Saturday, December 11, 2010

FOOD FOR THOUGHT...and then some

More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the KitchenMore Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I first read this book, and its companion Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen in 1997. This time around I devoured it in one sitting...and it is still a satisfying read.

Food writing as it should be..true Kitchen Table talk...full of stories, anecdotes, hints, tips, victories and flops. The recipes? some work...some don't

The favor Ms Colwin did for me was mentioning Taste of Country Cooking by the inimitable Edna Lewis...which title I recommend to anyone interested in "American" cookery...besides that, Ms Lewis is one hell of a storyteller.

MORE HOME COOKING has a chapter on what to eat whilst suffering JET LAG....the bugbear of our times. Her chapter on feeding children is a gem since she does not focus so much on the "dos and donts" as she does on the "exciting the palate" of those who are not jaded..Her chapter on Lentil Soup left me with a serious craving...and are those drool spots on the page(s)???

I love this book. It's a pity Ms Colwin died so young...we lost a good Foodie....and a Good Woman to boot.

4 Stars


Monday, December 6, 2010

HISTORY

The Convent: A NovelThe Convent: A Novel by Panos Karnezis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


An isolated convent in the Spanish sierra...home to 6 nuns of varying ages, whose lives are devoted to God, reflection and solitude....Everything changes the day that a baby is found, in a padded suitcase, on the front steps.

Everything changes..the world comes to the convent in an emotional sense, at least. Jealousy, cruelty, zealotry, pride...make for a heady, deadly mix..The MOTHER SUPERIOR is at the center of the storm, having kept her own secret for many years. ....in the misguided belief that the orphaned child is the expiation of her own past sin...she delves into madness and shame...wherein the story becomes itself. Too many tales of this ilk become tacky..this one does not

This book is not a religious screed, nor is it a tabloid expose...it is a story of 6 women living isolated lives whose world is suddenly shattered from without...how each one deals with this new "truth". This book won't set the world on fire..but may give a reader food for thought...regarding the sanctity of the Church..and the price it exacts from its "sons & daughters"

3 Stars




Tuesday, November 30, 2010

YURK!

Flesh WoundFlesh Wound by Jon Say

My rating: 2 of 5 stars



Oh, Man....what we have here is a contemporary Male Fantasy loosely disguised as a "thriller". Studly ex-Homicide Cop literally runs into the car of a high-priced Fetish Call Girl..."Love" follows like mould spores...with acts of domination, humiiiation, boot licking....but no penetration.Except off-the-clock..the Cop and the Call Girl...

Somewhere in between the thinly veiled "talks" on relationship dynamics and the role of private erotic fantasies..there is a tale of financial chicanery...investment bank mergers.the sale of T-Bills to the Chinese...the success of which hinges on satisfying the sexual desires of one lone Chinese diplomat.....throw into the mix a horny SEC regulator...a snidely State Department agent, or two....one confused/bitter ex-wife...gorgeous, athletic strippers..and two adorable 4-year-old girls.....adds up to one glorious Mess

I received this book through Library Thing's Member Giveaway...otherwise I never would have read..I give it 2 Stars...the reading was slowed due to the fact that too much information was crammed into the dialogue....making for undue distraction. The Characters were of the Cartoon variety....PLAYBOY without the Wit....too much "stud" in the Hero...too much perfection" in the Heroine.

This was a cheap, easy read...if you're looking for erotic thrills, go elsewhere...no THRILL this.



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Friday, November 19, 2010

History

The GendarmeThe Gendarme by Mark Mustian

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


*I received this book through Library Thing Early Reviewers*

Emmett Conn/Ahmet Khan, in the last days of his life, is haunted by dreams of a horrible time in his past...his time spent as a gendarme, herding Armenians from Turkey to Syria (the ARMENIAN GENOCIDE 1915-1923).During this time he met a young woman with eyes of two different colors....named Araxie...whose memory haunts him still. the fact that he loved her and abandoned her.

