Posts tagged ‘book’

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!

 
 

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!

September 23rd, 2008

Just Read: The Whiskey Rebels

by Venomous Kate

I love a good story. I particularly love a good story when it’s told by a masterful storyteller, one who knows the precise details to add without robbing me, as a reader, of the chance to bring my own imagination into play. Master storytellers capture all the right nuances: the oddly-timed facial tick, a hard-drinking character’s pause in conversation to take a nip, a liar’s fascination with the patterns of dirt on the toes of his boots. I particularly love an historical novelist who not only tells a story masterfully, but does so while populating his tale with the kinds of characters one ordinarily does not encounter in an historical novel.

For all these reasons and more, I loved David Liss’ latest novel: The Whiskey Rebels. So much so, I might add, that I’ve now read it twice in the short time since it arrived in the mail.

My first go-through was an admittedly hurried one. I was flying down to see my mother in Austin at the time, and due to the stressful nature of my life with two ailing parents these days, my stack of books to review had grown quite large. When that happens, I make it a habit to read first the books I know I’ll have to compel myself to read: the politically-oriented nonfiction and the “memoirs” written by people whose fascination with their own lives I just don’t share. When it’s done well, I savor fiction, and so I’d put Liss’ book off to read on “my time”.

Once seated on the plane, I immediately cracked open Liss’ book. By page two, I was chuckling. By page three, my face had adopted a sardonic smile that stayed in place through a lengthy layover in Memphis and the second leg of my flight from there to Austin. Because, in addition to loving it when an author tells a good tale, I love it when one breathes life into characters who are as fascinating as they are flawed. Having finished his book by the time I finally landed in Austin, I told my brother he simply must read it… then proceeded to keep my copy so I could read it again on the flight home, too. Yeah, it’s that good.

It’s just so rare that I run into one character, much less two that I so wholly enjoy. But that’s precisely how I felt about Ethan Saunders, a former spy for General Washington during the Revolutionary War who undeservedly spent 10 years debasing himself as punishment for a crime he did not commit. In counterpoint, Liss gives us a clever woman who’s not merely an anti-heroine but an anti-historical novel heroine: Joan Maycott, a woman who masterminds her own rise in society despite her own crime.

What’s truly uncanny — and I don’t think even David Liss himself would claim to have foreseen it — is how The Whiskey Rebels is set smack in the middle of a banking crisis very similar to that which we’re reading about in today’s headlines. Through Liss we see Alexander Hamilton struggling to fend off a short run on the newly formed U.S. Bank by unscrupulous and money-hungry traders.

Playing against each other, these Ethan Saunders and Joan Maycott’s are more fascinating than any real life political chess match, though — unbeknown to them — they’re both playing for the same side. But as we all know, the means to an end matter just as much as the end, and Liss delivers a satisfying affirmation of that belief.

Liss’ book will be released September 30. I’d recommend pre-ordering. It’s worth the wait.