Thursday, December 30, 2010

Review - Cross Fire, by James Patterson

Cross Fire (Alex Cross #17), James Patterson, 12.26.2010, * * * *

I generally enjoy James Patterson's novels for several different reasons.  Patterson seems to have become the master of the short chapter, sometimes just one or two pages, which seems to increase the pace and makes the novel a faster read.  His stories are enjoyable, light, easy to read, and quick to get into and out of.

Cross Fire is no different and fits the mold perfectly.  I have read several of the Alex Cross novels, but not the entire series and I somehow keep reading them out of order.  Someday I would like to start at the beginning and work my way through them consecutively, but again the nice thing about the series and Patterson in general is that I don't feel like I need to read the whole series in order to enjoy this particular book.

Alex and Bree are planning their wedding and are quite busy being happy and content with their lives and children when a series of brutal assassinations of high-profile people rocks Washington DC.  The sharp shooter is good, and leaves no clues to his identity, and the scramble to find the killer pulls Alex away from the family and wedding planning as he desperately tries to stop the killer before anyone else is killed.  He also gets pulled into an investigation of the murders of several homeless people with strange numbers and math equations carved into their skin.  And if all that wasn't enough to keep him busy, his nemesis, Kyle Craig, has returned to taunt and torment Alex as only a psychopath can.  With multiple bad guys to catch, Alex definitely has his plate full in this novel!

Overall this was an enjoyable read, perfect for the Christmas break.  The short chapters make it easy to pick it up and read for five minutes and put it down again if needed, without having to wade through dozens of pages to find a "good stopping place."

Although the short chapters can also have the opposite affect  - luring you into reading just one more, and just one more, and just one more!  (But that's OK, right?!)

Let me know if you've read any of this series and what you think about it, OK?! 
Until next time, Happy New Year, Party hardy, Don't drink and drive, and have a great holiday weekend!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Review - Here Abide Monsters

Here Abide Monster, Andre Norton, 12.19.2010 * * *

Andre Norton is a master.  Everyone knows it.  That is the reason that I decided to read this very short novel when I stumbled across it in a bag of used books.  Unfortunately, I didn't really care for it much at all.

The basic premise is quite interesting - exploring the mystery surrounding various spots in the world where people disappear and are never heard from again.  The Bermuda Triangle, fairy mounds in England, and in many other places, there are hundreds of stories of people vanishing and never returning; or sometimes returning years later - but where did they go?  Norton explores that question by following two young people who vanish while driving down a road one sunny afternoon, when they suddenly find that they have somehow moved out of their world and into a world physically very similar to earth.  But they soon find that this "other" world is also very different, and is the places where the legends and myths of unicorns, dragons, the fairy folk, and many others all come from.  The world is dangerous, with aliens in flying saucers flying around capturing humans, and mysterious cities surrounded by invisible force fields, random monsters and creatures roaming the landscape and threatening the lives of anyone they come across.

As Nick and Linda explore their surroundings they quickly realize that there is no returning back the way they came.  They eventually meet up with a small group of survivors who have been living in this nightmare realm for years, and begin to learn about the world and the forces that control it.  Nick is presented with a choice at one point - to become one with the land and join with the "Heralds", the inhabitants of the miraculous towering cities which are safe from the attacks of the alien ship, or to reject the land and try to survive on their own.  The group is against accepting the Heralds offer, as they believe the changes it involves are somehow evil, but Nick isn't so sure.  And when some members of the group learn how to use the powers of illusion they are developing, Nick and Linda decide to try to rescue some members of their party who have been kidnapped by the aliens and hope to find a way home.

Unfortunately the story drags through much of the book, information is doled out so slowly that the pace becomes unbearable.  Character development is kept a minimum, although Nick fairs a little better than most in this respect since his is the main viewpoint of the story.  Linda remains forever the vapid girl with her yappy dog, and the others in the group are generally even less recognizable. Then after what seems like hours of slogging through uninteresting and unimportant events and conversations, the ending is rushed through in just a few pages, but with absolutely no resolution.  Nick and Linda don't find a way home, and we're left with the impression that they are planning to accept the Heralds offer and change, but the book ends before that happens so we don't even get to see what this supposedly horrible and evil change is, or if they even actually go through with it.

