Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Okay, I Know It's Blurry...

...but it's me meeting Rick Springfield Friday night! He was doing a book signing for his new autobiography, Late, Late At Night, and he did a signing at our local Davis-Kidd Booksellers. What a hunk he still is! And very friendly as well. I never got the impression that he was in a hurry or that he just wanted to get us through. I didn't take my good camera because originally we'd been told there'd be no posed photos, but they changed that policy when we arrived. So I was stuck with my BlackBerry camera. Arrrrgh. Anyway, it was a great evening that I'll remember for a very long time. Be still my heart; I've been in love with him for eons! Totally worth it to finally get to meet him.

Bright Young Things

Bright Young Things is the first book in Anna Godbersen's new series set New York during the summer of 1929. Full of gossipy drama, Bright Young Things is just what we've come to expect from Godbersen, following in the tradition of The Luxe series. Anyone who enjoyed that series (and I certainly did), will find just as much to enjoy in this one.

BYT opens with small town girls Cordelia Grey and Letty Haubstadt hopping a train for the bright lights of the big city; each has a past she is more than eager to leave far behind. Once they arrive, however, of course things don't go smoothly, and their situations diverge when they have an argument that causes them to split. Letty takes on the new last name Larkspur and aims for the spotlight as a singer, but she soon finds that just surviving is going to be work. Cordelia is determined to find her long lost father, whom she believes is the famous bootlegger Darius Grey; needless to say, her poor beginnings take a major upturn when she does indeed discover that her father wants her back in his life. Along the way, she becomes friends with the popular and beautiful ingenue Astrid Donal, who is the girlfriend of Cordelia's newly found brother Charlie. Swept off her feet by the dashing young Thom Hale, Cordelia's entry into society turns her family upside down and puts everyone in danger. And no one's life will ever be the same again.

This book is a fast read and it's just the sort of story that carries you away into another time period, into the lives of people you could never be. These girls aren't necessarily blameless in what happens; they're definitely real characters making mistakes and feeling betrayed. The main thing is that you'll feel as though Cordelia, Letty, and Astrid are your friends and you'll want to be there every step of the way with them as they face their trials. Loved it and cannot wait for the next one!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Not Really a Party Until Someone Brings the Surprise Zombies"

Great line, huh? Nick may be a demon who doesn't experience human emotions, but he can deliver one liners that will crack you up throughout The Demon's Covenant. It's just one of the many reasons that this book is more than a worthy sequel to The Demon's Lexicon.

The story picks up not too long after The Demon's Lexicon leaves off; Mae becomes worried about her brother Jamie being targeted by magicians from the Obsidian Circle, so she contacts magician fighting brothers Alan and Nick to come help her pull him away from the evil influence. Along the way, we discover that Nick wants to learn about human emotions and he enlists Mae to help him; Alan, frightened of what his brother is capable of, decides the wiser course might be to betray him; the Goblin Market becomes the scene of many confrontations; and Mae finds herself torn between Alan and Seb, a boy at school. There are no easy choices in The Demon's Covenant.

Rant time: What is up with that cover? Besides the fact that it features a minor character, it's just plain ugly. It makes Sin look like she's in her forties, not to mention those big feet. Whoever okayed that one needs to be pummeled repeatedly.

The rant aside, I was pleasantly surprised that a sequel could maintain the intrigue and depth of the first book. With its devastating wit and action, its relationship issues and the magic, The Demon's Covenant works on so many levels. I loved seeing the relationship between Jamie and Mae, and I loved that Jamie knows who he is and doesn't shy away from it. The world Brennan has created is intricate and compelling, and I'm already on board for book number three. Dark and disturbing at times, there's gore and menacing situations that put everyone in peril but will keep you turning the pages quickly. This one garners a solid 4.75 stars, kept from the full 5 by a couple of chapters that meandered just a bit. Excellent reading!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Blah, Blah...

