Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Diviners ~ Review


The Diviners (The Diviners, #1) Title: The Diviners
Author: Libba Bray
Source: Library (but I am going to buy it!)  


Goodreads Summary:


Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."
When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.



 My thoughts:


This book was the bees knees, the elephants eyebrow, I pos-i-tute-ly loved it!  It was the perfect blending of two of my favorite things to read about: flappers and the supernatural. I have to admit, when I first heard that Bray was mixing these two, I was unsure and skeptical. I wasn’t sure I could read it, and if I did, if I would like it. Well, Bray definitely stomped all over those worries while doing the Charleston.  (Which, incidentally, I learned my friend Kelly can do really well.  We believe we were flappers together in a past life.)


Evie O’Neil is flighty, a good time girl, who doesn’t take anything seriously except finding the gin and getting dolled up to go out dancing.  She also has a secret- she is a medium, and if she has an object of yours, can see the past.  She uses this as a party trick but divulges the wrong secret,  and is sent to live in New York City with her uncle.  I have no idea why her parents thought that would be a punishment, but there you go. Evie is of course thrilled, but keeping her feelings on the down low.  Anyway, the real story begins once she is in New York.
 
Evie moves in with her uncle, into the Bennington.  She meets her Uncle Will’s museum assistant Jericho, and thinks he is a bit of a bore but she doesn’t dislike him, since her best friend Mabel, who lives in the Bennington, has had a huge crush on him for three years. Evie plans to get them together. She also meets Theta and Henry, who live in the building as well – Theta is a flapper who performs in the Ziegfield Follies, and Henry is a piano player. The final member of Evie’s circle is Sam, a pickpocket and thief who robbed her in the first hour she was in New York.   The backstory for these characters is really one of the best parts of this book. I think each character is so well developed and interesting in their own right, that you want to know about all of them, not just Evie, who is not as superficial as she seems sometimes.  

There is of course the central mystery- a serial killer that the group is trying to stop.  This part of the story was actually kind of scary and creepy. Kudos to Bray for giving me the heebie-jeebies, that is not always easy. There were a few things I would have liked wrapped up a little bit neater, but all in all it was very well done. An ancient evil, a book, a riddle, death – yikes!

Yet this time was not all shiny and bright, scuffed dancing shoes, bathtub gin and bubbly.  And Bray did not shirk away from including the prejudices of the era. She touched on the Ku Klux Klan, the relationships such as interracial and homosexual that were not allowed and hidden, and eugenics.  I had no idea that State Fairs had tents set up with great big signs with neon lights extolling the virtues of eugenics. Of the health contests, where people could earn bronze medals inscribed with “Yea, I be of goodly heritage” for having the desired (at the time) background. How disgusting and sickening, to think we could breed a better race of people. To me, this was the scariest part of the book, made more frightening as it was true.
I really enjoyed this book – when I finished it I just wanted to read it all over again. I even got past all the slang, which annoyed me in the beginning.  I was entertained, I was scared, I was cheering Evie on.  And most importantly, I learned a few things.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - Kick Ass Heroines



Top Ten Tuesday
Top Ten Kick Ass Heroines
Brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish

I had so much fun choosing my top ten kick ass heroines! What a great idea for a list!

                
       

1.  Katniss Everdeen - The Hunger Games : A survivor who is quick on her feet and in her thinking, and deadly with a crossbow                                      
2. Lisbeth Salander - The Millennium Series: Small but mighty 
3. Hermione Granger - Harry Potter: Smart. loyal, brave and a fighter who doesn't give up
4.  Tiger Lily  - Tiger Lily: Quick, decisive, suddenly violent
5. Rachel Morgan- The Hollows Books: Determined, willing to go the distance
6.  MacKayla Lane - The Fever Series, Karen Marie Moning: She won't stop even when her back is up against a wall
7.  Arya - Game of Thrones: Nimble, quick, intelligent
8. Evangeline O'Neil - The Diviners: When the chips are down, and so are all her friends, she can finish what they all started 
9. Scarlett O'Hara - Gone with the Wind: Another survivor willing to do what is necessary, never gives up, knows tomorrow is a new day to fight again

 I also asked my husband to name a few kick ass heroines as well. His top three are:

1.  Y.T. from Snow Crash
2.  Molly from Neuromancer
3.  Valentine from Ender's Game  






Sunday, October 28, 2012

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?




