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|Friday, March 30th, 2012|
Where do you find your books?
I won't even say it. I won't apologize for how long it's been since I've written. What I will say is I've moved across the country, twice, in two years. I've retired a guide dog and gotten another. I've gained and lost a job. Life has been turned topsy turvy in that length of time, and tons of changes have been going on. What has not changed, though, is the number of books I've read, and acquired. I just keep acquiring and acquiring. As I was acquiring last night and listening to book podcasts this morning, , it occurs to me that I needed to write a post on how I am acquiring these books, and where I'm hearing about them. I love books, as evidenced by my book_cuddler name, so here we go.
the first thing I have to let you know about is my discovery of book podcasts. I love podcasts and I love books, so you would think that it would click in my head that I would love book podcasts, right? Well it didn't until a few months ago. Then I discovered Books on the nightstand
and history, or rather more history, was born. I have even called in and been on the show a few times, just when they were doing caller shows, but still cool to hear myself on a podcast I listen to a lot.
then I discovered Bookrageous, Baby
that is just fun. It's a little longer than Books on the Nightstand, but it doesn't come out as often, either.
All of these folks are on twitter
too so that has been fun to get to know them a bit using that social platform.
Just a note on twitter: Many many authors I either read or want to read are on twitter and you can follow them for more information. Authors I really enjoy reading are Lilith Saintcrow and Sherman Alexie.
Twitter is a huge source of book news for me. Not as huge as the book podcasts, but huge nevertheless.
Another great account I follow on twitter is Book Hoarders Anonymous
which is a fun book club.
And let me not forget Book Riot
which is fun for lists, passionate book talk, and everything books. The writers are fun and engaging, and who can resist?
another thing Twitter has which is fun to follow are hashtags. Basically they group like tweets into a stream that you can see on your twitter timeline. the #Fridayreads is a fun hashtag to see what people are reading in 140 characters or less. If you go to the Friday Reads hashtag on twitter, you can get more details there. And you are entered into free book drawings every week if you participate.
Yet another place I learn about new books is GoodReads
which is an amazing wealth of books. I can maintain my TBR pile there, (We don't have to mention I am many many thousands of books behind on cataloguing this, do I?), I can keep track of what I've read, and what I'm currently reading, since I have many on the go. I can see what my friends are reading, talk to them about books, recommend books to them, etc. I can also join groups like the Books on the night stand group where I can discuss everything books
which is just fantastic and fun.
Let us not forget NPR. I admit it here and now folks, I'm a huge NPR nut. Love it, can't get enough of it. NPR's books section
is a wonderful way to keep up with all things books and NPR. Their twitter feed and podcast are fantastic as well. Ditto to The Guardian books
which has a great podcast, too.
On to email groups, right?
there are many email groups out there. I am on a few that are fantastic. One is OnThePorchSwing, which is on Yahoo groups
they have monthly reading discussions if you want to, and just tons of chatter about the books we are reading, what we want to read, what we're looking forward to, etc. It's especially fun because there are international members so we get an international perspective. As an example, I have become enamored with Scandinavian literature, and there is a lady from the Netherlands who has given me some fantastic advice. It's all well and good to use Google but much more fun to talk to people from those countries to get their recommendations.
There are many more book groups to which I belong, and I might have to write a future post on how each helps me in a different way. If you look around, however, you can find groups on everything: Science Fiction, historical fiction, mysteries, etc. They are everywhere.
A note on email groups: they can be high traffic. I would recommend either using a filtering program to filter them to an individual folder, or alternatively, reading the daily digest messages as to not overwhelm your email box.
I also get emails from individual authors, and websites such as Penguin.
I am sure there are many book related resources I've missed. Can you think of a place you get spectacular book news? If so, where do you go? What do you get from that source? I can't wait to discuss this with you in the comments! Current Mood: awake
|Saturday, February 5th, 2011|
A Kiss Before the Apocolypse
I know it's been a while.
In my attempts to update, I give you one of the best books I've read this year.
