Archive

Archive for the ‘Occult/Horror’ Category

April Copy Alotment: what’s coming up

June 24, 2014 Leave a comment

 

Welcome to the April 2014 of WRT’s What’s Coming Up.  Someday soon I hope to be caught up.  But for now…

 

stashowerDB78103 The Hour of Peril: the secret plot to murder Lincoln before the Civil War by Daniel Stashower

Details the plot to assassinate president-elect Abraham Lincoln in Baltimor while he was en route to Washington, D.C., for his inauguration in February 1861. Profiles Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, and widow Kate Warne, America’s first female private investigator. Some violence. 2013.

The New York Times called The Hour of Peril “swift and detailed” but neglects to tell us how many stars it’s worth! Overall though, it’s clear that the reviewer enjoys this non-fiction account of Lincoln and Pinkerton’s story. The Barnes & Noble site features several reviews, but the overview, provided by bestselling suspense writer, Harlan Coben, calls the book “…history that reads like a race-against-the-clock thriller.” Overall B&N readers and reviewers have given The Hour of Peril 4 out of 5 stars and note that the book has received several honors in 2013 and 2014 for notable non-fiction and tru-crime. Overall the Goodreads readers have given the book 3.67 out of 5 stars. They love it just like everyone, were surprised by the swift way the book reads, and only a few found the details daunting.

 

tessaroDB78151 The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

In 1955 London newlywed Grace Munroe learns that her husband cheated on her and that she has inherited a fortune from an unknown Parisian woman. Grace travels to France to investigate her relationship to her deceased benefactor, Eva d’Orsey, and asserts her newfound independence. 2013.

The Goodreads readers REALLY love The Perfume Collector and show that devotion with 3.95 out of 5 stars. They’ve read it in audio and print and they feel like it transcends both media. They call it a great story of love and loss and an interesting picture of 1920’s Europe. They do say, however, that it was horribly edited—lots of grammatical and word use errors in the print book which make me curious about the NLS narrator’s handling of these problems…it will be interesting to see what our readers think. Publishers Weekly used words such as “contrived banter,” “mildly clichéd,” and calls the main character’s love interest choice predicable. PW neglects to give any kind of star rating which begs the question, “How will we know what to think about what you think if you don’t use stars?” I’m going out on a limb though to say that PW wasn’t all that wild about The Perfume Collector. The Historical Novel Society found the story “enticing” and says that it’s a “refreshing read that combines a bit of mystery, love, nostalgia and self discovery.” HNS says the history and locations are well described and worth the read.

 

lynchDB78165 The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Locke Lamora, who as an orphan was sold to crooks, grows up to be a con artist impresario and leads a band of fellow thieves. When a coup throws their country of Camorr into chaos, Lock must become a hero. Violence and strong language. 2006.

I’ve since learned that The Lies of Locke Lamora is from the Gentleman Bastard series, but as it’s the first book in the series, adding it to the What’s Coming Up list isn’t a bad idea. BestFantasyBooks.com reviewed Lies almost three years ago as it’s a few years old. Their review is quite detailed and worth the full read if you are thinking of recommending this book to a sci-fi reader. They praise the author’s resourcefulness in solving plot conflict, the rich and well written characters, and the “startlingly impressive” finale. It is noted that this is the author’s debut novel. Goodreaders have given it 4.27 out of 5 stars and repeatedly draw it’s similarities to Ocean’s Eleven. One Goodreader artfully pastes images that suggest it’s as if Ocean’s Eleven and the Godfather had a love child. Another Goodreader posits that Ocean’s Eleven would have been perfect if it had taken place in a fantasy version of the Renaissance…oh wait…we have it now and it’s called The Lies of Locke Lamora. Either way, I’m adding it to my list mainly because I’ve gotten caught up in the fervor of a bunch of four-year-old reviews!

 

bruchacDB78176 Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac

In a distant future, Native American girl Lozen hunts genetically modified monsters for the tyrants who are holding her mother, sister Ana, and little brother Victor hostage. With each kill Lozen’s unique powers grow. Violence and some strong language. For senior high and older readers. 2013.

