Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mrs. B's 2010 Book Reviews: July

Burnt Offerings by Laurell K. Hamilton: Solid/Good/3 Stars
Mind candy, plain and simple. This is #7 out of, I don't know, 20? Whenever I want to read something but don't really want to think overly much, I return to Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, and her bevy of monstrous friends and lovers.

Is it my imagination, or, are these books getting steamier as time goes by? Pure silliness but perfect for pool-side reading.

A few new characters introduced in this one that will, apparently, be hanging around.

As I've said before in my reviews of this series, this is Twilight for adults. And, Hamilton had the market before what's-her-name came around. Anita's got it all over Bella, folks.

As for vamps vs. wolfs...you'll just have to decide for yourselves :-)

The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #2) by Rick Riordan: Solid/Good/3 Stars
Although not as captivating as the first book in the series (and I also noticed several errors; Riordan should ask his editor to do a better job!), this was a perfectly enjoyable follow up to "Lightening Thief".

It closed up with a cliff hanger, so, I immediately made my RSVP for the next book at the local library!

As an important aside, I'm pleased that there is such an interesting series out there for young readers, especially one that is both entertaining and instructive about the Greeks. Maybe these books will lead said readers to the source (Greek Mythology).

Captain Alatriste (Adventures of Captain Alatriste #1) by Arturo Perez-Reverte: Solid/Good/3 Stars
My Father-In-Law recommended this to me last Spring. It's a fun read with not too much lost in the translation from Spanish to English (although I suppose I wouldn't know if anything was lost, would I?)

It sort of reminded me of a more hip Dumas tale. The year is 1622. Captain Alatriste is a down on his luck ex soldier now turned Sword for Hire in Madrid. Along with a mysterious and sinister Italian, Alatriste is contracted by two masked men to ambush two English men on a dark back road. Complications ensue when one of the masked men directs that the men not be killed, yet, when he leaves the room, the other, along with a creepy clergy man, tell the Italian and Alatriste to kill the English men.

The Italian and Alatriste ambush the Englishmen, but disagree on which instructions to follow.

And, the Englishmen are not your ordinary tourists tramping around Spain...

and so on...

The story is told mainly from the perspective of Captain Alatriste's young page/charge/servant; the son of one of Alatriste's soldier friends who was killed in battle.

Alatriste has a band of friends and followers; ex soldiers, Constables, poets, as well as the love of an ex whore. There is a lot of both sword and word play going on between them and around them, and yet, Alatriste remains somewhat detached from everything but his honor and the young boy; another enigmatic hero.

This is the first in several in a series "starring" Alatriste. And, the hunky actor Viggo Mortensen recently played Alatriste in a movie (that must have gone directly to DVD since I never saw it in the paper).

Definitely worth a look-see if you're wanting something quick paced and quick witted.

Proud Shoes by Pauli Murray (Book Club Selection): Really Good/4 Stars
Many of us in book club pondered why this book is not on the "must read" list for junior high-high school-college. It should be, especially here in the South and in particular in Durham.

Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray crafted a phenomenal balance between telling the story of her maternal grandparents (and their parents) and her own upbringing in rural Durham NC against the backdrop of history of those times (pre Civil War, Civil War, etc.); doing so in a very matter of fact, undramatic (but entirely riveting) fashion.

There is a lot of powerful punch packed into this relatively short book and definitely one where you'll glean more and more each time you read it.

Dr. Murry herself was a fascinating woman; an activist for race well before the first well known sit ins but also a founding member of NOW. She once was quoted as saying (paraphrasing here) that, in her opinion, being a woman was far more difficult than being African American.

Well worth reading.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (CD): Didn't Much Care For/2 Stars
Whereas Niffenegger's debut novel, "The Time Traveler's Wife" is one of my very favorite books of all time, unfortunately, her much anticipated follow up is going into the 2 star pile. I may even have given it 1 star except it kept me somewhat occupied whilst driving about town or chopping up vegetables for dinner.

Although the scenarios in both books are utterly implausible, the author managed to pull it off with "Wife; not so with this one.

I don't really even care enough to review the book/talk about what it was about, especially as so much of it was boringly predictable and trite. I didn't gel with any of the characters. The ones I found the most interesting were the minor/on the fringe ones.

REALLY disappointed.

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