There will be more very soon.A
Kiss Before the Apocalypse
by Thomas E. Sniegoski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have to admit that this book isn't one I would normally pick up and read. But a book club I was involved in chose this book to read next month and I
had an audio copy that looked OK so off I went. This book is one of the best books I've read this year.
The premise: Remy Chandler is an angel, but not just any angel. He is a private investigator who never ages and can talk to animals— his black lab
Marlow is the perfect character— and he has a so-called in with the spiritual world. He can correspond with other angels, and even demons.
At the beginning of the story, Remy, is tailing a guy suspected of cheating on his wife. As Remy sits back with his fifth cup of coffee of the morning,
he hears a gun shot and runs into the hotel room to find the man has shot his lover and as Remy watches, shoots himself as well. Even though both have
been shot in the head, they refuse to die. Upon further investigation, he finds that nobody is dying, not even people who should. After speaking with
angels— both good and bad ones, Remy finds the Angel of Death is not doing his job and has taken over the body of a human. It is, then, Remy's job to
find this angel and bring him back and get him to do his job.
But as if this wasn't enough, the Apocolypse is coming, and Remy must stop it as well.
Lest you think this is a light-hearted romp through the supernatural, think again. Snagovski injects this story with humor, great amounts of sadness,
and action and adventure. We are taken on a roller coaster of emotions from the love Remy and his dying wife express for each other, the anger he has
towards the Angel of Death, and the fear of the up-coming apocolypse.
This is the first in a series and I was delighted to be able to get the other two in this series. if you want a book that has it all, I would recommend
you give this book a try. Private investigator angel he may be, but Remy Chandler is not one to be taken lightly.View all my reviews Current Mood: accomplished
|Thursday, March 18th, 2010|
February: Push by Sapphire
An electrifying first novel that shocks by its language, its circumstances, and its brutal honesty, Push recounts a young black street-girl's horrendous
and redemptive journey through a Harlem inferno. For Precious Jones, 16 and pregnant with her father's child, miraculous hope appears and the world begins
to open up for her when a courageous, determined teacher bullies, cajoles, and inspires her to learn to read, to define her own feelings and set them down
in a diary.
This book is so much more than the description would have you believe. I can't say anything about this book that hasn't already been said or that would make it sound trite. this book, Precious, is just amazing... It is beyond words.
February: Company of Liars
Title: Company of Liars
Author: Karen Maitland
In this extraordinary novel, Karen Maitland delivers a dazzling reinterpretation of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales—an ingenious alchemy of history, mystery,
and powerful human drama. The year is 1348. The Black Plague grips the country. In a world ruled by faith and fear, nine desperate strangers, brought together
by chance, attempt to outrun the certain death that is running inexorably toward them. Each member of this motley company has a story to tell. From Camelot,
the relic-seller who will become the group’s leader, to Cygnus, the one-armed storyteller . . . from the strange, silent child called Narigorm to a painter
and his pregnant wife, each has a secret. None is what they seem. And one among them conceals the darkest secret of all—propelling these liars to a destiny
they never saw coming.
Company of Liars was an interesting book. I read it because the sequel, i believe, looked really good and I am anal about reading books in order. This was an OK read, I remember liking it enough, but the ending was one of those that just kind of fades out... It was like the author ran out of steam on it. It was a good book, though, just a little blah at the end.
|Tuesday, March 9th, 2010|
February: the virgin Queen's Daughter
The Virgin Queen's Daughter
by Ella March Chase
Four out of five stars!
As captivating now as it was more than four centuries ago, the reign of Elizabeth I—with its scandal, intrigue, and resilience—has sparked the imaginations
of generations. In her sweeping historical debut, Ella March Chase explores a thrilling possibility: that the Tudor bloodline did not end with the Virgin
Tucked away in the country estate of her beloved father, Lord Calverley, young Nell de Lacey feeds her hungry mind with philosophy, language, and studies
of science. Her mother, once a devoted lady-in-waiting to Henry VIII’s last wife, Katherine Parr, would rather her daughter stop dabbling in the grand
affairs of men and instead prepare for her eventual duties as a wife. She knows all too well what menace lurks in royal courts.
