Tuesday, December 23, 2008
|Title||Men of the Otherworld|
|Tags||paranormal, suspense, werewolves, witches, mediums, ghosts, series|
|This is a collection of short stories/novellas about the male characters from Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series. This volume is about the werewolves, with most of it being taken up by the background stories of Clay and Jeremy Danvers. Clay was bitten as a young boy, and lived wild in the Louisiana bayou until Jeremy found him and adopted him.|
Good strong stories that fill in needed background detail. Another volume is planned of stories about other supernatural men from the series. I look forward to it, as now I do to any work by Kelley Armstrong.
|Publication||Spectra (no date), Hardcover, 384 pages|
|Publication date||no date|
|ISBN||0553807099 / 9780553807097|
|Title||Living with the Dead (Women of the Otherworld, Book 9)|
|Tags||paranormal, suspense, werewolves, witches, mediums, ghosts, serirs|
|Book 9 in Armsrtong's Women of the Otherworld, and the series is still going strongly. In this volume, Robyn Peltier is a human woman, a young grieving widow who takes a job in L.A. as the PR flack for a young celbutante, Portia Kane. When Portia is shot to death in circumstances that suggest Robyn is her killer, Robyn has to run, but it seems the killer can always find her. The policeman looking for her speaks to the dead and is being helped by a ghost who turns out to be Robyn's late husband. Robyn's friend Hope Adams gets involved with her werewolf boyfriend in trying to protect her and solve the killings, along with Paige and Lucas, the witch and sorcerer husband and wife team.|
Again Armstrong wins out with a novel comprised of equal parts good plos and good characters. Read the whole series, you'll be glad you did.
|Publication||Spectra (2008), Hardcover, 384 pages|
|ISBN||0553806645 / 9780553806649|
|Title||No Humans Involved (Women of the Otherworld, Book 7)|
|Tags||paranormal, suspense, werewolves, witches, mediums, ghosts|
|Book 7 in Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld. This volume stars one of my favorite of Armstrong's characters, the necromancer Jaime Vegas. She sees ghosts, and makes her living as a medium, traveling the show circuit. She and two other mediums are tapped to do a reality show which is supposed to end by contacting Marilyn Monroe. Meanwhile Jaime is being contacted by ghosts that she can't quite hear or see, and she believes are the ghosts of children, and she determines to understand them and free them from whatever bond is holding them. Meanwhile, her relationship with the Alpha of the wolf pack, Jeremy, becomes the intimate one she dreamed of from when she first met him.|
Strong entry in a strong series.
|Publication||Spectra (2008), Mass Market Paperback, 544 pages|
|ISBN||0553588370 / 9780553588378|
|Title||Broken (Women of the Otherworld, Book 6)|
|Tags||paranormal, suspense, werewolves, witches|
|Book 6 in Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series. Elena the only female werewolf returns as the narrator, as she was in Books1 and 2. She is pregnant and nervous about it, as she is the only female werewolf in living memory and so unsure how her pregnancy will develop. She and the rest of the Pack are offered an interesting job of larceny, stealing a letter supposedly written by Jack the Ripper, which was stolen back in the 20s. Elena is happy to have something to distract her. She, Clay, and Jeremy succeed in stealing the letter, only to accidentally activate a dimensional portal from which two zombies and a sorcerer erupt.|
Armstrong's series continues to be a strong one. She sustains the series well, bringing in new characters, building up the old ones, and providing good plots. Recommended.
|Publication||Spectra (2006), Mass Market Paperback, 480 pages|
|ISBN||0553588184 / 9780553588187|
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
"During the intervening period, the "real" American economy was in doldrums: between 2000-2007, median household income dropped; the number of families living in poverty grew by almost 11 percent and the economy added jobs at the lowest rate in the post-World War II era. (I should add that those employment numbers look a lot worse when you take out the job growth in government and our uniquely inefficient health sector -- between 2001 and 2006, health care added 1.7 million (net) new jobs while the rest of the economy added zero.)"
The article also argues that the stock market has driven "short-termism" where the driving force behind CEO decisions is the company's quarter-to-quarter balance sheets, where the short term profits drive the company's stock price and thus CEO benefits. This leads to cutting back on anything that doesn't directly relate to short-term profits, including driving jobs overseas and gutting environmental protections.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Tags paranormal, suspense, werewolves, witches, ghosts
Fifth in Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series. The narrator of this one is Eve, mother of the young powerful witch Savannah. Eve really does her best to protect Savannah, but her task is made difficult by the fact that she's dead, and ghosts are a bit limited in what they can accomplish. The Fates giver her a task that might suit her strength of character and her creative solutions... she is to capture the Nix, a supernatural creature who takes up residence in ther brains of female psychopaths and encourages them to act on their homicidal tendencies. Aiding Eve is Trsiel, an angel, and her dear love, Kristof Nast, who is also a ghost.
This one gets a bit too dark for me when she goes to the prison dimension for serial killers, but overall it is a good book.
