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Showing posts from September, 2009

The Darkest Pleasure by Gena Showalter

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Somehow, I seem to have neglected to write a blog posting about The Darkest Pleasure by Gena Showalter (2008), book three of the Lords of the Underworld series, and one of my favorite romance novels of all time.

From the back of the book:

Reyes is a man possessed. Bound by the demon of pain, he is forbidden to know pleasure. Yet he craves a mortal woman, Danika Ford, more than breath and will do anything to claim her--even defy the gods.

Danika is on the run. For months she's eluded the Lords of the Underworld, immortal warriors who won't rest until she and her family have been destroyed. But her dreams are haunted by Reyes, the warrior whose searing touch she can't forget. Yet a future together could mean death to all they both hold dear....


Reyes is my favorite of the heroes from the four books in the series to this point. Bring a strong, silent type with a certain element of conflicted self-torture to the table, and he's the one for me.

In order to "perform"…

The Darkest Whisper by Gena Showalter

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The Darkest Whisper by Gena Showalter (2009) is the fourth installment in her Lords of the Underworld series. If you enjoy paranormal romance and haven't read any of the Lords books yet, you're missing something wonderful.

You can also jump into the series at any point and not be lost. Yes, there's a continuing search for the recovery of Pandora's box and an ongoing battle between the Hunters and the Lords that moves through the books, and the Lords and their women, as they join the group, appear in each book. You won't be confused if you don't start at the first book, though, and Showalter does an excellent job of focusing primarily on the actual couple featured in the book.

Each immortal Lord is possessed by a demon released centuries ago when they opened Pandora's box and annoyed the gods. The Darkest Whisper is the story of Sabin, possessed by Doubt, and the lovely Gwendolyn (Gwen) the Timid, a very young Harpy. For the record, a timid Harpy is a…

This and That

I'm hosting a reading contest at the hospital where I work next month in honor of National Medical Librarians' Month. I usually have an open house on or around Halloween, my favorite holiday, but I thought this sounded more fun.

Anyone who works at the hospital, or the affiliated collection of physicians' clinics, can join the contest. All s/he has to do is count the number of book pages read--romance novels, short stories, mysteries, biographies, etc. I'll have weekly messages including the top three totals for motivation, random drawings for small prizes throughout the month, and the grand prize of a $50 gift certificate to the top reader's choice of bookstore.

I always worry that no one will participate when I offer something (in real life or on my blogs), so I'm happy to report that I have eleven registered about an hour after sending an e-mail message to my co-workers. I'll be okay if eleven is the total, even. Relief!!

The blog Mobile Libraries ha…

Jennifer Johnson is Sick of Being Single by Heather McElhatton

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I absolutely loved Jennifer Johnson is Sick of Being Single by Heather McElhatton.

Jennifer is perfectly imperfect--filled with sarcastic cynicism, smart, slightly overweight, a good friend, in default on her credit card debt, addicted to Cinnabons, trying to meet someone through online dating, a tad shallow, and a creative writing major working as a copywriter in the marketing department at a family-owned department store. I want to be her friend!!

Yup, she's the Americanized (Minnesota) version of Bridget Jones.

In the midst of preparing for her younger sister's wedding, Jennifer receives an invitation to her ex-boyfriend's upcoming wedding. Double whammy.

And then she meets Brad Keller, heir to the department store, eligible, and extremely interesting. And interested back in Jennifer? Apparently so.

Here's a snippet from when Jennifer meets Brad in the department store elevator. He's still wearing the full-face ski mask and red parka he had on when he approache…

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

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I became interested in reading Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Linqvist, translated into English by Ebba Segerberg, (2008 in English) after hearing about the film by the same title. I still haven't seen the film, though I plan to at some point.

The book, at least, isn't at all what I was expecting. Instead of a young love vampire story, this is very much a dark story of blood-draining vampirism and, frankly, the cruel way children treat other children who are perceived as somehow different. Closer to Bram Stoker than, say, Stephanie Meyer.

The synopsis from Barnes & Noble.com:

It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last---revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.

