Sunday, April 10, 2011


Question for all my reader pals out there:

Have you ever read anything by John Saul, and if so what did you think?

I'm thinking of trying something by him but can't decide what to read. There's just so much to choose from!


Saturday, March 05, 2011

Stalled story

For the second time, I'm finding myself stalled in my reading of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

Like before, I am just shy of the 100-page mark, and yet I'm not yet hooked.

Can anyone advise me? Shall I suck it up and soldier on, or toss?

Saturday, February 05, 2011

apathy and angst


The winter blues have me in their icy, apathetic grip. It's all I can do to go to work as of late. My ass has been on the treadmill only a handful of times this year, and I have one in my basement. It's not like I have to drive to a gym. But still.

I'm proud to say my reading pace has not slowed. I've been reading quite a bit; you wouldn't know it from the sight of things around here. For one, blogging has seemed like too much of a chore lately, and I've always shied away from anything that has felt like an obligation. Also, the apathy (see above). Also, I've been blogging here for a loooooong time (5+ years now) and I'm just not feeling it lately.

Any advice, y'all? Pack it in? Keep on chugging along? Anyone even there anymore?

Monday, December 06, 2010

Back from the dead.

SO, life, in all its wonders has intervened since my last post many eons ago.

Life + stress + work = no time for blogging -- which figures, because I totally killed the RIP challenge. Of course I would be too busy to gloat recap the first time I've ever successfully completed a challenge.


So, anyway, here's a bunch of stuff I've read lately in order of awesomeness:

Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
  • SASSENACH! GAH JAMIE I LURVEEEE YOU. Why are you so hot and yet so fictional? WHY OH WHY are there no magical rocks that can buzz me backwards in time?? (Also, why do they not smell? Because the entire time, I just kept thinking that everyone must stink to high heaven.) Anyway, they gave this shit away for free on Amazon. HELLO, THIS BOOK IS WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN GOLD. How dare Amazon give this gem away for free? Anyway, completely insane and completely awesome. I immediately finished it and downloaded the second book in the series. Jamie Fraser 4eva!!1

The Gates, by John Connolly
  • Short, lovely little tale about the gates of Hell opening up in someone's basement. And, there's Nurd, who's actually a lovely little demon. Charming and fun.

Dark Harvest, by Norman Partridge
  • This one was nice, fast, and spooky. Oh, and it qualified for RIP, for what that's worth. Some pumpkin kid comes to life and the town's teens have to destroy him before Bad Things happen. Note: It was much better than I'm making it sound.

Neverland, by Douglas Clegg
  • This one was atmospheric, Southern Gothicky, and a little disturbing. Isolated children get up to no good and they may or may not be making sacrifices to the devil. And then Bad Things happen. Also, RIP. This one was pretty good, although it didn't ruffle my muffin or anything.

Dead City, by Joe McKinney
  • Apparently this one's about zombies, although I needed google to remind me about that. Still, it was a good story and got me through more than a few goes on the treadmill. Also, not a total bummer of an ending. And, RIP.

33 A.D., by David McAfee
  • This one involves vampires and Jesus. Apparently vampires were the ones responsible for the crucifixion of Christ. Who knew? Actually not as bad as this sounds, although there's a reason it's at the bottom of this list. But still, vampires + Jesus, so take from that what you will. And, RIP.

Finally, I'm also reading like a dozen other things that I've stopped about halfway though because Gabaldon and her web of fantasy have rendered me impossible to read like a normal adult. And, that life thing again.

Hopefully normal posting will resume soon.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

RR10: September

September was a good reading month for me, especially when you remember that I returned to school and have been quite busy with the little devils.

Also, I've been KILLING my first entry into RIP, so I'm proud to say that I'm fulfilling a challenge, and fulfilling it well.

Unfortunately, I have, as before, continued my excellent streak of reading NOT A SINGLE THING on my reading resolution. EXCELLENT.

Anyway, let's get to it.


