"After the last book, this one was a big improvement. Relations will Bill are still rocky, but at least Sookie will acknowledge his name. Sookie isn't too fond of being a lackey for the Queen and her personal bodyguard Andre, but she realizes her limitations and goes with it as best she can. Her relationship with Eric deepens in All Together Dead. The two of them find that the bond they had formed when they first exchanged blood is now multifaceted and far more complicated than before. I am very happy about that since I think that Sookie and Eric make a far better and complex couple than Sookie and Bill. I also think that Eric appreciates Sookie in a different and more meaningful way. Sookie brings something out in Eric that no one else does and I think that says a lot about the nature of their relationship.
It was just good to get back to some of the older characters. Granted, they were a long way from Bon Temps and Merlotte's. I don't feel like the Southern Vampire Mysteries needs any more characters since every new inclusion comes at the expense of interaction with other older, favorite characters.
All Together Dead does not fall short on action and mystery, either. There is sinister intent all around and Sookie can feel it. Between can bombs and dead assassins and shifty waiters/hotel workers, you never know who the enemy is. It is also pretty hard to be one of the only humans in a building full of blood drinkers, as well. Toward the end of the story, when the action picks up full force, it's well written and done just right to level the suspense and intensity off without overdoing it and making it too dramatic."
"I've been eager to read this book for a while since I own both Battle Royale movies and I read the manga years ago. This book is as troubling as it is insightful- troubling because it shows you the truth depth of human desperation and troubling because it makes the reader enjoy it. This book isn't full of thesaurus words or flowery, flowing descriptions. It's simple and to the point, and every effective. The book shows us how people, normal people, can descend into madness. How many of us would be able to kill someone? I'm sure many people would say, "not I," yet how do we know until we're put in that position? Each character in the book experiences their own personal reaction to fear, violence and the threat of death, which could come at any moment. How each handles this situation is where the insight comes in. We come to see that fear is more complex than the word describes. Some justify killing with logic, however poor, some do it out of instinct, and some do it to protect others. This isn't a book to pass over lightly because of its subject. I know that the thought of middle school students killing each other off on an island is sour, but Battle Royale is an excellent book about human nature and how humans exist in a world out of their control. There is hope, though! The main characters Shuya and Noriko fight a force far larger than themselves, which gives a glimmer of hope in the madness. Granted, there is no peaceful resolution at the end. The world as the characters know it does not crumble or end. It stays strong and in control, but the resistance of a few is only a minor shine to the possible resistance of many. Even in a world of chaos and death, there is loyalty and friendship."
"Gabriel Bleak is part of the Shadow Community, a group of humans infused with special powers granted from a Hidden world. Some of them can enter minds, some see the future, some carry familiars, and some, such as Bleak, control energy to make it both weapon and tool. He also has a talent for seeing and speaking to ghosts. The CCA, a division of Homeland Security, investigates people like Bleak. They are following him closely, trying to capture him and bring him into their facility. Very troubling is that the wall up North, a barrier against the flood of supernatural that could enter the living world, has weakened and is letting in things unseen before. New powers are cropping up in the hands of people who will not use them for good. A dark force is gaining strength and searching for a way to enter fully, only able to extend tendrils used to control others.
Loraine Sarikosca works for the CCA, but the more she sees them in action, the more doubts she has. She also feels a strange compulsive force towards Gabriel Bleak, just as he does to her. Locked within the fortified walls of their fortress, the CCA imprison and experiment on members of the Shadow Community. They want to capture and control, use the Shadow Community to their own wishes. But a darker plot is at hand when it is discovered that the darkness behind the wall has one of its tendrils in the CCA and his plans are quite different and far more threatening.
I very much enjoyed Bleak History because the concept is so unique. Rather, we have recently been experiencing an influx of 'humans with powers' stories because of the popularity of comic book adaptations, but Shirley has managed to make a distinctive and interesting world of his own within the genre. I liked reading about the different Shadow Community members and their specific talents. I only wish that we could have entered that world a bit deeper and met more of the people, or had more people around Gabriel helping with their own special talents. Most of the Shadow Community members are secondary and have their specific, defined roles that come and go. Characters like Scribbler could be much deeper and more defined, and very interesting.
Shirley puts a lot of detail into his descriptions of the Shadow Communities powers and visions. When Shoella creates her own world, we are given a beautiful picture of it. I was fascinated, too, by the way Scribbler is portrayed in the small part he plays. His obsession and nature comes through very clear. I suspect that Shirley's knack for detail is derived from his background as a screenwriter, but it also comes from natural talent. Shirley has an easy, clear way of writing, though sometimes the lengthy descriptions, especially when they speak of more spiritual and less tangible matters, got me a bit lost.