At the end of his life, Emmett/Ahmet, a naturalized US citizen, has time to reflect on his past, since he is dying of a brain tumor. Having suffered memory loss, after surviving the battle of Gallipoli and the subsequent airlift to England (having been mis-identified as a British soldier), he knows well the vagaries of memory/reminiscence. How much of what he "recalls" is real? How much is the residue of recorded history? How much is "merely" guilt? this is where the story goes deep. Emmett's dreams are fraught with horror and violence...and regret. He sets himself the "task" of confronting them....and damn the consequences.

I don't often read "war novels" and am not fond of the stories that tout the "triumph of the human spirit". Too often those books spiral into screeds of accusation and whining...writ Large. This book, on the other hand, is writ small...in scope. Small enough to fit into a dying man's heart and brain....into a man trying to make sense of old horrors, loves, and regrets. The ending is a "stunner" and I won't give it away. Suffice to say, Ahmet dies with a modicum of peace.

I recommend this lovely heartbreak of a book to anyone who likes prose gracefully written...who prefers history confined to the heart rather than the Headlines

4 Stars



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Fearless

Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #1)Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



......and lo! the title is appropriate! Ms Hamilton's work is surely one of my guilty pleasures...at least the first four Anita Blake titles, before the "stories" devolved into what I call WALMART PORN-cheesy enough to not offend the sensibilities of the average "Christian" housewife...with just enough "hard sex" to raise the reader's temperature....puhleez! How many descriptions of exotic blow jobs can one read before the eyes start rolling and laughter rules the day? Or is that just me?

Someone, or some thing, is killing the Master Vampires in St. Louis. Anita Blake, who raises the dead and slays vampires for a living, is on the case, albeit unwillingly. A gal can be bitten, stabbed,thrown against walls, and attacked by were-rats only so often before she concedes defeat, right? From Vampire Strip Clubs to a Hellish circus......dungeons to cemetaries....the hunt is on. In the company of a seductive, boyish stripper (who is also a vampire junkie), an armed, amoral yet dependable hit man....various cops, colleagues and, yes, vampires (plus a zombie or two)...Anita has her work cut out...She raises a few dead folks...slays a few "bad" vamps, including the Baddest One of All....infiltrates the Church of Eternal Life (don't ask)...and comes out in, more or less, one piece. A few busted ribs, one more grave to visit, and the mysterious Jean-Claude...who "made" her what she never wanted to be. Not too high a price, or is it?

The series begins here....which, to my mins, is THE place to start, where the story ruled and the sex was peripheral. These books won't give Anne Rice any competition, and Bram Stoker still rules the roost.

3 Stars for a wild, sexy walk on the wild side..with just enough violence and gore to satisfy the little bloodsucker in each of us!



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Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Inscrutable East

OutOut by Natsuo Kirino

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


HEADS-UP:

my reading notes for this book were as long as the book itself....what I post here is what i posted to another LT friend (not in OUR group) but, it might work...until i figure out something better.

# 26

Out by Natsuo Kirino

4.5 stars

This is one of the best books I've read in quite some time...Ms. Kirino has a knack for getting inside her character's heads....thereby getting inside the reader's head...so we all go to Hell together (no Yellow Brick Road)

my notes for this book are as long as the Effing book...if i write a review it will have to hit me very quickly...Read the damned thing...and squirm with pleasure...Ms Kirino is a rare bird...she can write a Thriller that Thrills...and make one think...that "it can happen here"

Four women working dead-end jobs...living in dead-end relationships...One woman murders her abusive husband....from there it's a slippery slide into the Tokyo Underworld....

Ms Kirino is a kill-hell writer....made this reader feel as if she was living the story. I have known women in this situation..in that case, real life, there was no murder...But who knows what lurks in the heart?

Not for the squeamish, faint-of-heart, or those who are only comfortable with "nice" books. This one rocks...and will leave you thinking about many things....that maybe aren't on your Agenda. I have two more of Ms Kirino's books...look forward to the "pleasure" of her company....



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Thursday, August 26, 2010

CHICAGO, Not so Toddlin' (1968)

Jackson Park (Cook County Mystery)Jackson Park by Charlotte Carter

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Set in Chicago after the Martin Luther King assassination...after the subsequent riots...the story features a Black family (of sorts..by necessity) caught up in a series of events born in the old Chicago political system and reared in the Black Power movement of the late 1960s. How these pieces fall together..and some lives fall apart...makes a good "mystery" but a better mini-History lesson writ bloody but not screamingly LARGE.



