Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Monday, May 31, 2010

I Said I Wouldn't Read This One, But....

Well, I know I said that I probably wouldn't read the next book in the series after Tempted, but basically I'm weak when it comes to books, particularly those in a series. Plus, seeing that this one seemed to be mostly about Stevie Ray, I allowed myself to be sucked in once again, expecting to be letdown. And maybe that was the key for me; set your expectations low and be pleasantly surprised when they are met or even exceeded. So it goes with Burned.
Burned spends a lot of time having the gang try to figure out how to save Zoey from the Otherworld where she's followed Heath upon seeing him killed. It soon becomes apparent that Stark is going to have to be, as Zoey's Warrior, the one to somehow go into the Otherworld and rescue her now that her soul has shattered (an image I rather liked and thought well written). Aphrodite's still having cryptic visions and the gang's virtually non-existent throughout most of the book; through lots of complicated mythology, Stark discovers the secret for traversing between the worlds but it's up to him how to convince Zoey to leave Heath once he's there. And then there's Stevie Ray, still back in Tulsa and hiding Rephaim the Raven Mocker from everyone while becoming the first Red High Priestess vampyre and dealing with the rogue red fledglings. The book goes back and forth between the two main storylines with stops in the points of view of Rephaim, Kalona, Aphrodite, and Stark along the way.
What I liked: The storyline had a purpose and it wasn't just a straightforward step or two to the conclusion. Stevie Ray's really coming into her own, and Aphrodite's deprecating wit is always a welcome relief to the angst of everyone else. I liked that there was a definite clash of Light and Darkness, and an acknowledgement that there's "something else" once one dies. And this novel is brutal in its descriptions, with death, blood, knives, and torture all playing parts but all essential to moving the story forward. Zoey's lack of romantic issues was nice; though she obviously felt love for both Heath and Stark, it wasn't as though she was stringing anyone along for a change. I also saw far less grammatical and continuity errors in this novel than I have in the past two, a fact that makes me hopeful that Cast's editors have awoken from their naps. Also, the absence of the Twins for much of the book was a smiling point for me.
What I didn't like: The swearing. And the swearing. And the more swearing. GET OVER IT, please. A little swearing goes a long way to emphasizing a point, but honestly, too much is just trying to sound cool. I also felt the plots dragged at times; a lot of time seemed to be spent dithering over what will happen next. I still don't see where the whole Stevie Ray/Rephaim story is going, and can't quite see why a girl would be somehow attracted to a boy who has a bird's head.
Still and all, this one's a much better entry in the series than the previous two, and I'm pleased that nothing in the story pulled me out and think "Huh?" as I'd become accustomed to do. While I'll still be a cautious reader of the series, I am pleased to see the House of Night books on an upward trend.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dead in the Family

Seriously, can you say brain dead? Because that's what I've been most of the month of May. My reading has suffered and I'm off to one of the slowest starts for a year I've had in eons. I'd blame the flood and the end of school but I think there's more to it than that. Anyway, I do finally have a new review to post and I'm looking forward to the summer break. I feel as though I'm Dobby receiving a sock!

If you're reading this, you probably know the plot of Dead in the Family, at least generally: Sookie's still with Eric (thank God!), the Weres are still having problems adjusting to being "out", and Sookie's fairy cousin Claude has come for a visit...or rather, to move in with Sookie. When a fresh body turns up on Sookie's property, things take an uneasy turn as it seems someone is setting Sookie up; meanwhile, Eric's maker shows up in Bon Temps, pulling Eric out of Sookie's life and intwining them all in the drama that is the former Russian prince, Alexei. Action, mystery, family, and Eric--seriously, what more could you want from this delicious series?

