July 25, 2010

The Lost (Anthology)

"Missing in Death" by J.D. Robb investigates a female tourist's disappearance during a ferry ride. Detective Eve Dallas wonders...if she didn't jump, and she's not on board, then where in the world is she? 

Eve makes a very difficult decision that goes against the rules she is supposed to abide by being in law enforcement. Sometimes the line between victim and criminal is blurred. Solid novella I highly recommend to J.D. Robb fans. My Rating: 4.25/5

In Patricia Gaffney's "The Dog Days of Laurie Summer," a woman awakens to a familiar yet unsettling world.

My first Patricia Gaffney story. This novella was very unexpected in that the soul of Laurie leaves her comatose body to inhabit a dog so she can still be near her family. Unique perspective and voice.  My Rating: 3.5/5

In Mary Blayney's "Lost in Paradise," a man locked in an island fortress finds hope for freedom in an enigmatic nurse.

Lost in Paradise was the weakest novella in the collection for me. It started too abruptly, the story felt forced and the religious undertones were overly pretentious. My Rating: 2.0/5

And Ruth Ryan Langan's "Legacy" belongs to a young woman who unearths a family secret buried on the grounds of a magnificent but imposing Irish castle.

Legacy is a very solid story that manages to develop credible relationships between Aidan and other characters she meets for the first time, in a handle full of days. Usually I find such rapid relationship development hard to accept, but in Legacy the story is very believable and this is fiction after all. My Rating: 4.25/5

In a novella either a relationship has to evolve in a credible way, or the story has to have impact and resolution, or a crime must be committed and solved...and in only 90 pages at that. A successful novella is hard to achieve and very difficult perfect. Anthologies seem to be published more abundantly now than in years past and, as its mainly a tool to introduce lesser known authors to readers, its difficult to get value for money.  I would recommend waiting for Missing in Death to be repacked with other J.D. Robb novellas or buy the ebook if available rather than spend your money on The Lost.


Related Posts
Kindred in Death by J.D. Robb
Promises in Death by J.D. Robb
Salvation in Death by J.D. Robb
Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

July 20, 2010

Syrie James (Dracula, My Love) Huffington Post Article

Here's a link for an article in HuffingtonPost.com written by Syrie James discussing why she chose to write about Dracula for her next novel, Dracula, My Love, which was released today, July 20th in trade paperback from Avon (HarperCollins Publishers, 480 pages, ISBN-10: 0061923036).

What interested me the most in the article was her discussion on how the image of Dracula (or vampires) have evolved over the years. Vampires never used to be categorized as "sexy" but now this connotation runs rampant through popular vampire novels of today. Following is the book summary.

Syrie James approaches Bram Stoker's classic Dracula with a breathtaking new perspective--as, for the first time, Mina Harker records the shocking story of her scandalous seduction and sexual rebirth.

Who is this young, magnetic, handsome, fascinating man? And how could one woman fall so completely under his spell?

Mina Harker is torn between two men. Struggling to hang on to the deep, pure love she's found within her marriage to her husband, Jonathan, she is inexorably drawn into a secret, passionate affair with a charismatic but dangerous lover. This haunted and haunting creature has awakened feelings and desires within her that she has never before known, which remake her as a woman.

Although everyone she knows fears Count Dracula and is pledged to destroy him, Mina sees a side to him that the others cannot: a tender, romantic side; a man who's taken full advantage of his gift of immortality to expand his mind and talents; a man who is deeply in love, and who may not be evil after all. Soon, they are connected in a way she never thought humanly possible.

Yet to surrender is surely madness, for to be with him could end her life. It may cost Mina all she holds dear, but to make her choice she must learn everything she can about the remarkable origins and unique, sensuous powers of this man, this exquisite monster, this ... Dracula!

I very much enjoyed Syrie James' novel The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (author debut), which I read before I started my blog, and have The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte sitting on my bookshelf.  No doubt I will end up buying Dracula, My Love eventually, even though I'm not huge on the whole vampire craze right now.

July 19, 2010

Ever Felt There Was Something You Just Had To Do?

I was an average post-secondary student in university. By average I mean I was depressed, miserable and fearful of failing and had no clue what I was spending all that money for. I was the first child of a large number of cousins to go to university and really my parents were poor so they couldn't help me out financially. I ended up withdrawing from university for a year due to poor grades and lack of resources and I came back a year later, a bit more mature, as an unclassified student. Pretty much taking the expensive, hard, long way about it. When I graduated it was by default, not actually graduating with the Bachelor's degree I finally decided on, Computer Science, but a degree based on the fact that I had a large number of electives in it, Psychology. There was one highlight of my university career, I received an A in Library Science 2000. I LOVED that class. It was the first time I actually felt I had a talent for something.

After I graduated I applied to a MLIS program in Ontario and was rejected. I promptly forged ahead and landed with an amazing company, a private boutique bank where I started as a filing assistant and worked my way up to Senior Research Assistant, supervising staff among my main responsibilities of desktop publishing and copy editing research publications. Through working at this company for ~7 years as was able to pay off tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.