But Nell’s heart yearns for something more, and a chance meeting with Princess Elizabeth, then a prisoner of the Tower of London, pushes her closer toward
finding it. Now, years later, Nell’s chance arrives when she is summoned to serve as a lady-in-waiting to the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth. Nell is entranced
by the splendor and pageantry of royal life, unaware of the danger and deception that swirls around the monarch and her courtiers.
But a lingering rumor about nine unaccounted for months in the Virgin Queen’s past reignites when the flame-haired Nell—a mirror image of Her Majesty both
physically and intellectually—arrives at court. Quickly she catches the eye not only of the cunning Elizabeth, but of those who would see the queen fail.
With strong evidence to connect Elizabeth to her newest maid of honor and the politics of England in turmoil, the truth could send Nell and those she loves
to the Tower to join in the wretched fates of those who’ve gone before her.
I was captivated by this book from the start. It's an interesting premise, and I have another in the same genre here to read, but it's a boy this time in the next book. Good book and an interesting what-if? story.View all my reviews >>
February: Darkly Dreaming Dexter
Darkly Dreaming Dexter
by Jeff Lindsay
4 of five stars!
Meet Dexter Morgan, a polite wolf in sheep's clothing. He is handsome and charming, but something in his past has made him abide by a different set of rules.
He s a serial killer whose one golden rule makes him immensely likeable: he only kills bad people. And his job as a blood splatter expert for the Miami
police department puts him in the perfect position to identify his victims. But when a series of brutal murders bearing a striking similarity to his own
style start turning up, Dexter is caught between being flattered and being frightened -- of himself or some other fiend.
You wouldn't think a book about a serial killer could be this fun or interesting, but Dexter really makes it so. I really enjoyed getting to know Dexter and getting inside his head, which is something I can't say about to many people, let alone serial killers. Interesting premise and a good start to the series!View all my reviews >>
|Saturday, March 6th, 2010|
February: the Coven: Sweep #2
by Cate Tiernan
Morgan's powers are stronger than she ever imagined. She has visions, she lights fires with her mind, and her spells work miracles. When her boyfriend Cal,
a member of the same coven, insists that witchcraft is in her blood, Morgan is confused. Her parents definitely aren't witches. They do seem to be keeping
something secret, though-something about Morgan's past.
this is like a soap opera which just happens to be Wiccan in nature, if you can call this true Wicca. The ending annoyed the heck out of me, but of course I've been sucked in and will continue to read.View all my reviews >>
February: Maisie Dobbs
by Jacqueline Winspear
"She started as a maid in an aristocratic London household when she was thirteen. Her employer, Lady Rowan Compton, a suffragette, took the remarkably bright
youngster under her wing and became her patron, aided by Maurice Blanche, a friend often retained as an investigator by the elite of Europe. It was he
who first recognized Maisie's intuitive gifts and helped her to earn admission to prestigious Girton College at Cambridge where Maisie planned to complete
her education." "The outbreak of war changed everything. Maisie trained as a nurse, then left for France to serve at the Front, where she found - and lost
- an important part of herself." Ten years after the Armistice, in the spring of 1929, Maisie sets up on her own as a private investigator, one who has
learned that coincidences are meaningful, and truth elusive. Her very first case involves suspected infidelity but reveals something very different. In
the aftermath of the Great War, a former officer has founded a convalescent refuge for those grievously wounded, ex-soldiers too shattered to resume normal
life. It is a working farm known as The Retreat. When Fate brings Maisie a second case involving The Retreat she must confront the ghost that has haunted
her for over ten years.
