Archive for ‘Book Bites’

December 31st, 2011

Kim Harrison’s “A Perfect Blood” Is Bloody Good Fun!

by Venomous Kate

Long time fans of Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series — and I’m certainly one of them! — have much to rejoice about in her latest, A Perfect Blood. Harrison’s ability to craft an engrossing, multi-layered plot just keeps getting stronger. As for the characters we’ve all come to know and love, they’re all here:
 

  • Our strong, yet vulnerable heroine, Rachel Morgan, who continues to grapple with the knowledge that she’s the demon’s only hope to save their species.
  • Rachel’s roommate and best friend, Ivy, a sexy vampire who is literally a femme fatale.
  • Jenks, the chivalrous and defiant Pixy who is the third member of the Vampiric Charms detective agency with Rachel and Ivy.
  • Algaliarept, otherwise known as Al, the demon who’s been both Rachel’s mentor and tormentor for years.
  • Glenn, the human FIB detective who’s been in Rachel’s corner for years and now, much to Rachel’s surprise, is also in Ivy’s bed.
  • The loveable yet awkward Bis, a teenage gargoyle who’s moved into the tower in the church where Rachel, Ivy and Jenks live.
  • And last, but certainly not least, Trent Kalamack, the capitalist/politician Elf whose complicated relationship with Rachel has kept the sparks flying throughout the series.

When we last saw Rachel, she’d surrendered her ability to practice ley line magic out of fear that an angry Al would trap her in the Everafter where, due to her demonic genetics, she could single-handedly (womb-edly?) save the demons as the only one capable of giving birth to more of them. But a witch without her magic is vulnerable in ways even Morgan couldn’t imagine, though she quickly discovers just how great of a danger she’s placed herself as she’s hired to investigate murders committed by HAPA (Humans Against Paranormals Association), a militant human group bent on destroying all the magical species.

But practicing ley line magic isn’t the only thing Morgan’s isolated from. Jenks continues to recover from the loss of his wife, thanks in part to the attentions of a fairy warrior named Belle, while Ivy continues to solidify her romance with Glenn. Even Bis has someone to keep him company in the form of Wayde, a werewolf hired by Rachel’s step-father to act as her bodyguard. With her friends moving on with their own lives, and maturing in ways that she has rejected out of fear of getting hurt again, Rachel is forced to confront how her emotional shields have not only isolated her from finding love but, thanks to HAPA, might very well lead to her own destruction.

[Read more of my review at Amazon.com where you can pre-order your copy of Kim Harrison’s A Perfect Blood (The Hollows, Book 10) to lock in Amazon’s low price guarantee before it’s release date on February 21, 2012.]

Sadly, here’s something Kim Harrison told me on her Facebook page when I mentioned how excited I was to receive my advance copy of A Perfect Blood: “I hope you like it, Kate!!!! I’m starting to set up the last book…” As someone who pretty much drops everything to read Harrison’s books as soon as I get my grubby hands on them, I have to say those were the very first words of her that I didn’t like. Then again, I’m fairly certain I’m going to enjoy whatever project she pens next. I just hope it’s soon!

 
 

November 3rd, 2011

Amazon Announces A Kindle Lending Library!

by Venomous Kate

Since VH and I have drastically different tastes in reading material (his sucks), keeping our Kindles stocked with new titles has been pretty pricey. Not anymore! Amazon has opened a Kindle lending library for Amazon Prime members.

Amazon Prime, if you aren’t already aware, is an $79 all-you-can-eat free 2-day shipping plan from Amazon. But you don’t just get free shipping with it — though in our house, the price of the membership is worth that alone. You also get free access to over 100,000 instant videos, so if you’re as ticked off at Netflix as we are, you can make the switch painlessly.

And did I mention the free Kindle Lending Library with thousands of books, including over 100 NY Times bestsellers like The Hunger Games???

UPDATE: To borrow books from the lending library, you MUST get them via your Kindle. Even though Amazon’s price page will tell you that it’s a free library book, you WILL be charged. (We learned this the hard way.) To borrow a book, turn on your wireless connection, go to the Kindle store and click “See All Categories”. You’ll see a link to the Kindle Owners Lending Library, and from there you can browse the thousands of titles available. Also note: there is a 1-book per calendar month limit.

