Tag Archives: guilty pleasures

Book Review: “One for the Money”

Well, it has been a very busy week. I am approaching the end of two college courses (finals next week!), and just began two more (my last two). In my hectic school schedule, I forgot to post what book we were reading this week, but hopefully you’re keeping up by checking out the “The Month’s Books” page, where I list what the readings for the month are.

This week, in keeping with the “Month of Women” theme (books for women, by women, about women), we tackled Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money.

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One for the Money is the first in Evanovich’s “Stephanie Plum” series, and was quite an introduction to a really entertaining leading lady! The novel follows broke-as-dirt Stephanie Plum, a 30-year-old single woman in New Jersey, as she tries her hand at gaining some fast cash through bounty hunting. Yes… bounty hunting. She sets quite a slow learning curve as she seeks out to capture the grand prize bounty, Joe Morelli – a man she has a romantic (or at least lusty) past with. Her adventures are exciting, her near-misses frightening, and her story is all over very entertaining.

I have to admit, I came into this novel with a bit of a wall up, thinking I wouldn’t like it. First off, it is apparently a very popular series, and (just being honest – hate me if you will) I have noticed that very popular series that are followed predominantly by women tend to be REALLY hit or miss (think Outlander vs. Twilight). Secondly, my last experience with a female bounty hunter novel ended in grave (pun intended) disappointment (see: Book Review: “Guilty Pleasures”). I have to apologize to Stephanie Plum for my judgements – and eat my words for sure.

Evanovich’s novel is downright funny. Her character – Stephanie Plum – is so honest that it’s impossible not to love her. Unlike many female leads, she doesn’t come by her craft gracefully or easily… she struggles, makes mistakes, and gets herself into some really hairy situations. She even finds herself rescued by quite a few male characters – something that is rarely found in “chick lit” (books for women), where women are usually tough-as-nails and can handle things themselves. It’s refreshing to see such a genuine portrayal of a woman in a novel, especially in a modern woman (well, “90’s modern”) with a job like bounty hunting. I feel like every single woman I know could, at some point in her life, relate to Stephanie. Evancovich infuses so much tongue-in-cheek humor into her characters. From Stephanie on down to the lowliest of supporting characters, each one seems real, New Jersey sarcastic (all that offensive New Jersey language), and contributes to the story.

There’s even an element of mystery in the story, as Stephanie seeks to get her man, and help him prove his innocence. Evanovich kept me captive the entire time, and I found myself up into the late hours of the night with this one. Listen – it’s nothing profound. This novel isn’t going to knock your socks off… but it will entertain you. It was a great relief from all of my school work, and a fun way to spend my evening. I would happily read another Stephanie Plum novel, and gladly pass this one on to any of my friends.

So what about you? Are you a Stephanie Plum fan? Does this novel even sound interesting to you? If you’ve read it before, what did you like (or not like) about it?

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Book Review: “Guilty Pleasures”

This week we finished up our 9th book on our reading challenge, and the last of our Halloween themed reading for October.

By the way, Happy Halloween (belated) my friends! This week has been a busy one for my family! My mom and two younger sisters came into town, suffering 12 hour drives (my mom from NY, my sisters from FL) to be with us for our favorite holiday. Our family is very Irish (only a few generations removed), and Halloween is very much part of our Druid blood! We haven’t missed a year dressing up in my 26 Halloweens! This year, my girls set the pace, choosing “Star Wars” as our theme! Check out our costumes

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Left to right we have: Mom as C3PO, Tanya at Obi Wan Kenobi, Scarlett (4) as Princess Leia, Me (Regina) as Han Solo, Karina as Darth Vader, and Annabelle (3) as Luke Skywalker. I swear this was all their idea! We’re so proud of our little nerdlings.

ANYWAY….

This weeks’ reading was Laurell K. Hamilton’s vampire “chick lit” (books for women), Guilty Pleasures. The novel follows vampire slayer Anita Blake, known to the St. Louis vampire community as The Executioner. Anita lives in a modern world (well, the 90s, when everyone still carried pagers), where vampires and all sorts of supernatural beings are part of mainstream society, protected by American law and a functioning part of the country. Anita refuses to accept that these beings are anything but evil, and seeks to destroy the vampire undercurrent in the city.