Ms Carter also wrote the NANETTE HAYES Trilogy:

Rhode Island Red,Coq Au Vin, &Drumsticks....all three sexy, sassy, and real (do i detect a Chicken theme?) Funky Butt chic, to be sure! Go, seek them out...


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

WOT????

Mallory's Oracle (Kathleen Mallory Novels, #1)Mallory's Oracle by Carol O'Connell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Am re-reading MALLORY'S ORACLE by Carol O'Connell...the first of the MALLORY series. I had forgotten what a good book this is....great plot, well-developed characters..the whole thing...Kathleen Mallory is an early, American version of Lisbeth Salander (GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO)...another Wild Child, computer hacker extraordinaire...Ms Mallory dresses better, and lives in NYC...but under the skin they are the same....amoral to a fault, in the cause of their version of Justice.... (

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Another PLUM

Ten Big Ones (Stephanie Plum, #10)Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


....where Stephanie & Lula stumble upon a deli-robbery....except..Stephie sees the perp

Stephanie loses another vehicle...and stands to lose her life

one more trip into GANGLAND..and Miss Plum might stumble onto something UGLY..

Keystone Kops here...in North Jersey

the horror of modern-day life....sifted through Ms Evanovich's wondrous EYE$


3 Stars

Another PLUM

To the Nines (Stephanie Plum, #9)To the Nines by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 3 of 5 stars







To the Nines

concerns a Role-Playing computer game gone Homicidal...a villain of the "Creepy-in-his-Innocence"variety...deadly but Soft

Family Dramas are a must...Love Hangovers...more Exploding Vehicles

Lula-on-a-Meat Diet

Keystone Kops antics

Ranger or Morelli..The HOT MAN debate

serious 3 Stars

Saturday, August 7, 2010

THREE PLUMS...One (of three)

Hard Eight (Stephanie Plum, #8)Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I've been a fan of Janet Evanovich and her STEPHANIE PLUM series since the first title One for the Money was published. If anyone is interested, that's the place to start.

Lately, I've revisited this part of Jersey....beginning withHard Eight

in Stephanie Plum's world..the events herein are not surprising. Bond Enforcement is a Job...brings into play various criminal "masterminds" who don't want to "pay the price" for their obsessions. A Psychotic military Game-Player loses his nut when a "trophy" goes missing...Mother-and-Daughter try to go Underground

Stephanie spends a lot of time face-down...trying to apprehend Bail skips.

Vehicles blow up

A Psychotic man-in-Rabbit Suit messes with everyone's heads

Stephie's LOVE LIFE sucks

Did I mention Albert Kloughn??


serious 3 Stars here!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Meet Me At The Side Show

The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno: A NovelThe Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno: A Novel by Ellen Bryson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


These are my "reading notes"

They will not make any sense...but, what the hell..

Here Goes

>Nights at the Circus is referenced here...Take note!

>"Freaks" from the inside..."inside" as in Prison..or in Safety

>Before P T Barnum became the Circus impresario we all know and love... he was the owner/operator of the AMERICAN MUSEUM....home to freaks and geeks of several persuassions....through tableaux and individual performance

>BARTHOLOMNEW FORTUNO...THE THINNEST MAN IN THE WORLD....our protagonist...thinks his physical abnormality is a "gift"

> Heirarchy within the museum residents..is "over the top"...adolescent to a fault...gossip...insecurity

>Enter IELL...THE BEARDED LADY....a sensuous, gifted, 'other"....Love arrives....Barhtolomew is unprepared...he wants to woo her...save her..."Love is a rose..the thorns ate toxic"....watch out! The lady has more secrets than her beard!!

>This is a story from the "other" side...where the Freaks look at us..Shit, I lost this post...and We are Them....vice versa...and their vision is very clear.

>Bartholomew's Transformation?? becoming "normal"...and remembering why he became an Oddity..in the first place...His world crashes...but he survives..the beauty of this story..Love nearly killed him...then he started to EAT...

I loved this story...told from the "inside" of the Side Show world....Ms Bryson mentions Nights at the Circus...and i heartily recommend

This "review" makes no sense at all..I make no apologies...go somewhere else for intelligence

Sunday, July 11, 2010

WHAT'LL I DO???

