Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ever After

Title: Pale Demon by Kim Harrison
Publisher: Harper Voyager
448 pages
Genre: fantasy

Synopsis: The ninth Rachel Morgan novel finds our tough and feisty witch on a mission to get her shunning rescinded, which requires traveling to the annual witch convention in San Francisco. But the coven doesn’t want her to make her appointment, so they’ve put her on the no fly list, which is why she has to accept Trent’s offer of a cross-country car trip. The rich elf has his own reasons for traveling cross-country, telling Rachel and Ivy that he is on a traditional elf quest.

Review: Whenever you put Rachel, Jenks, Ivy and Trent together there is bound to be trouble and plenty of action, not to mention plenty of humor.  Driving across country with a cranky Elf on a mission, and a member of the coven who is hellbent on banishing Rachel to the Ever-After is not so easy.  Especially when trouble seems to follow you where ever you go.

Full of action and new revelations Pale Demon delivers another great tale in Rachel Morgan's life.  I think this book really deepens each character, revealing things that you didn't know before, which is hard to do when its the 9th book in the series! By the end of the book I would say I have a deeper respect and understanding of many of the main characters and the twist at the end leaves Rachels future able to go in so many different directions.

Its not easy to continue to entertain in such a long series but Kim Harrison has done it again.  I have always loved the characters and Rachel's ability to get herself into trouble rivals Stephanie Plum from Janet Evanovitch's number series.  You also always seem to learn something new about one of the characters. Some deep hidden trait, or mystery which I think is brilliant.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

(30) The games people play

Title: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
384 pages
Genre: YA

Synopsis: In a not-too-distant future, the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives.

Review: I'd heard so much about this book from other people that I had to give it a go.  That and the fact that the movie is being made and its being tweeted about non-stop so I had to see what all the fuss was.

Katniss is a hard character to get to know.  She is very closed off but she is also very determined to protect her family.  Once you get to know her though you fall in love.  Determined, brave, a survivor, but a little naive in the ways of politics,  you can't help but route for her.

The story itself is very dark.  Even life before they games is not exactly rosy.  The author definitely seems to lay the ground work for future stories.  Throwing in information that intrigues you and makes you want to learn more such as what happened to District 13 - did they really get destroyed? Did no one survive?

The unrequited love story between Katniss and Peeta shows just how naive and young Katniss really is.  Its easy to forget her age with everything that is going on but this story line really brings it back to life.  Katniss thinks this is all part of the strategy to win, she has never kissed a boy before and subtlety flies right over her head. She has one objective to stay alive and everything else she thinks is part of the game. 

To me this book was like a combination of the story The Lottery and the movie Running Man.  A fight to the death with the whole world watching while the powers that be continue to throw obstacles in your way. The contestants chosen by lottery, forced to participate in a brutal game that no one wants to play but whose society forces it to be festive. Even the winners although they are showered with gifts have to then mentor future tributes from their district.  In other words prepare them to most likely die. Is this really a prize?

The story is left fairly open with the potential for many twists and turns.  I guess I'm going to be ordering the 2nd book in the series fairly soon so I can find out what becomes of our fateful hero.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Spring Hop

"If I gave you £50 (or $80) and sent you into a bookshop right now, what would be in your basket when you finally staggered to the till?"

Wow interesting question...hmm...

1. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
2. Mocking Jay by Suzanne Collins
3. River Marked by Patricia Briggs
4. The Informationist by Taylor Stevens
5. The Fall (book 2 of the Strain) by chuck Hogan and Guillermo Del Toro
6. Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
7. One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde

Happy Hopping

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

(29) Haunting

Title: The Raising by Laura Kasischke
Publisher: Harper Collins
496 pages
Genre: Fiction/supernatural

I received this book as an advanced electronic copy from the publisher via it is due to be released at the end of March.

Synopsis: The accident was tragic, yes. Bloody and horrific and claiming the life of a beautiful young sorority girl. NICOLE was a straight A student from a small town. Sweet-tempered, all-American, a fomer Girl Scout, and a virgin. But it was an accident. And that was last year. It’s fall again, a new semester, a fresh start.

CRAIG, who has not been charged with murder, is focusing on his classes, and also on avoiding Nicole’s sorority sisters, who seem to blame him for her death even though the police did not.

PERRY, Craig’s roommate, is working through his own grief (he grew up with Nicole, after all, and had known her since kindergarten) by auditing Professor Polson’s sociology class: Death, Dying, and the Undead.