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I have mixed feelings about Hamilton’s book. I’m having a hard time writing this review, because this book was loaned to me by a very well-meaning (and well-read) friend, Katrina, who has read the entire Anita Blake series (apparently there’s dozens of these books), and I feel like if I insult is book, I’m insulting my friend. Let me say, before I start, that on the whole, I enjoyed the book, and am glad I borrowed it. I’d probably give the second in the series a chance as a way to convince me to become a fan of Hamilton’s series. I appreciated Hamilton’s imagination – there was non-stop action, and Hamilton introduces different supernatural beings I would never have considered to be part of mainstream society… besides vampires, there are were-animals (wolves and rats, to name the ones in this book), ghouls, zombies… and Anita herself is a trained “animator,” able to raise the deceased using a sort of voodoo magic. I have to praise Hamilton’s ability to suck you into the story, and Anita is a very strong female character who takes no BS and isn’t sucked into romance (a nice break from the Twilights and Sookie Stackhouses of the “vampire, fantasy chick lit” genre).

I did have a few issues with the book, if I’m being honest. The first actually relates to the “strong female character” that is Anita Blake. She’s almost too strong, in a kind of “get off your high horse” way. I found her really tough to relate to. Her internal monologue got a little old as well (she uses and re-uses a lot of cliche sayings, and I found myself rolling my eyes at the overuse of the same expressions throughout the book). I also had an issue with the amount of action. Stories generally have an ebb and flow – particularly stories that are “high action” – to give the reader (and the characters) a chance to catch their breath and process what just happened. There was really no break in Guilty Pleasures. The action was continuous, and I felt like it was a little disjointed. I found myself reading and having to stop, turn the pages back, and try to figure out what the heck was happening. It was all kind of muddled together, and there was no defined lines between “action scenes.” I felt the beginning half of the book was one big blur of action, and by the second half, Hamilton kind of got her story together, and clarified her writing style. I feel a little guilty judging an author’s writing style because, truth be told, Hamilton is a much better writer, and about 1,000 times more creative, than I could ever hope to be.

That being said, on the whole, I enjoyed Guilty Pleasures. The characters were very well developed – everyone from Anita to the cast of vampires, and even the small supporting characters of Anita’s friends, well all well defined and creative. They all felt like “real people,” that’s for sure. I have a feeling the series gets better along the way, and that Hamilton masters her craft throughout the different books. These books have a HUGE following, and there has to be a reason why. I would recommend this book to a 20-something woman looking for a quick read that she doesn’t have to invest too much brain power or energy into, simply because the pages turn quickly, the language is simple, and the story is creative enough to get you sucked in, but not leave you exhausted after reading it (think the opposite of the time consuming and exhausting Game of Thrones).

How about you? Did you read along? Have you read this book before? What are you thoughts? Am I being too harsh on Anita Blake, and Hamilton in general? Share what you felt about this book – maybe I missed something!

 

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Week 9 Reading: “Guilty Pleasures”

Well, folks – looks like we’ve made it through the month of October (excepting this week). Our last book for this month’s Halloween themed reading is Laurell K. Hamilton’s Guilty Pleasures, which is the first in a series involving Anita Blake, a vampire hunter in St. Louis.

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I had never heard of this series until discussing my Halloween book selection with my good friend, Katrina. I wanted to add something along the line of “modern vampire” (without reading Twilight), and hit on a “chick lit” (books targeted for women). I suggested The Southern Vampire Mysteries (the inspiration for the show True Blood), and Katrina said no way! Then she handed me Guilty Pleasures, and explained the basic premise to me. Anita Blake is living in a world where vampires are part of the mainstream population, and given protection by the law. She works as a consultant for the police department, investigating paranormal events in St. Louis. She is contacted by a group of vampires, and “asked” to perform a job for them, despite their knowledge that she is referred to as “The Executioner.”

Another friend commented that she has read the whole series, and said I should like them, so I’m looking forward to reading this first installment! Hope you’ll read along with me.

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October Reading

The end of September is rapidly approaching, and with it the first month of my 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge is coming to a close! It’s hard to imagine that: 1) I’ve actually kept up with my schedule so far; and 2) It’s almost Halloween!! Cannot wait!

