Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (5): Living Dead in Dallas

From Living Dead in Dallas, page 109.
Bill left the room in a flash. Stan's face grew even whiter, and his eyes blazed. I looked anywhere but directly at him. I didn't want to be the sight filling his eyes while he digested the fact that someone had planted a bug in his audience chamber. He had indeed been  betrayed, just not in the fashion he'd expected.
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Book Review: Living Dead in Dallas

Pages: 291
Format: Paperback
Genre:Paranormal Romance/Mystery
Star Rating: 2/5
Buy: Amazon

My Summary: Sookie Stackhouse is called to Dallas with "her" vampire (Bill Compton) to help to solve the mystery of a missing vampire who is part of a nest there. In the meantime, Sookie meets new supernatural beings and tries to solve the mystery of a murdered friend.

My Review: I liked it. But, as you can see, I gave it two stars -- less even than Dead Until Dark. Before I go on, let me assure you that I'm enjoying this series enough to finish it. It's compelling and Charlaine Harris creates good, and mostly very believable, characters. I like her style, and the more I read the Southern Vampire Mysteries, the less I like Twilight.

So why the low rating? After all, when you like a book, don't you rate it high? I guess most people do, but I'm trying to be honest both with myself (for re-reading purposes) and with my audience (so you can decide whether or not to read this book).

I found Living Dead in Dallas to be very confusing at times. There were entire pages that I had to read and re-read in order to understand what Harris was trying to say, and even then I finally accepted what happened next without fully grasping what had led up to it. The description and context was all over the place, and gave the impression of being poorly edited (probably because it's second in a series, and the fault may lie with an editor, not with Harris herself).

Moreover, this book included two mysteries, both of which were unsolvable from the point of view of the reader. While Sookie (and others) may have had enough information to solve the mystery in the context of the plot, there is no way that the reader could have, not having been given sufficient information in a timely manner. Personally I don't like that.

On the plus side, let me repeat that Harris' characterization is excellent, and makes up for the lack of good mystery writing. As I said, I will (happily) finish this series, consecutively. Hopefully Club Dead leaves a better impression.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Book Review: Dead Until Dark

Pages: 291
Format: Paperback
Genre:Paranormal Romance/Mystery
Star Rating: 3/5
Buy: Amazon

My Summary: Sookie Stackhouse is a cocktail waitress in a small town in Louisiana -- a Town where nothing happens. Vampires have recently been made legal, and the story that is being fed to the people via the media is that vampirism is caused by a virus that makes vampires allergic to sunlight, silver and garlic.

Sookie wants to meet a vampire, but once she does meet one in the form of Bill (a Civil War era vampire), bad things begin to happen to people in her small town. Working class women keep winding up dead, and the prime suspects are people very close to Sookie -- and she fears she may be the next target.

My Review: I really liked this book, just as I knew that I would. A good friend has been hounding me to read it for a while, and I must say that I found the story delightfully fulfilling.

Dead Until Dark took me a little while to get into. I was worried at first that I would find it impossible to get through the novel, but it was right about that time that things picked up quickly.

I loved this book, so why am I only giving it three stars? I can hear readers wondering this question, and I want to be absolutely honest with you: The combination of paranormal + romance + mystery was a little bit too much. There were moments where the book was pure paranormal, or where it was paranormal romance. At other times it was all mystery. I couldn't quite settle into the groove I need to really enjoy a good cozy mystery, and the mystery distracted me from the romantic elements of the story (which were, I must say, very well done).

If you enjoyed Twilight you will almost definitely enjoy Dead Until Dark. If you didn't enjoy Twilight, I still recommend this novel. You'll see why once you've read it!

ETA: Julie, have you read this yet? If not, I think you'd like it!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Update: Giving Up

My husband pointed out to me yesterday that I hadn't posted in my blog in a while. Of course, it's not as though I haven't been feeling guilty about that and not keeping up with all of you guys during this time period, but he thinks I've been distracted.