Another thing I didn't like is that the cover illustration shows something happening that actually never happened in the book - which is always frustrating for me personally.  If the motorcycle doesn't drive up to the city in the story, then don't show it happening on the cover!

Overall I was a little disappointed, but I'm giving it three stars because the idea was good, and I liked Norton's interpretation of where our own myths and legends come from.

Have you read this book, or anything else by Andre Norton?  What'd you think?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

That's it - Just hoping that all my little addicts have the most wonderful Christmas ever, and that y'all got lots and lots of fantastic books to read!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's Christmas, y'all!!

Oh my gosh you guys!  It's almost Christmas already, and I haven't posted a single thing about it. 

Something that I have found very interesting this month is that some bloggers have participated in Advent Calendars, or Tours, which I think is really kool idea!  I may have to think about doing something like that next year...

But today I am going to talk to you about Christmas Music.  Do you like Christmas Music?  Do you LOOOOOVE Christmas Music?

I do.  Totally, like, a lot.

I usually drag out the Christmas Music in early November, sometimes before the Halloween candy is even gone.  Nowadays, that doesn't involve pulling a big box of albums, cassette tapes and CD's out of the back of the closet like it used to, and eagerly sorting through the colorful covers to decide what to listen to first.  Now, it's simply a matter of pulling up the playlist on the ol' iPod - but as my taste does change slightly each year, there is always some rearranging that must be done, especially if I've discovered some new Christmas Music to add to my list!

This year I hit the jackpot!  I discovered new Christmas Music that was actually released last year by David Archuleta (you know, that guy from that Idol show!) but also - TA DA! - Glee released a whole Christmas album!  Score for me!

So here is my current top 10 list of Christmas Music from my iPod.  I never get much beyond that, as I keep going back to the beginning and starting over!

Sunny's Top 10 Christmas Music List:
1. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day - Casting Crowns.
2. Pat-A-Pan - David Archuleta
3. Riu Riu Chiu - David Archuleta
4. Baby, It's Cold Outside - Glee Cast
5. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Glee Cast
6. O Holy Night - Glee Cast
7. Silent Night - David Archuleta
8. The 12 Days of Christmas (Live) - Straight No Chaser
9. Three Kings - Eclipse
10. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - 98 Degrees

(Yes, I know that one is on there twice - but I love it!  And it's my list, so whatever!)

So this is what I am currently obsessively listening to.  What are you guys listening to?  What is your favorite Christmas Music?  Do you start listening early, or wait until Christmas Eve?  Leave a comment below and tell me all about it!

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

The Tease:
"But there was no wound and the man cowered back, with a crowing sound, his knife forgotten, his hands before his eyes, huddling in upon himself, while the serpent woman coiled and reared - until the monk lashed out with his pole and she vanished utterly.  That was only the beginning of the siege."  - Here Abide Monsters, by Andre Norton.

So....What's your Tease?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Review - The Dying Earth

The Dying Earth, by Jack Vance, 12.13.2010, * *

I couldn't find a picture of the cover for the book that I read - Sorry!

The Dying Earth is a collection of short stories written about some of the inhabitants of an Earth that is thousands of years in our future - maybe even millions.  The sun is dying, no longer yellow, but red and dim, and most humans have left the planet, but some remain, inhabiting the ruins of hundreds of long dead civilizations. Technology seems sparse, but magic has been discovered, although over time much has been lost and what were once the thousand spells has dwindled to barely one hundred.  A couple of  the stories overlap slightly as far as the characters involved.

I have heard about this book and the sequels for years, but never felt compelled to read it.  But it arrived in a bag of used books that my mom brought to me recently and I thought, why not?  People love this book.  People RAVE about the author and his mad skills and how wonderful and ingenious this series is.  So I gave it a try.

I didn't care for it, at all.

Maybe it's just that I don't really like short stories - I want some meat on my books!  My boyfriend says that if it can't be said in less than 300 pages it's not worth reading.  I'm the opposite - as far as I'm concerned 300 pages is just a good start!  So I have never really cared for short stories because I don't feel that they give me enough "story."  But sometimes a collection of short stories will satisfy like a novel, if they all move towards a common goal or have a similar theme.