It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where you list the books you read last week and the ones you hope to read this week. 

Last week and this upcoming week are going to be filled with happy busy times - my brother is getting married this Friday! Lots to do!!

Read Last Week:


The Diviners by Libba Bray:  I adored this book! I wanted to read it all over again when I finished, it was that good.  Review will be up Wednesday. 


Reading This Week:


The Pumpkin Man by John Everson: I didn't get a chance to start this book yet.  I have been so busy, and I know I will have to "carve" out precious time to read this week, or I just won't get the chance. 



This week:

Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Kick Ass Heroines
Wednesday: Review of The Diviners
Thursday: Book Club Recap


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Serpent's Kiss ~ Review

Serpent's Kiss (The Beauchamp Family #2)Title: The Serpent's Kiss (The Beauchamp Family #2)      
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Source: Library


Goodreads Summary:

Just as things have settled down in the off-the-map Long Island town of North Hampton for the magical Beauchamp family, everything gets turned upside down once more when Freya's twin brother Fryr, or "Freddie" as he's called now, returns from Limbo with shocking news - that it was none other than Freya's fiancé, Killian Gardiner, who set up his downfall.
He begs Freya to keep his presence a secret, even from their own family, but somehow the irascible Freddie is still able to conduct many affairs with the town's young lovelies from his self-imposed exile. Until he falls for the wrong girl.

While Freya tries to keep her brother from exacting revenge on the man she loves, Ingrid has her own problems. Her human boyfriend, Matt Noble, becomes entangled in a complicated investigation, and when the magical creatures at the center of it come to Ingrid for help, she has a difficult choice to make.

To top it off, a dead spirit is trying to make contact with Joanna - but does it mean to harm or warn the witches? All hell breaks loose at the family reunion over Thanksgiving, and much mayhem ensues, but when the culprit behind Freddie's imprisonment is finally revealed, it may already be too late to staunch the poison that's been released by the serpent's kiss. The spells cast by the bestselling Witches of East End continue in this bewitching follow-up that Melissa de la Cruz's many fans won't want to miss.


My thoughts:

This is one of those books you read, and while you are reading it, you enjoy it, but then when its over you don't think about it that much.  It was light and fluffy, a welcome break from any stress.

The book started off poorly in my mind - it was all about sex, and the characters sexual relationships.  I found myself thinking back to the first book and trying to remember if it was as borderline raunchy.  Around the middle of the book, the actual plot began to pick up - but at first I didn't even realize that it was the plot, I guess because the focus in the beginning was off a bit.

We meet up with Joanna, Freya, and Ingrid pretty much where the first book ended. Freya is sleeping with Killian and says she loves him, but yet she doubts him quite a bit. Joanna seems really absentminded and scatty, and Ingrid, my favorite in the first book, was written as frigid.  Then we meet their long lost brother Freddie.  He had been in limbo jail for the crime of destroying the rainbow bridge.  In this book he has escaped from limbo, and is living in a sunken hotel.  I really tried to like his character, but he seemed so stupid!! He is supposed to be a Norse god, but he just seems so dumb. And his mother Joanna is creepily obsessed with him. Ingrid is working on her relationship with Matt the whole book, and dealing with pixies, who were really one of the best parts of the story. Freya's storyline was probably the most complex, but the one I cared the least about.

There were parts I liked though. There was a part where Freya went back in time, and I really liked that part, actually. I like Ingrid, although she was written really strangely.  I think the central mystery was interesting too - I just think it needed to be more prominent and more developed.


I think this is a set up for her next book, which is called The Winds of Salem, and I think if it focuses on the main plot more than relationships, I will probably like it better. This was a fun easy read, but it is not a book I will revisit.




Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Halloween Spirit

Top Ten Tuesday
Top Ten Books to Put You in the Halloween Spirit

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme brought you by The Broke and the Bookish. 


The Shining The Shining by Stephen King: I am sure you are all tired of my extolling the virtues of the King, but I can't leave him out of this line-up.
 
   











 It by Stephen King: Another oldie but goodie.















 
The Witching Hour by Anne Rice: This is a book I could read over and over again.  I love the section on the Mayfair Witches, the Talmasca report, where it is just the Mayfair Witches through the years, the history of the family. 













