Category Archives: Book Reviews

Vampires and the Boys Who Slay Them

Isn’t that a good title for a book?  I’d read it if it existed.

I saw Heather Brewer at a book signing event hosted by the local library district last night.  She was promoting First Kill, the first in The Slayer Chronicles (a companion series to The Vladimir Tod Chronicles).  That woman is awesome.  She spoke for a little while on growing up, surviving bullies, and how she became a writer.  Then she switched to Q&A.  Some of the more interesting questions were (and I’m paraphrasing most of this)

Q: If you could do a crossover book with any author, whom would you choose?

A: Stephen King.

Q: What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever read?

A: No book has ever really scared me, but the one that came closest to giving me chills is Stephen King’s It.  Clowns are evil.

Q: If you could be any fictional character from any book ever written, who would you be?

A: Voldemort.  I just love him.  [As a character, I’m assuming, not as a person.]

There were books for sale by a local, independent bookstore.  One of them was a collection called Dear Bully.  70 authors contributed stories about being bullied, not standing up when someone else was bullied, or regrets over times when they were bullies.  Heather Brewer was one of the contributors, and I bought a copy for BratzBasher.  “Auntie Heather” autographed her story with “BratzBasher – Be a positive ripple in the pond of life.”

If you haven’t read Vladimir Tod, I highly recommend it.  There’s a link to Auntie Heather’s website off to the side there.  Who knows?  You may wind up becoming another member of the minion horde.

yadda yadda yadda

This is another one of those “don’t wanna do my chores, so I’m posting a bit of nothing on my blog” posts.

Let’s see.  Merkin bought a mini cheesecake — which really isn’t mini so much as “not as big as a regular cheesecake”, and I noticed a piece missing.  I asked BratzBasher if she’d had a piece — not that I minded, I just wondered if it was her.

BB: “No.  Daddy gave me a piece.”

Foo4: “So you did have cheesecake.”

BB: “I didn’t have cheesecake, I received cheesecake.”

Foo4: “Ah…big difference.”

I read Avi’s Crispin: The Cross of Lead during my shift at the bookstore today.  It was pretty good.  I think BB might like it.  It’s about a boy in medieval times who’s framed for theft and murder in an attempt to cover up his claim to an inheritance he knows nothing about.  Was that cryptic enough for you?  It’s a quick read.  I finished it in three hours, with a few customers interrupting me and time left over to do a little embroidery.

I’ve started listening to Keeper of the Grail, book 1 of the Youngest Templar trilogy by Michael P. Spradlin.  I like it so far, but I’ve only finished the first track.  I’ll let you know if it’s worth your time.  Because your time, my friends is so much more valuable than my own that I’d hate to think you’d wasted it on less-than-awesome books that I could easily preview for you.  You’re welcome.

Before I started Keeper, I was listening to Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.  It was waaaaay too depressing to continue.  Very good, but so sad it made me sick.  I might finish it on an up day, or a day when I feel like wallowing in someone else’s grief — which isn’t really that often.  Merkin gave me permission to quit.

I went to JoAnn today for a pattern, but it was the wrong day to get it on sale.  I wandered around anyway, and I came home with a new thread organizer.  It was 40% off and holds 40 spools.  I almost filled it when I got home.  I’ll need another soon.

I’m out of things to type.  Time to fold some laundry.  Mad will be glad to know we’re all done with our laundry for the week, so she can hog the machines all she wants.

feeling blah.

I’ve sort of been indulging in laziness lately.  I think BratzBasher’s been a bad influence on me.  I did go to the library bookstore for my volunteer shift.  It was pretty quiet.  We’ve got Beanie Babies at 50% off now, so a woman came in with her three kids and picked out a bunch.

When I got tired of reading my book (Mystic River by Dennis Lehane — a pass-along from my mother-in-law), I decided to sort out the greeting card rack.  We’ve been trying to unload the last of our greeting card stock and have finally reduced it to one four-sided rack.  We’ve got everything from New Year’s to First Communion to Christmas (and every occasion in between) for $1 each, but I guarantee we’re not going to sell all of them.  Most of them are very nice cards, but there are a few that are…how shall I put this?  Ugly.  Or lame.  Or obsolete — such as the one with aliens on the front, facing George W. Bush and saying, “Seriously, take us to your leader.”  I’m surprised (and a little disappointed) by the fact that all our bathroom humor cards are gone.

