Monthly Archives: January 2012

Happy Birthday Dad!!!!

Today is my Dad’s birthday and in honor of this momentous occassion I am providing a reading list just for him (fair warning – if you don’t like science fiction or technothrillers you are SOL). For as long as I can remember my dad always read Asimov – he always tried to get me to read the Robot Foundation series. Unfortunately, teenage girls aren’t as interested in classic science fiction as say, historical romance novels or watching Dirty Dancing for the thousandth time. So if you haven’t read Asimov, take some time and read I, Robot – it was written in 1950 and is considered THE classic sci-fi novel. If you have read it, then maybe peruse some of these novels :

1) The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

A collection of eighteen short stories following the destiny of humankind. A mixture of science fiction, magic, reality, and imagination. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

2) The Phoenix Code by Catherine Asaro

Robotics expert Megan O’Flannery is the sole human contact with the new self-aware android project dubbed Aris. Programmed as part of a top-secret defense project, Aris proves to be resourceful and uncontrollable. Megan enlists the help of robotics genius Raj Sundaram. Aris soon becomes jealous of Raj, and Megan discovers that Raj may be a greater danger than Aris. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

3) Peace on Earth by Stanislaw Lem

A comic send-up of militarism, espionage, scientists and psychiatrists in which the unflappable hero fights for truth and justice in a world gone mad. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

4) The Door Into Summer by Robert Heinlein

When Dan Davis is crossed in love and stabbed in the back by his business associates, the immediate future doesn’t look too bright for him and Pete, his independent-minded tom cat. Suddenly, the lure of suspended animation, the Long Sleep, becomes irresistible and Dan wakes up thirty years later in the twenty-first century. He discovers that the robot household appliances he invented, far from having been stolen from him, have, mysteriously, been patented in his name. There’s only thing for it. Dan has to, somehow, travel back in time to investigate… (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

5) Gateway by Frederick Pohl

Wealth … or death.  Those were the choices Gateway offered.  Humans had discovered this artificial spaceport, full of working interstellar ships left behind by the mysterious, vanished Heechee. Their destinations are preprogrammed.  They are easy to operate, but impossible to control.  Some came back with discoveries which made their intrepid pilots rich; others returned with their remains barely identifiable.  It was the ultimate game of Russian roulette, but in this resource-starved future there was no shortage of desperate volunteers. Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
6) Lord Valentine’s Castle by Robert Silverberg
Set in an immense world teeming with alien races and fantastic magical machinery, Valentine wakes up one morning with only a vague and troubled idea of who he is. His dreams suggest he is the ruler of Majipor – but no one will believe him. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
My dad also loves the Tom Clancy technothriller. Here are some books that Tom Clancy himself recommends :

1) Storm Warning by Jack Higgins

During World War II, a group of German expatriates trapped in Brazil must sail across five thousand miles of tempestuous water to reach their homeland-and face the deadly barricade of American and British military power. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

