Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

August 16

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Book Binge: Vampire Romance, Urban Fantasy, Faeries, The Supernatural and Other Good Stuff

by Ann-Katrina

Over the last month, I’ve been consuming books like bread and butter. Rather than sit on my pile of books and reviewing them whenever the mood strikes, I figure writing a quick entry listing my new acquisitions was in order. I’ve separated the list, with descriptions from the back cover, into Already Read, Currently Reading, To Be Read, and Being Delivered.

Already Read


  • 1984 by George Orwell

    Back cover: 1984 has come and gone, but Orwell’s prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of “negative utopia”–a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel’s hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions–a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passing of time.


  • Twilight (Twilight Saga, Book 1) by Stephanie Meyer (read review)

    Back cover: About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him–and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be–that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.


  • New Moon (Twilight Saga, Book 2) by Stephanie Meyer

    Back cover: I knew we were both in mortal danger. Still, in that instant, I felt well. Whole. I could feel my heart racing in my chest, the blood pulsing hot and fast through my veins again. My lungs filled deep with the sweet scent that came off his skin. It was like there had never been any hole in my chest. I was perfect–not healed, but as if there had never been a wound in the first place.


  • Eclipse (Twilight Saga, Book 3) by Stephanie Meyer

    Back cover: In the dead silence, all the details suddenly fell into place for me with a burst of intuition. Something Edward didn’t want me to know. Something that Jacob wouldn’t have kept from me…. It was never going to end, was it?


  • Breaking Dawn (Twilight Saga, Book 4) by Stephanie Meyer

    Back cover: “Don’t be afraid,” I murmured. “We belong together.” I was abruptly overwhelmed by the truth of my own words. This moment was so perfect, so right, there was no way to doubt it. His arms wrapped around me, holding me against him…. It felt like every nerve ending in my body was a live wire. “Forever,” he agreed.


  • Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, Series Book 1) by Patricia Briggs

    Back cover: Werewolves can be dangerous if you get in their way, but they’ll leave you alone if you are careful. They are very good at hiding their natures from the human population, but I’m not human. I know them when I meet them, and they know me, too. Mercy Thompson’s sexy next-door neighbor is a werewolf. She’s tinkering with a VW bus at her mechanic shop that happens to belong to a vampire. But then, Mercy Thompson is not exactly normal herself…and her connection to the world of things that go bump in the night is about to get her into a whole lot of trouble.


  • Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson, Series Book 2) by Patricia Briggs

    Back cover: Under the rule of science, there is no witch burnings allowed, no water trials or public lynchings. In return, the average law-abiding solid citizen has little to worry about from the things that go bump in the night. Sometimes I wish I was an average citizen…. Mechanic Mercy Thompson has friends in low places–and in dark ones. And now she owes one of them a favor. Since she can shapeshift at will, she agrees to act as some extra muscle when her vampire friend Stefan goes to deliver a message to another of his kind. But this new vampire is hardly ordinary–and neither is the demon inside of him…


  • Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson, Series Book 3) by Patricia Briggs

    Back cover: I could smell her fear, and it satisfied something deep inside me that had been writhing under her cool, superior gaze. I curled my upper lip so she could get a good look at my sharp teeth. I might only weigh thirty or so pounds in my coyote shape, but I was a predator…. Mechanic Mercy Thompson can shift her shape–but not her loyalty. When her former boss and mentor is arrested for murder and left to rot behind bars by his own kind, it’s up to Mercy to clear his name, whether he wants her to or not. Mercy’s loyalty is under pressure from other directions, too. Werewolves are not known for their patience, and if Mercy can’t decide between the two she cares for, Sam and Adam may make the choice for her…


  • Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers From Start to Finish by James Scott Bell

    Back cover: Craft an Engaging Plot How does plot influence story structure? What’s the difference between plotting for commercial and literary fiction? How do you revise a plot or structure that’s gone off course? With Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure, you’ll discover the answers to these questions and more. Award-winning author James Scott Bell offers clear, concise information that will help you create a believable and memorable plot, including: Techniques for crafting strong beginnings, middles, and ends; Easy-to-understand plotting diagrams and charts; Brainstorming techniques for original plot ideas; Thought-provoking exercises at the end of each chapter; Story structure models and methods for all genres; Tips and tools for correcting common plot problems. Filled with plot examples from popular novels, comprehensive checklists, and practical hands-on guidance, Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure gives you the skills you need to approach plot and structure like an experienced pro.

