Book Review – Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris

Title: Dead as a Doornail

Author: Christine Harris

Format: Hardback

Published: 2005

 

When I pick up a Sookie Stackhouse novel, many time I feel like I’m putting on warm fuzzy bunny slippers.  There is a familiar comfort to the cadence and the flow of these books that I simply enjoy.  When I read Charlaine’s books I simply just sit back, enjoy the ride and maybe live a little vicariously through Sookie seeing as she gets to be around the types of beings I only get to dream of, vampires and werewolves and the like.

 

While I enjoy the Sookie Stackhouse books and they all have that familiar comfort this book felt a little outside of the norm.  I enjoyed the read and it was just as cozy as I described above but it was lacking at the same time.  In picking up one of these novels I’ve come to expect a good bit of mystery and intrigue, Sookie’s life to be in danger on more than one occasion and for there to be some rather sexy moments between Sookie and a supernatural male of choice.  Sadly this was not the case with the book. It had promise it had intrigue – Sookie’s life was in danger but not in such thrilling ways where I was on the edge of my seat.

 

Sookie also spent most of her time swinging from one even to the next trying to keep her head afloat and not really digging into any mysterious events or deaths even though there was a serial killer roaming around trying to kill shifters.  It was kind of clear at least to me who did the shooting long before Sookie even pieced any of it together and honestly the discovery of who did it was merely by chance.  Additionally the only sexy moment was when Sookie was getting her leg licked by a newly introduced shifter.  It sounds kinky and weird I admit but given the situation it was less kinky and more logical and a bit sexual.

 

Honestly this book in the series was akin to the second movie in a trilogy, lot of important information and filler but a bit lacking in the action.  I will admit it made a lot of sense for Sookie as a character to not get too romantically involved with anyone given everything that had happened in her life.  She had recently been through a lot of drama in the previous books and most people like Sookie would need a break and would sort of swing from event to event as it played in the book – so I can credit Charlene Harris for her use of character development in this book but it was still highly disappointing when you are expecting something a little more both romantically and mystery wise.  I am hoping the next book will pick back up with the romantic interludes and mysterious intrigue.  With that said I’ll have to give this book a 3 out of 5 pages – it is not worth skipping but you don’t want to expect to get much out of this book.

Book Review – Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Title: The Lightning Thief

Author: Rick Riordan

Format: Paperback

Published: 2005

 

I had heard things about the Percy Jackson series in the past and I admit I’d been curious for some time particularly when the whole bug-a-boo came down about Christopher Columbus directing the first film just like he did for Harry Potter films.  Why people were upset by this I don’t know but then again the internet is a weird place to be honest.  Anyway it wasn’t too long ago that I took the time to read the book, but failed to review it.  I admit the first time I read the book and I enjoyed it fairly well.

 

Having read the book I stumble upon the movie and decided why not?  Now I will be first to say that I do not ever expect the movie to be the living book I expect changes and tweaks along the road but when I saw the movie I cannot express how many times I was ready to throw my remote across the room, and how many times I stopped the DVD, because I was that frustrated I skipped parts just to see how much they mucked other things and if they could accomplish a few basic facts of the book and by basic facts I’m not meaning Annabeth’s hair is supposed to be blond but was rather brown (I can live with that.)  No I’m talking the actual quest they went on, how the flying shoes were used (which is a major plot point) and what actually happens in the underworld which is where the characters go on their quest.  I will start off with saying that the movie got it wrong to the point that they eliminated the major villain of the entire series in this movie; because of this I don’t know how they managed a second movie.

 

Anyway instead of ranting on the movie I’ll focus on the book which is about a middle school boy in 6th grade who is dyslexic, and has ADHD and is in a school for troubled students because of this and because every school he goes to he gets kicked out.  He is proud of the fact that he was almost to the end of the year and hadn’t been kicked out when he goes on a field trip that is always trouble to a museum with Greek artwork and statues.  From there he gets in trouble with a nasty piece of work teacher Mrs. Dodds who turns into a Fury and attacks him.

 

From there Percy gradually learns that he is in mortal danger and is a half-blood, a demi-god, a hero and he is being blamed for stealing Zues’ master bolt.  He discovered to which god sired him and he is then thrown into a rather dangerous quest to go the underworld where it is believed that the master bolt is being held.

 

I don’t want to give spoilers but the story has a lot of adventure and some rather good twists through out it and it just keeps with a nice even pace.  Over all I thoroughly enjoyed the book even with it being my second read through and I am sure I’ll enjoy re-reading the second in the series and then finishing out the series I find Rick Riordan’s writing to be easy to read and enjoyable and very age appropriate for a middle grade student to read.

