Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Stephenie Meyer - Breaking Dawn

Well, after two very long days, I have completed the Twilight Saga. After reading the last installment till 3am this morning and then finishing the rest in about another hour and a half when I woke up, I am officially finished with the Twilight series. Not since the Harry Potter books have I ever been this engaged in a literary universe. Sure, I adore the Discworld books (Terry Pratchett remains a firm favourite of mine) but the pull is so much different with the Twilight books - I think I may possibly love them more than the Harry Potter series. I think it's to do with the complicated supernatural love triangle - all that teenage angst and melodrama! Some have complained that Breaking Dawn is too neat and tidy, that everyone gets their happy ending and it's just too convenient. Well, what's wrong with that? I could be biased as I am a sucker for happy endings, but it's not like Stephenie Meyer just gave the characters their happily-ever-after that easily. Everyone went through incredible hardship and to me, the progression of events felt like they made sense and not contrived at all. I also really enjoyed the chapters from Jacob's perspective, which helped to break up the book a bit and provided a bit of comic relief, even with the painful moments for him at the time. As a reader, I was so attached to these characters as Meyer brought them to life and made them intensely real, and it brought me comfort that everything worked out in the end. My only complaint is the ridiculous name for Bella and Edward's baby, Renesmee - thank goodness for the nickname, Nessie, which is just soooooo much better! It wouldn't surprise me if there's a new series for Jacob and Nessie in the future; it will be interesting to see how that turns out! In the meantime, although I know the project has been put on hold indefinitely, I hope Stephenie Meyer will continue to work on Midnight Sun and publish it sometime in the future. As painful as the leaks have been for her, I think having Edward's perspective on the events in Twilight will give fans that extra insight and dimension into the world of Twilight and it wouldn't be fair to punish the fans for something that they could not control. For now, I will have to make do with the current set of books and I look forward to the movie sequels. I've had such a thrilling ride in the Twilight universe and I remain a happy and besotted fan!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Stephenie Meyer - Eclipse

Okay, so this was an incredibly soppy read at times - it really is a teenage soap opera with supernatural elements - but I don't care. I absolutely LOVED it, possibly even more so than Twilight. I was so incredibly swept up in the story that I simply couldn't tear my eyes away, even with the ridiculously sappy lines for the romantic bits. What can I say, I'm a sucker for sappy romance! The Bella-Edward-Jacob love triangle goes into full swing in Eclipse and even though it's obvious there can't be a happy ending for all parties involved, there are still a few thoroughly enjoyable and hilarious moments. I enjoyed reading about the rivalry between Jacob and Edward, in particular the two major events when Bella punched Jacob (and broke her hand), and when they were camping and ended up sharing the same tent - I couldn't stop myself laughing. There are also the sad moments: when Edward and Jacob share a heart-to-heart; when Bella comes to the realisation that she does love both Edward and Jacob but it is impossible to reconcile her feelings for both. Corny as the words may have been, I was incredibly touched by the part where Bella was at Jake's side after getting hurt in the vampire fight and they both had to acknowledge that their future was not going to happen. I was so emotionally invested in the story that I was still heartbroken for Jacob (even though he's not real!) for the inevitable outcome; I may have even shed a few tears (gasp!). Stephenie Meyer does lay it on a bit thick with the 'no sex before marriage' message, which was mildly annoying but not enough to dampen my love for the book. Oh, I also needed to point out the one mistake that I found (which stood out because it irked me) when 'who's' was used instead of 'whose'. This was right towards the end when Bella and Edward were having a discussion about sex/wedding/the change and Edward wanted to know whose definition of right that Bella was adhering to. Again, another minor detail but I just needed to point it out. That said, Meyer's writing is just absolute magic and with Eclipse, I was drawn even deeper into the world where Bella Swan, Eward Cullen and Jacob Black exist, even with all the melodrama. Bring on Breaking Dawn!

Stephenie Meyer - New Moon

After finishing Twilight yesterday, I started reading New Moon straight away and didn't go to sleep till I finished it (much to my husband's annoyance). Just like its predecessor, New Moon was another enthralling read that I couldn't put down. The whole Bella-and-Edward thing did get a bit tedious at times with the Romeo and Juliet star-crossed lovers tragedy hammed up a little way too much, but having accepted the melodrama and teenage angst from the first book, it would be hypocritical to start complaining about it now. I really liked the character of Jacob Black, who became more than just Billy's kid in this book. As much as I welcomed Edward's return, it was a little sad to see the negative impact it had on Jacob's relationship with Bella as I thought he was such a revitalising breath of fresh air and I really enjoyed reading about their interactions. I'm not sure what Stephenie Meyer can do with the Bella-Edward-Jacob love triangle as it's pretty much doomed; vampire and werewolves as mortal enemies kinda make any friendship or relationship a lot harder! I'm now moving on to Eclipse, I'll be back with a report soon!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Stephenie Meyer - Twilight

I absolutely loved Twilight when I first read the book last year, so of course when the movie came out, I knew I was definitely going to watch it, even though I was a little apprehensive as the film adaptation could turn out to be crap. I checked out the movie last night with some of my friends and it was okay, although I don't think I liked it as much as the book (casting was definitely a major issue!). As I had read the book so long ago, I had forgotten some of the finer details, which in a way worked in my favour as I think I would be majorly disappointed in the movie otherwise. After last night's experience, I decided to re-read the book to go through the original story and refresh my memory. Twilight is just as fantastic the second time round and I ripped through this book quickly and finished it in a matter of a few hours. While I think the movie was a decent effort, the book is just so much better and I remembered how much I loved it after reading it again. I can see how this book can irritate some because Bella and Edward can get a bit melodramatic at times, but come on, she's a teenage girl in love with a vampire who's permanently 17 years old! I think the occasional whining and teenage angst should be a given. I still think this is brilliant YA fiction that I enjoyed thoroughly and I hope the newfound fans from the movie will discover the book that it's based on. I am now going to power through the rest of the series now so hopefully when the rest of the movies get released, the story won't be so fresh in my head and I can give myself a chance to enjoy the movies!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Zoë Heller - Notes on a Scandal

