Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Moonburn by Alisa Sheckley is the sequel to The Better To Hold You; Abra's gotten pretty used to her new lycanthropic lifestyle by now, and is sort-of-happily living with Red, the shapeshifting ginger redneck.  Still living in the house nearby are her soon-to-be-ex-husband, Hunter, and Magda - the Romanian researcher of Unwolves he left her for, who, incidentally, is also the one responsible for Hunter (and so, in turn, Abra) with the lycanthropy virus.  Abra doesn't really seem to mind being a werewolf so much, though, and enjoys working at a small veterinary practice with her former instructor, Malachy.

There are obvious downsides to being a werewolf, though; normally, Abra is just sensitive to the phases of the moon, which she keeps careful track of.  Lately, though, she has been finding it more difficult to control the change, which seems to be trying to happen well before the moon is even full.  That isn't the extent of the strangeness, though - everyone seems to know things about her condition that she isn't aware of, and Red appears to be deliberately keeping information from her.  This is not at all helpful, because she is currently finding it extremely difficult to retain some sense of control over her purely animal instincts, and has become an object of lust for every man and dog that crosses her path, which doesn't exactly help with the strain in her relationship with Red.

What's more, this turns out to be a very inopportune time for these kinds of problems in her personal life.  The small, backwoods town she lives in, Northside, is a sort of paranormal hub where the veil between the physical and the liminal worlds is particularly thin.  A new housing development is being constructed at the mountain, right in the ancient roaming grounds of the manitou - powerful spirits that were recognized by the American Indians who were native to the area, but were forgotten for the most part, over time.  Well, now they are awake and kind of pissed.  Kind of REALLY pissed.  One in particular, taking the forms of a bear/Québécois lumberjack, has come to town to fuck up everybody's day.

First off, I rather enjoyed The Better To Hold You, and likewise, I also enjoyed Moonburn.  I think I enjoyed the former just a little bit better overall, though, if I had to pick one over the other.  Don't get me wrong, this one is certainly not lacking for action of any kind, but it was sometimes almost a little too much.  But I also have a tendency to gag myself and roll my eyes at any tale of The Beautiful Girl Who Doesn't Realize That She's Beautiful Even When Every Boy Wants Her And Is Embarrassingly Obvious About It.  I do like Abra, though. She's not typical as far as heroines of urban fantasy novels go - she doesn't really kick that much ass, and more often than not, she has a tendency to want to shy away.  That makes her feel more like a real person to me, since let's face it - not everyone is some leather-clad, ass-kicking dynamo who seems to live for the moments when danger dares to present itself to her.  Some of us will do what we have to, but would really rather be home in our pajamas doing a whole lot of nothing.  The latter is more Abra's style.  She is a pretty simple lady (you know, apart from the whole werewolf thing) and I can relate to that.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Last Song

The Last Song by Eva Wiseman is a gripping juvenile fiction novel set in Toledo, Spain during the infamous Spanish Inquisition.  The Inquisitor General has come to the city, and while the Jews themselves are not exactly treated with kindness, it's the "Conversos" who are being persecuted here - the people who only recently converted to Christianity.  If any of them are caught or suspected to still be practicing the Jewish faith while pretending to be Christian, they are arrested for heresy and tortured into a confession, whereupon they are burned at the stake.

Fourteen-year-old Isabel has seen the grim procession of prisoners through the city, and though a devout Catholic herself, questions the humanity of it all.  She is quickly hushed, though, because to even doubt the Inquisition is to mark yourself as either a heretic or a traitor.  Isabel is from a fairly well-off and respected family - her father is physician to the royal court - and inside the walls of her home and with the comfort of her personal shrine to the Virgin Mother, the world feels safe and normal.  Her world is turned upside down, though, when she is betrothed to the son of Don Alfonso, a Cavalier.  Luis is cruel and disrespectful, but her parents ignore her pleas not to marry him.  They insist it is to ensure her safety from the Inquisition, as Don Alfonso's family has a long history in the Catholic church; Isabel is confused why she should need any protection from the Inquisition, but her parents then tell her the impossible truth - they are Conversos.  Their grandparents were forced to convert, but their family continued to practice their Jewish faith in secret.

