Books are cheaper than heroin, but they DO add up....

Amy, Carrie, Chanin and Sarah buy (and read and review) their own stuff. They've been known to shop around from dealer to dealer looking for the best price. If you're interested in slipping them something to try out, just contact us.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Heartless by Gail Carriger

I'm just not sure I could give up my child for adoption to a vampire.

Even if I were only mostly pretending.

Even if our lives were in danger.

I'm working under the assumption, of course, that I, myself, am not a vampire and that this in-name-mostly adoption isn't to someone like my sister. Sarah is, after all, an extraordinary mother, but also, I assume, not a vampire.

To recap, unless I were a vampire giving my child to an extraordinary vampire relative, I just don't think I would sign away my child to a blood-sucker. I find the thought unsettling, and with this unsettling thought, Heartless by Gail Carriger, begins.

is the fourth of four books in the Parasol Protectorate series. (For those of you scoring at home, I'm back to form--pretending to review a book but really reviewing a series.) The series is based upon the premise that Queen Victoria has incorporated the supernaturals (vampires, werewolves and ghosts) into the British Empire. Werewolves, you see, make brilliant soldiers and vampires excellent diplomats. The strength of the Victorian British Empire is built upon the immortal and excessively strong shoulders of those with excess soul: the vampires, werewolves and ghosts.

Alexia, the main character, does not have the excess soul necessary to turn her into a supernatural. Instead, she is actually soulless, and when she comes into skin-to-skin contact with a supernatural, she temporarily renders the "supe" mortal. It's such skin-to-skin contact that puts Alexia into the position where she must consider allowing a vampire to adopt her unborn child. Alexia is married to a werewolf, and the vampires are quite sure that any offspring of the soulless and a werewolf will be bad news for the vampires. The vampires are willing to go to extremes, so Alexia must consider her own extreme--allowing a vampire she trusts to legally, if not practically, adopt her baby--while also trying to discover the truth about an assassination attempt on the Queen.

Alexia is a strong character, and I found her reaction to the suggestion that she hand over legal rights to her child entirely too meek to be true. Also, I have begun to suspect that the author struggles to write scenes where Alexia and her husband work together. While there are many more scenes with the couple in Heartless than in Blameless (the third book), most of the action takes place when Lord Maccon is absent. I find that unsettling as well because it would make it possible for the author to eventually write off Lord Maccon.

However, those are my only two complaints about the series and this book. I read the first book, Soulless, in January, and I devoured it. The tone of these books reminds me, in part, of the Elizabeth Peters Eqyptologist books where proper Victorian form is balanced with mystery and humor. Alexia is a force of nature who carries a loaded parasol and stands undaunted in this world of the supernatural. The supporting characters are interesting, and there is a wealth of back stories and histories that should unfold over future books.

These books are a little bit history, a little bit mystery, a little bit steam punk, and every bit lovely. I highly recommend them.

Even if I'm not willing to give up my imaginary baby for vampire adoption.

Here's more information about Heartless on Pin It

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

So I completely forgot to post a review the last time it was my turn to do so.  I don't even remember what distracted me that day.  I'm sure it had something to do with child-rearing, though that's no excuse as we all know reading is way more important than tending to one's own children.  With that thought in mind here's a review of a book you can share with your children and then go rent the movie for them to watch so you can grab a nap.....or read another book.

I picked this book up because the movie was the "retro" pick at a Redbox close to my house.  A long, long time ago I watched said movie and now I can remember certain bits and pieces of it, but at the time I couldn't remember the major plot.  That bothered me.  So I went and got the book.  I make no promises as to how closely the movie and the book resemble one another, though the bits and pieces of the movie that remain in my memory matched up to some of the major plot points in the book.  It's a quick read and certainly worth the time to share with your kids, though there are some definite adult themes here (screwing up the natural order of things, societal norms, class distinctions, know, the light-hearted variety of things).

