...never judge a book by its movie

Friday, April 29, 2011

Spring Serenity Read-a-Thon Day 5

Spring Serenity Read-a-Thon
The Spring Serenity Read-a-Thon is being hosted by Michelle at The True Book Addict and runs from April 25th through May 1st.  There's still time to join in on the mini-challenges and prizes, as you can join in anytime through the week, reading as much or as little as you'd like.  I'm hosting a mini-challenge here as well, with a chance to win!

Just came back from the SlamU! Finals here and ... Not-So-Bebe-Girl Autumn made it through the eliminations and gets to be on the Cleveland team in San Francisco for the Brave New Voices competition (catch it on HBO in July)!   Woot!  What a nail-biting experience, and I wasn't even the one on the stage!  I'm totally happy to see all of her rehearsal and work pay off this way!  I will probably post a video of her second poem "Soldier" for Poetry Corner on Sunday.

On to the Read-a-thon.  I'm currently reading (clicking cover will take you to the Goodreads page):

On Page 112 of Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders: A Mystery by Gyles Brandreth

Page 69:  "Steady on, old man," whispered Conan Doyle, skewering a shard of kipper and glancing nervously towards the waiters.
     Oscar continued, unabashed.  "He is tall - six feet at least.  Slender. Supple. Lithe. He moves with extraordinary grace, like a dancer - or a panther.   He holds his head high.  His profile is perfection.  His hair is jet-black, his eyes are cobalt-blue, his skin as white as alabaster."
     Bram Stoker laid down his knife and fork.  "He doesn't sound like a vampire to me," he announced, wiping his lips on his linen napkin.  "Vampires are swarthy, not pale.  They gorge on blood.  Their complexions are ruddy."  He pushed his chair away from the table and turned his ample frame towards Oscar.  "And they are very unlikely to find a berth above a Portuguese wineshop in Soho.  The vintner and his wife are bound to live on a diet of garlic and Malmsey - and vampires have an aversion to garlic, if not to fortified wine."
     He laughed jovially and scratched his chin through his ample, untrimmed red beard.  Stoker is a big, shambling, man, with an amiable, booming voice and a heartwarming, open face.
     "How do you know all this?" I asked.
     "Vampires are my passion," he answered, turning his bright-blue eyes towards me.  "While Oscar pursues the youth and beauty of Soho, I pursue the blood-suckers of Transylvania.  Each to his own."
      "Bram is writing a book," explained Oscar, leaning back from the table and waving the smoke of his cigarette above his head.  "He has been writing it since we were boys in Dublin."
     "I have been researching it a while," said Bram, ignoring Oscar.  "I haven't started writing yet.  But the plan is fixed now.  And the title, too.  The Undead.  That's what they are, vampires - the undead who feed upon the living." 
     Oscar raised his glass of brandy towards his old friend.  "Tell us more, Bram.  Tell us everything.  That is why we're here."

On page 169 of The Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

--Page 69: "What are we doing today?"  Sunday is the one day of the week the government office is closed.
     "Some friends of mine called me for a cricket match, if you don't mind.  I'll play terribly, but it will be good to see them.  Friends from high school, I haven't seen some of them in ten years.  My mom can take you out shopping or something, if you'd like."


     Somer stands on the balcony looking out to the dull ocean, its gray waves lapping against the boardwalk.  It is hot and muggy, but at least there is a respite from the rain.  On the first day of clear weather in weeks, Krishnan has gone off by himself.  Somer feels suffocated by the thought of staying inside again today, and even more put off by the prospect of spending it with his mother.  She makes up her mind to go for a walk by herself, to get away from the stultifying pressure of this flat.
     Stepping outside the building, walking past the tall gates and away from the watchful eyes of the doorman gives Somer a sense of freedom.  Churchgate Station is up ahead at the end of the block, and on the opposite corner stands a sandwich shop advertising BURGERS on a placard out front.  The thought of a burger after two straight weeks of Indian food is enticing.  She walks up to the order window and says, "Two hamburgers please, with cheese."  She'll eat one now and keep the other for later, something to break the monotony of curries and rice.
     "No ham, madam.  Mutton burger only."
     "Mutton?"  As in, lamb?
     "Yes, very tasty, madam.  You will like, guaranteed."
     "Okay," She sighs.  "Two mutton burgers please."
     The burger is nothing like what she's used to, but Somer has to admit, it tastes pretty good.  Feeling pleasantly full, she heads toward the ocean boardwalk, which has now become crowded with street 

