Tag Archives: books

Review Interruptess and a Probable 5 Star

I have reviews I want and need to write on a few books

  • Keepers of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger. A grade 5 to grade 8 book. Short review: Recommended.
  • Time Thief: A Time Thief Novel and Time Crossed: A Time Thief Novella by Katie MacAlister.
  • Some not worthwhile, self pubbed ‘How to Make Money on the Internet’.
  • And ALL the Darynda Jones ‘Grave’ books.
  • But I picked up a book on my list, The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James. I cannot put the book down. My Kindle says I have read 18% of the book. I will be up all night reading. I see a 5 star review on the way.

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    Unsure about ‘Undead and Unsure’: A Review

    Undead and Unsure by Mary Janice Davidson. Book 11 in the Undead Queen Betsy series.

    Yes I am Unsure about how to review Undead and Unsure.

    I love Queen Betsy, I really do. Along with her yummy man Sinclair. I think the author is witty, talented and has a great agent. Of all the series written by MJD I appreciate the werewolf books and can’t stand her mermaid books, love Betsy books.

    In preparation of this release I re-read all ten Betsy books. The read didn’t take long. MJD is funny, snarky and great with internal monologue. The reading is fast and fun, light and enjoyable. Her books are not plot heavy. The stories have a simple plot and are filled in with Betsy’s unique view and thought process.

    Undead and Unwed is the introduction to the Betsy series. On her 30th birthday Betsy Taylor loses her job, her party plans are spoiled, gets hit by a car and is killed. She wakes up in the morgue, realizes she is a vampire, tries to kill herself, rescues someone else from killing themselves and goes home.

    Her mother and best friend are elated, the local vampire population – not so much. But vampires Eric Sinclair and Tina believe she is the foretold vampire queen because she isn’t burned by a cross and can go to church. They want Betsy to put an end to the reign of Vampire King Nostro, read kill, and rule.

    Betsy isn’t having any of it but of course that is exactly what ends up happening. Oh and now Sinclair is her consort for the next 1000 years. Fun.

    And book 2 Undead and Unemployed continues the fun. Betsy gets a job selling shoes at the mall. Someone tries to kill her. Sinclair rushes to the rescue because he loves her and Betsy lives on because she is the all-powerful vampire queen.

    But her last release, Undead and Unstable used a terrible ‘trope of going back in time and changing the past so the future is what it is, or was. I didn’t and don’t care for this storyline arc.

    Undead and Unsure started off (after the now familiar pages of acknowledgements where the author mainly pats herself on the back and add a few pages to the book) with Sinclair talking baby talk -terrible, yucky baby talk- to puppies. Not in character and repellant, that is not our familiar sexy hero.

    As in some of the other books another character jumps in and tells the story for a chapter or so. That irritates me. In this case the character is Sinclair which is good and bad if you can get past the earlier baby talk crap.

    If I was not a fan I would have stopped reading. The first half of the book is unnecessary internal dialogue to turn a short story into a book. After reading above you may wonder why you should read the book. If you are a fan, plow through because the last 1/3 or 1/4 of the book is worthwhile.

    If you haven’t read the books, this is not the place to start. Start with Undead and Unwed and enjoy! The first two books can stand on their own. But don’t jump on the Undead series trolley in the middle of the series.

    Remember, I love Queen Betsy and the series but don’t start here, this is a bit of challenge to wade through to get to the good stuff even for a fan.

    For a complete list of Queen Betsy books click this link: Amazon.com Widgets

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    Reading: Mood and Why

    On a blog I follow, 101 Books, the question is do you read if you are stressed. 101 books question that made me think.

    When and why do I read books? I read because I want to learn or escape. Enlighten my brain and heart. Discover new worlds and perspectives. Live more fully.

    I read whenever I can. I had a job over a decade ago where I traveled frequently. I missed my dogs and home but the traveling allowed me time. Time to read. And I read on the airplane, in the hotel when my work paperwork was completed. Reading helped offset the downsides of traveling for me.

