Friday, September 25, 2009
The Rest Falls Away I struggled with the first book. I found Victoria to be self-centered and pig-headed. In fact, that weren't a lot of characters I really liked. Sebastian comes across as a dirty old man, Max is dark and arrogant; and Lillith is just creepy. Well, creepy is fitting for a vampire but still. I just found the whole concept of vampires being created after Satan claims Judas Iscariot's soul to be too disturbing. I did like how Gleason creates an atmosphere of suspense and I liked the historical setting. Also, it was good to see the vampires cast as truly evil beings even though they seem to entice the unwary into their grasp by their hypnotic and sensual gaze. Rating: 3.25
Rises the Night The Venators convene in Rome to fight a horrible threat from a vampire hoping to become more powerful than Lillith. Victoria puts herself in danger because of her bull-headedness and pride. Max has his own agenda and hasn't shared his plans. We do learn that, far from being a dirty, old man, Sebastian is actually extremely attractive, especially to Victoria. In fact, the sex in this book lowers my rating. It was over the top. And Victoria is a bit of a sleaze. There is more staking of vampires which can get old after a while; but the main conflict was very gripping and I was completely taken by surprise by some of the outcomes. Rating: 3
The Bleeding Dusk I almost didn't continue with this series because the first two books didn't appeal that much to me. I'm glad I kept on with it, because this book captured my attention. Maybe it's because Sebastian and Max became more real to me and I started to understand their motives. Victoria is also starting to grow up and act more like the leader she needs to be. I found the introduction of demons, Satan's other army and mortal enemies of the vampires, to be a bit silly but at least the fighting changes. You don't kill demons by staking them. I was able to recognize the sex scenes earlier and skip them so I wasn't bothered with that. Whatever, I enjoyed this book and was eager to follow the action in the next installment.
The Twilight Burns The vampires are becoming cagier, creating more problems for Victoria, Max and Sebastian. There were some surprises in this book and interesting developments with Victoria. Again, I liked this book and was quite engrossed. Rating: 4
As Shadows Fall If this is the last book in the series, there are a lot of unanswered questions. What really happens to Sebastian? What about the potion recipe that was given to Lillith? What is the future of the Venators? I don't like unanswered questions, so I'm hoping for a sequel. By this time, Max and Sebastian have grown on me, Victoria, maybe a bit. I really like her maid though. Great comic relief amidst all the fangs and stakes. Rating: 3.75
Overall, I would recommend the series, especially if you like vampire romance books. I don't love romance novels and probably would have liked these books better with a little less romance and more intrigue. Except I got to where I enjoyed Sebestian's flirting with Victoria. It's just her response to him that struck an odd note with me.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
The action is intricate and exuberant. After a spectacular bit of con artistry, Amram and Zelikman receive a windfall: They ride away with an adolescent “stripling,” Filaq, who happens to be in line for the throne of a legendary Jewish kingdom now controlled by a wicked warlord. Fierce of spirit and itchy of foot, young Filaq longs for his home and throne but hides a secret that may keep them out of reach. He also shows a flair for startling escapes and for raising small armies.
With their purse in Filaq’s hands and their fates increasingly linked to his, the gentlemen fling themselves into new exploits. They tangle with a cyclopean mahout, a hired killer, hordes of rampaging Northmen and an elephant of many talents, not the least of which is a gift for drama. Amram, Zelikman and Filaq are regularly parted and reunited, sometimes wounded and even pleasured. The stripling’s secret is duly revealed, and after Filaq endures a last horrible assault, they all steal into the Khazarian stronghold for a suitably bloody climax.
A hillside fortress burns “zealously, sending up rolling shafts of black smoke veined at their root with fire and moaning like the mouth of a cave.” An invalid Northerner, “white as a fish belly,” is dragged from his hiding place and “slashed open like a gushing sack of wine.” On a rare break from the riotous action, Zelikman comes to rest on a “carpet that smelled like rutting sheep, in the cramped gloom of a circular dog tent constructed, as far as he could tell, from equal quantities of rancid felt, dung smoke and the acrid shadow cast by a naphtha lamp.”
Review by Susann Chokal in the New York Times, Octobe 28, 2007
I listened to this short novel on my trip to Provo and back this weekend and really enjoyed it. I decided to use someone else's review because it's a hard book for me to describe and I had no idea how to spell anyone's name. There is a lot going on this adventure and the two 10-century conmen are right in the middle of it all. Amran and Zelikman are fantastic characters and made me laugh several times. It was a fun book to listen to, especially with the author's afterword describing why he wrote an adventure story involving Jews when adventure is not a big part of his real life.
Monday, September 07, 2009
Friday, September 04, 2009
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Many of you have seen the movie that was based on this book, orginally named Rocket Boys. I loved the movie and usually don't like to read books tied to movies because I'm usually disappointed. October Sky proved to be a wonderful exception. First of all, the movie and the book are quite similar with just a few less important things left out of the movie like Homer, Jr's (Sonny) crushes and romances. I don't remember the hostility between Sonny and his brother, Jim. I don't remember a number of things and I think I'll just watch the movie again. (I love Jake Gyllenhall). First and foremost, this is a story about following your dream. "Sometimes one dream is enough to light up the whole sky." I really appreciated how following their dream with the support they received changed the lives of these five boys, all of whom went on to graduate from college. (A rarity in this corner of West Virginia in the 1950's) But you also learn about the different types of love and caring that exist: within a family, within a group of friends, between students and teacher; within a community. The support that Sonny and his friends received from the hard-pressed mining community was phenomenal. Another think I missed in the movie was the love that Sonny had for his home. This book doesn't sugar coat the remoteness of Sonny's town or the fact that it revolves around the coal mine; but it also paints a beautiful picture of the West Virginia mountains. I've driven through West Virginia and found it fascinating but can't imagine those kids traveling on a bus in the middle of winter up and down three or four mountains and around sharp curves with abrupt drops into gaping chasms. The book also gave me a glimpse into what the U.S. was like during this Cold War era with the Russians reaching space first. Hickam didn't sugar coat the difficulties of his community or within his own family and certainly was more than fair concerning his own shortcomings. But he told a gripping and heart warming story that I think anyone would enjoy.