Wondrous Strange

Title: Wondrous Strange
Author: Lesley Livingston
Genre: YA, fantasy
Source: Library

It's a quirk I have, but in my opinion there is very little that William Shakespeare ever got wrong. This charming story only reinforces that thought. My thoughts keep turning to the immortal line, "what a tangled web we weave." Contained within the world of this novel is a definitely tangled, sometimes sweet, sometimes painful web.

Kelly is a 17 year old girl trying to make her way in the New York theater scene. She's even landed a dream job...playing Titania, Queen of the Fairies in Midsummer. Sonny has a job to do. He's been raised / trained by the King of the Fae to be a guard. He's been charged with the task of helping control the unrully fae who manage to slip through the rifts between the Otherworld and our, human, world. However, on this particular Halloween the gates between the worlds threaten to swing open and something terrible is rumored to be coming through. All is rolled together, being tangled up thanks to tricks, lies, half-truths, and love.

There MAY be SPOILERS here. I don't mean to...but can't necessarily keep it all to myself.

What I liked:

1. I love, love, love the blending of Shakespeare's play "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and the various characters from the Otherworld. They interact and mirror each other so perfectly! It's a fun thought that one is an inspiration for the other.

2. The romance aspect is sweet and innocent. So many novels, even YA ones, seem to be going straight into the love equals hormones and kissing - immediately! This novel doesn't do that. It just wouldn't have felt right. Instead, there are so many sweet moments, sideways glances, almost kisses, and hand holding. OMG-handholding! My heart melted at that moment.

3. Lucky, the Kelpie. All that needs to be said.

4. Did you know that Puck is real?!?!

What I didn't like:

1. I don't understand the casting of the play. Granted Kelley is the understudy originally, but she's 17. Oberon is played by a man in his 50's. Huh? I know youth equals beauty in most people's perceptions, and that Titania is the most beautiful example of fairies......but really? Shouldn't Oberon be similar?

2. It leaves me hanging. I'm engrossed in the story and then suddenly the novel is finished. I want more! It makes me strangely happy to know that the sequel is coming out soon out now.

Overall: This novel is a treat to read. It's sweet and innocent while still containing elements of the tricky playfulness the fae are so well-known for.  Fans of Shakespeare and YA fantasy should most definitely pick it up!

Heart's Blood

Title: Heart's Blood
Author: Juliet Marillier
Genre: Fantasy, paranormal
Source: Public Library - Want for my own collection....please?

I absolutely loved this novel. I fell head over heels into the world of Whistling Tor and want to go back as soon as possible. For a moment, I seriously considered stealing this book from the library. My husband, who was absorbed in a video game most of the day, was able to surface long enough to tease me about being so absorbed in the book.

What I liked:

1. I'm a sucker for Medieval-ish settings. Give me knights, and lords, and ladies, Kings, and farmers...I'll be a happy girl. Throw in a bit of folklore and magic and it is nearly my perfect book.

2. I'd say about 90 % of the characters in this novel are flawed. They are broken mentally, physically, spiritually.....any way you can think of. Even the two main characters. And because of this they fit together perfectly.

3. While magic was a staple of the story and needed to occur, the actual thing that saved the day was love and hope. I adore this about Ms. Marillier's novels. Love and hope are always....always...the saving grace.

What I didn't like:

1. I'm not too keen on the cover. It's nice. It accurately portrays the main character and the story, but it....it just doesn't do it for me. I may be a bit biased though, as I love the American covers for the Sevenwaters Stories and the Bridei Chronicles.

Overall: I'm impressed. I really would love to own this book. It is everything I've come to expect from fantasy. You should try it! If you don't like it....send your copy to me. I'll treasure it!

(This novel qualifies for the fantasy reading challenge.)

Shakespeare's Landlord

Title: Shakespeare's Landlord ~ Book 1 of the Lily Bard mysteries
Author: Charlaine Harris
Genre: Mystery
Source: public library

I had no idea what I was getting into here. I was just looking for some new brain candy after I'd come down from my Sookie Stackhouse fix. (BTW, thank you Bookman's for having copies of the Sookie books for sale cheap when I desperately needed them!) Conveniently, Charlaine Harris wrote other novels...and I'm nothing if not a loyal reader who will at least attempt to read every piece of writing my favorites feel fit to publish. So, I jumped into the Lily Bard series.  Now I have to say, traditionally, I've not been much of a mystery reader. They usually feel too contrived and/or Clue-ish. Which, except for having Tim Curry in it has little not no meaning for me.  I was a bit worried. Luckily, my fears were laid to rest almost immediately. The story telling style, the believable characters even when the situation is a bit out there, the well-thought out connections and little nods to the readers....everything that made the Sookie books enjoyable for me was present. Well, except vampires...but I'll survive.