Sookie's life is always complicated, and Dead in the Family is no exception. While the relationship between Sookie and Eric is still sizzling, it's not front and center for most of the book. There is a lot of focus on Sookie's family in this book, and at least one long mystery (Dermot's role in Sookie's parents' death) is cleared up. I liked spending time with Claude, and I liked how Jason seems to be stepping up to the plate for Sookie. I also liked how Sookie interacted with Hunter; that seems a relationship developing well and helping to keep Sookie grounded. The introduction of Alexei was well written and intriguing, though I did miss Bubba. I also liked how Sookie still cares for Bill and that he's not been allowed to slip quietly away into the recesses of her life.

There's a lot to love in Dead in the Family, though not every little action was resolved and sometimes Sookie seems to be slipping into the dark side as she wrangles with characters who want to do her harm. Unfortunately for Ms. Harris, this series has become so beloved by so many (and I suspect, mixed up in emotional ways with the television series) that she's going to have a hard time pleasing the long term fans who want to see certain characters behave in certain ways. While I may not have loved every single page, I do recognize that an author cannot have every character she's created in every book, especially when we're now in the tenth title. I do feel Ms. Harris has stayed true to the spirit of the series with Dead in the Family, and I'm pleased to say it was a page turner that captured me and reeled me in. For those who were less than thrilled with it, I'd advise you to let go of your expectations for the plot and see where Dead in the Family actually leads you. I'm pleased to say that I felt this book is a return to the action-filled mysteries of the early books, and I can recommend it to all who love the Southern Vampire Mysteries.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

And Finally...A Book Review

I've been reading, but not as much as I'd like to. I've had a few review books for another publication to get to and then I decided I'd pick up one for review for Amazon Vine. Despite my intention to quit requesting so many review books, I'm still too tempted when I see those lists of shiny new books not to pick something. As it turns out, this one's a gem I can highly recommend. Here's my review for Amazon:
When you're a Scrub like Trella, you do your job for ten hours, are off for ten hours, and then do your job for ten hours...for life. That's it, that's all there is to look forward to as you manuever through overcrowded sleeping quarters, overcrowded halls, overcrowded cafeterias and dodge the Pop Cops, those people from the Uppers who are assigned to control the Scrubs. For Trella it's easier to be a loner among the many; that is, until the day a "prophet" named Broken Man arrives on the lower levels of Inside and her friend Cogon becomes convinced that he's the key to finding Gateway...the door to Outside and a means to freedom for all. Though Trella's convinced no such thing exists, her expertise in traveling through the vents and pipes of Inside make her a prime candidate to find the disks Broken Man says contain the information that would bring a new life for the Scrubs.
Inside Out is not a standard young adult novel; set in an unfamiliar world where everyone knows his/her place in life and all are encapsulated inside a large building of four levels, Inside Out is action filled as Trella navigates through vents and Gaps, unwittingly becoming a symbol for a Scrub rebellion that's been brewing for a long time. There is indeed a touch of romance as she meets Riley, a member of the Uppers who is willing to help her when Cogon is arrested. But there's so much more going on: Trella's discovery that she herself was born an Upper but was sent as a baby to the Care Facility for Scrubs, a menacing LC Karla, who is determined to implicate Trella in Broken Man's disappearance, and the sense of community that develops when the Scrubs begin to realize that they do indeed have a voice.
Snyder does an excellent job creating the world in which Trella lives, and her descriptions of the areas Trella climbs are both creepy yet compelling. There is a sense of desperation and becoming who you are meant to be throughout the novel, but there is also a good deal of "techno" (or Tech No) stuff going on. I will say that the pacing is kinda off at times; sometimes it seems forever for a scene to play out and then other scenes wrap up much too quickly (particularly the final five pages or so). I liked the twists, and I loved how Trella's being forced to take a lead role made her take a deeper look at her own life. I'm eager for the next installment in the series because there are a couple of big cliffhangers that have me impatient. I would actually give this novel a solid 4.5 stars and can recommend it for those who like young adult, sci-fi, and just plain good ole tales.

Friday, May 07, 2010

One More Video

I like this video because 1) it shows a lot of the flooding in LP Field and Opryland Hotel, 2) it shows just how bad it got...and it makes me realize how quickly life can change, and 3) it's set to one of my favorite Beatles songs. Well done and poignant.