BOOKS READ (click the cover to go to the Goodreads page):

The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark
Last 254 pages 
Changeless by Gail Carriger
374 pages
Chime by Franny Billingsley
361 pages
The Dragon's Path by Daniel Abraham
Last 471 pages 
Blameless by Gail Carriger
355 pages 


My Book Retreat's Mini-Challenge is the Page 69 Test, so I've included page 69's of the new books here.  The premise of the Page 69 Test is that a reader can turn to page 69 of any book and use that page to judge whether or not they will like the rest of the book.

I decided to actually read page 69 of the new books BEFORE I started reading the whole book, so I could get a clearer first impression (reading ahead against goes so much against my grain, but I thought I'd try it this time).

My first impressions of Page 69's:   

Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders:  OK; it has Oscar Wilde, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, AND Bram Stoker ... all in the same room?  Psht, of COURSE I want to read more!

The Secret Daughter - Kind of snoozy, really.  All I get is that Somer is in the unfamiliar environment of India, and that she doesn't like her mother-in-law OR Indian food in general.


Read-a-thon progress:  
Total books completed:  4
Total pages read:  2096 pages
Read-a-thon Goal:  Read 5 from my personal TBR pile progress so far:

            1. Changeless by Gail Carriger
            2. Blameless by Gail Carriger

Next to be read:  Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Woot!  Are YOU participating?  If you are, please leave a link to your progress post so I can come and cheer you on!
Julie
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Friday Book Blogger Hop - April 29, 2011

Friday Book Blogger Hop

It's that time again!  Time for the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Jennifer over at Crazy for Books!

What is it?  Well, it's a way for bloggers and readers to find each other.  You write a little post about the subject of the week and link it up.  THEN (and this is the important part), you hit a few of the other linked up blogs (take your time; you can spread it throughout the weekend), visit, comment, follow if you like what you see, and make new friends.

Each week, to encourage participation, we get to answer a different question.  This week's question is:

 "Summer is coming quickly - what 2011 summer release are you are most looking forward to?"

Well, most of the books I'm looking forward to this year aren't being released until fall, but one that I'm most looking forward to in my review pile that releases in the summer is:


Wildefire by Karsten Knight - Releases July 26, 2011 (Amazon / The Book Depository)

Every flame begins with a spark. 

Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.

Seriously? Wouldn't you KNOW that you're a god or goddess?  Sounds like a cool, fun read!

What about you?  (I need ideas on new summer releases). If you have your own Hop post, please feel free to leave a link in the comments; I'd love to visit!


Julie
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Last to Die by Kate Brady - BOOK REVIEW

Title:  Last to Die
Author:  Kate Brady
Publisher:   Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Books
Paperback, 420 pages
ISBN 10:    0446541532
ISBN 13:  9780446541534
The Book Depository / Amazon

Goodreads description:

A ruthless killer hides in plain sight, someone no one believes is capable of murder. Within a week, six women will be murdered, all punished for their dark pasts. Detective Dani Cole is determined to track down this serial killer whose victims include a young woman she pulled out of a life of crime. Her investigation leads her to a photography foundation and the renowned photographer Mitch Sheridan, a man she she fell in love with years ago but has tried to forget. Dani and Mitch are instantly attracted to each other again, though their troubled pasts keep them from getting too close. Together, through the course of the investigation, they unearth a dark chain of deception that leads to a killer who is closer than they think.

Thank you to The Thrifty Things for the review and the opportunity to win this title!

My Take: 

A woman is found dead in a park, and Dani Cole, still recovering from the suicide of her father two weeks before, is called into the case.  Then Dani finds out that the dead woman is a former prostitute that Dani helped steer away from the street, and the search for her killer gets personal.

