Saturday, August 21, 2010

Blood to Blood by Elaine Bergstrom

Author: Elaine Bergstrom
Publish Date: October 1, 2000
ISBN: 9780441007745
List Price: $5.99
My Rating: 3 out of 5

 Jacket Synopsis:

Dracula's sister-by birth and by blood-resurrects his dark legacy...

Praise for Mina: "A real page-turner."-P. N. Elrod

"Throbbing sexuality...An erotic ride."-Shadowdance

My Comments:
This is a continuation of the Mina Harker story that began in Mina: The Dracula Story Continues. The story begins where the previous ends with Mina in Paris writing to Jonathan about a reconciliation when she receives news of an inheritance, and a sizable one at that. I find the story an interesting interpretation about a Victorian woman whose independence is pursued in societal times when women were seen and not heard. For Mina to be so bold as to maintain her own household away from her husband and pursue her charitable work is really unheard of.

This book is a side-by-side story of Mina and Jonathan, but also about Joanna, Dracula's sister. We find Dracula's sister searching for her brother's killers only to find that being released from her brother's control that she can pursue her own life. The excitement is found in reading about what she chooses. Does she choose to live among humans and love and care for them just the same? Or become a ruthless killer and evil pursuer like her sister in-law and sometimes her brother, Dracula.

The author folds in true historical characters as Oscar Wilde and Jack The Ripper. The author includes Jack The Ripper to challenge the reader to determine if the murders are really the work of Joanna or The Ripper himself...and who is The Ripper?

I am surprised though by the amount of edit errors in this book. They weren't so severe that I couldn't figure out what the author meant to write, but the author should be paid a bonus for the editors poor work.

Elsewhere by Gabriel Zevin

Author: Gabriel Zevin
Publish Date: May 15, 2007
ISBN: 9780312367466
List Price: $6.95
My Rating: 5 out of 5

Jacket Synopsis:
 Welcome to Elsewhere. It is warm, with a breeze, and the beaches are marvelous. It’s quiet and peaceful. You can’t get sick or any older. Curious to see new paintings by Picasso? Swing by one of Elsewhere’s museums. Need to talk to someone about your problems? Stop by Marilyn Monroe’s psychiatric practice. 

Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth. But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen again. She wants to get her driver’s license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. And now that she’s dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn’t want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well. How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward? 

My Comments:
One of the most adorable books I have read in a long time. It was the most enjoyable read. I love Zevin's interpretation of death and where we go, especially, through the eyes of a 15 year old girl. She is such a cynic when she arrives in Elsewhere with the attitude of anything done there is pointless. The Elsewhere world that Zevin imagines and brings to life in this book is practical & amazing. My favorite parts are that life (death) is perceived differently in this world. In Elsewhere, you age backwards to be reborn again on Earth and have another chance at life's experiences. The best part is you are able to talk to the animals. The personalities that Zevin gives the animals completely personifies a best friend attitudes and it is beautiful. 

What a unique and beautiful premise about life and death. An amazing journey between Earth and Elsewhere. A story of loss, love, and rejuvenation of life... I truly loved this book. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Deeply, Desperately (Lucy Valentine, #2) by Heather Webber

Author: Heather Webber
Publish Date: August 3, 2010
ISBN: 9780312946142
List Price: $7.99
My Rating: 4 out of 5

Jacket Synopsis: 
The irrepressible star of Truly, Madly is back in business. This time, Lucy Valentine will go to the ends of the earth to find true love for her clients...and maybe even herself.

Lucy wants to breathe new life into her family's Boston-based matchmaking company. But how? Even though she comes from a long line of ancestors blessed by Cupid with psychic abilities, a freak accident left Lucy with only one special skill: finding things. Car keys, socks in the dryer, needles in haystacks...and now, in a stroke of professional genius, lost loves! 