There is a lot of action in the book between getting chased, darker forces committing crimes, and seeking out the truth of what is happening. The book barely lags or takes a breath, but there are a few moments of quiet reflection for the characters. Though there is a small love connection, the book isn't a romance at all, which is refreshing when so much of the paranormal genre is half as much romance as it is supernatural. With an open ending, we are left to wonder what becomes of Gabriel and Loraine as they embark on another journey together."
"In Born Losers: A History of Failure in America, author Scott A. Sandage points out that the nineteenth century, despite being an age of capitalism, industrialization, and promise, was also an age of great economic hardship and loss for men and women who together created a culture of failure that personally and morally defined them. Society and the government held people individually accountable for failure despite circumstance, and relief was hard to come by because the government did not have the systems in place to manage it. When failure occurred, it was "a reason, in the man." The prevailing idea that "no one fails who ought not fail" identified men to such a point that failure was a matter of personal worth, morality, and virtue. That only a man himself could be blamed for failure no matter the cause created a multitude of dynamics: drive vs. risk, innovation vs. safety, and failure vs. the possibility of any future success. Once failure was stuck to you and became a part of your identity, it was a hard label to shake. Especially with the birth of Tappan's very first credit report agency that sent out personal information to aid in assessing the possible risk and success of others.
Sandage's greatest strength lies in his usage of primary source documents and the many stories and examples they provide his book. They, large in number, not only give creditability to the story, but they raise interest so that the book is enjoyable to read. It is an illuminating and fun look at something that is normally depressing in natureâ€"failure and stigma placed on personal identity. It is obvious by the number of sources used and documented that Sandage has put a great deal of research into the book. In the sense that it is well researched and documented, it is a reputable piece of scholarship for something paid little attention to. Sandage also suitably links the identity of failure to today by tracing how ideas and perceptions formed into what modern people think and feel. There is a clear connection between past and present, which gives the book modern day relevancy.
I would have liked, though, a section to provide a less narrow focus. Perhaps not for the whole book, because the subject itself makes it necessary to focus on specifics, but a chapter to help place failure within the larger scheme of things. While Sandage provides a great number of failure stories, his success stories are few and far between such that it is hard to get a grasp of whether failure was as prevalent and powerful as made to seem suggested by primary source evidence and first hand accounts. It is impossible to tell from the book if failure, while still being a serious issue of self identity and crisis, was a small percentage as compared to relative successes. The evidence given begs the question: would the government have acted faster to aid those in need if failure was truly so prevalent? The answer is: I don't know. Nevertheless, the question and answer could have been addressed to further illuminate the culture of failure and its political ramifications. It would have also helped to frame the larger scope of American life and identity to pay more attention to the successes and contributions of women, the poor, and laborers. While not as numerous or as devastating as riches to rags middle class male business failure/success stories, as culture defined these things, it would still serve to paint a more complete image of the situation experienced by all of America, not just business men. This would also include black men and a more in depth look at how failure and success came to define them during the Antebellum and Reconstruction years.
Sandage does not try to define, "what is failure?" That is not the point of the book or his reasons for writing it. The book is about how failure was perceived and how it came to define people and their worth. Failure is simply what it is: a lack of success. Born Losers was written to tell the other side of America in an age of trumped success and unlimited possibility.
Sandage is not only a great historian, but an excellent storyteller. There is no droning of dry, fact-by fact history here. Sandage paints a picture that reads as easily and fun as a novel, even more entertaining because he is speaking of something real and relevant. There is a lot of humor in the story, but none done out of disrespect. The book, while funny and fun, stays respectful to the people involved. You will definitely feel like you got something out of this book by the time you put it down, whether it be from the vast knowledge or the pure entertainment value. We all love to laugh at tragedy, after all, especially when it is not our own."
"Curnutt's masterful use of description and language is almost poetic. Yet, instead of beautifying the story and masking the horror of what has happened, it only illuminates the darker context under which every one and everything moves and works. Time and time again I caught myself rereading passages, sometimes just because I like how they sounded and sometimes because I wanted to absorb the words into myself. I wanted to understand what was being said and try to feel every bit of it because it was so plainly written. Underneath the prose is something so harshly true to life that it sinks into you. You realize as you read it, "this is really how we are and think." Only, we don't often delve that deeply into our nature to find out.
