Thursday, June 30, 2011

End of The Month Summer Recap

As I had said at the beginning of the month, I was going to list my Summer fun Reads
This month I'd suggest:
Scarlet Nights: An Edilean Novel
Blood Red Road (Dustlands)

The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker (Strangely Beautiful)The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy ParkerEven though I reviewed The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess... I actually suggest you read: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker and The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker (Strangely Beautiful) My past review for both: HERE
A Wedding Wager
I'm also happy to report that I am actually almost done with my first ever reading challenge

      2011 Reading Challenge       

          2011 Reading Challenge  

        Melissa has           
             read 30 books toward her goal of 100 books.             



        30 of 100 (30%)
          view books 

...and several of these this month also counted toward:

Find all Anachronist's Summer Chick Lit Reviews so far HERE. The reviews she has here so far can also be found HERE.

I also wanted to announce winners!
Winner of:

Savannah of Books with Bite!

Predators of Darkness: Aftermath
Hunting Human

And don't forget the prequel to Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep will be published tomorrow
First Frost
PS... you may have noticed some changes in a few pictures on the blog. I thought I'd try to be a bit more cohesive with the pictures. There is a small blurb on the vintage pin up artist, Gil Elvgren on the Reviewer's page.

One last exciting thing...

<a href=""> <img src="" width= "200"></a>

Steampunk week here at the blog! It starts on the 11th! SQUEE!

*whew* *deep breath*
Have a fun reading summer!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Book Boyfriend: Anachronist Style

You know, I was finally granted that platinium card I'd been applying for so long (yes I hear your envious groans, do groan some more!). Melissa was driving really hard bargain but she is not totally merciless and with so many guys around it's good to have a female support from time to time. Anyhow in exchange I had to contribute to OUR harem. As I am called Anachronist not without a reason I chose historical fiction book - A Conspiracy of Paper by David Liss.
A Conspiracy of Paper: A Novel
The main character of this book, Benjamin Weaver, really caught my imagination. He is a man who can take care of himself and, being a former boxer and a highwayman, he is not afraid of a fight. He is also suprisingly well-groomed (the book is set at the beginning of the 18th century when lice and STDs were rampant) and has a great sense of humour. I was really brokenhearted when he didn't get a HEA so I decided to console him by inviting him to Melissa's and my fantastic harem (hereinafter called simply the harem but now you know who the owners are).

So, who do I see as Benjamin? John Abraham is my pick. Benjamin was of Jewish descend and his family came from Portugal... so the guy impersonating him must be dark and here you go...isn't he lovely?
And not only face of course :
How do you like him?
Psst.... It's Mel. Before many of you get upset thinking that I have caved and am now sharing my harem... let me put your fears and jealousies to rest. Anachronist was insisting on doing this meme. I mean who am I to throw away an opportunity to add to my harem? I mean.. look at that guy? I'm not passing that up. The platinum card is real, but it is the size of a wall intended to keep Anachronist on the other side of the harem. Oh, you should have seen the guys work on that wall. Sweaty, muscles bulging. *sigh* It was such a good sight to see! *rawr*
So, shhhh... don't tell her. I hold the only key to the harem! ;) Nope, I don't share! :D

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Conspiracy of Paper by David Liss: Review by Anachronist

A Conspiracy of Paper: A NovelBook Info:
Form: e-book, mobi format
Genre: historical fiction/murder mystery
Target audience: adults


The book, a first-person narration, is set in 1719 in London, one year before the famous stock-market crash known in the English-speaking world as the South Sea Bubble.

What happens when a big, bad corporation finds out that you know its dirty secrets and you intend to expose them? Well, it depends. You might be ‘accidentally’ run down by a hackney cab at night or you might all of a sudden display some suicidal tendencies and hang yourself in your own house. The choice is rather not entirely yours.

The main lead of this book is called Benjamin Weaver but his real surname used to be Lienzi; he comes from a family of Portuguese Jews who fled the Inquisiton. One day he is informed that the recent death of his father, who had been run down by a hackney, was most probably arranged. A William Balfour, the son of another victim (self-murder), who had been Benjamin's father’s close associate, asked him to investigate both cases. The problem is that Benjamin had been estranged from his family since he turned fourteen and now he knows very little about stock-jobbing, finances, and banking. He had never finished any school – he is an ex-pugilist and now he earns his living as a kind of private investigator, specializing in rather straightforward activity of retrieving stolen goods. Why such a person could find employment in those times? The answer is simple.

In the early 18th century there were no British police as such, only the so-called thief-takers. The London underworld was ruled by one of them, Jonathan Wild– a real person and the first real crime lord ever officially recorded. He used to profit from selling thieves he allegedly “caught” to the justice – the price for one such individual was 40 pounds – and of course he caught only those who crossed him or dared to defy his power (for comparison – a poor laborer in London could earn only 20 pounds a year and still was able to feed his family - I am quoting the author's explanations). It was not Wild's only source of profit of course. His people stole different things and then used to resell them to their legal proprietors, pretending that they “retrieved” them. Wild also controlled most of prostitution and prohibited traffic in the city. If somebody was intelligent enough to see through his practices, he would be a potential customer of such people as Benjamin Weaver (a fictional character) but usually people considered Wild a hero who fought crime day and night. Until he was hanged that is. Ok, let's return to the summary itself.

