. There are many other mysterious creatures that pop up in the book.

I really enjoyed this book. There is a lot of action and I think the characters are developed well. I will definitely be continuing with the next book in the series The Magician. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Book Thoughts: Hillserpent Academy by Richard Denney

Move over Harry, Owen is on the scene now! This short novel is a magical romp with an American Harry Potter twist. Mr. Denney does not try to hide this, in fact he mentions Harry a few times in the book.

I read the ebook version which has 80 ebook pages. In a very short time we have mayhem, murder, witches, werewolves, vampires and a little romance thrown in. Owen Davinforth is our protagonist and I am not sure I liked the character's personality; he is quite sarcastic and cynical,  but this may be Mr. Denney's intention. However, Owen has been through a lot, at least in as much as we know about him through book one. I am hoping that as the series progresses I will like him better. I know Mr. Denney through his YouTube videos and I can hear Owen's voice through him. It makes this character more vivid for me.

I don't rate books with a system, but I enjoyed the read. With this book you enter the story, bang, bang, bang things happen, lots of things happen, and you get out. Mr Denney confesses that his writing is all about the story you get a little character development and a little description, but the story takes the front seat. I am OK with that. You get through the story quickly; you feel stunned when you reach the end. Then a little later, scenes and characters start popping in your mind! It is a phenomenon I noticed with his first book I read A Girl's Guide to Falling in Love with a Zombie. With me anyways, Mr. Denney seems to find a way to do this. Maybe it's magic?

Hillserpent Academy is available as a paperback and ebook for Kindle from Amazon. The ebook form for other eReaders is available from Goodreads.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hillserpent Academy Read-a-thon!

June 24-26, 2011

I am hosting a read-a-thon for a bunch of us to read Hillserpent Academy by Richard Denney on said weekend. Come on along and join us!

You can purchase an ebook for Kindle at: Amazon Kindle or Paperback
-or- purchase an ebook for other readers or your computer on: Goodreads

Amazon Haul 06/21/2011

I purchased this first as an eBook. Well, I liked the cover so well I decided to buy the physical book and there is hype going around that this is the next Harry Potter series. That remains to be seen when I read it. I have not seen any reviews on it that I can think of - at least on YouTube. This was published April 5, 2011.

I bought the physical copy of this book because (all together now) I liked the cover! I may do the reversaroo of The Emerald Atlas and get this also as an eBook. Christmas in July anyone? Yep, I am probably going to host a little ditty-do if anyone wants to read some Christmas with me. There will be a post about it later. This book only manages to get 3 star ratings, but I don't care I like stories about Christmas time. Hallmark Channel is a favorite of mine. I think they do Christmas in July too.

Oooo, a new release just out! A creepy fantasy about a girl who is a Skilled - one of those who can cross the veil between life and death. This was published as Wintercraft in the U.K.

In an attempt to find my inner journalist, I have a few books on the subject. I am just starting to "get into" doing this. I saw this one on Amazon and I totally don't know how I connected it to whatever I was looking at. Perhaps I can finally become that perfect person by journaling my way - heh?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Well, I have decided to venture into some YA books. Y'all on YouTube have been very convincing. I saw this one on YouTube's DPBookReviews and thought it looked interesting.

So, currently reading this as an eBook from my library. I like it very much so far - about half way in.

Update 01/30/2011
My Thoughts

Finished reading this. I really enjoyed it. There are vampires, werewolves, action, romance, steampunk and of course, parasols. The parasol is multifunctional as a sun screen and a weapon when called upon. Humor abounds in this book and Ms. Carriger has done a fantastic job of mixing the action with the humor.

I was disappointed only in the book format. It is available as a mass-market paperback or eBook form. I think the series is good enough for a hard-cover edition or at least a quality paperback.

I did go to Barnes & Noble and purchased this book along with the other two in the series that is currently out: Changeless and Blameless. Is there a fourth in the series?

Definitely a recommended read. I am looking forward to reading the other two.

My opinion is that this book is for ages 15 and older due to some of the romance content.

Book synopsis from the back cover:
Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette. 
Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire - and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia is responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Lost Art of Reading
Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time
David L. Ulin - Sasquatch Books 2010

Reading is a revolutionary act. The siren calls of email, Twitter, smart phones, and iPods conspire to pull us away from the long-form writing of books. For David L. Ulin, this swelling problem (from which he is hardly immune) begged the question: does reading even matter anymore?...

I found this short pocket-sized book very pertinent. Personally I am lured away from reading my books by the internet There is YouTube, forums, Amazon; it is really an endless chain that takes me from one subject to another.

Some of my favorite reading genres are books about books, and books about authors or books about reading. These types of books tend to affect me much like the internet in that it piques my interest in another book that is being written about. So needless to say my wish-list on Amazon is quite large.

This book is about David's reading life mostly in a world before the internet. He writes about several books that has had an effect on him and equates them to events in his life. I like this snippet:

Time, however is the enemy in contemporary culture, less a source of context than constraint. We bridle against its limitations - not existentially but in far more prosaic terms - subdividing it into the merest bits and pieces, translating it into dollars gained or lost.
David does not demean the internet at all, it is not a tirade. It is just amazing how our brain works. It seems to thrive on the bits and pieces - to try to organize them into some continuum. Of course good books do that for us, but we have to pay attention to a single act for a long period of time. It is called concentration. It's hard work sometimes.