Sumner IslandSumner Island by Michael Cormier

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Ghost-Hunting at the Smythe, a luxury hotel/resort located on Sumner Island, off the coast of Maine. The very same Smythe where Maria Boudreau, "America's Princess" in the last century's Golden Age, met an untimely and violent end in 1924....eighty years before this story takes place. Mitchell Lambert, history professor at Fowler College, made his literary mark with a popular biography of Miss Boudreau. Mr Lambert is a tad obsessed with our Maria...some would call it LOVE. The ghost hunt is the result of several sightings of Boudreaus's ghost..by people not in love with her. Psychics, bystanders,and a cranky, psychotic spirit plus a Wise Old Man with a personal stake in the story's outcome...all make for a fine cast of characters.

Paranormal Romance is not my genre of choice but I did enjoy this book. Mr Cormier is a crackerjack story teller, and a decent stylist. the prose had "flow" and only hit a few bumps toward the end, when all the paranormal "Bells & Whistles" flew thick and fast...a bit much, in my opinion. All the "massed spirits of the long dead", the phenomenal thunder storm with attendant lightning strikes/fires..and the sudden lack of oxygen...left me a little breathless..and impatient for the story's end. The malevolent spirit was so, indeed..then came across as a petulant frat boy with a murderous streak.. Mitch Lambert was a bit "soft" as a character..too moony by half, but maybe Academics are like that now. In my day, they just drank too much and tried to charm the pants off college girls..Oh well. Small complaints, when all is said and done. the ending was..well...paranormal. Love does endure through the ages...

I liked the book,in spite of the "flaws" which are not such...just my quibbles. This is a good summer read if you like your novels not-too-heavy..but not floating off into the air. The period detail was good..be it present day or late-Victorian past. This is not Paranormal of the Heaving Bosom variety, rather it's more cerebral....unto the slightly obsessive. The Passion here is of the hopeful sort. Good food-for-thought that won't give you a headache, or set you to yawning.

This is a review of an ARC.

3 Stars

Friday, June 4, 2010

DUPPY CONQUEROR (with apologies to Bob Marley)

Brown Girl in the Ring Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
These are Notes....rather than a fluid review. Be warned!

:Aliens, not extraterrestrial.Cultural. Aliens in their own lands, their experiences as Outsiders while living in the Inner city. The OTHER SIDE, as it were.

:TORONTO-in-the-Future. The privileged and monied classes fled the city, threw up barricades and roadblocks in their wake....left the inner City to fester and rot....left it in the hands of posses/criminal gangs, and the desperate disenfranchised. Until the need arose for body parts/organs...the wealthy needed organ transplants..and the state run Pig Farms were rife with disease (and dis-ease)..... here is where the Posses enter..Oh, the horror!

:Three generations of Afro-Caribbean "seer" women have made a life for themselves amidst the city's ruins..a life of grief, secrets, lies...Herb Lore and ancient ritual...Obeah...Santeria..."the spirits"

:The Two Worlds collide (sometimes literally) in a tale that incorporates both Zombies and organ transplants...a future that contains ancient ritual amidst Urban Decay...A Future that could be "just around the corner"..and, in this case, actually works as story.

:I liked the book for its unique perspective and "take" on Aliens/Alienation. The women characters were strong..to a fault, at times...whereby they couldn't recognize their Strength until it was almost too late. It always took a harrowing crisis to bring on a 'Wake Up Call"..there were plenty of crises. I could have done without the "mushy-mushy" love story...but Ti-Jeanne, the young woman at the forefront of the story, needed it..needed to get through it..to find her own SELF..In the end she was still learning..still "seeking". This is not a New Age tome..more "old as the hills"...no easy answers..no smooth closure. Plenty violence and blood..evil duppy...sadness beyond the grave. As I said, i liked this book..it won the WARNER ASPECT FIRST NOVEL CONTEST back in the day..and as a debut novel...is pretty damned good. Never set the world on fire..but I think it would make a great Graphic Novel. Ms Hopkinson's prose is that sensuous...one can see the action and smell the decay of the dying city. I own the follow-up title Midnight Robber...it's waiting "in the wings". Will get to it toot-sweet, oui.

