Monday, April 6, 2009

Club Dead

I am completely hooked with Charlaine Harris's novels about Sookie Stackhouse. Having recently finished Dead Until Dark, and Living Dead in Dallas, I started reading Club Dead. It is the third in the Sookie series, also called the Southern Vampire Mysteries.

This book introduces us to many new characters, and takes place in Mississipi. Bill, Sookie's vampire boyfriend, is kidnapped, and Eric demands for her to go to Mississipi to learn what she can about his disappearance. Eric arranges for a local werewolf to accompany her, named Alcede, who helps her circumnavigate the supernatural underworld to help find Bill and save his life. As Sookie investigates Bill's wherabouts, she learns that he had left of his own free will, and she realizes there is more to Bill and his history than she knew about, and she learns new things about him that shake their relationship to it's foundation.

I really love the Sookie books, if it isn't obvious with how quickly I'm reading the series. I am almost done with the fourth, Dead to the World. As I said with Living Dead in Dallas, Harris doesn't waste copy giving more backstory than what's needed, and only fills you in on the past stories enough to follow along with the new information. The characters are starting to become more and more involved, and people are starting to show their true colors.

I give this book a 5/5. Once I'm done with the series I'll give an overall score.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Living Dead in Dallas

The second book I finished this week was the sequel to Charliane Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series, Living Dead in Dallas. I had read the first book, Dead Until Dark, a few books past and really fell in love with the series. I managed to pick up the rest of the books at Barnes & Noble, so I have a feeling I will be sweeping through the series before reading anything else.

Living Dead in Dallas tells the story of Sookie's travel to Dallas, after she is loaned out by Eric the vampire. Sookie is supposed to use her telepathy to find a vampire, Farrel, who has gone missing.

I really enjoyed the lengthened character development of Living Dead in Dallas. Eric is much more involved in the second story, and there is an interesting and complex love trial forming between Eric, Sookie and Bill. Harris also doesn't waste half the book explaining things from the previous novel, and only does gentle reminders.

I give this book a 5 out of 5. I am very excited to read the next in the series, Club Dead.

Button, Button

So, I just finished two books in quick succession. I wondered if I should do two separate posts, or one big one. I decided on two separate ones, so forgive me if this seems long and drawn out.

The first book was Button, Button, by Richard Matheson. Button, Button is a collection of short stories, some ranging from the bizarre to the hilarious and the touching, and many with a great twist ending. The first story, which shares the title of the book, is short but has a twist at the end that you don't see coming. It is currently being made into a movie. It seems odd to me, but whatever.

Some stories were just plain weird, and at the end of them I wasn't really left with a feeling of "that was a great story!" but more like "what the hell?" The final story, Tis The Season To Be Jelly, was one in particular that I just didn't care for. Another story about L.A. being some sort of spreading land parasite also just left me wondering why it was included. Others, like There's No Such Thing As Vampires, or Mute, really were great to read and I wish they had been longer.

Overall, I give Button, Button a 4 out of 5.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I finally finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This book has been on my list of books to read for a long time now. I finally picked it up on a whim at the bookstore a few days ago. It's a short book, but it took me a while to read because I'm also going through a book of short stories by Neil Gaimen (Smoke & Mirrors).

The story is about a boy named Charlie, who is a High School freshman during the 90's. The Perks of Being a Wallflower are written from his perspective in the form of letters sent to an anonymous person who is never identified or named. Charlie tells about his family, and his friends, the crush he has on his friend Sam, and how he deals (or doesn't) with his depression and anxiety. Ultimately, he uncovers locked memories about his past, and learns how to truly heal from it.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower reads like a modern Catcher in the Rye. You become attached to Charlie quickly, and feel protective of him throughout his troubles. As he begins to uncover problems with his family and his past, you feel the anxiety and upset as Charlie does.

The writing is very easy to get into and follow along with. Charlie's "voice" develops over the course of the novel, and you can see influences in his writing after he reads a new book given to him by his English teacher. The character development of the other characters is also really well done, with each person having their own history and voice, and you feel like you know who they are.