Castillo, Linda. Sworn to Silence
Cottam, F.G. Dark Echo
Harwood, John. The Seance
Maberry, Jonathan. Patient Zero
McGrath, Patrick. Dr. Haggard's Disease
Sigler, Scott. Ancestor
Wharton, Edith. Ethan Frome




TOTAL READ IN 2010 = 53

Monday, October 04, 2010


Dark Echo
F.G. Cottam

Ok, so, awhile ago I read The House of Lost Souls, and I was pleased with its atmospheric creepiness. Fast forward a bit, blah blah blah, RIPV, and here we are. Dark Echo time.

So, the Dark Echo is a boat, and apparently she's cursed. Back in the day she was owned by Harry Spalding, a flamboyant playboy from the 1920s. And then all of a sudden zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Sorry, fell asleep.

Anyway, so Harry Spalding is a devil-worshipper who sold his soul. There are some genuinely spooky bits involving the horrible acts committed by Spalding, but the beginning of the book is all about THE FRIGGIN BOAT. And, give or take one or two spooky bits, the boat is pretty damn boring. (Oh, and the protag's father buys the haunted yacht and plans to sail across the Atlantic on it -- nevermind the fact he knows its haunted. And the protag goes along with him, because, well, it's his father. Meanwhile, everyone's all, OH NOES THE BOAT IS HAUNTED. And therein lies the plot.)

This book is about 350 pages long, but it felt like 3 billion. Dark Echo didn't get really good until AT LEAST page 250, and that's being kind. Unfortunately, Dark Echo did nothing to disabuse me of the notion that boats = BORING.


In a nutshell: The final third was soooo good. Wish the beginning bits were more interesting.

Bibliolatry Scale: 2 out of 6 stars

FTCBS: Library'd this one. Sha-zam!

RIPV: Selling your soul to the devil after completing the requisite degenerate acts qualifies Dark Echo for this year's RIP challenge. woot woot

Ethel, I think you underestimated your transmitter!

The Seance
John Harwood

Can I just say how much I LOVE this time of year? True, the fall also coincides with a return to work which is, of course, full of UGH, but even a return to grading and poorly constructed sentences and forgotten homework can't make me entirely dislike autumn. AND, it's time for SPOOKY READS! Which are, of course, full of win.

So, you might remember John Harwood from The Ghost Writer, which was, as I recall, "a pretty good time." Now he's back with The Seance, an equally atmospheric Gothic mystery set in Victorian England.

Constance Langton has problems. Her father doesn't care about her, and her mother is too busy mourning her dead sister to care much about her, either. Constance begins to delve into the nascent spiritualist community in hopes of helping her mother move on from her grief.

Whoops. So much for THAT. The best of intentions, and all that. Before you know it, Constance learns she has inherited Wraxford Hall, a mouldering old mansion in the countryside, from a distant reputation. The lawyer who tells her of this inheritance warns her to sell the building without setting foot in it -- it has been the site of numerous apparitions, disappearances, and deaths. The Hall remains shrouded in mystery.

But this wouldn't be an entertaining novel if Constance were to listen. Soon she finds herself searching for the truth behind Wraxford Hall.

The Seance is a nice little novel that is both spooky and endearing. My only complaint is that I had a hard time envisioning some of the action (especially as the mystery was explained); however, this confusion is probably due to my unfamiliarity with the layout of such great homes. (Also, I was reading on my Kindle while walking on my treadmill. So I'm sure that didn't increase my comprehension. Oh well.)

In a nutshell: Charming, spooky, mysterious -- great fun.

Bibliolatry Scale: 5 out of 6 stars

FTCBS: Personal Kindle copy here

RIPV: Ghosts, seances, and a mystery? You're darn right The Seance counts toward this year's RIP challenge. BAM!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Want to cure an obsession? Get another one.

