What Happened to American Idol?

•May 17, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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I can’t believe Melinda Doolittle was voted off last night. She’s not only the most talented singer of this season, but she may be the most talented singer in the show’s history. This sucks. I doubt I’ll be watching the final.

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Seraphs by Faith Hunter

•May 11, 2007 • Leave a Comment

seraphs.jpgSeraphs starts off not long after the events in Bloodring unfold, leaving Thorn St. Croix exposed as a mage hiding for the last ten years in the typical post-apocalyptic town of Mineral City, where mages are hated as much as they are feared.

For the most part, Seraphs was even more enjoyable than the first. The pace is fast, expecting readers to have the first book fresh in their mind, and not slowing down much to let you catch up. Almost immediately, Thorn is brought before the town elders to face a series of charges which could leave her branded, imprisoned, killed or worse. After reading the first book, I was still left wondering why everyone hated mages so much. After all, there are far scarier and more powerful creatures out there- what’s so wrong with the mages? Luckily, in Seraphs, mage history is explained in more detail, from the mage and non-mage point of view.

Thorn and the people of Mineral City are faced with the constant threat from creatures of Darkness: Succubae, Inccubi, dragonets, fallen seraphs, demon spawn, daywalkers, and more. What I find so interesting about the world Ms. Hunter has created is the full cast of vastly different characters. From the hateful, Orthodox mage hater to the four headed cherub and her Wheels (which I couldn’t really even begin to describe), there are many many different characters in this book and each is richly drawn, unique and often, strangely fascinating.

The Seraphs are, unsurprisingly, one of the best aspects of this book. As a reader, we get a sense of the same sort of curiosity and awe that the average person in this book feels for the mysterious Seraphs. Like Bloodring, the Seraphs are occasionally mentioned, but don’t really make much of an appearance until the end. Thorn’s favorite(and mine), Raziel, makes his entrance at the very end, and it’s pretty exciting. But his part in the book was also a little disappointing too- it was too short.

Seraphs was non-stop action, and a very quick read. The only real problem I had was the ending. The entire book was building toward Thorn’s return to the mountains, but by the time she decided to go back, there was only sixty pages left. And by the time she actually made it into the mountains, there was approximately only forty pages remaining. There was so much action, and so many battles, and deaths and near deaths, and revelations in these last few pages, and it could easily have used twice the page time. As I kept getting closer to the end, I constantly worried that Ms. Hunter was going to cut off the book in the middle of the fight, leaving us with a cliffhanger.

The rushed ending also made it a little difficult to keep up with the action. Several times, I had to go back and re-read a passage because I was having a difficult time imagining the characters or visualizing what was happening. But even the rushed ending and occasional difficulty picturing something couldn’t stop me from breathlessly turning each page and losing sleep to stay up late to find out how Thorn was going to survive the end of the book. Seraphs is intriguing, entertaining and an exciting follow up to to Bloodring, and I definitely recommend it.

All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris

•May 2, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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* WARNING: SPOILERS*

If you’re like me, you’ve read all of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, buying them the day they come out and staying up all night to finish, and then afterwards regretting that you read them so fast because it’ll be a year or more until the next one is published. There’s only so often I can re-read each one before going back to waiting again, so I’ve gotten really excited about True Blood, the HBO series based on Charlaine Harris’s popular books and everybody’s favorite telepathic waitress. The only problem? Sookie IS the series. She is the most important part about the entire show. Therefore the actress playing her is going to have to carry the show. She is going to have to BE Sookie. She’s also going to have a difficult time with fans of the books who have a clear idea in their head of what Sookie should look and act like. In my opinion, they should have chosen either: 1) a slightly well known actor (with a few credits, but nothing too high profile like . . . XMEN) who is so incredibly talented that she has no problem totally absorbing herself into the role OR 2) get a very talented unknown actor who hasn’t done anything much and therefore will not be associated with any other role. As I see it, the most important decision that needed to be made is the casting. Apparently, Anna Paquin is the best they could get. This worries me for so many reasons. First, she’s not a good actress. Have you seen Xmen? Have you seen Buffalo Soldiers? Yeah, not good. Sure she may have won an Oscar when she was like ten or eleven, but what has she done well since then? Secondly, she is NOT Sookie. She doesn’t look like her, doesn’t act like her (because she pretty much acts the same in every movie), and certainly doesn’t do well with the accents.

I’m worried that if the producers or casting directors or whoever have decided that Anna Paquin is the best Sookie, then what other mistakes are they making? They’ve clearly shown how little they know or understand the books or the character with their casting so how well do they know or understand the rest of it? This casting decision has me so upset that I’m at the point where I’m 99% sure I will NOT be watching the show. Sure, I’ll give it a try once, but just like all the other films that Anna Pacquin has been in, I’ll see it once and then get too annoyed to watch it again. I’m hoping to be proven wrong, I really am . . . but I don’t see it happening.

Ok, back to the book . . .