He's wrong. I've been embarrassed.

I didn't want to have to admit to you all that I was struggling with The Host and that I frankly didn't want to finish it right now. I know that I will enjoy the book at some point in the future, but this just isn't the right time for me, especially considering that I've been dying to get into the Sookie Stackhouse books.

So I've switched. My reading is down, but I'm going to be posting regularly again. I'm sorry for having disappeared, and I'll be more active now! Thanks!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Chatter: The Twilight Discussion

Here it is, as promised: The Twilight Discussion. I know I've been saying for a while that I was going to do this, but I was hoping to have the maximum amount of discussion going here (instead of one or two people pitching in a half-attentive opinion on the books).

Yes. For real. I want to talk about this.

Twilight is controversial among readers. As with many books I've read and either loved or hated, there seems to be a running theme of "smart people don't read Twilight" or "People who don't read Twilight are just snobs." People make fun of Stephenie Meyer. They make fun of her fans. They make fun of people who make fun of her. I've seen some people get downright angry about Twilight.

For a long time, I hid the fact that I was a fan. I'm sensitive to ridicule, and I am an intelligent reader (generally).

Here's what I want to know: If you liked Twilight and the books that followed: why? What drew you in? Was it the story, or the characters? Was there anything that you didn't like about the Twilight series?

If you didn't like Twilight, why didn't you like it? Did you stop after the first book or read through the entire series?

For those who haven't read the novels, I ask this: If you hate Twilight (but haven't read it/them), what makes you hate the books if you haven't read them?

I'd love to have a good discussion/debate about this subject, since so many people seem to feel so strongly about these books.

As for me, I'm a fan. I'll weigh in more later!

ETA: I thought it might help for me to point out that if you click the post title you can get to the comments. I'm looking into why the comment link isn't displaying right now. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Book Review: A Respectable Trade

Pages: 488
Format: Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
Star Rating: 4/5
Buy: Amazon

My Summary: Mehuru is a priest in the African nation of Yoruba who is captured by (black) African slavers and is sold to an English slave trader.

Frances is the niece of Lord Scott and is left orphaned and unmarried when her father dies. In desperation, she accepts the marriage proposal of a trader, Josiah Cole.

Circumstances bring Mehuru and Frances Cole together, for better or for worse. Philippa Gregory tells an amazing story of their relationship in this novel.

My Thoughts: I wept throughout the entire novel. When I say "wept" I'm not talking about the tears that often fall when I am touched by a story -- I'm talking about being moved so deeply by a book that I know that it will stay with me forever.

I've seen Amazing Grace and as much as the movie explored the depth of suffering on the slave ships, it didn't sink in fully until I had read about it, able to apply my own imagination to the story of Mehuru and his friends. And when Mehuru met Frances, it was all over for me.

This book would be very easy for me to spoil, and I want to be careful of what I say. I've been asked recently to give more detail in my reviews about what I enjoyed (or didn't enjoy) about a book -- specifically. In this book I have to say that what touched me the most was the relationships between the slaves, particularly Elizabeth (who's African name I don't know) and Mehuru. I also really liked the way that the author went out of her way to describe the way that black and white "saw" one another so differently from their own people, almost as though they were an entirely different species. As someone who is in her thirties in the 21st century, I find this so difficult to relate to, but it helped to bring me closer to real understanding of what it might have been like in the 18th century.

I enjoy Philippa Gregory and look forward to reading more from her!

Teaser Tuesday (4): The Host

From The Host by Stephenie Meyer, page 37:

"'And eat something, please. I don't want your stomach to give us away.' He grins, and his eyes crinkle up, fanning lines out of the corners. My heart gives one hard thump, and I know I will wait here if it takes him all night."
 I have to confess that I am not particularly enjoying this book so far.I thought that I would, especially after reading Juju's review of the book. She was spot on in saying that this book is entirely different than Twilight -- the problem that I'm facing is that so far I don't feel that it has any of the good qualities of the author's previous books, leaving me a bit befuddled and agitated by the wordiness.

