Review: Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier

heart's blood

On the run from an abusive family, Caitrin finds herself at Whistling Tor, a strange and haunted village.  The local chieftain is reclusive and feared by the villagers, but in need of a scribe.  Caitrin, trained by her master scribe father, applies for the job and soon finds herself embroiled in a mystery she could never have imagined.

Sometimes I find it harder to talk about books I love than books that evoke no strong emotions.  And I loved this book.  Caitrin is such a wonderful character, hurt and smart and brave in a way that doesn’t always get valued.  She sees the deep wrong that has been done at Whistling Tor and to its master, Anluan, and sets about making it right, even though she’s not sure how to go about it or if it can be done.  I really liked that the author took the time to build the relationship between her and Anluan and gave Caitrin the tools to solve her problems on her own.  Caitrin receives help and guidance from others, but it’s only through great personal courage that she’s able to take the steps to heal herself.

This really is a beautiful book.  Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale and I found this by looking for a retelling.  I was hesitant at first only because I’m wary when a book is highly praised by professional and amateur reviewers (I’m always afraid it won’t live up to the hype), but I am so glad I took a chance on this one.

One million stars for Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier.

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Cat of the Week: Nikki

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This is Nikki.  Nikki is a seven month old cat from Pacific Grove.  She is sweet and loving and loves to cuddle.

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She’s very interested in everything going on around her.  Every time I took her out to play, she spent a lot of time glued to the door, watching people walk past.  She also was interested in the picture of a cat on the wall.  She kept going up to it and meowing at it.  I think that means she wants to have a friend to play with.

Her eye was removed because of an infection or something.  Apparently, she wasn’t kept in very good conditions before she was brought in.  Luckily, it doesn’t seem to bother her at all. She’s playful and inquisitive and loving, and if I didn’t already have two cats and no space, I’d be taking her home with me.

I wanted to rename her after Angelina Jolie’s character from Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow because of the eye, but the character was named Franky and there’s already a Frankie at the shelter right now.  So, she’ll be Nikki until she’s adopted (which, with any luck, will be soon).

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Book Review: Pirates of the Caribbean the Price of Freedom

price of freedom

Before Captain Jack Sparrow became the legendary pirate, he was an honest merchant working for the East India Trading Company. (Well, before he was an honest merchant, he was a pirate, but thanks to a few false friends and a tiny bit of breaking the pirate code, he had to leave the dishonest life of piracy for safer shores). There, he meets one Cutler Beckett, the director of West Africa for the EITC, with whom he shares an interest: ancient treasure. Beckett has a simple request: that Jack find the lost island of Kerma, which contains the ancient civilization of Zerzura and her treasures. And easy enough job for one as accustomed to digging up ancient, lost treasure as Jack, but he must decide if it’s worth Beckett’s price.

I enjoyed the first half of his book a lot, but it got bogged down by a lot of factors. There was too much back story that ultimately didn’t feel necessary to the climax or plot. It was very uneven. The past was built up and fleshed out, but once they finally started looking for the island, everything went very fast and felt unsatisfying.

My other problem with it is that Jack Sparrow just isn’t very interesting as a central protagonist. This story is strongest when it focused on someone else (like Ayisha and Beckett) with Jack being viewed through their eyes. This book had a hard job getting Jack’s voice to be realistic as a precursor to what he will become, and I think at times it succeeded brilliantly, but non-mad Jack was not very interesting.

I wish the book had been shorter, more succinct, and less epic in its scope.

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Cat of the Week – Ozzy

photo courtesy of SPCA of Monterey

photo courtesy of SPCA of Monterey

This is Ozzy.  Ozzy is a beautiful, cream colored cat with one blue eye and one green eye.  However, it’s very hard to see his beautiful eyes.  See, Ozzy has two favorite activities: sleeping and taking naps.

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When he is awake, Ozzy is an incredibly sweet cat.  He likes to cuddle and give head butts.  He had been adopted a few weeks ago, but it didn’t work out, so he’s back.  I hope he finds his forever home soon, because he deserves it.

I also wanted to post pictures of Junior and Princess, the two 10 year old dogs I met last week.

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It was hard to get a picture of Junior (the grey one), because all he wants to do is cuddle. Princess was cool sitting next to us and being pet.  They are so cute and so sweet.  They’re like an old married couple (or like siblings, like Matthew and Marilla from “Anne of Green Gables.”)  When they walk together, Princess glances over every few minutes and checks to make sure Junior is okay.  They are so sweet.  I just love them.

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Book Review – The Quick

So, I’d never heard of this book before I saw it mentioned on a blog and thought it sounded interesting.  I didn’t know that there was a surprise twist in it; I knew going in what I was getting.  So, I’m reviewing it without keeping the “surprise” hidden.  If you want to remain surprised, stop reading now.

Everyone still here?  Okay, good.

the quick

Aspiring poet James Norby moves from his crumbling Yorkshire home to London to pursue his dreams. There, he reconnects with fellow Oxford alum, with whom he strikes up a romance.  This romance is cut tragically short when the pair are attacked by vampires and James becomes an unwilling member of the mysterious Aegolius Club.  From there, it’s up to his sister, Charlotte, who teams up with a pair of rogue vampire hunters, to rescue her poor brother from a fate worse than death.

I really enjoyed this novel. Generally, I’m all for romantic, humanized vampires who blend into society, but the vampires in this novel were alien and unsettling, and it was wonderful.  I enjoyed the entire cast of characters, from the eternal children to the misguided scientist who wants to understand how vampires works.  I especially liked Charlotte and was pleased when, after a long absence, she showed up and took charge of the narrative.