The news breaks everything Isabel thought she knew about herself - she feels she is as devout a Catholic as ever, but is she truly also a Jew?  Can she be both, or must she choose?  Whatever she does, however, she is sworn to secrecy, for all their lives depend on no one discovering the truth of their heritage.  Isabel wants to learn all she can about this new part of her identity, but can she satisfy her mounting curiosity without giving away her family's secret?  The Inquisitor General's men are everywhere, and it is impossible to know who can be trusted.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling is the third installment of the widely popular Harry Potter series.  Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione are in their third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and as per usual, their year does not exactly go smoothly.  Harry is not doing so well to begin with, though; his Uncle Vernon's sister comes to visit toward the end of the summer vacation, and things get a little out of hand.  Harry storms out of the Dursleys' house, set to run away and resigned to being expelled from school and living as a fugitive.  While wondering what to do first, though, he gets picked up by The Knight Bus, which gives rides to stranded witches and wizards, and he goes to London, thinking he may as well start off at The Leaky Cauldron pub.  He's met at the pub by none other but the Minister of Magic himself,  however, and thinks he's in for it.  Rather than be arrested, though, he's set up with a room and told to stick to Diagon Alley, and not to go wandering about in Muggle London.  He doesn't have too much time to ponder the strangeness of the leniency, though, as he's quickly caught up with being back in the wizard world, and soon enough he is joined by his friends, since everyone goes to Diagon Alley to get their back-to-school shopping done.

Just before getting back on the train to Hogwarts, Harry learns some startling news about a mass murderer - Sirius Black - who  has broken out of Azkaban, the wizard prison; the man is considered to be such a danger that even the Muggle law enforcement has been notified to be on the lookout for him and to exercise caution.  Extra security measures have been placed at school, and everyone is worried for Harry's safety especially.  This is probably for the best, since he and his friends seem to have a real knack for getting into life-threatening situations.  Despite all these precautions, however, events continue to unfold which lead Harry, Ron, and Hermione right into Black's path.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Yesterday's Dead

Yesterday's Dead by Pat Bourke is a middle grade novel set in Toronto in 1918.  Meredith Hollings is a 13-year-old girl who must leave her small hometown of Port Stuart to become a maid for a doctor's family in Toronto.  Her father left and was killed in the war, and their family's store isn't bringing in quite enough.  She regrets having to leave school, since she dreamed of becoming a teacher someday (and who will hire a teacher who didn't even go to high school?).

Meredith decides, however, that her time in Toronto will be an adventure, and she may just get a little more than she bargained for with that.  The rest of the household staff are mostly pleasant - kind Mrs Butters runs the kitchen and helps her to feel more at home; Forrest, the chauffeur and sort of jack-of-all-trades for the house; Mrs O'Hagan, who doesn't live in the house, but comes to clean and do the laundry.  Mrs O'Hagan's son, Tommy, is also very nice, and he offers to show Meredith around the city on her day off.  Parker, the butler, on the other hand, is not very pleasant at all.  He seems to find fault with everything Meredith does, and is generally a grouch.

The members of Doctor Waterton's family are perhaps a different story altogether, apart from the doctor himself.  The eldest, fifteen-year-old Jack, is a flirt who teases Meredith every time he sees her; Maggie, who is Meredith's age, is a brat with airs of entitlement; the youngest, Harry, is a handful - he's always getting into something, mainly the sugar.

Despite some of the difficulties, Meredith is doing her best and doing a pretty good job, but when the Spanish influenza sweeps through Toronto, it doesn't skip the doctor's house.  Meredith has her work cut out for her trying to get all the regular housework done while also taking care of the members of the household who have fallen victim to the flu.  The doctor is detained for days at the hospital as waves of people are brought in, and he's ordered them all to quarantine themselves inside the house - no one goes in, no one leaves - to try and keep anything from spreading even further.  He doesn't know, however, that nearly everyone in the house is now ill, and Meredith is running the place nearly on her own.  People around the city are dying every day - will she be able to maintain everything in the house until Dr Waterton gets back?  She's been relatively lucky so far, but with all their lives in Meredith's hands, what will happen if she also falls ill?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Subtle Knife

Let me just start things off by saying that this cover kind of terrifies me a little.  I know that monkey-dogface creature in the background is likely meant to be Mrs Coulter's daemon, but it looks more like the stuff of nightmares.  So it's a good thing I finished The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman in one night, straight.  This is the second book in the His Dark Materials trilogy.  

