Monday, 31 May 2010

Yotsuba&!

Today I want to draw your attention to what I think is the best Manga out there:

Yotsuba&!

Yotsuba&! is centered on Yotsuba Koiwai, a five-year-old girl who is energetic, cheerful, curious, odd, and quirky (so odd and quirky that even her own father calls her strange). She is also initially ignorant about many things a child her age would be expected to know, among them doorbells, escalators, air conditioners, and even playground swings. This naiveté is the premise of humorous stories where she learns about, and frequently misunderstands, everyday things. (Copied from wikipedia without any shame.)

The stories in itself are really cool and cute, but what really makes this Manga so amazing is Kiyohiko Azuma's drawing style. (I'm a big fan of his work and own his Azumanga Daioh series on DVD.) If you like cute Manga's you really should give this one a try.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

The Enchantment Emporium - Book Review


The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff

What is it about:
Alysha Gale is a member of a family capable of changing the world with the charms they cast. Then she receives word that she's inherited her grandmother's junk shop in Calgary, only to discover upon arriving that she'll be serving the fey community. And when Alysha learns just how much trouble is brewing in Calgary, even calling in the family to help may not be enough to save the day.

What did I think of it:
I'm in two minds about this book. It is well written, has a really cool story, remarkable characters and over all it is a fun read. Add some really cool dragons in the mix and you should think this book is a hit.

So why will this book not end up on my list of favourites?

It has to do with the Gale family: On the one hand they're one crazy, interesting bunch, on the other hand.... They were too close in my opinion. And when I mean close, I mean close in an icky way. Their interactions gave me an unpleasant feeling when reading about it. And if all the cousins interacting with each other wasn't enough, there's the double standards for bisexuals too. I must confess I like my pairings to be exclusive in any case, but it always irks me when a person can have both a male and female lover, but one of their lovers can't have an extra lover on the side. So all in all: I enjoyed the story, but did not enjoy the romantic entanglements in this book.

Why should you read it:
It is a very good story despite my points of critique.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Locus Focus - Chrestomanci Castle

Locus Focus is a meme hosted every Saturday by Enbrethiliel at Shredded Cheddar. "We all know of books that make their settings come alive, and this meme is a chance to write about them and share them with others." Visit her blog and link up!

Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favourite books, so my locus focus for today is about Chrestomanci Castle. I must warn that I have the Dutch translation of this book so some things might be named differently in the English version.

Chrestomanci Castle lies close to the town of Bravenbeck in a world closely resembling our own, but because there's magic the technology isn't as far evolved as it is here, so the world resembles our world as it was in the early 1900's.

Chrestomanci Castle is home of the suave and charming Chrestomanci who supervises the use of magic on Earth. I must confess Chrestomanci alone is reason enough why I love Chrestomanci Castle, but there's more to the Castle. Just look at the below picture! Who wouldn't love a house like that? It's got so many cool features, including a couple of small towers. Add to that the fact that all of the staff at the castle are witches and warlocks and such, there's a small dragon living at the castle and there's a teacher who can teach you magic as well. The castle also has a large garden with a closed off part where really old magic can be found. All in all I'd love to visit the castle if only it were possible!



Friday, 28 May 2010

Ride the Wind - Book Review


Ride the Wind by Lucia St. Clair Robson

What is it about:
In 1836, when she was nine years old, Cynthia Ann Parker was kidnapped by Comanche Indians. This is the story of how she grew up with them, mastered their ways, married one of their leaders, and became, in every way, a Comanche woman. It is also the story of a proud and innocent people whose lives pulsed with the very heartbeat of the land. It is the story of a way of life that is gone forever....

What did I think of it:
This story is based on true events. Cynthia Ann Parker really was kidnapped by Comanche and she did marry one of their leaders, allthough this story is romanticized a lot ofcourse. That being said: this is one of the best researched novels about Native American Indians I've read without it turning into a history lesson. It's a really gripping story and both beautiful and sad as it celebrates the Comanche way of live, but also tells about the downfall of these proud people. (I must add that I do not agree with the innocent part that's in the above description. Comanche didn't rule large parts of the plains and weren't hated by the Texans by being innocent I can tell you.) All in all a great read, although I must warn you that you shouldn't read this book if you're looking for a feel good story.

Why should you read it:
It's a powerful and interesting story about the Comanche

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Character Connection - Zombies


We all have characters we love. Let's spotlight these fantastic creations! Whether you want to be friends with them or you have a full-blown crush on them, you know you love them and want everyone else to love them too!

Character Connection host by
TheIntrovertedReader.blogspot.com

I think most of you were expecting this sooner or later:
My pick for this week is zombies!

I love zombies, but it have to be proper zombies. No intelligent zombies, who do not go on rampages, but instead fall in love and stuff for me! I want my zombies to be raving, flesh craving monsters who cause mayhem and chaos. I love to read a good zombie story where the hero has to fight for his/her life and where zombies are a serious threat for you health and brain. Give me a story like that and you've got one happy pig.



Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Zombies


What are those two zombies whispering about?
They just found out I've been interviewed about zombie books by vvB32. Keep an eye on vvB32 Reads as the interview will be up somewhere today!

And for those wondering about these zombies: The zombies are from the really cool Board Game 'All Wound Up'. It has wind up zombies who have to race each other across the graveyard!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Teaser Tuesdays - Spells of the City


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


Maera laughed. "It's ketchup, you moron!" The demon looked at me. "Is this your idea of a secret weapon?"

(page 222, Spells of the City (anthology) edited by Jean Rabe & Martin H. Greenberg, from the story Disarmed and Dangerous by Tim Waggoner.)

Monday, 24 May 2010

Greywalker - Book Review


Greywalker by Kat Richardson

What is it about:
PI Harper Blaine sees a strange shift in clientele in Richardson's dizzy urban fantasy debut. After being dead for two minutes as a result of a clobbering by an angry perp, Harper discovers icky side effects complicate her Seattle life in unexpected ways—she sees ghosts and attracts otherworldly business as she pops in and out of a shadowy overlapping world. Harper seeks the assistance of Ben Danziger, self-proclaimed "ghost guy" and linguistics professor, and his wife, Mara, a witty Irish witch. They educate Harper on the Grey, "a place between our world and the next." Harper tries to maintain a normal life, dating a sexy antiques expert while battling wits with Seattle's vampire king, but being a Greywalker means she can only "pass for human."

What did I think of it:
This book had lots of potential, but didn't deliver. The writing was good, the story idea was good, but the characters were a bit one dimensional and the story fell flat. There were a couple of storylines that didn't seem to be connected and the story felt kind of 'wobbly' because of that. And when the storylines finally did meet it didn't feel natural, but more like a convenient solution to wrap things up. Besides that this book had a romantic storyline that was both unnecessary and bland. Harper had more connection with one of the other characters than with her love interest in my opinion.

And one advice to all the Urban Fantasy writers out there:
If you do not like Goths and/or Roleplayers, please do not write about them if you can't leave your dislike out of it. Goths and Roleplayers are part of your reader group and believe me: Nothing is as off putting as an author doing a bit of Goth or Roleplayer bashing.

Why should you read it:
The idea of the Grey is really cool I must say.


Sunday, 23 May 2010

Locus Focus - the 100 Acre Wood


Locus Focus is a meme hosted every Saturday by Enbrethiliel at Shredded Cheddar. "We all know of books that make their settings come alive, and this meme is a chance to write about them and share them with others." Visit her blog and link up!

I'm a day late as I was away on a trip yesterday, but here's my Locus Focus for this week:

the 100 Acre Wood from A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh.

I love Winnie-the-Pooh and not only because Winnie's best friend is a pig. In Milne's stories the 100 Acre wood sounds like such a magical place. A place where anything can happen.

I'd love to visit 100 Acre Wood and have a picnic with Piglet, play a game of Pooh-sticks with Pooh, hear Owl spouting dubious wisdoms, listen to Eyeore's laments, hunt woozles or just take a nice stroll through the beautiful forest.

It seems the last part of my wish could become true as 100 Acre Wood was based on Ashdown Forest, Sussex, England.

"The forest is a large area of tranquil open heathland on the highest sandy ridges of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty situated 30 miles (50 km) south of London."

The landscapes depicted in E.H. Shepard’s illustrations for the Winnie-the-Pooh books are directly inspired by the distinctive landscape of Ashdown Forest, with its high, open heathlands of heather, gorse, bracken and silver birch punctuated by hilltop clumps of pine trees.


Hmmm... So I might visit Ashdown Forest some day, but somehow I do not think it will be that magical place I see in my mind's eye when reading about all the adventures of Pooh and his friends.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Curse the Dawn - Book Review

Curse the Dawn (A Cassie Palmer Novel) by Karen Chance

What is it about:
Cassie Palmer may be the world’s chief clairvoyant, but that doesn’t mean people have stopped trying to kill her. And now, the self-styled god Apollo, the source of Cassie’s power, is on the warpath—leaving her no choice but to face down her creator once and for all.

What did I think of it:
Living in a country where English books can be found in the foreign language section it's sometimes hard to get hold of the first book in a series and that's why I started this series at book four. And to my surprise I loved it and didn't even get frustrated because I hadn't read the previous books! I could tell a lot of things had happened before this book, but not in a way that I felt I missed out on understanding things in this book. Chance's writing style is very pleasant and funny at times and Cassie is a cool character although I must confess Pritkin (a war mage) and Mircea (a vampire) were my favouites. There was non stop action for most part of the book and it was well written and cool action at that! I can tell you this book got me hooked on this series and I hope to get hold of the first three books soon.

Why should you read it:
It's fast paced, hang on for the wild ride Urban Fantasy!



