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kimber

Kimber Frantz

I can't stop reading. Or buying books. Or talking about books.

Currently reading

A Red-Rose Chain: An October Daye Novel
Seanan McGuire
The Bell Jar
Sylvia Plath
Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion
Gregory Boyle

Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions - Kurt Vonnegut Brilliant.

One of Vonnegut's favorite recurring characters, Kilgore Trout, is invited to a Festival of the Arts in Midland City, to speak at the opening of a new arts center. This book tells the story of Trout's journey, with parallel stories for the characters he will meet when he arrives in Midland City.

Vonnegut uses very dark humor and satire to novelize society's wretched underbelly of shortcomings: racism, sexism, inhumanity, war, advertising, apathy, pollution, and so on -- it's all exposed to daylight. I enjoyed the metafiction component and Vonnegut's own sketches which are sprinkled throughout the print text.

The message is intricate, immense, and simple all at the same time. To quote another of his stories, it seems to always boil down to this: G*d dammit, you've got to be kind.

WARNING:Gallows humor and heavy satire infuse this story. If you don't appreciate or are unfamiliar with satire, you'll be offended by this book.

Eventide (Iron Falls, #1)

Eventide (Iron Falls, #1) - Christine Allen-Riley Devon Greer’s world is shattered when a tragic car accident takes her best friend, Rachael. Miserable with grief, Devon attempts to adjust to this new, hostile reality, in which the kids at school (and most of Rachael’s family) blame Devon for Rachael’s death, since Devon was driving the car that fateful night. Not long after the accident, Devon has reason to question her own sanity when she sees Rachael running through the woods next to the road near the accident site. Upon investigating, Devon finds there are more creatures living in the woods than just wildlife, and she begins to believe there’s a chance to rescue Rachael from them and bring her back. Will Devon and Jonah – Rachael’s cousin who has discovered the secret in the woods as well, and who is developing tender feelings for Devon – be able to rescue Rachael before it’s too late?

Allen-Riley has taken the wild and beautiful forests and waters of Michigan’s upper peninsula, and planted them in the pages of her book, adding her own magic to the mix, including a society of dangerous fae who will do anything to gain the power they desperately need. The characters are intricately wrought and easy to care about from beginning to end. This suspenseful, imaginative story kept me turning pages waaaayy past my bedtime! It’s wonderful.

The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys  - Maggie Stiefvater This is the first I've read by Stiefvater, upon recommendation by a trusted friend, and the trust was warranted! The Raven Boys is a young adult fantasy novel with a new and fresh premise that involves Celtic mythology, psychics, spellcasting, the spirit world, and other paranormal aspects that perhaps haven't been fully fleshed out yet (it's a series). The main characters are Blue, a 16 year old girl who has the gift of amplifying the paranormal gifts of others and paranormal energy in general, and The Raven Boys: Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah, all very different and with their own developed backstories. It's been prophesied that if Blue kisses her first true love, he will die. Gansey's on a quest to find a mythical king whose legend says the one who wakes him from his very long slumber will get a wish granted. The others are all interested in the quest for their own reasons. The Raven Boys gets the tale laid out and peaks with some real world changing events, but doesn't answer every question and even adds new ones to be unraveled in the next book, which is called The Dream Thieves. I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of The Raven Cycle series.

The Snow Child

The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
416 Pages (trade paperback)
5 stars

The Snow Child is a beautifully written story inspired by a Russian fairy tale. In a rare moment of playfulness, a childless couple named Jack and Mabel lovingly create a little girl made of snow. The next day, the snow person is gone but Jack and Mabel begin seeing glimpses and finding evidence of a young girl in the woods near their homesteading cabin. Jack and Mabel have come to Alaska in the 1920s with hopes of a new start. They’re barely surviving on the return from their crops, farmed exclusively by Jack, while Mabel makes baked goods for a little extra money. They’re considering admitting defeat and leaving Alaska behind when new connections with others in the area, including the mysterious snow child, give them new hope.

The atmospheric differences in the writing between the spare, exhausting, isolated despair of Jack and Mabel at the beginning of the story, the fairy tale quality and magic-around-the edges storyline involving the child, and the later connections the stoic couple makes – in their own relationship and with other hardy frontier families in the area – are really striking and give the story depth. I enjoyed reading this very much, beginning to end. Ms. Ivey’s created a wonderful, quality story. I predict it’ll be one of my top reads for the year.