But the stories in The Dying Earth don't seem to have any commonality that I could find.  Individuals travel the country looking for magical artifacts and some find them and some don't.  A magician learns how to create women.  A women tricks a magician in order to save the man who created her.  Everyone is either amoral or downright evil - cursing their lovers or friends at whim.  Sometimes there are consequences.  It was all just a jumble of weirdness that didn't make much sense and didn't have any cohesion, so I was unable to enjoy it.  Character development was non-existent, because none of the characters stuck around long enough for the reader to actually get to know them, and certainly not long enough for any of them to change or grow.  I do have to give credit to the author, though, for having a wickedly amazing imagination!

The series seems to be so universally loved though, that I wonder if I am missing something?  Have you read The Dying Earth?  Did you like it?  If so, leave a comment and tell me why I'm wrong!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

The Tease:
"The red sun, drifting across the universe like an old man creeping to his death-bed, hung low to the horizon when Liane breasted Prophiron  Scar, looked across white-walled Kaiin and the blue bay of Sanreale beyond. Directly below was the market-place, a medley of stalls selling fruits, slabs of pale meat, molluscs from the slime banks, dull flagons of wine." -The Dying Earth, by Jack Vance.

So....What's your Tease?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Review - Blameless: The Parasol Protectorate: Book the Third

The Parasol Protectorate, by Gail Carriger
1. Soulless, 10.19.2010, * * * *
2. Changeless, 11.02.2010, * * * *
3. Blameless, 11.22.2010, * * * *

Warning! - It is impossible to comment on Blameless without minor and major spoilage occurring for the previous books in the series!  If you have not read Soulless and Changeless, stop reading this, go buy the books, and read them IMMEDIATELY!!!
(Don't forget to come back here when you are done!!)

From the Back:

Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon is the scandal of the London season.  Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town.  To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London's vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.  While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templar's.  Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse that the vampires - AND they're armed with pesto.

My Thoughts:
So, after the revelations that occur at the end of Changeless, Alexia wastes no time leaving Castle Woolsey.  Unfortunately she has nowhere to go except home.  Things are all right at first - other than having to deal with her wretched half-sisters, of course - but somehow the news of her inconvenient condition leaks to the society pages, and suddenly her life is even more of a scandal than it already was!  After the attack by the previously mentioned mechanical ladybugs with their poison-tipped antenna, Professor Lyall and Madame Lefoux urge her to leave town.  Alexia does one better, and leaves England altogether in search of answers.
First stop, Paris, where she is almost immediately attacked by vampires at the home of Madame Lefoux's inventor friend, and the trio (you didn't think Floote would let her go traipsing off across Europe without him, did you?) barely escape by fleeing to the roof and flying away in their host's Ornithopter.
From there they head to the coast and stop briefly in Nice to consult with a member of the Order of the Brass Octopus who may know something that will help explain Alexia's condition and why the vampires are so desperate to kill her, but before they can learn anything they are forced to flee again, over the mountains and into Italy, and straight into the welcoming arms of the Templar's, who wage an eternal war against the supernatural vampires and werewolves.  Alexia and gang find themselves comfortably (if closely) held at the Templar HQ, and Alexia discovers the joys of pesto sauce.  But she begins to suspect that not all is as it seems, and goes digging for more information, discovering much more about her heritage and how the Templar's have used her kind in the past.  Deciding at last to flee the Templar's the Trio find themselves trapped, and Alexia must use all her skill and wits to remain safe - and in one piece.  If only Lord Maccon would leave off the formaldehyde and make himself useful!

This was probably the most enjoyable of the three novels to date - a light quick fun read, with just enough suspense and danger to keep things interesting.  The little reveals about the Templars view of the supernatural set and their many abuses of the preternaturals were interesting - Carriger has obviously spent a lot of time with her world-building and following the effects of supernatural entities out to their logical conclusions - including the invention of pesto sauce!  I give Blameless 4 out of 5 stars, highly recommend it to anyone, and anxiously await Heartless: Book the Fourth, which will be released in July 2011.

Have you read Blameless?  Leave a comment and tell me what you thought!!  Or if you haven't, tell me what you are reading now - Curious minds want to know!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

The Tease:
"There were tears in Aviendha's eyes.  There was no shame at crying over this tragedy.  She had feared the truth, and she could no longer deny it." - Towers of Midnight, by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

OK, so I'm STILL reading the same book for over a month now, but I'm thoroughly enjoying it, and I'm almost to the end.  Each one of the Wheel of Time novels have been so good that I really never want them to end anyway!

So....What's your Tease?