Tag Archives: paranormal

Review: Abandon, by Meg Cabot

Abandon, by Meg CabotSummary:

Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can’t help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she’s never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she’s moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can’t. Because even here, he finds her. That’s how desperately he wants her back. She knows he’s no guardian angel, and his dark world isn’t exactly heaven, yet she can’t stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

I love Meg Cabot’s books. Her writing style is just so engaging, and she really knows how to tell a story. I love her characters and her settings. I love the way her imagination works.

Which is why it’s so unfortunate I didn’t enjoy Abandon nearly as much as any of her other books. Unusual for me, especially since I’ve always loved her paranormal books best of all.

The first half of Abandon is told using scenes set in the present day interspersed with flashbacks, and this just didn’t work for me at all. It felt disjointed; there were hints about both an incident and an accident that had occurred sometime in the past, and I spent most of my time impatiently turning the pages. I wanted to know the whole backstory so we could get on with the main story, the here and now part of the book.

About halfway through the book (I think it was about page 144 or thereabouts) the past was finally all told and that’s when the story kicked in for me – that was when it felt, at last, like a Meg Cabot book.

But that only left Cabot with half the book to develop the storyline and flesh out the characters. That’s not a whole lot of time, although there was enough time to plant a lot of intriguing possibilities and questions. Who was this newly single person Pierce’s mom wanted to see again? What did Uncle Chris do to land him in jail? What does Alex have up his sleeve? Very enticing questions, and one reason I’m on board for the upcoming sequel.

Anyway, just as I was really getting into the book, it ended.

Now, I love trilogies, but I am a firm believer that a book in a trilogy – and the first book in particular – needs to also have a story arc of its own; it needs to have its own conflict and resolution, in addition to the role it will play across the entire trilogy. But while there was a resolution of sorts in Abandon, it felt rather insubstantial in comparison to everything else.

Right on the heels of this insubstantial resolution to a vaguely outlined conflict came a cliffhanger ending.

I readily admit: I have problems with cliffhanger endings, although they can work sometimes. But you need a strong, stable resolution to the conflict that drives the main plot in the book first, before you can leave an enticing cliffhanger that won’t have me stuttering, Wait! But what … but why …. but  … but …

Mind you, I guess you could say this cliffhanger “works” for me, because, yes, I do want to read Underworld, the second book in the trilogy. I want to know the answers to all those questions, for one thing.

But if I’m honest with myself, I’m up for the second book because it IS Meg Cabot, after all. And there is so much potential in this storyline, and Cabot is simply awesome when she works with such potential.

Most of the time.

So I’ve decided to just classify Abandon as an anomaly, and trust that with the next book, things will be back to normal.

Comfort Reads (42nd Bookworms Carnival)

imageI’m just tickled to be hosting this 42nd Bookworms Carnival! Thank you to everyone who sent in their links on such short notice.

I chose the topic of Comfort Reads because there are always those times in life when a much-loved, well-read book is exactly what I need, and I’m hoping you all feel the same, too.

The desire for a spot of comfort reading hits me most often during the winter: usually at night, when it’s toasty warm inside and bitterly cold outside. I look at my special reading armchair and thoughts of a good, familiar book and a mug of hot tea come to mind.

I’ve enjoyed seeing the titles my fellow bloggers turn to when they’re up for some comfort reading; there are many old favorites of mine in the group, plus some new titles that of course I’ve now added to my list of books to get my hands on. All I can say is, it’s a good thing Christmas is just around the corner!

Classics

Ah, the classics! I have quite a few classics on my own list – especially Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, A Room with a View, by E. M. Forster, and The Good Soldier, by Ford Madox Ford. Only one person submitted a classic, but it’s a lovely one for reading on a cold night, all warm and cozy in front of the fire.

Heather from Age 30+ … A Lifetime of Books submitted Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë. If you’re like me, whenever you think of Wuthering Heights you think of Heathcliff. I also tend to think of dark and glowering brows, too! Heather has included a great detailed list of the cast of characters that does a wonderful job of refreshing your memory about this classic if it’s been a while since you’ve read it.

Fantasy

There’s something about a good fantasy that gives that old favorite one an edge when it comes to being a comfort read. I think it’s because the world you dip into is so different and all-encompassing (with the best fantasies, anyway), that you literally are swept away for those few hours you’re re-reading.

