Monday, September 29, 2014

Latest Mercy Book
Night Broken, Patricia Briggs
***I love Mercy Thompson novels.
I love this Mercy Thompson novel (#8).
I love Mercy...
  • A married heroine?  A happily married heroine?  With a step-daughter, even?  And her own business?  And magic?  YES FREAKIN' PLEASE.  When I settle back into a Mercy novel I always feel so happy to have escaped the teens for a while.
  • And yet I don't find Briggs' novels offend my tastes the way adult fantasy novels are prone to do.  
  • Although...there is some sensuality in this novel.  I think it is pretty tasteful (and it's always between a married couple). 
  • The conversations are so well-written.
  • All characters matter.
  • History and research enrich and lend authenticity to the narrative.
  • As usual, the novel is a self-contained story (well, series of inter-woven stories), although there are references to things that have gone before, and I would always recommend reading them from 1-8...because why wouldn't you?  See ***.  I envy you if you have all those to look forward to.  (I thought Books 1 and 2 were good, but I think it was at Book 3 that I knew I was seriously invested in the characters and would read every book Briggs' wrote in this world).
I was sorry when it was over.

For: Fans of Urban the very least.

One/two-liner summaries of Books 1-7 here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Book about Teenage Surrogates
The Jewel, Amy Ewing
I am glad I read this book.  I am sorry for some choices that have been made in its execution, but this particular niche of SF is one of my pet interests, and so I felt I needed to read it.

Things that excited me about this book:
  • The treatment of fertility as an issue in the future;
  • The intermingling of sci fi and fantasy;
  • The consistent use of clean language;
  • The development of intrigue; and
  • The villains.  Unfortunately, moreso than the heroine...whom I didn't dislike, but I just wasn't as fascinated by her as I was her owner -- gimme a book on this "baddie," man, she is really interesting!  On this: the back cover suggests you are in for black and whites / straight-cut good versus evil, but I found there are a lot of greys, and I like grey.
I would have liked...
  • ...a different narrative device.  The first-person POV didn't work for me, and I felt it limited my engagement with the other characters.
  • read more "snide comments hidden under the guise of politeness" (as promised, on page 351).  We are told this is going down, but having read 350 pages before this -- pages speckled with hollow dialogue lacking such undertones -- I felt robbed to not be a part of reading it.  One of the things that is downright delightful about royals, the court, and the upper class, is the zingers embedded in pleasantry!  I get breathless with thrill reading scenes where I believe the elite have little else to do all day but hone their wit and duplicity.  I didn't find this in The Jewel, and I missed it.  
  • like the love story.  Brace yourself for the most insta of the insta-loves, peop's.
  • ...some fresher physical descriptions of people to match the strong location-building prose.
Other things I want to say:
  • Yes, it reminded me of The Selection and A Handmaid's Tale, but I think it is unfair to claim it is simply an inferior copy.  The Jewel is a different story, in its own right...although it may lack the sophistication I hoped for.  (The Selection is about many women competing for one man, fertility is not an issue.  A Handmaid's Tale may share the fertility concerns, but it isn't about implantation and surrogates, nor showcasing the pregnant women's beauty and talents and treating them as pets.)
  • Yes, the social system, rankings, and "prep phase" reminded me of The Hunger Games and a variety of other dystopias, but again, I think Ewing has endeavoured to create something of her own.
  • While the dialogue felt quite basic (and more suited to children's literature), make no mistake, there is definitely content here intended for young (or not-so-young, even better) adults; namely the medical procedures and sexuality -- there are stirrups and there is alluded-to and led-up-to sex.
If you adore Cassandra Clare and you enjoyed The Selection, this book may just cause you to implode.  If, however, you're only a fan of one of those (and even then, you were surprised to be), this may not be for you.
Thursday, September 18th Diva Book Nerd 
Friday, September 19th Inside My Worlds 
Saturday, September 20th Books for a Delicate Eternity 
Sunday, September 21st Thoughts by J 
Monday, September 22nd Kids Book Review 
Tuesday, September 23rd Striking Keys 
Wednesday, September 24th Genie in a Book 
Thursday, September 25th Fictional Thoughts 
Friday, September 26th Book Much
@amyewingbooks |

Review copy supplied by Walker Books.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Five (Mostly) Food Things at 5:00

  1. My kids often elect to delay gratification.  This is not news to me.  What amused me today, was to discover that one of their favourite kinds of crackers qualifies as a treat worth saving (see photo, up therrr').  I assure you these do not remain on their plates due to dislike or lack of appetite!  Bless them.  (These were furnished as mid- dinner prep distractions.) And saving in tandem, too.  My chest got hot and airtight at the sight.
  2. We usually eat our main meal of the day around 1pm.  This works for us, largely because of Haki's work schedule (he's usually home for lunch but leaves before dinner), but I also have more motivation and patience around this time.  Come the evening hours and I very often think a quick sandwich or some such small solution sounds super.    Sssssth.
  3. Aside: the plates the girls' crackers are being saved on?  I picked 'em up for free from a giveaway box out front at a local Sallies (I was only there to drop off, by the way /bow). Haki's thoughts on these plates?  Nana plates.  Me?  I think they are glorious.
  4. We are currently reducing our sugar intake.  Isn't everyone? 
  5. I am still eating seriously large volumes of food (including The Salad).  Mia is still nursing in seriously large volumes.  I am worried about the latter eventually ceasing and the former not getting the memo.  Ah!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I'm here for the food
The Temporary Bride: A Memoir of Love and Food in Iran, Jennifer Klinec
New to bookstore shelves this month -- a memoir set in Iran.  A memoir with love and food. 
Sold; I wanted to read it.  And read it, I did.  Thank you, Hachette.