After hanging on to this book for more than two years, I finally got round to reading this over the holiday break. This is a very slim book and was surprisingly easy to get through for a novel that was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize (my experiences with Booker reads are that they're always way too avant-garde and mind-boggling for me!). As unpleasant as the characters are, I must say that I did find this novel strangely compelling and intriguing. I am quite impressed that Zoë Heller has tackled an issue that could have served as mere tabloid fodder and has instead crafted a dark tale that is less about the scandal but more about the dynamics between two women that develops into a suffocating friendship because of one's obsession and loneliness. I thought this was really smartly written and the deliberate vagueness of the ending left the entire story open to interpretation by the reader. This normally drives me bonkers but I think for this instance, it actually adds to the story and drives home how wicked and delusional Barbara is for completely succumbing to this web of illusion that she has spun herself. I am now really looking forward to the film adaptation starring Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench - if it's anything like the book, it's going to be a great movie!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Shannon Drake - The Awakening

There is one more book that I forgot to post about. I had forgotten about it because I didn't finish it. This is why...

I had to give up even though I had managed to get to page 256. There was just so much waffle and the mistakes drove me bonkers! Twice (once could be justified as an oversight; when it happens twice, that's just really poor!), "it's" was used instead of "its", and "they're" was used instead of "their"! These were just the mistakes that I actually caught because I was only glancing through certain bits; who knows what else is there?! I also thought the story was just so... cheesy... Just how the story was framed, it came across really corny and tacky to me. I also hadn't known it involved vampires; not that I think there is anything wrong with vampire reads because I do like my supernatural books, but it just didn't feel like it fit in this context. The beginning of the book was heavily focused on the supernatural aspects (like demons, witchcraft etc.) but from the perspective that this was happening to ordinary folk. When I skipped to the end of the book to see if I should keep pushing through and read that there were vampires and werewolves involved, I thought, wtf?! That's when I knew I had to drop it. Maybe if I had continued, I would have gotten into the story but I think I've tried hard enough.

Trenton Lee Stewart - The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey

With this post, I'm all caught up with the books that I've read over the past few months. I hope to be able to keep this book blog updated regularly from now on!

This book is the sequel to The Mysterious Benedict Society, where the brave and clever foursome set off on yet another adventure. This time, they have to rescue Mr. Benedict and Number Two as they have been abducted by Mr. Benedict's evil twin and the children need to figure out the clues to get to them before it's too late. In this book, there is more 'action' as the children are thrust into the thick of it and they have to depend on themselves to get to Mr. Benedict without any help from the adults, and trying to dodge the Ten Men at the same time. The same clever puzzles are here again, this time in the form of clues and riddles that the kids need to decipher in order to follow Mr. Benedict's trail. Once again, this is another brilliantly written book by Trenton Lee Stewart, charting the protagonists' growth and increasing maturity since the last book and really demonstrating to readers how these characters have grown and developed. My only complaint is that I felt the story ended quite awkwardly but this is only a very minor thing. Now all I have to do is wait for the next book in the series!

John Ajvide Lindqvist - Let the Right One In

I bought this book last year but didn't read it until now. I found out that a Swedish movie had been made based on this book and I decided to read the book first before checking out the movie. This was a very interesting novel, but also quite strange and disturbing at the same time. It tackles a diverse range of controversial issues and they're all wrapped up in this weird vampire love story. First, there's Oskar who is incessantly bullied at school and fantasizes about being a mass murderer (that screams major therapy issues right there). Then there's Eli, a vampire stuck at 12 years of age, who looks like a girl but is actually a boy before he got castrated in some former life and now possesses no form of genitals, and is in a relationship of sorts with Oskar. Throw in Håkan, who is a pedophile and looks after Eli because he's driven by his own twisted desires and he is willing to do pretty much anything for her, including murdering people to get fresh blood for her. And there's more from where all that came from! It's an absolutely fascinating read but it does get uncomfortable at times. It's still a haunting story though, and it captures a wide range of emotions: despair; loneliness; helplessness; yearning; and hope. It did get a little confusing at times; there was a myriad of supporting characters and my unfamiliarity with Swedish names made it a little difficult to follow the story occasionally. The film was a simplified version of the novel, leaving out some of the more challenging aspects, but still remained very faithful to the book and captured a lot more of the story than I thought it would. There is going to be an English (Hollywood) remake to be released in 2009 or 2010, so it will be interesting to see how that turns out. Overall, definitely a worthwhile read but with its subject matter, it probably won't be for everybody.

Neil Gaiman - The Graveyard Book

This is another magnificent book by the master storyteller, Neil Gaiman. This may be YA fiction but it is equally engaging for kids and adults alike. It certainly held me captive; but then again, all Neil Gaiman novels have. As usual, Gaiman has crafted an engaging set of characters, in particular Silas and Nobody Owens. I was completely drawn into Bod's world and I was hanging onto every word as I read about his adventures. If anything, this book was too short and there was so much more I wanted to know. For example, what is Silas's backstory? The novel hints at him being a vampire but this is never specified in the book, and there's no history on Silas or why he ends up at the graveyard. The Sleer also remains a bit of a mystery. I also don't think Gaiman provided a clear enough motive as to why the Jacks wanted Bod and his family dead. Gaiman also didn't explain why Bod seemed to be losing his 'graveyard' powers at the end - is it an age thing or is there some other reason? Certainly, I would love to read more about Silas and Nobody so hopefully Gaiman will bring them back in future books. In the meantime, this will be a treasured book and I look forward to reading it again and again.