Breathing Out the Ghost tells us how people cope. Or rather, how unrealistic an expectation it is for us to expect people to move on after tragedy, as well as how people function and react in unique ways. It's about pain and obsession and destruction and failed attempts at redemption. This book exposes how we think and feel about tragedy, both those who experience it and those who witness it as outsiders. I came to see through reading this book that we all are more comfortable assuming that life goes on. Yet, the truth of the matter is that it's not so easy. Time and time again I found myself frustrated with St. Claire. He was selfish to think that his quest was not hurting anyone or that his pain was larger than other people. But isn't it also selfish for people to assume that he should let go and move on? Who was I to judge him? It was all very painful to be a part of, but not in a way that made me want to close the book and avoid picking it back up.
This book offers absolutely no resolution. I don't say that to criticize. At the end of the book, no one has found peace. Curnutt doesn't try to create drama so that he can fix it and leave his readers with a warm and fulfilled feeling at the end. The drama is the story itself and reflects the hard truth of reality: sometimes there is no end, there is no peace, there is no happiness or light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes all that there is at the end is just more wandering and wondering, tediously carrying forward for each day."
"Tom Nash can hear prayers, which he feels compelled to answer. Usually, they are run of the mill things and Tom uses his other talent for swaying the minds of people for the best good possible. He has an otherwise pretty mundane life: mortgage, job, truck, wife, and baby on the way. This is all until one night he hears a prayer, which comes from a young girl praying not to be killed. It's a prayer Tom cannot ignore, though he has never had to answer anything so serious before, and it takes him into New York City where danger awaits.
In NYC, Tom meets another of his kind named Erin. Through her, Tom learns that he is not the only one who can hear prayers. In fact, he belongs to a group known as The Called. Within The Called, there are sages, seekers, and sentinels. Opposed to them are the Scorned, who are fallen. It becomes clear to Tom and Erin that the Scorned have something to do with the kidnapping of the girl Tom hear the prayer of. It is up to Tom and Erin to find the girl, secure her release, and do so with as little damage as possible. Unfortunately for them, they have to go under the law because it seems that the Scorned and the Russian mobsters who are trying to ransom the girl for 12 million dollars have connections in the force.
The story is fast paced, but full of detail and exciting. Mack hangs just enough mystery above you to compel you to keep reading for answers. The characters are varied, but not cardboard cut outs that make them hard to distinguish from others. The storyline is very creative- Mack designed a world of his own, but made it realistic enough that one could almost believe that underneath the realism we live under, there just might be other forces at work. This book demands that you read it from front to back. A few twists are added to make the plot take a few unexpected turns, which I very much enjoyed.
The book moved from a few perspectives, but not so many that the book felt choppy and hard to follow. Every transition from one character to another went smooth. I have to admit, though, that the action scene that took place in the subway toward the end of the book got a bit too long for me. The drama was very high throughout, but there's only so much description of running, jumping, and shooting I can take. I prefer my action and drama to be intense and quick, and I felt that it sort of drug on in this book. That was the only part of the book that I skimmed and read through. The rest of the book kept my attention, so I still recommend it highly to anyone who likes fantasy, action, and mystery/crime. It has elements of all a bunch of genres, so it has a large appeal to a varied audience."
"Chemical Cowboys: The DEA's Secret Mission to Hunt Down a Notorious Ecstasy Kingpin by Lisa Sweetingham traces of the evolution of the popular rave and nightclub drug, Ecstasy. DEA Agent Gagne first notices the drug in its early years, when it was known as a "kiddie dope" and overlooked by officials focused on harder drugs like cocaine and heroine. Infiltrating the New York night club scene, Gagne and his partner track nightclub owner Peter Gatien and his league of employees including Club Kid King Michael Alig (remember the movie Party Monster?... that guy). But Gatien and Alig are just small pieces in a larger, more world-wide drug puzzle full of danger, violence, death, and money. At the top of the international drug chain is Oded "the Fat Man" Tuito, and Gagne soon sets his sights on catching and convicting Tuito, as well as some of his other associates and drug pushers.
Sweetingham takes the reader around the world, from Israel to Amsterdam, to Belgium and France, and back to the United States into the club scene and the mob. We witness law enforcement around the world working together to gain evidence and convictions. We are also given the ins and outs of how big time international drug dealers hide out, hide evidence, launder money, and pass drugs through airport and port security.
