A Feast For Crows

Well, I’ve read all of the published books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Most recently, A Feast For Crows. About 350 pages shorter than A Storm of Swords, it took me much longer to read this one, reasons including I was not off work for a week to recover from surgery, and the fact that I felt much of this book was just something to get through. (“A highborn maid of three-and-ten, with auburn hair.”)

I know that GRRM had originally intended to write a much longer book, but when it got too long, he split it into two volumes. Instead of separating the volumes based on chronology, he separated out the characters. The result being that my favorites, (and I’m sure the favorites of many other readers), were not actually in the book. We heard nothing from the perspective of Tyrion, Daenerys, and Jon Snow, although he made a very brief appearance. However, Tyrion’s presence was throughout the entire book. I very much liked Brienne, but her chapters did become a bit boring, until the last chapter from her perspective. I’m really hoping that what seemed to happen there did not.

****SPOILERS****

The question of Jaime’s (and in turn, Cersei’s) parentage was questioned, and I’m eager to see how that turns out. Also, Cersei is a complete fool, and probably has doomed herself because of her lack of wits. A prophesy from her childhood haunts her, that she will be overturned by a younger queen. Cersei believes this is Margaery Tyrell and attempts to be rid of her before the prophesy can come true, but this only backfires on her. She never even considered that this queen might be Daenerys. Also, part of this prophesy was that the volanqar would strangle her. The translation for volanqar is “little brother,” so Cersei is naturally terrified of the Imp, believing that he will return to kill her as he killed her father, and as she believes, her son. However, Cersei has two little brothers, as she was born minutes before Jaime. My prediction is that she fears the wrong brother.

At the end of this book, GRRM did leave a note to the reader, part of which stated, “…rest of the characters will be along next year (I devoutly hope) in A Dance with Dragons, which will focus on events along the Wall and across the sea, just as the present book focused on King’s Landing.” This was signed June 2005. Next year? Really? How about six years later?!?!  Although, I guess it could be worse. I could have gotten into this series a few years ago and would actually have had to wait for years before the next book. Now, I only have to wait a couple of weeks, since A Dance with Dragons comes out next month. Yay!!

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Between

Once again, another book I won from Goodreads.

Between, by Cyndi Tefft, is a new take on the young adult paranormal romance. Vampires, werewolves, angels, demons…those have all been done. But what about a modern American girl and the Grim Reaper? And throw in a kilt and a Scottish accent too. Definitely some new material.

Lindsey Waters is in a terrible car wreck that ends her life. She wakes up in a serene meadow and Aiden MacRae is there to take her to heaven. He has been caught in “between” for three hundred years, transporting souls, but never being allowed through the gates himself. Supposedly, the love of one person is supposed to redeem him. Soon after meeting her, he knows that Lindsey is the one.

This was the part of the story that I had difficulty with. Lindsey has just experienced death, but she only seems to be concerned with Aiden and learning more about him. It is instant love somehow, and definitely rushed. Also, there was too much giggling going on for me too. She just died and she just wants to giggle like a school girl? Anyway, getting past that part…

 Lindsey and Aiden really do fall in love and vow to make the most of the time they have together, neither one of them knowing exactly how long that will be. Lindsey has “gone towards the light” twice now, but has always been able to stop and go back to Aiden. Then one day, her body feels as if it is full of electricity and she is pulled from the Between-state back to earth, waking up in a hospital bed to a broken and shattered body and soul.

While she struggles to understand why God would take her away from Aiden, she learns more about herself and her family, finally understanding that there was a reason that she came back to her body. She still misses Aiden terribly and wants to be with him. But isn’t the only way back to him through death?

Between was definitely a quick read and it pulled me in immediately. Other than the minor flaw discussed above, I enjoyed all of it. Cyndi Tefft successfully captured emotional elements of love found and lost. I did like the ending, however, I wanted a bit more information, too. But there is a sequel, Hell Transporter, that is in the works, (no release date yet that I can find), so hopefully some of my lingering questions will be answered.

Oh, and the copy I received had an inscription from the author. That was a very nice touch and definitely added something.

