Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday is Library Day!-

Okay, this is a weird book review day, 'cuz I have two books to share that I couldn't finish- VERY rare for me.

The Soprano Sorceress by L.E. Modesit, Jr.
From Modesit's website: When Anna Marshall is transported from her boring and frustrating life in Ames, Iowa, to the very different world of Erde, she’s angry and confused, but soon finds out that for the first time in her life she’s uniquely powerful. In Iowa Anna was a music instructor and small-time opera singer, but on Erde her musical ability makes her a big-time sorceress—potentially.
First she must figure out how to use her ability before the big-time rulers who’ve noticed her arrival kill her just because she’s an unpredictable new power….Those rulers may wish they hadn’t waited as long as they did.

I LOVE this book. This was my second read-through, and I enjoyed it quite a bit more this time around. I think I related more to Anna this time. I understood her home-sickness and missing her daughter. Last time I wasn't a mom, and I thought she just needed to get over it, and deal with what was going on around her.
This time I could imagine what it would feel like to never see my girls again. I liked the fact that Anna was someone who had lived a little more life and had more experience. I think I first read this about 8 years ago, at the age of 30. I'm closer to Anna's age now, and could understand where she was coming from better.
Good characterizations. A fun new world. Fully realized magical phenomenon with end results and consequences. Good plot and story-telling. Good pacing.

The Complete Jewelry Making Course by Jenks McGrath
From the cover: This is a complete course in designing and making jewelry. Carefully structured tutorials guide you through every stage of the process, revealing how to translate inspired ideas into workable, wearable designs.

An excellent, easy to understand book. Mcgrath is a teacher and uses very clear pictures and descriptions. Her advice is interesting and sometimes different than my professor's, but always fully explained. I love her clear step-by-step photos. In particular her first two chapters give excellent explanations of how to turn your inspiration into wearable pieces. Also, I appreciated the focus on WEARABLE pieces vs. art jewelry.

The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero by William Kalush and Larry Sloman

From the cover: Handcuff King. Escape Artist. International Superstar. Since his death eighty years ago, Harry Houdini's life has been chronicled in books, in film, and on television. Now, in this ground breaking biography, renowned magic expert William Kalush and best-selling writer Larry Sloman team up to find the man behind the myth. Drawing from millions of pages of research, they describe in vivid detail the passions that drove Houdini to perform ever-more-dangerous feats, his secret life as a spy, and a pernicious plot to subvert his legacy.

I have been interested in Houdini since the fourth grade, when my best friend LOVED him, and could tell me story upon story about him. I wrote a research paper on him in high school, and know quite a bit about his life, and his magic.
This is an amazing book. I truly cannot believe the amount of research and detail invested into a deep exploration of his life. I am persuaded that the authors know what they are talking about and have the proof to their claims.
In fact, much as I hate to admit it, it was too much detail for me... I'm sorry! I should be willing to commit to more time with this book, but I'm just not. I'd much rather read a book about half the size of this tome that gave me some of the same info, just with less detail.
Sum up: Houdini was a spy. And he may well have been murdered. He lived a really interesting life, and was haunted by some pretty freaky nightmares.

The Pretender's Crown by C.E. Murphy
From the website: It has been ten days since the events of The Queen's Bastard; since Belinda Primrose was exposed to the Gallin court, escaped a Gallin prison and laid a trap to kill a Gallin queen. She is home now, back in Aulun, in her mother's kingdom. That is no surety of safety. Her father, the Queen's beloved Robert, is still missing, Belinda has been undone -- frayed if not entirely unravelled -- by her time as Beatrice Irvine and Sandalia's death has riled Echonia to war.
The fragile web of power and allegiance that kept the peace has been shattered. Led by Javier de Castille, tormented by the witchpower he fears is evil and the memory of the woman he loved, the Ecumenic Princes amass their armies to bring their full might down on apostate Aulun. To the east the Imperatrix Irina waits to see which side to offer the support of vast Khazar and behind the thrones men who wield the witchpower watch with satisfaction.
Dragged into the light after years spent serving in the shadows Belinda must find a way to reconcile loyalties that have never before come into conflict: to Lorraine, to her father and his strange masters, to Aulun and to the world.

I love C.E. Murphy! I have loved her other series- Walker papers and Negotiator series.
But I haven't enjoyed this series. This is the second book in her Queen's Bastard books. I read the first one, but I won't read the rest of them.
Too much political intrigue, and HEAVY thick regency-style writing. Too much sex and anger. Too much bashing the church and too much evil in the church. Slow paced.
I got about a third of the way in, and realized I didn't want to spend any more time reading the book. I read the last 5 or so pages and I am letting it go. I know what happens. (I won't tell you! You might want to read it on your own.)
C.E. Murphy is an excellent author who creates wonderful believable characters- flawed yet lovable. I just couldn't get into these two...

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