Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Search for Steampunk recommendations

I've recently become aware of the popular steampunk genre and I'm hoping those in the blogosphere would be able to help me find some titles to help me get my feet wet.

I've read and adored the Parasol Protectorate series, but I don't know how steampunky that book is compared to full blown steampunk. As with Sci Fi, I may not be ready to go all-in yet; I may need something a little more entry level.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays (3)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
•Grab your current read
•Open to a random page
•Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
•BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
•Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"Really, Alexia, this is no time for levity! I am all aquiver, facing a ghastly emotional crisis, and you issue forth nothing more than scads of unwanted jocularity!"
Changeless by Gail Carriger, page 157

Monday, July 26, 2010

It's Monday: What are you reading? (10)

It's Monday: What are you reading? is a weekly meme from BookJourney.

I read:

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Lonnnggg book, but very interesting plot - What happened to the gods that immigrants brought to America? Apparently America isn't too hospitable. I haven't read too much of Gaiman, Stardust is the only book in my collection, so I can't really say how it fits into his regular format. Stardust is a bit more family-friendly than this one, but they're both (sorta) on-the-road books.

One word of warning, this book may be a bit too bulky for a once-a-month book group; it's meaty and takes some time to get through.

I listened to:

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (Audio book)
I really could not get into this book. It's Twilight-lite, in the worst way. Girl inexplicably and instantaneously falls for boy, this time because she's been staring at him in his wolf form for years. Never had a conversation before, never even knew he was a human (or humanesque) until he shows up on her doorstep and she just *knows*. Then there's the chaste cuddling in bed that "she knows she just can't live without" (paraphrased).

I couldn't do it. I got about three discs into a nine disc audio book and had to quit. The readers were alright - the female reader was a little to breathy for my taste (though that was probably what they were aiming for) and the male reader wasn't tops on the female voices, but otherwise they were both pretty good. That still wasn't enough to keep me listening.

Currently Reading:
Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate #2) by Gail Carriger

To Read:
Road trip coming up next week, so I plan on "reading" a lot of audio books. More to come in two weeks!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

(Forgive the lack of images - Blogger isn't letting me add pictures at the moment.)

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Chast in Chaos (Chronicals of Elantra #6)
by Michelle Sagara West
Publication Date: August 1, 2010

From Goodreads:
Kaylin Neya is a Hawk, part of the elite force tasked with keeping the City of Elantra safe. Her past is dark, her magic uncontrolled and her allies unpredictable. And nothing has prepared her for what is coming, when the charlatans on Elani Street suddenly grow powerful, the Oracles are thrown into an uproar and the skies rain blood…

The powerful of Elantra believe that the mysterious markings on Kaylin’s skin hold the answer, and they are not averse to using her–how ever they have to-in order to discover what it is.

Something is coming, breaking through the barriers between the worlds. But is it a threat that Kaylin needs to defend her city against–or has she been chosen for another reason entirely?

From me:
I really love these books, they top my favorites list. Sagara-West has created a brilliant fantasy world with interesting race and political issues with Kaylin's magic being the foremost on many people's minds. She's already saved her world a few times, so I'm curious to see what she has to deal with next! For my review of the first book in the series, Cast in Shadow, see here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays (2)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

•Grab your current read
•Open to a random page
•Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
•BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
•Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"The black dog licked its long snout. Then it said, in a deep, dry voice, 'I saw Harry Houdini once, and believe me, man, you are no Harry Houdini.'"
American Gods by Neil Gaiman, page 180.

Monday, July 19, 2010

It's Monday: What are you reading? (9)

It's Monday: What are you reading? is a weekly meme from BookJourney.
I read:

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
I have one word for this book: Wackadoo. This book was an interesting mix of post-spicy-dinner dream craziness and something an adult is forced to come up with on the spot for a child begging for a story. I really enjoyed it, though. The characters were characters, my favorites being the Tweedles and the clumsy knight. Alice was the grounding force of the story - she was always polite and often aggravated, and though she easily accepted the strangeness and kept hold of her creativity and imagination, she never lost her rationality.