The hunt leads her to Mitch Sheridan, a former childhood sweetheart, now turned photojournalist on a mission to help save the world, who owns a photography studio and runs a charity foundation.  When Mitch sees Dani, the flame is instantly re-ignited, but Dani continues to push him away in her hunt for what appears to be a serial killer.   In untangling the murders, there is the POV of the killer, a black-market baby ring, and another murder that may also be linked to the serial murders.

This was a somewhat convoluted plot, with varying POV's, and a weird psychopathic killer - usually right up my alley, but for some reason, this book didn't do it for me.  I like to be involved in the book, and feel some connection to the characters, and that didn't happen here.  A rather formulaic plot, hero, heroine, and offbeat killer (not always bad, mind you), but with nothing new to pull me in, and sex scenes that were rather too graphic and really didn't fit the character of the book.  I was interested, but not very much.

QUOTES (*** indicates redaction of possible spoiler):

He knew where the bodies were buried - literally. He'd put them there.  And Fulton's type wasn't easy to find.  A misdiagnosed schizophrenic who was really a sociopath, Fulton had been born without that quirk of chemistry that allowed for emotion.  There were no therapies or medications for men like him; modern psychiatry hadn't yet learned how to manufacture a conscience.


"That could be, but *** didn't tell me he was having an affair with an eighteen-year-old hooker or that he was planning to kill her and then shoot himself and jump off a bridge."


"That's not the point.  The point is that I would've killed him.  Without a second thought, if he'd laid a hand on you, Dani, i could have blown the sonofa___ away."
She cracked a smile.  "You talk so purty."

Writing:  4 out of 5 stars
Plot:   3 out of 5 stars
Characters: 2 out of 5 stars
Reading Immersion:   2.5 out 5 stars

BOOK RATING:   2.8 out of 5 stars

Sensitive Reader:  There's sex and murder; probably not for you.

BLOGGERS:  Have you reviewed this book? If so, please feel free to leave a link to your review in the comments section; I will also add your link to the body of my review.








BUY IT:  At Amazon, The Book Depository, through the publisher's website,  and through other on-and-off-line booksellers.

Off The Shelf!
This book is part of my list for the 2011 Off The Shelf Challenge
THE THREE R'S
This book is part of my 2011 3 R's Challenge list
Books Won Challenge 2011
This book is part of my 2011 Books Won Challenge list

Disclosure:  This is a review of my personal copy
Julie
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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring Serenity Read-a-Thon Day 4

Spring Serenity Read-a-Thon
The Spring Serenity Read-a-Thon is being hosted by Michelle at The True Book Addict and runs from April 25th through May 1st.  There's still time to join in on the mini-challenges and prizes, as you can join in anytime through the week, reading as much or as little as you'd like.  I'm hosting a mini-challenge here as well, with a chance to win!

Well, we were without electricity from early A.M. (4 or so) until after 5 P.M. this evening, which was hard, since without electricity, there's no heat, no hot water, no cooking, no coffee!  (That last was probably the worst for me; I had to go to McDonald's to stave off an attack of no-caffeine heebie jeebies).  This explains the lack of posting earlier today, as once the electricity came back on, there was a scurry of cleaning and washing (since it's sometimes temperamental, and I wanted to be ready just in case it went out again).

I'm currently reading (clicking cover will take you to the Goodreads page):





The Dragon's Path by Daniel Abraham - on page 435 with 314 pages read during the read-a-thon





Blameless by Gail Carriger
page 259 of Blameless by Gail Carriger (***** indicates spoiler redacted for those who haven't read previous books in the series)

--Page 69: "Italy?"
"The hotbed of antisupernatural sentiment," spat Professor Lyall.
"The cesspit of religious fanaticism," added Tunstell.
"The Templars."  That last was from Floote, and he whispered it.
"I think it's a perfectly topping idea," said Alexia, expressionless.
Madame Lefoux examined Alexia's face sympathetically.  "You think the Templars can explain how ******* ?"
"Why don't you tell me?  You once said you managed to read a portion of the Templars' Amended Rule."
"You did what?"  Professor Lyall was impressed.
Floote looked at the Frenchwoman with renewed suspicion.

