Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

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

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

Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse #11)
by Charlaine Harris
publication date: May 3, 2011

From Goodreads:
"With her knack for being in trouble's way, Sookie witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte's, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is now known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. But Sookie suspects otherwise and she and Sam work together to uncover the culprit - and the twisted motive for the attack. But her attention is divided. Though she can't 'read' vampires, Sookie knows her lover Eric Northman and his 'child' Pam well - and she realises that they are plotting to kill the vampire who is now their master. Gradually, she is drawn into the plot -which is much more complicated than she knows. Caught up in the politics of the vampire world, Sookie will learn that she is as much of a pawn as any ordinary human - and that there is a new Queen on the board . . . "

From Me:
I have been rereading this series after the recent ice storm kept me from the library. I love the books, but I was slightly lost while reading the last few entries when they came out because it had been so long since I read the earlier installments. So now I'm almost all caught up (8 out of 10 newly read) and I'm ready for the new book!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

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!

"When I'd stormed out, I hadn't been thinking about what would happen next. It's the ruin of a good exit when you have to go back and look in the phone book for a cab company."   page 109
-From Dead to Worse, Sookie Stackhouse #8
Charlaine Harris

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Blogging updates

Oh, blogosphere, I have gotten lazy again and haven't posted in a while. My apologies. I finally finished Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, something that felt like it took forever. It was a great book, but it's a beast! (For full review, see today's review post.) Since then, I've been catching up on my pleasure reading - the last several months I've been reading books for school (particularly for my Materials for Youth class) or book group, most of which have been great. It's funny how satisfying it is to select the books you're reading when it's been a while since you had the luxury.

Anyhoodle, I first picked up a Jennifer Crusie book, Maybe This Time (see below for full review). And then, due to the Ice Storm of Death, or the Snowpocalypse, I wasn't able to get to the library to pick up my newest haul. So I started to reread the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris (if you're unfamiliar with this series, it inspired to uber-popular HBO show, True Blood). I loved this series, but I've only read it once through, and I often reread books I love. It's been a long time coming, and I have really enjoyed the process. I'm on Book 5, Dead as a Doornail, but will soon be turning to the afore mentioned library haul...that and our latest book club book, Still Life with Woodpecker.

To Read:
Still Life with Woodpecker, by Tom Robbins
The Looking Glass Wars (Looking Glass Wars #1), by Frank Beddor
Inkheart (Inkheart #1), by Cornelia Funke
Insatiable, by Meg Cabot

Book Review: Maybe This Time

Maybe This Time
by Jennifer Crusie

From Goodreads:
Andie Miller is ready to move on in life. She wants to marry her fiance and leave behind everything in her past, especially her ex-husband, North Archer. But when Andie tries to gain closure with him, he asks one final favor of her before they go their separate ways forever. A very distant cousin of his has died and left North as the guardian of two orphans who have driven out three nannies already, and things are getting worse. He needs a very special person to take care of the situation and he knows Andie can handle anything…

When Andie meets the two children she quickly realizes things are much worse than she feared. The place is a mess, the children, Carter and Alice, aren’t your average delinquents, and the creepy old house where they live is being run by the worst housekeeper since Mrs. Danvers. What’s worse, Andie’s fiance thinks this is all a plan by North to get Andie back, and he may be right. Andie’s dreams have been haunted by North since she arrived at the old house. And that’s not the only haunting…

Then her ex-brother-in-law arrives with a duplicitous journalist and a self-doubting parapsychologist, closely followed by an annoyed medium, Andie’s tarot card–reading mother, her avenging ex-mother-in-law, and her jealous fiancĂ©. Just when Andie’s sure things couldn’t get more complicated, North arrives to make her wonder if maybe this time things could just turn out differently….

From me:
It may seem strange to categorize this story as "Historical Fiction," but as you learn before the story starts, it takes place in 1992. "Because." In other words, no cell phones, no instant internet access - it's practically foreign territory nowadays! While this may be a ghost story, the real story is that of a woman trying to take care of, and then loving, two orphaned children. So maybe the fact that these kids are haunted by some disturbing ghosts mixes up this plot a bit, but it was the children that I found most compelling. And then there's the basic romantic element as our heroine Andie (short for Andromeda - her mom was either a hippie or just hippie like, I don't recall the particulars) has to contend with her fiance and the ex-husband she still has feelings for.

I often pick up Crusie titles, looking for a repeat of Agnes and the Hitman - one of my favorite books. This book contains Crusie's trade-mark humor, but it does seem to have a touch more seriousness than some of her other titles (and isn't quite as fantastic as Agnes). That may just be because children are involved in the dramatic bits, which makes it seem more serious. I don't know. But I loved it, all the same! Recommended.

Book Review: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
by Susanna Clarke

From Goodreads:
Centuries ago, when magic still existed in England, the greatest magician of them all was the Raven King. A human child brought up by fairies, the Raven King blended fairy wisdom and human reason to create English magic. Now, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, he is barely more than a legend, and England, with its mad King and its dashing poets, no longer believes in practical magic.

Then the reclusive Mr Norrell of Hurtfew Abbey appears and causes the statues of York Cathedral to speak and move. News spreads of the return of magic to England and, persuaded that he must help the government in the war against Napoleon, Mr Norrell goes to London. There he meets a brilliant young magician and takes him as a pupil. Jonathan Strange is charming, rich and arrogant. Together, they dazzle the country with their feats.

But the partnership soon turns to rivalry. Mr Norrell has never conquered his lifelong habits of secrecy, while Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous magic. He becomes fascinated by the shadowy figure of the Raven King, and his heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens, not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything that he holds dear.

From me:
I finished it! I feel like I accomplished something major when I turned that last page. This book was excellent, but it was loooonnnggg. Do not read this book if you don't have time to devote to it - it's not one you can put down and pick up later. By the time I was half way through it I was having trouble remembering every character and every reference made, and I was reading it straight through. There's a lot of information here, but that gives this story it's depth.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell reads like Austen and it's the complexities of the characters and not the magic (which felt very commonplace, like it was the most natural thing in the world) that moves the story. I read this book for a book group, which I would only recommend if you have a long time between group meetings; it's just too bulky to read quickly. On the other hand, there is plenty to talk about, so a great discussion book. Highly recommended.