It really happened like this. An incident happened at work that broke though my contentment with my job. One day I was happy and the next day I was unhappy and restless. Not too long after that I woke up one morning and realized I HAD to go back to school, which I never thought I would ever do again. I HAD to try again and apply to an MLIS program. Have you ever felt that? Like you have been knocked over the head with a sledgehammer? The decision seemed taken out of my hands, out of my control, a total subconscious realization. From one day to the next my whole axis revolved from one future to another.

Can we talk about scared, confused, angry, nerve racking, exhausted, depressed, hopeful, anxious, numb, excitement, elation and then scared again? These are just some of the emotions I have gone through since May of last year through the process of applying to enter graduate school. Come September I will be entering a Master's of Library and Information Studies program at the University of Alberta. I'm going to be focusing on Information Technology.

Though I have always been a bit of an erratic blogger I'm not quite sure what time I will have to commit to the blog once I am in school. I still want to blog and I hope I can write about some of my adventures in the MLIS program, as well as continue with the book reviews. I'm always going to be reading and its fortunate I bought all these books sitting to be read on my bookshelf, as I won't have any money to buy more, being a broke student. Hey maybe I will actually have more time to read and review books as I'll need frequent breaks from studying. Guess I will find out come September.

If you have ever had such a momentus, life-changing event happen to you, I would love to hear about it.

Wish me luck!

Photo: http://www.slis.ualberta.ca/

July 18, 2010

Christine Trent's Upcoming Sophomore Release - A Royal Likeness

Last year, I was fortunate enough to receive a galley copy of Christine Trent's debut effort The Queen's Dollmaker. I loved The Queen's Dollmaker for its originality and cleverness; the story of Claudette Laurent, an entrepreneurial and strong willed frenchwoman who grows her business of dollmaking in England and comes to the notice of Marie Antoinette. If you have have not read the novel yet and have interest in the French Revolution I highly recommend it. There's much more to the story than the brief explanation above, so check out my review.

Christine Trent's next release is A Royal Likeness (a much more beguiling title than the original working title of The Wax Apprentice). I'm not that much of a fan of covers where the lady's head is cut off (can someone tell me why the industry favours this?) but this cover is gorgeous and if similar to The Queen's Dollmaker, will show the lady's face on the spine. A Royal Likeness is a sequel of sorts to The Queen's Dollmaker - this is Marguerite Ashby's story. Marguerite apprenticed to Claudette Laurent and eventually took over the management of the dollmaking shop.

As heiress to the famous Laurent Fashion Dolls business, Marguerite Ashby’s future seems secure. But France still seethes with violence in the wake of the Revolution. And when Marguerite’s husband Nicholas is killed during a riot at their shop, she leaves home vowing never to return. Instead, the young widow travels to Edinburgh and joins her old friend, Marie Tussaud, who has established a touring wax exhibition.

Under the great Tussaud’s patient instruction, Marguerite learns to mold wax into stunningly lifelike creations. When Prime Minister William Pitt commissions a wax figure of military hero Admiral Nelson, Marguerite becomes immersed in a dangerous adventure—and earns the admiration of two very different men. And as Britain battles to overthrow Napoleon and flush out spies against the Crown, Marguerite will find her own loyalties, and her heart, under fire from all sides.

With wit, flair, and a masterful eye for telling details, Christine Trent brings one of history’s most fascinating eras to vibrant life in an unforgettable story of desire, ambition, treachery, and courage.

Release Date: December 28, 2010
Format: Trade Paperback
Publisher: Kensington
Pages: 384
ISBN: 0758238584

Related Posts
The Queen's Dollmaker by Christine Trent

July 15, 2010

Upcoming Releases On My Auto Buy List

The fifth installment in the Lady Emily Ashton-Hargreaves series by Tasha Alexander, Dangerous to Know, to be released in hardcover October 26, 2010. I have read the first two novels in the series, And Only to Deceive (my review here) and A Poisoned Season and enjoyed them very much, but have yet to read A Fatal Waltz or Tears of Pearl, though they stuffed somewhere in my bookshelf.

After escaping from the hands of a ruthless murderer while honeymooning in Constantinople (Tears of Pearl), Lady Emily Hargreaves reluctantly agrees to recover from her wounds at her mother-in-law’s estate in Normandy. The calm permeating the lush countryside is destroyed when Emily, out for a ride, discovers the body of a young woman who has been brutally murdered. Begrudgingly accepting the investigation is firmly in the hands of the police, she focuses her attention on the reappearance of an old friend—Sebastian Capet, a thief of impeccable taste whom Buckingham Palace has taken a new interest in—until a series of clues draw her back into the fray. Haunting cries, the ghost of a small child, and two families afflicted with degenerative madness lead her into a terrifying game of wits against a cold and brilliant killer.

