Thursday, February 28, 2013

Progress on The Town of Halloween

Yesterday I had a terrible sinus headache from all the damp and rain from the last few weeks.  I did not get very much reading done.  So I am posting my progress on this cross stitch. Check here for my original post.
Boy, you can really chug along when you only have 2 colors to use.  I have not decided what I will do with this once it's finished.  I hope we will have some sunshine today so I can work on it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Postcard Killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund

A friend of mine, Lisa, was reading this book and liked it so I got it from the library.  I don't know how I missed this one.  I have read tons of Patterson's work. I liked this book. Most of the action takes place in Sweden.  I guess that is why Patterson is writing with Marklund.

The Story:  There are a string of murders across Europe.  The killers send postcards, hence the name.  NYPD detective Jacob Kanon is chasing the killers because his daughter, Kimmy, was killed by them. A postcard was sent to a writer in Sweden, Dessie. Jacob tracks her down.  With the help of a Swedish policewoman and Dessie's ex, they catch the killers!!
This book was addicting which was something I needed after reading a few sad books!  I really got into the story.  James Patterson is the man! I will be reading a Liza Marklund book soon! 

An excerpt:

Paris, France
“IT’S VERY SMALL,” THE ENGLISHWOMAN said, sounding disappointed.
Mac Rudolph laughed, put his arm around the woman’s slender neck, and allowed his hand to fall onto her breast. She wasn’t wearing a bra.
“Oil on a wooden panel,” he said. “Thirty inches by twenty-one, or seventy-seven centimeters by fifty-three. It was meant to hang in the dining room in the home of the Florentine merchant Francesco del Giocondo. But da Vinci never got it finished.”
He felt her nipple stiffen under the fabric of the blouse. She didn’t move his hand away.
Sylvia Rudolph slid up on the other side of her, her hand easing its way under the woman’s arm.
“Mona Lisa wasn’t her name,” Sylvia said. “Just Lisa. Mona is an Italian diminutive that can be taken to mean ‘lady’ or ‘her grace.’”
The woman’s husband was standing behind Sylvia, his body pushed up against hers in the crowd. Very cozy.
“Anyone thirsty?” he asked.
Sylvia and Mac exchanged a quick glance and a grin.
They were on the first floor of the Denon wing of the Louvre, in the Salle des États. Hanging on the wall in front of them, behind nonreflective glass, was the most famous portrait in the world, and the guy was thinking about beer?
“You’re right,” Mac said, his hand gently gliding down the Englishwoman’s back. “It is small. Francesco del Giocondo’s dining room table can’t have been very large.”
He smiled over at the woman’s husband.
“And you’re right, too. It’s time to drink some wine!”
They found their way out of the museum, down the modern staircase toward the Porte des Lions, and stepped out into the middle of a Parisian spring evening.
Sylvia inhaled deeply, breathing in the intoxicating mix of exhaust fumes, river water, and freshly opened leaves, and laughed out loud.
“Oh,” she said, hugging the Englishwoman, “I’m so glad we met you. Honeymoons are all very well and good, but you have to see a bit of the world, too, don’t you? Have you had time to see Notre-Dame yet?”
“We only got here this morning,” her husband said. “We’ve hardly had time to eat.”
“Well, we must do something about that at once,” Mac said. “We know a little place down by the Seine. It’s wonderful, you’ll love it.”
“Notre-Dame is fantastic,” Sylvia said. “One of the first Gothic cathedrals in the world, strongly influenced by naturalism. You’re going to love the South Rose Window.”
She kissed the woman on the cheek, lingering for a second.  More here.

Pages: 423

The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress

Wow!  What an adventure this book was! It's about three young ladies who meet fight crime and become friends.  Cora, who describes herself as "one of the best organizers and problem solvers there is..", works for an inventor and MP. Nellie is a magician's assistant, who can break and enter. Michiko, is an assistant to a "martial arts" teacher.  She is actually a samurai! Each girl has different qualities and make a great team. Together they discover (and foil) a plot to destroy London and find a murderer.

I hope there is another book in the mind of Adrienne Kress.  This is a fantastic series for girls/teens.  Heck, I am 50 and I loved it!

Quill and Quire Review

An excerpt:

And then there was an explosion.

London, the year 1900. Three smart, savvy, very different young women are struggling to make their way in the world. Cora, a clever girl from the streets, has been taken in by the brilliant (if eccentric) scientist and inventor Lord White, for whom she works as a private secretary and lab assistant. Since being hired, Cora has become quite adept at putting things together and taking them apart, and has developed a fondness for explosions and experiments. Her position as Lord White’s secretary and right-arm woman, however, means she never really has the freedom or power to do as she so wishes, and more often than not she finds herself babysitting his lordship, instead of getting the respect she craves and deserves.  More here.

Pages: 440

I read this book for the Get Steampunk'd 2013 Challenge.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

I feel that this is a MUST READ!!  Get your copy now!!

