Friday, February 27, 2009

#13 You Suck by Christopher Moore

Hilarious book about vampires and the problems they face in this modern world. I read this book fairly quickly, but it took me a few days cause I didn't sit and read it straight through. This is the book after Bloodsucking Fiends, where Jody and Elijah end up getting bronzed (thanks to Tommy). Jody has turned Tommy so they can be together forever, and now they have to figure out what to do next. The cops are expecting them to leave town, but Jody and Tommy think they can get away with not leaving, just lying low and flying under the radar. They find themselves a minion, Abby Normal, aka Allison Green, a deeply perky 16 year old girl who really wants to not be perky anymore. She desperately wants to not be perky, so she dresses herself in black and fishnet and plasters on the black eye make-up and dark lipstick, and tries to invoke the romantic morbid poetry of the masters (Byron, Shelley, and a few others). This gets her noticed by the newly born vampire, Tommy, who needs to find someone who can take care of his and Jody's daytime needs. Tommy becomes "The Dark Master" and Jody becomes "The Countess" for Abby, and she begins her quest to help the two "vampyres" and tries to convince them to turn her.
The plot speeds up to then include a blue hooker, a group of "Animals" who have given the blue hooker more than half a million dollars in just a few short days, and a homeless man who calls himself "The Emperor," who always has his two "men" with him- Bummer and Lazarus, who are really just a Boston Terrier and Golden Retriever, respectively. Lots of action, ultra violet light, and seriously hilarious diary entries from Abby, that make you think you are really inside the head of a 16 year old wanna-be goth girl. I recommend this to everyone.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

#12 Swallowing Darkness, by Laurell K. Hamilton

This is another in the same series at the previous Hamilton book. It was interesting.

Friday, February 20, 2009

#11 A Kiss of Shadow by Laurel K. Hamilton

Not going to really review this one. It was quick, I actually liked her writing, which is what made me continue reading. I thought there was a vague quality to it at certain points, but that was not a bad thing. Sometimes people try to give a distinct quality to things that are not so easily nailed down by words, so I thought her attempt to show that worked really well.

#10 Parable of the Talents, by Octavia E. Butler

Yet another Butler novel on my list this year. I can't help it, I love her stuff. This one is in her Earthseed series, and I want to say its the last one, but I don't actually know how many are in the series, so I probably shouldn't assume anything.
I loved this book so much. The story is about the later life of Lauren Oya Olamina, a sharer, in the 2030's through to her death as an 82 year old woman. Olamina escapes from a life of fear and violence to live with a small community called Acorn in the countryside of California, (at least I think its in California.Its not entirely clear in the book where Acorn is located.) She believes in something she calls Earthseed, a kind of religious belief that says "God is Change, Shape God." This belief helps establish Acorn as a safe place for a few people, until someone named Jarrett Smith comes into power as President in 2032. He had established a church of his own called Christian America Church, and preached fire and brimstone against the "heathens" that had turned his "God-fearing" United States into a cesspool of violence, poverty, and immorality. So he sets out to "cleanse" the country of all those he deems "immoral." Unfortunately, this includes the Earthseed community, which he sees as a cult. With this book, like all her others, you get nothing but brutal honesty. Butler never shies away from portraying humanity as it really is- mean, nasty, awful, hypocritical, violent, erratic- and not some pretty picture we all like a lot better than the reality. And, yet again, she manages to parallel so much of what has happened in this country after she wrote this book; she writes of what could happen if we don't do our duty as citizens and make the hard choices. I don't mean to sound preachy, but seeing what could happen if we aren't responsible enough to stop it from happening makes me very angry.

This is a must read, in my opinion, for everyone.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

#9 Big Sur by Jack Kerouac

Finally, finally, finished this book.

This is what I can say about it: It was rambling, at times poetic, crazy, tragic, beautiful at times, peaceful at times, wandering, among many other things. The first part was written at a cabin in the West Coast woods of Big Sur. Because of that it is peaceful and beautiful and in tune with nature and the violence of the sea and humanity is only kind of lost here. Kerouac is calm here, letting himself float along with the wind and smell and the sound of nature, so his writing takes on those characteristics. His words flow like the creek he loves, sometimes they stumble along like he does while trying to navigate the woods and cliffs, sometimes they hoot like the owls he hears, or scurry like the mice he feeds. I like this part of the book; its nice to read.
Later, he leaves the beach and returns to the "real world" and here is where he and I started to lose touch. He falls back into his bad habits, drinking all night, waking up feeling sick, only to continue drinking. He also includes some of his "friends" in this- I say this because they don't all seem to be real friends to me (mine wouldn't let me do this to myself)- taking them along on his rambling, drunken journeys all over San Fransisco. He is meeting with people, some he likes, some he doesn't, and invading others' lives. He seems to think that those people enjoy his invasions, but I'm not so sure. As the narrative continues, it becomes more and more drunken in style. He also begins to experience hallucinations due to his copious drinking--> delirium tremens.
The last part of the book details his descent into madness, basically. He thinks that he can hear and see things that aren't there, his is severely paranoid that the people in his life are plotting against him, or wish to harm him both physically and mentally. At this point, his words are so hard to follow, that I actually took to reading them aloud to better enforce what I was reading.
This book is definitely not for the faint of heart, so I wouldn't suggest this for young people. But if you like stream of consciousness, this might be up your alley.

