Thursday, July 03, 2008

Books I read in June

‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King A
Really enjoyed this. I’ve never read it before and I thought it was good. A very straight forward vampire story- I appreciate the fact that he touched on the sensuality of the mythology and didn’t dwell in it! Interesting relationships. Good characters. People you cared about and wanted to see survive.

Hour of the Hunter by J.A. Jance A
First in the Walker family series. I really liked this. Not a mystery- more of a thriller along the lines of James Patterson. You know who the bad guy is the whole time and the reader is waiting for it to all fall together & for them to get the killer. Jance mixes Papago (Arizona Native American) mythology stories through out the story.

Kiss of the Bees by J.A. Jance A
Second in the Walker family series. Again, excellent thriller mixed with Papago myths. Interesting use of mystical elements and suspense writing. I appreciate the fact that none of Jance’s stories get as gruesome or disturbing as Patterson’s.

Day of the Dead by J.A. Jance A
Third in the Walker family series. Same thing- excellent thriller mixed with Papago myths. I do admit that this one gets a little more gruesome, mostly because it’s touching on what can happen to young Mexican women trying to escape the horrors of their native country by coming to the U.S. In this book, a couple uses them as sex slaves and murder victims. While very little of the torture or murders are described, this one was very real for me because of the article I recently read about slavery in the U.S. And I read to escape reality, not dip into it...

A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George A
A young woman holding an ax is found beside the decapitated body of her father and the dead body of the beloved family dog. Did she kill them?
Wow. This was excellent. Disturbing, dark, and powerful mystery, although I want to make it clear this well-developed novel rises above the ‘genre novel’. Amazing how she ties up a bunch of loose ends. Interesting characters, interesting situation. This one started out a little slow for me- the first chapter puts the reader smack dab in the middle of a strange world- but after the first two or three chapters it was so good I was compelled to find out what was going on...
A Moment on the Edge: 100 years of Crime Stories by Women edited by Elizabeth George A
Excellent anthology. Really good stories and some amazing authors- everybody from Dorothy Sayers to J.A. Jance to Ngaio Marsh to Joyce Carol Oats. George has organized the stories according to year written and published so that you get an impression of ‘how far we’ve come, baby’. Some of them are mysteries, some aren’t.
Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris B
Harper was struck by lightning at the age of 15 and she can now tell where bodies are and what killed them. She can’t talk to spirits and she can’t tell who did the murder. She just finds bodies. A mystery with the twist of knowing exactly how the people died, just not who did it.
I enjoyed the characters, the mystery and the situation, but I think that the constant "Woe is me, Nobody likes me ‘cuz I find their dead family and they don’t want to pay me" could get a little aggravating...

Kingdom’s of Light by Alan Dean Foster B
Liked it. A wizard’s animal friends are compelled to complete an adventure to save their world after a terrible evil destroys the wizard. I enjoyed the relationships between the animals- one dog, one snake, one bird, and three cats. When the wizard is killed, the animals are transformed into humans and compelled to go find the all the color that has been stolen from their world.
Cold Burn (a CSI novel) by Max Allan Collins B-
An original novel based on the show. Good solid writing. The mysteries weren’t as twisty as I’d like, but they weren’t bad. So much of the show is about HOW they figure the mystery out and, in my opinion, that search didn’t come across in writing as well as it does visually.

Grave Matters (a CSI novel) by Max Allan Collins B+
An original novel based on the show- much better than Cold Burn. Twisty, satisfying mysteries. Enjoyed it.