Currently Reading


  • Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen (actually part of Jane Austen: The Complete Novels)

    Back cover: “I could not sit seriously down to write a serious Romance under any other motive than to save my life, & if it were indispensable for me to keep it up & never relax into laughing at myself or other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the first chapter. No–I must keep to my own style & go on in my own way.” –Jane Austen


  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (I’m getting a late start on the series)

    Back cover: HARRY POTTER has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick. He’s never worn a cloak of invisibility, befriended a giant, or helped hatch a dragon. All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry’s room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn’t had a birthday party in eleven years. But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to a wonderful place he never dreamed existed. There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic around every corner, but a great destiny that’s been waiting for him…if Harry can survive the encounter.

To Be Read


  • Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was by Barry Hughart

    Back cover: The Root of the Quest When the children of his village were struck with a mysterious illness, Number Ten Ox sought a wiseman to save them. He found master Li Kao, a scholar with a slight flaw in his character. Together they set out to find the Great Root of Power, the only possible cure. The quest led them to a host of truly memorable characters, multiple wonders, incredible adventures–and strange coincidences which were really not coincidences at all. And it involved them in an ancient crime that still perturbed the serenity of Heaven. Simply and charmingly told, this is a wry tale, a sly tale, and a story of wisdom delightfully askew. Once read, its marvels and beauty will not easily fade from the mind. The author claims that this is a novel of an ancient China that never was. But, oh…it should have been!


  • Nightlife (Cal Leandros, Book 1) by Rob Thurman (read review)

    Back cover: There are monsters among us. There always have been and there always will be. I’ve known that since I can remember, just like I’ve always known I was one…Well, half of one, anyway. Welcome to the Big Apple. There’s a troll under the Brooklyn Bridge, a boggle in Central Park, and a beautiful vampire in a penthouse on the Upper East Side–and that’s only the beginning. Of course, most humans are oblivious to the preternatural nightlife around them, but Cal Leandros is only half human. His father’s dark lineage is the stuff of nightmares–and he and his entire otherworldly race are after Cal. Why? Cal hasn’t exactly wanted to stick around long enough to find out. he and his half brother, Niko, have managed to stay a step ahead for four years, but now Cal’s dad has found them again. And Cal is about to learn why they want him, why they’ve always wanted him: He is the key to unleashing their hell on earth. The fate of the human world will be decided in the fight of Cal’s life.


  • Moonshine (Cal Leandros, Book 2) by Rob Thurman

    Back cover: I was born a monster. Although truthfully, I was only half monster. My mother was human; my father was something…else. Half monster or whole, in the end it didn’t matter. I had my weaknesses, same as anyone else. And I was facing one of them now. After saving the world from his fiendish father’s side of the family, Cal Leandros and his stalwart half brother, Niko, have settled down with a new apartment and a new gig–bodyguard and detective work. And in New York City, where preternatural beings stalk the streets just like normal folk, business is good. Their latest case has them going undercover for the Kin, the werewolf Mafia. A low-level Kin boss thinks a rival is setting him up for a fall, and wants proof. The place to start is the back room of Moonshine, a gambling club for nonhumans. Cal thinks it’s a simple in-and-out job. But cal is very, very wrong. Cal and Niko are being set up themselves–and the people behind it have bites much worse than their barks.


