Failed 2012 Challenge

I signed up to finish 2 series — Sookie Stackhouse and Alex Cross and failed!  I didn’t finish either series, but I almost finished the Melissa de la Cruz series of Blue Bloods.  I have just two books to go in that series…until the next one is published.

Maybe in 2013, I can finish at least one of these series.

The Marriage Price by Alma Katsu

The Marriage Price by Alma Katsu is another short story from The Taker series and it reunites readers with Jonathan’s hometown just before he marries child-like Evangeline.  Told from Evangeline’s point of view, readers will get a taste of her less than innocent side as she talks of the finery and the house that will be hers once she is married to Jonathan.  There’s is clearly not a love match in more ways than one as Jonathan’s family chose her for him, and she clearly has ulterior motives of her own.

She’s a naive girl who is chosen by his family to become his wife as Jonathan’s father declines in health. While Lanore from The Taker and The Reckoning does not appear in the short story, her presence is clearly felt by Evangeline, who — while naive about the sexual relationships between men and women — is not blind to the emotional connection between Jonathan and Lanore.

Evangeline’s character becomes more nuanced through this short story. Although she is portrayed as innocent in The Taker and even child-like, she is more of a strategist in The Marriage Price. She’s looking forward to the big house and the finery she can obtain through her marriage, and while Jonathan is preternaturally gorgeous, his behavior toward her is forward and aggressive by her standards. Their relationship is more student-teacher, though Evangeline’s eyes are more on the prize than on the “love” they can share together.

“Now, it was all she could think about, those shameful things Jonathan had coerced her into doing. That was why she was certain a woman would come forward on her wedding day: it would be a punishment for what she did with Jonathan before they were legally wed.” (Kindle short story)

Katsu creates a dynamic subordinate character that can stand on her own and gets a taste of what her married life will become.  Evangeline may have thought she would gain a great deal through her marriage, but she may have fooled herself into believing that what happened between them in the marriage bed would stay there.  The short story raises questions about arranged marriages, marrying for money and position, and the dark secrets that spouses can hide about not only their pasts, but also their passions.

About the Author:

Alma Katsu is a 30-year DC veteran who lives in two worlds: on one hand, she’s a novelist and author of The Taker (Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books). On the other hand, she was a senior intelligence analyst for CIA and NSA, and former expert in multilateral affairs.  Check out this Interview With Alma.

This completes my first series for the Finishing the Series Reading Challenge 2012.

The Reckoning by Alma Katsu

There are some books that you read quickly through and there are those books are almost too seductive and you want to slow down and savor every moment with the characters, and The Reckoning by Alma Katsu — the second book in The Taker series (check out my review of The Taker) — is the latter.  Once plunged into this world of immortal, devilish, and sometimes wayward beings, readers will not want to leave and by the end of the book, they will be clamoring for more.

The novel picks up just where Lanny and Luke leave off in the previous novel, and just as he begins to settle into their new life together — helping her to purge her past — the unthinkable happens.  The terror Lanny feels is palpable and forces her to take action in a way that she never thought she would, leaving Luke devastated.  What makes this all work so well is the tables are turned not just on Lanny forcing her to react, but the tables turn on other characters as well, including the powerful and frightening Adair.

“Inside, he detected a scent that he associated with Lanore, her musk making a part of his brain fire excitedly, re-creating the feeling of being in her presence.  She felt so real, so present, that he expected her to walk around a corner or to hear her voice carry down the staircase, and when neither happened, he felt his loneliness more profoundly than before.”  (Page 236)

The Reckoning is not only about the revenge that Adair will take upon Lanore and the events that lead her back into his path, but also it is about the judgment we all must make of ourselves, our past deeds, and our future path.  Readers will uncover more of Adair’s secrets, learn about the great Lord Byron, and come to find out that Lanore is not as immune to the charms of the dark side as she’d like to think she is.  There is a great blurring of the line between good and bad, with each character playing along the edges in their actions and thoughts.  Lanore’s character grows stronger here, burning with fear, yet conviction, while Adair’s softer side is revealed without taking over.  Katsu does well to blur these lines and show us the reality of this surreal world — that not everything is as black and white as it seems  (dare I use the pun that there are more than 50 shades of gray?).