My Comments:
The second installment to the Lucy Valentine series is fantastic. I read Truly, Madly as an ARC in December 2009 and fell in love with Lucy Valentine and her band of characters. We find Lucy throwing herself into her new business "Lost Loves" and the ever imposing idea of Cupid's Curse. Will Lucy and Sean be doomed?

I love Heather Webber's writing style. It flows so naturally and throws you into Lucy's world completely. I really feel like a spectator next to Lucy in every written scene. The fun, adventure, and suspense are all wrapped up in a pretty pink bow, that is the cover! Heather is able to intertwine the stalling, sometimes sputtering, love affair of Lucy and Sean with suspenseful investigative work  which has you guessing and speculating page after page. I love the humor of Lucy dealing with friends and family non-stop, exciting drama. We add new characters to the mix in this second book that are funny and only setup us up for exciting new story lines in the third book due out next year.

I love this series and cannot wait for the third installment Absolutely, Positively to come out in February... it is one of my eagerly anticipated Upcoming Releases. I am crossing my fingers that an ARC is available for this and I am lucky enough to win another Heather Webber book!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella by Stephenie Meyer

Author: Stephenie Meyer
Publish Date: June 5, 2010
ISBN: 9780316125581
List Price: $13.99
My Rating: 5 out of 5

Jacket Synopsis:
Bree Tanner can barely remember life before she had uncannily powerful senses, superhuman reflexes and unstoppable physical strength. Life before she had a relentless thirst for blood... life before she became a vampire.

All Bree knows is that living with her fellow newborns has few certainties and even fewer rules: watch your back, don't draw attention to yourself and, above all, make it home by sunrise or die. What she doesn't know: her time as an immortal is quickly running out.

My Comments:
Another great book by Stephenie Meyer. This is a short story, novella, of the newborn character of Bree Tanner. It gives you a different perspective of the vampire world through the eyes of a newborn and into Victoria's deception. Even the newborn Bree can see there isn't something right about Riley and their "unknown" purpose. It is interesting to see that Bree, only 16, finds another newborn which she befriends and falls in love with. That last seen in the book when the newborn war is over is an interesting insight into what Edward was able to see from Bree's side of the war and what Bree could share with him to help save them. This additional scene to the story that you do not get from the Twilight series is very informative and helps piece together what Edward gathered from Bree before she was killed. A really great read and alternate perspective.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Uninvited by Amanda Marrone

Author: Amanda Marrone
Publish Date: October 23, 2007
ISBN: 9781416939788
List Price: $8.99
My Rating: 2 out of 5

Jacket Synopsis:
Jordan's life sucks. Her boyfriend, Michael, dumped her, slept his way through half the student body, and then killed himself. But now, somehow, he appears at her window every night, begging her to let him in.

Jordan can't understand why he wants her, but she feels her resistance wearing down. After all, her life -- once a broken record of boring parties, meaningless hookups, and friends she couldn't relate to -- now consists of her drinking alone in her room as she waits for the sun to go down.

Michael needs to be invited in before he can enter. All Jordan has to do is say the words....

My Comments:
Interesting YA novel... involves Jordan, a high schooler, drowning herself in booze, sex, and drugs because she has no direction in her life when her boyfriend of a year ago dies and returns as a vampire to haunt her poor, miserable existence. Her mother is non-existent in her life and her friends only encourage the booze and drugs. Her ex-boyfriend is a totally jerk and deserves what he got. The story around these two is not enlightening, uplifting or really entertaining. Not a very exciting read.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Truly, Madly (Lucy Valentine, #1) by Heather Webber

Author: Heather Webber
Publish Date: February 2, 2010
ISBN: 9780312946135
List Price: $7.99
My Rating: 4 out of 5

Jacket Synopsis: 
Meet Lucy Valentine; sassy, fabulously original…and psychic.

Lucy hails from a long line of matchmakers known as Valentine INC. According to family legend, the Valentines have been blessed by Cupid with the ability to help couples find true love. Trouble is Lucy’s powers were zapped away by an electrical surge and now all she can find are lost objects. But what good is that in the matchmaking world?

