Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Historical Fiction

I am not hitting the crazy reading portion of my year so my posting schedule will continue to be erratic through the beginning of January.  To tide you over, here is a link to the work blog where I talk about some of my favorite Historical novels of the year. http://www.kclibrary.org/blog/kc-unbound/eight-best-historical-fiction-books-2010#comments

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance by Sara Poole

Poison: A Novel of the RenaissancePoison: A Novel of the Renaissance  - When Francesca Giordano’s father, the Poisoner for the Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, is murdered, she applies for the position herself. Having studied under her father she is skilled with both detecting poisons and creating undetectable poison. Navigating the deadly world of 15th Century Rome, she and Borgia plot to kill Pope Innocent VIII before he can set the Inquisitor loose on the Jews of Europe.
This historical novel had a little bit of everything. A bit of a mystery, a bit of romance and a lots of historical detail that made this debut novel a fun engaging read. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Another kitten post....

I was going to try not to blog about the kittens very often but what the heck, they are cute and they make me smile.

Anyway, one of my duties is to name my little foster kittens.  Since the calico is a Hemingway kitten I was thinking that she should have a Hemingway related name. She is a really feisty little thing and she plays so much I am having trouble getting her to put on weight. She is also super cuddly and bendy. When the kittens play, every so often she has to run over to me to get petted or cuddled before she goes back out to play some more. She also is the one who is constantly checking to see what I am doing and is into everything. Since the kittens first adoption event is Friday I can't do my usual and wait for the kittens to tell me what their name is. Below are some of the possible choices. Feedback or other alternatives are welcomed.

Hemingway’s Women:
Hadley Richardson – 1st wife
Pauline Pfeiffer; - 2nd wife
Martha Gellhorn – 3rd wife
Mary Welsh Hemingway – 4th wife
Grace Hall-Hemingway – his mother
Agnes von Kurowsky – first love who jilted him
Lady Brett Ashley – character in The Sun Also Rises
Margot Macomber – character in The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber
Catherine Barkley - character in A Farewell to Arms
Maria - character in For Whom the Bell Tolls
Pilar – his boat

Emily Dickinson
Simone De Beauvoir
Nikki Adams
Audrey Hepburn
Joan Crawford
Gertrude Stein
Sofia Loren

Since the rescue group is treating these two like siblings, they want me to name them either something related or something that starts with the same letter. I thought of naming the little male cat Ernest Hemingway but he is so laid back (well, laid back for a kitten) that I am not sure Hemingway fits him. He is also a bit more independent and willing to be on his own than the female is. He also is a purring machine.

Hemingway characters:
Jacob Barnes - character in The Sun Also Rises
Santiago - character in The Old Man and the Sea
Lieutenant Frederic Henry - character in A Farewell To Arms
Robert Jordan - character in For Whom the Bell Tolls
Hemingway cats:
Hairy Truman
Archibald MacLeish
Spencer Tracy
Pablo Picasso
Charley Chaplin

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Last week I started volunteering with a new organization that Average Jane introduced me to.  I volunteer or give money to other organizations that work with animals but I have not been able to work with the animals in a meaningful way. Most of them desperately need volunteers who are willing to do intake interviews or billing and because I work in public service I tend to get funneled into these jobs. This is fine and I am happy to do whatever is needed for a charity I support, however I really like to do something completely different during my volunteer experiences.  Yes, I would be great at literacy based projects, helping people learn computer skills and customer service but sometimes I want to do something a little different from what I do during a day job.

Therefore, I have just become a foster mom for T.A.R.A and taken charge of my first two fur babies. I will keep them until they are ready to join the rest of the animals at the adoption center. This will hopefully work to my advantage because a) I am a sucker for baby animals and b) I have already promised my older cat there will be no more kittens joining our family while she is alive (not even this one). She barely survived the arrival of Spike and I don't think she could handle another permanent cat in her world. Hopefully, the kittens will cycle through fast enough to keep me from becoming overly attached or her having too much interaction with them. 

 Notice that the calico kitten has six toes.  She is a little Hemingway kitten.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin

Butterfly Swords (Harlequin Historical)Princess Ai Li is on the way to her arranged marriage when she learns the truth about her powerful new husband-to-be. During her daring escape, foreigner Ryam, comes to her aide and helps her to flee. As they are pursued across Tang Dynasty China, Ai Li and Ryam find that some things are worth fighting for. 

This is a great example of a romance with star-crossed lovers who must battle family, tradition, honor and themselves before true love can prevail.  The unusual setting and the cast of strong women made this story memorable.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

At the concert

A long-standing tradition is to go to see my friend Jackie's favorite band, Better Than Ezra every time they come to town. Last weekend was our fifth? or possibly sixth? time seeing them. (My friend on the end has not been elevated to crazed band groupie status, but we are working on him:-)
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Monday, August 16, 2010


For months I have said that I had absolutely no reason to get a Kindle.  But lately, I find that the Kindle apps for my computers and cell phone have made reading my award nominees really handy, especially when I am stuck at the auto repair or doctors office. I have tried the Nook apps but just don't find them as handy.  The text size is great but it takes up tons and tons of space on my phone and everything has seemed to run slower since I installed it.

