Thursday, September 29, 2016

Prince Lestat by Anne Rice

I think one of my first posts on this blog was an Anne Rice book and funnily enough, reading through the Anne Rice's series was what made me want to start a book review blog in the first place. Anne Rice's style of writing has changed over the years, which is natural, but Anne Rice's quality of work has definitely been up and down over the years as well. The first three books of the Vampire Chronicles are most notably the top of the line, and then we have Memnoch the Devil and the Vampire Armand, which both were the biggest waste of time and space.

It's interesting when I read her books in quick succession, and how her real life, and her pursuit of God and spirituality, impacted her writing and her viewpoints. Vittorio the Vampire is all about spirituality and religion, and the existence of Angels, God and how it factors into humanity and the meaning of humanity.  She draws a very clear line from her fantasy series novel (in which she also tackles humanity, but in the context of the supernatural) to when she really starts to delve into Catholicism.

Anne Rice announced in early 2000s that she was done writing Vampire Chronicles novels and that she had no more stories to tell with either the Mayfair Witches or the vampires of the Vampire Chronicles. She wanted to focus on writing Christian literature and Rice did, producing 4 books centering around Catholic and Christian stories and figures. When I read her books in quick succession, it was very apparent her interests towards Christian Literature and Spirituality.

Of course, her fans called it when those books didn't sell very well, and she was back at it, writing fantasy about Werewolves. I haven't read those books yet, but you all know I'm going to try and find them at the Book fair next weekend. One reviewer titled it, "Vintage Rice" which leads me to the review of the Prince Lestat, a book I found at the library.

I glanced at some of the reviews on Goodreads, and man, a lot of people either hated the book or loved the book. I was under the impression that she had a good editor (I'll get to that in a moment), but many have said that her first draft is her only draft, and that her fans will buy and read the book regardless.

I don't know if that's true. One issue that many critics had was that she had a timeline, and a glossary at the beginning of the book to inform new readers the backstory of the Vampire Chronicles. From what I remember, she never did that before, and many of the "glossary" terms she used were never used before in any of her other books. Having different names for certain things wasn't always Anne's style, which makes me believe that she worked with someone to produce something like that.

Many critics also stated how nothing happens in the book, that everything was resolved really neatly, and that the vampires behaved like a bunch of old people. I can definitely see all of that. However, I think there are way worst books in the series than this one.

I rank my top Anne Rice Books (I'm not going to include the Mayfair Witches, just the crossovers) as follows:

  1. Queen of the Damned
  2. Interview with the Vampire
  3. Vampire Lestat 
  4. The Body Thief
  5. Blood Canticle 
  6. Prince Lestat
So, it's in the middle in terms of books to read. I wouldn't even waste my time reading Memnoch the Devil, The Vampire Armand, or Blood and Gold. Other than thinking that Rice lost the chance of exploring another family branch of the Mayfairs by killing Merrick off, I don't really remember much about the Merrick novel to have an opinion on it one way or another. 

Do I feel like Lestat is a Gary Stu? Absolutely. Did it take me a bit to get through? Well, yes. I found myself falling asleep while reading this novel, but since I read before going to bed anyway, I didn't find this as a bad thing. 

However, Rice introduced some new characters, offered some perspective on her vampire mythology that she hadn't explored before, and overall, I thought it was an interesting plot and path to take. Now that Lestat is the most powerful being in the world by the end of the book (which, in any other book series, I would call a spoiler, but the reader guessed what's going to happen as soon as The Voice appears), what will his next move be? What will her next book look like? 

The book didn't offend me, but I'm glad that I read it, instead of listening to the audio. When books don't have a quick paced sequence of events where something is happening, or someone is not talking in plain speech, it can get brutal, and I think I would have hated the book if I checked out the audiobook. 

So, if you spot it at the library, need a book to read before going to bed, and you liked early Anne Rice, then give Prince Lestat a shot. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I remembered reading on goodreads that a few of my friends read this book and enjoyed it. I tucked it in the back of my mind and immediately reached for it when I perused by my neighborhood's library.

Fangirl definitely brought me back to that time where even though I didn't write fanfic per say, I definitely dabbled in the same sort of "using the universe in which the author wrote the books" in the form of online forum role playing.

Though I didn't have the same trouble as Cath did adjusting to her new surroundings, role play "fanfic" was definitely a security blanket for me. It was a place where I went with my friends that I also met by role playing (and now are all, and will forever be my deeply close friends) and we were able to write stories with characters that we created within the confines of the universe of Harry Potter.

It opens up to a character named Cath, who is starting college with her twin sister, Wren. It's revealed that Wren wants to room with other people, which doesn't settle with Cath, who relies on her sister for most things. Cath has anxiety and depression issues, and does not do well with change (and really, who doesn't?). She has a roommate who is older and intimidates Cath and in the beginning, it seems like she is utterly alone. She hates it.

During her year at school, she juggles her writing, classes, her relationship with her sister and her father, along with the new territory of boys. Cath has a boyfriend at the start of the school year, but Wren dutifully tells her that he's more like a piece of furniture than an actual boyfriend and soon he fades into the background.

Throughout the year, Cath is peeled like an onion and her worldview is challenged, ultimately with good results. When I was reading the book, and immediately after, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now, after getting some space from the book, I realized that though there are many, many good parts of the book, I love the character of Cath, I was rooting for Cath and Reagan's friendship, Cath and her sister's relationship and even Cath and Levi's relationship, the actual story doesn't really have a satisfactory conclusion, at least for me. It sort of drops off after Cath tells Nick to go kick rocks (after he basically steals her part of their story), and Cath goes to sit down and write her final story for her creative writing class. You're meant to draw conclusions and ponder how she finishes her fanfiction, and how she finishes her final paper, but I was disappointed that she got this great grade after hammering it out in 10 hours.

