Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Temporarily On Hold/Slowed Down

Yeah.  So...I'm back in school and of course every one of my classes involves a bunch of reading, so I don't know exactly how much time I'll have for recreational reading.

That being said, this blog is either going to be dead until the end of the quarter (12/10/2010) or the reviews will be even more infrequent than usual.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Will Storr vs. the Supernatural by Will Storr


Will Storr has done some seriously bizarre and other-wordly things over the course of his career as a journalist.  But even spending an entire day with Ozzy Osbourne wasn't as frightening as when he agreed to follow Philadelphia "demonologist" Lou Gentile on his appointed round.  Will Storr never believed in ghosts--but his healthy skepticism couldn't explain the strange lights and sounds he witnessed, and the weird behavior of the occupants of several allegedly haunted houses.

What resulted is a confirmed cynic's (and proud of it!) dedicated search for answers in a shadowy world of seances, mediums, devil worshippers--even the Vatican's chief exorcist.  So get ready to confront the genuinely creepy along with the hilariously ridiculous in Will Storr vs. the Supernatural!


After my last three books, I thought it was about time I get back to reading books where I don't already know the ending.  What better way to do that than to read a work of non-fiction?

I was surprised by this book.  I went into it expecting to get a straight-forward progression from complete skeptic to full-on believer.  That did not happen.  The book basically involves a cynic having this beliefs (or lack thereof) tested.  Storr attends countless paranormal research events, meets with renowned investigators, questions a philosopher, interviews a psychiatrist and sits down with an exorcist.

Ultimately, he finishes completely unsure about whether or not the paranormal exists, but that's fine.  The guy did his research.  I'm surprised the guy lasted a year.  I would have slapped every psychic he came in contact with.  His experiences with psychics and mediums were so awkward (not written the situations themselves were awkward).  I would not have been able to smile and nod the way he did.

One complaint...and it really has nothing to do with the content of the book.  My complaint...WHO THE HELL EDITED THIS BOOK?!  I can understand the occasional spelling error (and I had to have a little leeway for the fact that Storr is British and so you get the expected differences), but there were words that were consistently just flat out spelled wrong.  Spell check is your friend, people.  Look into it.

Bottom it.  No matter who you are, read.  Originally, I was just going to recommend this to people who are believers.  As the book went on though, I changed my mind.  No matter which side of the paranormal fence you fall on, I think this is a book to read.  It makes you consider things maybe you haven't thought of before.  It's not shy about revealing the seedy underbelly of TV ghost hunting programs. makes it painfully obvious just how full of it some psychics and mediums are.  Read it.


Monday, September 13, 2010

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult


Anna is not sick, but she might as well be.  By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood.  The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate--a life role that she has never challenged...until now.  Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is.  But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister.  So, Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable--a decision that will tear her family apart and possibly have fatal consequences for the sister she loves.


This book made me cry.  That really says a lot.  In my twenty-six years in this world, only one other book has ever made me truly cry.  I'm not talking about just tearing up a little.  I'm talking about choked up, sad movie crying.

On that subject, let me say...yes.  I had seen the movie, prior to reading the book.  I try to keep that from being the case.  I honestly prefer to read the book, before viewing the movie, but there are those rare occasions where the movie somehow manages to be viewed before I can read the book (I blame HBO and insomnia in this case).  I had a feeling this book was going to make cry, given that the movie had me crying for about 90 of the 100 minutes.

Anyway...the book's a really good read.  The ending was a  Without giving too much away (cause it does end far differently than the movie), I kind of didn't see any purpose to what happens in the end.  You go through the events of the book and to have this final event ('s hard to review this without giving it away) occur seemed a little...pointless?  I don't know, maybe other people would get the value of it, but it completely eluded me.

My only complaint (aside from the "event") was some of the characters.  Not so much the way they were written.  They were written perfectly.  The characters as people bugged me.  Their behavior, more specifically, annoyed me.  Between Sara's inability to understand Anna's reasons for filing the lawsuit and Jesse constantly lashing out, I found it hard to really tolerate them at times.  I'm sure it's all in the eyes of the reader, though.  Maybe other can better accept the way they act, but I found it a little grating.