Mrs. Frisby and friends is kind of like Flowers for Algernon but happier and told from the rodent perspective.  The rats and mice of the story are given life-altering injections at NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health one can assume), but with the effect that they gain intelligence too great to literally contain.  They escape and start the beginnings of their own society once they realize that they can not "go home again" in the sense of living off of other's refuse.  The rats, and the couple of mice that survive the escape, make their way to a farm and begin finding ways to live by their own means.  Mrs. Frisby's late husband Jonathon was one of the mice, and is held in high regard by the rats on the farm.

Mrs. Frisby must go to the rats for help when one of her sons falls ill at the time they should be making their migration to the woods.  She finds out many things she didn't know about her husband, hears all about the rats' journey to the farm and their ultimate plan to live on their own, and faces the world's scariest farm cat in the process of moving her cinder block house from one side of a rock to another (this is actually what I remembered from the movie).  There is plenty of action to hold the attention of both kids and adults throughout the book.

Ultimately the rats must leave the farm under less than ideal circumstances. and not everyone makes it to their new home.  Mrs. Frisby and her children are given the time they need for her son to get better and then are able to make their migration to the wooded area for spring and summer.  There are a lot of lessons in this book.  For one, you can't teach rodents to read and then expect them not to read signs to help them escape.  So I'll be putting that project on hold.  Also, garbage does not taste as sweet when you realize it's garbage.  Who knew?  But in my opinion, the real idea is that there are far-reaching and unpredictable consequences to messing with the natural order of things.  Then again, what do I know?  I can't even remember to post a book review.  Pin It

Friday, July 15, 2011

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Oops.  I was having such a good time on my kid-free stay-cation I completely forgot it was my turn to post.  I guess I was busy sleeping in, reading, napping, running errands and clearing off the DVR.  You know, doing really important things like that.  I need to get back on my game, though.  The kids come home Saturday and time is running out.  Here goes.

I can't remember why I downloaded this book.  Forgetfulness is apparently a theme at this stage in my life.  Oh well.  If I was a bettin' woman, I would bet I downloaded it because it was either free or on sale.  Whatever the reason, I was glad I did.

This book chronicles the life of Ginny Blackstone, a young woman who has never made it out of her home state of New Jersey.  She's quiet, shy and for the most part very sheltered.  The only interesting person in her life, her eccentric Aunt Peg, disappears and isn't heard from in almost 3 years.   When a phone call delivers the news that Aunt Peg has succumbed to cancer, Ginny is devastated.  A few days after that, Ginny gets an envelope (a little blue one, of course) in the mail from Aunt Peg.  It contains $1000 and a list of four rules.  What follows are a series of mini-adventures and 12 other little blue envelopes that lead Ginny to Europe and as a result also lead her to finding herself.

"13 Little Blue Envelopes" made me smile.  It reminded me of growing up and my relationship with my Aunt Jill.  She was the one who did my hair for my First Communion, took me shopping, and was cool enough to take me to see Back to the Future when my parents wouldn't.  As a young girl, she was the one I looked up to. I could always count on her for all things fun...something I think every girl needs. As a bonus, I now get to see that same relationship with my daughter and HER aunts.  How cool is that?

In reading the other reviews for this book I found out it is yet another young adult novel.  Honestly, I had no idea.  Maybe it's because I can so easily put myself back in time and feel that closeness with my aunt, but it really didn't come across to me as a young adult read.

A sequel to this book, "The Last Little Blue Envelope" is due out later this year.  Young Adult or not, I'm going to try and remember to give it a read.  Will someone please help me to remember?

Don't take my word for it.  Read more here. Pin It

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The King of Lies by John Hart

Based on the title of this book, I should probably offer you a whopper of an explanation as to why I missed my last post and why this post is a day late. Alas, I am the king of nothing and will stick to the truth. My non-virtual life got in the way. Please accept my apologies. I promise I've been reading; I just haven't been telling you about it.