 

Over all I would give the book a 4 out of 5 stars simply for the ease of getting lost in the writing style and story that is being presented.  I find the tale to be very well told and I advise to never touch the movie, particularly if you like Greek Mythology.  The story takes place during the summer and the characters go to the underworld, in the movie Persephone is present in the underworld.  If  you know any of your Greek Mythology then you know how wrong and problematic that is!  (Particularly when the book notates her lack of presence and why.)  Long story short, read the book don’t watch the movie.

Book Review – Carpe Demon

Title: Carpe Demon (Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom)

Author: Julie Kenner

Format: Trade Paperback

Published: 2005

I first learned of this series at a sci-fi convention where the author was on a panel I attended. The summary sounded interesting, so I hunted down a copy at the library.

The story follows Kate Conner, an ex-Demon Hunter who is now the parent of two and whose life now revolves around playdates, grocery shopping, and throwing together last-minute dinner parties for her would-be politician husband. At least until a demon comes crashing through her window.

Now Kate is thrust back into a world she’d retired from, and she quickly learns how unprepared she really is to step back into the life. In many cases, the steps she takes to reintegrate herself seem to come far too easily, but the author pokes fun at that idea through the character’s self-deprecating humor.

The book was a quick read (I finished in less than two days at work), if a bit shallow. After the third or fourth time Kate had forgotten about an appointment or something she’d agreed to do, it made me roll my eyes a bit, and the characters very rarely showed depth and were a bit one-dimensional.

Despite that, it was a somewhat engaging read – although experienced mystery readers will figure out the plot twists quickly – and I have already reserved the next at the library. A definite beach-read style book, but worth picking up at the library or used book store if you need something quick and easy.

3/5 Pages (though technically I would put it at 2.5)

Book Review – Invincible: The Ultimate Collection 1 by Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker & Ryan Ottley

Title:  Invincible: The Ultimate Collection 1

Author: Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker, Ryan Ottley

Format:  Hardback

Published:  2005

 

Being frustrated with my obsession and love of DC comics he was determined to get me into something less main stream an deposited a rather large black book that was about 400 long.  It sat on my desk for weeks looming at me as it would not quite fit in my desk drawer.  I was hesitant and I glanced at it and found it to be something that was passable and quite possibly not my cup of tea.  Yet knowing full well I couldn’t just shove it back to him I finally had a bit of time and decided to crack the book open.

 

This is one of those books that you just sort of slip into as you learn not only about the characters but the universe as a whole you start to come to grips with the world and begin to think that the story line ins so-so when about half way through everything gets turned on its ear and you are cursing every interruption and eagerly turning the next page looking for answers to questions that you are not finding until the climactic end of the book.  Before I go further though dear reader let me take you back and give you an introduction to the story line.

 

The story of Invincible starts with a young man named Mark who has a super hero dad and eventually discovers that he actually has super powers of his own.  You follow Mark as he tests out his new abilities, figures out what his super hero name will be (Invincible) and follow him as he faces off against a villain with the help of a few fellow teenage super heroes.  He also takes the time to team up with his super hero dad Omni Man as well.  The first couple of stories are decent and mildly entertaining.  Then the story takes a break from Mark and starts to show off various other super heroes that are part of the Guardians of the Globe.  We are given a brief idea of who they are before they are called away to an emergency meeting and you find hallmarks of classic well known heroes from other comic books.  We meet, the Red Rush, Warrior Woman, Green Ghost, Aquarius the King of Atlantis… I think you get the drift.  It was funny and amusing and at the same time almost over the top for me where I was thinking that the book was going to take a turn from good to bad but with the introduction of these new characters comes one of the largest plot twists I have experienced in a long time, launching the story from good to great.

 

One I hit this point I was sold and I kept reading and re-reading the section trying to come up with reasons I was thinking surly it is a classic trope for what has happened here right? WRONG!  The story took a twist and when it explained things I was left with my jaw dropped and wishing I had the second monster book sitting on my desk.  It was literally that good. I am in love with this series and wish more people knew about it!  I say get yourself a copy of this book and read it.  If you like comics you will like this, particularly super heroes.  So naturaly I will be giving this book a 5 out of 5 page review!

Book Review – Vampire Knight Vol 2 by Matsuri Hino

Title: Vampire Knight vol 2

Author/Illustrator:  Matsuri Hino

Format: Paperback

Written: 2005

Published: 2005

Translated: 2006

After I had read the first Vampire Knight book, I was less than enthused as I was driven mad by the repeating story line, but if you had read that review you may recall that I mentioned how the story seemed to possibly get interesting when a character was suddenly revealed as a Vampire.  I decided after a while that I would give the second book a whirl, and I’m glad I did!  There was only one story re-cap at the start of the book, each mini volume in the book just continued the story where it left off.

Now if you wish to remain spoiler free from the big reveal at the end of book one, I suggest you go ahead and skip to the last paragraph to get my rating because I am going to name who was revealed to be a vampire here as I recap the story.  After discovering that Zero was a vampire, Yuki tries to bring things back to normal between her and her friend, and yet it seems like that is not possible as they are faced with an E class Vampire who has met their end, having gone crazy with blood lust, a direction that all human turned vampires go.  This is a direction that Zero will eventually go based on this information, as he is a human turned vampire.  This adds a new level of intrigue to the story and helps to explain why at the end of volume one Zero wants Yuki to kill him if he goes too far.

