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The Resurrectionist

  • Feeling a bit Gothic?
  • Does fantastic artwork make you swoon?
  • Does Mythology get you out of bed in the morning?
  • Do you find yourself wondering what makes the fascinating creatures of your nightmares move?
  • Does a tale of genius gone bonkers keep you warm on a cold night?

If you answered Yes to any of the above questions, get yourself a copy of The Resurrectionist.

I am a fan of beautiful books. When I say beautiful, I don’t mean just the covers; I mean wonderful packages of words and creativity that make you see and think about those old dusty tomes in a new way. They can spark wonder, conversation, awe, and yes, even horror. This is one beautiful book for those with a slightly dark bent.

Dr. Spencer Black, rising from his resurrectionist (AKA Body Snatcher) father, showed an amazing amount of potential. In an age where deformities were fodder for traveling side shows, he wanted to go deeper to find their cause and possibly “cure” them. His studies led him to a dark conclusion however. What if what we call deformities were not something gone wrong, but more a sign of what we used to be, should me, and (shudder) were meant to be?

The first 65 pages tell the story of Dr. Spencer Black and his descent into either madness or genius, you’ll have to decide on your own. The rest of the 191 pages is his opus, thought lost, The Codex Extinct Animalia.    Billed as a Study of the Lesser Known Species of the Animal Kingdom, the sort-of Gray’s anatomy look at the creatures of legend and often, our nightmares and superstitions. Here you will find the muscular structure of the Minotaur, the bone structure of Ganesha, and just how the Cereberus was able to support it’s three heads.

sphinx2

E.B. Hudspeth’s talent lay in these masterpieces.  Drawing the fearsome mythological creatures is a talent, but being able to look beneath the skin and create their inner structures is, well, a sphinx of another color. They are gorgeous.

The tale of Dr. Spencer Black is dark, very dark and may be hard to read for dog lovers, consider that a big warning, but the sheer wonder of Hudspeth’s plates has earned The Resurrectionist a place on my coffee table for it’s ability to spark conversation, horror, and even reverence at the artist’s skill.

 

The Resurrectionst:The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black by E.B. Hudspeth

 

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Quirk Books (May 21, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1594746168
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594746161

 

 

Note: This is also available as an ebook, but for the best results, it really needs to be seen in hardcover.

2nd Note: I thank Quirk Books for my copy and for continuing to challenge our idea of what a “book” really is.

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A New Birth of Freedom: The Translator by Robert G. Pielke

TheTranslator

This is the second book in the wonderfully fun trilogy so be sure to check out my review for A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor.

Time travel is messy when you really start to ponder it. You can’t change the past so much that you end up not being born because then you wouldn’t be there to travel back and make that change. Then there is the scary possibility that you change something bad and end up creating a whole new (and bigger) problem.

Time travel is also incredibly hard to write. The author has to explain those possible paradoxes and pitfalls without confusing the reader and getting so muddled that the prose ends up like a dog chasing his tail.

Big Note Here: You really must read the first book, The Visitor, before reading this one or you will be dazed and confused. Some books in a series stand alone, not this alternate history/sci-fi baby.

The Translator- When we last left, our somewhat fearless time traveler, Edwin Blair, had managed to bring Lee and Lincoln together to capture the Pests instead of fighting the battle at Gettysburg that we all know. Problem is Blair doesn’t know what to do from here.  He knows that some of the nasty Pests have to be left alive, but how? And just how are he and Lincoln supposed to calm the outrage, fear, and newly invigorated rebellion of the South? Blair is also dealing with a fading memory because of all of the changes he has caused and the headaches are nightmares.

Pielke does a great job of steering both his characters and the reader through the perils of time travel and once again leaves me dying to read the next book.

If you love the Civil War, enjoy alternate history, and are open to a quirky dash of time travel, The New Birth of Freedom is definitely  worth checking out.

A New Birth of Freedom: The Translator by Robert G. Pielke

  • Paperback: 394 pages
  • Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press (2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1611605423
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611605426

 

I was thrilled to get this book by being part of the Tribute Books Tour.

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Skeleton Women by Mingmei Yip

Skeleton Women

 

Skeleton Women by Mingmei Yip

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of reading Midnight in Peking by Paul French. It was non-fiction and great, but what really stuck with me was the whole cosmopolitan-ness of Peking and other cities in China in the 30’s.  There was this intriguing sometimes blend and other times, complete separateness of Chinese and European culture. It left me wanting to explore more.

Enter TLC Book Tours and Skeleton Women. Here is a bit of the blub that made me say YES!

Once upon a time in China, the most beautiful and gifted women were known as “skeleton women”—the ultimate femme fatales who could bring a man to his knees, or to his doom…
When Camilla, a young orphan girl in Shanghai, is adopted and brought to live in luxury, it seems like a stroke of luck. But as Camilla grows to womanhood, she realizes that her “rescue” was part of gang leader Big Brother Wang’s scheme. Camilla is trained in singing, dancing, knife-throwing and contortion—all to attract the attention of Wang’s enemy, the ruthless Master Lung.

