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Review: The Vampire Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas

in a sentence or two: an in depth character study and observation of dr. Edward Weyland (vampire) and a few of his more intimate human encounters

in the 5 sections of the vampire tapestry, there are 5 separate accounts of the life of Edward Weyland. beginning with his near-death encounter with a suspicious collegiate faculty, we are taken on a journey of personal thoughts and feelings (or lack there of) of Weyland and the people he comes to know.

there isn't much time spent on the genealogy or origins of Weyland, mainly because he isn't aware of any. that fact, among others, sets us up for a very interesting character study of the lone member of perhaps the most intriguing and infatuating supernatural being ever.

throughout the five sections, Weyland is accused of rape, held hostage, goes into therapy, gets swept away by the opera Tosca, and is stalked by a satanist who wants to use Weyland for his own gain. through the eyes of Weyland we see the weakness and emotions of human kind (his cattle, as he calls them) as well as the lack of understanding or care on behalf of Weyland.

as bizarre as it may sound, the best way for me to describe this book is that it is a character study of a vampire in modern times. it shows how people would interact with one, and how he interacts with them. his solitude and complete lack of interest (well, almost complete) in his prey (that's you and me folks) create a sad, intriguing, complex, yet basic creature that i found to be really fascinating. there are suspenseful moments and plot twists, but at it's core this book is an in-depth exploration of what / who a vampire is.

it was sooooo gooooooood! Charnas creates an amazing character with Edward Weyland, and using 5 different 'stories' within the story is an excellent way to keep the story shifting and changing. while any of the 5 sections could be read individually (apparently the section 'Unicorn Tapestry' won the Nebula Award) they are much more cohesive and rewarding as a whole. also, i feel like i was attracted to Weyland in spite of myself throughout the book...which is odd because he is repeatedly described as heartless, nonchalant, uncaring, etc etc.

while i'm not the most well versed on vampirical fiction (and i intend to change that), i have heard that this is the quintessential vampire book, and i am strongly inclined to agree! the way he survives, the way he hunts, and the way that humans play into his existence is simply fascinating.

fave quote: "On a Tuesday morning Katje discovered that Dr. Weyland was a vampire, like the one in the movie she'd seen last week". (opening line of the book baby!)

fix er up: nothing i can think of. pretty solid read.

title: The Vampire Tapestry
author: Suzy McKee Charnas
genre: Vampire, Drama, Lisa's Fave

Review: The She by Carol Plum-Ucci

in a sentence or two: Evan Barrett is haunted by the cloudy memories surrounding the death of his parents, and wants some real answers as to what really happened to his mom and dad on their last night at sea. he has faint, yet terrifying, memories of a horrible screeching coming from the sea - from a local legend he once firmly believed in called simply 'the she'...

okay first of all, how cool is the title / cover of this book? regardless of my immense enjoyment of "the body of christopher creed" by the same author, i probably would have snatched this off the shelves of the library based on the sheer creepiness of the cover. that, and the intrigue of a sea-monster...

Evan's parents disappeared when he was young. note, i say disappeared, not died...necessarily. there is a big fat cloud of mystery surrounding their last night at sea, and Evan, his brother Emmett, his aunt Mel, and his grandpa (opa) have all come to their own separate conclusions about what happened that night and why. Evan was never really sure what his theory was, mainly because his memories were suppressed for the most part until Grey slipped him some acid at a party...whoops. Emmett and aunt Mel have much more 'factual' opinions as to what happened, while Evan is increasingly convinced that 'the she' is responsible for what happened to his parents.

now enter Grey - the girl who slipped Evan acid at a party without his knowledge. she too experienced something very similar to what Evan remembers...the screeching that only they could hear that happened right before someone died. that's right, only SOME people can hear the creeptastic screeching from 'the she', and it only happens when someone (typically a romantic couple, because apparently 'the she' gets jealous of lovers-on-the-sea) is about to meet their doom. while Evan lost his parents, Grey lost a person she hardly knew after her boat tipped and sucked the young girl to her death care of 'the she'. that event (as well as some unpleasant family history) bumped Grey into the mental hospital where she's trying to become a better and healthier person as well as discover what the heck is going on with 'the she'. of course, Grey and Evan join forces...though a bit reluctantly and awkwardly at first. he's still not over that whole i-slipped-you-acid thing.

Plum-Ucci weaves a very intriguing story. she uses broken characters to create a mystery/coming of age hybrid that keeps you intrigued while genuinely caring about what happens to the characters. it's a tough line to walk, and at some points in the story, it begins to show. for the most part however, the balance is attained through the discovery of self and discovery of the mystery of the she. the characters discover just as much about themselves as they do anything else in the story.

i was honestly able to feel the haunting presence of 'the she' at times while reading this. the descriptions of the sea, the houses, the boats, and everything else is so vivid and realistic that you feel sucked into the little sea-side town. i cared about the people and i cared about what was discovered about 'the she'. i can't say i was surprised at the ending, especially after having read one of her books before, but i did appreciate the compromise of solution that she came to to explain it all. overall, a pretty darn good read.

fave quote: "I want to jump through the radio to get to my mom's screaming Maydays, and I want to bolt upstairs to get Emmett. I end up backing out slowly, hearing The She until she has almost overpowered my mother's voice, which is screaming. The sound is all through me then, coming from the sky, the beach, the radio." (13)

fix er up: i was a bit irritated at referring to high-fives as 'skinning'...as in, he held his hand up for me to skin it, so i did. sometimes attempting to use teenage vernacular in stories really bugs me. also, like i previously mentioned, at times the story lost a bit of it's balance by focusing too much on the relationship between Evan and Grey - but that was an interesting sub-plot none the less.

title: The She
author: Carol Plum-Ucci
genre: mystery, thriller, coming-of-age

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Pub Deets: 2007, Razorbill
Series/Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Source:  Purchased

Clay receives a box of cassette tapes (yes, apparently they are still around) from his classmate and crush Hannah...who died by suicide two weeks ago. there are 7 cassette tapes with a total of 13 recordings on them - the 13 reasons why Hannah gave up.