The verdict: The food content was great for me.
The rest:  Definitely got a strong response from me.  A mixed response;
  • It was difficult for me to be given access to Iran and its culture laced with such strong overtones of disapproval.  Yeah, it's a memoir, so there is going to be opinion, but I guess I was disappointed to find that that opinion was so overt, discrediting many conservative values that I personally respect about Iran's social norms.  Example?  Klinec romantises sexual permissiveness in more than one instance, and even voices within dialogue and memory, that "Something has gone [right] in her life" that she has lost her virginity despite never having married.  I understand I am a conservative human.  I get that most people consider it acceptable and even preferred to have "been laid" by their mid-30s...but lauding sexual experience outside of wedlock as the Western way bugged me.  It still bugs me.  I have little issue with reading about someone different (and far more liberal than me).  It helps me grow.  I take issue when that person claims to represent me.
  • I found it difficult to empathise.  Her life choices are just so different.  The interest in solitude? Loved hearing about it.  A fractured family that still works in many ways?  Interesting. Different passions?   Great to hear about.  Adultery as a comfort?  Meh, you've lost me.
  • The clumsiness of the love affair made for a very authentic-feeling tale.  Sometimes the awkwardness (and outright rudeness) of the communication crossed over into outright odd -- sometimes tactlessness seemed to read as charm (for the characters, at least!).   I wanted to be swept away by the romance.  I wrinkled my nose, instead.  There is some fairly crude content.
  • I was surprised by how short a time the lovers spent together (with little affection, included) before they were expressing their love in such absolute terms!  I am a romantic (and was hasty to declare love, myself!), but I still found myself going, "REALLY!?"
  • Although I didn't find myself thinking, "I am just loving this!" I did want to read it all, quick-smart.  I needed to know how it all was going to play out!
  • I think foodies who are also fans of Rainbow Rowell may just find this to be the jackpot! Sound like you?  Head out and pick up your copy in bookstores today (RRP $39.99).

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Second Slump

Tower Lord, Anthony Ryan
I come bearing mixed news.

The good:
  • I am very confident that most die-hard, brotherhood fans of Blood Song will still be pleased with this sequel.  I know for a fact, that someone I shared these books with went out and bought their own copies before they'd even finished reading the second book.  So The Brotherhood is real. 
The not-so-good:
  • I am not numbered among them.
The low-down:
  • Our hero, Vaelin, becomes Tower Lord in this book.  I feel I'm not giving too much away here...ya?  Given the err...title?  Now, this is where the misleading might begin; Vaelin (Tower Lord) is not the only voice in this novel.  He's not even the main voice.  Ryan has elected to fairly evenly split the narrative not twice, nor thrice, not four times, but into FIVE freakin' people's accounts.  I'm not going to speculate about author motives here.  I am going to say: I struggled.  Initially, I was irritated that I was spending so little time with the legend of this heroic fantasy brand.  Then, worse yet (I think), I came to prefer the others' stories, and yawned whenever we returned to the Tower Lord's.  That can't be good.
  • Book 2 is even darker than Book 1 -- which may be a selling point for some -- but for me, this made it even harder to wade through.  I have a fairly low tolerance for disturbing content, and this book was up there on the freaky-deaky scales, both in the present narrative, and flashbacks...both acts upon villains and the innocent...both upon humans and animals. 
  • And there's not enough humour to brighten it, for my taste.
  • However, I can see that the violence is woven into a thoughtful story, and wouldn't call it gratuitous.  But I'd call it disturbing.  Again.
  • The sensual references are also intensified, and include violent references.  Not for me.
  • And, like Book 1, there are so. many. names. of people, places and political thingzzzz that I find it hard work.  
  • Haki -- he loves uber-complex (headache complex) worlds.  He still found the book disappointing, as well.  For him?  He felt the conclusion was over the top.  He also had little patience for so many story-lines, even if they do come together. 
  • Conclusion: I wanted out of this book so bad.  I was too impatient for it.  It took me months to get to really giving it a chance because I kept tapping out, exasperated.  Sorry.  Ryan Brotherhood?  You'll still love it, and more for the upped anti- in respect to gore, darkness, sex and detail.  Good luck to ye'.
Disagree with me.  Go ahead.  Buy it -- it's in bookstores now! (RRP $37.99)

I do like the cover.  Ha.

Blood Song review here.

(Review copy supplied by Hachette)

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