Posts Tagged With: Fiction

Book Review: The Gods of Gotham – 5/5

gotham

 

The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Engrossing! This book had me hooked from the start. I’m not one who often tackles mysteries but this has so many other nuances – historical fiction, romantic interest, poetry – it’s going to be pleasing to all kind of readers.

Let’s start with the last I mentioned; the poetry. Faye’s writing is beautiful. I just love the way the story is described. The unfortunateness of an audiobook is how hard it is to dog-ear favorite lines but I have a lot of them. The way people grimaced, the way the sun fell over the city, the smells and sounds of the day all were described so uniquely and so beautifully. It fit is really well with the setting and I think that manner of seeing the world a little differently helped us as the reader understand the main character as well. It was like the general narration was a part of what made Tim such a great detective- he already saw the world in a unique way.

Let’s add that on to the historical fiction – oh, I love the setting. So interesting, so changing. I adored the use of the different language and jargon – it worked extremely well in the book. Very pleasingly hard to follow at times. It wasn’t just thrown in there to be in there – Faye used it well.

The characters in this story are unique – people in particular like Valentine and Mercy are a mixed bag of questions. They really off-set the other cast of characters. That’s the thing with mysteries that is always hard – you have to have a good sequence of people so the suspect list isn’t too short, but you can’t flesh out everyone. Having two really unique people I thought helped balance it out nicely. The fact that these people meant a lot to the main character – brother and love-interest respectively – made it all that more important that they were the interesting ones.

Lastly, of course, there’s the plot. It was a truly good story! Unique background that kept me guessing. Toward the end I had a very good understanding but it wasn’t so far in advance that it was predictable.

And that’s that! I don’t have a bad thing to say about the book. Recommend!

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Book Review: Golden Earrings – 5/5

Golden Earrings by Belinda Alexandra

golden

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, this book.

Do you ever read a historical fiction and think, “This must have happened.” It was so expertly woven, the truth and tales of the times intermingled with the fiction so beautifully I thought it had to be true. The richness of the story, though certainly not all uplifting, felt like something that just had to have happened. Of course, I realize that’s not the case, but I don’t think I’ll be able to ever think about the Spanish Civil War without imagining La Rusa’s impact.

I adored this (audio) book. It’s a historical fiction that reads like a mystery. I knew the instant I picked this up it would be a winner of my heart: Spain, flamenco, and ballet? It’s like Alexandra knew what draws me to a story and decide to put it all into one place – beautifully at that. If you don’t already have a soft spot for any of those items, you’ll be hard pressed to walk away from this tale without one.

What more is there to say? Paloma, Evelina, Celestina – Golden Earrings is a tale of strong women who are impacted by a terrible war. It’s a story about how people react when their lives are altered by others’ choices. It’s not a story about making all the right decisions. Each and every one of the characters in this novel make mistakes – very large mistakes – that send waves of impacts down the line for years. But mistakes don’t make a person, and Alexandra’s weaving of the characters shows that mistakes can be made by good people, but that good people aren’t immune to hard choices.

This is a little known novel that needs some serious love. It’s incredibly via audio book and I’m sure just as good on paper. Highly recommend,and I will definitely be picking up more of Alexandra in the future.

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Book Review: His Haven by Harper A. Brooks – 3 of 5

His Haven by Harper A. Brooks

hishaven

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Debut author alert! This is such a great start – I fully intend to continue with the series when the next one is released.

In this book, the world revolves around Haven and Avrum, and their worlds revolve around each other. Sure, there are some other things going on along the way but that is the true meat-and-potatoes of it. Their eyes catch at the beginning of the novel and that’s the end of it. Though there are some wrenches thrown into the plot as a whole, we more-or-less know what’s going to happen at the end. This isn’t a bad thing in the least, after all, that’s why we have genre labels.

I love how human the vampires are in this book. It’s not easy to write a book that contains vampires after the Twilight rise (and then horrific crash and burn). Brooks’ vampires are different, though. Sure, they have an aversion to sunlight and a pretty intense lust for human blood but, other than that, they are just a like (and as variable) as you and me. I like that. I like that the vampires still breathe and sweat in addition to rapid healing and speed. It makes them “more-than-human” instead of different creatures overall and this makes the attraction between Haven and Avrum feel very natural.

Overall, I enjoyed reading the book. Brooks is showing herself as a great blooming author. Her story is fresh and, though some of the wording and scenes are a bit clunky, others are overall brilliant. I liked the addition of little subplots, though sometimes they were a bit of a distraction or not entirely resolved (I thought the whole Henri seeing Haven as Linna part would have more oomph to it). Also, some of the book moved dizzying fast from one part to the next.

Overall, though, this is a quick and enjoyable read. Great start, Harper!

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A Life of Novels – NaNoWriMo and Me

Oh, hi, friends.

I don’t do the “typical” blog entry here much anymore – and for good reason.  I don’t think you visit my website to know more about me, I think you want to get a good idea of what to, and not to, read.  I hope I’ve been able to provide that so far.

