9 Feb 2010

Monthly Reading: January'10

Oh dear, I've gone and done it again! Kept putting off writing about these books... and now it's a month later and oops! Plus for some reason it feels like I read so many in January (and some rather quickly), it won't be easy recreating the sensations when I read them each... damn! Here goes...

From Dead to Worse and Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris
The two latest books in the True Blood series, they weren't in the box set I gave my sister for her birthday, so she got them herself and left them here for me to read after Christmas. The first one doesn't really seem to have much of a plot at all. The story is all over the place, should be more a selection of short stories, would have been more coherent. Dead and Gone is much better (there's a fairy war!!! and the 'shifters reveal themselves to the world!), the characters feel more involved in their story (and you actually care about what's going on), and the Sookie-Eric possibility kind of gets a friendly push! ;o)
But I still prefer the TV series. The rest of the characters are much better developed there. And I must say I'm very curious to see how they're going to deviate or remain faithful to the books as the seasons advance! (vampires and werewolves? bah! were-tigers and fairies coming up!!!)

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
I'm not going to try very hard to remember this one. No need. LOUSY! Worse than the other two Prof Langton novels. I just picked it up out of curiousity (my cousin gave it to my mom as a b-day present). I knew it wasn't going to be that great (my dad actually symbolically tossed it in the trash when he finished it, my mom fished it out 'cause she figured I'd want to read it), but this bad? Ouch! It makes even less sense that the previous ones, it had less of a cohesive narrative and the characters weren't as engaging. Langton himself spent way too much time spouting exposition. And you don't really see any growth in the character! I was curious about it because I wanted to see how they wrapped up the relationship in the DaVinci Code, but no mention whatsoever of that romance. Thanks but I prefer my characters (even in crazy fictional adventures) to be more coherent! Oh, and it's so transparent I figured out who the bad guy "really was" not even halfway in. Bah!

La Isla Bajo el Mar  by Isabel Allende
Lovely! I simply adore most of Isabel Allende's books. I jump on them as soon as I spot a new one in the book stores. This -her latest- is my favourite of those she's written in recent years. It's very vivid, feels very much alive!!! The story is that of Zarité, a slave -daughter of an enslaved African mother and her master-, a lover and a mother (to her own child and that of her master and mistress) and a believer/practitioner of voodoo. It's the story of the end of the sugar plantations and the French colony of Saint Domingue (Haiti! first country -after the US- to become independent from its European master, and entirely through a slave revolution), and that of Créole society in New Orleans as French/Spanish colony and then as a US territory. It's a story of fathers and sons whose ideas are in complete opposition to each other. It's a story of love and loss, of slavery and freedom. And it's a damn good story!

Here's a video of the presentation in Madrid, I believe it should be out in English in April.

Hadn't read this since I first got it 2 1/2 years ago (has it been that long?!), but having just re-watched The Half Blood Prince on dvd (Xmas! yay!) I wanted to dive back into the story, to re-live the "what happens next?" feeling, and to see if I could figure out where the hell they plan to cut the book in half to make two movies (apparently right after our trio is captured by... oops!). I actually enjoyed it much more than the first time, I guess I read it too fast then (devoured it would be more accurate), and was very much annoyed by the slow middle portion in the forest. Didn't bother me so much this time! It's a pity Harry Potter's adventures are over (although I can think of 3 wonderful young actors who are probably quite relieved and ready to move on), but weren't they wonderful while they lasted?  Hmm... I just realised I didn't read the epilogue! Have to go back and finish it then! :p
I think I'll be re-reading the whole series later on this year as a prep for the END... snif!

I've got this nagging feeling I might have forgotten one... it really felt like I'd read more than 5 books. Perhaps because I was more than 1/2 way through another one (which will go towards the February list, and yes, I've already started writing that post!). Oh well. If I did forget one then it can't have been that great! lol.

I've also noticed that my linguistic reading patterns are a bit unbalanced. For a trilingual who feels equally at home in English, Spanish and French... I'm reading way too much in English compared to the other two languages! So February is going to be my non-Anglo month. Nothing in English (or even originally written in English and then translated, I usually avoid those unless receive them as gifts). I've got a couple of books in French to read, the others all in Spanish but they include a couple of Swedish books and a Japanese one (all translations of course).