The Reckoning by Alma Katsu is an addictive world that readers will plunge into without looking and emerge from emotionally spent and eager for the next whirlwind with The Descent.  Katsu is a phenomenal writer who is adept at building worlds and atmospheres that will hold readers in their grip and never let go, and many of these worlds straddle reality and fantasy like no other.  History, even its alternate versions, come to life in her hands as her characters run through the pages, fearing the worst and never expecting redemption.

She’s made me into a believer, enticing me back into the world of fantasy, horror, and, dare I say, the Gothic, which I had given up as trite and overwrought long ago.  I’ve been seduced.  The Reckoning by Alma Katsu is one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I don’t say that about many sequels.

About the Author:

Alma Katsu is a 30-year DC veteran who lives in two worlds: on one hand, she’s a novelist and author of The Taker (Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books). On the other hand, she was a senior intelligence analyst for CIA and NSA, and former expert in multilateral affairs.  Check out this Interview With Alma.






This completes my first series for the Finishing the Series Reading Challenge 2012.

2012 Challenges

I’m still working on finishing up my 2011 challenges, which I absolutely went overboard on.  But in the meantime, while I’m preparing for the holiday festivities and finishing up challenges and making the Best of list, I wanted to get out there with two challenges I will definitely be participating in.

Ok, yes, they are challenges I have a hand in creating, but that’s just half the fun.

First, I’ll be signing up for the Wade level (4-10 books) in the WWI Reading Challenge at War Through the Generations.  I know one of the books will be A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway since it is the book that we selected for the mid-year read-a-long.

I hope you’ll consider joining us in the new year for some reading about The Great War.

Second, I’ll be joining my own Fearless Poetry Exploration challenge by reading and reviewing books as usual.  But I also hope to make the National Poetry Month blog tour even better and bigger than it has been in the past.  Also, I hope to get some more discussion going during the Virtual Poetry Circles on Saturdays.

I hope you’ll consider joining too, since there are so many more options for those concerned about reviewing poetry books.  There are new ways to participate.

Also, as an aside, I hope you’ll get your nominations in for the Indie Lit Awards in the poetry category and the others.  You have until Dec. 31, 2011, to nominate up to 5 books published this year.

Finally, I’ll be joining the Finishing the Series Challenge over at Socrates’ Book Reviews.

I’m going to be ambitious and finish 2 series of books and I’m shooting for James Patterson’s Alex Cross series and the Sookie Stackhouse series.  For the Sookie series, these are the ones I have left to read:

  1. Dead as a Doornail (Book #5)
  2. Definitely Dead (Book #6)
  3. All Together Dead (Book #7)
  4. From Dead to Worse (Book #8)
  5. Dead and Gone (Book #9)
  6. Dead in the Family (Book #10)
  7. Dead Reckoning (Book #11)
  8. Deadlocked (Book #12) – expected publication: May 1, 2012

However, I may change my mind about what series to finish since I have started quite a few and not finished them.


***Update 1/5/12***

Since I’ll be reading more from my own books this year, I want to sign up again for the Ireland Reading Challenge.  This level has changed since last year, but I’m still sticking with the Shamrock Level, which is now 4 books.

I don’t have a planned set of reads, but I’d like to read Dubliners this year, so that’s definitely on the list of books.



I love this challenge.  I can use books from other challenges, and I’m always reading new-to-me authors.  I just adore this one, and I always seem to surpass my goal on this one.  This year, I’m still signing up for 25 authors, but I’ll be sure to meet and exceed that goal.


Which reading challenges are you joining?