Thursday, 20 May 2010

Character Connection - Mercy Thompson


We all have characters we love. Let's spotlight these fantastic creations! Whether you want to be friends with them or you have a full-blown crush on them, you know you love them and want everyone else to love them too!

Character Connection host by
TheIntrovertedReader.blogspot.com

So, after all my reviews of the Mercy Thompson series you might have guessed I love Mercy Thompson!

What is it about her that I love?
For one I love the fact she's part Native American and that she's a shifter who can change into a coyote because of those Native American roots. I also like how she's this fierce, really strong, capable woman, who doesn't need a man to save her, but at the same time she's also caring, vulnerable and has her flaws. So often strong women in Urban Fantasy are depicted as indestructible, bitchy, ball busting shrews - at least that's how I see some of them when reading about them - but Mercy isn't like that luckily while still being able to fend for herself. All in all she's a character you can cheer on when she's kicking ass, feel sorry for when life is treating her bad and rejoice for her when something good comes her way.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

To Spoil the Sun - Book Review

*
To Spoil the Sun by Joyce Rockwood

What is it about:
It is the sixteenth century and Rain Dove, a young Cherokee girl, lives in Mulberry Town. If things continue the way they always have, she can look forward to choosing a husband (her grandmother advises picking a young warrior) and raising a family. But after smallpox strikes, life for the people of the Seven Clans will never be the same.

What did I think of it:
This is a beautiful and sad story. It's a YA novel, but I can certainly recommend it to adults too. Rain Dove is a likable character who struggles with making the right choices and failing at that from time to time. The threat of doom to come hangs over the entire story, but in such a way it makes you want to read on and hope there will be some happiness for all those involved in Rain Dove's life.

Why should you read it:
It's a beautiful, well written historical. It might be hard to find as it's not in print anymore as far as I know, but well worth the read.

*The picture shows the Dutch version of this book

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Teaser Tuesdays - Curse the Dawn

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


I blinked at him. "I must have heard wrong. You remained behind to rescue humans?" He grinned behind his goatee. "Well, one anyway."
(page 103, Curse the Dawn (a Cassie Palmer Novel) by Karen Chance)

Monday, 17 May 2010

Silver Borne - Book Review

Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs

What is it about:
When mechanic and shapeshifter Mercy Thompson attempts to return a powerful Fae book she'd previously borrowed in an act of desperation, she finds the bookstore locked up and closed down.
It seems the book contains secret knowledge-and the Fae will do just about anything to keep it out of the wrong hands. And if that doesn't take enough of Mercy's attention, her friend Samuel is struggling with his wolf side-leaving Mercy to cover for him, lest his own father declare Sam's life forfeit.
All in all, Mercy has had better days. And if she isn't careful, she might not have many more to live...


What did I think of it:
The werewolves and fae are back with a vengeance in this fifth installment and how! I loved this book, it had all the things that make the Mercy Thompson series such a treat: werewolves, fae, sneaky intrigue and Mercy kicking ass! The one thing I can say against this story is that at some point there was something introduced quite out of the blue, which could easily have been mentioned at in earlier books so it would have felt more natural than it did now. (Wow, that sounds vague, but I'm afraid to be too spoilery if I try to be less vague.) All in all I'm eager for more Mercy, but I'll have to wait a while for book 6.

Why should you read it:
What? You're telling me you still haven't started on this series? ;-)

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Another Award!

I got the Prolifilic Blogger Award from Stella at Ex Libris.
Thanks Stella!

"A prolific blogger is one who is intellectually productive, keeping up an active blog with enjoyable content. After accepting this award recipients are asked to pass if forward to seven other deserving blogs."

Hmmm... Now let me think.
I'm so bad at picking people to pass awards on to, so I'll just give some love to a couple of blogs I really enjoy:

- Diary of an Eccentric
Anna manages to get me interested in books I would pass over in the store if not for her reviews.

- Fishmuffins of Doom
Titania shares my love of zombies!

- Shredded Cheddar
I always love reading Enbrethiliel's posts, be it about movies, books or other stuff.

- vvb32 reads
A fellow lover of Steampunk and Zombies

- Fantasy & SciFi Lovin' News & Reviews
This blog always manages to give me my much needed dose of fantasy and sci-fi

Now don't be offended if I didn't name you! I can tell you all that if I take the time to leave a comment on your blog or if I decide to follow it, it means I enjoy your blog.

As for the blogs I just named: If you want you can claim the award and pass it on, but there's absolutely no obligation.

Bone Crossed - Book Review

Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs

What is it about:
Healing in body and spirit after the events of Iron Kissed, Mercy is exploring her relationship with alpha werewolf Adam Hauptman when an old friend asks her to help fend off a nasty ghost. It's a good time for Mercy to leave Portland, Ore.: vampire queen Marsilia is after her and her vampire friend Stefan for successfully hunting down a monster that should have killed them. Mercy leaves Adam to negotiate peace with Marsilia and heads to Spokane, Wash., to investigate the ghost, an unexpectedly complicated task.

