Friday, May 7, 2010

Fantasy Friday

So as I mentioned on Wednesday, I recently read Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris, which for those of you who don't know is the tenth book in the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire series. And I managed this because my grocery store did, in fact, put it out for sale in advance of the sell by date. Oh noes!
One of the dangers with a successful series is the reluctance of the author to change anything about the characters since readers fell in love with them as the are. However, this eventually leads to boredom and repetition. Fortunately, this is not a problem that Harris has. Sometimes these changes are quite good, while other times they are very upsetting. Major changes started happening in book six, with all sorts of shit hitting all sorts of fans in book seven. Book eight was a rebuilding novel and then more crap hit even bigger fans in book nine. Book ten was another rebuilding novel. This is not to say it was bad, in truth, I liked it a lot more than book nine. However, it was a bit low on action and the cover synopsis was a tad misleading.
In this book we learn an awful lot about vampire politics, and Were politics (there are more than werewolves in this world, all collectively called Weres, which is confusing when writing a blog since it is spelled the same as the past tense of are), and to an extent, people politics. And there was a fair amount of vampire nookie which is always fun if it involves the fabulous Eric. Sigh.....
Overall, it was a good read, and it made me very curious about where she is taking the series and left me wanting more. Admirable qualities in a series, indeed, admirable qualities in any book. Provided there is more of course.

That's always the danger with a series, especially an open ended series. I mean, it was hard enough waiting for book seven of the Harry Potter series. I spent the whole time with this nagging worry at the back of my mind hoping nothing bad would happen to J.K. Rowling, not only since I don't typically wish ill on people but also because I had to know what happened. HAD to know. At any rate, with an open ended series the potential for disaster is much higher. Something might happen to the author, or the quality of writing will take a turn for the worse at some point and you're left all pouty over it. But I digress.

I give Dead in the Family four out of five stars. I counts towards my 100 book total, and towards the Fantasy challenge. And it has already been loaned to another fan.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

WWW Wednesday

Being sick is not fun, but this type of illness has enabled me to read a lot in the past few days. It is essentially the only activity that my constant trips to the bathroom doesn't truly interfere with. But you don't want to hear about that.

What have I recently read?: Since last Wednesday I have read King Solomon's Mines, Dead in the Family, and Woof!: Writers on Dogs. The last one was a collection of essays that I started last night after watching a disturbing episode of Law & Order SVU (I know that is sort of redundant as almost every episode of SVU is disturbing, but this one especially so, IMHO). I enjoyed some essays more than others, skipped one entirely, and skipped the remainder of one when it became obvious that nothing good was going to happen. I found Dead in the Family, the latest Sookie Stackhouse book, at the grocery store of all places, and I think they had it out in advance of the sell date. Oops!

What I am reading now?: At long last, I have resumed Educating Alice.

What will I read next?: One of the following: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, Boneshaker by Cherie Priest or The Serpent's Tale by Arianna Franklin.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Books You've Read Over and Over and Over Again

Anyone who knows me knows I like lists. Grocery lists, packing lists, book lists, all sorts of lists. So I have been wanting to join in on this meme from Lost in Books for a while, but have finally found a time when my posting and her posting can coincide.

This weeks topic: 3 books you've read over and over again

It's hard for me to pick just three, as there are numerous books from my childhood that I read repeatedly. And if things have been particularly trying for me I will re-read an Elizabeth Enright, Noel Streatfeild or Beverly Cleary book. But I didn't think that was in keeping with the spirit of this list so I'm going with books that I re-read as an adult.

The first is A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle. I promise not to start writing in French like I did oh so long ago when I reviewed it. I typically read this every year at some point. It is the book equivalent to comfort food. Interestingly enough I didn't re-read it last year. I guess there was too much to be happy about.

The second is The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore, also reviewed earlier on this blog. I re-read this every year (just about) at Christmas, for the same reasons I watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and A Christmas Story.

Finally, I would re-read each of the Harry Potter books after getting and reading the latest installment. Most people would re-read them before, but usually for me I would re-read them after to get more of that world, since that is how the books always left me feeling, wanting more.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Book Review: King Solomon's Mines

I apologize for the lack of posting. Mother nature has decided to wage war with my body by recruiting my sinuses to commit hostile attacks against me. (I have horrid allergies and must wait until the 10th of May to see a specialist). So with my breathing severely curtailed I hadn't felt much like blogging. I did, however, get some reading in. There wasn't much else I could do this weekend in my state.

At any rate, I finished King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard on Saturday. It qualifies for the Our Mutual Read challenge. I enjoyed this book, for the most part. I did want to say "get on with it" a number of times when Haggard would lapse into great descriptive detail of unimportant things, or would needlessly draw out action by describing it in massive detail, including details that don't relate to the action themselves. This trait seems to be symptomatic of literature of that time period in general though. Or at least in my (limited)experience this is the case. Additionally, the wanton destruction of big game animals for the joy of hunting and/or their tusks made me heartsick, and the condescending manner in which most of the native peoples were treated by the English men made me very uncomfortable.

I realize that the book is a product of its time, and that that to decry it for these faults would be imposing modern day sensibilities to a time over one hundred years in the past, but still. Still. It bothered me, and it mitigated my enjoyment of the book somewhat. Fortunately, these occurrences were fairly infrequent, and thus allowed me to move past my feelings. I also took comfort in the fact that it was a work of fiction and while these behaviors did take place, I was at least not reading a first hand account of these events. I doubt I could read an entire journal of someone who was in Africa at that time, or really, any other time or place when racism was so widely embraced.

Overall, I found King Solomon's Mines to be an entertaining story, but lacking in polish and subtlety. I figured out all three plot twists well in advance of the characters which I never like. My edition also happened to come with a copious amount of end notes, many of which gave unnecessary information, although many more proved quite illuminating. I am not sorry I read the book, but I doubt I will read more of Haggard's work.