3 1/2 Stars......

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Growing Up is Hard to Do

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Pia Kolvenbach is known as "the girl whose grandmother's head exploded" in a freak accident at the Advent Dinner table. Advent Candle met Aqua Net hairspray...the rest was "history", with which Pia has to live every day. When young girls start to disappear, Pia and her trusty sidekick, StinkStefan, are "on the case". Two pariahs, and the avuncular storyteller Herr Schiller, explore the history of their village, Bad Munstereifel, through folk tales and gossip. Eventually, the dark side of the town begins to show itself, and Pia begins to learn the hard lesson, that people are not always what they seem to be.

I thought this was more a novel of manners, customs, and small town life- not unlike The Little Friend by Donna Tartt. The Thriller/Mystery angle took a back seat to the Town itself...The missing/"vanished" girls were a vital part of the story, but more so as a part of Pia's coming-of-age. The pacing of the story was slow until the last 1/3 of the book. The ending seemed a bit rushed to me, but in hindsight i think it was right, since the leisurely pace of the first 2/3 was good preparation for an ending that wasn't lurid, yet still kept the pages turning.

Pia Kolvenbach was not a precocious child, by any means. She was witty, a bit of a smart aleck, but all told she was just a kid,trying to deal with a situation where even the adults seemed to be at a loss. Curious, selfish, petulant and persistant, she carried this tale on noble 10-year-old shoulders, and lived to tell it years later.

I enjoyed the book and gave it the rating I did , for being both a coming-of-age story..and a mystery about Life itself, as we grow into it. Recommended.

This is a review of an ARC.

3 Stars (***)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Pulp Lovers Unite! There is Hope for the Future!

The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril: A Novel The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril: A Novel by Paul Malmont


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A debut novel that casts the rivalry between two of pulp fiction's legendary writers...Walter Gibson (THE SHADOW) and Lester Dent (DOC SAVAGE)into an AMAZING STORY in its own right.

My own experience of the Pulps is limited to a collection of radio broadcasts of THE SHADOW from the 1930s and 1940s...on cassette tape. These tapes are rather fragile now (though I purchased them in the 1980s..i played them a lot) I still get a shiver when I hear that LAUGH..and the stories ain't half bad. I also recall seeing the Pulp Detective Magazines when I was a kid..the covers were a hoot...Scantily clad ladies a-languishing in "terror" whilst the square-jawed "dicks" let loose with their big "guns"...Jeesh ! Titillation sublime! And the stories were fun reading...

This story, as crafted by Mr Malmont has all the blood, cruelty, fear and vengeance of the old pulps..with a touch...just a touch...of Modern Day savvy. The courageous heroes, damsels in distress (with heaving bosoms and snappy repartee), evil villains, secret identities,are joined by global schemes, deadly superweapons (the Death Cloud of the title), and hideous deaths...which gives this tale a decidedly Modern twist (ouch!)..Full of outrageous lies that are all too true, this story also reminds one that these two fellows, Gibson and Dent, were writers working on deadline, even when they were facing the end of the world.

Where does real end and pulp begin? Maybe THE SHADOW is the only one to answer that. According to the end of this novel, he might just have more to say..another volume to add to his oeuvre....some day...

4 Stars (****)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

STRESS-FREE TECHNOLOGY!!!

Digitally Daunted: The Consumer's Guide to Taking Control of the Technology in Your Life Digitally Daunted: The Consumer's Guide to Taking Control of the Technology in Your Life by Sean Westcott


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I requested this title from LIBRARY THING's Early Reviewers program, because I was looking for a Consumer Guide to all the Techie Toys out there. I'm glad I got this one.

Who knew that a common sense approach would work in a Consumer guide of this sort? Not I. The language is clear, and concise. The "Geekspeak", when it shows up, is explained in a non-condescending manner. I did not read this book cover-to-cover, as I would a novel...probably because the plot is pretty thin. However, the Table of Contents is detailed enough that an Index is unnecessary. It's easy enough to find what one is after...and then some. My focus was on Computers and Digital Cameras, both of which I own. I learned quite a lot of The Basics....and even some not-so General Info. The chapters on Cell Phones and Televisions were interesting..but I still don't want one of the former...and I've been without Network TV since everything went Digital. I learned a lot that I had not known..especially the bits on HI-DEF TV. I still don't understand why anyone would want a camera on her phone..but this book won't answer that question..it does explain Cell Phone Bills/Features/Networks so that even I understood.

