Sunday, February 20, 2011

Recent Reads

I’ve finished several new books lately ranging from new releases to older books, from young adult to adult. Some I’ve liked, some I haven’t.

Goblin Market

Jennifer Hudock

I had the pleasure of reading this book as it was being written and it was one of those you looked forward to the next chapter being completed because the characters were so engaging. The story is strong, but characterization is one of this author’s strongest skills. In the years I’ve been reading Jennifer Hudock’s work she has made me love characters, ache for them, cry for them and absolutely loathe them. One of her prior characters actually led me to have an overwhelming urge to slap the woman. The characters in Goblin Market are full, rich, relatable, and connectable. This one is highly recommended and is available from for the Kindle and from for other ereaders.

Blue Paradise

Anny Cook

Another trip to Mystic Valley is always a good thing. The heroine’s name was a bit unsettling at first, it almost seemed as if it would fit better with Cook’s Carnal Camelot series of stories which are absolutely hilarious and very irreverent. This is the story of one of the invaders to Mystic Valley that appear in the prior book finds herself in the sites as a potential mate of two of Mystic Valley’s handsome blue warriors.

White Nights

Jim Butcher

Another in the Dresden Files series of books, this one pits Harry Dresden against someone who is slowly picking off all of the magic practitioners in Chicago. Not full-fledged Wizards, the practitioners don’t have the protective skills needed to fight off the darker elements of the magical world. Worst of all for Harry, all signs point to the killer being his half-brother Thomas, the White Court vampire/incubus. This is much better than Blood Rites and Dead Beat before it. Butcher's hero has a whip snap sharp sense of humor and a tendency to make things around him explode, burst into flames

The Hunger Games

Suzanne Collins

This is an insanely popular YA book at the moment but after reading it I have serious concerns about the audience I often see with it. This book is not for the younger end of YA. Middle schoolers and tweens are not an appropriate audience for this book. The premise and the message are more complex than students that age can understand. The irony of using a book with horrific, and no I’m not over stating that, violence to try to show the dangers of desensitization to violence is not a subtlety that a 12-13 year old is going to get. The violence is truly extreme. A group of teenagers (ages 12-17) are pitted against each other in a gladiator type situation and must fight until only one remains alive. These children hack and slice and bludgeon each other, killing is brutal, up-close and personal and most take pleasure in the destruction they are inflicting. One girl plans to cut up the heroine slowly with a knife. The last opponent the “heroine” faces is slowly eaten alive over several hours by a group of wolf like creatures with the eyes and features of the children that have already been killed until the girl finally shoots him through the head with an arrow to put him out of his misery.

I Am Number Four

Pittacus Lore

The author’s name is a pseudonym to stage the book as if it is being written by one of the elders of the long dead planet of Lorien. The story has nine elite children who will grow up to have special gifts and talents, each with a guardian (not a parent) who are sent to Earth as the evil Mogadorians attack and destroy all life on their planet. Charmed to protect them, as long as they remain apart from one another, they can only be killed in a predetermined number. As the book opens, 1-3 are dead and the hunt for 4 is underway. Not a great story, but not bad. Slow moving for the most of the first portion of the book, the real problem is that the main characters, #4—or John as he’s now known, is what romance writers refer to as TSTL. Too Stupid To Live. Time after time he does things that guarantee he, and everyone els around him, will die.

The Other Queen

Philippa Gregory

This was an interesting take on the story of Mary, Queen of Scots. For once, she’s not shown as the inane innocent who is victimized by those around her, but as a woman very much fighting to control her life, even when her actions will eventually lead to her death. It also tells the story of Elizabeth of Hardwick, herself a force of nature and a survivor who was able to navigate the treachery of Elizabethan England and the power of William Cecil. Gregory shows a Mary who wasn’t innocent. Claiming evidence from documents she’d examined, Gregory claims that Mary was an active participant in the attempts to free her and the plots against Elizabeth I.