I'm getting into it, but the process is slow. Regardless of how I'm feeling, I will definitely be finishing, hopefully on a better note than I started. I've read so many good reviews I'd hate to be the first negative, especially as a Twilight fan!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (3): A Respectable Trade

From A Respectable Trade by Philippa Gregory, page 127:

"'I do hate niggers,' Honoria said quietly to Frances as the men talked across the table. 'I wonder how you can bear to teach them. I won't have them near me.'"
 From A Respectable Trade by Philippa Gregory, page 151:

"'I could just beat them, ma'am.' John offered. 'That's what we always did in Jamaica. Beat them till they were quiet.'"

There are so many great lines in this book, but none of them in isolation will really give you a feel for this novel. While I'd been looking forward to reading it, I didn't expect the overwhelming sense of sadness that reading this book gives me. I've watched movies about the slave trade and have been touched, but there is nothing to compare with the ability to use your own sense of indignation and imagination to pull together from the pages of a book. I weep nearly constantly reading this one and it's exhausting, but very much worth it.

I'd like to take this opportunity to let you know that I'm going to be going out of town from tomorrow until, I imagine, next Tuesday. I may be able to make posts, but it's unlikely that I will have time to do a lot of commenting during this upcoming week. Please don't be offended if I'm not around much, or miss me. I'll be back!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

What a Sunday! ... Awards

Well, you can imagine my surprise when I received three awards in one day! My blog is still so new (you'll notice it's only been around since the beginning of April) and I was worried I'd have trouble finding followers. You can imagine me over here rolling my eyes at my own suppositions, because I've found a huge number of lovely bloggers out there in the book blogging world, and all of you are so supportive and creative and interesting. I'm embarrassed to say that I talk about you with my husband, who fortunately could never be bored by books or blogging. Otherwise I'd be in trouble.

The first award comes from Cat, at Tell me a Story. I was on my way to bed last night when I caught this one checking my e-mail for the last time. Cat is in NZ, so when I'm going to bed, she's starting her day!

I can't express enough how much I appreciate this, and your comments, Cat. I was grinning ear to ear when I told my husband that I'd gotten this award!

1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2. Pass the award to other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

I had to skip last week's hop because my Internet was having so many problems. It seems like it's okay today, so I should be able to do some good commenting in the next day or so (though most likely later in the evenings, since I do have a toddler.

I'm passing this award on to blogs that I found during the Blog Hop the week before last. I don't have fifteen blogs to pass this one on to (yet) since I haven't been doing this all that long and only started following ten new blogs from the Hop the other week (and one of those was Cat :) ). So here's the nine!

1. Beth at Maybe Tomorrow
2. Emily at Emily's Reading Room
3. Book Quoter at A Thousand Books with Quotes
4. Elizabeth at Swords for Fighting
5. Jillian at Random Ramblings
6. Kris at Voracious YAppetite
7. Karen at For What it's Worth
8. Leanna at Daisy Chain Book Reviews
9. salarsenッ at Writer's Ally

I will choose another five people after next week's blog hop (I'll be out of town this week).

I literally laughed out loud when I read bibliophiliac's post about this award. I can certainly relate to receiving several awards in the space of a day, though in my case, they were all different. This is my second time on this one, so I'm going to try to choose different bloggers this time.

Once again, seven blogs.

1. Chelle at Time Out
2. Jen at The Introverted Reader
3. Mummazappa at The Book Nerd Club
4. Suko at Suko's Notebook
5. Yvonne at Socrates' Book Reviews
6. Julie at Reading Without Restraint
7. Cherry at Cherry Mischievous

This one comes from Miel Abeille at Bons Vivants.It's going to be tough not to pass it back to her, because frankly, she's been a wonderful supporter of my blog, and she's an all-round great person. I really appreciate this award, Melissa!