This is a book full of twists and turns, with real life people and events and only minor details changed, mainly for the sake of condensing or protecting some of the people involved. When you read this book, you don't feel like you are reading some stiff account of justice in action– it is certainly not dry. Sweetingham has written the book with enough personality and excitement that one could easily be reading a crime mystery novel. This book is further proof that the things that happen in real life can be just as good as anything you see on TV or read in fiction. What makes this book even more fascinating is that you know while reading it that these things really did and are still happening all around you. Names, places, and events are all familiar and distinct.
You'll learn a lot of about drug trafficking and how law enforcement tracks down criminals. I wasn't aware that there were so many restrictions and regulations in place for Agents, and it was frustrating to me to see the bad guy get away so many times! This book must have taken a lot of time, and had to have required Sweetingham to research a lot. The sheer detail and specifics of the book shows that Sweetingham really knows what she is talking about and properly investigated the key players and chronology from beginning to end and everything connecting in a confusing and intricate web of drug crime."
"When the book begins, Bill, who has been working on a 'secret' project, has been kidnapped and is being held hostage in Mississippi for his secrets. Much to Sookie's dislike, Bill had also been recently shacked up with his maker, who he subsequently planned on leaving Sookie for before he was betrayed by said maker. What a mess, right? But what else could or would a fan of the Southern Vampire Mysteries expect?
Despite Bill's betrayal, Sookie, with the help of a werewolf, heads off to Mississippi to find Bill. There's a lot of drama, a lot of arguing, a lot of mystery and a lot passion. Bodies pile up and violence increases as the story goes on. Werewolves and shape shifters are very important in this third book, which is great in making the Southern Vampire Mysteries about more than just vampires. Sookie's world is indeed full of the paranormal and supernatural. It's a wonder a girl can get any peace, which doesn't seem to bless Sookie often. The mystery that enfolds Bill and his kidnapping isn't that intricate or hard to solve. It almost seems to happen too easy, which is forgivable because the book is just so entertaining. In the end, I didn't mind that Sookie was all but able to just ease Bill out from under his captors and rescue him because there was drama and tension everywhere else. The build-up was not in her rescuing Bill, but in her finding him. The climax of tension was in her getting to the house and finding a way to save him, not the rescue.
Eric makes a much larger appearance in this third book, which I feel really adds to it. You can't deny that there is some great chemistry between Eric and Sookie. Then again, it just could be because I think the two of them would make an excellent couple and have a more interesting dynamic than other couplings in the books. This book has solidified my respect for Eric. Sure, he comes on strong and hard, often times a bit cold, but he's actually quite charming and funny. If anything in this book made me laugh, it was some of what came out of his mouth."
"Beth and her three friends Jenny, Rachel, and Melanie decide to go on a diet together. They are your typical high school girls, interested in boys, looking pretty, and each with their own troubles as everyone has. The girls go in on a diet pact in order to give support to one another, and each one has a goal weight that she wants to achieve. Beth, the novel's main character, first begins the diet with exercise and a minimal healthy diet. But soon into the diet, it becomes an obsession for her. The diet is then about more than just losing weight and being healthy, and Beth doesn't know why she is doing it, only that she has to. Every morning when she discovers more weight lost, she feels triumphant. After the chaos of her family breaking apart, this is finally some measure of control restored to her.
Beth doesn't stop when she reaches her target weight. Her mother has noticed something wrong, and her boyfriend/friend Jeremy sees the change in her as her clothing begins to hang off of her and her bones protrude. Despite his attempts to get her to open up about her diet, she won't. Her three friends finally find happiness and drop out of the diet, but Beth can't seem to stop. Instead of eating healthy and within proportion, she is starving herself to the point of passing out. Beth has no energy left, her skin is pale, and she is no longer happy. Beth is undoubtedly anorexic.
Anger and sadness trigger something in her that sets her off on a food binge. Naturally, her binge upsets her to the point where she engages in bulimia. As the book description says, Beth has every reason to be happy with her life, yet she is not. But we all know how teenagers are: every second is a second closer to the world ending for them. Some always fell prey to social pressures and expectations because they are so weighted and obvious.
This book was personal for me because I have struggled with an eating disorder for over half my life. I have been anorexic since I was a teenager, and I did it for no other reasons but pure vanity and a need to control something in my life. And I continue to do so. No, I am not proud of myself, I am only disclosing this to say that I understand what Beth and her friends go through. I certainly know what it is like to be a teenage girl succumbing to all of the pressures of that age. There is tremendous stress on teenage girls to look perfect, and perfect is hard to achieve. After a while, it takes you over. I applaud author Nicole Barker for taking on such a serious and sensitive topic. It's not something a lot of people talk about. That Barker shows us the progression of eating disorder, how it can quickly get out of control, helps people understand that sometimes it's not always rational. Sometimes you cannot apply logic and expect that to fix the problem. Through Beth, we see the humanity behind eating disorders, and as such they are more than, "oh no, that's bad, you should stop."
