Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
the pass couple of months. End of summer overwhelm, one can take only so much
kids running through the house screaming with glee before one goes into the "I
can't wait until school starts" dementia. School started and then I had Carpal
Tunnel surgery, and weeks of no computer. I am trying to slowly pick up the
pieces, get motivated and back into routine.
I am starting a class for my publisher on how to plan and run a Virtual Book
Tour and will make an attempt at NANOWRIMO. You know write a novel in 30 days.
Plus the holidays. I went online yesterday and bought books for everyone on my
shopping list. So I can relax. Everyone will have at least 1 present.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
I like reading and writing reviews, but lately it has been taking up a lot of my writing time. So I decided to take a brake and focus just on my writing. I'll be back August 24th.
UPDATE AUGUST 25th
I am scheduled for Carpal Tunnel surgery in September, and won't be able to use my hand for several weeks. So I'll be back after October 10th.
Friday, July 10, 2009
By Vicki Delany
Enjoy history? Like a mystery? Gold Digger is an absolutely delightful historical
mystery. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time back in 1898, the Yukon Territory, in the rip roaring mining town of Dawson. A native born Californian, I was raised on stories of the 1849 Gold Rush and the founding of San Francisco, so reading about the last great Gold Rush had a lot of familiarity but the great Canada wilderness was an unique setting. Vicki Delany has made the town of Dawson and its inhabitants come alive with a vivid realism of a great historical, without making one feel like they are reading a travelogue or passages quoted from a dry history tome.
The story’s heroine, Fiona MacGillivray, is a woman of great courage and strength of will in a time when most women were thought of as no more than chattel. She owns a saloon, the Savoy, named after the fashionable London hotel. She is a woman of class and breeding, in a place where even a saloon owner can be considered respectable, if she acts as such. She has a 12 year old son Agnus, a smart inquisitive lad who hero worships the local Mountie, Constable Sterling, and wants to become a Mountie himself.
After surviving the arduous journey to get to the Klondike and the near starvation of the first winter, summer is extraordinary beautiful, with fields of glorious wild flowers, warm days, sapphire blue sky. Life is good in Dawson, the Savoy’s business is booming, until Jack Ireland arrives. A newspaper reporter from San Francisco, he immediately makes enemies and within 3 days is found dead, throat cut, on the stage of the Savoy. Was it the rival newspaper man? Or Fiona’s lead singer, Irene, whom Jack physically abused? Or Fiona’s partner, jealously protective of Irene? Or the good woman that Jack called a prostitute in his first story sent back to San Francisco? Or Fiona herself, whom Jack threatened to destroy for standing up for Irene and defending herself? Or someone else?
Not a particularly complex mystery, it is still satisfying all the way around. It works because of the well drawn characters and setting handled with a careful attention to detail.
In my opinion, Gold Digger really strikes gold!
I understand it is the start of a new series, and I look forward to once again visiting Dawson and its interesting and colorful inhabitants.
By Vicki Delany
an imprint of Napoleon & Company
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Perfect Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Napoleon & Company (May 8, 2009)
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
By Steven Rigolosi
Tales From the Back Page #3
You will either love or loath Robin Anders, the narrator of the story. A self absorbed New Yorker, an upper crust snob, well heeled and pampered, eccentric and out spoken. Whose overblown narrative will either entertain you immensely or drive you crazy.
I admit more to the “drive-you-crazy” side of the coin, especially when Robin absolutely refuses to see the series of bizarre accidents during a weekend house party as murder attempts. But no one could possibly attack such a beloved and saint-like personage as Robin.
After returning to New York, one of the house guests, Lee, a long time ex-lover and bitter rival, dies and Robin sets out to investigate the situation and recover a tortoise shell hairbrush that was the only thing that Lee bequeathed Robin in the will. But strange things keep happening.
For example as Robin waits to meet a friend on the Observation Deck of the Empire State Building
“And it was here that my sixth sense–that oracular ability that has sometimes descended upon me when I least expect it–kicked into overdrive. The air got thick and time froze as I sensed imminent danger. My adrenaline surged as I watched a tall masked personage pushing through the crowd toward me and Alex. Nothing about the scenario felt right; my very pores were tingling with dread. And as I caught my breath the masked marauder pulled out what appeared to be a small knife, which was then plunged into the back of the unsuspecting Alex as I used every bit of my catlike physical prowess to twist out of the way.”
Robin avoiding the questions and the lustful stares of New York’s finest, proceeds to leave the scene of the crime and repairs herself to a nearby restaurant and treats herself to a culinary repast prepared especially for her by a devoted chef and lubricated by several pomegranate margaritas.
Androgynous Murder House Party is a very convoluted mystery, with lots happening. It is one that you have to read every word, to the very end to figure out what is going on. Another element is the task the author has set for himself, not to reveal the gender of the characters. Deliberately using names that could be both female or male, Steven Rigolosi never uses a he or a she and that is very difficult as I discovered just trying to write this review to leave it ambiguous. I have my suspicions but I’m not 100% sure. It is up to each reader to decide if it is Ms Robin Anders or Mr..
I have never read a mystery quite like this one. Androgynous Murder House Party is uniquely different. While rather slow beginning, it culminates in a heap of cross and double cross. Justice is served but Robin Anders’ style. Like I said, I’ve never read a mystery like this one.
Reviewed by Linda Suzane June 24, 2009 www.midnightblood.com
Androgynous Murder House Party
Tales From the Back Page #3
By Steven Rigolosi
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Ransom Note Press (June 15, 2009)
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Your result for Which fantasy writer are you?...
Susan Cooper (b. 1935)
9 High-Brow, -23 Violent, -11 Experimental and -17 Cynical!
Congratulations! You are High-Brow, Peaceful, Traditional and Romantic! These concepts are defined below.