Dr. Haggard's Disease
Patrick McGrath

Oh, Mr. McGrath. You are so wonderful. So literary, yet so Gothic. You tax my brain at the same time you chill my spine. How I love you.

Anyway, not so long ago (or almost two years!? insert obligatory lament re: time flying, and all that), I read a wee little tale called Asylum, and my love for Patrick McGrath was born. Alas, I had not the time nor the insight to seek out more of his work -- until now. Now that I've read my second McGrath, it's nearly all I can do to stop myself from buying every single thing the man's ever written. SO. GOOD.

Ok, so - Dr. Haggard's Disease. Dr. Haggard, injured and alone, has retired to a gothic manor to obsess over his lost love. As a young doctor, he had a brief but torrid affair with Fanny, the wife of a senior staff member. Unfortunately THINGS HAPPEN, and now Dr. Haggard is, well, a bit haggard. Now Fanny-less, he pines for his lost life -- until he receives a visit from Fanny's young son. And then he gets REALLY WEIRD.

In a nutshell: Love. Obsession. Addiction. Haunting, rhythmic prose. A crumbling seaside mansion. What's not to love?

Bibliolatry Scale: 5 out of 6 stars

FTCBS: This one's all mine. And so shall every other McGrath out there. You've been warned.

RIPV: Thanks to its Gothic nature, Dr. Haggard's Disease most definitely counts toward this year's RIP challenge. I'm killing this challenge! KILLING IT!

Friday, October 01, 2010

I only care about Mookie, not gonna lie

Scott Sigler

After reading Infected and its sequel Contagious, I couldn't wait to read Sigler's next novel. Would Ancestor live up to my earlier experiences?

Ancestor moves away from the alien invasion that played a part in his first two novels, and instead focuses on a monster much closer to home. A biotech company is seeking to engineer a suitable animal host that can support organs for human transplantation. As cow embryo after embryo fails to do the job, they decide to go back a bit further, introducing genes from an ancestor. It seems to work, and the crew watches as their livestock brings these no-longer extinct animals back to live.

Of course, what seems like a good idea really isn't. These scientists have unwittingly given life to a super-predator, and it isn't long before the dozens of creatures they have bred get hungry. Very hungry. Oh, and they are quite smart. Ruh-roh, guys. Ruh-roh.

Ancestor is grounded in science and sounds eerily plausible, even if such an "ancestor" never existed. My only beef is the first 40% of the novel (thanks, kindle!) was a little too heavy on the science. Had that been condensed a bit, my enjoyment would have been complete.

Overall, I can't complain. Yet again, Sigler has written a fast-paced, thought-provoking novel that delivers. And, he came through with Mookie -- that meant a lot, man.

In a nutshell: Smart and unsettling, Ancestor prompts us to fear the monsters of tomorrow (and, ironically enough, of yesterday).

Bibliolatry Scale: 4 out of 6 stars

FTCBS: downloaded this one for my Kindle

RIPV: Those freaky ancestors and the spine-tingling suspense that marks the final third of the novel are more than enough to qualify Ancestor for this year's RIP challenge. That would be numero 3. Bam!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Not for the faint of heart

Sworn to Silence
Linda Castillo

First, a warning: this book is pretty messed up in places. There's a serial killer, and he's not the nice kind that kills you all quick-like. No, he drags things out and makes life extra-painful. In other words, he's just like high school.

Ok, so, background: Kate Burkholder grew up Amish but left the community and is now chief of police. Her skills are put to the test when young women turn up dead. Roman numerals carved into their stomachs indicate the killer's rampage has been a long one -- even though he was presumed dead over a decade ago.

In many ways, the story is cliched: Kate battles the predominately-male police force and fights to prove her worth. She's also hiding a dark secret that could destroy her. An alcoholic detective who is battling his own demons is sent to help with the investigation. What if he uncovers Kate's secret? And what about the hotshot investigator who slowly infringes upon Kate's case?