What did I think of it:
I've yet to read a bad Mercy Thompson story by Briggs, but still this book was my least favourite sofar. It's mainly a vampire book, so that might have to do with it: I missed the werewolves and fae. And truth be told, the story felt a bit stilted compared to the other books. This might have to do with the explosion of emotions that was 'Iron Kissed', but still even upon re-reading 'Bone Crossed' a couple of month later so to not let 'Iron Kissed' influence it too much I kept feeling it could have been more. All in all it's a very nice read, but it missed some of the heart that was in the other books.

Why should you read it:
Even though it's the lesser of the 5 books, it's still better than a lot of other UF books!

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Locus Focus - R'lyeh

Locus Focus is a new meme hosted every Saturday by Enbrethiliel at Shredded Cheddar. "We all know of books that make their settings come alive, and this meme is a chance to write about them and share them with others." Visit her blog and link up!

My first Locus Focus is about H.P. Lovecraft's R'lyeh, the sunken city where the Great Old One Cthulhu sleeps. I chose this location as it sounds so mysterious, creepy and cool in the story 'The Call of Cthulhu'. It's this weird, twisted, alien place, something from another world and it has the biggest baddie of them all sleeping there: Cthulhu. Just seeing this huge, scary, squidlike creature drives you insane. Now if that isn't a cool place!

Some bits about R'lyeh taken from the story 'The Call of Cthulhu':

The nightmare corpse-city of R'lyeh... was built in measureless eons behind history by the vast, loathsome shapes that seeped down from the dark stars. There lay great Cthulhu and his hordes, hidden in green slimy vaults.

Without knowing what futurism is like, Johansen achieved something very close to it when he spoke of the city; for instead of describing any definite structure or building, he dwells only on broad impressions of vast angles and stone surfaces - surfaces too great to belong to anything right or proper for this earth, and impious with horrible images and hieroglyphs.

Johansen and his men landed at a sloping mud-bank on this monstrous Acropolis, and clambered slipperily up over titan oozy blocks which could have been no mortal staircase. The very sun of heaven seemed distorted when viewed through the polarising miasma welling out from this sea-soaked perversion, and twisted menace and suspense lurked leeringly in those crazily elusive angles of carven rock where a second glance shewed concavity after the first shewed convexity.

As Wilcox would have said, the geometry of the place was all wrong. One could not be sure that the sea and the ground were horizontal, hence the relative position of everything else seemed phantasmally variable.


Both Cthulhu and R'lyeh have been used after Lovecraft created them by many other writers and cartoonists and I just had to show this comic made by Goomi. (Click the picture for a bigger view.)

And leaving you all with this picture of The Great Plush Cthulhu and his minions.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Iron Kissed - Book Review

Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs

What is it about:
Shape-shifter Mercy Thompson has a complex life, juggling two werewolf lovers and a job working for a fae mechanic; things get even more hectic when her boss and mentor is arrested for killing a citizen of the fae reservation. As the fae seem content to let him rot, Thompson takes it on herself to clear her friend's name, beginning a lone-wolf investigation that may cost her life.

What did I think of it:
Where 'Moon Called' was primarily a Werewolf book and 'Blood Bound' a Vampire book, book three in the Mercy Thompson series 'Iron Kissed' is a Fae book. And how! I really liked Mercy's mentor Zee from the start of the series, but in 'Iron Kissed' my liking grew into love! And the other Fae: Wow! They are one freaky bunch. No cleaned up, pretty and sweet faeries in this book: Briggs did her homework on the Fae and writes them as they are in the old stories. I must say that from the five Mercy Thompson books sofar this one is my favourite, it's suspenseful and disturbing, but beautiful. I must warn you that the disturbing part of the story is of the kind that some people were really shocked and put off by it, but I myself thought it fit very well into the story and though disturbing really added to it.

Why should you read it:
I should hope that by now you started on 'Moon Called' so I don't need to tell you what a great Urban Fantasy series this is.


Thursday, 13 May 2010

Blood Bound - Book Review

Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs

What is it about:
Jalopy mechanic Mercedes Thompson may not be a were-creature, ruled by phases of the moon, but she can change into a coyote whenever she wants to. Because she owes him a favor, Mercedes agrees to back up vampire friend Stefan when he confronts another of his kind. But, being demon-possessed, that vampire proves deadlier than most. Before she can so much as bark, Mercedes is up to her ears in vampires fighting vampires, werewolves fighting vampires, and humans in the middle. She aims to off the demon-possessed vampire before any more killings, but she can't count on everyone who ought to be her ally because the local top vampire has schemes of her own.