A lot of people see eating disorder as a cause-effect issue. And while there is a cause, sometimes it is so complex that it cannot be easily pinpointed and reasoned out. Therefore, it is hard to cure. Barker portrayed that accurately in giving Beth's problem so much complication and depth. I don't know if Barker herself has ever had a problem with anorexia, but she got a lot of the body issues and emotions involved correct. You do get weak, you do end up losing the energy that you once had, and you do end up getting depressed from lack of nutrition and body unhappiness. Of course, there are other things not experienced by Beth in the book that are true to anorexia. For example, you become very intolerant to the heat and to the cold, you get shaky, you start to breathe heavily when doing the smallest thing.
I very much enjoyed this quick read. The book is 170 pages, which means you can read it in one day if you have nothing else to do. Beth's character is compelling and honest, and it really does reflect the difficulties of being a teenager girl. Barker captured the voice of youth nicely and convincingly."
"The thing that sticks out the most about this book is how much it reads like a movie script. The dialogue, the descriptions, and the actions sequences all have the style of a script. There were times when reading that I would stop and think how that scene would play out if I were watching it on a screen. Someone needs to alert Fangoria or Rue Morgue now. Project 31 doesn't have a lot of in-depth and overly completely internal dialogue and reflection, at least none done in such a way that it couldn't be portrayed visually. I really do think that this book would be perfect for film adaptation, and without a lot of reworking and editing of the plot to get the film elements right. In fact, I think some of it would be better were it a visual and not words. Some of the descriptions about bodies splitting open and becoming strange creatures would work better on the screen, definitely.
Project 31 is a fast paced and nightmarish book, playing with themes of humanity, the human soul and conscience, and the lengths people will go to get what they want. It's about human weakness and our natural fallibility, as well as the evil that is in some people. Project 31 full of action and suspense, with a few twist and turns along the way. The details of the past are revealed slowly, so the tension builds behind a wall of unfurling mystery, only to explode into a climactic ending rather than a steady uncoil."
"Konowa Swift Dragon was exiled to the woods and his elite band of Iron Elves, all elves cursed with the black ear tip as sign that they are children of the Shadow Monarch, were disbanded and sent away for his killing of the former Viceroy who had fallen into darkness by serving the will of the Shadow Monarch. The Shadow Monarch, an elf, is possessed by a magic that she wishes to consume the world with, spreading her dark forest. After a few years in isolation, wandering with his only companion Jir (a bengar), Konowa is approached again by the Calahrian Empire he once served to once again become a soldier.
The Red Star has supposedly fallen, which foretells the return of a magic and knowledge many people and creatures want: the current Viceroy, the Price of Calahr, and the Shadow Monarch included. Given an acorn from the elven Shadow Monarch's Silver Wolf Oak, Konowa feels a strange power and connection to her, which he wants to use to his advantage to defeat her and her forces once again. As an elf born with a black ear tip and rejected from the birthing meadow so that he never bonded with a tree as elves do, Konowa has never felt much like an elf and was shunned for being cursed.
With stories of the Red Star, old and evil extinct creatures are being resurrected, so it is imperative that someone or something stop them. Konowa is told to reband the Iron Elves, but he is not given his old elves. No, instead he is delivered a scattered section of people and races. The new Iron Elves is made up of elf, human, dwarf, and giant alike. But, committed to their service, they take the oath to serve as Iron Elves. Unwittingly, though, the power of the acorn bonds the Iron Elves to their oath such that not even death can separate them from service. Even after death their shades must serve.
Unfortunately, too, for Konowa, he must act as second command to the Prince of Calahr, Tykkin. The future king of Calahr has no military experience and cares more for finding the Red Star and studying the world than properly defending it. Another source of frustration for Konowa is the elfkynan witch Visyna, who he likes but disagrees with his usage of the Silver Oak acorn and wants the Red Star for her and her people in order to liberate them from the Calahrian Empire. Plagued by nightmares of the Shadow Monarch, Konowa has a lot to worry about.
I must say, I enjoyed this book from page one all the way to the end. My love of reading began with the fantasy genre, after all, so I will always have a very deep love for all things magical. The world that Chris Evans creates is indeed separate from ours, but parallels ours enough that I can see similarities. In the various stories of races and conquest, I see vestiges of our history and culture. For some reason, this helped me connect to the characters.