Lucy is about to find out when she tries to solve a murder and winds up falling into a romance of her own.

My Comments:
An ARC winner! What a brilliantly, intriguing book. I originally read this book in December 2009 and I thought I would share my review as book #2, Deeply, Desperately has just been released.

It is a story about a young woman struggling to deal with a paranormal power and feeling a little lost. It includes love, mystery, murder, and a bit of comedy. I think we all struggle to find our place within our family fabric, with friends, and the world around us. Lucy is working on figuring out what she should do about being a part of the family business. She does it all with suspense, adventure, and love along the way. It is a great light-hearted read that is action packed and hilarious at times. I really enjoyed Lucy's adventure.

I love the author's writing voice. It is smooth and completely envelopes the reader into Lucy's world. Her experiences, emotions and thought process all keep the reader 100% engaged. I read this book in 1 day. I am eagerly awaiting to read book #2 and #3. I think the character of Lucy is going to start a great series of mystery, love, and enticing humor. I am really glad that I was offered the chance to read this book and look forward to Heather Webber's additional books to the series. Deeply, Desperately was just released Aug. 3, 2010. I am already reading this one and will have a review soon. If you like Charlaine Harris mysteries, this book falls in line with that genre. Great book, I want more!!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Lonely: A Memoir by Emily White

Author: Emily White
Publish Date: March 1, 2010
ISBN: 9780061765094
List Price: $25.99
My Rating: 2 out of 5

Jacket Synopsis:
This boldly honest and elegantly written memoir reveals the painful and sometimes debilitating experience of living with chronic loneliness—the first book of its kind devoted exclusively to the subject.
Despite having a demanding job, good friends, and a supportive family, Emily White spent many of her evenings and weekends alone at home, trying to understand why she felt so disconnected from everyone. To keep up the facade of an active social life and to hide the painful truth, the successful young lawyer often lied to those around her—and to herself. She was suffering from severe loneliness. 

My Comments:
I saw this book and thought it would be a good, helpful read. Being that it is a memoir, it would have personal insight and reflection on loneliness. I expected it to be an informational read that would help me understand my own feelings of loneliness. After personal set-backs, loneliness is ever present, even with so much family and friends around. The book describes different types of loneliness: situational, emotional, and chronic, the major types that I took from the read.

The author suffers what she terms as chronic loneliness and writes about the fact that there is not much study or material around the state of loneliness. With that said, I expected this book to provide helpful insight on how to deal with loneliness, but it does jump from a memoir format to a medical-jargon filled self-help that I found difficult to apply. I had high expectations that this book would share relate-able ways to conquer, if not, manage loneliness, but, sadly, I found the read frustrating and daunting.

I congratulate Ms. White on an amazing accomplishment and difficult journey. I hope that this book was cathartic for her and that it helps others who experience the state of loneliness, if the can get through the monumental material.

How To Mellify A Corpse by Vicki Leon

Author: Vicki León
Publish Date: July 6, 2010
ISBN: 9780802717023
List Price: $17.00
My Rating: 4 out of 5

Jacket Synopsis:
In How to Mellify a Corpse, Vicki León brings her particular hybrid of history and humor to the entwined subjects of science and superstition in the ancient world, from Athens and Rome to Mesopotamia, the Holy Land, Egypt, and Carthage. León covers subjects as diverse as astronomy and astrology, philosophy and practicalities of life and death (including the titular ancient method of embalming), and ancient mechanical engineering. How to Mellify a Corpse of course invokes legendary thinkers (Pythagoras and his discoveries in math and music, Aristotle's books on politics and philosophy, and Archimedes' "Eureka" moment), but it also delves deeply into the lives of everyday people, their understanding and beliefs.

