As quickly as I read books, I thought it a fine idea to find a place to post my recent recommendations, future finds and stash of swaps.
At the bottom, checkout my Goodreads library shelf. I'll be posting reviews there as I finish books here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Faculty Club by Danny Tobey

The rural Texas upbringing of Jeremy Davis is almost at odds with his drive as he embarks on a serious journey out of his comfort zone in the Ivy League law school that has made presidents and important social pillars during its history.  The pressure to perform, the need to fit in, the exclusive club veiled in secrecy and the innate curiosity of a first year law student.  But the school has a dark side hidden beneath its polished faculty and large, dusty library and imposing brick halls. Just how far and how deep Jeremy must go to win acclaim from his peers and his professors and gain entrance into the secret club surprises some.  And how far he must go to set things right will amaze even himself.

Landing a key research assistant position with Professor Bernini, the most influential faculty member, and falling in with the "right" crowd seem to happen so easily during the first days on campus.  One evening, he receives a coveted invitation from the V and D, the secret club, appearing in his locked room as if by magic. Each invitation seems to be more of an audition, as if he were being sized up for something.  But wisps of conversation caught in passing in the halls outside of Bernini's office, odd reactions to questions, unexpected connections to the unsavory characters on campus, and the information from his trusted friend and his contacts make Jeremy uneasy.  The more he learns, the less he wants to know. What he finally learns is more disturbing than a nightmare.

The plot started off with much promise and a good number of twists kept it interesting. The few main characters seem solid enough, but the farther from Jeremy the action, the characters seem to fade.  Granted some perspective is necessary, and how much the reader learns is only what Jeremy himself learns, but what should have been room for character development is left vacant.  A good deal of details are available in the first half of the book, details about Jeremy and his family, his initial invitation. As the second half of the book progressed, Jeremy received some direction, but the turns he takes are not fully qualified or explained.  Questions regarding important discoveries are left unanswered and loose ends are neatly tied off abruptly.

An additional 100 pages or so of character development and details would have benefited this book greatly.  As it stands, it makes a good showing as a quick afternoon read.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Okay so I finally won something!

The Goodreads community have numerous prerelease books listed for giveaway by publishers and authors, and members can enter to win. They call it "First Reads." Winners are picked randomly at the end of the giveaway.  I have entered a number of them over the last few days in all different genres and subjects. Well, lo and behold, I actually won one! Entering on the last day it was open, I was selected to win a copy of Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore by Stella Duffy.

The blurbs provided are as follows:
THEODORA is based on the life of Theodora of Constantinople, who started out as an actress and prostitute and rose to become the Empress of Rome and a saint in the Orthodox Church. Roman historian Procopius praises her piety and saintliness in his Wars of Justinian while his Secret History gives salacious details of her stage act and maligns her as ruthless and power hungry.
So who was Theodora? Social climber, politician, or saint? In Stella Duffy's page turning historical novel, she's a little of each. From her humble beginnings as an acrobat and dancer (and by extension a prostitute) to her religious conversion in the African desert to her fame as Empress of Rome and social reformer, Theodora lived an incredible life, and Duffy brings her story roaring to life on the page. Charming, charismatic, and controversial, Theodora's is a story of a powerful, little-known historical figure that will absolutely captivate you.
Roman historian Procopius publicly praised Theodora of Constantinople for her piety-while secretly detailing her salacious stage act and maligning her as ruthless and power hungry. So who was this woman who rose from humble beginnings as a dancer to become the empress of Rome and a saint in the Orthodox Church? Award-winning novelist Stella Duffy vividly recreates the life and times of a woman who left her mark on one of the ancient world's most powerful empires. Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore is a sexy, captivating novel that resurrects an extraordinary, little-known figure from the dusty pages of history.
As with any number of other books on historical figures, a great deal of speculation and creative license is implied. There are so few facts and details available on such a small cast member in the ranks of history. Even some of the larger figures have little hard evidence to their daily lives (Jesus is a prime example).

I'm looking forward to reading this one to see how it gels.