Thursday, May 06, 2010

Review Time...Kiss of Death (Morganville Vampires #8)

Kiss of Death picks up with our favorite Morganville residents--Claire, Eve, Michael, and Shane--being issued passes out of Morganville to visit Dallas where Michael will be auditioning for a music executive. Under the chaperoning of baddie vampire Oliver, things of course go awry (inserting understatement), and all four are soon fighting for their lives when a rogue band of vampires is discovered...well, make that two rogue bands actually. Lots and lots of action follows that echoes a horror movie script: hiding in small rooms while blood crazed vampires chase you; a deserted town with its citizens living in terror; a hearse; a creepy motel with local rednecks threatening harm. In other words, business as usual for our friends.

I love the Morganville Vampires series, and this one's no exception. The witty banter is great, and Ms. Caine gives the series an up-to-date feel without making it seem too trendy. I especially love the cameraderie between the four friends, and the relationship between Claire and Shane, which has definitely grown into something much deeper. And I adore Myrnin, though there was far too little of him in this novel, and the foreshadowing of Claire not looking back at him makes me very worried about his future well-being.

Still, I have my quibbles with this entry, though I really tried hard not to. Caution: possible spoilers ahead. Still reading? Okay, here's the deal. I really couldn't understand why all four friends were issued passes because it really didn't make much sense; why not keep Eve in Morganville at least so Michael had a reason to return? And perhaps, if Amelie did mean for Oliver to find the rogue vamps, Claire might have been needed if more serum was necessary. But otherwise it just didn't seem logical. Also illogical was how a busload of vampires--a busload!--was able to escape the strict confines of Morganville (a fact repeatedly hammered home in earlier installments). The whole busload of snacks bit was a little...odd, even for vampires. And the bit about the hearse? Too over the top, even for Eve. Oh, and a number two pencil?

I'm really not complaining because I got to spend time with my favorite foursome, and Caine's writing is tight and exciting all the time. This one's most definitely a set up for the next book, which is fine; it's also very creepy and a good way to see how the characters' relationships are progressing. As always, I can recommend these novels to all and sundry who love vampire books, and I'm ready for Ghost Town to be in my hot little hands as soon as possible.


Monday, May 03, 2010

The Fairest Portion of the Globe by Frances Hunter

First off, let me say that author Frances Hunter now has a fan for life.

Now that that's out of the way, I am more than delighted to give a glowing review for The Fairest Portion of the Globe, a novel about Meriweather Lewis and William Clark, before their history making journey through the West. Hunter's novel is set in 1794 when the two young men meet at Fort Washington; it doesn't take long for them to develop a tight bond amid the machinations of the French, the Spanish, and their own army as the struggle for control of the Mississippi River explodes around them. Clark, living in the shadow of older brother George Rogers Clark, finds himself prisoner of the Spanish; Lewis, young and headstrong, forges forth on a rescue mission with disastrous results. Along the way, we also get to know Clark's sister Fanny, French botanist Andre Michaux, General Mad Anthony Wayne, and even a young William Henry Harrison as the novel moves from one larger than life personality to the next.

This novel is so sweeping and grand that it's almost impossible to describe. Hunter has done the research fully and the story reflects that, yet the storyline is never bogged down by too much information. Indeed, the characterizations of the historical figures are so vivid, so richly layered, that they literally leap off the pages while propelling this complex tale forward. There is humor and tragedy; there is proof that government has always been slow and overly burdened by political policy. I came away with a much clearer sense of the way our great country was explored and settled, and the price so many paid, including the Native Americans. Above all, I came away with feeling that Lewis and Clark were real people, not just names in a dusty old history book.

Frances Hunter's The Fairest Portion of the Globe is one of the rare historical fiction novels that takes the known history and makes it come alive through believable dialogue and actual events well told. I felt completely enveloped in the time period and lives of the characters. It's been a long time since I've been quite this dazzled by historical fiction. Highly, highly recommended.