Bottom line...definitely read it.  It's a really touching book and raises a few important is it alright to just let someone die? it and form your own opinions.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Living Dead In Dallas by Charlaine Harris


When a vampire asks cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse for a favor, she complies.  And soon she's in Dallas, using her telepathic skills to search for a missing vampire.  She agrees to interview the humans involved as long as the bloodsuckers promise to let them go unharmed.  Easier said than done.  All it takes is one delicious blonde and one small mistake for things to turn deadly.


Another great Sookie Stackhouse book.  Another example of why the books and True Blood are separate entities.

I really enjoyed this book, for pretty much the same reasons as Dead Until Dark.  There really isn't much else to add.  I like Charlaine Harris' writing style.  I like her characters.  There's honestly nothing I'd really change.  Like I said last time though, having seen the show and already being familiar with the characters and the story, there is a good deal of bias.  I can't say for certain that my opinion would be the same, had I gone into this series completely unfamiliar, but to the best of my abilities, I tried to find faults and there were none.

I am starting to see why some fans of the book don't like the show too much, though.  For what was changed in Season 1, they really veered off from the book for Season 2.  Like...really veered off.  To the point that I wonder if they could even continue to follow, the books on the show.  But, I'm getting off point.  This is about Living Dead in Dallas...not True Blood.

This is definitely a book to read, assuming you enjoyed Dead Until Dark (which you should have), but do not go into it expecting it to be the book version of True Blood.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris


Sookie Stackhouse is just a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana--except for her "disability."  She can read minds.  But when Bill Compton walks into her life, she can't hear a word he's thinking--and then then one of her co-workers is killed.

Maybe having a vampire for a boyfriend isn't such a bright idea...


Right upfront, let me explain to you that this review will be ever so slightly biased.  For those of you that (somehow) don't know, the Sookie Stackhouse novels are the basis for HBO's show True Blood.  That being said, I started reading this book having already seen the first season of True Blood (which is an adaptation of this book).  Actually I'd seen it twice, so...I pretty much knew the major plot points and twists.

On top of going into this already knowing the end, I also went in having read some of the disapproval Sookie Stackhouse fans had toward the way the first book had been adapted.  That being said, I'll get started on my review.

To begin with, the book's a really good read.  Usually, when I've seen the movie/TV show before reading the book, the book tends to drag for me, because I go in expecting a certain pace.  That was not the case here.  In fact, if it was dragging because of me seeing True Blood, then I can only imagine how much faster I could have read this book.  I flew through this book like it was nothing (my copy clocks in at 312 pages).  It was a phenomenal read.  Better than some other vampire books that I've read recently (*cough*Twilight*cough*).

As for a book/True Blood comparison, I definitely view the book as being a whole other entity.  The show strayed from the book enough that I'm curious to see how things pan out in the books.  A certain character, who shall remain nameless, survives the book.  They do not survive the show.  I'm very curious to see whether or not he/she reappear in subsequent books (don't say anything, for those that have read the books and know which character I'm talking about).

At this point, I would usually start listing off what didn't work for me in the book.  I'm surprised to say that I've got nothing.  I seriously liked everything about this book.  The entire time I was reading, there wasn't a single instance where I wished something had been written differently.  It was perfect.  I loved the writing.  I loved the characters.  I wouldn't change a single thing.  I loved it.

I think you can figure out my botton line, but I'll say it anyway.  I definitely...DEFINITELY...recommend this book.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier


When Meaulnes first arrives at the local school in Sologne, everyone is captivated by his good looks, daring, and charisma. But when he disappears for several days, and returns with tales of a strange party at a mysterious house and a beautiful girl hidden within it, Meaulnes has been changed forever. In his restless search for his Lost Estate and the happiness he found there, Meaulnes, observed by his loyal friend Francois, may risk losing everything he ever had.