Anyway…one of the problems with the cards is that they don’t all have their original envelopes — or any envelopes at all.  I went through each shelf on the rack and matched up as many cards as I could with envelopes, but I wound up with three envelopes that didn’t fit the ten or so cards left.  I made an executive decision and pulled the Bush/alien cards and distributed those envelopes to more marketable cards.  I swear it’s like trying to mate socks after doing several loads of laundry.  Where do the envelopes go?  It’s a mystery.

Speaking of mysteries (Ooh, look at me!  I’m seguing!), I just finished a lame book called Virals by Kathy Reichs.  It’s like a cross between Spiderman and Scooby Doo.  Yeah, I know.  You’d think that would be totally awesome, right?  (That was sarcasm, by the way.)  I cringed every time I heard the leader of the meddling kids shout out, “Let’s go, Virals!” or something like it.  The kids called themselves virals because they were exposed to a mutant strain of parvovirus that gave them wolf-like superpowers.  Then they proceeded to solve a murder mystery.  At least they weren’t unmasking the man behind the ghost costume that was trying to scare people away from the counterfeit money factory.  There were no scooby snacks, either.

I don’t really feel like doing anything today.  I guess I’d better kick BB off the TV and do some Wii Fit.  Maybe that’ll help.  As long as I don’t weigh in.  I have a feeling I’ve gained a couple more pounds.

Look at me – posting two days in a row. And with book reviews!

Not that I have much to say right now.  I just got back from my shift at the bookstore to find that the mail carrier can’t tell the difference between 19 and 10.  I had a bit of a walk to put that package on its rightful doorstep.  I did knock first, but nobody was answering, so I made like a postwoman and left it.

By the way, Merkin, you’ve got a package, too.  I have a feeling it contains more anime with which to bribe our little girl.

It was very quiet, as usual, in the bookstore, so I did some embroidery and read a lot.  My current book is Department 19, by Will Hill.  It’s about vampires and the dudes who slay them.  More about one slayer in particular, actually, but that didn’t sound as funny in my head.  It’s not bad.

That reminds me.  It’s been ages since I published a book review here.  If you haven’t been visiting my goodreads library, here’s a few recent reads:

Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith: Juvenile delinquent Alex Sawyer is framed for the murder of his best friend by the sinister guards of the newest prison installation – a place called Furnace.  Built in a cavern a mile beneath the earth’s surface, Furnace isn’t exactly the prison it claims to be. Strange, frightening events point to a secret, malevolent agenda.

Seriously creepy bad guys. The characters are written well enough to engage the reader’s sympathy. Alex isn’t my favorite, but he is certainly the best choice for narrator. I almost gave this four stars, but I think it really deserves a 3.5 rating. Warning: This book ends on a serious cliffhanger.  I’ve already started the second book: Solitary.

Gideon’s Sword, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child: Gideon Crew devotes his life to seeking vengeance against the man who framed his father for treason.  I thought this might be good because I like the Pendergast series.  I was disappointed.  It was okay, but I’m not sure if I liked it enough to read another. The first part was interesting, but Gideon got on my nerves after a while. I needed more of his backstory, I think, but I doubt it’s worth reading any more of the series in the hopes of getting it.

Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith: This is the second in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series.  I like the way Smith writes.  It’s simple and sweet, like the characters.  I found the subplot dealing with Precious Romatswe and her new fiance Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni more entertaining than the main mystery.  That Matekoni is such a pushover.  Fortunately, Mma Ramotswe has enough backbone for the both of them.  Especially fortunate for him, she doesn’t wield it over him.

Infinity: the Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon:  Nick is a kid from the wrong side of New Orleans.  His dad’s in prison for murder, and his heart-of-gold mom works as a stripper at a club on Bourbon Street.  You’d think that a scholarship to a prestigious private school would be his ticket out of his rotten life, but destiny has other plans.

Local gun shop owner/computer repairman/zombie hunter Bubba is reason enough to read this one, though he’s just a supporting character. I loved the dialogue and the plotlines, but the characters of a book tend to be the real clincher, and this one doesn’t disappoint.  Although, if you’re looking for something serious, go ahead and pass. There is a serious, underlying plot, but the main story in this volume is hysterically funny. It’d make a great anime, actually. I’d love to watch this on-screen, but live-action couldn’t do it justice.

Well, I suppose I should find something productive to do until it’s time to get BratzBasher.

And that’s just the ones I can remember!

