Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Faerie Lord

Two years after almost bringing the Faeries of the Night and the Faeries of the Light to a Civil War Faerie Lord finds Henry moving on with his life in the Analogue World. Kicking himself for turning down Blue he heads back to Mr. Fogarty's house to return Hodge and finds a middle aged Pyrgus searching for him. A plague causing victims to age rapidly has swept both Nighters and Lighters in the Faerie Realm and Mr. Fogarty is among the ill. Henry must travel back to the Faerie Realm to convince Mr. Fogarty to return to the Analogue World where the disease becomes dormant before it kills him. Now Henry and Blue must discover the source of the plague and put an end to it before all of Faerie is destroyed.

The conclusion to the Faerie War Chronicles is quite an interesting chapter in the tale. Herbie Brennan brings closure to about every aspect of the series, including the fate of Henry and Blue's relationship. This book focuses mainly on Henry and his quest to find courage and save Blue despite feeling less than worthy for the Queen of Faerie and Demon. Along the way Henry meets a boy who shows him what bravery and friendship really mean. Blue must decide what is more important to her, the Faerie Realm or Henry. No longer is she the young, inexperienced ruler, yet there are still some in the Realm who think she is.

Quite a satisfactory ending to a fantastic journey!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blue Bloods

Of course, you know I can't get enough of vampires.

Melissa de la Cruz's Blue Bloods series takes us into a different world of vampires and immortality. How different, you ask? Well, these vampires are not humans who have been bitten and siree. These blue blooded vampires were once angels who followed Lucifer. Now cursed to spend eternity in the Mortal World, the Blue Bloods spend their time (and money) trying to make the world a beautiful place so they can earn their place back in Heaven, or Paradise, or whatever it is. Among the 'regular angels' we find Michael and Gabrielle. They chose to come to the Mortal World with their kind and were not cast out in sin. Therefore, they are the Untainted.

While the new take on vampires is refreshing, Melissa de la Cruz's writing is not. The first three books could easily have been one book if she spent less time talking about the clothes everyone's wearing and concentrated more on the character development and story. She tends to drag everything out so there seems to be no conclusion to anything. To top it off, the characters are not at all likeable! They're either snotty, wishy-washy, or just plain dumb.

Of course, Schuyler Van Alen doesn't fit into the exclusive little world that she lives in. Maybe it's because of the way she spells her name? Anyway....always an outcast, Schuyler suddenly finds herself part of the Blue Blood society yet still on the outskirts. Harboring a crush on the most popular (and one of the most powerful) vampires, Jack Force, Schuyler becomes the target of Mimi's, Jack's twin and bonded soulmate, wrath. With her faithful human Conduit, Oliver, at her side she alone must find a way to stop the powerful Silver Bloods who threaten the very exsistence of the Blue Bloods all while mending her broken heart. Corny? Yes. Will I continue to read the series? Of course!

The Faerie Path

Anita was just a normal sixteen-year-old when she was pulled through from the Mortal World into the Faerie World. In Faerie World she finds for 500 years the land has seen little happiness. Since she disappeared mysteriously from the Faerie World her mother, Queen Titania drowned in a tragic boating accident. Her father, King Oberon could take no more grief and plunged the land in enternal darkness. When his youngest daughter returns the people of the land rejoice and sunshine spills across the lands.

But Anita cannot remember any of her life in the Faerie World and longs to return to London where she's sure her parents are frantically searching for her. She must choose who needs her more, the people of Faerie World or the ones she left behind in the Mortal World.

And so begins the tale of Tania, Faerie Princess in The Faerie Path by Frewin Jones. Of course, I love me some young adult fantasy and the story is interesting and fraught with possibilites. The writing isn't quite as sophisticated as Suzanne Collins or Cinda Williams Chima, but Frewin paints an intriguing faerie world where the paintings move and respond to feelings and animals communicate with those who have the gift. The book feels quite as if it was written for a 16 year old (which of course, it is), but I think the series is delightful in itself to continue on.

