Tag Archives: supernatural

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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Book Review: “The Mist”

This week was a doozy for me! Monday started the final week of my semester (which is 16 weeks of school shoved into 8 weeks of time), and I had to complete the final exams and essays for these three classes. My Sociology class had me doing a final exam that had 7 “short essay” questions, my Astronomy final forced me to do algebra (which is one of my biggest weaknesses!), and my English class saw me spend all week writing a 20-page paper analyzing Sophocles’ play Antigone. I feel super accomplished that I got it all done today – one day ahead of time – but these assignments took up the bulk of my week. I was up until about midnight last night trying to make my way through the last 100 pages of Stephen King’s “The Mist” so I could post my review today, and stay on track with my “one book per week” challenge.

Now that I’m done complaining…

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“The Mist” is a survival story of people facing supernatural forces that are bent on not only destruction, but mass extinction of the human race. The story begins following a man – David – as he heads to the local grocery store of his small town in Maine after a huge summer storm. David and his son Billy arrive in the store just with a huge, eerie fog comes rolling into town – a fog that isn’t really a fog at all. David, Billy and about 70 townspeople get locked down in the store, and fight for survival as unnatural forces (tentacled monsters, prehistoric bugs and birds) come out of the mist and kill everyone they come into contact with. David fights to save his five-year-old son, and has to try to figure out how to get away when going outside means certain death.

I might be jaded from obsessively watching the (much better) survival story “The Walking Dead,” but I found “The Mist” to be disjointed, boring and a little confusing. The pages turned quickly, but I never felt there was really a climax to the story, and the everlasting “tension” wasn’t really all that exciting. I felt the lack of excitement was hidden behind lots of foul language and bloody violence. I didn’t think the story was scary at any point, and the lack of a solid ending enraged me (seriously – it’s such a cop out to just leave the ending wide open for the reader’s interpretation like that). Sorry, Mr. King, but I just feel like this book was a waste of my time, and not a very good introduction to Stephen King books.

The whole time I was reading the book, I kept thinking King was just pulling ideas out of a hat and adding them into his story. First it’s the scary mist that is intimidating – then suddenly it’s an octopus? That’s where my “suspended belief” turned into eye rolling, and from then on the creatures coming out of the mist were laughable rather than terrifying. King did a great job with the characterization of the different people in his book – they felt very human and multidimensional, but most of them weren’t very likable. At the end of the book, I should have been worrying about their fates – instead I was just glad it was over.

Well… there had to be a time when I didn’t enjoy the chosen reading, and this was the week. My apologies to the Stephen King fans out there, but I’m not impressed. Maybe one day when I have the time I’ll pick up one of his more celebrated novels, but for now, King will have to wait. Hopefully the other books in our Halloween theme for October will get me more into the Halloween spirit!

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