Monday, February 9, 2009

#8 Jemima J, by Jane Green

I just finished this a few minutes ago. I don't have too much to say about this one. It was cute at times, pretty funny and witty, thanks to the switches in perspective from first person to third, but with the kind of expected happy ending.
Jemima Jones is fat, lets be blunt. She's unhappy in life, work, and love. She is totally "butt-crazy-in-love" ( as Cher from Clueless would say) with Ben Williams, her colleague at the Kilbern Herald, but he doesn't look at her like that at all. Ben sees her as a nice girl, but probably won't ever see her in a romantic light. At her job, which she is really, really good at, she is stuck writing something that is well below her skill level, and the only time she gets to really flex her talents is when she rewrites her friend's column every week, all of this mostly because she is not slim and gorgeous. She then discovers internet dating.... and ta da, she meets someone online who she thinks she might like; when he suggests they meet, even though he lives in Los Angelos, and she lives in London, she starts to think about taking it seriously. She joins a gym right then and starts exercising like crazy and manages to lose nearly one hundred pounds in about 7 months. All sorts of craziness ensues, but in the end, fate smiles on Jemima for just about the first time, and she and Ben end up together, finally! Cute book. Nothing totally amazing, but cute.

#7 Coraline, by Neil Gaiman

I did the unthinkable here, and I saw the movie before I read the book. Gasp!!
But honestly, I don't think it mattered this time. I LOVED the movie, it was so creative and creepy and hysterical too. And I really enjoyed the book. This was my first time reading one of his children's books, so it was a bit different for me anyway, and it was so different from any other children's book I'd ever seen.
For those of you who are living under a rock, and don't know the story, here you go: Coraline Jones moves into a flat in a large house with her writer parents, who are often much too busy to play with her and entertain her. All of her neighbors are strange, plus they all call her Caroline, not Coraline, Caroline. She has to find ways to enjoy herself in this new place, so she decides to go exploring. In her exploration of the house she finds that it has 14 creaky doors, 13 of which actually open, but one of them does not. She gets her mother to find the key, then opens it to find a brick wall behind it. She goes back to that door later to find that there is a long tunnel through it, where she finds that she has a set of "other" parents; they look kind of like her parents, but they are also very different from her real parents. Creepiness and danger ensue as Coraline must get herself permanently away from her "other" mother, save the souls of three dead kids, and rescue her own real parents from the clutches of her other mother.
I really liked this book; it was different and inventive just like all of Gaiman's other books, but like all good children's books, included many keen insights into morality, and some unexpected wisdom. If I had kids, I would read this to them in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

#6 He's Just Not That Into You, Greg Behrendt

I picked up this book not realizing that it was a self-help book. I do not, as a general rule, read self help books, because I generally don't need help on anything that I need to read a book to fix. But I picked this one up mostly because the movie looks like its going to be funny, and I wanted to read the book based on that thought. Alas, a self-help book it is.
Despite that fact, it is pretty good. Mostly just Mr. Behrendt telling the female readers that they are beautiful, smart, amazing, attractive, and most of all worthy of being asked out by a man. He was constantly driving home that point that if a man really wants you, he will want to pursue you, and he won't be a jerk to you. He will want to see you, be near you, date you, call you, and have sex with you. Man want to get what they want, and they also like the chase, so if they really like you and want you, they will ask you out, date you, call you, no matter how scared or shy or nervous they are. So all these reasons, or excuses that women use to explain men's behavior is silly and does us no good at all, and mostly just makes us suffer more than we should.
I was amazed to discover that I learned a few things from this book. I have decided that I am perfectly happy being single, and waiting for that guy who really wants me to ask me out, and I am willing to wait as long as I need. Patience and lots and lots of confidence are key.

Monday, February 2, 2009

#5. The Pattermaster by Ocatavia Butler

I just finished this one on Saturday morning, while I was visiting friends in Boston and had a little bit of time. Again, really liked it. It was really different, but it was definitely something I would expect from Butler. This was a story about a population of people so evolved that they communicated mostly telepathically, and that was also how they fought each other. The hierarchy was very interesting in this book, because your status was almost entirely based on your mental strength; the stronger you are mentally, the higher your status. The characters were able to heal themselves using their minds, and kill thousands of people at the same time just by thinking about it in a certain way. I loved how the story worked together, and the twist in the end was so unexpected, but it made the tale end so nicely that it made me really appreciate her storytelling ability that much more. And this was another one that gave you hints that this was just the future of our own lives; this could be the way that the human race evolves. I, for one, think its really cool and hope we manage to last long enough for this possibility to become a reality.