Book Review — Dead Heat

Title:  Dead Heat
Author:  Patricia Briggs
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Pages:  Paperback, 305
Publisher:  ACE Fantasy
ISBN:  978-0-425-25628-2
Opening Lines:  "The fae lord stalked back and forth in his cell of gray stone.Three steps, turn, four steps, turn, three steps."

Rating


"For once, werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles's role as his father's enforcer. This time, their trip to Arizona is purely personal. Or at least their visit starts out that way . . .

"Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The fae have started a cold war with humanity that's about to heat up—and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire."

~ Jacket copy


I got it in my head to finally read further into the Alpha and Omega series.  The first two books floored me, and I loved them.  Sadly, when I grabbed one of the newer ones, I couldn't fully remember what came before.  This started on a quest to read through the first books and finally catch up.  So, there you have it, that's why I picked this one up: it was the next in the series and I had to get my hands on it!

Anna has been plodding along on a gelding that she was given when she first moved to Montana.  While the worse is a good, solid animal, Charles feels that it doesn't fit her.  After receiving a call from an old friend, he decides her "need" is a good excuse to visit Arizona on the pretext of buying her an Arabian.  That, however, causes them to stumble upon a sick fae who could be threatening the Arizona pack.

This book was on par with the others.  I found myself tearing through it and enjoying it just as much.  Briggs did a wonderful job showing that Charles and Anna are finally getting to a point of being comfortable in their relationship.  In addition, it was nice to see that Charles had a life outside of being Bran's enforcer and pack treasurer.   
Even though the book was as engrossing as the others, something felt a little off and forced about it.  I loved the concept of the fae Briggs created and the inherent tension after the events of the last book.  However, Briggs' love of horses seemed to overpower the actual plot.  Joseph's character and everything surrounding the Arabian ranch wasn't a vehicle that was used well.  In some respects, it felt forced and almost as though it was a side thing.  The other books felt completely seamless and all the elements blended together smoothly.  For me, this was one did not.  The characters were great, the felt fairly well developed, but . . . 
My reservations aside, it was a good book and a fun read!  It helped continue to story and gave good introduction into the new issues with the fae.  It will be quite interesting to see how that turns out in later books.  It makes me wonder whether the new focus will be the publicity of the werewolves, or whether that will be completely glossed over by everything else!  


Much love, Sinn

Book Review — Nightlife

Title:  Nightlife
Author:  Rob Thurman
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Pages:  Paperback, 339
Publisher:  ROC
ISBN:  978-0-451-46075-2
Opening Lines:  "People . . . They do the craziest shit."

Rating


"Welcome to the Big Apple.  There's a troll under the Brooklyn Bridge, a boggle in Central Park, and a beautiful vampire in a penthouse on the Upper East Side—and that's only the beginning.  Of course, most humans are oblivious to the preternatural nightlife around them, but Cal Leandros is only half human.

"His father's dark lineage is the stuff of nightmares—and he and his entire otherwordly race are after Cal.  Why?  Cal hasn't exactly wanted to stay around long enough to find out."

"He and his half brother, Niko, have managed to stay a step ahead for four years, but now Cal's dad has found them again. And Cal is about to learn why they want him, why they've always wanted him: He is the key to unleashing their hell on earth. The fate of the human world will be decided in the fight of Cal's life . . ."

~ Jacket copy


Shortly after this book came out, my former sister-in-law sent it to me as a Christmas present.  I eagerly picked it up, started reading it, and then promptly put it back down.  It was clear from the writing that it was her first book, and I couldn't convinced myself to push any further.  However, after a lot of nagging, "guilting", and pouting on the part of my former SIL, I dusted off the book and gave it another chance.  The second time must have been a charm!  I was able to tear through it in a few days.  

A few months ago at a gaming session, this book came back to mind.  I remembered loving it and needed to reacquaint myself with it.  Sadly, I couldn't find my damn copy and went on a quest to get my hands on it again.  Sadly, I had a similar experience to the first time I tried reading it.  Yes, it was interesting, but . . .


Cal is a monster.  He's the misbegotten spawn of a union between a drunken fortuneteller and something that has all the vestiges of a demon.  His mother is loath to even acknowledge his existence, his father lurks in the shadows and watches every movement, and his half brother is left as his only guardian.  After escaping from his father's realm four years ago, Cal and his older brother have been on the run.  Now, however, after things appear to be calming down, Niko (his older brother) spots a dreaded Grendel in Central Park.  