Continue reading ‘All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris’

The Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody

•May 1, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn is the first book in one of my all time favorite fantasy series. I believe it was originally published in 1987 for children or young adults, but it can certainly be read and enjoyed by adults as well. The fourth and most recent book, The Keeping Place was published in Australia in 1999 and as far as I know, has not yet been published in the United States. After I finished Obernewtyn and The Farseekers and Ashling, I could barely stand to wait until I could get my hands on the next book because . . . it was like reading about . . .  friends. At least the kind of friends that you can get when an author has created that exceptional work which captures your imagination and leaves you eagerly flipping each page, and yet hoping you’ll never finish.  Maybe that’s my inner geek talking, but a few of my favorite books are the ones which I love to read because I simply love reading about the characters and not necessarily what happens to them. Luckily, in the Obernewtyn Chronicles, A LOT happens, and the characters that are so enjoyable to read about rarely have a dull moment.

From the back cover:

Elspeth Gordie is a Misfit. Raised in orphanages for most of her life, desperate to receive her certificate of normalcy, her only chance at survival is secrecy, and she vows never to use her mental powers. But her abilities seem to have an imperative of their own, and soon she comes to the attention of the fanatically religious Council, which condemns people of Elspeth’s talents.

Unaware of the extent of her powers, the Council sends Elspeth to the remote mountain estate of Obernewtyn, where escape is impossible. Once there, Elspeth must come to terms with her abilities and throw off her safe cloak of concealment- for there are not only friends but enemies at Obernewtyn, evil people who intend to use the Misfits’ mental abilities to resurrect the terrible forces of the apocalypse known as the Great White.

Only then will Elspeth learn what she is, and the destiny she must survive to fulfill . . .

Continue reading ‘The Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody’

Demon Moon by Meljean Brook

•April 27, 2007 • 1 Comment

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*WARNING: SPOILERS*

As excited as I was about reading Demon Moon, I was a little worried too. I didn’t particularly like either Savitri or Colin in Demon Angel. Savi came across as rather childish and Colin . . . well, I’ve never liked my heroes too vain or too pretty. It didn’t take me long, however, to change my mind. I quickly discovered that Savitri was not the child that I had thought, rather, she merely seemed that way because we had seen her from Hugh’s point of view. Through Savi’s and Colin’s point of view, we discover that she’s not the too perfect, rather annoying, younger sister character at all. Instead, she is entirely grown up, and has been since she witnessed her parents’ and brother’s senseless murders when she was young. Savi learned to forgive her family’s murderer as a means of coping with what happened. She found that it was better to forgive and get on with her life then to dwell on the terrible things in her past.

Colin’s self absorption is actually rather endearing . . . and sad. He was stricken with a curse many years ago, a curse which anchored him to the nightmarish realm of Chaos. He hides from mirrors because Chaos, rather than his own reflection, will be staring back, haunting him. His blood lust sends him to partner after partner, and none of them remember him as anything more than a vague dream. Colin lives a lonely existence, questioning his own reality and needing reassurances from the few he does allow to get close.

From the very first, Colin is afraid of the depth of his feelings for Savi. He tries to teach her a lesson while they are in Caelum, by terrorizing her with a glimpse of Chaos. At first, he tries to keep her at arms length by alternating between a careless charm and callous behavior, but Savi sees through his deception and his impossible beauty, and falls in love with him. Colin becomes captivated by Savi- by her wit, her brilliant mind, her curiosity, her perfect memory, her strength, and her great capacity to love and forgive. But their growing love for each other is overshadowed by the fact that they have no future together. Colin’s tainted blood prevents him from either making her a vampire, or being able to sustain her own blood thirst if she were to become one. They give themselves a month to be together, despairing in the knowledge that a month of happiness is all they could ever have. While their relationship develops, they realize that Savi’s pychic scent unwittingly opens up a portal of sorts that brings the evil nosferatu and wyrmwolves attacking. Not only are the nosferatu and wyrmwolves after them, but so too is a demon, a demon who is bent on making himself a kingdom of his own even if he has to kill everyone in his way to do so.

Colin and Savi’s romance is skillfully orchestrated. Their journey from attraction to lust to affection to love is captivating. What I enjoyed so much about Demon Moon was not just the emotional tension and angst between these two characters who seemingly have no future together, but also the romantic and sexual tension between them as well. I wouldn’t have expected it after reading Demon Angel, but Savi and Colin have fantastic chemistry. Take Colin and Savitri’s romance, added together with their quests to stop the Demon Dalkiel and to close the portal to Chaos and you’ve got a perfectly blended action and character driven book.

My only quibble is that because the book and its character development and dialogue is so dense: it was a little difficult for me to follow at times. That’s not to say that I think the book should be written differently, not at all. Even while reading the parts that were a little hard to follow, it was basically my assumption that it was more my shortcomings as a reader that prevented me from taking the entire story in at one time rather than it being any problem with the book itself. In fact, I’ve already begun re-reading parts of it with a much clearer understanding the second time around. Regardless, Demon Moon is definitely a book you can enjoy reading several times, each time discovering more about the world and the characters that Ms. Brook has so skillfully created.