  • Blood of Angels by Reed Arvin

    Back cover: An honest and dedicated public servant, Thomas Dennehy helplessly let the pressures of his job destroy his marriage and separate him from his adored young daughter. Now he’s shattered by the revelation that, as a result of a case he prosecuted, an innocent man may have been executed. In the midst of a heated public outcry, a similar case threatens to push Dennehy over the edge, leading him into a dangerous affair and through a twisting maze of lies, revenge, and death. Because, suddenly, more than one innocent life is at stake–and a good and desperate man must fight to save everything he still lives for.


  • Homeland: The Dark Elf Trilogy, Part 1 (Forgotten Realms: The Legend of Drizzt, Book I) by R.A. Salvatore

    Back cover: Travel back to strange and exotic Menzoberranzan, the vast city of the drow and homeland to Icewind Dale hero Drizzt Do’Urden. The young prince of a royal house, Drizzt grows to maturity in the vile world of his dark kin. Possessing honour beyond the scope of his unprincipled society, young Drizzt faces an inevitable dilemma. Can he live in a world that rejects integrity?


  • Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose by Constance Hale

    Back cover: Today’s writers need more spunk than Strunk: whether it’s the Great American email, Madison Avenue advertising, or Grammy Award-winning rap lyrics, memorable writing must jump off the page. Copy veteran Constance Hale is on a mission to make creative communication, both the lyrical and the unlawful, an option for everyone. With its crisp, witty tone, Sin and Syntax covers grammar’s ground rules while revealing countless unconventional syntax secrets (such as how to use–Gasp!–interjections or when to pepper your prose with slang) that make for sinfully good writing. Everyone needs to know how to write stylish prose–students, professional, and seasoned writers alike. Whether you’re writing to sell, shock, or just sing, Sin and Syntax is the guide you need to improve your command of the English language.


  • The Devil’s Labyrinth by John Saul

    Back cover: After his father’s untimely death sends fifteen-year-old Ryan McIntyre into an emotional tailspin, his mother enrolls him in St. Isaac’s Catholic boarding school, hoping that the venerable institution with a reputation for transforming wayward teens can work its magic on her son. But troubles are not unknown even at St. Isaac’s. Shortly after Ryan’s arrival, Father Sebastian joins the faculty, dispatched on an extraordinary and controversial mission: to prove the power of one of the Church’s most arcane sacred rituals, exorcism. Soon miraculous events begin to unfold in Father Sebastian’s one-man war against evil. But Ryan believes otherwise, and he is certain that forces of darkness, not divinity, are at work. Evil is not being cast out…something else is being called forth, something whose hour has finally come to bring hell unto earth.

Being Delivered


  • The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

    Amazon.com Description: Offering the trademark wit and imagination familiar to Rowling’s legions of readers–as well as Aesop’s wisdom and the occasional darkness of the Brothers Grimm–each of these five tales reveals a lesson befitting children and parents alike: the strength gained with a trusted friendship, the redemptive power of love, and the true magic that exists in the hearts of all of us. Rowling’s new introduction also comments on the personal lessons she has taken from the Tales, noting that the characters in Beedle’s collection “take their fates into their own hands, rather than taking a prolonged nap or waiting for someone to return a lost shoe,” and “that magic causes as much trouble as it cures.”

    But the true jewel of this new edition is the enlightening and comprehensive commentary (including extensive footnotes!) by Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, who brings his unique wizard’s-eye perspective to the collection. Discovered “among the many papers which Dumbledore left in his will to the Hogwarts Archives,” the venerable wizard’s ruminations on the Tales allow today’s readers to place them in the context of 16th century Muggle society, even allowing that “Beedle was somewhat out of step with his times in preaching a message of brotherly love for Muggles” during the era of witch hunts that would eventually drive the wizarding community into self-imposed exile. In fact, versions of the same stories told in wizarding households would shock many for their uncharitable treatment of their Muggle characters.

    Professor Dumbledore also includes fascinating historical backstory, including tidbits such as the history and pursuit of magic wands, a brief comment on the Dark Arts and its practitioners, and the struggles with censorship that eventually led “a certain Beatrix Bloxam” to cleanse the Tales of “much of the darker themes that she found distasteful,” forever altering the meaning of the stories for their Muggle audience. Dumbledore also allows us a glimpse of his personal relationship to the Tales, remarking that it was through “Babbity Rabbity and Her Cackling Stump” that “many of us [wizards] first discovered that magic could not bring back the dead.”