Please do not mistake my intro, this book is not a bad book and has the markings of a great story!  In fact, if I recall correctly, the later books get progressively better and are riveting.  For me, however, this book really fell short.  

At best, most of the characters are extremely two dimensional and lack a real zest or spark which gives them something a bit more.  Most of them are easily forgettable once you put the book down.  

The pacing of the book felt off, too.  There were points when it felt rushed, veered off, and slowed down considerably.  

Honestly, I am sitting here trying to squeeze myself for something to say, but nothing is coming out.  When it gets right down to it, there was nothing truly memorable about this book.  What I remember most comes from later books and how the characters were later developed.  It is obvious that this book was a first one, and the author definitely started to come into her own. I might recommend this series to people just for the later books, but I almost wish this one could be skipped.  

If you want a simple read that doesn't require too much commitment and big words thrown in for good measure, this isn't a bad book to pick up.  It is definitely a far introduction to the later books, which are far better—if memory serves.



Much love, Sinn

Book Review — The House of Small Shadows

Looking back, I find that it has been over a year since my fingers lovingly touched the keys on this laptop to pen a new review.  So many things have happened since then, and life has brought me to new and exciting places.  I would love to say that I shall remain faithful to updating this site, but—in all honesty and disclosure—who am I kidding?  The changes have meant that I find myself reading less, while desiring/needing the respite and escape tendered in the pages more than the air I breathe. 

So, dear readers, while I will not give you platitudes of my steadfast endurance to update this regularly, I shall endeavor to try.  

And now, with that gracefully penned (or typed, as the case may be) introduction, the stage is set with another chilling tale of horror.  Since it was left with horror, it seems apropos to start again with the ghastly, grisly, and macabre tale of chilling memory.





Title:  The House of Small Shadows
Author:  Adam Neville
Genre:  Horror
Pages:  Hardcover, 371
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
ISBN:  978-1-250-04127-2
Opening Lines:  "As if by a dream Catherine came to the Red House.  She abandoned her car once the lane's dusty surface was choked by the hedgerows, and moved on foot through a tunnel of hawthorn and hazel trees to glimpse the steep pitch of the roof, the ruddy brick chimneys and the finials upon its sharp spine."

Rating


"Catherine's last job ended badly. Corporate bullying at a top antiques publication saw her fired and forced to leave London, but she was determined to get her life back. A new job and a few therapists later, things look much brighter. Especially when a challenging new project presents itself—to catalogue Britain's greatest taxidermist, the late M.H. Mason's wildly eccentric cache of antique dolls and preserved animals posed in elaborate dioramas. Rarest of all, she'll get to examine his elaborate displays of posed, costumed, and preserved animals, depicting bloody scenes from World War I.

"When Mason's elderly niece invites her to stay at the Red House itself, Catherine believes that her luck is finally changing. She's thrilled to maintain the collection until his niece exposes her to the dark message behind her uncle's 'Art.' Catherine tries to concentrate on the job, but Mason's damaged visions begin to raise dark shadows from her own past. Shadows she'd hoped therapy had finally erased. Soon the barriers between reality, sanity, and memory start to merge and some truths seem too terrible to be real . . . "

~ Jacket copy




One ordinary day, I was reading Gothic Beauty in the local bookstore and stumbled upon Adam Neville mentioned in one of their top horror novels listings.  Neville then became a curiosity of mine for quite awhile; however, I was never able to get my hands on any of his books.  Partly due to the lack at any bookstores and availability at the library.  When I chanced upon this title listed on the top horror novels, I decided to give my local library another go.

To add a cherry to the discovery of the book, it dealt with China dolls—one of my biggest fears!


To be quite honest, I'm not entirely sure what this book is about.  Simply put, I would say that it's about memories and forced self discovery.


I'm still torn as to what I think of this book.  Elements of it are amazing!  The ghastly and macabre air of mystery and the unknown lent to Gothic feel.  Neville was able to take the seemingly ordinary and twist it ever so slightly to make innocuous things turn sinister.  This gave it an overriding creepy feeling to the whole experience of the book.  And, to be quite honest, a book that forces me to look up words is truly amazing and worth a look!

