Thursday, December 21, 2006

Meyer Produces More Blood-Sucking Fun

Okay, so I'm back to vampires. I just finished New Moon, the sequel to Stephenie Meyer's novel, Twilight, and it was just as good as compelling as the first.

Meyer's sophomore novel continues the story of Bella Swan, a teenager who finds herself inexplicably drawn to Edward Cullen, a gorgeous senior, who just happens to be a 200-year-old vampire. In the first book, Edward spends his time rescuing Bella from various evils, including a bloodthirsty vampire named James. In the second, Edward breaks Bella's heart by leaving (for her own good, he says). In an attempt to fill the bottomless void left by her true love, Bella becomes very close to an old family friend, 16-year-old Jacob Black. As their friendship deepens, she wonders if she can ever let go of Edward and accept the love of someone else. Just as she is beginning to feel somewhat happy again, Jacob's lightheartedness changes, and Bella discovers he has secrets of his own, secrets that could destroy Edward and his family. Despite Edward's betrayal, Bella is compelled to help him, a compulsion that puts her in more danger than she could ever imagine.

Once again, Meyer has created a story full of adventure, humor and passion. I find her novels immensely readable (they are actually Young Adult novels) and extremely compelling. Although New Moon is more introspective than Twilight, it is still a blood-pumping, page-turning marvel that will suck you in completely. I love her books, and am anxious to read the next three (yes, three, according to her website) installments.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Maisie Dobbs A Different Kind of Detective Story

Jacqueline Winspear's first novel, Maisie Dobbs, is my favorite kind of book - one that takes a pinch from one genre, a dash from another, and mixes it all together to create a work that is rich, full and unique. The story opens in the Spring of 1929, as the title character is opening a detective agency in London. Soon, she receives her first assignment, to follow a young wife suspected of cheating on her older husband. As Maisie trails the woman (Celia Davenham), she begins to discover that her open-and-shut case is much more complicated than she first imagined. Maisie finds that Celia is not, in fact, meeting a lover, but trekking daily to a country cemetery to visit a grave marked only "Vincent." The detective's search for Vincent leads her to "The Retreat," a gated community for veterans of the Great War, whose wounds are so horrific that they seek refuge from the outside world. Suspicious of the site's leader, Major Jenkins, Maisie digs deeper into his past, unwittingly re-opening the emotional wounds she suffered while a nurse at the front. Trying not to become mired in her own hurts, Maisie races against the clock to expose Major Jenkins before he can inflict any more damage on men who have already suffered so greatly.
As I said before, the story offers a little bit of everything - history, adventure, humor, romance, and heartache. The plot moves quickly (although, I admit, it is pretty predictable), the characters are interesting, and the prose is succint. It's been compared to Alexander McCall Smith's The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, but I think it is much richer than Smith's story. It's a good read - not a page turner necessarily, but definitely worth reading.
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