Monday, July 26, 2010

Week 29: Bite Me (Love Story #3) - Christopher Moore (309 pages)

Don't moan, this is yet another vampire story. I think I mentioned a few books back that I really have been interested in the genre for quite some time. This was a very interesting book with a lot of kooky characters. This is the third book in the series, a series that I have never read, but was still able to get into.

The basic premise of this book is that the city of San Francisco is being terrorized by vampire cats! I was intrigued and a little scared. Though this was a funnier vampire book, it also had more elements that creeped me out and slipped into my dreams. Compared to the Twilight (2 on a 1-10 fear scale) and the Sookie Stackhouse (6 on the same scale) series of books, this one book rates about an 8. This is also a much more "modern" book. The main character, Abby Normal, is a typical teenager that speaks in text speech (OMG, TTYL, and more explicit varietals) and is blatantly disrespectful of authority figures (mom and police specifically). 

Abby is the narrator for most of the story and I will say that it took a little bit of time to get into the story because I had to adjust my reading voice to that of Abby's. So much slang, so much chatter - sometimes, so much distraction. Once I was able to get into the rhythm of her speech, I was able to enjoy the book.

Having not read the two books preceding this one, I did not feel at all out of the loop. Moore does a handy job at giving a bit of background without re-telling the previous story. I liked this book enough that I will likely pick up another of Moore's novels. He has an irreverent point of view that I find intriguing. 

This is not a book for everyone - but if you enjoy a bit of gore and some raucous sexual humor, this may be the book for you. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Week 28: Robert Frost's Poems - Robert Frost (288 pages)

I was introduced to poetry by my 6th grade teacher, Mr. Tom Reichert. He was my toughest teacher and he was my favorite. We were in a hybrid honors class so we had social studies, English and other topics in one class and then we traveled to another class for math and science. Mr. Reichert was a Vietnam vet and looked the part. He was also very intelligent and expected lots from us as students. He taught us discipline and fun. He could quote Chaucer, then slip into his version of "Cat Scratch Fever"! Clearly the man left an impression. Early in the school year he told us that, amongst all of the other things that were required for his class, we would be memorizing a poem a week and reciting them in front of the class!! This struck fear in the heart of most of the 12 an 13 year olds in this class. We freaked out! What type of poems? Do we choose? What if we get stage fright? We all thought that this was some form of torture - that Mr. Reichert thrilled in the torture of youngsters. Little did we know, he had bigger plans for us.

How does this story tie into my choice for reading this book this week? Well - the first poem that we had to memorize was ROBERT FROST's "Fire and Ice". I still remember this poem, some 27 years later. I am going to write it out for you - and of course there is no way of knowing whether I copied this from a book or not - but I didn't! If you know me - call me and ask for an impromptu recitation.

Fire and Ice - Robert Frost
Some say the world will end in fire
some say in ice
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those that favor fire
But if I had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
is also great
And would suffice

At 12 years old I had a vague idea what I was reciting, but it was later revealed to me as an adult, that Mr. Reichert was not so concerned about us knowing the meaning of what we were reciting. He wanted us to face our fears and get up in front of people with confidence. He wanted us to take this skill with us as we grew up and went to high school and college and our future careers. He felt that making us get up in front of our generally rude peers (God help you if you forgot or stumbled - we were merciless) would give us the skills to face anyone and anything. I have to say that he was right, at least for me, he was. I can comfortably speak in front of a crowd with little to no prep, because - the people in the audience can never be as horrible as we 6th graders were!

Of course this book of poems has all of Mr. Frost's poems both obscure and well known - I decided to speak about this one since it holds so much meaning to me. Maybe there is a special one for you in this collection. Check it out.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Week 27: Club Dead - Charlaine Harris (320 pages)

Vampires, vampires, vampires...our culture is and has been intrigued with vampires for some time, now. I count myself as one of the many fans. I read Bram Stoker's Dracula when I was about 14 or 15 years old and I have been taken with the genre ever since. I devoured Ann Rice's vampire series in record time and when Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series came out - I was on that train as well. So - for one so intrigued with vampires, I have no idea how I missed the existence of this entire series. So far Charlaine Harris has written 10 Sookie Stackhouse novels and is scheduled to write at least 3 more. It seems that I have some catching up to do - but I have 25 more books to read in this project and if the author's writing continues to be this engaging, it will be hard for me to pass up an opportunity to continue on.

The fun thing about this book is that it mirrors the current season of True Blood, the television series based on the books. This third book finds Sookie's vampire boyfriend, Bill, missing. Thus starts the adventure of the search. The regulars: Eric and Pam and Chow (vampires) and Sam (shape-shifter) are here and some new characters are introduced as well...werewolves. 

The journey to find Bill takes Sookie to Jackson, Mississippi with a companion that also happens to be a werewolf! Alcide is strong and handsome and oh so tempting to Miss Sookie. Book three turns out to be an engrossing tale and once I truly got into the story, I found it pretty hard to put down.

There will be no spoilers here, but try to read it if you are a fan of the show, and if you are not a fan of the show - check out this series of books.  

Monday, July 5, 2010

Week 26: Finishing Touches - Hester Browne (411 pages)

I have always been a fan of etiquette. I love knowing which fork to use and how to send the appropriate thank you gift or note. So when I saw this book at Barnes a few weeks ago, I was compelled to check it out. 

The story of orphan, Betsy Phillimore, who was left on the steps of a prominent finishing school on High Street in London. Betsy was raised by Lord and Lady Phillimore in and around the school in the 1980s. The story takes place 27 years after being left on the steps when Betsy returns to the school for the memorial service of her adopted mother.

While trying to maintain the elegance and manners that she has been raised with, Betsy gets thrown into trying to save the school as well. It seems in the 21st century a finishing school is not really that necessary. Betsy adds cool classes such as managing a budget and still looking like a fashsionista, taking great driver license and passport photos, when texting is appropriate and the like. All the while she is searching for her true purpose and for her real parents.

The novel is amusing and Hester Browne does a clever job in alternating the plot lines so that we are always looking forward to what is coming around the bend. A lovely summer read.