August 4th, 2011

Looking for another summer read?

by Venomous Kate

John Donnelly's Gold by Brian J. NoggleLong-time Venomites know Brian J. Noggle through his witty, often obscure, comments in the Snake Pit. Many of you probably read his Musings, too. But have you read his book?

Brian was kind enough to hook me up with a copy of his self-published novel, John Donnelly’s Gold. After it arrived it took me a couple of weeks to get over my sheer jealousy that someone I know had actually finished writing a novel since my manuscripts bore the hell out of me long before completion. Once I cracked Brian’s book open, I realized that self-publishing just might be the solution to overcoming writer’s block.

What I mean is this: Brian is no Lee Child, but anyone who’s familiar with Brian and his blog won’t find that surprising. Brian is, well, a bit geeky. And a bit techy. And a bit detail oriented. Come to think of it, he’s a lot like Robert Davies, web developer, one of the four main characters in this high-tech caper. So, while there was much in his book to appeal to a hardcore computer user, I found myself overwhelmed with some of the technical mumbo-jumbo at first.

Then I started getting into the story.

Take one somewhat anal-retentive web developer (Robert Davies), an uptight and repressed would-be novelist (Michele — one L — Isbert), a semi-mysoginistic slacker (Kevin Horton) and a bored, only slightly reformed hacker (Daryl Simon), who’ve all been fired from their IT jobs just as their benefits were going to vest. The firing decision was, of course, made by the company CEO… a man so showy he’d personally bought a bar of gold to display live on the company’s website as a sign of its affluence.

Doesn’t seem fair, does it? And that’s precisely what these four thought as they set out to right the wrongs done to them. From there, well, let me just say that in addition to being a pretty darned good writer, Brian did a brilliant job of making sure readers didn’t see the story’s turns and twists coming.

Is it perfect? No, and that’s why I pointed out it’s a self-published book. Brian has written a fun tale that combines plenty of adventure with a lot (sometimes too much) exposition about the technical steps involved in hacking a website with a live feed. Think: Ocean’s Eleven but replace Brad and George and all of their pals with four geeks, and you’ve got the idea.

Is it worth reading? You bet! Especially if you’ve ever been screwed over by a boss and wondered how, and if, you could get even.

 

July 3rd, 2011

Kids Don’t Have To Think Reading’s A Chore

by Venomous Kate

To say that my son is a reluctant reader is putting it mildly. I’m not sure when the problem started; he used to adore reading books together, and being read to. Of course, he used to also get away with staying up late by begging me to read his favorite books “Just one more time, Mommy”. Then I’d see him dragging the next morning and realized he needed sleep more than he needed to hear Goodnight, Moon for the umpteenth time.

I guess his dislike of reading really emerged around the time we transitioned from homeschooling to public school in third grade. At that point we were introduced to the Accelerated Reader (AR) program which confused both of us greatly. See, the name makes it sound like kids are challenged to read books on the higher end of their skill level purely for extra credit. In practice, it’s a task they’re assigned over and above homework, with participation in fun classroom activities dependent upon their performance. And how is that performance assessed? By a test, as if kids these days aren’t being tested enough.

So my son, when presented with his quarterly AR goals, balks at them. Most books that capture his interest are a mere 2 or 3 points, while his goal was consistently closer to 20. For those doing the math, that’s one and a half books per week, assuming he scored 100% on the test for each, on top of his homework. Last year, that homework took nearly two hours a night. Needless to say, when faced with the chance to get outside and play once homework was done, or to sit and read for the 30 recommended minutes each evening, he chose playtime. Can’t say I blame him.

One thing I wish? That his teachers knew about the Reading Rainbow video series with its 153 episodes on a variety of themes designed to intrigue kids and point them to books that will capture their interest. Perhaps with some guidance like that, along with the activities and curricula ideas, we wouldn’t have floundered around looking for books that would appeal to him. As it was, we didn’t find any last year, so my son never did make his AR goal.

Oddly enough, that doesn’t seem to be a problem this summer. See, I picked up the Lemony Snicket series at a garage sale not long ago. If you’ve ever read one of those books, you’ll know that the back cover warns kids to go pick a different book — any different book — because this one’s probably going to spook the heck out of them. Reverse psychology? Of course. But it’s brilliant, I tell you. My kid’s finished the entire series in the month that school’s been out, and today he announced he’s starting back over at Book One so he can experience them all again.

Now, if only he’ll hurry up with it so I can start reading them, too!

