Sunday, July 13, 2008

Chelsea Handler - My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands

I chanced upon Chelsea Handler's new book (something about vodka) on the Amazon bestseller list and thought I would borrow her first book from the library since most reviewers had raved about it. This was a really quick read and I breezed through it in a couple of hours. I am alternately amused and horrified after reading this biographical account of her sexual conquests -- when they did happen, that is. The opening chapter had me chuckling away when she caught her parents doing the deed (in the most interesting way) after a bribe from her sister; I thought that was hilarious and I was really fond of this gutsy five-year-old. There were other moments that I thought were brilliant; like when Chelsea pretended to be her own imaginary twin sister in order to avoid one of her not so one-night stands; or the time she discovered that the doctor that everyone had a crush on was gay in the most eye-popping manner.

However, there were other things that truly grated on me to fully embrace Chelsea, endear her to me and just laugh with her through all of this. As a fifteen-year-old, she decided to ring the police to tell them that her father had molested her just so that she could get him out of the house for a party -- that to me was appalling. Yeah, she may have been a dumb teenager then, but still?! How shallow and selfish is this girl?! It's not like she shows any improvement with maturity. The excessive drinking, the compulsive lying, they all just get a bit much for me to really care and feel for Chelsea in the end. While all of this may now be in the past (she has obviously done well for herself with two successful publications on top of a TV career) but I think this is my limit for Chelsea Handler. I know I won't be seeking out her other book!

Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi - The Nixie's Song (Beyond The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1)

Compared to the original Spiderwick Chronicles, I think this one was a bit of a disappointment. The two main leads in this -- Nick and Laurie -- are not very likeable and verge on annoying for me. The nixie that they save is creepy and seems to be just as capable of inflicting harm on the kids as the giant. The 'cameo' by the authors in the book felt misplaced and did nothing for the story. I suspect they must have thought it very clever at the time but I certainly didn't think so, espeically when they presented themselves as frauds in the book and not really the experts on the faerie world. For me, that joke didn't work but backfired instead. The illustrations have always been great and they remain so in The Nixie's Song; I just wish the story-telling was better. I will still check out the next book when it comes out just to see what happens, but at this stage, I'm not expecting much!

Neil Gaiman - American Gods

This is the fifth novel that I've read by Neil Gaiman. I really enjoyed it but I liked Neverwhere more. I think this was partly due to my own limited knowledge of the gods that were featured in the book so it made it a little difficult for me to fully appreciate how far the gods had fallen. Also, while I enjoyed the short stories that were scattered throughout the book, I'm not sure what purpose they served. I kept expecting the gods/characters that were featured to show up in the main plot somewhere but it didn't happen. Maybe I missed them, I'm not sure, but without the connection to the main story, they felt like distractions to me. Overall, I still think this was a cool book and I will definitely purchase another copy to add to my Neil Gaiman collection. I think I will have to brush up on my mythology before I read this one again to fully appreciate the tale that Gaiman has weaved here. He is a magnificent storyteller and I look forward to revisiting this one and reading his other works.

Charlaine Harris - From Dead to Worse

I actually read this one a couple of weeks ago (I polished it off the same day I picked it up from the library) but had been too lazy to blog about it earlier. I think this latest book is better than the previous offering but still, something seems to be lacking when compared to the earlier books in the Sookie Stackhouse series. There wasn't really much of a mystery in this one, with Sookie getting involved in one hairy situation to another. I never thought I would say this, but these books have been getting increasingly chaste. It seems like the less action there is in the bedroom for Sookie, the body count starts getting higher! Not that Sookie needs to be having sex in every book, but I certainly hope Harris will stop changing partners for Sookie. Now that Quinn is out of the picture, looks like the fight is back to between Bill, who would die for her, and Eric, who now remembers the time when he lost his memory! All very exciting, but this yoyo-ing back and forth does get annoying. Throw in her dead cousin's baby and who knows what can happen in Book 9. I will always keep going with these books, but I wish there can be some resolutions so that Sookie can just concentrate on the mysteries. It's time the poor girl got a break with her love life!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Dean Koontz - Odd Hours

I finished reading this last night while watching the Federer-Hewitt Wimbledon tennis match, making this the last book for me in June. I really enjoyed the previous Odd Thomas books, but this fourth outing by Dean Koontz falls completely flat for me. Odd enters into the situation abruptly, even with his 'psychic magnetism'. All he does is go for a walk, and BAM, he's in the thick of a terrorist plot. Right. The character of Annamaria appears just as suddenly and it is never really clear what purpose she serves, although Koontz hints at a linkage to Stormy, Odd's original gal from Book 1.

At the beginning, it seems like the baddies are after Annamaria (why did they even approach Odd and her on the pier?) but really, they want Odd after he transfers his vision to one of the bad guys and so they chase him and people connected to him. From there, it's just waffle followed by more waffle; some sections really drag on and get so tedious.

The book is not without its moments; for example, I really enjoyed the dialogue between Odd and his eccentric employer, Hutch, and the banter between Odd and the villains was quite funny as well. Overall though, it's a pretty weak effort by Koontz in the Odd Thomas series and I'm quite disappointed by it. If this was the first time that I had encountered Odd Thomas, I would have dropped the book after the first 50 pages. I don't know how the additions of Annamaria and Blossom are going to pan out in the next book, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Here's hoping that the next one will be much better!