April 20th, 2010

Me. kitty face

#17 Killers: The Most Barbaric Murderers of Our Time by Nigel Cawthorne

This book covers nineteen serial and/or mass murderers and introduces them with their name, method of killing, number of victims and how the killers themselves died. Each chapter is dedicated to a specific killer and where possible... discribes the life of the killer and the events leading up to the deaths of the victims.

I found this to be a fun read until I noticed that the author lets his personal prejudices color the discriptions of events. For instance, why is it that when a man and a girl are parked in a car they are engaging only in kissing, but when two men are parked in a car they are practicing "immoral" acts?

2 out of 5
Caleb- snug as a bug!

Book 24: Blood Rites

Blood Rites
Jim Butcher
Fiction; fantasy; mystery; series
372 pages
Per usual, wizard-detective extraordinaire Harry Dresden is in trouble. He barely escapes an assassination attempt, courtesy of the Black Council of vampires, when Thomas, a vampire who has helped Harry out on occasion, asks him to take a case. It seems someone doesn't want porno film director Arturo Genosa's latest effort to get off the ground. An entropy spell has killed two of Arturo's assistants, and Thomas wants Harry to find the culprit. With suspects abounding--Arturo has no fewer than three ex-wives--Harry decides to pose as a production assistant at the studio. Though he isn't able to stop another sabotage attempt, this one threatening an actress' life, he does save the young woman. With danger closing in, the last thing Harry needs is a sexy succubus and a surprising revelation about his heritage. Filled with sizzling magic and intrigue as well as important developments for Harry, the latest of his adventures will have fans rapidly turning the pages.

I really enjoyed this book! I took a long break between the fifth book and Blood Rites, but this story got me hooked onto the series yet again! I really liked the big twist with Thomas and Harry. I hope to read more about the vampires in the future books in this series!

***Next read: I am about to start reading Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich.

Books 16-18

 #16: Breathers: A Zombie's Lament - S.G. Browne (2009, 310 pages)

The dead are living among us, and wouldn't you know it, they have feelings too.

Three days after he and his wife are brutally killed in an automobile accident, Andy Warner finds himself undead and part of a society that loathes his very being. He helps deal with the situation by attending weekly Undead Anonymous meetings, where he meets a group of friends who help inspire him to stand up for his rights and show that the undead are humans too.

S.G. Browne came up with an amazing tale in Breathers. I can't say that I'm aware of any other novels that tackle zombiism from the zombie's point of view. Not only is the idea clever, but so it the book's plot, as Warner finds himself becoming the poster boy for zombie rights. But will all his hard work pay off?

I really love this book. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but Browne hooked my interest pretty early and pulled me swiftly throughout the narrative. His concept and characters are great, making this book such a wonderful read. I highly recommend it, which is why I give it four out of five shuffling undead.

#17: Lost on Planet China: The strange and true story of one man's attempt to understand the world's most mystifying nation or how he became comfortable eating live squid - J. Maarten Troost (2008, 382 pages)

After living in I-Kiribati, Vanuatu and Fiji, J. Maarten Troost decided it was time to head a little further to the north as he spent several months traveling through the largest country in the world.

From the get-go, Troost accepts the fact that he is a laowai (foreigner), but the rest of his travels through China did take some getting used to. Troost takes on China, starting in its largest city, and finds himself moving from province to province, visiting some of the most revered sites in the country. His stops are guided by locals, American ex-patriots, fellow travelers and even a few of his friends who either live in the country or are stopping in for a visit.

Troost is braver than brave in this particular feat. Not only is he tackling the country alone (having left his wife and two sons back in California), but he is more than willing to try things that might make others squirm, including eating live squid but also eating mystery meat as Chinese people "eat everything with four legs except the table, and anything with two legs except the person."

I really enjoyed this book, though it was a bit of a slower read at the beginning. Troost has such a delightful sense of humor and adventure that you cannot help but feel as though you're traveling right alongside of him, experiencing his awe, fear, amusement, and other emotions along the way. I do recommend this book, giving it a healthy four out of five live squid.

#18: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahame-Smith (2010, 336 pages)

It was only recently that Abraham Lincoln was discovered to have a second life. By day, he was the devoted family man and eager politician wanting to make a difference in the world. By night, he was one of the most fearsome vampire hunters this country has seen.

Seth Grahame-Smith contends that he was given access to Lincoln's private diaries, which not only recount the stories Americans have come to know about the 16th President, but the story of how he came to fight the vampire hordes after his mother and several relatives were killed by vampires seeking revenge. Lincoln is soon recruited by a vampire named Henry, who begs Lincoln to help save the country not only the Civil War but from the vampires who are pushing to allow slavery to continue, as the practice provides a great source of food for the bloodsuckers.

