Saturday, June 30, 2012

Book of the Week -- Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross


This entrancing contemporary take on fairy tales reminds me of Bill Willingham’s graphic novel Fables series with the grittiness of the original tales preserved and with vividly evoked images that bring the Disney versions to mind. When orphaned Mira, who had been raised by her two godmothers, runs away from home seeking the graves of her parents who died in a fire at her christening, she meets brothers Felix and Blue who live in a casino resort in the city. Blue is antagonistic from the get go but Felix, who is the 20 something manager of the casino and too old for her, provides her with a room and a pass key as long as she promises to never go to room 3031. She meets an assortment of local teens who are all modern archetypes of fairy tale characters and discovers that something momentous is approaching along with her sixteenth birthday. Palpable suspense, endearing characters, and sly wit combine in a delightful confection that may get readers interested in reading other takes on fairy tales both familiar and more obscure. “Donkeyskin” is mentioned and readers may want to explore Robin McKinley’s Deerskin and discover some of her other fairy tale inspired novels

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Book of the Week - The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

Moving at a stately pace, this thriller involves ciphers and codes from the 16th century, an infernal device for contacting God, secret societies, murder, betrayal, blood sacrifice, alchemy, and romance that takes the reader from an upscale prep school across the world to Prague . Even though I was not enamored of of The DaVinci Code I would recommend it as a read alike. There is something in this that speaks to nightmares and fears and perhaps mythology of the subconscious. As a kid, I had a box of my mother's books from the 1940s. There was a book in there, title, author, characters, forgotten but that had a scene featuring robed figures in an underground crypt preparing to take blood from an unwilling victim. This image has always stayed with me and it was echoed in this book.

Nora, who won a scholarship to an exclusive prep school after her older brother died driving drunk, is so proficient in Latin she is hired to help translate some passages for a project her best friend Chris, a college freshman and his roommate Max are working on for a professor. Her other best friend Adriane is Chris's girl friend. While translating letters from a 16th century young woman involved with science, religion, and alchemy who went to Prague, she runs across some coded passages. When the professor is found after apparently suffering a stroke, they discover all the original documents are missing. Then Chris is murdered, Adriane catatonic, and Max goes missing, suspected of the attack. Soon Nora and Adriane (who has recovered) are on their way to Paris for their senior class trip where they take off to search for Max in Prague.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book of the Week — Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Ismae hopes that the arranged marriage her father, a turnip farmer in medieval Brittany has contracted for her, will be more pleasant than the abuse she has endured so far in her life. Instead she has gone from the frying pan into the fire. When her loutish new husband sees that she bears the red stain indicating she is actually the child of the ancient god of death, he beats her and locks her in the cellar so he can fetch the authorities who will see her burned or drowned. Rescued, she is taken to the convent of St. Mortain where she is schooled in the art of the assassin. Her first assignment, at the court of the young Duchess of Brittany, throws her into an uneasy partnership with Gavriel Duval, the duchess’s bastard brother. A touch of the paranormal, political machinations, an interesting evocation of the time and place, a satisfying romance, a flawed kick-ass heroine, and a convent that trains assassins combine for a terrific read.

So You Don't Have Time to Read

I always make time to read but sometimes life can get in the way. To maintain my sanity I end up reading with my ears. Audio books have been steadily gaining popularity so the availability of great reads to listen to has grown exponentially. If you are looking for a good listen check out the winners and finalists of the Audie Awards. I’ve read several of them and listened to quite a few. Don’t miss The Watch that Ends the Night by Alan Wolf,winner for Distinguished Achievement in Production, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, winner for Fantasy, Feast Day of Fools, by James Lee Burke, winner for mystery, Beauty Queens by Libba Bray for Narration by the Author, and and and. Just look at the list and LISTEN! So many good books. All the finalists I “read” were also great.