Konowa is brave and handsome and a wonderful soldier, but he is a bit stubborn. As is Visyna. The dwarf Private Yimt Arkhorn is loud and overconfident and his partner Private Alwyn Redwar is careful and skittish. The prince is properly clueless and the writer Rallie is obscure and mysterious. All of the characters are distinct and layered. I love it when an author can create characters that are distinct, that react just as they would and not in a way convenient to making the story easy. It is not hard at all to simply write a character, but to truly create one is a work of true talent.
What about the story, though? A Darkness Forged in Fire is just the kind of fantasy I like-- just enough of everything without it being too much. It is full of action and the questions pile one on top of the other as the story progresses. No resolution is come to by the end, which opens way for book 2. By the end of the book, you are left with even more questions as additional stars must be sought out and kept from falling into the wrong hands. The battles are intense and full of detail, and I really got the sense that Evans knows what he is talking about as far as weaponry and battle tactics go. That sort of attention to detail and accuracy lends a lot of realism to a story. For lovers of the fantasy genre, this book will fit perfectly in a collection of quality fiction. As far as I am concerned, Chris Evans is right up there in excellence with Tolkien and Piers Anthony."
"I have to say that the plots are becoming predictable. That's not to say that they're not exciting because they are. It's just that you can almost predict who will be the perpetrator by the first few chapters. I had this one pegged. Of course, it didn't have me put down the book. I still find the Southern Vampire Mysteries very fun, very exciting, and very much worth my time to read. I still love them, yes. If you are looking for a shocking twist at the end, you're not going to find it here because the formula is predictable. I am also a bit disappointed in the turn that Sookie's friendship with Alcide took. I don't think it's too much that the two of them could remain friends and get over their little crush from book three. Instead, the two of them are getting to the point where they can scant stand each the company of each other. I mean, Sookie can have a friend she's not making out with... right?
You can bet as soon as I can, I am going to pick up book six."
"This book was great. I won't give away any more spoilers than my vague summary already has, but I will cheer and say that the moment I've been waiting for DID happen in chapter 6. Now, if only it could have stayed that way. In the end, as a reader, I know that Sookie and Bill will make up and get back together and continue their great love affair.
The grand bulk of this story was spent working out the relationship between Sookie and Eric, investigating Jason's disappearance, and searching for the very dangerous coven of witches that cursed Eric. The final battle scene is very tense and well played out, though not in clear drawn out detail since it is from the perspective of Sookie who is understandably out of it.
We have new creatures and supernatural elements, too! As I said above, witches are introduced along with fairies. Now those can be added to the growing catalog of creatures and things Sookie has to interact with on a daily (and nightly) basis.
I am almost disappointed that Eric's time may be over. I feel that he certainly shines brighter and with more character than Bill. After spending an entire book with Eric, Bill's entrance at the end was... bland, at best. He just seems monotonous next to the personality that Eric exudes. If Eric could just get over himself, he would be perfect. Still, I cling to hope because surely the Eric that he was when he didn't have a memory is still in him... somewhere.
I am completely addicted to this series. Anne Rice might have defined the vampire in my eyes, but Charlaine Harris makes them fun. Gratuitous sex? Give me more of that, please. Some more violence and humor, too. This series is just one big ball of excitement for me."
"It's been a long time since I've read a good vampire story. In fact, I don't read many vampire stories at all. I have high expectations... to high, I guess. But, I really enjoyed this one. And joy, none of the characters pissed me off or annoyed me. Dead Until Dark was funny, sexy, and interesting. I enjoyed the plot and really liked some of the characters. I overlooked my expectations for vampires to read this book and I found it worth my while. Though the Southern Vampires sort of defied some of what I think vampire should be, I liked the books enough to get past that superficial issue. I thought that the dialogue was especially good. Nothing can turn me off of a book faster than dialogue that seems forced or insincere... or just NOT the way that people talk. I am utterly charmed with the Southern Vampire Mysteries now. I finally found a series about vampires worth reading since Anne Rice. You want exciting and sexy? Read this series. In ways, it's even better than anything Anne Rice created since hers remain shrouded in mystery and lore. The Southern Vampire Mysteries make vampires part of this world; it rips from them a preternatural sense of otherness and puts them directly in the human world shamelessly. Simply wonderful."
"I'll be honest with you guys. If this had been the first or second book that I read in the series, I wouldn't have continued. Though it was good, I gave it a lot more credit because I already know and love the characters. If Definitely Dead were my introduction to the Sookie Stackhouse world, I wouldn't have thought twice about not picking up the next book. Don't get me wrong, Definitely Dead is a good book, it just isn't the type of book that would capture my attention and make want to read again.
