FOUR MONTHS?!

avery drawingFour months! That is how long it’s been since I last blogged on the old Leaf. It still says I’m reading The Dovekeepers, which I actually never started! I suppose that’s what happens when your baby becomes a toddler. But more importantly, in the last four months I’ve read both the Hunger Games AND the Game of Thrones series and I AM LOST as to what to read next. I tried Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger but couldn’t get into it. I whipped through Alter of Eden by James Rollins thinking a good adventure would get me back in the spirit, but I’ve finished and still stand at a loss in front of my bookcase. I picked up the copy of The Lost Hours by Karen White which I’ve had on my shelves forever, and the writing is horrendously annoying and first-persony and far-too-introspective as she sits waiting for tears to come over her grandfathers death. Seriously, three times in the first chapter she pauses to see if perhaps THIS will be the moment she grieves, but alas, she stands dry-eyed.

So, what does one DO after they’ve read such a HUGE series as the Game of Thrones? Good heavens, please help me find something to read because I’m miserable! I need something GOOD, and preferably BIG, and would love a series that I can dive into that will last me forever. Suggestions, please? Give me something I haven’t heard of!

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Dear Downton Abbey

Dear Downton (both the upstairs AND the downstairs, and the guest house),

God, how I resisted your temptations. When everyone else was screaming, “You must watch! It’s amazing!” I avoided your period attire and sloping lawns. When others cried, “I’m addicted!” my retort was, “I’m not on that bandwagon, yo.” When YouTube videos were posted of girlish-trifectas with their wine and their Downton-viewing-parties I might have giggled with their comedic repertoire, but stayed the urge, did I, to see what all the fuss was about.

And then…at some point…IWASTAKENUNAWARES! I had no new CW shows to push me through my workout; Revenge was on hiatus and I’d completely given up on The Biggest Loser. And so I turned to you, Downton. To your Crawleys and your Bateses and your British accents…OH! the British accents. To be frank, Downton, you had me from the first chime of the bell in your credits. The falling petal only suffused my desire to devour your episodes, one by one, until NOW whence I have only 3 episodes left in the second season! (The “Christmas Episode” IS an actual episode, yes? Please say.)

I disliked Lady ____ in the beginning but adore her now (and also kinda want to be her) and her desire for love except that she should have said yes to _______ (#getshotterineveryepisode) who is now so sad and alone after his accident but she’s engaged to someone else! And dear _______! He’s died but at least silly _____ was smart enough to _____ him before he gasped his last breath. And _____ and ____…when will it be their time? I assume his wife will return with vengeance. She’s such a wench. My favorite scene by far was when _______ returned from being MIA and walked in the room and ____ saw him as she was singing and he joined in. So romantical…sigh.

So, in conclusion Downton (and PBS, if I may), can you please lengthen your episodes next season? Seven to eight scrumptious tidbits is simply not enough.

Sincerely,
Alayne (The girl who jumped on the bandwagon and can’t.get.off!)

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Dear George R. R. Martin

Dear George R. R. (if that’s even your REAL name),

I yield. I YIELD you bloody bastard! I can’t quit you. You took a while to hook me with A Game of Thrones. Probably because I knew everything that was going to happen, thanks to HBO. But you and A Clash of Kings downright slayed me with your plot and your mud and your swords and your dragons and your evil kings and shadow babies.

Damn you!

Your books are like crack (I assume, having not actually ever tried crack, that this is what it would be like to be addicted). I CAN’T STOP.

The Seven Kingdoms have too many kings and so many characters and how and why and when will Sansa change her name to Alayne because, let’s be real, that’s really what I’m waiting for.

One more question, if I may: did you REALLY have to make A Storm of Swords over 1000 pages long? How will I ever sleep? Or eat? And what happens if I finish this and the others and am then stuck waiting for you to FINISH THE SERIES for the next 12 years???

I resist your temptations and find myself wanting.

Sincerely,
Alayne (The real one)

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THE GALVESTON CHRONICLES by Audra Martin D’Aroma

Hi Friends! I know it’s been forever since I last posted something of real bookish value on here, but I assure you my absence has not been wasted. I’m oh-so-thrilled to let you know that Rozlyn Press’s second novel has officially been released!

Buy your copy now at Barnes & Noble or Amazon, or request a copy from your local independent bookstore!

 

In the stifling days before the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, Isadora Khaled dreams of catfish and murdering her daughter, setting off a chain of events that will not be resolved until Hurricane Ike in 2008.

The descendents of Isadora are defined by and eventually named after the hurricanes that shape their lives: Fatima, who enters into a doomed relationship with a visiting artist in 1961; her drug-numbed daughter Carla, desperate to get home in 1983; and Carla’s daughter Alicia, reunited with her heritage on a modern island embracing disaster culture in 2008.

An epic tale, The Galveston Chronicles holds a mirror to the transformation of an unforgettable island, looking at the Gulf Coast region through the eyes of these women in the days preceding and following Galveston’s major hurricanes.

 

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Quickies and the Christmas List!