The Pumpkin Man by John Everson: I read this book last year and it freaked me out!!  So scary. I am rereading it this week as well, it just seemed like a perfect book to read the week before Halloween. 











The Legend of Sleepy Hollowhttp://www.amazon.com/Legend-Sleepy-Hollow-Washington-Irving/dp/0615640109 by Washington Irving: "Odds Bodkins, Gadzooks, look at that old spook of spooks!" Yes,a lot of my knowledge comes from Disney- and this is no exception.  I grew up watching the Disney version of this tale every Halloween - so much so that my brother and I can quote most of it still to this day. When I got older, I also read the book. This is the book that means Halloween to me.  










Salem's Lot by Stephen King: Yes, another Stephen King. He is definitely the King of Horror!















Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman:  I read this last year and I loved it! Such an awesome werewolf book!














Book of Shadows by Cate Tiernan: I devoured these books last year. They were a fun series to read.  I liked the setting and the magic aspect, although the main character annoyed me. Lol.














The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson: Foggy London, ghosts, Jack the Ripper! 















It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown by Charles Schultz: Can any list be complete without this classic? 
















What about you? Any of these on your list? What books put you in the Halloween Spirit? 


Monday, October 22, 2012

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?





It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where you list the books you read last week and the ones you hope to read this week.


Read Last Week:


Serpent's Kiss by Melissa de la Cruz: There is just something easy about this series that is fun and enjoyable. I definitely enjoyed reading it after my experience with Long Lankin. Review will be up Wednesday.

Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough:  I love this cover and the summary - so spooky.  But the book itself was so boring, that I was trying to avoid reading it. I finally just gave up. 


Reading This Week:




The Pumpkin Man by John Everson:  I received this from NetGalley last October, but right after I read it I got super sick, and it lasted basically from October through June. (yay for working in a school!) I remember being very scared of this book! I recently rebought it, so I can give it the review it never had from me.

The Diviners by Libba Bray:  I started this last week and I love it! I just didn't have much time to read this week. 


Coming up this week:
Top Ten Tuesday - Books to get you in the Halloween Spirit
Wednesday- Review - Serpent's Kiss
Thursday- hopefully review of  The Diviners
Friday- Peril of the Screen Review 









            

                                         


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Long Lankin Mini-Review and Winner Announced!

Long LankinTitle: Long Lankin                                          
Author: Lindsey Barraclough
Source: Library

Goodreads Summary:

Beware of Long Lankin, that lives in the moss. . . .When Cora and her younger sister, Mimi, are sent to stay with their elderly aunt in the isolated village of Byers Guerdon, they receive a less than warm welcome. Auntie Ida is eccentric and rigid, and the girls are desperate to go back to London. But what they don't know is that their aunt's life was devastated the last time two young sisters were at Guerdon Hall, and she is determined to protect her nieces from an evil that has lain hidden for years. Along with Roger and Peter, two village boys, Cora must uncover the horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries -- before it's too late for little Mimi. Riveting and intensely atmospheric, this stunning debut will hold readers in its spell long after the last page is turned.

My thoughts:

I had to give up on this book.  It was so boring. I really tried hard to like this book too, I felt like it had potential.  However, there was just something missing.  I would be interested to hear what the target age group thinks of this book, in case my age clouded my opinion.  I read about ten pages every day and that is it. I found myself watching tons of television avoiding the book.  Finally, my husband last night was like, we have watched endless hours of tv in the past two days, don't you have anything to read. I realized then it was pointless to try anymore, and I decided to abandon it. 




The AwakeningOn another note, I have the winner of my Banned Book Giveaway for The Awakening!! 

 The winner is....
Jennifer from The Relentless Reader!    Congrats!! I hope you like it as much as I did!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday
Top Ten Historical Fiction Authors


It's top ten Tuesday again! Yay! This time the girls at The Broke and the Bookish asked us to list ten of our favorite authors from a certain genre. I am a big fan of historical fiction, so I wernt with my top ten historical fiction authors. (and frankly, I am going to cheat a little and throw in some non-fiction too)


Wideacre (Wideacre, #1) 1. Philippa Gregory: I love her accounts of English life.  The first book I read by her was Wideacre though, and that book is seriously cray cray.  But I still read all the books in the series. 
Bard: The Odyssey of the Irish


2. Morgan Llywelyn: Like a lot of Americans, I am obsessed with my heritage. I am partly of Irish descent, and I found Llywelyn's books and just dove right in. I love them!