I'm not a good sick person, and that's just what I've been for two days now. Woke up yesterday feeling like I'd been hit by a truck, but bravely decided to go ahead to work in the hope that I would miraculously feel better. Wrong. Took me less than an hour to request a sub and take myself on home where my stomach rumbled and my head floated among the clouds for the better part of the day. Feeling better by dinner time, I attempted to eat the veggies Jeff brought home from Cracker Barrel...that did not sit well. But hope continues to spring eternal, so I got up and got dressed for work again this morning. Again, it took about 20 minutes for me to decide that was not especially a good idea, either. So here I am, nursing my rumbly tummy and thinking that it might possibly be on the mend. We'll see. I hate being out from work because it's just a pain. And sickness seems like weakness somehow.

On the upside, I finished A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris yesterday and The Exile by Diana Gabaldon last night. Today's been a napping, tv, computer sort of day, but I did start The Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan. So if there's an upside to feeling yucky, it's spending time doing nothing much and feeling no guilt because, hey, I'm sick.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More Sookie

I figured I could pass on this compilation of short stories based on the the Sookie Stackhouse books because 1) I'm not a fan of short stories, and 2) I didn't think there'd be much substance there. But based on the recommendation of two reading buddies (Hi, Steven and Karen!), I decided that maybe I was missing something after all, so I picked it up. It turns out that A Touch of Dead is the perfect light companion to the fuller stories, and fills in some of the gaps as well. Mission accomplished!

There are five short stories contained in A Touch of Dead, and each takes place at different stages of the Sookie adventures. While all of them are fun, my favorite was One Word Answer because it seemed to give us the most background into Sookie's relationship with her cousin Hadley. Fairy Dust focuses on Sookie helping Claudine and Claude find out who murdered their triplet, Claudette; Dracula Night finds us at Fangtastia awaiting the arrival of the Count himself; Lucky is a bit a of throwaway story where Sookie and Amelia help out a local insurance agent; and Gift Wrap details a rather interesting Christmas Eve.

It would, of course, help to be very familiar with Sookie's stories before reading A Touch of Dead, and to keep your expectations low as far as plot advancement goes. But if you're as eager to spend time in the fun-filled life of our Sookie, A Touch of Dead more than fits the bill.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Vlad Tod #5

The final book in The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series picks up where #4 left off; Vlad thinks he's seen his dead father after battling his friend Joss, who happens to be a Slayer sworn to kill Vlad. Vlad's also still going to be put on trial by Elysia for his "crimes" against other vampires and his life is on the line. All in all, things aren't looking too good for our favorite high school vampire senior. Will Vlad be able to recover his father's lost diary in time to use its secret code to exonerate himself? Will Joss find a way not to kill Vlad? Will Vlad ever graduate?

Okay, that last question was a bit silly, given all the action packed into #5, but amid everything going on, Vlad still attends school, even if he never expects to graduate. Vlad spends much of this book searching for answers to whether or not he's the Pravus and whether or not his father is indeed still alive (and what that means if he is). It's not a pretty tale, and Vlad's losses are huge. In addition to girlfriend Snow, Vlad's uncle Otis and aunt Nelly are in constant danger, and Vlad's frustration at not being able to stop events fuels much of the action.

Recounting the plot would give away too much, so I will say that this is a fitting ending to the quintet, if a disturbing one on many levels. Vlad's got to solve some big problems and he's unsure of where to even begin. While all this is going on, Vlad's dealing with the normal angsts of being a teenager--old loves, new loves, friends, and oh, yeah, a blackmailer. Well, all right, that's not typical, but still...Vlad's got problems. Ms. Brewer does a terrific job of capturing a teen's emotions as she explores his vampiric issues.

Rant time: You know how I feel about editors these days, and this book has a few items that should have been caught. Right off the bat (pun intended) on page six, there are two instances of "had drank". Once I could overlook; twice and it's a problem for this reader. It also occurs later in the book so someone should have been paying closer attention. Also, there's an instance where Vlad "slunked" down the hall. Slunk is past tense itself. And yes, I know this is picky, but I care. Someone should.

