On My Bookshelf: Downside Ghosts Series

One of the best parts of my week’s vacation from work has been the time I get to spend reading.  I so rarely get more than a few stolen moments here and there to read, that being able to wake up in the morning, have a cup of coffee, and read for an hour is such a luxury!  As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been remiss in posting some of the books I’ve been reading lately.  So what better time than when I’m actually getting a chance to enjoy my leisurely reads?

About this time last year I started reading the Downside Ghosts series that had been recommended by a friend.  I read all three books that I thought made up the entirety of the series, but it turns out there are two more books.  Oh happy day – more to read!

The series centers around Chess, the main character, who is also a ghost hunter.  These books are part urban paranormal part mystery.  I started reading Unholy Ghosts right around my birthday last year and zipped through it in a couple of weeks.

I took a little detour after finishing the first book in order to read Gone Girl.  I don’t think I even reviewed that one either (where has my head been??).  Anyway, after reading Gone Girl I went right back to book 2 in the Downside Ghosts series – Unholy Magic.  I read this one in October of last year, and enjoyed it a little more than the first book so I was anxious to pick up the third book as soon as I finished this one.

And I started City of Ghosts in mid-November and it carried over into January.  And the length of time it took me to read this one is in no way a reflection on how good it was.  I finished this one just a few days into the new year and it was absolutely another great read from Stacia Kane.

I’m really anxious to pick up the next two books in the series, now that I know they exist – Sacrificial Magic and Chasing Magic.  And it even looks like book six is due out in October!

The caution I was given when the series was recommended to me is that the main character, Chess, is an addict.  You know that right off the bat, so it’s not spoiler-worthy information.  And while I can see that this would turn a lot of people off, it does really play into who Chess is and why she does some of the things she does.  Definitely well worth reading.

I have the first book in Stacia Kane’s Megan Chase series sitting on my bookshelf to read too.  If that series is as good as this one, I’m already sold!

**In case you’re wondering – polish is Theon’s 5, Essie’s Berry Hard, and Essence’s Edward’s Love from the Breaking Dawn collection.

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Double Date


Saturday, we got invited to catch a movie with Eric’s friend and the friend’s wife. When he called and asked if we’d be up for a movie, my response “I am ALWAYS up for a movie!”  This couple goes to see a lot of movies, so I was glad when they offered up Savages as a suggestion.  I’d been wanting to see it, but I haven’t made it out to the movies lately.  (There is a LIST of movies I really want to see right now!)  We met them over at the theatre for the 10pm showing.

Like I said, I absolutely love going to the movies, but it’s been a long while since I’ve been able to drag Eric out to one (National Treasure, anyone?)  I just love the whole movie experience ( minus people texting in the theatre – seriously?  what is that about?).  One of the things I love is seeing the trailers.  The two upcoming features that stood out to me were Looper and Tarantino’s The Man with the Iron Fists.

But, back to the movie at hand.  I really enjoyed Savages.  I may have had Tarantino on the brain after seeing that trailer, because after the movie we all agreed that Tarantino should have been the one to make this film.  It just needed a little more something.  But, I always enjoy Salma, and it was interesting to see Blake Lively outside of the Gossip Girl environment.  Although I can’t say that this character was remarkably different.


And it was an interesting little triangle between these three.


Plus I have to hand it to Aaron Johnson.  The image of that tattoo on his hip is forever emblazoned in my mind.  Yowza.

But the film was good and I’m glad we saw it.  It was colorful, it was pretty, I kept expecting to see someone from the cast of Laguna Beach pop up.  All in all a good summer movie.  Plus Eric got his blue raspberry slurpee that he’d been jonesing for, so it was a win win all around.

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Fifty Shades of the Fluffernutter Sandwich

 

Betwixt and between reading Game of Thrones, I read the Fifty Shades series.  Again.  It’s the first time I’ve read them in their published form, I previously read them in their original form as, you guessed it, Twilight Fan Fiction.  While the story is good, entertaining, and full of lemons (those steamy scenes), I was kind of surprised to see it published and getting so much attention.