Immediately, the book was engrossing and kept me wanting more.  I found myself staying up far later than I should just to read "one more page".  It would even ride along with me to work, so I could find a few extra minutes to read before I had to clock in for the day.  Truly, it was engaging and extremely hard to put down.  All of that being said, however, I felt as though many things in the book were not fully explained.  Yes, the reader guesses that something happened in London (you're finally told a little bit), but we never really know was fully happened.  And, with the little details that are given, I was questioning why she would be hired later on.  Yes, yes, we are told and it makes sense in the end, but I was still baffled through the vast majority of the book.  In addition to which, not only was I left with unanswered questions at the end, I found the end raising even more questions.  For me, that left me completely disheartened by the reading experience.  Even days later, I am disquieted when I think about it.

It is hard for me to write a proper review of this book when I have such a lackluster attitude walking away from it.  In some ways, it is hard for me to put down and let the questions rest.  All of that aside, it is worth a read!  The narrative style and the captivating mastery of the Gothic novel make it worthwhile in the end!

Much love, Sinn

Book Review — Penpal

Title:  Penpal
Author:  Dathan Auerbach
Genre:  Horror/Mystery
Pages:  Oversize paperback, 238
Publisher:  1000Vultures
ISBN:  978-0-9855455-0-5
Opening Lines:  "When I was younger, I took a job at a deli that had what the owner called an 'ice cream buffet.'  On Thursdays, children would get a free ice cream cone with their meals, and they could pick any one of the fifteen flavors we had."."

Rating


"In an attempt to make sense of his own mysterious and unsettling childhood memories, a man begins to reconstruct his past. As the games and adventures of his youth become engulfed by a larger story, he finds that it forms a tapestry of unbelievable horror that he never could have expected.

"Each chapter completes a different piece of the puzzle for both you and the narrator, and by the end of it all, you will wish you could forget what he never knew."

~ Jacket copy




Honestly, I have been in the mood for a good horror story.  After really enjoying NOS4A2, I decided to see what Amazon recommended based on that book.  This was one of the books near the top of the list.  Not even sure what I was getting myself into, I decided to ILL it through my local library.


The jacket copy does a better job explaining it than I ever could!  This is one of those books that is hard to explain without giving everything away.


Wow, I'm not even sure how to begin!  This book was a page turner!  I started it late last night, read until my eyes closed, and then finished it today.  Granted, there were extraneous details that I decided to skip over when it got a bit too wordy; however, the book kept me captivated and on the edge of my seat. 

As the jacket copy implies (and something stated near the beginning), the reader doesn't really put the pieces together until nearly the end of the novel.  For me, that wasn't the case.  From the first comment of the balloon adventure, I figured out was had happened and had a very good idea what was going to happen.  That being said, it was still hard to put the book down.

Aside from the fact that it was intensely captivating, I'm not sure what else there is to say about this book.  It definitely pulls at the heart strings and plays on the imaginary nature of childhood.  However, the dark and sinister aspect makes you think about things in a different light. 







Much love, Sinn

Hello, World!

Holy shit, it has been a long time since I last posted!  Honestly, between work, getting my CDA certification, and an over abundance of life, everything else has fallen by the wayside. 

After finishing my latest book, I decided that this blog really, desperately needed to be update.  Not only for my own sanity, but for the people who enjoy reading my posts. 

As I say every time I write one of these, I am very sorry for my lack of posts and updates on this blog.  Whenever I finish reading a book, thoughts of writing a review run through my head.  Do they ever get written?  Fuck no!  That being said, however, I hope to change that and go back to regularly updating this blog.  Granted, it won't be as constantly, since I have less time to read. 

One way or the other, my plan is to dust off the pages and start writing again.  I hope to see you guys come back to read ^____^


Much love, Sinn

Book Review — The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

Title:  The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
Author:  Katherine Howe
Genre:  Contemporary fiction
Pages:  Hardback, 362
Publisher:  Hyperion, 2009
ISBN:  978-1-4013-4090-2
Opening Lines:  "Peter Petford slipped a long wooden spoon into the summering iron pot of lentils hanging over the fire and tried to push the worry from his stomach."

Rating


"Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie's grandmother's abandoned home near Salem, she can't refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within the seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discover launches Connie on a quest—to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge.

