Friday, February 26, 2010

Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris

Title: Dead and Gone
Author: Charlaine Harris
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
5/5 Stars

Goodness knows once I have a Sookie Stackhouse book in my possession I can't resist it for long. I knew full well I wouldn't be able to let Dead and Gone sit on my shelf, waiting for me to finish my homework. No, last weekend, this book took precedence, and boy was it worth it.

In the 9th book of the series (and last published at this point) Sookie is facing the dangers of the Faerie realm. Her great-grandfather is involved in a war that is seeping into the human world, and Sookie is a target of his enemies. Meanwhile, the supes have decided to "come out," so to speak, and everything seems to be going well for them. That is, until a supe is found brutally murdered in the parking lot at Merlotte's. Sookie has to deal with this mystery, the growing Faerie threat, and her strained relationship with brother Jason, all well still trying to have a love-life! Oh boy Sook, you sure bit of more than you can chew (pun intended :D ).

What I liked best about this book was the return to the climactic structure. You could just feel this book building and building to the last 50 pages, which is exactly what I'm looking for in a guilty pleasure like this. The story was exciting and ended with a bang. Now, some readers (including a good friend of mine) might find it a little more violent than previous books. Truth be told, it was more violent and certainly not as happy-go-lucky as the other books. However, I feel like it was a move that the series had to make. We can't believe that Sookie will just keep having similar problems in even succession of each other, with right always winning out in the end. The series had to get darker to sustain readership, I think, and I'm certainly not unsatisfied with the change. I thought Harris showed a great aptitude for emotional story-telling in this volume, a far-cry from some earlier books in which I thought Sookie felt flat as a character.

I am so pleased that I've managed to catch up to the print schedule of these books and can not wait for the next book!

ISBN: 978-0441017157
Price: $25.99, hardcover
Pages: 312

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Jupiter Williams by S.I. Martin

Title: Jupiter Williams
Author: S.I. Martin
Rating: ☆☆☆(☆☆)
3/5 Stars

Jupiter Williams was a free book given to me on my first day at NYU in London. All students are required to read it for a class we take together on Monday nights. When I was handed the book, I cringed a little. It looked like it might be a heavy, dense, literary story about African slaves in Britain. Not my idea of pleasure reading. What a relief to find that it was a children's book! Well, not necessarily children's, but certainly for a young audience. I found that I read it with much more enjoyment knowing it was right up my alley.

Jupiter, the title character, is attending an all boys black academy in London in the late 18th century. He is there with his brother, far away from their family in Sierra Leone. When Jupiter's brother is kidnapped, he must decide how he will uphold his father's honor and what his identity is in London.

Despite the my enjoyment in the genre, the book wasn't exactly my cup of tea. I do like historical fiction, but the context just wasn't my favorite. However, the story moved quite well and kept me very interested. I found that I became invested in Jupiter and hoped the best for him. The writing is sophisticated for a children's book, and Martine has a clear mastery of the facts behind his story. I liked it well enough to go to a launch party for the next book in the sequence, Jupiter Amidships. Meeting the author was an enlightening experience, and in introducing myself to his publicist, I may have secured an internship for the semester!

ISBN: 978-0340944066
Price: £5.99, paperback
Pages: 224

From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris

Title: From Dead to Worse
Author: Charlaine Harris
Rating: ☆☆☆☆(☆)
4/5 Stars

As I said in my last post, Charlaine is getting me even from London (which is evident by the fact that I finished this book and the last in such rapid succession that I didn't review in between). I'll keep this one a little more brief, since there's not much to say that won't give away some huge plot points.

After the conference in Rhodes, Sookie returns home to some bigger problems. The aftermath of a bombing at the Pyramids of Gizeh hotel has the vamps of Louisiana reeling and other vamp communities have taken note.

The book was just as exciting as others in the series, but it didn't have quite the same plot structure. Typically, you get a huge climax about 50 pages before the end and Sookie has to sort it all out and make it back to Bon Temps in the end. Here, there were a couple of climactic moments throughout, but nothing huge and revolutionary in the last 70 pages or so. There was no big reveal or twist, which left me kind of bummed. I sincerely hope that Dead and Gone (book number 9 in the series and the last one currently in print) can live up to my previous expectations of Sookie.

ISBN: 978-0441019397
Price: $7.99, paperback
Pages: 336

All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris

Title: All Together Dead
Author: Charlaine Harris
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
5/5 Stars

Even from across the pond, Charlaine has managed to suck me back in (no pun intended). As I progress through this series, I seem to take less and less time to read each book, which is proving quite dangerous for my bank account! Ok, maybe somewhat of an exaggeration considering these books are paperback romance in the extreme, but it worries me that I seem to have become dependent on Sookie, much like an addict.

This book takes place after Hurricane Katrina has hit Louisiana. It's quite heart-wrenching to realize that Katrina has happened to these people as well. What I found interesting about that was we never had a time-frame for when Sookie's story was taking place. I always assumed it was somewhat in the future, not in a science-fiction kind of way, but more in a "this could happen to you tomorrow" kind of way. Now, however, with the inclusion of the Hurricane, we seem to be in a parallel world to our own. The story is no loner one that could possibly take place in a few years time. It's now on the same track as our world, just with a few supes.

As I was saying, the story begins after the Hurricane, and the vampires of New Orleans are hurting because they've lost property and members of their ranks, and Sophie-Anne, queen of Louisiana, is about to go to trial for murdering her husband. As a matter of fact, she didn't kill her husband with her own hands and she was acting in self-defense after he began an all out war to stage a coup and take over Louisiana. But the courts don't know that, and Sophie-Anne, Sookie, Eric, Bill and a whole bunch more vamps have to go to a vampire conference in Rhodes, IL (holla!) to sort everything out.

I won't go into much more detail of the story, but truly, this was one of the most thrilling plots yet in the series. All kinds of shady politics go on inside the Pyramids of Gizeh hotel, and it's up to Sookie to use her powers to get the queen out alive. I thought that the development of Sookie's relationships with Eric, Quinn, and Bill was wonderful in this book. In the previous book, I was upset by the fact that Sookie could just write Bill off, pretend he didn't exist and never interact with him. Here, she was able to actually talk civilly with Bill. I thought the relationships became more real. The same goes for Quinn and Eric. Both become more questionable, less perfect, which makes everyone seem more realistic.

The book was, by all means, the best so far, and were it not for the extensive back story in the first six books, I would recommend this to everyone! Oh what the heck, everyone should read them all! Alright, don't read them to your kids. But seriously: read them.

ISBN: 978-0441019380
Price: $7.99, paperback
Pages: 352