Yet, this discovery is only a third of the story as we learn that Zero is a vampire hunter as well and is now being sought after by his former master, who wishes to kill him!  This is a ‘yikes’ moment, particularly when it is complicated with the fact that zero is not handling the blood tablets well.  Yuki then fights for Zero’s life and offers up her blood to him which is a forbidden act but the only way for Zero to continue and survive. I admit I love a good plot twist and this is a fun one for certain.  In addition to all this, there is a reference by Kaname, head Vampire of the night class, that Yuki is his girl.  Not only does Kaname call Yuki his but that he should be ripping Zero to shreds for drinking her blood, and he isn’t simply so he doesn’t lose Yuki.  Can we call this a future plot point and twist?  Yes we can, and I’m looking forward to it!

Over all, I’m glad I stuck it out with the second Vampire Knight manga because I may have finally found a series that caters to my style and is something I will enjoy. So if you can get over the boring first book, or have no problem skipping it, volume 2 is very much worth your time and I would have to give this one a 4 out of 5 pages which is a rating I seem to rarely give for a manga!

Book Review – Ouran High School Host Club vol 1 by Bisco Hatori

Title: Ouran High School Host Club vol 1

Author/Illustrator: Bisco Hatori

Format: Paperback

Written: 2002

Translated: 2005

As I had said in an earlier review, I am in a bit of a manga kick and I’m trying to find something that I have enjoyed as much as the Sailor Moon series or the Alice series, but nothing has hit me just yet.  I decided to try Host Club because I remember long ago a friend telling me how it was great and how she loved it.  I will admit in looking at the book I see what she loved about the series, and I am reminded of how our tastes differ.  Not to say this friend and I don’t share similar tastes in other things, but in the case of this particular manga our tastes are very much departed.

The basic story premise is the story of a poor girl who has a scholarship to a very rich and exclusive school.  She starts out by searching for a quiet place to study and finds herself stumbling upon the high school host club.  She is mistaken for a boy, and as she tries to get away from the rather awkward situation she breaks a very expensive vase, and has to settle the debt somehow.  The President of the club decides instead of making her a grunt boy who does all their errands for them, he decides to make Haruhi a member of the club.  Her job will be to bring in and entertain several clients.

Haruhi is then transformed form what they think is an average looking guy into a very attractive looking guy who wins over a lot of customers.  After all of this has taken place they learn that Haruhi is in fact a girl.  Haruhi is fine being mistaken as a boy not caring about gender differences and continues to play a guy because she is more apt to get clients as a boy than as a girl.

Now before I go further into giving my thoughts on the book, I will take a minute to explain what a host club is for those of you who may not know.  In Japan, there are places called hostess and host clubs, a hostess club chiefly employs females to entertain men and host clubs are the opposite.  (And by entertain, I’m not meaning a strip club).  It is a place to have a drink and talk with the opposite sex, the most that happens in the club is hugs, kissing, and an occasional dance (according to my research on Wikipedia).  In the high school scene of the book tea and cakes are served and again nothing more than the kissing and dancing happens.

Over all, Host Club is a comedy and I’m beginning to think comedy manga is not my thing.   A lot of the characters were over the top and just dull.  When I read manga, I like a bit of substance and a story, not something episodic with over the top incidents.  Aside from that, I have some issues with how gender is played with.  On the whole, save for Haruhi, girls are over simplistic and giggly and have no substance.  (True, the guys get that way too in this manga but they have more substance than the girls).  Then, I wasn’t fond of the semi incestuous relationship between the twin brothers, I mean getting near kissing and offering to take each other’s clothes off in a ‘perfect’ way is ‘no bueno’.  I mean, if it was just two guys rather than brothers that is a different story.

Additionally, I didn’t like how they handled Tamaki’s (the club president) reaction to Haruhi.  From the start, Tamaki is attracted to Haruhi and that is fine, and even the surprised remark of “wow Tamaki going for a guy?” Is okay, but I don’t like how when Haruhi was revealed to be a girl that “Ah yes Tamaki must have known subconsciously that Haruhi was a girl because he wouldn’t fawn over a real guy like that!”  That kind of frustrated me and was just handled poorly in my opinion.  I also don’t like how Tamaki’s main mission is to “re-awaken” the feminine side of Haruhi, it almost translates to him wanting to make her inferior and just like all the other girls, instead of accepting her being boyish (even if she does look great in a dress).  Over all, the book just annoyed me and I will not be picking up the second one at all.  I give this manga a 1 out of 5 because yes, it annoyed me that much (and it wasn’t that entertaining)!

 

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