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Book Review Quickie: By Blood We Live by Glen Duncan

Another amazing installment in The Last Werewolf Series. As the book opens, we are narrated by Remshi (vampire from book 2). Remshi has been in hibernation for 2 years, unknown to him. His human mate, Justine, is explaining what has happened in the past 2 years when they are attacked by Militi Christi, a new organization which replaced the now defunct WOCOP. Remshi kills the attackers, but Justine is fatally wounded. This allows us to see a vampiric transformation in Duncan's world.

Meanwhile, Talulla is living with her pack. Her twins are 3 year olds now, and she remains with Walker. The day we are reconnected with Talulla, she receives a call from a vampire, Olek, and receives a package (Quinn's journals - which you may recall have been sought after since book 1). Olek promises Talulla a cure, if not for her, for her children. But she isn't sure that she wants to be cured. Wulf, though it torments, has given her life. 

The remainder of the story seems to be the trials of Remshi and Talulla to come together. Remshi believes that Talulla is the reincarnation of his lost love. Talulla doesn't understand the connection she has to Remshi but dreams of him, nightly -- to Walker's dismay. 

Narration switches back and forth a bit in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the concept of Jake's narration through journals, but its not true to the characters to expect the story to be continued in this fashion. I went into the book expecting this to wrap up the trilogy, it doesn't. I think Mr Duncan has been coy with us. This is obviously leading to a continued saga.

Book Review Quickie: The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

Nora Eldrige is a middle-aged, school teacher near Boston. She had always thought that she would become an artist. She would marry and have a home filled with children. Instead, she does have children (her students), and she does make art (as a little passion to pass the time). She is in a complete stasis, until she meets the Shahid's. This small family completely shakes up her life. It begins with curiosity which morphs quickly into a consuming-coveting obsession.

She first meets, Reza, as her student.  He is foreign and beautiful; in desperate need to be cared for and watched over. Nora then meets Sirena, Reza's mother, who is also foreign and beautiful, but also an artist.

Sirena has the life that Nora so desperately pines for. Nora constructs reasons to see Sirena outside of school and soon they become friends. But friends in the way that you cannot fully love a wild-beautiful thing like Sirena. Nora begins to become jealous of the time the family spends without her and dwells on her feelings for them in a spiral of non-sensical thoughts. 

The story itself is not what makes this book great. Its the voice of the narrator, Nora is incredibly authentic and moving. The narration cuts a bit deep for those of us single ladies, who may find themselves as the "woman upstairs."

The hype of the book made me a bit disappointed at first, but now that I've fully digested the material I see the beauty of it. This is not the best book written, this will not change your life, read it and love it for its own merit. 

This is one of the few books that I've written in, I couldn't help myself. Messud is able to clearly explain things that I've felt myself but could never vocalize. Specifically, Nora, defines life as a fun house. She's been in the fun house for 40 years and wants to find the exit to real life. Do we all think this way? Or is it just us women upstairs? 

BOOK GIVEAWAY!

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The awesome people from Viking/Penguin have sent me an advanced copy of paperback version ofThe Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma. They're only request is that I offer it as a giveaway on my site. 

Ok, so the first person to tell me their favorite book from Penguin will get this copy sent to you by yours truly. The paperback is gorgeous, a very handsome addition to your library. 


Book Review: The Cormorant by Chuck Wendig

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Miriam Black is tired of fate. She is tired of her “gift” (her ability to see how someone will die upon physical contact). She left everything she loved, well mostly just Louis, and she once again tried to run away from herself. In Blackbirds and Mockingbird, Miriam’s life became an experiment in how to change a person’s fate. So far, there have not been any positive results.

When the book opens, we see a young man being “saved” by Miriam. The man is in a bad neighborhood, very late at night, using an ATM. He is held up by young kid. Miriam shows up and shoots the kid and, being Miriam, takes the guys money. She wants to test out her theory, that one life is exchangeable for another life in the eyes of fate. The young man gets to live his life, the kid doesn’t. But the murder haunts her, yes she was stopping a murder but for a kid to want to murder someone, what was going on in that life? What had happened to get him to that point?

Shortly after the killing, she is evicted by her housemates, after not paying rent for several months. She has nowhere to go and no money to get there. A job leads her to Florida. The job, tell a man how he will die, get paid $5,000, move along.  But it turned out that the job was a set up by an old foe that wanted Miriam within reach.

