An actual review? Yes, I still write them!

Yes, I’m still reading and I’m still writing. The writing is mostly my own and not fit for public view yet but I have been getting back into reviewing books.

I’ve been writing reviews on and off for the Book Reporter for a few years now and recently picked up The Ghost Clause by Norman Howard. If you’re interested, you can read my thoughts here. It would be a great vacation read, just saying.

Clearly, I have no photography skills

I’ve also joined a new Instagram read along hosted by @RedStarReviews. The July read was Jhereg by Steven Brust and if you haven’t heard of this series — GO FIND IT NOW! It’s awesome. It’s about a crime lord, Vlad Taltos, who moonlights as a security specialist, and yea, he also kills people because why not be an assassin too. And, there are dragons! Yes, I know that’s a lot but trust me, it’s worth it.

Next up on the read along is Horus Rising by Dan Abnett which I’m looking forward too. I’d offer up another bad pic but I just ordered it from my local bookstore today. You’ll have to wait for that beauty.

In the mean time, look at all my new library holds that came in. Where to start…

Look at me being all artistic with the black and white

Library Books

TSSbadge1In anticipation of a major snowstorm that was supposed to hit my city last week, I went to the library to pick up a few things thinking I would be spending a whole day stuck in the house with loads of reading time on my hands. That storm turned out to be nothing (other places did get snow, just not my city), and I spent the day at work like any other Wednesday. I was disappointed as all hell but I still have some good books to read so there’s that.

Side note: Funny how I didn’t run to the grocery store for milk, bread, and toilet paper but went to the library for books instead. To be fair, I had all of the above. Also, I grew up in an area that got a lot of snow so snow panic doesn’t set in for me.

Oh, the books.

Lord of the North by Bernard Cornwell – I started this series probably two years ago and I’m finally getting back to it. It’s the third book in the Saxon Tales series and pretty good. I’m flying through it. Also, I just finished up Mary Stewart’s second book in her Arthurian legend series, The Hollow Hills, last week and wasn’t ready to say goodbye to this setting so this seemed like a good place to start in on the library haul.

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson – I blame Elizabeth over at Dark Cargo for this one. She was talking about it, evangelizing really, and it made me want to read it. My library, which doesn’t always have a great selection of science fiction (it’s getting better or I’m just discovering new authors, not sure, but either way it makes me happy) had a copy. Thanks to an early flip through the book, I can say it looks really interesting.

At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft – I read my first Lovecraft a few weeks ago. It was The Shunned House and so, so good. I needed more and it turns out my library had this one. Also, it has an introduction by China Miéville! China Miéville, people! And it takes place in the Antarctic. I think this might be the next to tackle in the library pile.

Swamplandia! By Karen Russell – I don’t read much contemporary fiction but this is one I’ve wanted to read for a while. But since it was on the bestseller lists and everyone was loving it, I had to avoid it. I’m like that. I don’t like to read books on bestseller lists or books that everyone seems to be in love with at any given point in time. So, I avoided. Russell had a new book out, everyone is raving about it again, and for as much as I want to read it, I’m avoiding and going back to the first one I didn’t read. We’ll see how it goes.

I’m now going to step outside and run some errands. My husband’s conference is in town this weekend and he’s been working non-stop the last two days and I’ve barely left the house. But, on the bright side, I did clean many things and read like a fiend ** so there wasn’t much reason to leave. However, the sun is out and it’s warm so I think I’m going to get some vitamin D. Besides, I hear books can be read outside.

Happy Sunday.

** I’m also reading Clockwork Phoenix 4 edited by Mike Allen and while I’m only a few stories in, I can’t wait to tell you more about it because you’ll want to read it too.

Mini Reviews

I’ve been meaning to review both of these books for a while, but I kept putting them off and now it’s been weeks. I still want to talk about them so I thought mini-reviews would be best. These are two very different books so have fun with that.

Fact about both books, each is the start of a series.


The Name of the StarThe Name of the Star

By Maureen Johnson

GP Putnam Sons

ISBN: 9780399256608

This is my first Maureen Johnson book. I follow her on Twitter and she’s hysterical so I thought I’d finally read one of her books. I know the second book in the Shades of London series is coming out soon so I picked this one. Also, a lot of other bloggers liked it; how could I say no to that kind of recommendation.

Rory, a teenager from Louisiana, moves to a London boarding when her parents take jobs in England. As soon as she arrives, Jack the Ripper style killing begin and she somehow ends up wrapped up in the case.

The Name of the Star is a weird mix-up of ghost story, mystery, police story, and teenage angst. Toss in a bit of boarding school drama and I had a story that I liked very much. I’m now looking forward to the second book.