What I liked:

1. There were so many subtle and not-so subtle nods to The Bard himself it was kind of awesome.

2. The main character is well 'n truly flawed. While the mystery is solved by the end, she's not fixed and it's going to take a lot to get her there. I know this is a sad thing, but it makes her story and her reactions more believable. She is a complete person not just a flat character.

3. The main character doesn't go looking for the mystery. In fact, if she could have her way, nothing out of the ordinary would happen, ever....she's safer that way. This stopped the whole contrived, oh look something's gone awry feelings I've gotten from mysteries before. Maybe I should start reading more of them?

What I didn't like:

1. The pacing was a bit off in this one, but I think it is due to it being the beginning of the series. Ms. Harris needed to set the scene and establish who and what's going on. It began slower, picking up the pace until the ending just flew by.

Overall: I enjoyed this book too. It's not quite the same deliciousness of brain candy as Sookie, but I'm very glad I gave these books a chance and I plan on finishing the series.

Gentlemen Prefer Succubi

Title: Gentlemen Prefer Succubi ~ The Succubus Diaries
Author: Jill Myles
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: From the publisher with intent to review and participate in the book tour. It is mine to keep.

Jumping right in today...this book makes me smile. It is good, slightly campy, paranormal romance.  Before you are even into the story you can tell how good and silly it is going to be. Exhibit A: The title - the play on Marilyn Monroe movie titles that both this book and its sequel have are highly entertaining. Exhibit B: The cover image - I'll discuss this more later....but it deserves a second or third look. Exhibit C: The back matter - seriously who could not enjoy a summary like this:

Jackie Brighton woke up in a dumpster this morning, and her day has only gotten weirder. her familiar B-cups have somehow become double Ds, her sex drive is insatiable, and apparently she had her first one-night stand ever...with a fallen angel. All she remembers is gorgeous Noah's oddly hypnotic blue eyes....and then a dark stranger whose bite transformed her into an immortal siren with a sexy itch. With help from Noah, Jackie begins to adapt to her new lifestyle-until she accidentally sends Noah into the deadly clutches of the vampire queen and lands herself in a fierce battle for an ancient halo with the queen's wickedly hot right-hand man. Who just happens to be the vampire who originally bit her. how's a girl supposed to save the world when the enemy's so hard to resist?

Honestly, the back cover just had me rolling in laughter! Taken in bits it is just too much fun to resist...magically growing breasts, angels and vampires, glowing eyes. Awesome! And then the fun just continues inside.

What I liked:

1. This novel took itself too seriously. Author Jill Myles, knows she's written a campy book and never lets the readers...nor the characters forget it.

2. Seeing as the main character is a succubus this novel could quickly go right into that pile of books that is less plot and more gratutious sex scenes, but it doesn't. Jackie is very conscious of the succubus / slut connection and does her best to avoid that....even when she has two supernaturally hot guys lusting after her.

3. Things are never quite what they seem in this novel. The traditional paradigm of angels=good and vampires=bad is mixed up, switched up, and you (and Jackie) never know who's actually good and who's actually bad.

4. The cover. I mean really. Hot guy with great abs....and then that hair. I'm not sure what's up with it. The strange toussling like he just lost a fight with the wind. Also, after having read it I'm not entirely sure which of the guys this is supposed to be. Alternatively, all these strange little things come together to add to the over all campiness of the book.

Things I didn't like:

1. I had trouble identifying with Jackie's character. Not because she was a shy, nerdy, geek girl who suddenly turned into a sex fiend...oh no. But rather because the first several pages (and then off and on throughout the book) she makes several comments about her size and being fat 'n plain. Beauty is always equated to being small in her world. I can't buy this....especially not when the characters states she is only a size 14. I'm sorry that's not big. I understand it's not the supermodel Barbie size 6 with DDs she becomes later, but it isn't huge. Gaaaa!

2. There are at least three characters who are set with the task of caring for, watching over, and filling Jackie in on the details while she gets the hang of this succubus thing. None of them actually do this with any consistancy. It's bothersome. The only thing they do on a regular basis is yell at her for doing the things they didn't tell her not to do.

Overall: This novel was exactly what I expected. It was fun but has a few flaws. They are easily ignored when faced with the variety of other things present in this book.

Heir To Sevenwaters

Title: Heir to Sevenwaters (Follow up novel to the Sevenwaters Triology)
Author: Juliet Marillier
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Library, but want desperately to own

I had to read this one. There was no question. You see, for a long time I was under the impression that my favorite series of books was only a trilogy. Then bam! This one shows up...with the same great cover art and a wonderful continuation of the Sevenwaters' clan.