From Cathy Marie Buchanan's site: A heartrending, gripping novel set in belle époque Paris and inspired by the real-life model for Degas’s Little Dancer Aged 14 and by the era's most famous criminal trials. Following their father’s sudden death, the Van Goethem sisters find their lives upended. Without his wages, and with the small amount their laundress mother earns disappearing into the absinthe bottle, eviction seems imminent. With few options for work, Marie is dispatched to the Paris Opéra, where she will be trained to enter the famous Ballet and meet Edgar Degas. Her older sister, Antoinette, finds employment—and the love of a dangerous young man—as an extra in a stage adaptation of Émile Zola’s Naturalist masterpiece L’Assommoir. Set at a moment of profound artistic, cultural, and societal change,The Painted Girls is a tale of two remarkable sisters rendered uniquely vulnerable to the darker impulses of “civilized society.”

from wikipedia

This is the little statuette mention in the book.  Marie was devastated when she read in the newspaper that the critics said her face was ugly. I disagree.  It is a lovely statuette. You can see it at these museums. I guess Degas changed his mind and had bronzes made after all.
You can find Degas' art here. Look for Marie in these - "Dancer with Fan”, “Dancing Lesson”, “Dancer Resting”.

Marie and her sisters were real people.  Their lives broke my heart.  I really felt for these girls.  I think this lifestyle was indicative of the time they lived in.  I wanted to shake their mother and tell her to snap out of it!I was so very happy that this novel had a happy ending!

Pages: 357

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by the Countess of Carnarvon

If you are interested in the Downton Abbey TV show, you may like this book. It is a history of the home and people they knew.  I watched the TV special on Highclere Castle so I had some knowledge about the Carnarvon family and their home. 
Lady Almina was the illegitimate daughter of Alfred de Rothschild, a millionaire banker.  She lived in luxury for most of her life. She married the 5th Earl of Carnarvon in June of 1895.  It was a love match for her.  The Earl was glad for the money she brought into the marriage.  Her father paid off his debts and continued to fund their fabulous and very frivolous lifestyle.
The Earl and Howard Carter found King Tut's tomb.  It was only one of their finds in Egypt.  Lady Almina helped the WWI effort by establishing a hospital at Highclere and also in a house in London.  These efforts cost a lot of money, which they did not have.  They spent and spent.  When Mr. de Rothschild died he left almost everything to his daughter.  After WWI, the Bristish government started taxing the aristocracy to pay for the war.  Taxes on the Earl's estates went up and up.  He ended up selling off everything he had to pay his bills, except for Highclere, which would be passed to their son.
Lady Almina died a pauper.   Unfortunately the book does not tell us why.  She spent everything he father left her.  The 5th Earl left nothing but debts to his family.  They were also hit with incredible inheritance taxes.  I believe that is another reason why that way of life ended.

I felt a lot of the story was left out.  The author name drops through out the book.  But if you aren't up on WWI and Brit society at that time you are lost.

I am wondering if Julian Fellows only wrote Downton Abbey because he is friends with the 8th Earl.  Hoping that selling the TV series would financially benefit the Carnarvons, which it did!

Pages: 310

Here is a very interesting take on Lady Almina and the two books written about her.
I read this book to fulfill the genre of biography for the 2013 Genre Variety Challenge.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I have to say I LOVED this book! It is well written and the plot kept me guessing!  It is a Cinderella story but it is so much more!  I am happy to find out that a sequel called Scarlet is coming out soon according to Meyer's website.

From Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

You can access an audio excerpt here.

This book qualifies for the Genre Variety Challenge.  The genre is Dystopian. Some on goodreads also shelve it as Steampunk, so I will list it on that challenge too, Get Steampunk'd 2013.

Pages: 387

Till Death by William X Kienzle

I got this book for the A-Z Mystery Author Challenge.  I needed an author's last name that starts with an X. I could not find anything or anyone.

I don't think that I have even read anything by William X Kienzle before. His first novel The Rosary Murders was made into a movie starring Donald Sutherland.  He wrote 24 detective novels before is sudden death by a heart attack in 2001.

The movie poster

Donald Sutherland as Father Bob Koesler

I liked this book but I kept waiting for the death.  Every mystery has a death.  A person finally dies, by accident about 10 pages from the end.  The story centers around people that had worked at St. Ursula's. The priest there, Father Angelico, was a horrible man and a worse priest.  He treated everyone with disdain.  Most people were not religious enough for him.  I know how that feels! After his death, some priests started a club to commiserate with each other about what happened when they worked at St. Ursula's.  There were other members of this group besides priests, like a nun and a teacher.

Synopsis from Random House: For years, a little group of priests and nuns have struggled together to recover from the rule of virtual slavery imposed upon them by tyrannical Father Angelico, now thankfully gone to his reward. But for some of them the group is no longer a godsend. The ties that once bound beloved Father Rick Casserly, beautiful former nun Dora Ricardo, defrocked priest Jerry Anderson, and warm and lovely school principal Lil Niedermier unshakably to their church are becoming dangerously frayed by the human passions their faith denies them. No one foresees the terrible events that will soon leave one of them dead, and only Father Koesler, in the wisdom of his seventy years, grasps the shocking truth. . . .

An Excerpt: Never get sick on a Wednesday.

Why not?

Because the doctors and priests will be on the golf course.

Lil smiled at the memory of the old wheeze as she peeled strips of bacon from the package and slid them into the frying pan.

