Saturday, February 20, 2010

Not too YA to be enjoyed by Adults

The Lightening Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book 1)
Rick Riordan

Fantastic young adult book or too juvenile to be thoroughly enjoyed by adults? I had heard both arguments for and against the Percy Jackson books and I am officially in the loved it camp!

Twelve year old Percy Jackson is considered a trouble maker - he bounces from school to school, has dyslexia and ADHD, and weird things are always happening to him. He simply thinks that the teachers are right about him, he's a below average human being who isn't going to be anybody special, until he vaporizes his math teacher and realizes that something odd is going on! Percy quickly learns that Greek mythology is still alive and well in modern-day US, his father is a Greek god, and Percy must find and return Zeus' lightening bolt or the gods will start a war that makes the Trojan War look like a playground skirmish. Aided by two unlikely friends, can Percy Jackson prove that he is a hero...and not a zero?

Was the dialogue simple? Yes. Was the plot fairly predictable? Yes. Was this book written for 9-12 year olds? Yes! I'm not suggesting this is a literary masterpiece but, given the target audience, I thought it was a wonderful adventure story full of Mike Brady-esque lessons on friendship, overcoming your personal challenges, and discovering who you really are. I absolutely adore the mythology aspects of the book and think it is a clever way to expose younger kids to Greek gods and stories; one of my favorite elective courses in college was mythology and this book inspired me to bust back out some of my books and refresh myself on the characters!

I will definitely be picking up the second installment :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Loyalty for one of my favorite series!

Loyalty in Death (Book 10)
J.D. Robb

My 2010 reading year started off a little rough - several 2 star books and The Stand. I needed a guaranteed good-read to get me back on track...and Eve and Roarke are always good reads! A woman who unprovoked and cold-heartedly murders her long-term millionaire boyfriend by drilling him to the wall with the power tool that he, ironically, manufactures; a disenchanted veteran of the Urban Wars, who went underground as a genius electronics guru, is found dead with his tongue cut out; and Eve gets ominous threats declaring that the corrupt government must be disbanded and returned to the faithful citizens. Eve, her fearless aide Peabody, her literary drool-worthy husband Roarke, and the technical supporters McNab and Feeney are determined to solve all three cases...becoming more determined as all three cases merge into one.

I love this series! I just started it last year and it has quickly become my go-to series when I need a quick read to pick me up. I love Eve and Roarke's relationship but am ready for it to grow to the next level, past the layers of distrust and more into their individual pasts. I enjoyed that Peabody had some family in town to give a little more insight to her past, and it was just nice to see her fully let her guard down around someone; it provided great insights to her personality as outgoing outside of the uniform and willing to love someone whole-heartedly. I always love book that have mythological themes, so that was another bonus.

Overall, another solid addition to the In Death series and the next installment is already on my TBR shelf!


And I LOVE that Peabody and McNab finally acted on that sexual tension that has been building! I hope their relationship hangs around for a while.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It's hard to go too deep with 1985 police technology

Deeper Than The Dead
Tami Hoag

I feel like I used to really like Tami Hoag - it's hard to tell now though because it's been so long since she had something new come out. Regardless of whether I used to like her or not, I THINK I did so therefore I was really excited to see Deeper Than The Dead come out recently. I blindly put it on hold from the library, not even bothering to read the cover blurb, and was pleasantly surprised when it came in relatively quick. I eagerly dove in before I realized this was not the deep, cool waters I was expecting but more like a shallow kiddie pool - I keep swimming cause I like the water but I am immediately disappointed.

Deeper tells the story of four fifth-graders who stumble upon a body in the woods behind their school. The woman was buried with only her head showing and she has been mutilated to be blind, deaf, and mute. Anne Navarro, the students teacher, immediately goes to the rescue of the children by supporting them and standing up for them if need be. When the local sheriff's office realizes they may have a serial killer on their hands, Vance Leon, an profiler from the FBI, travels to California to help find the killer before he strikes again.

First of all, this story took place in 1985. Don't get me wrong, I loved 1985! I was only three but I distinctly remember neon socks, side ponytails, and listening to Madonna in the car with my father (who LOVES Madonna). However, reading a story about police procedural work that took place prior to cell phones, internet, and DNA fingerprinting was not really entertaining. Blame it on CSI, NCIS, Bones, etc. but going back to the police work of the technological stone age was akin to watching paint dry.

