March 26, 2013

A love letter to books...

Ah, love.  Not to be confused with lust (I'm talking to you 50 Shades of Gray).  For the two books I'm going to review are about love, and heartbreak.  The things that make us human, for dung beetles do not go through boxes of tissues and pints of ice cream after breaking up with the guy/ girl.

Our first book is one my dearest friend Lisa recommended.  Because she knows me so well, she knows EXACTLY the kinds of books that I fall in love with.  The books that I can't put down because I love fantasy, and strong female characters, and plot twists, and a good romance, and good endings (not happy endings, good endings).
So she suggested that I run and get Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers (what a great name).  So I did, and I LOVED it.  The beginning starts off strong, with our heroine Ismae trapped in a loveless marriage, arranged by a father who despises her.  She is beaten to almost death, then rescued, then sent to live and train by a convent devoted to patron saint of Death.  OK, ok, I probably lost some of you, but this book is wicked rad.  I loved the main character and her journey to becoming a strong, powerful, assassin that finds peace with herself, and finds mercy to be one of the most powerful tools in her retinue.  It is long, and not for the weak reader, but this book will take you on a adventure full of tension, intrigue and eventually love.  Oh, Lisa this book was a love letter.  (This is a mash up of Graceling and Poison Study, two more favorites).

Our second feature is Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler.  There are 2, no 3 very cool things about this book.  1) The artwork.  Maira Kalman illustrates each of the items the heartbroken Min Green returns to her ex love of her life.  And they are done so well.  They are characters of the story as much as Min and her jerk of an ex boyfriend.   They have a whimsy to them, yet are real enough to touch.  2) The author is Lemony Snicket.  What?  That's right, the guy who brought us The Unfortunate Events series wrote this love/ heartbreak story with the same grace and hilarity that he brought to the story of the Baudelaire trio.  And 3) This book is you, and me, and your best friend.  It is the story of heartbreak. Something we all went through either in school or right now.  A story of how much in LOVE we were then we weren't and this is why.  Handler and Kalman brings the reader into the story of Min and Ed with a sensibility that holds up, caresses, breaks, then heals our most tender organ.

Fall in love today...

March 17, 2013

"EVERYONE DIES" and other plot summaries of scary books.

We like to be scared.  We like suspense, and chills, and spine tingling trips down dark staircases.  We like ghost stories, and murder mysteries, and twist endings.  We like to watch a movie between our fingers as they are pressed against our faces saying "tell me when to look."  We also like reading a book with all the lights on, heart racing, turning pages quickly to see what happens next.  

When I talk about scary books or movies, I might be a little tame for you hard core slasher freaks.  I swear on one of my dead cat's graves that I will never watch a Saw movie (while sober).

I remember a time when I lived with my older sister during the summer before I turned 14.  We loved scary movies, so we spent almost every night watching one.  Now don't get ahead of me, you need to remember I'm an incredible wuss.  I just recently got enough courage to watch Carrie...the old one...and will never watch Silence of the Lambs, and hit my husband very hard after he made me watch Seven.  So the movies my sister and I watched were pretty tame to today's standards.  They might even have been old Hitchcock The Birds, and Psycho.  However, after that week my beloved brother-in-law was kicked out of bed and I slept with big sis.  For a more current example, after a recent viewing of Paranormal Activity  I slept with the lights on.  I know what you are thinking, that lady is really brave and I would totally want her with me in times of danger.  Here's my number 1-800-HELLNAH.

In books I have a few hairs-on-the-back-of-the-head-sticking-up favorites...Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan freaked the crap out of me.  I remember it being twisted and dark and intense.  I just heard that they are making a movie out of it which could be very cool.  Another horribly scary read was The Ruins by Scott Smith (also a movie).  O...M...G I remember finishing it late at night (so smart), jumping from the couch to the stairs, running into bed and grabbing hubby so hard.  It sounds so simple...vacation turned missing brother turned expedition into the jungle turned EVERYONE DIES.  I couldn't bring myself to go to the movie.  No one needs to see a grown librarian sobbing.

So for this edition of my book reviews we will look at two recent books I read that try to surprise the reader with gruesome death scenes and plot twists, but are both pretty tame.

First is Ten by Gretchen McNeil
What I love about this book is its easy read format, good main character, and plot twist that I really didn't see coming.  This story is about Meg and Minnie, best friends about to be parted by college.  They get an interesting invite from the most popular girl in school...
Don't spread the word! Three-day weekend. House party.
White Rock House on Henry Island. You do not want to miss it." 

And they don't, but what happens is not the last "best time they ever had in high school," but a deadly encounter with someone out for revenge.  The death scenes are awesome and sometimes brutal, the characters, typical high school stereotypes, are still enjoyable to follow as they meet their untimely deaths.

Next is The Farm by Emily McKay
I wanted this to be so much better...the idea of a disease that attacks and turns humans into a zombie/ vampire hybrid...a disease that devastates the US and forces people into apocalyptic scenarios...a disease that focuses on teenagers so they round them all up and imprison them onto old university campuses.  All the pieces were there, and it is a good read.  But it could have been a great read if the author hadn't focused on how much the main character Lily was in love (but of course wouldn't admit it because she was too strong and had to take care of her sister, and why would someone so handsome like her).  Just hold the guy's damn hand and kiss him, then move on and save the world together.  I understand tension is important to the story, but I believe the constant chase from the Ticks and battle scenes provided that story element.  It's good, but be warned there is an inevitable sequel.  However, I will say the ending had a twist I didn't see coming which redeemed its many sappy parts.

So try some of these to get your blood pumping...or there are many others I could recommend...Project 17, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Enemy, Odd Thomas...

What's your favorite scary book?