Abundant Books

The blog of a self confessed book addict. Reviews and musing about what, where and how I read.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Chosen (House of Night, Book 3)
By P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

The third book in the House of Night series, Chosen picks up shortly after Betrayed. Dealing with the secrets she has to hide from her friends, knowing that any knowledge of Stevie Ray's condition could put them, not to mention Stevie Ray, in jeopardy, Zoey decides the safest thing for all involved is to keep the secret to herself .... and Aphrodite. But that's not the only thing she has to deal with. Suddenly not only does Zoey have to deal with her bloodlust issues and dating three guys at once - Heath is still desperate to maintain their relationship, Erik is her vampire boyfriend and Poet Laureate Lorne Blake is making his intentions very clear.

The conflict between Neferet and Zoey deepens, almost hitting a crescendo with a startling discovery of just what exactly the high priestess is willing to do to destroy Zoey. Aphrodite becomes a frenemy of sorts to Zoey, something the group just can't understand with their limited knowledge of what is actually going on. Zoey has to come to terms with the realisation that her best friend - who is now the Undead dead - needs her help or her soul will be lost to darkness forever and that humans are stalking vampires and murdering them - causing the vampires at and students at the House of Night to become uneasy with humans being so close to them.

Tegan and I are looking forward to the next installment of this series.

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Betrayed (House of Night, Book 2)
By P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

This book starts up immediately where "Marked" left off - Zoey is settling into life as a vampire fledgling, surrounded by her newfound friends at the House of Night. She has proven herself a worthwhile student in the goddess, Nyx's, eyes and has been marked with a unique design across her forehead - something that has never been done to anyone - vampire or fledgling. Not only does Zoey have to take the responsibility as the leader of the Dark Daughters, she has a blooming relationship with Erik Night evolving, an imprint with her ex-human boyfriend, the famous poet and vampire teacher Lorne seemingly attracted to her and teens around town are being killed, with all signs pointing to the vampires and the House of Night as the culprits.

This is not your run of the mill series about vampires. It is more about teens who feel they don't fit in either at school or at home and have not had someone to help them realise their full potential in life. The metaphor of "the change" from human to vampire is subtle but easily grasped by teens that everyone has great potential even if they may not see it at a point in time of their life. It's easy to get caught up in Zoey's world; Tegan and I really enjoy this series and look forward to the others!

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Marked (House of Night, Book 1)
By P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

In 16-year-old Zoey Redbird's world, vampires not only exist but are also tolerated by humans. Those whom the creatures "mark" as special enter the House of Night school where they will either become vampires themselves, or, if their body rejects the change, die. To Zoey, being marked is truly a blessing, though she's scared at first. She has never fit into the human world and has always felt she is destined for something else. Zoey's mother is weak, and her step-father all but hates her. Her grandmother, a descendant of the Cherokee, has always supported her emotionally, and it is she who takes the girl to her new school.

But even there the teen stands apart from the others. Her mark from the Goddess Nyx is a special one, showing that her powers are very strong for one so young. At the House of Night, Zoey finds true friendship, loyalty, and romance as well as mistrust and deception. She realises that all is not right in the vampire world and that the problems she thought she left behind exist there as well. The story moves quickly and purposely leaves many unresolved issues.

Marked is the first in the series. It seems to target older teens, but adults will find themselves drawn to it as well. I've been captured by Zoey's world and want to see how her special spiritualism develops over time. This book also left enough unanswered questions that I'm drawn to find out more. My teenage daughter also thoroughly enjoyed this book and has encouraged her friends to read it too.

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

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Friday, October 24, 2008

The Lace Reader
By Brunonia Barry

Look into the lace... When the eyes begin to fill with tears and the patience is long exhausted, there will appear a glimpse of something not quite seen... In this moment, an image will begin to form... in the space between what is real and what is only imagined. Can you read your future in a piece of lace? All of the Whitney women can.

The Lace Reader retains the strange magic of a vivid dream, though Barry's portrayal of modern-day Salem, Massachusetts - with its fascinating cast of eccentrics - is reportedly spot-on. Some of its stranger residents include generations of Whitney women, with a gift for seeing the future in the lace they make. Towner Whitney, back to Salem from self-imposed exile on the West Coast, has plans for recuperation that evaporate with her great-aunt Eva's mysterious disappearance and drowning. Fighting fear from a traumatic adolescence she can barely remember, Towner digs in for answers. But questions compound with the disappearance of a young woman under the thrall of a local fire-and-brimstone preacher, whose history of violence against Whitney women makes the situation personal for Towner. Her role in cop John Rafferty's investigation sparks a tentative romance. And as they scramble to avert disaster, the past that had slipped through the gaps in Towner's memory explodes into the present with a violence that capsizes her concept of truth.