    My reply is: I can read if I am stressed. A great book that takes me to a different world helps. However, if I am depressed I cannot read.

    But was I being truthful with myself? Yes and no. I realized that sometimes when the stress level is high I do not usually read. What do I do? I fret.

    Fret and worry is not productive but by my nature that is what happens. Maybe I should do something more productive by distracting myself with a good read. The best book is the book that makes you forget the world. You are living in the book and are bummed out when you have reached the end because you want the story to go on and on.

    When I can’t turn off my brain of worries, I need to read. Perhaps I should tax myself with a thought provoking new topic. Instead of fiction take up a non-fiction or text book.

    I cannot read when I am depressed. Depression zaps all the joy, motivation and initiative from life. And reading gives me pleasure Whether the book is sad and makes me cry or a textbook, reading is a joyful event.

    Thomas Jefferson said “I cannot live without books.” Depression is suppressing life, my life, your life. Picking up a book doesn’t solve or fix this problem. Medical care can help with this problem.

    But when I am down or blue (not depressed) I give thought to what I read. If I am already in the middle of a book I may continue reading. Usually, I turn to my comfort reads. A comfort read is a book that I have read multiple times. Comfort reads for me:
    Grave Sight (Harper Connelly Mysteries, Book 1)
    Grave Secret (Harper Connelly Mysteries, Book 4)
    Crazy for You
    Welcome to Temptation
    Undead and Unwed (Queen Betsy, Book 1)
    Undead and Unemployed (Queen Betsy, Book 2)

    My comfort reads are books I enjoy but can still get caught up in the world of the story. I have other favorites and re-reads but I don’t reach for them when I am blue.

    The phrase, ‘So many books and so little time’ is true. The best book is the book that makes you forget the world. You are living in the book and are bummed out when you have reached the end because you want the story to go on and on. The best books comfort you. The best books provoke you. The best books educate you and expose you to other lives and ways of thinking. Books free you.

    No matter the mood books make life better.

    No matter the mood books make life better. The best book is the book that makes you forget the world. You are living in the book and are bummed out when you have reached the end because you want the story to go on and on. The best books comfort you. The best books provoke you. The best books educate you and expose you to other lives and ways of thinking. Books free you.

    Joyce Carol Oates said, “Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” Slip out of your stress and blues by reading. Heighten your joy by reading.

    And broaden your mind and life by reading. “No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.” — Confucius

    When and why do you read books? Is reading mood dependent or strictly time dependent? Do you make time to read?

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    Review: Dead to Me

    Dead to Me by Anton Strout.

    Simon Canderous has a double edge sword of a talent, psychometry. Psychometry is the unique ability to divine information about the history of an object through touch. Formerly a petty thief Simon answers a cryptic newspaper ad and becomes a new employee for N.Y. City’s Department of Extraordinary Affairs. The D.E.A. is on the side of Good. Our young protagonist takes his new position seriously. He views good versus evil the same as black versus white.

    Simon struggles with learning the aspects of a real job, office politics and other-worldly skills. His mentor, Connor, specializes in ghosts and points out a lovely young woman sitting across from them in a coffee shop. Because she has not moved on they interview her trying to determine why she is still here. The ghost has no memories but she says something cryptic about the movie Apocalypse Now. This suddenly makes her a priority case though why is not clear.

    As Simon and Connor work to discover information about Irene they stumble across the Sectarian Defense League. The SDL is a cultist rights movement legalized by the city as part of equal rights movement. A kerfuffle ensues and the Mayor’s liaison arranges a meeting between the D.E.A. and the SDL. Simon is sent and meets Jane for dinner. Jane is the personal assistant to the evil Faisal Bane, chairman of the SDL. Simon is attracted to Jane but conflicted because she works on the side of darkness. Simon’s investigation leads him zombies, ghost sniffing drug addicts and other forces of darkness.

    Dead to Me is light urban fantasy. Fans of the Dresden Files will in all likelihood enjoy this book. Author Strout has four Simon Canderous books published to date, obviously the series had potential. But this book is a bit uneven, the characters under-developed and the action come across as a series of confrontations from an outline. The humor in the book seems thrown arbitrarily. I am not saying it isn’t funny rather the characters aren’t funny.

