Archive for the ‘Kelly’ Category

Spoiler-Free Mini-Review: We Were Liars

July 24th, 2014    Posted in Fiction, Kelly, Young Adult
 

The Sinclair family owns their own private island off of Martha’s Vineyard. The entire family spends their summers on the island. The teenage narrator, Cadence, is suffering from amnesia after a terrible accident she can’t remember.

It’s hard to talk about the details of We Were Liars without ruining the surprise. Let’s just say when Cadence returns to the island, struggling with her amnesia, she deals with a dark family secret while finding out what happened to her.

E. Lockhart is, simply, a great writer. She’s already achieved acclaim and popularity with YA titles such as The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banksand The Boyfriend List, plus her novels aimed for the adult market. I enjoyed We Were Liars, especially the quality of the writing, although I figured out the plot twist within the first fifty pages. I never warmed to Cadence and struggled to see most of her family as anything more than shadowy cutouts versus strong, rounded characters. But the blurry feeling of the supporting cast adds to the Brothers Grimm and King Lear feel of the novel, making them stand-in for classic tropes.

This is a great novel for teens who love suspenseful novels with stellar writing.

Title: We Were Liars

Author: E. Lockhart

Date Read: May 2014

Source: ARC given to me by a friend

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Book v. TV: Bitten

February 5th, 2014    Posted in Book adaptation, Fantasy, Fiction, Kelly, TV v. Book, Urban Fantasy
 

SyFy has a new werewolf show on, so I checked out the first four episodes and read the novel the show is based on: Bitten by Kelley Armstrong. Adapting novels to TV shows is fascinating to me, and as someone who likes light urban fantasy and paranormal TV shows, both seemed like a good fit for me.

Note: minimal spoilers ahead but read at your own risk.

The Book

In the novel, Elena has created a life for herself in Toronto as a journalist. She’s been on her own for a year and has a live-in boyfriend. She struggles to balance her side as a werewolf with her desire to a normal woman. Her boyfriend, Phillip, has no idea about the ‘other’ side of Elena and instead sees the sweet facade of who Elena wants to be.

Everything changes when Elena is called back to Stonehaven, the gothic home of her Pack master. A “mutt” (unaffiliated werewolf) is in town, and killing humans. The pack master, Jeremy, calls the whole pack home to deal with the problem. Elena hesitates, and not just because she wants to deny her werewolf duality: she also wants to avoid Clayton, the brooding, intense enforcer of her pack. Clayton isn’t just Elena’s former lover. He’s also the person who turned Elena without her knowledge or permission, making her the only female werewolf in existence.

Elena and her pack quickly realize they have more than just a rogue mutt to deal with, but rather a conspiracy by unaffiliated werewolves, some of whom were terrible humans to start with (rapists and killers), and both dangerous and uncontrolled werewolves. Some of the mutts wants revenge on the pack . . . but one wants Elena.

The novels enjoyable and sets up a consistent, believable urban fantasy world with its own unique details and twists on werewolf lore. Note: I’ve only read the first in the series (“Women of the Otherworld”) so I can’t say how the rest of the series stacks up. Told in first person, we see everything from Elena’s perspective, even the emotions she’s oblivious too. It’s enjoyable in the way the early Sookie Stackhouse novels are, or the Would-Be Witch series. Fun, sexy, bits of danger. Elena is a strong woman able to hold her own with the men in her pack. She’s no damsel-in-distress in need of rescuing, but is a strong fighter in her own right. She sometimes makes questionable/stupid decisions and feels a little young, but it works.

 

The TV Show

The first four episodes of the TV show stick fairly close to the book in terms of the major details. Minor details are changed: Elena is photographer, her boyfriend is in marketing instead of working as a lawyer. Philip has a sister who’s Elena’s new best friend. We see events outside of Elena’s perspective–like the mutt finding his victim in a bar, or watching Jeremy interact with the local sheriff when the first body is found–which is refreshing since all of that happens off-screen in the novel.