The Six Wives of Henry VIII3.  Alison Weir:  I like to picture Henry the VIII as Jonthan Rhys-Meyers. Weir brought the wives alive in her book, The Six Wives of Henry the VIII.  


Mary Queen of Scotland & The Isles










4.  Margaret George: I love her books, especially Mary Queen of Scotland and The Isles, and The Memoirs of Cleopatra.  I knew Mary Queen of Scots' fate before I read this book, however it didn't stop me from bawling my eyes out at the end.  

Outlander (Outlander, #1)


5.  Diana Gabaldon: A bit of a different take on historical fiction, but I love this series.


Here be Dragons (Welsh Princes, #1)











6.  Sharon Kay Penman:  I loved the Welsh Princes series - I felt more knowledgeable when reading The Raven Boys because Penman had me all interested in Wales at one point in my life.

Moloka'i

7.  Alan Brennert: My hubby is Hawaiian, and I picked up the book Molokai since that is where his family was at one time.  I fell in love with his writing and these books.

The Lady and the Unicorn

8. Tracy Chevalier: Such a cool concept for her books, based on works of art.  My favorite is The Lady and The Unicorn, but I also really liked Girl with a Pearl Earring.

The Midwife's Apprentice
9.  Karen Cushman: Cushman writes kids books, but what fabulous books they are. I think its important for children to read about history; its not usually the most popular subject, and books make it more interesting for them.  
A Day No Pigs Would Die

10.  Robert Newton Peck: I loved his books when I was younger;the stories were so much different than what I could relate to everyday that I was fascinated.  A Day No Pigs Would Die  killed me too.  I read it and was greatly disturbed, like it was an anti-Charlotte's Web.  It had some seriously graphic and sad scenes in it.  It is definitely a book that shaped my life, one of the books that put me on the path to vegetarianism and animal rescue.  This book was so powerful, and that was something I understood at 8 or whatever I was. Young. The Shaker way of life, the stern practicality and the fact that his father would not be beholden to anyone ever and his way of living his life- a certain kind of pride. I gave it to my dad to read, after I read it, and it has stuck with him as well. I know this book is on the banned list, and I almost read this book again as part of Sheila's Banned Book Week, but I didn't think I could face it.  I was devastated by this book as a kid, but I don't think it should be banned.  It changed my life, and anything else that bothered me I discussed with my parents.  






Sunday, October 14, 2012

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?




It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where you list the books you read last week and the ones you hope to read this week. 


Read Last Week:


The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, #1)

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater:  Awesome book, I loved it!!! I wish the next book in the series was out already! :)


Reading This Week:

        Serpent's Kiss (The Beauchamp Family #2)

The Diviners by Libba Bray: I am excited about reading this book - I love the 20s.

Serpent's Kiss by Melissa de la Cruz:  I read the first in the series, and thought it was pretty good.  I am looking forward to this one, the second in the series.

Still Reading:

Long Lankin

Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough: I am still working on this, I am finding it a bit slow going. 
   


Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Raven Boys - Review

The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, #1) Title: The Raven Boys
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Source: Library

Goodreads Summary:

There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.


My thoughts:



 I read Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls series, and I while I was like, yeah those were ok and told a good story, I was never completely enamored.  For me, it they felt like good books but I didn’t love them or feel the need to tell anyone to read them.  The Wolves of Mercy Falls series was very hushed feeling to me, silence, a warm house with the hiss of a radiator in the background, a tea kettle rattling on the stove that has quite reached a boil.  The Raven Boys is different - it is more alive and vibrant, tension slowly building, like a bonfire.  I wanted to huddle around this book until I read it all – I made the mistake of starting it at 10 pm on a work night, and around 1 am had to physically remove it from my presence so that I could get some sleep.  I just really connected with this book where I had not before with any of Stiefvater’s other books.


