Book reviews – a little catch-up

Alright, I confess, this holiday I have been doing an awful lot of reading without the appropriate amount of writing or blogging to balance things out. So I’m going to give you a quick rundown of the books I’ve read recently, from best to worst!


The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart

Loved it, this book was fantastic. Cleverly-written and so perfect for any burgeoning feminist, Frankie Landau-Banks finds herself chafing against the good-old boys club she has grown up in and is surrounded by, so she turns her boarding school on its head with her intelligent subversion of the ages-old boys-only secret society. Lockhart has such a talent for capturing her audience and the writing is superb.

 

Headhunters, by Jo Nesbo

I just finished this book today. It’s an interesting read, a gripping thriller with a smart twist ending. Apparently it’s been made into a movie, although I can’t say I’ve ever heard of it. It is Norwegian, though, so perhaps it’s a Norwegian movie? Anyways, the Scandinavians certainly have a way with dark story telling. A successful headhunter makes additional income as an art thief (which I’ve always thought of as a fantastically debonair type career) and finds himself way in over his head. He needs to out-smart a CIA-type hunter, the Norwegian police force, his own disreputable accomplices and his faithless wife to survive. Enjoyed every word of it, except for this one scene that will have even those with the strongest stomachs a little squeamish.

 

I Hunt Killers, by Barry Liga

This rather disturbing young adult novel about the son of a serial killer struggling to not give into the horrific lessons he learnt at his father’s knee. We’ll call this Dexter-lite. Jasper is an interesting, likable character, terrified he is as evil as his notorious father. He deals with post-traumatic-like flashbacks of things he’s been forced to do, as well as some of his baser desires he fears will take over in time. Honestly, for young adult, this is dark.

When a new serial killer comes to town, Jasper uses his insiders knowledge of how they work to help trap him. But at the same time he struggles to get drawn in too deeply to that side of the human psyche. He has a solid group of warm friends and a girlfriend who keep him tethered to reality, but you sense there really is a danger he might go over the deep end. There is also a streak of misogyny that makes you full-out worry for his girlfriend. This is a series I will certainly keep an eye on.

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Bloodlines, by Richelle Mead

Another boarding school story, only a lot less fun and a lot more pouty. This is the first book in the Bloodlines series, which I didn’t realize until I was into the book is written by the same author as the Vampire Academy books. She sets the book in the same world, which caused me a great deal of confusion. Am I supposed to know what Moroi and Strigoi are? As I started the book, I was concerned as to how much information the author assumed I knew, to the point where I double-checked it was in fact the first book in the series. Once I figured that out, I just went with it. I figured it was well-enough explained for me to follow along without the background first series (I think).

Sydney is an Alchemist, a group of humans who live to control vampires of the world. They seem to be a joyless group who are terrified by magic despite dealing with it everyday. Sydney is particularly joyless, and is assigned to watch over a young Moroi (which is type of more-harmless vampire) princess as she attends boarding school). Sydney’s internal struggle between liking vampires and being a part of an ages-old group that hates them seems a little contrived to me. It’s obvious vampires are more awesome and she’ll get over it soon, but until that time comes, I’m a little bored. Despite a story line about magical tattoos that get you high, which would be so fun.

 

The Dogs Who Found Me: What I’ve learned from pets who were left behind, by Ken Foster

I’m really trying to read outside my comfort zone. I swear, I have read non-fiction books I have enjoyed. Recently, though, it’s been a slog to find any I’m even willing to finish. I did finish this one, not because it was good but because it was an easy read. Although by the end I quite disliked the author. What did he learn from all these dogs he found? Not too much, as far as I can tell. It’s not like he started up a dog foster home and took all these dogs in. He complains an awful lot about how great he is for rescuing dogs, then trying to dump them on rescue shelters because he doesn’t have room for them. I’m not saying it’s not the totally decent thing to do – it is, it just doesn’t really make for a compelling story. For a man who went through living in New York during 9-11 and New Orleans during Katrina, you’d think his stories would be more compelling. They are not. Am still on the lookout for a non-fiction or memoirs that doesn’t make me yawn.

Word of the day:

Idiosyncrasy: a characteristic, habit, mannerism, or the like, that is peculiar to an individual; the physical constitution peculiar to an individual
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One thought on “Book reviews – a little catch-up

  1. I read The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks over Christmas and LOVED it. Except when I got to the end and literally shouted in frustration (and received a few WTF looks from my family). I seriously hope there’s a sequel coming down the pipeline!

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