This is not a Bells-and-Whistles Guide..it is Basic and well-written. I'm glad I have it..and plan to share with other non-Techies I know.

4 Stars (****)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Period Comedy..A Good One

Unnatural Fire: A Countess Ashby De LA Zouche Mystery Unnatural Fire: A Countess Ashby De LA Zouche Mystery by Fidelis Morgan


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A former mistress of King Charles II, fallen on hard times, is forced to become a hack for a local Scandal Sheet,,in cahoots with her former Maid...they are given a "case" to follow a supposedly Errant Husband..and
The Games Begin..

And here is where i give my Warning:
This book is a wonderful Comedy of Manners..a Satire..Slapstick Glorious...surrounding a not-bad Mystery...Ms Morgan is an expert in Restoration Comedy..and it shows...I loved this book for the Comedy (I needed a good laugh)..but the Mystery isn't/wasn't bad

Don't be mislead by the Mystery Tag...read this book if you enjoy a good story..if you like good period pieces..if you are CURIOUS...you will not be disappointed.

Monday, March 15, 2010

One More "Rave" Review

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Intrepid journalist, recently indicted on a Libel charge, is approached by the aging/ailing Head of a noted/notorious Family of Industry..to solve the "mystery" of his Granddaughter's 40-year-old Murder...Let the Games begin.

Mikael Blomkvist is, in fact, an intrepid journalist...albeit on the moody/sexy/nerdy side...which leads him down many a garden path, and through many a bedroom door. LOTHARIO seems to be his second name..distracting to a point...

The VANGERs....give "family values" a bad name..turning said values on their head with a few slaps, punches, whip strokes, and cigarette burns. These people are not Nice, but neither are they truly repulsive. No Borgias here...just wealthy people too accustomed to getting their own way. Poor Grandpops Henrik is both clueless regarding the foibles of the Rest..and all too aware. Which gives his concern regarding dear Harriet's 'murder" an odd flavor..Murder? Disappearance? It seems that he's the only one to care..about anything other than himself. But his approach to Blomkvist...and the whole Family History assignment, is a smokescreen...for the destruction of a dishonest Financier (this part of the book..the Very End..was the best)...Harriet? yes, well......

I'm not squeamish regarding violent subject matter..but one can read only so much about torture/rape..before it becomes laughable...The "villain" in this case (Martin the Pathetic) was merely his father's son (Gottfried the Insane)...and Harriet (the little sister) would have paid if not for.......
but enough of the Vangers..

I love Liz(abeth) Salander..the anorexic, tattooed girl of the title. Wunderkind researcher, consummate computer hacker...Little-Girl-With-A Heart-Of-Ice...She's the only one who emerges from this book with a "clue" and a plan....to destroy those who have tried to marginalize/"destroy" her. The result of a Horrid Childhood, Liz doesn't let that stop her in her quest for Justice...I wish her well on her journey...she can stay with me any time...

4 Stars (****)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

ET & Philosophy...

Oom Oom by D.J. Webber


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A boy (Joe Hills) and an Alien (Oom, from the planet Llevro) meet on a drought-ridden farm in the Australian Outback. Oom is in exile from his home planet, come to Earth to commune with those of a Higher Order (than humans? Blue Whales, maybe?) Joe Hills is a curious boy..intrigued by the Big Questions of life..which makes him an Exile, of sorts. Together they find water to save the Hills' farm from foreclosure..and dastardly neighbors. This could be characterized as "ET-with-Philosophy", since it touches on issues such as Multiculturalism, Save The Whales, "Is there life beyond Earth?"..the Big Questions..dealt with in a timely, non-patronizing manner.

Of course there are Caricatures...and a cameo by a pair of "Scully & Mulder" wannbes. George W Bush shows up at his manic, Patriotic "best"...but the whales steal the show..seriously. Who knew that they were the wiser species on this Earth? Not I.

