Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Review--The Confessions

The ConfessionsThe Confessions by Tiffany Reisz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An interesting coda to the Original Sinners books. I didn't list this one primarily as erotica because there's very little about it that's erotic. We delve deeper into the minds of Soren and Nora through the agency of Soren's lifelong confessor, a Jesuit he's known since he was 18 and entered the seminary.

The third part is an interview with Ms. Reisz, which will be of interest to her fans. And just for the record, my imaginary Hollywood casting of Soren features a young Rutger Hauer, not a GoT johnny-come-lately. It's my imagination, I can use it as I like.[g]


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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Review--Imperfect Sympathies: Jews and Judaism in British Romantic Literature and Culture

Imperfect Sympathies: Jews and Judaism in British Romantic Literature and CultureImperfect Sympathies: Jews and Judaism in British Romantic Literature and Culture by Judith Page
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fascinating glimpse into the changing view of Jews in British literature, using the acting of Kean's Shylock and the portrayal of Rebecca in Ivanhoe to illustrate how the image of the Jew was changed as writers and poets modified their views of what the Jews were and what they represented.

However, as the title says, the efforts were imperfect, and some of the writing contributed to existing stereotypes, or replaced them with other, not always appropriate or positive images.

It's an academic tome, but of interest to anyone who's a scholar of Jewish history, particularly in the 19th C. English speaking lands.


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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Review--Archangel's Enigma (Guild Hunter, #8)

Archangel's Enigma (Guild Hunter, #8)Archangel's Enigma by Nalini Singh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The world-building continues to be excellent in this involved series about angels and vampires and the mortals who live in their universe. At first I wasn't enraptured by the premise, even though the initial novel was wonderfully sexy and romantic, but the Guild Hunter universe is evolving and growing, and the love stories are interesting as well.

Naasir has been one of the more intriguing characters, because we didn't know what he was. Was he a vampire? A shape-shifter? A shape-shifting vampire? He finds his mate, but there were so many echoes of Singh's other excellent paranormal series that I found myself thinking on occasion that I was in a Psy-Changeling tale, rather than Guild Hunter.

But good writing is good writing, and Enigma will be enjoyed by Singh's legion of fans.


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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Review--The Museum of Extraordinary Things

The Museum of Extraordinary Things: A NovelThe Museum of Extraordinary Things: A Novel by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

New York City in the beginning of the 20th c. was a place of robber barons and freaks, showmen and shysters, crooks and ordinary people struggling to survive. Coney Island was in its infancy but already an escape from a stifling city, where people paid pennies to be entertained by the different and frightening, whether it was a thrill ride or a woman born without arms.

The protagonists, Eddie and Coralie, have lives that intersect in unexpected ways, but the reader knows they're destined to be entangled together. Her "deformity" causes her to live a life of isolation and dwell in her own world, while his struggle to survive leads him to make choices that aren't always legal, but are true to his own ethical code. They belong in their time and place, a NYC of opportunity and freakshows.

One can read about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and the horrors of it, but to see it described in such searing detail brings alive a time and place where workers were considered material easily replaced, and their lives worth little compared to profit. It's a situation resonating with us today and during this political season.

This is not a fast read. The novel proceeds at a slow and deliberate pace, with a great deal of moving back and forth in timelines. It's not a bad technique, but it won't appeal to all readers. I was much more disturbed by POV shifts in a single paragraph. But if you stick with it, there's a reward at the end as secrets are revealed and lives changed in a single night of disaster and hope.


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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Review--Brotherhood in Death (In Death, #42)

Brotherhood in Death (In Death, #42)Brotherhood in Death by J.D. Robb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am consumed by envy over Queen Nora's talent in keeping a series alive through 42 novels, each one carrying characters forward with zest and verve. I laughed aloud at some scenes in "Brotherhood", others made me wince, but it held my attention and kept me turning pages. The story is one all too familiar--men of power believing women are theirs for the taking, to be raped and abused without consequence. Eve Dallas stands ready to defend the dead, even when the murder victim is a complete piece of sh*t. The question of "What is justice?" is at the core of this tale, but we also have wonderful glimpses into Dennis Mira, a character who's always been on the sidelines.