I give this book a 5 out of 5.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dead Until Dark

I was a big fan of the HBO show True Blood, and I knew they were based on a series by Charlaine Harris. I picked the first book up on a whim, and I am really glad I did. The first in the series is Dead Until Dark.

Dead Until Dark follows the story of Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress in Louisiana. The vampires in the world have recently "come out of the coffin" and are starting to mainstream into society. Sookie meets Bill, one of the mainstreaming vampires, and after finding her vampire, strange things start happening. There are multiple murders in the town of Bon Temps, and Sookie needs to find out who is behind it so she can clear Bill's name, and the name of her brother Jason. Jason, a local lethario, is implicated because of his relationships with most of the murdered women.

I really enjoyed reading Dead Until Dark. I had watched the season of True Blood before reading it, and I was unsure as to how they'd be translated. The show is so close to the book, down to the dialogue. The biggest discrepency is the addition of a character in the show that is not in the book, but that's not a big issue for me.

I know there are a few other books in this series, and I'm very tempted to pick the rest of them up. I enjoyed Harris' storytelling, and her character development is amazing.

I give this book a 5 out of 5.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Third Angel

I followed up the disappointment that was Handle With Care with a new book by my other favorite author, Alice Hoffman, which I had borrowed from a good friend who also loves this author. This book, called The Third Angel, does not take place in her usual setting (New Hampshire or Connecticut) but instead in London. More specifically at the Lion Park hotel.

The story centers on the inhabitants of the Lion Park hotel during three different periods of time; modern day, 1952 and 1966. As the stories unfold, you realize that everyone from the modern day story are involved in the hotel in some way, and their lives entwine in the most intricate of ways. There is also the story of the ghost of the Lion Park hotel, and how he touches each and every life of the characters in The Third Angel. Hoffman's writing is so intricate and precise, and you never feel that the connections between the characters are forced.

The name comes from the idea that when a doctor visits a patient, there are three angels in the car with him. One is the angel of life, and one is the angel of death. Then there is the third angel, and he is the one that is harder to spot. He could be anywhere, from the people you see on your way to the suffering, or the person suffering themselves. The idea of the third angel is interwoven with all the characters of the novel.

After finishing Handle With Care and being so disappointed, I am really glad that I read The Third Angel. I think if I would have read just anything I probably would have put it down and stopped reading for a while. Instead I started The Third Angel and finished it in just days.

I give The Third Angel a 5 out of 5, for a rich complex story line that isn't forced, and restoring my faith in prolific writers.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Handle With Care

I am a big fan of Jodi Picoult, and I know this isn't the first time I've said it. I was really excited to see she had a new book coming out this year, and I picked it up as soon as it had been released. I didn't know the basic premise of Handle With Care when I bought it, but I didn't much care. Now I wish I did a little more research on it... I wasn't really happy with this book upon finishing it. I would have read it anyway, but I probably wouldn't have put off reading other books to read this one first.

Handle With Care tells the story of the life of Willow O'Keefe, a young girl suffering with OI (osteogensis imperfecta), or brittle bone disease. Her disease affects the life of her mother, Charlotte, and her father, Sean, as well as her sister, Amelia. On a trip to Disney Land, Willow breaks two bones slipping on a napkin, which puts her in the hospital, her parents in jail and her sister in foster care. Sean visits a lawyer, wanting to sue for damages. The lawyer says they have a case, just not the one they had thought. The O'Keefe's file a wrongful birth suit against their OB-GYN (who happens to be Charlotte's best friend), saying that if the OI had been detected sooner, Charlotte could have aborted the baby. What ensues is an epic legal battle that pits friend against friend, husband against wife, and mother against daughter.

One of the main problems that I had with Handle With Care was the character of Charlotte. I could not empathize with her at all, and I disliked her from very early on. The other problem I had was that I felt like I had read it all before, in her novel My Sister's Keeper. There's a major medical crisis between one of two daughters, and an ensuing legal battle because of it. Hmm... yeah, too familiar.

I give Handle With Care a 3 out of 5. I enjoyed the intigrated recipes within the story, and I learned a lot of trivia throughout the pages. Neither, though, was enough to get a higher rating. I could have just re-read My Sister's Keeper and been alright.