It was very much an "in" joke for Catholics of long standing who could count themselves well within the loop. Once upon a time, when Catholics fell ill a priest might be summoned as routinely as a doctor. While the doctor scribbled a prescription, the priest would confer the appropriate sacrament, and assure the family of his prayers as well as those of the other parishioners.

Nowadays, doctors don't make house calls, and priests, an ever more endangered species, are buffered from callers by answering services. Nonetheless, Wednesday is still a popular day off for those able to arrange it.

Lil wore only the top half of a man's pajamas. The man, still snoozing, wore the bottoms.

The sun was creeping into the basement studio apartment. The tiny dwelling comprised a kitchenette wall, one bath, and an all-purpose space that was foyer, living room, dining room, and bedroom.

This Wednesday in June promised to be a pleasant day, the type that invited one to get out and enjoy the weather. Many of those left behind at this suburban apartment complex after the majority went off to work--mostly mothers and young children--would gather poolside.

Not this couple.

Lil and Rick had to be extremely careful.

This caution did not concern Rick nearly as much as it did Lil.

He was by nature carefree, spontaneous, and relatively fearless. She envied him these traits. Still she feared they'd be found out. Her fear was more for him than it was for her. But she, too, had high stakes in their relationship.

After all, Lillian Niedermier was principal of St. Enda's elementary school. She wondered how long she would hold that position if it leaked out that she had for the past ten years been half of a significant-other relationship.

The marital status of parochial teachers and principals had been taken for granted in the era when Catholic schools were staffed almost totally by nuns. Religious brothers served a few schools; priests--Jesuits, Basilians and the like--taught at some other schools as well as at seminaries.  Read more here.

Pages: 279

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Beautiful Lies by Clare Clark

I am ambivalent about this book.  I hung on and read the whole thing.  I kept waiting for the story to pick up.  But I was quite bored.  Maribel is the wife of an MP living in 1887 London.  She smokes, writes poetry, takes photographs, goes to parties and visits friends.  Maribel and her husband have told lies.  Lies about her. His lies to her.  Lies about his family.

The lies are stupid.  The story could have been so much more.  After I finished the book, I read the Author's Note.  This story was based on the life of real people, Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham and his wife Gabriela. The reviews on goodreads are mixed too.

Pages: 500

I read this book for the Monthly Key Word Challenge 2013. Key Word: Beautiful. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Green Darkness by Anya Seton

I should have saved this book for next month when it qualifies for the Monthly Key Word Challenge.  Key Word: Green....but I will find another! I will use this book for the 2013 Genre Variety Challenge as a Historical Fiction genre.
This is a story of reincarnation.  I loved this story.  When they are in the 1500's, the story visits real happenings within the Tudor family.  The story ends at Ightham Mote.

The Story:  Celia and Richard meet, fall in love and marry.  They return to his family home and settle in. Celia's mother meets Dr. Akananda and brings him to a weekend party at Celia and Richard's home.  Some of the people at the party go visit a haunted house (Ightham Mote) nearby.  That evening Celia and Richard act very weird during dinner.  Some of the guests change too. Celia and Richard fight and he almost kills her.  She is taken to the hospital.  Everyone at the hospital thinks she is dead but Dr. Akanandra thinks her soul is elsewhere.
Then the story changes to the 1500's and we meet another Celia and her love is a priest named Stephen who happens to be an ancestor of Richard's.  This Celia's story is told.  Every once in a while she hears voices calling to her but she knows it is not her they are calling to.
Eventually, the 20th century Celia awakes from her coma and returns home to Richard who also needs help from the good doctor.

Pages: 627

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross

I read this book for my Get Steampunk'd 2013 Challenge.  This book is the second in The Steampunk Chronicles.  You can read an excerpt here.  Kady Cross is a pseudonym for Kathryn Smith, a romance writer.

The Story: Jasper Renn has been taken from London by police from America. They say he is wanted for murder.  Finley, Griffin, Sam and Emily chase after him.   They fly to America in Griffin's new dirigible.  While staying at the Waldorf Astoria, they find out that Jasper was kidnapped by Dalton, the head of a gang in the Five Points section of Manhattan.  Jasper had stolen a device from Dalton several years ago.  Dalton wants it back or he will tighten the clockwork collar on Jasper's former girlfriend, Mei Xing. Finley and her friends find out what is going on and try to rescue Jasper from Dalton.

There are real people and places in this story like Nicola Tesla, Five Points, Gangs of New York and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, which was torn down to build the Empire State Building.

This book was very good.  I will be reading the first one in the series as soon as it is avaible from the library!  If you like Cassandra Clare, you will like this series.

Pages: 408

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Crossing Place by Elly Griffiths

Here's another selection for my A-Z Mystery Author Challenge and the 2013 Mystery/Crime Reading Challenge.
If you like books by Erin Hart, you will like this book, a Ruth Galloway mystery.  It is very similar. 
I liked this book a lot. The story was good.  I will be reading more from Elly Griffiths.

