Sunday, January 22, 2012

Julius Winsome

Julius Winsome by Gerard Donovan
purchased from Kennys Bookshop
Description from Goodreads:
Living alone with his dog in the remote cabin in the woods, Julius Winsome is not unlike the barren winter lands that he inhabits: remote, vacant, inscrutable. But when his dog Hobbes is killed by hunters, their carelessness—or is it cruelty?—sets Julius's precarious mindset on end.
He is at once more alone than he has ever been; he was at first with his father, until he died; then with Claire, until she disappeared with another man into a more normal life in town; and then with Hobbes, who eased the sorrow of Claire's departure. Now Hobbes is gone.
Julius is left with what his father left behind: the cabin that he was raised in; a lifetime of books, lining every wall of his home, which have been Julius's lifelong friends and confidantes; and his great-grandfather's rifle from World War I, which Julius had been trained to shoot with uncanny skill and with the utmost reluctance. But with the death of his dog, Julius's reluctance has reached its end. More and more, simply and furtively, it is revenge that is creeping into his mind.
Fresh snow is on the ground as the hunters lumber into his sights. They're well within the old gun's range. They pause, and they're locked into the crosshairs. Julius's finger traces the trigger. Will he pull it? And what will that accomplish? What if he simply has nothing left to lose?

My take:
This was an amazing book. It is very compelling and beautiful while be extremely disturbing as well. And yet it was strangely tranquil for all that. I loved the descriptions of Julius's life in his isolated cabin in the Maine woods surrounded by his father's books.  There is so much that is attractive to the avid reader about his life. The isolation, the quiet, all the books, the freedom to live as he chooses without outside distractions. However, Julius lives in a precarious mental state. The death of his dog Hobbes at the hand of a hunter, sends him on a path of revenge and extreme violence. The book is beautifully written, stark and haunting. I read this in one sitting because it was just so compelling.

Some of my favorite passages from the book:
People  defeat the winter by reading out the nights, spinning pages a hundred times faster than a day turns, small cogs revolving a larger one through all those months. The winter is fifty books long and fixes you to silence like a pinned insect. . .
. . . If that were the case, whether Hobbes had ever been in my life, or I in his, mattered little to the world or anyone in it, only to me now. You attach yourself and suffer when you don't have it anymore. But he made my days shorter when I had no one else, his friendship present even when no gain occurred.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Night Eternal

The Night Eternal by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
kindle book purchased from amazon.com
Description from Goodreads:
The nail-biting vampire thriller from the world-famous director of Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy.The night belongs to them, and it will be a night eternal…After the blasts, it was all over. Nuclear Winter has settled upon the earth. Except for one hour of sunlight a day, the whole world is plunged into darkness. It is a near-perfect environment for vampires. They have won. It is their time.Almost every single man, woman and child has been enslaved in vast camps across the globe. Like animals, they are farmed, harvested for the sick pleasure of the Master Race.Almost, but not all. Somewhere out there, hiding for their lives, is a desperate network of free humans, continue the seemingly hopeless resistance. Everyday people, with no other options – among them Dr Ephraim Goodweather, his son Zack, the veteran exterminator Vassily, and former gangbanger Gus.To be free, they need a miracle, they need divine intervention. But Salvation can be a twisted game – one in which they may be played like pawns in a battle of Good and Evil. And at what cost…?

My take:
I had high hopes for the ending of this trilogy. I really liked the first two books, The Strain and The Fall and I hoped that the final installment would live up to the other two. I thought the beginning started of well except for the fact that between the events of the second book and the opening of the third book two years had passed.  This took away some of the urgency I felt while reading both the Strain and The Fall. I was disappointed in the time lapse for some reason. I don't know if it made me feel that people were just not as strong and willing to fight as I would have liked or if it just felt like too long a time gap between the books. At any rate, that did bother me some.

I really liked Mr. Quinlan, the Born, and his storyline. How he was created and his mission of revenge lasting for centuries was really exciting and interesting. I would love to read more about his story. Ephraim Goodweather was much the same, only worse, if possible. The strain of having lost his son to the Master and not knowing his fate has turned Eph further into himself and the relief he so desperately seeks is briefly found in his constant drug use.  He has managed to run everyone off with his distance, moods, erratic behaviour and drug use.

The story unfolded much the way I expected and I enjoyed the ride for awhile.  I was really pleased with the direction the story was going especially with the history of the Master and the archangels -- up to a certain point. And then my reaction went something like: uh. . . hmmmm. . . really? mmmm REALLY? I'm not so sure about this. . .

Now, having said that, I can't really fault too much else. Things happened that should have and some that I wished hadn't, but for the overall story, it works. I think.  But for some reason, that particular point in the plot just bugged me and I couldn't recover the same amount of enthusiasm afterwards.  I don't want to say exactly what, but if you read it you can tell what I'm talking about.

The trilogy as a whole was quite good and I really loved how totally creepy and dark the vampires in the books are. I think I would suggest the series to friends who like dark stories and then I would want to know what they thought of the particular points that bothered me which have to do with exactly how the Master was created. If anyone who has read it cares to give me their opinion regarding this, I would love to read it.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Oh, the drama!