I was very immersed in this world of Henrietta, Virginia, and ley lines.  I love character driven books, and I found all the characters in Raven Boys and their quirks to be so endearing.  Blue, Gansey, Noah, Adam, Ronan – all were my favorite character.  Except I did like Adam just a little bit more, best of all. 
Blue’s mother and her mother’s friends are all psychics.  They all live together, and work there as well.  All have their own specialty.  Blue is the only one who can’t see the future, but she does have her own special gift.  Every year Blue and her mother go to the corpse road, where they meet the spirits of the people who will die within the next twelve months. Blue has also been told that she will meet her true love, and her kiss will kill him.  She also has a rule, to stay away from Aglionby boys, which are the boys who attend Aglionby School. 
The book begins with Blue going to the corpse road, but from the start things are different.  Instead of her mother, she goes with her mother’s friend Neeve – and immediately things take a turn for Blue.  Something occurs that night which never has before.  This event winds up taking Blue on a different path, changing her life around.  She breaks her rule, and befriends Raven Boys – Gansey, who is obsessed with ley lines, the supernatural, and finding Glendower; Adam, who is a hardworking, quiet, practical scholarship student, Ronan who is troubled and tough, and finally Noah, who is distracted and “smudgy”. They are on a particular quest, which Blue joins. I felt every main character in this story was interesting, complicated and complex, and I wanted to know more about all of them. 

 Along the way, you find their path has many different branches and mysteries.  Eventually all lead to the same place.  And of course, the ending leaves you hanging!  I really loved this book – I have to know what happens next!


And I think this qualifies for the R.I.P. VII Challenge!
 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ammie, Come Home ~ Review

Ammie, Come Home Title: Ammie, Come Home
Author: Barbara Michaels (Barbara Mertz, Elizabeth Peters)
Source: Library

Goodreads Summary:

It begins as a lark -- a harmless diversion initiated by Washington, D.C., hostess Ruth Bennett as a means of entertaining her visiting niece, Sara. But the seance conducted in Ruth's elegant Georgetown home calls something back; something unwelcome ... and palpably evil. Suddenly Sara is speaking in a voice not her own, transformed into a miserable, whimpering creature so unlike her normal, sensible self. No tricks or talismans will dispel the malevolence that now plagues the inhabitants of this haunted place -- until a dark history of treachery, lust, and violence is exposed. But the cost might well be the sanity and the lives of the living.

My thoughts:


Barbara Michaels' books are a guilty pleasure of mine.  I love to read them when it is October, or raining in fall and spring.  There is just something cozy about them that you can read under a blanket with a cup of tea.   I own most of her books written as Michaels, and all are well worn and well-loved paperbacks. 
                I did not have Ammie Come Home, so I borrowed it from the library.  The copy I received was a dull gray, library bound without a cover picture.  It was so old looking and the pages so soft.  I think these tactile qualities helped transport me back to the time when this book was first published, in 1968. 
                You could really tell that this book was written and published in the 60s.  There were references to hippies, protests, stereotypical gender roles, miniskirts, and smoking.  I think it was all the casual smoking that really struck me; Ruth is portrayed as a distinguished, demure woman in her 50s or so, and she was always lighting up.  A cigarette here, a cigarette before bed, I am not sure why this seemed so odd to me but it did.  I don’t think I have really read anything lately where the main character smokes.  It just was out of character to me; I feel now smoking is used as a device to show a character is flawed, rebellious, or quirky, and Ruth was none of those things.  Despite all this, I thought the fact that the book was from the perspective of a slightly older woman, and had an element of romance for her too, was pretty forward thinking.
                Like all good ghost stories, this one starts with a séance.  I have an irrational fear of séances and Ouija boards, thanks to the Exorcist.  Ammie Come Home was no different in that regard – a séance served as a doorway for the supernatural.  And this story was pretty “spooktacular”.  There were a few parts where I got the creepy crawlies from reading it even.  There were all sorts of ghostly activity – apparitions, possession (which the book called shadowing), a creepy bodiless voice, and things falling over.  Selling the house was out of the question.  So what to do? Solve the mystery of course!  I love books that are collegiate, with lots of references to classes, people studying classic subjects minutely and specifically, and the characters in this book were college professors and students, and when presented with a mystery, started researching heavily in libraries and books. 
                This book is the first in the Georgetown Series – I have actually read the second and third and really liked them.  It was nice to see the origins of Pat and Ruth, who make appearances in the other books.  I find these books perfect for the blustery weather of fall, when I can get cuddly on the couch and be really lazy. And you will have to read to find out about Ammie.


 
R.I.P. VII