Book Thirtyone: From Dead to Worse

From Dead to Worse, Charlaine Harris

I honestly don't know why I am even bothering with writing about these books individually. They are really just one continuous badly written story. And while I have a feeling I enjoyed this one, I also can't even remember why. This whole series is a huge blur to me, and I hope to be done with it soon.

Book Thirty: All Together Dead

All Together Dead, Charlaine Harris

One of my favorite things about this one was the descriptions of all the outfits. Wow! I'm not sure if I should give Ms. Harris credit for attempting to be realistic about what people/vampires might wear, or shake her silly for coming up with some of these crazy things! This one features harem pants, pleated pants, brown silk t-shirts, capes, pantsuits, sequins (sequins! sequins!) and more that I just can't for the life of me imagining any sane person wearing. Though maybe that's the point?

Book Twentynine: The Magicians

The Magicians, Lev Grossman

I am sure it is a huge mistake to read all the one-star Amazon reviews of a book that you just finished and loved utterly and completely. And yet, I just did that very thing and now hate myself for it. Because I truly loved this book (more than any book I have read so far this year, I believe) and find myself becoming defensive about how great this book is and hating anyone who would think otherwise. I suspect that those who didn't like it expected it to be a true fantasy novel, which it clearly is not, and that whole "Harry Potter for adults" thing--which I'd heard about this book before reading it and even believed for the first 100 or so pages--is so very not true. These Amazon reviews seem to criticize this book for two reason: 1) They dislike the characters (a criticism that I dislike immensely and don't think holds up at all in regards to any book, as I may have said before) or 2) They disliked the mere premise of the book, that is that the fantasy books of our youth do not contain the power to make our lives better or good, no matter how magical or real they are or eventually become. At least, that's what I think the premise of the book is, and one that I think Mr. Grossman constructed a compelling novel around.

As for me, this was a wonderful Novel (capital N noted, please), the kind of Novel that you welcomely let take over your life for the few days you are reading it, and one that you are sad to see go. Also, a refreshing read when one has been consumed by bad writing for so very long. Not like I'm pointing fingers or anything.

Book Twentyeight: More Adventures of the Great Brain

More Adventures of the Great Brain, John D. Fitzgerald

You know what else makes the Great Brain books some of the best kid's books around? The awesome illustrations by Mercer Mayer! I had forgotten how completely captivated I was by those drawings and how clearly I remembered them from my youth. I love how easy it is to spot the Great Brain in the drawings because of his freckles and I love J.D.'s curly hair and often wide-eyed expressions.

This book contains one of the stories that freaked my shit out as a kid: the one where they go camping and Papa gets them lost and then tries to reassure the boys that they could survive for five years out there in the wilderness and everyone things they are doomed until the Great Brain tells them that he has left a trail of markings so Uncle Mark can find them. And I forgot how great the story is about the funeral for the town dog, Old Butch. That scene with the whole town parading down main street and the band playing "Home, Sweet Home"... well, that made my day, rereading that.

Book Twentyseven: Between the Bridge and the River

Between the Bridge and the River, Craig Ferguson

I felt like I was cheating the whole time I read this. Like I was out on a date with Craig Ferguson, trying to be polite and listen to his stories and hopefully nodding in all the right places, but all the while thinking about my other love back at home. But, since I had to read this for book club next week, I had no choice, did I?

But okay, all that pining for Sookie and her pals aside, this wasn't half bad. But that meant it wasn't really half good either. I find that with books that rely on gimmicks that you have to be totally on board with that gimmick. And I suppose this wasn't totally gimmicky, but it was written in a very precious style and one that made it difficult for me to enjoy the really good stuff this had to offer. It was funny, but it knew it was funny. It brought things back around but in a Seinfeld kind of way, and it sometimes worked and then sometimes irritated me. But, on the other hand, I enjoyed the overall message and he truly is a witty and clever writer and towards the end the propulsive energy kept me interested.

So, yeah... that happened.

Book Twentysix: Definitely Dead

Definitely Dead, Charlaine Harris

If I told you about Sookie's new love interest in this one, you wouldn't believe me. You would think I was making this crap up because it is so stupid. So, where to start? He is an enormous, bald-headed man who happens to be a were-tiger. He is also an event planner who works for Extreme(ly Elegant) Events (GAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!), he drives an enormous truck, he takes her out on their first date to see The Producers, he has "pansie-purple" eyes, and he calls Sookie "Babe" at every opportunity. I'm sorry, but who is this person supposed to be attractive to? I know I am biased in my love for Eric, but this guy is seriously the worst.

Please please please let him go away in the next book. Maybe he can join the were-circus?

Book Twentyfive: Dead as a Doornail

Dead as a Doornail, Charlaine Harris

Just shoot me now.

Okay, but before you do that, let me gripe about one thing. Werewolves. Stupid werewolves. Why in the world is nearly every good vampire story spoiled by stupid stinky werewolves? If I wanted to read a werewolf book I would read a werewolf book. But these are vampire books! Vampire books, I tell you! Go home, werewolves!

Sorry. You can go back to shooting me now. Since the next book in my stack is clearly the next in this stupid, stinking werewolf-ridden series.

Book Twentyfour: Dead to the World

Dead to the World, Charlaine Harris

I will not be embarrassed that I made an emergency trip to the bookstore to get this book the morning after I finished the last one. And I am not even more embarrassed that I sped to the bookstore last night to make it in time before it closed to get the next one.

But this one... this was definitely the best so far. Because of one thing specifically. Eric. So much Eric. Which is the best part of the books. And the show.

On a related note, I am very much looking forward to Sunday.

Book Twentythree: Club Dead

Club Dead, Charlaine Harris

I know, I know. I have no one to blame but myself.

Book Twentytwo: The Great Brain

The Great Brain, John D. Fitzgerald

I have such affection for the Great Brain books that I was almost worried about rereading them. In mind they were the ultimate stories that I treasured above all others and I now wondered if I was just crazy or remembering them wrong. But I'm happy to report that the first one, at least, is as lovely as my memory of it. What I didn't recall was the fact that the books take place in the hotbed of my all-time favorite religion. Yes, Mormons! But the Great Brain and his family aren't Mormons, they are just surrounded by them in their small Utah town. But that doesn't mean we don't get to learn a heap of cool things about Mormons. Also, how can you not love the fact that it takes place at the turn of the century? So there are horse-drawn wagons and farms and outhouses (until the Fitzgerald's get the town's first water closet) and hand-churned ice cream and schoolhouses and crazy kids games and everything else my young heart idealized. And each chapter is a little adventure in the life of the Great Brain and his brother, the narrator, J.D., very much in the spirit of Tom Sawyer. And perhaps I'm pushing it, but while these are super YA novels, they also hold up great as well-told stories for adults. At least, that's what I'm going to tell myself as I inevitably reread this entire series.

Book Twentyone: Living Dead in Dallas

Living Dead in Dallas, Charlaine Harris

You know how people do movie remakes? Like, even just a few years after the original has come out? Well, I think they should do book rewrites. Because these Sookie Stackhouse books are halfway decent stories, but this has to be the worst writing of all time. She is simultaneously boring and confusing. Any monkey with a typewriter could tell these stories with more eloquence and style.

And that is why I nominate any monkey with a typewriter to rewrite this series. So I can read it and get on with the story (and more Eric) and not have to groan every other page at the ridiculously clunky prose.

But don't judge me if the next book that shows up here is the next book in the series. I just can't help myself.

Thank you.