1,084 books, 22 shelves.  It’s actually smaller than the library we have at home.  Not that we have a library.  It’s just that there’s a plethora of books scattered about our house that would, if assembled in an orderly fashion, be larger than what I’ve accumulated on my goodreads page.

Some people may gawp at my claiming to have read 1,001 books (there are 86 on my “to-read”, “currently-reading”, and “on-hold” shelves), but I point out that I’m adding any book I remember reading and on which I have an opinion.  A major chunk of my “collection” is made up of children’s books (220) — most of those read with BratzBasher.  There are even more YA books (357).  The clear winner in basic genre category: fantasy (215).  I’m not surprised.  But then, I’m the one who read them.

Most people who join simply just add books they’ve started since joining, maybe including favorites they’ve read previously.  I prefer to lay it all out there.  This is what I’ve read.  I’m not ashamed.  Except for that one chapter I read before I tossed Sunny Chandler’s Return.  Oh, and maybe the Twilight series, of which I read all four volumes yet didn’t award any of them more than two stars.  No, I take it back.  I’m not ashamed.  He who has never read cra* for fun, let him cast the first stone.

I don’t really know why I’m blogging about this.  I think this is more along the lines of blahblahblahgging.  There isn’t really a point.  Oh, wait!  Maybe there is.  I was going to say that I haven’t posted any book reviews lately.  If you really can’t live without them, you can find some on my goodreads page.  It should be set up to show you whether I’ve reviewed each one.  I honestly can’t tell because I’m automatically logged in, and I don’t see what you see.  I’d love to be able to review all of them, but that would take forever.  I’m focusing, instead, on reviewing the five-star and one-star reads (you have to know why I hated it, or your curiosity will lead you to pick it up yourself and then find yourself wishing you hadn’t.  Why, Foo4luv?  Why didn’t you warn me?  Did you think that one-star rating would be enough to deter me? Why, yes.  Yes, I did.), and some three- and four-stars that I particularly enjoyed.  Notice that on my “again-again-again” page they’re not all five-stars.  Sometimes, you have to admit that a book you love isn’t perfect.  On the other hand, sometimes, the perfect book is one you can’t bear to read again.  Maybe it’s too moving, intense, hits too close to home, is lost or out of print,  is so dang long that you were lucky to finish it in the first place…whatever.  I intend for all of my favorites to be reviewed eventually.  Meanwhile, I’m reviewing as I finish new books, so even the meh ones will have their 15 seconds of fame.  Or infamy.  Wait — what was my point?  Oh well.

Been there. Read that.

A friend sent me a link, and now I’m building an impressive “library” at  It’s sort of like a virtual card catalog for all the books I’ve read.  That I can remember.  I also have a list (or “shelf”) of books I want to read, a list of books I’m reading now, and I can post reviews of what I’ve read.  Sometimes I find new books for my reading wish list there, but I usually don’t need the extra help with that.  All of my book reviews will be on there, but I’ll still post the really good ones here, too.  I can’t review everything I’ve read, but I try to review all the five-star reads (or at least the first in a five-star series) and all the one-star reads (gotta tell you why it sucked, don’t I?) and quite a few of the more recent reads in between.  Anyone can view my bookshelves/reviews.  I’ve got a link for the website’s homepage in the vegetable garden and the one under “whatcha readin’?” is for my personal bookshelves.

If you do a lot of reading, I recommend signing up.  There’s nothing worse than getting a book and then finding out that you’ve not only read it before but hated it.  (Well, okay, there are a ton of worse things, but not in the category of selecting books.) I’m sure there are a lot of people who just list stuff they’ve read since signing on, but I’ve gone through the database and tagged any book I can remember reading — as far back as I can remember.  I guess it’s sort of like the people who are totally into building up their number of  “friends” on facebook. I have 974 friends and counting. 🙂

Apparently, there’s another similar website called Shelfari that’s affiliated with, but I have no intention of setting up two reading databases.  Besides, I don’t want spamming me even more because of all the posting I’d be doing on Shelfari.  I have no idea if reviews there are as accessible as my goodreads shelf.  (I have it set on “anyone can read”, but there are more selective options.)  Every time I’ve tried to check it out, it keeps insisting I log on through my amazon account.  Forget that.

So what are you reading?