A feast for the curious mind, How to Mellify a Corpse is not only for those with an interest in the experimental: it's for anyone who's inspired by the imagination and ingenuity humanity uses to understand our world.
My Comments:
ARC Winner! What a great read! León's writing style is interesting, yet humorously objective. Her goal is to give you insight into old age superstitions and social beliefs from the Greco-Roman times while applying some common sense with a humorous voice. She also relates them to society's beliefs and superstitions today which is often hysterical. León paints a colorful picture of Greek and Roman times which explores the day-to-day lives, beliefs, social politics, and personal rituals of great philosophers of the time, kings/conquerors, other notable figures, and average citizens.

If you are wondering about that title, it has to do with the preservative benefits of honey. It was common to preserve foods in honey, but it also led to other important preservations. Alexander the Great mellified his lover and himself upon their deaths. Other superstitions about necromancy and "learning secrects from the dead" has an interesting tale as well. Cleomenes became king and he cut off the head of his best friend, Archonides, and preserved it in honey in a large jar in his room. This allowed King Cleomenes to consult with Archonides about battles and political issues. "It may come as no surprise to learn that the honeyed skull of Archonides agreed with everything he said." (pg. 64)

This book touches on philosophy, astronomy, construction, politics, science, music, medicine, and the history of these civilizations. We journey into the lives of Aristotle, Plato, Emperor Octavian, Pliny the Elder, Cicero, Pythagorus, Archimedes, and many others. We also cross such lands as Greece, Italy, Spain, France, England, Asia Minor (now Turkey) and the Middle East.

I like León's writing style because it flows smoothly and intelligently while still entertaining. She covers a great deal of material but keeps it from being overwhelming or boring as some historical reads can become. The topics switch often but are connected either by a historical figure, topic, or place to keep the reader on track and mentally connected to the material. You will definitely remember this read because you are able to relate it to today and intelligent humor stays with you.

I have already acquired her other series called "Uppity Women" of Ancient Times, Medieval Times, and Shakespearean Times. I cannot wait to get started on this series!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dead and Loving It by MaryJanice Davidson

Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Publish Date: April 4, 2006
ISBN: 9780425207956
List Price: $14.00
My Rating: 3 out of 5

Jacket Synopsis: 
MaryJanice Davidson has enchanted readers everywhere with her delicious blend of wicked humor, sizzling sex, and totally unique vision of vampires and werewolves. In this collection of four novellas she brings her beloved Wyndham werewolves (featured in her acclaimed novel Derek's Bane) together with the vampires ruled by Betsy Taylor (from her bestselling Undead series).

Filled with equal parts of spicy heat and laugh-out-loud moments, this collection will drive Davidson's legion of fans wild with blood-pounding delight.

My Comments:
The Undead books are a great series and I have read all 9 books. I highly recommend to anyone the Undead Series (Queen Betsy). However, I was not so entertained or impressed by this short-story off shoot of the series. Please do not let that comment deter you from checking out the Undead Series because it is off-the-chart entertaining and I just love the characters. I really wish I knew Betsy in real life because her quips and come-backs are to die for (no pun intended).

The mini-stories in this book are interesting but you would certainly have had to read the Undead Series to understand the back stories behind the characters written about in this book. The author's style is uniquely inviting and just plain funny. The Undead series and this book include stories about Vampires, Ghosts, Zombies, Fiends, Werewolves, and the Devil Spawn. These characters are hilarious and interesting to watch them interact and live together. There is always some disaster that has to be attending to and Queen Betsy has the humor to get through it.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Author: Lewis Carroll
Publish Date: 1865
Website: N/A
ISBN: 9781593080150
List Price: $5.95
My Rating: 2 out of 5

Jacket Synopsis:
Alice begins her adventures when she follows the frantically delayed White Rabbit down a hole into the magical world of Wonderland, where she meets a variety of wonderful creatures, including Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the Cheshire Cat, the hookah-smoking Caterpillar, the Mad Hatter, and the Queen of Hearts—who, with the help of her enchanted deck of playing cards, tricks Alice into playing a bizarre game of croquet. Alice continues her adventures in Through the Looking-Glass, which is loosely based on a game of chess and includes Carroll’s famous poem “Jabberwocky.” 

