The Poison Eaters

I gave Holly Black another chance. This time, I didn’t read one of her novels, but a compilation of some short stories. The Poison Eaters and Other Stories includes twelve short stories, with subject matter that runs the gamut. Vampires, werewolves, faery, devils, elves, and other magical beings are just a few of the characters contained in these pages.

I believe my favorite story is Paper Cuts Scissors. It is about Justin, a young man who is trying desperately to get his girlfriend back after she has folded herself up and put herself in a Russian novel. He begins studying for a library science degree and finally gets a job organizing books in a man’s private library. After midnight each evening, characters come out of the book and have a party, hosted by the librarian. Justin returns one night with his girlfriend’s book, and watches as she comes out of the pages, meeting other characters and jumping into other books. But maybe she doesn’t really want out of the books after all.

Most of the stories here were very raw, dark tales. Many included sex, drugs, and alcohol. I can’t deny that that the author’s writing was excellent, but I can definitely prefer other types of characters and stories. It seemed like many stories were about very trashy people. That’s fine, it’s definitely real life, but that is not the only way to go, either.

So, basically, while I overall enjoyed this short story collection, I still haven’t made up my mind about this author. She’s a very talented writer, that can’t be denied. I have read about some of her newer books, and the story lines look very interesting, so it’s still possible that I will read more of her work in the future.

A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness, is the first book in the All Souls Trilogy. Written by a professor of history, aspects of the book have obviously been thoroughly researched. There is so much detail that it is impossible not to have an astonishing visual image of the times and places mentioned. Also, it’s another book for book lovers, too, (reminding me a bit of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova in this sense).

However, amid all the wonderful history, alchemy, and scientific research, there is also a love story, a timeless conflict promising to result in war, secrets of the main character’s power that others want to harness for their own benefit.

Diana Bishop, descended from powerful witches, lost both of her parents when she was seven years old. Since then, she has wanted to forget about witchcraft and has been intent on living her life without using her powers. In the midst of her research, she calls up a manuscript from “the stacks” that has been missing for a very long time. Upon getting her hands on Ashmole 782, she can feel the magic within the book. So she promptly takes her notes and sends the book back. But now that she has been able to recall this manuscript, she has attracted the attention of creatures, all intent on having the book for themselves. Other creatures, such as witches, vampires, and daemons.

Matthew Clairmont is one such creature. The vampire is immediately drawn to Diana and has an overwhelming desire to protect her from those who would harm her. Their suspicion of each other eventually turns to trust and to love. However, to love another creature unlike yourself is forbidden by the covenant made by the Congregation, a governing body made up of three of each creature, so many years ago. But Matthew and Diana don’t care. They refuse to allow others to dictate who they can love. Of course, this creates a world of other problems as well.

The romance between Matthew and Diana is intense, like a slow burning flame. There is quite a bit of sexual tension as well, which is still present at the end of the book. However, things are happening very quickly, and they’ve only known each other for a little over a month.

I enjoyed this book very much. It did have a bit of a slow start, but that part of the book was just introducing Diana and showing her “normal” day-to-day life, too. After Matthew was introduced, the pace did pick up quite a bit. I have read a few bad reviews of this book, and I believe those stem from the slow, meandering, very detailed pace. So for those who want to rush through life and not take time to enjoy the finer things, this book is not for you. But if you enjoy slow burning romance and appreciation of history, good wine, and of course, books, you should definitely read this book. The only complaint I have is that the next book is not yet published and I have to wait to find out what happens next.

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

The new Stephenie Meyer novella came out earlier this month. I’ve been a bit too busy to read it the day it was released, but I was definitely excited to read it. I’ll be even more excited next week when Eclipse is out in theaters. 🙂

Bree Tanner was first introduced in Eclipse. She is a member of the newborn army that Victoria created in an attempt to destroy Bella and the Cullens. In Eclipse, we only get to see Bree and the newborns from Bella’s point of view. This novella was told in first-person, from Bree’s point of view. The author definitely succeeds in educating the reader about newborn vampires and providing details regarding what else is going on that leads up the fight scene at the end of Eclipse and at the end of this book.

I definitely felt empathy for Bree. Not knowing why she was created, she does her best to survive in a tough environment, volatile with about 20 other newborn vampires. Every day there is fighting and some lose limbs or their lives. However, Bree and her friends, Diego and Fred, are smart and learn that something is definitely going on. Riley, the one who carries out instructions from her, has been lying to them, but why? Finally, Riley reveals that they have an enemy, a weaker coven of yellow-eyed vampires, who even keep a human girl as a pet. This coven wants to take back Seattle as their hunting ground, but they must be stopped. Riley goes on to tell Bree that Diego has gone on ahead and will be waiting for her when they attack. But this is another lie, as she figures out what really happened between Riley and Diego.

Following behind the others, Bree finds herself in a clearing, facing the yellow-eyed coven. There is a pile of burning ashes and limbs from those of her own coven strewn everywhere. Bree actually finds herself relieved to see this. When one of the yellow eyes comes for her, she surrenders and tells him that she doesn’t want to fight. He and a female speak to her with more kindness than she’s known in her short vampire life, and she finds herself drawn to them and wanting to belong.

Then the Volturi arrive. I believe we all remember what happens to Bree at that point. The Cullens must protect their own family above a stranger that they just met. Bree remembers that there was a mind reader in the group and tries to project her thoughts to him, thanking him for avenging Diego and his family for attempting to save her. The last line in the book is “I closed my eyes.”

This book is definitely a nice addition to the Twilight Saga, and I found myself sorry that Bree’s life ended the way it did. Even in the introduction, Stephenie Meyer stated, “The closer I got to the inevitable end, the more I wished I’d concluded Eclipse just slightly differently.”