Wednesday, 20 April 2011

W.W.W Wednesdays

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?

• What do you think you’ll read next?

(Special thanks to "Should Be Reading" for the idea)

What am I currently reading?:

-Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (for the book club). Only read a small amount so far, but it's funny. Not as easy to read as the YA books I've been reading lately.

-Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar -Teen trash, sometimes I need a break from the wizards and demons. Like book candy, tastes good while you're eating it, but has little substance.

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote - A Classic I'd never read. It's good, really good.

Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher - I love Harry Dresden. I listen to the audio books of this series when I run. It's narrated by James Marsters. Best book narrator I've ever heard.

What did I just finish?:

ay by Suzanne Collins -Someday I'll get round to reviewing this book...

Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz
- Sort of like "Pretty Little Liars" with more secrets, oh and vampires.

Watchers by Dean Koontz
-Got to love Dean Koontz. This one was less violent and had more mainstream appeal then many of his others. I would recommend it.

Dead Beat by Jim Butcher - Harry Dresden is the one of the best literary characters ever written. Jim Butcher is a genius.

What do I think I'll read next?:

What ever the book club votes on.

The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis
-Found this at the library, I had wanted to read it years ago, figured I'd give it a shot.

White Night by Jim Butcher -Of course.

There you have it. What about you? Answer the questions yourself in the comments.

Monday, 11 April 2011

The Vampire Diaries: The Return, Shadow Souls

Description (from the back of the book):

Elena Gilbert's love, the vampire Stefan Salvatore, has been captured and imprisoned by demonic spirits who are wreaking havoc in Fell's Church. While her friends Bonnie and Meredith explore the evil that has taken over their town, Elena goes in search of Stefan.

In order to find him, she entrusts her life to Stefan's brother, Damon Salvatore, the handsome but deadly vampire who wants Elena, body and soul. Along with her childhood friend Matt, they set out for the slums of the Dark Dimension, where Stefan is being held captive. It is rumored to be a world where vampires and demons roam free, but humans must live enslaved to their supernatural masters. . . .

Elena will stop at nothing to free Stefan. Yet with each passing day the tension between Elena and Damon grows, and she is faced with a terrible decision: Which brother does she really want?

This review contains spoilers!!

Hmmm I wonder who Elena will chose? Each book promises this "love triangle", but really it's Stefan, always Stefan, there's never really any doubt. To be fair, this book comes the closest to Elena actually questioning her feelings for Damon, though it's only because Stefan is physically absent. As soon as Stefan is back, it's ALL about him. Which is fine, but don't lie to us about this complicated decision, from the first chapter of the first book, Elena's mind is made up.

The best:
-Stefan is gone, so there's far less super gooey "lovely love" baby talk between Elena and Stefan, there's still some, as Elena visits him in dreams and they attempt to nauseate us with their undying love.
-Damon has a lasting chance at redemption. Damon is better than in the last book, some of the sense of humor is back.
-Elena and Damon build a much stronger bond. It was interesting to see how their relationship would go, well "interesting" is probably too strong a word.
-I liked that Damon got turned into a human at the last second of the last book and Stefan gets super pissed (Damon does so much stuff and this mistake is what Stefan wants to kill him over?). Though the way it happens is stupid (plus, I had forgotten after watching too much of the television show how much Damon does NOT want to be human, glad they changed that in the show, makes it way more interesting).

The worst:
-The reiterating the SAME things over and over is really grating. "Elena is sweet, and kind, and pure and the most perfect being in existence". "Bonnie is fragile and delicate, emotional and weak". Yep, we got that the first 500 times, we do not need paragraph after paragraph of discussion about it.

-There's an exorbitant amount of time spent talking about clothes and jewelry, and what Elena is wearing, right down to her custom perfumes. This wouldn't be so bad (wait, yes it would be) if the characters hadn't JUST been talking about the urgency to save Stefan. Somehow everything they have to "get" to save him involves ANOTHER set of dresses and another 5 or 6 pages of descriptions of frivolous crap (seriously, there are descriptions of how the lighting at the various events will be, so they can accurately decide what colors to wear...). Even when "rushing" to visit Stefan, they must first waste a bunch of time making custom stuff for Elena (and others) to wear.

-The entire book is about a road trip to save Stefan from prison, and when they get to the actual rescue, it's over in half a page. The mere presence of a set of Elena's "wings" cause the plant-woman chasing them to crash into them and die (couldn't have whipped those babies out 10 pages ago when this creature started her pursuit?).

Bottom line: Better than Nightfall. About the same as the first four.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Summery: "In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on
live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love."

Review: The Hunger Games is about a corrupt government punishing its citizens by sentencing their children to fight to death in an brutal, televised, staged environment. It's part "Survivor", part "Battle Royale", part "Lord of the Flies". By design the book is uncomfortable. There's no denying that everyday life for these people is terrible; the "Games" are just the horrific icing on the oppressive cake that is life under the control of the Capitol. Just reading it made me want to escape. It's stifling. In creating this environment Collins made the reader really feel what Katniss was going through. This is the book's greatest accomplishment.

The book is told in the first person and ordinarily this is my favorite type of narrative, but in this case I thought it limited the action in the story. Having only the ability to see Katniss's perspective left little to no pay off for the long tense scenes. I would have really enjoyed some actual combat.

There's a lot of praise for this book, and it certainly is a book that keeps you turning the page, is it worth all the hype? I suppose as much as any book. I liked it, I didn't LOVE it, but I'm pretty particular. I can say that it's better than most books I have read lately and the best book the "Supernatural Book Club" has read so far. Perhaps it was the subject matter that prevented me from loving it. I distrust the government and it stands to reason that I don't like any book that features citizens being oppressed by an all powerful governing body. That's probably it. Everyone else in the book club loved The Hunger Games.

Spoilers ahead:
Other than the subject matter in general, there were a couple other issues that prevented me from loving this book. First was the protagonist and narrator of the story, Katniss Everdeen. Katniss is difficult to like; she's hardened, stubborn, automatically distrustful and self involved. I understand that she's self involved because she HAS to be; she's had the task of caring completely for her mother and sister since she was was eleven years old. She's so self sufficient that it's easy to forget she's a sixteen year old girl.

Then there's the love story, which becomes as frustrating for the reader as it does for the characters. Katniss struggles to understand her feelings for Peeta, a boy who clearly is in love with her (and is so absolutely sure about his feelings), and her indecision is absolutely grating. Does she love him? Is she simply playing along to stay alive? The whole thing got really old fast. On the plus side, the love story did make me like Peeta more for being so faithful and loyal to Katniss, willing to do anything to protect her.

Bottom line: I give The Hunger Games a solid B. An easy read and an intriguing story; a great start to a series. The protagonist is a little tough to relate to, but I can see that changing as the series goes on. Collins' ability to make you feel what the characters are feeling partially makes up for the flaws in her main character.