A lot of the book just seemed to be... out of character. Sookie is slowly exiting the world of being your average every day telepathic waitress who is cutely modest to being a supervixen special something who has all the guys stare when she flips her hair. And Bill did a total 180. Only Eric was the same, which was a relief because I would take it too hard if he changed at all.
It is disappointing that there is such an influx of new characters because the old characters, the ones I enjoy, are being pushed to the wayside. I don't need a whole new league of witches and boyfriends and vampire buddies to enjoy The Southern Vampire Mysteries. I just want to read about the world of Sookie and her close companions. Adding too many characters makes things overly complex and complicated. Of course, fresh blood is necessary to keep a book active, and new people are always coming and going in life, but within the limited confines of a book they only end up pushing out other characters since only so many can be in focus at a time.
Also, a word of warning. If you've ONLY read the books, you will be confused. If this book is to make sense to you from the start, I suggest you read the short story One Word Answer from Bite. The events of that story come to fruition in Definitely Dead and are unfortunately never mentioned anywhere else. So, if you haven't read One Word Answer, you are going to be very confused about Hadley and the Queen and the Queen's request. It doesn't make sense that the story wasn't included as a prelude or a first chapter, but I suppose it makes more money selling in parts.
I have high hopes for the next one and can only cross my fingers that Sookie and her world will return to how it was when I fell in love with it. I want Sookie to go back to being a normal girl with a special gift, not some half-supernatural creature like everyone else. How can I relate to her that way? And I want more of the old characters, more Eric and Bill and Sam."
"Dirt: An American Campaign is a high engery, fast paced novel about grief, personal connection, and political corruption. Governor and Presidential candidate Frank Cotton is in a peculiar situation just at the dawn of his potential election as Republican candidate for the Presidential office. Mr. Cotton is not quite topping the polls and is having trouble with his son Calvin, whose wife just recently passed away. You see, Calvin stole the corpse of his wife and took off with it. What a scandal that would make for the Presidential hopeful.
Enter Thomas Cashman, an ex-military man and CIA agent who is sent on a mission by the Cotton administration to stop Calvin before the press and public get wind of the Cotton family grave robbery. Cashman is just the kind of guy I like- humorous and down to earth, but without pretense and willing to do what needs in order to be done to be successful at his job. To help get into the mind of Calvin, to better understand and predict him, Cashman employs the help of an alcoholic ex-writer named Billy Baylor. Baylor is somewhat of an expert in what would make a seemingly normal man do something so grotesque because that was the sort of thing that he wrote about before losing his wife and daughter in a car accident.
There is, in fact, a large list of characters: a small time reporter, an environmentalist lawyer, a cemetery attendant, numerous Presidential hopefuls, whole political administrative teams, two news reporters hot on the trail of Calvin, and roadside scoundrels. What connects them is politics, protecting and exposing people, or just the need to seek self gain. There is little difference between the politicians who take joy in destroying their rival's life and the bullying bikers in the grocery store parking lot.
Every chapter is short, giving a sense of immediacy to the novel. Though the chapters are short in length, I do not feel as if the book is lacking in detail or story. LaFlamme manages to say it all and say it wonderfully within his tightly packed sections. The way that the book flips from one person to the next gives the story a fast pace that made it even harder for me to put the book down at the end of the night.
It was difficult for me to find a 'good guy' in this novel, but it was likewise just as hard for me to find a 'bad guy'. The characters in Dirt are simply people, each trying to get by, neither good nor evil. Everyone has a secret, something dirty in their past. When all of the dirt starts to come out, no one can stop it. No one is left unexposed.
I can almost guarantee with total certainty that you will not see the ending of Dirt coming. LaFlamme throws one twist at you before delivering the final dizzying punch."
