Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Saturday, June 30, 2012


Insurgent, the second novel in the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth, begins with heroine Tris and boyfriend Tobias trying to make sense of their world now that the Erudite faction has staged an assault on the Abnegation faction using mind control simulation. Tris must come to terms with the loss of her parents and also her shooting of friend and fellow Dauntless faction member Will. Meanwhile, her status as a Divergent is becoming known, and it's going to place her faction and her loved ones in danger. That's the general set up for Insurgent but that short synopsis barely touches all the action and emotion that takes place. It's indeed a sequel that meets and exceeds the standards set up by Divergent.

There's so much one could talk about in Insurgent, but I'll boil it down to what worked so well: the depth of emotion. Whether Tris is involved in action packed savagery or sharing an intimate moment with Tobias, her feelings are on display fully and the reader is experiencing them. Roth's writing brought me into the cell with Tris, making me understand how her split-second decisions worked for or against her, and I found myself unable to put the book down. I love that the relationship between Tris and Tobias is totally real, totally believable, and I love that Tris's intelligence saves her again and again. This is a heroine for the ages; this is a heroine you can believe in and want to be. I love that there is a sad, soft side to Tris, and I love that others hold her accountable for her actions. She's a kick-butt leader with integrity and determination, and right or wrong, she's out to do what's right.

The action is amazing throughout this book, and the character development is phenomenal. Even the secondary characters resonate; no one is fully good or fully bad and histories of relationships can make or break the future. Roth's got me captured completely inside her world and I'm ready for the gates of imagination to open in the final book. Awesome action and credible characters equals one of the best YA series out there now.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to Dante's Inferno...

I believe a high temperature of 105 qualifies as one of Dante's Circles. 

107 tomorrow. Heaven help us.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Last Rite...A Fitting Ending

Last Rite is the final book in the Personal Demons trilogy, picking up with Frannie and Luc leaving Haden to escape the forces of Hell which are after Frannie for her Sway (her ability to get others to do what she wants). The three hop a plane after a wild chase and end up in Florida where Gabe hopes to help Frannie refine her skills and Luc attempts to push her away so he can regain his former demon powers (in order to help save her). Of course things do not go as planned: Luc cannot stay away from Frannie, Gabe finds himself in danger of losing his wings because of his love for Frannie, and Lucifer sends fallen angel Matt (Frannie's twin) to track her down. When Frannie discovers that the family she left behind in Haden is in danger, she decides it is up to her to save them however she can.

For all that's going on, the first third of this book moves a bit slowly, with Gabe and Luc both spending too much time lusting after Frannie rather than coming up with a viable solution to keep her from Lucifer's clutches. In fact, though there is some necessary set up during the time Frannie is in Florida, it's not until she arrives back in Haden that things begin to move with a capital M. Frannie's entire family becomes involved in the ultimate battle of good vs. evil, and no one is quite sure what Frannie should do or how she should do it. There are some family secrets revealed, all of which are surprising and welcome, and some intense moments as souls are bargained for and decisions are made. I literally could not put the book down for the final 100 pages...I had to know what happened next!

Still, there are some issues I have with all the final threads, and this is a spoiler warning...

I had to wonder Why Frannie? If all her sisters and brother had special powers, thanks to her dad and grandfather, then why should the third daughter of the family be the One? I also had to wonder why Frannie found it so hard to trust the two men who had only been trying to help her for so long. I also felt the entire sub story with Faith was sorta odd...she just didn't seem necessary to the story. And only under the guise of Free Will do I understand what happened with Luc and Frannie and the hospital scenes...really, was there a decision that had to be made?
Last Rite is a fitting ending to a great trilogy, despite its minor flaws. The characters are compelling and the ties of family permeate the entire story. I loved this series and look forward to reading anything and everything Ms. Desrochers writes in the future.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

George RR Martin...Write Like the Wind!

Oh, so true! Stolen from the ever fabulous Sharon Kay Penman and Elizabeth Chadwick!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Queen's Vow

The Queen's Vow is the story of Isabella of Castile, the Isabella of FerdinandandIsabella fame, the mother of Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Told in first person, author C.W. Gortner brings this fascinating woman to life from the time she was a young teenager until she sponsors the man we know as Christopher Columbus. Isabella begins her life as the almost forgotten younger sister of Enrique, King of Castile; once remembered, however, her life is never the same as she begins years long battles for a throne that would eventually be hers. Isabella is always strong, if often beleaguered by the men in her life, but her one constant is the love she shares with Ferdinand (known as Fernando in this novel).

The writing in this novel is quite strong, and Gortner is able to share Isabella's feelings very well. The descriptions of the places, people, and era often place the reader directly inside the action; in particular, his descriptions of the sea and Isabella's faithful friend Beatriz are well done, making both sparkle with life (in different ways, of course!). I was amazed at how plausible Gortner was able to make many of Isabella's decisions seem, almost as though he had experienced the travails of ruling himself. I also loved the actual vocabulary Gortner uses; he chooses words that stretch the reader and imply that an intelligence is required for understanding. While I don't necessarily accept Isabella's initial tolerance of the Jewish population of her country, nor her reluctance to implement the Inquisition, I was willing to give credence to Gortner's explanations simply because they are so well written. This is a novel to be savored, both for its rich historical tale and also for its written beauty. 