I really only have one word for this book: Blah. It wasn’t that great of a read. I mean, it had a lot of potential, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I never really felt for any of the characters, so I didn’t really care whether or not any of them found what they were seeking.

I read this book, because it was listed in 501 Must-Read Books. Truth be told, that will be my reason behind about two-thirds of the books on my “To Read” List. Anyway, I cannot for the life of me figure out why Le Grand Meaulnes was classified as a “Must-Read”. Like I said, it wasn’t too spectacular.

Bottom line, read it if you want, but it’s not a book that would pop into my head, if someone were to ask me for a recommendation on their next read.


If you do decide to read this book, you'll find it under its English title The Lost Estate.

Friday, April 23, 2010

1984 by George Orwell


The story of Winston Smith presents the world in the year 1984, after a global atomic war, via his perception of life in Airstrip One, a province of Oceania, one of the world's three superstates; his intellectual rebellion against the Party and illicit romance with Julia; and his consequent imprisonment, interrogation, torture, and re-education by the Thinkpol in the Miniluv.


Let me just get this fact out of the way, right up front.  Read this book.  Not just because it's a good book.  Not just because it's one of those books you're expected to have read.  Not just because it's gives a look at what our lives could be like, if we stop thinking for ourselves.  It's because of all of those.  You're supposed to have read this book at some point (usually in high school) and, having now read it, I can tell you that it's worth the read.  Alright.  Now that I have that out of the way, I can get to my actual review.

This book was depressing and scary, at the same time. Imagine a world where it's illegal to think something other than what the government tells you.  If they tell you that two plus two equals five, it equals five.  If you think otherwise, you die.  Not even a second chance.  One time and you're doomed to die.  I cannot wrap my mind around the idea of living in a world where you no longer have freedom of thought.  It's such a small act, thinking, but to have that ability taken away would be unbearable.

What's scarier is that, while 1984 (the year) may have been 26 years ago, I saw a lot of similarities between Orwell's 1984 and our 2010.  Granted...not as extreme as in the book, but I could spot places where we, as a society, are beginning to go down that road.  Let's just say I kind of feel for the people we pass on street screaming about Big Brother watching...cause I kind of think he might be.

Bottom line, like I said, read this book.  Orwell is an amazing writer.  I usually don't enjoy the books that you're supposed to have read in high school, but I couldn't put this one down.  And, not just the writing.  This book opened my eyes to a lot of things that even I do.  It made me want to pay even more attention to things that go on in our world, cause I never want to see a poster on every corner telling me that "Big Brother is watching you".


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold


"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973."

So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her — her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling.


First and foremost, I loved this book. I completely understand both its popularity among readers and the decision to make it into a full-length film (although I realize that doesn't say much considering Hollywood's never ending desire to turn everything into a movie). It makes you think. Granted...I'm not talking about some deep soul searching, where you come out changed for the better, when it's all over, but it's not mindless drivel either.

To avoid going into too much detail and potentially ruining the book for you, I'll just touch on a few of the things I liked about the book. First of all, I enjoyed the idea of missed opportunities and "what ifs". Susie narrates the entire book, while she watches from heaven as her family continues on without her. She has to watch her younger siblings go through things that she will never have the chance to experience. It makes you realize that tomorrow is not a guarantee. You can't always count on being able to "do it tomorrow", because you don't know what's just around the corner for you. You could drop dead right now and be stuck in eternity thinking "I should have done it."

I really enjoyed Sebold's writing. There was just something about the way she wrote the book that made me truly feel for the characters. I felt sorry for Jack Salmon, Susie's father. I wanted so badly for him to get his wish and catch Susie's killer. I loathed George Harvey and, at every turn, wanted him to be caught and punished for what he did to Susie. I hated, hated, hated Abigail Salmon, Susie's mother, for seemingly turning her back on the pain and suffering of her own children and husband for her own needs. It's rare that I find a book where I honestly empathize with characters. Normally, I just know what they're going through, but don't feel any real emotion about their ultimate fates. With The Lovely Bones, I wanted to climb into the book and just make everything better.