I had my doubts about this book, at first, but came away with a good read. The presentation of ideas was clever and non-didactic. Might just give the YA audience some food-for-thought. My only quibble was the Editing. Could have been tighter...reined in the story's rambling a bit more.

All in all, a good, thought-provoking story. Won't set the world on fire but can start a slow-burn, nonetheless.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Paleontology..anyone?

Threshold Threshold by CaitlĂ­n R. Kiernan


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"First off, this is not Horror of the Splatter Sort...Paleontological??? Yep...this story is Ages Old yet as contemporary as...yesterday...Ms Kiernan is a trained Paleontologist..so her premise of "some old horror/monster" is not far-fetched..but the story is FETCHING with teeth to spare...read this, and her novel SILK..you won't be disappointed..but you might not sleep so easy, for a few nights, either...

bon chance
Jude" ( )

Friday, February 5, 2010

Something Different

Grace After Midnight: A Memoir Grace After Midnight: A Memoir by Felicia Pearson


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
First off, the title caught my interest...GRACE AFTER MIDNIGHT is not GIRLZ IN THE 'HOOD....it speaks of deeper, stiller waters...Ms Pearson grew up in the 'hood, and by a simple twist of Fate..found a way out...through TV...through the HBO series THE WIRE....through Michael K Williams, who was a member of that show's excellent cast. By essentially playing herself, Snoop (in real life) was able to quit The Life (Thug, drug dealer) and enter the world.

Born a 3-lb, cross-eyed crack baby in East Baltimore...Ms Pearson was a GIRL IN THE 'HOOD....on the stoop...on the corners..in the alleys...in court..and in Jessup (the Women's Penitentiary) at age 15. This is her story, told in her words, in her rhythm...no excuses, no Sugar Coat.

I don't usually read celebrity Bios..especially those written by the under-30 set...but, as i said, this one reached out to me. I am an unreconsructed fan of THE WIRE...and lament its passing (but all good things should end when it's their time)....it's glorious triumphs and imperfections..The character of SNOOP..with her raspy voice...her Corner Boy threads..her nail gun and bucket of quicklime.was an especial favorite...hell, i wanted to bring her home..to liven up the town where i live...

This book will never win a prize in the white world..but i thought it was a compelling read....not "fluff" , or just a voyeuristic peek at a lifestyle i'll never live. Ms Pearson lived THE LIFE and then turned it around..into something better for herself....through Luck, or Fate, or Grace...one.

4 Stars

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cozy...but a Good Mystery..in spite of itself

Still Life (Three Pines Mysteries) Still Life by Louise Penny


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
"Still", indeed..but more like "still waters" It took about 120 pages before this book "kicked in"...I was focusing on the townspeople of Three Pines, and not enjoying their company very much...too many neuroses in the air. Somewhere around page 117, however, something 'clicked" and i began to focus on the investigative team, headed by Inspector Gamache..plenty of neuroses there, but at least those people had a job to do..a plan

i don't usually like COZY mysteries...too often they are heavy on the 'cozy" angle..and the "mystery" gets short shrift...but Ms Penny is very good at pacing her story...and dealing out the Clues in a timely, if tame, fashion. I figured out the Perp's identity early on, which did not detract from reading the actual End-of-Story..

Flawed characters trying to live decent lives, often in spite of themselves...and the Police who step in to clean up the messes when things go terribly awry

I have the second book in the series...waiting in the wings....maybe i'll actually read it

3 Stars

Monday, January 25, 2010

Wasting So Many Words On A Book I Disliked???????