2) The Spanish Gambit by Stephen Hunter

Julian Raines was a golden boy from Eton, a renowned young poet who fled into the Spanish Civil War. Robert Florry was once Raine’s friend.  Now he is being blackmailed by British Intelligence into hunting down his old friend in Spain.  MI-6 says Julian Raines has turned KGB spy. The whorehouses of Barcelona are jammed.  The bars are filled with laughter, and the streets are running with wine and blood.  In the chaos, Robert Florry will find his old friend, unaware that a noose of espionage, psychological terror, and murder is being tightened around them by masters of the craft. A Soviet agent named the Devil Himself has gone rogue; an American mobster turned secret policeman is after a missing gold shipment; and all the rules have changed. Now there’s only one way out of Spain: on a path of terror, lies and blood. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
3) The Generals by W E B Griffin
 They were the leaders, the men who made the decision that changed the outcome of battles…and the fate of the continents. From the awesome landing at Normandy to the torturous campaigns of the South Pacific, from the frozen hills of Korea to the devastated wastes of Dien Bien Phu, they had earned their stars. Now they led America’s finest against her most relentless enemy deep in the jungles of Southeast Asia. It was a new kind of war, but the Generals led a new kind of army, ready for battle–and for glory…(taken from Fantastic Fiction)
4) The Legacy of Hereot by Steven Barnes, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Civilization on Earth was rich, comfortable and overcrowded. Millions applied, but only the best were chosen to settle on Tau Ceti Four. The colony was a success, an idyll, the stuff of dreams, but beyond the perimeter the nightmare has begun to chatter.(taken from Fantastic Fiction)
Lastly, if you know anything about my dad you know he is Hungarian and proud! So I thought he might like to read some books by Hungarian authors…check them out!
1) Fateless by Imre Kertesz (Sorstalansag)
On his return to his native Budapest from a German concentration camp, 14-year-old George Koves senses the difference of people on the street. Left to ponder the meaning of his experience alone, he comes to the conclusion that neither his Hungarian or Jewish heritage was at the heart of his fate. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
2) Embers by Sandor Marai
In a secluded woodland castle an old General prepares to receive a rare visitor, a man who was once his closest friend but who he has not seen in forty-one years.  Over the ensuing hours host and guest will fight a duel of words and silences, accusations and evasions. They will exhume the memory of their friendship and that of the General’s beautiful, long-dead wife. And they will return to the time the three of them last sat together following a hunt in the nearby forest–a hunt in which no game was taken but during which something was lost forever. Originally published in 1942. (taken from Goodreads)
3) The Door by Magda Szabo
The story of two women, a writer and her housekeeper. While responding to her own needs for recognition and acceptance as an artist, the writer encourages her very private housekeeper to emerge from inner isolation. But when the housekeeper becomes ill and dies, the writer is not available to her. The book serves as the writer’s apology for neglecting her human responsibilities. (taken from Goodreads)
4) The Melancholy of Resistance by Laszlo Krasznahorkai
A circus, promising to display the stuffed body of the largest whale in the world, arrives in the dead of winter, prompting bizarre rumors. Word spreads that the circus folk have a sinister purpose in mind, and the frightened citizens cling to any manifestation of order they can find—music, cosmology, fascism. The novel’s characters are unforgettable: the evil Mrs. Eszter, plotting her takeover of the town; her weakling husband; and Valuska, our hapless hero with his head in the clouds, who is the tender center of the book, the only pure and noble soul to be found. (taken from Goodreads)
As you can see, Hungarians are an upbeat bunch ;P  Anyway, Isten éltessen sokáig Dad! Enjoy these books. Thanks for always picking up ridiculous teeny bopper movies from the video store (which must have been embarrassing) and turning me onto Blood Sport. I love you.
Trina

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Dark Inside or Zombies without the brain-eating part just the killy part…

I’m back! Yes I thought I would be able to keep up the daily post of book reviewage but I was sick…so it didn’t happen. But I’m back in the posting saddle and ready to share with you another of my reviews. This book is one of those YA trilogies but in this one we are around for the apocalypse…exciting fun! In this one we get to follow different narrators throughout the demise of all society….

The basics are this : everything is super crazy all at the same time. There is massive earthquake AND everybody gets really kill-happy all at the same time. Not just random kill-happy but lock people in an assembly hall and massacre them kill-happy. We start our story with Mason, whose mother was just killed in a car accident. While he is at her bedside, his high school is bombed and everybody he knows has been killed. Meanwhile, Aries (worst name ever) is on a bus with her best friend when an earthquake hits. She is saved by a mysterious stranger but must learn to survive the aftermath on her own. Clementine is in a town-hall meeting that goes terribly wrong and now is on the run from the killers. Michael is driving down the road when he witnesses a brutal crime, only to have the police who show up turn murderous and start hunting him down. We follow these four people (and some strange chapters thrown in by Nothing) as they contend with this new world and eventually meet up. How do you survive in a world where everybody is out to kill you, food and water are scarce and you don’t know where to go?

So, this is kind of a zombie book without the zombies. While this first book doesn’t delve into the reasons why all this happened there is some talk about an ancient evil culling civilizations out through time i.e. Rome, Aztecs, etc… I expect this will be prominent in the forthcoming books. I enjoyed the tense feeling throughout the book, there are no guarantees on who survives. Also, the characters are really interesting. They are not always heroic or even good. The females, for once, manage to be competent and feminine. I couldn’t tell where the story was going but I was anxious to find out. ALSO, I love that there is no romance because honestly that can seem so manufactured sometimes. This was a good YA book and I would recommend it. Some of the names are ridiculous and some of the dialogue is a little overly dramatic but I enjoyed the story and the characters. I give it seven shoes – a functional cute pair of riding boots.