As with so many mysteries, I found myself drawn in by the characters. the mystery itself was good, but the characters are really what made this book come alive for me. I will definitely be continuing this series very soon, and I think you should, too!View all my reviews >>
|Thursday, March 4th, 2010|
February: the Lace Reader
The Lace Reader
by Brunonia Barry
"Towner Whitney, the self-confessed unreliable narrator of The Lace Reader, hails from a family of Salem women who can read the future in the patterns in lace, and who have guarded a history of secrets going back generations, but the disappearance of two women brings Towner home to Salem and the truth about the death of her twin sister to light." The Lace Reader is a tale that spirals into a world of secrets, confused identities, lies, and half-truths in which the reader quickly finds it's nearly impossible to separate fact from fiction, but as Towner Whitney points out early on in the novel, "There are no accidents."
At first I really wasn't sure I would like this book. I found myself starting it, getting caught up in it, then stopping it and forgetting about it for a week. I probably stopped reading it two or three times before I finally finished it. I really liked the twist at the end and am surprised I missed it.. But it was an OK book. Nothing spectacular, but not bad, either. View all my reviews >>
|Sunday, February 28th, 2010|
February: Doomsday Book
title: Doomsday Book
Author: Connie Willis
Rating: 4/5 stars
Connie Willis labored five years on this story of a history student in 2048 who is transported to an English village in the 14th century. The student arrives
mistakenly on the eve of the onset of the Black Plague. Her dealings with a family of "contemps" in 1348 and with her historian cohorts lead to complications
as the book unfolds into a surprisingly dark, deep conclusion. The book, which won Hugo and Nebula Awards, draws upon Willis' understanding of the universalities
of human nature to explore the ageless issues of evil, suffering and the indomitable will of the human spirit.
I have to say at first I really didn't like this book. and overall I could have lived with out the futuristic stuff, but as I got into the book, I could
see why Willis used it and what it gives to the story. The historical details were great and the characters, even the annoying ones were well-drawn. Definitely
|Thursday, February 18th, 2010|
February: Secrets in the Cellar
Secrets in the Cellar
by John Glatt
Josef Fritzl was a 73-year-old retired engineer in Austria. He seemed to be living a normal life with his wife, Rosemarie, and their family—though one daughter,
Elisabeth, had decades earlier been “lost” to a religious cult. Throughout the years, three of Elisabeth’s children mysteriously appeared on the Fritzls’
doorstep; Josef and Rosemarie raised them as their own. But only Josef knew the truth about Elisabeth’s disappearance…For twenty-seven years, Josef had
imprisoned and molested Elisabeth in his man-made basement dungeon, complete with sound-proof paneling and code-protected electric locks. There, she would
eventually give birth to a total of seven of Josef’s children. One died in infancy—and the other three were raised alongside Elisabeth, never to see the
light of day. Then, in 2008, one of Elisabeth’s children became seriously ill, and was taken to the hospital. It was the first time the nineteen-year-old
girl had ever gone outside—and soon, the truth about her background, her family’s captivity, and Josef’s unspeakable crimes would come to light.
When I heard of this case, I was horrified, as was the rest of the world. the story is awful, but the resillience of the human race is also highlighted. I will agree with other reviewers that the book did just end, and I could have done with out the prologue, but over all, this book was OK, not great, but OK.View all my reviews >>
|Friday, February 12th, 2010|
January: the Coldest Winter Ever
Coldest Winter Ever
by Sister Souljah
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In a stunning first novel, renowned hip-hop artist, writer, and activist Sister Souljah brings the streets of New York to life with a powerful and utterly
unforgettable tale. Ghetto-born, Winter is the young, wealthy daughter of a prominent Brooklyn drug-dealing family. Quick-witted, sexy, businessminded,
and fashionable, Winter knows no restrictions. No one can control her. She's nobody's victim. And her Pops lets her know she deserves the best. Winter
knows the Brooklyn streets like she knows the curves of her own body. She maneuvers skillfully, applying all she has learned to come out on top, no matter
how dramatically the scenes change. But a cold Winter wind is about to blow her life in a direction she could never have expected. Unwilling to give up
her ghetto celebrity status, her friends and her lovers, Winter sets off on a series of wild adventures to reclaim her role as princess of the alleyways.