Heather submitted as another comfort read, Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley, one of my own favorite reads. I’ve always had a fondness for retellings of the King Arthur story, and I read this when I was a teen and just adored it. Heather says, “I guess I’d have to say that if you DO find it challenging, it is VERY worth the effort you put into it. For me, this is a “must read” for just about everyone.” And I agree totally!

Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series is another series I turn to in my own comfort reading, so I was pleased to see it showing up in the submissions. Zee at Notes from the North recommends listening to the Dragonsinger series in audio, which sounds like a great idea. Jemi at Just Jemi has also included the Pern series in her list of comfort reads, and I am in complete agreement with her! I recently bought the first three books in the series in ebook format, so that I’ll always have them to dip into.

Zee also includes in her list a fantasy series by David Eddings, the Belgariad and Mallorean series; I’ve read a few books by Edding, and she’s reminded me it’s time for a revisit.

Jackie at Literary Escapism submitted three urban fantasy books that sound like fantastic reads; I haven’t read any of them, and have added them to my list. There’s Friday Night Bites, by Chloe Neill, a novel about the Chicagoland vampires, and Destined for an Early Grave, by Jeaniene Frost, another novel about vampires. And I’ve had the Riley Jensen series, by Keri Arthur, on my list for a while now; the latest installment, Bound to Shadows, sounds so good.

Sheila, from One Person’s Journey Through a World of Books, picks The Three Sisters Trilogy, by Nora Roberts as her comfort reads; I haven’t read very many books by Nora Roberts, but as soon as I read Sheila’s post, I immediately added these books to my list – I love the concept of three independent women who are all witches. In her email to me, Sheila wrote, “These three books are favorites of mine and are always a “go to” series if I need to just sink into characters that are like old friends to me. Even talking about them now makes me want to go visit them between the pages of these books.”

Mysteries

There’s nothing more perfect than curling up with a good mystery, and with the passage of time, I find that my memory of exactly whodunnit has dimmed enough for old favorites to be just as enjoyable as they were the first time I read them.

For Aarti, at Booklust, Footsteps in the Dark, by Georgette Heyer, is a favorite read. She says, “Footsteps in the Dark is a thriller mystery of the first order, complete with secret passageways, priest holes, skeletons and a cowled monk.” She definitely has me sold on this one! I’ve never read a Georgette Heyer, and one of her mysteries seems like a good place to start.

Candace, at Beth Fish Reads, submitted a book from one of my new personal favorites: the Hamish Macbeth series by M.C. Beaton. In her review of Death of a Travelling Man, she notes that she started this series in audio mainly because of the narrator, Davina Porter. Candace likes to read her series in order, but I tend to grab hold of whatever I can find; I seem to have started the series at the opposite end, and the majority of the ones I’ve listened to have been narrated by Graeme Malcolm. I like Porter’s narration a bit better, but Malcolm does some great accents.

Zee’s picks include J.D. Robb’s In Death series. This is a series I’ve been meaning to read for a while; Zee writes, “This series makes me laugh and the characters feel very real …”

And I’m very glad Jemi included Agatha Christie in her list. She says, “Agatha Christie’s mysteries are kind of like chocolate for me,” and that’s such a perfect description of how the Christie books feel to me, too. My memory isn’t as good as Jemi’s, though – I’ve been rereading Christie in audio, and I find that I’ve forgotten who the culprit is in most of the novels!

Children’s Books

The books I read as a child will always hold a special place in my heart; one of the first things I did as a “real grown-up” holding down a job (ie finally having a bit of money to spend) was to start buying copies of all the old favorites that I’d borrowed time and again from the library when I was little.

I grew up with Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery, so I was so glad to see that Jessica, of The Bluestocking Society, and Jemi both chose Anne Shirley as one of their favorite comfort reads. I have read and reread the whole Anne of Green Gables series so many times, I can quote whole sections from the book. Jemi writes, “As a shy, serious girl, I wanted to be Anne’s friend.” I could have written that! I remember wishing I knew someone like Anne, too; the term “kindred spirits” will always hold a special place in my heart.

Jemi also includes The Hobbit in her list of comfort reads – another one of my favorites! I couldn’t decide whether to put this under Fantasy or children’s books, but since I’ll always associate The Hobbit with childhood, I decided this was the proper place for it. (I read The Hobbit long before any of other The Lord of the Rings books.)