If you are interested here is the book trailer for Dark Inside :

Three Appeals : apocalypse zombie story without the zombies, strong female characters, fast-paced tense writing

Red Flags : Violence and gore

If you like Dark Inside try :

1) Legend by Marie Lu

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

2) Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn’t want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.(taken from Fantastic Fiction)

3) Unwind by Neal Shusterman

An unsettling futuristic novel set after the Second Civil War. Connor Lassiter, age 16, runs away from his suburban Ohio home after discovering that his parents have scheduled his “unwinding.” His body parts will go to other people who need them. He will be both terminated and “technically” kept alive, only in a separated state. The constitutional amendments known as “The Bill of Life” permit parents to choose “retroactive” abortion for children between the ages of 13 and 18. Connor meets another Unwind, Risa, and they kidnap Lev, who is a Tithe (the 10th child born to a single family with the express purpose of being unwound). Their escape and survival stories interweave as they struggle to avoid harvest camps. Luckily, an underground network is helping Unwinds escape to safety. (taken from Novelist)

I really liked the book trailer…what did you think??

Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog, please!

Thanks,

Trina

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Filed under book review, Dark Inside, Roberts;Jeyn, seven shoes, Uncategorized

The Leopard or The Guy with the Leopold’s Apple

The big new thing in mystery books is Nordic Noir. What is this Nordic Noir, you may ask? Well, it was basically spawned by the success of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and therefore has many of the same attributes or as this hilarious article describes the Seven Dwarfs of Nordic Noir – Guilty, Moody, Broody, Mopey, Kinky, Dreary and Anything-but-Bashful. I myself loved the Millenium Trilogy and so I decided to do some more Nordic Noir reading. I started with Snowman, which I liked pretty well and Jo Nesbo recently released the newest tome in the Harry Hole series – The Leopard.

So two young women have been recently found, killed in a most horrific way – they have drowned in their own blood from 24 strange puncture wounds in their mouths. The police are baffled and there are no good clues. Then a MP also gets killed by being hung in a public place which decapitates her and the hysteria reaches a fever pitch. The police decide to find Harry Hole, veteran serial killer finder, but he has disappeared. When one enterprising young detective finally finds him, he is mired in the opium dens of Hong Kong and doesn’t want to return to Norway. Harry reluctantly agrees when he finds out his father is dying. Now, he is investigating these three strange deaths which seem to have one thing in common : a trip to a remote cabin. There are several more names on the list of people at the cabin who are in danger. Will Harry find out who the culprit is before they are all killed? What happened at this cabin? Will he ever get it together and find love or happiness or just maybe not want to kill himself?

I have got to say this was one of the goriest books I’ve ever read…so if you are not into that sort of thing, skip this one. The Leopold’s Apple (I’ll let you find out all about it in the book) is fictional but super creepy torture weapon. This book had a bunch of plot twists and turns, it kept me on the edge of my seat. I actually liked this one better than The Snowman. Harry Hole is his usual messed up, smart self. The killer is both psychotic and brilliant. The cabin deal is very intense. I loved the story and the mystery. If you like Nordic Noir, this is a good one! I give it eight shoes – teeteringly high stiletto pumps (it hurts so good!).

Three appeals : dark, intense setting, creepy thriller, twisty turny mystery

Red Flags : Sex, Violence, Gore, Language – not for children…

This is Jo Nesbo’s 6th Harry Hole installment, so if you like this one you should definitely try the others. The Snowman is similarly awesome. Other authors most frequently cited in the Nordic Noir realm include : Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell and Camilla Lackberg. They all have series attributed to them and similarly contain the Seven Dwarfs 😉

Specifically you should also try :

1) The Laughing Policeman by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo

On a cold and rainy Stockholm night, nine bus riders are gunned down by an unknown assassin. The press, anxious for an explanation for the seemingly random crime, quickly dubs him a madman. But Superintendent Martin Beck of the Stockholm Homicide Squad suspects otherwise. This apparently motiveless killer has managed to target one of Beck s best detectives and he, surely, would not have been riding that lethal bus without a reason.

Do you like Nordic Noir? Who is your favorite?

