Thursday, April 29, 2010

Books This Week

I actually read quite a number of books this week but left them on the counter and cannot remember all of them now.  Next week is going to have a LONG list of books for you to check out.

Provocative in PearlsProvocative in Pearls by Madeline Hunter - I found the heroine in this novel to be frustrating. She had so little understanding of her situation and what was possible. Her continued pursuit of an annulment seemed particularly naive although her anger and frustration was understandable.  The hero was probably fairly true to life in terms of the time period but his continued insistence that she recognize that she needed his permission to do pretty much anything because she belonged to him was kind of a downer in a romance novel.

Doors OpenDoors Open by Ian Rankin - I struggled with this one a bit because I could not wrap my head around the kind of boredom that would make someone want to steal a priceless painting at the risk of destroying one's life.  I wanted to take our main character aside and lecture him about the potential consequences of his actions. I also figured out the plot twist very early on. Having said that, I think Ian Rankin is an outstanding author and any of his books are worthy of a read.

The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag: A Flavia de Luce Mystery (Flavia De Luce Mysteries)The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley - The first book in this series (which I have not read) was a smash hit so I was excited to read this one. The author does a good job of revealing the young detectives quirks and insecurities without making her annoyingly precocious and the author's skill in quickly drawing interesting and unusual characters is apparent.  The mystery itself was interesting but a tiny bit thin but I found I didn't care because the characters were so very interesting.

Love in Mid AirLove in Mid Air by Kim Wright - I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. I usually am deeply irritated by novels about infidelity because I can never figure out why the character doesn't do the right thing and divorce their spouse BEFORE they go out looking for someone new. Of course, that tends to make for a very short novel when the characters behave in sensible and rational ways but it almost always makes me not like and not care about characters who behave so dishonorably.

Anyway, back to this novel, I really liked this book, not because of the infidelity and the problems with her marriage which I always find a bit trite and banal, but because of the way the book explored how her actions impacted the lives of everyone around her.  I also liked that the book ended in the same way life often does, messy and unresolved.  This is really an author to watch.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Weekend

This weekend was jam packed with activities.  On Friday night I ran home after work to spend some time with Daisy, Catherine's dog, who periodically spends some time at my house.  We usually have a good time but it does tend to break her heart that my cats emphatically refuse to play with her.  After I spent some time with Daisy I headed down to RJ's Bob-Be-Que Shack to join @sjwaters, @c_giffin and Mary Ann for some famous BBQ and music and to say hey to Twitter_Adverse_Dave. Seriously, they were just on KCPT's Check, Please! and I believe they are due to appear on Diners, Drive in's & Dives soon. They are now famous....and packed with people. Afterwards, we headed to the driveway to drink wine in front of the fire pit.

Saturday I got up early to go to yoga class with Average Jane and then out for crepes. Then I rushed home so I could walk Daisy. Unfortunately, by the time I got home it had started pouring down rain so poor Daisy just hung out with me while I got the house ready for company. At around one, some of my favorite people came over to play the board game Dune with me. Since we all had birthday parties to attend that night, we decided to set a time limit (since our last game lasted 8 hours). Beneath the Ginko owns the game which is lucky since it is almost impossible to get a hold of these days. I believe there are a few places out there where you can cobble together the game but that is quite a bit of work. The other attendee had played the game before informed us he had spent quite a bit of time thinking about his strategy and began to indulge in some quality trash talk. Everyone else was a newbie.  When it came time to form alliances, Trash Talk Boy announced that by pairing up with Ginko there would be no contest and they would crush the other three of us into dust. Oddly enough, that brought out my competitive streak so @imaginary_mark/Taracuda , Fred/@bckhough and I joined forces and by the time we were done, there were some outrageously awesome strategies being devised and, may I just say, I personally kick some fairly major ass.  My partners also had some truly inspired moment. Unfortunately, so did the other team. The final move was so close that it basically came down to having one slightly better card to play.  If you can get your hands on this game and have the patience to read several pages of instructions, I highly recommend trying this game.  I know we will be playing again. In case you are wondering, Daisy got lots of attention from the dog friendly crowd.