So, let me back up and look at this from a couple different angles.  I don’t typically read Fan Fiction, but I got completely addicted to Twi fanfic a few years ago (don’t judge).  So, that’s where I originally read Fifty Shades (originally Master of the Universe).  And while it’s completely enjoyable, and one of the better fics I read, it wasn’t remarkable.  Now, I’m not bashing it, just saying that it wasn’t so far superior that I could have foretold it would be published and catch on like it has.  And one of the things that ended my illicit love affair with Twific was that so many authors were 1) using this as a way to “try out” their work before pulling their fic off the site with the intention of publishing it and 2) the drama-llama goings on with authors getting their panties in a twist and pulling their fics.  More than once I was left hanging when I was in the middle of reading something and it got pulled.  Fine.  I’m done.

But, now let’s look at this from another angle.  Why, once published, has it caught on the way it has?  Is it because there are hordes of Twific fans that are showing their support?  Is it because it falls in the romance/erotica category and therefore has a ready-made readership?  Is it because it allows so many women to read about something they feel is “naughty” and show how “edgy” they are by reading about some light BDSM?  Is it because everyone is reading it, so you have to too?  Or is it just because it’s a good story?

Couldn’t tell you what the answer is.  But, I can only say what I’ve observed.  At the beginning of this widespread read-along, there were a lot of facebook posts and blog posts and such where women were fanning themselves and winking conspiratorially at each other and hinting around at how glad their husbands were that they were reading Fifty.  And while I think it’s great that suddenly it became “mainstream” to be reading smut, I was a little surprised at the turn of events that occurred next.  Suddenly those same women that had been fanning themselves and congratulating their own inner goddesses were turning snarky and critical over the books.  Suddenly it’s all “no one has sex like that” or “no one has that many orgasms” or whatever other complaints.

But really, whatever happened to the term “suspension of disbelief” or have we forgotten that pretty much any romance book you pick up is not going to be a reflection of real life?  There’s not a lot of hot billionaires that look like Robert Pattinson running around wanting to get all alpha male on someone (which is a shame, really).  And do they have sex more than they talk through their issues – yes?  But who the fuck cares?  It’s a book.  It’s fun reading about their sexy times. But if you want a good laugh, check out this review (you have to click on the “read spoiler” link – because that’s really the best part).  I think it’s great we can laugh about how bad this is (Showgirls, anyone?) but there’s a difference between admitting that reading this is the equivalent of eating a fluffernutter sandwich and picking it apart because it’s not a reflection of your reality.  Neither is Lord of the Rings.

But, rumor has it that if you really want to read a good book along these same lines, this is the one to read…

I can’t comment on it, because I haven’t read it (yet).

But, here’s what I love about the Fifty Shades books: I love me some Edward and Bella (regardless of what we’re calling them), I love their email exchanges – they are, in my opinion, some of the best parts of the books, I love Elliot’s “laters, baby”, and I love the image of Fifty with his faded jeans on and the top button unbuttoned.

I’m glad I re-read them, and I’m glad that it also made me go back and read a couple other of my favorites in the fanfic world.  And it’s really good escape reading, which I appreciate.  Now back to my book about World War II.

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My Sun and Stars

I just recently finished reading Game of Thrones, the first book in the series.  I’ve been wanting to watch the HBO series and was told by a good friend of mine that I really should read the book first.  So, I picked up the book at the beginning of April, right after finishing the new J.R. Ward book.  I really enjoyed this book.  It did take me a long time to read it (3 months), but mostly that was because it was a pretty dense book.  Martin does some pretty extensive world-building, and as such there’s a lot of up front stage setting that has to occur before you really get into the meat of the story.  Plus there’s all those peripheral (sort of) characters that are difficult to keep straight.  But thank the Lord, there’s an Appendix at the back of this bitch!

