Monday, May 16, 2011

Dead Reckoning

by Charlaine Harris

This is the eleventh book in the Sookie Stackhouse series (AKA True Blood). I started reading these books on my Hawaiian vacation a year ago, and blasted through them. I actually made my family go to the book store on our tropical vacation so that I could get the next one in the series. Once you pick up one of these books, you cannot stop. However, for my second review in a row.... I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed. It seems that the main character Sookie is forever re-evaluating her life, wishing that it was different... but never actually making the changes that she needs to build the life that she wants. As a reader, it is beginning to get incredibly frustrating. The Sookie I loved from the early books is slowly disappearing... no more words of the day or believing in the best of people. I suppose this is simply the result of the darkness she finds herself surrounded by, but I would like for just one thing to go right for her and restore her sense of hope.  That said, I still recommend the series (it is 180 degrees from the True Blood television series), and feel like this book laid some important groundwork for what is to come next.

Cloudy with a Chance of Marriage

by Kieran Kramer

Kieran Kramer is one of the newest historical romance authors. And after her fantastic first two novels, I bought this book on the spot when I saw it availabel in the store. I was anticipating something along the same lines as her earlier books, but was sadly disappointed. This may seem hypocritical after my last post about Something Borrowed,  but I cannot truly enjoy a romance novel where one of the characters is married. In this case, Jilly and Captain Arrow also lack the witty conversation and soulful relationship that I found in Kramer's first works. Although there is one major obstacle standing in their path, it is miraculously resolved and wrapped into a nice little package over the course of a few pages. In all, I think this novel lacked the depth that I expected. I would still rate Cloudy with a Chance of Marriage a solid three stars, as it was a quick and good (if predictable) read, but it was not my favorite of Kramer's Impossible Bachelor series. The sneak peek at the back of the book into the first two chapters of her next (fourth and final of the series) book already has me incredibly excited to get my hands on it! My hopes are high!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Something Borrowed

by Emily Giffin

The premise of Giffin's book Something Borrowed put me off for quite a while. A story where the heroine is the "other woman"?! But I heard so many positive reviews, I thought it was time to pick it up... I also can't say that seeing the preview for the movie coming out was not a factor in my motivation to get it read. Despite my inital concern about a cheating heroine, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Giffin somehow makes it work! Rachel (the heroine) is the girl next door, with low self-esteem, no relationship, and an unsatisfying job. Darcy is her best friend, with a job she loves, extreme self-confidence (seemingly narcissistic), and the perfect fiancee Dex. The central three characters are joined by a surrounding cast of friends who lighten the mood, support the female leads, and offer perspective.

*Minor Spoiler Alert* After hearing so many great things about Something Borrowed, I expected the character of Darcy to be extremely unlikable... so that it would be easier to cheer Rachel on. Instead, they were both complex characters with their own strengths and flaws. While Darcy is self-centered and steamrolls over Rachel, she is also has a dynamic personality that draws you (and Rachel) in. As Rachel's relationship with Dex continues to develop, Rachel begins to draw away from simply being "Darcy's friend" and developing her own strength and character by balancing friendship, love, and betrayal. The two women have a complex relationship, which is demonstrated by Darcy's continually trying to "up" Rachel in elementary school boyfriends, college admissions, and finally with Dex (who Rachel had a friendship with prior to his relationship with Darcy). So although Darcy is magnetic, you cannot entirely support her. Their past and Darcy's recent actions in her own relationship with Dex, appear to validate Dex and Rachel's affair. Yet, even though I felt happy for Rachel and Dex being together in the end, my heart was still a little sore for Darcy and the loss of their friendship. This probably stems from the fact that I do not believe an affair can ever be truly justified, and that you are always responsible for your own actions. In my opinion, your own behavior should never be dictated by the way that someone else acts. Despite my own beliefs, Giffin made this story not only readable, but truly enjoyable by creating multi-dimensional characters. Although I may not believe that the characters actions were right, I was drawn in and was able to understand their motivations. I am looking forward to reading her follow-up novel (Something Blue) that focuses on Darcy's character.