The first review I’ve selected is by a blog called Rich in Color; a blog “dedicated to reading, reviewing, talking about, and otherwise promoting young adult fiction starring people of color or written by people of color.” Lozen is an Apache hunter in a post apocalyptic world in which technology has failed, monsters are loose, and we’re living in a new “steam” age. The overall recommendation from Rich in Color says get the book now and read it fast because it’s a “fun, quick read, and…a distinctive addition to the dystopian genre.” Sounds like, if you enjoyed the Hunger Games series, you’ll like Killer of Enemies. Good Reads readers give it 3.7 out of 5 stars and say that they are happy to see a protagonist of color, a book where the “Indians aren’t poor,” and has excellent action. Hilariously enough though, one reviewer was happy that the “heroine didn’t shame her name sack” and is “…tall (above 6”).” Six whole inches tall. Wow. Now I’m even more interested in this book than I was already! In August 2013 Kirkus Reviews called Killer of Enemies a “good bet for fans of superhero fiction and graphic novels and readers in search of superpowered female warriors. Done.

 

hannahDB78198 The Orphan Choir by Sophie Hannah

Louise Beeston misses her seven-year-old son, who is required to board at Saviour College School to perform with the school’s choir. Meanwhile, her neighbor keeps her awake playing loud pop and rock music and –more recently—choral singing. Strong language. 2013.

The UK Independent’s reviewer likes the The Orphan Choir and is familiar with the author’s previous work. Apparently this is Sophie Hannah’s first attempt at ghost, or supernatural fiction; she normally writes psychological suspense. Of the book, the reviewer says “…innovative score and an eerie twist.” The Goodreads readers have only given Orphan 2.71 out of 5 stars though. They use words like “infuriated,” “disappointed,” “extraordinarily bad novel,” and say that the main character is “unlikeable.” Ouch. I guess that most of the book is exposition and that the supernatural ghosty stuff doesn’t even take place until the last 50 pages or so. As a person who recently spent six months reading nothing but haunted house fiction, this book would have gotten a toss across my living room in no time flat. Just kidding, throwing a book, even a bad book, is rude. The rest of the reviews are mostly independent review blogs and they seem split. Half of them “really enjoyed” it and the other half basically say, “meh.” So, take that to the RA desk and do what you will.

 

stroudDB78207 The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Plagued by malevolent spirits, London turns to ghost-hunting agencies staffed with you sensitive to paranormal activities. Anthony Lockwood, George Cubbins, and Lucy Carlyle join together to become Lockwood and Co. –but after bungling a job, their only chance at redemption is clearing a dangerous haunted house. For grades 6-9, 2013.

The Screaming Staircase is book one in the Lockwood & Co. series. The blog Fantasy Book Critic loves the book and calls it “interesting, captivating, and just all out amazing.” He notes that even though it’s a YA novel it will work for adult readers…but due to the graphic descriptions of the ghosts, avoid readers who are too young. In late 2013 the New York Times reviewed this book and another called The Clockwork Scarab. The reviewer enjoyed both but particularly liked The Screaming Staircase for its lightheartedness, thrills, and themes of friendship and friends at the right time. I’d like to find a review by a young reader again as in an early book featured on What’s Coming Up…but we’ll have to settle for Goodreads and assume that at least a few of the reviewers were actually YA readers. Turns out they really like The Screaming Staircase and give it 4.23 out of 5 stars…wowser. “Reccomendation of the month…this book is awesome…brilliantly written,” and even “BEST. CHARACTERS. EVER!” An underlying theme in the reviews is that most readers thought it was going to be something else, either boring or another re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes with paranormal overtones and ended up really really…really enjoying this book. Get thee to BARD or the library ASAP and read this book!

 

Advertisements

March Copy Alotment: what’s coming up

May 7, 2014 Leave a comment

Welcome to the WRT (Who’s Reading This) What’s Coming Up portion of this blog.  Each month, after I finish cataloging the month’s PICS download from NLS I will highlight a few titles that are coming up.  These will be fairly random is selection.  I will try to avoid the popular authors and series as they get plenty of attention in our collection.  My goal is to try to show off a few titles that caught my eye but may not get many direct requests from readers.  It’s also meant to bring your attention to some titles that may help that one picky reader this month.