Pages: 320
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ISBN-10: 0312383797
Amazon  ChaptersIndigo

The Salt Road by Jane Johnson to be released in hardcover January 4, 2011. Jane Johnson's previous effort was The Tenth Gift (my review here), a wonderful timeslip novel I highly recommend to anyone. I think the cover is exotic and mysterious, don't you?

When Isabelle’s estranged father dies he leaves her the house she grew up in, in the attic of which lies a mysterious box with her name on it. Inside the box are three items: an archaeological paper about an ancient Saharan queen, a faded piece of paper written in what appears to be in Arabic, and a curious piece of antique silver: an amulet. 

In another place and time, Mariata belongs to a desert tribe which traces its roots back to Tin Hinan, founding queen of the Tuareg, the legendary Blue Men of the Sahara. She meets and falls in love with Amastan, a charismatic and damaged young warrior. But when her father takes a new wife who has no wish to live the nomad life he takes Mariata to settle in a town in south Morocco. Mariata hates her new existence; and when her stepmother plots to marry her off to a detested suitor, she decides to follow in the steps of her ancestress and make an epic solo journey a thousand miles into the desert in search of her lost love. 

Separated by different times and cultures, the lives of Izzy and Mariata are about to become fatally entwined. Izzy discovers that her amulet is a Tuareg artefact containing an inscription in Tifinagh, a language of the ancient world used for poetry and magic, understood now only by nomads in the deep desert. The desert routes once travelled by caravans of camels bearing ivory, gold and salt are now more perilous than ever but Isobel must follow them if she is ever to lay her ghosts to rest. 

Out in the magnificent wastes of the Sahara she will find more than she ever dreamed: not only the answer to her mysterious inheritance, but a romance as grand and sweeping as the desert itself…

Pages: 464 

Publisher: Doubleday Canada
ISBN-10: 0385669976
Amazon  ChaptersIndigo

Happy Reading!!

July 8, 2010

Blogger or Wordpress?

So I'm going to have some free time in about a month or so and I have these "day(s) for" planned. A day to spend watching movies, a day to spend reading, a day to get my recipes organized, a day to play PS3...and a day to update my website. So I need your input!  Blogger is what I have been using but I really want to spruce the layout up visually.  So do I stick with Blogger or move to Wordpress?  Anything I should know if I decide to move to Wordpress?  Thanks All!



July 2, 2010

Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

Sister Evangeline was just a young girl when her father left her at St. Rose Convent under the care of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. Now a young woman, she has unexpectedly discovered a collection of letters dating back sixty years - letters that bring her deep into a closely guarded secret, to an ancient conflict between the millennium-old Society of Angelologists and the monstrously beautiful Nephilim, the descendants of angels and humans. Rich and mesmerizing, Angelology blends biblical lore, mythology and the fall of the Rebel Angels, creating a luminous, riveting tale of one young woman caught in a battle that will determine the fate of the world.

The summary above from the publisher makes Angelology by Danielle Trussoni sound so promising and I had great hope that this would be a fantastic read, but unfortunately the novel did not live up to expectations. Albeit, maybe my expectations were too high. I won a a signed hardcover copy from Booklounge.ca and I had read S. Krisha's glowing review, so you can imagine I was quite excited to see its startling cover when it showed up in my mailbox.  I thought Angelology would be something like The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, as S. Krishna described, and in a couple ways it was. Evangaline is a young nun of St. Rose's who is suddenly confronted by an almost unbelievable past through a series of letters and she must delve deeper into the clues left for her by her grandmother to determine her history and her destiny. Superficially similar to The Historian no doubt.  Beyond the summary Angelology falls very short of the amazing work of fiction The Historian is.

I do give kudos to Ms. Trussoni for the interesting ideas involving Angelology and its intriguing historical content, as well as Angelologists and their eternal battle with the Nephilim. My mind was often left whirling from trying to absorb the unfamiliar but compelling concepts.

The novel is in three parts and changes focus from present day to historic day and back.  I found the language staccato in places, mostly at the beginning, which made immersing in the story difficult at first. A portion of the book was about an Angelologist by the name of Celestine Clochette, set years before Evangaline's time, and included some historical writings by a Bishop on an Angelology mission.  This section of the novel was truly interesting and engaging, I only wish the whole story was written this way.  There were an abundance of characters in the novel, each with their own act, which detracted from the story because point of view switched between characters too often and left me unable to become engaged with any one character more than the other.  This disconnect left me dissatisfied and feeling kind of left empty.

I am left with a couple of conclusions.  The "heart" of the story seemed missing.  Although the length of the novel at 464p (as compared to The Historian's 642p) seems average for most fiction novels, the switching from scene to scene to scene left me wanting more. There should have been much more description to enhance the erratic plot.  "Scene to scene to scene" is the operative qualifier...Angelology reads more like a movie script rather than the novel it is, depleted of all the promise of what could have been a truly great story.

My Rating: 3.0


Related Posts: 
Gothic Fiction - Historical and Timeslip Favourites

July 1, 2010

Lucky To Live in Such a Great Country

Even if our Prime Minister is a dork!  Happy Canada Day!!!