For those of you who haven't read any of the Sevenwaters books, might I suggest you do. Juliet Marillier has an enchanting way of mixing known fairy tales and faerie stories with Celtic folk lore, Druidic mysticism, magic, and romance. Each book in the series is about a different generation of the Sevenwaters clan and how they deal with the fae meddling in their lives (sometimes for good, sometimes for not so good). All are classic fairy tales with a challenge to overcome, but they are well and truly fleshed out and held up by interesting characters and a complex plot that tangles together over the generations. Each can be read on it's own, but they are definitely better as a whole.

What I liked about this book:
1. Just about everything. It is like a welcome home. I read and reread the first three books all the time, I'm glad the story doesn't stop there.

2. The cover art. I really like the style the American covers come with. Kind of old school fantasy, but they are exactly what I picture when I think of the different characters.

3. We get to meet the head mischief maker himself - Mac Dara in this one.

4. Love always wins.

What I didn't like:

1. This a plot thing: For a family that has generations of dealings with the Fae.....why don't they understand what's going on?!?! It was a bit frustrating, but I know it was meant to be. The story couldn't have moved on the way it did if everyone automatically believed. So not really a complaint.

2. Another not really a complaint, but I don't like that I didn't know that the series didn't stop at three. Not that I mind my favorite stories continuing, but now I have to think of something else to call the Sevenwaters Triology.

(This book is part of my fantasy reading challenge)

It's my birthday!

Isn't this cake awesome?! I would love to receive it, or something similar, on my birthday.  This year my birthday cake did not look like that...it looked like this:

Actually, these are real books not a book cake, but wouldn't that be cool? I didn't get a cake this year, but I did get a whole bunch of other goodies.  Now, technically only one of the books was actually for my birthday, but they all arrived around the same time....so I'm counting them.
It's my birthday; I can do that.

Actual birthday present: Creepy Cute Crochet from my husband who wants to have a horde of amigurumi zombies.

For review & book tour: Gentlemen Prefer Succubi

Under orders (from author Beverly Kendall) to read with an open mind (to try to find new historical romances that I might like): Proof by Seduction and Sinful Surrender

And two won books - one via blog - one via twitter: Truly,  Madly and Lead Me On

Plus, there have been vampire movies! Last night my husband took me out to see Daybreakers. Awesome! I love how they played up the whole bat / monster angle. These aren't your sparkly happy vamps. And as an early birthday present (we picked it up before Christmas) I also received Let The Right One In. If you haven't seen it....do. Go now. Don't wait for the American remake which is happening shortly. This one is great and has a book that is even better.

Yay! Happy Birthday to me!!!!

Monday's QoTD

Before I get to the question, I thought I might explain something. I haven't been putting a lot of me....outside of what I think about books....into this blog. But I do love it when I see other people doing it on their blogs. So I thought that this year I would try to slide myself into more of my posts, or maybe pick up some like this. And now on to the question...

Question: Besides reading, what other hobby brings you happiness?

Answer: I have three. The first is the main opponent ( for my attention) against reading. Movies. My husband and I watch a lot of movies.  No really, I mean a lot.  Together we own nearly 400 dvds, plus we have a packed Netflix cue. Ideally, we'd go to more theater movies, but money is tight and theaters are expensive.
(Not our dvd collection - but similar.)

The second is crochet. This is a hit or miss hobby for me. Sometimes, usually in winter, I'm really into it. Other times my project basket can sit for months without being touched. I need to spend more time on it, but I love it....even if I have to redo dozens of rows (on big projects) because I forget to count. Lately, I've been into making amigurumi dolls (is that redundant?) and even completed one that was my own creation.

 (This wee lil man is my first creation. He's fashioned after Bunny in the comic.)

The third is RockBand. I don't play ours nearly enough, but I have options when I do: Rock Band 1 and 2, Lego Rock Band, Beatles edition,  and even the Guitar Hero band game. You know what I mean. I love playing the drums and think the guitar is evil. I may even get up the guts to play Rock Band with Wil Wheaton at this year's Phoenix Comic Con. That guy hosts one slammin' Rock Band party!

Your turn. What other hobbies bring you happiness?

Have you seen this?


Jenn at Books At Midnight is starting this comment activity. I'm all excited over it! I think it will be a great way to help me achieve my New Year's blogging goal of commenting more. The way it works is that you sign up on Saturday, by leaving a comment on her blog, once your comment has posted you need to pay a visit to the blogger who commented just before you. I've already done mine...and found a great new blog to follow! 

Angel Time

Title: Angel Time
Author: Anne Rice
Genre: paranormal, religious, fiction
Source: Library

First, I just have to mention this (even though I know this has been discussed other places dozens of times), but have you noticed this odd trend of making the author's name be larger even than the title? I have this theory that publishers think readers are stupid and don't believe that we can judge for ourselves whether or not we want to read a book. They just bank on the readers who are fans of certain author to just automatically want/buy anything with that author's name on it. But I'm off topic and maybe I'll write a post about that theory later.