Told from opposing and often unreliable perspectives, the story engages the reader s own beliefs. Should we listen to Towner, who may be losing her mind for the second time? Or should we believe John Rafferty, a no nonsense New York detective, who ran away from the city to a simpler place only to find himself inextricably involved in a psychic tug of war with all three generations of Whitney women? Does either have the whole story? Or does the truth lie somewhere in the swirling pattern of the lace?

A really good read. When you get to the ending, you will re-evaluate everything that you read previously in the novel. I really enjoyed this book.

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The House of Lost Souls
By F.G. Cottam

The Fischer House was the scene of a vicious crime in the 1920s - a crime which still resonates as the century turns. At its heart was a beautiful, enigmatic woman called Pandora Gibson-Hoare, a photographer of genius whose only legacy is a handful of photographs and the clues to a mystery. Paul Seaton was lured to the house ten years ago and escaped, a damaged man. Now three students will die unless he dares to go back. Something at the house wants Paul back but this time he has Nick Mason at his side, and maybe Mason's military skills and courage will be enough for good and hope to prevail.

A good enough mystery novel, with enough in it to keep you guessing until the very end. A good holiday read and an author that I will keep an eye on.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Beneath a Rising Moon (Ripple Creek, Book 1)
By Keri Arthur

Keri Arthur once again creates a believable alternate reality in which the paranormal exist among us. In this, the first of the Ripple Creek novels, Neva Grant, a golden werewolf with psychic powers, investigates the assault of her twin sister Savannah. Savannah is a ranger on the werewolf reservation and was attacked by a silver werewolf while investigating a series of murders. Neva infiltrates the stronghold of the silver werewolves and becomes involved with one of them to further her investigation. It quickly becomes apparent that both she and Duncan are in danger from the murderer.

Duncan and Neva find themselves falling in love, even though Neva is terrified to admit it, and she has good reason: Duncan has a reputation of being wild, never staying with one mate for more than a week, and getting thrown in jail. Will Duncan convince Neva that she is his soul mate? More importantly, will Neva have the courage to look beyond Duncan's reputation and acknowledge her love for him before the moon phase is up and he leaves her life, possibly forever?

While I enjoyed this book, my one complaint is that, for being a book about werewolves, I didn't think that Arthur went into enough detail on her idea of a werewolf. For example, she didn't describe the change from human to wolf and back again in enough detail. What happened to their clothes when they changed? Was the change painless, fluid, etc? I thoroughly enjoy some of her other books, but this series is primarily a romance with supernatural characters - a nice little "bodice-ripper" and a very quick book. Great for an afternoon escape.

Will I read the next in the series? Haven't made up my mind yet - if I run out of other reading material, maybe.

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The Birth House
By Ami McKay

I chose this novel for a BRA book club selection, having read a review on it somewhere and thinking that it sounded really interesting.

When Dr. Gilbert Thomas, self-proclaimed expert in hygienic, pain-free childbirth, opens a practice in a Nova Scotia coastal village during the World War I years, it sets the stage for a classic conflict between long-held traditions and modern medicine. Seventeen-year-old Dora Rare, the only Rare daughter within five generations, improves her lot in life by becoming the apprentice of Marie Babineau, the independent but caring Acadian midwife who helped bring several generations of Scots Bay residents into the world. The women of the village (not to mention their husbands) grow bitterly divided when Dr. Thomas calls the health and safety of expectant mothers into question. His vengeful actions toward Dora herself - a young woman looking for guidance with her own love life - turn particularly personal as well. Dora's development into a strong, independent woman is extremely gratifying.

McKay has fashioned what she terms a "literary scrapbook," reproducing and re-creating historical news clippings, advertisements, and letters within the text. This sensitively written novel of women's birthing rituals, strengths, and friendships will appeal to readers who enjoy gentle humour and plenty of homespun wisdom.

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The Sleeping Doll
By Jeffrey Deaver

Kathryn Dance, an investigator with the California Bureau of Investigation is the lead cop handling the escape of psychopathic killer Daniel Pell, dubbed "Son of Manson" by the press for his "family" of young runaways and his most horrendous crime, the murders of computer engineer William Croyton, Croyton's wife and two of their three children. The only child left alive, nine-year-old Theresa, is known as the Sleeping Doll. Pell, charismatic and diabolically intelligent, continually eludes capture, but Dance, a specialist in interrogation and kinesics (or body language), is never more than a few suspenseful minutes behind. Dance is nicely detailed, and procedural scenes where she uses somatic cues to ferret out liars are fascinating. The book sags in its long middle, but toward the end Deaver digs into his bottomless bag of unexpected twists and turns, keeping readers wide-eyed with surprise.

