Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Book Reviews: Beautiful Creatures and The Gods of Gotham

I realize these book review posts probably aren't my most interesting.  I get that.  It's just that I really want to have documentation of what I've read all year, so I'm going to keep writing them.  But I'll try to keep them brief, at least.

Also, for those of you that do read these blog posts [crickets], I'll never put any spoilers or anything - so please feel free to read the review even if you haven't read the book.

So here we go.  Two in one post...

Beautiful Creatures (Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl):

I had seen the preview for the movie a few times in theaters and thought it looked cool.  The book also seemed like it should be right up my alley: teen fiction, teen love story, and paranormal activity.  (Yeah - that's my alley.)  As you know from seeing the movie preview, it's about a teenage girl who's a "caster" (fancy word for witch), who is in love with a mortal guy and who has to chose to be either "dark" or "light" on her 16th birthday.

What I wasn't expecting when I opened the book (on my kindle, that is) was the way it was written: 1st person narration from the boy's point of view.  I mean, you barely see the boy in the previews.

Anyway, overall, the book was really engaging (as most popular teen fiction tends to be), but it didn't leave me dying for more.  In fact, I chose not to read the next 3 books in the series.  I tried to get Jonathan to tell me what happened (yes - my almost-40 year old husband read all four), and he told me little snippets, but wouldn't really get into the nitty gritty.  But honestly, now that it's been a month or so since I read it, I could care less what else went down.  That was not how I felt about the Twilight series, FYI.

So I'm not sure I recommend this one.  I won't suggest you avoid it, certainly, but if you're going in expecting the next Twilight/Hunger Games/Harry Potter, you won't find it.

The Gods of Gotham (Lindsay Faye):

The was our book club book for February.  We picked it because it had just won an award for mystery novels.

I started about 5 days before book club and realized: 1) it's a period piece (not my favorite), 2) it was not going to be a fly-through read, and 3) it was long.  I told Jonathan after I had read about 10% that no one in my book club would finish it.  (I was correct, actually, and sort of wish I would've trusted my gut instead of doing nothing in my free time the five days before book club but reading.  And actually, some people hadn't even started it [and no one else had finished it], so we decided not to talk about it at all!  Sort of a bummer - but since I love all the ladies in my book club, I'm not holding it against them.)

Anyway - it's a period piece that takes place around the time the first police force (the copper stars) was forming in New York City.  Think about that for a second: there haven't always been police, even in big cities.  Anyway - it's sort of complex to try to explain the plot.  There are dead bodies found in an abandoned field outside of town; and prostitutes (many of them children); and lots of tension between the Irish (Catholics) and the Protestants; and a huge fire in the city; and local politics; and a large cast of characters.

It was really well written.  The story was engaging and interesting, but because of the language, it didn't read as fast as a typical mystery (I'm thinking a la  Gone Girl).  I wish our book club would have discussed it because I would've loved to talk about some issues brought up by the book: the "class system" (for lack of a better term) created by religion; the role of women; specifically Silkie as a character (a woman who owned/ran a brothel); the children prostitutes and their lives in the brothel vs. the outside world; and/or the corruption in the police force because of outside politics.

It was a good book.  If you like period pieces, I think you will like this.  Also, I'm usually a pretty big wimp about mysteries and this wasn't scary at all.  In a good way.

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