BOOKS READ (click the cover to go to the Goodreads page):

The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark
Last 254 pages 
Changeless by Gail Carriger
374 pages
Chime by Franny Billingsley
361 pages

My Book Retreat's Mini-Challenge is the Page 69 Test, so I've included page 69 of Blameless here.  The premise of the Page 69 Test is that a reader can turn to page 69 of any book and use that page to judge whether or not they will like the rest of the book.

Read-a-thon progress:  
Total books completed:  2 1/2
Total pages read:  1562 pages
Goal:  Read 5 from my personal TBR pile:

            1. Changeless by Gail Carriger

Next to be read:  Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Woot!  Are YOU participating?  If you are, please leave a link to your progress post so I can come and cheer you on!
Julie
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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spring Serenity Read-a-Thon Day 3

Spring Serenity Read-a-Thon
The Spring Serenity Read-a-Thon is being hosted by Michelle at The True Book Addict and runs from April 25th through May 1st.  There's still time to join in on the mini-challenges and prizes, as you can join in anytime through the week, reading as much or as little as you'd like.  I'm hosting a mini-challenge here as well, with a chance to win!

I'm currently reading (clicking cover will take you to the Goodreads page):

The Dragon's Path by Daniel Abraham - on page 382 with 261 pages read during the read-a-thon

--Page 69:  For almost a week, the caravan had been making good progress.  The road was well traveled, local farmers keeping it for the most part clean, but there had still been whole leagues where their way was covered in newly fallen leaves.  The rustling of horses' hooves and the crackle of the cartwheels had been loud enough to drown out conversation.  The 'van master wasn't bad for a religious.  For the most part, Marcus could ignore the scriptures read over the evening meals.  If the Timzinae happened to pick something particularly hard to listen to - sermons on family or children or the assurance that God was just or anything that touched too closely on what had happened to his wife and daughter - Marcus ate quickly and took a long private walk out ahead on the road.  He called it scouting, and the 'van master didn't take offense.  Other travelers had joined with the 'van and parted again without more than a look from Yardem or himself to keep the peace.  Except that they weren't yet a quarter of the way to the pass that marked the edge of Birancour, the job was going better than expected.
Marcus chewed his last bite of sausage slowly.  The dozen carts filled half the clearing, horses and mules with feedbags over their heads or else being led to and from the brook to drink.  The carters knew their business for the most part.  The old man driving the tin ore was a little deaf and the boy with the high cart of wool cloth was either new to the trade or an idiot or both, but they were the worst.  And his acting troupe had worked out magnificently.  If he looked at the trees, not considering the people at all, he could still pick out the guards in the sides of his vision, just by their swagger.
By the side of the road, the long-haired woman, Cary, stood with her arms crossed and a huge horn-and-sinew bow slung across her back.  Likely she couldn't have drawn the damned thing, but she wore it like the companion of years.  Sandr, the young lead, walked among the carts, head high and brow furrowed.

Finished today:

Chime by Franny Billingsley

--Page 69:  "I don't have the swamp cough."  Rose came into focus.  She smiled her anxious-monkey smile, which is the only smile she knows how to make.
"Of course you don't," I said, just as Rose hunched herself into her chest for a comfortable paroxysm of coughing. What exquisite timing.  If she weren't Rose, you might think she was indulging herself in a paradox.  In a paroxysm of paradoxysm.
But she is Rose.
"It's time for the funeral-baked meats," said Rose, squeezing her words past the last crumbs of cough.
"Right you are, Rose."  We were alone in the graveyard.  Even Eldric, the newcomer, knew that every good mourner makes merry in the Alehouse with roast pork, and pies, and funeral biscuits, and sherry and ale.  Especially the sherry and ale.  A funeral is a thirsty piece of business.
I was dizzy and seasick.  "Give me a minute."
"People can't give minutes," said Rose.
Rose, literal Rose.  "It's just one of those things people say.  We talked about that, remember, when Father tried to catch the barkeep's eye?"
"Quick!" said Rose, all in a rush.  "Cover your ears!"
I clapped my hands to my ears, pretending I couldn't hear the church bells chime twelve o'clock.  Rose has a peculiar relationship to the notion of time:  She won't let me listen to the clock strike twelve.  I can't say why - I've told her often enough that I like the hour of noon - but there's no understanding Rose.
"It's time for the funeral-baked meats."
"Off we go, then."  We be asking you for help, girl what can hear ghosts.

