Old dogs, new tricks

After having given up on blogger I’ve found myself reinvigorated about blogging so I’m moving to a new platform and hopefully a continued zeal  towards blogging. Here’s hoping I master a new platform! I am a reader of all things genre – mystery/thriller, speculative fiction, horror and occasionally romance,  with the occasional foray into literary and women’s fiction. A lot of these titles will be young adult since that’s an area I need to keep up with in my day job.

 

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The Reading Week in Review

What I finished Reading….

wardark_

The War in the Dark is a lovely mashup between cold war spy thriller and dark fantasy/horror.

Christopher Winter is an assassin for her Majesty’s government. In the opening chapter he is sent to kill a priest giving away secrets to Russia. During the assassination the priest’s skin erupts and hordes of insects flow out and his head then bursts into flame. Nor can Winters find his wing man but thinks he sees a man who he thinks may be him. His friend and mentor, Malcolm Hands clues Christopher in that they are fighting something darker than mere communism. Shrtly thereafter Hands is killed but not before leaving a cryptic note for Christopher to go to Germany. Once there he witnesses a bizarre action for a certain artifact and makes a reluctant ally  (at times) of a Russian agent, Karina. Winter and Karina are then alternatively dragged or pursue various individuals throughout Eastern Europe in pursuit of the artifacts secret.

There are some truly excellent scenes throughout, some of the side characters are really intriguing such as Sir Edward Kelly and The Widow,  and I enjoyed the use of the cold war time period. My only quibble with the book is that Christopher Winter seems to have his bacon continually saved by Karina which does seem a bit odd due to his profession.

 

spindrift

Harley is one of a group of former teen sleuths trying to keep the band together. As a result she scours the web for one last big case. She finds a mystery set at Spindrift House which will carry a large paycheck and talks her friends into going.  Almost as soon as the group arrives things begin to go badly. This is the second book I’ve read in which a Scooby Dooish group of teens turned adults encounter Lovecraftian horror. I think, even as short as this story is, that it does a better job at capturing individuals who know they’ll be drifting apart and that desire to remain together just a bit longer. The Lovecraftian aspect is just the icing on the cake. Ms. Grant does an excellent job at capturing atmosphere. Since the story is shorter not all the characters have depth but our narrator, Harley certainly does. A great quick, not too frightening October read for those so inclined.

What I’m reading now…

I didn’t get much chance to read The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart last week so hopefully this week I’ll make more headway.. I am about halfway through my audiobook, The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner, and started In the Night Wood by Dale Bailey at home.

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Top Ten Tuesday Character Traits that I like to see in my Reading

Curmudgeons Cranky people in books are cute and endearing.Two of the best examples I can think of are Ove from a Man Called Ove and Murderbot from the trilogy by Martha Wells. I’m particularly fond of Murderbot – a cranky AI that basically just wants to view its stories and try and ignore the humans it is in charge of.

Sly con men: Who doesn’t love a con man trying to play all the angles, particularly when that con man turns out to have a heart? Moist Von Lipvig fits this bill–  One of Terry Pratchett’s many, many fabulous characters.

Snarky: Snarky commentators are the best. Generally great commentators they bring on that sly sense of humor.  For this one I’d choose Elvis Cole – One of Robert Crais’ two main detectives in his long running series. Elvis is a bit of a wisenheimer but who most definitely follows a knight’s code of protect the weak – albeit at times in a bloody fashion.

Librarian characters: What can I say librarians seem to like reading about other librarians. Elizabeth Peter’s is another author with great characters and her most beloved ones are probably Amelia Peabody et familie. I, however, have a soft spot for Jacqueline Kirby. Read Naked Once More to find out why she might become one of your faves.

Characters with positive friendships, especially if they are women. A subcategory to this would be the sidekick    who is friends with our main protagonist.  One of my absolute favorites would be Kate and Cecelia from Sorcery and Cecelia and the Enchanted Coffee Pot introduces us to these two women who have a great, great friendship. A fun read told in epistolary fashion.

Women who break boundaries and/or go against the conventions of the day: I love a woman interested in science who is ahead of her time. Veronica Speedwell in Deanna Raybourn’s series; Lady Trent from the Memoirs of Lady Trent; Elma York in Mary Robinette Kowal’s Lady Astronaut series are all are great examples of this.

Nutty characters who are probably insane due to occult influences: A highly specific character trait but G.S. Dennings Warlock Holmes and possibly Dr. Warthrop from Rick Yancey’s monstrumologist series fit the bill.