But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl…

Her Last Death by Susanna Sonnenberg

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Her Last Death by Susanna Sonnenberg (2008) was a difficult read for me because of (1) the nature of the "memoir" (see Author's Note below) and (2) the fact that I could have written something that, while different in the specific details, is essentially the same in spirit about my own father. And why would I want to do that? What could I hope to gain?

Here's the Author's Note (aka Disclaimer):

This is a work of memoir and subject to the imperfections of memory. I have been faithful to what I remember, and people in my family may remember shared experiences differently. In the interests of narrative, I have conflated or changed some events and dialogue, and created occasional composites. I have changed some identifying characteristics and have reconstructed some conversations and early experiences based on family lore. I have changed all names but my own to emphasize that this story could only be mine.

If you're going to make "composites" and "c…

Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan

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Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan (2008, reprinted 2009) sucked me in from the very first page.

Not so much the story of Kim Larsen, who goes missing one summer day after completing her senior year of high school, this is the story of the unraveling of the self-perceptions and lives of those left behind.

After the first chapter, told in the third person from Kim's point of view on the day she goes missing, each chapter is told in the third person from the point of view of someone close to Kim--her dad, her mom, her sister, her best friend, her not-so-serious boyfriend. O'Nan does a fantastic job of keeping the reader in the story while having each voice provide a unique sound and perspective for the story.

Told from the various perspectives, the story moves from the initial disbelief of realizing that Kim is missing through the various searches to an eventual memorial service and beyond to a few years after her disappearance. A lot of emotions, a lot of change--and, y…

Dark Possession by Christine Feehan

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Dark Possession, the sixteenth (!) book in Christine Feehan's Dark Series is an okay read.

The story revolves around MaryAnn Delaney, a counselor for abused women who is unaware that she is much more than just human, and South American Carpathian Manolito De La Cruz. Set in Brazil, readers, already presumably very aware of the Carpathian world created by Feehan by this point in the series, learn about the Jaguar people and also what exactly MaryAnn is. (You can learn what she is from Barnes and Noble.com if you're interested; I just think that's a major spoiler for anyone who plans to read the book.)

MaryAnn is more than a little skittish about becoming involved with such an Alpha male as Manolito, and she also has to cope with learning that she's something other than just human during the course of the book. Manolito has an interesting time coping with the vampires who want to turn him at the same time that he's trying to keep MaryAnn with him.

I absolutely loved…

Thirteen Points and Quotes to Ponder

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[I'm not the author of any of the following quotes; they're just ones I like. When I know the source, I've included his/her name.]

1. "Life is not always what one wants it to be, but to make the best of it as it is, is the only way to be happy." --Jennie Jerome Churchill

2. "You're someone unique--just like everyone else."

3. "Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you will help them become what they are capable of becoming." --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

4. "Pleasure is very seldom found where it is sought. Our brightest blazes are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks." --Samuel Johnson

5. "One’s health should be Nonnegotiable, yet we make excuses for why we eat badly, why we have not exercised, why, why, why. Too many excuses! The set of rules I have for my life, my marriage, relationships, work, is not negotiable, so, why do I allow my health to be?" --Part of this blog post from The Certifiable…

The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine

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The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine is the fictional tale of a child prostitute. Fifteen-year-old Batuk has spent six years as a sex slave, living in a cage, in Mumbai after being sold by her father. Besides her friendship with another sex slave, a boy named Puneet, which can't last, all that Batuk has for herself is a pencil and a blue notebook for writing her story.

Based on Mayo Clinic-affiliated Levine's experiences while traveling with a United Nations-sponsored group in India, Batuk's story is riveting, haunting, and presented in horrifyingly graphic detail. Graphic to the point that I felt nauseous, yet told with a cool, almost clinical precision in the first person, this book will stay with me forever.

