Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"Wicked Prey"

"Wicked Prey" by John Sandford

The Women in Lucas's life reduced him to a chattering-chipmunk state about
once a month. If not Letty, then Weather; if not Weather, then Jennifer
Carey, mother of his other daughter; if not Carey, then Elle Kruger, a mun
and lifelong friend; if not her, then Carol, his secretary. They were, he
sometimes thought, when he had time to think about it, all crazier than a barrel
of hair. All of them together, and also taken as individuals. But
this, he thought, took the everlasting triple-decker chocolate-fudge cake.

:) 5 *'s

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Summer Knight

"Summer Knight" by Jim Butcher is Book Four of the Dresden Files, quite possibly the best fantasy/mystery series ever written. It starts with a rain of toads and continues on with White Council Wizards, ex-girlfriend wizard, werewolves, Faery Queens (summer and winter) Hellhounds, Faery Godmothers, as well as assassins both mortal and otherwise.
Obviously I give it 5 stars.

On page 26 we get an official introduction to our first Faery Queen.
The woman ran an opalescent fingernail through the blood on my desk. She
lifted it to her lips and idly touched it to her tongue. She smiled,
slower, more sensual, and every bit as alien. "I have many names," she
murmured. "But you may call me Mab. Queen of Air and Darkness.
Monarch of the Winter Court of the Sidhe."

Incidentally they hate being called Faery Queens so you should probably avoid that.

Page 76.
She'd just been toying with me in my office, and I'd fallen for it. I
wanted to kick myself. Somewhere out there was a village I'd deprived of
its idiot.

Page 81.
I slammed the doors open a little harder than I needed to, stalked out to the Blue Beetle, and drove away with all the raging power the ancient four-cylinder engine could muster. Behold the angry wizard puttputtputting away.

Billy pursed his lips thoughtfully. "So you're taking us into a maze of lightless, rotting, precarious tunnels full of evil faeries and monsters."
I nodded. "Maybe leftover radiation, too."
"God, you're a fun guy, Harry."

And page 207.
As I pulled into the parking lot, I reflected that odds were that not a lot
of clandestine meetings involving mystical assassination, theft of arcane power,
and the balance of power in the realms of the supernatural had taken place in a
Wal-Mart Super Center. But then again, maybe they had. Hell, for all
I knew, the Mole Men used the changing rooms as a place to discuss plans for
world domination with the Psychic Jellyfish from Planet X and the Disembodied
Brains-in-a-jar from the Klaatuu Nebula. I know I wouldn't have looked for
them there.

If you think about it, evil aliens at Wal-Mart would actually explain a lot...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Grave Peril

I am forever grateful to Rebecca for getting me started reading the Harry Dresden series. Grave Peril is the third in the series and while the first two books are alright it is with "Grave Peril" that Jim Butcher really hit his stride. In fact Rebecca had me read the 3rd book first and after loving it I went back and read the first two, but really you could just read a summery of "Storm Front" and "Fool Moon" and call it good...although Fool Moon does have some good parts.

I sometimes think that I get more Spiritual Education from Harry Dresden through Michael Carpenter (who is a Knight of the Cross) and Father Forthill than I do from going to Church. Perhaps because over the years while I have had some very positive experiences with church I have also had some very painful and negative ones. In addition to that the ongoing pain of my Mothers death is all tied up with my feelings about attending church. Whereas while reading Harry Dresden I get all of the benefit without any of the emotional baggage. And I really like and admire Michael which is not something I can say about just anyone. Yes I do realize he is a fictional character, but he happens to be an honest, intelligent, humble, worthwhile, humerus, respectful, tough, caring, stalwart, fictional character. And he doesn't come across as preachy .

First quote page 38.
"Holy shit," I breathed. "Hellhounds."
"Harry," Michael said sternly. "You know I hate it when you
"You're right. Sorry. Holy shit," I breathed,
"heckhounds. Godmother's out hunting. How the hell did she find us
so damned fast?"

Page 50.
Michael half-smiled "The Lord will never give you a burden bigger than your
shoulders can bear, Harry. All we can do is face what comes and have
I gave him a sour glance. "I need to get myself some bigger
shoulders, then. Someone in accounting must have made a mistake."
Michael let out a rough, warm laugh, and shook his head, then lay back on
the bench, crossing his arms beneath his head. "We did what was
right. Isn't that enough?"

