Shannon C. (Shannatram) - Reviews

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Baltimore Blues (Tess Monaghan, Bk 1)
Baltimore Blues (Tess Monaghan, Bk 1)
Author: Laura Lippman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 188
Review Date: 7/27/2009


This book was hard for me to get into. I felt like half the time Lippman was just reciting a history of Baltimore buildings. It might seem that way to me because I grew up around Baltimore City, but her descriptions of the city were dry. The characters progressed slowly and I found myself not understanding a character's motivation for certain actions. I felt the characters were also dry, and realized a third of the way through that I didn't really care what happened to any of them. This might be because I couldn't relate to any of them. This book is probably great for a different type of person but I ended up unable to finish it.


The Book of Lost Things
The Book of Lost Things
Author: John Connolly
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 131
Review Date: 8/8/2010
Helpful Score: 1


This was a stellar book. It read well, and the plot was a very interesting concept. I loved there-telling of old fairy-tales, that was one of the best parts for me. Everything in it was just steeped in fairy-tale elements with a little twist. The characters in the book were also very well developed. I could really relate to the main character (although I am not, and have never been a twelve year old boy). Reading The Book of Lost Things was just a treat.

Something to note, however: This book is very, very dark. If dark stories disturb you, you might not want to read it. Also, it's definitely not a book for kids. At all. There is a lot of violence and sexual suggestions, and just disturbing stuff. I'm usually not bothered by darker tales, but some of the things in the book were unsettling for me. However, it didn't detract from how much I loved the book. I think if I had expected it going in I would have been better prepared mentally.


The Box: Uncanny Stories
The Box: Uncanny Stories
Author: Richard Matheson
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 45
Review Date: 1/27/2010


This is a pretty cool book! It's a collection of short stories by Richard Matheson. All of the stories are pretty much about ordinary people who have uncanny things happening to them (good and bad). There is a sprinkling of Science Fiction in the book. Each story is told in a unique style which fits the setting and plot.

It's a very offbeat book and a (mostly) easy read. I'd recommend it to someone who is looking for something a bit abnormal to read.


Cat's Cradle
Cat's Cradle
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 131
Review Date: 5/25/2010
Helpful Score: 1


This was a hard one for me. It wasn't hard to read, Vonnegut is actually pretty easy to get through, he often uses short sentences and paragraphs.

Upon finishing I had no idea how I felt about the book.

A month later I still don't know. Part of me really enjoyed it. I found the satire funny and riveting. Vonnegut has an amazing ability to write characters who are almost completely flat but still make you care about them, and I felt that.

But I also didn't LIKE them- which may be the point. It was entertaining, enjoyable, and made a good point, but it was also frustrating. Probably because there isn't much redemption.

Again, I think that's the point of it all. It's the kind of thing which might not be enjoyable, but it sticks with you and has a lot of meaning and importance.

All in all I'm glad to have read it.


Cat's Cradle: A Book of String Figures
Cat's Cradle: A Book of String Figures
Author: Anne Akers Johnson
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 22
Review Date: 5/25/2010


I had this book when I was a little kid (I remember it came with really colorful string, although according to reviews it doesn't any more?)

This book was awesome. So much so that when I went to search for "Cat's Cradle" by Kurt Vonnegut I saw this and had vivid childhood memories. I played with this book all the time.

The instructions are very clear and show pictures for help. They start off with the easiest trick (cup & saucer if I remember correctly) and end with the hardest (Jacob's Ladder). I remember doing it every day, I'd bring it to school with me to do at recess. I remember how excited I was when I FINALLY figured out Jacob's Ladder.

This is great for younger kids. I was probably 6 or 7 when I got this book. It's good to see that it's still around.


A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange
Author: Anthony Burgess
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 351
Review Date: 10/17/2010
Helpful Score: 2


This book was very hard to get through, and not just because of the language. Like many good art pieces, A Clockwork Orange makes you feel uneasy, throwing the taboo in your face.

The main character and narrator, Alex, not only commits heinous crimes, but delights in them, and describes his delights in great detail to the reader. It's not often rape and violence is put in a positive light (at least not in books I read). You start off (rightfully) thinking of Alex as a monster, despite his likable personality.

To make things more uncomfortable for the reader, during and after Alex's "reform" you start to feel sympathy for him. Once you're lulled into believing that he's a victim, Burgess shoves reminders in your face of just how wicked Alex is. A lot of questions and thoughts come up that you never thought you'd have to ask. Did he deserve to lose his free will? Or did he lose that right by making his evil choices? Does bad behavior warrant such extreme, inhumane treatment?

Burgess gives us the questions but doesn't answer them for us. The answers are left ambiguous, for us to challenge our own thoughts and views and come up with our own answers. It is a hard reminder that not everything is black and white.

A lot of people felt the strange language and made-up slang detracted from the story, but I think it made the story what it is. It emphasizes this future scenario, acknowledging that language is ever changing. You are an outsider, looking in on a completely different (yet slightly familiar) society. I think it also helps distance the reader from what's going on. Not having a complete and comprehensive grasp of what the narrator is saying makes the pill of violence a little easier to swallow.