"As the pieces of Deliverance's harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem's dark past than she could have ever imagined."

~ Jacket copy




In an attempt to add more structure to our classroom and do something the children want, the teachers in my grade-school classroom sat down with the kids and discussed things we would like to learn about.  During the conversation, a lot of different history topics were brought up.  Having a degree in English and a minor in history, I thought it would be absolutely awesome to read a young adult book about a specific time in history (i.e., The Big Burn) and then discuss the actual historical event.  Honestly, I think I got more into the idea than the kids >.<  Whether that's true or not, I was curious to read young adult fiction or contemporary fiction dealing with the Salem witch trials.  The whole subject was always rather interesting to me, especially since it has almost turned into an American folktale.  And, after doing a subject search on Goodreads, I found this little gem. 



After being accepted into the PhD program at Harvard in Colonial American Studies, Connie Goodwin is contact by her mother.  It appears as though her grandmother's house has finally built up an excess in back-owed property tax that the city is going to start taking action against Connie's mother.  She begs Connie to clean out the house and get it ready for sale.  Unfortunately, Connie is supposed to spend the summer researching for her dissertation and present her topics to her advisor.  This, while proving an interesting opportunity, really throws a wrench in the gears. 

While looking through an old bookcase to determine what books were too badly damaged, Connie stumbles on an old family Bible.  Flipping through the pages yields an old key with an old piece of parchment in the end.  On the parchment is written a phrase—Deliverance Dane—which she presumes is a name. 

Finding this name sends Connie on an amazing adventure to find a primary source for her dissertation and a possible key to the Salem witch trials.  In addition, it could shed an interesting light on the life of women—especially cunning women—in Colonial times. 



This book spends a lot of time in the present; however, the audience is shown the story from Deliverance's POV and that of her daughter and granddaughter.  Even though a lot of time is spent on Connie and the modern world, the author does a wonderful job welding these timelines together.  And, in some ways, show similar struggles in the characters.  In some ways, you can see how Connie is struggling with her different roles in life and new information and Grace's struggles being pseudo mirror images of each other. 

For me, it was obvious that this was the author's first book.  There was a lot of intellectual dialog and syntax.  That isn't an issue for me; however, the average reader might be put off by all of it.  At a few points, I even found myself looking things up.  That being said, having a background in history, I feel as though I had a little added advantage. 

Along with the syntax, I feel as though the characters were a little under developed.  We don't see Deliverance, Grace, and Pru as much as Connie; however, I felt much closer to them.  And they were far more sympathetic.  Connie was too much of a stuck-up, book-wormy grad student.  She was too much of a stereotype, which is an automatic turnoff.  The author could have worked hard to flesh out the love interest.  Just stating that he had a septum piercing and looked as though he was in a grunge band didn't tell me too much about him.  Also, the whole plot surrounding her advisor felt a little too rushed, farfetched, and completely underdeveloped.  A little more character development and time spent around that storyline might have greatly helped it. 

I found myself put off by the time period.  The "modern" portion of the book took place in 1991.  Usually that isn't an issue, but I found myself constantly needing a reminder that it was '91 and not more modern.  Something about the style of writing didn't feel as though it was taking place over two decades ago, nor did she author expressly tell the audience that.  For that reason, the flow of the book was drastically broken for me. 

All of that being said, the author spent a lot of time describing the setting, which made it feel even more real.  She also appeared to know her stuff about the witch trials and doctoral programs.  In addition, she posited some thought provoking theories about the trials and why they may have gotten out of hand.  It definitely had me thinking and looking at occurrences in a completely different way. 

For a book primarily read on van runs, in the bathtub, and before bed, it really turned out to be quite good.  Yes, I had issues with it.  And, yes, it took awhile to dig through.  However, it was entertaining, kept me engrossed, and made me think about things. 







Much love, Sinn

Book Review — NOS4A2

Title:  NOS4A2
Author:  Joe Hill
Genre:  Horror
Pages:  Hardback, 692
Publisher:  HarperCollins, April 30, 2013
ISBN:  978-0-06-220057-0
Opening Lines:  "Nurse Thornton dropped into the long-term-care ward a little before eight with a hot bag of blood for Charlie Manx."

