September 23rd, 2010

misc: R is for reading

A Picture of Dorian Gray?

This week I finished A Picture of Dorian Gray for the first time. A lot of the people who responded to my End of Summer Favorite Reads Extravaganza (posted on my lj and some comms) listed it as one of their top 10 favorite novels. And, I was wondering, if you were one of those people, why is Dorian Gray one of your favorite novels? What is it about the book that connects with you so strongly? I enjoyed reading it and was in utter shock from the final scene with Basil straight until the end; I wanted to beat the crap out of Dorian Gray. But at the same time, I felt pity for him. But I don't know if I'd put it in my top 10.

Also, I need to come up with discussion questions for a reading group I'm doing on Sunday -- anyone have any ideas?

(More over here)

#76 Discord's Apple by Carrie Vaughn

Evie Walker thought she'd never return to Hopes Fort, the town where she grew up. Then she learns her father is dying from cancer, and returns to watch over him during his final days. Evie discovers a strange room in the basement filled with magic apples, glass shoes, and mythical swords. People begin to visit the house to pick up certain objects, and as if by magic, Evie always seems to know the items they need to obtain. But there are less benign individuals that want access to what's in the storeroom, including the immortal and dangerous goddess Hera.

Discord's Apple is the second of two stand alone novels published by Carrie Vaughn in 2010. The first was the young adult novel Voices of Dragons (which isn't really stand alone as Vaughn plans on writing a sequel). One thing I found interesting is how similar and different my reading experiences were with each book. With Voices of Dragons, I didn't like it right away, but as I continued to submerge myself into the story, I found I rather enjoyed it. With Discord's Apple, I began the book really enjoying the story, but as I got to the end, I began to like it considerably less

There's plenty to enjoy about Discord's Apple. In a genre (urban fantasy) filled with super powered spell casters, ferocious werewolves, and dangerous vampires, it was kind of refreshing to have such a normal protagonist in Evie Walker. Evie is a normal human with little thoughts about destiny. The reader should easily be able to relate to her real-world concerns over the health of a loved one, and keeping her career afloat. I also liked a lot of the concepts behind Discord's Apple. During the novel, Evie faces many familiar faces from Greek Mythology, and folklore. I found it a lot of fun to try to pick out who a certain character was before it was mentioned. I also liked the setting. Evie's world is a lot like ours, although the superpowers that control the world (Russia, China, Unites States) are constantly on the brink of war, creating an atmosphere of paranoia larger that during The Cold War. I thought this was a really original setting for an urban fantasy novel.

Despite all that I enjoyed about this novel, I have to admit that it has it's shortcomings, some that bothered me more than others. Most of these seem to stem from the fact that Discord's Apple appears to be a larger story than can be properly contained in a book of less than 300 pages. The romance between Evie and Alex falls completely flat. This didn't bother me as much as the fact that many of the characters (especially Hera's helpers) felt like they needed just a little more fleshing out. The biggest problem in the novel is the ending, as the story just doesn't resolve itself in a satisfying way. For a book where the characters are trying to prevent something as big the end of the world, it felt surprisingly anti-climatic, and some of the developments seemed a little random. The result is a novel that can at times feel like a poor man's American Gods.

After I finished Discord's Apple I found myself feeling very confused. On one hand, there was so much that I enjoyed about the characters, and the setting. One the other hand, I felt as if the book did not come together in a satisfying way. If I were to look at the book as a whole, I would say that I probably liked it, but I'm not sure if I'd recommend it to others.

Rating: three and a half stars
Length: 299 pages
Source: Lewiston Public Library
Challenge: This book is not part of any challenges
Similar Books: The story reminded me of American Gods by Neil Gamain. The Greek Mythology element reminded me of The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan (my reviews)
Other books I've read by this author: Kitty and the Midnight Hour, Kitty goes to Washington, Kitty takes a Holiday, Kitty and the Silver Bullet, Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand (my review),Kitty Raises Hell (my review), Kitty's House of Horrors (my review), Kitty Goes to War (my review), Voices of Dragons (my review)

xposted to temporaryworlds , bookish , and goodreads

(no subject)

Title: Everafter
Author(s): Nell Stark and Trinity Tam
Verdict: 3/5
Publisher’s synopsis:

How far would you go to save your lover’s soul? When medical student Valentine Darrow is bitten by a Vampire on her way home to propose to her lover, Alexa Newland, her life becomes a nightmare. She is consumed—both by a craving for human blood, and by an obsession to find her attacker and bring him to justice. Alexa is determined to be everything that Valentine needs, but when Val's appetite outstrips Alexa's ability to nourish her, Alexa risks her life to save her lover. Will Valentine be able to control her thirst—for blood and for vengeance? And can Valentine and Alexa's relationship endure against seemingly impossible odds?

This book was exactly what I expected – namely, trashy lesbian vampire lit. That said, it was fun trashy lesbian vampire lit, and if you don’t mind some whining and melodrama, I’d actually recommend it. The author’s take on vampirism and shapeshifters was interesting, and she actually wrote some rather hot sex scenes. It’s a fast read.

(no subject)

Synopsis (from I am a beast. A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog, but a horrible new creature who walks upright – a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever – ruined – unless I can break the spell.

My Thoughts: First person narration and a modern take on the beast? Yes please! Unfortunelty though, this book lacks the depth I craved from such a well known fairy tale. I love The Beauty and the Beast, and I wanted surprise and new insights from the beast's perspective and I just didn't get it. Basically, this book is pretty much exactly how I would have flatly imagined the beast. However, I think this is a good read for teens despite the utter cheese towards the end. I *do* like the modern twist...I just wanted more. More wrath, more character development...and more often than not I go emo teen. Which is fine, just boring. And Beastly pretty much follows the Disney version to a T. The "beauty" of the story isn't really a beauty at all, which I liked and it could have been played around with but its not and her character was dull and flat. Honestly, it is not a bad book if you want to kill it in a day then go see the movie being released in July...just nothing is surprising about it. Occasional swearing, alluding to sex, being a teen and product name dropping is what constitutes modern teens I guess. I loved the old literature references though. And the rose theme is carried throughout nicely. Overall, I just felt much could have been improved to move me.