Food Writing

There’s something just so comforting to me about reading about food; I go on occasional food-writing splurges, during which time I’ll read nothing but food writing. I also come out of these splurges with a few extra pounds, I think, because one thing about good food writing – it makes you hungry!

Margot, of Joyfully Retired, has submitted a book that’s one of my personal favorites: Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, by Laurie Colwin. As Margot points out, “Her tone is strictly conversational – just as if you are sitting in her kitchen talking about food.” That’s what makes this book such a charming book for me; I loved Margot’s example of having a conversation with the author as she was reading it!

General Fiction

A lot of the books in my own comfort reading pile fall into a general, non-genre category. When I look at them, I see that a charming, cozy feel is a common element.

I loved Jessica’s review of 84, Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff. This is a book that has long been on my “I really want to read that” list, and her review is a good reminder that I really do need to get to it.

Amy, from Amy Reads Good Books, submitted Trouble, by Kate Christensen. I’ve never read any novels by Christensen, but Amy’s caught my attention with this: “it was a thoughtful meditation on how we do or do not bounce back from trauma as we age.” Another interesting book!

Jackie at Farm Lane Books has chosen The Nutmeg Tree by Margery Sharp as her comfort read – Sharp’s books are out of print, but she was lucky enough to find three of them! Ever since I read Jackie’s review of The Nutmeg Tree, I’ve been on the lookout for books by Sharp. They sound like the perfect comfort read.

Myrthe, at The Armenian Odar Reads, submitted The Chosen, by Chaim Potok. This is a lovely review; she writes, “It is the one book that still makes me cry all through the last chapter, a book that I immediately want to start again when I finish it.” I haven’t read The Chosen yet; it sounds like such a beautiful coming-of-age story.

I was also thrilled to see that Melanie, at The Indextrous Reader, submitted Alexander McCall Smith: “My version of comfort reading must always include Alexander McCall Smith,” she says in her post. Me too! She has great things to say about both the Mma Ramotswe series and the Scotland Street series. I haven’t yet fallen under the allure of the Mma Ramotswe series yet, but McCall Smith’s Scotland Street and Isabel Dalhousie series are both very near and dear to me.

Melanie also submitted The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets, by Eva Rice. The title is so charming. Melanie writes, “Full of eccentric English characters, revealing social conditions, ancient houses, True Love, teatime and Selfridge’s, I greatly enjoyed this lovely and unusual novel.” I think it will be one I’ll enjoy too.

Finally, Meg’s review of The Sugar Queen, by Sarah Addison Allen, at Write Meg is so enticing; this is another book I’m adding to my burgeoning list of books to get my hot little hands on. Meg calls The Sugar Queen a “seriously delightful, magical story”, and reading her review, it sounds absolutely charming and whimsical, with dashes of mystery and magic.

This ends the Comfort Reads edition of the Bookworms Carnival! I hope you’ve rediscovered some old favorites in this list, and perhaps added a few to your list that you haven’t read before.

Play along with us! What are some of your comfort reads?

Reading Temptations

I really hate when this happens.

The LikenessI’ve had Tana French’s The Likeness out from the library for a while now. It’s on its last renewal legs, so to speak, so I’ve got to either finish it up in the next few weeks or it has to go back to the library until I can check it out again.

I really liked French’s In The Woods (my review is here) – despite the ending – and everyone I know who’s read In The Woods tells me that The Likeness is even better. But for some reason, I’ve been having trouble getting into it. It’s not that I’m not enjoying it when I do sit down with it, because I am. But for some reason, the book hasn’t hooked me in quite that way yet.

When I was reading In The Woods, I couldn’t put the book down, and if I had to, I could think of nothing else but picking it back up again. This hasn’t happened for me yet with The Likeness. But with only a couple more weeks left for me to finish it, I will need to buckle down and make sure that it’s the book I pick up to read whenever I’m in the mood for reading.

Which will really be difficult, because I’ve got some very interesting books that are calling to me right now. No, really, they are. They’re all making those funny squeaky noises, the ones that my booklover’s discerning ears can hear all too clearly. And those voices are saying, “Pick me up! I’m the one you should be reading right now. Pick me up! I’m so interesting. You won’t regret it …”

First, there’s French Milk, by Lucy Knisley, which I talked about in my last Incoming! new book arrivals post. Since this one is in graphic novel format, it would be so easy to pick it up, because I know it will be a quick and lovely read.