With no further ado, here’s March 2014:

yogaDB077925 The Yoga Store Murder: The Shocking True Account of the Lululemon Athletica Killing by Dan Morse

Washington Post reporter dissects the March 2011 murder of a young saleswoman by her coworker in an upscale yoga-apparel boutique in Bethesda, Maryland–a killing overheard but ignored by employees in the Apple Store next door. Violence and some strong language. 2013.

Washington Post review praises the book for its detail regarding the crime, those involved, the investigation, and the families affected. However, they also bemoan the same attention to detail when the author relates seemingly obscure facts about the victim’s mother and the medical examiner. Good Reads provides access to user-driven reviews. Some reviews are more professional level while others are more gut-reaction. What’s nice about Good Reads is that you can get a quick idea of how actual readers like or dislike a book. With nearly 4 out of 5 stars overall the readers enjoy the book. It’s full of detail and really tells the story about the crime. It would seem that anyone who enjoys true crime stories in the style of Ann Rule will like this book. Finally, take a look at the review at crimelibrary.com. It would be nice if this site gave a quick thumbs-up, thumbs-down rating, but at least the review is brief and to the point; they liked it and found it engaging and not dry at all.

someoneDB077947 Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

When William Ashe steps between Shandi Pierce’s three-year-old son and an armed robber, Shandi believes destiny has brought her and William together. It has, but not for the reasons Shandi believes. Some strong language. 2013.

USA Today gives immediate gratification in their review article: 3 out of 4 stars! It begins by trying to jump right into the story–the way the actual book begins—in media res. A young woman, a chaotic situation, lots of “mahem,” and possibly a little bit of magical realism. The Good Reads readers give the book almost 3 out of 4 but it’s important to note that when a reader doesn’t like this book, they really don’t like this book. There is a date rape scene (apparently drunken-roofied, non consensual sex) near the beginning of the book and the haters feel like the author is sympathetic to the rapist and downplays the act. Finally, DearAuthor.com featured this book as a “recommended read” in November 2013. The reviewer won’t give up much besides the basics of the story, southern set, but not stereotypically southern, characters with issues…but not your typical love story. All she will say is that it’s a worthwhile book and that there is a payoff at the end…do not skip ahead!

cityDB078003 City of Lost Dreams by Magnus Flyte

A year after the events in City of Dark Magic (DB 75832), Sarah Weston returns to Europe. She must convince a doctor to give thirteen-year-old blind musical prodigy Pollina Rutherford an experimental alchemical treatment for her rare autoimmune disorder. Strong language, explicit descriptions of sex, and some violence. 2013.

I selected this book because of the interesting author name and the reference to “experimental alchemical treatment.” Turns out, Magnus Flyte is a conglomeration of two authors and City of Lost Dreams is book two in a series. No worries! Tor.com’s reviewer found the book weak but an enjoyable read nonetheless. The story is fantasy that does not take place in space or in the future. It’s not a steampunk alterative reality fantasy either. It is however “absolutely swimming with badass female leads.” And, while this is a follow up, be sure your reader has read DB75832 first; she doesn’t recommend Lost Dreams as a stand-alone.   Good Reads readers give it almost 4 out of 5 stars (I’m noticing a pattern). One reader review calls it a “great smart-girl-slightly-smutty-beach-read.” The Kirkus review calls the book an “amusing romantic mystery” and then goes on to describe it much like the Tor.com review but adds at the end that it is “sensual, witty, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.” So, there you go.

sistersDB078005 The Sisters Weiss by Naomi Ragen

Rose Weiss rebels against her ultraorthodox Jewish parents in 1960s Brooklyn and runs away from home. Forty years later, Rose–who is now an award-winning photographer–is stunned when her niece Rivka appears, seeking refuge from her traditional family. Some descriptions of sex. 2013.

The Jewish Book council not only calls this novel “riveting” but includes a set of discussion questions at the end of the review! One of the most interesting things pointed out in this review is that, while the novel is noteworthy, it will also be educational for people unfamiliar with the “laws of strict Orthodox life,” which should be comforting for our Jewish readers and interesting for our readers looking to expand their world-view. The Goodreads readers? Nearly 4 out of 5 stars! That almost never happens. RTbookreviews.com (Romance Times) gave The Sisters Weiss 4 out of 4 stars. Their reviewer praises the novel’s “clear prose” and says that “women of different faiths can connect with [the story] as they struggle to find their personal heaven.”

truthDB078085 All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry

Judith and her best friend disappear for two years without a trace. One day Judith returns, scarred and with her tongue cut out. The townsfolk want to know what happened, but she is afraid to share the truth. Some violence. For senior high and older readers. 2013.

