Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!!

I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy and safe Halloween!! I'm getting the kiddies ready for Trick-or-Treating. Chad is going off with some of his friends. He's dressing like Joey Jordison. For the uninitiated, he is the drummer from Slipknot!! Although they rock, they scare me more than any vampire would!! Bella, ever the diva, refuses to be anything that isn't "beautiful", so she's dressing like a Queen. And Ana, my angel, wants to be a vampire!! The kid that always has a book in her can tell that she is definitely mine!!

Gotta run!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Booking Through Thursday - Conditioning

Mariel suggested this week’s question.

Are you a spine breaker? Or a dog-earer? Do you expect to keep your books in pristine condition even after you have read them? Does watching other readers bend the cover all the way round make you flinch or squeal in pain

OK. This is an easy one. NO, I'm not a spine breaker. Or a dog-earer (although I do not believe dog-earere is really a word). I AM that weird person that gets freaky when her books are touched. My kids and my husband all think I'm slightly manic when it comes to my books. Actually, I don't really think it's a mania. But I do feel I'm a little OCD about certain things. Books, just happen to be one of the things that me a little crazy. I physically cringe to see someone dog-earing a book. And watching a person crack a spine?? Well, usually it takes a paper bag for me to blow into to keep me from hypervenilating!

Weird, I know. But I have an almost reverencial view of books. I KNEW I should have been a librarian......

Happy Thursday!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chalk Up Another Vampire Novel!

Since I am sometimes a very shallow reader, a cool cover can definitely be a reason for me to pick up a book. When I saw Touch the Dark by Karen Chance (320 pgs, ROC, 2006), I knew I had to read it!! Chalk up another vampire novel for the RIP III Challenge!

I knew I was in trouble as soon as I saw the obituary. The fact that it had my name on it was sort of a clue. What I didn't know was how they'd found me, and who the guy was with the sense of humor. Antonio has never been much for comedy. I've never figured out if that had something to do with being dead, or if he's always been a morose son of a bitch.

From the opening paragraph you can tell it's going to be a wild ride!! Cassandra "Cassie" Palmer is on the run. She has been hiding for the last 3 years from Master Vampire Antonio. Cassie is a gifted clairvoyant, and was raised by Tony after her parents were killed. Not that Tony was being charitable. No, he used Cassie's abilities to make a lot of money for his vampire "mafia". But when Cassie found out that Tony was behind her parents' death, she took off. Now Tony has found her, and is intent on settling the score.

But Cassie has bigger trouble. Not only has Tony found her, but so has the Vampire Senate. In fact, they have been watching her for some time. Under cover of a runaway, her roommate Tomas, is a master vampire and she didn't even know it!! He was placed with her by the Senate to watch over her in case something bad went down. Now that it has, Tomas takes Cassie to the Senate HQ to meet with the Counsul. It seems they are also interested in her abilities.

A storm is a brewing. The vampire Rasputin has aligned himself with the Dark Circle, the dark mage. He has already taken out some of the members of the Vampire Senate and is trying to take it over. And for some reason, he wants Cassie. The Senate has offered her protection, but is she willing to pay the price for it??

That is just a quick synopsis of the beginning of this book. There are many layers to the story, and lots of history on the Vampire Senate, the pecking order in the vampire world, and the Dark and Silver Circles. In fact, it seems this book is just a stepping stone for others in the series.

Cassie is one tough cookie. She is a loner through and through. Tough, smart, and full of sass, she is an fantastic protagonist. Named after the 'Seer' Cassandra in Greek Mythology, Cassie indeed has the gift of sight. She also has the ability to commune with spirits, in particular one named Billy Joe - a card shark from the old West that lost his life cheating in a poker game.

One of the things I liked best about the story is the role that historical characters play. It seems that a lot of people in history are truly vampires. From Jack-the-Ripper (as creepy in death as he was in life) to Mircea, Vlad the Impaler's brother.

Packed full of adventure and tension, Touch the Dark is an excellent start for this series. One of these days maybe I'll learn to stop reading Book One's, because now I feel the need to keep on reading this series!! A real page-turner, this book is a great way to get a good fix if you need some paranormal fun!! 4.5/5

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Sunday Salon - What a Week, Again!

The Sunday
First off, I want to apologize for being gone so much this month. With the new part-time job, my time has been severly limited. They have scheduled me uber-hours, which is great money-wise, but time-wise it kind of stinks. Oh well....I plan on keeping up the hours at least until after Christmas. My last car payment is in November (Yeah!) and hopefully, we'll be back in the black soon. After that, all the extra money is just cake. And we really need that right now.

This week controversy brewed in my husband's fantasy football league. Lord, who knew a bunch of grown men could act like such babies! My husband was in first place in both points and win/loss too. Having a great season....and a little squabble started between the commissioner and another team. Commish decides to take his ball and go home....otherwise, disbanded a league that has been around for over 8 years. And this isn't just a little money either. Last year 1st place garnered almost $2000. Mike got $1500 for second. And I'm not really sure what 3rd took. So he is more than a little ticked off. I swear, I'm ready to shoot them all!!

Not much on the reading front. I still have a couple of reviews to post, and I'm almost done with Touch the Dark by Karen Chance. I have sunk into this rut of paranormal, but I haven't found a bad book yet, so I guess I will keep reading!!

Basically, I just wanted to say "Hi! I'm still alive." And know that I will posting much more frequently. I miss it when I don't!!

Happy Reading and Happy Sunday!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Book 2 of Morganville Vampires is Better Than the First!

The leaves are changing colors, and the temperature is starting to drop. The RIP season finally feels like it has arrived!! And since I have spent the entire Challenge reading Vampire books, I didn't see any reason to stop! Since I was left hanging by a thread at the end of Glass Houses, I immediately picked up The Dead Girls' Dance: Morganville Vampires Book Two by Rachel Caine (256 pgs, NAL JAM, 2007).


It didn't happen, Claire told herself. It's a bad dream, just another bad dream. You'll wake up and it will be gone like the fog......She had her eyes squeezed tight shut. Her mouth felt dry, shriveled up and she was pressed up against Shane's hot, solid side, curled up on the couch in the Glass House. Terrified. It's just a bad dream. But when she opened her eyes, her friend Michael was still dead on the floor in front of her.

Did I happen to mention how much of a cliffhanger ended Glass Houses? I did. See what I mean??

For the roommates of the Glass House, things had gotten pretty bad. When the vampires of Morganville had attacked the house, Shane had called in the troops. But the "troops" might have proved scarier than the vampires, if that was at all possible. Shane had been raised in Morganville, so he knew you had to follow the rules of the vampires. But when he angered Monica Morrell, the mayor's daughter and one evil bully (who just happened to be under the protection of a powerful vampire), his house had been burnt down. And his younger sister had died in the process. He and his parents were allowed to leave town. Normally when this happens, a person will not remember anything about vampires. It's just one of the weird side-affects from being in the town. But Shane's mother couldn't forget what happened. And Shane had come back to town with his mind set on revenge. The troops were a biker gang, led by Shane's father, and they stormed in to save the day.

But before they arrived, Claire had already stopped the vampires from killing everyone. She had found the book they had so desperately wanted, and secured a tenuous Founder's Protection from Amelie for the house. But when Shane's dad arrived, there was no going back. And Michael, not being 100% alive anyway, was killed in the process. OK. He was actually ALREADY dead before the bikers killed him. He was a ghostly presence that could only appear at night, and was somehow linked to the Glass House. It's not easy to kill a ghost, and when night fell again, Michael reappeared, as if nothing had ever happened. But now, a plan had been set in motion. A plan that would definitely be bad for the kids at The Glass House, who would most certainly lose the Protection that had been bestowed on them.

