Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Best Books I Read in 2013

To catch up on previous years:

The Best Books I Read in 2012
The Best Books I Read in 2011
The Best Books I Read in 2010
The Best Books I Read in 2009

If you want to, you can even go to Goodreads and see all the books I read in 2013. Now my favorite reads from 2013, in very particular order:

10. Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris. I didn't want the Sookie Stackhouse series to end - at least not before Sookie and Bill reconciled and Bill made her his vampire bride - but since it had to, I'm glad Harris did it her way.

Full review here (contains spoilers). This was a book I checked out from my local library.

9. Finding Esta by Shah Wharton. I was pleasantly surprised by this fresh take on contemporary vampire mythology, the debut novel by a talented writer from the U.K.

Full review here (contains minor spoilers). This is an e-book I downloaded from Smashwords on a day when the author gave it away as a free promotion.

8. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  I didn't give this one a full review, but the weekend I checked it out from my local library, I could hardly put it down until I was finished. It's nonfiction, the story of a woman who changed medical history without knowing she did so. Henrietta Lacks was a poor, uneducated tobacco farmer who was pregnant with her son when doctors discovered she had a cervical tumor. After she gave birth, doctors treated her cancer with radiation and, without her knowledge or consent, took a sample of her cancerous cells and kept them alive in the laboratory. This was the first time human cells were ever able to be made "immortal," or grown perpetually in the lab. These cells made a wide variety of medical research possible, and companies profited from that research while the Lacks family was too poor to even afford health insurance. Sadly, Henrietta died an awful, painful death when her cancer rapidly came back despite the radiation treatment - which, in all honesty, was fairly horrific itself - while her children were all still small.

This book is an investigation into the woman behind the cells (known in medical literature as HeLa cells, after Henrietta), her legacy, and how medical science as a business and as a pure science can improve its ethics and treatment of human beings. I chose this because it was the book of the year at the college from which I graduated.

7. In the Body of the World by Eve Ensler. This one is also nonfiction, and again it deals with cancer, although this is a memoir written by a survivor. It's infuriating, difficult, and inspiring.

I didn't write a full review of this one, but you can read a blog post on it here. This is a post about Ensler's spirituality in her memoir. I got this book free from the Vine program in exchange for an honest review.

6. Dreams of Joy by Lisa See. This is the sequel to See's Shanghai Girls, a work of historical fiction set in 20th-century China and then in the United States, exploring the world of two immigrant sisters, Pearl and May. Shanghai Girls is a beloved book in my family, read first by my grandmother, then by my mother, then by me. At the end of the first book, Pearl's daughter Joy impulsively moves to China. Dreams of Joy relates the story of what happens to her there, and what happens to Pearl as she goes to (she assumes) rescue Joy. I never wrote a full review; I don't know what to say except it was very good, and also very hard in places.

I purchased a used hardcover of this book at a library book sale.

5. Lover at Last by J.R. Ward. I'm hopelessly addicted to Ward's paranormal romance series with the warrior-vampires. I love all the couples, but I was SO ready for this, the only book in the series to focus on a male-male couple. They're Blay and Qhuinn, and their partnership gives me a lot of feels. I've wanted them to be together since Blay first expressed feelings for his friend, but Qhuinn was being such a jerk about it. All that angst is resolved now, though, and Team Qhuay is officially a thing.

Full review here (includes spoilers). This is a book I checked out from the public library. 

4. The Divergent Trilogy (I'm kind of cheating here, but I'm going to count them all as one book) by Veronica Roth. For those of you fresh to this young adult/dystopian series, I'm not going to spoil anything here. Let's just say that if you liked the Hunger Games trilogy, you're going to be equally enthusiastic about young Beatrice "Tris" Prior and her cohort.

I bought a paperback Divergent at Barnes and Noble, checked out Insurgent from the local library, and bought Allegiant as an e-book for my Nook. 

3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Hazel Grace Lancaster is just a normal teen with cancer, a young woman who's already outlived her life expectancy thanks to a "miracle drug." She doesn't love the cancer support group, but she does fall in love there, with Augustus Waters, a brilliant, witty, kind young man who lost a leg to bone cancer that's now in remission. This is an important literary novel disguised as YA fiction, and I cannot wait to see the movie.