Silent in the GraveSilent in the Grave

By Deanna Raybourn


ISBN: 9780778324102

Sometimes I do stupid things, like start a series in the middle which means I have to go back and start at the beginning and read ALL the books because that’s how I am. That happened with the Lady Julia Grey series. I read The Dark Enquiry when it came out almost two years ago and now I’m finally getting around to the start of this series and I want to devour ALL of them. No, really, these are so good.

Lady Julia Grey’s husband, Edward, is dead and as it turns out, he was murdered. Nicholas Brisbane, a man Edward hired to help investigate the sinister notes he was getting, is now all up in Julia’s business and she can’t decide if she likes it or not.

This is where Julia and Nicholas get together and oh it’s so fun — the arguing, the lust, and the misunderstandings. So. Much. Fun. Also, it’s a good mystery and the characters are fantastic. Thank god my library likes Deanna Raybourn.

Best of 2012

It’s that time of year when I begin to panic. Yes, panic and it has nothing to do with the holidays. What worries me, causes lack of sleep, and makes me ponder endlessly over a glass of wine (or two)? It’s best of lists. That’s stupid, I know, but here’s the thing — I always look back over the year and think about what happened, good and bad, vacations, time with family and friends, and of course, the books I read. So, to alleviate some anxiety, I’m going to share a best of list with you. Whether you like it or not.

Last year I had this genius idea (I thought it was genius and I’m not taking any feedback on that!:)). Instead of picking a list of say 10 books (how could I pick a number one), I would go month by month and pick the books I liked that month. Now, you may see a book on this list and then look at my review and notice I didn’t rate the book high at the time. The reason I picked it? All gut feeling. I’m telling you which books resonate with me, even months later in some cases, so I can say, ‘You know what, try it.’

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson
The Secret Diary of a Princess: A Novel of Marie Antoinette by Melanie Clegg
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The Technologists by Matthew Pearl

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate #1) by Gail Carriger
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (read along, no review)
Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate #2) by Gail Carriger

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson

Blameless (The Parasol Protectorate #3) by Gail Carriger
Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch (read along, no review)
Railsea by China Mieville

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate #4) by Gail Carriger
Timeless (The Parasol Protectorate #5) by Gail Carriger

Among Others by Jo Walton
Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier
Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton
In The Woods by Tana French

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Map of the Sky by Felix J. Palma

Death in the Floating City by Tasha Alexander
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Island of Bones by Imogen Robertson

The Likeness by Tana French

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

I read more fantasy and less historical fiction than in earlier years. And, as always, I have a few series going — not something that I see changing in the New Year. A good series is this reader’s downfall. It’s interesting how my reading habits change, even over the course of a year. One of the reasons I like to keep lists is to see my progress over a year’s worth of reading, that, and I really do like a good list.

OK, the big question — what did you read this year? Anything memorable, wonderful, something you wish you hadn’t read? Share, share. It’s not as if my to read list is getting any shorter anyway.

The Sunday Salon – The Short Version

A friend is training for a triathlon and I sometimes swim with her on Saturdays. This weekend, I hauled myself out of bed on Saturday and Sunday and managed to swim about 1.5+ miles in two days. For a person who doesn’t exercise regularly, this turned out to be very tiring. I’m moving slowly if you’re curious at all but I feel pretty good. I may do this again someday in the future, if I manage to regain the ability to lift my arms above my head again that is. So, today is a short post day. Also, I have to write some reviews and since I’m in the mood, I’m going to do just that.

  • I finished The Map of Lost Memories by Kim Fay this week and really enjoyed it. I’m working on the review now and hope to have it posted next week.
  • I wrapped up my re-read of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon. This re-read took me about seven weeks and I finished five books before finally coming to the last page of this one. It was a labor of love though and I’m very happy I took it on again.
  • It being Shark Week, I felt I needed to up my shark reading and picked up The Devil’s Teeth by Susan Casey from the library. It was good, so good. I really do enjoy reading about great white sharks, little dork that I am. And I was also very happy to be swimming in a pool instead of open water this weekend because I’m sure this book would have made me want to swim quickly for shore.
  • I started The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin yesterday and plan to spend some time with it today too.

So, that wraps up this week’s reading for me. Read anything good? Buy anything good? Visit your local library?

Happy Sunday.

The Sunday Salon – An Addiction to Series Book

I spent a good portion of this Sunday eating pancakes and sitting on my couch reading Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I haven’t read this book since I was a child and it’s refreshing to know I still remember much of it. My opinion of some of the characters has changed but it’s a relaxing and comforting re-read and the book I needed today.

It got me thinking about the rest of the books in the series, and while I’m pretty sure I won’t be re-reading the other books this time around, I was glad to know they would be there when I needed another dose of the Prairie. And then I started to think about series books and how often I get myself mixed up with a series and can’t back away until I’ve read every book available to me. Looking over my list, I’ve read a lot of series books this year and started a few last year that I need to get back to.

Here’s what I’m following now:

The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger — I’ve read all five books this year and am sad there will be no more but the series was so good I’ll be reading them again so I’m not all that sad. For the curious, the books are: Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, Heartless, and Timeless.