These cliches, however, do not detract from the novel. Sworn to Silence is a solid mystery that follows genre conventions and delivers chills along the way. I could have done without the predictable and unnecessary romance that pops up midway through the novel -- hello, serial killer on the loose, put it back in your pants until you catch him, mmmkay?

Overall, the story was an intriguing one. The violence and brutality featured in the novel are not for the faint of heart. However, for those looking for a disturbing, atmospheric mystery to complement this time of year, Sworn to Silence is a a perfect fit. That said, I don't think I'll read the sequel that continues the story of Kate Burkholder; one was enough for me.

In a nutshell: Disturbing, taut, and compelling, Sworn to Silence probably shouldn't be read late at night, especially if you live alone.

Bibliolatry Scale: 4 out of 6 stars

FTCBS: downloaded a version o'this for me Kindle

RIPV: Sworn to Silence is the second book that counts toward this year's RIP challenge.

Monday, September 27, 2010

More bore than gore

Patient Zero
Jonathan Maberry

So, the terrorists are coming, and they've got biological weapons!! What, you've heard this one before?

Ok, then how about: the terrorists are coming, and they've got biological weapons that turn people into flesh-eating zombies. dum dum DUM!!!

So goes the plot of Jonathan Maberry's Patient Zero. Baltimore detective Joe Ledger has just found himself smack in the middle of a terror plot of epic proportions. A group of religious zealots has created Seif al Din, the sword of the faithful, a disease that will wreak havoc on the heathen West. Fast foward a bit, and yadda yadda yadda battle to save humanity blah blah blah zombies.

Yeah, this is a book about zombies, so one should expect a certain level of grit and violence. So far, so good. The action was gritty, the violence was high, and the zombies were hungry. Still, some things annoyed me. The religious zealots, for example. I mean, really? A zombie plague? You sure that won't come back to bite you in the ass? Ok, fine, logical reasoning might not be a fundamentalist's strong point.

But fundamentalist logic aside, those pesky flaws remain. Some parts needed editing and dragged on a bit when they were supposed to be suspenseful. Some aspects were a bit too unbelievable (in a zombie book, I know -- ironic), and some cliches could have been dispensed with. Finally, a few characters were so flat and two-dimensional I couldn't tell them apart. Sigh.

In a nutshell: More cop than zombie. More bore than gore. Oh well.

Bibliolatry Scale: 2.5 out of 6 stars

FTCBS: Checked out this bad boy from the library. Have I cured my shopping addiction, you wonder? Ah, no.

RIPV: Even though Patient Zero didn't make me poop in my pants, it still counts toward this year's RIP challenge.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A RIP-ping good time!

I've done it!!! I know I generally shy away from challenges, but this is one I pretty much do on my own every year, anyway. So why not sign up?

It's time for the fifth annual R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Challenge. Every year I read ~spooky books~ to complement the time of year. Despite my annual spookiness, I've never signed up for RIP. That changes this year!

I'll be completing Peril the First, which only requires participants to read four spooky books of any length, which I've already done. I plan to read more than that, since spooky books are generally all I read in September and October.

Even though, I've already read several books that qualify for the challenge, I'm going to refrain from listing my books all at once. I plan to get some from the library and I'm unsure which will arrive in time, etc. So let's just say I'll be planning this one by ear.

Stay tuned!

Got any spooky recommendations for me?? Please, please, share them in the comments! I can never get enough Halloweeney reads!

1. Patient Zero, Jonathan Maberry
2. Sworn to Silence, Linda Castillo
3. Ancestor, by Scott Sigler
4. Dr. Haggard's Disease, by Patrick McGrath
5. The Seance, by John Harwood
6. Dark Echo, by F.G. Cottam

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The pickles! The pickles!

Ethan Frome
Edith Wharton

I have a love-hate relationship with DailyLit. On the one hand, it lets me have free reading material at the ready, even when I'm, say, at work. On the other hand, it doesn't give me hard copy, which -- in this case, anyway -- is a BIG problem.