Apparently I missed a whole lot of drama on Goodreads lately. I just got wind of it this morning and have been trying to put the pieces together. If by some crazy chance you haven't read about this episode of author vs. blogger, you can find a good recap here.

I have to come down on the side of bloggers here -- but hear me out. I think that we all need to remember that we are all just people whether we are readers/bloggers or authors or agents or complete non-readers. We are all just people. We have feelings and we can get our feelings hurt. Therefore, we should try to keep things civil. That does not mean that we have to sugar-coat our opinions. We are all entitled to our own opinons.

Once a book is complete and is published - whether print or e-book, it is out there and you can't pull it back and try to fix or justify. Books must stand on their own. If the book can't stand on its own, maybe the author should take the criticism with grace and just keep writing.  Not everyone will love every book. Even a bad review will bring the book to someone's attention.

This whole situation makes me think Amanda at Dead White Guys has the right idea. Maybe reading literary works by dead white guys is the better choice. Maybe. I read a lot of those in college and I do like to read contemporary literature, so I'm still undecided.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Feature & Follow Friday


It is (almost) Friday! I'm so glad. It is also time for Follow & Feature with Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  The featured blogger this week is Kate at Book Den. Be sure to check out and follow her blog.

old books5 2 1 Feature & Follow #79
Hi everyone. My name is Kate and I recently started book blogging at the beginning of the year. We were living in England at the time, and I missed big book stores (we lived in a rural area), so I decided to do a book challenge… and that lead to a whole new ‘life’ for me. I have always loved to read, and now I am sharing that love with …whomever will listen/read! GoodReads is also a wonderful thing for me; I call it FB for Book Lovers! It’s nice to go somewhere and see what others are reading and what they are saying about books. Boy, has my TBR pile GROWN!
For a while, my family was wondering if I would read anything other than Historicals. But I do enjoy different types of books: mysteries, contemporary, romance, YA, chick-lit, Regency and Renaissance, some Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and I have recently discovered Steam Punk (Victorian with a Sci-Fi/Fantasy twist – how cool is that!). Please, though, keep your vampires to yourself.
When I am not reading (books or blogs – definitely blogs on books!), I am usually busy working on something – be it dinner, some crochet/knit project, spending time with my husband and/or trying to get in shape (he wants me to join him for a century bike ride in November – don’t know if THAT is going to happen, but it’s fun going out for a leisurely ride in the evenings).
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Q: Many readers/bloggers are also big music fans. Tell us about a few of your favorite bands/singers that we should listen to in 2012.

Answer:  I have pretty eclectic music taste. But a few of my favorites right now are:

Donavon Frankenreiter
 



Jack Johnson

Faun
 






Graveminder

Graveminder by Melissa Marr
Review copy provided by William Morrow
Description from Goodreads:

Three sips to mind the dead . . .

The New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series delivers her first novel for adult audiences-a captivating story of the living, the dead, and the curse that binds them indelibly to two special families, the Barrows and the Montgomerys:

Maylene Barrow bears a special responsibility in the town of Claysville, a duty to the newly departed that keeps all she knows and loves safe.

Rebekkah Barrow, Maylene's granddaughter, left Claysville a decade ago, trying to put painful memories behind her.

William Montogomery has been Claysville's Undertaker and Maylene's best friend for a lifetime.

Byron Montgomery, following in his father's footsteps as the town's new undertaker, is tied to the Barrow women-first Rebekkah's dead sister Ella and now Rebekkah--in ways he is only beginning to understand.

But evil has been let loose in Claysville and now Maylene is dead. It falls to Rebekkah to return to the town--and the man--she left behind to stop a monster and keep the dead in their place.. .

My take:
I was so pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this book. I have only read one other book by Melissa Marr, and while I liked the book, it wasn't my favorite.  Graveminder, however, was so intriguing, that I could barely make myself stop reading to attend to life matters.

I loved the setting, the quiet little town, the fact that Rebekkah and Byron feel a pull back home every time they leave. Rebekkah knows her grandmother plays a special role for the town, but she isn't aware of just how special and that it is an inherited role - until it becomes her role.   The premise of this book is just very interesting - I was fascinated as the story unfolded. The concept behind why Maylene had to mind the dead to keep them where she put them is very original - not at all what I would consider a regular zombie story.

The world building was well done and the characters are either appealing or you love to hate them. The story is tense and dark and so wonderfully gothic.

I hate to get too specific about storyline for those who haven't read the book yet. This is one book that you will want experience for yourself without extra information. I loved the way the story unfolded, slowly revealing the role the graveminder and undertaker play in the town.  This is one of my favorite southern gothic novels now.

From what I've read, I think this is a stand alone book, but I would love to read more about this world and the stories of previous Graveminders and Undertakers. There is just enough of their story explained or hinted at to make me really want to read more. I was quite satisfied by the plot, characters and ending of the book, but I wouldn't say no to another book. (hint)