The “by kids, for kids” reviewer at theguardian.com calls this book a “dark and chilling tale of abuse and secrets, of love and loss, of silence and courage.” Overall, this young reader was very impressed by the story in this book. Unfortunately, beyond reading her full review of the book, there is not a “star rating” to share here. Sounds like one of those great unrequited love-drama-feelings kind of books that teens and young adult readers will eat up. Good Reads ruins a perfect track record by giving All the Truth 4.01 out of 5 stars! The Good Reads reviewers called it stunning, compelling, unlike any other, intoxicating…they basically love it. The New York Times review is worth the read. While the annotation alludes to the historical fiction nature of the story, the rest almost sounds too modern. The NYT review gives a much more detailed picture of this story, the conflict, and the characters. Once again, no star rating, but it’s clear that the reviewer recommends this read.

Anna dressed in overdramatic nonsense.

January 24, 2013 Leave a comment

From the NLS annotation:

Anna Dressed in Blood

Anna Dressed in Blood

Since his father’s untimely death, seventeen-year-old Cas and his Wiccan mom have continued the family trade–hunting down vengeful, murdering spirits. But when Cas goes after ghostly Anna, an unexpected occurrence changes everything. Violence and some strong language. For senior high and older readers. 2011.

Let me guess…it’s LOVE isn’t it?  The unexpected occurrence is that Cas has feelings for “ghostly” Anna.  Is she GHOST-ly, I mean, is she sort of like a ghost, or is she an actual ghost?  Wait wait don’t tell me. I’m sure that I’d rather be shocked when it’s all revealed 30 pages in to the 320 page book.

You know, if I were a teenager I would be super pissed that YA classified books almost exclusively have to do with either the supernatural or falling in love–typically both. I know the whys and the wherefores to writing supernatural for young adults; spare me the lecture.  I’m just saying that as a reader of books and a librarian, I’m just wondering if somewhere teens are getting burned out on being constantly bombarded with the SSDD (same shit…).

Anyway, today’s offering is called Anna Dressed in Blood and it is the first book in the…wait for it…ANNA series by Kendare Blake.  Yes, Kendare Blake.  Let’s all make a little offering to the Goddess in hopes that Kendare is her pen-name.  And “Blake?”  Please.  We get it, you’re material pays homage to both the Gothic and the Romantic periods.

Good Lord; What the Hell?

June 18, 2012 1 comment

A quick post in a new category I’m going to call, Good Lord; What the Hell?  Mainly because when I read the annotation, I said, out loud, “good lord–what the hell?”  From the NLS Annotation:

Night of the Living Dummy II cover

Good Lord; What the Hell?

When Amy brings her ventriloquist dummy out to entertain her family on Sharing Night, its head falls off.  Amy’s father finds another dummy in a pawn shop.  But Amy soon realizes why the new dummy is called Slappy when it hits her father! As Slappy gets meaner and meaner, Amy’s family refuses to believe she is not responsible.  For grades 4-7.

Some things are just not okay to write novels about.  R.L. Stine’s Night of the Living Dummy II probably illustrates this rule completely.  I have not read the book, having given up R.L. Stine books about 23 years ago. 

For some reason (probably mild hysteria) I’m reading the exclamation point at the end of “…when it hits her father!” as comedic, as in LOL! that dummy just came to life!  But that is just not possible as ventriloquist dummies are anything BUT funny, and are, in fact, the most terrifying subject that anyone could possibly come up with.  Except maybe skittering babies.  Okay, skittering babies are actually my number one fear in terms of the statistic possiblility of occurance.  If a ventriloquist dummy tried to attack me I would do one of the following (preferably all):

  1. throw it into a fire
  2. kick it in the head and/or
  3. stomp on it
  4. separate its head from body, and then its limbs from said body, thus rendering it physically neutral
  5. dispose of it by sealing it in concrete