Though born in England, Susan Cooper currently lives in the United States. She is most well-known for her The Dark Is Rising sequence, which has received substantial critical acclaim, the second book (also called The Dark Is Rising) in the series winning a Newbury Honor and the fourth book (The Grey King) being awarded the Newbury Medal, one of the world's most prestigious awards for children's literature. The series is one of the finest examples of contemporary fantasy: the kind of fantasy where magic happens in an actually existing place. The Dark Is Rising is set in Britain, where two common themes of fantasy are combined; that of a magic world parallel to ours, which later became so popular with the Harry Potter books and that of ordinary British school-children playing a role in the struggle between Good and Evil, which had earlier been explored by C S Lewis.
Cooper manages to use the idiom of traditional children books to tell a tale of epic proportions, as evil beings from Celtic legends appear on Earth to do battle with the Old Ones, a secret society of people with magic powers. She is also able to combine this rather romantic vision with important messages, the compassion of one of the children being vital to the cause of Good at one point in the story. In Cooper's world, what you think and do matters on a grand scale, a message children and adults alike should take to their hearts.
You are also a lot like Ursula K Le Guin.
If you want some action, try China Miéville.
If you'd like a challenge, try your exact opposite, Lian Hearn.
This is how to interpret your score: Your attitudes have been measured on four different scales, called 1) High-Brow vs. Low-Brow, 2) Violent vs. Peaceful, 3) Experimental vs. Traditional and 4) Cynical vs. Romantic. Imagine that when you were born, you were in a state of innocence, a tabula rasa who would have scored zero on each scale. Since then, a number of circumstances (including genetical, cultural and environmental factors) have pushed you towards either end of these scales. If you're at 45 or -45 you would be almost entirely cynical, low-brow or whatever. The closer to zero you are, the less extreme your attitude. However, you should always be more of either (eg more romantic than cynical). Please note that even though High-Brow, Violent, Experimental and Cynical have positive numbers (1 through 45) and their opposites negative numbers (-1 through -45), this doesn't mean that either quality is better. All attitudes have their positive and negative sides, as explained below.
High-Brow vs. Low-Brow
You received 9 points, making you more High-Brow than Low-Brow. Being high-browed in this context refers to being more fascinated with the sort of art that critics and scholars tend to favour, rather than the best-selling kind. At their best, high-brows are cultured, able to appreciate the finer nuances of literature and not content with simplifications. At their worst they are, well, snobs.
Violent vs. Peaceful
You received -23 points, making you more Peaceful than Violent. This scale is a measurement of a) if you are tolerant to violence in fiction and b) whether you see violence as a means that can be used to achieve a good end. If you aren't, and you don't, then you are peaceful as defined here. At their best, peaceful people are the ones who encourage dialogue and understanding as a means of solving conflicts. At their worst, they are standing passively by as they or third parties are hurt by less scrupulous individuals.
Experimental vs. Traditional
You received -11 points, making you more Traditional than Experimental. Your position on this scale indicates if you're more likely to seek out the new and unexpected or if you are more comfortable with the familiar, especially in regards to culture. Note that traditional as defined here does not equal conservative, in the political sense. At their best, traditional people don't change winning concepts, favouring storytelling over empty poses. At their worst, they are somewhat narrow-minded.
Cynical vs. Romantic
You received -17 points, making you more Romantic than Cynical. Your position on this scale indicates if you are more likely to be wary, suspicious and skeptical to people around you and the world at large, or if you are more likely to believe in grand schemes, happy endings and the basic goodness of humankind. It is by far the most vaguely defined scale, which is why you'll find the sentence "you are also a lot like x" above. If you feel that your position on this scale is wrong, then you are probably more like author x. At their best, romantic people are optimistic, willing to work for a good cause and an inspiration to their peers. At their worst, they are easily fooled and too easily lead.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
WARNING: Do Not Read This Book, until you can read #10. This book has a real cliff hanging ending, leaving you craving another serving, and unfortunately it will be some time before THE GREEN MAN appears. According to the Laurie R. King website
http://www.laurierking.com/ Sometime in 2010.
But what about THE LANGUAGE OF BEES? It has been quite awhile since I read any Mary Russell. The last book LOCKED ROOMS was published in 2005. That is one thing that amazes me. How she can continue with such long breaks between stories, the problems of continuity are overwhelming. I am amazed that the story continues on so strongly, pulling you in, and wrapping you in the familiar.
Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes return home after almost a year away. They have traveled around the world solving crimes, some devastating to themselves personally and to their relationship. They come home rather wounded, to discover not the peace and haven they thought, but that Sherlock Holmes has a grown son, whose wife and daughter have gone missing. Their search for Yolanda and Estelle leaves them following a trail of bloody sacrifices and a religious madman. Can they decipher the clues and reach the trail’s end in time to save an innocent child from the sacrificial knife?
This book pulled me in. I couldn’t put it down, reading all day Sunday. Still not finished I did the unthinkable and skipped to the end. But it did allow me to go to bed and return to reading the next day. This time I read more slowly because I didn’t want to abandoned that world. I want to keep reading. Laurie R. King is such a great writer and her portrayals of Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes brilliant. But LANGUAGE OF BEES was like Star War’s “Empire Strikes Back”. While it comes to a satisfactory end, there is so much is left unanswered that I’m impatient for the next in the series. Probably to satisfy my hunger, I will have to go back and read the whole series from the beginning. Now that’s a good idea, each book is well worth reading again, and maybe by then the next book will be out.
Reviewed by Linda Suzane www.midnightblood.com June 16, 2009
The Language of Bees
by Laurie R. King
Publisher: Bantam Books
Pub. Date: April 2009
Series: Mary Russell Series, #9