Angel Time is Anne Rice's jump back into the paranormal fiction world. She took a break and wrote some Christian non-fiction books, don't ya know? And that Christian theology and mythology play a large part in this novel. To be honest, I am one of those readers from above...the ones that wants to at least read every novel my favorite authors put out...including Ms. Rice. I'm a big fan...I had to at least try this one. I still love her writing style. She tells a great story. But this one just isn't my favorite.

What I liked:

1. I love that her writing style is just the way I remember. That makes me comfortable as a reader and makes it easier for me to get into the story.

2. The "real life" background of the main character (who is not an angel btw) is an interesting hard knocks, mafia type story that adds up to an interesting and complex character.

What I didn't like:

1. I feel misled. Yes, there is an angel in this book. Yes, said angel appears at just the appropriate time. And yes, the main character does take some actions that cast him into the role of rescuing "angel" for some other characters. However, the main angel plays a very minimal role in the book.

Overall: It was a good read, but it isn't my favorite Rice novel.

2010 Reading Challenges

Remember, If you can't be an athelete...be an atheletic supporter.  I was trying to come up with something clever to say about joining in, but that's the only thing that came to mind. It makes me wonder if there is a Grease reading challenge. I'm not going to go look for it though. I've already been making lists and looking at my schedule to try to guestimate which challenges I can join and won't kill myself trying to conquer. No deaths by books....just reading challenges.....because they're fun! This year I'm going to tackle these reading challenges:

The TBR Challenge. We all have that dreaded To Be Read pile that keeps growing and growing. Some of us even have over flowing bookshelves due to this pile. MizB is hosting this challenge that is designed to help clean up your bookshelves and lower the body count on that TBR list.  The challenge is to read 12 books that have been on your TBR list for over 6 months. That's one for each month....but you can do them all at once if you want. Follow one of the links to get the complete rules. I'll be making my list (which will come on a separate post) off of my shelved TBR list. It's only practical. I have an entire bookcase (well at least one...but more like two) that I've not read any of the books from. I must fix that.

I have read a lot of science fiction. At least one whole bookcase is filled with it. However, there are so many things that can be covered by the speculative fiction category, and my husband enjoys it as a genre and has a list all ready for me, plus there are a few new novels that would fit nicely into this category that I can't help but want to participate in this Speculative Fiction Challenge hosted by Book Chick City. How's that for one long, run-on sentence from the English teacher?

For this challenge I'm choosing the Enthusiast level which is 6 books from any of the categories. All the other rules and the category list are all on her site....but the most important is the list. I'll be making mine up as I go, so there will be a separate post to keep them all totaled.

The Royals Fantasy Reading Challenge is hosted by Royal Reviews. Fantasy isn't actually a big stretch for me. Fantasy novels are some of my favorites. However, I've been so caught up in the horror and paranormal romance genres lately that I've been letting some good ones slip past. Plus there are always fantasy series that I haven't discovered yet. I'm thinking this one will be a lot of fun!

I'm going to try the Addicted Level. Twelve books is totally doable, right? All the rules and things are on the site and like the speculative fiction challenge I'll be building my list as I go.

The Gilmore Girls Challenge! That's right. I spent a good portion of my college down-time t.v. watching on this show. Rory and Lorelei just make me happy. So therefore, I could not resist the bookish glee that happened when I stumbled across this challenge hosted by Lisa.

In the show, Rory is a very good student (high school and college), there are books and book referrences galore. A list, of all the books read or mentioned during the show,  has been compiled and the challenge is to read a set number of books from the different categories on the list.  I've chosen the Emily level. Just like the grand matriarch of the Gilmore clan....I'm going to be conservative.  The Emily level means I need to choose 5 books from at least 2 of the categories listed. This one will be tougher.  Like the two above, I'll be building my list as I go.

2009 Reading Challenge Wrap-up

Shortly after starting this blog in July 2009, I decided to tackle a few reading challenges.  I joined two that were already in progess and created one of my own. Here are the results:

This is the challenge I created. Luckily, I was able to complete my goal. How bad would that be....not completing your own challenge Does this ever happen?

5.5 completed out of the planned 5

This is hosted by Callapidder Days and technically I've already done a post about this.....but you all don't mind if I repeat myself briefly....right?  I completed this challenge, but only with substitutions. I made a list of 12 titles, but do to library due dates and wanting to read other books that original 12 got thrown out the window. I did definitely read over the 12 books though. 

12 / 12  with the help of substitutions

Beth Fish Reads is to blame for my newest addiction. I love, love, love the Sookie Stackhouse books and this was the challenge that introduced me to them.

9 / 9 devoured
I read books they way other people eat, sleep, or watch movies....voraciously, obsessively, and as often as possible. The reviews, random commentary, and snark in this blog are mine alone. Don't take my word...read the book.
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