This final book is well written and engaging, if a little rushed toward the end. There are no pretty little bows to tie up everything (and I'd have been disappointed had there been). And that ending? Let's just say I don't think we've seen the last of Vlad. I'll be looking forward to it.


Monday, October 04, 2010

Rinaldi Back In Form

Fourteen year old Tacy Stryker is frustrated; the youngest and only girl of the family, she's left in the care of her mother and older brother David as she watches her other two older brothers and her father go off to fight for the Union. It's not that Tacy is a bad person, but she chafes under the close scrutiny of David, who is himself frustrated because an old injury keeps him from joining the Union Army. So when the battle of Gettysburg begins, Tacy's already frayed nerves take an even larger beating as David cracks down on her sassiness as the bullets fly by their home. Mix in keeping an African American friend and her mother safe, a fight with an old friend, and losing her beloved horse, and you have a young woman with very identifiable problems in a horrendous historical setting.

Rinaldi's been hit or miss with me for a few years now, but The Last Full Measure is a return to form for the author. Relatively short (just over 200 pages), the book focuses less on the actual fighting than it does on the relationships and feelings of the Stryker family. Expecting Rinaldi to gloss over events, I was pleasantly surprised at how well she described what was going on while still keeping the focus on rebellious Tacy. There is a shocker toward the end that had me glued to the pages until I could see how Tacy was going to survive; there are lots of emotions involved in these short pages. My only argument would be that I would have liked to have seen the book be a little longer, but that's a minor issue. I can now say I have lived through Gettysburg through the eyes of a young woman experiencing devastating loss and courage. Recommended.


Friday, October 01, 2010

Jennifer Donnelly, You Never Let Me Down

In Jennifer Donnelly's exquisite new young adult book, Revolution, there's a juxtaposition of two young lives, lived two hundred years apart, and the idea and reality of Revolution. In modern times, Andi Alpers is a high school senior at the exclusive New York school St. Anselm's, and while her life should be one of ease and comfort, she's haunted by the sudden, tragic death of her younger brother Truman two years before. During the French revolution, Alexandrine Paradis is a teen whose very life depends upon her ability to be a convincing actress and spy. Brought together by Alex's diary, the two young women are on different paths to self-discovery, yet neither one may survive.

Andi's a tragic figure in many ways, and her story isn't a pretty one. Never very close to her father, a Nobel Prize winning scientist, the death of Truman drives a wedge further into their relationship, particularly once he leaves Andi and her mother for good. Andi's mother retreats into a cloud of painting and depression until Andi's father is forced to place her into a mental institution; her pain is echoed in Andi, who also finds that popping prescription anti-depressants numbs her to the guilt she feels over Truman. In a life filled with drugs and soul-rending pain, Andi considers repeatedly taking her own life; the only force of good she feels is when she can retreat into music. It is this force that draws her to Virgil, a young man she meets when she's forced by her father to go to Paris with him while her mother is institutionalized. It is there that she finds Alex's diary, and her journey back in time begins.

There is so much to this story, so many layers revealed, often slowly; yet getting inside Andi's mind is difficult because she puts up defenses that make it hard even for the reader to get close to her. The adults in her life have let her down so often that there is no hope for her there, and yet she's isolated herself from almost everyone in order to squelch the pain she feels over Truman. When Virgil appears and offers her something to hold on to, it almost makes you want to scream at her to grab him and never let go, yet Andi's tenuous hold on life is so fragile it seems possible that she will not make it. It is only as she loses herself in the pages of Alex's diary that she can discover what it is she needs to do in order to make peace with her losses.

Donnelly's writing is rich and full of depth, and the parallel lives of these two young women are both equally engaging. There is so much feeling among the pages, and Andi's self-destructive behavior makes your heart hurt as you are forced to experience her life. Donnelly weaves history effortlessly into the story, and I was particularly impressed with her grasp of historical music. The voices of Andi and Alex are going to be with me a very long time and I cannot recommend this one highly enough. Jennifer Donnelly, your writing never lets me down. Five plus stars.