The Story:  From this site. When a child’s bones are found on a desolate Norfolk beach, Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson calls in forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway.  Nelson thinks he has found the remains of Lucy Downey, a little girl who went missing ten years ago. Since her disappearance he has been receiving bizarre letters about her, letters with references to witchcraft, ritual and sacrifice.
The bones actually turn out to be two thousand years old but Ruth is soon drawn into the Lucy Downey case and into the mind of the letter writer, who seems to have both archaeological knowledge and eerie psychic powers. Then another child goes missing and the hunt is on to find her. As the letter writer moves closer and the windswept Norfolk landscape exerts its power, Ruth finds herself in completely new territory – and in serious danger.

An excerpt: Waking is like rising from the dead. The slow climb out of sleep, shapes appearing out of blackness, the alarm clock ringing like the last trump. Ruth flings out an arm and sends the alarm crashing to the floor, where it carries on ringing reproachfully. Groaning, she levers herself upright and pulls up the blind. Still dark. It's just not right, she tells herself, wincing as her feet touch the cold floorboards. Neolithic man would have gone to sleep when the sun set and woken when it rose. What makes us think this is the
right way round? Falling asleep on the sofa during Newsnight, then dragging herself upstairs to lie sleepless
over a Rebus book, listen to the World Service on the radio, count Iron Age burial sites to make herself sleep and now this; waking in the darkness feeling like death. It just wasn't right somehow. 
Read more here.

Pages: 303

The White Devil by Justin Evans

I got this book because I found it under the mystery genre on goodreads.  I needed an author with the last name that starts with an "E" for the A-Z Mystery Author Challenge.
From the goodreads page.

But the mystery part of the story was a little thin.  I don't think it was a horror book.  It was not scary to me. So I am going to use this book for my 2013 Genre Variety Challenge.  The genre is Paranormal > Ghosts because it is a ghost story.  It is a very good ghost story.

The Story:  Andrew Taylor is sent to a prestigious boarding school in England for his senior year of high school because he got into trouble with drugs at his previous school.  He was expelled from school three weeks before graduation.  He lost all of his acceptances from college.  His father thinks if he did well at this school he would be able to get into a good college.
     He arrives at Harrow and gets a tour of the building, The Lot, that he will live in.  They are in the basement and he feels a chill and something a bit scary. But he ignores it and continues on.  A few days later he is told by a girl, Persephone, who is the daughter of a teacher at the school, that he resembles Lord Byron.  Lord Byron happened to be a student at this school years ago.  Persephone is the only girl to attend Harrow.
     Persephone gets Andrew to try out for a play about Byron that is being written by his housemaster, Fawkes.  The play is to be about the person that Byron loved most in his life.  Apparently Byron was a bit of a slut.  He was with men and women throughout his life. 
     Andrew finds a housemate dead.  He thinks he sees some white faced pasty gaunt looking man fleeing the scene.  Then he starts having dreams with this person.  This person does sexual things to him in the dreams. Andrew feels as if he is falling apart.  He tells Fawkes what is happening.  Andrew, Fawkes and Persephone get caught up in the play and somehow it figures in with what is happening to Andrew.  They must figure out what this is and save themselves and the school.

Pages: 366

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd

This is the second Bess Crawford mystery. A Duty to the Dead was the first. I really enjoy reading these mysteries by Charles Todd, a mother/son team.

The Story:  Bess Crawford had accompianed several soldiers to a hospital in England.  One of the soldiers, Lt. Evanson, she took care of in France. She is at the train station in London, she sees the Lt.'s wife.  It is obvious the woman is upset.  Bess wonders who is the man Mrs. Evanson is with.  Bess goes back to France and the war. A few weeks later, she sees a newspaper article asking for information about a murdered woman, Mrs Evanson.  Of course Bess must investigate and find out what is going on.  Eventually, she figures it all out!

You can read some of the book here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What's in a Name Challenge 6 Wrap Up

  The books that I read for this What's in a Name 6 Challenge are:
  1. A book with up or down (or equivalent) in the title: Falling Awake by Jayne Ann Krentz
  2. A book with something you'd find in your kitchen in the title: The Buzzard Table by Margaret Maron
  3. A book with a party or celebration in the title: Affair by Amanda Quick
  4. A book with fire (or equivalent) in the title: Between Two Fires by Christopher Buehlman
  5. A book with an emotion in the title: The Blue Bottle Club by Penelope J. Stokes
  6. A book with lost or found (or equivalent) in the title: Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst
I enjoyed this challenge very much.  It was fun to search for titles.

Affair by Amanda Quick

I found this title for the What's in a Name 6 Reading Challenge. The category was A book with a party or celebration in the title: A Feast for Crows, A Wedding in Haiti, Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness.  The word affair is a synonym for party.

The Story: Charlotte needs a new man-of-affairs. Her previous employee had retired.  Baxter St. Ives applies for the job.  They work together to figure out who murdered his aunt's friend who also happened to be a client of Charlotte's.  Along the way they also fall in love.

You can read an excerpt here.
This is the typical romance type book from this author.  Not too bad.  A good escape type book.