Kill Dress Kill Dress by John Young


My rating: 1 of 5 stars
KILL DRESS...is killing me..no mean feat for such a short book (70 pages)

I know that many people have a burning desire to write novels..i also know that most of those people have neither the skill nor the talent to pull it off. I also know how important is the Editor's job in any Publishing foray.
This poor book displays a serious lack of editing..and not much Skill...evidenced by a lack of "Paring Down"..Mr Young should heed the adage "less is more' regarding description...and the constant repetition..of action...was distracting, to say the least

this would have made a good short story (pared down by half) in whatever passes for Pulp Magazines, nowadays.

which brings me to the STORY itself...that of a glam/sexy dress with the ability to so confuzzle men that they will kill to possess the wearer...SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS gone Naughty, Nasty, & Vengeful....Girls just want to have fun and get back at the Dogs/Insensitive men in their little lives.....woot woot.....and i didn't mention the Voodoo overtones..or the shrill Feminist "we have the right to dress as we choose..if men can't take it...that's their problem" 11th hour angle......or the Serial Killer lurking in the wings.

too much here..none of it developed..A short book that should have been shorter........Run, don't walk, from it's spell
View all my reviews >>

Saturday, January 23, 2010

To repeat: BRAIN CANDY ALERT!

The Green and the Gray The Green and the Gray by Timothy Zahn


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Brain Candy Alert!

First, take two alien peoples (Greens & Grays), living seriously underground in NYC for decades who are about to re-stage the Armageddon of their collective past. The only way to Stop The War? The sacrifice of a 12-year-old girl (Melantha Green)....but wait, not everyone favors this move so the girl is abdu.....spirited away at the 11th hour....leaving many unhappy folks, some bent on Revenge

Next, take one Yuppie couple with a creaky marriage, on the way home from a tense "night out"...who are handed said girl at gunpoint and told to "Take her. Protect her"...and the games begin. Because everyone and his brother is on the lookout for the non-sacrificial lamb.

With all this potential for Urban mayhem....let's not forget the NYPD....enter Detective Fierenzo.

Then add some car chases, convoluted subway rides, Hammerguns, Shrieks that can be deadly....at least two abductions..a country idyll that is anything but...allusions to Greek and Norse Mythology....A Romeo & Juliet angle that's "oh so sweet"...Evil Meanies...treachery in the ranks...and an ending that seemed a bit tame to me....Peace is Declared and God Bless Us Everyone...Like i said...Brain Candy!!

I have not read anything else by Mr Zahn, but i get the impression that this was a departure for him, from Hard Sci-Fi..I found the Hard angles herein a bit far-fetched...thought this one was more a Police Procedural with Alien overtones. Since it was published in 2004..the shadow of 9/11 was ever-present..but did not detract from a pleasantly wild ride.

Brain Candy
4 Stars

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why Bother???

Ghostwalk Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott


My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I wish i could give a serious review of this book....alas! i cannot

5 Stars for the Story Premise....Isaac Newton's career at Cambridge University....as a Mathematician & an Alchemist....such Potential!

2 Stars for the actual delivery...i disliked the Narrator/Narrative Device...bloodless/soulless to a fault...

My apologies for the mess that showed up here yesterday. I had a friend posting my Review, but she copied from my Rough Notes, instead...there will be a coherent Review...as soon as...again, i am sorry for the "drivel"

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Romance Lite....anyone?

Reasons Reasons by Tracy Fabre


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Romance/Romance Lite is not my Genre of choice, but i received a copy of this book from the Author...i owe a review..

Our protagonist, Delphi Brent, survived a hit-and-run accident at age 17...ten years later she is set to visit old family friends before starting a new job.However...the facts of the accident have been a close-kept family secret..and the family she is visiting?...one of the sons was driving the fatal car. Here comes a Summer to Remember!!! All goes fairly well until Delphi develops a serious Jones for the younger surviving son, Tam (the actual younger son perished in the same Accident).....and stumbles upon said Fatal Car, shrouded in a barn....i know, Soap Opera City....right? Right..but Delphi is a spunky gal with a sassy mouth and the requisite angst of anyone trying to forge ahead in life. I just wish she hadn't been such a Mush-Head toward Tam....but then, i'm no romantic...

I liked the character in this book....no real Caricatures and nary a Devil or Angel in the mix...the Spirituality was more Human than Godly..and if Jesus was present he was probably waiting in the wings to see how the story played out.

If Romance is your thing..this might be for you. The story does not devolve into Soft Core Porn.....but neither is it Message-ridden. since i try to read outside of my own Genre Boxes at least once a year..i have to say i enjoyed this without going into sugar-shock...and my gorlfriends who Do like Romance are already asking to borrow the book. Go figure...it's a good story with believable characters....nuff said

3 Stars (i liked it)