I think this Kindle deserves to go on my "I don't need it as much as I need assorted house repair items but I really want it" Christmas/Birthday list.  Even more than that, I think I need a nicely loaded Amazon gift card so I can buy more e-books.

Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 6" Display, Graphite, 3G Works Globally - Latest Generation

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Thousand Cuts

A Thousand Cuts: A NovelA Thousand Cuts by Detective Inspector Lucia May has been assigned to investigate what looks like an open and shut case of school violence. During the course of the investigation, she finds the reasons for a school teacher opening fire on a school assembly were not as clear and straightforward as everyone would like to believe.  Even as she continues to investigate in the face of extreme pressure from staff at the school, coworkers and even her supervisor she finds that discovering the reasons why the teacher did what he did will risk her the respect of her peers and even her career.

I could not stop thinking about this novel, which alternates first-hand witness police reports with third person narration of the investigation. This is an extremely effective portrayal of where mixing politics, money and a toxic school culture can lead.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This Week in Books and Media

This was supposed to go up last week but I somehow forgot to save it correctly....

No time to write lengthy reviews but here is a list of what I have been reading lately. I linked to Amazon so you can go read the product description for more information.  

Horns: A NovelHorns by Joe Hill - Very good. The physical and psychological horror are very nicely balanced in this novel by Stephen King's son.

Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt - Historical fiction. Not my favorite time period to read about but well done.

Caught by Harlan Coban - Excellent thriller by one of our premier writers. This is probably one of his best.

Angelology by Danielle Trusson - Beautiful alternative world building and fully fleshed out characters. Very detailed.

Darkship Thieves by Sarah Hoyt - Can't get enough of those space opera's especially one that has a female character who can kick some ass.

Crux by Moira Rogers - This was a fun paranormal romance.

The Passage by Justin Cronin - One that people are probably either going to love or hate. A new twist on zombies that I thought was a winner.

Wicked Becomes Her by Meredith Duran - Really great characters and a nice fast pace.  Very good.

Devils Star by Jo Nesbo - I heard someone say that this author does evil really well.  Great mystery, interesting characters and setting.

The Other Family by Joanna Trollope - Interesting premise but I never really could figure out why the second "wife" was so angry with the first wife.

The Winter Thief by Jenny White - I have a soft spot for books set in Turkey and had actually been to some of the towns mentioned in the book.  Very good historical fiction with a good blend of political intrigue and mystery.

A Vintage Affair by  Isabel Wolff - This was a charming read that was a little deeper than your usual Chick Lit type book. 

I am pretty sure there are more but that should do for now.

*Note: I am an Amazon Associate. Book links will generate a small referral fee for me if used for purchases.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Free E-Book Friday

Nebula Award-Nominated author Vera Nazarian is offering her novel Dreams of the Compass Rose as a free download for a limited time!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

This Week in Books and Media...and camping.

This was a busy, busy week so I didn't get much reading done.  Over the weekend I traveled to Minnesota for the wedding reception of a good friend.  While there we socialized, drank wine, rowed boats, communed with nature and ate.  Unfortunately, all of this fun did not leave much time for reading although I am halfway through about three at the moment.  Next week there should be plenty of book talk.

If you are at all outdoorsy, I do highly recommend visiting the lakes in Minnesota for camping. The setting is lovely and there is plenty of water to play in. Just make sure you carry some super powerful bug spray because the rumor is, later in the season the mosquitoes are as big as your head. Just sayin...

The Coldest Winter EverThe Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah - This is often considered the book that started off the Urban (or Street) fiction genre so we picked it for our genre study book club at work.  Winter, the main character, is the spoiled daughter of a drug dealer in the Brooklyn projects. When her father is arrested, her pampered life falls apart and in trying to play "the game" she quickly descends into the ugly world of drugs, violence and revenge.  Written by Hip Hop star and activist, Sister Souljah, the author presents a heartbreaking look at what drugs can do to a community and to the young men and women whose lives revolve around it. The book has flaws but is worth reading for its grittiness and realism.
Murder on the Cliffs: A Daphne du Maurier Mystery (Daphne du Maurier Mysteries)
Murder on the Cliffs by Joanna Challis - Daphne du Maurier is the detective in this historical novel.  When Daphne goes to Cornwall to visit her old nurse and do research for her first novel, she becomes enmeshed in the murder of Victoria.  Victoria is the young, lower class girl who has become engaged to the eligible son of the local aristocracy. There are some clunky sections but this is an excellent novel for those who love Gothic romance, Daphne du Maurier and reading about the British aristocracy.