Publication Spectra (2005), Mass Market Paperback, 528 pages
Publication date 2005
ISBN 0553587080 / 9780553587081
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Tags paranormal, suspense, werewolves, witches
Fourth in Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series, and perhaps the best yet. Paige Winterbourne, her partner Lucas Cortez, and their ward Savannah are trying to create a life for themselves. Lucas is the son and heir of the powerful Cortez Cabal. There are five cabals of sorcerers who are wealthy and powerful almost beyond imagining. But someone is killing the children of cabal employees, and Lucas and Paige accept the task of investigating.
Excellent suspense, and good characters, including the sexy necromancer Jaime Vegas. Lucas' father, Benecio, is also an intriguing character, a very powerful man driven in part by the need to gain his son's approval. Recommended.
Publication Spectra (2004), Mass Market Paperback, 560 pages
Publication date 2004
ISBN 0553587072 / 9780553587074
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Tags paranormal, suspense, werewolves, witches
This is the 3rd in Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Underworld series. Books 3 and 4 are narrated by the witch, Paige Winterbourne, and I like them the best of the five I've read in the series.
At age 23, Paige finds herself head of the Coven of witches and guardian/adopted mother of the powerful young witch, Savannah. The two come into conflict as the rest of the Coven dislikes Savannah and wants no part of her. Meanwhile a powerful sorcerer and a half-demon woman are trying to take custody of Savannah Paige isn't sure where to turn, but the appearance of Lucas Cortez, determined to act as her lawyer, is just too good to be true.
Again lots of suspense and action, but also the building up of good characters. Recommended.
Publication Spectra (2004), Mass Market Paperback, 448 pages
Publication date 2004
ISBN 0553587064 / 9780553587067
Tags paranormal, suspense, werewolves, witches
Second in Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series, and the second told from the point of view of the werewolf, Elena. She is part of a werewolf pack, and in the first book they dealt with psychotic werewolves not of the Pack. In this one, Elena and her pack, including her mate Clay and her mentor, Jeremy, find out about the existence of other supernatural creatures and are invited to join a council of them. They meet two witches, Ruth and Paige Winterbourne, a half-demon, a vampire, and more. Elena and Ruth get kidnapped by a human psychopath and his followers who know who they are and want to study them to try and gain their powers. Ruth begins teaching a young witch, Savannah, also in custody, whose mother, Eve, had been killed by the group as being too hard to control.
An exciting read, with lots of action and lots of good characters. The werewolves are a little off-putting as they are quite disdainful of humans, mostly tolerating them when they have to but willing to do what it takes to protect themselves, without remorse. Recommended.
Publication Plume (2004), Mass Market Paperback, 480 pages
Publication date 2004
ISBN 0452285933 / 9780452285934
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
|Title||Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court|
|Author||Jan Crawford Greenburg|
|This is an excellent book to introduce people to the complexities of the Supreme Court. Greenburg, a reporter for ABC News with a law degree, has written one of the most objective books I've read... and I don't much believe anyone is objective.|
The book covers the court from the mid-80s or so, and the confirmations of Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy. Both were disappointments to social conservatives, who were hoping for Roe v. Wade and affirmative action to be overturned. Both started out as fairly reliably conservative, but O'Connor began drifting left in response to Clarence Thomas and his aggressive early stances on the Court. Kennedy, the author believes, drifted left in part in response to public opinion. Neither had a firm judicial philosophy, preferring to take a case-by-case approach. The judicial conservatives believed in interpreting law not making it, while the liberals believed in an evolving Constitution and the ability of judges to affect social issues.
At least those are the theories. One of the things that comes across most clearly is that laws, like anything written by humans, are subject to interpretation, and that the range of possible interpretations is broad. After all, if there were no disagreements on interpretation there wouldn't be a requirement for so many judges. Well-meaning and competent people can, and do, differ as to what laws mean and whether their meaning evolves over time.
Greenburg also gives a picture of the personalities of each judge. They are a diverse group. Roberts and Alito, the newest members, are what those on the right have been seeking for years, reliably conservative, but both are well-qualified and work well with others. They are of an age to sit on the bench for years to come.
Excellent book, a worthwhile read.
|Publication||Penguin (Non-Classics) (2008), Paperback, 368 pages|
|ISBN||0143113046 / 9780143113041|
Sunday, December 7, 2008
|Title||Me of Little Faith|
|I've loved what I've seen of Lewis Black's comedy. He does the Angry (well, no longer young) Man well, and his use of the f-word less offensive than usual because it fits so well into that persona. In this, his second book, he takes on religion. His trademark comedy is there, but it is actually surprising the religious experiences he has had. Through hallucinogenic drugs, for example, he had profound experiences of the interconnectedness of everything and everyone. He has also had amazing experiences with one particular psychic and after the death of his brother. But he has little use for organized religions, and his trademark humor points up much of the absurdity of them. I'm rather surprised he doesn't seem to know anything about paganism - I'm sure Wiccans and other pagans have educated him by now. Somebody also needs o tell him that there already exist comedy religions, such as Discordianism, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and the Church of Elvis.|
Excellent book if you like Black's style of humor, though the play at the end was not as funny as Black would like to think.