Here's a clip from an article in Twin Cities Daily Planet

It took Levine only 58 days to finish his first book. “Writing my first novel was not difficult,” says Levine. “I love writing—I get lost in it.” Despite his love of writing, he didn’t write The Blue No…

Tails of Love edited by Lori Foster

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Tails of Love is a collection of short stories edited by Lori Foster, with a portion of the book proceeds going to Animal Adoption Foundation, a no-kill animal shelter in Ohio. In addition to a story written by Foster, the contributors are Stella Cameron, Kate Angell, Dianne Castell, Ann Christopher, Marcia James, Donna MacMeans, Sarah McCarty, Patricia Sargeant, and Sue-Ellen Welfonder.

While there wasn't a single story in the varied collection that I didn't like, my two favorites were Danny's Dog by Sarah McCarty and Atticus Saves Lisa by Ann Christopher.

In Danny's Dog, McCarty explores the aftermath for a couple, Kathy and Walt, now separated after the death of their child. She provides a very eloquent depiction of grief and self-blame for a couple ripped apart by their overwhelming loss and inability to communicate. The road to healing their relationship begins when Kathy turns to Walt to provide a home for Sebastian, an abused dog.

In Atticus Saves Lisa, Lisa h…

What Frequently Challenged Books Have You Read??

I found this posting to Banned Books over at Fresh Ink Books and just had to participate!

"If you have read the whole book, bold it. If you have read part of the book, italicize it. If you own it but haven't gotten around to reading it yet, *** it."

1. The Bible
2. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
3. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
4. The Koran
5. Arabian Nights
6. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
7. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
8. Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
9. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
10. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
11. The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
12. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
13. Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
14. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
15. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
16. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
17. Dracula by Bram Stoker
18. Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
19. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
20. Essays by Michel de Montaigne
21. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
22. History of the Decline and Fall of the Ro…

September 11

If you're interested in learning more about the events of 9/11/2001, try The September 11 Digital Archive.

From the site: "The September 11 Digital Archive uses electronic media to collect, preserve, and present the history of September 11, 2001 and its aftermath. The Archive contains more than 150,000 digital items, a tally that includes more than 40,000 emails and other electronic communications, more than 40,000 first-hand stories, and more than 15,000 digital images. In September 2003, the Library of Congress accepted the Archive into its collections, an event that both ensured the Archive's long-term preservation and marked the library's first major digital acquisition."

There's also the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center site here.

Iraq War Veterans, Inc. is an excellent resource for American troops currently serving overseas and their families.

Another new-to-me blog is Days of My Life from a blogger in Iraq with the nick…

The Mercenary: The Savage Seven by Katherine Garbera

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The synopsis for The Mercenary by Katherine Garbera from Barnes & Noble.com:

"They're the Savage Seven—a ragged group of mercenaries who trust no one, risk everything, and get the job done, no matter what it takes. . .

So much for diamonds being a girl's best friend. . .

Once upon a time, Kirk Mann led a normal life. Now, as second-in-command at Savage Seven, he takes on assignments no one else would dare to handle. Like protecting Olivia Pountuf, a sexy, pampered socialite who was engaged to the manager of a diamond mine—until she discovered her fiancé's murderous business tactics. Kirk arrives in Johannesburg too late to stop Olivia being kidnapped, but rescuing her stirs up a firestorm of longing as hot as it is dangerous. And that's just the kind he likes. . .

Olivia grew up believing that money would protect her. But the man she was to marry wants her dead, and the one person who makes her feel safe is a rough-around-the-edges ex-Marine who couldn't care…

Mr Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange

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Despite the fantastic cover and the equally fantastic idea of the beloved Mr. Darcy reimagined as a vampire, I really knew that I should stay away from Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange. With my deep love for Pride & Prejudice and vampires, I knew only disappointment waited for me.

The book opens on the wedding day of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy and Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley. Then the couples part ways, with the story following Mr. and Mrs. Darcy on their wedding trip. A trip in which Mr. Darcy doesn't, ahem, visit Elizabeth's room. At all.