This was a very good book, and one that everyone should read at least once in their life.


Confessions of a Video Vixen
Confessions of a Video Vixen
Author: Karrine Steffans, Karen Hunter
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.1/5 Stars.
 35
Review Date: 7/28/2009
Helpful Score: 2


This book started out strong, and fizzled out toward the end. The big problem is that she constantly states that her book is a cautionary tale for young women, but she really doesn't seem to learn any lessons or change her behavior. She was treated poorly by most of the men she slept with, but never decided to change her behavior. If it wasn't boasted as a cautionary tale it probably would have been more entertaining, instead it's frustrating because the reader is left waiting for her revelation/change of heart/whatever and is left with nothing but the same behaviors with weak justification. Again, if it was just her personal memoirs, it would be a mediocre book with a sad story, but her insistence that she learned some kind of hidden lesson makes it seem like a waste.


Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
Author: Gregory Maguire
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 1433
Review Date: 3/10/2010


This was a pretty good book. Like a few others here, it was my first Maguire book, and I'm glad. (If I had read Wicked first I NEVER would have read this book, but that's for another review). I really liked the characters in this book. I loved the narrator and how tough she was in dealing with her hard life. I also like that although Cinderella was bratty, she wasn't portrayed as the enemy (which often happens when fairy tales are turned around, the bad guys are good and the good guys are bad).

It was a solid plot also. The story really was turned into a fairy tale for grownups. The twist Maguire put on Cinderella here was very cool.

It takes a bit to get used to the thick language, but it's definitely not a hard read. It's not amazing, but it's good. Confessions is definitely worth a try!


Dead and Gone (Sookie Stackhouse, Bk 9)
Dead and Gone (Sookie Stackhouse, Bk 9)
Author: Charlaine Harris
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 535
Review Date: 4/9/2010
Helpful Score: 9


I feel like this was the first Sookie Stackhouse book in a while that started to go back to the series' roots. There was a murder to solve, a bunch of stuff that was unrelated happened in the middle (mostly involving vampires), and they got back to the mystery at the end. Albeit, there was a lot less solving, so much has happened in Sookie's life I don't know if we'll ever get back to it being a mystery series, but this book FELT more like the earlier ones. That's what I like so much about it, it felt like the Southern Vampire series I originally fell in love with.

Vampires have a much more prominent role in this book then they've had previously. It was nice to see them come into the foreground again. Honestly, with all the werewolves and shape shifters and everything else that had been going on, the series was starting to get a little tedious for me, I think because I didn't want to read about all that, I wanted to read about vampires. So I'm glad they've come back. All the other supernatural elements are still there as well.

This book was good, and very exciting. It was the first time I realized how much Sookie has changed and grown, which was really cool to see and realize.


Demon Ororon, Vol. 1
Demon Ororon, Vol. 1
Author: Mizuki Hakase, Hakase Mizuki, Tomoko Kakimoto, Josh Dysart
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 30
Review Date: 3/10/2010


This book is extremely dramatic and I'm not sure why. Although the characters tell us their thoughts and motivations I don't quite believe it. The art is okay. I think this is really more of a bishonen eye candy series more than anything.


Douglas Adams's Starship Titanic
Douglas Adams's Starship Titanic
Author: Terry Jones
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 39
Review Date: 10/13/2009


This was an okay book. I expected it to be hilarious, but it wasn't. Funny things happened, and it was good for a few laughs, but that was about it. The story was interesting, and it was a quick and easy read. I'm glad I read it, but I probably wouldn't read it again.


The End (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Bk 13)
The End (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Bk 13)
Author: Lemony Snicket
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 175
Review Date: 2/23/2009
Helpful Score: 2


After investing the time and money into the previous 12 books (and other supplemental books) Lemony Snicket's conclusion was a little more than disappointing. Rather than addressing the important mysteries in the orphans lives that he'd spent so much time building up, he sort of tossed them aside. It almost seemed like he didn't know the answers to the questions he posed and was just trying to write his way out of a corner with this book saying some mysteries will never be solved. He does wrap up a few things, but not enough to really feel satisfied about the series.


Eric (Discworld, Bk 9)
Eric (Discworld, Bk 9)
Author: Terry Pratchett
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 111
Review Date: 1/31/2010


Like all Terry Pratchett books, Eric was witty, creative, and fun to read.

This is pretty much a Rincewind book, and (not subtely) spoofs Faust.

As other's have said, it wasn't his best Discworld book, but it was a good, solid, short and sweet one.


From Dead to Worse (Sookie Stackhouse, Bk 8)
From Dead to Worse (Sookie Stackhouse, Bk 8)
Author: Charlaine Harris
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 1350
Review Date: 10/13/2009


This book felt very different than the previous Sookie Stackhouse books. It felt like it was much longer, and almost felt like an ending. Harris strayed from her usual format in this book, there wasn't much of a mystery to solve, but a LOT happened which was important to the plot of the series. It was very good, and one of my favorites so far (although "Dead to the World" is still reigning champion of my favorites list). It was just a surprise to see how differently the plot flowed! It was refreshing, and a lot of fun. It also felt longer, probably because there was a lot of meat to the story. I really love how Sookie's developed throughout the series, and how she deals with the events around her. I can't wait to read the next one!