Scholarly heroes: Okay raise your hand if you don’t like a bookish guy (or gal)? Lazlo Strange from Strange the Dreamer immediately springs to my mind

The Loner: Most frequently found in tough guy novels. Lee Child’s Reacher is a prefect example of a loner

The possibly doomed hero/heroine fighting evil – I love a hero/heroine who is willing to go in and fight evil despite the odds. See HorrorStor by Grady Hendrix for this character type.

 

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The reading week in review

What I finished reading

 

pieces

Andrea Oliver (Andy) is a woman who hasn’t done much with her life and seems to exist within it as passively as possible. After spending several years in New York doing a wide variety of odd jobs she returned home to care for her mother during her cancer treatments. For the past three years she has been a police dispatcher still floating aimlessly through her life. On the morning of her birthday she and her mother are dining at a local restaurant when a shooter opens fire. When the killer targets Andy because of her uniform, Andy’s mother step sin front of him     and asks the shooter to kill her. Andy’s mother turns the table on the killer and calmly kills him. A great deal of attention is then turned on Laura, Andy’s mother. Her mother tells her to leave the little apartment above her mother’s garage and she wants her out immediately.  Andy somehow stumbles into her mother’s house just as Laura and an intruder are arguing. The intruder starts to suffocate Laura and Andy kills him. Laura then tells Andy to flee to Idaho, giving her instructions to find a storage unit. What she finds in the storage unit makes Andy question everything she knew about her mother. The story then alternates between Andy and her flight across country and her mothers past 31 years ago.

This book is most certainly one of those “I couldn’t out the book down” or in this case couldn’t get out of the car until the end of the CD type books. It’s fast paced, suspenseful and chockful of interesting plot points. Initially I found the pace a little slow and I also didn’t have a lot of sympathy for Andy but I think this was a cleaver ruse on the author’s  part as Andy does eventually come into her own and ,in some respects, mirrors her own mothers personality when she was young. Those looking for adrenaline   in their reading will most certainly enjoy this.

ladyrogueTheodora is the daughter of adventurer and treasure hunter Richard Damn Fox. Theo is stuck in a hotel in Turkey while her father has taken off to find a ring reputed to belong at one point to Vlad the Impaler. Theo is most definitely happy about remaining in Turkey. She feels that she should have gone with her father to help him in his search. When Huck, Former foster brother and love interest shows up at Theo’s hotel he tells her that her father has disappeared, and that Huck is to return Theo to New York. Theo is having none of this and insists that she and Huck go find her father. Traveling through Romania and other parts of eastern Europe they are trialed by a sinister man with a white wolf. Theo and Huck follow clues in Richard Fox’s journal and find people who may also have some supernatural abilities and, as it turns out, Theo might also be more than she seems.

I certainly enjoyed the lore surrounding the ring in this book, loved the setting and had great fun also following Huck and Theo as they try to find their father. My biggest complaint would be that there needed to be more smolder between Huck and Theo. I do hope we get to read more adventures involving these two as I particularly liked Theo’s character.

What I’m reading now……

I’m nearly finished with The War in the Dark by Nick Setchfield and have started one of my Halloween reads, The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart. I’m having a little trouble settling on a good audiobook. I’m two discs into The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner and a not loving it but we’ll see.

 

Anything exciting your’e currently reading that you’d like to share?

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Top Ten Tuesday – books with numbers in the title

Initially I thought I was going to skip this TTT as I assumed I didn’t have enough titles to make a top ten. Once I went through my TBR and lists of books I’ve actually read I realized there are a lot of titles with numbers in them! Without further ado here they are.

One_shot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

two_fires

 

This is my absolute favorite of his works

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tell_me_.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

day_four

This is a companion novel to The Three. I preferred The Three but the cruise boat setting was interesting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

full_fathom

I feel such guilt that this is still on my TBR. I like Gladstone and I’m not sure why I didn’t keep going in the series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sixwakes

death_evelyn

I am still not sure how I really feel about this title but it certainly was a twisty little devil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

stella_fortuna_

The-Nine

 

Gah, another one were I feel such guilt for not having read yet. This type ten tuesday may make me reorder my reading queues

 

 

 

the tenth girl-MECH.indd

I just got this in the mail. I cannot wait to dive in!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Just got this in the mail. I cannot wait to dive in!

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The Reading Week in Review

What I finished reading….