    Examples: “Are you implying you had someone murdered? The Mayor’s Office does not condone that sort of conflict resolution.” And

    “A lot of people who have come to work for us over the years have come to us from …. shall we say suspect backgrounds. Involvement with the dark arts, telemarketing and worse.”

    The first chapters of the book introduce the reader to Simon and his motivations. The writing could have been tighter. The book came out in 2008 and I started to read it but wasn’t engaged. It sat in my TBR pile for 5 years. Simon is a likeable, hot-headed but good intentioned, 24-year-old man. The secondary characters are interesting. However sometimes the story gets ridiculous. When Simon wants to learn if Jane really a bad guy, he reads her diary. Her diary that she was writing in a chick lit voice when she was on a rooftop spying on him and having been sent to kill him.

    I did like reading the book and may give the second book a try. I can’t rate this book a 5 but if you want light urban fantasy this is definitely worth a try.

    Product Details
    Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
    Publisher: Ace (February 26, 2008)
    ISBN-10: 0441015786
    ISBN-13: 978-0441015788

    Ratings 1 – 5
    • Readability: 3.5
    • Likability: 3.5
    • Recommended: 3
    • Book Club Read: 0
    • Author Watch List: 2
    • Laugh Meter: 32
    • Cry Meter: 0
    • Three Word Description: Light Urban Fantasy

    Other books by Anton Stout.

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    Review: Sunshine by Robin McKinley

    Sunshine by Robin McKinley.

    This book is an enduring read. I have read this so many times I had to buy another book. Even having repeatedly read the book, I never skip certain areas or paragraphs as I do in other re-reads. That speaks to how marvelously written Sunshine is.

    The book starts painting the normal world where our heroine and narrator of the book lives. The first line,

    “It was a dumb thing to do but it wasn’t that dumb. There hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake in years.”

    Rae Seddon nicknamed Sunshine just needs a break from her family. She is the baker for the family coffee shop. She is irritated with the smothering of love and togetherness so she drives out to the lake for a break from everything one night. The author paints an average young woman with normal life when wham the reader learns this is a very different world with the marvelous, last sentence of the chapter.

    “And it was so exquisitely far from the rest of my life. ….. I never heard them coming. Of course you don’t, when they’re vampires.”

    Sunshine takes place in a dark alternate version of our world. A world where demons, ‘were’ creatures (werewolves, wererats), vampires and magic are part of everyday life and everyday fears. The book is in first person and Sunshine’s narration is written like a conversation. Reading is like listening to a friend tell you a story. And McKinley has such talent that throughout this conversation she unveils and builds Sunshine’s world and a sophisticated, intricate well-thought plot. The atmosphere is dark, filled with menace, danger and small doses of humor.

    Sunshine is kidnapped by vampires and chained to a wall as human livestock for a fellow captive. Her companion is a starving vampire named Constantine. Vampires are terrifying, frightening, smelly and deadly. Captive Constantine is the enemy of Bo, the leader of the vampire gang that captured them. Both Sunshine and Constantine are victims of an evil taunting game only Bo enjoys. Constantine tells Sunshine to remind him she is a rational creature so that Bo does not win the game today, the consequence being Sunshine dies.

    Though petrified Sunshine recalls magic taught by her grandmother. And so she frees herself and Constantine. The mutual imprisonment and escape binds the two as partners in an ongoing battle against evil Bo. Neither is accepting of this bond. The relationship that develops is awkward and uncomfortable for both. Constantine is not evil, we come to know he is good and as a reader he becomes an endearing, heroic character. But the quality of menace remains as he is truly other and alien. Constantine becomes an endearing, heroic character.

    Sunshine comes to learn more about the people around her and herself. Yes, she steps up to the fight ahead but as a real person. She is not suddenly brave and strong, she is scared and unsure. She is a flawed but always likeable, confused and deals with the trauma of her capture through work and pushing the people she cares about away. She is often bitchy. But she is a consistent narrator through her capture, escape, trauma and coming to terms with circumstances and the new reality forced on her. The meandering path of Sunshine’s thoughts show a very real person and her seemingly superfluous diversions continue to lay the ground work of this world and the story.

