Monday, August 10, 2009

Larsson, Kinsale, Carey, and Barnes. Oh my!

Here's a quick (Ha!) recap of the highlights of what I've read so far this month...Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played With Fire was an entertaining sequel to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. SPOILER ALERT! I wondered how Larsson would have Blomkvist and Salander interact after the ending of Tattoo since Lisbeth realized she was in love with Mikael and shortly thereafter was confronted with the reality of Mikael's love life (i.e. she saw him with his married friend-with-benefits, just one of his repertoire). Lisbeth doesn't do anything halfway and I wasn't sure how Larsson was going to negotiate things. I also wasn't sure how I was going to feel about Mikael's reaction to Lisbeth since the man is basically a tomcat :) Not amoral, just free with his affections, shall we say? Well, Larson negotiated things pretty well I thought, and also surprised me by leaving the ending open to be concluded in the third book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (I don't know why but I just assumed each book would have a real ending). Fire revealed some of the mysteries of Lisbeth's past but after I finished it I realized that the biggest answer wasn't revealed after all! We don't really specifically find out what happened to Lisbeth when she was thirteen. It was hinted at and maybe suggested but not fully revealed. Probably a good thing since there's one more book left that Larsson wrote before he died in 2004. I wonder what will happen - will they continue the series with a new writer or just finish it and let it be?

So I saw the post on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books about their page in People magazine and promptly wishlisted most of the book recommendations they gave there with the exception of Jennifer Crusie's Bet Me since I already have it and it's one of my favorite books. Ever. Anyhoo, Laura Kinsale's The Shadow and the Star was listed and it sounded very promising. A white ninja? Who had ever heard of such a thing! Well, ok, Batman might count :) Now that I've read it here's my reaction: eh. I was so disappointed! I absolutely respect the Smart Bitches and all that they've done for contemporary and romantic fiction but we don't always jive on our taste in books. That's okay, not everyone is going to agree, but I was surprised how differently I felt about this book. Set in late 19th century England and Hawaii(?), this is the story of how Samuel (the aforementioned white ninja) and Leda, an impoverished lady living in not quite poverty and trying to keep her head above water and not end up a prostitute in London, meet and fall in love. Samuel had a traumatic childhood and ended up living with an english earl and his family in Hawaii on the big island, becoming an apprentice to a Japanese butler, as seen in The Karate Kid. He believes himself to be in love with the earl's daughter Catherine but begins to doubt himself when he meets Leda in some pretty strange circumstances. This book just did not work for me. I liked Leda and her sensibilities and I liked Samuel but the flashbacks to his training with Mr. Myagi just didn't mesh with the rest of the story and the ending! It felt like it had just been crammed in at the end (duh) but seem to match the rest of the book. It was like, Let's come up with some kind of drama that will tie up all the strings of the plot and maybe establish some sort of resolution. Sorry, it didn't work. I hope I'm not also disappointed in Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels since it was also listed on that fateful page in People magazine but I am going to give it a shot anyway :)

Today, I'm working to finish Jennifer Lynn Barnes's Tattoo, a YA novel about four teenage girls that develops supernatural powers after they put temporary tattoos on their bodies. One has pyrokinesis (Bailey, our protagonist), one has telepathy (Annabelle), one has transmogrification (Delia), and last but not least, the fourth can see the near future (Zo). They are given these powers to help the sidhe fight a certain force of evil which hasn't been revealed to me yet. So far, it's been a fairly typical YA novel with teenage girls and their problems but hasn't been obnoxious about it :) Last night I restarted Vicious Circle by Mike Carey. I read about half of it last year after it came out but I wasn't in the right, um, place/frame of mind to read it so it's sitting on the shelf since then. Now that Dead Men's Boots has come out and the fourth Castor book, Thicker Than Water, will be available from amazon soon and I want to catch up with the series because I do like Carey's work and enjoy reading about Felix Castor. The plan is to pick it up again after I finish Tattoo today, and after I finish stuff around the house :)

Coming thoughts on Mercy Thompson: Homecoming (the comic book miniseries)

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