Thursday, February 28, 2013

Book #95: Bury Me Deep

Book #95: Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbott
4/5 stars

After reading Dare Me by Megan Abbott a few months ago, I was psyched to check out some of her other work. I found out that Dare Me was kind of a step out of the box for her, because Abbott is actually known more for novels like this one, that are 1920s-1930s thrillers. It's very different from her newest novel, but still enjoyable.

The novel is loosely based on a true crime from 1931! It follows innocent Marion Seeley, a nurse, who gets in with the wrong crowd. She makes some friends that are crazy party people, and while her husband is out of the country indefinitely, she starts to get into some trouble, including an affair with a smooth talker named Joe: the man whom all the ladies fawn over and all the guys want to be. But something happens between Marion, Joe, and her new friends that will change everything. I can't say more than that; you'll just have to read it and find out what happens. =)

The novel starts out a bit slowly, and takes a while to get into the crime part of it, which I wish I knew earlier. However, once the crime is committed, the story picks up quickly and becomes hard to put down. The glamorous characters and time period are so fun to read about, and Abbott has a gift for suspense. I prefer Dare Me, a modern thriller, to this particular novel, but Abbott has definitely earned her Edgar Awards. I look forward to reading more of her work.

What I'm reading now...

1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (sci fi) 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Book #94: Merry Christmas Alex Cross

Book #94: Merry Christmas, Alex Cross by James Patterson
4/5 stars

This will be a brief entry, because I don't want to give too much away for those who haven't yet started the Alex Cross series (though what they're waiting for I have no idea!!). However, since this is a fairly new novel (Nov. '12), I wanted to review it for those who are Patterson fans but have not yet read this novel.

Merry Christmas, Alex Cross is different from the past books of the series mostly because it takes place in less than a two day period, over the Christmas holiday. While some Cross novels move quickly, I don't remember any of them having this much action packed into such a short amount of time. It made for an interesting, fast-paced read. It was, partly, a continuation of the story in the previous novel, Kill Alex Cross, as it contained one of the "bad guys" from the previous book who made it out alive, and refused to give up her terrorist ways. I was not a fan of this character, so I wasn't thrilled to see her back, which is why the novel didn't get the usual 5/5 star rating that I give Alex Cross novels.

However, this novel deals with not one, but two major crisis situations over Christmas. Cross also has to report to a major hostage situation, in which a scorned, ruined ex-husband is holding his ex-wife, her new husband, his kids, and a neighbor hostage on Christmas Eve. He is becoming more insane by the minute, completely drugged out and crazy with rage.

I read this book in about two or three days as I do most of Patterson's novels. The short chapters and crazy, action-packed situations make for a page turner for sure. This was not my favorite of the series, but I am still a huge Cross fan. I enjoy hearing about his family, and I found that by the end of the novel, Cross is really starting to face the effect that his work has on them. I expect that in the next Cross novel (recently released) that something will have to be done before his family falls apart.

What I'm reading now...

1. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Leguin (sci fi)

2. Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson (nonfiction)

3. Monster by Walter Dean Meyers (classic YA)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book #91: How They Met, and other stories

Book #91: How They Met, and other stories by David Levithan
5/5 stars

So back in the beginning of the month, I read this short story collection by the amazing David Levithan. John Green fans will love this guy, in fact Green and Levithan wrote a book together (which is on my extensive list of things to read). Levithan is a YA writer who is great at writing about all types of love. I think he's a gay individual, which will explain the fact that many of his characters in this and other novels are often gay, but he doesn't treat it as much different than being straight, which I love. You love who you love, and in the end that's all it is: love.

Levithan writes in his introduction that these are all short stories that he's written over the years, all around Valentine's Day, because they all deal with some form of love or relationships. However, these are not all cliche, happy ending stories. There are some where the two people end up together, but there's also a wide variety of other kinds of stories. There are 18 total stories, and no two are the same.

There's a few stories about the prom, which are quite different from one another, a story about people who are in a dance company (which, of course, I LOVED!), one about meeting the love of your life on a airplane, one that involves a painful situation of homophobia that is told beautifully, and of course, stories of heartbreak, in different ways. I can't say much about these stories without giving them away, because they're short stories, but they are beautifully crafted. Some I liked better than others, but the collection as a whole was great. Also, if you're like me and super busy, reading a short story collection is great, because you can read just one at a time and be satisfied, and not have to end on a cliffhanger chapter like in a novel! Happy reading!

What I'm reading now...

1. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Leguin (sci fi)

2. Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson (nonfiction)

3. Monster by Walter Dean Myers (YA award winner)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Book #90: Frankenstein

Book #90: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
4/5 stars

After literally years of saying "I should read that..." and looking at it sitting on my shelf collecting dust, I decided to give the classic monster novel a try. Having read only one other novel by Mary Shelley beforehand, which I despised, I was a little concerned about reading her famous novel, but felt obligated to at least try it as a lover of reading and future teacher.

