Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Charlaine Harris - A Secret Rage

This was first written in 1984 and was published again in 2007 as a mass-market paperback edition. I stumbled upon a copy in the library and I borrowed it as I had always enjoyed Charlaine's novels. This was a fast-paced mystery-thriller, which flowed more like a TV show with abrupt change of scenes rather than a natural progression of chapters. While it wasn't a bad read, I felt it was quite ordinary with a predictable ending. As I had picked the killer quite early, the book didn't have that climax for me as most thrillers usually would. I also found it extremely weird that the protagonist immediately developed a sexual relationship with her childhood crush after her rape. Not that I would have any understanding how a rape victim copes with the aftermath, but surely jumping straight into a sexual relationship wouldn't be it? I understand that the comfort and warmth from the relationship itself will be very much wanted and needed after such a traumatic experience, but I definitely don't get the sex bits. If presented with the opportunity, I will never turn down crime fiction from Charlaine Harris, but her Sookie Stackhouse series -- as fluffy as the books are -- is still more appealing to me than her other novels.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sue Grafton - S is for Silence

Read on 7 January 2008:
This was surprisingly engaging and I found myself drawn into the story, wanting to know more. Considering that Kinsey was following up on such an old case, I thought it would be a book that I would ditch pretty quickly as I didn't think much would happen. This turned out to be the case -- apart from slashed tyres and a bar fight -- but I was proven wrong. The author did a great job in builing the tension and I enjoyed the flashback chapters as Kinsey investigated the case, and her "interviews" with the various characters gave greater insight into the bigger picture. What was disappointing though was the abrupt ending, which didn't make much sense either. Apart from the obvious that the killer was after Violet's money, but still, there didn't seem to be much else of a motive. I know that money is as good as any other motive, but throw in the clue highlighted by the author about the dog being significant, it just didn't make sense in the overall scheme of things. It almost felt like Sue Grafton got tired of writing the book and decided to wrap things up and just picked a character out of a hat to be the perp. An otherwise good read marred by an unsatisfactory ending, which is most unfortunate.

Christopher Moore - Practical Demonkeeping

Read on 3 January 2008:
What a fun book to kick off the new year with! This is the first Christopher Moore book that I've read, but undoubtedly, it will not be the last. Practical Demonkeeping was a lighthearted supernatural read that was very entertaining and made me chuckle several times. It might not be the most complex literature ever written, but it certainly got me hooked and it was a complete joy to read. It was not without its flaws though -- I thought there were way too many characters and the ending wasn't completely satisfactory for me -- but overall, a humorous and twisted (in a good way!) tale that put a smile on my face. Always a good sign! :)

Kerry Greenwood - Heavenly Pleasures

Not a bad follow-up to Earthly Delights, but I think its predecessor was better. The first book was "clean", with one main plot as its central focus and great character development. In Heavenly Pleasures, it was far messier and rather convoluted with several stories happening at the same time. One was the case to solve at the chocolate store, which then broke off to another case involving a runaway. There was also the mystery of the new face to Insula, resulting in bombs and break-ins, while also having to deal with a nutcase before he self-destructed and got himself killed in prison. There were just far too many things going on for each to be developed properly, so it was very much touch-and-go for the various stories. The great cast of characters helped to keep me going through the messy plot lines, and all in all, it was a competent follow-up, but just didn't turn out as good as I hoped it would be.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Kerry Greenwood - Earthly Delights

I had heard of Kerry Greenwood and her popular Phyrne Fisher series but had never read any of her books. Earthly Delights is the first novel that I've read from her and it was a delightful book. I had no expectations whatsoever when I started reading and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Corinna Chapman is a refreshing protagonist -- a full-figured leading lady, accepting of herself and takes crap from nobody. And she does all this with a wicked sense of humour. There is also a great supporting cast of characters, like the dominatrix, Miss Dread; Meroe, your friendly neighbourhood witch; and especially the divine Daniel, who sounds positively gorgeous and very swoon-worthy. I was hoping for more sparks between Corinna and Daniel, but alas, there wasn't much happening but I expect the relationship will develop further in the next book. Oh, and I didn't mind the cats either as they were very entertaining in their own right. I wished that Corinna was more of a dog person but I must admit the only dog to feature in the book was one of those little annoying yappy ones, not endearing even to a dog lover. I'm still not a hundred per cent sure about the Phryne Fisher series as the 1920s setting in Melbourne doesn't quite fully appeal to me, but I will be sure to read the follow-up to Earthly Delights and try to track down the other books in the series.