Bloodmoney

I’ve been winning quite a few books on Goodreads lately. The most recent one I’ve read is an ARC of Bloodmoney: A Novel of Espionage, by David Ignatius.

About the book, (from the back cover):

Someone in Pakistan is killing the members of a new CIA intelligence unit that is trying to buy peace with America’s enemies. It falls to Sophie Marx, a young CIA officer with a big chip on her shoulder, to figure out who’d doing the killing and why. Her starting point is Alphabet Capital, the London hedge fund that has been providing cover for this secret operation, but the investigation soon widens to include the capitals of the Middle East and the cruel hills of South Waziristan. Sophie thinks she has the backing of her hard-nosed boss, Jeffrey Gertz, and his genial mentor at headquarters, Cyril Hoffman. She gets help, as well, from the well-mannered lieutenant-general heading Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate. but the closer Sophie gets to her quarry, the more she realizes that nothing in this gallery of mirrors is quite what it seems. This is a theater of violence and retribution, in which the last act is one that Sophie could not have imagined.

This is not the type of book I generally read, but I did enjoy it. The cast of characters was very interesting, with the majority being on both sides of the conflict. It took quite a few pages before I decided who was trustworthy. The book also provided insight to tribal cultures of Pakistan, which was fascinating. I’ve never read anything by this author before, but after reading this work, I do believe he is a very talented, and informed, writer. However, I think the next book I read will be, in comparison, a light read. 

 

 

 

The Rites and Wrongs of Janice Wills

Another book (actually ARC) I won in a Goodreads giveaway…

The Rites and Wrongs of Janice Wills, by Joanna Pearson, is a contemporary coming of age story set in the small town of Melva, North Carolina. Janice Wills, the typical teenager, feels like she is on the outside looking in, hence her interest in anthropology. Or perhaps it is the other way around. Because of her interest in anthropology, she always places herself on the outside, as a studious observer watching and documenting interactions of the local teenage population.

Until one day, she decides to enter the Miss Livermush pageant, purely for reasearch purposes of course. But what she discovers along the way is that being on the inside definitely has an effect as far as her observations are concerned. And it’s sort of nice actually being a part of the social scene, (insignificant as it might be). It also poses a few unforseen difficulties as well.

At times funny, painfully embarrassing, and heart wrenching, most of us, if not all of us, can identify with this teen culture and what being accepted really means. Definitely a charming and realistic story.

One other factoid…The author has a medical degree, as in M.D. So many people out there seem to think that analytical and creative can’t be mixed or balanced. I’m happy to see further proof against this notion.

 

 

Summer’s Crossing

I just finished reading Summer’s Crossing, the newest work in Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey Series. This novella was only published as an e-book, and like her last e-book, Winter’s Passage, it was offered as a free download. Quite generous of the author.

Summer’s Crossing picks up where The Iron Queen left off, but it is a story about Puck and Ash. Meghan is only in the thoughts of these two characters during this story. Ash and Puck are beginning to look for Grimalkin, when someone else finds them instead. It is Leanansidhe, and she’s come to call in a favor that Ash owes her, in exchange for the fact that she helped Meghan. Queen Titania has stolen one of her new toys, a prized Violin that she wants back. Ash’s task is to stroll into the Summer Court and steal back the violin. Since he is a Winter fey, his only chance at succeeding is with Puck’s help.

Along the way, when Ash has gone off by himself to hunt, King Oberon appears before Puck, letting him know that he will not be at the Summer Court and will be out of their way for the task at hand. He doesn’t care much for the attention that his Queen has been giving to her new toy and feels a bit ignored. Oberon also hints that if the Winter Price somehow disappeared or came to harm while in the Summer Court, Meghan would then be free to court and win Meghan Chase. King Oberon disappears and leaves Puck with a lot to consider.

Pucks glamours Ash into a Summer Knight and takes on a similar guise himself, marching them straight to the middle of the Summer Court where Titania awaits. But will Puck aid Ash in his task or will he betray him in the hopes that with Ash out of the picture, he might someday be able to win Meghan’s love himself?

