Monday, April 04, 2011

Book Review: Hunger Games Trilogy

I finished reading the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins this weekend. I finished The Hunger Games on the airplane I rode home for my ten-year high school reunion, and I wanted to read the next book, Chasing Fire, so badly that I downloaded it on my Nook while I was waiting at the baggage claim carousel.

You've probably heard of these books, so there's no need for me to go into a long description. The basic set up is that the books are set in the post-apocolyptic, future North America. The current government is called Panem, and it is divided up into 14 districts. Districts 1 though 12 exist solely to provide the Capitol district with supplies. Everyone in the numbered districts lives in near poverty while the residents of the Capitol live in excess. This scheme is maintained because, 74 years ago, District 13 rebelled and a huge war broke out. District 13 was annihilated, and to force the other districts to recall their fate, the Capitol puts on the Hunger Games every year. Each district has one boy and one girl chosen at random, and they travel to the Capitol to participate in the games. Basically they put all the kids in an arena and make them fight to the death. The winner gets to live in luxury, and everyone in their district gets more food.

Needless to say, the heroine of the book, Katniss, ends up going to the Hunger Games. That part of the story is interesting on its own, but you know me, I'm a sucker for romance. Luckily there's a bit of that, too, because the boy that is chosen from her district, Peeta, has been secretly in love with her since they were little children. I pretty much kept reading for the Katniss-Peeta storyline. I just love Peeta. He would do anything to protect Katniss, and he is so inherently good that eventually she can't help but want do to do the same for him. Even though she doesn't return the intensity of his romantic feelings for him, she can't help but care about him.

I really enjoyed these books. The last book, Mockingjay was my least favorite, and it took the story somewhere I wasn't happy for it to go. But I think in the long run it was necessary to get the satisfactory ending that I wanted. So, read these books! They are addicting. Dark and sad, but still addicting.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches

I first heard about Deborah Harkness's A Discovery of Witches in People Magazine when they gave it a four-star review. It has also been marketed as a romance, so I thought I would give it a try. I even bought it in physical, hardback form. Needless to say, I was looking forward to this book.

Briefly, the story centers around Diana Bishop, an American historian who is at Oxford University studying in preparation for a presentation she is to give as a convention. Diana is a witch, but she hasn't used magic since she was seven years old and her parents, both witches, were murdered. The book begins with Diana at the Bodleian Library, where she recalls an ancient book from the stacks during her research. While she's at the library, Harkness describes the world the book is set in. There are four kinds of people in this world—humans, witches, daemons, and vampires. They all live amongst each other but don't really interact. After she reads the ancient book, however, Diana is suddenly the focus of attention for all sorts of creatures who believe there is a significant secret to their worlds hidden in the book's depths. One of those creatures is Matthew Clairmont, a vampire.

To make a long story short, Diana appears to be the only person who can recall this book, and so everyone wants a piece of her. Matthew, it appears, wants to protect her. And the two of them are quickly attracted to each other.

I can't even begin to describe how much this look reminded me of Twilight. Matthew is overly protective of Diana. Matthew withholds sex from Diana. There is a council of creatures that doesn't want vampire and witches mixing. Etc, etc, etc. It's not necessarily Harkness's fault; I think of lot of these elements are present anytime there is a male vampire involved with a female non-vampire. But at the same time, a lot of the general elements to the story felt familiar and unoriginal.

A Discovery of Witches also reminded me a bit of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane in that the heroine was an academic from a family of witches who was looking for secrets within ancient books. As you may or may not recall, I did not like that book in large part because the heroine was such an obvious extension of the writer. The same is true here. Harkness is a scientific historian, and Diana's area of historical expertise is also science, particular alchemy. When this is the case, I feel like I get a glimpse into Ivy League academia, and I don't really like what I see. It all feels so... self-absorbed and out of touch. For instance, Diana spends day after day after day just sitting in a library reading old books. Then she goes and rows in the river. She also likes to ride horses. All rich people luxuries. It gets kind of annoying after a while.

But my biggest problem with this book was the fact that it didn't have an ending. Clearly there is going to be a sequel, but it would have been nice to know that before I started reading it. Seriously, I am pissed. At least in Twilight there was some closure at the end of the first book. Sure, the story was wrapped up, but if a person wanted to stop reading they could have. Not so here. We are left completing hanging. Grr.


So, I've been away from my book blog for a looong time. Sorry about that. Now that I am back at work (rather than in school) I have not been reading as much as I usually do. I bought a Barnes and Noble Nook last fall, though, and I absolutely love it! When eReaders first came out I was convinced that I would hate them because I love physical book so much. But I was wrong. Instant access to books is great, but not turning page is also great. Reading on the treadmill at the gym is so much easier with an eReader.

Anyway, I have mostly just bought romance novels on my Nook, and none of them really moved me to blog. But I just finished a book, and I have something to say about it.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Book Review: Happy Ever After

You know that old saying about the definition of insanity? That it's doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results?

Well, when it comes to Nora Roberts' Bride Quarter, I am certifiably insane.

You may recall how I felt about Savor the Moment. And Bed of Roses. So a very legitimate question would be, why do I keep buying the books in this series?

The short answer is because I don't realize how intensely I dislike the women in this series until I read their individual stories. After reading the previous three books, I thought that I'd like Parker's story best of all, mostly because she seems to be considerably less annoying than the other women. Also, I really liked Malcolm in the previous books, the man who was obviously going to be Parker's match. But once again, Nora Roberts managed to disappoint me in this asinine, asinine quartet.

