Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

My apologies, no picture of me reading this book...I took it back to the library before it's "photo shoot" :/

What's the book about?

Have you met Sookie already? This is the 11th installment of the Southern Vampire Mysteries also known as the inspiration for the HBO series True Blood. Now, I will be the first one to tell you that the first seasons are so much better than the books (sometimes it does happen) but after the 3rd or 4th book I think Harris found the right formula...and that's when the TV series started drifting from the books and we went back to good-old-me saying: oh but the books are so much better!

Anyway, back to this book. If you are not up to date with the series I would suggests to stop reading now since I have no option but to mention some stuff that might be considered as spoilers of the past books.

So, Sookie is "married"  to Eric now, she is leaving with 2 fairy relatives, since her grandfather pretty much closed the connection between the fairy world and our world and the shape shifters have come out like vampires did, but turns out people didn't want that much supernatural stuff in their backyard, so they are not too happy. Basically that's how it starts.

The plot of this one concentrates on the fact that Merlotte's seems to be under attack (hate crimes? Who knows!), Sookie is pretty much in love with Eric, and he is trying to deal with the new reagent. You know, typical stuff. 

What was different of this book?

At this point of the series is hard to be that original compared to previous books in the series. What is different of the series then, you might ask?. I have to give it to Harris that the supernatural creatures she has add over the series are well researched. Not getting into specifics, but her characters are well built, which is nice. Is a sherbet reading. What do you want me to say, is light is entertaining. Also, it has way less sex than the HBO series, something that I actually appreciate, the fact that she doesn't depend on that part to build her book. 

That said...what will set this book apart for me is that it went back to the first ones. Fast to read, yet not savory at all. Too many things happening with no connection whatsoever, yet keeps telling you that they are...but they are not. At all.

What about the main character?

I've always liked the fact that Sookie is someone that tries to stand for herself. She is proud of her past, she has some " disabilities" yet he has learned to make them advantages. She is proud of her figure that she herself describes several times that she is not supermodel skinny, but more round and healthy. That in our days is a good things people. 

That this book she seemed so helpless!!!! Every single time she is frustrated because of this and that...and doesn't do anything about it. 

The 10% moment

I usually like Eric as a character, both in the book and in the series. But in this one...oh did I wanted to slap him several times. He over abuses power, he looks like a sad washed out version of the Eric I like...I got to the 10% knowing I wasn't going to love this book, mostly because every single character that showed up to the party seemed like they were being sedated...

Final thoughts

I went into this book knowing it was a light reading. Knowing that was not a thinker. But I have to say, I'm disappointed. I expected a bit more and somehow I feel that Harris is trying to make the TV series come back to the books, but she is doing it by accommodating to the TV series plots and not by offering something much more enticing. I found myself shaking my head several times in disapproval. 

It did not took away my "desire"  to read the next one, Deadlocked. So just because of that is getting a 3 instead of a 2. Let's just hope the next one is a little bit better. I would hate to quit the series since it is entertaining (well, usually)  

This is book makes part of my Sequel Challenge :)


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bossypants by Tina Fey

What's the book about? 

This was not biography itself. There is information about Tina's life, with some details about every stage in her life, splashed but humorous sentences or play on words. Her beginnings in theater, her first "real job, motherhood, family. Everything in a tiny yellow package with her in the cover (I read the paperback version).

What was different of this book?

First of all, is Tina Fey! I've loved her for a long time (as a comedian, not the creepy stalker kind of love, mind you). I think her duo with Jimmy Fallon was phenomenal and just when I thought it couldn't get any better, she paired up with miss Amy Poehler. I loved the fact that this book was empowering without telling me it was going to be so. Reading about strong women is nice. Reading about a strong, funny woman that happens to love her job and is not afraid to admit fragility...well that's just a great thing. I don't know if it was like that for everyone else who read this book, but I could almost hear her voice while reading. It's written in a very...shall I say friendly way?. Let's go with that. You feel like someone is there, next to you, telling you some funny anecdotes and her view on the world. 