Finally, there was heaven. I liked that it wasn't overtly religious. In fact, it was, to me at least, completely void of religion. No obligatory angels. No floating on clouds. I appreciated (and actually agreed with) the idea that heaven is whatever you want it to be. It all comes down to what makes you happy.

Now, on to what I didn't like so much. To begin with, Abigail Salmon. More specifically, her portrayal. Now, I realize I was just commending Sebold on her ability to make you feel what she wants you to feel, but I didn't like how she made me feel about Abigail. I just didn't get why Susie's mother had to be so selfish. What was gained by Abigail's complete lack of caring about how her actions affected not only her husband, but her own children? She just seemed to be all about herself and I couldn't understand why. I'm sure someone can explain, but I'm at a loss.

Next, there's the characters. More specifically, some of the secondary characters. I realize not everything has to mean something, but there were a couple cases where it seemed like there was a big deal being made about a character that didn't seem to really bring anything significant to the story. One example would be Ruth Cooper. To me, it felt like the only reason she was in the story at all was for the one scene toward the end with Ray Singh (again...trying not to ruin things, so sorry for the vague reference). Hal Heckler kinda seemed pointless too. I kept expecting this big revelation about him that would explain his importance to the overall story, but it never came and it left me wondering why he needed to be there.

So...bottom line is that I would definitely recommend this book. Personally, I'd read it before seeing the movie, but that's just how I am, so don't feel obligated to follow my word on that part :), but do read the book. You won't regret it.



Do you think Susie had a hand in knocking down the icicle that led to Mr. Harvey's demise?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Under the Dome by Stephen King


On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester’s Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when — or if — it will go away.


I loved this book. Or, I should say, I loved reading it. The story itself was a little odd, but I say that for one reason and one reason only. It remind so very much of The Simpsons Movie. I tried so hard to keep that out of my head, while I was reading, but I could not keep it out entirely. More on that.

For anyone that has seen The Simpsons Movie, I think you can see where my mind was getting stuck on the movie, just by looking at the book's title...Under the Dome. I remember reading, before the book came out, that King had heard about the comparisons to the Simpsons movie. He commented that the comparisons ended at the town being placed under a mysterious dome. Nope. The comparisons go beyond that. Don't get me wrong, though. It didn't take away from the book. The similar plot points, while being very obvious, were much darker in the book. As they should be, given that this is Stephen King. And, it's not as if The Simpsons were constantly at the back of my mind, while I read. It was just occasionally that the little voice in my head would scream out "SIMPSONS!!"

The book's full of characters you love to love and characters you love to hate. On second thought, to be totally honest, I don't think it's a love to hate. It's just straight up hate. There are characters throughout the book that I found myself wishing would just die, because there was just absolutely nothing redeeming about them. I found this to be both a strong point and a weakness to the book. You hate them so much that you keep reading, just so you can get to the part where they die a horrible death. At the same time, you hate them so much that their inevitable death just does not come fast enough and, in one case, was not horrible enough.

Bottom line, this is a book to read. Maybe not if you're a Bible-Thumping Republican. Let's be honest, if you're a Bible lovin' conservative and read this book, you're probably going to want to burn it, when you're done. And, I don't mean the "Oh this book was horrible" sort of book burning. I mean in the "Fahrenheit 451/Books lead to knowledge/Harry Potter promotes the occult" sort of book burning...if you catch my drift.


Thursday, April 15, 2010


I know. This blog is currently dead. As soon as I decided to start this blog, I suddenly had a million things to do, so I haven't had much time to read. I am back to reading though, so hopefully I'll be able to get my first actual review up within the next week.


Sunday, January 10, 2010


So...I decided to start a little blog dedicated to one specific purpose. As opposed to the usual daily ramblings that past blogs have been dedicated to, this one will have just one topic....whatever book I'm reading/about to read/finished reading.'s my own little blog of book reviews. Got it? Ok, then.


First book up...

Under the Dome by Stephen King