Although the conspiracy of the title seems to go way over Benjamin’s head or experience he decides he owes that much to his late father and starts the investigation. He will need all the luck and help he can get, though, as it is clear from the very beginning that he got involved in something far bigger than an occasional thievery or murder. He will have to cross his path with Wild and his henchmen more than once, he will also have to reconcile with his uncle, meeting in the process Miriam, an intelligent, beautiful woman he will fall in love with.

What I liked:

Plenty. Let me state it loud and clear – it was a delicious book and I simply devoured it.It kept me up far later than I should have been several nights in a row and for a good reason - although the book was rather long it was unputdownable.

A Conspiracy Of Paper has it all. It presents very well developed and interesting characters (particularly Benjamin Weaver - let's face it, you have to adore a man who, living in that strange era, washes his head thrice a month to avoid lice and used condoms made of sheep intestines), an exciting and mysterious plot, an ability to make early 18th century London come alive for the reader and a compelling historical perspective of the London’s stock market in its infancy, the criminal underworld and the powerful business elite. If you are not interested in the world of finances, don’t worry – our main character knows precious little about it either so there is ample explanation provided. If, however, you have studied the history of economics or particularly the trade disasters of modern day stock exchanges you will be able to identify with the excitement and confusion of the 1719 trade market even better. Believe me, the South Sea Company and dark machinations to protect their public image while earning as much as they can are a surprisingly contemporary topic. A fool and his money are soon parted after all- and nowhere so quickly as in the stock market, it would seem.

The author employs high action plot in a very good way, seducing the reader to enter the financial trading scene. I was happy to find all the accumulated implausibilities and unlikelihoods neatly wrapped up at the end – no mean task for such a long book. Additionally, Mr. Liss writes with confidence and humour. Is there anything more you can wish for?

What I didn’t like:

One really minor quibble from me (and now my romance-loving friends will gasp with surprise and clap with delight): I wanted so much a good solid HEA for Benjamin that my hands itched to slap that rebellious, stupid, overly ambitious Miriam over her lovely but stubborn head. Of course the way the author tied up the romantic plot line was very realistic and logical but still it made me sad. Well, real life is mostly sad, isn't it? Dear me, I suppose I complain because I keep bad company. ;p Or maybe because it's summer and I've been spoiled by too much chicklit?

Final verdict:

If you like detective as well as historical novels, you will be delighted with this book. I found it completely absorbing and entertaining – a very strong contestant to the title of the best book I’ve read this year. Historical fiction at its finest - I can hardly wait for the sequel!

William Hogarth's Gin Lane - I had it on my mind all the time.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Luminous by Dawn Metcalf

LuminousFrom Goodreads:
As reality slips and time stands still, Consuela finds herself thrust into the world of the Flow. Removed from all she loves into this shifting world overlapping our own, Consuela quickly discovers she has the power to step out of her earthly skin and cloak herself in new ones-skins made from the world around her, crafted from water, fire, air. She is joined by other teens with extraordinary abilities, bound together to safeguard a world they can affect, but where they no longer belong. 
When murder threatens to undo the Flow, the Watcher charges Consuela and elusive, attractive V to stop the killer. But the psychopath who threatens her new world may also hold the only key to Consuela's way home.
First can I say I'm in total love with this cover? I just adore it. I also have to say that I enjoyed the first part of this book. We find Consuela in a dressing room trying on jeans not made for her body. Anyone with a booty (which is now in fashion thanks to J Lo and Beyonce) can sympathize with this scene. However, this scene is important although we don't know it until much later. For Consuela, it is about self-acceptance.

The flow is a place where most of this book resides. There is a Watcher who helps others in Consuela's situation understand and get used to what has happened to them. There is also a cleaner. One who tends to the flow which cleans it of the darkness we carry within all of us and is left behind. The rest of the characters are those who use the flow to go from place to place when they feel a strong pull. This pull leads them to people on the brink and need to be saved for one reason or another. Each person brings with them their history and mythologies which becomes a personal power to help others. This urge cannot be denied.

Oh I loved this book. I enjoy mythologies of all kinds and Consuela's is closely related to her personal mythology of Dia de Los Muertos. For others it may just be a childhood story that stayed with them to the flow. Whatever it is I enjoyed finding out how it manifests. Consuela's magic was my favorite and was the most powerful of all.

My only complaint is minor. Yes, the world can be confusing and sometimes seemed to jump a bit too much. However, the world of the flow is supposed to be confusing so I feel that this is minor. However, still doesn't make me want to understand more about that world and become frustrating at times. I also was a bit frustrated with the story of the killer. The killer is eliminating those like Consuela. Although we know who he is, we follow others as they learn, sometimes too late. It was frustrating that they just couldn't get a head of him. It might have been better if we only suspected but did not know.