What about the main character?

Did I mention I love Tina Fey?. Is hard to describe her as a usually do in this bullet point since she is, you know, real. But I want to say something. The Tina I got from her book is exactly the Tina I pictured in my head after watching her rise on SNL, kicking some butt in 30 Rock and rocking it in the last Golden Globe awards.

She is quirky, nerdy, smart and funny. She is silly and is not afraid to be. She knows she is lucky to have a job she likes and she is grateful for every part of her life. 

          Nerd no more, this new cut let people see the real me that was inside -a mother of four who was somehow also a virgin.

The 10% moment

Wait, what? 10%? I past the 10% of the book without noticing. I'm telling you, it was readable as it gets. If it wasn't because of things in the lab I would've finish it in one big gulp. 

Final thoughts

It's been so long since I laugh so much while reading!. My boyfriend kept looking at me a little bit worried I was losing it. This was a perfect gift from him. I enjoyed every moment of it, including the end where she is answering some questions to readers.

I also enjoyed all the mother moments. I'm not a mom yet, and I'm far away from being one anytime soon (Grad school people) but her prayer for her daughter is so beautiful. I'm sure by now you've seen it somewhere, as well as her critic on the what now is consider the perfect woman.  But a part that kept resonating for me was when she says that in every princess story she changes the word blond to yellow (about their hair) because she doesn't want her daughter to think that " somehow blond is better". 

Why this part in particular? Because it touches a close fiber. My baby cousin was very sad when she was 3 because all princesses seemed to have long, blond, straight hair... she has the most beautiful black, wavy hair. It took a while for her to understand that it wasn't better, that she was indeed as pretty as the princesses if not more. 

Then why am I giving only 4 mushrooms to this book if I liked it so much. Because there was something missing, something that would've forced me to stay up reading all Sunday night. I can't tell you what it is. Maybe the fact that I didn't feel a need to know what was going to happen next, since I kind of already knew. 

But I will tell you this, read it, laugh your pants off with it. It will be a great ride. Also, and this is great news: Amy Poehler's book is in the making people!! That is a sure read for me.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

TSS: Can you "convert" a non-reader?

I have something to confess. It bothers me every single day. I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned this in my blog, but here it goes:  none of my brothers reads.

I've mentioned before how I come from a family of readers. And that part is true, my mom read a lot (or so I am told), my grandma reads everyday and so do my aunts. My uncles are more reticent, but the numbers were on my favor. But then in this new generation I'm the only one that reads.

I'm the oldest sibling as well as the oldest of the new generation. We are 7: my 2 brothers and 4 cousins, plus me obviously. None of this 6 actually reads. Well, one of my cousins says she does...and then it takes her a year to read The Night Circus!
Anyway, during my brothers recent visit (did I mention how in love I am with my new banner? He did it all :)) I tried to change this; I suggested books and tried to explain why I like reading so much. He would open his eyes like saucers if he saw me taking my book out in the metro and wouldn't understand why was I still reading if I said I was tired.

I gave him The know-it-all. I figured, light humor, non-fiction, easy to read...he didn't make it beyond the first 5 pages. Then, while reading Paul à la pêche they mentioned how the main character got hooked with The catcher in the rye in spite of being a non-reader before.. Now, I haven't read this one yet, but I knew it was a classic, so I thought why not? I thought it was going well, my brother actually said he was liking it...and then he got stuck at page 30. He left this last Saturday and I didn't ask if he wanted to bring the book with him, since I knew he wouldn't.

Why do I want him to read? Well, I'm sure I don't have to explain that to most of you, but just in case: is because I feel he is missing a lot. I don't even want him to like the same books I do. This is not the point. The point is that I get so much out of reading! I would love for him to have that too.
He is not addicted to video games, nor to TV. The only source of "frustration" he had while being here was the fact that he couldn't ride his bike, his only real "addiction". So I'm nt worried that he is sedentary at all. He is smart and he does well at school. I don't want to replace or take away anything, I just would like to add something that in my opinion is wonderful.