We start off first thing with a new character, twelve-year-old Will Parry, who lives in the England of our world.  Some men are after something in his house, and it's tormenting his mother, so he stashes her with his old piano teacher and takes off with the thing he suspects the men are after.  He makes it to Oxford and finds what looks like a window, but in the middle of the air.  Not a regular window, can only see into it from a certain angle.  Well, he's basically on the run and trying to disappear for a while, so obviously he goes on through this thing and finds himself in another world entirely.

Now I know what you're maybe thinking, but this isn't Lyra's world from The Golden Compass, either.  If you recall from the end of that book, Lord Asriel was looking into the matter of Dust, and all kinds of crazy shit happened, and Lyra decided to try and follow him through the portal or whatever it was that he'd managed to open.  Anyway, so this place Will stumbled into isn't Lyra's world because she's found her way into it, too.  This is where they meet each other and sort of team up.

It's almost serendipity that the two have found each other, because she wandered into this world trying to follow her father, and Will is hoping to find out about his own father, who went missing when he was just a baby.  John Parry was an ex-Marine-turned-professional-explorer, and it's possible there is a connection between his father and the men who have been harassing his mother.

So Will and Lyra kind of go back and forth an awful lot between Will's Oxford and the almost-deserted city in the world they came into.  Lyra of course gets them mixed up in all kinds of trouble when a man notices her with the alethiometer in a museum and she meets with a physicist to discuss Dust.  All the while, though, there are great changes happening in all worlds, and Will is about to find out that it may be more than mere chance that brought him through that astral window and into the path of Lyra and Pan.  He may have a much bigger role to play in what's about to come than he would ever have imagined.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Moon

So I've finally gotten around to reading New Moon by Stephenie Meyer.  I'd seen the movie more than a few times, but hadn't really got the chance to read it - once I started, though, it only took me two nights to finish.  The same as Twilight, I know this book doesn't really need an introduction, but here is a refresher anyway.

We are, of course, still in the tiny town of Forks, Washington.  It's been about a year, and Bella and Edward are still together, which is probably a surprise to no one.  It's Bella's birthday, and she's all kinds of moody about it since now she is, for all intents and purposes, now one year older than Edward, and she is not thrilled at the fact that she's aging.  You might recall from the end of the first book that Bella wants Edward to turn her into a vampire so they can truly be together forever, but Edward isn't so keen on the idea, so she's still human (so far).  Anyway, against her wishes, Edward's "sister" Alice has put together a party for Bella at the Cullen house.  Bella, accident-prone as ever, can't get through the thing without a little blood being inadvertently shed, which as you can guess did not go well in a house full of vampires.  Jasper has the hardest time, if you remember, with the whole "vegetarian" lifestyle, and he reacts pretty quickly.  Edward reacts quickly to Jasper reacting quickly, and the party is basically ruined.

There are no hard feelings from Bella since hey, Jasper can't help it, but Edward convinces himself that he really is too much of a danger for her, and the Cullens pack up and leave town in kind of a hurry.  

Bella becomes deeply, deeply depressed and stays this way mostly for the rest of the book, and all of her friends except Jacob Black give up on her.  Bella becomes an adrenaline junkie, and then shit just starts hitting one fan after another.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Magician's Nephew

The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis is actually not the first book that was published of The Chronicles of Narnia - it was the second to last to be published.  It's usually presented as the first book in the series, however, because it is first chronologically.  Since "Book 1" is printed on the spine of the copy I have, and the omnibus I have has this one first, I can't bring myself to read them in order of publication.

Probably The Magician's Nephew is one of the least known of all seven books, since most people only really know of the books which feature the Pevensie children.  The children in this book are Digory and Polly, a young boy and girl who live next door to each other in London.  Digory's mother is very ill, and his father is in India for work, so he and his mother have come to London to live with her brother and sister in their home.  Digory thinks his Uncle Andrew is straight crazy, and is a little wary of him, and he finds he had good reason to feel this way when one day, he and Polly accidentally get into his upstairs study while exploring a tunnel which runs the length of all the houses.

Uncle Andrew, as it turns out, is a magician.  He is convinced he's unlocked the secret to moving between their world and other worlds, but rather than go himself (he's quite old, you see, this sort of thing is really only fit for someone still young), he tricks Polly into being sent from their world, leaving Digory no choice but to go after her (well, really he does have a choice, but he's not a douche, so he goes).