Now, let’s say that a skittering baby (SB) is coming right for you.  First of all, it’s likely that you won’t even realize it because babies are very short and therefore very sneaky.  Also, the lighting will probably be very dim or low because SBs tend to move faster in the dark.  I think that when put in direct light, an SB will make a brief attempt at looking and acting “normal” in an attempt to lull you into a false sense of confidence.  However, turning the lights on bright will only get you so far because as soon as you change your focus, an SB will attack.  It’s proven.  Any way.  What can you do to survive a skittering baby attack?  YOU CAN DO NOTHING!!  Because they’re BABIES for goodness sake!  What the hell!  You can’t kick them, throw them into a fire, shoot them, stab them.  You’re basically f*cked.  The SB is going to bite the crap out of your feet, ankles, and calves and all you can do is just hop from foot to foot and try to stay upright.  And, God help you if they are hunting in a pack.  Wild Kingdom anyone? 

Back to R.L. Stine’s masterpiece.  According to Slappy the Dummy’s Wikipedia article, this evil doll makes appearances in NINE books for kids.  You know, in my day, we didn’t need to go to the well 9 times before we knew that shit was poison.  We watched the Twilight Zone’s season 5, episode 29 Caeser and Me ONCE and that was enough.  Nine books of Slappy getting meaner and meaner?  Good lord, what the hell?

The Tale of Halcyon Crap

November 14, 2011 Leave a comment

The Tale of Halcyon CraneSorry Reader,  I know it’s been a long time.  I’d like to say that my absence from this blog has been due entirely to the fact that I haven’t stumbled upon any poopy books.  Alas, that isn’t exactly true.  I can admit to you, my friend, that although I’ve been cataloging like crazy for the last three months, I haven’t been paying much attention to the individual books’ contents.  Does this mean that I’ve been a bad cataloguer?  I can’t answer that.  I will tell you though, that I’ve been reading a shit ton of books since August…which enhances my qualifications, not only as a cataloger, but also as a judge-er of books.

This week’s submission is called The Tale of Halcyon Crane.  I have both cataloged this turd and read it cover to cover.  And here is what I have to say: what a waste of time.  This book is 328 pages in print, and 9 hours, 52 minutes in audio.  This book should have been about 1 hour, 30 minutes, or a whole lot less pages.

From the NLS annotation:

Journalist Hallie James learns the mother she thought had died thirty years ago was, until recently, alive–and a famous photographer. Hallie travels to remote Grand Manitou Island on the Great Lakes to seek the truth but instead encounters hostile locals and ancestral ghosts in her childhood home. 2010.

The NLS annotation doesn’t give any indication of what a fart bag waste of time this book will be.  Basically, this person (being a journalist really doesn’t come into play much at all in the book so don’t worry about that detail) Hallie James has lived in Washington since her mother died in a fire when Hallie was 5 years old.  Since that time, Hallie lived with, and later near, her father, who was an important, and well renowned educator in, I want to say…mathematics?  Changed people’s lives, stand and deliver, etc. etc., you get the picture.

Anyway, one day Hallie gets a letter from her “dead” mother.  The woman has tracked her down and is telling her, by letter, that she is her mother and invites her to come to Grand Manitou Island.  Unfortunately, the woman died before the letter was recieved by Hallie.  Hallie asks her father about her “dead” mother, and then later that night, he suffers a heart attack, or stroke, or something and also dies.

Hallie jets off to Grand Manitou Island to GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THINGS.  Without telling any of the locals (and she talks to a lot of them) that the famous photographer woman claimed to be her mother, she learns that the woman had a daughter named Halcyon who drowned, with her father, about 30 years ago.  She hears this alot.  From all the locals she talks to.  And yet…

And yet it takes this moron nearly half of the book to realize that Hallie MIGHT, just might, be short for Halcyon.  Ohmygod, she’s the girl who was thought to be dead!!  Just like her [now] dead mother is the woman whom Hallie thought to be dead for all of these years.  Is this supposed to be a mystery because it just seems like patronizing poopcakes.

There’s a ghostly family history that and elderly family servant shares with Hallie/Halcyon that explains…over the course of a few weeks (or days)…how the family got to the events of the death-by-fire, drowned-in-the-lake misunderstanding.