What did I think of it:
I absolutely LOVE the Mercy Thompson series I can tell you and I really loved this book. Still I loved the first book 'Moon Called' more than this book, which is probably because if you make me chose I pick werewolves over vampires when it comes to Urban Fantasy and 'Moon Called' is a werewolf book while 'Blood Bound' is a vampire book. That said this books is really cool and Briggs vampires are great! They're nasty and scheming, just like a good vampire should be in my opinion (no glittery vamps for me). The main characters who were introduced in 'Moon Called' got even more depth in this book and my attachment to Mercy and interest in her well being grew. 'Moon Called' got me hooked on this series and 'Blood Bound' confirmed I made the right choice in investing further in this series.

Why should you read it:
Nasty, scheming vampires, a coyote shapeshifter, werewolves... What more could you want?!

Character Connection - Oscar Wilde


We all have characters we love. Let's spotlight these fantastic creations! Whether you want to be friends with them or you have a full-blown crush on them, you know you love them and want everyone else to love them too!

Character Connection host by
TheIntrovertedReader.blogspot.com

I can here people thinking: 'Oscar Wilde? But he's an author not a character!'

I can tell you he is a character too! He's starring in his very own murder mysteries series: The Oscar Wilde Mysteries by Gyles Brandreth.

Gyles Brandreth managed to capture Oscar Wilde's personality as I've always imagined it must be from reading his books, plays and poems. Wilde comes across as a witty, intelligent and energetic man who loves live, but still has a cloud of melancholy hanging over him. But I must confess that when you read about an actual person it's inevitable that your perception of the character is coloured by what you know about the person. All in all I think Oscar Wilde was a very intriguing and talented man and this series does him honour.

So I'll leave you all with one of his beautiful poems:

THE DOLE OF THE KING'S DAUGHTER

by: Oscar Wilde

SEVEN stars in the still water,
And seven in the sky;
Seven sins on the King's daughter,
Deep in her soul to lie.

Red roses at her feet,
(Roses are red in her red-gold hair)
And O where her bosom and girdle meet
Red roses are hidden there.

Fair is the knight who lieth slain
Amid the rush and reed,
See the lean fishes that are fain
Upon dead men to feed.

Sweet is the page that lieth there,
(Cloth of gold is goodly prey,)
See the black ravens in the air,
Black, O black as the night are they.

What do they there so stark and dead?
(There is blood upon her hand)
Why are the lilies flecked with red?
(There is blood on the river sand.)

There are two that ride from the south to the east,
And two from the north and west,
For the black raven a goodly feast,
For the King's daughter to rest.

There is one man who loves her true,
(Red, O red, is the stain of gore!)
He hath duggen a grave by the darksome yew,
(One grave will do for four.)

No moon in the still heaven,
In the black water none,
The sins on her soul are seven,
The sin upon his is one.


Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Awesome contest at Wicked Jungle



International!!

Spellbent - Book Review

Spellbent by Lucy A. Snyder

What is it about:
When an innocent spell somehow opens a portal to Hell, young mage Jessie Shimmer manages to kill the demon about to stomp on downtown Columbus, Ohio, but she loses an eye, a hand, and her lover and mentor, Cooper. Benedict Jordan, ruling mage for the area, forbids any attempts to find Cooper, who may still be alive in Hell, and strips Jessie of her resources. With little more than her ferret familiar, her magic, and the help of Cooper's smart-ass half-brother, Jessie must rescue Cooper and uncover Benedict's motives.

What did I think of it:
I loved this book. Jessie is one kickass heroine and I got sucked into the story right from the start and couldn't put the book down before I finished it. I must say that if you really look closely at the story at times there's not much happening besides Jessie trying to figure out what to do next, but still it feels really fastpaced and action packed which I think is an amazing feat. The one thing I can say against this story is that Cooper disappears quite early in the story, before I could really get a feel of Jessie's relationship with him. I'd have loved to read a bit more about the two of them together and just about Cooper. But there's going to be a sequel to this book in Oktober (Shotgun Sorceress) so I might get my wish.

Why should you read it:
If you like Urban Fantasy which features a no nonsense heroine this is your book!

Awards

I got two awards that I want to share here:

Well, this one speaks for itself. I got it from vvB32.
And to follow her example I'm giving this award to all my followers. You guys/girls are great and you make blogging even more fun.
And thanks vvB32 for this award!

This Award I got from Jen G. from The Introverted Reader. Thanks Jen G.
Along with posting this award I'm supposed to tell you seven things about myself.