The Imaginarium of Doctor ParnassusThe Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - Gifted with the ability to guide the imagination of others, Dr. Parnassus gambled with the devil and lost the soul of his daughter. In order to win her back, he must compete with the devil for the souls of five other people.  The acting is fresh and inventive and the costumes and cinematography are outstanding. I enjoyed this even though sometimes I had to rewind to catch some detail I missed. Multi-tasking is not recommended for this film. This was a freaky little movie.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

This Week in Books and Media

Feed (Newsflesh, Book 1)Feed by Mira Grant  (Horror)  - I wrote a lovely long review of this book because I was so pleased with it and then promptly forgot to save it.  Sigh...

Anyway, the world has changed with the advent of the zombie uprising. While traditional news reporters were still debating whether or not zombies existed the bloggers were out reporting on how to save oneself and destroy the zombies.  Now bloggers are at the cutting edge of news reporting and Georgia and Shaun Mason are leading the pack (and the ratings). After being selected to become the official bloggers reporting on presidential candidate Peter Ryman, Georgia starts to notice that an unusual number of his supporters have been infected and have turned into zombies. As she investigates, she and her brother find that it is a conspiracy on a national scale. Now they just have to report on it before they also become the undead. Highly recommended and I can't wait for book two in the series.

DwellerDweller by Jeff Strand (Horror) - When Toby was eight years old he found a monster in the woods. Instead of eating him, the monster seemed to want to be friends. Bullied in school and with no other friends to turn to, Toby befriends the monster. Unfortunately when Toby is in high school, their friendship starts to take a dark and disturbing turn.  This was an intriguing horror novel that followed the friendship between a monster and a boy. 

Watermark: A Novel of the Middle AgesWatermark by Vanitha Sankaran (Historical) - Auda, daughter of a paper maker, mute and an albino, is caught up in the terror of the Inquisition when her actions lead the head inquisitor to decide her father is consorting with unbelievers. Although the plot is a bit unbelievable at times, this is a fantastic novel about a strong woman choosing her own path against overwhelming odds.

Except the QueenExcept the Queen by Jane Yolen, Midori Snyder (Fantasy) - When fairy siblings, Serena and Meteora are banished from the fairy kingdom they must learn to navigate New York City as humans (with a few special powers). They make friends, master strange new technologies and eventually even make friends. When forces conspiring to bring down the fairy queen discover their presence, the lives of their friends are threatened. Jane Yolen really can't be beat when it comes to traditional fantasy. This is a beautifully written novel.

Sparrow RockSparrow Rock by Nate Kenyon (Horror) -  My question when reading post-apocalyptic novels is why the only survivors seem to be under the age of 25?  Granted, I have taken quizzes that suggest I have the survival skills of a kumquat but really, is it so much to ask that I survive the apocalypse so that I can then be eaten by horrific, genetically engineered bugs?

Pete and a group of his high school friends visit a friend's grandfather's bomb shelter to enjoy some illegal substances. When they open the hatch, they find that a series of nuclear bombs have detonated destroying the world as they know it. They promptly retreat to the bomb shelter to wait it out. Unfortunately nuclear fallout is not all they have to fear....

Galileo's DreamGalileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson (Science Fiction)  - This is one of the powerhouse authors in the Science Fiction world today and his complex novel follows the life of Galileo...and Galileo's mysterious trips to Europa, the second moon of Jupiter. Every time he visits this other future world, his own reality shifts and bends.  I did feel like this was a bit of an homage to Galileo rather than Science Fiction novel but there is no questioning the skill this author brings to this work.

The Sorcerer's HouseSorcerer's House by Gene Wolfe (Fantasy) - Ex-Con, Baxter Dunn, wanders into Medicine Man and promptly inherits a mysterious house. He encounters terrifying murders, mysterious women, fey creatures and a house that is always changing and never the same. I am still trying to decide what I think of this one.


The Twilight Saga: New Moon (Two-Disc Special Edition)New Moon - Drama, drama, drama. Edward the vampire is several hundred years old (I think) and yet, he says things like "I don't want to exist in a world without you in it." Suck it up, vampire boy and deal with it. I really don't remember High School being this dramatic but then again, I wasn't in love with the undead.

And yes, the movie was still kind of entertaining.

Leap YearLeap Year - A friend and I have a standing date to get together once a month. Sometimes we have movie night; sometimes we go out to dinner. We also have a track record for watching the worst movies EVER.  This movie night kept our streak going nicely.  Leap Year was very, very slow. The two main characters had very little chemistry, the pacing was slow and it just didn't satisfy.

Whip It - Yes, I watched this last week but during this month's Drinking Book Club we watched it again. I have to say, watching it with a group made it much more fun.