Secondly, fifth graders were the primary characters in much of the story. I don't mind reading from the point of view of kids but I prefer it in a kids book not an adult book about a serial killer into mutilation. The characters who weren't children were okay but not overly believable. I totally thought that Detective Mendez was going to be a key person but he ended up blending into the background, which was a disappointment. There was a bit of a romance story but it was between two people I felt were incompatible, was rushed, and felt weird. My favorite character by far was Franny! He added comic relief when things got too serious.

Finally, the story was well written. Hoag did a great job of implicating several people as the killer and then writing their stories in a way that left any of them open to be the culprit depending on who's side you were on. I descriptions of the women being left without three of their five senses sent a chill through my body and is not my literal nightmare. Unfortunately, even with all of that, I didn't think the who-dun-it was too hard to figure out and I did so well ahead of the rushed revelation.

Overall, I stuck with it because I like Hoag's writing and there were a couple characters that I wanted more of. Unless you're a die-hard Hoag fan (which I may or may not be! lol) then this book can easily be passed over for what is next on your shelf.

Shamelessly going where....many women go but don't talk about

My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands
Chelsea Handler

Relationships are not all lifelong commitments with the man of your dreams - and no one knows that better than Chelsea Handler! She hilariously documents the briefest (and most unlikely) of her sexual encounters, showing that women do not have to be ashamed to know what they want and to unabashedly go after it. Her stories had me laughing out loud at the bold-faced lies she told to get men into bed, the lengths she went to avoid running into them again (they're ONE NIGHT for a reason), and her descriptions of her family (especially her dad) as she redefines the meaning of "black sheep".

Admittedly, the descriptions of Chelsea's escapades aren't for everyone seeing as they are liberally sprinkled with a lack of morals, creative combinations of profanity, and copious amount of alcohol but reading her stories made me feel like I was having a Saturday night with my girlfriends, swapping our crazy stories (cause who doesn't have at least one?) at the downtown bar as we sip on extra dirty vodka martinis with 4 olives (not three - I will make you take it back!) as we watch incredibly attractive men saunter past. Kind of makes me want to plan a girls weekend.... :)

Perhaps those 400 pages were cut for a reason...

The Stand
Stephen King

I have finally finished The Stand!! WooHoo! I originally wanted to finish it by the end of January but I am extremely pleased to be only a week behind that date. This review definitely has SPOILERS - you have been warned!


First of all, this was my first encounter with Stephen King. I typically associate him with super-scary movies that I have never, and do not intend to ever, watch....just thinking about some of them makes my skin crawl. But, after several PBT members talked about how much they enjoyed this book and that it was not scary I decided to pick it up...and ultimately, I'm glad I did. What would happen if a superflu bio-agent swept the country and results in the death of 99% of the population? What would people do? Where would they go? How would society be rebuilt? According to Mr. King, society would fracture into good v. evil, each headed by a theological icon and societal organization varying drastically between the two.

I really liked the concept of The Stand - I like the premise of a bio-agent wiping out most of civilization in a very Revelations-type manner, the challenges King presented were extremely interesting and included many aspects I would have never even considered, and I absolutely loved the symbolism that was artfully worked in surrounding the themes of good v. evil, light v. dark, free-societies v. oppressed-societies, Saviour v. Devil.

I found most of the characters to be too simplistic - most of them seemed to be 100% good or 100% bad but my favorite characters ended up being the ones who were mostly good but struggled with human emotions and selfish thoughts. Against all odds, Larry Underwood was hands down my favorite character; he was amazingly complicated, exhibited the most personal growth, and ended up being one of the few real heroes of this story.

What I didn't like about the characters was how there was so many of them! Eventually, the story pared down to a handful of main characters but even then I was still keeping track of like a dozen of them. Also, King was a little over the top with the details and descriptions. I appreciate a good descriptive story but he went a little too far in some places while in other places he barely gave any descriptions at all! I think that for the middle 1/3 or so of the book, he got the pacing about right.

I'm giving The Stand 3 stars but that is definitely an average - some places I couldn't put the book down and would breeze through 100 pages in no time...definitely 5 star material. Other times the story was so painfully slow that I was actually choosing to do WORK over read....definitely 1 to 2 star material. In the end though, I greatly enjoyed the story and am choosing to permanently block some of the more painful parts! I may even give King another try - I still think Under the Dome looks good - but not this year!