After the game, I headed over to my good friend Gone Mild's house for his 50th Birthday Bash. GM brews his own beer so it is always a treat to visit him. After that I headed out to Funky Town for my favorite girl's birthday party.  Funky Town was quite an adventure but I think I will leave that story for others to tell.  Happy Birthday this week to three of my favorite people!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

This Week in Books and Media


Heart's BloodHeart's Blood by Gail Dayton - Victorian England setting except with wizards, sorceresses, alchemists and conjurers.  I thought the world building and magical elements were really interesting and the mystery held my attention. The romance portion of the book was a bit weak however. I liked the characters quite a bit but just felt like too much happened in too short of a time period. I will, however, definitely pick up her next book.

Short Squeeze by Chris Knopf - I am not sure if it was the continuous use of the volunteer at a library being called a librarian or constant references to the main character smoking pot but this book got annoying and repetitive after awhile. I just wanted to say okay, we get it. You have created a quirky pot smoking character. Let's move on already.

Fantasy in DeathFantasy in Death by J.D. Robb - I can't remember reading a book in this series that disappointed me. Some are better than others but none are bad. The near future setting (with really cool techie toys), the tough detective who faces down hardened criminals and serial killers with ease but panics when she is confronted with babies and determined hairdressers, and a super hot, rich fantasy of a husband who adores his wife all add to the appeal of this series. Add to that a group of friends who have managed to recognize each other as soul mates and create a family that buoys each other up during hard times and you have a winning series from my point-of-view.

Secrets of a Scandalous BrideSecrets of a Scandalous Bride
by Sophia Nash - This is one of the bad boy romances and I have to admit, while I like to flirt with the bad boys, the thought of dating one or marrying one leaves me a bit perplexed. Reading about them on the other hand, can be quite fun.  Anyway, there were parts of this novel that I really enjoyed but I couldn't figure out why the bad boy would essentially kidnap a woman and then make her cook for him when he doesn't like food. I think having him not ask for sex (as is typical in a bad boy novel) was showing that underneath the gruff exterior beat the heart of a gentleman but I couldn't figure out why he bothered. Don't get me wrong, I liked the heroine but he didn't know anything about her and at first didn't find her particularly appealing so why would he put himself through all that trouble. Once they fell in love is when the book picked up for me and I really enjoyed how the problem that kept them apart was handled.

Beaded Hope by Cathy Liggett - This book was pretty predictable and I could see the ending coming a mile away but I did very much like the details about the African women. As always when I read about the AIDS epidemic in Africa I want to sell the house, quit the job and join the Peace Corps.

Fantastic Mr. Fox (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)Fantastic Mr. Fox - This was actually pretty fantastic and I can see why it was nominated for the Oscars.  It was clever and witty with a nice strong female character.  I had a bit of trouble not picturing George Clooney every time Mr. Fox spoke but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Highly recommended for adults. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19: W. S. Di Piero’s “In Our Room”

April 19: W. S. Di Piero’s “In Our Room”

In Our Room

On the strip between the lakes
I look for some trace of you
in everything that moves.
At the tip of its wake, a coot's
bone bill points through
the leaves' sponged-ink shade,
slate feathers splitting the air;
the water quivers, bright
as your bath-drenched hair
shaking off silvered bits.
A tern pulls up, tilting
through the spreading light,
then drops beak and body fast.
Two dark swifts dip past
swamp oaks like brown
twilight in our room, blinds
barring your face, while your lips
closed on some dream sound,
some word I didn't catch,
a wood-duck's straight-seamed wedge,
a cowbird shuddering from
the lake on loose bent wings.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Womans Day Magazines Essay-Contest

The American Library Association (ALA) and Woman’s Day are looking for stories that showcase the importance and value of libraries within the communities they serve. Essays are due by May 9, 2010.

Women ages 18 and up are invited to send in their stories in 700 words or less to Up to four stories will be profiled in the March 2011 issue of the magazine or at

Librarians can download free tools to help collect local stories from the Campaign for America’s Libraries Web site. Tools include a sample press release and newsletter copy.

A downloadable Web button that can be linked to the official rules on the Woman’s Day Web site is also available.

