Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell

Released: 2005

A Thread of Grace is Mary Doria Russell's third novel and first historical fiction piece set against the backdrop of 1943 Europe.

Claudette Blum is a young, teenage Jewish girl escaping with her father and other refugees to Italy with no foresight or knowledge that thair lives are about to become much more endangered. Through a handful of diverse characters and personalities, Russell tells of how numerous Italians played a hand in saving thousands of Jews near World War II's end.

The BEST and most AMAZING part of A Thread of Grace is the prelude, hands down! This prelude may be the best I've ever read in any book because it will grip, shock, and pull you in as a reader. Even if A Thread of Grace is not going on your to-be-read bookshelf or wish list, you must stop at a bookstore or pick it up just to read the prelude, at least. All I can say without providing spoilers is "Wow"!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman

Released: 2010

Ayelet Waldman has definitely found her calling in writing beautiful literature, with Red Hook Road being her latest and greatest novel to date! With the exception of Daughter's Keeper (which is on my bookshelf, waiting to be read -- I've been saving it to avoid running out of Waldman reading material!), I have now read all of Waldman's books, and she is not an author to miss out on.

Red Hook Road is not so much a novel of plot; but of the exquisite relationships that will form between friends, lovers, and family throughout years regardless if those relationships are loving or hateful, or in-between. The value of Red Hook Road to me is having had gained the knowledge and hope that throughout a lifetime in which many people come and go, bonds will be forged with certain individuals that simply make life grand, although it may be tumultuous at times. On a personal level having been divorced and estanged from family myself, Red Hook Road taught me a lot about the value of relationships and gave me hope -- I was hooked from page one.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The ESP Affair by Alison Tyler

Upon picking up The ESP Affair, I had no idea I was in for such a fun treat and that Alison Tyler is so prolific in her erotica, not to mention talented as well!

The ESP Affair tells the story of how modest, prim and proper school-teacher Connie Morris deals with a mysterious dream lover who (lovingly) haunts her dreams and fulfills her most erotic fantasies. Connie's husband Ron just doesn't meet her sexual and emotional needs anymore, perhaps due to the fact Ron has been cheating on her behind her back. With support from her best friend-cum-sexual siren Marla and with help from a mind-reader named Joseph, Connie must deal with this new crazy twist life has just thrown at her with hopes she can find love along the way.

Just like men who buy Playboy magazine for the pictures (NOT the articles, seriously!), women like to buy erotica novels for the steamy scenes; we won't lie. Alison Tyler is definitely a master in the erotica category with sizzling sexual chemistry between her characters. The ESP Affair does not flow and transition in a literary manner and is difficult at times to grasp due to its choppiness, but is well worth the experience.

The plot and story is of course far-fetched in regards to the ESP aspect and its scenarios are over-the-top dramatic, but these components somehow just add to the novel's overall charm. Connie's modest and school-teacher personality is another of many sexy cliches in the world of erotica and sexual fantasy.

The happy ending of The ESP Affair is pleasing and surprising, but only given that you DO NOT read the plot summary intro page inserted before the title page! Let the novel unfold and astonish you with no spoilers.

Having visited Alison Tyler's website and bibliography, I have found additional titles to covet; including a quaint and sexy-looking "Erotic Alphabet" series beginning with B is For Bondage (2007). Alison Tyler's more recent stand-alone novels that also look incredibly fun are With or Without You (2006) and Melt With You (2008).

      B Is for Bondage (Erotic Alphabet)   With Or Without You (Cheek)    Melt With You (Cheek)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Visions of the Damned by Jacqueline Marten

Released: 1979

Visions of the Damned is Jacqueline Marten's debut novel released in 1979, and combines elements of reincarnation and undying love. Sound familiar? Revisit my review on Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine here: Dreamworld Book Reviews - Lady of Hay.

Like Jo in Lady of Hay, Michael (our female protagonist, ladies and gentlemen) undergoes hypnosis and discovers she existed in a past life alongside a few of her lovers. Of course everyone in the present has a doppelganger in the past, so we can pretty much guess who is who along the way.

Although Visions of the Damned is a swell enough novel to stand on its own, I can't help comparing it to Lady of Hay because of the similarities! Both books were written during an era where male chauvinism and masculinity still ran dominant in our culture, and the pompousness of the male characters in both novels will make modern women of today absolutely gag.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Gratitude of Kings by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Released: 1997

The Gratitude of Kings is a small novella in the fairytale style by fantasy and sci-fi matron Marion Zimmer Bradley.

In The Gratitude of Kings we once again meet Lythande, a centuries-old magician who disguises herself as a boy and is on her way to perform illusory magic at King Tashgan's wedding. When Lythande arrives, she discovers magic has already been cast upon the wedding party unbeknownst to the participants. With help from an old friend Eirthe, Lythande must put a stop to the evil black magic before it ruins the kingdom.

I love The Gratitude of Kings because it is classic in the way of traditional fairytales with good overcoming evil. MZB does not get carried away with crazy hard-to-pronounce fantasy names, make-believe politics, or complex creatures; she keeps it simple, which is very appealing to and attracts all varieties of readers. It's no mystery why Marion Zimmer Bradley has always been successful in the fantasy genre.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Confidence Game by Michelle M. Welch

Released: 2003

Confidence Game is the first book in the Five Countries fantasy series written by Michelle M. Welch and featuring Elzith Kar; a woman spy with a troubled past.

The premise of Confidence Game as described in the synopsis on the back of the novel is about the talents of Elzith as a magical and gifted spy who is posing as a civilian while recovering from a dangerous mission. Elzith crosses paths with Tod Redtanner, a book-binding specialist with his own secrets who Elzith confides her to story to. Thus, Elzith must once again play her "confidence game".

Thursday, July 8, 2010

After Dark by Phillip Margolin

Released: 1995

After Dark is Phillip Margolin's fourth novel written in the courtroom-drama style Margolin has perfected since its release in 1995.

Tracy Cavanaugh is a smart, successful up-and-coming law clark who lands a position working under the prestigious Matthew Reynolds, a legendary defense lawyer. Tracy finds herself involved in the middle of a massive plot and case involving the murder of a judge by his accused ex-wife named Abbie Griffen; a famed prosecutor who coincidentally also happens to be Matthew's love obsession. Thus unravels a complicated story involving murders, set-ups, and lies, lies, lies.

I am a huge fan of Phillip Margolin, but After Dark is not one of his best works and I wouldn't recommend it unless you're a die-hard courtroom junkie.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Dracula in Love by Karen Essex

Released: 2010

Scheduled for its release this August 2010, Dracula in Love by Karen Essex is going to appeal to all fans of traditional vampire lore originated by Bram Stoker. What makes Dracula in Love unique is that the story is told from Mina Murray's point of view in the fashion of historical fiction based on the research of author Karen Essex.

Karen Essex gives us an in-depth history of the folklore surrounding the duo's eternal love for each other, whereas movies and adaptations of Bram Stoker's Dracula have only given us brief glimpses as to why Dracula is infinitely drawn to Mina.