A Year of Reading Dangerously

It has been a really busy few months (okay…a really busy year) and I’ve sort of let Old Musty books and the book review portion of the show suffer a bit.  To try to compensate I’m going to catch you up with some of my best reading during this time.  Most of my reading, as you will see, was of series of books..  Its been great and I’ve actually really enjoyed what I’ve read for the most part.

First on the list is Alma Katsu’s The Taker Trilogy (The Taker and The Reckoning).  I was not excited by the prospect of The Taker when it was first presented to me. The story isn’t something I would normally read, and the author was tauted as being as good as Anne Rice.  I always feel like if you have to use Anne Rice or Stephen King in the publicity text, then its probably not that good. What got my attention was the book jacket – yup, I said it…I judged the book by the cover.  For long time Old Musty readers, you know I am disdainful of picking books on that merit alone.

The book arrived, and sat in my book stack for more than a couple months.  Eventually, I picked it up, and didn’t put it down until I’d devoured the whole book.  I emailed the publisher and told her I’d be interested in the 2nd book – The Reckoning.  And then The Reckoning arrived…and it too was devoured.

The writing was great.  It was in fact a bit reminiscent of Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire – only its not about vampires and its a bit darker and full of obsession and lust. I thought the sex scenes would be a bit much – and one of the reasons why originally I was turned off with the idea of the book (something about the description led me to believe it was more para smut lit then anything else), but they were somewhat tastefully done and I can’t remember at anytime rolling my eyes thinking “…and here it is, the reason the book is going to sell well.”  Turns out the story is a (ack) love story, but one that was gripping and meaningfully told. And these books will always be remembered as my guilty pleasure reading.

I can’t wait for The Descent to come out in May 2013, and I’m going to read the short stories The Marriage Price and The Devil’s Scribe – both very short, but both very much a part of this trilogy.

The Taker by Alma Katsu (Book One of the Taker Trilogy)
The Reckoning by Alma Katsu (Book Two of the Taker Trilogy)
Looking forward to the Descent
Short Stories: The Marriage Price and The Devil’s Scribe which also has its roots in The Taker Trilogy

Alma Katsu’s Amazon Page and Her Official Website

Then came The Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night from Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy.  I had read The Discovery of Witches during the summer of 2012, and really liked the historical fiction and paranormal aspects of the story.  Turns out you’ll see a theme here of historical fiction being a constant in my enjoyed reading – I’m also a big fan of historical witch lore.

Shadow of Night was a great sequel.  I loved that Diana and Matthew went back to Elizabethan London to find a witch that could teach Diana how to be, well, a witch.

Discovery of Witches (Book 1 in the All Souls Trilogy)by Deborah Harkness
Shadow of Night (Book 2 in the All Souls Trilogy)by Deborah Harkness

Deborah Harkness’ Amazon Page and Her Official Website

I had heard about Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin on HBO and was interested in seeing what the story was about, so I ordered it. Then we moved and had HBO as part of our cable package, shortly after the 2nd season ended. The book was amazing enough to make me want to watch the series, but not yet amazing enough to be sure I wanted to make the investment in the whole series.  And then, I watched season 2 and couldn’t wait to get the whole series.

I have since read the first three books and am mostly through Book 4: A Clash of Kings.  Book 4 is by far my least favorite book, because it focuses on characters I don’t really care if they live or die.  I loved the first three books and can’t wait to read the A Dance with Dragons (Book 5).

What do I love about this series?  Everybody dies, not to give away spoilers, but favorite characters aren’t long for this world, and just when you think you’ll not like the rest of the books because your favorite character has died, and there’s three more books to go, you realize you have a new favorite character.  Luckily, two of my original favorite characters are still alive and I’m hoping two of my newer favorite characters – one is an endearing character and one was despicable – will live to see other books (and dragons, for that matter).

I love this series!  It rates right up there with the Dark Tower series by Stephen King and the Lord of the Rings by Tolkiin in all their awesomeness and glory.  The world is expansive and the story is epic. I’m so happy I found this series.

If you haven’t read these yet, I suggest going for it and buying the four pack set that way, you won’t have to wait for the next book to arrive.

A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin is 4 book bundle (because we aaalllll bundle according to the Stepford Wives neighborhood in the Vonage commercials) – Book 1: A Game of Thrones; Book 2: A Feast for Crows; Book 3: A Storm of Swords; and Book 4: A Clash of Kings
- Looking forward to A Dance with Dragons (Book 5 in the series)

George R. R. Martin’s Amazon Page
and His Official Website

And that leads me to present day.  I have a new Amazon Kindle Fire (the 7″) and I love it!  More on that in the future, I’m sure.  With it came a one month subscription to Amazon Prime.  I wanted to try it out, so I borrowed The Hunger Games and subsequently Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins.

I’ve been hesitant to read this series, and I’m not really sure why.  I like dystopian worlds, I love Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery, Stephen King’s The Long Walk and The Running Man, and I liked Moira Young’s Blood Red Road (not quite the same, but close enough).

I was pleasantly surprised, but also really disappointed, but (sorry mom, two buts in the same sentence, I know…bad) I’m also willing to hold out and read the last book and revise my opinion.

I loved the concept of the WHOLE story. I did, but I hated the way the girl (katniss) used the boy’s (Peeta) love against him to live.  She made people think she loved him back to survive.  I can’t help but think this isn’t really what we want to teach our kids- girls/boys, if you pretend to love him, then you will get all the things you need to survive…I actually think too many people operate this way as it is. Frankly, it made me really uncomfortable.

That said, I thought the brutality of the games was realistic for the type of story this is.  I am very interested to see how it plays out in Book 3 – but not so interested that I’m running out to get it.  I want to finish it just so I can have closure in the series.

As I said at the onset of this part of the review, I will happily revise this review after reading the third book, but I’m pretty sure I’ll not change too much about it.  I think that maybe I’ll have a bit more to say about why there was so much hype about the books, but then again maybe not.

If you haven’t read them yet, and want to:
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins’ Amazon Page
and Her Official Website

If you have read them and want to read more like this:
The Long Walk by Stephen King
The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
The Running Man by Stephen King