Anywho, the book is great and even went with me on a business trip to Wichita, Kansas where I thought for sure I’d finish it.  But, alas, I didn’t.  I forgot the plane trip is only an hour each way…  I also took a couple of little breaks at the end of May/early June to read a couple of other books that really didn’t require nearly as much attention (post coming soon).

I sat down on Saturday and finished GoT.  And it was good.  It was so good.  I knew ahead of time that there were a couple of people who die (I won’t spoil it for you, and wished I hadn’t known who it was), but everything was still a surprise at how it came to be.  And I really love Daenerys and her relationship with Khal Drogo.  I love that she called him her sun and stars.  I loved the way they spoke and how their society functioned.  It was so different from the other storylines.

So, I’m very glad I read it and very much looking forward to reading the next book as well as seeing season 1 of the series.  Because Khal Drogo…

…Rawr!

Yep, cannot wait to see.  But, I love the characters in this book and you become quite invested in them due to all the details and intricacies of the storylines.  Excellent book – well worth reading!

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Soulless and Other Stories

Thought I’d better catch up on some book reviews, since it’s been months since I did one.  Soulless is the first in a series and I read this one in August of 2011, right around my birthday.  It easily falls into the steampunk category, or as someone else called it “bustlepunk”.  This book had come highly recommended, and it did not disappoint.  It was utterly delightful, especially with terms of endearment between the characters such as “my little tulip” and “my petal”.  And a Victorian era book with vampires and werewolves?  What’s not to love?  Such a fun book.  Plus, I learned two new words with this book – dirigible and phaeton.

After finishing Soulless, I picked up The Paris Wife which was our book club selection for September.  I’d been looking forward to reading this book and again, I was not disappointed.  This book took me a lot longer to read than it really should have. But I enjoyed every bit of the book. There were times when I really related to Hadley and times that I didn’t. But I loved feeling like I understood more about the time and the people than I previously did. Once again, I wished I’d been able to go to the book club discussion having finished this, but the discussion and the book were worth it nonetheless.

I had to go on a business trip to Chicago right after Thanksgiving, so I threw this one in my purse to take along with me.  I figured it was a big enough book that it would keep me busy during my time sitting at airports and nights at the hotel.  I thought this book was just as enjoyable as the first one, but I’m also glad that I took a little break between the two.  I read a big chunk of this during my Chicago trip, but even once I got home I had a really hard time putting this book down.  I’m really looking forward to reading the third book in this series.   My mom is the one who got me started reading these books, and she loaned me her books, and it’s been cool discussing them with her.  I love talking about books with my mom!

You may recall I read the first book in this series back at the beginning of last year.  It took me a long time to read this one because of so much going on in my life, but it was a welcome break from the world when I got a few minutes to read.  Even when I could only manage a page here and there, it really was a great respite.  After the big shocker at the end of the first book, I was uncertain about reading this next installment, but it didn’t disappoint.  So good!  I’m really looking forward to reading the next book.  It’s kind of funny, now that I’m looking at it, that I read City of Bones at the beginning of last year and then book two at the beginning of this year.  Same with Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – read it end of 2010, and then read book 2 end of 2011.  Wonder if that’s saying something about what I like to read at a particular time of year?

And here’s the last one!  I know…still with me?  After finishing City of Ashes, nothing was appealing to me.  Of course, that was right around the time my dad died…so I really couldn’t focus on much of anything.  I ended up re-reading The Hunger Games in the couple of days before I saw the movie and I really enjoyed that.  Then, the new Black Dagger Brotherhood book was released at the end of March.  How could I resist?  I went at lunch the day after it was released and picked up a copy.  Within the first few chapters of this book, my first thought was – was I in a coma when I read the last book?  Clearly I had forgotten quite a bit of what happened in that book.  I had to get online and do a quick recap before I figured out what I was missing!  But, once that little snafu was over, I really really enjoyed this book.  I zoomed through it as usual with these books, and it did not disappoint.  So good!!

So…what to read next?  Well, after some persuasion, I decided to pick up Game of Thrones and read it.  I’ll let you know what I think!