I should mention the previous bit of conversation takes place in a jail cell :)
Next quote page 53.
I watched the two of them for a moment, walking in step beside one another,
while I stood there alone. Then I stuck my hands into my pockets, and
turned away. I hadn't ever noticed, before, how well the tow of them
matched one another - Michael with his quiet strength and unfailing reliability,
and Charity with her blazing passion and unshakable loyalty to her
The Married thing. Sometimes I look at it and feel like someone from
a Dickens novel, standing outside in the cold and staring in at Christmas
dinner. Relationships hadn't ever really worked for me. I think it's
had something to do with all the demons, ghosts, and human sacrifice.

Page 72.
The sun came up as we entered the parking lot. I felt the golden rays
slice across the morning skies, the sudden, subtle shift of forces playing about
the world. Dawn is significant, magically speaking. It is a time of
new beginnings. Magic isn't as simple as good and evil, light and dark,
but there's a lot of correlations between the powers particular to night and the use of black

Page 162.
A second later, the door opened, and Michael stood there, blinking sleep out of
his eyes. He wore a pair of jeans and a T-shirt with John 3:16 across his
chest. He held one of his kids in his brawny arms, one I hadn't seen yet -
maybe a year old, with a patch of curly, golden hair, her face pressed against
her daddy's chest as she slept.

John 3:16 reads "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Page 210 part A

I squinted our the window of the truck, silent. I don't have anything
against God. Far from it. But I don't understand Him. And I
don't trust a lot of the people that go around claiming that they're working in
His best interests. Faeries and vampires and whatnot - those I can
fathom. Even demons. Sometimes, even the Fallen. I can
understand why they do what they do.
But I don't understand God. I don't understand how he could see the
way people treat one another, and not chalk up the whole human race as a bad
I guess he's just bigger about it than I would be.

Something I have thought about myself quite alot, only Jim Butcher phrases it much better than I ever could.
Page 210 part B.
"Lord," Michael said. "We walk into darkness now. Our
enemies will surround us. Please help to make us strong enough to do what
needs to be done. Amen."
Just that. No fancy language, no flashy beseeching the Almighty for
aid. Just quiet words about what he wanted to get done, and a request that
God would be on his side - on our side. Simple words, and yet power
surrounded him like a cloud of fine mist, prickling along my arms and my
neck. Faith. I calmed down a little. We had a lot going for
us. We could do this.
Michael looked up at me and nodded. "All right," he said. "I'm

See what I mean about Spiritual Education?

U is for Undertow

After having read "T is for Tresspas" I was worried that Sue Grafton had lost her magic touch, I just didn't like it.
Happily with "U is for Undertow" the magic is back. Although it was slightly confusing to go back and forth between not only different characters perspectives, but also different time periods, I enjoyed the book immensely and give it 41/2 stars.
Kinsey is pulled into investigating a two decades old crime by Michael Sutton, a 27 year old college drop-out with a multitude of issues who believes he has remembered evidence that he witnessed as a child from an abduction in his neighborhood.
Whenever I read a book I end up with little scraps of paper tucked between the pages making either things/words I want to look up or quotes that I want to remember. What is interesting about this first quote is that I read this book about a month ago and liked it, but now that I am finally getting around to typing it up I find it has more significance in my life now than it did when I first marked it.
Page 215
"I can undersand how you feel," I said. "It's not about
vengence. It's about balance, the sense that good and evil are in a state
of equilibrium."

There is more to the paragraph but that is the part that is stricking a chord with me right now.

This next one is long, but I can't see how to shorten it, so here
goes. Page 225
It's our nature to condense and collate, bundling related elements for ease
of storage in the back of our brains. Since we lack the capacity to
capture every detail, we cull what we can, blocking the bits we don't like
admitting those that match our notions of what's going on. While
efficient, the practice leaves us vulnerable to blind spots. Under
memory becomes even less reliable. Over time we sort and
discard what
seems irrelevant to make room for additional incoming
data. In the end,
it's a wonder we remember anything at all.
What we manage to preserve is
subject to misinterpretation. An event
might appear to be generated by the
one before it, when the order is
actually coincidental. Two occurrences
may be linked even when widely
separated by time and place.

Interestingly I went to a RS activity/class/thing where Dr. R spoke and he said something about how we are constantly changing our own past and remembering our personal history differently.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Walking Shadow

"Walking Shadow" by Robert B. Parker, a Spenser Novel. 4 *'s. I love a book in which I have to stop and look things up.