When a vampire ends up dead, it all links back to Shane and his father. And even though Shane didn't have anything to do with the murder, he was going to have to pay the price: with his own life. Shane has been sentenced to death by fire, and it was up to Claire, Eve and the ghostly Michael to stop it. Not only do the kids have to worry about the vampires, now they have to worry about stopping Shane's dad and friends before it is too late. Just another day in Morganville!!

In the book Glass Houses, I found the plot line a little on the absurd side. But I got past all that and in the end I liked the book. I didn't have that problem with Dead Girls' Dance. And since it started out literally minutes after Book one had finished, I was completely grabbed by the book right away. So far, this series is much darker than I had originally thought it would be. But dark is good in my eyes, and trust me when I say Dead Girls Dance is no exception. What I really like about this book is Claire. For a sixteen-year-old genius, she has great head on her shoulders. And although she comes off as mousy and young, Claire is way tougher than anyone expected she would be. Not only is she incredibly smart, but she is extremely loyal to her new-found friends. And she is also incredibly brave. Not every sixteen-year-old would take on a town of vampires AND a motorcycle gang of nut-jobs. Even to save the life of her friend, and maybe boyfriend.

If I thought this book would end up better than the last (ie, without a cliffhanger), then I was only fooling myself. Once again, we are left completely hanging....and this time I don't have the next book to start!! *Sigh* I guess I'm just going to have to go out and spend a few Benjamin's to finish up the series (or at least the next two books). If you've read Glass Houses, this is a must read. And if you haven't, maybe you should pick it up. So far this series, is definitely worth reading, even in an ever-growing genre like YA paranormal. Rachel Caine certainly knows how to write a suspenseful novel!! 4/5

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Booking Through Thursday - What's on Your Shelves??

Okay–here was an interesting article by Christopher Schoppa in the Washington Post.

Avid readers know all too well how easy it is to acquire books — it’s the letting go that’s the difficult part. … During the past 20 years, in which books have played a significant role in both my personal and professional lives, I’ve certainly had my fair share of them (and some might say several others’ shares) in my library. Many were read and saved for posterity, others eventually, but still reluctantly, sent back out into the world.

But there is also a category of titles that I’ve clung to for years, as they survived numerous purges, frequent library donations and countless changes of residence. I’ve yet to read them, but am absolutely certain I will. And should. When, I’m not sure, as I’m constantly distracted by the recent, just published and soon to be published works.

So, the question is his: “What tomes are waiting patiently on your shelves?“

The better question would probably be what's NOT on my book shelves?? I have shelves of books just waiting to be read. In all honesty, I probably have over 500 books in my home that are just waiting to be picked up. Mind you, I have never actually COUNTED them. That would be just too scary. And it's probably the reason I will never move!!

I went through an eBay phase where I bought boxes of books about 2 years ago. Then there are the library sales. And finally, the stragglers that I pick up one or two (or 5!) at a time from Barnes & Noble or Borders. I've been really good lately about not buying any though.

But for the sake of the question, here are a few of the "tomes" that are awaiting the opportunity to tell me a story:

  • The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  • Middlemarch by George Eliot
  • Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susannah Clarke

How about you? What's on YOUR shelves?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Sunday Salon - Stress is the Name of the Game

The Sunday Salon.comYikes. It's been a WEEK since I posted last! Damn. I hate that. But it's been a crazy, stressful week. I'm still working at the Red Cross, and as much as I love my job, the pay is rather poor. keep the bills paid, I took a second job awhile back. This week, I switched Job #2. I started at a new place, and spent the entire week in training!! So....I had a week of Full-Time hours in both places. Man, I can't believe I'm still awake and alive today. But the benefit of the second job is that it will (hopefully) keep us in the black. And I can put away a stash of money before Christmas. I couldn't care less about me, but the kiddies definitely deserve a nice Christmas. With the amount of time both Mike and I have been spending at work, they are feeling a wee bit neglected. I try my best to make sure I spend as much time as possible with them, but it's tough. Yesterday, Chad had a JFL game, Bella had a Cheerleading workshop, and Ana had a soccer game. On top of that I took them to a big community Halloween party. As much fun as it was, I am definitely lacking in the sleep area.

