Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Dream-Hunter by Sherrilyn Kenyon

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks (February 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312938810
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312938819
  • I finished this book on Feb. 27
I will admit something, this was one of those books in the checkout aisle at the supermarket, and I had to get it. With this face staring out at me, how could I not? Anywho, it was actually surprisingly cooler than I was expecting.
Arikos is a dream god called a Scotos, a god who has no emotion, except those that he gleans from humans in their dreams. Skoti are a lower class god and they are beaten and abused by the higher classes. The only thing they can feel is physical pain from this. Arikos becomes infatuated with a human woman, whose dreams intrigue him. But when she wakes up he can't feel anymore. So he makes a deal with Hades to become human for two weeks to be with her in real life, but the catch is that he has to kill her and bring her soul to Hades upon his return. He makes the deal without understanding at first, but feels no real remorse because, well, he has no feelings. Megeara, the human Arikos is infatuated with is obsessed with finding Atlantis. So he comes to Earth as a human and tries to help her. It turns out that every other Greek God has a stake in whether or not Atlantis is found, and they come to play having crazy god-brawls all over Greece.
I liked all the stuff about the different Gods, it was neat to see them personified in this story. The writing was clumsy at times, but the story was interesting. All in all, it was cooler than I was expecting. It was not the goofy sexy fluff I was expecting, so that was good. Kenyon obviously has an expansive knowledge of Greece and Greek myths, which she put to good use here, and it gave substance to her story. And wow, her website and myspace that doesn't look like myspace are more crazy nerd goth chick than I am in my wildest dreams. Good times. The best part, kids? She writes vampire books, so yeah...I'll probably read one of those in the future, but I have to read some respected literature pretty soon, or they will revoke my library card.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Song in the Dark by P.N. Elrod

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ace; Reprint edition (September 26, 2006)
  • ISBN-10: 0441013732
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441013739
  • I finished this book on Feb. 26
So, dear readers, you know I've been trying to find a good vampire book besides the YA variety (not that those aren't the best ever!) and after my last failed attempt, I had high hopes for this one. It was not really what I was expecting, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Jack Flemming is a vampire night club owner in 1938 Chicago. In this book Flemming has stepped into his friend's shoes as a mob boss while he is temporarily out of commission. While, as a nearly invincible vampire it is relatively safe to be in the mob, it is a bad choice of extracurricular activities if you are suffering post traumatic stress, which Flemming is. Apparently, this on is the most recent book in a huge series by Elrod. Anyway, the deal is that Flemming got tortured pretty bad in the previous tome and now his vampire tricks are all wonky.
There is some really solid historical fiction action in here, with many references to real mob guys like Al Capone and lots of talk about old songs and clothing, which I think is neat. Elrod's take on vamp mythology is a little weird for me, but I'm not mad at it. The funny part is, it's actually some of the more traditional views on vamps, but I suppose I'm used to more modern twisting of the lore. For instance, Flemming has no reflection and can evaporate into mist (which is super convenient). In a more modern vein (ask me if I'm sorry about that pun, totally not) Flemming has a conscience and doesn't feed on humans, unless they are already dead (and you encounter a lot of dead people when you're in the mob, I'll have you know). There was also a twist at the end which I had suspected the whole time, and that made me feel like a genius for a day.
The moral of the story is that this was pretty good, entertaining, sort of funny and interesting. I won't be reading more in the series right now, but I may pick them up someday. For anyone who is interested in non fiction vampire info such as details on beliefs in different cultures etc, there are several books available. I like Vampires: The Occult Truth by Konstantinos.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Blood Brothers by Michael Schiefelbein