I give this book 4 1/2 stars. I think it was the mythology that had me love this book. So, those that like cultural mythologies will enjoy this book. And yes... there is a touch of bittersweet romance within. :) I refuse to say more as I will spoil much but I admit to have questions that I cannot discuss. Guess that is an *evil laugh* on me! :( This book will be published on the 30th!

I was given this ARC from Penguin and Goodreads First Reads Program and no compensation for my review was given.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"Commander and Den Assan" and "Tales of Frewyn" by Michelle Franklin Review by Anachronist

The Commander and the Den Asaan Rautu: Book 1 in the Haanta series
The Commander and Den Asaan Rautu (Vol 1. Book 1 in the Haanta Series) by Michelle Franklin


Well, the title says it all and the story is very simple. There is the Commander, a very brave woman called Boudicca MacDaede (her first name is telling like hell, isn’t it?), perhaps not the most beautiful or the slenderest specimen of female beauty around but she’s got some sword skills, a character to match and she is mouthy. During a siege she happens to free a giant from Haanta, called Den Asaan Rautu (quite a mouthful) and after that they never part. How could they – he enjoys her figure and her country’s food immensely, she can’t stop admiring his muscles and other parts of his body as well. With predicable results – they fall in love with each other and they kind of marry. And go to bed. Meanwhile they manage to win a war here and there. End of the story.

What I liked:

The world building was a huge asset of this novel – although the names of people and places were a bit difficult to pronounce and remember, they were original. The author really went to great lengths to make the Haanta people differ from their neighbours, describing their customs and religion.

Introducing Ghelbhi, a little female Haanta mage who can defeat the whole fleet, was a good move. I don’t know whether I would finish the book without her.

I like funny, mouthy heroines so I found Boudicca definitely more appealing than an average romantic squeeze. I even liked the fact that she was…er… well endowed and with sturdy thighs. Very life-like description of a female soldier.

What I didn’t like:

As the whole novel revolves so tightly around romance it the chain of events becomes predictable very soon indeed. We know straight from the beginning that Boudicca fancies her giant and he fancies her back, they are created for each other. A hot bedroom scene becomes only a matter of time and opportunity and the author peppers our way to it with huge breadcrumbs (say: groping and kisses). I would groan if only I didn’t sing one of Cher’s songs so loudly…;) Seriously speaking I would have enjoyed definitely more background and more twists and turns of the plot.

Den Asaan is very strong and very skilled. He can defeat single-handedly a small army without breaking a sweat. Still, our cunning Boudicca manages to best him during a duel without any problems. If only it was a duel of wits, a game of chess, ok, even a round of hare and hounds, I would be more pleased. Where is logic? Where is probability? Where is fun? Major meh.

One more remark: perhaps a change of the title, which reveals too much and is too obvious, would be a good thing?

Final verdict:

The book wasn’t very bad but there’s room for improvement; I suggest giving our pair of lovebirds some breathers now and then. Let them quarrel, let some pirates kidnap Boudicca or maybe even her beloved Den Asaan for a change. Let them fight, suffer and cry. I am being so cruel, I know.
Tales from Frewyn
Tales from Frewyn (short stories from the Haanta series Vol.1) by Michelle Franklin


Overall you can say that these short stories are domestic life scenes led by several Haanta giants and their spouses/mates in the country of Frewyn. They are mainly about food and sex, sometimes both of these mixed together. Food prevails. Not any kind of food, mind you – chocolate and cakes figure prominently here and occupy most of the space. Our giants, apart from being freakishly strong do have a sweet tooth. As every chapter is another story and there are many of them it would be difficult to summarize them one by one. Let me only say – they complement the novel The Commander and Den Asaan in a splendid way. I really wonder why the author didn’t decide to merge those two books, making the first less sketchy and the second – more palatable, at least to me.

What I liked:

Your chocolate craving might increase significantly while reading these stories. I love chocolate but if you are on a diet you might find it difficult to keep your dietary restrictions imagining these cakes and cookies and suggestively described I am already hungry.

The main characters are…sweet. There is simply no better way to describe them. Even the king is sweet up to a point. They live in peace and harmony. It was kind of endearing.

What I didn’t like:

I am not fond of short stories and this book would work way better for me if it was merged with the first one (The Commander and Den Asaan).

I was a bit confused about the target audience for these short stories. Sex scenes, quite explicit, cry adults (read the story entitled Chocolate Cake and you will know what I mean; one short excerpt to whet your interest or put you off: “The scent of the chocolate melded with the aroma of her pleasing flesh and the heat of her body melted it along her pastel skin.”); the rest could have been even YA.

Final verdict:

These short stories were sometimes charming but sometimes I simply didn’t see a point of starting something which finishes so quickly…perhaps it is only me, though. It would be also nice if the author defined her target audience with more precision.

Ebooks received by the author for review and no compensation was given.

Other reviews: