Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Review of: Lots of Books

I've been reading up a storm as usual but having trouble finding time to post about all of them. Here's what I've been up to:

I found out about this book on Offbeat Bride. It is a great book, but was so general that it didn't help me out at all at this stage. I would've loved to have read this 17 months ago, or so! Wonderful, funny writing.

This book was more useful, although pretty traditional in its approach to wedding vows. I copied some pages to use as inspiration for our ceremony. Eek, we need to write that soon.

BO-RING. I felt like I was cramming for a mid-term on Halloween. Dry and scholarly.

This one was more interesting and had more fun pictures and poems and such, but I didn't even finish it, I suspect because I'd read the other Halloween book first.

What I learned: Halloween was born from the Celtic holiday Samhain and combined with All Saints' Day and even Guy Fawkes Day. The Irish and Scottish brought it to America, where it took on a life of its own. The end.

I read this awhile ago but apparently I never reviewed it. It's a creepy mystery about an old house, and family secrets, and spooky experiments. I enjoyed it, but I don't remember a ton about it, so that's not a great sign. Still, for fans of Victorian mystery, I'd recommend it. Here's a review I pulled off Amazon:
From The Washington Post's Book World/ Many of the creepy late Victorian familiars abound in The Seance: the dark woods of the English countryside, the ruined mansion with secret passages and hidden chambers and fog on the moors. There's even a sarcophagus in a dead fireplace, a tricked-out suit of armor and some apparatus for collecting electricity when lightning strikes. Drafts blow out candles at the most inopportune times.

The literary conventions of the Victorian suspense novel are present as well: the nested narratives that arrive in mysterious packets, abandoned diaries and even a family tree -- complete with married cousins. Australian John Harwood, whose Ghost Writer won an International Horror Award in 2004, writes with Poe and Dickens peering over his shoulders, shaking their wizened heads perhaps over one modern twist: The strongest characters in The Seance are two women of action.

This was a fun, trashy read about a succubus making her living by managing a bookstore and trying to avoid feeding on nice men. Other local immortals start getting killed off, and she gets pulled into the investigation...and of course into danger. Really quick read, and I'll likely check out the others in the series.

I read this for my book club, so I wouldn't normally review it, but I really loved this book, which is set in post WW 2 England and is told through a series of letters. It has that sort of Anne of Green Gables feel about it, where all the characters are quaint and lovable, and even if something dramatic happens, you know you're in for a happy ending. I totally recommend this one--make sure to curl up with a cuppa tea as you read it.

I read this one on the plane to Hawaii. My book club had read one of her previous titles, and somehow I managed to forget that although her writing is lovely, her subjects are completely depressing. This one was no different and made that flight a very long five hours. It's interesting from a historical perspective, as it starts in Shanghai in the 1930s and follows two sisters as they flee China and land on the Bay Area's own Angel Island. But there's not much joy in it, which made it a very heavy read.

Loved it! I've been referring to this one as Million Dollar Baby meets the Xmen. It's about the daughter of a genetically modified human and her eventual quest to revenge her brother, who was killed in a boxing ring. That may not sound like much, but there's so much to this novel, including a believable relationship between the protagonist and another woman, which was beautifully and lovingly rendered.

The same author wrote this book, but this one is set in the same world as the Kushiel series, only a few generations later. Like that series, this book has an Indiana-Jones type adventure vibe (mixed with lots and lots of sex) as the heroine travels the globe in search of her destiny. The end pretty much promised a sequel, to my mind, and I can't wait! Carey writes believable, smart characters.

My only complaint with Carey's writing is that the protagonist is always extraordinary. I mean, you expect that out of your hero, I guess, but even Harry Potter is a so-so wizard. Carey's heroines (and hero, if we're looking at Imriel) are always beautiful, articulate, and possess extraordinary powers. It's at once satisfying reading and also a bit like a diet of nothing but candy--sometimes too much of a good thing. But really, her writing is quite addictive, and I can't wait to read the next one!

1 comment:

Pica Maloria said...

I've read the rest of the Kushiel series, but just *could not* make it through Namaah's kiss... I *will* however try her other book though, cause in general I like her writing style. Thanks for the reviews!!