Trina

 

 

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Filed under book review, eight shoes, Nesbo;Jo, The Leopard

The Peneloppiad or How to Bore Someone to Tears for at least an hour…

So after I read When She Woke, I got all sorts of excited about Margaret Atwood again. I put a bunch of books on hold and waited with baited breath to see what came in. Unfortunately, the first thing to come up was The Peneloppiad, whose description left me excited but in actuality was AWFUL. I don’t mean like gosh I don’t like Greek poems and this is boring awful, I mean my eyes are bleeding- awful. I’m not sure if I’m conveying how much I didn’t like this book 😉

Here’s the deal- Atwood decided to reimagine The Odyssey but from the point of view of Penelope. In case you aren’t up on your Greek epic poetry, Penelope was Odysseus’ wife. She was supposed to be the antithesis of Helen, she waited twenty years whilst her husband went off to fight a war, used trickery to win it, came back by some circuitous route, saved his men from Sirens, slept with a goddess to save himself and finally returned. When Odysseus returns to his home, he finds the place overrun by suitors who are literally eating him out of house and home. Understandably, he gets a little bit kill-happy and slaughters all of these rude men but then also decides to kill Penelope’s twelve hand-maidens by hanging them. All sounds interesting and exciting right? But instead of following that story, we get to stay with Penelope who has weird self-esteem issues owing to the fact that she is not as beautiful as Helen. Mostly, she doesn’t like being Odysseus’ wife or being head of household or anything. Interspersed with this story, we get to hear from the twelve hand-maidens who act as a sort of Greek chorus. If there is anything I loathe in books, it is written out songs….I’m looking at you- Tolkien! Nothing ruins a good book faster than a long epic song, but nothing makes a bad book more unbearable than a Greek chorus. Ugh I hated this book, luckily it was only 150 pages and spaced out print so it only took up an hour of my life. I don’t even remotely recommend this book, this is a two shoe book – I’m only giving it that because it seemed like a cool idea, a little feminist perspective on the Odyssey. Please don’t let this color your opinion of Atwood – she is normally a phenomenal writer – just read Handmaid’s Tale or Alias Grace instead  of this nightmare…

Three Appeals : retelling of Odyssey, feminist perspective, I can only give you two…

Red Flags: Greek chorus – only with awareness can we stamp out this problem.

Anybody else read this? Did you hate this as much as I did?

Trina

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Mudbound or Sex and Racism

I recently read the awesome and amazing When She Woke which you all know that I loved beyond words so I had to check out Hillary Jordan’s first novel – Mudbound. I blasted through this novel in about two days. It is really not typically something I like to read about – 1940’s Mississippi but this was very well done. I have come to two conclusions from this book : Sex = awesome and life-renewing, Racism = sucks. Really who can’t get behind that message….

Laura is this city girl who is somewhat plain and everybody thought she was going to be an old maid, until the day she meets Henry McAllan. He’s older and has some prospects so she agrees to marry him. They have some kids and life is going okay. Then he decides to move her to Mississippi to his farm, with his Pappy – a horrifying old racist a-hole. She is somewhat resentful and kind of over the whole thing when the war ends (WWII) and who comes back but Jamie – younger brother of Henry. He is everything Henry is not, handsome, young, witty, charming, but also full of PTSD issues and dealing with it the old-fashioned way – getting drunk a lot. You might be able to see where this is going…..Meanwhile, the oldest son of the black sharecropper family on the farm also comes back from war and he is having issues with war as well, but also coming back from fighting for a country where he is a second-class citizen. Soon Jamie and Ronsel, the sharecropper’s son, strike up a friendship – a dangerous thing in 1940s Mississippi. All of these relationships clash in an intense climax that will leave you shocked and thoughtful.

This book stuck with me long after I read it…..something I love. The relationships between all of the characters struck me as interesting and realistic. The entire book is written where each chapter is from the viewpoint of a different character, which is great because so much of the turmoil is within these characters and only bubbles out at the end. All of the characters are flawed and sympathetic, they do things you can’t understand and then you somehow do understand. Can you tell I really liked this book? I can’t wait to see what Hillary Jordan writes next! I give this book eight and a half shoes – sparkly Ugg boots – it’s not something I would usually go for but I totally like them anyway.

If you like the aspect of a woman dealing with moving in with family she is uncomfortable with try Vinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay  about a woman who is forced to move in with her in-laws when her husband loses his job but finds living unbearable with her father-in-law, a cruel religious fanatic. Or try Wallace Stegner’s Angel of Repose, a Pulitzer Prize winner. In this novel,  Lyman Ward, a wheelchair-bound historian whose marriage has failed, decides to write a fictional biography about his pioneer grandparents to discover why they grew apart over the years. Through their letters and documents, Lyman pieces together the story of Susan, his grandmother, who moved from the East Coast when she married his grandfather, Oliver Ward, a mining engineer in the late nineteenth century. (taken from RA Online)

For some non-fiction books on racism try Sons of Mississippi by Paul Hendrickson. The author has taken the photograph on the cover of seven men, all white and county sheriffs in Mississippi who were determined to keep James Meredith from integrating the University of Mississippi. He weaves together their life stories with that of their children and James Meredith’s children to provide a context for race relations then and today. For a first-person account, try Bone Black by bell hooks in which she describes her own childhood as a “challenging” child who wanted to think for herself.

