Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

I really want to see this.

Russian Roulette by Erin McCarthy: Review

Book: First Blood
Story: Russian Roulette
Author: Erin McCarthy
Series: Related to Vegas Vampires Series
Category: Paranormal Romance
Sensuality: Hot

Sasha Chechikov is an ex vampire slayer turned vampire. After becoming a vampire the slayers that she was once a part of now want her dead. Attempting to escape those slayers, she leaves Vegas behind and heads to New Orleans in hopes starting over. Little did Sasha know that her trusted friend, Ivan, had other plans for her. He gives Sasha up to the vampire Cassandra who plans to turn Sasha over to the slayers that are hunting her.

Alistair Kirk hears about a woman being held captive in his ex wife's home and against his better judgement, he goes to rescue the damsel. Only Sasha is not as easy to save as he thought she would be. She fights him tooth and nail from the moment he gets her free. Alistair is stalwart in his need to keep Sasha safe and not even Sasha's reluctance to allow him to help her will stop him.

Sasha has a lot of emotional wounds that are very raw after surviving an abusive marriage and being betrayed by her good friend who she thought she could trust. Because of this, Sasha is leery of men in general, and though she feels an attraction to Alistair and sees that he is a good guy, she refuses to let herself become vulnerable where he his concerned. But she can't deny that she needs Alistair's help. She is a new vampire and in a town she knows little about. Alistair knows the ins and outs of New Orleans vampire society and if she plans to stay undead, she'll need to align herself with him.

Together they work to keep Sasha safe and out of the hands of both the slayers and the vampires that want her, all the while falling for each other.

Russian Roulette was a good entry in the anthology. Being a new comer to this series, it was not hard to follow, always a plus. The characters, especially Sasha had depth and for a short story that is commendable. I wish I could say that this was an A+ read, but it wasn't. There were some misses along the way, the most notable of them was the ending. It felt detached from he rest of the story and very hokey. I was left shaking my head. Not a good way to close out a story.

But as far as an anthology entry goes, McCarthy's contribution was a worthy one. Had it not been for the along the way stumbles and the ending, I probably would have loved Russian Roulette. And while I'm not interested enough to read the back-list for the Vegas Vampires series, I am putting Erin McCarthy on my "authors to look out for" list. Grade B-.


Next up for review: Double the Bite by Chris Marie Green

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Well, That Was Different

Today's Topic: What was the most unusual (for you) book you ever read? Either because the book itself was completely from out in left field somewhere, or was a genre you never read, or was the only book available on a long flight… whatever? What (not counting school textbooks, though literature read for classes counts) was furthest outside your usual comfort zone/familiar territory?

And, did you like it? Did it stretch your boundaries? Did you shut it with a shudder the instant you were done? Did it make you think? Have nightmares? Kick off a new obsession?

The most unusual book I've ever read was The Lovely Bones by Alice Shebold. This book took me totally out of my comfort zone. The protagonist of the book, Susie Salmon, is narrating the story from heaven. At age fourteen she is molested and murdered and from then on out she follows the lives of her family as they grieve the loss of her and then through the years as they grow older and deal with life's many obstacles and changes. At the same time she is learning how to adjust to her heaven.

I did like the book and it certainly stretched my boundaries, as I had never before read about a molestation or a book from a dead person's perspective. The story was very moving and extremely sad, I closed the book with tears streaming down my face. I thought of The Lovely Bones for many days afterward and went back to reread it so that I could find some closure. It didn't kick off any new obsessions and while It touched me in a way that no other book ever has, I never want to read another book like it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cave Canem by Susan Sizemore- Review


Book: First Blood
Story: Cave Canem
Author: Susan Sizemore
Series: Laws of Blood
Category: Paranormal Romance
Grade: C-

The first short story in the First Blood Anthology is Cave Canem. This is my first time reading Susan Siezemore and the experience was a less than fufilling one.

Two of Dan Conover's hellhound pups have been stolen and he wants them back. The Hunter sets out on a mission to find the pups and runs into a Were-witch by the name of Tess Sirella. Tess is apart of a werewolf group that is assigned to keeping a watch on the hellhounds, and is searching for the missing pups as well. Dan suspects that Tess might have something to do with the pups disappearance since werewolves eat hellhounds. Tess eventually convinces Dan that she's trying to find the pups just like he is. She has a lot of insight to the hellhound species and informs Dan that his pups were probably stolen by a Demon bent on turning the pups pure evil for their own gain.

Meanwhile, the Vampire Valentine has been brought into the case of the missing pups when she finds out that an old flame, Yevengy, has kidnapped one of the hellhounds to give as a pet to a boy he's raising. He needs Valentine's help training the wild pup. Valentine warns Yevengy that Dan will come looking for the pup but nevertheless she will try to help him train the hellhound so that a child can handle the animal.

Moving forward, Dan and Tess believe that Valentine is the one responsible for the pup-napping since the murders of mortals by a wild animals they believe to be the hellhound's are happening in Nevada, Valentine's current location. Little do they know that a Demon has one of the missing pups and is training it to be a cold blooded killer.

Can I just say confusing? As a newcomer to Sizemore's Laws of the Blood series, Cave Canem is not easy to understand. First off there are multiple flash backs that are not marked. One chapter will be set in the past and the the next is the present with no warning that time has jumped hundreds of years forward. There is also a lot of series specific mythology going on that is not clearly explained. To make matters more confusing, layers of mythology are continually added throughout the 65 page story. The amount of information dropped was too much for so small a space.

Now on to the characters. While their motives are somewhat clear, some of their actions are not. At one point Dan is untrusting of Tess so he uses magic to strip her of all her clothing, bind her body motionless, then proceeds to use his hands to check every inch of her. Every inch. Just to be sure she isn't hiding any spells on her body or up her whoo-ha. This grossed me out but for whatever reason the virgin Tess really enjoyed this strip search. And within the next scene she is no longer holding on to her vow chastity for the sake of her magic, she throws it to the wind for a night with Dan. Valentine and Yevengy are no easier to understand. They had a past relationship that ended when Valentine refused to turn Yevengy into a vampire. He found someone else to turn him and Valentine feels betrayed because of it. That's about as deep as their conflict goes.

Still, Dan and Tess and Valentine and Yevengy find love in each other. I understand that anthology stories are limited in space, so I'm not expecting an awesome love story that will blow me away, but I was looking for something more than superficial, instant magical attraction.

Cave Canem started out with potential. The beginning of the story was interesting, but between the complicated mythology, sudden time jumping, and characters that had little appeal, it fell flat. I'm not tempted to go out and buy any other books from Sizemore's Laws of Blood series. Grade C-.


Next up for review: Russian Roulette by Erin McCarthy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

First Blood Anthology


I won a copy of First Blood from a contest that Meljean Brook held on her blog a few weeks ago. When the book arrived I had intentions of only reading Meljean's story because she was the author I was most interested in and it was her contest. But since each of the authors in this anthology are new to me, I decided that I would give them all a go, hoping that maybe I would find a new author to fall in love with.

Beginning tomorrow I'll review one book from this anthology a day. Tomorrow is Susan Sizemore's Cave Canem.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bookmarks

Today I was inspired by Jace's pretty origami corner bookmarks and decided to get creative and make my own corner bookmarks. I ended up making two this afternoon and had a lot of fun doing it. Thought I would share them in the pics below. [Please excuse the not so clear pictures, I'm not very handy with a camera]





Thank you for the inspiration, Jace. :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mina: The Dracula Story Continues- Review


Book: Mina: The Dracula Story Continues
Author: Marie Kiraly
Category: Paranormal Fiction
Grade: B+
She tasted the blood of Dracula...
In Brahm Stoker's immortal Classic, Mina Harker became the living breathing object of an obsession- only to fall prey to the stalker's seductive powers. There was only one way to save her soul- by destroying Count Dracula, the creature who controlled and consumed her. But was the spell broken? Could Mina really return to the ordinary turns of a day, to the constraints of a Victorian marriage, after the pleasure of such exquisite darkness?

Mina is a book that I have been interested in reading since its re-release in 2007. I put off reading it until the RIP III Challenge came along. The reading criteria for this challenge gave me the the perfect opportunity to finally give Mina a chance.

Never having read Dracula, and only knowing the black and white movie adaptation, I can honestly say that I was a little unsure about the premise of the story. Luckily, though the book pulled me directly into the action of hunting Dracula down, there was enough back information that I never felt lost. I should say that the book starts with an Author's note where Marie Kiraly goes into short detail about how Mina's voice drops suddenly from Bram Stoker's Dracula. Kiraly felt that Mina had more story to tell and took liberties in continuing her tale.

The story begins with Mina's journal entries. She and her male counterparts: her husband, Jonathon, the vampire hunter, Van Helsing, Dr. Jack Seward, and her late friend Lucy's fiance, Author Holmwood are on the hunt for Dracula. Since Mina has been seduced by the vampire and has drank his blood, they know that in order to free Mina from his hold that Dracula must be killed. Mina is suffering silently at this time. Inside she is changing, a passion is rising inside of her that wasn't present until she was seduced by Dracula. She spends most of her days and night's with Van Helsing. He watches her closely to be sure that she is not turning into a vampire. This also bothers Mina, making her feel as though she is under constant suspicion.

As in the Story of Dracula, the vampire is killed and the curse in Mina's blood is thought by all to be cured. They all go their separate ways, believing the threat to be over, but unknown to everyone else, Mina can still feel the vampire inside of her. She still has a burning passion and she still reacts to the sight of blood. This is where the story continues from the original Dracula tale. At this point the book goes into a third person account, spending a little time with all of those who faced Dracula on their journey, along with a few new characters who meld seamlessly into the story.

Mina's husband Jonathon has thrown himself into his work, but he is still haunted by the memory of the three vampire women who seduced him. Van Helsing stayed behind in Dracula's homeland and is finding that there is still a dark, lurking threat in the snowy lands. Mina is attempting to settle into life as a dutiful wife, but is finding it hard to do so. She writes in her journal of how she longs for her husband to show her the passion that Dracula once had, but never finds it in him. A new character, Lord Gance, comes into the equation and Mina is tempted to find what is lacking in her marriage in him. At the same time she is still struggling to control the urges that her tainted blood stir within her. Urges that make her a wanton woman and lead her to believe that Dracula is still out there, for if he wasn't she would be free of the scandalous feelings that possess her.

Mina is a subtle read. I can best describe the writing as quiet, as is the tone of the book. This quietness, at times, made the story feel as though I was simply a spectator in the lives of these people, watching them lead their daily lives while attempting to overcome the haunting memory of Dracula.

Throughout the story I did question if Mina's blood was truly possessed by Dracula or if she was simply a passionate woman in a time where that was frowned upon, therefore she thought her feelings to be wrong and stemming from Dracula's blood. TO me, Mina came off as a woman who craved touch and wanted to be in control as much as she wanted a man to take control of her. Which is not an oddity in this day and age, but in the Victorian era, where women were not allowed to freely engage themselves in sexual acts unless it was specifically for procreation, it was taboo. Could it be that Mina's deepest fears--that Dracula still lived in her--were all for naught? In the end, the The answer to this question is left ambiguous.

Overall, Mina was an enjoyable book. I'm glad I finally took the time to read it. Grade B+.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I Covet


Though I'm not sure why, since I haven't wanted to read about vampires for some months now, I really want to get my hands on this book. I happened across a review for The Vampire Shrink. It was a so-so review, nothing overly spectacular about the reviewers feelings on the book. But my interest was piqued. I read the excerpt (liked it enough) and decided that I was in desperate need of it.

Maybe it's the protagonist's name that has me beside myself in want of this book? Kismet, that's a cool name, isn't it? Or maybe it's because of this quote from the book that was included in the review I read:

“Running my tongue up and down the length of his fangs seemed to have the same effect as my hand on his erection.”

Whatever the reason, I'm heading out tomorrow in search of The Vampire Shrink. Wish me luck finding it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New Domain

After much internal debate, I have finally registered a domain name for my blog. bibliophilemusings.com is the new site address (whenever it kicks in). I like it quite well. The new site title is Musings of a Bibliophile. What does it mean?

Bibliophile \ˈbi-blē-ə-ˌfī(-ə)l\
Function: noun
Etymology: French, from bibli- + -phile

: a lover of books especially for qualities of format ; also : a book collector

That's me!

Musing (myoozng)
adj.
Deep in thought; contemplative.
n.
1. Contemplation; meditation.
2. A product of contemplation; a thought

Anyway, I wanted to change the site title for many reasons, but the main one was that over time I began disliking the title Cupid's Chokehold. I don't know why I named my blog that to begin with. It had nothing to do with anything. One day I was brainstorming names while MTV played in the background. The song Cupid's Chokehold came on and the rest is history. I crack myself up thinking about it now.

This new title feels more like home to me. I can identify with it and I'm happy about it. Now I have to change my header. Grumbles.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Love and Loss


Over Labor Day weekend, my husband lost his mother to heart failure. She had been in the hospital since the fourth of July due to an infection that set in after foot surgery the month before. She was a fiery woman who spoke loud, laughed heartily, had many friends and loved hard, but most of all, she was a fighter. She had faced many obstacles over her fifty six years of life, had to overcome many adversities-- and had always come through stronger than before. The saying "That which does not kill me makes me stronger" really applied to her. So her death came as a total shock to her family and friends.

We all thought that she would make it through, that the infection would be healed by the antibiotics. There was no way of knowing that she would acquire an allergy to the antibiotics, there was no warning when the woman who spoke so much, was no longer able to form words from all of the pain she was in. Her quickly deteriorating state came out of left field, leaving us in shock when we found out that her heart had failed her.

The call... words can not describe. We were not prepared for that call. I can't imagine what my husband felt at that moment, I can't imagine what he feels now. It's tough. It's hard. But we will make it through.

A week before my mother in law passed, she said something that will live with me for a long time to come. "For me, it's a win win," she said. "If I live then I get to spend more time with my children, my grand-babies. And if I dont..." she trailed off and smiled knowingly. "For me, it's a win win."

Because of this--her words--I am able to go on knowing that she was prepared for death, even if we were not prepared for the loss her dying left us with. I like to think of her passing as her winning, because by her hearts thinking, there was no way she could lose.