December 16th, 2008

  • devi42

Southern Vampire Mysteries

I do not like The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris . They're poor plotted, need better editing, and make me want to fall on my knees and forgive Laurell K. Hamilton for her last five books...


I can't seem to stop reading them. I've read two and am halfway through a third.

Anyone else have this "problem"?

‘either I’m nobody, or I’m a nation’

Hey, guys! Just going to share a book review. I've also posted this over here.


Finished reading the novel over the weekend. Entered the book blind, only knew it has won the Pulitzer and that my friend Jake’s been dogging me months ago to buy it but I didn’t because I couldn’t afford the hardcover. Thought “Oscar Wao” is a child and the novel’s a coming-of-age story. I suppose it is. But it’s more. Much, much, much more. I would like to summarize the novel and give at least a coherent book review but I know I’ll just end up sounding like the blurbs (“…deliciously casual and vibrant…” “[a] kick-ass [and truly, that is just the word for it] work of modern fiction” “…at times expertly stunning us with heart-stabbing sentences…” “a splendid portrait of ordinary folks set against the extraordinarily cruel history of the Dominican Republic in the twentieth century”).

What else can I offer? It reads like A Hundred Years of Solitude (family tree, curse, magical realism) as narrated by Kanye West. Or possibly Chris Rock doing stand-up. (“Players: never never never fuck with a bitch named Awilda. Because when she awildas out on your ass you’ll know pain for real.”) Just consider the way he described their horrible dictator Trujillo: a personaje so outlandish, so perverse, so dreadful that not even a sci-fi writer could have made his ass up. Just consider the way he described Trujillo’s assassination: the escopeta wielded by Antonio de la Maza…goes boo-ya!

Man, I’d like to see those words used in a history book. Boo-ya. And ass. Heh.

So you don’t know Trujillo. Yeah, me too (I checked the encyclopedia – yes, I did, Volume D, "Dominican Republic" – but the article just skirted over the details of his dictatorship). And the narrator knows about your non-knowledge too, beginning his Trujillo crash-course with: For those of you who missed your mandatory two seconds of Dominican history. Perhaps with bitterness. Perhaps with resignation.

It’s about Trujillo, it’s about Oscar and his family, it’s about a raped country, it’s about diaspora, it’s about hating where you came from and not particularly liking where you ended up in, and yet dealing with it, just dealing with it, and how hard that is. This line just killed me: Ten million Trujillos is all we are.

Everybody should read this goddamn book.

Note: Title of entry from one of the novel’s two epigraphs (The Schooner “Flight” by Derek Walcott). The other epigraph came from Fantastic Four. Now figure that one out. :)

Photo credit: Redpen
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Stephen Lawhead

Has anyone on here read anything by Stephen Lawhead?  If so, what do you think of his writing? 

Two of my friends are big fans of his--one has regaled me ad nauseum about his Pendragon Cycle and the other has the Dragon King trilogy  and the Robin Hood books...I think they're called Hood and Scarlet.  Anyways, I thought his writing sounded interesting, so I borrowed the Dragon King books and read them. Now, I know that this trilogy is more in the YA line, so I wasn't expecting the writing to be super sophisticated, but I still found it...cringe-worthy.  The characters were boring, the plot was boring, and the writing wasn't great.  The action sequences were the only entertaining parts, the rest I had to plod through stoically.  I'm still not sure why I suffered through all three. 

Anyways, yet another friend of mine has read one of Lawhead's other books, The Song of Albion (I think).  She says it's much, much, better than the Dragon King books.  In general I trust her judgement.  However, I'm not sure I want to read anything else by him...I was seriously unimpressed.  So, anyone else out there have an opinion? I'm just curious to see what other serious readers think.

Book #57


Book #57
Book Title: The Tales of Beedle the Bard
Author: J.K. Rowling
Category: fiction; short story collection
# of pages: 111
My rating of the book, F- [worst] to A [best].: B+
Short description/summary of the book: (taken from Tales of Beedle the Bard, a Wizarding classic, first came to Muggle readers’ attention in the book known as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Now, thanks to Hermione Granger’s new translation from the ancient runes, we present this stunning edition with an introduction, notes, and illustrations by J. K. Rowling, and extensive commentary by Albus Dumbledore. Never before have Muggles been privy to these richly imaginative tales: “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot,” “The Fountain of Fair Fortune,” “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart,” “Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump,” and of course, “The Tale of the Three Brothers.” But not only are they the equal of fairy tales we now know and love, reading them gives new insight into the world of Harry Potter.

My Thoughts: I thought that this was a pretty good book! I am not usually a fan of short stories but this was definitely the exception. I really did like the commentary that Dumbledore gave following each short story. If you're a fan of the Harry Potter series, then I highly suggest you read this book.

Books read this year: 57/50.

Next read(s): I am about to start reading Trading Places by Les & Leslie Parrott and also Fool Moon by Jim Butcher.

The Good Mayor by Andrew Nicholl

Tibo Krovic, the mayor of the small town of Dot, has fallen head over heels in love with his secretary Mrs Stopak but is too shy to do anything about it. Mrs Stopak is stuck in an unloving marriage and is desperate for someone to love her. I fell in love with this story from the first page, it's beautifully written and a perfect winter read. So many pages have been marked because of a line or a description that I want to remember forever. I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second, only because I thought it was more realistic. All of the characters are colourful and have proper depth, from hopeless Tibo to the old lady who owns the cafe.

Filled with wonderful imagery and more than a little magic, this book will make you smile.
han shot first

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway are two best friends teetering on the edge of adolescence. They run wild like the archetypal boy has always run, free of worry and filled with a sense of anticipation and adventure. On a night indistinguishable from other nights both walk the streets of Green Town, Illinois, the kind of place where boys are allowed to roam with the world as their chaperone, the earth their toy box. There they meet the lightning-rod salesmen who deliciously warns the two of a coming storm with the prospect of lightening. What better enticement for the two than the excitement, the danger, the possibility that one of their houses--and only one--will be struck, changed by his predictions?

Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes is an evocative tale of friendship, innocence, and the horrors of death. As the two boys journey their way through a wicked carnival, they discover the temptations of life, the secret desires of people around the world that we do not leave behind with childhood, and the ever continuing battle of good against evil. There's no one who writes quite like Bradbury. It's a rare gift to possess the voice of childhood with all of its fears, joys, and sorrows, but it's an even greater gift to evoke a nostalgia for a childhood I never had. But Bradbury pulls from the reader's emotions something universal in all of us: desires of curiosity and friendship, fears of loss.

The boys grapple with their friendship and the ultimate (and literal in this sense) threat of doom: growing apart. But in searching individually, the two find the strength neither has without the other. Bonds are solidified friend to friend and father to son in this touching and horrific tale of life and the things that make our existence worth every minute: family, friendship, and laughter.
Adventure Time - Pocket Jake

Help with a Christmas Gift

I bought a bunch of stuff for my best friend, because I can't help but spoil her but what I really wanted to get her was a book. I wanted to get her something she hadn't directly asked for, and possibly something that she hadn't even heard of.

Anyway, I thought I could list some books she has read recently and liked, and you guys could give me a few suggestions for her?

The Tattooed Map by Barbara Hodgson (she raves about it constantly)
East by Edith Pattou
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

I can't remember anymore right off the top of my head. Anyone got anything?

While I am posting, anyone read Absinthe by Christopher Bataille and Richard Howard? I recently acquired a copy for five dollars, and the cashier at our local used book store was very enthusiastic. I haven't started it yet, but he has me very excited! Any thoughts on it?