Thursday, September 13, 2012


Charlaine Harris
327 pages

Sookie is in crisis mode yet again.  Some parts of her life are going quite well.  Sam has given her more responsibilities at the bar as part of her investment.  Tara and J.B. are about to give birth to twins, and her brother is about to get engaged.  However, other parts of her life are not going so well.  Felipe de Castro is visiting Shreveport to investigate the "disappearance" of Victor and strongly suspects that Eric was behind it. While the king is visiting, a woman that Eric fed from turns up dead on his front lawn.  Sookie and the vampires must find out who was behind the woman's death.  If that weren't bad enough, the fairies are acting up.   Some are making mischief and suspect that Sookie has the cluviel dor.  This magical object is putting Sookie at great risk, and how she decides to use it may have a great impact on her entire future.

I could have lived without most of the fairy drama.  However, I loved the ending of this book, and I'm hoping it means what I think it means.  There's only one more book left in this series, and I'm anxiously awaiting to see who Sookie is going to end up with.

The Maze Runner

James Dashner
375 pages

Thomas is a teenage boy, about 16 years old, who is sent to live in a maze.  His memory has been wiped of all personal details relating to his life before the maze.  The maze is full of other teenage boys in the same predicament, but they are coping.  They have set up a structured settlement and are actively seeking ways to escape the maze.  They've been there two years and are no closer than they were when they started.  However, the day after Thomas's arrival the routine is broken and a chain of events is set in place that forces the boys to find a way out or die.

I liked it, but I didn't love it.  I would be happy if this series ended here...But of course not.  Authors never write self-contained books anymore.  *sigh*

Fall of Giants

by Ken Follett
985 pages

This saga describes the interconnected lives and events of several families covering events in Wales, England, Germany, France, Russia, & America during the World War I era.  The book starts in about 1912 and ends somewhere in the 1920's.  Socialism, worker's rights, equality, and suffrage are main themes that dominate the thoughts and actions of many of the lower class characters, especially those from Wales and Russia.  The book also details the events that lead up to the war, and the actions taken by various groups to try to prevent it.  It also talks about the peace process and the immediate aftermath of the war.  It also covers the Bolshevik revolution.  This is a great book, and I strongly recommend it.  The characters really move the plot forward and help you understand the social issues of the day.  I've described the characters below to help you get a better feel for the book.

Characters from Wales:

Earl "Fitz" Fitzherbert:  British nobleman who has a large estate in Aberowen.  Much of his money comes from leasing rights to coal mining on his land.  He is a traditional conservative and member of the House of Lords.  He is married to a Russian princess and always sides on the side of the establishment.  He serves as an officer and intelligence agent during World War I.

Lady Maud Fitzherbert:  The sister of Fitz.  She is more liberal than her older brother.  She's a suffragette and does charity work for "fallen" women and their children.  She's also has a controversial romantic relationship with German diplomat Walter von Ulrich.

Ethel Williams:  Ethel is a coal miner's daughter and starts the book working as housekeeper for the Fitzherberts.  Later she becomes a Labour Party activist and suffragette.

Billy Williams:  Billy is Ethel's younger brother and a young coal miner.  He has liberal tendencies, following in the footsteps of his father.  He later serves as a soldier in World War I under Earl Fitzherbert.

Character from Germany:

Walter von Ulrich:  German nobleman working as a diplomat to England.  He has a clandestine romantic relationship with Lady Fitzherbert, but that relationship is threatened by the war.  He is an advocate for peace, but when peace fails, he serves as an officer in the German army.

Character from America:

Gus Dewar:  Gus is the son of a wealthy New York senator.  He works as a junior staff person for President Wilson during much of the book, but also serves as an American army officer when America joins the war effort.

Characters from Russia:

Grigori Peshkov:  Grigori is a poor factory worker in Russia.  He dreams of a better life and dreams of moving to America, until World War I occurs and he is drafted into the army.  He also plays a role in the Bolshevik Revolution.

Lev Peshkov:  Grigori's troublemaking younger brother.  He is a stablehand, but eventually comes to America and becomes more successful.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction" by David Sheff

336 pages

To most observers, it looked like David Sheff lived a beautiful life. He had a successful career has a high-profile journalist, a lovely children’s book illustrator for a wife, and two adorable young children, Jasper and Daisy. But all of this was overshadowed by his older son Nic’s addiction to crystal meth. In this memoir, David recalls how his charming, joyful, energetic son became a surly addict who lied to his loved ones, stole from his parents, and lived on the streets. David tells the story of his initial denial, the 3 am phone calls that stopped his heart, the trips to the emergency room, the stints in rehab, the relapses. Through it all, David tortured himself with questions: What had he done wrong? What drove his beautiful boy to become such a monster? How could he help his son?

Before Beautiful Boy, I read and enjoyed Nic Sheff’s memoir Tweak about his struggle with meth. I liked his father’s version of the story even more. I like his writing style—this man obviously knows how to use words, and it makes his voice feel incredibly real. He goes into just enough detail to demonstrate how devastating addiction is without getting too gross or repeating himself as he chronicled Nic’s repeated disasters. I’m not a parent, but I feel that this is a book that would comfort any parents whose child is going through something difficult. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Dead Reckoning

Charlaine Harris
325 pages

Merlotte's is fire-bombed, putting the bar at risk of going under.  On top of that, Sandra Pelt reappears and seems determined to kill Sookie once and for all.  Eric is hiding something from Sookie, and Pam is mad at Eric for doing so. On top of all of this, Victor, the new vampire regent of Louisiana, seems determined to ruin or kill Eric, putting Eric at great risk.  Sookie also learns more about her family's past.

Overall, this is an interesting one.  I was a big fan of the ending, though many things are left up in the air, including Sookie's relationship with Eric.  I, for one, am still rooting for Sam, but I don't know that Sookie will ever get rid of the vampires.

Dark Desire

by Christine Feehan
315 pages

Jacques is a Carpathian male (a superhuman being that feeds on blood but is not evil), but he has no real memory of who he is because he has been severely tortured.  He has been locked in a box underground for several years, and his only connection to the outside world is a mental link with a female surgeon.  Shea is inexplicably drawn to him, but she has no idea why--she thinks she is just having bad dreams.

Shea is also special because she is half-Carpathian, but she thinks she only suffers from a rare blood disorder.  However, there are people out there who know what Shea is and are hunting her down, as they are hunting all of those of Carpathian descent.

Shea rescues Jacques, but she has no idea what she is getting herself into.  Jacques is barely holding on to his sanity, and at times has no real grasp on reality.  Shea is the only thing keeping him sane--his life mate and his anchor to the real world.  However, Shea and Jacques are going to need help if they are going to survive the forces that are seeking their destruction.

In ways I thought this book was better than Dark Prince, but the "steamy scenes" are getting a bit repetitive.  I like Shea and respected her as a strong female character.