Here’s a few words on some books I have read in the past year but never got around to writing anything about.
I like Nick Hornby. He has an accessible and conversational tone to his novels and he is filled with a bitter wisdom all the while showing us the hope that lies just beyond. His books read easily and his quirky, introspective characters could be any one of your friends. So when picking up Slam I had some reasonable expectations.
First off, it’s not a bad book. However it does lack some of the charm of his other works. In some ways, Slam feels like a natural place for Nick Hornby to go; after years of writing about the twenty-something experience, about men discovering just how to grow up, it seems only prudent to explore where such men may have started. And so this novel follows Sam, a sixteen-year old skater whose hero is Tony Hawk and whose first encounter with love finds him becoming a teenage father.
There are some odd elements to the story. One is that Sam “talks” to a poster of Tony Hawk, and Tony talks back by quoting portions of his autobiography, a book Sam has read countless times. Another is that in two separate instances, Sam is jettisoned into the future. Twice. He gleams what his life is like from the other side and then he returns back to the present. The third thing is not so much odd as it is an eye-rolling narrative device: Slam ends in a silly Q&A with the reader in which Sam answers the story’s lingering threads. It’s more superfluous than fulfilling.
If you’ve never read any Nick Hornby, I wouldn’t recommend this title to start with. Check out High Fidelity or A Long Way Down instead. ★ ★ . 5 /5
Charlaine Harris isn’t going to go down as some great author of literature, but I enjoy her style nonetheless. It’s very direct and linear. It gets to a point, doesn’t linger on any one thing for too long and reads quickly. She’s a good author to read for pleasure. Popcorn entertainment, if you know what I mean. I’ve read all of her series: Sookie Stackhouse, Aurora Teagarden, Lily Bard and Harper Connelly.
The Lily Bard Mystery Series (Shakespeare’s Landlord. Shakespeare’s Christmas, Shakespeare’s Champion, Shakespeare’s Trollop, Shakespeare’s Counselor) is one of her darker works. The heroine is a survivor of a vicious and brutal rape. As the series begins, she has relocated to a small Arkansas town and takes up work a house cleaner for the various residents. Murder and mystery seems to always be in her path and while she would rather keep out of it, her position in the community enables to know secrets about the town’s denizens and it gives her a unique perspective in uncovering the truth of the crime.
I was intrigued by the series because of the character. Once upon a time when I was working on my own novel, my protagonist was also a rape victim and worked hard to ignore her past. It was an interesting experience to read another writer’s take on this idea. Generally, the mysteries unfold a bit slowly and the reader is able to gain a sense of the killer’s identity as the suspects weave in and out of the narrative. But there’s some surprises too and usually a strange twist or two as well. ★ ★ ★ /5
The Harper Connelly Series (Grave Sight, Grave Surprise, An Ice Cold Grave, Grave Secret) follows a woman who was struck by lightning and then left with an ability to locate corpses as a result. She and her stepbrother travel to various locales and hire out her ability. She can not only find the dead, she can also get a sense of their last moments of life. She can see how the died but if they were murdered, she cannot discern who killed them. The series focuses on those cases where she inadvertently–and unwillingly–becomes a part of the investigation.
She’s a pretty interesting character. Generally, people regard her disdainfully. They are mistrusting, suspicious and rude. I find the real moving force behind this series is Harper’s relationship with Tolliver. It’s the bright spot in the darkness of the series. There’s a respect and sweetness and it really is the backbone of the series as whole, especially since none of the novels share the same location. They are the only true constants to one another, as well is to the reader. ★ ★ ★ /5
The anticipated tenth installment to Charlaine Harris‘s Sookie saga is Dead in the Family. This novel finds Sookie struggling with the events of the previous one, healing from the wounds of her brutal torture. She’s a bit of a different character from where she first started. She has a slight edge of cynicism, she’s more guarded the ever. And she’s willing to confront harsh truths she may have shied from in tales prior, such as: she wants Victor dead. A very different Sookie indeed.
Dead in the Family is a significant slow-down from the break-neck pace of Dead and Gone and as such, the novel winds up feeling a bit lacking in flavor and substance. It does, however, open up some very interesting story threads as well as close some others. Nevertheless, this book series is compulsively readable and Charlaine Harris, as always, has her wit and charm infused in the pages. ★ ★ . 5 /5
I starting enjoying Lauren Kate‘s Fallen as the book neared the climax. Everything before was quite slow and predictable. I feel like the story only came to life when the author stopped keeping so many secrets from the reader and started inviting them into the world instead. I suspect the follow-up to this YA novel may be better and more lively.
It is another tale involving angels and a teenage girl with a tragic past. It takes place at an old boarding school called Sword & Cross in Savannah, Georgia. The girl, Luce, is drawn to a boy, Daniel, though he goes to great lengths to avoid her. I am sure you can see why many occurrences in this novel might be predictable. I also found much of it tautological in nature; I felt as though I were reading the same things over and over and just wanted to story to move toward something already. There was just a little too much time spent on set-up. ★ ★ /5
I actually had no intention of reading L.J. Smith‘s The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening & The Struggle. It was sort of happenstance that I did. My mother loaned me a few books she thought I might like and I was waiting to get a new book, I just popped this open to kill some time. It reads incredibly fast. I had both books completed within hours. I don’t have anything particularly positive to write about this series however. I was rather underwhelmed.
First off, I find Elena unlikable. A couple characters accuse her being of selfish. Well, she is. I also hate this whole thing in YA fiction where teenage girls become so absorbed by some guy that everything else ceases to matter. This guy becomes their only reason to exist. They are obsessed and neurotic and always feeling unworthy of undeserving of his devotion. And it’s irritating that these are the role models for young girls and women. I understand that these are teenage girls in these books and that teenage girls are often petulant and self-involved and reckless. But the girls in so many of these books don’t feel real to me. I was once a teenage girl with teenage girl friends. Guess what? They didn’t act like so many of these YA heroines.
Sorry for the rant but I just got really irked by Elena in these books. The CW show is awesome though! I really look forward to it and I am anxious for September. If I had read these books before I saw the show, I don’t think I would have given it much of a chance. Thankfully, the show is only a shadow of these books. It’s veered quite far off the path in lots of different ways. And I, for one, am thankful for that! ★ . 5 /5