This is a BRA book club selection and I don't normally read crime. The Sleeping Doll is a ripper of a yarn. Great characters with terrific development through the book, fast paced, you won't want this read to end but you won't be able to keep from devouring each line.

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My Holidays

I've been on holidays and caught up with some reading. I'll be reviewing the books as soon as I can. I certainly enjoyed reading in the sunshine and Australian landscape.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

The Stand (The Complete and Uncut Edition)
By Stephen King

A virus cooked up in some secret government laboratory (Mr. Tripps is the name of the disease), escapes the confines of its quarantine and begins to infect the world. By the time its viral rampage is over, Mr. Tripps has been fatal for most of the world's population. In the United States, where the events of the novel take place, those with an unexplained immunity to the virus begin to have mysterious dreams that lead them either to Las Vegas, Nevada or Boulder, Colorado. The Stand is a classic good versus evil tale. The good guys trek to Boulder and the bad to Las Vegas, where they prepare for a final, climactic showdown.

I loved this book. From start to finish I was hooked. I had read it as a teenager when it first came out, but I loved this edition. It was amazing how King could have written in so many different characters and storylines and still leaving me caring about all of them a great deal. He then manages to tie everything together in a masterful way. It was definitely a "heavy" read. It took a lot of time and attention, but I was rewarded by the wonderful story that he had put together. This book transcends the decades that have past since it was written and released.

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Eclipse (Book 3, The Twilight Saga)
By Stephenie Meyer

This novel, the third in the series, picks up right where New Moon left off. Bella and her vampire boyfriend, Edward, are preparing to graduate from high school. Meanwhile, Bella manages to reestablish her friendship with werewolf Jacob Black. This leads to numerous awkward situations between Edward and Jacob, but Bella is the one who suffers the most, as she finally realises that there's much more to her relationship with Jacob than she initially thought.

While all this is going on, danger looms on the horizon. Seattle has been plagued by a series of violent homicides, and it soon becomes apparent that the killings are not the work of the average serial killer. It turns out that these mysterious deaths are connected to Bella, who's also busy worrying about the fact that Victoria and the Volturi have it out for her, too. On top of all that, there's the small matter of Bella desperately wanting to become a vampire herself, but no one (including Bella herself) is sure if she can handle it.

Tegan, my daughter, wanted me to pick a side between Edward and Jacob. I still like Jacob better. I just don't understand why Bella loves Edward so much; Jacob is a far better catch and who she probably would have ended up with if it wasn't for the Cullens.

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New Moon (Book 2, The Twilight Saga)
By Stephenie Meyer

Recovered from the vampire attack that hospitalized her in the conclusion of Twilight, Bella celebrates her birthday with her boyfriend Edward and his family, a unique clan of vampires that has sworn off human blood. But the celebration abruptly ends when the teen accidentally cuts her arm on broken glass. The sight and smell of her blood trickling away forces the Cullen family to retreat lest they be tempted to make a meal of her. After all is mended, Edward, realizing the danger that he and his family create for Bella, sees no option for her safety but to leave. Mourning his departure, she slips into a downward spiral of depression that penetrates and lingers over her every step.

It's not until Bella re-acquaints herself with childhood friend Jacob, a sophomore with a penchant for motorcycles, that both the pace and her disposition begin to take off. Their adventures are wild, dare-devilish, and teeter on the brink of romance, but memories of Edward pervade Bella's emotions, and soon their fun quickly morphs into danger, especially when she uncovers the true identities of Jacob and his pack of friends.

If you are a huge Edward fan, he only appears in about a third of this novel. I didn't particularly miss him, though when my daughter read it, she couldn't wait for him to reappear. I'm a Jacob fan.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Twilight (Book 1, The Twilight Saga)
By Stephenie Meyer

I was initially wary of this series, as I knew it was marketed to the young adult ages, and as I am well past that, I thought it would be too juvenile for me. But I decided to give it a try after my daughter pestered me to buy the series for her. While it is clearly geared towards the high school age, adults will enjoy the book as well. It's not the highest quality of writing or classic literature but it is a greatly entertaining read and the love story is fascinating. I'm a huge fan of vampire stories (as you can tell with a quick look at this blog) and was a big fan of both Buffy and Angel on tv.

In Twilight, readers discover a pair of lovers who are supremely star-crossed. Bella adores beautiful Edward, and he returns her love. But Edward is having a hard time controlling the blood lust she arouses in him, because he's a vampire. At any moment, the intensity of their passion could drive him to kill her, and he agonizes over the danger. But, Bella would rather be dead than part from Edward, so she risks her life to stay near him, and the novel burns with the erotic tension of their dangerous and necessarily chaste relationship.