Logan is a bigger character in the show, which I appreciate. In the novel, Elena says Logan is her best friend but we only ‘see’ him in a telephone call. Giving him a place in Elena’s Toronto life has helped show her struggle with balancing her werewolf side with her desire to be “normal”, especially since he’s balancing similar issues.

Some of the dialogue in the show feels overly expository, but I’ve given the writers a little slack since they’re developing a unique world. For example, Peter’s scenes with Elena do a more subtle job world building than the more heavy-handed dialogue with Jeremy.

Hopefully Elena will stop complaining about wanting to go back to Toronto in the next few episodes. If she wants to be human and embrace humanity, and innocent people are dying, she needs to step up without complaining about it since she’s one of the few people able to stop the mutts.

I can see the plot arc of the novel translating well to a 13-episode season. Fingers crossed the show hits its stride and becomes the fun TV show it has the potential to be. That being said, I enjoyed the first four episodes.

 

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Beach read gold: Would-Be Witch

December 14th, 2013    Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Kelly, Urban Fantasy
 

When Tammy Jo’s locket is stolen during  a robbery at a Halloween party, its more than just the loss of a necklace. The ghost of her aunt, Edie, is tied to the locket. If she can’t get the necklace back soon, her aunt’s ghost will be lost forever.

She also runs into the mysterious (and handsome) Bryn Lyons at the party, and she knows she shouldn’t talk to him. The Lyons on the list of magical families she’s absolutely never to associate with.

But Tammy Jo’s latent magic ability finally emerges, and she needs to use it to find the locket and save Edie. Plus there’s an accidental zombie raising for her to deal with, and lots of werewolves. So what’s a girl to do but turn to the powerful Bryn Lyons? Even if Zach, her ex-husband, current boyfriend, and local police officer,  would prefer she only turn to him with her problems. Even if he doesn’t believe in magic or Edie.

If you’re looking for something breezy and fun, consider picking up the Southern Witches series by Kimberly Frost. Start with Would-Be Witch. It’s great for fans of Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire series. The main character can be frustrating (especially her relationship with men), but she stands up for herself more and more as the series goes on. Plus she’s quirky. She feels real, like the friend you love even though she occasionally exasperates you. Plus, Tammy Jo has one of the best animal sidekicks ever.

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More Amazing Scandinavian Crime Fiction: The Preacher by Camila Lackberg

October 8th, 2013    Posted in Crime, Fiction, Kelly, Mystery
 

I’m not ashamed to admit: I have a thing for Scandinavian crime fiction. When someone mentioned Camila Lackberg to me, I knew I had to find one of her books.

Twenty years ago in Fjallbacka, two young women disappeared. A local man was questioned, but committed suicide. The case was never closed.

Modern day: a six-year-old boy discovers the body of a young woman. Police find two skeletons with the girl, and all show the same pattern of injuries. Detective Patrik Hedstrom is on the case, and the stakes are raised when another 17-year-old girl disappears. He knows the killer tortures his victims before killing them, so he might be able to find the missing girl while she’s still alive. Meanwhile, Hedstrom’s romantic partner is expecting their first child.

The Preacher balances character development with action and plot. The question of how the ghosts of the past comes back to haunt the present is well-done.

I’ll definitely check out more of Lackberg’s work!

 

Title: The Preacher

Author: Camila Lackberg

Source: Purchased

Read: September 2013

 

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The Diamond Lens and Other Stories by Fitz-James O’Brien

September 13th, 2012    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Classics, Fantasy, Fiction, Kelly, Science Fiction
 

Born in Ireland in 1828, Fitz-James O’Brien moved to the United States in 1852 after running through most of his inherited fortune. Once in the USA, he made a living writing for a variety of publications, like the New Yorker and Harper’s. He also wrote short fiction, and Hesperus Press Limited recently rereleased a collection of his work.

The Diamond Lens and Other Stories contains three creepy gems: the eponymously named Diamond Lens, featuring a scientist’s obsession with a microcosmic world, originally published in 1858; The Wondersmith, a revenge story with soulless mannequins and interesting romantic message, first published 1859; and last of all What Was It, an invisible monster story that predates The Invisible Man and other stories with similar concepts, as it was published in 1859.

If you like Edgar Allen Poe, and macabre stories, this is a collection for you. Early science fiction and fantasy is fascinating both for the sheer creativity but also the worldview it gives to the time period it was published.

On a side note, O’Brien joined the New York National Guard in 1961, after the Civil War broke out. He was wounded in action in February 1962, and died from his wounds later that year.

 

 

Title: The Diamond Lens and Other Stories

Author: Fitz-James O’Brien

Source: Publicist

Read: September 2012

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Holtby Series #2: The Land of Green Ginger

May 15th, 2012    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, ARCs, Classics, Fiction, Kelly, Literary Fiction
 

Following last week’s review of Anderby Wold, here’s the next in our Winifred Holtby series: The Land of Green Ginger.

Joanna dreams of the world beyond Yorkshire, the mystique of faraway places, and is in love with the idea of adventure. At eighteen she meets Teddy Leigh, and he sweeps her off her feet and into a quick marriage before heading to the trenches of World War I.

Teddy returns from the war, but the world isn’t as the magical fairyland Joanna hoped for. Teddy suffers from tuberculosis, and she has to care for him in addition to their two daughters and struggling farm.  She’s overwhelmed by her responsibilities, but she can still dream of the world she wants to see.

When Joanna is asked to take in a lodger it seems like the perfect solution to their financial woes. The lodger, a Hungarian named Paul, has seen the world, and is a healthy man. But Yorkshire in the aftermath of World War I isn’t welcoming to foreign labor, and the neighbors are suspicious of Joanna’s feelings. Will her family survive?

The Land of Green Ginger brings insight into Britain just after World War I while also illuminating the lives of women. Like South Riding and Ander by Wold, the sense of time and place is amazing.

The tuberculosis aspect of the novel is fascinating; it wasn’t until the 1940s that scientists were able to create an antibiotic to cure the disease. (Researchers are still batting TB, as the newer multiple drug-resistant tuberculosis, usually referred to as MDR-TB, has a strong foothold in parts of the world.) During the time period of the novel, patients with TB would go into sanitariums and be exposed to lots of fresh air and proper nutrition. If their immune system could fight the bacterial infection, they might go into remission with the infection dormant, but present. Teddy’s fight and fear of being stuck in a sanitarium is understandable, even if his relationship with his wife is troubling.

Next up: Poor Caroline, the third and final installment in our Holtby Series.

Title: The Land of Green Ginger

Author: Winifred Holtby

Read: March 2012

Source: ARC from Publisher

 

 

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Holtby Series #1: Anderby Wold

May 6th, 2012    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, ARCs, Classics, Fiction, Kelly, Literary Fiction
 

A little over a year ago, Masterpiece Theater introduced me to Winifred Holtby and her best-known novel, South Riding. After watching the mini-series, I read the novel, and adored it. Holtby is a strong voice of her time, and her work deserves a wider audience. So imagine my excitement when I was asked if I’d be interested in reading ARCs of the three novels Holtby wrote before South Riding, as they are being re-released this month.

Anderby Wold is set in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and follows the life of Mary Robson. Married to her old, unromantic cousin, Mary has managed to save her inheritance and get her family farm out of debt. Mary feels old before her time, and represents traditional Yorkshire.

Then David Rossiture, a young radical with dreams of organizing the workers. He brings his ideas of socialism into Mary’s world. His eloquence and energy are appealing to Mary, and show her the youthful life she’s never allowed herself to have. When these two worlds collide, whose life will shatter?

Fans of Holtby will want to pick this up and see her first novel. It’s simpler than South Riding, but Holtby’s insight into her changing world is evident.

Next up in our Holtby series: Land of Green Ginger.

