Vampires, and Zombies, and Shifters…OH MY!!!

Yes, I’ll admit it…I have a thing for Vampires. I‘m not talking Twilight vamps, however I have read the Twilight books and thoroughly enjoyed them, I’m talking dark, scary, sexy vampires. The ones that come out only at night and hide in the shadows waiting for their victims. The ones that grab onto a person’s very soul by just holding their eyes in a stare. I’m talking Bram Stoker’s Draculabeautiful, mysterious, and deadly! Now as much as I love the vampires, I also have a keen affection for all the supernatural/paranormal in literature. I find that I can escape into this world and forget about the daily stresses.  Inside these books…anything can happen!

This brings me to one of my favorite paranormal writers, Laurell K. Hamilton. I discovered her Anita Blake series right after my mother passed away.  I was in true need of an escape from real life. A time where not thinking about myself and my pain was of the essence. I had grief in my reality, so I needed an outlet of fantasy to take it all away.  If only for a few hours. Isn’t that what a good book is suppose to do? Maybe this is all a little too Freudian, so I’ll just move on.

There are 22 books in the Anita Blake series and I’m here to write about number 22…Affliction. Now, I have read them all and I have to say Hamilton lost me about 3/4 of the way through the series. The writing became well…you know how Shades of Grey was called “Mommy Porn”? I think you could call this series, “Paranormal Porn”. Don’t get me wrong, I love a little dirty dirty in my reading but only up to a point. The books were just too much…Sex that is and not much story. I missed the action and the characters I had come to know and love. FYI..it didn’t stop me from reading them. 😉

However, I am happy to report that  Laurell K. Hamilton turned it around in #22. She got back to the amazing characters she created in Guilty Pleasures, especially Anita and Jean- Claude.  I LOVE me some Jean-Claude! He is the perfect vampire character, in my opinion. He is aristocratic, HOTT, and FRENCH! He can be ruthless to those against him, but he has a love for Anita that is interminable …he is perfection! Oh and the way he talks…ooh la la!!! However, he is only one of the many men Anita has at her beck and call. There are so many throughout the series that I can’t even begin to list them.  They consist of vampires, were-animals, a serial killer, and just normal guys.  Men either love her or hate her.

Anita Blake is a kick-%$@ sort of girl who goes up against anything and everything. She faces her demons head on only thinking of the destruction of evil and the kill. This time she might just be out matched. She has faced zombies before, but these aren’t the normal zombies she has destroyed previously. These Zombies are being controlled by someone. Making it so they can hunt in daylight and making them super fast, like a vampire. This is a new trial for Anita and it will take her, the local police and all her men to fight this evil. I am leery to write more, because you know I hate to give things away. I want every reader to experience the book themselves, so I’ll stop.

Keep this in mind…this is a series I would recommend to SERIOUS paranormal readers. It is a fun and exciting ride and once you jump into Anita Blake’s world…you won’t want to jump out!

Happy Reading!

 

Zero Tolerance…Wonderful Kid’s Book!

Zero Tolerance…we hear it more and more within our schools. Today, it is that all important document that sets the standard of behavior in schools, elementary to high school. Items that we, as children would never think to take to school, are now listed for parents along with the yearly supply list. Bring it to school and you are out!  Sadly, due to so many disturbing violent events in our schools, it is a necessity and just can’t be avoided. My purpose is not to preach on school violence but to let you in on a wonderful new book on this very topic.

Claudia Mills has brought to life the issue of zero tolerance in schools in her new book, Zero Tolerance. She has taken a policy issue in a middle school setting and instead of using the “bad kid” or “bad boy” shifted the focus to a straight A, quiet, well-liked, talented, student leader that is female. Mills lets us, the reader, in on just what happens when adults look only at the rules and not the whole of the situation. It is perfectly executed in this readers opinion. I know I said this is a children’s book and I would recommend it for 5th grade and up. This book needs a reader that can really understand what the characters are facing and can read deeply enough into the text to connect with the characters…they need a little life experience to do that. I always say, “just because you can read the words, doesn’t mean that you can understand the meaning behind them.”

The book opens with seventh grader Sierra Shepard in the office talking to the principal, Mr. Besser,  about a new program to help all students keep up with their school work. Of course, she is well received by the principal and school secretary…she is the perfect student! While she is sitting in the office she sees Luke Bishop brought in for fighting. Luke is the “bad boy” that we all knew and saw at our own school. He makes Sierra uncomfortable, but not because he is in trouble all the time but because she doesn’t understand why he is always in trouble. To Sierra adults are to be respected and never second guessed.  After she leaves the office Sierra goes to lunch with her friends and this is where her trouble begins. As Sierra opens her lunch bag she realizes that she took her mother’s lunch by mistake. She dumps the entire contents of the bag on the lunch table and BOOM…a paring knife falls out!