When I reached 36% of the story on my Kindle, still with no resolution about the sex issue, I was ready to scream about the lack of story action on all fronts, though especially involving their physical relationship. Would the Elizabeth I know so well from not only Jane Austen's story, but also various film adaptations, have waited and waited and waited and waited without asking Darcy what was wrong? If nothing else, e…

This and That

Do you know a reader in fourth through twelfth grades in the United States? Please let him/her know about the Letters about Literature program:

The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, in partnership with Target Stores and in cooperation with affiliate state centers for the book, invites readers in grades 4 through 12 to enter Letters About Literature, a national reading-writing contest. To enter, readers write a personal letter to an author, living or dead, from any genre-- fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or classic, explaining how that author's work changed the student's way of thinking about the world or themselves. There are three competition levels: Level I for children in grades 4 through 6; Level II for grades 7 and 8, and Level III, grades 9 - 12. Winners, announced in the spring of each year, receive cash awards at the national and state levels.

Learn more, and see previous winners here. [I found the titles and authors selected very intriguing. Then ag…

Librarians

Seriously, CNN? I expected better from you than an article full of stereotypes when discussing the future of libraries and librarians.

"The stereotypical library is dying -- and it's taking its shushing ladies, dank smell and endless shelves of books with it."

Somehow, I can't see myself as a "shushing lady." Ick.

"Hipster staffers who blog, chat on Twitter and care little about the Dewey Decimal System are edging out old-school librarians."


Call me biased, but I think being described as a hipster staffer is actually almost worse than being a shushing lady. Fluffy (with the implied all about the technology) or cranky (with at least the implied smart)? How about neither one??

How about the librarian as someone trying to meet the needs of their patrons, whatever those may be, in the best manner possible within the library? Haven't librarians who do their jobs well always been about meeting needs? Social good? Helping others?

Granted, I'm …

The Hollow by Jessica Verday

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Basic story for The Hollow by Jessica Verday:

The story opens with Abbey about to begin her junior year in high school--and facing the memorial service for her best friend Kristen. Although presumed drowned, Kristen's body hasn't been recovered, leaving the perfect scenario for Abbey to be deep in denial about her friend's death.

At the graveside ceremony, and just at the time she most needs someone in her life, Abbey sees a gorgeous, mysterious, slightly-older guy named Caspian.

What happens as Abbey copes with her friend's death, pursues her own dreams of having a scent-making business, and struggles to fit in with the other students at her school? Oh, and throw in plenty of cemetery time and a tie-in to a famous ghost story.

Although I find the cover a tad on the creepy side, I really wanted to like this book for three reasons.

I wanted to like this book because of the About the Author section from Amazon.com:

Jessica Verday wrote the first draft of The Hollow by h…

This and That

I just registered with Net Galley in the hopes of getting some free books to review on this blog. Check it out to see if you're also interested in registering as a reviewer.

On the current state of kindergarten, as reported by Patti Hartigan in The Boston Globe:

Meanwhile, more and more children are “failing” kindergarten, according to the Alliance for Childhood report -- and missing out on the kind of early schooling that does help develop 5-year-old minds. Winifred Hagan is a former kindergarten teacher and a vice president at the Cayl Institute in Cambridge, a nonprofit that sponsors conferences for principals and fellowships for the study of early childhood education. She worries that vulnerable kids are being sent down a path to failure inside a system that was created to meet purely political goals. “Kids are spending hours of their day sitting with pencils and tracing dotted lines,” she says. “And we call that education? We are kidding ourselves.”

Read the disheartening, at l…

The Great Scot by Donna Kauffman

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I purchased The Great Scot by Donna Kauffman during one of those bookstore visits when I wanted a new book or two, yet nothing really caught my attention. Since the cover model is exactly my type, I decided to give this book a try. Then I promptly lost the book in my TBR pile.

Fortunately, I discovered the book again last night and had a very enjoyable read. I'll be trying another Kauffman book again soon.

Erin McGregor does behind-the-scenes work for a romance reality show. One of those Handsome Bachelor chooses from several beautiful women kinds of shows. While in Scotland, she meets widower Dylan Chisholm, owner of a castle (enough said already) and gorgeous. Of course, his castle is the perfect location for the reality show, and cash flow is an issue for Dylan, who doesn't really want to have the show in his home, and the rest of the village.

I don't want to provide any spoilers, but one of my favorite parts of the book is the way that Kauffman handles describing Dy…