Paullina Simons - Eleven Hours

I had an evening appointment to donate blood so I needed a thin book that would be easy to hold, especially when I would be lying down and trying to pump blood at the same time! This fit the bill perfectly so I brought it along with me. This was a really quick read; I finished more than half of it during the whole blood donation process and I finished the rest of it at home after dinner. It may not be the most original story (I kept feeling that I had seen or read this before but I hadn't) and the plot was pretty transparent and predictable (like how the hell is it NOT obvious that the killer is after the baby?!), but it was still no less of a page-turner. This book reads like a movie screenplay and with the vivid descriptions, I could picture the scenes in my head and imagine what was going on, which kept me wanting more. What didn't fit quite right in the book - to me anyway - were the religious subtexts included in the novel. If Paullina Simons was trying to tie in a religious message that God has a plan for everything, I think it was a half-baked attempt to just throw in the conclusion at the end that God was looking out for the protagonist and it was his doing that sent Didi to the killer so she could do his work by finishing him off. Right, how convenient. I think the author should have paid more thought to it if she wanted to weave in a religious overtone to the novel; if she wasn't going to do it properly, then she should have just ditched that concept completely. Despite its flaws, it was still a fairly exciting read overall and it did its job of keeping me entertained while waiting around to get poked with a needle. That's good enough for me!

J.K. Rowling - The Tales of Beedle the Bard

This book was much thinner and smaller than I expected and it was really quick to get through. There's not much to fault with this little book, J.K. Rowling's latest offering to her Harry Potter crazed fans (me included). The five short tales that Rowling has written up here are enjoyable, but made even more so through Dumbledore's notes, giving readers additional insight to the Harry Potter universe. I was also impressed by her own hand-drawn illustrations included in the book; I can imagine why the collector's edition, which is a replica of the handcrafted original, would be a prized treasure for those willing to spend the money! This is a neat little addition to the Harry Potter series and it's also nice to know that my purchase helped in a small way towards a charitable cause. For all Harry Potter fans, this is definitely a must-buy!

Sophie Kinsella - Shopaholic and Baby

I had a really crappy day and all I wanted was a non-taxing, light, fluffy read to relax with in bed. After having a quick look at my bookshelf, it was clear that another Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) adventure would be the perfect remedy. Not much has changed since the last book; Becky is still as obsessed as ever with shopping, except this time it's all about designer baby gear and the latest celebrity trends with baby stuff. At least this time, Sophie Kinsella kept Becky's shopping addiction more light-hearted and amusing, and didn't get to the point where readers would feel that she needed to be institutionalised instead. I thought this was another fun addition to the Becky Bloomwood series and even with all her silliness, as a reader, you just can't help but cheer for the ditzy heroine as she takes on the latest challenges thrown at her: Luke's red-haired ex-girlfriend (bitch!) who's the new baby doctor; her employer's deteriorating business; and Luke's bastard of a client. As usual, the Brandon duo comes out tops at the end of it (even if they did lose the house) with a new addition to the family - although I really am not thrilled with the name Minnie! This was a quick and easy read that I finished in one night and was just what I needed for a little lift at the end of a bad day. Yay for Becky!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Stephen King - Duma Key

Well, it sure was a bad idea to pick up this book because once I did, I was just glued to it even though I really should have been focusing on doing my household chores. I was hooked right from the beginning and once the story picked up pace, I just had to keep going till I had an answer to the mystery unravelling before my eyes. I have not read much of Stephen King's vast portfolio (the last book of his that I read was The Cell) but what I've read so far, I have always enjoyed them. Duma Key was certainly another thrilling read - a little too long perhaps, but even if it were double its current length, I would still have raced through it to get to the end. There may have been some plot inconsistencies (and some unnecessary and irrelevant political viewpoints) but not major enough to distract from the main storyline and Stephen King portrayed such real and engaging characters that really drew me in as a reader into the story. The description of the drawings that Edgar painted were also so vivid that they jumped off right the page; it would have been really neat if there were illustrations included in the book. I really enjoyed the supernatural theme of the story, although it did get a tiny bit silly at times with talk of vampires and zombies, which felt out of place in the book. Overall though, this was a fantastic read and I think I will seek out Stephen King's earlier work from the library.

Helen Garner - The Spare Room

This was sometimes difficult to get through because I have now lost two grandparents to cancer -- one only a few months ago -- and reading about Nicola's pain reminded me of my grandparents' suffering. For such an emotional topic and obviously draining time of the author's life, it was actually surprisingly easy to read (apart from my own personal struggles). I felt for Nicola who tried to brave her cancer in her own way, clinging on to each last desperate hope. However, I could also feel Helen's anger at her friend for being in such deep denial about her condition and the frustration she must have felt in trying to support her, but yet slowly eating away at her with the emotional strain. This was a very moving recount of a tough and trying time and I really admire Helen for telling this story.

PS. I also thought Verity sounded like a real snooty bitch!