Wait Until TwilightAnd then there’s Wait Until Twilight, which author Sang Pak sent to me in the summer. I read the first chapter online at Sang’s site before the book arrived, and if the book had only arrived shortly after, I would have finished it by now. The first chapter was really eerie and gothic and had me wanting more. So now I keep looking at the book and thinking, yes, I really should see what happens next.

But wait, there’s more (isn’t there always, though?). I also just picked up a whole slew of books from the library that I’d put in requests for.

Most of these books ended up on my library list because I saw it on a blog somewhere, by the way. So we know who’s to blame, don’t we?

KitchenThere’s Kitchen, by Banana Yoshimoto; this is the product description from Amazon: “Mikage, the heroine, is an orphan raised by her grandmother, who has passed away. Grieving, Mikage is taken in by her friend Yoichi and his mother (who is really his cross-dressing father) Eriko. As the three of them form an improvised family that soon weathers its own tragic losses, Yoshimoto spins a lovely, evocative tale with the kitchen and the comforts of home at its heart.” Doesn’t it sound so interesting?

We Have Always Lived in the CastleAnd then there’s Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, an eerie little book that looks like a wonderfully creepy read.

This one was a rather embarrassing find – I’d quickly skimmed through a review on a blog I frequent (I can’t remember which blog it was – I really need to start jotting down where I find my reads) and for some reason I thought it was “in the style of Shirley Jackson”.

Well, I loved The Haunting of Hill House, and “The Lottery” is one of my favorite short stories, so I quickly chirped in the comments something about being a Shirley Jackson lover, so if this was in her style, it definitely was my kind of book. Then I hopped over to my library’s website, typed in the title, and discovered that We Have Always Lived in the Castle wasn’t “in the style of Shirley Jackson” – it’s written by Shirley Jackson.

Sigh. Did I ever feel stupid for making that comment. (Do you ever make commenting blunders like this, by the way? Just asking. Would love some company on this one …)

The SummoningAnd after reading so many really good reviews online, I also put in a request for The Summoning a while back; it’s the first book in Kelley Armstrong’s YA paranormal series.

There was a bit of a wait for this one, but at long last, it’s my turn – but it also means this is yet another book I’ll have to read within the next few weeks, because I’m pretty sure there’s still a wait list for this one.

See my growing reading dilemma?

Little BrotherAnd it doesn’t quite stop there. When I dashed into the library to pick up my holds, I saw Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow, and couldn’t resist getting it after I read the synopsis:

Marcus, a.k.a “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.

But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days.

When the DHS finally releases them, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself.

I know that I shouldn’t do things like this; I should be disciplined enough to be able to pop into the library to pick up an armload of holds without looking around at the shelves to see if something else will catch my eye.

But I’m not disciplined at all when it comes to books and reading.

So there you go. So many reading temptations. But yes, I’m going to finish The Likeness first. I know it’s going to be good – I’m at page 110 and those hooks are finally starting to sink into me.

At least I know it’s going to be a pretty good reading month this month, right?

What about you? Is there a book you absolutely must finish right now, for whatever reason? Are you oh, so tempted by other books like I am, or do you possess the iron will and discipline that I lack?

Review: In Odd We Trust, by Dean Koontz and Queenie Chan

In Odd We Trust

Odd Thomas is a regular nineteen-year-old with an unusual gift: the ability to see the lingering spirits of the dead. To Odd, it’s not such a big deal. And most folks in sleepy Pico Mundo, California, are much more interested in the irresistible pancakes Odd whips up at the local diner. Still, communing with the dead can be useful. Because while some spirits only want a little company … others want justice.

When the sad specter of a very frightened boy finds its way to him, Odd vows to root out the evil suddenly infecting the sunny streets of Pico Mundo. But even with his exceptional ability – plus the local police and his pistol-packing girlfriend, Stormy, backing him – is Odd any match for a faceless stalker who’s always a step ahead … and determined to kill again?

In Odd We Trust is a graphic novel written by Dean Koontz and Queenie Chan and illustrated by Queenie Chan. I have never read Koontz’ Odd Thomas series, so this was my introduction to the character of Odd Thomas. I had heard, however, that Odd is one of Koontz’s most-liked characters.