Ruler of the Realm

Ruler of the Realm is the 3rd book in Herbie Brennan's Faerie Wars series. Blue, now Queen of the Lighters finds herself on the brink of a civil war between the Faeries of the Light & the Faeries of the Dark. Blue is clever, brave and fair, but she is just a 16 year old Faerie who is struggling with grief, stress and a huge crush on her human friend Henry. Meanwhile, Henry seems to have been abducted by aliens while walking home from his father's apartment (after walking in on his Dad's new girlfriend getting out of the shower) and can't remember days in which he disappeared without a trace.

Definitely the most exciting in the series thus far. Blue is a wonderful character! The series benefited greatly when the focus shifted from Pyrgus, the reluctant Crown Prince, to Blue. Despite the fact that Blue is the younger of the two she is much more mature and responsible than her emotion driven brother. Her thoughts are always for the betterment of the Realm whereas Pyrgus wants the perks, but not the responsibilities that come with being an Emperor.

There are many characters to follow, but Brennan does so in a way that eases you into each chapter so you're not left confused and wondering. The glossary at the end of each book helps the reader understand a little better the Faerie-speak without forcing Brennan to spend so much time explaining everything.

The book ends with a definite cliff hanger of sorts so it's off to the Faerie Lord, possibly the last in the series, I go!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Girl Who Played with Fire

After waiting only a week I scored big time when I got notification that my request for Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played with Fire was ready for me to pick up. I thought for sure, after the success of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo I would have to wait months.

Immediately I dug in and discovered the reading world is quite unfortunate to have lost Stieg Larsson. The Girl Who Played with Fire starts out much quicker than Dragon Tattoo did. I found myself quite lost in the beginning of Dragon Tattoo as Larsson went into detail the financial world to set the stage for Blomkvist's trial and conviction. With Fire, there wasn't any of that, he just dove right into the story.

The Girl Who Played with Fire starts off about two years after The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. We find Lisbeth has been abroad, traveling with her seemingly endless amounts of money she aquired in the previous novel. There is a short story line that ends up going nowhere except to show the type of personality Lisbeth has. She returns to Sweden and unsure of what to do with herself begins to make moves to start a new life. However, a name from her past opens up a long buried desire for revenge and she finds herself a wanted murder suspect, hunted by the police, the criminals and friends alike.

The book leaves with a conclusion, but if I wasn't already aware there would be another book I would have been very upset! While the beginning might have been quite long and drawn out once the story gets going I wasn't able to put the book down until the very end. I'm thrilled that there is a third book due out, but quite saddened that The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest will be the last of the adventures of Mikael Blomkvist & Lisbeth Salander.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I'm a Gleek

I absolutely ADORE Glee. If I could create my own TV show it would be exactly this show. The cast is phenomenally talented, but I can't get enough of Lea Michele.

Lea made her Broadway debut at the tender age of 8 when she was picked from an open audition to play young Cosette in Les Miserables and she's been working ever since. Her biggest success was originating the role of Wendella in Spring Awakening for which she won a Drama Desk award in 2007.

Looking like a mini Idina Menzel (a role model of Lea's) she's got the voice to match. It's such a joy to listen to her sing! I thought her duet with Cory Monteith was the best thing I'd ever heard (and the reason I knew I'd be watching the rest of the series), but then last night she belted out her version of Rhianna's Take a Bow and I was blown away. She made that song her own.

The episodes just don't come around fast enough! I love that there's several songs to an episode! I can't wait until the soundtracks come out. Emma and I will be singing along!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Guilty Pleasures

Guilty Pleasures (aka my new book series obsession) by Laurell K. Hamilton is the first in a series of 17 introducing Anita Blake to the world.

Anita Blake is a very busy 24 year old! Besides holding a regular job as an Animator (a Necromancer) she's also a consultant for the St. Louis PD's RPIT departmant, or Regional Preternatural Investgation Team, and a vampire hunter. In a day and age where vampires, weres and other mythical beings are given rights are treated as every other human being Anita lives in quite a progressive time. Similar to True Blood (I haven't read that series yet, just watched the show) vampires are split between those who wish to go 'mainstream' and those who just want to do what they want to.

