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Infinite Days – Rebecca Maizel

3 Jul

Just when I think everything that can be done with vampires has been done, some brilliant author comes along and re-invents them again.
There are plenty of problems with it. One huge, glaring plot hole that’s been nagging me in the hours since I finished it, for one. Also, it became very repetitive and cliché in some later chapters. This is completely forgivable. The sheer originality of the story masks enough of its flaws.
There are a ton of what I like to call “franchise spin-offs” out there, but this really could be the next big thing in vampire literature.

This book will be for sale in August.

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The Postmistress – Sarah Blake

3 Jul

I waited for over two months on the reserve list to get this book from the library. Finally, it was ready for me. By then, I was squirming to read it. Imagine my surprise when I found a pristine copy of it on the $1.00 Donated Books shelf. I immediately cancelled my reserve, giddy at the prospect of owning it. You see, I was convinced I would love this book dearly.

I was wrong.

I had a difficult time keeping the characters’ names straight. By half was through the book I had them all down, but it was too late. I didn’t give a damn about any of them.

What’s with the narrator (lack thereof…)? Third person, yes. Omniscient? Sometimes. But the point of view switches mid-paragraph. Yeesh.

I’m so baffled at the title. The book is not about a Postmistress, unless the author is referring to Frankie Bard herself never delivering a last letter. And really, her actions change nothing.

Nothing happens. Or rather, nothing that matters happens. The reader gets a brief glimpse at the wartime refugees on the trains, but the main characters involved just kind of float around in the book until eventually it needs an ending of some sort, so here ya go.

I forced myself to finish it, and then took it right back to the shelf where I found it.

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

25 Jun

I’ve been nursing a near unhealthy obsession with Holocaust literature lately. There is most definately an unspeakable horror about the whole thing, and in me, a desire to find some reason behind it all. Knowing the impossibilty of this, I still find myself turning pages. Seeking answers. Trying to grasp.
Sometimes I believe my ability to emphathize is bordering on a personality flaw. Often I’ll find myself in the middle of a movie feeling what I think the characters must be feeling…subsequently crying like a baby. And so, Holocaust literature is almost self-abuse. I read and I feel pain, starvation, betrayal, sorrow. I make myself void of all hope for a future stolen from me. I make myself greive for family members never to be seen again. I make myself fear for impending, inevitable, unpredictable death. Always, always I keep turning the page.
This routine was spun around on me with The Book Thief. Suddenly, it was a German family the narrative was following. A German child. I’m ashamed to say that until this book I never stopped to wonder. I never even entertained the thought of the German children. The German families. Surely I didn’t let myself believe all of Germany was an evil force, an enemy to be mercilessly eliminated. But, of course, yes I did. Until Liesel Meminger.

“Did they deserve any better, these people? How many had actively persecuted others, high on the scent of Hitler’s gaze, repeating his sentences, his paragraphs, his opus? Was Rosa Hubermann responsible? The hider of a Jew? Or Hans? Did they all deserve to die? The children?”
Death, p. 375

Do yourself a favor. Read it.

Secrets of Eden – Chris Bohjalian

12 Jun

“Understanding is a three edged sword. Your side, their side, and the truth” – Kosh Naranek .

I couldn’t get that quote out of my head after finishing this novel. Bohjalian’s use of the first person narratives of four different characters impacted by the tragic events of this novel was essential. Each voice reveals a bit more of what the reader will come to understand as “the truth.”