Rating


"Victoria McQueen has an uncanny knack for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. When she rides her bicycle over the rickety old covered bridge in the woods near her house, she always emerges in the places she needs to be. Vic doesn't tell anyone about her unusual ability, because she knows no one will believe her. She has trouble understanding it herself.

"Charles Talent Manx has a gift of his own. He likes to take children for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the vanity plate NOS4A2. In the everyday world and onto hidden roads that lead to an astonishing playground of amusements he calls Christmasland. Mile by mile, the journey across the highway of Charles's twisted imagination transforms his precious passengers, leaving them as terrifying and unstoppable as their benefactor.

"And then comes the day when Vic goes looking for trouble . . . and finds her way, inevitably, to Charlie.

"That was a lifetime ago. Now, the only kid to ever escape Charlie's unmitigated evil is all grown up and desperate to forget.

"But Charlie Manx hasn't stopped thinking about the exceptional Victoria McQueen. On the road again, he won't slow down until he's taken his revenge. He's after something very special—something Vic can never replace.

"As a life-and-death battle of wills builds—hern magic pitted against his—Vic McQueen prepares to destroy Charlie once and for all . . . or die trying . . ."

~ Jacket copy



Because it's JOE HILL!  If there was a chance that I might pass up a Joe Hill book, please alert people that the apocalypse has come.  Okay, okay, that might be a little excessive, but I've loved this author since I first picked up Locke & Key.  And I LOVED Heart-Shaped Box so much, I bought my dad and brother both a copy.

Since it has been a little quiet on this blog and I've only been rereading books, when I saw this available at our local library, it was inevitable that I would pick it up.  I like Mercy Thompson, but she was getting a little tired and worn out.  I needed new blood ^_~


Hmm, wow, I'm not even sure how to describe this one.  Honestly, the jacket copy does better than I could ever imagine.  Simply put, this book is a story within a story.  It is about the childhood and adulthood of Vic McQueen clashing with the life of Charlie Manx.  It is also about the differences between being a child and being an adult.
 

Quite simply, this book is about slippage and where the "inscapes" and this world collide.  It reminds me a great deal of Talisman, The Black House, and It by Hill's father.  In some ways, it could be argued that this book kind of pays homage to the Master who came before him and lead him into this craft.  And it could also be a form of It for this generation.  While Hill is definitely his own writer, it feel many loud elements of his father in his work.  It's almost as though he is taking on his personage.

In many respects, Manx is almost a re-imagining of Pennywise the Clown.  He does something to the children in order to stay young, he makes them promises about living in a better place (Christmasland or an eternal circus), and they mention that the children "float" in this new, happy place.  Further, meeting Vic McQueen as a child and then seeing her battle Charlie as an adult had serious echoes of the children in It.  In some ways, both Maggie and Vic reminded me of Stuttering Bill.  The reader will also see the pseudo fragmentation of the mind between the beliefs of children and trying to make sense of that as an adult.  Also, using Wayne really helped to hammer that down.  In addition, Hill also plays a little more with the concept of mental illness and the fragmentation of the mind in trying to make sense of all weird shit from childhood.

"The difference between childhood and adulthood . . . was the difference between imagination and resignation." (533)

I loved the casual mention of Craddock and his suit, the tip of the hat to his father's books on the map of the "inscapes", and the use of pop-culture and media.  For me, Hill has always been able to draw me in with the pop-culture and media.  What drew me to Heart-Shaped Box was just that.  Also, the fact that Lou was a super nerd, read comic books, and went to conventions made me feel a little warm and fuzzy inside.  And this is not to mention the name of Vic's son!

It was s struggle to read this book.  Knowing that my alarm clock would ring at 5:30 am, it was a fight to put this book down at night.  However, everyday, it would be nestled into my purse and wait until I had a van run or a break.  Everywhere I went, it came along.  It got into my head like a damn drug.

This book was beautifully written!  It took something beautiful and full of magic (Christmas) and turned it on it's head.  Honestly, after reading this book, I'm not sure I will ever think about Christmas the same way.  And I'm not looking forward to my head boss wandering around singing Christmas music . . .







Current Pages: ???
Current Progress:

42/50 books


Much love, Sinn

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    "If you’re a freak like me, Wave your flag! If you’re a freak like me, Get off your ass! It’s our time now, To let it all hang out!" I am a recovering English major, closet bibliophile, breve addicted, zombie lover with a rockabilly and heavy metal fetish.