I'm tired of the stress though. This economy is just killing us right now. I never thought we would be in this place. A place where I have to work 60 hours a week just to pay my bills. When Mike lost his job last year, things went A person takes a lot for granted, that's for sure. And the automotive industry has been hit harder than most by the failing economy. So that wonderful $30/hour job he had went bye-bye.....and his new job pays about 1/3 of what he made at Mitsubishi. We've cut massive corners, but it just isn't enough. Gas prices, electric prices, grocery prices....everything is so high right now. There are days when I just want to cry. For now though, we are dealing with things. And if waiting tables is what I have to do to keep us with food on the table and a roof over our heads, I'll do it. Truthfully, I LIKE working in a restaurant. The people are friendly, the micro-brewery that I'm working at is high-end, and the money can be fantastic. Of course, talk to me in a few weeks and we'll see where my head is then!!

On the reading front, I'm 2 reviews behind: Dead Girls' Dance by Rachel Caine (Book two of the Morganville Vampires) and Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. Both are forthcoming. I need a new book to start too. I'm thinking I might just plunge into The Duma Key by Stephen King. And maybe grab an ARC or two as well. Any reading suggestions from the masses??

Happy Sunday and Happy Reading!!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

And Yet ANOTHER YA Vampire Series

Good Lord. The Vampire Novels just keep on coming. One of these days I may get tired of them, but for right now, I'm just going to enjoy the Spooky Season and keep on reading!! Glass Houses by Rachel Caine (256 pgs. NAL Jam Books, 2006) is the first book in the Morganville Vampire Series. I chose to read this book for both the RIP III Challenge and the YA Challenge.

On the day Claire became a member of the Glass House, someone stole her laundry.

Sixteen-year-old Claire Danvers is a genius. She's always been the "smart" one. As the youngest freshmen at Texas Prairie University in Morganville, the odds seem to be stacked against her. She's always had a hard time making friends, but once she came to college, things got exponentially worse. "Geek" and "freak" are names she has been called many times. But when Claire made the mistake of correcting a statement that Monica Morrell made, she really stepped in it. Monica is one of the beautiful people. She is tall, gorgeous, and mean as a snake. And when Claire humiliated her in front of everyone, she made it her mission to make Claire miserable.

But when the teasing turned into violence, and Claire was pushed down a flight of stairs, she knew she had to get out of the dorms before she got killed. Picking up a newspaper, she finds an ad for 3 people that needed a roommate. Taking her books and what little dignity she had left, Claire sets off for the "Glass House".

The three roommates in question were Eve, the "Goth" girl that works at the local coffee house; Shane, an angry boy that doesn't really do much of anything; and Michael (Glass), a musician that owns the house and only comes out of night. The three of them were so close-knit that Claire longed to join them. She was desperate for a place to stay and a little companionship. With Claire being so young, the 3 were reluctant to let her stay. But when they heard the story of her torture and saw the bruises that covered her, a short-term agreement was reached.

But early on Claire learns the secrets of the house, but more importantly, the secrets of Morganville. It seems the town was filled with vampires. They controlled everything and everyone. If you were a human, you need to be under the "protection" of a vampire. If you were, you wore a bracelet that linked you to your protector. If you didn't have a bracelet, you were fair-game, so to speak. And no one at the Glass House was protected. But they had each others back, and now they had Claires.