I never wrote a full review of this novel, mostly because it gives me so many feelings, I become an inarticulate sniffling mass. I paid full retail for this hardcover at a store that was not a bookstore, because I had a gift card. After I read it, my grandma read it. She liked it, too, and she's not one to read YA books normally. 

2. Hemingway's Girl by Erika Robuck. Historical fiction set in Key West in the 1930s, with a Cuban-American protagonist who's kind of in a love triangle with Ernest Hemingway? It's perfection.

I didn't write a formal review of this book on this blog, but I did discuss the first half of it here. I received this one through the Vine program in exchange for a review.

1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Without realizing it, I checked an abridged version out of the library. I wish I'd read the unabridged version, because after 800 pages, I still wanted more of this classic. The story is compelling and the characterization is interesting. It's everything you could ask for from a dead Frenchman.

Full review here (contains spoilers). I read this as a library book, and then subsequently purchased a used paperback of the unabridged version at a library book sale. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Book Club Friday: Sense and Sensibilty by Joanna Trollope #FridayReads

Happy after-Christmas, everyone! I hope Santa Claus brought everyone lots of new books to read. I didn't get any books per se, but I did get a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card. I think I'll probably use it to preorder This Star Won't Go Out, but I'm not 100% sure yet.

If you're thrilled to death with a book you got as a holiday gift, be sure to tell me in the comments.

I recently finished:

Peter: A Darkened FairytalePeter: A Darkened Fairytale by William  O'Brien
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A magical and enchanting tale of a 10-year-old whisked away to a magical world full of unforgettable new friends and grave dangers. "A darkened fairy tale" certainly describes this adventure. Some parts of it could be disturbing for children younger than the target audience of 11- to 13-year-olds, but for mature youngsters, this is ideal for independent reading or for a family read-along. Fans of C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia or of Lauren Oliver's The Spindlers will enjoy this otherworldly fantasy.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

I'm currently (still) reading Forbidden Highlander.

When I finish that (probably later today), I'm most likely to start Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope, which I ordered from Amazon Vine's "Last Harvest." Vine is having problems this month, and I wasn't able to have my usual pick of free swag. That's okay, though. At least I picked up a contemporary adaptation of a Jane Austen classic. I like to read the Vine books close to when they arrive, because I have a limited amount of time to review those.

I haven't read any of Joanna Trollope's other books, but I think it's cool she's related to Anthony Trollope. According to the New York Public Library Literature Companion, Anthony Trollope (1815-1882):

"...was among the the most popular writers of his day, appreciated for his depictions of clerical, political, and everyday life in Victorian England and his portrayals of memorable characters in richly imagined settings. The son of a failed gentleman farmer and the writer Frances Trollope, he grew up in relative poverty....His output included 47 novels as well as travel books, biographies, and prose collections. He is best known for two novel sequences, a form he introduced to English literature: the Barsetshire novels...and, after running unsuccessfully for Parliament, the politically steeped Pallister novels...His two-volume Autobiography appeared posthumously, in 1883."

Frances Milton Trollope, apparently, is not important enough to merit her own entry, but Wikipedia says she was a prolific novelist who lived 1779-1863. She wrote the anti-slavery novel Jonathan Jefferson Whitlaw, which is said to have been an influence on Harriet Beecher Stowe when Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin. Anthony's older brother Thomas was also a writer - mostly of histories - and Thomas Trollope was married to Frances Eleanor (Ternan) Trollope, who was also a novelist and published 12 books between 1866 and 1892. The Wikipedia entry suggests it was Frances Milton, not her son Anthony, who introduced the novel sequence into English-language literature.  (Patriarchy, stop trying to simultaneously erase and take credit for women's artistic accomplishments.)