Pages: 340

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

This book is the second in a trilogy.  The first was The Tea Rose, which reunites readers with the much-loved Finnegan family. Beginning where The Tea Rose ended, on the river Thames, the novel follows the story of Charlie Finnegan – now Sid Malone – and an intriguing new female character – India Selwyn Jones.
The year is 1900 and the dangerous streets of East London are no place for a well bred woman. But India Selwyn Jones is headstrong: she has trained as one of a new breed, a woman doctor, and is determined to practice where the need is greatest.
It is on these grim streets where India meets – and saves the life of – London’s most notorious gangster, Sid Malone. Hard, violent, devastatingly attractive, Malone is the opposite of India’s cool, aristocratic fiancé, a rising star in the House of Commons. Though Malone represents all she despises, India finds herself unwillingly drawn ever closer to him – enticed by his charm, intrigued by his hidden, mysterious past.
From this site.

I liked this book a lot but I was not really happy with the ending.  I wanted more!!  Soon I will be reading the third book, The Wild Rose.  I enjoyed learning about the hard times people had at the turn of the century and the change they wanted.  I certainly hope that we are not going to go back to those times because of the greed that seems to be everywhere right now.
This book qualifies for the 2013 Genre Variety Challenge for the category - Historical Romance.

Pages: 707

Robert B Parker's Ironhorse by Robert Knott

I loved Robert B. Parker's work.  Now other authors are continuing his series.  This book by Robert Knott, who also co-wrote the screenplay for the movie Appaloosa, was very good.

The Story: Virgil and Everett delivered a couple of fellows to Mexico and on their way back home on a train through the Indian territories.  Some men start robbing the train.  Virgil and Everett are marshalls and they start fighting back.  There are about 20 men involved in this heist and the train gets separated into 4 parts.  The bad guys take off with two young women as hostages.  The men go after them.

I also read this book to fulfill the genre - western for the 2013 Genre Variety Challenge.

An excerpt:
Virgil was sullen. Other than “yep” and “nope,” he hadn’t said much in the last few days. We crossed the Red River and entered the Indian Territories aboard the St. Louis & San Francisco Express out of Paris, Texas. At just past five o’clock in the afternoon, Virgil broke the silence.
“A good pointer don’t run through a covey,” Virgil said. I tipped my hat back and looked at him. He was gazing out the window, watching a line of thunderclouds spreading across the western skies. The St. Louis & San Fran Express was a new breed of train. It was the nicest we’d been on since we traveled up from Mexico, with automatic couplers, Westinghouse air brakes, and a powerful Baldwin ten- wheel engine capable of pulling twice as many cars as other locomotives. The fourth and fifth cars back were first- class
Pullman sleepers with goose- down beds and leaded-glass transom windows. The coaches were fancy, too, with luminous pressure lamps, mahogany luggage racks, tufted seats, velvet curtains, and silver- plated ashtrays.  More here.

Pages: 374

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers

This is my selection in the genre of Teen Fiction for the 2013 Genre Variety Reading Challenge.

This story was so sad.  It made me cry a lot!! This book was very well written.  Courtney Summers website.

The Story: Eddie Reeves is a seventeen year old girl whose father has committed suicide.  He left a note  but it doesn't satisfy Eddie.  She goes to the warehouse where he died every night, trying to find any connection.  Her mother has totally shut down. Her best friend, Milo, doesn't seem to understand.  One night she meets her father's apprentice, Culler Evans.  They seem to connect and try to figure out why her father did this.

 An excerpt:
My hands are dying.
I keep trying to explain it to Milo, but he just looks at me like I’m crazy.
“They don’t feel warm–they haven’t.” I squeeze the tips of my fingers as hard as I can, which hurts. “They’re not numb, though…”
“Maybe you have that… Raynaud’s disease,” he says. He takes my right hand and studies my fingers. They seem healthy, pink. He shakes his head. “They’re not blue.”
“But they’re cold.”
“They feel warm to me.”
“They feel cold,” I insist.
“Okay, Eddie,” he says. “They’re cold.”
I jerk my hands from his and then I rub them together. Friction. Heat. Milo can say what he wants; they’re freezing. It’s the hottest summer Branford has seen in something like ten years, but I haven’t been able to get my hands to warm up since it happened.
I hold them up again. They don’t even look like my hands anymore. They don’t even look like anything that could belong to me, even though they’re clearly attached.
“They’re different” I tell him.
“Would you please put your hands down?” he asks. “Jesus.”
My hands have changed. I catch Milo looking at them sometimes, and I see it on his face that they’re different, no matter what he’s saying now.
We’re at the park, sitting on the picnic tables, watching a summer world go by. Kids play in the fountain with their parents. Pant legs are rolled up and big hands are holding on to tiny hands, keeping them steady against the rush of water. The smell of burgers and fries is in the air; food. It reminds me the fridge at home is empty and I have to go grocery shopping today or my mom and I will starve.
I don’t even know how long the fridge has been that empty but I noticed it today.  Read more here.

Pages: 230

Friday, February 15, 2013

Get Steampunk'd 2013 Reviews

I signed up for the Cogged Level of this challenge.  I need to read 15 books.  I can also go up to the next level if I choose.  I won't be doing the extra challenges because I am not that familiar with this genre YET!