Here goes:
1 - I love watching scary movies
2 - I have four brothers. One of them is my twin brother
3 - Although I have family in Canada and the US I've never been outside of the Netherlands
4 - Zombies are my favourite kind of monster (Bet you didnt know that :-P )
5 - My favourite movie is Black Sheep
6 - I love chinese food
7 - I'm always having difficulty finding a last interesting thing when making lists like this

And I'm giving this award to anyone of my followers who feels creative.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Teaser Tuesdays - Spellbent

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


"'Mister Weezypants'?" Pal said as the door swung shut. "You shouldn't provoke people like that. And you should have erased her memory."
(page 153, Spellbent by Lucy A. Snyder)

Monday, 10 May 2010

The Moth Diaries - Book Review

The Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein

What is it about:
At an exclusive girls' boarding school, a sixteen-year-old girl records her most intimate thoughts in a diary. The object of her growing obsession is her roommate, Lucy Blake, and Lucy's friendship with their new and disturbing classmate. Ernessa is an enigmatic, moody presence with pale skin and hypnotic eyes.
Around her swirl dark rumors, suspicions, and secrets as well as a series of ominous disasters. As fear spreads through the school and Lucy isn't Lucy anymore, fantasy and reality mingle until what is true and what is dreamed bleed together into a waking nightmare that evokes with gothic menace the anxieties, lusts, and fears of adolescence. And at the center of the diary is the question that haunts all who read it: Is Ernessa really a vampire? Or has the narrator trapped herself in the fevered world of her own imagining?


What did I think of it:
This story has lots of promise, but doesn't deliver. It starts out nice, with a slow build up to the point that the lead character starts to think Ernessa is a vampire, but when that point is reached the story falls flat and drags itself towards the end. The lead character also wasn't believable to me. One minute she spouts wisdoms that would fit someone with lots more experience and the next minute she talks like a spoilt brat. I also think this story would have worked better if it wasn't written in diary-style, although I should probably give the author credit for that: it truely felt like reading a diary, but in this case that isn't a good thing.

Why should you read it:
I will confess I have little patience with teen dramatics, so I might judge this book too hard, so if the story sounds like something you might like, pick this book up and lets see if you agree with me or not.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Jovah's Angel - Book Review

Jovah's Angel by Sharon Shinn

What is it about:
This is a standalone sequel to Archangel, set 150 years later in proverbially interesting times. Samaria is industrialized; the Manadavvi and Jansai are wealthier; the Edori are marginalized, their roaming lifestyle disrupted; and Jovah seems to be turning a deaf ear to his angels' prayers for abatement of increasingly destructive storms. In the midst of all this, Archangel Delilah is incapacitated and replaced by shy, unworldly Alleluia. Alleya must pacify the tribes, calm the weather, make Jovah hear her, forge a reconciliation with Delilah, and find her angelico in order to get married--there's a Gloria due in four months. Unfortunately, the tribes don't want to be pacified, the weather is uncooperative, Jovah is remote, crippled Delilah wants nothing to do with angels, and Alleya's mate is identified only as a "son of Jeremiah".

What did I think of it:
After yesterday's Jenna Starborn I though I'd tell about what I think is Shinn's best book. Jovah's Angel has it all: a well written, thought provoking story, a believable, intriguing setting and great characters. Although this is the second book in a trilogy, I would recommend reading this one first as the cover blurb of the first book 'Archangel' spoils a lot of the fun of this book. Although the above story focuses on Alleluia/Alleya, one of the other lead characters is Caleb, a cynical inventor and he was my hero I must confess! The story switches viewpoints between these two characters, following a couple of storylines which eventually come together and while I usually don't like this as I often find one of the viewpoints not as interesting as the other, Shinn actually succeeds in making all storylines equally interesting and compelling. After finishing this book I immediately ran out to order the other books set in Samaria!

Why should you read it:
This is a great, well written fantasy story set in a world with a biblical feel.

All the books by Shinn set in Samaria:
Archangel
Jovah's Angel
The Alleluia files
Angelica
Angel-Seeker
*Fallen Angel
*(this story can be found in the anthology 'To Weave a Web of Magic')

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Jenna Starborn - Book Review

An oldie today:

Jenna Starborn by Sharon Shinn

What is it about:
Conceived in the gen-tanks on the planet Baldus and rejected by the woman who commissioned her birth, Jenna Starborn finds a career as a nuclear generator technician on the inhospitable planet Fieldstar. At the estate of Thorrastone Park, Jenna finds solace and friendship in the household's staff; she also succumbs to a forbidden attraction to the mysterious master of the house, Everett Ravenbeck, and finds her life changed forever.

What did I think of it:
This is a Scifi retelling of Jane Eyre, with Jane pushed to the background to give the centerstage to Jenna. I myself really liked it, even though it felt like a lovesick teenager wrote herself into her favourite romance, which I think is odd as Shinn is a very talented writer and doesn't need to stoop to writing fanfiction. It has all the things that make Jane Eyre a good story and adds cyborgs, spaceships and other scifi stuff to it. This story isn't a mash-up like 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies'. Shinn wrote the whole book herself, not using text from the original story and therefor it's a much better book than any of the recent mash-ups which often turn out awkward in my opinion.

Why should you read it:
If you like Jane Eyre and you like Scifi this might be your book.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Changeless - Book Review

Changeless by Gail Carriger

What is it about:
Alexia Tarabotti, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears - leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.
But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. Even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can.
She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.