     “Sierra stared at the paring knife as if a coiled serpent had appeared from her mother’s lunch bag, poised and   ready to spring.”        pg 11, Zero Tolerance

Immediately, Sierra must make a decision…turn in the knife or put it back in the bag and forget all about it. I can tell you that she does the right thing and turns it into the adults. Those same adults whom she has always trusted to help her. Could this be a mistake? Things do not go well for Sierra from this point on. She sees a side of “school justice” that she never realized existed. She is thrown into a whirlwind of broken rules, arguments, and a media storm. This is a huge wake-up call for Sierra! She starts to see everyone in her life in a whole new way…her parents, Mr. Besser (the principal), Ms. Lin (secretary), Luke Bishop and most of all herself. This story is about more than a school policy, but about true justice and how far we would go to get it.

I wish I could have this book  in my school library, but my kids are just too young. I will however recommend it to all the teachers and parents of older kids. But even if you don’t have kids, READ this book! It is very very good!

Happy Reading!!

Murder, Mayhem, and Grief…Two books, One Theme!

This past Spring one of my 4th grade boys asked me if I ever DIDN’T like a book. I found this to be an interesting question, because the answer is, “of course there are books I don’t like!”. But I was curious as to why he asked me that particular question. He said, “Well, you are always so excited about everything you read to us and you are always telling us what books are good, that I just figured you liked every book.” WOW! What a reminder of the influence we adults play in the lives of kiddos. I went on to have this awesome conversation with this kid about books…my likes and dislikes and his own book interest…likes and dislikes. I think we both got something out of it, but I bring this up because this is a conversation that has been on my mind recently…Do I like everything I read? Here is what I have come up with so far.

Yes, I believe I DO like everything I read, in some way. Every book has something of worth to the reader. I am a lover of stories and I love going into that world of fiction.  To me, it is extremely difficult to commit to a book and when finished not have something that you liked. Come on…you know you agree! 🙂

I think from now on, I will put books I read in the following categories:

  • Books I LOVE and will read again and again
  • Books I LOVE, but will just recommend to others to read
  • Books that I liked
  • Books that were popular, so I read it
  • Books that while I finished it I really didn’t enjoy

There you go! But enough of  the incite into my book selections and on to the books up for discussion! The first of these I’ll say,  I LOVED and will recommend it to others and the other one, I didn’t enjoy, but you might. So here we go!

First up, HeartSick by Chelsea Cain. This book was published in 2007 as the next “Silence of the Lamb”. Now I don’t know if I would compare the two, because other than having a serial killer I didn’t see much of a comparison, but that it for each reader to decide. I however enjoyed this book a lot! There were points in this book that I had to close my eyes to get the disturbing visual out of my head. Gretchen Lowell is NOT your everyday serial killer! Let’s just say, she is VERY creative in her torture.

I don’t want to say much because I do not want to spoil the book for anyone, but this is a gripping crime novel that does not disappoint! The characters are wonderful and so different from other crime novels. I have to say that while reading this story, I found the characters to be fascinating. They were all messed up and gritty…LOVE IT!!!  Oh yeah, I almost forgot…there are 2 serial killers in this book! This is a must read!

The next book is Good Grief by Lolly Winston and while it is well written, it was not a favorite of mine. This book is about Sophie Stanton, a 36 year old woman who after being married for 3 years finds herself a widow. The book, as expected,  is about her dealing with this terrible grief of losing her husband, but not only that loss, but the loss of her job, home, and basically everything from her old life.

At times, it was all a little TOO much for this reader. I didn’t like the main character of Sophie. I found her weak, wish-washy, and I had a hard time relating to the character.  She seemed to let her life fall apart in the weirdest ways…ways I didn’t understand. I also found the supporting characters to be a little over the top and really didn’t like any of them or care about what happened to them in the end. There were some touching and funny moments; Sophie going to work in her bathrobe and slippers, but overall I just didn’t connect. I know I am being a little rough on this book, but it just left me feeling empty and I don’t like that feeling. 😦

So readers, pick one and give it a try! Just be sure to share you thoughts with me!

Happy Reading!