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Alyson Books (October 1, 2002)
  • ISBN-10: 1555837298
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555837297
  • I finished this book on Feb. 21
Let me paint a picture for you, boys and girls. Imagine me (diminutive librarian wannabe) looking for fun vampire books to inter library loan. Blood Brothers comes up and the way I understand it is that it's a vampire book about gay boys. Now, I heart vampires, and I love the gays, in other words, I'm so there. So, I order it. Now imagine me going to pick it up and getting a load of the gayest cover ever!!! I mean, really kids, this cover is not joking around at all. The title might as well have been Gay Porn. Needless to say, I was embarrassed to check it out, and I am never embarrassed about stuff like this. Folks, I chuckled about this one all the way home. Which I feel is healthy, because everyone should have a laugh at their own expense once in a while.
So, okay, now let me tell you this: I get it home and start to read (how can you not?)'s not about vampires. I was a little annoyed at this, but I must say that the plot was really not bad, even though there was no creatures of the night. Turns out that every other book by this guy is a vampire book and I'm an idiot. What it is about is Spanish monks. Seriously. Their names are Juan Ramon and Bernardo. No, really. So anyway, Juan Ramon's parents were brutally killed in front of him when he was a wee boy. The guy behind the killing is his father's business partner Esteban (seriously). Juan Ramon lies out a Count of Monte Cristo style revenge plot, centered around getting to Esteban through his monk son, Bernardo. Things don't turn out the way he planned, of course, because they fall in love.
The book is written from the points of view of both men, in alternating chapters. Juan Ramon's chapters reminded me a little bit of the narrator Frank, from The Postman Always Rings Twice, not big on emotion and a bit vulgar, but sort of likable. In my head I kept trying to set this book in the past, but then a computer would show up and it would ruin my mojo. I guess I don't think of monks running around on trains in Spain in 2007.
To be honest, the book also raised some interesting ideas of God and chastity and sin. The problem of sexuality for the monks was more about temptation and celibacy, not the fact that they were homosexual. I did have a little problem with the end because one of the characters does something so against what the previous 200 pages has told us about him. But I can't really dog it too much, I was, after all, expecting vampires.
I wouldn't recommend this for anyone offended by man love (obviously) and if you are new to gay literature, I wouldn't start here. This is more a gay harlequin romance than literature, per se. There are a lot of good gay YA books out there that aren't too graphic. Those interested should read Geography Club by Brent Hartinger or Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez. The latter is written in the same style as Blood Brothers, with different characters narrating in different chapters. For the latest gay news online check out The Advocate or

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Poplorica by Martin J. Smith and Patrick J. Kiger

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Collins; Reprint edition (April 12, 2005)
  • ISBN-10: 0060535326
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060535322
  • List Price: $12.95
  • I finished this book on Feb. 20
Okay, so this book officially wins the longest subtitle award, ready? Here is it: A Popular History of the Fads, Mavericks, Inventions, and Lore that Shaped Modern America. Yeah. So that's that. I don't even have to describe it, it's right there for you.
Basically the book is set up so that each chapter is one thing that supposedly super affected our culture. I really liked a few of the entries, but I was not so hot on most of them. I understand the impact that lawn care, air conditioning and wrinkle free fabric had on society, but that is not really the fun, silly stuff I was hoping for. My favorite entries are, of course the one on Night of the Living Dead and the one on Kinsey's honeymoon. (Not just because I heart zombies and sex, either...okay, that's why) I also enjoyed the inclusion of velvet art. Even though I appreciated the addition of these fun things I was not in love with this book.
There was something about it that made even interesting topics seem dull. I guess the writing style just didn't appeal to me that much. Nothing about it was exciting. The last chapter is titled "Think we blew it?" this is in reference to their choices. They invite people to share their choices at their website. But it wasn't necessarily the choices that I didn't like, it was the writing.
One plus though, is that at the end of each chapter there is a little "Want More?" section with suggested reading on each topic. And the back has a full list of citations and further reading by chapter. The librarian in my liked that. But there was something lacking in the overall presentation of this book. Le sigh.
Because I do love pop culture, and I don't recommend this book, here are some of my favorite pop culture blogs for your viewing (aka: time wasting) pleasure.
Pop Candy
Best Week Ever
Pop Goes the Library