But when her schemes begin to unravel, Winter is on her own, figuring out a whole new way to survive. The Coldest Winter Ever marks the debut of a gifted
storyteller. Sister Souljah explores a young urban woman's innermost state of mind in a voice as bold as it is bracingly honest. Provocative and thoroughly
entertaining, this is a daring novel of passion, loss, courage - and of the sometimes terrible tolls exacted from us just to stay alive. You will never
forget this Winter's tale.
It isn't often that you can say you didn't like the main character, or most of the characters in a book, but still adore the book. This book is one of
the rare ones I can say that about. I found Winter rage-inducing. Most of her friends and cronies are the same way. the only one I liked in the whole
book was Sister Soulja herself, and a few others. This book is complicated, and if I try to do a review I'm just going to slaughter it. You follow Winter
through her various schemes to get something back she never can. Everyone knows it but her. And you see the depths to which she will go and how far she
will fall. this book is about how far people will go for wealth, how misdirected the country is becoming, and the inherent unfairness it it all.View all my reviews >>
January: In the Bleak Midwinter
the Bleak Midwinter
by Julia Spencer-Fleming
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
HEAVY SNOW ... ICY DESIRES ... COLD-BLOODED MURDER Clare Fergusson, St. Alban's new priest, fits like a square peg in the conservative
Episcopal parish at Millers Kill, New York. She is not just a "lady"; she's a tough ex-Army chopper pilot, and nobody's fool. Then a newborn infant left
at the church door brings her together with the town's police chief, Russ Van Alstyne, who's also ex-Army and a cynical good shepherd for the stray sheep
of his hometown. Their search for the baby's mother quickly leads them into the secrets that shadow Millers Kill like the ever-present Adirondacks. What
they discover is a world of trouble, an attraction to each other-and murder. ...
The premise of this book really intrigued me, since I don't know much about Episcipal priests but what I've gleaned from the Father Tim of Mitford books
by Jan Karan, (a great series if you haven't picked it up, by the way). What gave this five stars for me wasn't only the mystery which was satisfying
in itself, but the reality of the chars. Claire isn't perfect, and she doesn't try to be by the end of the book. Ditto Russ. They have feelings for each
other and this tension, I assume will be carried over to subsequent books, all of which I have here to read. Overall a stellar start to a series I can't
wait to continue.View all my reviews >>
|Tuesday, February 9th, 2010|
|Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010|
January: Tyrant of the Mind
Of The Mind
by Priscilla Royal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A nun and a monk defy death and dishonor at her family's Welsh fortress...
In the winter of 1271, Death stalks the corridors of Wynethorpe Castle on the Welsh border. When the Grim Reaper touches the beloved grandson of the castle
lord, Baron Adam sends for his daughter, Prioress Eleanor of Tyndal, and her sub-infirmarian, Sister Anne, to save the child with prayers and healing talents.
Escorting them to the remote fortress is Brother Thomas, an unwilling monk fighting his private demons.
Death may be denied once in his quest for souls but never twice. Soon after the trio arrives, an important guest is murdered. The prioress's brother, bloody
dagger in hand, stands over the corpse. All others may believe in his guilt, but Eleanor is convinced her brother is innocent.
Outside her priory, in a world of armed men, Eleanor may have little authority, but she is determined to untangle the Gordian knot of thwarted passions
and old resentments even if it means defying her father, a man with whom she longs to make peace. As passions rise with the winter wind and time runs short,
Eleanor, Anne and Thomas struggle to find the real killer.
This is the second in the series and I really love how the characters are human with their flaws and all. They aren't perfect and are fighting their own
demons and I think I like that best of all. the historical details are also well-done. The first is Wine of Violence and is as good as this one.View all my reviews >>
Feast of Flames
by Amber K
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Early February is time to welcome the returning light and promise of Spring--Candlemas This book sheds light on the origins, lore, and customs of this ancient
holy day. Keep those post-holiday blues at bay with tales from medieval Ireland, delicious recipes, crafts, decorations, detailed rituals, and even magickal
spells with candles you make yourself.