Let me know what you think! Please sign up as a subscriber…it’s so easy to do.

Trina

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Hark! A Vagrant or And Now For Something Completely Different…

Kate Beaton is this awesome, funny, satirical cartoonist who loves history so she combined the two into one fun blog : www.harkavagrant.com . The blog got so popular that they combined some of her best comic strips into a book called Hark! A Vagrant. It’s kind of hard to review a book based solely on the cartoons within but they are extremely witty…my favorite was the Suffragettes and the City – a combo of Sex and The City and suffragettes. The only thing that I have to say that is bad about it is she uses a lot of history from her native Canada so I don’t get those references…I’m not sure if this is really a fault in the book or just that I am woefully uneducated when it comes to our neighbors to the north. Of course, I am an American so I am woefully under-educated about my own history as well 😉

So if you need a break during your day, take a couple minutes and check out Kate Beaton’s website. If you like what you see take a couple more minutes and check out her book. You will not be disappointed. I give the book seven shoes – very enjoyable but certainly not great literature.

Enjoy!

 

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The House of Silk or The game is afoot!

One of my RA (reader’s advisory) blogs that I check frequently had a list of good mysteries to check out and The House of Silk was one of the books listed (also Revenger which I previously reviewed). This is the only book officially authorized by the Arthur Conan Doyle estate as an official Sherlock Holmes novel. Very prestigious indeed… I’m a total sucker for a good mystery and I really enjoyed this one. Check it out –

Holmes and Watson are at their aparment when they are visited by an art dealer named Edmund Carstairs. He is being menaced by a creepy silent stranger in a …. (wait for it) flat cap from AMERICA (the horror!). When Carstairs is robbed, Holmes is on the case and following the clues. But the clues lead him to find the first body, possibly of the man who was menacing Carstairs. When Holmes puts his Irregulars on the job, one of them winds up dead as well. This one is severely beaten and a length of white silk is tied around his wrist. As they investigate both of these murders, they start to hear about the mysterious House of Silk – a place with connections to the highest levels of government. Will Holmes solve the mystery or ruin himself in the process?

This was a really good mystery. I enjoyed how the author really tried to keep the tone, atmosphere and cadence of the original Holmes novels while adding some more modern sensibilities. Unlike the original Holmes, this one actually starts to feel badly about using young destitute children to do dangerous work on his behalf. Also, Watson starts to develop a conscience, albeit in his old age, about not giving their housecleaner a second thought or the millions of poor, underfed, desperate people in their city. In some ways very refreshing but could be grating for the true Holmes afficionado. All in all, a completely solid mystery that kept me guessing until the very end. It was filled with menacing characters and a palpable sense of danger including creepy opium dens. Definitely an eight shoe book – black stiletto platform pumps – stylish, sexy and goes with anything.

Title : The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

Three Appeals : Familiar characters, great mystery, atmospheric quality

Red Flags : Pretty sanguine as mysteries go but obviously there is some violence

There is a plethora of books out there with Sherlock Holmes as the main character but first check out the originals. There is a reason that Holmes has endured as the greatest detective of all time, they are great novels. It won’t have the same blood and gore effect that most of us are used to but definitely has the awesome crime solving and detective work that I love.

Here are some series featuring Sherlock as a main character :

