“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

 It might seem that to pen a review of literary titaness Jane Austen’s best-known (and possibly best-loved) novel would be presumptuous.

Nevertheless, I shall proceed to gild the lily and explain why, when I finally crossed its threshold several years ago, I found it worthy of every adulation ever laid at its door. Continue reading

“She But Sleepeth” by Rachel Heffington

Peles Castle, Romania — courtesy of Gabi Jguma/Wikipedia

Sleeping Beauty is a set designer working for Hollywood. A Romanian gypsy casts spells of time-travel and death. An estranged royal couple mourn the loss of their only child. And the hunky love interest exhibits self-sacrificial love.

Yet, for whatever confluence of cosmic misdemeanors, all the raging richness of this story potential totally fizzled when it hit the dour surface of my consciousness. Continue reading

“Death Be Not Proud” by Suzannah Rowntree

 Ruby Black is a cabaret singer with a lifestyle of cigarettes, hard applejack, and jazz, who pinches pennies from her day job as maid while dreaming of the big time in the opera.

When she’s confronted with a two-year old murder mystery in the person of the victim’s determined fiancé, she gets involved in the dark tale against her better judgement.

This fairytale retelling is perfect for mystery lovers, as chilling suspense combines with a rich writing style. Continue reading

“Superheroes Aliens Robots Zombies” by Mark Boss

Junk Food for Zombie Lovers

SARZ-51kVl+YZFoL This book is like mind candy for the science fiction apocalypse lover. Zombies – quick, coordinated, and flesh-eating – mixed with aliens – small, big-eyed and green – and robots for a wild, active romp thru cliché and disaster-tales.

If only the violence weren’t so medically accurate…and if only the author had learned that “series” is not code for “serial”. Continue reading

Ten Books to Read in One Sitting

The Top Ten Tuesday topic for this week is “Read In One Sitting Theme”. I’ve filed my choices into three categories: stories that drag you along, begging to be read all at once; stories whose length and format suit them to comprehensive reading; and stories suited to periods of interrupted reading time.

Gripping Stories

Rats-of-NIMH-51q9wWLOq4L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert C. O’Brian

We used this as our bedtime story once. Mr. O’Brian puts his chapter breaks in exactly the right places – in a way. While we didn’t quite finish it in one read-through, the story pulled us along from chapter to chapter, long past when Dad had first said, “Well, just one more.”

Continue reading

“Necromancer Awakening” by Nat Russo

NecAwake_61Av9vyX4AL I’ll admit Necromancer Awakening has one of the most gripping opening chapters I’ve seen. Nicholas Murray, archeology student, is getting ready for his adoptive father’s funeral – a man who took him on as a teenager and got him where he is now – when supernatural visions cloud his sight and he’s sucked into another world before his girlfriend’s eyes.

I’m afraid the first third of the book was a struggle to get through. While I acknowledge that being yanked away from everything you’ve ever known would be stressful and disorienting, the cliché of whiny, clueless protagonists and grumpy, impatient mentor-figures gets old fast. Continue reading

“Ranger’s Apprentice” & Bad Cliffhangers

The Book I Loved, the Series I Stopped

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I haz rifle – and a pet spider. Ergo, I’s awesome.

Rangers Apprentice, by John A. Flanagan, is a series highly recommended to me by a good friend of mine. It follows the adventures of a group of characters in a quasi-mystical land where “Rangers” (Rogues, Hunters, Hide-in-shadows-shooting-with-deadly-accuracy-awesome, whatever the name is) train and serve the king of Araluen.

Sadly, it is also the series I think back on when I think of the wrong way to do cliffhangers. Differences in fiction taste aside, here’s why I loved the first book, but finally gave up on the series.

The Case Studies

5119KT1oeUL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_1 The Ruins of GorlanThey have always scared him in the past—the Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now 15-year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger’s apprentice. What he doesn’t yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time, he will not be denied…

I’ve heard this book get some flack, but it was my favorite. Continue reading

“Firebird” by Kathy Tyers

firebird On the planet of Netaia, Firebird Angelo comes from a royal family that rules the stratified civilization with a rigid tradition of honor and detailed religious code. As an extraneous heir, Firebird faces the obligation of suicide once her older sister delivers a second child. Meanwhile, her planet nation prepares for war against the nearby Federation of planets.

While easily melodramatic, this sci-fi culture is handled well, the characters are nuanced and compelling, and the book overall was one I enjoyed. Continue reading

Reflections on “A Christmas Carol”

Three Things to Think On This “Holiday Season”

51ycpilxgcl If you’re like me, you’re pretty familiar with the mythos of A Christmas Carol, but have never actually read the original. This year, I remedied that.

Charles Dickens’ original story of rich, cantankerous, “Bah-Humbug” Scrooge, the ghosts of Christmas, and the joy of celebration is available on Project Gutenberg and on Amazon as free ebooks (or as an audiobook!), so there’s no barrier to enjoying this classic tale.

As I read Dickens’ version of the story, three things jumped out at me. Continue reading