Speaking of Halloween, the holiday was the inspiration for the book selection for October. That’s right – October’s theme is “Halloween” (surprise surprise)! Now, I didn’t want to just pick horror novels, so I dug deep (and asked for inspiration from some great friends) and came up with a list of books I’m happy with. So, without further ado, here is October’s book selection!

Sept. 29 – Oct 5. – Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

  • This novel is a good crossover between September’s “Movie/TV” theme, and October’s “Halloween” theme. Shelley’s classic horror novel has been adapted into dozens of different movies, and her monster has been played by everyone from Boris Karloff to Robert De Niro. In 2014, Aaron Eckhart will don the bolts in “I, Frankenstein” (the verdict is still out on that one…). What better way to start off our Halloween month than with the real story?!

Oct. 6 – Oct 12The Mist – Steven King

  • Here comes a really embarrassing admission: I have never read a Steven King book before. Not once. I’ve seen plenty of the movies (I love horror films), but never picked up one of his books! I should probably be rewarded for this feat considering that it’s almost impossible to avoid his book with how many he’s written, but… it’s just never happened for me (my mother is probably gasping in horror at this point because I know she encouraged me to read The Stand at different points in my life… sorry, Mom). Why did I choose The Mist? Well, if I’m being honest, it was the only one at the used book store that I hadn’t seen the movie adaptation for, and I was anxious for a new scary story!

Oct. 13 – Oct. 19Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – Seth Grahame-Smith

  • Well, we finally have our first comedy book on our list! This “biographical horror story” tells about Abraham Lincoln’s secret life as a vampire hunter! Did you know he not only created great social change in America, but also rid our country of vampires? Join me in reading all about his heroic life! This should be a good break from the horror novels, and bring some “light” to our Halloween theme! This book was  a recommendation from a friend (thanks Shannon!!!), and I can’t wait to give it a shot!

Oct. 20 – 26 Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – John Berendt

  • This book is our first non-fiction on our list, as well as our first mystery story. It tells about a group of society ladies in Georgia who are somehow connected to a shooting that is being investigated … but is it murder or self defense? To be honest, I wouldn’t have picked up this book if it weren’t $2.50 at the used book store (and the lovely cover art and intriguing title helped, too). I’m not much into non-fiction or mystery, but I have been surprised before!

Oct. 27 – Nov. 2 – Guilty Pleasures – Laurell K. Hamilton

  • I’m always excited for recommendations from friends, and this was the first book my wonderful friend Katrina handed me when I told her about my book challenge idea. Guilty Pleasures is the first in a series of books called “Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter Novels” and revolves around the heroine’s attempts to rid the world of vampires – in a time when vampires are protected by the law. I always love a strong female lead. Apparently there are some strong sexual undercurrents in this novel. To be honest, I was thinking about incorporating one of the Sookie Stackhouse (“True Blood”) novels into this challenge, but Katrina’s recommendation that I give Anita Blake a chance won me over. I’m sure the title give enough of an idea what kind of “smut” to expect.

So there you have it, folks. My carefully prepared list of “Halloween” themed books for the month of October. I hope this gives you enough time to get to the library, find the ebook, hit up the used book store, or find a friend who can loan them out to you! I can’t wait to read these books with you, and start getting into the Halloween spirit!

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In your words…

Keeping with the Movie/TV theme for September (that is, books that have been made into movies or tv shows) I asked followers on the My Year in Book Reviews Facebook page what they thought the WORST book-to-movie (or TV show) adaptations are. Here are a few suggestions:

Christina: “Choke, even thought I do like the movie… it’s not easy to follow on it’s own. If you haven’t read the book it’s a lot harder to get into.”

Haley: “The Host (don’t judge me) I liked the book – kind of like invasion of the body snatchers from the aliens’ point of view – but the movie was horrible. Trying to have a conversation in your head with the same voice was bad enough, but they did a terrible job with the character development. It was boring and they added action that never happened in the book. Just all around bad.” (Regina says: “No judgment from me… we all have our guilty pleasures!)

Erin: “Battlefield Earth”

Anna: “We just watched Burton’s Alice in Wonderland again and it has to be on the list of ‘MOST UNLIKE THE BOOK.’” (Regina says: “I haven’t read ‘Alice in Wonderland’ but I can’t imagine Burton’s take on it was anything like how it was supposed to be… but that’s kind of Burton’s style”)

So what to you think? What, in your opinion, are some of the WORST book-to-movie adaptations?

 

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