Matthew Reilly - Ice Station

This has got to be one of the craziest stories I've ever read -- psychotic killer whales; mutant giant elephant seals; death-defying scenarios (swimming with icebergs included!); and a whole tangle of conspiracy plots, with one insane battle after the other. And of course, the protagonist, Shane 'Scarecrow' Schofield (that really should be Superman instead), survives all this with barely a scratch. Okay, so he ended up with more than just scratches, but with everything going on in this book, he should have died a million times! That said, this was a highly entertaining read and despite the incredulous storyline, I really enjoyed it. The book reads like a movie and I was just racing through it, trying to keep up with the action. In fact, there were times where I had to slow down because I was flipping pages so quickly to find out what happened next that I wasn't digesting the words properly. It could get confusing at times when people were running from place to place in the ice station (I didn't think the little diagrams at the beginning of the book were of much help) but ultimately, it doesn't matter. It's all about the action -- whether it's on C-deck or in a drilling room -- and it never lets up. This was definitely very blokey and testosterone-filled but even as a female reader, I still enjoyed this crazy ride of an action adventure tale. Sign me up for the next Scarecrow expedition!

Augusten Burroughs - A Wolf at the Table

Augusten Burroughs delves into his childhood with his latest book and at times, it seems a little incredulous that he could remember in such great detail events from his childhood, especially those that happened when he was very young. However, for most parts, I do not doubt the authenticity of what he has gone through. If I look back at my own childhood, events that were traumatic for me as a kid (which did not even come close to what Augusten has been through!), I can still recall them pretty vividly. It truly is remarkable how he has turned his life around, considering everything that has happened to him. It must have been incredibly difficult to tell this story about his father and I admire him for his courage and unflinching honesty in sharing his life with his readers. The epilogue was exceptionally moving and I can just imagine the profound effect the lack of love and affection from his father has had on his life. I hope with this memoir, he is finally able to let go of his past and embrace his future, and continue producing great literary work. I look forward to reading more from Augusten Burroughs.

Debi Gliori - Pure Dead Magic

Even though I bought this book and its sequel ages ago, somehow I never got round to reading them. They were just sitting on my bookshelf looking pretty with their lovely velvety covers. Well, I finally picked up this book a couple of months ago to read it and it was a really fun story, which I think will really appeal to younger kids. The fantasy does get a little OTT at time, but I think that's part of the charm - what with the ravenous crocodile living in the moat; a strange combination of house pets including a yeti, a griffin, and a dragon; a new Mary Poppins-like magical nanny; frozen nana in the basement - they all come together to make one very humorous story involving the Strega-Borgia family. With a willing suspension of disbelief (rats and sisters can't really be e-mailed and lost through the modem, amongst numerous other things), I think most readers will come away from this with a smile on their faces.

Trenton Lee Stewart - The Mysterious Benedict Society

This book was an absolute delight to read! Even though it's a kids' book, as an adult, I enjoyed it thoroughly. The story was original and refreshing, and it's just so clever! Trenton Lee Stewart creates four protagonists who are all very smart and capable in their own way that will resonate strongly with today's kids. I also think it's great that there are all these puzzles weaved into the plot because they challenge readers and get them thinking to try to solve these puzzles themselves - I know they certainly got my brain working! I can imagine myself reading this as a 10-year-old and I know I would have been absolutely fascinated by the Mysterious Benedict Society and their adventures. It was still a joy to read it now, even though I'm no longer in the target age group! I am really pleased to have discovered this book and also so thrilled to find such great literature that is available for children these days. I hope Trenton Lee Stewart writes more adventures for this bunch - it would be a really great series!

Garth Stein - The Art of Racing in the Rain

I didn't think I would like this book. Firstly, my care factor for racing is zero, so that aspect of the novel didn't appeal to me at all. Also, while I loved Marley and Me and this novel featured a dog as one of the main characters, based on what I read from the blurb, it seemed so ridiculous to have Enzo narrate the story and to be portrayed as a philosopher trapped in a dog's body. Right. Despite my preconceptions, I decided to go ahead and borrow this book from the library because of the rave reviews that I had seen on Amazon. After all, what did I have to lose? I am so glad I did because I ended up loving this story, racing bits and all. Garth Stein has created such real and remarkable characters that as a reader, I just can't help but be swept up by the moments and follow their journey. I felt their joy when Denny and Eve had Zoë in their lives; I was saddened by the immense grief that Denny felt when Eve passed away; I shared Enzo's outrage when Zoë grandparents ganged up on Denny and took her away. In lesser hands, this novel could have verged on the ridiculous; but Stein masterfully crafted an absolutely beautiful story that was utterly engaging and moving. Two thumbs up!

Bodhi Oser - Fuck This Book

Oh dear. It's possible to sell a book like this?! Remarkable. Most of these had me chuckling and kept me amused while waiting for dinner to made. I certainly did my bit by reading out the funny ones to entertain my other half while he cooked dinner! There were a few that really had me laughing, like the sign at the tennis court; the one with "considerate" operators able to communicate in English and Spanish; and the poor cashier at a gas station. This particular one really stood out from the bunch for me:

Persons must obtain approval of the principal before fucking in classrooms or on school grounds.

Final comment? Dearie dearie me! :)

Neil Gaiman - The Sandman Vol. 2: The Doll's House

The Doll's House is the second volume in the Sandman series and has more of the quirky and dark tales from the first. There's a story in the second volume that involves serial killers having a convention; I mean, who thinks of that?! While I'm not enough of a comics expert to comment on the art itself (my husband reckons the art is shit, which is the reason why he's never read this series) but the storytelling is what's captivating to me. The way that Gaiman weaves the different tales into the mythology of the Sandman itself is masterful and leaves me wanting more. I can't wait to borrow the rest of the volumes from the library and continue with this series.