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Club Dead

I got a little behind with my book reviews, so here’s another one right on the heels of my last.  I finished this one over the weekend while waiting for my hair appointment (I’m desperately trying to keep myself on a schedule to have my hair trimmed, the past few years it’s been hit or miss…but, I digress).  After reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – I needed a quick and easy, entertaining read.  Sookie #3 to the rescue.  Like I said, this series is quick, enjoyable, entertaining and a perfect “palate cleanser” between denser books.

As far as I can tell, this book is pretty much what the third season of True Blood covers.  Now, granted, there’s a lot going on in True Blood that wasn’t in the book – but, perhaps it’s in later books?  Anyway, I think I enjoy the books themselves a lot more than the series, although with the series you do get Alex Skarsgard.  mmm….wait, where was I?  Oh yeah, True Blood.  The other thing I love about the series that you don’t really get in the books is Pam.  I love Pam in True Blood.  I particularly like her dialog.  For instance…

Pam: I don’t know what it is about me that makes people think I want to hear their problems. Maybe I smile too much. Maybe I wear too much pink. But please remember I can rip your throat out if I need to. And also know that I am not a hooker. That was a long, long time ago.

Pam: You picking up what I’m putting down?
Lafayette: Yes.
Pam: Good, I’ll be back tomorrow for the money.

Love it.  But, back to the books – well worth the read.  I always enjoy taking a little foray into Bon Temps, when I get the chance.

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Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

 


After finishing my last book club book, I decided to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I’d been holding off on reading it, even though my mom lent me hers with rave reviews, because I knew I was going to need a big chunk of time to read it.  I’d heard from several people that the book takes a long time to hook you, and that I should give it at least 100 pages before giving up.  You can imagine that with that, I was a little leery to even bother.  But, I remembered the rave review of my mom so I dove in.  Within the first few pages, I was hooked.  I wanted to know more.  And that same curiosity drove me to read this every chance I got.

The author really takes you down a lot of twists and turns throughout the book.  It even has what I call, a “false ending”.  That moment when you feel like everything is wrapped up and you’re done, except that you can see you still have a ways to go in the book.  I remember going to see a movie once that had one of those false endings.  What the hell was the name of that movie…IMDB.com, here I come…oh yeah, Disclosure.  That one had a false ending too.  I remember actually gathering up my purse, getting ready for the credits to roll and the lights to come up, and lo and behold, there was like 40 more minutes left of the movie.

Anyway, this book really is excellent and well worth the read.  I suppose I should tell you to give it to page 100 before giving up, since that’s the advice I was given.  But I don’t know that you’ll need it.  I’m really looking forward to reading the next two books, but I think I’ll wait a bit before going back in.  This book was one of those that left you with a lot to think about.  But, so worth a read, it really is.

Not sure how I feel about the new movie coming out, other than I love Daniel Craig.  I might be willing to see the original film though, it is probably relatively true to the book, whereas I’m not sure what Hollywood would do with some of the subject matter.  But, maybe they’ll surprise me.

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An Object of Beauty

Ready for another book review?  I know, I can’t believe how fast I’m reading them either.  This one is the next book selection for Artful Readings (the book club I belong to).  And amazingly, I finished reading the book a mont before book club.  In nine years, this has never happened.  A month after book club, yes.  But never this far in advance.

This is the second book we’ve read by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin).  The first one was a play called Picasso at the Lapine Agile.  That book was pre-Goodreads for me, so I only have a vague recollection of it.  It was good, but didn’t stick in my head like other books have.

This book, on the other hand, I loved.  I thought it was witty and well-written, and the story and it’s characters just engaged me from the first page.  Our main character is Lacey, who is a young woman working at Sotheby’s.  Upon reading this, my first thought was “huh, I never thought about working at an auction house with my Art History degree”.  It was kind of a “duh” moment.  A little flash of the road not taken.  But I digress.  Lacey is joined in the story by our narrator, who is at times a part of the action and at times steps into an omniscient role of the observer.  I loved how the story took the reader on a virtual tour of the art world and how it changed over a 10-15 year span while still showing influence of the decades before.  The book had some unexpected turns that kept me wondering what else might come to light.