This is also the first graphic novel I’ve read that isn’t superhero/action comic based. I’ve been wanting to start reading more graphic novels, and this one was on the library shelf. The storyline sounded appealing so I decided to give it a try.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. I suspect it’s hard to convey the kind of depth that a full-length novel can convey within the boundaries of a graphic novel; In Odd We Trust was an interesting and easy read, but I didn’t quite grasp the things about Odd Thomas that have made him Koontz’s best loved character.

A digression: one thing that really confuses me in graphic novels is the use of drops of sweat. Being a mystery buff, my first reaction on seeing someone breaking out into a sweat (who hasn’t just finished running a marathon) is that he’s, well, guilty of something. By the time I finished In Odd We Trust, I knew a character breaking out into a sweat definitely doesn’t mean a character’s feeling guilty (especially since Odd Thomas himself had sweat drops on his face a few times).

So I asked my daughter, who is a big anime fan – she both reads and draws anime. This is what she told me: when you see drops of sweat around a person’s head, it usually means the person is bewildered or astonished or befuddled about something or someone (well, she didn’t say befuddled, she actually said something like, “he’s thinking, ‘what the crud?’”). When the drop of sweat is depicted on a person’s face, it means that character is undergoing some sort of intense emotion.

I suspect with this additional piece of information, graphic novels I’ll be reading in the future will make far more sense.

So, getting back to the review: what I liked most about reading In Odd We Trust, though, was that my copy included an interesting essay by Dean Koontz called “The Odd Face in the Mirror” where he talks about writing the first Odd novel, and working with Queenie Chan on the graphic novel.

It also included the first chapter of Odd Thomas, and that was quite the disaster for me. When I finished up the chapter, I knew I needed to read the rest of the book. And I had an inkling why Odd Thomas is the Koontz character that people like the most.

Where to buy In Odd We Trust:

U.S. (Amazon.com) | Indiebound | Canada (Chapters) | UK (Amazon.co.uk)

Review copy details: published by Del Ray, 2008, trade paperback

Incoming! Angel’s Advocate by Mary Stanton

Incoming! is a feature at Ms. Bookish that chronicles new books that have arrived in the Ms. Bookish household.

Angel’s Advocate, by Mary Stanton

Angel's AdvocateAbout the Book:

Money’s been tight ever since Bree Winston Beaufort inherited Savannah’s haunted law firm Beaufort & Company along with its less-than-angelic staff. But she’s finally going to tackle a case that pays the bills representing a spoiled girl who stole someone’s Girl Scout cookie money. But soon enough she finds that her client’s departed millionaire father needs help too. Can she help an unsavory father/daughter duo and make a living off of the living?

First line: "This seventeen-year-old high school cheerleader stole one hundred sixty-five dollars and twenty-six cents from a Girl Scout?"

Where I got this book: ARC from the publicist Maryglenn McCombs.

My initial thoughts: I’m embarrassed to admit that this book got lost in the wilds of my new book arrival stacks. This is teaching me to be more organized with my incoming books, as Angel’s Advocates was actually on my i-want list! At any rate, I was very glad when I came across it the other day when I was re-organizing some of my stacks into tidier looking piles. I love the idea of Beaufort & Company, so I’m looking forward to reading Angel’s Advocate.

Related Links and other Fun Stuff

Mary Stanton’s Website

Bookish Ruth interviews author Mary Stanton

Angel’s Advocate video trailer:

Where to buy Angel’s Advocate:: U.S. (Amazon.com) | IndieBound | Canada (Chapters) | UK (Amazon.co.uk)

Read the Reviews:

Everything Distils Into Reading

Shhh I’m Reading

Reviewing the Evidence

Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Wendi’s Book Corner

CA Reviews

[TSS] More Beach Reads, Movies and Writing (Not Really)

CIMG2225Not very original, I know, but I can’t believe how this week has just flown by. I seem to be caught up in a routine of eating, drinking, reading and relaxing, not necessarily in that order.

My husband is on his way back from the fish market right now, with fresh lobster and deep fried clams, and I finally managed to snatch my netbook out of the hands of my daughter, so the time feels perfect for blogging.