Here's my list.
1. Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
2. The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross
3. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
4. The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress
5. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
6. Steamed by Katie MacAlister
7. Steampunk : An Illustrated History of Fantastical Fiction, Fanciful Film and Other Victorian Visions by Brian J. Robb
8. The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
9. The Hunter by Theresa Meyers
10. Dreadnought by Cherie Priest
11. Dead Iron by Devon Monk
12. Tin Swift by Devon Monk
13. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
14. The Chosen by Theresa Meyers
15. Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
16. The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason

BA's Get Steampunk'd 2013 Reading Challenge Sign Up

BA’s 2013 Get Steampunk’d Reading Challenge

About: The Get Steampunk’d Reading Challenge is all about Steampunk! Read anything as long as it has that Steampunk theme, with steam-powered gadgets, dirigibles, and punked up Victorian dress.
Steampunk Examples: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore, Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, The Difference Engine by William Gibson.

The Finer Deets

  • Running dates for all 2013 challenges: 1st of January – 31st of December 2013
  • Sign-Ups are accepted until the 16th of December 2013.
  • Formats: All BA Challenges are eBook, audio, short story, and graphic novel friendly.
  • Crossovers: You’re welcome to crossover with BA’s challenges. Include as many books across all the challenges as you can, I always say.

How To Sign-Up and Join In

  1. Choose Your Level: Choose a challenge level listed below.
  2. Sign Up Post: Create a post on your blog, in a group, or on a forum (where possible) to let others see what you’re aiming for (a predefined list of books is optional).
  3. Grab The Badge: Download or grab the badge and place it in your sign up post. Then link back to BA's Get Steampunk'd Challenge. Grab me!Bookish Ardour.
  4. Link Up: Grab the direct URL to your sign up post, not your blog, click the Mr Linky graphic and enter your link.
  5. Blogless? Don’t worry, you can sign up with your social network profile (YouTube, Twitter, GoodReads, Shelfari included), just make sure you link to your review list, shelf, tweet, or category. If you don’t have any of those feel free to comment.
  6. Your Reviews: Reviewing is optional! But if you do review it would be great for you to share them by submitting them on the review page.
  7. Finished: When you’re done it’s completion post time and you can share these on the completion/wrap-up page.

Challenge Levels

  1. Geared – Choose 5 books to read
  2. Cogged – Choose 15 books to read
  3. Goggle Mad – Choose 30 books to read
  4. Victorian Lord/Lady – Choose 50 books to read
  5. Inventor – Choose 75 books to read
  6. Zephyr Pilot – Choose 76-135 books to read
  7. Steampunk’d – Choose 136-200 books to read

Extra Challenges

If you feel like that extra kick to your reading challenges here’s several you can choose from.
  • World: Choose a country as your theme, reading only books from that country or where it’s the setting. For how high you go you can choose more than one country;
    • Level Geared and Cogged: Choose one country
    • Level Goggle Mad and Victorian Lord/Lady: Choose two countries
    • Level Inventor to end of Zephyr Pilot: Choose three countries
    • Level Steampunked!: Choose four countries.
  • Gender Battle: Read books only by female or male authors. Another alternative is to read equal amounts of both.

I am going to attempt the Cogged Catagory of 15 books.  But the rules say I can go up if I wish!!

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

I read this fantastic new book yesterday!! I really liked it.  I got it for the Genre Variety Challenge.  The genre is Science Fiction> Steampunk.  I never knew about this genre but I love to read this kind of book.  It also can go on the list for the 150+ Challenge and 2013 Steampunk'd Reading Challenge.

Here is a great explanation of Steampunk from Gail Carriger's website.
There are two main kinds of steampunk. The first, which shall be called here, traditional steampunk, envisions a future as the Victorians imagined it. The writings of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne are good examples. The second, industrial steampunk, sees a far future world that harkens back to Victorian culture, for example a bustle dress made of kevlar. There are also other temporal options like clockpunk (c. 1500s) and dieselpunk (WWII). 

The Story:

 Sophronia is a 14 year old girl that is not a young lady the way her mother wants her to be.  She takes things apart to see how they work.  She is constantly climbing and causing trouble. So her mother decides to send her to a finishing school, Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.  Mademoiselle Geraldine takes her away from her home and on the way to the school the carriage gets attacked by flywaymen.  Of course Sophronia handles the situation and rescues everyone.
Once she gets to the school, she starts to realize that this is not a regular finishing school.  The adventure begins!!

I really enjoyed reading this book and cannot wait for the next installment in The Finishing School series.  Ms. Carriger has several other books which I will be reading soon!  I am going to attempt to get my younger daughter to read this book!

Pages: 307

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Buried Diamonds by April Henry

I selected this book for the Monthly Key Word Challenge and since it is a mystery it also qualifies for the Mystery/Crime Challenge.  I can add it to the A-Z Mystery Author Challenge but I have an H already.  It is the Mystery entry on the Genre Variety Challenge.

I have never read anything by April Henry before. I will getting some of her other books! I really liked this book.  The mystery was entertaining without being heavy.  Claire was not some nosy old lady or someone that only cared about finding the killer which was refreshing.

I enjoyed the vanity license plates at the beginning of each chapter.  At one time Claire worked for the state of Oregon as a vanity license plate verifier.  Thank you April for adding the page at the end of the book telling the reader what each license plate "said". 