I'm sure there are a lot of readers out there who just love hearing about all the weddings that these women plan, but I am not one of them. I'm reading these books because I want to know about the characters, whether I like them or not. I don't give a shit about some minor, insignificant character's wedding. And yet Roberts spends so. much. time. on these wedding details. It's so boring.

But once again, my real complaint is how the romance/relationship of the story does not feel genuine and has no real substance, which just feel like an excuse to write about wedding after wedding after wedding. Did Roberts elope or something, and how she's full of regret? Why's she so obsessed?

The schtick with Parker and Malcolm is pretty simple: they are attracted to each other, so they eventually hook up. But upon closer examination, there are just so many things that don't make a lot of sense. For example, Malcolm pursues Parker. He wants to be with her. When his friend, her brother Del, tells him, "If you hurt her or screw with her..." he tells Del, "I'll let you." And when Del says it again after Malcolm and Parker have started sleeping together, Malcolm says, "If I hurt her or screw with her, she'll hit me herself," or something to that extent.

Now to me, if man makes those representations, is attracted to the woman inside and out and is willing to start fucking her even though she's his close friend's sister, it would seem that he's viewing their involvement as more than a roll in the hay, right? Wouldn't you think that there was a chance for a deeper involvement? Yet when Malcolm starts to really feel something for Parker, he's taken aback as if he never considered it. Are men that dumb? Maybe they are, because I don't understand how a guy could not realize how he felt. It is extra confusing because Malcolm is very perceptive and sensitive to things.

That issue aside, Happy Ever After just confirmed for me that you cannot write a romance novel that is centered solely on a standard, run-of-the-mill relationship. It's so dull. As dull as Laurel, the heroine from Savor the Moment, who in this book continues to have no thought that doesn't relate to her fiance, Del. (Seriously, every other sentence out of her mouth is "Del says" or "Del thinks." GET A LIFE, LOSER.)

And finally, I just got really tired of hearing about how Malcolm "grabbed" Parker and pushed his mouth on her. I mean seriously. Once can be sexy. Twice is tiresome. Every single time he kisses her is manhandling. Not cool.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Review: Perfect

What did I think of this book?


I don't like romance novel heroes that are movie stars. Who would want to get with a famous actor? Not me! But apparently I'm in the minority because there are a lot of romance novels about movie stars. So, this book had a knock against it from the start.

What's that? I'm sorry? This movie star is also a convicted murderer who escapes from prison and takes the heroine hostage? Make that two knocks.

Seriously, romance novelists. Being taken hostage at gunpoint is not sexy. I don't care if he is a movie star.

The third and final knock is the heroine. There's nothing wrong with her, but the reasons why the hero falls in love with her are annoying. She's pure! A minister's daughter! And, she's not too into her career. SHE WANTS BABIES! His evil ex-wife DIDN'T WANT BABIES! She wanted a career most of all. HOW DARE SHE NOT WANT TO GIVE IT ALL UP AND HAVE HIS BABIES!

Lame. The worst McNaught book I've read.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Okay, so I take back anything negative I might have said about Sandra Brown in my previous two posts. I don't care how wacky her storylines are, I LOVE IT. She always comes up with these ridiculous plots and manages to write them in a way that make them seem not-so-ridiculous. I'm reading Smash Cut right now. It doesn't disappoint.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Oh, Sandra

I love Sandra Brown books. These days I'm kind of over buying them in hardcover, but I still feel the need to take a peek at the book jacket whenever I see a new release. If for no other reason than to see what whacked-out hero name she has come up with this time. Here are a few examples:

The Crush - Wick
White Hot - Beck
Chill Factor - Dutch
Smoke Screen - Raley
Play Dirty - Griff
Where There's Smoke - Key
Exclusive - Grey
The Switch - Chief

Sure enough, her latest release Tough Customer did not disappoint. The hero's name? Dodge.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Hindsight Is 20/20

Do you have any favorite books from years ago? Have you ever reread them?

This is exactly where I am with Mirror Image by Sandra Brown. The first time I read this book, I freakin' loved it. I thought it was so awesome. Granted, I was really young at the time, probably around fourteen. (I know.) But still, I thought the characters were so cool. Now I realize that the entire plot is just completely ridiculous.

If you've never heard of this book, let me give you a brief synopsis: the heroine is a television reporter who is in a plane crash. She happened to be sitting next to the wife and daughter of a senatorial candidate. The heroine and the wife look a lot alike, so when the plane crashes and the heroine saves the daughter and is found holding daughter, everyone assumes she's the wife. Oh yeah, and she's badly injured in the face. Before she can recover enough to speak, they've already given her reconstructive surgery to make her look like the wife. AND someone comes into her hospital room while she's recovering and talks about a death plot this person and the wife are in on... to kill the husband/candidate. SO OF COURSE the heroine decides that she will pretend to be the wife until she can find out who is trying to kill the candidate.

It is such bullshit. She and the husband start getting it on, and he never figures out she's not his wife until the very end of the book. Back in the day I guess I believed that everyone looked the same naked, but clearly that's not the case.

Anyway, it's ridiculous. And it got me thinking about other books that cause the same reaction. Danielle Steele's The Promise is another.

What about you? Do you have any books that you feel the same way about?