Neil Gaiman - The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes

I have never really been inclined to read comics although I do read some Japanese manga. That said, I have been very interested to read the Sandman series because they are Neil Gaiman's creations and I do love Neil Gaiman. I borrowed the first two volumes from the library and got stuck into them. Although I had an inkling of what to expect, I was still quite surprised when I read them. I guess being a novice with comics, while I wasn't expecting fluff (certainly not from Neil Gaiman!), I didn't expect the stories to be that dark. These tales were intoxicatingly wicked and strangely compelling, as I would expect from Gaiman. I don't see myself suddenly wanting to read the other 'classics' (such as Superman, Batman etc.) but I would definitely want to continue with this series, especially when it's so highly regarded in the world of adult comics.

Douglas Preston & Mario Spezi - The Monster of Florence

This is a remarkable tale about two men who set out on a quest to uncover the mystery behind the Monster of Florence - Italy's own Jack the Ripper - but end up being arrested as the main suspects instead. With all the twists and turns throughout the entire saga, it would be easy to think this is just a made-up story, but as with most things, truth is stranger than fiction.The first half was a little more interesting because it provided the background and history of the Florence killings. The second half focused on the bungled investigation by the Italian police force and the seemingly inept judicial system, especially when the police turn on the authors, accusing Mario Spezi to be the Monster himself and Douglas Preston an accomplice. This section could be a little dry at times but helped to highlight the incredulousness of the situation. In the end, the Monster of Florence remains a mystery and is unsolved to this day. I'm not really a true crime fan, but overall, I thought this was an intriguing read.

Monday, December 22, 2008

MaryJanice Davidson - Undead and Unworthy

It's been a few months since I've blogged about my reading! I kept up with the reading (although not as much as I would have liked) but with so many major events that have happened over the last few months, I just did not have the time to update my book blog. Well, as the saying goes, better late than never, so here are all my updates!

Let's start with the latest addition to MJD's Undead series, Undead and Unworthy. I borrowed this from the library (did I ever mention that I love my local library?!) and it was another quick read that I polished off in a day. That said, I don't think it's a great addition to the series, especially when I thought MJD had only just brought back a bit of sparkle to the Undead series in Book 6.

Firstly, I HATE the new cover (at least the UK version is still semi-decent). It looks absolutely horrid and I don't know what possessed the publisher to make the change and what came over MJD to give the tick of approval. Sure, I get the whole new start thing and looking for that something to rejuvenate the series, but this just doesn't work. The old covers were quirky and fun, capturing the quintessential essence of Betsy; the new cover just doesn't feel right and doesn't convey the 'Betsy-ness' of the Undead series. Of course, it clashes terribly with the rest of the collection that I don't even know if I will want to purchase Book 7 because it will stand out like a sore thumb! (I need matching covers in a set!)

MJD also attempts to breathe new life into the series by creating a new story arc for Betsy and her sidekicks. Well, I'm not sure if it's working all that well based on Book 7. I think it was rather drastic to kill off Antonia and Garrett, especially after giving them happy endings just in the previous book. MJD seems to be using that TV trick where major characters are killed off to 'shake things up' but I don't think it achieved the desired effect. I am still a fan of the Undead series and I will perservere with it and wait for the release of Book 8, but MJD has been producing more misses than hits - let's hope that she can recover some of the Betsy magic for the next book.

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!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Angela Carter - The Bloody Chamber

This is a collection of fairy tales that most people would be familiar with, but don't be fooled into thinking this is your usual Disney fare. These traditional stories have been retold with Carter's own dark and unique take on them, and she infuses them with eroticism and violence -- you definitely won't find bluebirds bursting into merry song here. I can see why The Bloody Chamber is studied extensively in literature courses as these stories are full of symbolism and cultural references. This was a very evocative and rewarding read, and I'm sure each subsequent reading will reveal more to the reader (I really feel I ought to be studying this!). My favourites from this collection were: The Bloody Chamber; The Snow Child; and The Werewolf.

Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi - The Wrath of Mulgarath (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 5)

Ahhh... the last one in the series. Personally, I feel that these books are way too short to be standalone stories (unlike the Chronicles of Narnia) and perhaps would have worked better as a single volume. Then again, I am not exactly part of the target audience so such bite-size morsels may have been the most effective way to reach the intended readers. Luckily, I did not have to wait for each release and could read all five in one go. Now that I have read the books, I am quite pleased to say that I am really happy with how the movied turned out. In fact, I think I may prefer the movie to the books, although the books are entertaining in their own right. I like the use of the 'protective circle' for the house, which helped to explain why the house remained untouched for so many decades. In the book, Mulgarath ransacked and destroyed the house, finding the Guide in the process; why didn't this occur much earlier and only when the Grace family moved into the Spiderwick estate? In the movie, Simon discovers the use of tomato sauce as a weapon against the goblins and prepares bags of it using a recipe from the Guide; in the book, this is hinted at as Jared threatens the use of it on the hobgoblin but there is no mention of where Jared gained this knowledge. Presumably, it's from the Guide but readers have to make their own assumptions. Overall, I feel the movie provides more cohesive explanations whereas things just happen in the books and readers are made to accept that that's how they are meant to be. I think it would have been nice if the movie had kept the book's ending, although the film version where Arthur and Lucy were reunited was also a nice touch. May be a little tricky to explain where a grown woman disappeared to though! Overall, it has been fun to read the Spiderwick Chronicles and I'm glad the movie led me to these books, which I'm sure have brought much joy to young readers.

Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi - The Ironwood Tree (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 4)

In The Ironwood Tree, Mallory is kidnapped by dwarves, who are under the command of the ogre, Mulgarath, and Jared and Simon go off to rescue her. Book 4 takes on a slightly darker tone than the previous books, with some true tension in the Grace family -- when Jared overhears his mother making an exasperated call to their father as she is at wit's end as to how to deal with Jared and his anger; when Jared explodes at Simon as they try to get to bottom at the quarry, unsure of how to control his temper. There have been hints of the underlying tension in the previous books as the Grace family (minus the father) makes a fresh start at the Spiderwick estate, but it is only in this book that shows how the divorce and separation of the family have affected them, especially Jared. There is also a massacre of the dwarves by Mulgarath's army of goblins, which would have been quite a confronting sight for the little kiddies if it were included in the movie! This was another quick and fairly enjoyable read, although some parts felt like filler sections and were not central to the story. For example, what need was there for Mulgarath to shape-shift and appear at the school? You would think that he would just send one of his minions, rather than the head honcho making an appearance himself. It just didn't quite make sense. Regardless, this was a decent effort and set up the scene for the showdown with Mulgarath in the last book of the series.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi - Lucinda's Secret (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 3)

I picked up the last three books in the Spiderwick Chronicles from the library last night and polished them off the very night, fast reads that they were. From Book 3 onwards, the movie veered off in a completely different direction, recreating only bits and pieces but in different contexts. A couple of things in the book did annoy me, as it felt like the authors did not think things through and just chucked in certain plot elements as required without really explaining them. For example, right at the start Jared put on his shirt inside out without any specific reason, apart from him looking at a page in the Guide on protective devices. Why did he test that one out? Was it something he thought would help him against Thimbletack's pranks? And lo and behold, as they go exploring and try to look for Arthur Spiderwick, Jared is the only one immune to the faerie trick because of the way he had put on his shirt. Just too convenient for my tastes, even for a children's book. Nevertheless, it was still an interesting read for me as it featured new characters such as the elves and the phooka, which didn't make their way into the movie.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi - The Seeing Stone (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 2)

The Seeing Stone is the second book in the Spiderwick Chronicles. Book 2 was slightly more interesting for me as it varied from the movie and the changes made it more entertaining for me as a reader. That said, I would have loved to see parts of this book in the film. For example, there was a troll scene here with the goblins that would have been quite visually exciting, although it may be a little too scary for the kiddies! This was yet another enjoyable read (albeit a little short for my liking), and I look forward to the rest of the books to see how differently the story progresses from its movie version. Till Book 3!

Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi - The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1)

I hadn't heard about these books until I watched The Spiderwick Chronicles recently. I really enjoyed the movie and thought it would be a great idea to seek out the books that the movie was based on. The Field Guide is the first book in a series of five making up the Spiderwick Chronicles. This was a very quick read and I think all five books could easily be published into a single volume. A single book on its own felt too short, although I supposed it is a children's book afer all. Based on what I've read so far, most of the elements from the books were kept in the movie without too many changes. Any adaptations for the movied worked really well and helped to enhance the story rather than taking away from it. It will be interesting to see how the story progresses as I get to the other books!

Diane Setterfield - The Thirteenth Tale

I don't know what qualifies as a 'gothic' novel, but if it's always going to be as great as this one, count me in as a fan of the genre! Setterfield's prose had me hooked from the very beginning and always kept me wanting more. The fact that this is her debut novel is even more impressive. Setterfield has crafted a complex mystery and because of her remarkable story-telling skills, I did not bother to try to 'pick' the ending, but rather, to let the tale take its course. This would have been a perfect book to devour in one sitting; unfortunately, work and life prevented me from doing so and I found the disruptions annoying as I needed to recall what was happening when I picked up from where I left off. I plan to purchase a copy for myself as I think this is one of those books that will benefit from re-readings, where the reader can discover clues that were previously missed. The Thirteenth Tale truly was a brilliant read and I look forward to Diane Setterfield's next novel!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Harlan Coben - Deal Breaker

Myron Bolitar is officially my favourite character from all the mystery novels out there. Harlan Coben has created such a fascinating character: he's charming and dashing; has a great sense of humour with those witty one-liners; but also very vulnerable and injured in a very attractive way and just makes you want to hug him and say that everything will be okay. There is also a great supporting cast: his best mate, Win, whom I must say is a little scary and creepy (but still oh so cool); Esperanza, a fiercely protective friend; and Jessica, who is the love of his life. Everything just works so well in this book -- the combination of humour (great banter between characters!), mystery and suspense -- they just come together perfectly and make this such an entertaining read. There are also some classic moments that made me laugh so hard. For example, Win getting a mobster to drop the hit on Myron by offering him the opportunity to play at prestigious golf courses -- priceless! I was first introduced to Myron and his gang in Drop Shot and now that I've read the first in the series, this is one that I will continue to follow. I would love to know more about Jessica and Myron; Coben never explains why the two broke up and he makes it clear that they both still are very much in love with each other. Overall, a fantastic book; I say, give me more!

Lynne Truss - Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

I lurrrrveee Ms. Truss! So, I won't profess to be an expert on punctuation as Lynne Truss would be, and I'm sure I've messed up the use of a semicolon in my time. What I am at least completely sure of are the basics: you will NEVER find me screwing up 'it's' vs. 'its'; 'your' vs. 'you're'; or getting plurals wrong. For that matter of fact, the same goes with they're/their/there -- but that's a different story altogether. Oh, how I rejoiced when I read this book. Finally, someone else who feels the same way that I do, that this is something extremely easy to grasp, and always irks the hell out of me when I spot such errors, especially when I see these mistakes in the papers. You would think journalists would be able to get this right?! This had me cackling away: "If you still persist in writing, "Good food at it's best", you deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave." My reaction isn't that extreme but I do admit to throwing my hands up in the air sometimes and wonder how people can stuff up something so simple. While it can get a bit dreary at times (I don't really care much about the history) but overall, it's a witty little book that I enjoyed immensely. Who would have thought a book about punctuation could be so full of humour? If you're a stickler for punctuation like me, you will definitely have a laugh reading this book; if you need some help, then this will set you in the right direction. As Lynne Truss would say, sticklers unite! :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Jenny Valentine - Finding Violet Park