MIRA has been so busy with her babies—two of them, twins, the most perfect boys you could imagine, but still a nearly impossible amount of work even with Clark’s help—that she can barely keep herself together to teach (Death, Dying and the Undead), let alone write the book she'll need to publish for tenure.And SHELLY, who was the first person at the scene of the accident, has given up calling the newspapers to tell them that, despite the "lake of blood" in which they keep reporting the victim was found, the girl Shelly saw that night was not bloody, and not dead.

Review: What a dark twisted tale.  Not really a ghost story but more of a conspiracy tale.  The story is told in the point of view of 4 main characters and often switches between past and present. This did get a bit confusing at times and I sometimes I found myself lost not realizing we had slipped back to the past when I thought we were in the present and visa versa so the flow was a little off for me.

All the characters and events center around a car accident that supposedly killed a co-ed named Nicole.  The news stories are wrong and everyone who is connected to the accident seems to be haunted by someone they think is Nicole.  Who is covering up the real facts of what happened, what happened to the other 2 girls who went missing from the campus a few years ago and did no one really make the connection they all belonged to the same sorority?  The answers to these questions kept me reading but also hoping that the author would get to the point already.  I like suspense but this dragged on a bit.  I'm also not too sure how much I appreciated the one lesbian professor in the book is caught in a compromising situation with a student.  It just didn't feel right and almost seemed thrown in because she was unsure what to do with the character.

Overall I enjoyed the book despite issues I had with it.  It did keep me reading and the story definitely had its creep factor moments.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

(28) A Circus Life for Me

Title: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Publisher: Algonquin
331 pages
Genre: Fiction

Synopsis:  As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

Review: What I wonder is what took me so frackin long to pick this book up. Maybe it was the cover maybe it was the subject I don't know but its been sitting on my shelf for well over two years.  When I started seeing trailers for the movie that is about to be release I knew I needed to read the book before the movie came out.

I fell in love with this book from page one and feel like an idiot for not reading it sooner!  I could smell the manure, the roasted peanuts and popcorn.  The unwashed bodies and animals.  Each description was so vivid it put me right there with the characters.  The details were so well researched and the characters so real that you felt like you knew them.  It reminded me of how I felt when I watched the HBO series Carnival minus the whole devil etc theme of that show. The circus was not an easy life and it was even worse for a 3rd rate show during the depression.

I really liked how most of the book was a flashback but there were glimpses of Jacob as he is now, a grumpy old man just trying to live his remaining years with some dignity.  I have to agree with his character on so many points, the bland food, the forced medications of the retirement home, why?  He was 90 or 93 why not let him have a little pleasure.

The story revealed so much about circus life and the people who worked them, the relationships complex and ever changing.  Workers never knowing if they were going to get paid, performers not interacting with workers, and the hierarchy of the train cars.  It makes you wonder what circus life is like now.  Is there still the same separation of classes?

I can't say enough about this book, it swept me away into the tragic and fascinating life of the circus.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

(27) Porridge Rings, Homicidal Cookies & Cucumber Nukes

Title: The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde
Publisher: Penguin Books
375 pages
Genre: Fiction

Synopsis: A return to the seedy underbelly of nursery crime, where characters are never as innocent as they seem. Detective Jack Spratt and Sergeant Mary Mary long to collar The Gingerbread man - psychopath, sadist, criminal genius, cookie - who's at large in Reading. Instead, their demoted to searching for missing journalist Henrietta "Goldy" Hatchett. The last witness to see her alive were the reclusive three bears, and Jack thinks something's odd about their story. How could that porridge be too hot, too cold and just right if it was poured at the same time? The question is was there a fourth bear?

Review: I would love to be inside Jasper Fforde's head for just a little while.  What an amazing imagination he has.  I am continuously enthralled by his wit and attention to detail.  The sarcastic comments, the bizarre characters and amazing literary references that flavor all of his books never leave you wanted but usually leave you chuckling.

This is the 2nd Nursery Crimes book, the first had Jack and Mary Mary solving the case of Humpty Dumpty in The Big Over Easy. In this one the Nursery Crimes division is not getting such good press after a wolf ate red riding hood and her grandmother whole. Jack is being investigated for being too insane to run the NCD when Mary Mary thinks he's not crazy enough.  The two discover a porridge ring, wind up investigating the disappearance and death of reporter "Goldy" Hatchett, and the homicidal cookie the Gingerbread man is on the loose again after escaping from the hospital.

All is not well in the town of Reading and with Fforde's dry humor and incredible knack for puns and amazing recall of nursery rhymes The Fourth Bear is a wild ride. If you are a lover of literature and the absurd then Fforde is an author to pursue. From Dorian Grey, to Punch and Judy and obscure nursery rhymes I now I have to look up these books stimulate your mind and make you giggle.
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