BOOKS READ (click the cover to go to the Goodreads page):

The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark
Last 254 pages 
Changeless by Gail Carriger
374 pages
Chime by Franny Billingsley
361 pages

My Book Retreat's Mini-Challenge is the Page 69 Test, so I've included page 69 of the new books here.  The premise of the Page 69 Test is that a reader can turn to page 69 of any book and use that page to judge whether or not they will like the rest of the book.

Read-a-thon progress:  
Total books read:  2 1/2
Total pages read:  989 pages
Goal:  Read 5 from my personal TBR pile:

            1. Changeless by Gail Carriger

Next to be read:  Blameless by Gail Carriger

Woot!  Are YOU participating?  If you are, please leave a link to your progress post so I can come and cheer you on!
Julie
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eGalley Wednesday - April 27, 2011 - Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan & The Black by D. J. MacHale - BOOK REVIEWS

eGalley Wednesday

It's Wednesday!  Time for another chance to link up our eGalley reviews!  The linky stays open all week, and the only requirement is that your review(s) must be of eGalleys (Galley Grab, NetGalley, etc.)


Grab the button below, place it in YOUR eGalley review and join in! Link up throughout the week!  And don't forget to visit the other participants!

eGalley Wednesdays

Up for review this week are two titles:  The Black by D. J. MacHale, and Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan:


The Black by D. J. McHale
Title:  The Black
Author:  D. J. MacHale
Publisher:  Aladdin Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster
Release Date:  April 19, 2011
Hardcover, 560 pages / ISBN 10: 1416965173  / ISBN 13: 9781416965176
The Book Depository / Amazon  / Goodreads / Publisher

First thing's first:  I love it when I can read a sequel out of order and not feel as though I'm missing most of the story by not having read the first book.  THAT'S what will make me want to go out and buy the previous one, and, in this respect, The Black did not disappoint at all.

FIRST SENTENCE:  This isn't what I expected death to be like.

Cooper Foley is dead.  We know this because he tells us so right from the start.  We then find out about The Black, the in-between place where some souls go while waiting to see if they continue their journey down Morpheus Road, or, if they're irredeemable, to The Blood.  The Light is what they call the living world.

Souls in The Black are not supposed to visit The Light, they are only supposed to observe it.  But Cooper, who was always in Trouble Town (his name for being in trouble) while he was living, doesn't change much after he's dead.  You see, no one has found his body at the bottom of the lake yet, and Damon, an evil soul in The Black and former general in Alexander the Great's army, who has an army equipped with soul-killing swords, who actually was the cause of Coop's death, is harassing Coop's sister Sydney and his best friend Marshall, causing weird hallucinations and putting them in danger.  All of this is to get Cooper to help him retrieve some artifacts that will allow Damon to live again and basically, well, you know, rule the world and all that.

Add in a mysterious neighbor named Maggie, who insists on helping Cooper, and Cooper's grandfather, who keeps telling Coop to stay out of it, oh!  and the Watchers, who don't speak, and disappear when the souls try to speak to them, and you have a rollicking, irreverently good story, perfect for older middle readers, YA readers, and anyone else who likes a little fantasy, magic and other-worldliness.

All of which has caused me to put The Light (I believe it's the same story told from Marshall's point of view) on my own to-buy list.

QUOTE (from a galley; may be different in final copy):  

"Damon scares me," Maggie said.  "Maybe we should do what he wants."
"Can't"
"Why not?"
"Because he killed me.  That kind of pisses me off."