Demon Moon is wonderfully written with fantastic characters, an enchanting romance and an enthralling story. Ms. Brook’s second full length novel once again proves how talented a writer she is. I can’t wait to read the next one!

Dark Seduction by Brenda Joyce

•April 21, 2007 • 1 Comment

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I absolutely love Brenda Joyce. Some of the first romance novels that I ever read were hers and I’ve always considered her one of my top five favorite authors. I’ve never liked her contemporaries, though, and when I heard that Ms. Joyce had decided to take her turn writing paranormals, I was rather worried that they would be just as bad. I really wish it wasn’t true, but Dark Seduction is, if possible, even worse than her contemporaries. Before you read further, however, you should be warned that I have not finished Dark Seduction, not even close. And I probably never will. I disliked it that much. I’m still a fan of Ms. Joyce, but I won’t be spending any more money on her paranormals and I hope she seriously reconsiders writing anymore in this series.

Not long after Dark Seduction begins, we quickly learn that Claire, our heroine, was traumatized by her mother’s murder when she was ten years old. She later found out that her mother was actually a victim of a pleasure crime. Years after that, her cousin, while at college, was murdered the same way, another victim of a pleasure crime. Apparently victims of pleasure crimes have very, uh, pleasurable sex before their hearts stop beating, from exhaustion maybe, and they die. Of course a woman with no marks on her, no drugs, no forcible rape and no signs of a struggle must have been murdered, right? And of course when Claire finds out her hero has sexed someone to death, she’s quick to suggest that it was a weak heart or an accident. The entire pleasure crime murder thing read like a BAD idea, as if Ms. Joyce really really wanted the supernatural aspect of her book to center around sex and the fear of our two main characters having sex, and nothing else, not logic, not common sense, not even her editor, was going to stop her. The other result of this bad idea? It made the heroine, apparently a very intelligent and well read bookseller, come across as really stupid.

Claire was definitely far too annoying and too stupid to live for my tastes. She spends most of her life living in fear of being the victim of a pleasure crime just like her mom and cousin. She does what she can to prevent that from ever happening: runs, lifts weights, learns self defense, target shoots with her beretta, keeps mace AND pepperspray AND a taser handy in case the gun isn’t enough. Despite all this preparation, the moment a threatening person, a woman named Sibylla, breaks into her store late at night, she allows Sibylla to take the gun right out of her hand and knock her unconscious. When Claire wakes, she hears a man in her house, but allows him to sneak up on her as well. And despite her fear of being murdered, inspite of her fear of being a victim, she has sex with our too stupid to live, controlling, annoying hero within twenty PAGES of meeting him. She’s pressed up against him, he’s obviously aroused, and it’s all she can do not to rip his clothes off. But she’s smarter than that, she wouldn’t allow herself to lose control with a strange psychotic man, right? Of course, she wouldn’t. Instead, she waits an entire page or two until he forces her painfully back in to time with him before going at it like there’s no tomorrow.

And what about Malcolm? Could there be a more stereotypical Scottish warrior hero man? Could he be more condescending, controlling, patronizing or sexist? And how many times did Malcolm need to say “Ye” or “Ye be?” What woman wouldn’t fall for (20 pages after meeting): “I be wantin’ ye, lass”? I was tired of him after about five pages.

Malcolm walks into Claire’s life looking for the Page, which he believes she has in her possession. He definitely recognizes her, but is impatient when she doesn’t seem to believe him or understand what he’s talking about. Either he knew who she was and knew that she would’t know him at that point in time or he doesn’t know her, but it just felt like Ms. Joyce hadn’t clearly thought out the timeline. Malcom is the arrogant type, he knows what’s best for Claire- taking her back in time and not returning her despite her desperate pleas and then demands to go home – because of course taking her back in time is more logical than hiding her or keeping her safe in her own time. Again it just seemed like a BAD idea, a too easy solution, to write something Ms. Joyce appeared determined to write about- a historical.

Unfortunately, Dark Seduction was just disappointment after disappointment. Both characters were so annoying that I quickly reached the point where I couldn’t read any more about them. I tried briefly skimming the rest of the book, but it never got any better. None of the usual romantic and sexual build up and tension, usually so well written in Ms. Joyce’s other novels, was present here. It was just forced idea after forced idea and none of it seemed well thought out. I just hope Ms. Joyce reconsiders writing paranormal romances and returns to the historicals that she does so well.

Books that I Have Read . . . I’m Pathetic

•April 18, 2007 • Leave a Comment

1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18 The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44.The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. The Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58.The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According to Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

If it weren’t for high school English and Harry Potter, I wouldn’t have been able to check off any of these books. Wow, this list is embarrassing. Anyway, the idea is to bold or italicize or underline the books that you’ve read. Apparently, I have a long way to go. Thanks to Bridget for the idea!