November 2nd, 2010

Mark Twain In His Own Words: The Autobiography

by Venomous Kate

Mark Twain Autobiography Despite his reputation as a curmudgeon, Mark Twain didn’t want people reading what he had to say about them because he didn’t want their feelings to get hurt. So, after writing his autobiography, Twain told his publishers to wait 100 years before releasing the book he called “a complete and purposed jumble”.

Robert Hirst, curator of the Mark Twain papers at UC Berkeley, told the CS Monitor that Twain wanted the freedom to write his true thoughts without looking over his shoulder. Apparently he had a lot to say: his autobiography is being released in three volumes, with the first constituting 760 pages.

Don’t look for a traditional, chronological narrative here. Freed of what readers (and publishers) would think, Twain tells his lifestory in a scattered fashion and yet, for all of its randomness, the book paints a vivid and fascinating picture of one of literature’s greats.

Although the official release date isn’t until Nov. 15, Amazon has The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 for sale:

April 30th, 2010

Who Cares About Camel Toe?

by Venomous Kate

Yes, I’m still writing a book.

Yes, I’m still dieting.

I’ve had difficulties with both over the past two months, but I’m finally starting to make progress on both fronts once again.

Which reminds me: after practically starving myself to drop another pants’ size, I don’t care if I’ve got camel toe, okay? If it bothers you, stop looking at my crotch.

That is all, thank you.

January 6th, 2010

Starting On A New Year and a New Me

by Venomous Kate

This year I told myself that I wouldn’t make any New Year’s Resolutions primarily because I didn’t need to. After all, I started dieting in November — just in time for the holidays. Now that I’ve lost 20 pounds (with !#*&ing more to go) and have made an hour of exercise part of my regular daily routine, it seems redundant to resolve to keep doing what I’ve already been doing.

And then I opened my basement closet in search of a blanket because it’s so freaking cold. It went something like this:

Now, one thing I didn’t expect from losing weight and starting to regain my fitness was just how much energy I’d regain. It feels as if, by seeing some success at weight loss, I’ve rediscovered my sense of purpose and my confidence that I can accomplish what I set out to do. That’s an amazing feeling.

So as stood there getting pummeled by things falling out of my basement closet, I finally came up with my resolution for 2010: this is the year that I will conquer the clutter in our Venomous Household, without relying on VH’s assistance, without telling myself that I can’t do anything until it’s garage sale-weather, without planning to eBay crap but never getting around to it.

This year — because I am sick of blogging about how sick I am of the clutter in my house — I am going to do something about the cause of my annoyance. No, I’m not getting rid of VH… I meant the clutter.

You might think I started by tackling the basement closet, but you’d be wrong. I started, instead, by ordering myself a Kindle, something I’ve been lusting after since they came out. Why start with that? Well, for one thing, because I plan to read and implement David Allen’s “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” (on my new Kindle, of course).

For another thing, well, I didn’t make a resolution about ceasing to be a procrastinator. I’m putting that one off until next year.

August 5th, 2009

I Shall Return

by Venomous Kate

Hello, Interwebs? Did you miss me while I’ve been on hiatus? With summer vacation is drawing to a close, I’ve started imagining what it’s going to be like having a few hours each day to myself once again: time to read news, time to think about what I’ve read, time to blog… maybe even time to drink an entire cup of coffee before it gets cold.

I’ve missed you. How much? Well, let me just put it this way: after drunk-dialing my mother-in-law one evening, the Venomous Hubby asked, “Don’t you think it’s time you think about blogging again to keep yourself busy?”

Oh, sure, I’ve done plenty of reading in the 4+ months I’ve taken off blogging. (Most enjoyable read of the summer: Of Bees and Mist: A Novel. Least enjoyable: anything in the Anita Blake series after book 9.) I planted a container garden and have been busily watering, harvesting and canning; I’ve cleaned the house countless times; and I’ve even managed to acquire a somewhat decent tan. There’s been some traveling, some serious progress on my novel, and of course my beloved daughter’s 18th birthday (followed by a small bout of depression as I confronted my own mortality).

One thing I haven’t done much of is paying attention to what’s going on in the world (aside from mourning American Idol’s loss of Paula Abdul). So, as you know, that kind of ignorance makes it a bit difficult to blog intelligently. Hence why I shall return… but not just yet. I first need to reacquaint myself with my laptop and then start paying attention to the world beyond my doorstep.

But, hey, this here entry’s a first.