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Misfits & Heroes: West from Africa

Misfits & Heroes:  West from Africa, by Kathleen Flanagan Rollins, takes place around 12,000 BC, and as you may have guessed, starts off in Africa.  Naaba is an outcast from his village and a wanderer.  It has been a long time since he's been part of a village, so when he comes upon one, he is drawn to it and watches a weaver at her work.  While in this village, he finds Asha, a woman being held captive, and he frees her.  She is drawn to water, and follows it even when it cannot be seen, and she decides to join Naaba in his wandering, so that she may follow the water without being punished.

Naaba and Asha follow the river until they see a circle of standing stones.  Naaba especially is curious, and this is the point where the book really takes off.  Naaba and Asha fall in with a group of people and become a part of something that will change forever the course of everyone's lives.  The Black Rhino, a power-hungry leader, has a grand vision of uniting all the people and all the villages as one.  The campaign to bring this into being, however, is violent, and opposition is not met with in a diplomatic way.  One of his main concerns is another leader, Dwyka, the She-Eagle, and it is between these forces and the conflicts that arise that Naaba and Asha find themselves.  They know they must find a new place.  They become thrown together with a group of people, some they are familiar with, and some strangers, and they all set off together down the river and out into the sea, where none of them have ever been.

A Sort-of Relaunching!

So!  I think it's safe to say that the blog's transition from Les Livres to Here Be Bookwyrms is, for the most part, complete!  There are a couple of things here and there that still need to be tweaked, but those will be updated once I'm able to.  Old followers may notice that in addition to the new layout, I've added a few things to the sidebar!  You can now follow via Networked Blogs or Linky Follower, instead of just with GFC or by email.  I hope this makes following the blog a bit more convenient for some of you!  I've also added a search box, since I know the index of labels is fairly extensive, so anyone looking for something specific should have an easier time of it.

Obviously, I'm not a web designer, but I am pretty pleased with the new look here!  I hope you all like it, too.  I think it's a lot cleaner than my last layout, with only two columns and a more simple background.  I really felt like my last layout was a bit too cluttered, with everything so close together.  I was hoping to manage a nicer signature for my posts, but this one is fine for now!

I would really like to do a giveaway to celebrate this rebirth of sorts, but I'll have to wait and see what my funds are like after I pay my bills and such with my next check!  Sooner or later, though, I'll be doing one, so keep a weather eye out!


Friday, April 6, 2012


So when I first decided to start a blog, I couldn't think of a name that I really, REALLY wanted so I just picked something that didn't feel incredibly lame to me.  After a while, I thought of something I wished I'd used.  I thought it was too late to change the blog title since by then I already had followers and a few social networking accounts for the blog.

BUT!  I recently decided that to make myself happy (and I still have under 200 followers anyway, so it hopefully won't be too confusing at first), I'm going to just go ahead and make the switch.  Please bear with me during the transition!  I'm not sure how long it'll take to make the change, but I hope you all won't mind it too much.

So!  I appreciate each and every one of you visiting Les Livres, and I hope you'll continue to visit the blog in its new incarnation as Here Be Bookwyrms!  I feel like this first year of this blog's life it was a little egg, and now it's starting to really grow and develop into the blog I hoped I could make it into.  Dragons are one of my favorite mythical beasts, and who doesn't enjoy a nerdy play on words?  

Again, thanks for sticking with me everyone, and I hope you stick around a while longer!

Transition progress:
- My accounts on Goodreads and Amazon have both been updated, as has the email address for the blog!
- Accounts updated for Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Formspring, Youtube, Foursquare, and Networked Blogs.  Submitted new blog info to Book Blogger Directory. Cross-posted reviews updated as much as possible. =]
- In the process of updating Flickr. Changed the blog appearance.  Moved some things around.  Changed the blog's URL! Added widget to follow via Networked Blogs. Changed the LibraryThing widget, even though LibraryThing seems to be having some issues right now with changing my username.
- Internal links have been updated!
- Signature updated and added to each post. =]

Thursday, April 5, 2012

RAK: April Sign-Up

Okay, so it's been a while since I've actually participated in RAK, but things are starting to settle back into some kind of a groove, so I'm definitely going to be able to send at least one book out this month!  I'm really glad for this, because Random Acts of Kindness, hosted by the ladies over at Book Soulmates, is a fantastic monthly event.  Basically, you pick someone from the list and send them something from their wishlist, and someone else might send you something from yours!  Yes, there are months where you might end up not receiving anything, but it still doesn't hurt to brighten someone else's day and rack up some bookish karma!  It's also a great way to check out some other blogs and maybe make some new bookish friends in the community. So stop by and sign up!