Thursday, November 18, 2010

Deeply Creepy: Darkly Dreaming Dexter

I've seen a few seasons of Dexter, so I decided to give the book Darkly Dreaming Dexter (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) a try (based on a friend's recommendation).  Jeff Lindsay delivers a fun trip inside a psychopath's head, if that sentence makes any sense at all.  I was a bit distracted by making comparisons between the show and the book (I liked the work place friends better in the book, but the sister better on the show), but it was a fast paced quick read that got me over a bit of a reading slump.  B

Monday, November 15, 2010

Surprise Present: Deeply, Desperately

I've overextended myself at the library again, so I've been trying to cut back. This means avoiding stray books at the displays in the front, so I encourage the kids to help me walk by. N takes this very seriously; he regards my reading habit as a serious distraction and thinks the library would be better off if they got rid of most of the stuff with pages and restocked the shelves with more Transformer movies. Well, some Power Ranger stuff wouldn't go amiss.

Deeply, Desperately: A Lucy Valentine Novel

But one day N was feeling magnanimous, so he grabbed four books from the display and told me to check them out. Since I humor him most days, I did. And one book was Heather Webber's Deeply, Desperately: A Lucy Valentine Novel, the second book about Lucy Valentine and her dedication to true love. The first book was one of the first ARCs I ever read, so it has a special place on my shelves. The books themselves are fluffy romances, with cute special powers (the Valentines can spot true love by people's auras, except for Lucy, whose talent went astray). Lots of little plots spinning around, none really solid enough to look at directly, but a cheerful tone and reassuring manner so we know everything will turn out fine.  B-

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I Don't Get It: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips

As a kid, I read every book about World War II my library owned.  Nonfiction was OK, but I preferred fiction, so I read about kids in Greece, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Russia, Japan, China, and England.  I'm still partial to kidlit set then, so when I saw somewhere a recommendation for Amazing Story Of Adolphus Tips by Michael Morpurga,  I put it on my list.

All the pieces of the book worked well.  There is a tiny framing device about a lonely kid who spends holidays with his grandparents, and provides solace when the grandfather dies.  There's the evacuee who makes friends with the local girl.  There's the American soldiers who bring hot dogs and candy to the children.  There's the father whose absence makes him seem distant even when home on leave.  The the miraculous reunion after fifty years on opposite sides of the Atlantic.  And there's the eponymous cat who gets lost and then found after all is lost.  The prose was lucid and engaging.  But they didn't really seem to hang together as a complete book.  C+

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Grim History: No Moon

I worried throughout Irene Watt's No Moon, which luckily for me is quite short, because it's about the Titanic, and so the potential for death is quite high. The cover does feature a lifeboat, which is reassuring, but not everyone can fit in a lifeboat...

Book cover for the forthcoming book No MoonThe view of the Titanic is from the top, but from beneath, because Louisa is the nanny for the preschool daughters of a rich British family. She's really the nursemaid, but has scaled to the heights of temporary nanny because of a last-minute accident. Most of the story follows her from her home to her first job, where she struggles to earn the approval of her direct supervisor, the strict martinet of a nanny who has been with the family for generations.

The historic feel seems right. The characters aren't modern people teleported back for this story; Louisa doesn't argue about social injustice or women's rights or how shockingly little time the children spend with their parents. She worries about bringing money home to her parents, about whether her sister is prospering in her shop work, about whether Nanny's complaints will escalate until she loses her position. B+

Friday, November 12, 2010

Old Family Friends: Cryoburn

Lois McMaster Bujold has been writing books about Miles Vorkosigan since before he was born, and he's now almost as old as I am.  My favorite books are the two about his mother, conveniently bound together in Cordelia's Honor, but every Vorkosigan book is a pleasure.  I buy Bujold in hardback.

Which is why my copy of Cryoburn (The Vorkosigan Saga) came in the mail a few days ago, and why I've finished it.  It's not top-tier Bujold, or at least I don't think so yet, but it's a book with heart.  The theme of the book is generations, what it means to have parents that will die or that have died, what it means to a family.  Miles gets to look at this issue from the outside, because he is visiting a planet that refuses to believe in death.  Instead they freeze people in hopes of awakening them when there is a cure for what ails them.

Of course, this is a book with Miles, so there are capers, kidnappings, daring escapes, bureaucratic bungles and bribery.  Roic has grown up a lot, although life as Miles's single armsman still stretches him to his limits.  But at the end, most of the convoluted plots and counters seem to dissolve; of course Miles gets his way and we see happy endings for the people we've come to care about.  What remains is the foreshadowing that leads up to the tiny epilogue at the back, the part that tells us why Bujold wrote the book.  I guess that's a spoiler.  B+

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rereading: Dooley Takes the Fall

After liking the latest Dooley book from Norah McClintock, I ordered up my own copy of the first one, Dooley Takes The Fall.  It's still a good book.  I seem to be on a roll with books about guys with emotional problems making good.  I'm sure this has nothing to do with my son's recent diagnosis with Asperger's.  Nothing at all.

