Friday, December 30, 2011

Feature & Follow Friday

It is time again to share the love -- Follow and Feature Friday hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  The rules:
How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them “hi” in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!


This week's feature blog is:


Kate @ Ex Libris
I am a perpetually tired reader, mom of two, ex-music teacher, and HR worker bee. I work for a NASA contractor in Houston, but I would rather live somewhere that doesn’t fry in the summer or get hit by hurricanes in the fall. My first literary crush was Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables and I add to that list every day.
My book blog is only a few months old and I love to talk about books with anyone who will listen. I read all types of fiction, but have recently discovered the wide world of YA. I am a Hunger Games fangirl who loves Jane Austen or a good Dr. Who episode. (Aren’t they ALL good??) Right now I am reading fathermothergod by Lucia Greenhouse and Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien.
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Q: The New Year is here — and everyone wants to know your New Years Blogging Resolution! What are you going to try to revise, revamp and redo for 2012 on your blog?

Answer: I am going to try to be more organized and plan further ahead for my blog posts. It sounds simple, but we'll see how it goes.  I also need to make a decision about whether to stay at blogger or switch to wordpress. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Archon

Archon by Sabrina Benulis
Review copy provided by Harper Collins
Description from Goodreads:
Angela Mathers is plagued by visions of angels, supernatural creatures who haunt her thoughts by day and seduce her dreams by night. Newly released from a mental institution where she was locked away for two years, she hopes that her time at the Vatican’s university, the West Wood Academy, will give her a chance at a normal life. Unlike ordinary humans, Angela is a blood head — a freak, a monster, the possible fulfillment of a terrifying prophecy of overwhelming death and destruction. Only in Luz, the Vatican’s wondrous enclave, are blood heads accepted and encouraged to discover what kind of powers or special abilities they might possess.

But within West Wood, a secret coven plots, and demons and angels roam the streets searching for the key to open Raziel’s book — a secret tome from a lost archangel. Some are determined to destroy Raziel, while others, like the beautiful Supernal Israfel, one of the highest of the high, wish to free him. And when the Archon — the human chosen to possess the spirit of a dead angel — rises as foretold, they will control the supernatural universe.

Torn between mortal love and angelic obsession, Angela holds the key to Heaven and Hell — and both will stop at nothing to possess her.


My take:

The world of Archon is a strange and dark version of our own, I think. Some things seem familiar but with a darker, more sinister feel. This is a world where "blood heads" - redheads are viewed with fear and suspicion because of a prophecy. Angela Mathers has had a tough life - apparently due mostly to her being a blood head. Her parents abuse her, she has vivid dreams of one angel over and over, and she can't die - or more accurately, she can't kill herself. She is institutionalized for two years after her latest attempt at suicide which ended with the death of her parents. Despite her abuse, Angela is a pretty strong and sympathetic heroine.

My impression of Luz, where Angela goes to school, was of darkness, decay, rot, mildew, violent winds and storms. Basically, not a cheery place. It seems like the perfect location for such a dark story. There are angels, demons, jinn and other creatures in the story. No one is exactly what they seem or in some cases, some are not even what they think they are. Angela, and consequently, the reader, is never sure who is human, demon, angel, possessed or whatever.  While this can be a bit confusing at times if the reader is not paying attention, I thought it actually worked by helping to illustrate how completely differently angels and demons view the world from how humans themselves see things. The lines between who is good and who is evil are very blurred as well.

I found the depiction of the angels in this book to be very interesting and captivating. They are very different from angels I've encountered in other books. I found this aspect to be quite intriguing. I was left with many questions about where the story is headed, what will happen to Sophia and what Angela will do next. Since this is the first of the series, I am looking forward to finding the answers in the next books. While this did feel like a debut book, I think there is so much potential with this series, that I will be looking for the next book when it is published.

One last note - the cover art for this book is really just so beautiful. I think it is one of the best of the year.




Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fante: A Memoir

Fante: A Memoir by Dan Fante
review copy provided by publisher
Description from Goodreads:
From Dan Fante, son of novelist John Fante, comes an exploration of his family’s legacy—one of boozing, passion, writing, and survival. Long before his father achieved literary recognition for Ask the Dust or The Road to Los Angeles, and before Dan had conceived his novels 86’d, Chump Change, and Mooch, their difficult relationship as father and son evolved in a household where love and literary artistry were often overshadowed by emotional violence. Fante is the story of Dan’s struggle to find his own voice amidst the madness of his family’s dark inheritance, a memoir of his escape from his own vices and his eventual return to Los Angeles to embrace the man—and the calling—that once had driven him away.

My Take:
I have to admit that I think this book was pretty amazing. I don't know that I like Dan Fante very much, but I do like his writing. Fante's story is quite the wild ride and it is probably not for everyone, but the man can write. His tale recounts the stories of his grandfather's, father's and his own life story -- particularly the parts dealing with their heavy drinking, fighting, failed relationships, and his father's and his writing. The book jumps from generation to generation and relays how each generation affected the other. 

According to his memoir, Dan was very much like his father in his raging moods, love of writing and love of booze. As seems to be the case in many families, the father/son or mother/daughter or whatever combination that are most alike also have the most antagonistic relationship. This was true for Dan Fante and his father John for many years.  As he grew up and was able to see his father through adult eyes, Dan was able to appreciate and grow to love his father. This growing relationship between father and son was one of the nice things to read about in the book. Many of the stories told are disturbing and upsetting. Even with the darkness described by the author, I couldn't stop reading this book. I got the impression that he was telling things like they were -- no punches pulled. The book felt genuine and Fante is able to see himself as he really was and then relate that without excuses. How many of us are willing to be that honest with ourselves much less everyone else? Parts of the book are heartwarming, parts are disgusting, parts are just disturbing, but throughout I felt that I needed to find out how this story ended.

 This is a story of a family, a father and son who were/are both writers. The tales of Hollywood screenwriters during John Fante's time were fascinating. Who doesn't love to hear stories about famous authors? Both Fantes' writing lives are detailed and this was also a major factor in my enjoyment of the book. I would recommend this book for anyone who loves literature and the writing process and the conflicts writers face everyday or just loves a good memoir.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Belated Readathon (I am pathetic) Update #2



I'm still reading Anarchy Evolution. There may not be an update for a couple hours after this one. Rehearsals finishing will require that I pick up the girls and take them home and feed them. I will continue to read as much as possible.
And I have never forgotten that engaging in scientific data collection can be a great way of resisting authority. p. 33

Belated Readathon Update #1 (I am pathetic)

It is approx. 4:00 pm and I haven't updated or read much so far. Pathetic. However, I had to get my daughters to their Nutcracker rehearsals and had lunch with the husband, so this proves I have a life - sort of - right?  Most of my reading will be tonight. Night is my favorite time to read anyway. I will probably be switching between books. First off, I'll be reading Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science and Bad Religion in a World without God by Greg Graffin and Steve Olson.
Punk music gave us a way to rail against the deadening groupthink of the suburbs while offering an alternative to the political mainstream. p. 25