What did I think about it:
Just as 'Soulless' (The first book in this series) this book was witty and well written, with a great story and the mix of Victorian setting with Steampunk elements was just right. Still although I really like it I didn't love it as much as 'Soulless'. For one thing I got the feeling Alexia had turned from the slightly cynical, but loveable heroine she was in Soulless into a bit of a nag. I also thought Carriger took a step away from her characters, leaving them emotionally closed off and flatter than they were in the previous book. And the ending.... Without being too spoilery: Let's just say Carriger has lots of work to do in the next book 'Blameless' to get me happy again.

Why should you read it:
My points of critique aside this is a very good Steampunk story!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

The Sweet Scent of Blood - Book Review

The Sweet Scent of Blood by Suzanne McLeod

What is it about:
'My name is Genny Taylor. I work for Spellcrackers.com. It’s a great job, pays the rent, lets me do the thing I’m good at – finding magic and cracking it – and the bonus is it’s run by witches, which stops the vamps from taking a bite out of me. Not that vampires are the big bad any more, not since they launched a slick PR campaign – ­ oh, and they brought the goblins on board. Now the vamps are sought-after celebrities, and Getting Fanged and taking the Gift are the new height of all things cool.

But only if you’re human.
And I’m not.
I’m Sidhe fae.
And I know firsthand just how deadly a vampire can be.’

When Mr October, a sexy calendar pin-up vamp, is accused of murdering his girlfriend, an old debt is called in and Genny is forced to help prove his innocence, risking her job and the protection it offers – and threatening to expose her own dark secrets. Searching for the killer plunges Genny deep into the hidden heart of vampire society. It’s not long before she realises that she and Mr October are both unwitting pawns in a centuries-old power struggle between London’s non-human communities . . . and it’s not just her own neck that’s at stake, but the lives of all London’s supernaturals.


What did I think about it:
Quite a decent story. I liked the world building and the characters. I did feel though that McLeod tried to add too much different characters and factions to the story, which made the story feel 'crowded' from time to time and I couldn't help feeling the story could have flowed better if she had dropped some of the characters. And then there was a character that I had wanted to know more about, but who was carelessly abandoned along the way. But those things aside the story and the setting are very intriguing and I will surely pick up the next book in this series to see how McLeod developes this series further.

Why should you read it:
If you like vampires, magic and intrigue I think you'll enjoy this story.

Character Connection

We all have characters we love. Let's spotlight these fantastic creations! Whether you want to be friends with them or you have a full-blown crush on them, you know you love them and want everyone else to love them too!

Character Connection host by
TheIntrovertedReader.blogspot.com

Picture by Brom

Todays pick for character connection are the Poppy Warriors from 'Rebel Angels' by Libba Bray. The above picture isn't a Poppy Warrior, but the closest I could find.

Why do I love the Poppy Warriors? They're so cool!! I'll post the description from the book:

"They step from the shadows, half a dozen or so of the most grotesque creatures I have ever seen. Dressed to the very last one in tattered, filthy white robes over ancient chain mail and sharp, steel-toed boots. Some have long, matted hair that trails over their shoulders. Others have shaved their heads bald, the cuts still fresh and bloody. One fearsome soul has but one long strip of hair in the center of his head, running from forehead to collar. His arms are ringed in bangles, and about his neck is a necklace made of finger bones.
....
I am afraid to look at the man in front of me, but at last I do, into eyes that are rimmed by black kohl in a diamond shape. it is like looking into a living Harlequin mask."


I can honestly say I loved the Poppy Warriors right from the start. They're cool, scary and insane. The prefect bad guys! For those who are roleplay and wargame geeks like me: The Poppy Warriors are a nice mix of Malkavian and Harlequin.
Sadly enough their role in the book is much too short!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Interview with Author Laura Bickle


After reading Embers by Laura Bickle I really wanted to know more about Sparky (Anya’s familiar), the next book in this series and about Dark Oracle, a book that Laura Bickle wrote under the name Alayna Williams. I asked Laura Bickle if she would agree to an interview and I’m delighted to tell you all she agreed!

I’m thrilled to be here! Thanks so much for having me. I’ve included a photo of my plush salamanders, for the pigs’ amusement!


Laura, thanks for coming and welcome to Pearls Cast before a McPig. And thanks for the really great picture of your salamanders! It’s always good to see other plush animals having fun. Now let me start with the first question.

Sparky is an amazing character. He’s cool, mischievous and fun. Oh, and Voodoo Bride says to tell you she thinks he’s really cute too. How did you come up with him?


I wanted to write about fire salamanders, since they really haven’t gotten much press since Paracelsus’ time. I thought that a fire salamander would be a somewhat unusual familiar, since Paracelsus and other ancient philosophers thought fire elementals were too fickle to keep as familiars.

Sparky is a composite of all the pets I’ve ever owned. None of my pets have been particularly well-behaved (some have been pretty feral), and Sparky is the result.