|Publication||Riverhead Hardcover (2008), Hardcover, 256 pages|
|ISBN||1594489947 / 9781594489945|
|Title||Here Lies Arthur|
|Tags||king arthur, merlin|
|Everyone has stories that have had so much of an impact on them that attempts to revise them, to be "realistic", about them, are infuriating. I rejected the Star Trek Enterprise series in its first season, for example, because they made "my" Vulcans into a sneaking, deceptive race and I couldn't stand that. This version of the Arthurian romance has that same problem. Reeve's Myrddin (Merlin) has no power other than the power of a bard to shape a culture's tales. Arthur is a thug, warring only to gain wealth. Gwenhwyvar is selfish, grasping tightly a love she needs. Reeve does it well, and there is some power in the main character, Gwyna, a girl who is servant to Myrddin and does her best to help as many people as she can. Yet for me Reeves is fighting too many years of adoration of the Arthur story, particularly as told by T. H. White's The Once and Future King and Mary Stewart's Merlin series.|
Still, if you like having your heroes debunked, Reeves provides a quick good read.
|Publication||Scholastic Press (2008), Hardcover, 352 pages|
|ISBN||0545093341 / 9780545093347|
Friday, December 5, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
|Author||Jean Edward Smith|
|Tags||franklin delano roosevelt, fdr, president, biography, wwii, depression|
|This is an excellent time for this book to come out, and to have read it, when, in the U.S., we have an incoming President who faces challenges almost as severe as FDR did and who is being compared to FDR. It makes it a great time to analyze FDR's strengths and mistakes, to see what lessons can be drawn from them.|
There wasn't a lot in FDR's early life to suggest his extraordinary gift for leadership. In his early years he was intelligent and charming, full of life and vigor, but rather callow. Frances Perkins, for one, was not impressed by him as he was in his early political days, though she grew to very much admire the President he became.
Nothing prepared him more for the Presidency than his years as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson. It taught him about the military and about Washington politics.
Oddly enough, the polio that struck him in 1021, paralyzing his hips, may have been a source of his growth as a human being. He had always been confident, and remained so, but he was courageous and determined in his fight against the disability.
It was his confidence and courage that allowed him to face the deep crises of his Presidency, to be willing to try new ideas, knowing some might fail, in which case he would try something else. By the time he became President he had been to Warm Springs, Georgia, to help treat his polio, and he was much struck by the poverty of the area. His enthusiasm for rural electrification was informed in part by his time there.
By 1940, Roosevelt was tired and, were it not for the worsening international situation, may not have run again for President. He dd run, he won, and led an isolationist public opinion into supporting Britain and then into the absolutely incredible level of military and industrial mobilization required for WWII. He worked particularly well with Churchill and the two had a lot of similarities in their approach, and he was also able to work with Stalin once events forced them into alliance.
Joe Biden had, in my opinion, the best line of the 2008 campaign when he said we need not just a good soldier as President, but a wise leader. FDR was a wise leader. He was also human, and made mistakes, such as the attempt to pack the Supreme Court and to balance the federal budget in 1937, which caused a recession. Other times he was held back from doing better things by political realities, such as the need for the voes of the Southern Democrats, when otherwise he might have moved forward more on civil rights issues.
All of these things provide good lessons for President-elect Obama.
Jean Edward Smith is an experienced writer of biographies, and she handles this one well. It is long, with voluminous notes. At times reading it one feels bogged down by detail, and at other times sees only a glimpse of interesting material that can't be fully covered in this book.... most strikingly, there is surprisingly little of Eleanor's story during her most interesting and productive years for the simple reason that by that point she and Franklin had little to do with each other. Their lives had become quite separate, to the point that each had love affairs with other people, and worked in their own sphere of influence.
Overall, a long book but worth the read. Recommended.
|Publication||Random House Trade Paperbacks (2008), Paperback, 880 pages|
|ISBN||0812970497 / 9780812970494|
|Tags||old west, wyatt earp|
|War for the Oaks is by Emma Bull and one of my favorite fantasy novels, so I was excited to see she has a new novel out. Territory is set in the Old West, in Tombstone, Arizona. She never gives a date, but gives an event, the assassination of President Garfield, which places the action in 1881. There are two main characters. Mildred Benjamin and her husband moved to Tombstone about a year ago, and her husband died soon after. She now works as a typesetter, occasionally reporter, for the local newspaper. Jesse Fox comes through the town on his way to Mexico. He friend Chow Lung is in Tombstone, and has been trying to get Jesse to admit he has magickal powers and to learn to use them. It is needed because there is at least one more sorcerer in town, a dangerous one. Meanwhile we see parts of the story through the eyes of Doc Holliday.|
It is a tale of several fascinating personalities, and a good story most of the way through, but ends unexpectedly and before the scene it seems to be building towards. It is unclear if it is meant to end that way of if there is a sequel in the offing.
Illustrator – Palencar, John Jude
|Publication||Tor Books (2007), Hardcover, 320 pages|
|ISBN||0312857357 / 9780312857356|