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (May 14, 1989)
  • ISBN-10: 0679723250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679723257
  • List Price: $10.95
  • I finished this book on Feb. 18
  • This book is number 98 on the list.
I wanted to read this one anyway, and finding it on the list was really just an added bonus. I've seen both the John Garfield/Lana Turner version of the movie and the JackNicholson/Jessica Lange one as well. As for those, I like the older one better, though the new one was sexier and had a better poster. Anywho, having seen those films I was surprised at how short the book was.
This one is called one of the original thrillers, and it does not disappoint. A young man takes a job at a restaurant run by an older man and his femme fatale wife. They begin a torrid/borderline violent affair and decide to kill him. It doesn't work. So they decide anything worth doing is worth doing twice and give it another go. This time they succeed. Then they go to court. And get away with it...for a while.
The story is narrated by the young man, in his sort of poor English tramp speak. There is added bonus 1940's slang (stinko = drunk) and good use of the phrase 'hell-cat'. The story really has an in depth plot and it flows along surprisingly fast. I was impressed with the naughty bits, they were not all that graphic but they were very racy for their time. I was pleasantly surprised on that count.
I also really like the title, and was disappointed not to have an explanation of it in this story (the Lana Turner movie has an explanation, while the Jessica Lange one does not). I suppose I sort of assumed it would be there and it wasn't. Then, in doing research, I read conflicting opinions on what it meant. I'd like to give my take on it, because, well, it's my blog. The title refers to the idea that if you are expecting a letter or package, even if you miss it the first time it comes, the postman will always comes around a second time. Eventually, you will get it. The same is true of fate, even if you manage to dodge it once it will come back around and get you in the end. That is what this story is about, and what makes the ending so perfect and kind of oddly sad at the same time.
My final thought on this one is that it should have been higher on the list, if for nothing else, the appeal it has. It's racy, it's a crime story. It is fun, some of the others on the list...not so much. That's all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (December 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385733410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385733410
  • List Price: $9.99
  • I finished this book on Feb. 14
So, this one is the sequel to A Great and Terrible Beauty. Could these titles be any cooler? Plus, I'm digging the cover art, pretty girls, excellent font, check them out here, and here. And did I mention that our author's name sounds like one of her characters' names? Cause it does.
In this edition our heroine Gemma discovers that her actions at the end of the last book have left some serious repercussionsin the Realms (a magic world she can visit). Sexy Indian Kartik is back and Gemma also has a new suitor, Simon. There is suitable tension and quite a good twist in there, as well as Victorian Era teen girl hijinks.
One thing I was surprised by in the first book, and even more so in this one, is the use of some real 'issues'. Things like cutting, incest/rape, and drug addict parents are things I normally think of when I'm thinking modern realistic fiction, not period pieces. But, they are all present here. It doesn't bother me though, maybe because they aren't overly dramatic in context. I guess I just didn't think that girls in corsets were cutting themselves. Little did I know.
In other news, I like the About the Author blurb in the back of the book which urges the reader to visit the author's website (but if you're busy, she understands) so I did. I was not that impressed with it. I thought the Random House site was only marginally better. However, in my searching I did come across some serious fan sites (apparently people are really crazy about Gemma and the girls) as well as info about the upcoming movie. Is every YA book ever being made into a movie?? I think so. So, there should be another book in this series coming out sometime this year. I'll keep my eye out for it, hopefully it will also have an excellent title.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

By These Ten Bones by Clare B. Dunkle

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (April 14, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805074961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805074963
  • List Price: $16.95
  • I finished this book on Feb. 10
I sat around for quite a while before writing this one trying to cook up something definitive to share with you. Honestly, I've got nothing. So, here goes: let me set the scene for you: it's the Middle Ages. Our heroine is not that attractive. She meets a boy who has a secret. Guess what? He's a werewolf. She decides she's gonna let that slide. Chaos ensues. There is a lot of "I love you" action being thrown around here, but not even kissing. Lame-o.
Here's what I liked about it: the historical fiction-y aspects of it were interesting and very well researched, according to the author's webpage; here. I liked the werewolf lore in the story okay, including the "cure".
Here's what I didn't like: the character development wasn't as deep as I had hoped. I wasn't particularly attached to anyone of them. The story didn't feel particularly solid to me.
But mostly, I'm just feeling kinda "eh" about this one. I'm not mad at it, but I don't want to date it either, you know? Werewolves are second in my heart after vampires, and I can really get behind a monster who doesn't want to be a monster, but for some reason, I am not really feeling this book. Yes, it's a YA book, so I am trying to put it in that context in my head. But another YA werewolf book, Blood and Chocolate, keeps coming to mind, and it is overshadowing this one, big time. I would suggest that one over this one, and if you're interested, check out this werewolf site here.