This was a very quick read, and of course very entertaining, showing a bit more of Puck’s character, and Ash’s as well. I still want to find out what happens next in the series, but that will have to wait until the publication of The Iron Knight, in October. But this novella was a nice morsel to snack on while waiting for the final installment.

The Double Life of Alfred Buber

I just finished reading another book I won from a Goodreads giveaway. The Double Life of Alfred Buber, by David Schmahmann, has been compared with the style of Vladimir Nabokov. I must confess that I have never read Lolita, but it has been on my infinitely long to-read list for quite some time.

Told in first person, Alfred Buber’s story is a slow meandering tale, taking the reader through the maze of his life and how he has perceived his life. There is a bit of discrepancy between reality and his perception of it. Buber seems a respectable lawyer, a parter in an old firm. But that is only part of his deception. Surely, a respectable man wouldn’t fly halfway around the world to seek something in attempt to remedy his loneliness, something that he someday believes to be love.

At some point, his two separate lives converge and he is unable continue his charade at a respectable, normal life. Although it seems that he has lost so much (mainly just image), he discovers that he has something else in his life that might make life worth living. Unfortunately, Buber ends his narrative before the reader knows what will come next. It almost seems as if he is making his final preparations and that he is coming to terms with all that his life has, and hasn’t, been.

I found Buber, as well as the other characters in the book, very interesting. I never knew if he was telling his story true, leaving out events, or adding embellishments. I guess he was telling it true from his perspective. I did enjoy the book very much, and even after finishing it, I find my thoughts captivated by this very unlikely, but unforgettable, character.

Skinny

I just finished reading Skinny, by Diana Spechler. This was a book I won from a giveaway on Goodreads. If I hadn’t won this book, I can’t say with certainty that I would have ever read it. Even after coming to the end of the novel, I’m still not completely sure of my feelings about the book. It was an easy, quick read, but dealt with some dark issues as well. Would I recommend it? Depends on the person and situation. But for the most part, probably not. There are definitely better books to be read.

Gray Lachmann is 26 years old and is forced to deal with her father’s sudden death. After a lifetime of counting calories, weighing her food, skipping dessert, this event pushes her over the edge. She begins to obsessively and compulsively eat. She pushed her loving boyfriend, Mikey, away, saying that she needs her ‘space,’ when what she really wants is to be left alone to eat in peace. She begins to find fault with Mikey, blaming him for not attempting to save her from herself. After about six months of procrastinating, Gray is finally forced to deal with her father’s will. She discovers that he has set aside a trust fund for a certain woman.

She finds out who this woman is and finds her blog on the internet. She discovers that she has a child, who is 15 years ago. She remembers that her father seemed to go through his midlife crisis about 15 years ago as well. She finds this blog of the child and seems to be staring into her father’s eyes when her picture loads on her computer screen. She discovers that Eden will be attending “fat camp” this summer. Gray immediately swings into action and gets herself hired as a counselor. She packs up all her worldly possessions in her father’s old car, telling Mickey that it will save time when she returns from camp, as she hopes they will move into a different apartment.

At camp, Gray hopes to lose weight, take control of her life, and more importantly, get to know her sister. Things don’t always go as planned. She never expected to find such maliciousness in her c0-counselor, or that Eden would take absolutely no interest in her. She also didn’t expect to meet Bennett, the camp’s 41-year-old personal trainer, who occupies her thoughts, and her bed, for 8 weeks.

Skinny is about a girl looking for forgiveness but not really believing that she is deserving of any. It’s about a girl who sees herself as fat when she really isn’t. It’s a story of a journey to the almost bottom of a hill, and beginning the trek back up. I really wanted the book to end on a more positive note. I wanted to believe that Gray would be okay, that she would continue to triumph over her personal demons. But honestly, I just don’t know if I trust her enough to find herself back up out of her funk. I’d like to think she will, but I really didn’t feel that her story was over at the conclusion of the book. She’s still got a bit further to go. But that’s the way with personal struggles. We all hope for the best and strive to get there, but the journey and how long it takes to get there might be just as important as the arrival.

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