Hannah was the new girl her freshman year, with a clean slate. she was funny, smart, pretty, and socially capable of doing pretty well for herself. She makes friends with the other 2 new kids that year, and they find themselves supporting each other as newbies while spreading their wings socially among the other students. And that's about the end of what goes right for Hannah. Her two 'closest' friends betray her and a path of seemingly unrelated events and rumors tear her down piece by piece until she can't stand it anymore.

Clay is the latest recipient of the tapes that Hannah recorded the day before she died. He can't remember a single malicious thing he did to her, in fact, he was pretty smitten with her so he can't figure out why he would be one of Hannah's 13 reasons. But in order to find out, he has to listen to all the tapes in order, hearing each other person/reason why. Each story is heartbreaking and hauntingly familiar to clay. He saw/heard the rumors Hannah is talking about but is hearing the truth from her now. The way he sees his classmates, his town, his teachers, even himself, changes with each tape he plays.

This was a very emotionally exhausting read. Asher was able to create characters and stories through a storytelling mechanism WITHIN a book...wowsa. The distance they were removed from the reader did not affect my ability to connect with Hannah or clay at all. Hannah isn't the tragic portrait you'd imagine, and at times the things that happen to her feel overwhelming, and perhaps just the teensiest bit exaggerated. However, I feel like it's definitely plausible that rumors snowball and create reputations that affect others actions and ultimately all of those actions+rumors+actions can crush a person. like they do to Hannah.

While a bit heavy handed, Asher makes a good point with an incredible story. Clay's desperation is so real and his hurt is felt so deeply. even Hannah, whose voice is portrayed through the tapes and in italics through the story (which wove in very nicely) is incredibly genuine. His social statement is well taken, and his storytelling is suspenseful, funny, and desperate all at the same time.

"Like driving along a bumpy road and losing control of the steering wheel, tossing you - just a tad - off the road. The wheels kick up some dirt, but you're able to pull it back. Yet no matter how tightly you grip the wheel, no matter how hard you try to drive straight, something keeps jerking you to the side. You have so little control over anything anymore. And at some point, the struggle becomes too much - too tiring - and you consider letting to. Allowing tragedy...or whatever...to happen." (Hannah 124)

I had a hard time figuring out what to make of the role and purpose of Clay's mom in the story. She popped up here and there, always supportive and loving...but felt awkwardly placed within the overall story.

Review: Rumors (The Luxe Series #2) by Anna Godbersen

(note: since this is the second in the luxe series, there are references to the first novel that are spoilers if you haven't read it...though you really should get on that)

in a sentence or two: the lives of new york's most luscious characters are still as deliciously intriguing as ever. Elizabeth found Will in california on the brink of oil-wealth, Diana and Henry's love is burning hotter than ever, Lina is trying to make a name for herself as a former housemaid turned society girl, and Penelope is still the raging bee-yotch she's always been.

romance and intrigue really do fuel the fires of this book. the elizabeth and will storyline is too sweet to handle (but you do handle it, of course). you can almost forgive the fact that she abandoned her mother and their horrible financial situation by faking her death in order to make her own personal quaint little existence happen. a fact that has almost killed Mrs. Holland (elizabeth's mom) makes you re-think that assessment. when it comes to diana (little sis) and henry (former fiance of elizabeth), his adoration for diana must be kept in check so as not to appear as if he's rushing past the death of elizabeth just to be with her sister - scandalous! and a bit creepy really. lina, the former housemaid of the family, is trying desperately to make a name for herself as a society girl with some help from penelope (former best friend/social rival of elizabeth). penelope is all too consumed with trying to woo henry back, or force him back, or do whatever it takes to get him back.

if it sounds complicated to follow or very much like a soap opera...it is! and that is what makes it so delicious. godbersen is thankfully gratuitous with details such as what their gowns are made of, how the lighting plays on their shoulders, and even down to the subtle public gestures like fluttering eyelashes or restrained smiles that make the society ladies what they are. she is also gratuitous with the inner thoughts and emotions of the characters, being careful to use equally lush phrasing to complete the overall feel of the book.

as others have noted, i had a bit of a hard time feeling like i was going to be interested in the rest of the series. it felt predictable to a point, and while i was loving the richness of detail and scandal that oozed from the pages...i thought i could take or leave it overall. THEN the twist in the last few pages shocked me from placidity and made me yearn for envy!

godbersen carefully weaves the 5 different stories into one complete volume. she takes the time to provide enough character analysis for the major players to keep you in check, while making sure the story moves along. she really is quite crafty! the introduction of new characters is for sure a good sign of more twists and turns to come, and i am all aboard the 1900 turning point - sure to be bursting with even more cattiness, scandal, romance, secrets, girlish squeals (from me), and lush detail - in the series!

fave quote: "'I love you.' He said it simply, quietly. He didn't say those words as she had imagined them said so many times by characters in novels. He didn't say them with desperation, with pleading, with fluid rage or florid persuasion. He spoke without lasciviousness; he spoke only with the intention of being understood." [insert my girlish squeal here] (Henry to Diana, 286).

fix er up: i preferred some story lines over others, and so found myself a little pouty when the next chapter wasn't one i wanted, but of course, enjoyed it none the less. also, penelope wasn't as outrageous as i was hoping for though out the novel...but i do feel that is going to change in the future one(s).

title: Rumors (The Luxe Series #2)
author: Anna Godbersen

genre: Historical Fiction, Chick Lit