There's no explanation why Anita has such a dislike for vampires or why she went into the vampire hunting business to begin with. Quite like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she's not just knowledgeable about vampires, but also ghouls and the were-people, but unlike Buffy she admits her fears, she's not always tough. She has emotion that you never saw with Buffy. Yet still, it is much darker than Buffy. I found myself jumping at random sounds around the house while reading this book in broad daylight!

All in all, throughout this first book Anita is a likeable, quite human, superheroine. We'll see if the series holds up, but I don't have many doubts about that!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Oh Yummy Paella

Today two of my sisters-in-law (I always want to say sister-in-laws) Irene & Theresa, Ray, Emma and I headed downtown via light rail to make our yearly visit to Tapestry in Talent. Tapestry in Talent has been going on for much longer than I have been alive, or at least that's how it feels.

On the way there on light rail we met a lovely gentleman who warned us to stay out of St. James park (unless we wanted to get into trouble) and pointed out everything that wasn't there anymore.

I didn't even know there was a restaurant that used to be behind Bella Mia.

And you could go see a movie at the theatre (which is now the Improv) for $1.

While the friendly tour guide wafted alcohol fumes our way he did paint a picture of a very different San Jose than we knew. Anywho.....

The arts & crafty vendors seems to be shrinking and we didn't find anything we had to have except for some too delicious Paella served up by my former employer Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme. Yes, the longest named catering company in the Bay Area. With the largest Paella pans. I remembered the hassle of getting those pans here from Spain and when I saw it leaning up against the booth I knew it must be PSRT. I so missed their Paella. No one does better.

Now I'm hungry for Paella. Damn.

Theresa purchased some Scentsy things while Ray and I observed the most disgusting booth to date. It's some scam where you get rid of all the toxins in your body by sticking your feet in a tub of 'water' and letting ions attack the baddies. After a bit the water looks like a tide pool. It's frakking disgusting. The only people sitting there gathering algae were elderly people who will apparently, try anything. Brave souls.

So....good things: PSRT Paella, coupons for the Renaissance Faire (Huzzah!) and watermelon slushies. Bad things: people wearing not enough clothing in public, dirty feet water and a crazy Jesus guy walking around holding his sign always wherever we were. Freaky.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Blood Sins

Kay Hooper's Blood Sins is the latest in the Bishop/SCU series. The first time Hooper has had a direct link between stories as Blood Sins directly follows events and characters from Blood Dreams.

In Blood Sins, Bishop is leading his SCU group and Haven operatives in a war against a super pyschic who absorbs powers and energy from other psychics. It seemed to bring together all the former characters from older novels. The story was interesting and could have been tense, but as she's done in a few other novels, Hooper spends so many pages describing different psychic abilities and how they work and affect others I found myself wanting to skip paragraphs or entire pages. Very little seemed to focus on the actual questions the book raised which she touches on in the epilouge which makes me wonder if this story will continue directly in the final book.

I think maybe these characters just might be completely played out and tired. She doesn't give enough time with each one to really let anyone get attached. They're blips on your radar, even when there's an entire story focused on them. I think Hooper might have sacrificed character development for psychic-power development.

The Rain Before It Falls

Jonathan Coe's The Rain Before It Falls is a depressing story of the cycle of abuse, how close it comes around each time for each generation of women in this seemingly cursed family through the eyes of a conflicted relative.

After the passing of her Aunt Rosamond, Gill is responsible for taking a series of cassette tapes and pictures to a distant relative she has only met once twenty years ago. Listening to the tapes in hopes of gathering clues as to the possible whereabouts of Imogen, Gill and her daughters learn of a somewhat sordid family history they never knew exsisted. On the tapes Rosamond has described in detail twenty photographs she feels tell the history of Imogen, her mother and grandmother.

There is very little that is hopeful throughout the tale. Much foreshadowing steers you along a path of cruelty, madness and self destruction. Even when there does seem to be a slight chance of hope, Coe yanks the rug out from under you.