    The ending of the book is strangely unfinished, quiet and yet remains true to the characters and story. It is a solid ending that is satisfactory and makes you want to cry. And if you are like me you will also want to cry that you have reached the end.

    This is my absolute favorite book. Ms. McKinley is an amazing, talented author. Her storytelling and plotting is brilliant. I fear I have not done justice to the book. Sunshine is infused with the magical prose of Robin McKinley. Neil Gaiman said this book is “Pretty much perfect.” He is right.

    Product Details:
    Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (April 29, 2010)
    ISBN-10: 0142411108 ISBN-13: 978-0142411100
    Mass Market Paperback Publisher: Jove (2004)
    ASIN: B00E84F5CM

    Ratings 1 – 5
    • Readability: 5
    • Likability: 5
    • Recommended: 5
    • Book Club Read: 4
    • Author Watch List: 5
    • Laugh Meter: 2
    • Cry Meter: 1
    • Three Word Description: Perfect Urban Fantasy
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    Other books by this author:

    Urban Fantasy Reads:

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    Filed under Books, Literary Criticism, Recommended, Reviews, Urban Fantasy

    Reading Now, Reviews Coming

    I am currently reading and will have reviews on the following books.

    Date by Mistake, Anthology. From new publisher Entangled.

    Dead To Me: Anton Strout

    Keeper of Lost Cities: Shannon Messenger. Grades 5 – 8

    The Farm: Emily McKay

    The Haunting of Maddy Clare: Simone St. James

    Sunshine: Robin McKinley. Reread.

    These is My Words: Nancy E. Turner

    This Perfect Day : Ira Levin. Reread.