The King of Lies is John Hart's debut novel, released in 2006. It's a legal thriller and a mystery. I picked it up because Barnes and Noble offered it for $2.99 as a Nookbook. Overall, I enjoyed it, and I'll be buying Mr. Hart's other three novels. Having said that, reading The King of Lies reminding me a lot of my sister's FAVORITE part of my non-virtual life--my road rage. I love to travel, and I even like to roadtrip. I do not, however, like other drivers. Occasionally, my distaste for everyone else's driving will lead me to yelling, while I'm at the wheel, "GET OUT OF THE WAY!"

It's almost as effective as you think.

When I was reading The King of Lies, I found myself wanting to yell at the main character, "DON'T DO THAT!" It was a lot like yelling at the drivers of other cars. He couldn't hear me, and nothing I said was going to change the situation. I'm quite sure that the main character, Work Pickens, could have avoided his entanglement with the police if he had read (or watched) more police procedurals.

The book opens with Work finding out that his missing father's body has been found. As the truth about his father's death, and life, unfolds, Work's life unravels. His career, his marriage, and his relationship with his sister all begin to teeter on the brink of destruction. Part of the problem comes from his assumption that his sister killed his father. She, of course, thinks that Work did it.

We all know the problems with assumptions.

The siblings triggered something like my road rage when they had stupid, opaque conversations that only furthered their suspicions of each other. Work continued to incite my wrath by tampering with evidence because he wanted to protect his sister. Happily, even though
Work made a couple of amateur and cliched moves of "people of interest" in cop shows, the book ended with a twist I didn't see coming. That twist, plus the reasonably well-developed characters kept me interested. Honestly, my road-rage reaction wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been so involved. Otherwise, I would have simply breezed through the book, too indifferent to the characters to react so strongly.

I liked this book, and I think most mystery readers will, too. Even if parts of the tale irked this King of the Road.

Here's the information from
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Monday, July 4, 2011

Tailspin by Catherine Coulter

Had I taken the time to think this out a little more, I suppose my review should have been a bit more patriotic.  I mean, it IS our nation's birthday.  And I do so love my country.  But I spent the last 10 days on vacation and books about America were in short supply.  What was in abundant supply however, was time to read.  (There would have been much more time to read if I didn't have to do all of the driving, but I will keep my complaining to a minimum and get to the review).

When I walked into our rustic cottage in Crystal Falls, MI last week Catherine Coulter's book, "Tailspin" almost jumped off the crooked bookshelf at me.  You see, I have been going to that cabin almost every summer since 1989 and there is NEVER a new book on the bookshelf.  NEVER.  Another renter must have left it by mistake.  It was like it was meant to be.  Well, that and I left my nook charger back in Illinois.  Yay for forgetful renters!

Upon reading the book jacket I find out "Tailspin" is the 12th in Coulter's FBI series.  Oops.  I like to read a series in order (one of the many traits I get from my mom), but beggars can't be choosers.  Coulter made sure I wasn't left hanging, though.  She did a fine job of making sure I had all the pertinent background info to feel right at home picking up this book.

The book grabbed me on the very first page with the main character, Rachael fighting for her life at the bottom of a lake.  Not bad, huh?  By the end of the first chapter it is also revealed that Rachael is the illegitimate daughter of a recently murdered  US Senator and she suspects her aunt and uncle are now plotting to have her killed.  A terrifying yet believable chain of events lead her to team up with FBI Special Agent Jack Crowne.  Together they seek to find out who is behind the repeated attempts on her life and the murder of her father while trying to stay alive themselves. 

This book was the perfect vacation read.  Suspense, decent plot, likeable characters, family had it all.  But it didn't have too much of it.  It had just the right mix to keep me interested instead of being annoyed and  wishing the book would hurry up and end.  The fact that a good portion of this book was set in Maryland near where I live didn't hurt either.  The more connections I have to a book, the more I like it.

The next time I forget my nook charger, I'll have to remember Ms. Coulter and her FBI series.  If that happens, will somone please remind me to start with the first in the series.  Forgetfulness is another trait I get from my mom. 

What are other people saying about "Tailspin"?  Click here Pin It