Not to say that this is not a story worth reading. The images are indelible. Rosamond's narrative is intriguing and heartwrenching for everyone involved. But if you're looking for a story of triumph and happy-ever-afters you'd best find it elsewhere.

The Dream of Water

Kyoko Mori's The Dream of Water is her memoir of returning to her country of birth after a 13 year absence. It is the story of reconnecting with her mother's family and trying to find answers to her father's cruelty.

While reading the book I have to remind myself that this is real, that the memories Kyoko has of her father are not fiction. Her description of her father, his temperament, selfishness and dismissive nature, is hard to believe and it isn't until she gets time with her father's sister, Akiko that she finds someone who will speak frankly about her father horrid behavior.

That being said I feel that the writing was not anything I necessarily needed to read. It seemed as if she wrote more for herself, for her own therapy than because she wanted to share her story with the world. She could not forgive the transgressions her father and stepmother committed and the book was mostly filled with anger and a sense of frustration at her inability to confront either.

There is very little happiness in the book as she focuses on what she lost, what was taken from her after her mother's suicide. She turns into an indifferent human, incapable of coming across as warm or caring. Even when speaking of her husband it's as if she could take him or leave him. She is so far removed from the story she has written of herself you are left to wonder if she ever was able to have any contentment with her life. But the book is honest and biting. While she does seem removed she is honest about her anger and refusal to forgive, her unwillingness to love her hometown. And that you can't help but admire.

Dean Koontz's Frankenstein: Book One: Prodigal Son

Dean Koontz had begun the Frankenstein story as a TV show, but creative differences took the show in a direction Koontz didn't want to go. The first novel was co-written by Koontz and Kevin J. Anderson, although the newest printing finds Anderson's name absent from the cover.

Prodigal Son introduces us numerous characters. There is a serial killer known as the Surgeon loose in New Orleans. Detective Carson O'Connor and her partner Michael Maddison are charged with tracking him down and bringing him to justice. At the same time Victor Frankenstein, now known as Victor Helios, is creating a master race to take over the world and create order and perfection. Frankenstein's first creation, Deucalion has come to New Orleans to bring his maker to an end. Frankenstein's wife, Erika, is struggling to understand hope and her limitations. A few other types of Frankenstein's 'New Race' are displayed in this first of, so far, three novels. While they are physically superior and emotionally blank they are stuggling with their humanity, or lack thereof.

Having read almost every one of Koontz's novels I found this one to be quite different. The writing style was so obviously not his. It was lighter and simplistic. Koontz's influences were still there, apparent in the character dialogue and his fascination with autism and man-made monsters. I enjoyed the book, will definitely read the next two.

Things I Want My Daughters to Know

For a while my mom worked from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. We would get home from school and go across the street to the Sharum's house until my dad got home from work. Valerie would feed us snacks and we would play with Graham and Jerry. Sometimes, when my dad got home we would continue to play until it was dark outside.

But sometimes I would just want to be at home with my mom. When we were a bit older I would tell Valerie I needed to get something from my house and she would give me the spare key she had so I could go get whatever it was I after. I would run to my parents' room and lay down on the bed with my face buried in my mom's pillow. Even though she would be home in a few hours I missed her so.

That's how this book made me feel. While the story of the daughters was woven through my mind, in the background I was thinking of my own mom & daughter. Desperately missing them even though they were right there.

Elizabeth Noble's novel tells the story of a legacy a mother leaves behind for her children. When Barbara accepts that she is dying she writes letters and a journal to her four daughters, saying the things she might not have the time or the courage to say before she leaves them. In the year after Barbara's passing the four daughters must repair their lives from both the grief of losing their mother and the mistakes they make on their own. All the while Barabara's husband struggles with his own sadness and attempts at being the one the girls come to for the advice they didn't get while Barbara was still alive.

A lovely, reflective story, not nearly as lighthearted as her previous novels, but wonderful nonetheless.

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