Book Rating:   4 out of 5 stars


Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan
Title:  Small Acts of Amazing Courage
Author:  Gloria Whelan
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Released:  February 19, 2011
Hardcover, 224 pages /  ISBN 13: 9781442409316
The Book Depository / Amazon  / Goodreads / Publisher

FIRST SENTENCE:  How can kindness get you into so much trouble?

Set in colonial India, beginning in 1919, this is the story of 15-year-old Rosalind James.  Her father is a major in the British Indian Army, and is away for months at a time.  Almost all British colonials living in India sent their children back to England when they were 7 or 8 years old for school, but Edward, Rosalind's only brother, had been sent back to school when he was 7, and died of dyptheria his first year at school.  In order to keep his wife happy, her father Harlan allows her to stay on in India.

But Rosalind is anything but a "proper English girl".  She finds the girls at the club boring, and sneaks off to the bazaar with her Indian friend Isha as often as she can.  When she meets Mrs. Nelson, an unconventional Englishwoman who thinks "ordinary" is overrated and runs an Indian orphanage, at the club, she also meets her son Max, who served under her father.  Max is fascinated with Ghandi and his Congress Party that advocates Indian independence.  Rosalind's friend Isha is married to man who is active in the Congress Party as well.

As Rosalind works to figure out what is right and what is wrong, and her father does what he can to make certain that she doesn't meddle in Indian affairs, the reader is pulled along, and the story of colonial India comes to life in an illuminating fashion.

This adult reader loved this book, geared towards middle readers (ages 9-12).  I would also honestly recommend it for teachers, parents, and home schoolers, as it gives an understandable and compelling overview of the events that precipitated India's independence, all told from the point of view of a young girl with a good heart.

QUOTE (from a galley; may be different in final copy):  

"What happened in Amritsar?" I asked, wanting to know his version, for Isha had whispered to me that in the city of Amritsar, thousands of Indians had gathered to celebrate a festival.  The British Army believed the Indian people were there not to celebrate but to demonstrate against British rule.  The soldiers had been ordered to shoot, and hundreds of Indians had died.

Book Rating:   4.5 out of 5 stars




That's all for this week.  As always, you can click the Amazon or Goodreads links to find other reviews.  





Link up!

Disclosure:  I received complimentary eGalleys of these titles through the publishers to facilitate my reviews.  No other compensation was received and I was not required to post  positive reviews.


 

These books are listed as titles for my 2011 ARC Reading Challenge

Julie
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring Serenity Read-a-Thon Day 2

Spring Serenity Read-a-Thon
The Spring Serenity Read-a-Thon is being hosted by Michelle at The True Book Addict and runs from April 25th through May 1st.  There will be mini-challenges and prizes, and you can join in anytime through the week, reading as much or as little as you'd like.  I'm hosting a mini-challenge here as well.

So far, I've read the last 254 pages of:

The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark
Page 69 - ....I could see it was meaningless, so I drew pictures with the pink chalk while birds and monkeys chattered overhead.  I drew generic pink trees and simple pink houses and rudimentary pink camels.  The children repeated the words after me, nudging each other knowingly.  I learned more than I taught, including the fact that those children did not know they lived in poverty.  One-room huts without running water and two small meals a day was simply the way of things.  They weren't sure whether school was supposed to be work or play, and their cowed, serious faces occasionally flashed incandescent smiles.  They were all perfectly beautiful, with large black eyes and drooping lids and cheeks that glowed like burnished copper.
The sense of my expanding worldview seemed almost physical, like being stretched on a rack, and I welcomed it.  I was grateful to Rashmi for letting me into a little corner of India.
After I had searched the entire house, I stood in the middle of my living room with my lips scrunched up to one side.  More information about my Victorian ladies would have to come from the letters I already had, so I brought them out from under my panties, spread them over the kitchen table and chose the letter with the greatest number of legible words.