1) The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King

In 1915, long since retired from his observations of criminal humanity, Sherlock Holmes is engaged in a reclusive study of honeybee behavior on the Sussex Downs. Never did he think to meet an intellect to match his own–until his acquaintance with Miss Mary Russell, a very modern fifteen-year-old whose mental acuity is equaled only by her audacity, tenacity, and penchant for trousers and cloth caps. Under Holmes’s tutelage, Russell hones her talent for deduction, disguises, and danger: in the chilling case of a landowner’s mysterious fever and in a kidnapping in the wilds of Wales. But her ultimate challenge is yet to come. Soon the two sleuths are on the trail of a murderer whose machinations scatter meaningless clues…but whose objective is quite unequivocal: to end Russell and Holmes’s partnership–and their lives. (taken from Amazon.com) The series has 11 books in it so far. I loved the first book and would highly recommend it.
2) The Infernal Device and Others: A Professor Moriarty Omnibus by Michael Kurland
Since they originally appeared over two decades ago, Michael Kurland’s novels featuring Professor Moriarty – The Infernal Device and Death by Gaslight – are amongst the most acclaimed novels to have arisen out of the characters first introduced by Arthur Conan Doyle. In Doyle’s original stories, Professor Moriarty is the bete noire of Sherlock Holmes who proclaims him to be his mental equivalent and ethical opposite, declares him to be “the Napoleon of Crime” and who wrestles Moriarty seemingly to their mutual deaths at Reichenbach Falls. But indeed there are two sides to every story and, while Moriarty may not always tread strictly on the side of the law, he is also, in these novels, not quite the person that Holmes and Watson made him out to be. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
3) The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer
First discovered and then painstakingly edited and annotated by Nicholas Meyer, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution related the astounding and previously unknown collaboration of Sigmund Freud with Sherlock Holmes, as recorded by Holmes’s friend and chronicler, Dr. John H. Watson. In addition to its breathtaking account of their collaboration on a case of diabolic conspiracy in which the lives of millions hang in the balance, it reveals such matters as the real identity of the heinous professor Moriarty, the dark secret shared by Sherlock and his brother Mycroft Holmes, and the detective’s true whereabouts during the Great Hiatus, when the world believed him to be dead. (taken from Amazon.com)
There you go readers, dig into some Sherlock.
Have you read any Sherlock? Do you have a favorite?
Trina

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Filed under book review, eight shoes, Horowitz;Anthony, Mystery, The House of Silk

The Night Strangers or Why are twins so creepy?

I am an unabashed NPR lover and I am especially an unabashed Diane Rehm lover. She occasionally has fiction authors on to discuss their books. I heard Chris Bohjalian on her show discussing this newest book and it sounded like my cup o’ tea. Also, it was Halloween time and I was in the mood for a ghost story. So now that it is winter time and you will likely be trapped in a house somewhere with nothing but reading to do, doesn’t a nice scary ghost story sound fun?

Chip Linton, his wife and their young TWIN daughters (already you know something crazy is going to happen) are moving to New Hampshire to escape. Chip tried to land a plane in a lake Sully Sullenberger-style but instead of being a hero, a wave caught the wing and capsized the plane. In the end, thirty-nine people died in the accident. Chip is super haunted by the whole deal even thought it was technically not his fault. He needs a new start in a small town in a rather large, Victorian, isolated house and a greenhouse. The town seems to be divided by those people with strange plant names and greenhouses (the “herbalists”) and the regular townspeople. The herbalists seem unnaturally interested in the twins and this is causing all sorts of anxiety for their mom. Meanwhile, Chip is going a little cuckoo trying to deal with the accident but is especially having issues when he discovers a door in the basement that has been sealed shut with large iron nails – thirty-nine of them to be exact…. Chaos ensues.

This book was a lot of things rolled into one – family drama, creepy ghost story, psychological thriller, New England small town story. Most of the time it is successful but I felt like sometimes the author was trying to do too much and veered off the path. The door and the ghost story were pretty creepy and reminded me very much of The Shining (one of my faves.) The herbalist stuff was strange. In the end, I enjoyed it but sometimes I thought it was a little too heavy handed. The family trying to deal with the accident was also pretty effective and I enjoyed that portion of the story. It definitely got me thinking about what would have happened if Sully hadn’t saved all those people. I enjoyed this book although at times it felt rambling – I give it seven and a half shoes….my green desert wedge boots – love them!

Title : The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

Three Appeals : Atmospheric ghost story, developed characters, twins

Red Flags : Some violence and language, too intense for children

If you are looking for more ghost stories check out :

1) The Dead Path by Stephen M. Irwin (also known as The Darkening)

Nicholas Close has always had an uncanny intuition, but after the death of his wife he becomes haunted, literally, by ghosts doomed to repeat their final violent moments in a chilling and endless loop. Torn by guilt and fearing for his sanity, Nicholas returns to his childhood home and is soon entangled in a disturbing series of disappearances and  murders – both as a suspect and as the next victim of the malignant evil lurking in the heart of the woods. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

2) Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman (previously reviewed)

3) The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

A classic ghost story. The narrator is a young governess, sent off to a country house to take charge of two orphaned children. She finds a pleasant house and a comfortable housekeeper, while the children are beautiful and charming. But she soon begins to feel the presence of intense evil. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

4) The Shining by Stephen King

I know this is an obvious one but it is a really good book! Definitely a 10 shoe for me. Jack Torrance moves his family into the Overlook Hotel as the overseer during the winter months. They are trapped up there, there is super intense evil in the house, and of course, creepy twins.