    Both a wise and delightful addition to the Harry Potter canon, this new translation of The Tales of Beedle the Bard is all that fans could hope for and more–and an essential volume for the libraries of Muggles, wizards, and witches, both young and old.


  • The Fantasy Illustrator’s Technique Book by Gary A. Lippincott

    From Amazon.com: From conception to publication, the fantasy artist uses a wide range of skills to create magical, mythical, and monstrous characters and worlds of wonder. This indispensable book provides a thorough grounding in the tools and techniques you will need to produce spellbinding fantasy artwork in both traditional and digital media.

    Each unit is devoted to a different element of fantasy art: find out where to look for inspiration; how to visualize the unreal; interpret narrative; bend the traditional rules of anatomy, perspective, and composition to create dramatic effects; render and color your work using pencils, paint, and pixels.

    Experiment with different genres and create truly magical settings with extraordinary characters, from terrifying ogres and trolls to mischievous imps and fairies. Take your work to the next level and discover how to become a professional fantasy artist with advice and tips on how to present, promote, and sell your finished artwork.


  • Faeries (25th Anniversary Edition) by Brian Froud and Alan Lee

    Amazon.com Book Description: It has been 25 years since Brian Froud and Alan Lee created the delightful, imaginative, and surprising Faeries-a book that quickly became a massive international bestseller and went on to sell more than a million copies. Readers continue to offer praise: “This is the most influential book I have ever read.” “This book is-where are the words to describe it? Magnificent / Fabulous / Beautiful / Moving / Terrifying / Fantastic. . . .”

    In celebration of Faeries’ 25th anniversary, Abrams is delighted to publish a special edition featuring eight new pages and 20 new pieces of art by Froud and Lee. The artists have also contributed new introductions. Since Faeries first appeared, both men have become tremendously successful and respected figures in the worlds of film, art, and publishing. But Faeries remains perhaps their most enduring work, a superb exploration of the myths, legends, folklore, and fantasy of the world of the faeries.


  • Hell Beasts: How to Draw Grotesque Fantasy Creatures by Jim Pavelec

    Amazon.com Book Description: Draw the stuff of which nightmares are made. If you harbor a love of imagery most foul, of demons and monsters and devils of all sorts … then welcome to the book from hell. Within its pages lurk sadistic orcs, flesh-eating zombies, blood-thirsty dragons, unholy monstrosities and dreaded beasts of legend and lore.

    If you dare to open this book and unleash such horror, venture forth and learn everything a good monster-maker needs to know:

    * How to spawn a loathsome range of creatures, step by gruesome step: Humanoid Monsters * Reptiles and Aquatic Creatures * Winged Beasts * Quadrupeds and More * in 29 demonstrations.
    * Masterful techniques for drawing the massive biceps of the Gaki, the jagged tentacles of the Leviathan, the wicked curved claws of the Hellhound, blood-dripping fangs, putrefied decaying wounds and other deadly features and really gross details.
    * Tips for making your creatures even creepier with the skillful use of point-of-view, iconic and action poses, color and shadow.

    Hell Beasts will empower you to bring forth the sinister beings that lurk in the deepest, darkest shadows of your imagination. Summon them to claw at bedroom windows and wreak havoc in the dreams of your unsuspecting audience for years to come.


  • An Encyclopedia of Fairies: Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, & Other Supernatural Creatures by Katherine M. Briggs

Comments on Book Binge: Vampire Romance, Urban Fantasy, Faeries, The Supernatural and Other Good Stuff

  1. # Another Book Binge: More Vampires, Witches, Wizards, Werewolves, Elves and other Supernatural Stuff - Today, I Read… wrote on September 4, 2008 at 2:15 pm:

    [...] I haven’t yet finished reading all the titles from my last book binge, I did manage to float my way through Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Nightlife, [...]

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