My Comments:
I picked up this classic after watching the new 2010 version of Alice in Wonderland. I was very excited to read this classic story since I had grown up on the Disney version as well. Well...let's just say that this is interesting. I got through it finally, but the jargon and innuendo of the Victorian times that this story was written in was completely lost on me. I would love to say that I enjoyed the story and that it will be a "keeper" in my library, but it sadly will not be.

I am glad to say that I "read" the story which means that I read the words and turned the pages, but probably comprehended about 70% of the story. It was not entertaining because I was having to look up much of the Victorian vernacular. Many of the colloquialisms had to do with politics and societal differences. I figure as I read more about Victorian times much more of the story will make sense. Kudos to those of you who understood and enjoyed this story.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Monster Book of Zombies, Edited by Stephen Jones

Editor: Stephen Jones
Publish Date: September 18, 2009
ISBN: 9781435120495
List Price: $7.98
My Rating: 3 out of 5

Jacket Synopsis:
Death is not the end! If you are too rational to believe otherwise, then we invite you to read the stories collected. Here are tales of the walking dead reanimated by black magic, weird science, outer space viruses, and plain old human irresponsibility. No matter how they are resurrected, all indulge in malevolent mischief and mayhem that will make you think twice about dismissing dead as done.

My Comments:
This book is a collection of 26 zombie mini-stories by such authors as Clive Barker, Joe R. Landsdale, Robert Bloch, H.P. Lovecraft, Ramsey Campbell, Brian Lumley, Les Daniels, Edgar Allan Poe, Brian Lumley, Manly Wade Wellman, and others.

These stories provide different interpretations of the zombie. We typically see them as mindless, flesh eating beings that thrive on the movie screen, but in these stories the zombies are aware, have cognitive thought, and plan devious acts to obtain their goal. The various writing styles are interesting and the non-typical interpretation of the zombie may question the differences between vamps and zombies if they both are the living dead.

Mina by Marie Kiraly

Author: Marie Kiraly
Publish Date: December 4, 2007
Website: http: (Written under the pen name of Marie Kiraly)
ISBN: 9780425217467
List Price: $3.99
My Rating: 4 out of 5

Jacket synopsis:
The chilling and erotic tale of Mina Harker, sole survivor of the vampire's obsession.

My Comments:
The story is a continuation of the original story of Dracula by Bram Stoker. It is from Mina Harker's point of view just after she has been seduced and bitten by Dracula. It chronicles the search and chase of Dracula by Mina, Van Helsing, Jonathan Harker, Dr. Seward, Arthur, and Quincey. Mina details in her diary the chase, the demise, and their return to ordinary life.

Although upon their return to England, Mina cannot shake her connection to Dracula, though he is believed dead, nor her vivid, frightening dreams. She questions her ability & desire to fulfill an expectation of carrying on the facade of a happy Victorian marriage. Mina cannot escape the dreaded reactions to blood and sensual desires triggered by the vampire blood inside of her. During her adventure and escape from Dracula's castle, Mina stumbled upon a diary kept by one of Dracula's three wives. This diary also becomes an obsession of Mina's because it has to be translated. She must know the intimate details of 100 year old diary and how it may provide answers for her future.

Through all this Mina endures murder, adultery, a stint in an asylum, and her journey back to Dracula's castle to confront what she may become.

The author has done a great job of continuing the voice of Mina Harker from Bram Stoker's Dracula. The characters are so vivid that you cannot help but be drawn into the story. I thought this was an exciting and well written read. There were a few edit errors, but I enjoyed the story. I am curious to see where Mina's story goes, so I will be reading the sequel to this book Blood to Blood (Dracula Continues, #2) under Elaine Bergstrom.