I'm currently on page 310 of:

Changeless by Gail Carriger
Page 69 - ...the redhead who was looking ever more guilty and ever more eager to continue chewing rather than participate in the conversation.
Lady Maccon worried at that information.  Why should Conall take Tunstell?  "Is he in danger?  Shouldn't you have gone with him, then?"
Lyall snorted.  "Yes. Picture the state of his cravat without a valet to tie him in."  The Beta, always the height of understated elegance, winced in imagined horror.
Alexia privately agreed with this.
"Could not take me," muttered the Tunstell in question.  "Had to go in wolf form.  Trains are down, what with the engineer's strike. Not that I should mind going; my play's finished its run, and I've never seen Scotland."  There was a note of petulance in his tone.
Hemming, one of the resident pack members, slapped Tunstell hard on the shoulder.  "Respect," he growled without looking up from his meal.
"Where, precisely, has my husband taken himself off to in Scotland?"  Lady Maccon pressed for details.
"The southern part of the Highlands, as I understand it," replied the Beta.
Alexia recovered her poise.  What little she had.  Which admittedly wasn't generally considered much.  The southern Highland area was the vicinity of Conall's previous abode.  She thought she understood at last.  "I take it he found out about his former pack's Alpha being killed?"
Now it was Major Channing's turn to be surprised.  The blond man practically spat out his mouthful of fritter.  "How did you know that?"

My Book Retreat's Mini-Challenge is the Page 69 Test, so I've included page 69 of each book here.  The premise of the Page 69 Test is that a reader can turn to page 69 of any book and use that page to judge whether or not they will like the rest of the book.

Read-a-thon progress:  

Total books read:  1 1/2
Total pages read:  564 pages
Goal:  Read 5 from my personal TBR pile

Julie
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Teaser Tuesdays - April 26, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along; you don't have to be a blogger! Just do the following:

Grab your current read

Open to a random page

Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!



My teaser this week: 

Changeless by Gail Carriger
The head was wearing a hat comprised almost entirely of red feathers, all standing straight upright, and a few tiny puffy white ones, looking like nothing so much as an overly excited duster with a case of the pox.
"Ivy", stated Alexia, wondering if her dear friend was perhaps secretly the leader of a Silly Hat Liberation Society.

- page 139, Changeless by Gail Carriger (The Book Depository / Amazon)

Goodreads description:

Alexia Tarabotti, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears - leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.
 
But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. Even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can. 

She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.


SUCH a fun series!  If you like Steampunk, or you're interested in Steampunk, I would definitely suggest the Parasol Protectorate series!  WAY too much fun to read!

Feel free to leave your teaser or link to it in the comments section; I find that I always end up adding to my to-buy list when I visit!

Julie
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Drood by Dan Simmons - BOOK REVIEW

Drood by Dan Simmons
Title:  Drood 
Author:  Dan Simmons
Publisher:   Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Books

Paperback, 976 pages
ISBN 10:     0316120618
ISBN 13:  9780316120616
The Book Depository / Amazon

Goodreads description:

On June 9, 1865, while traveling by train to London with his secret mistress, 53-year-old Charles Dickens - at the height of his powers and popularity, the most famous and successful novelist in the world and perhaps in the history of the world -  hurtled into a disaster that changed his life forever.  Did Dickens begin living a dark double life after the accident? Were his nightly forays into the worst slums of London and his deepening obsession with corpses, crypts, murder, opium dens, the use of lime pits to dissolve bodies, and a hidden subterranean London mere research . . . or something more terrifying?  Just as he did in The Terror, Dan Simmons draws impeccably from history to create a gloriously engaging and terrifying narrative. Based on the historical details of Charles Dickens's life and narrated by Wilkie Collins (Dickens's friend, frequent collaborator, and Salieri-style secret rival), DROOD explores the still-unsolved mysteries of the famous author's last years and may provide the key to Dickens's final,unfinished work -  The Mystery of Edwin Drood.  Chilling, haunting,and utterly original, DROOD is Dan Simmons at his powerful best.

My Take: 

Charles Dickens, while being one of England's pre-eminent authors, had a fascination with the underbelly of London.  A social progressive in certain areas, he advocated for the poorest of the poor, and frequently roamed the alleys and backalleys of London's worst tenements in his attempt to draw attention to their plight.

This book chronicles the final years of Dicken's life, beginning with a horrible train accident at Staplehurst that may have changed his outlook and the course of the rest of his life.

