Archive for July, 2007

Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler

July 31, 2007

From the Publisher

The remarkable true story of Frankenstein’s origins and the curse on its creators.

On a dark and stormy night in 1816, on the shore of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, Lord Byron, famed English poet, challenged his friends to a contest–to write a ghost story. The assembled group included the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley; his lover (and future wife) Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin; Mary’s stepsister Claire Claremont; and Byron’s physician, John William Polidori. The famous result of that night was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a work that appeared in print two years later and has retained its hold on the popular imagination for almost two centuries. Less well-known was Polidori’s work, the first vampire novel. It too would inspire a legend (and most directly Bram Stoker’s Dracula), as well as many nightmares. And the evening begat a curse, too: Within a few years of Frankenstein’s publication, nearly all of those involved met untimely deaths.

My Comments: This is the first non-fiction book I’ve read in quite a while. It wasn’t dry or bland like a textbook, but rather totally engaging. It went quite deep into Mary Shelley’s family background to give us more of an understanding about where she came from and why.

The publishers did lead the reader somewhat astray, making the story of the night Frankenstein was created sound like a ghost story in and of itself. And I don’t know what curse was begat that night, but the untimely deaths weren’t very mysterious. Very interesting, but hardly curse-worthy.

The more I learn about the real lives of wonderful authors of that time period, the more disappointed I am. Their lives weren’t full of morality and integrity as I hoped. Especially in the case of Percy Shelley, William Godwin, Lord Byron (who wasn’t really a surprise) and Mary Shelley. Godwin and Percy Shelley were Socialists and disavowed the practice of marriage, saying it put women in slavery. Instead, they led lives of over abundance and lack of values having affairs and babies out of wedlock, leaving these women shamed and with no means. They left creditors in their wake as they traveled endlessly to outrun their bills. But during that time, genius was born.

Mary’s stoic endurance of losing two very young children had a profound affect on her own young life. When Mary was on her own many years after Frankenstein was written, she finally found her happiness that so eluded her. And while this book focuses on Mary’s life, it also touches greatly on Lord Bryon and how he inspired her to write her most famous work, Frankenstein.

Keep It Or Pass It On? I borrowed it from the library.

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Dream-Hunter by Sherilyn Kenyon

July 31, 2007

From the Publisher

In the ethereal world of dreams, there are champions who fight to protect the dreamer and there are demons who prey on them…

Arik is such a predator. Condemned by the gods to live eternity without emotions, Arik can only feel when he’s in the dreams of others. For thousands of years, he’s drifted through the human unconscious, searching for sensation. Now he’s finally found a dreamer whose vivid mind can fill his emptiness.

Dr. Megeara Kafieri watched her father ruin himself and his reputation as he searched to prove Atlantis was real. Her deathbed promise to him to salvage his reputation has now brought her to Greece where she intends to prove once and for all that the fabled island is right where her father said it was. But frustration and bad luck dog her every step. Especially the day they find a stranger floating in the sea. His is a face she’s seen many times…. in her dreams.

What she doesn’t know is that Arik holds more than the ancient secrets that can help her find the mythical isle of Atlantis. He has made a pact with the god Hades: In exchange for two weeks as a mortal man, he must return to Olympus with a human soul. Megeara’s soul.

With a secret society out to ruin her expedition, and mysterious accidents that keep threatening her life, Megeara refuses to quit. She knows she’s getting closer to Atlantis and as she does, she stumbles onto the truth of what Arik really is.

For Arik his quest is no longer simple. No human can know of a Dream-Hunter’s existence. His dream of being mortal has quickly turned into his own nightmare and the only way to save himself will be to sacrifice the very thing he wanted to be human for. The only question is, will he?

My Comments: I read a Dark Hunter book by Kenyon years ago. It was out of order in the series and it was lighter then the paranormal books I was used to (I had just discovered Anita Blake books by Laurel K. Hamilton). I always wanted to give the author another shot though, because I know so many people who adore her.

I was browsing at the library and came across this one and thought this was a good time to try Kenyon again. I have always enjoyed mythology and Atlantis has interested me since I was a child, but I couldn’t get interested in this book, and I can’t say I particularly enjoyed it very much either.

The characters were flat and one dimensional. The plot wasn’t compelling enough to keep me going. The only thing that made me want to pick up this book was that it was a seven day book from the library and I wanted to get it over with so I could read something I really wanted to spend my time on.

Sorry, Ms. Kenyon! I haven’t completely given up on you yet.

