Sunday, November 26, 2006

"Severance: Stories," by Robert Olen Butler

The human head is believed to remain in a state of consciousness for 1.5 minutes after decapitation. In a heightened state of emotion, people speak at the rate of 160 words per minute. So Butler took this information and created stories narrated by the beheaded. Narrators include historical figures, such as John the Baptist, and the imagined, like a dragon beheaded by a knight. My favorite story was that of Nicole Brown Simpson.

I read it in under 2 hours. Definitely worth it.

4.5 stars

"Grave Sight," by Charlaine Harris

Apparently Harris has written many novels, and I've just never heard of them. Anyway, Grave Sight is the first novel in Harris' new series. It features Harper Connelly, who is a lightning-strike survivor. A gift (or curse?) left from the bolt is that she can now sense the dead. In other words, she can find dead bodies, know how they died, and actually see their last moments. She uses this skill as her only source of income, getting paid to travel the country with her step-brother Tolliver.

It was an okay book. Nothing spectacular. But what weirded me out was all this sexual tension between Harper and Tolliver. I wondered if I was crazy. But no, Amazon's review mentions it, too. There were a couple readers who reviewed the book also and claimed that there wasn't any sexual tension. But then, I can't expect everyone who reads to fully comprehend nuances. There'd be fewer people to make fun of.

Oh, and here's a quick quote from Publisher's Weekly. "A nifty puzzle toward the end will challenge the most jaded mystery buffs." Challenge? Dude, I solved it in a minute.

By the way, even though this wasn't the greatest book, I picked up the sequel already. Maybe it's the kind of story that gets better the longer it goes on. Or maybe I'll be wasting my time.

3 stars

"The Shadow Catchers," by Thomas Lakeman

This is a debut novel by Lakeman, and I couldn't put it down. I really have to be in the mood to read thrillers or mysteries, and this one gripped me from the opening pages to the very last paragraph.

FBI Agent Michael Yeager is on suspension after a child kidnapping case goes very, very wrong. He winds up in the Nevada desert (was that redundant?) brawling with a man who attempts to shove a handicapped kid in his truck. When that same man is later found murdered, and his daughter missing, Yeager is the prime suspect. The local sheriff clears him and asks him to unofficially assist in the missing girl's case. So begins a wild ride filled with psychological trauma, buried town secrets, and gore...lots and lots of gore. It was fantastic.

4.5 stars
The Guy Not Taken, by Jennifer Weiner

I liked all of JW's previous work, so it was a no-brainer to try this one out. Plus, I'm a huge fan of short stories. Unfortunately, this read like Intro to Creative Writing. Pretty much every lead character is damaged goods because of her father leaving when she was young. Wah. Oh, and most of them featured swimming in one form another. I know that we're taught, "Write what you know," but don't beat it to death. Not every bad thing in life can be traced back to your father being a bastard. It's time to grow up.

1.5 stars, and I'm being generous.
Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer

This is one of those cases where I saw someone else at the library getting this book, and I thought, "Hmm...maybe I should get it, too." So glad I did.

Okay, so it's young adult. And about vampires. Think less of me if you will, but I totally loved this book. Bella Swan goes to live with her dad, the police chief, in a tiny town called Forks in Washington. She can't understand why one boy, Edward, seems to hate her so much, even though he doesn't know her. Yet he keeps managing to save her life. Bella finally figures out his secret (shocker, he's the vampire), but she also falls in love with him. I'm not doing the story justice. Why don't you just do us all a favor, and read the freaking book, okay? Excellent writing, interesting characters, villainous villains, and an ending that was pleasing...and led to a sequel. Which brings me to...

New Moon, by Stephenie Meyer

Yes, the second book was good, too. Personally, I found the first book to be better written, but this one was also enjoyable. The complex love between Bella and Edward is shattered, with distraught Bella left to make sense of her life. But, oh, the twists and turns that may bring us back to Edward. Sexy, vampiric Edward. Er...anyway. Worth the read, especially since it will eventually bring us Eclipse, due out in the fall of 2007.

Twilight, 5 stars
New Moon, 4 stars