Frankenstein is in fact NOT the monster's name, but the last name of his creator, Victor. The creation doesn't have a name, so I'll just refer to him as the monster. The novel begins with letters from a man at sea to his sister, and the former eventually comes in contact with Victor, as he and his men save the scientist from the ice. Victor tells this sailor his story, which is the majority of the novel. It starts off with Victor's background, how he came to be interested in science and ultimately attempt to create human life. Finally, it gets to the conception of the monster, who quickly runs off when his creator is repulsed by him.

Victor is haunted by the image of his monster, and is even more distressed when his young brother turns up dead, apparently strangled. He fears that it was the monster who did it, and blames himself for it. He slowly goes insane and frightened, until he comes face-to-face with his creation. The monster tells his story to Victor about where he's been for months and what has become of him. Lonely and ashamed of himself, the monster begs Victor to make him a mate with whom he can live happily in companionship. However, Victor is not quite as keen on the idea of creating another monster, a "Bride of Frankenstein" if you will, despite his monster's threats to ruin his life and everything he loves.

I will warn you, the first third of the book was brutal for me. I pushed through it, hating Mary Shelley and her dense language. However, I figured I should finish it, and I'm glad I decided to, because once the monster became a more prominent character, the story picked up. I was intrigued by the monster, despite my confusion and disbelief when he spoke quite eloquently. Anyway, once he told his story and became directly involved in his creator's life, I was more invested in the story, and finished it pretty quickly. It was definitely worth reading, but you must be a fan of classics because it isn't an easy read. If you do like older novels though, give it a try, because despite my annoyance with Victor's character, the monster has a great story to tell, and it's interesting to see where all of the horror films and Halloween costumes stemmed from. The monster might not be as bad as Hollywood has made him out to be.

What I'm reading now...

1. Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbott (mystery)

2. Crossed by Ally Condie (YA dystopian)

3. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin (sci fi)

4. Shakespeare: The World As Stage by Bill Bryson (nonfiction)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Book #88: Matched

Book #88: Matched by Ally Condie
5/5 stars

I know, I know, another YA dystopian trilogy?? But trust me, I only read the good ones. =) I had heard many good things about this series, and when my sister got me one of the books for Christmas, I knew it was time to give the Matched trilogy a try. I am sooo glad that I did!

The novel follows Cassia Reyes, a 17-year-old girl who is approaching her "Matching Ceremony." When people reach the age of 17, they are "matched" with their perfect partner. The government decides, based on a number of factors, with whom you are most compatible. From there, you would begin a courtship process, also determined by the government, and be married at a certain time. You may also "apply" for children between certain ages. Doesn't sound romantic at all, huh? But it's all these people know in this future society, and they don't question the "perfection" of the Officials that govern them. The Officials also deem where people work and when they die. Everyone dies at the same age, so that they do not have to suffer from old age, though most cancers and other fatal diseases have been eradicated by this point.

But to get back to Cassia, at her Matching Ceremony, she finds that she has been Matched with her best friend, Xander. Everything seems wonderful; obviously these two are comfortable with one another, having been friends for years, and are excited to be Matched. However, when Cassia looks at her disk later that has personal information about her Match, there is a computer glitch, and a new face shows up: Ky. Cassia knows Ky from school, but is confused by the glitch. Who is her true match?

She is later assured by Officials that the glitch was just a glitch, a mistake, and that Xander is her match. She should just forget ever having seen Ky's face...but she can't. Cassia gets to know Ky better over the course of the book, therefore playing with fire as she is bending the rules of those who govern her. Over time she begins to question which boy is better for her, but it goes deeper than a shallow romance novel. This future society is used to having things done in its "perfect" orderly way, and Ky and Cassia are disrupting that peaceful, yet brainwashed way. Things are about to get ugly.

I really enjoyed the romance in this novel combined with the dystopian feel for danger and adventure. Romance is explored a bit in the ever popular Hunger Games books, but it is more central in this novel, which I liked. I also was interested in seeing how yet another author created a dystopian world. This one, like others, was meant by the government to be a utopia, where everything was perfect. No disease, your perfect match, and only 100 books, 100 poems, 100 songs, etc. as not to overwhelm people with too many choices...hmmm interesting. Condie has created an intriguing world and offered suggestions about our future world that were fun and a little frightening to read about. If you liked The Hunger Games trilogy, definitely check this series out. The novel ends on a cliffhanger, so I'm psyched to start the second novel, Crossed, and learn what becomes of Cassia.

Here's a fun little book trailer if you're interested:

What I'm reading now...

1. Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbott (mystery/thriller)

2.Shakespeare: The World As Stage by Bill Bryson (nonfiction)