This week's book review is brought to you by this cute, cuddly cat from The Dallas World Aquarium. I've got three picks for you.
1) I discovered Valerie Laken at my local library's fundraiser book sale. When I read she teaches at the university where I started graduate school, my interest was piqued. Dream House, her debut novel, started out relatively slow. If you're willing to stick with the story, the plot does pick up after about four chapters. Its cover blurb is misleading. I thought I was purchasing a ghost story, but it wasn't much of one. It was a great study in character development, though. The writing is good, but honestly, after reading it and putting it aside, the story hasn't stayed with me the way good ones do. Dream House follows a young couple through their troubled marriage and renovation of a house once owned by a family with a dark history of domestic violence. After being released from prison, a mysterious man befriends Kate, the woman of the house, and offers to help her renovate, but he has a secret himself. He used to live there and he knows what happened the night that tore his family apart forever. I'd say this book is worth a vacation read, but don't expect any gothic grandness, paranormal experiences, or a seriously profound ending.
2) Teeth: Vampire Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling was better than Dream House. This young adult collection of tales entertained me. A few stories stuck with me well past when I closed the cover. Genevieve Valentine's Things to Know About Being Dead was a lovely take on Asian vampires. I truly enjoyed the female character in Christopher Barzak's Gap Year, struggling with the coming of age debacle after high school. Delia Sherman delivered a unique perspective from a family of circus performers and lovely collection of cats, my very favorite story in the anthology. And Tanith Lee's Why Light? proved to be a great love story. I recommend this one for all ages and I've been introduced a new author, so thank you kindly, Ms. Datlow and Ms. Windling.
3) Then I read Patricia Cornwell's From Potter's Field, a Kay Scarpetta novel that did not disappoint. I love the Kay Scarpetta series because she's a strong female character who doesn't wimp out for love, sticks to her principles, and works well under pressure. Also, it helps that the other characters are interesting and the subplots aren't boring either. The murders never fail to entertain with their details too. This one deals with the case of a young woman found naked and frozen, propped up beside a fountain in a New York park during the holidays. Scarpetta is on the hunt for the sadistic Temple Gault, a character her readers are very familiar with by now, one that's eluded and traumatized her family, friends, and coworkers, leaving a trail of bodies behind him to shame Hannibal Lector. Will she catch him this time? Read and find out.
As always, happy reading and happy writing to all!