 

hotelcorner

The book opens with our protagonist, Henry Lee venturing down to the Panama Hotel, once a premier hotel in Seattle’s Japantown. The new owner has found, in the hotel’s basement, the belongings of Japanese families. As families were rounded up and sent to internment camps they stored their belongs wherever they could. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

Seeing this umbrella takes Henry back to the 1940s. Through young Henry’s eyes we learn about his his father, who is obsessed with the war in China along with his hatred of the Japanese. Henry is a scholarship student at a high end school. There as the only Chinese student Henry is bullied. Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student when she also transfers in and there are put on the school lunch line together. They form a deep friendship over their love of jazz, despite The feelings Henry’s father has for the Japanese. Keiko and her family are eventually interned and they both pledge to wait for the other.
As Henry searches the hotel’s basement hoping to find the Okabe family’s belongings we also learn about his present, his somewhat strained relationship with his son and his attempts to find his way as a new widower.

What I liked

The depictions of Seattle and the local music scene during World War II

A glimpse of how Chinese and Chinese Americans might have been feeling during the war. We rarely hear anything, if at all, about their perspective.

The relationship between Henry and his son – though I would have liked to see more of that relationship over all

 

What I was less enthused about

The story felt emotionally bland to me. We are talking about a very emotional subject and the emotions Keiko and her family must have felt when being relocated were, to be polite, very nuanced – not much emotion shown there. At one point in the novel someone even says that the camps weren’t that bad. The author also skims over the amount of bullying both Henry and Keiko must have received.

The story was also a little too saccharine for me and the love story a little too idealized.

I’m afraid that, for me, it was sort of a meh read.

coldstorage

Cold Storage by David Koepp

The story opens with two operatives Roberto Diaz and his partner Trini accompanying a biologist to a remote part of Australia. Some space junk had crashed there and shortly after it did all contact was lost in the small village near the crash site. Once there they find everyone dead and a deadly, fast acting fungus as the cause for the death. They realize that this organism could cause and was sent to investigate a suspected biochemical attack, he found something far worse: a highly extinction-level event. The place is then nuked but not without a small sample being removed (because of course you always take a sample of the deadly fungus with you) The sample is contained and buried it in cold storage deep beneath a little-used military repository.

The repository is eventually decommissioned and another type of storage facility is built on top of the top secret one.

There might be possible misfortune in store for the two security guards who work the night shift they discover an alarm going off and decide to investigate. In the mean while though it looks like the fungus may have already escaped and infected the baby daddy of one of the guards. As fate would have it he has arrived at the facility just as Naomi (baby mom) and Teacake (hapless second guard) are off investigating the alarm.

In the meanwhile Diaz, now retired and somewhat creaky, has been notified of the breach and races across country on his lonesome (because of course he is on his own) to prevent the fungus from spreading.

I had the best fun with this book. I love biological mechanisms that will destroy the world type story lines and this book did not disappoint. I enjoyed the characters, particularly Teacake and there were humorous bits throughout the book. Mr. Koepp is a screenwriter and the book very much as a feel of a thriller type of movie. Yes belief must def. be suspended but the book is meant to be a fun b movie romp and nothing serious. I needed this fun read right now.

What I’m reading now…

Continuing from last week I’m still reading The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett and listening to Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter.

I’ve started reading something of my TBR, The War in the Dark by Nick Setchfield, huzzah! I’m about 149 pages in and really enjoying it so far.

In non book related news

I watched a couple of the fall pilots – Prodigal Son and Evil.

My husband was intrigued enough by Prodigal Son that I suspect we will keep watching it. I personally liked Evil, it does have some chill inducing moments, both leads are very personable and Michael Emerson of Lost fame does a lovely job of being creepy.

 

So what are you all up to? Any good movies, shows or books you’d like to mention?

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A Belated Top Ten Tuesday

My Fall  TBR

I had hoped to get this out in time for Top Ten Tuesday, but alas, it was not to be.  Since I have a huge number of library books I thought they should go at the top of my autumn TBR. Most of these have  Halloweenish feel.

warlowe

 

The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan I would have picked this book up due solely to the fact that it is set in Wales. However,  I was also sold on the plot. An amateur scientist has devised an experiment wherein someone will live alone for 7 years. This sounds quite creepy.

 

 

 

In the Night Wood by Dale Bailey

Kirkus says this is “modern gothic horror done right”. Let’s find out!

lingering_

The Lingering by S.J.I. Holliday – Okay who doesn’t love a book with a former psychiatric institute as a setting?

Just look at that Gothic facade, you just know horrible things will be afoot.

 

 

 

 

 

warinthedark_

The War in the Dark/Nick Setchfield A dark fantasy set during the cold war with supernatural twists, yes please! This is another one where the cover just draws me in. I love the arcane symbols drawn over the London skyline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now for the purchased books

ghostbone

The looks like a super cute middle grade book. I have to admit this was kind of a cover buy. It also doesn’t hurt that this might also appeal to fans of Nevermoor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Malamander  by Thomas Taylor – another cute middle grade book with supernatural themes

There Will Come a Darkness By Katy Rose Pool – This one has a nice tag line.