The Story: Claire is out jogging on her usual route.  She runs by a rock wall and sees something.  She stops to look and finds a diamond ring.  She runs up to the house on the property and finds out that the owners are away, but she does not tell the man she talked to about the ring.
She runs back to her house that she shares with and 81 year old Jewish woman who survived a concentration camp.  Claire show Charlie (Charlotte) the ring and she recognizes it.  The ring belonged to Elizabeth, her best friend in the early 1950's who committed suicide.  Finding the ring opens a HUGE can of worms!

The story bounces from the 50's and the present time and also flashes back to remembrances of the concentration camp Charlie was in.

Pages: 290

Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst

"Parkhurst treats the game show as an opportunity for the contestants to decide, as the producer asks of them, "What have you found?" The answer for readers: heart and wit to spare." —Publisher's Weekly

A scavenger hunt game show is the premise for this book about contestants on the show.  The show is called Lost and Found.  The contestants are given clues they must solve to find the items that they then carry throughout the hunt.  Their search takes them all around the world.

I really liked this book.  The story was different.  I liked how the characters were written.  The contestants stories were different, not the usual fare.  The book begins and ends with Laura and Cassie, the mother/daughter team in the game.  Cassie has just given birth to a baby girl in her bedroom ALL BY HERSELF.  Laura did not realize her daughter was pregnant.  Their story was so heartwarming.

I read this book for the What's in a Name Challenge.  The category is: A book with lost or found (or equivalent) in the title: The Book of Lost Fragrances, The World We Found, A Discovery of Witches.
Pages: 289

Family Affair by Debbie Macomber

This is a cute little novella about  newly divorced Lacey.  She is attracted to her neighbor Jack but it seems he is a cheater like her ex.  This is their story of love.  
I got this book for one of my challenges (Genre) but I have another I can use.  It is eligible for the Monthly Key Word Challenge. Key Word Family.

From Debbie Macomber's site.
Lacey Lancaster has always longed to be a wife and mother. However, after a painful divorce, she decides it's time to lay low for a while in her charming San Francisco apartment with her beautiful Abyssinian cat, Cleo.

Everything would be wonderful, except for her utterly impossible neighbor Jack Walker. When he's not arguing day and night with his girlfriend, begging her to move in with him, he's chasing down his cat named Dog, who seems determined to get Cleo to succumb to his feline advances.

Then Lacey discovers the awful truth-Cleo is in the family way and Dog's to blame. She's furious that neither Jack nor his amorous animal seem too upset about the situation.

But Lacey learns that things are not quite as they seem. Jack's "girlfriend" is really his sister-and his intentions toward Lacey are very honorable. And though she's not quite sure about Dog, Lacey begins to discover the tender joy of falling in love all over again.
An Excerpt: 


"I've got the backbone of a worm," Lacey Lancaster muttered as she let herself into her apartment. She tossed her mail onto an end table and glared at Cleo. "I didn't say a word to Mr. Sullivan, not a single word."

Cleo, her Abyssinian cat, affectionately wove her golden brown body between Lacey's ankles. Her long tail coiled around Lacey's calf like a feather boa, soft, sleek, and soothing.

"I had the perfect opportunity to ask for a raise and did I do it?" Lacey demanded, kicking her feet so that her shoes sailed in opposite directions. "Oh, no, I let it pass by. And do you know why?"

Cleo apparently didn't. Lacey took off her bright green vinyl raincoat, opened the closet door, and shoved it inside. "Because I'm a coward, that's why."

Walking into the kitchen, she opened the refrigerator and stuck her head inside, rooting out some sorry looking leftovers, two boxes of take out Chinese, and the tulip bulbs she'd meant to plant in her balcony flower box last October.

"I'm starved." She opened the vegetable bin and took out a limp stalk of celery. "You know my problem, don't you?"

Cleo meowed and wove her way between Lacey's ankles once more.

"Oh, sorry. You're probably hungry too." Lacey reached inside the cupboard and pulled out a can of gourmet cat food. To her surprise, Cleo didn't show the least bit of interest. Instead, she raised her tail and stuck her rear end in the air.

"What's going on with you? Trust me, Cleo, this isn't the time to go all weird on me. I need to talk." Taking her celery stick with her, she moved into the living room and fell onto the love seat.   More here.

Pages: 102

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

City of Shadows by Ariana Franklin

This author was recommended to me by a lady on FB.  When I read a new to me author, I always start with the earliest book I can get.

Since this book has "A Novel of Suspense" on the cover I am going to use it in my 2013 Genre Variety Reading Challenge.

The Story: A young woman is thrown off a bridge in 1920's Berlin.  Because she does not speak she is sent to an asylum.  Prince Nick, a White Russian, and his secretary Esther, a Jewess, thinks she may be Anastasia, the Czar's daughter.  Every six weeks a large man has come to the asylum. Anna says he is there to kill her.  But why?  Is she really Anastasia?  Nick moves Esther, Anna and another woman, Natalya, into an apartment.  He wants them to "train" Anna so she can announce who she is to the world. 
Esther gets attacked at Nick's nightclub by the large man.  Six weeks later another employee of Nick's gets killed.  Is it the large man.  Esther meets Inspector Schmidt. More murders happen.  Schmidt gets sent to Munich.  Six years or so later he comes back to Berlin.  Another murder happens.  Esther and Schmidt team up to find out who the large man is.  Along the way they fall in love and discover what is really going on!

