June 18th, 2010

my captain [J/C default]
  • sio

nearly halfway to my goal!

have gotten way waaaaaaaay behind in my posting. so as not to make this too terribly long, i will only review the books/series that stuck out for me (whether good or bad) instead of reviewing all.

#29 - Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
#30 - The Dead Girls' Dance by Rachel Caine
#31 - Midnight Alley by Rachel Caine
#32 - Feast of Fools by Rachel Caine
#33 - Lord of Misrule by Rachel Caine

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#34 - Sacrament by Susan Squires

this book reminds me why i tend to avoid the Regency and Victorian time period-set historical romances, paranormal or not. there's not enough history to interest me.

#35 - The Border Lord's Wife by Bertrice Small
#36 - Fall of a Kingdom by Hilari Bell (Farsala Trilogy)
#37 - Rise of a Hero by Hilari Bell (Farsala Trilogy)

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#38 - Lost Love Found by Bertrice Small
#39 - The Spies of Sobeck by P.C. Doherty

as always, Mr. Doherty provides excellent mystery, murder and intrigue in the wonderful setting of Queen-Pharaoh Hatshepsut's (aka Hatusu) Egypt. Amerotke is an excellent, three-dimensional detective. if you love ancient Egypt and murder mysteries, this is the series for you.

#40 - A Dangerous Love by Bertrice Small
#41 - Texas Tender by Leigh Greenwood (The Cowboys)

Texas Tender is not as exciting as the other books in the series, but it was interesting to see the Maxwells travel to England and then the British lord learn to live in Texas for the sake of the woman he loved.

i stated at the beginning of the year that i wanted to read 100 NEW books...so i'm almost halfway to my goal!

i have another list i'm working on. and i am currently reading a very fascinating murder mystery set during the age of the Aztecs. it is called Demon in the Air and its author is Simon Levack. also working on Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Scion about halfway through.
team damon, vampire diaries

Books 61-62: The Vampire Diaries Books 3-5

Book 61: The Vampire Diaries (Vol2: The Fury and The Reunion) .
Author: L.J. Smith, 1991/92.
Genre: Paranormal Romance. Vampires. YA
Other Details: Paperback. 410 pages. Unabridged Audio, read by Rebecca Mozo. Book 3: 6 hours, 3 mins, Book 4: 7 hours, 2 mins.

My audio books in the car for April and May have been more of The Vampire Diaries, though as before I combined listening with reading from the paperbacks. I can't say too much about the plot of either of these books without massive spoilers for earlier ones in the series, so I'll be vague. The Fury in many ways brings the original trilogy to a natural conclusion with Elena, her school friends and the feuding vampire brothers, Stefan and Damon, finally confronting the evil that has been threatening Fell's Church.

According to her blog it was pressure from readers that caused her to write The Dark Reunion (just called The Reunion in my edition) the following year. While I can understand how enthusiastic readers might want more, I'm not sure it was a wise decision as certain plot elements felt rather weak. I did welcome the greater role played by Bonnie and Meredith in this outing as a new evil decides to inflict its attention on Fell's Church. I also appreciated Damon and Matt paying more attention to Bonnie though it was pretty obvious that Elena Gilbert, teen queen of the Robert Lee High, wasn't about to tolerate another female character getting that kind of attention!

Still I enjoyed both of these in their own terms. I remained pleased that L. J. Smith has received the acknowledgement that she had been writing YA vampire angsty romance long before Stephenie Meyer and others were on the scene.

Book 62: The Vampire Diaries: The Return - Nightfall.
Author: L.J. Smith, 2009.
Genre: Paranormal Romance. Vampires. YA
Other Details: Paperback. 471. Unabridged Audio, read by Rebecca Mozo. Length: 14 hours, 7 mins.

However, then there is The Return, a new trilogy featuring these same characters that was first announced in 1998 though took until 2009 for the first part, Nightfall, to appear in print.

Oh Lisa Jane! - where do I begin? First off, again it is hard to say much about the plot apart from the paraphrasing from the back cover of my edition which advises that when Stefan is lured away from Fell's Church it gives Damon the chance to work on convincing Elena that he's the vampire brother for her. Plus, yet again something evil has decided to make Fell's Church its playground. The poor town just doesn't seem to get a break.

