Thursday, April 7, 2011

What Are You Reading Between the Covers? - #13

I've been in bed this week feeling under the weather, but I have five new books to share with you.

I broke down and bought a copy of Kim Harrison's Pale Demon, even though I don't own any of the other books. I just couldn't wait for it at the library. The latest installment of Harrison's Hollows series did not disappoint. I am still recovering from Matalina dying in the last book, which brought a tear to my eye, but Jenks, Ivy, and the gang were back on track helping chauffeur Trent Kalamack cross-country on an elf quest. We also got an even closer look at Morgan's relationship with Al and the demons, which has been shaping up to be an interesting subplot. (I will not give away anything here, as the outcome of this book will blow you away). Don't worry; nobody dies. That's all I'll say. Check out this book.

Then I sunk my teeth into Stephen King's new novella collection, Full Dark, No Stars. Wow! What can I say that is bad about this book, but that it ended too soon! If you are a King fan, pick this one up. He is back in top storytelling form with this new release. So sad I finished this book and there's no more from King for awhile. I hate when that happens. I gobbled this like chocolate cake with no regrets; a man who murders his wife for money and is haunted by her ghost, a successful mystery writer raped on her way home from a book signing in the middle of nowhere seeking revenge, a man dying of cancer at 51 who makes an irresistible deal with the devil, and a woman who discovers after over twenty-some years of marriage that her husband is a famous serial killer. It was raw, harsh, and dirty. King makes no apologies in his afterword, in which he discusses getting into the darkness of his stories with a brutal honesty. He also mentions again that he writes for himself, not for the money, which is something as a writer I respect.

I switched gears then with a steampunk short story collection, Extraordinary Engines: The Definitive Steampunk Anthology edited by Nick Gevers. This collection had me psyched, but after reading the entire book only four stories really stuck with me. It's not that it wasn't well written because it was; I just wasn't feeling the subject matter in many of the tales. However, there are four authors I'd like to shed some light on; James Lovegrove, Margo Lanagan, James Morrow, and Keith Brooke. Mr. Lovegrove opened the series with a bang not a whimper, as T.S. Eliot would say, writing Steampunch, a nice little tale about the creation of professional wrestling robots. Who doesn't love a good robot story? This one is not to miss! My next gem in the collection was Ms. Lanagan's Machine Maid, which turned out to be a disturbing tale of a Victorian housewife with a robot maid and a penchant for revenge against her callous husband who uses her for his own sexual pleasure. If you are a male, you might find this story particularly disturbing. I know I am not and I did! Mr. Morrow's short story, Lady Witherspoon's Solution, was just as deviant and quite an interesting perspective coming from a male writer as it dealt with the castration of famous Victorian criminals in a very unique way and focused on the evolution of the human species. Do not skip this tale of the dark heart of man! And you can follow it up quite nicely with Keith Brooke's Hannah, which addresses the ethical question of cloning DNA in Victorian times and nature vs. nurture.

From robots and mad scientists I turned my attention to the kinder, gentler realm of wizards and demons in  Cinda Williams Chima's YA fantasy novel, The Demon King: Seven Realms #1. This was an entertaining YA novel, but for adults, I feel it was a little predictable. However, for teens and preteens I think it's the perfect opening book in a series. There's Raisa, the tomboy princess who feels smothered by her mother, the Queen, and two boys, Han and Fire Dancer, coming of age and finding themselves - typical teenage emotions. It's fast-paced and well written.

On from demons to wizards to the creation of the atomic bomb in Ellen Klages's The Green Glass Sea! This YA novel actually moved me to tears; there I was around 1AM crying in bed last night while my husband snored innocently beside me. I couldn't put this book down yesterday. Klages's main character, Dewey, was such a touching, tender, girl. The story follows her journey of friendship with another girl on the Los Alamos base, Suze. This gem was well written and offers a poignant message about the invention of the atomic bomb, offering a unique look into part of America's dark past. I highly recommend it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to rereading Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!

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