Quirky little book, this one is. First impressions? It smacks a little of Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time from the quirky and unusual lead character to the side detective story when Lucas embarks on a quest to find Violet Park. Nevertheless, Finding Violet Park is a clever and original story in its own right, which really is not so much about finding Violet Park, but Lucas's own journey to break free from his abandonment issues and trauma after his father vanished without a trace and to accept his family as it is. Valentine weaves in an improbable connection between a dead lady whose ashes are stashed in a minicab office and Lucas's father, but somehow, the tale works, resulting in a funny and moving story with fabulous, well-observed characters. I purchased this book on a whim because of its interesting cover and I'm really glad I did so. This is an unusual but enjoyable read that I would highly recommend to readers of all ages.

John Elder Robison - Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's

This is a fascinating read about Robison growing up with Asperger's syndrome at a time when the diagnosis didn't yet exist and realising that he was "different" from other people and learning on his own how to adapt. It wasn't until he was forty that he was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome by a therapist friend of his. Robison describes his childhood days and his difficulty in making friends in a frank and mostly lighthearted tone, but the heartbreak and loneliness of those days are not lost on readers. It must have been an immense struggle to be misunderstood all the time or to be called a sociopath, bringing about doubt about oneself. I enjoyed the chapters that featured John and Snort/Varmint, especially in the early years, and also those with him and his son, 'Cubby'. I would have liked to know a little bit more about Robison's current life -- how he met his second wife, 'Unit Two'; his relationship with Augusten; and just other bits and pieces to give a little more insight. I also would have liked to read the essay that Robison wrote about his father, but unfortunately, this is no longer on Augusten's website. Regardless, I am glad to have had the opportunity to read this and take a glimpse into a life that I otherwise wouldn't have understood.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Jodi Picoult - Wonder Woman: Love and Murder

I picked this up from the library as I thought this was a standalone graphic novel by Jodi Picoult featuring Wonder Woman. What I didn't expect was that this was actually part of a series, picking up from a previous storyline and the comic book itself ended on a cliffhanger. Nothing about it particularly stood out for me, and it was actually a frustrating story because I had no idea about prior events and a story without a resolution was certainly not what I was looking for. I definitely won't be chasing down the next issue to find out what happens next -- I guess I will just stick to Picoult's regular novels.

Gillian Flynn - Sharp Objects

This sure was an impressive debut effort from Gillian Flynn, albeit a very dark and twisted one. Flynn crafted a psychological thriller that was extremely intense and there was no let-up from the intensity at anytime; it was uncomfortable, creepy and bone-chilling at times. Camille, the protagonist in the novel, was a damaged soul from her childhood and emerged broken, still unable to shake off her demons. The author built a palpable suspense in revealing the horrors that Camille went through, and what she unveiled in her investigation of the two murders in her hometown. I was kinda expecting the ending but Flynn had me hook, line and sinker for the mother, so I was still horrified when I read it and it blew me away. This was a page-turning thriller that had me hooked on every page and I look forward to more of Gillian Flynn's work.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Christopher Moore - Bloodsucking Fiends

Hmmm... I'm not quite sure what to make of this one. I thought I would absolutely love this one as I really enjoyed reading Moore's Practical Demonkeeping. Bloodsucking Fiends started really abruptly for me and from there, I felt it never quite fell into a groove. The plot came across sudden and choppy with no real natural flow. There was no proper explanation why the vampire decided to turn Jody, or why Jody was able to survive when others before her hadn't. Tommy and his motley crew were a really odd bunch, which normally I would find quirky and endearing but they were just plain strange. I kept waiting for the story to settle but it never did for me. The ending is just as abrupt as its beginning, which made for a fairly unsatisfactory conclusion. The book wasn't without its moments with some funny dialogue and great one-liners, but ultimately, quite disappointing.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Michael Crichton - A Case of Need

I am a fan of medical thrillers but A Case of Need by Michael Crichton isn't very good. Firstly, the medical footnotes annoyed the hell out of me. I get that they are useful in explaining the medical jargon, but I think it was used way too much in the book that it lost its effectiveness. Even then, it wasn't consistent! He explained some obvious terms but then did not for 'D & C', which was used regularly throughout the book. It felt like Crichton was trying too hard to impress -- hey, look at me, I know all these fancy medical terms -- and just peppered everything with all the medical jargon he had ever picked up. This was overkill, a subtle touch would have been better. Secondly, I don't think the suspense of the plot was built well at all. Discoveries that I deemed as major plot developments just vanished or turned out to be inconsequential. A prime example was the possibility that Karen Randall might not have been pregnant at all. It felt like the protagonist was pursuing this truth relentlessly but when a certain point in the book was reached, it was completely unimportant. To a reader, this was a huge letdown and ruined the tension. I guess considering that this was Crichton's debut effort I shouldn't be so critical, but I think if this was the first time we were introduced to Michael Crichton, this book would not have done well at all. I think for future medical thriller fixes, I will stick to Tess Gerritsen's novels!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Jodi Picoult - Change of Heart

Jodi Picoult is like a machine, churning out book after book. While there have been some misses, her books are always high-quality reads, even those that don't quite make the mark. With Change of Heart, Picoult has produced yet another gripping read. I started reading this on my flight back to Melbourne from Hobart and I simply couldn't put it down until I finished it. That said, the book is not without its flaws.