The initiative continues a nine-year partnership between the magazine and ALA’s Campaign for America’s Libraries that has generated millions of dollars worth of editorial coverage for libraries. Since 2002, Woman’s Day has asked its readers to write in about “how the library has changed my life,” “how the library helped improve my health” and “how the library helped me deal with the tough economy.”

Woman’s Day magazine is a Partner in the Campaign for America’s Libraries, ALA’s public awareness campaign that promotes the value of libraries and librarians.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Free E-Book Friday

For a limited time, download Rides of a Dread Legion for free. It is the first book in Raymond E. Feist's The Demonwar Saga. The download includes a bonus excerpt from At the Gates of Darkness. Download it at Amazon or any of these retailers.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

This Week in Books and Media

This was an indulgent reading kind of week for me since three favorite authors came out with their newest books.  They all do fit within the parameters of my reading award but I tend to leave these authors to others since I like them too much to effectively judge the quality.  If you like urban fantasy, be sure to try Jim Butcher and Patricia Briggs. Other favorites are J.D. Robb and Gail Carriger.  Try them, you might like them:-)


Changes (Dresden Files, Book 12)Changes by Jim Butcher - There are big changes in store for Harry (hence the name Changes) this time around.  It seems like the bad guys keep getting badder and I am not sure what Jim will do for the next novel. Maybe a nice apocalypse?

Changeless by Gail Carriger - Book two in this series starts out with our newly married couple learning to live together in wedded bliss.  Of course, this being a novel, happy and carefree can't last. This time the magical beings are being affected by a strange field that is damping magic and making the ghosts go away forever. Added to that, there are werewolf pack dynamics to work through and some new quirky characters to decipher.

Freeze Frame: The Fourth of the Enzo FilesFreeze Frame by Peter May - I hadn't read this author before and thought that the mystery did pretty well as a stand-alone. I wouldn't have known why the main character was working his way through unsolved murders if I hadn't read a review but that didn't detract significantly from the story.  I cannot tell you what a joy it was to read a mystery with clues. Clear, well-defined clues that actually made it possible to solve the murder. I did figure out who did it but by the time I did, the clues were pretty clearly showing the way. I also liked the main character and his interactions with the townspeople. I did not, however, like the girlfriend but maybe the reason she was so awful was explained in a previous book.  I will definitely look for more in this series.

Devils in Exile: A NovelKindred in Death by J.D. Robb - Eve and Roarke are back again in their gazillionth mystery. Robb never fails to please with her complex characters. These are sexy novels and the crimes are usually pretty brutal so I wouldn't suggest this for anyone who likes clean, cozy mysteries but I love these. 

Devils in Exile by Chuck Hogan - Home from the war, Neal Maven is working dead-end jobs and feels marginalized and unappreciated for his service to his country. When a mysterious stranger with flashy clothes offers a way to use the skills he learned in Iraq to take down drug mavens and dealers he jumps at the chance.  Soon he is living the good life and things couldn't be going better but when he falls for his boss's lady and the rest of the team starts to get careless he decides he wants out, which is when the real trouble begins.  I have said before I need my thrillers to be action packed and full of adrenaline for the entire book. This delivered from start to finish with a fully fleshed out main character who was never cliched or predictable.  

Tempest Rising (Jane True)Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler - This was a fun new series if you like paranormal fiction. It had a slightly different twist and a much more venerable heroine than one usually sees in the paranormal genre.  The heroine knows she is different from most people and after finding a dead body in the sea one night, she suddenly discovers there is a whole world of supernatural folk living in the same town.  She and the hot vampire (of course) band together to solve the mystery and also discover they have romantic feelings for each other. There are some very clear clues about the direction the next book in the series will take.

Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson, Book 5)Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs - I stayed up late last night to finish this one. I love the Mercy Thompson series.  The main character is a shape shifting coyote who owns her own garage and repairs cars for a living. Her next door neighbor is a hot werewolf (of course), his teenage daughter and his pack. Also populating this world are the Fae, vampires, etc....  Mercy spends her spare time flirting with the werewolf, solving mysteries and trying to navigate pack politics.  Start with Moon Called if you want to read this series.