Any chance Sparky will meet any other familiars in upcoming books? (Pigs would make very good familiars for those dabbling with earth magic and we can find truffles. Just saying)

I’d never thought about pigs as earth familiars – excellent idea! I think that pigs and salamanders would get along famously. Salamanders love cats and dogs, after all. Pigs would be special.

Wow, thanks. I think pigs are special too, but all the other animals here disagree.
Talking about upcoming books. Will there be more books after Sparks?


I would love to do more books after Sparks. But, like any other series, I think that’s probably dependent upon how well EMBERS and SPARKS sell.

There are more critters in SPARKS. In SPARKS, Anya’s investigating a rash of spontaneous human combustion cases. With the help of the ghost hunters and a soul collector from the Underworld, she must track down the supernatural source of the fires…and keep Sparky’s newly-hatched newts safe from a malicious celebrity psychic.

Sparky is guarding a nest of newts hatching in Anya’s bathtub. There are more than thirty of the little guys, and Anya definitely has her hands full.


More than thirty newts? Sounds like there’s going to be a lot of Sparky related action in the book! I’m looking forward to reading it even more now.

*
On to the next question:
Anya sees ghosts and works together with a team of ghost hunters. So far she has encountered not only ghosts, but also some other creatures. Can we expect zombies to show up? Those aren’t too far removed from ghosts in my opinion. I’d love to see Sparky kick some zombie ass.


No plans for zombies. Yet. Though I agree that would be most excellent. I really enjoyed Zombieland, but it seems as if the best zombie ideas are already taken.

Hmmm…how about zombie pigs? Zombie pig familiars?


Now that sounds like a great idea! Who wouldn’t want to read about Zombie pig familiars. I think you should start writing before someone else steals this brilliant idea.

On to Dark Oracle. Tara is a(n ex) criminal profiler who uses tarot cards in her investigations. I must say that sounds really cool, I love the symbolism used in tarot. How did you come up with the idea and do you use tarot cards in your daily life?


I do use Tarot cards in my daily life. Like you, I love the symbolism and the story of the hero’s journey told in the cards. I literally wrote that book with a deck of cards in hand as story prompts.

Tara was inspired by the Queen of Swords. That card kept coming up for me, and I felt that it was time to write about her. I made her a criminal profiler, because of my own background in criminology.


From what I read about Dark Oracle it’s also Urban Fantasy. Will we encounter magical/supernatural creatures or does it focus more on supernatural/magic powers alone?

Yes, DARK ORACLE is also urban fantasy. It focuses primarily on supernatural and magic powers…no creatures, really. The series focuses on an order of oracles who have existed since the time of the Oracle of Delphi, called Delphi’s Daughters. Tara used to be one of them, but has struck out on her own. A lot of her personal conflicts deal with her estrangement from them and from herself.

DARK ORACLE deals with magic, but it also deals with science. Tara has to help find a missing scientist who’s unlocked the secrets of dark energy. I try to balance the magic and science, throw in a dollop of conspiracy, and stir well.


Voodoo Bride wants to know if there’s any romance in Dark Oracle.

There is more romance in DARK ORACLE. Tara is drawn out of her self-imposed exile by an intense federal agent, Harry Li. In her Tarot readings, he is her Knight of Pentacles. I hope that Voodoo Bride will be pleased.

Sounds like I’ll have to fight her for who gets to read the book first.

If you had to pick a tarot card for Anya, Sparky or Tara, which card would you pick for them (and why)?


Great question! Anya would probably be best represented by Strength. Strength shows a woman holding the jaws of a lion closed, which represents mastery over the beasts within oneself. Anya has to struggle with her dark side, and this card represents that conflict well.

*

Sparky is the Knight of Wands. His card would belong to the suit of Wands, since they traditionally represent the element of fire. Sparky is full of restless energy, always on the move. Like the Knight of Wands, he can be volatile and unpredictable.

*

Tara would be the Queen of Swords. She’s very much the Ice Queen, exiled from the world and attempting to understand it with both intuition and logic. She was scarred for life by a serial killer, and that’s left her with a great deal of sorrow that I see in that card.

*

Wow, some impressive picks. Thanks for this extra insight in your characters.

And now for the last question:
Do you have any other series planned besides these two series?


I have an epic fantasy that I’m shopping around. No word on that one yet, but you’ll be the first to know if it finds a home!

I hope you get people interested. If it is as well written as Embers I for one would love to read it. Thanks again for dropping by and for answering my questions. I’m looking forward to reading both Sparks and Dark Oracle.

Thanks so much for having me over to chat!

For those who haven’t read Embers yet: Be sure to pick it up and read it. It’s really cool!

Sparks will be available in August and Dark Oracle around the 25th of May according to amazon.com


*the Tarot cards in the pictures are from the 'Mage: the Ascension Tarot' which has different names for the suits even though they mean the same as the normal tarot, but the cards shown are (as you might have guessed):
Knight of Swords
Strenght
Knight of Wands
Queen of Swords