The part about Shay as the miracle healer is too similar to The Green Mile for my liking. At least Picoult makes reference to it with one of the inmates calling him that in the book, but there still isn't enough variation from the original. Maggie is a bit of a cliché as an insecure plus-sized woman who has a difficult relationship with her exacting mother, down to the relationship she develops with the gorgeous British doctor who loves her the way she is: good appetite, curves and all. Surprisingly, the chapters on June and Claire are fairly slim, and as a reader, I would have liked more on them. The twist about Kurt was predictable right from the very beginning so it wasn't really a huge shock. The way Picoult ended the book also annoyed me a little. The items that Shay passed to Michael appeared to debunk the notion of Shay possessing any supernatural abilities, but in the epilogue with Claire, it was then suggested otherwise. Only a slight issue, but I'm the type of reader that likes things definite and I'm usually not a fan of the maybe-maybe not situations.

Even with these shortcomings, I still think this is a remarkable read and Picoult is truly a brilliant storyteller, weaving together a tale from the different viewpoints of all the characters. She covers difficult issues in this book, from religion to capital punishment, and while she may not have pulled it off perfectly, I think she handled them with a delicate touch and was successful in the end. Picoult has certainly provided food for thought with these challenging issues, and I'm sure there will be healthy discussions among readers at book club gatherings out there. It may not be the best that Picoult has ever written (My Sister's Keeper still retains that honour for me) but it's still an impressive effort and sits among my favourites by Jodi Picoult.

Agatha Christie - And Then There Were None

Strangely enough, I have never read any novels by Agatha Christie despite my mother being a fan of her work and myself an avid reader of the mystery genre. I sought out this book to read as a video game based on this particular novel was recently released and I wanted to read it before playing the game. Unfortunately, in trying to find out more about the video game, the cat was let out of the bag and I stumbled upon the true identity of the killer. This dampened my reading experience slightly since there was no guessing on my part to try to figure out who the killer was, but still, the suspense and tension that Agatha Christie built is remarkable, and I can see how a reader without any prior knowledge would find this book very exciting to read and extremely difficult to pick the killer. I did find the old-fashioned writing a little odd at times but this was truly a great mystery novel, and I'm glad I made the decision to get a copy of this book to read. I do have another Agatha Christie novel in my possession; let's see if that one will be just as good!

Khaled Hosseini - A Thousand Splendid Suns

Just one day into my holiday in Tasmania and I turned into a sobbing mess. Nope, nothing to do with Tasmania -- which had been very lovely -- but this heart-wrenching read that affected me so much. I finished this while resting in our hotel room before heading out for dinner, which wasn't such a great idea since I went out with a puffy face! Anyway, back to the book, this was beautifully written and really struck a chord with me, even though I could never begin to comprehend such a nightmarish world. My heart went out to the two courageous women in this book and I wept for them for all the horrors that they had to endure, especially towards the end when Mariam had to make a terrible choice and sacrifice. This is a great account of the changing landscape of Afghanistan in the last 20 or so years, and despite all the hardships, how Laila still holds hope for the future and wants to contribute to a better life for all in Kabul. A really fantastic read that I highly recommend to all.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sudhir Venkatesh - Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets

What a fascinating read! Although I enjoy reading non-fiction, I sometimes find the writing can be dreary and tedious when authors just rattle off facts and plod through their life experiences without really pulling their readers into their world. Sudhir captured my attention right from the very first sentence and I was immediately drawn into the book, which was every bit as engaging as any other great novel that I had read. I am full of admiration for Sudhir's tenacity and courage for stepping into Chicago's gang world -- I wonder in hindsight if the author had any fear at all? From the book, it felt like apart from certain moments, he never had any inhibitions about heading into the projects to do his research. Sudhir paints a riveting portrait of day-to-day life in a poor community dictated by violence and drugs and the struggles faced by its residents that most people will not even be able to comprehend. His interactions with the various characters made the reading experience so much richer and as a reader, you cannot help but care for these people. This is a brilliant book and I would highly recommend it to everyone.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sue Walker - The Reunion

I actually finished reading this a while ago but didn't feel compelled to write down what I thought about the book -- I guess that's pretty indicative what I felt about it. It's a decent attempt for a first novel, but in most parts, it gets rather draggy and moves too slowly to truly engage readers. The flashbacks were fairly interesting but I didn't think those sections flowed well with the present moments. I also found it hard to care about most of the characters, especially after learning about the big secret towards the end. I think better editing could have helped to produce a more tightly-knit story, which would be more effective in leading up to the truly shocking climax at the end. Overall, an okay read but not one that I will choose to read again.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Richard Matheson - I Am Legend

When I found out that I Am Legend was based on Richard Matheson's novella of the same name, I was really interested to read the book, especially after realising that the movie took a very different direction from the book. It's a little tough to compare the book to its film version as they really are so different from each other but I think both are good. The "legend" theme takes a slightly sinister twist in the book and the overall tone of the story is darker than portrayed in the movie. I think Matheson did a terrific job in capturing the desolate loneliness of the protagonist and how he copes in such a nightmarish world. The sections where Robert Neville tries to befriend a dog, the first creature he's come into contact with that hasn't exhibited symptoms of the vampire virus, are truly touching and heart-breaking. In fact, in the movie, it is the friendship and bond between man and dog that really affected me as well. Overall, this was a really great read that did not feel dated at all, even though it was first published in 1954.

There were also other short stories included with this novella, although there was no mention of them on the back cover at all. I'm not sure if the original was published like that, or this is something unique only to this edition. It took me a while to figure out that I had actually finished reading I Am Legend! I didn't really like all of them, but most were okay with a few standout ones that gave me the creeps! That to me is what makes a successful horror story. My faves from the short stories were The Near Departed; Prey; Mad House; and Person to Person.