The Men Who Stare At GoatsThe Men Who Stare At Goats - This was an odd movie. I liked it but it didn't completely keep my attention. I had to watch this twice because I would find myself wandering off at various points to clean the kitchen or text someone. I even did it the second time when I was making a point to watch.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Happy National Library Week!

Have you told your favorite librarian how much you appreciate him or her? Don't you think you should?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

My weekend

This weekend I tried to take it easy for a change. I am getting tired of running amock so all I had scheduled was a yoga class and a hair appointment. It was also time for that most dreaded of activities...mowing.  I will never understand the satisfaction that some people (men) derive from mowing and there is no use in explaining it to me.  The first mowing of spring was rife with new challenges this year. I was given an electric mower so a friend could purchase a new and improved model.  Mine plugs in so there was quite a learning curve trying to figure out how to keep the cord out of my way. You would think that years of vacuuming would have provided this knowledge, but no, I spent about half my time moving the cord around. On the plus side, starting it was a breeze. (By the end of the job I was so worn out my hairdresser took pity on me and came to my house to touch up my hair.)  This year was supposed to be the year that I purchased a new mower as my environmental improvement of the year. Instead I think it will be when I purchase or build or install a composting system of some kind.  I haven't done the research yet but will start working on it soon.

My big purchase was a tomato plant. This is not the first year I have attempted to plant something that would provide me a few fresh veggies. However, due to my being the only person in my neighborhood without a dog, this experiment has not gone well in the past. My plants usually last a week or so before they are murdered by either rabbits or squirrels. This year I am going to try a container plant that will come inside with me when I cannot protect it adequately. I don't actually have high hopes but I can't give up on the fresh vegetable idea quite yet.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Free E-Book Friday

This is the last day but if you like poetry head over to May's Machete and sign up for a free e-copy of her book of poetry.

My week in Books and Media

Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate)Soulless by Gail Carriger - I loved this novel.  The Victorian era is great for creating women characters who, with their British sensibilities and self confidence in their ability to handle everything life throws at them, barrel through life moving obstacles and people out of their way with their trusty parasol. Throw some vampires and werewolves into this alternate reality setting and Alexia, a heroine whose lack of soul makes her utterly immune to the undead and you have the makings of a great story. This was a very inventive tale and the main character reminded me of one of my favorite mystery heroines, Amelia Peabody (series written by Elizabeth Peters.) I have now ordered book #2 in order to continue my journey with Alexia.

Pieces of Sky by Kiki Warner - I actually enjoyed this one quite a bit and felt like the author did a good job evoking emotion and building a solid romance. However, it did, at times, feel like there was too much going on. Not only was she running from the evil brother-in-law, he was in the middle of a blood feud with the man who massacred half his family, the ranch burned down, the dog died.... Well, you get the idea.

First Drop of Crimson by Jeaniene Frost - Good, popular basic premise of a woman in danger with a "good" vampire to the rescue, this was a serviceable romance but a bit disjointed.  The author is at the start of a new series a new series and it shows.

The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine - This story of a woman and her two daughters living in gentile poverty in a New York suburb started off really well but gradually lost steam as the characters became more and more self-pitying.  I think this was meant to be a Jane Austin spinoff but it had none of the sparkling wit of the original.

The Queen's Governess by Karen Harper - This one is quite good if you like historical novels. The main character is a lady-in-waiting for Anne Boleyn and is trusted enough to eventually become the governess for Queen Elizabeth (before she becomes queen, of course.)  This is based on the life of Catherine "Kat" Ashley and covers the death of Anne Boleyn through Kat's death.

The Golden SeasonThe Golden Season by Connie Brockway - I believe I said before that I really like romance novels that have characters I would like to know in real life.  Even without the fabulously rich part, the two main characters in this novel are really wonderful people. They are genuinely kind, caring people who rescue family members from bad circumstances at great personal cost to themselves because it is the right thing to do.  This is an A+ novel.

The Most Intimate Place by Rosemary Furber - I don't think I have a handle on this novel yet and may have to hold off talking about it until next week. By then I may have made up my mind what I think of it....or possibly not.


2012 - I think I can recommend you all pass on this particular movie unless you really have nothing else AT ALL to do.  I like the apocalypse film genre but this one did nothing for me.