Page 22
"What you going to do?" Hawk said.
"Susan and I are going to a reception and board meeting at the
theater," I said.
"What could be better," Hawk said.
"How about getting whacked in the nose with a brick?" I said.
"Well, yeah," Hawk said. "That would be better."

Page 23
"Remember where we are," Susan said. "I could have you both arrested
for sexual harassment."
"I counter with the charge of racial insensitivity," Hawk said.
"Yes," Susan said. "That would be appropriate. Then we
join forces against our common oppressor."
They both turned and gazed at me.
"The white guy," I said.

Sudden Mischief

"Sudden Mischief" A Spenser novel by Robert B. Parker in which Susan asks Spenser to help her ex-husband by investigating the sexual harassment claims by four women made against him. Of course it ends up more complicated than that. 4*'s
Page 5
"I always assumed it would bother you," she said.
"I'm entirely fascinated with you," I said. "And what you are
is a result of what you were, including the other men."

Page 22
"The ability to understand doesn't automatically confer the ability to change."

Page 198
"This is the most excitement I had since that lemon scone," Hawk said.

Page 205
"That's something."
"I'm not sure it's worth dying for," I said.
"Most things aren't," Hawk said. "Why we don't do it more
"Yeah, well, let's try not to do it this time," I said.

Page 212
"You said I was the finest man you ever knew. Probably am. Most
of humanity isn't all that goddamned fine to begin with. I am
flawed. You are flawed. But we are not flawed beyond the allowable
limit. And our affection for each other is not flawed at all."
She had
stipped looking at the distance and was looking, for the first time, at
"And every day I have loved you," I said, "has been a

Page 296
"If I shot everybody I wanted to," I said, "I'd go broke buying

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"Their Eyes Were Watching God"

Last month I made it to book club even though I hadn't quite finished the book. This month I finished the book, but didn't quite make it to book club. Maybe next month I'll manage to finish the book on time and make it to book club, wouldn't that be something.
The book was "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston" first published in 1937.
To oversimplify it is the story of Janie Crawford a Black woman in the south descended from slaves. The dialogue is written in a very thick, strong accent and was a little difficult to get into, but well worth it.
Janies Grandmother raised her and married her off young to a rich man to protect her and take care of her.
The first quote is about 3 months after the marriage, all of chapter 3 (about 3 pages) is really good, however I'm just quoting the end of page 25

The familiar people and things had failed her so she hung over the gate and
looked up the road towards way off. She knew now that marriage did not
make love. Janie's first dream was dead, so she became a woman.

To get the full effect of this next one you really need to read all of page 71 and 72, I am just quoting the middle of 72.

She found that she had a host of thoughts she had never expressed to him,
and numerous emotions she had never let Jody know about. Things packed up
and put away in parts of her heart where he could never find them. She was
saving up feelings for some man she had never seen. She had an inside and
an outside now and suddenly she knew how not to mix them.

On with the trend you really should read pages 89 and 90, I am quoting just part of page 90.

When God had made The Man, he made him out of stuff that sung all the time and
glittered all over. Then after that some angels got jealous and chopped
him into millions of pieces, but still he glittered and hummed. So they
beat him down to nothing but sparks but each little spark had a shine and a
song. So they covered each one over with mud. And the lonesomeness
in the sparks make them hunt for one another, but the mud is deaf and
dumb. Like all the other tumbling mud-balls, Janie had tried to show her

Page 113

"No mo' than Ah took befo' and no mo' than anybody else takes when dey gits
married. It always changs folks, and sometimes it brings out dirt and
meanness dat even de person didn't know they had in'em theyselves. You
know dat. Maybe Tea Cake might turn out lak dat. Maybe not.
Anyhow Ah'm ready and willin' tuh try 'im."

Again for the full efffect you need page 144 and 145, I'm quoting the beginning of 145.

All gods who receive homage are cruel. All gods dispense suffering
without reason. Otherwise they would not be worshippped. Through
indiscriminate suffering men know fear and fear is the most divine
emotion. It is the stones for altars and the beginning of wisdom.
Half gods are worshipped in wine and flowers. Real gods require

This quote is on page 191, but to really get it you need to read the book.

"Dey gointuh make 'miration 'cause mah love didn't work lak they love, if
dey ever had any. Then you must tell 'em dat love ain't somethin' lak uh
grindstone dat's de same thing everywhere and do de same thing tuh everything it
touch. Love is lak de sea. It's uh movin' thing, but still and all,
it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it's different with every