Oddly enough, I felt as though I connected with this story because my dreams are very much like the dreamscape of Wonderland and the Looking Glass World. My dreams always have a plot and, despite their craziness, I'm always convinced that they make sense. (For an example, see my Betty White dream here.) I'd recommend this to any adult who has somehow missed it over the years and possesses a sense of whimsy and I also think it'd make a great read-aloud-to-a-child book (just beware, interesting questions could be posed whilst reading, like "Mommy, what's a hookah?"). (*****)

Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter (*****)
For full review, see here.

Currently Reading:
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
American Gods is my book group's latest discussion book. It's definitely interesting...we'll see how I feel the further I wade through this beast of a book. Though I'm not sure how I'm going to get through it all by group time (and I'm one of the leaders!).

To Read:
Changeless by Gail Carriger

Bubbles Unbound by Sarah Strohmeyer
Recommended by a friend.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Blameless

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights future releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Ok, I'm about an hour early, but it's more Wednesday than Tuesday as I type this. Therefore, this week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Blameless (The Parasol Protectorate #3)
By Gail Carrigar
Publication Date: September 1, 2010

Ok, I'd like to tell you about this book, give you a quick synopsis, but the Goodreads synopsis is full of Changeless, book #2, spoilers. Now, I haven't read book #2 yet, so I don't want to read the synopsis, let alone post it on my blog. I'm not going to spoiler myself.

So why am I choosing the third book in the series for my WOW posting when I haven't read the second yet? That would be because I was completely hooked by the first book, Soulless. I adored it - it was full of wit and dry British humor (for full review, see my blog entry). I am betting on a solid sequel, therefore Blameless will surely rock my socks. It had better, or I'm going to be truely, truely bummed.

Book Review: Only the Good Spy Young

Only the Good Spy Young (Gallagher Girls #4)
By Ally Carter

From Goodreads:
When Cammie Morgan enrolled at the Gallagher Academy, she knew she was preparing for the dangerous life of a spy. What she didn’t know was that the serious, real-life danger would start during her junior year of high school. But that’s exactly what happened two months ago when she faced off against an ancient terrorist organization dead set on kidnapping her.

Now the danger follows her everywhere and even Cammie “The Chameleon” can’t hide. When a terrifying encounter in London reveals that one of her most-trusted allies is actually a rogue double-agent Cammie no longer knows if she can trust her classmates, her teachers—or even her own heart.

In this fourth installment of the New York Times best-selling series, the Gallagher Girls must hack, spy, steal, and lie their way to the truth as they go searching for answers, recognizing that the key to Cammie’s future may lie deep in the past....

From Me:
Another great book! Cammie is still the target of a rogue group made up of the world's top spys and assassins, but now people she knows and trusts could be the enemy.

By the time I got to the end of this book, as Carter was setting up the next installment, I almost felt like books one through four were all part of a prequel - that the story is about to really take off. Maybe it's more like Harry Potter's Half Blood Prince - the game changer that leads to the final act. Or maybe it really is a set-up for many more books. Or maybe I'm just reading into it and the next book will go back to the status quo. Guess I won't know till I can get my hands on the next one - which I intend to do as soon as I can! 

Teaser Tuesdays (1)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"Please, would you tell me," said Alice, a little timidly, for she was not quite sure whether it was good manners for her to speak first, "why your cat grins like that?"
"It's a Cheshire-Cat," said the Duchess, "and that's why. Pig!"
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, page 61.

Monday, July 12, 2010

It's Monday: What are you Reading (8)

It's Monday: What are you Reading is a weekly meme from BookJourney.

I'm finally back! I've managed to keep reading over the past few weeks, but my poor blog has been neglected.

Currently Reading:
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
I've owned this book for a few years and I'm finally getting around to reading it. So far so good!

Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter
I adore this series!

Finished Reading:
Oh so many books! See my blog for full reviews.

To Read:  I have no idea! We'll see where I land once I finish these books.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate #1) by Gail Carriger

From Goodreads:
Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

From Me:
I loved this book! Absolutely loved it! I must make it a new addition to my library.

Alexia has a brilliantly dry sense of humor - maybe it's the fact that she's soulless, or maybe it's the author's British connections - but the dialogue and first-person narrative were fabulous. The climax may not be great for the overly squeamish, but that was the only really squicky bit.

This book was a lot of fun and I highly recommend it, especially for anglophiles and paranormal fans. (*****)

Dead in the Family

Dead in the Family (Sookie Stackhouse #10) by Charlaine Harris

From Goodreads:
Sookie Stackhouse has finally settled into a relationship with the Viking vampire Eric, and her errant brother Jason seems to have his life in order, too. But all the other people in Sookie’s life – Eric himself, her former lover Bill, her friend and boss Sam – are having family problems. Eric’s maker shows up with Eric’s ‘brother’ in tow, the ailing Bill can only be healed by a blood sibling, and Sam’s brother’s marriage is about to take place... or will it? The furor raised by the coming out of the two-natured has yet to settle; some people are just not ready to sit down to dinner with a man who turns into a dog. And Sookie herself is still recovering from her last ordeal. She’s definitely improving, physically and mentally, but she’s always going to have some dark moments now. The werewolves tell her that there have been strange and ominous passers-by in the Stackhouse woods; now Sookie is about to come face-to-face with one of her more distant relatives...

From Me:
I really love this series, but as with most series that deal with danger and death, I eventually start to feel really bad for the hero or heroine - they can never seem to catch a break!

This book felt a bit like Sookie had finally managed to catch that break. Sure, there was still danger, but after the torture scenes from book #9, the danger here felt like nothing. I particularly liked the scenes with Sookie's cousin's boy - they were both touching and amusing.

My only problem with this book is that there just wasn't enough Eric in it. No other Sookie book has managed to knock the Ericrific #4 out my top spot.  (*****)

The Monsters of Templeton

The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff

From Goodreads:
On the very morning Willie Upton slinks home to Templeton, New York (after a calamitous affair with her archeology professor), the 50-foot-long body of a monster floats from the depths of the town's lake. This unsettling coincidence sets the stage for one of the most original debut novels since The Time Traveler's Wife. With a clue to the mysterious identity of her father in hand, Willie turns her research skills to unearthing the secrets of the town in letters and pictures (which, "reproduced" in the book along with increasingly complete family trees, lend an air of historical authenticity). Lauren Groff's endearingly feisty characters imbue the story with enough intrigue to keep readers up long past bedtime, and reading groups will find much to discuss in its themes of "monsters," both in our towns and our families.

From Me:
The Monsters of Templeton is chock full of information and characters, and while I sometimes got lost in all of it, it was worth the effort of wading through it.

The historical flashbacks in this story really appealed to me. I particularly appreciated the interectedness of the characters from the past with their modern day contemporaries. In my opinion, the 'monsters' in this story are the sins of the Templetonians (lust, greed, etc., etc.) that passes through the generations, not the sad and lovely monster from the lake.

Like many of the books that I've read lately, I found myself preferring the supporting characters rather than the main character. In this case, I really didn't think that Willie had many redeeming qualities. She was pretty terrible to the people who were trying to love her or be her friend (though they all seemed to grow more attractive to her as she began to see their goodness). I liked her better by the end of the book, but it took a while for me to feel that way.

My only issue with this book was the awkwardness with which Groff incorporated certain paranormal elements. The book, for the most part, reads like straight literature, in which a few of the otherworldly elements - the lake monster and the household ghost - didn't seem out of place. But there were other bits that seemed too over the top for the rest of the text. The overall tone of the book wasn't one of magical realism - to make it work better, the story either needed more of the magical elements or less of them.