Quite simply, I didn't expect to love Ethan Frome as much as I did. My mind has somehow come to equate Edith Wharton with TEH BORE, and so I figured reading this short little novel via DailyLit was the best way to slog through what was sure to be an excruciatingly slow read. I didn't expect to read it all in nearly one sitting (okay, it was more like two), requesting installment after installment until I had finished.

Ok, so Ethan lives alone with his dour, invalid harpy of a wife, and he's the stolid and "I'll just suck it up" type. BUT THEN his wife's cousin, Mattie, comes to take care of things -- and she's cute! And has a red ribbon in her hair! (symbolism!) And she gives Ethan pickles for dinner! (symbolism!) Meanwhile his wife remains all sick and dour and confined to her room, so one nearly hopes that Mattie and Ethan can continue to share secret glances and long, meaningful sighs in peace.

BUT NO! Of course, this is not to be. The story is told in flashback, and since we know Ethan is miserable at the beginning of the book, we know he'll be miserable at the end, too. But the end! It's so good! The sadness! The irony! The pickles!

In a nutshell: A gem of a novel; it's impossible not to love Ethan. And Ethan. And probably Edith, too, although I'm less convinced about her.

Bibliolatry Scale: 6 out of 6 stars (yeah, I said it)

FTCBS: DailyLit :( booooo I need Ethan all for myself!

Monday, September 20, 2010

When God gives you AIDS ... make lemonAIDS

The Bedwetter
Sarah Silverman

Here's another August read that I've simply delayed discussing sooner. I'm not sure what led me to read The Bedwetter -- I'm not the hugest fan of Silverman, but that's really due to the fact I'm in bed absurdly early and she mostly appears on late-night tv.

I guess what really made me interested in reading more about her was her video Sell the Vatican, Feed the World. Funny, yes, but not entirely a bad idea, either.

Anyway, long story short - picked this little gem up from the library. The Bedwetter was at times laugh-out-loud hysterical (the story about her brother alone makes it worthwhile) and at others insightful and thoughtful. Reading about her experiences as a bedwetter and later as an SNL writer made for a quick, fun read.

In a nutshell: If you are ultra-PC, you might want to skip this one. Otherwise, it's nearly impossible not to laugh at The Bedwetter, even if you're not familiar with her work.

Bibliolatry Scale: 4 out of 6 stars

FTCBS: Libraryed this one. That's like the third library book this year! Awww yeah, kicking it old school.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bad things hide in the dark*

Phil Rossi

UGHHHHH. I'm SO behind on reviews. Damn you, real job. Ergo, I'm gonna let Amazon do the work today:

Darkness has inspired fear since mankind first watched the sun go down. Bad things hide in the dark, feral beasts with mouths full of razors waiting for a taste of flesh. But now, the darkness is stirring with a life of its own. Crescent Station is the last bastion of civilization, floating in the cold, outer systems where colonized space gives way to the sparser settlements of the Frontier. Like the boom towns of distant Earth's Old American West, Crescent Station is a gateway to power, wealth, and opportunity for anyone who isn't afraid to get his or her hands dirty. But deep within the station's bowels, in Crescent's darkest and most secret places, an ancient evil is awakening and hungry, and it threatens the very fabric of space and time. Will the residents of Crescent Station find a way to stop it before the terror drives them insane? Or is it already too late?

Erm. Well.

Long story short: I downloaded this one for my Kindle. It was either free or only a dollar or two, so it was worth it. Not the best book I ever read, but it kept me entertained while I was on my treadmill. The Big Bad in Crescent was a bit confusing, though, since I was never entirely sure what the ef it was, but it didn't really matter.

In a nutshell: Entertaining enough. And space! The final frontier, and all that.

Bibliolatry Scale: 3 out of 6 stars

FTCBS: personal Kindle copy

*Ugh, I suck so bad, I couldn't even come up with a better title. My brain = barf.