This appears to be the first in a series, and I will definitely snap up the sequel as soon as possible.

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Cat of the Week

leo is a big cat

This is Leo.  Leo is an eight year old sweetie who loves to be pet.  Leo also weighs 23 pounds.

Leo

He is a very big cat.  His favorite thing to do most of the day was sit on the carpet and look out the window until someone came into pet him.  I tried giving him catnip, hoping it’d get him to move, but…

leo 23 pounds

Leo on catnip was slightly more affectionate than Leo not on catnip.  Luckily, Leo is in one of the two roomed colonies, so I got him to walk between the rooms by promising to pet him.  I’d go into the back room and called him; he’d come and be scratched.  I’d go into the front room and call him, he’d go to be scritched.  He really liked that game.  I hope the volunteers on other days continue the game.  Or the family who was looking at him decides to come back and adopt him.

My second favorite animals this week were two 10 year old poodle siblings named Junior and Princess.  They were the sweeties, most polite, cuddliest dogs I’ve ever dealt with.  If I was in any way able to adopt dogs, I’d definitely take them home.  Sadly, I didn’t get a picture, because they spent most of our time together (when we weren’t walking) on my lap and I coudn’t get my phone.

I did get a picture of the emu who moved in this morning.  It doesn’t have a name yet, but I’ve never seen a live emu before.  It was cool.

Emu

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Review: Saint Odd by Dean Koontz

saint odd

The dead don’t talk, and Odd Thomas doesn’t know why.  He does, however, attract them, along with a lot of other trouble.  In his final adventure, Odd returns to his hometown of Pico Mundo to protect it from a murderous cult who want to destroy people in the name of destruction.

I love the Odd Thomas series, but, over all, this was an unsatisfying end.  As much as I adored the early adventures of Odd, the last few have just felt tedious.  It might be the broadening of the universe to include others, each more quirky than him.  I’m not sure and I just can’t put my finger one it.  The predictability of Odd’s fate may have had something to do with it; even knowing what was coming, it just seemed anticlimactic.

Thanks, Odd, for the adventures.  I’ll always remember you how your were.

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Book Review: Fairest

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In the Lunar Chronicles, Levana is the Evil Queen whose desire to rule Earth is only surpassed by her desire to find the lost Princess Selene and destroy her once and for all.  In “Fairest”, Levana’s terribly beautiful glamor is stripped away, leaving behind a vulnerable and damaged young woman who only wants what is best for her planet…and for herself.

I think the most amazing this about this book is that, before I read it, I didn’t think I was interested in Queen Levana.  I liked her in the Luna Chronicle’s, but I wasn’t really interested in learning her back story.  But this book was amazing.  Marissa Meyer was able to make the evil queen of the Lunar’s sympathetic without making her actions rational or forgivable.  Levana is a horribly messed up and misguided woman, and her traumatic past, while shedding light on it, does nothing to excuse her.  And I like that in a villain.

What’s been striking me most on my reread of the series is how real each of the girls (Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress) are and how much of myself (as both a teenager and adult) I can see in them.  I almost think that Levana hit closest to home, which is terrifying, but such a wonderful thing to find in an antagonist.  I love over the top, chew the scenery, bad is fun because it’s bad villains, but the ones that really stick with me are the very humans ones.  And Levana, for all that she is a Lunar, is very human.

My only complaint is that the ending felt abrupt (I didn’t realize it was the ending until I turned to find the acknowledgements).  I would have preferred for the book to end where Cinder began (or where Levana shows up in Cinder).

Now, how am I going to survive until “Winter?”

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Kelly’s Cat of the Week

Good news! For the first time since I’ve started volunteering at the SPCA, there is one room devoid of cats and two rooms with just one cat in them.  Altogether there were only 13 cats.  I don’t think there’s ever been so few!  And only 3 kittens (it’s been a heavy kitten season).

My cat of the week is Adrienne.

 

adrienne

Adrienne was put on the floor yesterday and she hasn’t quite adjusted to her new environment.  She spent most of the day hiding beneath a blanket; a couple of times, she wrapped it around her like a burrito so she could just ignore the few people who were there.

adrienne under blanket

However, she was receptive to being pet and being given treats.  She even relaxed enough to purr.  She’s so sweet and so beautiful with these big, blue eyes.  I know she’s going to make someone a very loving cat.  I hope she finds her home soon.

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Kelly’s Kitten of the Week

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I volunteer at the local SPCA every Saturday and every week I fall in love with one (or more) of the animals.  So, I’ve decided to blog about one animal a week.  I’ve chosen “kitten” because I like alliteration, but I won’t guarantee it’s always going to be a feline.  This week it was nearly a rabbit, but I’ve been wanting to talk about Missy since last week, so…

This is Missy.  She’s a four month old kitten who is super playful and sweet.  I like her because she reminds me of Missy from Doctor WhoDoctor-Who-Michelle-gomez-600x337

They both wear a lot of eyeliner.  They are both also completely awesome.  Unlike Doctor Who Missy, kitten Missy isn’t evil.  She does however have an arch-nemesis.

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This is Lefty.  Lefty is two months old and was just recently put out on the floor with is brothers and sisters.  They’ve all been adopted, leaving Lefty behind.  He’s very sweet (and tiny!) and Missy just won’t leave him alone.  Kind of like Missy and the Doctor.

Anyway, Missy caught my attention by climbing onto my shoulders and cuddling up behind my neck.  I love when kittens do that.  I won’t be back next week, so I hope that Missy finds her home before I get back.

ETA 12/21/14

I checked the SPCA website today and Missy is no longer listed, so I guess she found her home today!!!

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