It never occurs to Hallie that the old woman can’t possibly know all of the intimate details of the people who’s stories she is relating to Hallie.  I mean, if this idiot is really a journalist, shouldn’t she start having SOME doubts about point of view and narrator?  The woman is telling the story in a first person omniscient sort of way and you’re not a little curious about how she knows all of this?  It also never dawns on Hallie that this old lady is only seen by Hallie and NOBODY else? [SPOILER ALERT (highlight to view): the old lady is the ghost of a witch.]

And that brings me to my usual, willing-suspension-of-disbelief, gripe.  Hallie’s dad faked their death, the mother had been looking for her for years because she didn’t believe that her daughter was really dead, and yet NEVER found her?  The father didn’t exactly “go underground.”  Later you find out that he had an accomplice, and it becomes even more far fetched that this accomplice woman stayed quiet–and stayed on Grand Manitou without spilling the beans–for 30 years.  Even after she gave birth to the man’s illegitimate son and raised him as a single mother.  Please…it’s Grand Manitou…not outer Mongolia…where even THEY have heard of child support.

Anyway, the ghost story part of this book is solid.  Unfortunately, it’s wrapped in wadded up soiled toilet paper masquerading as a “novel” and should be avoided at all costs.

A Discovery of Nothing: where’s all the magic?

July 22, 2011 3 comments

Has this ever happened to you, Gentle Reader?  Somebody close to you tells you all about this FANTASTIC book that they’ve read this year and you just HAVE to read it now!  And upon reading it, you are expected to tell them all about how it changed your life too and how you’re going to proselytize this “good book” all over hill and dale.  Well, GR, this has just recently happened to me and the offending turd is none other than Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches.

Where do I begin?  I’ll tell you where I’m not going to waste any time: the beginning.  Nothing, and I mean nuh-thing, happens in this book of any consequence for the first 300 pages or so.  From the NLS annotation (because Harkness and Amazon’s synopsis are ridiculously long):

After scholar and witch Diana Bishop requests an alchemical manuscript from the depths of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, she finds the magical power within the leather cover disturbing and hastily sends it back. But the book’s reemergence causes a chain reaction through the paranormal community. Descriptions of sex.

Diana Bishop is also descended from witches dating back to the Salem witch trials…because all witches in fiction are descended from Salem, MA.  She is also considered a “reluctant” witch because she refuses to use her powers, which are, of course, super powerful and she has like the most powerful potential witch-powers in the history of the world.  Aaaaaaaaaand, her boyfriend is a vampire.  A broody, tortured, rich, handsome, 1,500 year old vampire.  I’ll get back to Edward Cullen Matthew du Clairmont in a minute.

I left the part about “descriptions of sex” in the NLS annotation because there significantly ARE NOT ANY.  So, no real magic and no real sex.  This book is a 592 page rip off of every magic/vampire/witch/romance/suspense/secret society novel ever written.

The vampire, Matthew Clairmont, is some kind of undead Forest Gump.  He has met and/or worked along side EVERYONE of political, historical, or artistical(?) note of the past thousand years.  Vampire Matthew fought in the crusades, the Revolutionary War, the Napoleonic Wars, and probably even the Korean War (it’s the forgotten one, you know).

And you laughed when I likened Matthew to Edward Cullen, but in the part of the book I’m suffering through right now, it has just been revealed that the witch and the vampire are destined to reproduce.  Re-pro-duce.  I could punch Stephenie Meyer for introducing that little nugget of literary license to the vampire/magic genre.

And I’m not even done reading the thing yet.  I have been suffering through this book for 5 weeks now.  It is 2 weeks overdue.  I owe the Salem Public Library $3.45 to date.  I have to finish this book because I have to go back and tell the recommender something about this lame book.

But wait, there’s more.  There are about 100 pages left in this turd and it’s real obvious that nothing is about to be resolved.  So, we’re looking at a series.  There will be more.  Dear Deborah Harkness: you either write a long-assed book that sucks or you write several medium- to short-assed books that suck collectively.  You DO NOT write a series of books that are all as long as hell.  Thank you, Me.

As usual, check this book out at your public library.  Go today and get on the waiting list because it’s a best seller and you will need to wait for your copy.  How and why?  I don’t know.