This is the best Miriam Black book so far. Wendig has no hesitance in torturing Miriam. There were points in this book that I found myself anxious about her safety; I just want the poor girl to catch a break. Though, I have to imagine that the author has a blast writing this character. Miriam has such a desire to make things right, but always seems to get in the way of her good intentions. I’m very excited about the promise of what is to come in the fourth book.

Favorite chapter title: The Sunshine state can go fuck itself

The Cormorant was released on December 31st by Angry Robot,  please buy at your local independent bookseller.

Find out more about Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds.

 

How I Saved $600 this Year; Or, Why I use the Library ... 2013

This year, I read a total of 77 books. Forty of which were checked out from my local library. I pulled prices from Amazon, though, I purchase books at independent stores. 

Dare Me by Megan Abbott        $12.08

The Help (Audiobook) by Kathryn Stockett        $34.15

The Leopard by Jo Nesbo        $12.70

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple   $9.22

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry  $8.09

The Giver by Lois Lowry           $7.38

Horns by Joe Hill          $12.18

Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist        $13.20

Messenger by Lois Lowry        $6.14

Son by Lois Lowry       $14.21

100 Months by Johnny Hicklenton       $10.49

Are You My Mother by Alison Bechdel   $11.97

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli    $25.93

Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White by Lila Quintero Weaver          $18.96

Fables, Vol 18: Cubs in Toyland by Bill Willmingham    $16.11

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel    $11.39

Locke and Key, Vol 1: Welcome to Lovecraft  by Joe Hill            $16.97

Locke and Key, Vol 2: Head Games by Joe Hill $15.78

Locke and Key, Vol 3: Crown of Shadows by Joe Hill   $13.94

Locke and Key, Vol 4: Keys to the Kingdom by Joe Hill $10.95

Locke and Key, Vol 5: Clockworks  by Joe Hill   $18.29

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf      $13.56

Raven Girl by Audry Niffenegger            $15.83

Saga Vol 1 by Brian K Vaugh and Fiona Staples         $7.99

Saga Vol 2 by Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples       $12.18

Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel      $18.29

Sweet Tooth, Vol 1: Out of the Deep Woods by Jeff Lemire       $10.47

Sweet Tooth, Vol 2: In Captivity by Jeff Lemire $11.14

Sweet Tooth, Vol 3: Animal Armies by Jeff Lemire         $11.87

Unterzakhn by Leela Corman    $17.18

Wanted by Mark Millar  $2.99

Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan (Book 1)            $17.04

Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan (Book 2)            $22.56

Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan (Book 3)            $22.49

Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan (Book 4)            $21.82

Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan (Book 5)            $23.51

Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan (Book 6)            $14.00

Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan (Book 7)            $14.00

Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan (Book 8)            $14.00

Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan (Book 9)            $14.00

Let’s Pretend this Never Happened (Audio) by Jenny Lawson   $13.75

Total Savings: $598.80

This is why I love my library. This is why I donate my money and volunteer my time.

2013 Book Challenge ... FAIL

I failed my Goodreads book challenge, reading only 77 books out of a committed 100. Which totally sucks, because even though I had a very large life change, I've had more than enough time to read in the past 4 months.

I've lost my intense desire to read, which is incredibly sad to me. There have been days that I actually didn't pick up a book at all, which a year ago would have been unheard of! So in 2014, I commit myself to those 100 books and half an hour of reading every day.

Here is the 2013 Wrap-Up.

Books Read (by genre)

Fiction

Big Brother by Lionel Shriver

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

Dare Me by Megan Abbott*

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

The Dinner by Herman Koch

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Audio) by Stieg Larrson

The Help (Audiobook) by Kathryn Stockett*

Inferno by Dan Brown

The Leopard by Jo Nesbo*

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

Story of O by Pauline Reage

Tampa by Alissa Nutting

There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple*

SF/Fantasy/Horror:

City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte

Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doomed by Chuck Palahniuk

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry*

The Giver by Lois Lowry*

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Horns by Joe Hill *

Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist*

Messenger by Lois Lowry*

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

The Shining (Audio) by Stephen King

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

Son by Lois Lowry*

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker

Graphic Novels

100 Months by Johnny Hicklenton*

Are You My Mother by Alison Bechdel *

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli*

Buffy Season Nine vol 10 by Joss Whedon et al

Buffy Season Nine vol 11 by Joss Whedon et al

Buffy Season Nine vol 12 by Joss Whedon et al

Buffy Season Nine vol 13 by Joss Whedon et al

Buffy Season Nine vol 14 by Joss Whedon et al

Buffy Season Nine vol 15 by Joss Whedon et al

Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White by Lila Quintero Weaver*