"So the relationship of Tobias and Noah grows and evolves, becomes ever more loving and strong. I found this book to be more about the romance and companionship of being a couple than about a relationship that is balanced between romance relationship and the requirements of a BDSM lifestyle. The power exchange aspect of their relationship are somewhat dimmed and deluded in this third novel. There are BDSM club scenes, yes, and fantasy play. But, there is little to none of that throat catching, lung gripping power exchange that I had loved so much in the first two, that defined the them. Where is Noah on his knees in the kitchen while Tobias ate? Where is that quiet, calm voice of Domination? It was all words and reminders but little action! There's only so long you can say, "I am your Master" before you have to actually show it, Tobias, come on. Tobias never lets Noah forget who is his Master, but it isn't entirely due to power or Domination, at least, not here. That I know their relationship is about this, is based on D/s, saved the BDSM scenes from being a sexual act alone. Still, it was a beautiful book that reminded the reader that even a Master and his slave can have a loving relationship, that two can connect emotionally, that BDSM is as much an emotional and physical need for some people as sex. This book worked through a lot of their issues like caging with Noah and Tobas' pride. Phantom, also, had a lot to deal with. In fact, we're left with a bit of a Phantom-cliffhanger at the end. Master Bradford has yet to disclose what is wrong, so that's no doubt a plot saved for the next book. Did I love the book despite its excessive and repetitive gay sex scenes (which I like, don't get me wrong, but I'm really reading these for the BDSM elements) in exchange for BDSM scenes? Yes. And I am going to consume the fourth and love it, too."
"Boy was it good to be back reading about Tobias and Noah. I have to say, since the last book, I missed them. I actually craved to read this second book of the Deviations series because I HAD to know what happens with them. It didn't disappoint. There was a lot of hot action, a lot of hot scenes, and a lot of romance. This book was definitely more romantic than the first, and emotional in a different way. In this second book, Tobias and Noah have to find balance between having a regular romantic relationship and having a relationship based on the exchange of power. In this one, Tobias examines his weaknesses as Noah comes to terms with his. Their dynamic and struggles show that not even the best Dom in the world is infallible; no matter how strong we are, we break down, we screw up. We're not perfect. I can't wait to read number 3."
"The Dysfunctional Father's Guide to Pregnancy Birth and Babies is a humor guide book for expectant fathers penned by a two man team who call themselves XY, and is illustrated by David Shaw. The book is an amusing look at how the 'dysfunctional father' views the road to pregnancy, the pregnancy experience, childbirth, and the first year of a child's life. It is an advice book, a guide book, and a collection of personal stories somewhat exaggerated for comedic effect.
Sensitive men and women should not read. If you are predisposed to the idea that all men are piggish jerks, you might also not want to read this book because it will just confirm your opinion. The tone of the book comes off arrogant and misogynistic, but the humor itself is meant to be tongue in cheek, so the authors are not trying to be politically correct or kind with their words. I have to admit, sometimes I quite disliked the authors, especially when I read the section on how to make your post-birth wife feel fat enough to go on a diet. It was absolutely horrible. You will probably also ask yourself at some point, "do these men actually love their wives?"
While I don't think that any man in his right mind would follow the advice given, I do think that it's worth a laugh because some of it is quite outrageous and cruel. And the book itself might not be insight into the average male mind, but it is a peek into what I am sure every man thinks at least once in a while. I had a lot of fun reading it once I got over myself and decided not to be offended by the obvious disrespect shown toward women. Sometimes that made it really, really hard to like and enjoy, but I did manage quite a few laughs."
"Scott has a beautiful way with words. The imagery she uses to describe the world around Sally invokes a clear picture of the trickling Tuskee River and the small, rural Pennsylvania towns Sally hops to and from. There are times when Sally expresses a self-doubt and detachment that I have felt many times. I can see a lot of myself in Sally, especially in the way that she regards the world as a struggling outsider looking in, always waiting for her moment to feel connected. Sally's internal dynamic is interesting as well because she is a contradicting mixture of strong and assured, but also weak and afraid. It takes a lot of guts to pick up and start over again, but Sally does this each time because she wants to escape the people around her. So, it's hard to tell what Sally is and that makes her more realistic. Sally is a bundle of one inconsistency after another as most of us are.
Sally has a hard life, but she doesn't make it any better for herself each time she runs away. The thing she is good at, singing, she purposefully stuffs away for a long time. Again, this is something that I find familiarity in. Sally is not without remorse for leaving her son behind, or for leaving some of the people who helped her early on as she was just getting on her feet. Even as she runs away, she always looks back on the people she has left behind.
I honestly enjoyed this book from page one. Since Sally's life is cut up into chunks, each stage is paced just right that I didn't feel any lag in the plot. As I said above, the descriptions are both beautiful and believable. Scott is a truly talented writer. With just a few words, she is able to evoke emotion and reality all in one breath. It takes talent to captivate, which Follow Me certain does.
Would you like to enter to win a copy of Follow me by Joanna Scott? Five lucky winners will win a copy, and one winner will get both Follow Me and another of Scott's works Liberation. To enter the contest, go here and follow the instructions."