This Week’s Reads

The Blue CastleAfter finishing The Strain, by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, on my first full day here in Nova Scotia, I decided the atmosphere was perfect for some L.M. Montgomery – we aren’t that far away from P.E,I., and the sand beach near us has red sand in it, which reminded me of the Island. I have almost all of Montgomery’s works on my netbook in ebook format, so I decided to re-read The Blue Castle, one of my favorite Montgomery works. Unlike Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon, The Blue Castle is the story of an adult heroine, Valancy Stirling. It’s a wonderful Cinderella tale, and I’ve read and re-read it many times. I’d forgotten that it’s set in the Muskokas in Ontario, rather than P.E.I., so I will probably read Emily of New Moon sometime this week just to get my Island fix.

Hell HoleAfter The Blue Castle, I started Jim Butcher’s Storm Front, Book 1 of the Dresden Files series. I’m about halfway through – I love the concept of a wizard detective in current-day Boston, and it’s a fun book, but it wasn’t quite fitting my mood, so I also started listening to Hell Hole, by Chris Grabenstein, the fourth book in the John Ceepak and Danny Boyle series. I am quite addicted to this series now, and finished Hell Hole yesterday while we were at Crescent Beach in Lockeport, N.S.. Jeff Woodman, who narrates the series, is a superb narrator, and if you’re wanting to get started with audiobooks and like mysteries, I’d definitely recommend the audio version of this series. Just make sure you start with the first book in the series, Tilt-a-Whirl, not because each book doesn’t stand on its own, but mainly because characters from previous books do show up again (or not, as the case may be), which can give clues to the mysteries in the previous books.

Rounding up my reading for the week, I also started Wayne Dyer’s Excuses Begone!. It’s a great read so far; I like in particular its emphasis not on our feelings or desires, but on our identity.

Movies, Movies, Movies

It’s turning out to be movie night for the family every night here at the beach cottage – there’s just something really nice about gathering together after a great seafood dinner to watch movies (especially since it’s pretty bug-heavy outside at night).

So far, we’ve watched Music & Lyrics, The Dark Knight, Dirty Dancing, Miss Congeniality, Disturbia, He’s Just Not That Into You, and Gone in 60 Seconds. My older son did excuse himself to play the Sims 3 on the nights we watched Dirty Dancing and He’s Just Not That Into You, but otherwise our movie nights have been perfect family time (the little one was in bed, of course).

Writing (Or Not)

I think I must have been dreaming when I last blogged that I was thinking about writing 6,000 words a day! The only writing I’ve done so far has been in my journal; not only has it been tough to lay my hands on my netbook, but the ergonometric keyboard I brought along in order to, well, write, isn’t working very well – the “o” and the “b” keys don’t work at all.

And really, the days have been so lazy and idyllic, I just haven’t felt like doing much except (have I mentioned?) eating, drinking and reading.

Pictures!

I finally started remembering to bring my camera with me when we went on our our outings, which have been mainly to beaches so far, although next week we plan on heading out for day trips to Yarmouth and Mahone Bay. A visit to Peggy’s Cove is also planned, although the days are slipping by so fast, I’m not sure we’ll have time to do everything on our list.

The beaches here in Nova Scotia are just gorgeous – many of them are white sand beaches, and if it weren’t for the weather, you’d think you were in the Caribbean. I don’t actually like to swim, and I love cool, windy weather, so it’s been perfect for me. While they’ve been calling for clouds and rain every day we’ve been here, the weather has been beautiful and sunny  so far (just not particularly hot).

CIMG2165 Sandy Point Lighthouse Beach

CIMG2160 Red Sands at Sandy Point

CIMG2204 Dylan & Daddy at Crescent Beach, Lockeport

CIMG2206 Oops! Forgot My Sand Bucket!

CIMG2234 Beautiful White Sands

CIMG2302 Bit of Sand Beach at Our Beach Cottage

CIMG2322 View from the Side of the House

Vacation Reading List

I’ve finally pared down my vacation reading list – room is limited, unfortunately, so I had to be very selective. Here’s what I’ll be taking with me on holidays.

Print books:

Dead Until DarkStorm FrontLiving Dead in DallasYsabelL.A. CandyCrossed WiresExcuses BegoneThe StrainEncyclopedia of an Ordinary LifeThe Language of BeesGhost Huntress

Audiobooks:

Mad MouseWhack a MoleHell HoleMind ScramblerFinger Lickin' FifteenI'm a Stranger Here Myself

Ebooks:

The Dragon Riders of PernThe Demon's LexiconDeath by LatteSecrets of My Hollywood Life

I’m probably not going to be able to read all of these books, but I figure I’ll have something for nearly every reading mood that strikes me.