In many ways this book is just a mess. Smith seems to have forgotten that only a short period of time has gone by since the end of Dark Reunion. It is still the summer holidays in 1992 - or is it? Has some timey-wimey element entered the picture or did Smith and/or her publishers figure that no modern teen could relate to a world without all the latest technology? Aside from a number of anachronisms involving technology, the time issue is most blatant when Elena says to a temporally-challenged Damon: "Damon ... It's the twenty-first century now." Umm, no, it's not. It amazes me that they thought readers wouldn't notice.

The earlier books had a fairly crisp writing style but Smith seems to have taken lessons from Ms. Meyer in terms of padding out the story with overblown descriptions. While Meyer has Bella Swann telling us over and over about the beauty of Edward Cullen, Smith waxes lyrical about the lovely Elena. Hence the book is considerably longer than the earlier ones in the series. This tendency is very notable in action sequences, where the level of description makes it seem like the action is taking place in slow motion, dissipating pretty much all of the tension.

Then there is Elena herself. Collapse ) /end of rant.

I could go on and on about the bonkers plot and weird characterisations in this book but I think I've made my point. Despite all this, I didn't throw the book across the room or rip the CD from my car player. I attribute this to having grown quite fond of the characters via the early books and the TV series and I want to know how the story plays out. I also appreciated the way in which Smith used the woods around Fell's Church in such a chilling way and the greater role for Damon.
taylor swift at billboard awards


35: The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

I initially did not like the main character, Lisbeth Salander, but she really grew on me in this book. She slightly annoyed me in the first book but by the end of this one, I loved her. Readers will also find that this book was a lot easier to "get into" than the first (a lot less Swedish economics) and I was enjoying it straight away.

The main plot is that a couple are murdered and Lisbeth is the prime suspect. However, you end up finding yourself really rooting for Lisbeth and feeling angry with men who treat women like worthless objects they can do anything to! I especially like Sociology/feminist undertones: problems with the criminal justice system, mental health (mad or bad?), institutionalised sexism, and more in this series as a lot of crime/thriller focus on a "strong" male main character.

I definitely recommend carrying on with the trilogy if you've read the first book and enjoyed it!

I'm giving it 4.5/5 instead of 5/5 because there's a lot of red herrings and it also takes a long time before the main event happens so by the time it does, the book's over. This isn't to say that the story in the middle is not interesting, but it tends to make the ending a little anti-climatic (although it is a cliff-hanger).

"There are no innocents. There are, however, different degrees of responsibility"

My Rating: 4.5/5
Amazon Rating: 4.5/5

36. Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

I'm nearing the end of my attempt at reading 50 books in a year, although I am only up to book 36, and will probably end at 37 in order to start again from 1st July.

I borrowed Everything Is Illuminated from the library as I'd heard so much about it and the Read Hard! book club was also reading it and I wanted to participate.

At the beginning, I found the book a little odd and not what I expected at all (I generally prefer to not read a book's synopsis as I like to be surprised but this sometimes results in me being confused about what is going on!). However, once I adjusted to the fact that this wasn't going to be an ordinary storyline, I really started to enjoy the humourous dialogue and was shaken by the chilling scenes. My favourite parts of the book, and character, is Alex: his letters and his English. His English is comical, intelligent, and more premium compared to a lot of people I know!

I wouldn't say I LOVED the book, but I think that's because it's very different from what I usually read, and not because I thought the book wasn't great. The style, format and storyline just takes getting used to.

"What's going on?", the hero asked. "Why aren't we going in?" "Make apologies," Grandfather told the waitress, who was only a girl, even more young than me. "I am apologizing for calling you a Jew," she said. "She is apologizing for calling you a Jew," I told the hero. "How did she know?" "She knows because I told her before, at breakfast." "You told her I was a Jew?" "It was an appropriate fact at the time. "I was drinking mochaccino." "I must correct you. It was coffee".

My Rating: 3.5/5 (I liked it, but I didn't really, really like it, or love it)
Amazon Rating: 4/5

37. Bad Science by Ben Goldacre

In this book, Ben Goldacre aims to highlight ridiculous and unscientific claims made by so-called nutritionists (like Gilliant McKeith), journalists (and others in the media) and pharmaceutical industries, from the myths of homeopathy to the dangerous and unnecessary MMR ("the MMR jab causes autism") scandal in the UK.

As a Sociology student, I found it very valuable and interesting. The book is accessable, funny and most importantly, educational.

My Rating: 4/5
Amazon Rating: 4.5/5

37 / 50 books since ~June 2009. 74% done!

Previous reviews in my journal.