Overall, a very enjoyable book. It's also a great choice for a bookclub - plenty to discuss.  (*****)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Jane Bites Back (Jane Bites, #1) by Michael Thomas Ford

Jane Bites Back (Jane Bites, #1) by Michael Thomas Ford

From Goodreads:
Two hundred years after her death, Jane Austen is still surrounded by the literature she loves—but now it's because she's the owner of Flyleaf Books in a sleepy college town in Upstate New York. Every day she watches her novels fly off the shelves—along with dozens of unauthorized sequels, spin-offs, and adaptations. Jane may be undead, but her books have taken on a life of their own.

To make matters worse, the manuscript she finished just before being turned into a vampire has been rejected by publishers—116 times. Jane longs to let the world know who she is, but when a sudden twist of fate thrusts her back into the spotlight, she must hide her real identity—and fend off a dark man from her past while juggling two modern suitors. Will the inimitable Jane Austen be able to keep her cool in this comedy of manners, or will she show everyone what a woman with a sharp wit and an even sharper set of fangs can do?

From me:
Jane Austen is undead and well and ticked off that people are making money off her books with all their silly spinoffs, sequels, and inspired-bys and she doesn't see a single royalty. She's been trying to get another book published for a century or two, and finally sees some success. In the mean time, there's trouble afoot, and other vampires may be involved.

If you read this book expecting non-stop hilarity and/or action, then you will likely be disappointed. And frankly, Jane didn't "bite back" to my satisfaction. However, Michael Thomas Ford did a surprisingly adept job at writing in Jane's voice. I found vampire-Jane believable; despite the necessity to bite, she fits the social mold I'd imagine her in during the 21st century.

Magic Bleeds

Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels #4) by Ilona Andrews

From Goodreads:
Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for the magic. When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it rose.

Kate Daniels works for the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, officially as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle—especially if they involve Atlanta’s shapeshifting community.

When she’s called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar midway between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers there’s a new player in town. One who’s been around for thousands of years—and rode to war at the side of Kate’s father.

This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, to handle. Because this time, Kate will be taking on family…

From me:
Kate Daniels has had to battle many evils while her past has slowly been revealed in the first three installments in this series, and this time the Big Bad is family. Despite the fact that she'd been trained to keep everyone at a distance, to not form attachments that will weaken her resolve or become a target to her enemies, she has created a family for herself. And now they are in danger.

While there is plenty of blood and gore in the Kate Daniels series, this book finally gets around to a bit of the romance that was hinted at in the earlier books and it was also a major step in the over-arching story's progression. While I've enjoyed all of the books in this series, these story advancements were very satisfying. 

A good read for action and urban fantasy fans and those not afraid of a little blood and guts. (*****)

Book Review: Glimmerglass

It's been so long since I've blogged! My abject apologies! But I've managed to read many books in the meantime, so let's commence the reviews!

By Jenna Black
From Goodreads:
Dana Hathaway doesn’t know it yet, but she’s in big trouble. When her alcoholic mom shows up at her voice recital drunk, Dana decides she’s had it with being her mother’s keeper, so she packs her bags and heads to stay with her mysterious father in Avalon: the only place on Earth where the regular, everyday world and the magical world of Faerie intersect. But from the moment Dana sets foot in Avalon, everything goes wrong, for it turns out she isn't just an ordinary teenage girl—she's a Faeriewalker, a rare individual who can travel between both worlds, and who can bring magic into the human world and technology into Faerie.

Soon, she finds herself tangled up in a cutthroat game of Fae politics. Someone's trying to kill her, and everyone wants something from her, even her newfound friends and family. Suddenly, life with her alcoholic mom doesn't sound half bad, and Dana would do anything to escape Avalon and get back home. Too bad both her friends and her enemies alike are determined not to let her go . . .

From me:
Dana is a half-fae/half-human girl who finds out her heritage makes her special in a supernatural way and a target for people who want to exploit or eliminate her.

While a lot of bad stuff happens to poor Dana, she's a bit too whiney for my taste. Some of minor characters show great potential, and with the introductions and initial plot set-up out of the way, future stories could be more interesting, too. That is, if Dana can suck it up in later books.