Told from the POV of Wilkie Collins, Dickens' friend, sometime collaborator, sometime rival, and brother-in-law (Dickens' daughter Katie married Wilkie's brother Charles), it is also Wilkie's story.

A lidless, pale man with teeth filed to points - that is Drood, who Dickens says he saw at Staplehurst moving among the injured and dying.  Dickens also thinks that Drood was taking the souls of those he visited, and he enlists Wilkie to help him track down this mysterious figure, going into the eerie Undertown that exists beneath London proper and coming back with a tale of Egyptian magic, mesmerism, and dark acts.

We read of Dicken's fascinations:  cannibalism, mesmerism, and his young mistress Ellen Ternan, who was traveling with him at Staplehurst that day - the reason he turned his wife of 22 years and the mother of his 10 children, Catherine, out of his home and life.

Wilkie has his own dark secrets, a dependence on large quantities of laudanum and later opium, a "housekeeper" who lives with him, and a mistress who he keeps rooms for as well.  He also has spectral, but seemingly corporeal enough to cause physical marks, visitors:  "The Other Wilkie", and a green lady with sharp teeth.

As Wilkie's murderous instincts grow and he and Dicken's friendship begins to flag, we begin to wonder if Drood is indeed a cruel murderer surrounded by equally heartless minions who think nothing of killing and disemboweling a former London inspector, or if this shadowy world of scarabs who inhabit bodies and dark Egyptian ritual is a product of murky hallucination or imagination.

A lot of research went into this novel, and Mr. Simmons was kind enough to list a lot of his reference material towards the back.  Ever curious to know more, I will be looking much of it up, as well as reading Collin's The Woman in White and The Moonstone, which both feature prominently in this novel.

If you like twisting, brooding, gothic, Dickensian types of mystery where the answers aren't always clear, mysteries that make you think and use your own imagination, you MUST have this one on your shelf.  I was totally drawn in almost from the first, and fascinated by this fictionalized account of Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens (as well as Drood, in this novel the basis for Dicken's unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood).  There really were people who were so poor that they relegated themselves to living in the sewer systems of London and Paris.  We also "meet" some of the characters that were the basis for some of Dicken's own characters.  I want to know more - more about Collins, more about Dickens the man, more about the society they lived and worked in.

This is a hefty read, but so totally well worth it.

QUOTES

Did the famous and loveable and honourable Charles Dickens plot to murder an innocent person and dissolve away his flesh in a pit of caustic lime and secretly inter what was left of him, mere ones and a skull, in the crypt of an ancient cathedral that was an important part of Dicken's own childhood?  And did Dickens then scheme to scatter the poor victim's spectacles, rings, stickpins, shirt studs, and pocket watch in the River Thames?  And if so, or even if Dickens only dreamed he did those things, what part did a very real phantom named Drood have in the onset of such madness?

"If Drood is an illusion, my dear Wilkie, he is an illusion in the form of upper London's worst nightmare.  He is a darkness in the heart of the soul's deepest darkness.  He is the personified wrath of those who have lost the last meagre rays of hope in our modern city and our modern world."

Or perhaps he was attempting suicide by reading tour.
I admit, Dear Reader, that this final possibility not only occurred to me and made sense to me, but confused me.  At this point, I wanted to be the one to kill Charles Dickens.  But perhaps it would be tidier if I merely helped him commit suicide this way.

Writing: 5 out of 5 stars
Plot:   4.75 out of 5 stars
Characters:  5 out of 5 stars
Reading Immersion:   4.5 out 5 stars

BOOK RATING:  4.8 out of 5 stars

BLOGGERS:  Have you reviewed this book? If so, please feel free to leave a link to your review in the comments section; I will also add your link to the body of my review.









BUY IT:  At Amazon, The Book Depository, through the publisher's website,  and through other on-and-off-line booksellers.

This book is listed as one of the titles in my Chunkster Challenge 2011 list
This book is my April Just For Fun Reading Challenge title

Disclosure:  This is a review of my personal copy.
Julie
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