Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Books, Books, Books and a TV Series

Let me tell you what books I’ve been reading recently.

2010 has been for me a better reading year than many previous ones. I have a notebook where I keep lists of books read every year and for 2010 the number keeps going up.

It’s true that I cheated a little bit by reading quite a few comic books but, hey, I love them! I can’t get enough of Sardine in Outer Space, the little pirate girl who brings justice to a Universe that Supermuscleman tries to control with evil, of Ariol, the little blue donkey who goes to school and, well, behaves like all school children, or Tom-Tom and Nana, the Dubouchon family kids who wreak delicious havoc at every opportunity.

Back to books, another one of my favourites, of which I’ve read as many as I could get my hands on, is Stilton, Geronimo Stilton, the pedantic gentlemouse with a huge heart and the most daring adventures. I love, love, love him! The original is Italian, but there are English and French translations available. I totally prefer the French which somehow is much funnier. I read them with my daughters and we laugh outright every time.

And then come the so-called YA books. To everyone who, at this point, might be worried about me, I say this: It’s not a return to childhood or to the teenage/young adulthood years; the thing is I’ve never left them (does this worry you even more?) and I knew it all along.

Lately I’ve been visiting quite a lot The Book Smugglers, a site where two talented young women review books in the most thoughtful and thorough manner. Their reviews are a pleasure to read and I’ve come to trust them. That’s where I’ve discovered the next two books that I want to tell you about.

“Nevermore” by Kelly Creagh has received an enthusiastic praise from The Book Smugglers. They are right in every bit.

From the cover: Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.

Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.

His life depends on it.

For a Poe lover, like I am, this book is a double treat. First, there is the (love) story, beautifully written, full of suspense, and then there is the fantastic world of Edgar Allan Poe, of which I can never get enough...

On the other hand, “Hush, Hush” by Becca Fitzpatrick has been highly criticised by The Book Smugglers and I (have to) agree with most of those points. Yet...

From the cover:

A sacred oath, a fallen angel, a forbidden love…This darkly romantic story features our heroine, Nora Grey, a seemingly normal teenage girl with her own shadowy connection to the Nephilim, and super-alluring bad boy, Patch, now her deskmate in biology class. Together they find themselves at the centre of a centuries-old feud between a fallen angel and a Nephilim…Forced to sit next to Patch in science class, Nora attempts to resist his flirting, though gradually falls for him against her better judgment. Meanwhile creepy things are going on with a mysterious stalker following her car, breaking into her house and attacking her best friend, Vi. Nora suspects Patch, but there are other suspects too – not least a new boy who has transferred from a different college after being wrongly accused of murdering his girlfriend. And he seems to have taken a shine to Nora…Love certainly is dangerous…and someone is going to have to make the ultimate sacrifice for it.

Yet... there is something about it... It’s true that the heroine constantly and obviously puts herself in perilous situations including her relationship with bad boy extraordinaire Patch, the Fallen Angel. It’s true that that relationship seems more than a little abusive, from the stalking to the mental intrusions, and normally anybody would run away from it, but… but… but… I don’t know… I more than liked it. Her style is fluid, vivid, the story captivating – I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, “Crescendo.”

In fact, both of these books I couldn’t put down and had to force myself to put them down because I didn’t want to finish them so quickly. I also think their covers are absolutely gorgeous.

One evening I lingered a few minutes in front of the TV – a rare thing for me – and it happened that I switched channels to HBO where they were showing True Blood. At the end of those few minutes I was totally and irrevocably hooked. The pleasure I took in watching whatever I could from the series (I’m planning on buying it on DVD pretty soon) made me look for the books by Charlaine Harris. I turned to my good friend Amazon.

I devoured the first two books, “Dead Until Dark” and “Living Dead in Dallas”, and I’m halfway through “Club Dead”. I think they are great and I love the voice of Sookie Stackhouse. I love the dark humour, and the irony, and the self-irony. I love the South, and the feel of its deep mysteries and of its decadence. Yes, the supernatural seems quite at the right place there. I know that others see it as parable for this or that, as anything can be anything, but I like it for what it is, plain and simple. I like the “very bad things.” And, of course, I love Eric Northman…

Last but far from least, I read “According to Jane” by Marilyn Brant, who blogs at Brant Flakes.