At first I thought the storyline was a little silly. How such terrible things could happen in a dorm and no one ever stepped in to stop them really bothered me. But as the story progresses, you find out that the "mean girls" in the dorm are protected by some really High ranking Vampires. Ok. I can live with that. But why humans would continue to live in a town run by vampires....including the local police force.....just doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

But all silliness aside, Rachel Caine writes a pretty engaging story. The farther you read, you find out a little bit about each of the roommates' background. And you continue to get sucked into the story. Claire is not only smart, but is courageous and loyal. She takes the "vampire" stories with a grain of salt....until she actually comes face-to-face with one. Then the reality of her situation, and the precarious position she put the roommates in hits home.

All in all, this was a fun, quick read. Rachel Caine knows how to build tension and keep you on the edge of your seat. The snarkiness of the characters definitely add a bit of humor to some really dark situations. And you really want the main characters to stay safe. Since the last sentence of the book was a total cliffhanger, I had to start Book 2 right away. I couldn't just NOT find out what happens. If I like Book 2 enough, I may have to go pick up the next couple of books in this series! 3.75/5

Friday, October 3, 2008

Weekly Geeks #19 - Top Books Published in 2008

Man. I feel like I have been gone for weeks!! it's only been like 4 days since I've posted, but still. It has the feel of a lot longer. Between soccer games and practice, football games and practice, the kid's homework, and both my has certainly gotten in the way of my blogging! I've also been watching a lot of political news and debates. The election is just around the corner, and it's interesting to me. One of these days, I'll be posting some of my thoughts and opinions (basically the "Why I hate Sarah Palin" post), but I didn't want to start all that controversy today! I have a couple of book reviews to write, but frankly, I just didn't feel like it today. So I thought I would participate in the Weekly Geeks. It's been a few weeks since I have, but I figured this one was easy. Wouldn't take too much work or brain power!!

1. Compile your list of favorites. Please be sure that books you choose actually were published in 2008, or at the very earliest in the winter holiday season of 2007. Sometimes books that come out then are left out.

2. Come back and sign Mr Linky with the url to your top books of 2008 post.

3. If you happen to see any non-WG bloggers making similar lists, please grab the url and come put it in Mr Linky for them. Let them know you’re doing that, please, in case they have some sort of objection; if they do, they can ask me to remove their link. I’ve already seen a couple favorites of 2008 posts, which is another reason I wanted to get started early.

4. Feel free to make changes to your list if you read something new in the next few weeks. After about October 25, I can’t guarantee your changes will be reflected in the master list. We’ll probably start compiling lists around then.

5. Please consider whether you’d like to help me compile lists.

So far this year, out of the 40 or so books that I have read, 14 were published in 2008. That's actually a lot for me. I don't tend to read books right away, but with the ARC's coming in, this number was a bit higher than usual. So I guess I'll give you the top 7 books of 2008. (Why 7?? Seems like a lucky number!):

  • The Host by Stephenie Meyer - Ok...this book will probably be my favorite book of the year! For some reason, it really affected me, and I just loved it!!
  • Vampyres of Hollywood by Adrienne Barbeau and Michael Scott - LOVED this book! Fun and campy.
  • Untamed: A House of Night Novel by PC Cast and Kristin Cast - Book 4 in the House of Night series was a real winner. If you like this series, this is one of the best!
  • The Bleeding Dusk by Colleen Gleason - Book 3 in the Gardella Vampire Series. So far, this has been my favorite book from the series. In which Victoria kicks some major Vampire Ass!
  • When Twilight Burns by Colleen Gleason - Book 4 in the Gardella Vampire Series. Although I didn't like it as much as Book 3, it still ranks right up there as a favorite of the year. Besides, some of the romance-y stuff is getting resolved.
  • This Charming Man by Marian Keyes - Surprisingly good book that is marketed as "Chick Lit", but oh so much more. A great read!!
  • The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti - Again, another surprisingly good read!! A lot of fun and adventure with a young, one-handed hero!!

(I have the reviews linked in my sidebar if you'd like to read them!)

Who knows, by the end of 2008, this list may change!! I guess I will just have to keep reading to find out!!