21 Feb 2011

My Recent Library Haul

My mom wanted to go to the library to look for some beginner Spanish tapes so we hopped into the van and off we went to the main branch since the one by the house doesn't have a lot in the way of audio media.

Of course, this proved to be a rather large mistake since I had a big list of books to check for while I was there. Mom managed to find a decent Spanish CD and I came home with seven books to add to the stack I already have. I really, really, really should be avoiding the library. It just feeds my book addiction without the pain to my pocketbook.

I've already finished Godmother by Carolyn Turgeon. I read it while I was curled up in bed feeling all achey and stuffy. I'm currently working my way through Wildwood Road by Christopher Golden (I love his adult stuff!). Then I have the next two Allie Beckstrom books, Magic on the Storm and Magic at the Gate, by Devon Monk, Overwinter by David Wellington, Night of Many Dreams by Gail Tsukiyama and The Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens to read.

Also this week all the kids will be in school since the two that were home sick are feeling much better, so mom and I will be heading back to the library to play with the Ipads they just got in. I will have to exercise all my willpower to make sure that stack in the picture doesn't end up having a few more books dropped onto it.

15 Feb 2011

A Trio of Thoughts

In the past couple of days I've stared at my bookshelf and couldn't decide what book I wanted to read next which is generally a good sign that my brain just isn't into reading anything 'heavy', so I went to the library and grabbed a couple of YA books to fill in the gap until I feel more up to tackling something like the new Tony Burgess book.

Give up the Ghost by Megan Crewe is one that I actually own.  I purchased it at a local horror/dark lit festival and Megan was nice enough to answer my questions and even signed the book for me.  It has taken a while, but I finally sat down and read the book.  I really enjoyed it.  I like when a book surprises me by not turning out the way I thought it would.  I was expecting a book about how Cass could talk to ghosts and all the hilarity that would ensue etc, etc.  Instead I got a tale of learning how to let go of grudges and move on in life.  I could relate to the petty hatred that Cass was carrying through high school and her own way of believing that she was doing 'good' when all she was really trying to do was humiliate her former best friend.  Megan did a great job of growing the character throughout the book so that by the end, Cass had learned to let go and move on.  The only thing I felt was weak was the actual ending, but I still enjoyed the book overall.  Looking forward to seeing what Megan Crewe comes up with next.

The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by Kody Keplinger is one of the library choices that I grabbed.  I have seen this book reviewed on a couple of the blogs I read so I was curious to see how it read.  I'll be honest and admit that I liked the book.  I think the story rings true in the language and actions simply because the author is still in her own teen/ya years.  The writing was sharp and I loved the main character, Bianca.  Her sharp tongue managed to get her into more than her fair share of trouble, but it was also nice to see her grow up some near the end and make the connections and realizations about herself and her friends that she did.  A good read to kill some time with and one that my teen self would have related to.

Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel was another one of my library grabs.  I was skimming the YA shelf while my mom waited patiently nearby when I saw this one and seemed to recall reading decent things about it.  I read the back to my mom and she was actually the one who decided to check it out and read it.  She was surprised by the fact that she really enjoyed it and said that teen books had come a long way.  Once I finished with The Duff, I picked this one up and finished it in a couple of days.  It is a vampire story (surprise) and there is a hot guy involved (surprise again) /but/ it is a fast read that made me want to actually pick up the next book in the series.  Lenah is the new girl at Wickham boarding school; she also happens to be a 500+ year old vampire who has been returned to her human state by an ancient ritual.  Now she has to learn how to fit into this situation and figure out what to do when her coven realizes she's not returning to them.  There is some growth in Lenah as she goes from spoiled, evil, selfish vampire queen to regular human sixteen year old girl who learns how to look outside herself for a change.  There's also some action at the end of the book when the coven comes hunting.  The flashbacks to Lenah's vampire life are also a nice addition to the story and don't detract from the main plot line at all.  Again, a quick read to fall into for a day or so and one that I'd probably recommend to my friends who like this kind of story.  I'll be reading the sequel for sure to see where things go.

Now I'm debating if I'm going to read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, People Live Still in Cashtown Corners by Tony Burgess, A Book of Tongues by Gemma Files or Lucy by Laurence Gonzales.

10 Feb 2011

Thoughts: Handling the Undead

Title: Handling the Undead
Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Pages: 364
Source: Borrowed from the library

In his new novel, John Ajvide Lindqvist does for zombies what his previous novel, Let the Right One In, did for vampires.

Across Stockholm the power grid has gone crazy. In the morgue and in cemeteries, the recently deceased are waking up. One grandfather is alight with hope that his grandson will be returned, but one husband is aghast at what his adored wife has become.

A horror novel that transcends its genre by showing what the return of the dead might really mean to those who loved them.

An odd heatwave in Stockholm is topped off by a weird electrical surge that gives the populace an intense headache and causes all the appliances to stay on. Once it passes, things go back to normal with one exception; the recently departed have come back to life. This is the beginning of the new novel by the author of Let the Right One In.

I loved what Lindqvist did with his previous novel, but Handling the Undead left me uninspired. I didn't have the same sort of 'run out and tell everyone to read it' that I had after I finished Let the Right One In. I had actually forgotten, albeit only momentarily, how Handling had ended, even though I'd only finished it the night before. That's how much of an impact this book made on me.

What worked was the base concept. I was really looking forward to reading a completely different take on the whole zombie thing. How would people deal with their undead relatives returning to them? We get to see some of that explored through the three main families that move the story along. David's wife, Eva, dies in a car accident just shortly before the strange surge so he's at her bedside when she returns to life. Gustav's grandson passed away a few months before the surge, but becomes reanimated as well. Flora's grandfather finds his own way home from the funeral home, scaring Flora and her grandmother half to death. Each family has to deal with this new situation and each does in their own way.

The writing is haunting, but the story itself is relatively slow and plods along towards the end.

What didn't work for me was the multiple POV's. I'd just get into what was happening with Gustav and we'd be switched to David or Flora. Tossed into the mix were short blurbs at the end of some chapters that were filled with government insights, military reports, foreign news reports about the situation in Stockholm; honestly some of those were more interesting than the main plot lines. The end felt rushed and, in my opinion, was unsatisfying. Just as things started getting interesting the book ended.

This didn't feel even remotely anything like what JVL did for vampires in Let the Right One In at all.  I suppose I was hoping for more than what was delivered, but the book still gets an 'it was OK' from me.