What’s on your reading list this summer?

Flash Review: Jinx, by Meg Cabot

Jinx, by Meg Cabot

Jinx

The only thing Jean Honeychurch hates more than her boring name (not Jean Marie, or Jeanette, just . . . Jean) is her all-too-appropriate nickname, Jinx. Misfortune seems to follow her everywhere she goes—which is why she’s thrilled to be moving in with her aunt and uncle in New York City. Maybe when she’s halfway across the country, Jinx can finally outrun her bad luck. Or at least escape the havoc she’s caused back in her small hometown.

But trouble has definitely followed Jinx to New York. And it’s causing big problems for her cousin Tory, who is not happy to have the family black sheep around. Beautiful, glamorous Tory is hiding a dangerous secret—one that she’s sure Jinx is going to reveal.

Jinx is beginning to realize it isn’t just bad luck she’s been running from. It’s something far more sinister . . . and the curse Jinx has lived under since the day she was born might just be the only thing that can save her life.

My thoughts: I have always had a special spot in my heart for Meg Cabot’s works, particularly the novels in which she combines chick lit elements with the supernatural. If you’ve only ever read Cabot’s Princess Diaries series, or perhaps her Heather Wells mysteries, you might be surprised to discover that Cabot has an excellent touch with supernatural topics.

I once bought all six of the books in her Mediator series and polished them off during one lovely long weekend. More recently, I found myself a little bit disappointed with Airhead (only because it felt more like a prequel to Being Nikki) so I was pleased when I read Jinx shortly after (it’s an older release that I picked up from the library). In Jinx all the elements that make a great Cabot story are there, plus enough of the supernatural to occasionally send a slight shiver down your back. (Only occasionally, though – this is not a thriller nor a horror, nor is it meant to be.) If you’re looking for a light, interesting teen read with romance and supernatural elements, Jinx is a fantastic choice.

Where to buy: Amazon U.S. | IndieBound | Chapters (Canada) | Amazon UK

This Week’s Library Loot

I didn’t get a chance to visit the library last week but fortunately (I think) they keep holds for four days and I managed to squeak in at the last minute and pick up another batch of books.

Then the phone rang with another automated message …

So here’s this week’s library loot:

Mystery: The Language of Bees, by Laurie R. King. I’m already sinking my teeth into this one! The latest Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mystery, I’ve been looking forward to its release for a while now.

Mystery: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley. I stumbled onto this one at another book blog last week and then, when I was at the library picking up my holds, I saw it in the “New in Books” display! Of course I grabbed it with my hot little hands, and I’m already halfway through it. Flavia de Luce, the 11-year-old narrator is really quite a character! I should be finishing this up soon so watch out for the review.

Paranormal: Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead. This is Book One of the series, and has been on my list for a while now.

Paranormal: Frostbite, by Richelle Mead. Book Two of the Vampire Academy series.

Memoir: Heat, by Bill Buford. The subtitle to this one is “An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany”. I’m reading this one for my food blog.

Young adult/Mystery: Dead and Gone, by Norah McClintock. McClintock caught my attention with her Chloe and Levesque mysteries, which I wrote about here. This book is a different series, but I thought I’d like to give it a try.

Young adult: Suite Scarlett, by Maureen Johnson. I can’t remember how this title ended up on my wish list, but now that I have it, it definitely sounds interesting. Here’s the summary from Amazon:

Scarlett Martin has grown up in a most unusual way. Her family owns the Hopewell, a small hotel in the heart of New York City, and Scarlett lives there with her four siblings – Spencer, Lola, and Marlene. When each of the Martins turns fifteen, they are expected to take over the care of a suite in the once elegant, now shabby Art Deco hotel. For Scarlett’s fifteenth birthday, she gets both a room called the Empire Suite, and a permanent guest called Mrs. Amberson. Scarlett doesn’t quite know what to make of this C-list starlet, world traveler, and aspiring autobiographer who wants to take over her life. And when she meets Eric, an astonishingly gorgeous actor who has just moved to the city, her summer takes a second unexpected turn. Before the summer is over, Scarlett will have to survive a whirlwind of thievery, Broadway glamour, romantic missteps, and theatrical deceptions. But in the city where anything can happen, she just might be able to pull it off.