BINGO BLACKOUT!! 6 book reviews

I’m finished!  I can now stop feeling guilty for not finishing my last non-fiction book because I am done.  Now I can read whatever the heck I want.  I know, I know.  Why would I feel guilty for not reading something that was not required in the first place?  That’s just me, people.  You don’t need to understand the why — just know that the when is no more.   As promised, here are my reviews for my favorites.  Only two of them are adult books.  No surprise there.

World War Z by Max Brooks:  When I chose this book, it was listed as humor. I’m all for a fun zombie book, but there was nothing funny in this one. I was not disappointed, however. Brooks has chosen a documentary style that smoothly ties the individual stories together, leading you from the first signs of outbreak to a victory that is far from final.

It’s better as an audio book, I think. Each character is voiced by a different actor, many of whom are quite well-known. Included among the cast are: Alan Alda, Carl Reiner, Mark Hamill, Henry Rollins, John Turturro, and Rob Reiner.

The Magnificent Twelve: The Call by Michael Grant: With his long list of phobias (including hydrophobia, claustrophobia, and even phobophobia), Mack is the impossible hero.  Nevertheless, it’s up to him to assemble the Magnifica: a team of twelve 12-year-olds who must combine their powers to defeat the greatest evil the world has ever known: the Pale Queen.  With a golem (Mack substitute) in place at home to tend to Mack’s everyday life, our hero sets out into the world accompanied by Stefan Marr, his personal bully-turned-bodyguard, and absolutely no clue what he’s doing.

This book is hilarious! My favorite parts are the golem’s diary entries and the airplane scene. If you get it in audiobook format, you’ll be treated to the most awesome impersonation of a garbage disposal grinding up a poisonous snake. Can’t wait to read/listen to the rest of the series.

Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go by Dale E. Basye: This is the story of twins, Milton and Marlo, who die while committing a crime and consequently get sent to Heck (Hell for children). There they have to attend school (the principal is a demon named B. Elsa Bubb) and try to mend their wicked ways before the day they turn 18 and receive the final verdict on where their souls will be sent for all eternity.  They, of course, decide to escape.

One of my favorite scenes so far is music class with a teacher who is actually an angel with the “teacher exchange program”, which is intended to expose the children to influences from both “H” places. (She’s Maria Von Trapp, complete with Austrian accent and bubbly personality.)

(The next book is not the one from my bingo card.  That book was The Scorch Trials.  It wasn’t as good as the first in the series, so I’m reviewing volume one instead.)

The Maze Runner by James Dashner: Thomas wakes up in some sort of elevator with no knowledge of who he is except his name. The world he finds outside of the elevator is a large glade surrounded on all sides by stone walls that seem to reach the sky. There is an opening in each wall that leads into a maze made of those same, impossibly high, stone walls. The glade is populated by about 50 or 60 boys, between the ages of 12 and 18, who have managed to form an ordered, almost completely self-sufficient community. There is a farm with gardens and livestock, and everyone works to contribute to the community.   Every day, runners are sent into the maze to map it and attempt to find the way out. The walls move every night, so the maze is different every day, and it soon becomes apparent to Thomas that there is no solution.

Shortly after Thomas’ arrival, all of the “rules” of the glade seem to change, and the leaders among the boys realize that they must find a way out or die. Oh, did I mention that the maze is populated by giant creatures that appear to be a cross between slugs and Borg?

Matched by Ally Condie: The Society controls everything: what people will wear, what hobbies they have, what they study, what they eat, what books/poems they read, what movies they watch, what music they listen to, and even whom they marry.  Cassia has never questioned the Society until one glimpse of a choice denied (whom she will marry) causes her to question everything. If life-long friend Xander is really her perfect match, how can she be falling in love with Ky, an aberration who will never be allowed to marry?

I’ve decided I really enjoy dystopian lit. I love reading about the shift from blind obedience to awakening discontent and the desire for true freedom.

Animal Farm by George Orwell: Fed up with Farmer Jones’ incompetent administration, the pigs lead the animals in a revolution.  Jones and his family get booted off their own property, and the animals set out to build a utopian society.  Inevitably, corruption and greed turn paradise into a cruel, oppressive, and ultimately futile existence.

I’m not sure why I like this book.  It’s ridiculous and depressing.  Boxer’s “retirement” nearly brings me to tears every time I read it.  But for some reason, I can read this book again and again.  Wonder what that says about me.

Anyway…those are my top six from this year’s library reading program.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go pick up my daughter at school and show her my awesome new flashlight.