Monday, September 24, 2007

The Door to December book review

I had never read Koontz before, and this book was sitting on my shelf for years. I picked it up as part of the RIP Challenge, and once I started I couldn't put it down. This book is part crime thriller (like Patterson, but so much richer) and part horror (like early King--the occult-type stuff), and all in all a well-written, well-developed story. It moves fast, but flows evenly. The characters are likeable, and while it isn't hugely based on character, the characters are developed enough to get you invested. The story is good too--keeps you guessing long enough to get interested, and by the time you figure it out, you like the characters enough to keep reading. I won't try to explain the plot, because I'm afraid I would give away too much (and you can always read the synopsis on the back of the book, right?), but it works. I don't know what part was scarier--the occult aspect, or delving into the evil that lurks within humankind. But either way, this was a nice chilling read for the Halloween season.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Valiant book review

Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie, by Holly Black.

I have mixed feelings about this book. I found the idea of the story captivating. Faeries are real, and they walk among us, hidden by glamour from human eyes. And they aren't necessarily good faeries--like humans, some are good, and some are stealthy. 17 year old Val discovers this world when she runs away from home and lives under the New York subway tunnels. Through unforeseen circumstances, she ends up indebted to a troll, delivering potions to faeries. But faeries are being poisoned, and Val ends up risking her life to solve the mystery and protect her unlikely troll-friend.

I liked the premise. And I found myself drawn into the love story that unfolded between Val and Ravus, the troll. Unfortunately, I thought the writing was inconsistent. The plot seemed choppy and the characters were underdeveloped. The story didn't "flow" well enough from one scene to the next, making it less believeable. There were a lot of loose ends at the close of the story which seemed to have been forgotten, or pushed aside, and which I would have liked to seen closed.

Even though I was disappointed by this book in many ways, the lure of the faerie world stays with me. I might try reading something else by her, just for more of that...

Now I'm on to the next RIP Challenge book! I think I will delve into Dean R. Koontz.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Regulators

I don't know how I missed this book over the years. I've read most of the Stephen King library. The Regulators is good, solid King--not, perhaps, one of my favorites, but a captivating (and chilling) read. As is common in his novels, the characters are strong, and the constant "Where does he come UP with this stuff?" question runs through the reader's mind. It starts off strong--action happens almost immediately--and feeds the reader enough information in the beginning to hook them but not enough to let curiousity wane. And the ending gives one food for thought.

An interesting sidenote about this book is that the characters' names are the same as the characters in King's novel Desperation. I read Desperation years ago, but it isn't all that clear in my mind. But it seems that the books examine two different possibilities spreading from the same basic idea. The characters themselves are not the same in each book, and the names appear to be recycled randomly. Anyone ever read anything about why this is?

I plan on reading Valiant next.

Monday, September 3, 2007

R.I.P. Challenge

I thought this deserved a post of its own. I joined another challenge. I couldn't resist, as it combines two of my favorite things: reading, and Halloween. Halloween is my favorite holiday by far. So the idea here is that you read books that are creepy or scary or generally halloween-y. A much better explanation can be found here:

These are the books I have chosen for the challenge (which--yikes!--started Saturday), along with a brief (very brief) explanation of why I chose it (in no particular order):

The Door to December by Dean Koontz.

I chose this book because it was on my bookshelf, had never been read, and fit the genre. I've never actually read Koontz, so I'm hoping it doesn't suck. 510 pages of suckiness will be rough.

Valiant--A Modern Tale of Faerie by Holly Black.

I wanted to find a young adult book that I could recommend/share with my students. It looks interesting: a teenage runaway living with squatters under the NYC subways. We'll see...

The Regulators by Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King)

There is not much King I haven't read, but this is one of the few.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

It is embarassing to admit that I have not read the Harry Potter series. I read the first one, and I might have read this one too but I can't remember. So if I did I will switch it for the third. I wasn't as enthralled by book one as the rest of the population, but I think that's because I'm a Chronicles of Narnia snob. So I'm going to open my mind a bit.

So that's the plan! All four must be read by October 31, which means I've better get cracking! That's about 1700 paperback pages...

Brand New Blog

This is my second attempt at a blog. The first one didn't go too well. It has been abandoned and cast aside, collecting dust on undiscovered internet shelving. The main problem was attempts at introducing html to my blog, at which I was unfortunately unable to succeed, and also unable to delete. The constant undeniable reminder of my inexpertise grew too much. I think I'll keep it simple this time.

So this blog, like the other, is about the books I am reading. I joined the TBR Challenge in December (, for which I chose 12 books (and 6 alternates) that I had been meaning to read for six months or more. (Get it? TBR=To Be Read!) So far I have read:

The Davinci Code Dan Brown
Bless Me Ultima Rodolfo Anaya
The King of Elfland's Daughter Lord Dunsany
The Dark Tower Stephen King
On Writing Stephen King
1984 George Orwell
The Time Traveler's Wife Audrey Niffenegger
Ancestors of Avalon Diana Paxson
Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates Tom Robbins
Man's Search for Meaning Victor Frankl

I have three left to go: The Alphabet Versus the Goddess by Leonard Shlain; The Goddess in the Gospels by Margaret Starbird; and Myths to Live By by Joseph Campbell. They are all non-fiction (the bane of my existence) and I have been sludging through them slowly and painfully. I might give up and subsititute an alternate eventually, but for now I'm holding strong.

Other books I've read this year: A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby; The Blue Mirror by Kathe Koja; and The First Part Last by Angela Johnson. The latter two are young adult novels, which I can get away with reading since I am a high school teacher! I love reading young adult lit--I can sit down with a book and read the whole thing without a bathroom break. Makes me feel like a genius.

I may try to post reviews of some of these on here. Some are on my other blog. Most are reviewed on my goodreads page, which you can access via my email: Future books, if all goes well, will be reviewed here.