Thing is, I'm fighting against bad experiences. I was lucky, my mom taught me how to read and passed her love for books to me before dying, I was almost 8 at the time of her dead. That means that my brothers were 4 and 3 respectively, so they weren't reading yet. They started reading at school, with books as homework, not a leisure activity. So they didn't learn to love books. And when their grades went a little under the curve and teachers suggested they should read more, my father decided it would be very smart to FORCE them to read. So they learn to hate reading associating them with a punishment.

I won't go into the details of how much I disagree with my father methods of raising us. That's between me and my therapist. But I've spent almost my whole adulthood trying to move on from similar things and, when possible, I try to do the same for my brothers.

We have a long road to go, and I'm sure there will always be things that I won't be able to "fix". But reading is one of the things I would like them to have, just as I want my kids to have see, my brothers are the first kids I was in charge off, and I feel responsible for them, no matter how many times I was told that wasn't my role.

I saw a brief ray of light with The catcher in the Rye. Is the first time my brother says he is liking a book. I just hope he will find the book that changes him forever. If I can help him I will be a happy camper.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Old man's war by John Scalzi

What's the book about? 

In the future we have manage to go out space and start colonizing. But in the case of the States you can only go into space as a Colonial Special Forces (CSF) recruit and you can only enlist after you are 75. You will be "made" young again, but you can never come back to Earth. However, once you finish your term you will be allowed to go to one of the colonies, young again, and go on with your life. For John Perry, this is the life he is opting for. We will learn about how he becomes young again, all of his training in the forces and how human nature is hard to beat, even in space.

What was different of this book?

I don't read a lot of Science Fiction, not because I'm not interested but because sometimes I get very frustrated with the Science part. I liked the science in this book, Scalzi is specific enough so things make sense from the Earth point of view, but is vague enough with certain procedures so you don't get all "well, that just can't work like that!" (and by you I mean me, sorry). Also, it is implied that some of the technology and hence science advances made in the book was not developed solely based on our technology, a.k.a: we stole/took/borrow from our alien counterparts and some of the principles that apply to such technology make sense once out in space. This is very important for me, because all I ask for is that the things happening are plausible in the books universe .

Even though the book is about a war happening while defending our new colonies, I liked the fact that is not a war book. While using this type of confrontation the book also talks politic points, approach to new cultures/religions and most importantly for me, how no matter what physical changes we might went through, our personality and the characteristics that makes us who we are, remains.

What about the main character?

John Perry is a good guy. He lost his wife recently and suddenly. He leaves Earth after making peace with everyone he leaves behind.

          Over the course of the year, I had had a few sit-downs with old friends and family and did a final poking of old wounds and ashes; in nearly every case it ended well. A couple of times I asked for forgiveness for things I didn't particularly feel sorry about, and in one case I found myself with someone who otherwise I'd rather I hadn't. But you do what you have to do to give people closure; it makes them feel better and it doesn't cost you much to do it

 When he enrolls he is lucky enough to make good friends from the beginning and the remains a good friend until the end. He is born leader, even when he doesn't realize it.  He is one of those whom always puts others before him.

Although this is not a love story it is evident that he never forgets the love of his life. Kathy is always in his thoughts. **spoiler** I have to admit I was not expecting her to come back, however changed she was as Jane **spoiler**

The 10% moment

The language is very fluid. As you may have noticed by the quote before it is written in first person. John has said his goodbyes and is now leaving Earth. By this moment in the book John has met 2 of his new friends, Jesse and Harry, while being taken to the first station. Some of the political situations are introduced. There are some hints as to what is going to happen, enough so to want to continue reading. 

Final thoughts

I have to say I am very happy that with this months Sword and Laser choice. I definitely recommend this book. Not only for SciFi fans, but anyone who appreciates a good story. As I mentioned the language is very fluid and the story is very well told, it carries the reader easily. The characters could have a little bit more of a back story, but with the bit given you have enough information to understand their positions and attitudes during the development of events.