I don't know about you, but my schooling never worked out that way. I was never able to turn out a paper in a day and submit it without even proof reading it. My teachers knew and called me out on it every time.

I was also incredibly disinterested in the Simon Snow fan fiction. I found myself just skipping over all the interludes. I will not be reading the Simon Snow book she wrote as a complementary book to Fangirl.

So overall, it was a good read, if you don't read too closely, and enjoy the ride. Otherwise, the plot just falls through and you are left with more questions than answers... but then again, isn't that what growing up is all about?

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

I read the first book in the series for a book club that only met once. To be fair, it was online and our schedules quickly didn't align to continue the tradition. Whereas my friend Ashley loved the first book (and even drew inspiration from the series to develop a character of her own), I remembered having negative feelings about the book... but since I read the second and then the third book in the series, clearly I forgotten how I felt and my negative feelings were flimsy at best.

I read the second of the series later on. I think I was looking for a book to read, and since Daughter of Smoke and Bone didn't offend me greatly, I decided to give the second book in the series a try. At that time, there was one more book that was going to be released, and I promptly forgot about the books until I spotted it in the library a few weeks ago.

The series follows the adventure of a young woman named Karou, who has a mysterious past life in a parallel universe ravaged by war. There are several characters that Taylor utilizes in the 3rd book, including her best friend Zuzana, her boyfriend Mik, her Romeo, Akiva, Akiva's sister, Liraz and Karou's "shadow," Ziri.

What Taylor does best is utilize this world she created. It's a very simple set up: "two houses, both alike in dignity" so on and so forth. It's a love story, it's full of action, and she's a great writer.

It's unfortunate, however, that I just couldn't stand both Karou and Akiva. Well, I take that back, it wasn't that I couldn't stand them, it was more like, they were boring to me. Karou and Akiva mirrors every single teenager in modern times: Karou has blue hair, is an art student in Prague, out of all places, and is "edgy" with her job of collecting teeth. Akiva is a mysterious, dangerous, born out of wedlock (that's a major plot point. I'm not mentioning that to be catty), brooding and a warrior. And it's not like they grow out of these rough sketches of character. No, they stay as they are, with rising and falling tides of lusting after each other but not able to speak to each other... cause you know, their races are at war with each other.

It took me a bit to get through it. I just didn't care whether Karou and Akiva lived or not, but I was glad I stuck it out, because 3/4th of the way through the book, I suddenly cared a lot about what was going to happen. I think the reason that I really cared about what was going to happen was not because of Karou and Akiva (of course they were going to live and spend the rest of their lives together) but because of the developing relationship between Ziri (in Thiago's body) and Liraz and the question of "will they, won't they?" anticipation. I didn't know what was going to happen, so I was on the edge when I read, hoping that Ziri's sacrifice wasn't in the name of vapid Karou and Akiva.

I do give Taylor credit though.She stopped (at this point) with a trilogy, and is currently working on other things. She even left the story in a place where she can easily pick it up again if she wanted too. I would personally like it if she centered it on Ziri and Liraz, the most unlikely couple ever, and just kind of carted Karou and Akiva out every so often to say something useful.

Overall, it's a decent series. Taylor's writing is great, and I can't wait to see what she writes next.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men by Molly Harper

Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men by Molly Harper is the second installment of the book series. I'm relieved that I was able to see past the stupid book titles and give the series a try, because I have been rage quitting a lot of books lately. The combination of a voice actor and book can either really make or break a book. At least when you read, you have the ability to skim past certain lengthy paragraphs or just mindlessly read past certain parts of the book. With an audiobook, you are trapped! You have to listen to every agonizing word!

With this series, I love the combination of the southern twang of the voice actor and the fluffiness of the series. I really liked the first book of the series, Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs, and was looking to get more into it.

So the verdict? It was good, but it wasn't quite as good as the first book. There is some of the outrageous humor, sexiness and circumstances that made the first book so great,  but the "mystery" of the book is super silly and easy to figure out, and some of the Mama Ginger mother-in-law interactions were so over the top that, if one could read it without rolling their eyes, it was hardly believable.

Yeah, yeah... believable for a vampire book series. I wish there was more to the story than the protagonist's best friend's mother dealing with control issues by hiring a witch to stop the wedding and instead of marrying the woman that loves him, marry the protagonist. In the first book, Misty at least wanted her property and they had a gruesome vampire fight at the climax of the book.

The author tried and failed to deliver the humor on terrible weddings. Even though Jane is called out on it quite a few times in the book, it got old after a while to repeatedly describe the awful, trashy wedding that Jolene planned with her hick family.

However, I still identify, laugh and love all the crazy family stuff that Jane has to go through. A lot of times stories deal with the importance of family, and how family will always be there for you... but it's refreshing to see the flipped coin of that, and look at the idea of, 'well, your family is nuts and takes advantage of you at every turn, manipulates you and makes you feel like crap all the time. Are you still obligated to be there for your family when you don't necessary like them and your friends do way more for you than they ever did?'

There are two more books in the series that I can't wait to read, and there are other spin off series of the Nice Girls. I like the cheeky fluffiness that comes with the title, and they are an easy listen at work.