I should just say that Dooley and my son have almost nothing in common.  Just in case anyone has read this book.  I mean, you end up really rooting for Dooley, but I have different hopes for my guys.  But this is a good book that I recommend. A

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rereading Pleasure: Child of Fire

Cover of Child of FireI recently read Harry Connolly's second Twenty Palaces book about Ray Lilly, ex-con and wooden man.  What I like about his urban fantasy books is how the horrible things he sees and does affect Ray, a man already struggling with the things he's done in his past.  So I bought the first book so I could reread it, and I enjoyed it as much the second time around.   Child of Fire: A Twenty Palaces Novel has a lot of scary stuff in it.  Children die.  That's one of the first things Ray sees as his new and terrifying boss makes him drive to the small town in Washington where magic is happening, magic his boss plans to stop.  His uncertainty, fear, and horror drive most of his actions, although he also acknowledges that he is hungry for the power his boss exhibits.  The pacing is fast and the characterization is strong, mainly for Ray but also for the smaller characters in the town.  A good urban fantasy book (and definitely not a romance, for those avoiding girl-cooties in the fantasy). B+

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Good Book: Homicide Related

Norah McClintock is a Canadian author who writes a lot of books for below average readers.  She's good at that, at writing a book for a YA audience that unobtrusively has an actual reading difficulty of elementary school.  Good enough that I'm careful not to recommend them to my kids, because I don't want them accidentally reading stuff that's thematically beyond what they want before they realize it.  Most of her books seem to be about urban kids trying to come back from mistakes or dealing with dangerous situations.

Her Dooley series fits the urban problem kid theme, but she doesn't have to keep the reading level low.  Dooley Takes the Fall,  the first book, hooked me with his refusal to give out easy answers.  It's a mystery, but the emphasis is on the character who is trying to pick himself up after some horrific decisions.  I just noticed the sequel, Homicide Related (Ryan Dooley Mysteries), and I grabbed it from Amazon immediately.  

Again the mystery isn't the strength of the book.  There are murders, and Dooley is a suspect because of his past, but more interesting is how Dooley addresses his problems, both the looming problem of the police but also his relationship with Beth (whose mother thinks he is a thug) and his relationship with his uncle, who has been keeping secrets from Dooley.  I'm looking forward to the third book, which is out in Canada but not here until February. A

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Missed My Jump: Demon Blood

I like to start series somewhere in the middle, on the grounds that if I'm going to spend that much time with an author's characters, I want the books to be so good I can start anywhere.  So I grabbed Meljean Brook's Demon Blood (The Guardian Series) from the "Hot Picks" area of the library although it was clearly not the start of the Guardian series.  I think it's book six or something.  Unfortunately, I don't think this was a good place to start.

demon bloodThere's a complex world system set up, with all sorts of strange creatures -- Guardians, vampires, demons, nephilim, etc, all with different rules and origins and motives.  That wasn't the problem; I enjoy figuring stuff out from the middle.  But this book is more a paranormal romance than an urban fantasy -- the backbone of the book is the romance, with the action adorning that.  And the romance didn't work for me; I suspect that the previous five books had lost of background building up the problems between Rosalia and Deacon, but since I skipped that I didn't feel it.  And their only conflict was a lack of communication and an overload of angst -- Woe is Me, I am Unworthy / He could never trust me after THAT / She says she loves me but I cannot believe she MEANS it / blah blah blah.

There was so much time spent on their mutual undeclared love that the complex plot for the destruction of the bad guys got buried.  I know it was complex because everyone told me so a million times.  I think I missed some of the complexity, because everything fell out easily in the last fifty pages.  I bet if I had been in on the story from the beginning I would have cared more for the people, but this book doesn't make me want to run out and get the rest.  C+

Friday, November 5, 2010

Library Loot for the Long-Absent

Hi -- remember me? I used to have a blog?  Well, I'm back.  I was held hostage by aliens for all of October, but I got away.  For a while, anyway, and of course, I immediately went back to the library.

The kind librarians stocked the hold shelf with some tasty treats for me:
  • Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (for book club)
  • Blood of the Demon, Diana Rowland.  Urban fantasy
  • Would the Vampire People Please Leave the Lobby?, Allyson Beatrice.  I continue my exploration of the Buffy the Vampire phenomenon.  
  • Genius Genes: How Asperger Talents Changed the World, Michael Fitzgerald & Brendan O'Brien.  Since my son's diagnosis I've been reading up on Asperger's, and frankly, he's getting tired of hearing about it.  He's much more cheerful about this title, though.
We then grabbed some music (some that I'll be listening to while the kids are away, oops), so Pokemon films, and then two extra books fell into my bag on the way out:
  • The Demon's Lexicon, Sarah Rees Brennan.  I own this one, but I wanted to reread a few scenes and couldn't be bothered to look too hard for my copy.  I meant to get the sequel too, but some rotten kid beat me to it.
  • Crave, by J.R. Ward.  I promised myself I wouldn't follow the author of the over-the-top Brotherhood Vampires with lots of extra H's into her new series, but I'm curious as to how it reads.  Will the heroes of this series get extra J's in their name? Cjarlos? Brujce? 
Total Books from Library Elf (counting all the kid stuff that I'm legally responsible for even if I hope not to read it): 68. Stuff on my card: 64, but all the boys have lost their cards, so that includes their stuff.

I'll go sign up for Library Loot this week. That's a weekly event hosted in turns by Clare's The Captive Reader and Marg's The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader (this week's host) where bloggers can share their library finds of the week. Some of them make me look restrained.