Paranormal/Thriller: Running Hot, by Jayne Ann Krentz. An Arcane Society novel. I have read one of these previously – at least, I think I have. I vaguely remember it being entertaining but obviously it wasn’t one of those memorable reads (or I’d remember more of it, right?). Still, this one looks good, and I love the term “Arcane Society”.

Children’s book/Mystery: The Mask on the Cruise Ship, by Melanie Jackson. Dinah Galloway is a budding diva, enthusiastic gourmand and amateur detective. This one sounds like fun.

Mystery/Audiobook: The Big Four, by Agatha Christie and narrated by Hugh Fraser. I’m still on my Agatha Christie audiobooks kick.

I’ve been getting so many books at the library lately, I’m not as tempted as I normally am when I’m at a book store or in the book aisle at Costco. The thing with library books is that you only have a limited time to read them … and that’s a scary thought when all the recent additions to my TBR are library books!

An Embarrassment of Library Riches

It must be some sort of Murphy’s Law applicable to bibliophiles, I think. Work-wise it’s been quiet around here, which is why I’ve been able to keep up with all my reading even through all the renovations around here, instead of being stuck at my desk pounding on deadline after deadline. I always have a stash of books I’ve requested from the library, and during these past few months, my holds have been trickling in.

And now? Well, on Monday I received a veritable flood of assignments and now have three deadlines all falling due next week. Then I received several automated phone messages from the local library, telling me that books I had requested were now on hold for me.

Today I took a break from work and popped over to the library. I needed two bags to hold everything! An embarrassment of riches indeed – and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that despite my deadlines, I’ll be able to read most of them. I have three weeks, and I can renew books for two additional three-week periods, provided, of course, that no-one else has put in a request for the titles. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll remember to renew any I haven’t read yet online before the due date!

Here’s what I picked up from the library today:

Mystery: Unnatural Fire, by Fidelis Morgan. I think I had this on my list as a result of reading about it at Cathy’s Kittling: Books.

Mystery: Now & Then, by Robert B. Parker. More Spenser!

Mystery/Paranormal: Ghost at Work, by Carolyn Hart. This one wasn’t a request. The library had it in a display, so it’s more of an impulse grab.

Nonfiction: Loch Ness Monsters and Raining Frogs, by Albert Jack. Another one that was on display. Simply couldn’t resist.

Chick Lit: Odd Mom Out, by Jane Porter. By the author of Flirting with Forty, this definitely looks like a good read, although I’m not sure how it ended up on my hold list.

Mystery: In the Woods, by Tana French. I’d heard so much about this book, and I’d like to read it before French’s new novel, The Likeness, comes out in May (in case it’s really good, in which case I’ll have another book to add to my i-want list).

Nonfiction: Himalaya, by Michael Palin. I’ve been wanting to read this for a while; I love travel books, and like Palin’s humor as well.

Memoir: Up Till Now: The Autobiography, by William Shatner. I came across this a while back while on one of my online book-buying sprees; unfortunately, while Amazon has the hardcover version at a bargain price (in anticipation, I think, of the upcoming release of the trade paperback version), Chapters in Canada didn’t. So I checked the library and put myself in the queue for it. I almost picked it as my Audible selection, but the audiobook is abridged, so I thought I’d go for the longer read instead.

Paranormal/Thriller: Blood Sins, by Kay Hooper. I haven’t read Blood Dreams, the first in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit trilogy, yet, but I’m hoping that it’s the kind of series you can read out of order.

Paranormal/Thriller: Blood Brothers, by Nora Roberts. I haven’t read very many Nora Roberts novels, and this one sounds good. It’s the start of the trilogy, so I may be in for more happy reading with this series …

Young adult/Mystery: Break and Enter, by Norah McClintock. I’ve already raved about this series here.

Children’s fiction: The Strictest School in the World: Being the Tale of a Clever Girl, a Rubber Boy and a Collection of Flying Machines, Mostly Broken, by Howard Whitehouse. I couldn’t resist typing out the full title. I don’t have a clue how I first came across this book, but I suspect all I had to do was read the title and it was writing itself down on my i-want list.

Fantasy/Erotica: Naughty Paris, by Jina Bacarr. I can’t remember where I came across this title, either, but there it was, on my list of requested books. About a woman living in today’s times, a maverick painter in 1889 and a little bit of black magic and (I gather) a whole lot of sex.

Now, if I could just finish up these deadlines so I can succumb to the lure of this embarrassment of library riches!