Skeleton Women is a fictional look at that darker side of China in the 1930’s that filled my head with wonder in Midnight in Peking, that separate side and it was a compelling  introduction to the author, Mingmei Yip.

China, in general, baffles me and I have always struggled with reading any fiction set there, even the so-called greats like The Good Earth. The problem isn’t the historical setting in time, so much as my inability to understand the culture and therefore what makes the characters tick.

Skeleton Women’s main character, Camilla, is different though. While still steeped in the period and traditions on China, Yip has written about her in a way that highlights the struggles from a viewpoint that we all share, the slant of what I guess I would call the fundamental questions being human.  What am I here for? Do I have to do what the people that raised me told me to do? What do I owe them? And perhaps most importantly, am I “good enough” to deserve another’s love?

Camilla feels trapped in her situation, She was saved from the orphanage, groomed not to have everyday emotions, and trained to become a spy that would catch a rival gangs leader’s  eye in the hope of finding his stash and killing him. Not only does she have to deal with other skeleton women trying to do, what she assumes, the same thing, but she must deal with emotions that she was taught not to feel and desiring things that she never thought to want.

While I am sure that most of us can’t relate to being raised as a sexy spy bent on destroying a rival gang leader, we can relate to grappling new emotions and having qualms about  choosing our own path as opposed to what others want us to do.

I really enjoyed this book on many levels, obviously. While I can’t speak to it’s historical accuracy, I can say that it sucked me into caring about something and someone that I would have bet you I couldn’t before. Yip’s writing was the perfect follow-up to Midnight in Peking and where other books that I have read set in China make me see nothing but how different we are, highlighted how alike we all are and just have different ways of finding our answers to those fundamental questions.

Skeleton Women by MingMei Yip

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington (May 29, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0758273533
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758273536

 

Author’s Website: http://www.mingmeiyip.com/

 

Thanks goes to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read this book.

 

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The Dark Monk by Oliver Pötzsch

The Dark Monk

Last year, I really enjoyed Pötzsch’s first book in this series, The Hangman’s Daughter. The setting was interesting, Germany in 1660. The characters were different; how many Hangmen have you ever read about? The mystery of the missing children, while a teeny tiny bit formulaic, was full of twists and turns. The whole package left me eager to read the upcoming sequel.

Enter The Dark Monk.

The hangman, Jakob Kuisl, takes a backseat for a majority of this book and lets his daughter, Magdalena and the town doctor Simon take most of the limelight and risk. A priest is found dead;  Simon and Kuisl don’t think that it was natural causes and then they stumble into an ancient crypt under the church. Simon soon thinks he is hot on the trail of the lost treasure of the Templars, Magdalena gets a marriage proposal from a big city hangman before she gets kidnapped, and Jakob has his hands full with Johann Lechner, the town clerk, and a whole mess of bandits.

I don’t think that I would be giving away too much if I mentioned that there is one seriously bad and messed up monk involved. Also, the dead priest has a beautiful wealthy sister that is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery and manages to make Magdalena jealous.

Much like the first book, the time period and characters were interesting, however, the plot was reminiscent of the puzzling quests of Dan Brown. I liked it, but (Yes there is the big BUT) it read really, really slow for me. This baby is 512 pages long and I felt each and every page. It took a good long time to even get the story moving and then the characters seemed a wee bit slow on the uptake.

Did The Dark Monk suffer from the Sophomore curse? I think it did, but it was still nice to see the characters develop and I already have the next book in the series, The Beggar King, on my wishlist. (slated for January 2013)

 The Dark Monk by Oliver Potzsch

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (June 12, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0547807686
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547807683
This book was sent to me by BzzAgent. If you have never heard of it, go check it out. They send you products and you spread the bzz honestly.

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Shorts on Saturday

ShortsSaturday

 

Back for round two in reviewing short books, stories, and even kid’s reads on the weekends.

 

You Are a Writer

You Are A Writer (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins

Goins is a pretty good cheerleader in this. The 77 page book is less about writing and more about changing your mindset.

Common sense, yet something that we all need to be reminded of often. The section on building your ‘brand’ was really well done and, thankfully, wasn’t just a series of “you must do’s”.

Writing is all about making a connection and Goins gets that.


Swim

Swim by Jennifer Weiner

Confession time. This was the first Weiner book for me.

Double secret confession time.  Nothing in this made me want to run out and read the rest of her work.

This is a prequel of sorts for The Next Best Thing and the version that I read had a the first few chapters of that one included.

Maybe I am too used to action or nonfiction; but I was so meh that I didn’t even read the sampler chapters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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