A prince exiled from his kingdom.
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart.
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up.

One of them―or all of them―could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer?

sacrificebox

First, let me just say that this is a much nicer cover than the one that is on my book. My background has too much white though the bloody footprints did make a nice touch.

I’m embarrassed to say I bought this for last year’s Fall TBR.

 

 

 

 

 

deathleegirls_

 Behold the gorgeousness that is this cover. I was sold on this one as soon as I heard it involved Dracula’s daughters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Violet by Scott Thomas I enjoyed Kill Creek so I suspect I’ll have fun with this one.

 

Also not part of my formal TBR but I will but I will be reading Queen of Nothing the second it hits the shelves.

 

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The Reading Week in Review

What I finished reading

sacre bleu

Christopher Moore is one of those writers that everyone I know raves about and until this book I thought I had never read any of his work. It turns out I had read one of his novels many years ago and had forgotten about it. My guess is that I won’t be forgetting Sacre Bleu anytime soon. I picked this one up as an audio CD.  I loved it.

The story takes place in Paris and follows a group of painters including Toulouse Lautrec among others. Lucien Lassard is a young boy who grows into manhood amongst the vast group of painters fed by his father’s bakery. When Van Gogh dies this group of artists believe he has been murdered and that a mysterious man known as the colorman may have been present at the time of death. The colorman always offers color, specifically ultramarine blue to the artists.

As the story progresses and  Lucien grows to adulthood, begins his own painting and falls under the spell of Juliette. So much so that he ceases eating or performing his normal chores.  Lucien’s family contacts Toulouse to remove Lucien from Juliette’s clutches.  Toulouse begins to once again investigate the colorman. Once Lucien comes to his senses he and Toulouse  begin to suspect that the models of various artists may be associated with the colorman.  Frequently it is the model who introduces the sacre bleu to the artists. Lucien and Toulouse soon deduce that the paint has mysterious properties but inevitably seems to kill either the artist or someone close to the artist.
The story is told mainly in the current timeline for Lassard but we do get vignettes of the colorman, his companion and the artists they are influencing throughout the ages. While humorous the humor isn’t over the top. The reader need not be an art historian to enjoy the book but it certainly caused a desire in me to learn more in depth about the various artists mentioned. Highly recommended. I should also mention that I thoroughly enjoyed the reader for this novel.

darkdescent

I read Frankenstein ages ago and am vague on many details including the role of Elizabeth in the original novel. However, despite my lack of recall I feel that Ms. White has created a fabulous retelling of the book. Elizabeth had been a neglected fosterling child until the Frankenstein’s took her in as a sort of a playmate for their son, Victor. She learns early on that he role is to sooth Victor and to teach him how to interact with other individuals. When Victor leaves for schooling elsewhere and Elizabeth loses touch with him she begins to fear for her future now that she has no apparent role within the family nor means to survive should they decide to withdraw their wardship of her.

Elizabeth decides to try and find Victor taking her friend Justine with her. Elizabeth soon discovers exactly what Victor has been up to and, to secure her own future, destroys evidence of his activities.

Victor’s activities are taken at face value and he comes across very much as a psychopath. As tragedy befalls her friend Elizabeth realizes exactly what she has done to ensure her survival.

I love the fact that Ms. White states that she wanted to put a girl into the foreground of the story.

Overall I found this to be a delicious and yes, dark retelling. You may want to put this one on your October TBR!

What I’m currently reading

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter. This is my audiobook for the car and so far I’m enjoying it though I am a tad lukewarm on the heroine.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford – A buddy read. In an interesting coincidence I heard George Takei speaking about his new book this morning on NPR. It’s fascinating to have the fictional and factual converge. I have Takei’s graphic novel memoir They Called Us Enemy,  and perhaps I’ll get to it soon.

The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett – I love Jenn Bennett and so far I’m loving this title as well. I’ve heard mixed reviews but I’m having tons of fun with it at the moment.

Cold Storage by David Koepp. I’m not supposed to be reading Cold Storage right now as I have enough reading material at the moment but it has a bazillion library holds and it has my type of catnip. I love biological objects that will wreck havoc on the world type of tales so I couldn’t resist.

In non book related news – it is the beginning of fall quarter at the university I work at which means it is time to hire and train new student library assistants. While I love training I’m not as enthused with the hiring part. Fingers crossed it gets done soon as I went nuts over the weekend and picked up five books form my local libraries new book shelve

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