Abundant Books

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

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Outlaw Demon Wails
By Kim Harrison

Witch Rachel Morgan has a demon after her, but that's just one of her many troubles in this action-packed sixth installment of Harrison's Hollows series . A nice guy, Marshal (the witch from Mackinaw Island), might be moving into Rachel's town and life, but she's still getting over her last boyfriend, Kirsten, whose murder she has yet to solve. Elf politician Trent Kalamack wants her to go to the ever-after on a dangerous mission. Rynn Cormel, Cincinnati's new master vampire and ex-leader of the free world, is interfering in her life. Her friend, former demon familiar Ceri, is unexpectedly pregnant, by an unexpected partner. Rachel's mom has a very dark secret related to Rachel's father and Keasley's true identity is revealed. On top of all this, Rachel worries she may have had a too close encounter with a vampire and soon becomes concerned about her own abilities with demon magic. With the help of her feisty mother, Alice, and her pixy partner, Jenks, Rachel boldly tackles every challenge amid a cascade of plot twists that will delight Harrison's fans.

Love the book, love the series. Answers questions that had been stirring in the under current but the book's main mystery is still unanswered. You don't always get all the answers when you expect them and thats what makes this series fun. Kim's a masterful story teller and has a way of making fantastical characters seem like people you know. If Kim keeps writing them I'll keep reading them.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

The Death Chamber
By Sarah Rayne

A great read for the car or a holiday. Lots of twists and turns, with several time periods, telling the story of Calvary Gaol, standing bleak and forbidding on the Cumbrian hillside.

This evil place exerts a curious influence over Georgina Grey; her family's history closely bound up in the penitentiary's dark and terrible past. It was predominantly used as a gaol to house and hang those criminals who were given death sentences, including women. Television presenter Chad Ingram is fascinated by Calvary as well. He plans to conduct a new experiment in the long-vacant structure within the brooding desolation of the old execution chamber. Someone with a horrid past is set on suppressing the truth of Calvary, and is willing to go to any lengths to ensure that its shocking past remains buried.

A great read - one to pass on to friends to enjoy too.

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Peony in Love: A Novel
By Lisa See

Set in 17th-century China, this novel is a coming-of-age story, a ghost story, a family saga and a work of musical and social history. As Peony, the 15-year-old daughter of the wealthy Chen family, approaches an arranged marriage, she commits an unthinkable breach of etiquette when she accidentally comes upon a man who has entered the family garden. Unusually for a girl of her time, Peony has been educated and revels in studying The Peony Pavilion, a real opera published in 1598, as the repercussions of the meeting unfold. The novel's plot mirrors that of the opera, and eternal themes abound: an intelligent girl chafing against the restrictions of expected behavior; fiction's educative powers; the rocky path of love between lovers and in families. It figures into the plot that generations of young Chinese women, known as the lovesick maidens, became obsessed with The Peony Pavilion, and many starved themselves to death. Th story offers meticulous depiction of women's roles in Qing and Ming dynasty China (including horrifying foot-binding scenes) and vivid descriptions of daily Qing life, festivals and rituals.

This was the April choice from my book club and I must admit that I struggled through it. I found the historical and cultural elements quite interesting, but was totally uninterested in the ghost story. It is not what I would describe as a "summer read". You need to dedicate time and effort to this novel.

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The Blood of Flowers
By Anita Amirrezvani

This is the tale of a 17th-century Persian village girl who makes her way with her mother to a rich uncle's house in the city of Isfahan after her father's untimely death. As poor relatives, they are treated as servants. The uncle, a master rug maker for the shah, grudgingly teaches her his trade, his love and respect for her increasing with her perseverance and obvious talent. His greedy wife convinces him to accept a three-month "marriage" contract for the girl with a rich horse trader. She learns how to please her "husband" (and herself) sexually, but also learns that he has no intention of making her his permanent wife as she has no money. She vows to make beautiful rugs on her own, and thus ensure her and her mother's financial security. She is banished from her uncle's house when she tells her friend about the marriage contract. She trusts a foreign merchant with her rug and he steals it. Now she must beg and find shelter and a way to begin a new rug. The heroine's mother is a master storyteller, telling tales within this tale that Amirrezvani tells so magically.

The Blood of Flowers is a story of love, loss, learning and sacrifice. The young girl often makes rash, immature decisions and takes extreme risks - something unusual in a Muslim girl in 17th Century Persia. Some of these risks pay dividends, while others bring great misery. This book is also a coming of age story as the young girl moves to womanhood. If you enjoyed Khaled Hosseini's novels you will love this. All the Bra girls enjoyed this novel - it is beautifully written and sumptuous. I especially enjoyed cooking a traditional Persian meal for the girls when we discussed this book - and the walnuts were crunchy :-)

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

All Together Dead: A Sookie Stackhouse Vampire Mystery

By Charlaine Harris

Charliane Harris mixes humorous Southern-fried fantasy with biting satirical commentary in her seventh novel to feature Sookie Stackhouse, the bubbly telepathic barmaid from Bon Temps, La. Sookie attends an all-important central U.S. vamp summit on the shores of Lake Michigan as a "human geiger counter" for Sophie-Anne Leclerq, vampire queen of a Louisiana weakened by Hurricane Katrina and who will be tried during the event for murdering her husband, and king. Sookie knows the queen is innocent, but she's hardly prepared for other shocking murders, not to mention protests by the Fellowship of the Sun, a right-wing anti-vampire movement. Her sleuthing skills, along with those of her new telepath friend, Barry the Bellboy, are put to the extreme test.

Harris juggles a large cast, including several romantic contenders for Sookie's heart, with effortless exuberance. I marvel at the imagination of Harris as she plucks new beings and social systems from out of seeming thin air and breathes life into them with absolute believability and skill. A great read that continues to keep me enthralled by Sookie's world. I will definitely keep with this series.

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