Book #2 is mid-edit/mid-design right now for Rozlyn Press, which explains the lack of postings happening on ye old Leaf. The Galveston Chronicles is going to be amazing, though, and my absence here will make up for itself when you read Audra Martin D’Aroma’s debut. Trust me, you will love it. (Visit TGC’s page at Rozlyn Press)

I haven’t been not-reading though, I mean seriously, when would I ever stop? In the last few months the most recent books I’ve read were The Magicians by Lev Grossman and The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri,

The Magicians is The Chronicles of Narnia meets Harry Potter with some adult content sprinkled in. Really fun, really speedy. The lack of complete detail makes the book seem to fly by. In just over 200 pages Quentin had been accepted into a magical school, gone through all four years, and graduated. And although Grossman clearly borrows from other magically themed books, his additional plot points and characters are original enough for me to forgive his obvious references to Narnia, the White Witch, the Pevensie children, and all things Hogwarts. If you like those, you’ll like this. I’m very much hoping I receive the sequel for Christmas. (4 stars)

The Namesake is a coming-of-age story about the Ganguli family and their transition from a traditional Indian family to a more-Americanized version of themselves. Gogol Ganguli is born and raised in America but his parents stick with their home’s traditions. As he grows, Gogol fights the expectations of his parents and rebels to create a modern version of himself, away from his Indian heritage. It is a beautiful and at time tragic story of a boy growing into a man, struggling to find himself. The writing is smooth and fluid, and we really come to empathize with Gogol, understanding the reasons for the paths he chooses, but knowing it will not end happily for him we must wait and watch Lahiri’s plot unfold. Definitely recommended. (4 stars)

And for fun, these are the books on my 2011 Christmas List:

 

 

 

 

 

Hoping Santa brings me at least a couple of these readable goodies!

P.S. Who’s the cool kid now, y’all. My quirkily-unique name is all the rage in Book 3 of the Game of Thrones series. Yeah, yeah! Alayne in the house!

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Filed under Life, or bookish things like it., Quicky

Review: The Rose Labyrinth by Titania Hardie

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. A woman named Lucy needs a heart transplant, which she gets. She then becomes involved with her doctor, Alex. Somewhere along the way they’re pulled into a mystery that involves Alex’s brother, Will,  John Dee (circa the original Queen Elizabeth’s time), riddles, roses, labyrinths in churches, angels, Shakespeare, and the Rapture. If you can make sense of the plot and it’s circumnavigations, then by all means, have at it, my friends. For me, it was way too much. The riddles on the papers that Lucy and Alex find have much potential, but are SO numerous the reader is inundated trying to figure them out. Eventually they become so overwhelming you start skipping over the details to just get to the meat of it all. With all the clues and mystery there should be a grand finale at the end, but it’s over so quickly it’s as though it was all a dream and the reader just woke up to a hollow sensation that none of it is real.

A wonderful effort, brilliant idea, but for me, The Rose Labyrinth was completed mired down in it’s own mystery.

3 stars

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Review: The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

Sarah Addison Allen’s 2011 novel, The Peach Keeper, takes place in the town Walls of Water in North Carolina. Set near mountains and mystery, shrouded in fog, Allen disembarks from her usual light and delicate magical realism to attempt a darker novel, one with a murder mystery. Unfortunately, while I deeply appreciate her attempt at suspense, The Peach Keeper comes across as forced and piecemeal.

Willa Jackson and Paxton Osgood are unlikely friends living down their high-school memories as adult women. During the renovation of the Blue Ridge Madam, a beautiful old antebellum mansion that used to belong to Willa’s ancestors, a body is discovered. The discovery and investigation of the body bring Willa and Paxton together on the trail of their grandmother’s secrets. While this is the plot described on the cover of the book, the body isn’t discovered until half-way through the novel, meaning there’s a lot of unnecessary set-up that doesn’t quite fit.

Allen sticks to her usual magical realism at times, but it seems disjointed in the context of the mystery. At one point a group of women start spontaneously revealing their innermost secrets to each other, but there’ s no explanation as to why this occurs, and it never resurfaces for conflict resolution. Throughout the novel there are forced mentions of fantastical things; a bell over a door ringing but no one entering, the scent of peaches floating on the air. We get that they’re supposed to be manifestations of a ghost, but they’re too obvious.

In her prior novels, Allen’s character’s inner-dialogues were realistic and true to life if not a little fluffy; in The Peach Keeper they are grasping and cliché. Paxton’s crush on her best friend is described in several different ways, when we get it loud and clear. There’s far too much telling, and not enough showing.

If I could compare The Peach Keeper to The Sugar Queen, I would say The Sugar Queen is a wispy, airy, bakery-made cupcake with whipped frosting that feels light as air in your mouth, while The Peach Keeper tastes like a mass-produced Little Debbie snack–sweet, but not the home-made baked good you were craving.

Reading on her Facebook page, I know that Sarah has just undergone surgery, chemo, and radiation for breast cancer. I’m sad I have to give The Peach Keeper a negative review as I really loved The Sugar Queen and Garden Spells. I know I, like all her fans and readers, are wishing her a speedy recovery as we anticipate her next book.

3 stars

(I received an advance copy from LibraryThing)

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