 

Title: Anderby Wold

Author: Winifred Holtby

Source: ARC from Publisher

Read: March 2012

 

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Modern Day Classic: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

April 24th, 2012    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Fantasy, Fiction, Kelly, Middle Grade
 

Some books just feel timeless. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is one of those books. It could have been written during World War II (the same time period it’s set), although it was published in 2011. The language has a classic, poetic feel and the story is timeless.

 

Twelve-year old September is bored with her life in Omaha. Her mother works long hours for the war effort, and her father is abroad, serving his country. The Green Wind offers to take September on an adventure, and they head to Fairyland. Luckily September has the tools to save Fairyland.

 

September is a strong character, and the friends she makes add to the story. She faces real problems and has to find courage within herself.  This is a great novel for children and young-at-heart readers who enjoy fairy tales, fantasy, and whimsical writing.

 

 

 

Title: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Author: Catherynne M. Valente

Source: Purchased an e-version

Read: March 2012

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Midsomer Murders TV Show versus Inspector Barnaby Mystery Series

April 9th, 2012    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Book adaptation, Crime, Fiction, Kelly, Mystery, TV v. Book
 

Public broadcasting currently shows Midsummer Murders, the long-running British detective show. Based on the books by Caroline Graham, the series is set in the fictional, and rather deadly, county of Midsomer.

 

The second episode of Midsomer Murders (and the first I saw) was based on the novel Written in Blood. It features DCI Barnaby and quirky cast of potential suspects.

 

The Midsomer Worthy’s Writer’s Circle invites a yearly speaker, and they usually can’t get anyone famous or successful to attend. So when best-selling author Max Jennings agrees to speak, they’re mostly excited. The circle’s secretary, Gerald Hadleigh, is furious, as he never wanted to invite Jennings in the first place.

 

When Hadleigh is found dead the morning after Jennings speaks to the writers, Barnaby is called in to investigate. Almost everyone in the group has something to to hide, whether embarrassing or sinister. He has to sift through everyone’s secrets and the past to find the murderer.

 

The TV version ups the ante a bit, adding in an additional murder. Most of the major subplots are brought to the small screen, although the book goes into most of them in more depth.  The show is satisfying, using two one-hour episodes to dig into the lives of the potential suspects.  Not surprisingly, the novel goes deeper into the lives of the characters, and the subplot with Sue is especially rewarding in the book.

 

Both the books and TV show are fun, perfect for fans of mysteries set in the English countryside. Barnaby is a likable character both on-screen and in the books. His family is important in both mediums, although his wife and daughter are less entwined in the mysteries in the novels. His sergeant, Troy, is nicer on-screen, which works well for the viewing public.

 

In addition to Written in Blood, I read several other novels in the Inspector Barnaby series: The Killings At Badger’s Drift, Faithful Until Death, A Place of Safety, and A Ghost in the Machine. All are solidly written and would make good reads for fans of cozy mysteries.

 

Title: Written in Blood

Author: Caroline Graham

Source: Public Library

Read: March 2012

 

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Timeless. Fitting end to the Parasol Protectorate series.

March 14th, 2012    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Fantasy, Fiction, Kelly
 

Timeless starts up about two years after the end of Heartless. Alexia and her husband are still living in Lord Akeldama’s second-best closet to allow them to participate in their daughter, Prudence’s, upbringing with her adoptive vampire father. Life is normal for everyone, well, as normal as living with a toddler able to steal the magic of others temporary turn into, for example, a toddler vampire or tiny werewolf, can be.

But trouble is brewing, and Alexia is summoned to Alexandria. Why does the most powerful vampire in the world want to see Lady Maccon? And will the Egyptians know how to properly prepare tea?

Timeless brings the Parasol Protectorate series to a satisfying close while leaving enough room in the writing-sandbox for the new YA series involving Prudence. Major plot threads, like Alexia’s father, are resolved. Prudence is a delightful addition to the story, bringing humor to the story. Some of the supporting characters, like Biffy and Floote the Butler, play bigger roles to good effect.

Title: Timeless

Author: Gail Carriger.

Source: Purchased (E-book)

Read: February 2012

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