If you recognize the family name Ternan, you may be a Dickens addict - Frances Eleanor's sister Ellen Ternan was a notoriously scandalous mistress of Charles Dickens. I'm not a Charles Dickens fan myself - I did not enjoy reading Great Expectations in tenth grade, although I seem to enjoy the Alec Guinness movie version - you might like to read another book I had the option of choosing from Vine's Last Harvest, which is Havisham: A Novel by Ronald Frame. I didn't choose it, but I could have.

The book I have waiting for me to pick up at the library is After Dead by Charlaine Harris.

A lot of people hate this collection of snippets about the characters in the Sookie Stackhouse universe, as evidenced by its 2 1/2-star rating on Goodreads. It's 50% off at Barnes and Noble for their after-Christmas sale, but based on the lousiness of the ratings, I have no intention of paying money for it. I'll give it a free read, though, simply because of my loyalty to this series.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: A Writer's Merry Christmas

Whether or not you celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, have a happy and safe December 25th.

Enokson on Pinterest.

This is an affiliate link:

The Impossible Quest Of Hailing A Taxi On Christmas Eve by George Saoulidis. $3.99 from
Scrooge Is Looking For A Taxi In this modern retelling of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," Scrooge is looking for a taxi to get home on Christmas Eve. But he will get the ride of his life, as he is walked through his past, his present and his future to end up a changed man. Set in modern day Athens, this science-fiction version of the classic ghost story is guaranteed to make you smile.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Books I Wouldn't Be Sad If Santa Brought Me

Inspired by this post at It's a Book Life, which in turn took its cue from this post at The Broke and the Bookish.

I love to give books for the holidays, as my nieces will find out tonight (they're also getting Subway gift cards so they can pay for their favorite sandwiches with their own money - very exciting when you're 7 and 9) and my cousin's baby daughter will find out tomorrow.

Which books would I most like to get from Santa Claus? I checked with my Goodreads to-read list, and here's what I came up with (in no particular order):

1. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb

2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I really want to see the movie, because Emma Watson looks amazing in the previews, but I want to read the book first. I've simply refused to pay the full retail at my local Barnes and Noble.

3. Delirium by Lauren Oliver

4. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

5. Lillian Holmes and the Leaping Man by Ciar Cullen

Gender-swapped, steampunk Sherlock Holmes? Uh, yes please!

6. The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket

Hanukkah is over, but my desire to read this is not.

7. Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman by Harrison Cheung

8. House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones

9. Little Women and Me by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

10. This Star Won't Go Out by Esther Earl

Okay, this one doesn't come out until January 28th, 2014, but Santa can preorder it for me if he wants to.

Which books are you hoping for on Christmas morning?

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

David Ewald's Clever Take on "Historical" Fiction, 'He Who Shall Remain Shameless'

How could this tale fail to fascinate? The protagonist is David Ewald - not the author, but a fictional character with the same name as the author - and he's on a mission to protect some of history's noteworthy, yet relatively obscure, from being erased from memory forever. Ewald is, in a very literal sense, accompanied by the Internet as a companion. This is fresh, unexpected writing, with a little bit of everything: an action-adventure tale, a paranormal mystery, occasional flashes of romance, and ultimately a message that makes the reader question the very meaning of existence. It's a dark, heavy novel that never feels too heavy. Lovers of cerebral metafiction will delight in it.

I purchased this as a Nook e-book from Barnes and Noble. I was not asked to write this review, nor was I compensated for it in any way. 

I first learned of this book in 2011, and I believe it was through the Coffin Hop. It's been on my to-read list for years. (Lots of things are. If you're expecting a review from me, you'll have to be very patient.) I couldn't get it completely out of my mind because the cast of characters includes many based on real people, now deceased, who were famous or infamous in their time, had a brush with history, or should be more well-known. What most of these real-life stories have in common is that it's hard to find information about them, even in the Internet age. Part of the fun of this novel is that it encourages the reader to interact, to look these people up and test how famous or obscure they really are. 