Read any good ghost stories lately??

Trina

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Filed under Bohjalian; Chris, book review, horror, seven and a half shoes, The Night Strangers

Dead Reckoning or My regular dose of vampire porn

If you know me at all then you know I loves me some True Blood. So naturally, I started to read the Sookie Stackhouse books after watching the first season. The 11th book came out a little while ago and I hadn’t gotten around to it because of the thousands of books already on my “to read” list. (Also we gave up HBO about a year ago and I thought that reading the books would only bring up the pain of missing my TV vampire porn.) Well now I have and you, my dear readers, get to hear all about it. For those of you who don’t know about Sookie Stackhouse, first crawl out from under that rock you’ve been living under. Sookie Stackhouse is a Southern girl , she works in a bar and she lives with her grandma and brother. Also, she can hear people’s thoughts. A Japanese company has made a synthetic blood beverage that has enabled vampires to “come out” and live in mainstream society. Still hidden but sort of part of society are the werewolves and the shape-shifters. Now, if you are remotely interested in keeping up the surprise of these novels then I suggest you stop reading right here and go to your library and check out the entire series….

For those of you still with me, I will go on about Dead Reckoning. So Sookie is still working at Merlotte’s. She’s still dating Eric Northman (yum….). Sam and the rest of the shapeshifters have come out and people are not so cool with it. While she’s working one night, Merlotte’s gets firebombed and the anti-shifter movement is suspected. Sookie has other suspicions but she is pre-occupied with other issues. Eric and Pam (his child) are having bad relations with their new boss. So, as vampires will do,  they are planning on killing him which could result in happy times or possibly total annihilation for all associated.

I enjoyed this book as I pretty much enjoy all the other Sookie novels – pure fun. It is basically vampire porn mixed with soap opera. We are not going to be solving any of the world’s issues with this one but if you are looking for a entertainment of the vampire variety then I highly recommend it. Charlaine Harris has a tongue-in-cheek style so it keeps it light and not so dramatic. Crazy stuff is always happening but with vampires, werewolves and shape-shifters thrown in it doesn’t seem too crazy…So ladies don’t be ashamed of needing an occassional dose of vampire porn, it is all in good fun. I give this book seven shoes – intense gladiator wedges that border on dominatrix shoes – pure club/going-out shoes.

Three Appeals : supernatural setting, familiar characters and SEX!

Red Flags : Violence, gore, language and SEX!

If you enjoy vampire porn then I suggest you check out these authors :

Sherrilyn Kenyon – Her Dark Hunter series also infuses some humor with paranormal romance which in this case focuses on Greek mythology as a basis. Check out this for more info.

J.R. Ward – If you want to live in the world of vampires then check out The Black Dagger Brotherhood which follows a world of half-breed and purebred vampires. This is more dark than the Stackhouse novels but still packs plenty of romance and paranormal goings on.

Kresley Cole – Also writes about paranormal romance with a humorous edge. Check out her Immortals After Dark series.

What’s your favorite vampire/supernatural porn books?

Trina

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Filed under book review, Dead Reckoning, Harris;Charlaine, paranormal, seven shoes

Revenger or Methinks Thou Didst Strike Me Verily Upon the Head

I am a huge sucker for historical fiction from two time periods : first, anything in Ancient Egypt but more specifically the era when Cleopatra, Caesar and Marc Antony were kicking around (I will be reviewing Cleopatra : A Life in the future) and second, anything Elizabethan era. So when I found out there is a series of historical fiction mysteries set in the Elizabethan era where Shakespeare’s older brother solves mysteries I had to check it out. I didn’t realize there was a previous novel so I missed the first book of this series but I enjoyed this book enough that it didn’t bother me as much as that usually does.

