Thursday, June 3, 2010

4 Mini-Reviews...A Catch-Up on Reviews

Queen of the Damned--Anne Rice (audio--abridged)

Book description from Fantastic Fiction:

After 6000 years of stillness, Akasha, mother of vampires and Queen of the Damned has risen from her sleep. Her monstrous plan of ruling the worlds of the living and the undead must be stopped. The challenge is left to the vampire Lestat, for it was he who woke her from her sleep.

My thoughts:

Anyone who knows me knows that this is my favorite book.  This was my fourth reading of it.  Let me give you some advice.  NEVER listen to an abridged version of your favorite book! If this version would have been the way and extent that it was originally written, I would not have even liked it.  All the elements that made it my favorite in the first place are gone.  In the original, it is not just the paranormal element that draws you in.  It has a strong historical element that appealed to my historical sensibilities.  In this book, we learn the history and origin of the vampires and anyone who is familiar with Rice knows that she is very detailed.  Well, not in this version kiddos! All the detail and ancient legacy are stripped away.  People always say, "never judge a book by its movie."  I say never judge a book by its abridged audio version!

The Hunger Games--Suzanne Collins (audio--unabridged)

Book description from Fantastic Fiction:

Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.

My thoughts:

One of the best dystopian novels I have ever read.  Okay, well I've only read a handful, but I stand by my opinion.  The premise was believable.  It showed the reader, without coming out and saying it, why the districts waged war on the Capitol in the first place.  It's obvious that the Capitol is barbaric...I mean anyone that would expect children to fight to the death must have been guilty of some pretty heinous practices to begin with.  So fast forward to years past the war and you have districts that are starving while the Capitol exists in all its lavishness and gluttony.  Then they choose two children to fight to the death in The Hunger Games, they parade them around like celebrities only to watch them kill each other on live teleivision.  It's very scary and very heartbreaking.  Collins has written the most wonderful characters.  Katniss and Peeta are so believable,  it's like seeing your own children in them (or, if you're a teenaged reader, seeing yourself).  The only downside to this book was listening to it on audio...the reader had kind of a grating voice.  I can't wait to read the next book, Catching Fire, but I will definitely be reading the print version!

The Dark Divine--Bree Despain

Book description from Fantastic Fiction:

Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared--the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in his own blood--but she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night held.

The memories her family has tried to bury resurface when Daniel returns, three years later, and enrolls in Grace and Jude's high school. Despite promising Jude she'll stay away, Grace cannot deny her attraction to Daniel's shocking artistic abilities, his way of getting her to look at the world from new angles, and the strange, hungry glint in his eyes.

The closer Grace gets to Daniel, the more she jeopardizes her life, as her actions stir resentment in Jude and drive him to embrace the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind the boy's dark secret...and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it--her soul.

My thoughts:

This is a hard one to review without giving away "the secret", although I'm sure a lot of people have read it and already know.  But I'm not going to be giving anything away so this will be a very basic review.  I loved this book!!! I read it in one day and it was one of those "can't put it down" books.  I enjoyed the mysterious element behind the secret and the history and aspect of the secret were intriguing.  Some great "world building" here, if I can call it that.  It's not really fantasy, but Despain's whole premise is excellent.  I'm impressed that this is her first novel.  I can't wait until the rest of the series!

The Little Stranger--Sarah Waters

Book description from Fantastic Fiction:

In a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to see a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the once grand house is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its garden choked with weeds. All around, the world is changing, and the family is struggling to adjust to a society with new values and rules.

Roddie Ayres, who returned from World War II physically and emotionally wounded, is desperate to keep the house and what remains of the estate together for the sake of his mother and his sister, Caroline. Mrs. Ayres is doing her best to hold on to the gracious habits of a gentler era and Caroline seems cheerfully prepared to continue doing the work a team of servants once handled, even if it means having little chance for a life of her own beyond Hundreds.

But as Dr. Faraday becomes increasingly entwined in the Ayreses' lives, signs of a more disturbing nature start to emerge, both within the family and in Hundreds Hall itself. And Faraday begins to wonder if they are all threatened by something more sinister than a dying way of life, something that could subsume them completely.

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book.  I could immediately see why it was short listed for the Man Booker Prize of 2009.  Waters's writing is SO good.  She is descriptive without being mundane.  The atmosphere of the book is gothic and Waters brings it across effortlessly.  Dr. Faraday is an uncomfortable character and he has you squirming in your seat, almost experiencing his discomfort vicariously.  As far as the supposed "haunting" goes, it's kind of what you expect when reading the description.  However, you're never quite sure if it's really a ghost or more a psychological form of mass hysteria among the characters.  But that is the beauty of this book.  It's very spooky without being obvious.  The feel of it brings to mind the movie The Others, that whole gothic ghost story feel, but without the shocker ending, of course.  That was what I thought I was disappointed with in this book...the ending.  But, as I've had more time to think about it, Waters left things that way purposely, so you could draw your own conclusion.  Not all endings can be wrapped up in a pretty bow and this ending worked for this book.

These books qualify for the following challenges:

(click here to view challenge progress on my challenge blog and don't forget to follow me there--I'm at 15 followers and I've changed the giveaway goal over there to 30 followers!)

Pages Read Challenge (all four)
100+ Reading Challenge (all four)
Countdown Challenge 2010 (The Hunger Games)
Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge (The Little Stranger)
New Authors Challenge (The Little Stranger, The Hunger Games, The Dark Divine)
Hogwarts Reading Challenge (The Dark Divine)
Take Another Chance Challenge (The Dark Divine)
GLBT Challenge 2010 (The Little Stranger)
Audio Book Challenge (Hunger Games, Queen of the Damned)
1st in a Series (Hunger Games)


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I apologize for word verification, but as soon as I changed the settings from only users with Google accounts, I started receiving a ton of spam comments...within one hour of changing the settings. The bots are on high alert apparently.

  1. Great reviews! I loved The Dark Divine! I didn't know what the secret was! It was a big surprise how much I loved it! Also, still haven't read The Hunger Games, but I'm planning to read both books before the 3rd one comes out this summer! Still haven't read any Anne Rice, although I have them almost all ;) & now I'll add The Little Stranger on my tbr list, too! Thanks for the reviews!

  2. DD and HG are my FAVS :)
    Fun mini reviews :)

  3. Fantastic reviews, I'm still not able to do audio books yet. I can't seem to concentrate on them. I'm going to read The Little Stranger one of these days.

  4. I just picked up The Little Stranger and can't wait to read it!

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