I wasn't sure what to expect. I loved Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and enjoyed Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, even if they were a bit slow, but they pale in comparison to this book. I absolutely adored seeing this side of Lincoln - the action, adventure and fiery passion - and Grahame-Smith did a wonderful job of putting together this story. It's a fun romp, which I give four out of five extended fangs.

Total Books Read: 18 / 50 (36 percent)
Total Pages Read: 6,068 / 15,000 (41 percent)
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9. The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan Strain

Summary: In the near future in New York City, a plane lands at JFK Airport and immediately everything shuts down. Teams of people are brought in to investigate the mysterious death of all but four people on the international flight from Germany. One man, Dr. Eph Goodweather, and his partner, Nora Martinez, work for the CDC and are in charge of the case for the time being. They investigate by the books only to find out that this is not a textbook case at all. Vampires have come to the United States and the Master is here to wipe out everyone within the country.

Review: I really enjoyed this book. It kept me on my toes and it was creepy, which I love in a book. I'm also a huge vampire fan and this took them away from the ideas in my head of the classy blood drinkers from other worlds like Dracula and the Anita Blake series. I can't wait for book two and I hope it's just as good.
Stargate cake

3 more books

19. Kaufman, Jennifer & Mack, Karen Book Lover pb chick lit, my copy (329 pages, 5,325pgs)

I should have read the If you loved this, you'll like... suggestions up the back first, because one of the suggestions was 'The Jane Austen Book Club', which I didn't like. The best bit about this book was the quotes about books and reading at the start of each chapter.

I was suckered in by the blurb. Some women shop. Some eat. Dora cures the blues by bingeing on books. So, Dora shuts out the real world by losing herself in a literary one. Yes! I can relate to this. Dora turns to novels in times of need. That's me. There's a book list at the back of all the works/authors/artists in the order mentioned; I know heaps of these. Sadly, the list was more engaging than the story. Dora meets Tennyson-quoting Fred at the bookstore. Of course Fred is not all he seems to be. The ending is rather blah and the epilogue felt really wrong. I was going to keep this book just for the quotes, but I suppose if I need literary quotes I can google some. I don't even think I'll inflict this on a friend. It's not the worst book I've read and it's not even dreadful enough to say this is so bad you have to read it. It's simply not memorable. (2/6)

19.5 Clark, Dr Hilda Regehr The Cure for All Diseases pb non-fiction, borrowed from a friend. Unfinished. (180 pages, 5,505pgs)

I don't know about being the cure for all diseases, but there is some useful/thought provoking material, if you can stand to read through the repetitive case studies and the italic/underlined/bold font changes within the same sentence don't drive you crazy. I borrowed a zapper from a friend and used it for a few weeks. I don't agree with all of the dietary advice – way too much dairy for starters - and I don't believe parasites are 100% responsible for all mankind's ills, but kidney & liver cleanses are sensible, as is the pet program. I think it will be like many other things – works really well for some, reasonable results for most and no/negative results for some. I'd say it didn't work for me, but I didn't follow it exactly, therefore it wasn't a fair trial. (3/6)

20.Roberts, Jackie Cornelia of the Chalet School pb girls fiction, borrowed from a friend. (165 pages, 5,670pgs)

I just finished describing this book to a friend as a train wreck. It's one of the latest in fillers being written for Elinor Brent-Dyer's Chalet School series. In comparison to 'The Guides of the Chalet School', which I read earlier in the year, well, there is no comparison. If you're a 'grammar Nazi' this book will drive you insane. There's barely a page without a mistake. If this had been written as fanfic and posted online it would make fanficrants. There are epithets galore, (e.g. the American, many, many times), info dumps and basic grammatical errors, such as words in the titles of books not being given capital letters, and I won't mention the placement or otherwise of the commas. As to the cover – I think Cornelia was trying out for the Thunderbirds.

Cornelia is 25 in this book, so not a school story. She meets up with Jo Maynard just before Annis starts at the school. The triplets are eight. I think there's a Chalet reference to practically every prior book in the series. The second half of the book deals with Cornelia's trip home to the USA on a passenger liner, the Carillion. The passengers include Mr van Alden (! - for Chalet fans) and a young Dutch girl who just happens to be Jewish. The author did a bucket load of research into concentration camps and we are treated to probably everything she learned. There are at least three seperate spiels on how Germans =/= Nazis.
It's sad, as I look forward to Chalet fillers with a hunger I remember experiencing when waiting for the latest 'real' Chalet School title to be published. This one would be one you would buy only if you are a completist collector. Just borrow it from someone else so you can say you've read it. It's not all bad – it just could have been so much better. (2/6)