I really enjoyed this book.  You get a glimpse of what post WW1 Berlin is like.  If you are intrigued by the whole Anastasia story you will enjoy this book.

Pages: 419

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Town of Halloween Cross Stitch

Last week I started a new cross stitch project from this Halloween magazine.  Town of Halloween is designed by Isabella Abbiati of The Primitive Hare. You can look at her fabulous designs here.  She has alot of patterns I want!!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Genre Variety Challenge Links

I have decided to try to do Branching level which is 18 different genres.  Goodreads has genre listings.
I am past 18 genres so I am going for Avid Reader; 24 different genres, 24 books.
Now I have past 24 genres (March 21, 2013), the next level is: Champion; 30 different genres, 30 books

Here's my Genres....they may change and I can go up a level....
1. Historical Fiction Green Darkness by Anya Seton
2. Historical Romance The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
3. Paranormal - Ghosts The White Devil by Justin Evans
4. Biography Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by Lady Carnarvon

5. Fantasy Urban Fantasy Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson
6. Romance A Fool's Gold Christmas by Susan Mallery

7. Gothic A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
8. Sci-Fi - Steampunk Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
9. Thriller Heartbroken by Lisa Unger
10. Women’s Fiction  Joy For Beginners by Erica Bauermeister

11. Dystopian Cinder by Marissa Meyer
12. Western Robert B. Parker's Ironhorse by Robert Knott
13. Children Secret of the Golden Pavilion by Carolyn Keene

15. American - Southern Wish You Well by David Baldacci
16. Classics  Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskill
17. Futuristic Romance The Lost Night by Jayne Castle
18. Mystery- Noir Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto
19. Erotica Reflected in You by Sylvia Day
20. Suspense City of Shadows by Ariana Franklin
21. Mystery Buried Diamonds by April Henry 
22. Teen Fiction Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers
23. Historical Mystery An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd 
24. Sci Fi Time Travel  Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
25. Sci Fi  A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
26. Non-Fiction Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman  
27. Crime Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride
28. Horror Black Valley by Jim Brown
29. Book Clubs The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton 
30. Fairy Tales The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson
31. Chick-Lit little black dress by Susan McBride
Epic Fantasy
Golden Age Mystery 

2013 Genre Variety Reading Challenge

Faye at Daydreamer's Thoughts is hosting this challenge.

Go here to sign up!

But what is it?
The challenge is to read books from different genres throughout the year. I have found that blogging has opened my eyes to so many genres that I would never have tried before, simply from recommendations, and the idea of this challenge is to keep that going. The challenge is to read a large variety of genres within one year.
Other Important Info;
  • Runs from January 1st 2013 until December 31st 2013. Sign ups will be open until December 1st 2013.
  • There are five levels to challenge yourself too. You may move up a level but not go down a level. These are all outlined below. Please mention in your sign up post which level you will aim for.
  • The genres you choose to read are up to you. As long as every book is different, whichever genre you wish to read you can.
  • Every month there will be a post on this blog to link up to your update post / review(s)
  • There will be a giveaway at the end of the challenge, and maybe a few within the year but these are TBD.
  • To sign up, you will need to write a post saying which level you are challenging yourself too and then use the linky list. Non-Bloggers may post in the comments of this post.
  • Any book formats are accepted.
  • Novellas and Novels are all accepted for this challenge.
  • YA, NA and Adult books all count towards this challenge.
  • New sub-genres are accepted. (for example, paranormal-romance, or historical-romance)
  • Careful; 6 different genres, 6 books
  • Cautious; 12 different genres, 12 books
  • Branching; 18 different genres, 18 books
  • Avid Reader; 24 different genres, 24 books
  • Champion; 30 different genres, 30 books
This is just a list of the vast variety of genres you have to choose from. I have probably missed a lot, so feel free to branch off from this. These are just suggestions.
Women’s Fiction
Epic Fantasy
Fairy Tales
Short Stories
Travel Guides

I am going to start with Branching; 18 different genres, 18 books.

Hopefully I will go up.....plenty of genres not listed here!!

Dead As A Dinosaur by Frances and Richard Lockridge

I read this book for the Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge for the category: 8. Dangerous Beasts: a book with an animal in the title (The Case of the Grinning Gorilla; The Canary Murder Case; etc.).

 Dr. Preson thinks someone is out to get him.  This person keeps putting ads in the newspaper for weird things like midgets and tree surgeons and sending them to his apartment.  Then his sister stops by his apartment, helps herself to some milk and gets an overdose of drugs that someone put in the milk.  She does not drink enough to really hurt her. He has called the police several times but they don't really take him seriously.  Jerry North is going to publish a book for him through his firm.  Jerry and his wife, Pam are wondering just what is going on with Dr. Preson. 
Dr. Preson dies and the police think he poisoned himself but Pam figures out just how he was poisoned.  Then Dr. Preson's uncle gets murdered.  Now the police are paying attention.  Who is doing this??

Pages:  318