The Magic Shop books by Bruce Coville
This series is very good- Excellent YA novels. Funny, light and imaginative story with more depth than you might expect... Each story is about a 5th-7th grader with serious problems, ie. A bully, a teacher who makes their life hard, a habit of lying, etc.. Through the course of the books each kid learns how to deal with their problems. I’d recommend these to any student I taught- good clean fun stories with excellent themes about living real life:
Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher A
Jeremy’s got problems with a girl at school and his art teacher seems to hate him. While running from the girl he ends up in a magic shop where he sees the most beautiful multicolored ball, and he wants it more than anything.
The Monster’s Ring A
Russell is being chased by a bully from his school when he comes upon a mysterious magic shop he’s never seen before. Inside, the odd shop keeper thrusts a small box in his hand and tells him it has what he wants...
Jennifer Murdley’s Toad A
Jennifer is plain & a little dumpy and all she wants is to be pretty. She’s running from other girls at school who are teasing her about her appearance when she finds the magic shop. She buys a toad with more than a little attitude...
The Skull of Truth A
Charlie has trouble with the truth. One day his lies get him chased by an angry crew of boys, and while escaping he discovers the magic shop. He steals a mysterious skull only to discover he can only speak the truth around the skull.
Juliet Dove, Queen of Love A
Whenever she’s teased, shy Juliet defends herself... By saying the sorts of mean things that should never be said. When she finds herself in the magic shop, she chooses a beautiful amulet with a powerful love spell- every boy she meets falls hopelessly in love with her, and the amulet won’t come off...

Fairy Haven and the Quest for the Wand by Gail Carson Levin B
I enjoyed this silly light tale and finished it in about half an hour. Levine is the author of Ella Enchanted and I honestly couldn’t help myself when I saw the book at the library (I LOVED Ella Enchanted- the movie’s good, but the book is EXCELLENT). It wasn’t until I got home that I realized it was a ‘Disney Fairies’ book- one in their new series about Tinker Bell and the other fairies of Never Land. The book is about the power of a magic wand to fulfill wishes and cause wand madness, and about the power of love. Aimed at 7-11 year old girls. Lovely artwork by David Christiana. Doesn’t really cross over to adults well, but it was certainly a cute story.
A Bone to Pick by Charlaine Harris B+
Entertaining story about a single, small-town, librarian from the South. Roe Teagarden inherits a rather substantial estate, including a house complete with a skull hidden in a window seat. My favorite line from ‘The Mummy’ is "I’m a librarian!", so I admit I particularly enjoyed the whole idea of a librarian sleuth discovering ‘who-dun-it’.
The Gunslinger: The Dark Tower 1 by Stephen King A
I think the writing is excellent. I just didn’t like it very much. I’m sorry, Valette! Not so much the darkness as the nastiness of it. I’ve got so many friends who love this series that I’m gonna give the second one a try. The one benefit of reading so fast is that I’m more willing to spend some time on books I don’t like... Since I know this is only the first part of a larger work, I’d like to give the whole thing a little more of a chance...
Have a Hot Time, Hades! Book One of the Myth-O-Mania series By Kate McMullan B
From the back: What a myth-o-maniac! Zeus’s version of the myths is completely wrong. That story about Zeus single-handedly overthrowing Cronus, the big bad leader of the Titans, and becoming Ruler of the Universe? Baloney! He is officially Ruler of the Universe, but that’s only because he cheated at cards. It’s time to set the record straight. For the first time ever, Hades, King of the Underworld, reveals the true story behind the myths.
This was silly! Only about 45 to read, and very fun. McMullan takes the old myths and sets them on their ear. Her light and fun writing is easy to read, and her knowledge of the Greeks myths makes it a delight. Reminiscent of Disney’s Hercules in style & humor, but lacking what made the movie too dark for kids: the sexual innuendos and emphasis on evil getting all the fun.
Phone Home, Persephone! Book Two of the Myth-O-Mania series by Kate McMullan B+
From the back: That story about Hades kidnapping Persephone when she was picking flowers? Poppycock! Persephone wasn’t picking flowers. She was plotting a way to escape her overprotective mother, Demeter, and she hitched a ride to the Underworld.
Again, very silly. I liked this one even better than the first one. Persephone is fun, and I enjoyed the lightness of the love story.

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