Monday, October 11, 2010

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

Release date (Australia): 14 September 2010
Rating: 8/10

Seven Stones of Power...
No one knows when they were created or by whom, each said to represent one of the Seven Deadly Sins. For centuries, treasure hunters have been eager to possess the Stones, undeterred by their corrupting nature. The list is long – Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, to name a few. Now the Stones have found their way to Salem, Massachusetts, and so has Gerwulf Grimoire, adding himself to this rogue’s gallery of power seekers. He’s an uncommonly dangerous man with a hunger for the forbidden and a set of abilities that is way beyond ordinary. Abilities that he feels entitle him to possess anything he might desire.

That would include Elizabeth Tucker, the woman he needs to find the Stones. She’s freshly transplanted from New York City to Boston’s North Shore. With a new job as a Pastry Chef at Dazzle’s Bakery and an old house inherited from her Aunt Ophelia, her life is pretty much on track … until it’s suddenly derailed by a man named Diesel, a rude monkey and a ninja cat. Lizzy can handle the monkey and the cat. She’s not sure about Diesel. The Seven Deadly Sins are pride, greed, lust, envy, wrath, sloth and gluttony. That pretty much covers everything that is wicked. Diesel thinks it also pretty much covers everything that’s fun. And Lizzy thinks Diesel and the Seven Deadly Sins cover everything her mother warned her about.

I love Janet. I hate that so many people have this impression of her as being a chick lit author (as a condescending thing). I’ve never associated Janet Evanovich with that type of writing, especially because the Stephanie Plum novels are crime stories. They’re ridiculously funny and awesome and brilliant, but they (especially the earlier ones) can be quite violent and, at times, a bit scary. But the best part of her writing has always been her humour, to me. There are numerous authors I love because of their humour, but unfortunately it is very male dominated. I love that Janet writes such kick-ass, hilarious stories while still being girly and violent and brilliant all at the same time.

Being a huge fan of hers already, I was thrilled to read about Wicked Appetite before it was released. I am a nerd for supernatural elements in real life situations within stories, so this book sounded perfect. However, I am yet to read any of the between-the-numbers books in the Plum series (due to other books taking importance more than anything else), so I hadn’t been introduced to Diesel through them. I think I preferred it that way, because this series felt like an entirely new series unconnected to Stephanie Plum et al at all.

The pacing of the books are very similar to what Janet Evanovich fans would be used to, with stumbling into amusing situations in the middle of a greater storyline. The parallels between the Plum series are undeniable and mentioned extensively in a lot of other reviews, but I felt the characters stood alone enough to be likeable, funny, entertaining, and not carbon copies of Janet Evanovich’s most famous series.

It was the perfect book for me the last couple of weeks, because I haven’t had any time to read with university assignments due and the off chance I did get to read (aka, on my lunch breaks at work and prac) it was a great, funny, crazy book to get into. It made me smile a lot and, really, what more could you want for a book when you have a lot of other more stressful things to read for study? Lizzy Tucker is my new hero.

(I also spent most of the book wanting to eat cupcakes.)

"You've got to stop with the eye rolling. You're going to strain something."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Favourite Author Focus: Audrey Niffenegger

It’s might be odd to do a favourite author focus on someone who has only written two books, I suppose, but I adore both The Time Traveler’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry beyond almost any other books.

Don't you think it's better to be extremely happy for a short while, even if you lose it, than to be just okay for your whole life?

I first read The Time Traveler’s Wife on recommendation from my cousin with whom I was staying with in London for a month in mid-2005. I couldn’t put it down. I read it obsessively on the tube, at night before bed, and in the mornings while eating breakfast after my cousin and her two flatmates had gone to work. It was one of a few books I’ve ever read that I finished and quite honestly could’ve started from the beginning again straight away. I completely fell in love. I have a weird fascination with the idea of time travel; I blame reading Emily Rodda’s Finders Keepers and The Timekeeper at a very young age. (Oh, how I loved everything Emily Rodda when I was in primary school. I love that she still writes and is still being read by kids today, even if they’re different books to the ones I read.) The Time Traveler’s Wife is a love story like no other and still one of the most original stories I have ever read. A lot of people feel it’s overrated because it's so popular, but I don’t care if something’s popular or not – it’s either good or it’s not. And The Time Traveler’s Wife is amazing. (How could I not love something that even references a John Locke theory?)

'What we need,' Henry says, 'is a fresh start. A blank slate. Let's call her Tabula Rasa.'

I was ridiculously happy when Her Fearful Symmetry was announced as being released. I waited MONTHS for it to arrive in the bookstore I work at. I remember unpacking the boxes and my excitement at opening a box of them made my colleague make fun of me for days about it. Speaking of weird fascinations, I also love twins, particularly identical twins. It’s a crazy thing. But naturally when I heard that Audrey Niffenegger’s new book was going to involve TWO sets of identical twins, I was just a smidge (read: extremely) excited. Some reviews seem to just dislike it compared to The Time Traveler’s Wife. Do people read books by the same author because they want a repetition of their last book? How lame. It’s either too different to their previous books or authors get crap for making them too similar. I thought Her Fearful Symmetry was brilliant and read it in two days. But then, twins + ghosts + paranormal + London + a love story that isn’t typical = awesome to me.

In the dim light of the computer screen he seemed otherworldly; Julia thought him beautiful, though she knew it was the beauty of damage.

I really look forward to anything else Audrey Niffenegger writes in the future; her stories are different, beautiful, poetic, and amazing. They’re literary without being difficult to read for the sake of it, reference awesome music, include supernatural elements, the characterisation is realistic (including swearing, which the absence of often seems unnatural to me), and I find them incredibly difficult to put down. Perfect kind of books, if you ask me.

Of course... some people, me included, believe that punk is just the most recent manifestation of this, this spirit, this feeling, you know, that things aren't right and that in fact things are so wrong that the only thing we can do is to say 'fuck it', over and over again, really loud, until someone stops us.