Of course, new readers should start with the very first novel, Naked In Death, to get the full flavor of the series, but the fans won't be disappointed as old friends are brought onto the scene, and the team races the clock to prevent another gruesome homicide in future NYC.


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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Review--The Yid

The YidThe Yid by Paul Goldberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel will not appeal to everyone. The humor is so black it's in the ultra-violet spectrum, and the gore level would satisfy Tarantino fans. However, it's a deep, if bordering on absurd, look into the heart of darkness that was the final days of the Joseph Stalin regime. The Doctors' Plot is little known to the modern community, but in the early 50s it was the first step toward a second Final Solution, one set in motion by Stalin to eradicate the Jewish population of the USSR.

Stalin died as the plan was beginning to unfold. Some saw Divine forces at work in this, but Goldberg offers a much more mundane, and entertaining explanation. A handful of elderly Jewish veterans, a black American ex-pat engineer, a young woman with anger issues, all put into place a plan to assassinate Stalin before he can begin the pogrom.

I found the pacing of the story a bit awkward, but the references to Kafka (justified) and the theater of the absurd that is life makes it worthwhile.


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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Review--The Puppy Primer

The Puppy PrimerThe Puppy Primer by Patricia B. McConnell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been reading quite a few puppy training books this past week, and this one's the pick of the litter. Easy to digest, simple techniques and information. While most dog training is actually training the human members of the pack, The Puppy Primer doesn't leave the humans feeling dumb and inadequate.


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Monday, March 07, 2016

Finding a forever home

I'll be honest. I didn't want a rescue dog. Our beloved Yofi, who passed away in 2014, came to us from a family breeder. We could meet the mama and papa doxies, see the littermates, observe her at play. We knew she came from good stock. With a rescue, I'd be taking a chance.

However, I felt an obligation to at least check it out. So a year after Yofi's passing I submitted an application to Florida Dachshund Rescue. I was immediately impressed by their rigorous vetting process for new doxie owners. We had to have references, a home visit, and answer questions about dachshund care and ownership. This was a far more comprehensive process than I'd have received from some breeders. I could be specific in what I was looking for: smoothcoat, under 15 lbs. grown, female, all doxie.

After our application was processed I was put on a waiting list, and I knew it could be a while before I found my match. Sadly, older, sick dogs all too often end up at rescue organizations. Puppies, not so much.

Then a friend told me about a local organization, Doxie Tales Rescue. I went through the whole process again--application, references, site visit. As it happened, there was a litter of pups needing forever homes, and I immediately submitted a request.

Today we picked up Dodi from her foster parents. She was exactly what I was looking for, and I had the added satisfaction of helping a rescue agency find a home for a pup. I can already tell Dodi is smart, loving and curious, all good qualities. I look forward to many afternoons of walkies (good for both of us!) and some quiet times when my muse will sleep in my office while I write.

Of course, until that happens we have house training and other fun times. Good thing I can take my laptop out into the kitchen and the porch, where we are now. Dodi's sound asleep after a busy morning coming home, checking our her new back yard, and being fitted for a harness and leash. Whew!

You'll be hearing more about her as time goes on, but I want to again give kudos to the rescue organizations, and especially the foster families who keep these darlings until they find their forever homes. Y'all are amazing people, and I'm very glad I went the rescue route.

Review--Kingfisher

KingfisherKingfisher by Patricia A. McKillip
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kingfisher...or The Fisher King? If you combine elements of Le Morte de Arthur, the quest for the Holy Grail, Celtic mythology, the three-part goddess, the island of Avalon...and Top Chef...you get Kingfisher, a novel about knights who ride motorcycles and carry cell phones. It's also about love lost and found, and the most amazing All-You-Can-Eat Fish Fry ever.

Patricia A. McKillip is one of the top fantasy writers of our generation, bringing new luminosity to the English language. She layers her prose with depth and beauty, and reading her books is a treat.


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Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Review--Stars of Fortune (The Guardians Trilogy, #1)

Stars of Fortune (The Guardians Trilogy, #1)Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is vintage Nora Roberts (though it's a new novel). Three couples brought together on a quest, each with different strengths (as one character points out, "We're the Avengers!"). It's easy to see who gets matched up with whom, but that's not the point. We come back to these books for the banter, for the action, and for the well-crafted characters.

I'd give it 3.5 stars if I could. I enjoyed it, but it didn't rock my world.


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