Meyer begins the story with a familiar premise (the new kid in school), and lulls us into thinking this will be just another realistic young adult novel. Bella has come to the small town of Forks on the gloomy Olympic Peninsula to be with her father. At school, she wonders about a group of five remarkably beautiful teens, who sit together in the cafeteria but never eat. As she grows to know, and then love, Edward, she learns their secret. They are all rescued vampires, part of a family headed by saintly Carlisle, who has inspired them to renounce human prey. For Edward's sake they welcome Bella, but when a roving group of tracker vampires fixates on her, the family is drawn into a desperate pursuit to protect the fragile human in their midst.

This is a very interesting re-take on the vampire legend, and a great star-crossed lovers plot. I highly recommend it to all ages. I devoured this book in a day and am really looking forward to the movie version hitting the big screen at the end of the year.

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The Mascot
By Mark Kurzem

When a death squad massacred his mother and fellow villagers, five-year-old Alex escaped, hiding in the freezing Russian forest until he was picked up by a group of Latvian SS soldiers. Alex was able to hide his Jewish identity and win over the soldiers, becoming their mascot and an honorary “corporal” in the SS with his own uniform. But what began as a desperate bid for survival became a performance that delighted the highest ranks of the Nazi elite. And so a young Jewish boy ended up starring in a Nazi propaganda film.

After sixty-three years of silence, Alex revealed his terrible secret to his son Mark. With his son’s help, Alex retraced his past in search of answers. His story is at once a terrifying account of survival and its psychological cost as well as a brutally honest examination of identity, complicity, and memory.

Another BRA bookclub selection. I can't say that I really loved the way the story was told, although it is a powerful, shocking story. I would have been quite happy to read it as a case study or a shorter story. The feelings were varied at our book club meeting. Some loved it, and some felt like me. We all felt for his family too - the son Mark keeping his father's secrets and the loyal wife unaware until much later.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Child of a Dead God - Book 6 of the Saga of the Noble Dead
By Barb and JC Hendee

Magiere, Leesil, Wynn, and Chap leave elven lands for the South. Magiere has been having disturbing dreams driving her to an artifact in that direction. But she is not the only person after the artifact. Her evil half-brother and one of the Noble Dead, is following Magiere hoping to get his hands on it. And a group of elf assassins will do anything to bring the artifact back to their own lands.

Each installment has gotten a little more dark and violent. The character development has gotten more in-depth as well. The Hendee's have become true masters of character and world building. This is a fast-paced, action and adventure-filled dark fantasy. The vampires are cunning, the elves are deceptive, and Magiere doesn't even know what the object she's searching for is supposed to do.

While some of the plot lines that have arced over the entire series have been tied up in this sixth novel, the ending has definitely been left open for the coming spin-off series. I'm looking forward to seeing which characters this new series will follow, and more of the fabulous dark fantasy world that the Hendee's have created.

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The Darkest Kiss
Riley Jensen, Guardian, Book 6
By Keri Arthur

Riley's focused on two cases this time around, and I loved the action scenes while the hunts grew. Riley's smarts and instincts get the job done. Arthur makes good use of the paranormal elements of her world and creates some formidable killers - for one, the bakenecko, she draws on Japanese lore to add complexity to the character. She also adds another flavour of vamp to her world, an emo vamp who feeds on emotion, the power hungry Vinnie promises to be a nemesis Riley is sure to encounter again in the future.

Kellen had left her feeling alone, and she struggles quite a bit with that. She truly did love him, but I believe that, if a man truly loves you, he won't ask you to change. While it hurt that he left, I believe that she's better off. This story sees the welcome return of Quinn, the Old Vampire who couldn't cope with Riley sharing her attentions with other men. Riley seems to be settling down, however, so that when Quinn walks back into her life there's possible some kind of a future for them. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks - I think that while Quinn may be stubborn, it may work out just between them. Like any woman, Riley is being cautious; she doesn't want to get hurt again, and I can understand that.

We get even more between Rhoan and Liander, and Rhoan's inner struggle where Liander's concerned. I really like the banter between Kade and Riley, even though she refuses to let it go anywhere. In true Riley form, she gives the excuse that Jack would get mad about it. We know better. She's not ready for it, but she won't admit it to anyone but herself. And I wonder if anything will come of the banter between Cole and Riley. I think he's very attacted to her and fighting it tooth and nail. It will be interesting to see if anything happens between them.

This book will appeal to those who have read the previous books and I did enjoy it, particularly the Australian rather than American/British/Irish setting. Another excellent novel and I can't wait for the next.

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