  1. I'm not really a Charlaine Harris fan either. I made my way through the first book, but couldn't find the motivation to continue with the series. :/

    It seems like we're all re-reading Harry Potter though. Lol. This makes the third blog counting my own that's reviewed it lately. ;)

  2. My heart warms (seriously) to see you're reading Rowling. My copy is sooooo tattered now (and it's a hard copy) - I constantly read it. It's light reading even though it's so massive, and I'm so glad that Ron (favourite character) gets some proper plot work. Am I gushing? It's my favourite of the seven. I particularly love the fable of the three brothers, but I should stop now. I will say it's a pity it's all over. Don't you think it would have made a KILLER TV series (even though I like the films very much).

  3. @Carrie, yeah, there are a lot of us re-reading them! Might be due to the recent dvd release of the final film, or the fact that it's been over 2 years since the last book came out so we're nostalgic, or that we're just really impatient and want those last movies out NOW!
    As for Charlaine Harris, the only reason I've continued reading them is because of my sister! But once you get used to her style they do get a bit better as the series goes along (but not much!)

    @Andrew: indeed, an excellent 7-season TV series à la Buffy! We'd get less important stuff cut out (the amount of material left out in Goblet of Fire and Half Blood Prince is heartbreaking!) :o)
    Only what network would be willing to put up the budget to do it properly?! :s

  4. Cris, I've started a new subcategory in the book section of my Amazon store — Recommended by Other Bloggers. No hurry, but would you be interested in recommending a few of your all time favorites? I'm thinking of doing a monthly post with links to the blogger. I used to be an avid reader, I still read but not nearly as much and thought it would be inspiration to me and others to get back into it again. Plus, living in the country should provide me with plenty of time! lol.
    I also thought maybe some bloggers would like to get into a book exchange, in this tough economy here I think it might work.

  5. Sure Rhonda! I'm an avid reader and I'm always recommending books I love to friends. In what format would you like the recommendations? Leave you a comment here or at your place, or would you like me to write a "favourite books" post? The latter might take a bit longer but would be lovely as then I can ooze about why I love them... ;o)

    And first recommendation: Shadows of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Spanish author I actually heard about when I saw him listed on the NYTimes bestseller list with this title! to quote my aunt -a litt prof- when I asked her about this book: it's as engaging/thrilling as The DaVinci Code -out at the same time-, but it's also litterature! lol)

    A book exchange is a nice idea... but cost of shipping sometimes is higher than the price of a paperback... :s

  6. Oh, a post would be a great idea! No hurry, I know you are busy. Let me know and I'll link it up to a post on my blog about the whole idea and hopefully get others to do the same. Like I said no hurry, no pressure.

    Here we have a special rate for printed matter, which includes books, of course. I used to sell some of my books on Amazon and the shipping was easy. I could buy $125 textbooks, brand new for $20 when I was in school. You know how heavy they are and the shipping was like $3. It was also 95 cents to ship a CD. It's gone up a bit, but not much. Paperbacks ran just over a $1.

    Thanks, Cris, this could be fun!

  7. I have the True Blood tv series on my Netflx. I have the Lost Symbol on my reading shelf - (oh no - am I going to hate it?) But I've never read Harry Potter. Couldn't get through the first book. My family loves them. Keep up the great book posts, they are so helpful!

  8. I'll start working on a draft Rhonda!

    Nancy, I honestly don't know! It's already a bestseller (in hardback!) so enough people out there are liking and buying it... but then I too enjoyed The DaVinci Code the first time I read it (and then realised how badly it was written the second time), and this one I was just bored most of the time! It was like "ok, I got it, can we move on with the story now? oh! that's the bad guy? DUH!!! figured that out pages ago!"
    In any case I'll be interested to hear what you think of it!
    As for Harry Potter... well the first two books are the simplest in terms of story and structure, but they only get better from there on in! ;o)


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