Congressman Leo J. Ryan, 1973 - official Congressional photo. Public domain image
Probably the most famous of these characters is Leo Ryan, the U.S. Representative who was murdered by followers of Jim Jones at Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978. Ryan is actually quite an interesting person, because he liked to experience things firsthand. When he was a California assemblyman, he once booked himself into Folsom Prison for ten days so he could experience prison conditions while he was working on prison reform. He went to Newfoundland to investigate inhumane seal hunting. When concerned relatives of Jonestown cult members came to Ryan, he went to Jonestown to investigate. He became the only member of the U.S. legislature ever to be killed in the line of duty. Ryan isn't obscure; you can find out lots of things about him on the Internet. It's just that his story is rather overshadowed by that of Jim Jones, the cult leader. 

The northern Aegean Sea, in an image by Andrew Dalby. Creative Commons image. 
Another figure who doesn't quite count as "obscure" is Aegeus, the figure from Greek mythology for whom the Aegean Sea is named. The legendary Athenian king was the father of Theseus, who slew the Minotaur. Mistakenly believing Theseus had been killed by the monster, Aegeus killed himself. In He Who Shall Remain Shameless, the narrator David manages to communicate to the ancient warrior-king that Theseus was still alive. 

One of the more interesting characters is Christine Chubbuck, a woman much more famous for her death than for her life. She was a news reporter, first in Cleveland and then in St. Petersburg, Florida. She struggled with depression through most of her life. Supposedly, she got into an argument with the news director because he cut one of her reports to cover a shooting, complying with directions from the station manager to concentrate on "blood and guts." Three days later, during a live broadcast of the digest news program on which she appeared, Chubbuck pulled a loaded handgun from her purse, placed it behind her left ear, and shot herself in the head. She died in the hospital fourteen hours later. Her family got a court order to keep the tape of the broadcast from ever being aired again. 

Chubbuck's dramatic on-air suicide and the cynical decision that escalated it were, according to pop cultural legend, some of the inspiration for Paddy Chayefsky when he wrote the screenplay for Network. If you're interested in the weird world of Chayefsky, Network, and his other film Altered States, you may read "Paddy Chayefsky and the Wonders of the Invisible World" by VISUP. It's a fascinating article, the first in a series, with references to Baal, Hecate, Kali, and Robin Goodfellow/Puck/A Midsummer Night's Dream. But I digress. 

That the fictional Chubbuck appears to the fictional Ewald in a post-suicide, ghostly state is one of the reasons this book fits into the paranormal/borderline horror - but clearly speculative - genre. Another character who fascinates because of the horror of his real-life story is Andrew Kehoe. 

Andrew Kehoe circa 1920. Public domain image.
Kehoe was the perpetrator of the worst act of school violence in U.S. history on May 18, 1927. He killed 38 schoolchildren using explosives. He also murdered his wife, killed five other adults, and committed suicide. An additional 58 people were wounded. Kehoe detonated a bomb at the Bath Consolidated School in Bath, Michigan. When rescue trucks arrived on the scene, Kehoe drove up in a vehicle rigged with explosives, killing himself and bystanders. Apparently he became upset with the town of Bath after he wasn't re-elected as the township clerk, and his farm was in the process of being foreclosed on. 

The fictional Kehoe in Ewald's novel is described as being remorseful for his actions. 

Almost all the characters based on real-life people died in some violent or tragic way, some of them from illnesses. Linda Gary, a cartoon voice-over artist, died from a brain tumor. Her voice would have been well-known to '80s kids like me because her credits included the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra cartoons - special favorites of my brother and me. She has an IMDB page and, of course, a Wikipedia page, but it's hard to find much more about her. 

But she, like all of the characters in the novel, gets a little extension on her fame when you read the book. You'll have to decide for yourself whether or not these people deserve to be included in the story. One might argue that some people, like Kehoe, deserve to stay buried in the past, because evil actions don't deserve any extra notoriety. Others would say that if we don't remember the past, we'll only be doomed to repeat it. Maybe there's something about mass violence that Kehoe's example can teach us even today. This book will make you think about things like that. It's dark, but very interesting. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Pride and Prejudice and Person of Interest: A #JaneAusten Birthday Mash-up

Happy birthday to my literary foremother Jane Austen, born December 16, 1775! If you are ever eager to read more about the brilliant English novelist, here are some Pagan Spirits blog posts you might enjoy:

Jane Austen Fight Club video

Pride and Prejudice, now with Zombies and Hidden Lusts: Text Comparison

Review of Northanger Abbey

It's another thing, too: Joss Carter Appreciation Week. This event is to be held December 15-22 in honor of the emotionally-devastating loss of one of TV's greatest female characters from Person of Interest. Since two great things can sometimes taste great together, I now present a short mash-up I like to call "Pride and Prejudice and Person of Interest:"

Josselyn was suddenly roused by the sound of the doorbell; and her spirits were a little fluttered by the idea of its being Colonel Finch himself, who had once before called late in the evening, and might now come to enquire particularly after her. But this idea was soon banished, and her spirits were very differently affected, when, to her utter amazement, she saw Mr. Reese walk into the room. In a hurried manner he immediately began an enquiry after her health, imputing his visit to a wish of hearing that she were better. She answered him with cold civility. He sat down for a few moments, and then getting up walked about the room. Josselyn was surprised, but said not a word. After a silence of several minutes, he came towards her in an agitated manner, and thus began:--

"In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you. Also, you look kind of badass in that uniform.”

Josselyn's astonishment was beyond expression. She stared, doubted, and was silent. This he considered sufficient encouragement, and the avowal of all that he felt and had long felt for her immediately followed. He spoke well, but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed, and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride. His sense of her being an officer of the law, of its being a detriment to his continuing illegal activities, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.

In spite of her deeply-rooted sense of justice, she could not be insensible to the compliment of such a man's affection, and though her intentions did not vary for an instant, she was at first very sorry for the pain he was to receive; till, roused to resentment by his subsequent language, she lost all compassion in anger. She tried, however, to compose herself to answer him with patience, when he should have done. He concluded with representing to her the strength of that attachment which, in spite of all his endeavors, he had found impossible to conquer; and with expressing his hope that it would now be rewarded by her acceptance of his hand. As he said this, she could easily see that he had no doubt of a favourable answer. He spoke of apprehension and anxiety, but his countenance expressed real security. Such a circumstance could only exasperate farther; and when he ceased, the colour rose into her cheeks, and she said,--

In such cases as this, it is, I believe, the established mode to express a sense of obligation for the sentiments avowed, however unequally they may be returned. It is natural that obligation should be felt, and if I could feel gratitude, I would now thank you. But I cannot--I have never desired your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly. I am sorry to have occasioned pain to anyone. It has been most unconsciously done, however, and I hope will be of short duration. The feelings which you tell me have long prevented the acknowledgement of your regard can have little difficulty in overcoming it after this explanation.”

Mr. Reese, who was leaning on the mantel-piece with his eyes fixed on her face, seemed to catch her words with no less resentment than surprise. His complexion became pale with anger, and the disturbance of his mind was visible in every feature. He was struggling for the appearance of composure, and would not open his lips till he believed himself to have attained it. The pause was to Josselyn's feelings dreadful. At length, with a voice of forced calmness, he said:

"And this is all the reply which I am to have the honour of expecting! I might, perhaps, wish to be informed why, with so little endeavour at civility, I am thus rejected. But it is of small importance."

"I might as well inquire," replied she, "why with so evident a desire of offending and insulting me, you chose to tell me that you liked me against your will, against your reason, and even against your training as an assassin? Was not this some excuse for incivility, if I was uncivil? But I have other provocations. You know I have. Had not my feelings decided against you—had they been indifferent, or had they even been favourable, do you think that any consideration would tempt me to accept the man who has been the means of ruining, perhaps forever, the happiness of my most beloved partner, Detective Fusco?"

As she pronounced these words, Mr. Reese changed colour; but the emotion was short, and he listened without attempting to interrupt her while she continued:

"I have every reason in the world to think ill of you. No motive can excuse the unjust and ungenerous part you acted there. You dare not, you cannot deny, that you have been the principal, if not the only means of dividing my partner from your partner Miss Shaw—of exposing one to the censure of the world for caprice and instability, and the other to its derision for disappointed hopes, and involving them both in misery of the acutest kind."