Like many of Bohjalians novels, Secrets of Eden takes place in small-town Vermont. Another social context would not have worked so well for this story. The culture of a small town is the perfect place to tell a story of a battered woman whose friends and neighbors know quite well what is going on but do essentially nothing to stop it. It is a lot harder to have secrets in a small town, and the ones you do manage to keep will almost certainly be observed and misconstrued, resulting in rumors and susposcions. This is exactly what happened to the Reverend in the aftermath of the Haywards death. By being evasive about his involvment in not only the death of Alice Hayward, but also her life, Drew incriminates himself in the minds of his former parishoners and the investigators

Overall, a masterfully crafted plot

The Passage – Justin Cronin

1 Jun

“Every so often a novel-reader’s novel comes along: an enthralling, entertaining story wedded to simple, supple prose, both informed by tremendous imagination. Summer is the perfect time for such books, and this year readers can enjoy the gift of Justin Cronin’s The Passage. Read fifteen pages and you will find yourself captivated; read thirty and you will find yourself taken prisoner and reading late into the night. It has the vividness that only epic works of fantasy and imagination can achieve. What else can I say? This: read this book and the ordinary world disappears.”
—Stephen King

…And that was all it took. My very favorite author promised me everything I had ever asked for in a book.

The official release date for this highly anticipated novel is June 8th, just a week away. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC copy from a Random House giveaway (seriously, it was like winning the lottery). I could hardly wait the bury my nose in it and be swept away.

I was not disappointed. The Passage delivered everything promised, and more. There are a lot of similarities to Stephen King’s work (not the least of which is that the 766 page beast could double as a doorstop in a pinch), but I was pleased to find flair and originality. Cronin is a true story-teller. The flow, the cadence of sentences, and the voice of the narrative captivates. Most of the characters were real enough to haunt me well after I’d closed the book and turned over to sleep.

I do fear the sheer length of the book will dissuade the casual reader from even making an attempt, and that is truly a shame. I hope the book generates enough interest – dare I say hype? – to overcome this. It really is a worthwhile read for anyone who enjoys a good horror story or post-apocalyptic fable.

For more info: Enter the Passage

To Pre-Order: Amazon

Hooked

30 May

This is all Stephenie Meyers’ fault.

I started reading the Twilight series five days before the release of Breaking Dawn. My husband knows my affinity for all things horror/fantasy/supernatural, my early adolescent worship of Stephen King, and my thinly disguised adoration for romance so he bought Twilight for me.

At the time, I was on a four-year reading hiatus. Formerly accused by my peers of being a “bookworm” (and not in a nice way), I had become “too busy” to read much of anything. I mostly reread old favorites at a glacial pace. Nothing piqued my interest for a very long time.Twilight changed that.

This was well before the series became the nauseating fantasy love affair of every preteen in the nation. It was before the movie was officially cast. It was before the Young Adult section of every bookstore became inundated with supernatural sappiness. Therefore, I didn’t run into too many spoilers, I didn’t have visions of an unwashed Robert Pattinson and a bored looking Kristin Stewart at the turn of every page, and I didn’t feel a damn bit of guilt over how much I absolutely loved it.

I loved it. Every word, every cliche, every sap-filled line of dialogue, all the purple prose, all the improbabilites (vampires sparkle?! okay!) My husband had to go out and buy the other books in succession, and I was ready for Breaking Dawn on its release day. The story consumed me. To be perfectly honest, I even loved the ending.

Of course, two years later these admissions invite eye rolls at best. It’s popular to love the Twilight franchise, but even more popular to hate it. Women everywhere are personally offended that clumsy Bella cooks and cleans. I can’t even count the number of times the “not real vampires” argument comes up (it might be valid, I just don’t personally know any vampires, so what do I know?)  Even Stephen King criticized it, calling it “not very good”. Not my hero!

But Twilight did do something very special for me. It awakened the sleeping reader in me. I got such a feeling of euphoria exploring an imaginary world again, I wanted it over and over and over. So I started reading…a lot. I read now with a vigor and passion that doesn’t even compare to my teenage bookishness. I started reading outside my preferred genre and above my preconceived comprehension level. I started learning.  It’s become passion, almost obsession.

Well into the hype, I reread Twilight. I can now see its literary flaws. I can now understand it’s issues. I can almost see the absurdity. Regardless, I love it. I’ll reread it many, many times, and I’ll love it just as much. I’ll love it primarily because I’ll always remember the feeling of being revived, of falling in love again, of reuniting with an old friend, pure unadulterated joy.

So say what you want, Twilight was, in essence, my gateway drug.