Zoo City

Zoo City - Lauren Beukes I really enjoyed reading Zoo City. The main character, Zinzi December, and the setting of Johannesburg, South Africa, are different from any other paranormal type of mystery I've read, and the story was seriously darker than most in that genre. It leans toward dark fantasy despite the almost realistic world (the only paranormal aspect being animal spirits being visibly attached to certain people who've committed grave crimes/sins, and those same people developing some sort of magical strength or power with the appearance of their animal. The animals reminded me a bit of the 'daemons' in Pullman's His Dark Materials series. Really wonderful writing and story telling. It looks like this author has additional books in other genres. I'll be checking them out.

Forthcoming: Brown Dog by Jim Harrison

I was really excited to see that Harrison's publishing company is releasing all of his Brown Dog novellas in one book! His character Brown Dog was first introduced in a set of novellas called The Woman Lit By Fireflies, released in 1990, and Brown Dog also starred in several other novellas released in the 20 years that followed. He's my favorite of Harrison's characters and I'm very excited for the release of the collection of Brown Dog novellas collected between one set of covers.

The Secret History of Moscow

The Secret History of Moscow - Ekaterina Sedia The Secret History of Moscow was one of my favorite reads this year. After reading it, I immediately read Moscow But Dreaming, a collection of short stories mixing dark fantasy, magical realism, Russian folklore and bleak, modern day Moscow with real world issues, another favorite of the year. These stories are dark, gritty, disturbing, and powerful. I'm planning to read everything else this author has written, and if my feelings hold true, she'll be a new favorite author for me.

A Walk in the Woods

A Walk in the Woods - Bill Bryson I listened to this on audio and found myself chuckling frequently on my commutes to work and back for the past week while I listened. Bryson is a master of mixing great historical detail in with whatever current humorous hijinx he's up to (in this case, the history of the Appalachian Trail mixed in with the adventures he and his friend Katz encounter while walking and camping on the trail).

Rosemary and Rue

Rosemary and Rue - Seanan McGuire I really enjoyed this book -- fresh premise, great characters, setting, and story. After reading this, the first in the series, I quickly caught up with the series by reading the next three.

This Side of the Grave

This Side of the Grave - Jeaniene Frost After reading the first book in this series, I was semi-hooked, if a little dubious about the glowing green-eyed brand of vampires. I read the next few, as I'd bought them all together from a previously-read discount rack at our local independent book store. I felt like the second, and up to this one, were better, and got interested in the characters, and the offshoots from this series that Ms. Frost is working on are interesting, good reads. But I was really disappointed by this one. The writing seemed to have reverted to something more along the lines of the debut novel. There was a lot of inner monologuing going on, page after page, and we didn't even meet the protagonist in the story until somewhere around the last section of the book. I know a lot of people are avid fans of this series, but I think I might be done with it. There are SO many paranormal series out there to discover, I think it's best to read the ones that really knock you out, and put the others to rest :)

Border Songs

Border Songs - Jim Lynch This is high quality writing. I loved the debut novel by Jim Lynch (The Highest Tide) and I loved this as well. Both novels choose a social misfit as the main character and turn that individual into a mytic type of hero. Both books are set in the pacific northwest, Highest Tide on the shores of the Pacific, and this at the border between Washington and Canada. Jim Lynch is becoming a favorite author for me, and I'll definitely be checking out anything else he writes.

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro Relevant but disturbing topic.

1968

1968 - Mark Kurlansky I thought this book did a really good job of covering the events that occured in and around the year 1968 that were pivotal in many ways. My only beef with it is that I couldn't figure out the pattern or order to the relation of the facts. It wasn't chronological or geographical, and seemed random. Of course, in the realm of global politics and events I am no more than a novice, and I was listening to this on audio. Either of those points could have contributed to the seeming scatteredness of the facts in this book. It was absolutely worth reading, and I got from it the names of several other authors and titles from and about the time period that I want to check on.

Borrower of the Night

Borrower of the Night - Elizabeth Peters This is the first novel in the Vicky Bliss series. The story is set in an old castle in Germany, and spoke of ghosts, betrayal, and a mystery surrounding a lost medieval sculpture. It was really good!

Proven Guilty

Proven Guilty - Jim Butcher This series just keeps getting better and better.

Freezing

Freezing - Penelope Evans Very good mystery / suspense novel set in modern day London. Evans is a great writer and I was completely bemused by and impressed with her main character, Stuart Park, a morgue photographer and an atypical, deviant sleuth who seems to perpetrate more crimes than he solves. He was both sympathetic and horrific. His judgement, or lack thereof, reminded me a little bit of a high-functioning Karl Childers (Slingbade). I was delighted with the story until the last two or three pages; I found the ending quite disappointing.