Follow Friday

Q. Do you have a favorite series that you read over and over again? Tell us a bit about it and why you keep on revisiting it?

 

For me it has to be the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum series. Although book 17 left me sorely disappointed, the early books were a riot. If I’m having a bad week or just need something light and frivolous to read, Evanovich delivers. With crazy characters (some of which vaguely resemble my own family) and outlandish misadventures, it’s hard not to appeciate the series.

Another reread for me (as I suspect it is for many bloggers) is Harry Potter. I enjoy reading the books again before seeing the movies to refresh my memory and give myself a better basis of comparison! And while the movies are generally pretty true to the books, they’ll never be a replacement!

Calling It Quits

I can’t remember the last time I didn’t finish a book. Maybe that’s because it’s never happened. To be fair, I’m not sure either way. If there was a book I didn’t finish (and there probably was), it was so lackluster that I don’t even remember it. So this week was a first of sorts for me. A friend lent me a book by an author whose previous works I did enjoy, and while the premise of the books was interesting, I only got about 1/3 of the way through before putting it down and saying enough.

Why couldn’t I finish the book? For starters, it was depressing. I knew it was going to tug at my heart strings a little, but I was still expecting a little levity– or something to offset the negativity. Another thing that kept me from really connecting with the story was the lack of actual action (and interaction). The main character was retelling the story so everything was colored by her perspective and left me unable to connect with the other characters in the book. I won’t say it was a bad book. It just wasn’t for me.

Sure, there’s a part of me that is curious about the ending, but not curious enough to forge ahead. With piles of good books out there, I just don’t have the energy to force myself to read to the end.  It makes me wonder though, how many readers drop a book without finishing and more so, how many finish books they wish they hadn’t? I’m the kind of person who never wants to quit and generally feels obligated to finish anything that I start so this is kind of a new experience for me. (The good news is that there isn’t exactly a librarian breathing down my neck waiting to slap my hands with a ruler for being a quitter!)

Maybe if I were to stick it out, I’d be pleasantly surprised, but as a writer I’m not sure I’d want a reader to keep going if they weren’t really interested in the story. I can’t imagine anything worse than getting to the end and disliking the book even more. (Yes. I think this might be worse than getting a DNF rating). And frankly, I’d want my readers to be in love (or least engaged in) the story. I’m a realist. There may be a reader for every book, but not every book is for all readers.

Review: The First Days


DESCRIPTION

The morning that the world ends, Katie is getting ready for court and housewife Jenni is taking care of her family. Less than two hours later, they are fleeing for their lives from a zombie horde.

Thrown together by circumstance, Jenni and Katie become a powerful zombie-killing partnership, mowing down zombies as they rescue Jenni’s stepson, Jason, from an infected campground.

They find sanctuary in a tiny, roughly fortified Texas town.  There Jenni and Katie find they are both attracted to Travis, leader of the survivors; and the refugees must slaughter people they know, who have returned in zombie form. .

REVIEW

Here’s the thing…. I’m a zombie lover at heart. My favorite movie of all time is Resident Evil and one of the few movies I’ve actually purchased in the last couple of years was Zombieland. So I was probably predisposed to loving this book. It’s even possible that I am also so desensitized to the walking dead that the haunting opening didn’t exactly phase me. It actually made me sit up and say ‘YES!’ because it felt authentic.
Frater opens the tale with a heart-wrenching scene: little toddler zombie fingers clawing frantically under the door in an attempt to reach the intended prey. Imagine your own child a zombie monster, hungry to devour your flesh. Gruesome. Painful. Shocking. This is how Jenni’s day starts. As her world falls to pieces and she slips into shock, Jenni is rescued by Katie, another survivor of the zombie apocalypse. Like Jenni, in a few short hours Katie’s lost all she holds dear. The world around them is changing at a breakneck pace and the women quickly realize they have two options: adapt or die. Chance may have thrown these women together, but they make an amazing team and the bond between them quickly grows to be iron tight. It’s this relationship that made the book for me. Katie and Jenni complement one another and are a force to be reckoned with.
The First Days is an edge of your seat, action-packed thrill ride. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. At the same time, the characters were well developed and their stories were so compelling that putting this book down was not an option. I had expected an action junkies dream in The First Days, but was pleased to discover that the story was so much more. These characters had to deal not only with the end of the world, but with their own personal baggage which included everything from grief, guilt, and the social stigmas of a world left behind to killing without a moments’ hesitation.
Jenni and Katie’s toughness is balanced with compassion, although it is not always evident and there are more than a few times where it seems Jenni might have become completely unhinged. Still, it’s impossible not to want to see these women overcome and flourish in the new world, assuming they can survive. The First Days is wrought with heartache and pain, but there are also moments of great humanity. After all, life must go on.
My biggest disappointment? Book two, Fighting to Survive, won’t be released until November 5, 2011.

Follow Friday

Q. If you could change the ending of any book (or series), which book would you choose? Why and to what?

I would absolutely change the ending to The Hunger Games. I was disappointed that Katniss basically retired into obsolescence living back in the district with Peeta and raising children. In some ways, I got it, but overall, it just left me wanting more for her. She’d been through so much and inspired so many that it was difficult to accept such a quiet ending to the tale. It made me feel that her spirit really had been broken.

Given the choice, I would have liked to see her take on a greater role in reshaping the Capitol. Katniss wasn’t  quiter and returning to District 12 smacked of retreat. I also would have kept Gale in her life (as a friend) despite the obvious changes that severed their friendship. While Peeta was absolutely the right companion to balance her, Gale would have kept the spark alive!