She paused, and saw with no slight indignation that he was listening with an air which proved him wholly unmoved by any feeling of remorse. He even looked at her with a smile of affected incredulity.

"Can you deny that you have done it?" she repeated.

With assumed tranquillity he then replied: "I have no wish of denying that I did everything in my power to separate my partner from your partner, or that I rejoice in my success. Towards Shaw I have been kinder than towards myself."

Josselyn disdained the appearance of noticing this civil reflection, but its meaning did not escape, nor was it likely to conciliate her.

"But it is not merely this affair," she continued, "on which my dislike is founded. Long before it had taken place my opinion of you was decided. Your character was unfolded in the recital which I received many months ago from Leon Tao. On this subject, what can you have to say? In what imaginary act of friendship can you here defend yourself? or under what misrepresentation can you here impose upon others?"

"You take an eager interest in that gentleman's concerns," said Reese, in a less tranquil tone, and with a heightened colour.

"Who that knows what Mr. Tao’s misfortunes have been, can help feeling an interest in him?"

"His misfortunes!" repeated Reese contemptuously; "yes, Leon’s misfortunes have been great indeed."

"And of your infliction," cried Josselyn with energy. "You have reduced Mr. Tao to his present state of poverty—comparative poverty. You have withheld the advantages which you must know to have been designed for him. You have deprived the best years of his life of that independence which was no less his due than his desert. You have done all this! and yet you can treat the mention of his misfortune with contempt and ridicule."

"And this," cried Reese, as he walked with quick steps across the room, "is your opinion of me! This is the estimation in which you hold me! I thank you for explaining it so fully. My faults, according to this calculation, are heavy indeed! But perhaps," added he, stopping in his walk, and turning towards her, "these offenses might have been overlooked, had not your pride been hurt by my honest confession of the desire to continue my criminal kneecapping activities that had long prevented my forming any serious design. These bitter accusations might have been suppressed, had I, with greater policy, concealed my struggles, and flattered you into the belief of my being impelled by unqualified, unalloyed inclination; by reason, by reflection, by everything. But disguise of every sort is my abhorrence. Nor am I ashamed of the feelings I related. They were natural and just. Could you expect me to rejoice in your connections to the NYPD?—to congratulate myself on the hope of friendship with Fusco, whose condition in life is so decidedly beneath my own?"

Josselyn felt herself growing more angry every moment; yet she tried to the utmost to speak with composure when she said:

"You are mistaken, Mr. Reese, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way, than as it spared me the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner."

She saw him start at this, but he said nothing, and she continued:

"You could not have made the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it."

Again his astonishment was obvious; and he looked at her with an expression of mingled incredulity and mortification. She went on:

"From the very beginning—from the first moment, I may almost say—of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form the groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry."

"You have said quite enough, Detective. I perfectly comprehend your feelings, and have now only to be ashamed of what my own have been. Forgive me for having taken up so much of your time, and accept my best wishes for your health and happiness."

And with these words he hastily left the room, and Josselyn heard him the next moment open the front door and quit the house.

The tumult of her mind was now painfully great. She knew not how to support herself, and from actual weakness sat down and cried for half-an-hour. Her astonishment, as she reflected on what had passed, was increased by every review of it. That she should receive an offer of marriage from Mr. Reese! That he should have been in love with her for so many months! So much in love as to wish to marry her in spite of all the objections which had made him prevent his friend's marrying her partner, and which must appear at least with equal force in his own case—was almost incredible!

It was gratifying to have inspired unconsciously so strong an affection. But his pride, his abominable pride—his shameless avowal of what he had done with respect to Fusco—his unpardonable assurance in acknowledging, though he could not justify it, and the unfeeling manner in which he had mentioned Mr. Tao, his cruelty towards whom he had not attempted to deny, soon overcame the pity which the consideration of his attachment had for a moment excited. She continued in very agitated reflections till the sound of Lady Stanton's carriage made her feel how unequal she was to encounter Kara's observation, and hurried her away to her room.


You can read the entire text of Pride and Prejudice, free, at Project Gutenberg.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Book Club Friday: Currently Reading...