Friday, February 9, 2007

New Moon by Stephanie Meyer

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers (August 21, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316160199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316160193
  • List Price: $17.99
  • I finished this book on Feb. 9
Wow, I'm still all flushed from finishing this one, folks. Ever since I read Twilight, the first book in this series, I have been dying to get my hot paws onto the sequel. It did not disappoint, my friends.
In this edition, Edward pulls a typical moves and tries to leave Bella because he feels he puts her in danger. Hasn't he seen any movies or read any books? Doesn't he know that this scenario virtually never works... for anyone? Typically this results in heart break and then the jilted person does something rash. This is exactly what happens: Edwards leaves and Bella plunges into despair. She makes friends with someone who turns out to be a werewolf. Total shenanigans ensue, including motorcycles and jumping off cliffs. Not to mention nasty vengeful redhead vampires.
I liked seeing the other vamps in Italy, even if they were creepy. I liked all the Romeo and Juliet allusions. There were many good things in this one, even if there was a lack of Edward.
This book was slower in parts through the middle than the first, but I still really liked it. I was totally mad about them being broken up through most of it, but I liked Bella's friendship with Jacob, too. I like the contrast of the guys (the species?) and I love the loose ends and sweet promises for a new book, which should be out sometime late this summer. Did I mention that there was a proposal in this one? Even if it wasn't as achingly romantic as this girl would have hoped it did make my night. I'm not entirely sure I will be able to make it until the next book comes out.
I know it's stupid, and probably not going to happen but I want someone to turn Bella into a vampire in the next book. I want it to be Edward, but since he probably won't here's how I think it should go down: Some other bad guy ( or girl) vamp gets at her and she turns and it's not anyone's fault, and no one in the family can be blamed or feel guilty, and then she gets what she wants and Edward can't be too mad. That's way too convenient and completely not going to happen, but it's a long time from now until summer and I can dream...sigh.
There's also talk of making Twilight into a movie, which I want to see badly. But I'm also concerned that they'll wreck it. Here's hoping...