It begins one day in sophomore English class, just as Ellie Barnett's teacher is assigning Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice". From nowhere comes a quiet 'tsk' of displeasure. The target: Sam Blaine, the cute bad boy who's teasing Ellie mercilessly, just as he has since kindergarten. Entirely unbidden, as Jane might say, the author's ghost has taken up residence in Ellie's mind, and seems determined to stay there. Jane's wise and witty advice guides Ellie through the hell of adolescence and beyond, serving as the voice she trusts, usually far more than her own. Years and boyfriends come and go - sometimes a little too quickly, sometimes not nearly fast enough. But Jane's counsel is constant, and on the subject of Sam, quite insistent. Stay away, Jane demands. He is your Mr. Wickham. Still, everyone has something to learn about love - perhaps even Jane herself. And lately, the voice in Ellie's head is being drowned out by another, urging her to look beyond everything she thought she knew and seek out her very own, very unexpected, happy ending.

I must tell you that this is not my type of literature. I would probably not go into a bookstore or to my favourite store, Amazon, and buy a novel of “women’s literature.” I bought this book because I’ve come to know Marilyn from her blog and I’d like to think that we’ve become blogging friends. The book was a wonderful discovery, starting from Marilyn’s writing that is Ellie’s voice, through the unexpected love-making scenes, to bad boy Sam Blaine who is absolutely adorable. In short, I loved it.

So what’s next on my list?
"Cold in the Light" by Charles Gramlich (this is on my nightstand)
"The Monstrumologist" by Rick Yancey(this is in Santa’s bag)
"Across the Universe" by Beth Revis (this will be released on January 4th of 2011)
and I might linger a bit more among other vampires...

Hopefully, I'll tell you about them in January.


Rick said...

After readomg this, I took out two books I've been putting off reading. You're a good influence.

Vesper said...

Ah, this sounds great, Rick! :-)

Naquillity said...

i'm currently reading The Bodies Left Behind by Jeffery Deaver. thanks for sharing your reading list. i can remember when my daughter read Geronimo Stilton. she has almost every book in the series. it was one of her favorites. i have to say Nevermore sounded like a good book to read. i might have to check that one out. i don't like the show True Blood so i'm guessing i wouldn't like the book series either but i'm pleased you've enjoyed them. hope all is well.

the walking man said...

To privatize your blog you go to DASHBOARD>SETTINGS>PERMISSION there you have three choices. You can make it so only approved readers (them that ask permission via email to you) can read your blog. Once you have given your permission to that email account access is open to your blog.

Now get back to writing your book.

Be Well


BernardL said...

Nice! You put a lot of time into those reviews. I'd like to give the True Blood series a try.

Marilyn Brant said...

Vesper, thank you so much {{hug}}!! I'm thrilled to you enjoyed 'Jane' ;). As for the other stories you mentioned, you've got me curious to pick up Nevermore. I really like Poe, too...

Wishing you and your family a very happy holiday season! May 2011 be a year filled with good things for you :).

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm always glad to hear about good books. Life is nice when you have them.

SzélsőFa said...

i don't think it's a shame to read ya, or even lower grade literature.

if it's a good book - then it doesn't, it shouldn't matter to what age group it was directed at.
a good literature, or a good read is a good read. period. :)))

re:vampires - i still don't get them.
go team jacob.

Vesper said...

Naquillity, it's strange when we think of what we like and of what we dislike, especially in art... what makes the right wheels click in our minds...

Mark, yes, but then I won't have the pleasure to make new friends... It's worth the risk...
You too be well, my friend.

I hope you like it, Bernard. :-) :-) :-)

Marilyn, many hugs to you and it's my pleasure!!!
Thank you for your kind wishes. May they be returned to you many, many times more. xoxoxo

Charles, you're so right! Life is so much nicer because of books.

SzélsőFa, I'm not ashamed of reading YA - if it's good, I love it!
As for vampires... well, they're... immortal (even though they're dead), they are elegant, dangerous, the ultimate bad boys and predators... can you tell that they fascinate me? :-) :-) :-)
Of course, werewolves are also interesting but they are much closer to the animal (although Alcide Herveaux, played by Joe Manganiello is quite the werewolf...) :-) :-) :-)

Fireblossom said...

Oh my gosh, "Nevermore" sounds right up my alley! I love YA novels. Half the time, I don't understand why they are niched.

SzélsőFa said...

(as i said, i agree with you - if it's good, then it should be read :)))
re: werewolves: i will surely check that one out.
i see you point in vampires being 'elegant' creatures - we might agree that 'dangerous' and 'predator' applies to werewolfes as well..., but as far as i see there is coldness behind, they are somehow not in touch with reality, while, in my reading, werewolves are more close to nature and reality.
perhaps this is just how i see it.
so these are my reasons that if i had to choose, i would not hesitate for a single second, that's for sure :)))