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    Top Ten Over Used Words

    Top Ten Overused Words
    Disclaimer: This is my list and only mine. While it is not a work of fiction any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental. Further resemblance to advertisements, articles, books, names, characters, places or anything else is the product of the author’s imagination. So there.
    Words I despise hearing and think are generally crappy. I start with number one because #1 makes me froth at the mouth and we must get the mouth-frothing over and done with.
    1. OMG: This is not a word. This is not a phrase or sentence. Oh my God, shut up! Abhorrent and stupid. I don’t want to see it in a text message or on the written page (internet pages included) but I really, really DO NOT want to hear anyone speak this abomination out loud.
    • OMG: Oh my God! (Used to express surprise, alarm, etc.) Also, omg. Origin: from its use in digital communications.
    2. MILF: While I find this insulting I recognize that some people may find this term as either a compliment or descriptive. I heard a radio announcer refer to a celebrity as a “MILF or cougar” and questioned not just the appropriateness of the conversation on morning radio but whether the terms are synonyms. Setting aside my personal attitude regarding a word commonly used in porn, do we really want or need children to ask what this acronym means?
    • MILF: Noun Slang: Vulgar. An attractive older woman, usually a mother, who is regarded as a sexual object by a younger man. Also, milf. Origin: M(other) I(‘d) L(ike) to F(**).
    3. Truthfully: Are you a genetic liar? If someone begins a sentence with this word, I don’t believe a word coming from their mouth. Liar, liar pants on fire.
    • Truthful: Adjective. Telling the truth, especially habitually: a truthful person. Conforming to the truth. Origin: 1590–1600; truth + -ful Related forms Truthfully, Adverb.
    4. Actually: Is this word overused for emphasis or has it ‘Actually’ become the ‘um’ of the uneducated or poor conversationalist? Say this to me and I cannot hide the look of derision on my face. Sorry, the derision face is going to happen.
    • Actually: Adverb. As an actual or existing fact; really. Origin: 1400–50; late Middle English.
    5. Literally: This makes me, to use a technical term, nutso. Upon looking up the definition I will admit that I went from nutso to NUTSO. Refer to the usage note from dictionary.com. I call Indigo Montoya to Vizzini (The Princess Bride) on this one, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
    • Literally: Adverb. 1. In the literal or strict sense: What does the word mean literally? 2. In a literal manner; word for word: to translate literally. 3. Actually; without exaggeration or inaccuracy: The city was literally destroyed. 4. In effect; in substance; very nearly; virtually. Origin: 1525–35; literal + -ly Can be confused: figuratively, literally, virtually (see usage note at the current entry).
    Usage note (from Dictionary.com) “Since the early 20th century, literally has been widely used as an intensifier meaning “in effect, virtually,” a sense that contradicts the earlier meaning “actually, without exaggeration”: The senator was literally buried alive in the Iowa primaries. The parties were literally trading horses in an effort to reach a compromise. The use is often criticized; nevertheless, it appears in all but the most carefully edited writing. Although this use of literally irritates some, it probably neither distorts nor enhances the intended meaning of the sentences in which it occurs. The same might often be said of the use of literally in its earlier sense “actually”: The garrison was literally wiped out: no one survived. Seriously (“Another word that is used for more emphasis than most things deserve is the almost-a-question-but-more-of-a-statement seriously. It’s usually used in the manner of disbelief with a sarcastic tone when used as a question, or as an emphasis for a thought or future action. Either way, the word has become overused by the average conversationalist, and now verges on overkill as teenager or hipster jargon. And, when combined with other language fillers (such as dude or like), any actual seriousness this word used to offer is completely thrown out the window”)”
    6. Best/Lowest Prices of the Season: This advertising ploy must be successful because so many retailers utilize the phrase. I ask what is ‘the season’? This week, next week, the equinox? The term is vague but must be sufficient to lure shoppers seeking low prices. I’m not sure why I find this annoying. Macys.com customer service page on pricing terms, “”Lowest Prices of the Season” on macys.com merchandise refers to four retail seasons per year: …Prices may be lowered, however, during a season for clearance.”
    7. ‘Gate’ suffix: One of the many positive things about English, especially American English, is the ability to create new and descriptive words. I won’t get on a rant about the French language absurdities. ‘Gate’ suffix entered our lexicon following the burglary of the Democratic party headquarters at the Watergate hotel during the Nixon administration. Watergate became the name of scandal just as Waterloo became Napoleon’s, well waterloo. The suffix ‘gate’ added to an identified controversy conveys disgrace. But enough is enough when phrases like nipplegate come into use. Stop already!
    8. Hashtag: First I will indicate my age by explaining that I refer to the # mark as ‘pound’. The # pound is still used on many phone system menus. Hashtag used in a text to identify a keyword for search purposes does not make it a word. Hashtag is a search term and use as part of a conversation is beyond ludicrous.
    • Hash tag: Noun. 1. (on social-networking Web sites) a word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#), used within a message to identify a keyword or topic of interest and facilitate a search for it: The hashtag #sandiegofire was used to help coordinate an emergency response to the fire. Verb (used with object), verb (used without object), hashtagged, hashtagging. 3. To add a hashtag to (a word, topic, or message): Someone on Twitter just hashtagged the film festival. Origin: 2005–10; hash (mark) + tag1 (def 9c).
    9. Passion: A large number of businesses will spout in mission statements or on website ‘about us’ sections that their product is their passion. I certainly hope not. If the maker of toy cars is passionate about making toy cars they frighten me. My wish is that business people develop a passion for new terminology.
    • Passion: Noun. 1. Any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate. 2. Strong amorous feeling or desire; love; ardor. 3. Strong sexual desire; lust. 4. An instance or experience of strong love or sexual desire. 5. A person toward whom one feels strong love or sexual desire. Origin: 1125–75; Middle English (< Old French ) late Old English passion ), special use of Late Latin passiō suffering, submission, derivative of Latin passus, past participle of patī to suffer, submit; see –ion. Synonyms : Fervor, zeal, ardor, ire, fury, wrath, rage.
    10. Oops, I only had nine words. LOL. (Sarcasm font in use).


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