Fables, Vol 18: Cubs in Toyland by Bill Willmingham*

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel *

Locke and Key, Vol 1: Welcome to Lovecraft  by Joe Hill*

Locke and Key, Vol 2: Head Games by Joe Hill*

Locke and Key, Vol 3: Crown of Shadows by Joe Hill*

Locke and Key, Vol 4: Keys to the Kingdom by Joe Hill*

Locke and Key, Vol 5: Clockworks  by Joe Hill*

Locke and Key, Vol 6: Alpha & Omega by Joe Hill

My Brother’s Book by Maurice Sendak

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf*

Raven Girl by Audry Niffenegger*

Saga Vol 1 by Brian K Vaugh and Fiona Staples*

Saga Vol 2 by Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples*

Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel*

Sweet Tooth, Vol 1: Out of the Deep Woods by Jeff Lemire *

Sweet Tooth, Vol 2: In Captivity by Jeff Lemire *

Sweet Tooth, Vol 3: Animal Armies by Jeff Lemire *

Unterzakhn by Leela Corman*

Wanted by Mark Millar*

Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan (Book 1) *

Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan (Book 2) *

Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan (Book 3) *

Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan (Book 4) *

Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan (Book 5) *

Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan (Book 6) *

Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan (Book 7) *

Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan (Book 8) *

Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan (Book 9) *

Non-Fiction

The Amityville Horror (Audio) by Jay Anson

Brain on Fire (Audio) by Susannah Cahalan

Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money by Dave Ramsey

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

I Can Barely Take Care of Myself by Jen Kirkman

Let’s Pretend this Never Happened (Audio) by Jenny Lawson *

 

* denotes library book.

Bold denotes genre favorite.

Links are to my reviews.

Book Review: Locke and Key Vol 6: Alpha & Omega

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Locke and Key, the long running comic by Joe Hill, will conclude with Locke and Key Vol 6: Alpha and Omega.  (Note: this is the team that brought us NOS4A2, so if you enjoyed NOS4A2 you may also enjoy Locke and Key, or vice versa.) 

Locke and Key is the journey of the Locke family after the brutal murder of their father. The children: Tyler, Kinsey and Bode, find themselves uprooted from their home and sent to Lovecraft, MA to the home where their father grew up.

The family is breaking apart with grief, not only have they lost their father, their mother is an alcoholic. Bode, being the youngest, tasks himself with exploring every nook and cranny of the house and soon finds a magic in the house that can bring the family back together or that can completely destroy them.

At this point, I will assume that you’ve read the series … in the prior volume, Bode’s body has been taken over by a demon that had previously been occupying Lucas’ body. Tyler and Kinsey are completely unaware of this and relax hoping that the evil that has been dogging them relentlessly for the past year is finally behind them.  Tyler, being the man of the house, never truly let down his guard. We know that Tyler has found a way to make a new key, and I’m sure each reader has dreamt up the key they would make.

The final installment is brilliant. It was perfect. Cleaver, not exactly what I “wanted” but still perfect; and incredibly heartbreaking, I suggest going into this with a box of tissues next to you. 

Bookish Stuff You Should Know

One of my favorite series is the Millenium Trilogy (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). As many know, Larsson died after writing the 3rd book, and lovers of the series see it as an incomplete work. Larsson's notes to continue the story were found but no action has taken place.

So, the news? The news is that a fourth "Girl with" book is to be released in 2014. Swedish journalist, David Lagercrantz, is currently writing the novel, and from what I understand its completely without any of the previously mentioned notes. So either, this can be awesome or it can destroy one of my favorite series. 

Speaking of, when is Fincher going to make the Girl who Played with Fire (my favorite of the series)?? He's killing me. Its been 2 years since the first came out and it was amazing. 

Book Review: NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

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When Vic McQueen first road across the Shorter Way bridge she was searching for something just as much as she was running from something. Her mother lost an item that was precious to her, but Vic didn’t search for the item to appease her mother, she searched for the item as a way to get out of a home where her parents drank too much and fought too loud. Vic’s father always warned her to stay clear of the bridge, it wasn’t safe, but Vic didn’t listen and found that she was able to use the bridge to find lost things. She was even able to travel the bridge much after its physical collapse.