Steve Martin is a really engaging writer and this book makes me want to return to my previous read with a new eye.  I would highly recommend his work, and if you’ve only known him as a comedian and actor until now – get to know him as a writer.

Since I have so long before I get my next book club selection, I thought it would be a good time to pick up something I can take my time with.  I decided to start The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  My mom read the first two books in this trilogy and lent me her copy.  I’ve heard very good things, so I’m anxious to see what all the hype’s about.

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Black Dagger Brotherhood

Adding a little spice to your Friday, I thought I’d review my most recent read.  I know, I know…how can you choose something to read after reading The Help?  Impossible isn’t it.  I tried picking up a book I’d previously set aside, The Museum of Innocence.  I still couldn’t get into it, even after 150 pages.  So, I gave up.  Still not having an easy time deciding what to read, so I decided to go to the completely opposite end of the spectrum.  I chose, as Eric likes to call it, “Vampire smut”.

Now, don’t discount the vampire smut so lightly.  Back some time ago when my friend, Missy, recommended this series to me she basically warned me that they are not great literature, but that they are fun, hot, romantic, funny, and that I would love the references to fashion.  How could I resist?  She loaned me the first five or so books in the series and told me to get to it.

I, being the restrained, cold-hearted cynic that I am did not expect much.  So I started in on the first book.  Within days I had finished the first book and dove into the next book.  I could not stop.  I approached these books in about the same way I approach a box of Thin Mints – one minute I’m cracking it open and the next minute I’m wondering why they’re all gone.  In fact I was reading one of these books instead of studying for one of my certification exams.  It got so bad at one point, I was like a junkie.  Eric had to physically take the book out of my hand and refuse to let me have it back.  True.

I have since returned Missy’s books to her and begun buying my own (the sign of a true addict).  So when confronted with what to read, the answer was simple.  There was a new Black Dagger Brotherhood book I hadn’t ripped through yet.  And so I settled in for another foray into the world of the hotness the Brothers.  Although it’s hard to top that first book in the series, I think this book may have been one of my favorites.  The books actually seem to be getting better, the storylines a little more complex, and it’s not all about the hot & sweaty.  But there’s still plenty of hot & sweaty.  *fanning myself*  There’s also a ton of romance that even managed to crack my icy heart.

So, if you haven’t checked out the Black Dagger series, I highly recommend it.  Just read them for what they are and enjoy them while they last.  It’s gonna be awhile before I can get my fix again.  Speaking of which, when is Girl Scout cookie selling season?

Oh and bonus, the books look great with my manicure (this one was the completely appropriate shade of Essie’s After Sex).  True that.

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The Help

Stop what you are doing right now and go read this book.  As I mentioned a few posts ago, I’ve been completely immersed in reading this book and throughout it I kept wondering why the hell it had taken me so long to read it?  I borrowed this book from a friend months and months ago.  And it’s just been sitting on my shelf patiently waiting.

So what can I say about this book?  I loved the way it was written from the three women’s perspectives.  I love how they each had their own unique voice.  I was shocked and horrified and touched and warmed all at the same time with this book.  It made me stop and think how far we’ve come, but how far we still have to go.

“Ever morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision. You gone have to ask yourself, “Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?”

Last week Eric and I watched several shows about the Civil War.  Having visited Gettysburg, it is not something you soon forget.  And watching those shows, and reading this book, really bring the point home to me how relatively recent these events are in our history.  You can read this book and think what a great piece of writing it is, what a great story, but ultimately it’s when you realize that these kind of judgments are still happening all over our country – that there are still people everywhere separating into “them” and “us”.  And the “them” and “us” varies, but it’s still all a separation.  And sometimes the separation still creates violence and hate.  But what I love about this book is that even with the odds stacked against you, you can still choose to make a difference.  You can choose to not see the separation, but instead focus on what makes us all the same.

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

Read. This. Book.

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