This book was a good beginning text on the origins of Candlemas. I should have written this review a few days earlier but hey you can still celebrate Candlemas
or Imbolc if you wish!View all my reviews >>
January: Casting Spells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Magic. Knitting. Love. A new series and a delightful departure by the USA Today bestselling author of Just Desserts.
Sugar Maple looks like any Vermont town, but it's inhabited with warlocks, sprites, vampires, witches and an ancient secret. And Chloe Hobbs, owner of Sticks
& String, a popular knitting shop, has a big secret too. She's a sorcerer's daughter in search of Mr. Right, and she's found him in Luke MacKenzie, a cop
investigating Sugar Maple's very first murder. Bad news is he's 100% human, which could spell disaster for a normal future with a paranormal woman like
OK. I have to say I came into this book with some pre-conceived notions of how much this book was going to suck. the premise looked cute, sure, but sprites?
Vampires? Really now. But I have to say I absolutely loved it. Chloe and Luke worked really well together, and the secondary characters cracked me up
through the entire book. Even if you're not a knitter, this book will work for you, I think. Give it a shot. I'm glad I did.View all my reviews >>
January: Twin Cities Noir
Twin Cities Noir
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Brand-new stories by: David Housewright, Steve Thayer, Judith Guest, Mary Logue, Bruce Rubenstein, K.J. Erickson, William Kent Krueger, Ellen Hart, Brad
Zeller, Mary Sharratt, Pete Hautman, Larry Millett, Quinton Skinner, Gary Bush, and Chris Everheart.
Julie Schaper has been a Twin Cities resident for 11 years. She lives with her husband and two dogs in the Merriam Park neighborhood of St. Paul. Steven
Horwitz has worked in publishing for 25 years. He lives with his wife and two dogs in St. Paul.
I have to say for the most part this was a very disappointing book. A few of the stories stick with me, but to be honest I felt this book could have been
written in any city. I didn't sense much of a special sense of place in many of the stories, and I feel it didn't need to be written about the Twin Cities.
Some of the stories had very abrupt endings, and some were just a waste of my time... The chili dog one for example I have to say I shook my head and
it and went... That's it? Overall I was disappointed in this book. There were a few gems but you have to look hard to find them.View all my reviews >>
January: Girl in a Cage
Girl in a Cage
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As English armies invade Scotland in 1306, eleven-year-old Princess Marjorie, daughter of the newly crowned Scottish king, Robert the Bruce, is captured
by England's King Edward Longshanks and held in a cage on public display.
this book was so much more than the summary would have you believe. The authors did a superb job highlighting the personalities of the characters. You
really get to know Marjorie, Longshanks, and Robert the Bruce, as well as the numerous secondary characters. I think the shifts in time could have possibly
been done away with, but it seemed to work for the most part. I am on a quest to find other books, either fiction or nonfiction about Marjorie. She seems
like she would be a fascinating person to write about.View all my reviews >>
|Sunday, January 24th, 2010|
January: The Covenant
by Beverly Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book 1 of Abram's Daughters series from bestselling author Beverly Lewis. Years of secrecy bind the tiny community of Gobbler's Knob together more than
the present inhabitants know, and the Plain folk who farm the land rarely interact with the fancy locals. So when Sadie is beguiled by a dark-haired English
boy, it is Sadie's younger sister, Leah, who suffers from her sister's shameful loss of innocence. And what of Leah's sweetheart, Jonas Mast, sent to Ohio
under the Bishop's command? Drawn into an incomprehensible pact with her older sister, Leah finds her dreams spinning out of control, even as she clings
desperately to the promises of God. The Covenant begins a powerful Lancaster portrait of the power of family and the miracle of hope.
If you had told me a few weeks ago that I would be drawn into a series about the Amish of Pennsylvania, I would have given you a strange look. the Amish
have always interested me, true enough, but the narration of the book really did me in. the narrator has the Amish accent down pat which made this book
a delight to read. They really took their time learning the dialect and I really love it when a narrator shows this kind of dedication to their work.
And I'm delighted to see the same narrator narrates the next book in the series so I look forward to the same great reading experience in the next book
in the series.View all my reviews >>