As Vic grew, she began to doubt her own experiences. She would enter the bridge and end up wherever the item would be; she would sometimes exit the bridge and be an entire state away from her home. How is it possible for this to work? Who believes in such things? She asked the bridge to help her find someone that could understand her. She then met Maggie Leigh, the librarian of the Here Iowa Public Library. Maggie assured Vic that what she could do was quite real, and also that she wasn’t the only person with such a talent. In fact there was a dark force with a similar talent, and Vic may be the only person who could stop him.

Charles Manx “saved” children. He saved them from their dreary futures and took them to Christmasland, devouring their souls on the ride there.  The first time that Manx encountered Vic, he was curious, and that curiosity led to a life sentence in prison. The second time that Manx encountered Vic, he wasn’t curious at all.

I adored the book. This is a great example of well-crafted genre fiction. Not only was the story amazing, the literary references in this novel made me feel like I would explode. Joe Hill pulls from His Dark Materials, Harry Potter, Locke and Key and heavily from his father, Stephen King. Spoilers at this point…. in the novel, there is a map of the “United Inscapes of America” which is pretty much the dreamscape that connects all the eerie things in America INCLUDING Pennywise’s Circus. Yep, Joe Hill just pulled Pennywise in this shit, meaning that Manx is the same type of monster as Pennywise… then, just to make me pass out with excitement, he then pulls in a reference from Doctor Sleep which was published after NOS4A2.

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This was such an exciting book to read. If you have any nerd in you, if you have any love of the eerie and the weird read NOS4A2. Seriously just read it. 

Unexpected Sequels: Doctor Sleep and Mad About the Boy

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Danny Torrance, who goes by Dan these days, found himself plagued by the same demons (quite literally) that tormented his father, eventually leading Dan to the same crutch as Jack … alcohol. Regardless of the Jack death so early in Dan’s life, Dan finds himself too similar to Jack for his own comfort. He grows to be a pathetic excuse for a man, a drunk with a penchant for angry outbursts. However, the liquor dims the shine and Dan cannot bear to see and hear what the shining wants him to know. Yet, when Dan finally hits rock bottom it’s the shining that delivers him to a new town where he is able to flourish as a result. It is during his first week of AA meetings that he becomes aware of Abra. A 2 month old girl with an incredible shine, who continues to seek Dan out mentally.

In parallel, we meet a group referred to as the True Knot. These folks appear to be psychic vampires sucking the life force from children like Abra. The True Knot is nomadic, not being able to stay in one area too long due to the missing children and the normal folk catching on to their strange ways. During the climax of the book, the True Knot has taken up residence in Sidewinder, CO. When Abra becomes endangered, Danny must decide if he can go back to the remains of the Overlook to help an innocent child.  

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Bridget Darcy finds herself a mother of two young children at the age of 51. And SPOILER (well, this is on the cover so maybe not a spoiler?) she is widowed. Mark Darcy died 5 years prior, leaving Bridget comfortably taken care of regarding home and money, but completely lost as a mother.

After four years of mourning the loss of Mark, her friends pull her (kicking and screaming) out of her funk, and push her into the world of dating for the first time in 15 years.  As we are reminded in the novel, a lot has changed, when Bridget was last single, e-mail was rarely used. She now not only has to learn how to date again, but also how to date via Twitter, Facebook, PlentyofFish, Match.com, etc. Bridget eventually meets Roxby a young man whom she intends to date only as a boy toy (or toy boy to the Brits), he is 21 years her junior. However, Bridget - being Bridget - immediately starts obsessing over the relationship possibility with Roxster and we see the Bridget we remember from the original series.

In Doctor Sleep, we are presented with a sequel which showed exactly what I wanted to happen, without knowing what I wanted to happen. In Mad About the Boy, we are presented with a sequel in which the very thing we wanted to happen was ripped from us in the first chapter. Having followed Bridget through the depressive angst of her early dating life, don’t we deserve to see her happy with Mark Darcy? Perhaps a story of marital happiness is no story at all, but, as a fan of the series, I felt quite cheated.

I highly suggest reading The Shining before reading Doctor Sleep. Stephen King was not a fan of the Kubrick movie. I can say that after reading The Shining, I can understand why. Though the movie is fantastic, it’s a completely different creature than the book. If you’ve watched the movie and it hasn’t made sense to you, try the book or at least the Steven Weber version of The Shining.

Even though I do feel cheated by the Bridget sequel that we got I’m still glad that I read it and I will probably read it again along with the first two books. I think I read Bridget Jones at just the right time in my life, when I was young enough not to be bothered by her immaturity. And because of that perfect timing, I still enjoyed the book.