Still, I think this month deserves a bit of a step away from that set-up.  If you know anything about the reading and writing community, you’ve probably heard about NaNoWriMo.  If you know anything about me at all, you probably know that I love NaNoWriMo.

Love is an understatement, actually.  NaNoWriMo has defined me, created me, caused me to grow.  The month of November, for me, is one of challenge and immense satisfaction.  I own my entire self and one of my best friends to NaNoWriMo.  I know it sounds dramatic, but I am who I am because of Chris Baty and his challenge to himself that he decided to share with his friends.

This is my 13th year of NaNoWriMo.  I wrote my first 50,000 word novel in a green three-subject spiral notebook when I was in 8th grade.  I went through two pens. This was before I understood the importance of paragraph breaks.  It was a fantasy novel that quite blatantly stole plot line details from LOTR.  I still love that story. Now I am querying for traditional publication of my 12th novel, the chick lit story called Viva Las Vegas.  In between I have written sci fi, literary, mystery, and plenty of romance.  I’ve loved and hated my novels. I’ve stayed up late, flown to San Francisco, yelled at my husband, lost my work, found my muse, written on pen and paper, written on many computers. I’ve grown each and every time.

There are a lot of haters about NaNoWriMo out there.  I think they hate the hype (I do, too, in a way).  They argue against why someone should purposely write poorly, why they should rush a process, why they should ever encourage “everyone” to write a novel.  Haters gonna hate.  Which is worse – the person who spends 10 years hemming and hawing over a novel that turns out to still be crap, or the person who spurts it out in 30 days, out of breath, cheeks flushed, hands in the air and cheering?  Do we frown and tsk at the person who comes in last during a marathon?  What’s the point of running if you’re not going to be first?  It’s the action of it, the emotion of it, it’s about YOU not the consumer.  This is what NaNoWriMo is.

If Chris Baty had never challenged me to write a novel, would I ever had done it?  Maybe.

Would I have written 13 novels before the age of 25? No.

Would I have 12 instances of pure elation, that feeling of accomplishment, realization of my own power and ability and dedication when I crossed that finish line?  Absolutely not.

Would I ever have had the confidence to work and on a novel for a year and be prepared to publish it?  Maybe someday.

NaNoWriMo provides an escape.  It releases us from a life of confinement.  It tells us that for a while, just for 30 days, we can change our priorities.  Kids, work, partners, grocery shopping ,whatever – it can take a back seat.  For 30 days, if only for 30 days, we can say, “I want to do this for me.”  And it’s a goal that hard, really hard for some (it gets easier, by the way).  It’s a goal that’s achievable.  It’s a goal that is so much better because there is no prize.  There’s no competition against others, only yourself.  It’s beautiful and wonderful and sometimes we even get a beautiful story out of it – which is just icing on the cake.

This month, I’ve been ramping up my duties at work and I’ve been in the height of the process of buying a house. I’m querying a novel, writing in this blog, and spending two hours a day commuting by train (where I don’t write due to usually having to stand).  It’s been hard for me to write, and it has been such a wonderful challenge.  It never once crossed my mind not to participate in NaNoWriMo.  I will do it each and every year.  It’s a part of who I am.  Some years I may not make it – I didn’t in 2004, after all – but I will do it for the rest of my life because without it I wouldn’t be who I am. And you don’t just throw that kind of commitment away.

Now, that being said, I have protagonist who needs to join a reggae band.

11,334/50,000

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Debut Book Review: Time Off For Good Behavior – 4/5 stars

Time Off for Good Behavior by Lani Diane Rich

timeoff

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wanda. What a protagonist. She’s spicy, saucy, and damn if she doesn’t keep hold of your interest. I feel so pleasantly rewarded with this book. This is Lani Diane Rich’s first novel and it sizzles. I picked it up for two reasons: one, I’m trying to get some more traditional “chick lit” under my belt, and two, it’s a NaNoWriMo novel, and I have a special place in my heart for those. I didn’t even need to keep that special place open, though, the character Wanda stole it all on her own.

Wanda’s luck goes from bad to worse and, I have to say, a lot of it is her own damn fault. She’s the kind of character who draws you in right away. The plot keeps you going. I was definitely drawn in by one after another event and with Wanda staying strong, wisecracks flying, it wasn’t hard to keep the pages turning.

This book, for me, was an up and over winner. I love Wanda and her sassiness. Towards the end of the book, though, as much as I loved Wanda, I felt my appreciation for the book start to wane. Wanda is a great character for the reader because she is a pain in the butt. She perpetuates problems, she’s eccentric and erratic. The problem is that I loved her –and so did the rest of the characters in the book. For such a catty attitude, there were far too many people who enjoyed her company, who fell over themselves to help her out. It just didn’t quite fit. For as screwed up as her life was, she had so many people who were willing to take her in. To me, the answers were just a little too easy and, at times, super cliché.

Still, there was enough about this books and the characters that I loved to keep the rating up. It’s a story that made me laugh, snort-laugh (which is more on the evil side), and feel downright tender. And feels are good.

Pick it up!

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