MaryJanice Davidson - Undead and Uneasy

Ahhh... the latest in the Undead series by MJD. I had been disappointed by the recent offerings in this series -- they lacked the sparkle from earlier books, which were insane and silly, but with coherent plots at least. Well, fairly coherent anyway. In Books 4 and 5, they were disjointed and felt like a bunch of nonsense strung together -- whimsical, okay; nonsensical, not so much. I am pleased to say that with Book 6, MJD has gotten her -- as Betsy would put it -- "mojo" back and has delivered a highly enjoyable read. It is a little convenient to use a cursed ring to explain some of the nonsense (for example, the zombie) from previous books, but at least this time, the plot felt like a whole thought-out story. It's not without its flaws, but at least back to being fairly coherent. The blow-up with Laura and an appearance of the devil did smack a little of MJD trying to fill up pages, but not so jarring that they can't be overlooked. As usual, Betsy saves the day with another new-found incredible vampire queen ability and all that was wrong is right again -- Jessica is cured; Antonia can now change; Garrett is super-smart now; and Betsy and Eric get married, with Sinclair himself acquiring a new ability. All very convenient and too easy, but as a sucker for happy endings, I have no objection. Hurrah to MJD for a great addition to the Undead series! I hope Book 7 will be just as good!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Philip Pullman - The Amber Spyglass

Read on 28 December 2007:
I read the first two in the series, His Dark Materials, from bookrings on BookCrossing, which really had me absorbed. I couldn't wait for the third book to arrive so I borrowed a copy from the library. Boy, what a letdown after investing all that time into this series!

I am so disappointed with the ending for The Amber Spyglass. Okay, so I'm hardwired for happy endings, but surely Will and Lyra could stay together?! I don't get why there could only be ONE window left open. Yes, yes, it messes with the Dust or whatever, but it took gabizillion of those windows to screw everything up, it hardly seems like having TWO windows would throw all of the universes back into utter chaos. Personally, I thought it was a lame ending because it just "fit" to do the tragic-lovers thing. Also, it doesn't feel finished, which makes me feel kinda cheated, because as much as I would love to read more, what I want even more is a proper conclusion. This still feels very open-ended, and after some googling, I find out there are companion novels to be published to wrap up the unfinished storylines. That is so annyoing, the story should have been wrapped up properly from the start! It was a thrilling read but major points off for the cop-out ending. URGH!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Irene Spencer - Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist's Wife

I was browsing through Amazon's bestseller pages when I chanced upon this book. The memoir sounded like it would be a fascinating read so I recommended it to my local library to purchase a copy so that I could borrow it. It was definitely intriguing, but it also left me feeling baffled and in disbelief. It was quite amazing to read about Irene toughing out the life that she had for such a long time, especially when she struggled so much with a polygamous marriage, right from the very beginning, and had to painfully remove herself from her first love. It was hard for me to imagine her choosing Verlan, and then staying with him almost to the very end, despite the incredible challenges and hardship throughout the entire relationship. The world that existed for her is so alien to me, it's quite difficult to fathom how it must have been like. While I felt sometimes that Irene's story was a little disjointed with some details missed, it did provide a glimpse into her life in polygamy. I would have also liked to know more about the development of her relationship with her current husband, Hector, especially when there was a photo in the book of Hector with Verlan. I guess that was a new chapter in her life with a fresh beginning when this book was about letting go of the past. Overall, an interesting read about a hidden part of society that most people will never know about or experience.

Leeny's Book Blog

I haven't been able to think of a clever name for my book blog, so it will just be a boring title for now. If I do come up with something brilliant, I will change it, but just right now, I can't be bothered. Most of my thoughts about the books I read are on journal entries as part of my BookCrossing bookshelf, but there are some books I read that are not registered, either from the library or borrowed from friends, so I've created this blog just for that. I doubt many people will visit here (if any at that), but it's really more for me as it's been quite a habit sharing what I feel about each book I've read. Happy reading to all!