Monday, June 18, 2012

Sookie and What Needs To Happen

I won't waste time recounting the plot of Deadlocked, other than to say a girl turns up dead on Eric's lawn a few minutes after Sookie catches him drinking from her. From there, Sookie and Co. are harassed by the police until the mystery is solved. The mystery itself is actually pretty good, with enough unanswered questions and diversions to keep me interested in finding out whodunnit. And there is a reasonable solution that involves Sookie having the veil lifted from her eyes about certain fae she knows very well. So on that front, I would give Deadlocked a solid 4 stars.

What else I liked: I liked the fae and Sookie's interactions with them. I liked that we met up with Niall again and there was some resolution to the relationship between Niall and his son Dermot. I liked the mystery; I liked Pam and I liked how Bill still seems smitten with Sookie. And I liked what Sookie does with the cluviel dor. It made sense and showed Sookie's true character.

What I disliked: Sookie and her relationship issues. I've always loved Eric, and he and Sookie together were dynamite. However, I am sick to death of the situation with he and Freyda and the fact that he and Sookie were hardly together at all in this installment was awful. I can see the handwriting on the wall and it doesn't look good for them, which makes me ill. But geez louise, if that's the case and she's going to end up with Sam, GET ON WITH IT. Stop making these two intelligent people dance around the situation and make a break.

I also dislike what ultimately happens with the fae in this novel. While I suspect Harris felt there were too many characters and the story was getting away from her, I still don't like it because we are taking away characters who have been important. And while I"m on the subject, while I like the townspeople of Bon Temps, there was too much time spent updating us on them.

In short, we need more Sookie and the story needs to move along, preferably over a longer period of time than a couple of days. Sookie needs to stand up and declare her intentions with Eric, and we need her seeing into heads more often, not just getting pieces of brain signatures.

Was this a bad book? Nope. I sped through it, and liked it. But the whole situation with Eric and Sookie must be resolved or else the entire series will flounder. I need focus for my favorite characters! I'll still be reading, but I hate to see things dragged out so long. There's still good stories in there; I hope Ms. Harris isn't turning off her loyal fans by ignoring what we loved in the first place.


Friday, June 15, 2012

A New Post...Yay! A Review...Double Yay!!

I've been reading like a fiend, not that you'd know it from the frequency of posts to this blog. Problem is, most all of my reads have been for the fabulous Historical Novel Society, which means I can't post my reviews until after they are published. But now I'm officially caught up on reviews for HNS and I can finally, finally attack my own TBR pile with gusto!

I actually did a Great Book Purge last week, culling nearly 200 books from my shelves (and floor spaces, and under bed spaces, etc.).  Right now the majority of the said cull-ees are still in my living room downstairs, waiting for me to get them to either my library or Goodwill. I invited some friends over on Monday to take what they wanted and I still have around 125 books left. It's all good...I can now walk beside my bed without danger of knocking Mt. TBR over with books I've since lost interest in or will never read again. I'm so PROUD of getting some of these books out of my house (okay...they'll all be out eventually, I swear). I even have a small pile by my bed of books that will be Up Next. Wow...not having to search for books because I've stashed them all over is liberating! And K and I also Drove By Barnes and Noble the other day while out was hard but we did it! Go, Us!

Anyway, the first book I've finished that I can share the review here is Rapture by Lauren Kate. I just published my review on took a while to take off but it's such a fine ending to the series that my review is glowing, I tell you. So without further 'tis.

I must admit that in the first 100 or so pages of Rapture, the long awaited finale to Lauren Kate's fabulous Fallen series, I was becoming discouraged. Was I really going on a quest to find three unknown objects that would avert the Fall of the angels from Heaven? A quest, really? And there seemed to be an awful lot of flying through the air with its myriad descriptions of what Luce was seeing and feeling but not really moving the story along much. But then Kate brings us to the action of actually finding the sought -after artifacts and what must be done with them and things began to pick up, and once Luce is led to her major discovery, I was all in (despite my eye rolling at the "battle" between Dee and her sister--the cheesiest lines of the entire series, I swear).

Of course this book is the final tale of the great love affair of mortal Luce and angel Daniel, under a curse to find and then lose one another over lifetime after lifetime. Now that Lucifer is involved, he's determined to re-create the great Fall of the angels from Heaven, and Luce, Daniel, and their band of angel/demon friends have to nine days in which to avert the disaster. While I may not have been enamored of the initial build-up (some of which felt like filler material, there simply to stretch the story out with minute descriptions of rocks and other natural features), I can say, hands down, that the final third of this book is wonderful! While I don't subscribe to Kate's vision of religion, I do have to say it's beautiful, well written, and a very fitting way to end the series. In fact, the final chapters of this book are so well done, filled with so much heart and intensity, I was simply blown away. So often book series merely come to a sputtering halt but this book brings another level of engagement to the story. Absolutely a perfect ending, with even a bit of room for new stories to be told. I hope Ms. Kate will supply us with more of her gifted imagination with the characters we've grown to know and love.