To enter to win Switch (a dystopian romance) by Janelle Stalder, go here.

I'm currently reading Forbidden Highlander by Donna Grant. This Scottish Highlands paranormal romance is the second book in the Dark Sword series. I don't usually read historical romance novels, but I'll make an exception for a PNR. I also have a fondness for books set in the remote parts of the U.K., whether it be the Scottish Highlands, rural Wales, Cornwall, or the Isle of Man. All the Celtic parts, basically.

The blurb from Goodreads:

Fallon McLeod has gifts any warrior would covet—fierce strength, unmatched skill, even immortality. But those gifts have come at a price that puts everyone he loves at risk. Only when his brother, Quinn, is taken captive does Fallon leave the seclusion of his Highland home to seek the king's aid. And though every woman at court would gladly be his for the asking, one alone causes desire to roar to life within him: beautiful, mysterious Larena Monroe.

Rumors swirl around the castle about "The McLeod" but Larena knows the truth. Like Fallon, Larena is searching for a way to vanquish the evil Druid who wants to wreak havoc on earth. Drawn to Fallon in spite of her fear, she surrenders to a passion that shocks them both with its raw intensity. But Larena dares not hope for more—not when she holds a secret that could turn her fiery Highland love against her forever…

"Totally Captivating" (RT Book Reviews), Forbidden Highlander is a stunning historical and paranormal romance, book two in Donna Grant's bestselling Dark Sword series.


I read the first book, Dangerous Highlander, all the way back in 2010. You can read my review here. I kind of got sidetracked from my intentions of reading a rotation of my favorite PNR authors, which should go:

- Kate Douglas's DemonSlayer series (1 of 4 read so far)
- J.R. Wards's Fallen Angels series (1 of 5 read so far)
- Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling series (2 of 12 read so far)
- Donna Grant's Dark Sword series (1 of 6 finished so far)

Donna Grant also writes two "spin-off" series from Dark Sword: the Dark Warrior series, an additional 9 novels with a contemporary setting; and the 4 Dark King novels. Whew! That's a lot. But they're a fairly quick read, and Forbidden Highlander is fun because the female protagonist is a warrior woman who literally has a goddess inside her. A happy ending for Larena and Fallon is almost guaranteed, since it's a romance novel. I hope to have it done by Hogmanay (that's what the New Year is called in Scotland).

According to the receipt stuck inside the cover, I purchased Forbidden Highlander at Borders on October 2, 2010.

Then, I intend to read Mitzi Szereto's erotic Oscar Wilde mash-up, The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray. I hope it's as entertaining as Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts. When I finish that, I'll read the next Kate Douglas on my list, then attempt to tackle George Eliot's thick classic (the original, not a mash-up this time!) Middlemarch. I read The Count of Monte Cristo in January 2013, so it's almost time for another brick of a classic.

Then, perhaps The Casual Vacancy. We'll see - that's getting pretty far ahead of myself.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Switch by Janelle Stalder: Rafflecopter #Ebook #Giveaway with 5 Winners

Switch by Janelle Stalder


All’s fair in love and war.

Two thirds of the world's population has been wiped out, devastated by the worst war earth has ever seen. Still standing amongst the ruins is a mind reader who finds herself on the wrong side of the war. Everyone does what they must to survive. When the rebels bent on bringing down the New World leader start to rise up, it is her job to make sure they stay down where they belong. That is, until one rebel sneaks past her defenses and into her heart. Love will blossom from the ashes, but will it be enough to save them, or will it mean the end of them both?

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About the Author:

Janelle Stalder was born and raised in Brampton, Ontario. At an early age she developed a love for literature. Her debut novel, Eden, was the first book in a series of four, released in September of 2011. The second book, Eden-West, was released in July of 2012, and the third book, Eden-South was released in March of 2013. The fourth book of the Eden Series, Eden-East, will be release at the end of 2013. She is a strong supporter of other independent authors, and loves to interact with her readers. When she's not writing, Janelle is at home with her husband, two children, Aiden and Elora, and her two furry children, Alice and Lily. She now resides in the small town in Ontario in her old, possibly haunted, century home.

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