Dirty Martini by JA Konrath

July 19, 2007

From the Publisher

Lieutenant Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels, the insomniac Chicago cop with a train wreck of a personal life, has trouble on her hands, and it isn’t just because her boyfriend, Latham, wants to get married and she’s not sure she’s ready. A man in disguise has been visiting restaurants, grocery stores, and fast food places, ingeniously spreading a deadly toxin. Chicago’s newest criminal calls himself The Chemist, and he has murder on his mind. When Jack finds Latham unconscious on the floor of their apartment with toxin-laced takeout on the counter, it looks like someone has plans for her. Add to that her dead father who actually isn’t dead, her favorite partner, Herb Benedict, contemplating a transfer out of the police station, and a plot to poison all the cops in Chicago, and Jack is in for a scary ride. Dirty Martini is clever, suspenseful, and laugh-out-loud funny.

My Comments:

Dirty Martini is the fourth novel in this addicting series by J.A. Konrath. The books can stand alone, but you’ll appreciate the development of the characters so much more if you start from the beginning with Whiskey Sour.

This book was a departure from the previous books with cringe worthy torture scenes, violence and other serial killer debauchery. If you have a squeamish stomach, you might find this latest installment to be a relief. I personally have never found the violence in this series to be too much. The graphic nature only makes it all the more necessary for Jack to catch the bad guy.

Konrath’s use of witty repartee is a lost art that I look forward to and it’s a wonderful way to ease the readers mind when events get grizzly.

I’m also pleased to note that as a male author, he writes Jack so wonderfully female. Sometimes when an author writes their protagonist from the point of view of the opposite sex, it comes off as stereotypical and even annoying. Jack is strong, but not too much so. She’s everything I love in a female character.

I find these books to be fresh with each new installment. You won’t find a dry, predictable use of formula. You will find fully developed characters that seem to pop off the pages and take up residence in your living room. Which is fabulous in the case of Jack, Herb and Jack’s mother but not so much so in the case of The Chemist and McGlade! I am anxiously awaiting Fuzzy Navel coming out some time next year.

Keep It Or Pass It On? Oh, this is definitely a collectible series. I’m keeping this one close!

Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner

July 2, 2007

From the Publisher
At first my eyes wouldn’t make sense of the letters. Finally, they unscrambled. Loving a Larger Woman, said the headline, by Bruce Guberman. Bruce Guberman had been my boyfriend for just over three years, until we’d decided to take a break three months ago. And the larger woman, I could only assume, was me.
Cannie Shapiro never wanted to be famous. The smart, sharp, plus-sized pop culture reporter was perfectly content writing about other people’s lives on the pages of the Philadelphia Examiner. But the day she opens up a national women’s magazine to find out that her ex-boyfriend has been chronicling their ex-sex life is the day her life changes forever.
Loving a larger woman is an act of courage in our world, Bruce has written. And Cannie — who never knew that Bruce saw her as a “larger woman,” or thought that loving her was an act of courage — is plunged into misery, and into the most amazing year of her life.
Radiant with wit, bursting with surprises, and written with bite and bittersweet humor, Jennifer Weiner’s deliciously readable debut novel reaches beyond Cannie’s story and into the heart of every woman. Gut-level real and laugh-out-loud funny, Good in Bed celebrates the courage of the human spirit, and features an unbelievably funny cast of supporting characters, the strangest dog you’ll ever encounter, and a heroine you’ll never forget.
My Comments: I can never read anything when it’s new and everyone is talking about it. I always have to wait a few years and make sure it’s wonderful for myself and not a lot of worthless hype. Oh. My. Gravy. Love this book. Love. It.
At first I just enjoyed the main character because we were about the same size and struggled with all the same things “larger women” do. Looking at yourself only from the neck up in mirrors. Wearing control top panties (Okay, it’s a girdle. I’ll just say it.) and control top pantyhose at the same time hoping to keep the stomach area under some semblence of control. Feeling invisible in a sea of skinny pretty people or wanting to feel invisible in a sea of skinny pretty people or even more interestingly feeling both at the same time. But it became so much more then that.
It was about family. About love. Relationships. It was hilarious and tragic and sweet and wonderful. It was about loving yourself in your own skin, no matter how much of it you may or may not have.
About 200 pages into the book, I thanked God above it was a Saturday because I was going to read and I wasn’t going to stop until I was done. Mission acomplished! I cried. I smiled. I really, really cried. Smiled some more. Went and washed my face after crying again. And it all ended happily ever after! The end.
Keep It Or Pass It On?
I’m about to post it on www.paperbackswap.com from whence it came. I hope someone else will treasure it as much as I did!