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman's Library; New Ed edition (December 17, 1992)
  • ISBN-10: 185715133X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857151336
  • List Price: $21.58
  • I finished this book on Feb. 6
  • Number 4 on the list.
Okay, so I think that everyone has an idea about this book. It's one of those books that you hear about, and maybe wonder about. I admit I was very curious, having seen the newer film version, to get my hands on it.
For those who don't know, Lolita is often banned, challenged and considered obscene, as are many of the books on the list (see which ones, here). It is the confession of a man in prison. Humbert Humbert stole away his 12 year old stepdaughter and systematically raped her for years. Hum unapologetically explains his thought processes and habits. Though the sex scenes are never very graphic, the explanations of his habits are still disturbing.
Somehow, though the subject matter is upsetting and in fact there really is no uplifting message nor is there redemption at any point, I found Humbert's telling of the story easily accessible. I found him poetic, and while I didn't sympathize with him, I'm not even going to lie that there were times when I was rooting for him. Though the whole of Humbert's tale is about child rape, there were really only two sections I found overly disturbing, and they were both brief and not at all graphic. I have a feeling I was not as freaked as I thought I would be because you kinda go into it knowing what it's about and that's what you're getting into. You are prepared. Plus, like I said, Humbert is an eloquent story-teller.
Movie side note: In the film version Jeremy Irons plays Hum. Though I find him wonderful in the role, the Humbert of the book is very handsome. While I find Irons oddly attractive, he is not, perhaps, as beautiful as the novel's Humbert proclaims himself to be. Okay, sorry, back to the book.
The book uses a lot of repetition, as well as copious allusions to other works. Humbert also goes to great pains to describe Lolita to us. Her beauty her actions, his feelings. At times, it's actually sort of romantic, until you remember that he's talking about a little girl. One thing that kept bugging me throughout, is that our main character speaks French, a lot. With no translation. I could understand some of this from high school French, but not much. It wouldn't have killed me to know what he was really saying in this parts, I'm just saying. There were some sections where the action of the story dragged, but Humbert's narration usually brought me through them without boredom. In researching this book after reading it, I liked coming across all the different covers. A google image search shows several different, as well as pictures from the movie, if you interested, dearies. The cover I have is simply the title and a flower with some wilted petals. Lame-o. I prefer the lips, or the pigeon-toed legs covers, personally.
So, the moral of this story is: I liked this book the most so far out of the ones I've read from the list.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf; Reissue edition (August 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440213460
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440213468
  • List Price: $5.99
  • I finished this book on Feb. 3
I read this book in one day after finishing Twilight. I think I wanted more vampire goodness. This did not exactly do it for me, to be honest. Klause has another book out, which I liked called Blood and Chocolate (about werewolves and now a movie, also). So, I thought, I liked her other book, and I love vampires, so this is a sure thing. But...not so much.
The story is about a teen girl whose best friend is moving away (bummer) and whose mother is dying of cancer (super bummer). One night she sees a strange boy in the park. He scares her and though they lock eyes they do not speak. Then she meets him again on the street, and they talk. She seems to think he's nice, but nothing more. Then she sees him in an alley eating a bird (yikes) and runs away (good move). However, directly after this incident she proceeds to let him into her house where she is home alone and hang out with him. What? By this time I am annoyed. There is nothing smooth about this progression, their relationship is odd to me, off kilter somehow. He trusts her with his vampy secret and she lets him drink her blood and now I'm mad. It's a good scene, but meshed into the story in a weird way.
The characters are odd, and their dialog is not natural, nor compelling. I liked the idea of the story, but nothing really did it for me. The main villain, a child vamp, was not scary enough for me. Believe me, a child can be a scary foe (Stephen King did it, twice, not to mention Anne Rice's Claudia) but this evil child was not chilling. I also felt that the climax was rushed. The whole vanquishing of the bad guy part was not even exciting to me.
Also, there is a pretty preachy moral to this story. Something along the lines of accepting death, blah blah, living life to the fullest, blah blah.
Overall, I'm not mad I read it, but I wanted for it to be better. I had high hopes, and they were sadly unfulfilled. I can't hate on Mrs. Klause too much though, because she is a librarian, and I love the library ladies. (I wonder if she ever booktalks her own books? I totally would.) Anywho, I definitely suggest reading her werewolf book instead of her vampire book.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers (October 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316160172
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316160179
  • List Price: $17.99
  • I finished this book on Feb. 3
Wow, guys, you're not seeing things, it's two Bee symbols of highest booknerd praise in a row. I just finished reading this and I'm still all pumped. Why? Because #1 I heart YA books. #2 I heart vampires. #3 This is almost exactly the book I would want to write if I were able to write an actual book and not just nerdy blogs. For real, folks, I feel that I have daydreamed nearly every part of this book at some time in my life. So good! For real.
So, here's the scoop: Bella has just moved to some tiny town near Seattle with her father. She hates the area, prefers sunny Phoenix, but has moved here to give her mother some space. Anywho: on her first day she sees this incredibly beautiful "family" of adopted kids sitting together at lunch. Who are they? Vampires. Does she fall in love with one of them, thereby putting herself in incredible danger? Yes sir. Is it cool and sexy? You'd better believe it.
This book mixes cool vampness with a lot of good tension and plenty of confused, angsty teenness. Also, Bella, our hero, is super clumsy and I am also super clumsy, so you know, maybe a vampire is on love with me. (probly not). I really liked Bella's first person narration and her total social awkwardness at times. It was not enough to be annoying, in fact it was totally realistic.
Also, this book has a sequel already in print, and according to Mrs. Meyer, the whole things some big series. So that's excellent too. This book is so popular with the YA kids I know and it's checked out at nearly every library in the area. I'm stoked to read the next book in the series, when I can get my hot little hands on it. In the meantime, there's more reading (book outtakes?? effin outstanding!) at her website, here.
Hmm, if I can't get the sequel at the library, maybe I can find some more vampire goodness. Just keeping you posted!