This one is meant to be passed on to twelve blogs. Please don't be surprised if I double-award this one, because many of the bloggers I am inclined to award with anything are some of the most faithful of followers. Thank you again, Melissa!

2. Mummazappa at The Book Nerd Club
3. Mel U at The Reading Life
4. bibliophiliac at bibliophiliac
5. Elle at Media Molly
6. Juju at Tales of Whimsy (sorry, I know Melissa got you too!)

I'm three short. I've already doubled a couple of people up and I know that Juju got this award from Melissa as well. I'm a tiny bit stuck with this one since I'm such a new blogger. I'll get around to the other four at some point in the future, I'm sure!

I'll be handing these out tonight, so look for some comments from me!

Wow, What a Sunday! ... Giveaways

Well, it's been a very interesting day, and I have a lot of things to share with you folks today. I'm going to start with four interesting giveaways that I've found (no, I'm not giving anything away -- at least not yet. I will probably do a 100 follower giveaway though at some point in the future!).

The first is from Julie, at Reading Without Restraint.If I had to honestly choose a favorite genre of books, it would have to be thriller/suspense, provided that the books are well written and challenging. In other words, I like to be kept guessing! That being said, I have tended to read a lot of thrillers in the past. Almost anything I could get my hands on cheap, I read. So of course I'm interested in this giveaway!

Julie is giving away an ARC of Neighborhood Watch. The book sounds interesting, definitely like something I know I'd like to read. So please, head on over to her site and enter the giveaway!

Thanks for this one, Julie!

Muse in the Fog has two giveaways going on right now, both (of course!) historical fiction, which is fast becoming a favorite genre of mine (alright, is there any genre that I don't absolutely love? Yes, yes, Science Fiction, but other than that?).

The first book that is being given away is The Queen's Pawn.I know that I've been wanting to read this one for a while, so I wanted to mention it here for some more points and so that any of my followers who enjoy historical fiction can get in on the giveaway. It's a big one and it ends on the 10th. I wish I'd found it sooner (sorry!).

The second book that is being given away is Mistress of Rome. I love Roman history. 'Nuff said. Head on over and get in on this one now if you haven't already. It ends tomorrow.

I just ran into a fourth giveaway that I should have found yesterday but somehow missed! Jillian over at Random Ramblings is having a 165 follower giveaway. Please check it out!

That's it for giveaways, hopefully for the entire week! I don't enter a lot of these because I don't often find books that interest me this much, but best of luck to anybody who has already entered or who enters with me!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Book Review: Shutter Island

Title: Shutter Island 
Author: Dennis Lehane
Pages: 369
Format: Paperback
Genre: Thriller
Star Rating: 3/5
Network: Shelfari | Goodreads | Librarything
Buy: Amazon

My Summary: U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule are called to Shutter Island, the home of Ashcliffe hospital for the criminally insane. A dangerous murderess has escaped and is loose on the island, having simply disappeared from her cell. There is no way that she can get off the island, and it is the job of Marshals Daniels and Aule to find her before it's too late.

My Thoughts: This was a very predictable book. It began slowly in the first two chapters, which seemed nearly interminable at first, but once the pace of the book began to pick up, I found it easy to determine the outcome of the novel before I had finished with Day 1 (or Part 1).

Dennis Lehane has talent: there is no question about that. He pulled me through the book skillfully and I finished it in a record day and a half (something I haven't done in years). My problem is that I felt as though the book was fairly typical for the genre, and didn't bring anything new to the party. I was hoping for something somewhat more original from Lehane, though I will probably try another of his books in the future.

Note to my Followers: If this book is on your TBR list, keep it there. It's worth the read. Don't let my 3 star rating discourage you in the least. I enjoyed the novel enough to rip through it in less than two days. It kept me going, regardless of my tendency to figure things out perhaps a bit too easily!