Geisha : A Life
Geisha : A Life
Author: Mineko Iwasaki, Rande Brown
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 57
Review Date: 7/27/2009
Helpful Score: 1


This was a really nice book. It was interesting to read a first hand account of what it was actually like to be a Geisha, and to have a lot of the myths separated from facts. Mineko Iwasaki even makes a point to clear up common myths about Geisha's. There isn't a whole lot of drama but it's still an entertaining read.


The Good Fairies of New York
The Good Fairies of New York
Author: Martin Millar
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 63
Review Date: 11/21/2009
Helpful Score: 1


This was a really nice book and an easy read. It was a bit of a slow start because it was hard to find the author's rhythm. Millar jumps around a lot and includes a lot of characters which were difficult to keep track of until halfway through. All that didn't bother me much, I still really enjoyed it and could keep track of the main plot points and characters. It's an offbeat story in an offbeat style and was pretty refreshing. It's not for everyone, but if you're looking for something a little different I'd recommend this book.


Grave Sight (Harper Connelly, Bk 1)
Grave Sight (Harper Connelly, Bk 1)
Author: Charlaine Harris
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 788
Review Date: 12/7/2009
Helpful Score: 1


If there's one thing Charlaine Harris does well is characters. She has a magical way of creating a cast full of quirky, eccentric, real, and believable characters. She definitely delivered her skill and personal touch with characters to this book.

Unfortunately, the story fell flat a little bit. Not far into the book I hit a point where I just kept wondering why Harper (the main character) and her brother Tolliver were staying in the town! They visited the town only to do a job, and (without giving too much away) ended up sticking around for various reasons. Personally I just didn't believe it, and I think that made the rest of the story seem weak.

I also felt like Harper's "gift" wasn't explored enough. Maybe this is because it will be delved into in another book, but I felt like she talked about it a lot, and really spent most of the time repeating herself.

Overall, it wasn't a bad read, but I'm not left wishing for more. I'm glad that I read it though, since I really like Harris!


His Oldest Friend : The Story of an Unlikely Bond
His Oldest Friend : The Story of an Unlikely Bond
Author: Sonny Kleinfield
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 2/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 8/28/2010


This book should have been a really good, interesting story. However, it fell flat.

The biggest problem was that each chapter read like a human interest story. I guess it WAS a human interest story, but that kind of purple prose works for an article, not 300+ pages. Every chapter started as though it was a new story. Rather than having a line to follow he would basically start over giving background and explaining the same things. I now know at least 4 similies for how baggy the guy's clothes were.

He also spent a LOT of time emphasizing how horrible each person's life was, which was kind of annoying. Every time he talked about the woman he'd go on and on about how horrible it is to be old. Every time he talked about the young guy he went on about how horrible street life is. It wasn't that he brought up a negative, but that he brought up the same negative over and over and over again.

Also, he didn't really dwell on Elvis and Ms. Oliver's relationship, which was the whole point of the book. We learned what brought them together but had no insight on how they became so close. We simply had random snippets of conversation, with her dolling out advice and him changing the subject seemingly at random. The author then tells us what the person was thinking at the time, which, I'm not sure how he found that out? Did he ask them what they were thinking? Or was it all speculation? Who knows.

The story had a lot of potential to be really interesting, but it just wasn't. It was boring, and honestly, frustrating. Two chapters in I wanted to put the book down, but really wanted to stick with it. Honestly, it just wasn't worth the frustration.


I Am America (And So Can You!)
I Am America (And So Can You!)
Author: Stephen Colbert
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 238
Review Date: 8/8/2010


I am an avid fan of Stephen Colbert, but I have to say I have the problem with this book.

The actual content was great. It is the same kind of stuff humor and attitude he gives in his show, with diagrams, and really funny liner notes. The problem is that when I read it, I didn't have Colbert's voice in my head delivering the lines like he does on his show, I had my voice in my head reading how I read. I had to really concentrate to hear it the way he would say it, etc, which took some of the fun from it. I don't often read comedy books, so that might be another problem of mine.

If you can imagine him reading the book to you it's great, and even if you can't it's still entertaining. If you're a fan it's definitely worth a read.


I, Vampire (I, Vampire, Bk 1)
I, Vampire (I, Vampire, Bk 1)
Author: Michael Romkey
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 67
Review Date: 5/26/2009
Helpful Score: 4


This book started off pretty well. Romkey pulls out major historical figures and has a sort of "what if they were vampires" premise. Our hero meets them throughout the story after he's turned to a vampire. The narration was great through most of the book. The problem was around 2/3 in the book just started dragging (It's the section titled "Rasputin's Tale"). This section completely breaks the flow of the book (possibly because it's narrated by a different character), and although a lot of it is pertinent to the plot and background, it just feels unnecessary. The book picks up at the end, but by then it was already lost on me. It wasn't a bad read, hopefully the other books in the series are paced a little better.


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