So John Shakespeare is Will’s older brother, super intelligent and formerly a spy for Walshingham (the Queen’s spy master). Now Walsingham is dead, the Queen is fast fading and there are intrigues aplenty at Court as people are jockeying for positions and Spain is getting all assassiny. John is approached by the Earl of Essex who wants him to investigate a report that a woman has been spotted in London who was known to be a colonist at the mysterious colony of Roanoke ( you know the one where everybody died, and all that was left were mysterious markings on trees). Then he is approached by Sir Cecil (the Queen’s NEW spymaster) who wants John to spy on the Earl of Essex because he suspects him of wanting to kill his queen. Meanwhile, John is dealing with plague in the city and his wife possibly hiding a priest (which is very much against the law). Who is the mysterious woman and was she at Roanoke? Is the Earl of Essex really plotting treason? How do several strange murders around town connect to both of these things? As Shakespeare said “The game is afoot.”  (Interesting sidenote : Shakespeare is responsible for more sayings than any other individual in history, at least 135 including “The game is afoot, good riddance, and wild goose chase.” )

I really enjoyed this mystery novel. The plot was intricate and detailed, with nothing being overly obvious. The historical accuracies of the novel made me feel as if Clements put me right into Elizabethan England. The characters were interesting and varied from lower class whores to aristocratic nobles. If you are looking for a literary novel then you should probably look elsewhere – there are no intense subtle contexts to this book. But if you are looking for a solid historical mystery novel then this should be on your list. I give the book seven shoes – a pair of green wedge moccasin shoes that I love but don’t get bust out as often as I would like.

Title : Revenger by Rory Clements

Three Appeals : Detailed historical setting, intricate and interesting mystery, well developed characters

Red Flags : Some sex and violence

For more historical mysteries try :

1) An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears

Opinionated, influential Dr. Robert Grove is poisoned with arsenic in his New College lodgings. A missing signet ring leads his colleagues to his former servant (and rumored strumpet) Sarah Blundy, who, swiftly brought to trial, confesses and is promptly hanged–and dissected by enthusiastic physician Richard Lower. But the crime, evidently so simple in its events, is presented through the distorting lenses of four narrators whose obsessions place it in dramatically different contexts. Visiting Venetian Marco da Cola, a dandy mined in medicine, who has been treating Sarah’s ailing mother Anne, grieves for the ruin of mother and daughter and the wreck of his own friendship with Lower. Sarah’s former lover Jack Prestcott, an undergraduate jailed for attacking his guardian, is consumed with proving that his exiled father was hounded to his death innocent of the charge of treason the returning monarch Charles II’s supporters had lodged against him. Dr. John Wallis, mathematician and divine, sees no inconsistency between his endless petty intrigues on behalf of Charles’s scheming minister Henry Bennet and his vituperative condemnation of Sarah. In the brilliantly illuminated world in which medical experiments, religious and political debates between Roundheads and Royalists, and the founding of the Royal Society bring debates about the nature of science, history, religion, and authority into a focus whose sharpness has a special urgency for our own time, each of these narrators has his own slashingly conflicting claims to make. But it’s not until the final narrator, burrowing historian Anthony Wood, weighs in to judge among the sharply competing visions of the earlier narrators that Pears produces his most memorable surprises, or unveils his deepest mysteries. ( taken from Kirkus Reviews, 1997).

2) Firedrake’s Eye by Patricia Finney

London, 1583. The loyal courtier Simon Ames is viciously beaten. Is the attack random, or has Ames been the victim of a subtly treasonous act? A nonsense poem written by the lunatic Tom O’Bedlam has become a favourite of London’s ballad sellers. Who has taken the meanderings of a madman so seriously and why? Following a trail of murder, treason and terror, Ames sets out to find the truth. But as he digs deeper into the human midden that is Elizabethan London, the puzzle becomes an enigma, then a riddle. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

3) The Poyson Garden by Karen Harper

The letter came in secret, with a pearl eardrop from an aunt long thought dead, resurrecting the forbidden past. Banished by her spiteful half sister, Queen Mary, to Hatfield House in the English countryside, twenty-five-year-old Princess Elizabeth cannot refuse the summons. The Boleyns are in grave danger. And Elizabeth, daughter of Anne Boleyn, is marked for death by a master poisoner whose reign of terror may have royal sanction. With her few loyal retainers, Elizabeth escapes to Kent. Here, in her ancestral Hever Castle, now held by the Queen’s loyalists, Elizabeth seeks to unravel the plot against her. And here, in the embrace of intrigue and betrayal, the princess must find a brilliant, powerfully connected killer-before the killer finds her…. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

Are you a fan of historical fiction/mysteries? What’s your favorite time period?

Trina

 

 

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