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books, reviews

Guts, Geeks and Girls – three reviews

Two weeks ago I received an order from Chapters after I used up an online gift certificate I had. Showing the three books I got to my friend, I asked if she agreed that I had a variety of tastes; she did. The three books were Incubus Dreams by Laurell K Hamilton, Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton and Forever in Blue by Ann Brashares. I’ve managed to read them all, Incubus Dreams was actually the slowest going and it was the longest as well (over 700 pages), so I’m glad the other two were quick reads.

Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton
I got the book on a Friday and it was done by Sunday. This is a memoir of sorts as Wheaton describes how he moved from being an actor (remember Wesley Crusher on Star Trek:TNG?) to an author. If you’ve read his blog at all then this book won’t present you with too many surprises and most of the stories will be familiar. It consists of excerpts from his blog dating ca. 2001 to 2002 but he fills in the gaps between the excerpts and elaborates, giving us a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look into his mind, since like many bloggers, he didn’t always write how he truly felt. I admit that I must be one of the few fans of the character Wesley Crusher, but what did I know? I was just a kid myself and I always thought it cool when a kid got on a “grown-up” show. Please don’t ask me to explain how I could have a crush on both Picard and Wesley. So, as a former fan, I probably enjoyed this book more than say a non-fan, especially someone not interested in Start Trek whatsoever. The book isn’t all about Star Trek but readers must understand that for Wheaton to accept who he is he had to confront his past and that included some mixed-up emotions regarding this past role. Part way through I started to feel disappointed because he didn’t cover as much time as I thought I would, but when I stepped back I saw that it was because he was focusing on the transition from has-been child actor to up-and-coming writer. In one of the reviews I read on Amazon someone asked what the point of this was. Perhaps that reviewer had never had such a change in life that would require a realignment of goals, values, or even identity. I know for me, my work is very much a part of who I am and so these past months I’ve been struggling as I’ve tried to find my new place, so I appreciate reading about others experiences. Not in a “misery loves company” way but more like, “hey he got through it, maybe I can too” sentiment. That being said, if you aren’t a fan of his blog, his other writing or his acting roles, then you could probably skip this one and find some other book with the same themes that you’d enjoy. I look forward to reading his other books in the future.

Incubus Dreams by Laurell K Hamilton
This is the guts part from my post title because, if you didn’t know, the main character, Anita Blake, is a vampire hunter among other things (such as necromancer) and the best way to kill a vamp is to blow its brains to pieces then shoot it through the body till you see daylight. Or so she says. Incubus Dreams is book 12 in the Anita Blake, vampire hunter series. I remember the first several novels being exciting and thrilling and I did blog about the first three. As mentioned in that earlier post, some refer to them as “vampire porn” because there’s a lot of sex and a lot of vampires. I usually describe it as erotic fiction though. One friend recently described it as porn and while I did correct her, I’m not so sure she was off the mark this time. As I wrote above this book took me a while to read, over a week and I was reading often. Honestly, there was just too much sex in it this time. I swear more than two thirds of the 700 pages were sex versus the detective/mystery/thriller side of things. See, usually some bad person comes to town and she ends up having to figure out who and why and then kills them. Not really this time – well she kills some but the big boss gets away without even a real view of him. Sure it leaves it open for another book, but that’s not what I want even in a series. There were also a few threads from the earlier part of the book that were hastily tied up in the end; it wasn’t satisfying at all. Really, it was almost such a turn off that I’m not sure I want to continue reading the series, especially since my friend who first turned me onto these books says that they do go downhill after the next novel. Oh, and really, who the heck was the proofreader on the printing I got? There were so many errors I got distracted. I expect a couple, but there must’ve been at least a dozen. If all you want to do is read about one woman having sex with vampires, werewolves, wereleopards et al. then this is your book, if you’re looking for something with a little more adventure then don’t get yourself hooked on this series.

Forever in Blue by Ann Brashares
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2” is out so I figured it was time to finally read the last in this series. The first movie mixed a bit of books one and two and I hear this second movie mixes books two, three and four, so I wanted to make sure I read them all before going so nothing was spoiled. Of course, since the first movie, I couldn’t help but imagine the actresses as the characters now, which isn’t bad because they all did a wonderful job in the first movie. This last book starts the summer after their first year in college. It seems like it’s been pretty rough on some of them and they haven’t seen enough of each other through the year. And they aren’t going to see much of each other through the summer either as they all have plans. It has been a while since I read Girls in Pants so I don’t remember where they ended but I felt as though a couple of the girls didn’t really grow that much. Maybe I’m just projecting onto them since things for me were so different from high school to university (you know I never set foot or laid eyes on my university before I actually moved into residence?). Certainly though, throughout this book, I could see that the girls were growing, becoming young women making adult decisions (or not). I really enjoy the author’s method of writing and changing between the voices of each character. At first I thought the ending was really cheesy, but after thinking about it, I probably wouldn’t want it any other way. Forever in Blue was a fulfilling conclusion to the story of the traveling pants. Oh, and if I had to pick one character that I was most like, I’d go with Bridget, except for the whole athletic thing. Which do you relate to most?

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About Jen

An instructor, a reader, a dog-owner, and advocate; that's how I define myself and these aspects directly impact my interests and conversations.

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