Gentleman Bastards series by Scott Lynch — I started this series as part of a read along because the first book, The Lies of Locke Lamora, was on my list. Can I tell you how awesome these books are?! No really, they are that good. I finished the second book, Red Seas Under Red Skies, and can’t wait for the next book which I think comes out this fall.

The Dark Tower series by Stephen King — A co-worker gave me five books in the series and I made it through the first one, The Gunslinger, which sadly was a bit slow for me. I think I was expecting something very different and I’m not sure about the series but since I have the books I’ll probably continue. I’ve been told they do get better.

The King Killer Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss — I finished The Name of the Wind and can’t wait to get A Wise Man’s Fear. If you like fantasy, you should be reading these books. All I’m going to say.

The Taker Trilogy by Alma Katsu — I finished the second book in the series, The Reckoning, a month or so ago and it was good. I’m looking forward to the third book. I was a little apprehensive at first because I wasn’t sure where the series would go after the first book, The Taker, but I’m happy to say I’m enjoying it.

All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness — A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night were fun reads and now I’m waiting to see how it’s going to end. It might be a long wait for book three.

A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin — Book five, A Dance with Dragons, is waiting patiently but I haven’t started it yet. Not one of the 1,100 pages has been read yet but I will find time for this one soon.

The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell — I started this series last year and read the first two books, The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman, but sort of fell off and I need to pick it back up. I love the blood and gore of these books and I don’t think anyone delivers quite like Cornwell.

The Magicians & Mrs. Quent series by Galen Beckett — I actually finished this series last month. It took me a while to finish the last book and while I wasn’t completely wowed, I was satisfied. The books in the series are: The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, The House on Durrow Street, and The Master of Heathcrest Hall.

The Merlin Series by Mary Stewart — I started this series two years ago and then never went any further than The Crystal Cave. No real reason, I even have the books in my house; I just need to read them. I will admit to overdosing on Arthurian legend a while back though and needed some time off. This year may be the year.

There are more but I’m going to stop there. Really, looking at the list it’s sort of crazy I started all these. I need some help me thinks.

Do you have a favorite series? Let me know. There’s a good chance I’ll be adding it to the list. I can’t help myself.

Happy Sunday.

French Pirates and Dragons

Don’t see the connection? I went to the library and this is what I came home with. Well, not actual pirates and dragons but close enough.

Honestly, it’s been months since I’ve been to my library and there are a couple reasons for that. Reason number one — the books on my shelf have been calling! But I decided it was time and off I went to the lovely place with all the books. On this visit, I held myself to two books.

Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier — I’ve had this in my hands before but never got around to it but that won’t happen this time. I will finally get to this one, and really all I have to say, is French Pirates!

Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton — I’m reading Among Others right now and enjoying it and thought why not go for another one. Why not the one with the dragons?

The Sunday Salon – My Books

I thought I’d take a moment today to talk about my books.  More specifically, where the books I review on this blog come from.

There are several sources to draw from:

  • Personal books I’ve bought (this category does include ebooks).  This is how I acquire most of the books I read and review here.
  • Personal books that have been bought for me.
  • Library books.  Although, thanks to a little tiff with the library and its amazing ability to constantly misplace books and sometimes misplace them permanently so as to make them lost, I haven’t taken any books out in a while but it might be time to get over it on my part.
  • I do also, from time to time but not on a regular basis, request advanced review copies of books I’d like to read.  These books, for the most part, make up a relatively small portion of my reading since I don’t ask for many.
  • I’m also a reviewer for The BookReporter website.  I reviewed books for this website before starting my own blog and usually read two or three books for the group every two months.  I do include some of these reviews here and tag them as BookReporter reviews.
  • Finally, NetGalley.  I joined a while back and then did nothing with it.  I decided to take another look and have downloaded about four books.  Not many I know.  It’s not that the book selections aren’t interesting, they are, but considering the stack of books already leaning precariously to the right on the small table I consider my TBR pile, I’m trying not to add a virtual stack as well.
  • Books that authors and publicists pitch me.  I get these emails every once in a while and in most cases, I do not accept the books mostly because the books are not the type I read and I don’t feel I can do them justice.  In some cases, I have accepted the books.  It’s rare but it happens.

Why bring this up?  A person who sees me often, and almost always with a book, asked me where I get my books from.  If he wondered, then maybe some of the people reading my ramblings here might also wonder and I thought it might be a good time to mention it.  So there you have it.

Some links this week —

Bookshelf Porn has this lovely beauty to share this week.

On Flavorwire, you can learn how to drink like a famous author.

The Los Angeles Times Book Blog, Jacket Copy, has some French reading for the summer.

The Guardian has a list of the best 100 non-fiction books.  I’ve read about five books on the list.

Happy Sunday.