The Reformed Vampire Support Group, by Catherine Jinks
If you're looking for powerful, sexy vampires that stare longingly into each others' eyes, look elsewhere because you won't find them here. Apparently being a vampire isn't fun and games, especially when much of your immortal life is spent feeling tired and ill; living on the blood of guinea pigs and vitamins to keep you from "fanging" humans. Fifteen year-old Nina Harrison is part of the ragtag Reformed Vampire Support Group. Since becoming infected thirty years ago, Nina has led a pretty boring life until a vampire is murdered and the Support Group attempts to solve the mystery of his death.
The humans they encounter along the way are unscrupulous, violent and dangerous - all of the qualities humans typically associate with vampires. Since the behavior of the vamps and humans is unpredictable, the plot contains some witty moments, as well as a few twists and turns. Nina learns that humans are capable of change while she comes to terms with her own life as a vampire.
Despite the "sparkly" criticisms of the vampires of the Twilight series, they do have a certain amount of power and mystery that surrounds them. In contrast, Support Group vampires are anemic and introspective. While this initially put me off a bit, the story does have something to say about the danger of stereotypes and value of cooperation.
Age 12 and up
September 2010 Archives
The Reformed Vampire Support Group, by Catherine Jinks
The 19th wife, by David Ebershoff
David Ebershoff has written an absorbing two-track story that combines historical fiction with a fiction tale, each of which keeps the reader's attention throughout the book. His subject in both stories is the polygamy practiced in a sect of the Mormon religion. Ebershoff begins with a modern-day fiction story about Jordan Scott, a young man who has rejected his Mormon faith, but is drawn back into that world when his mother, one of many wives to his polygamous father, is accused of murdering his father. Scott adamantly believes that his mother is innocent and tries to help her attorney show she did not commit murder. Interwoven with Scott's story is the recounting of the real-life Ann Eliza Young struggles to publicize the evils she experienced as the supposed "19th wife" of the Nineteenth Century Mormon leader Brigham Young. Young gained national fame as she divorced Young and traveled across America, including a stop in Washington when she testified before Congress, telling packed lecture halls about the polygamy practiced by some Mormons. Drawing on historical sources, Ebershoff's depiction of Young's involvement with the Mormon religion is terrifically interesting. Equally, Jordan Scott's story is often witty and makes for great reading. The 19th Wife is a thoroughly engaging story!
Night of the Howling Dogs, by Graham Salisbury
In 1975, eleven Boy Scouts, their leaders, and some new friends camping at Halape, Hawaii, find their survival skills put to the test when a massive earthquake strikes, followed by a tsunami. Fiction based on true events.
Iron Orchid, by Stuart Woods
For this reviewer, listening to Stuart Woods's Iron Orchid was the introduction to this very popular author's writing. This is the fourth in his Holly Barker series and is an extremely enjoyable story. Barker has moved from being a police chief in Orchid Beach, FL to a CIA intelligence agent tracking down terrorists. In this adventure, she is chasing Teddy Fay, an assassin on the loose who is killing political figures. The action really gains speed as Barker and other CIA operatives hunt the cunning killer through the streets of New York City. As with all books on cd, the reader can expertly make the story come alive and Carrington MacDuffie gives the listener a great performance with Iron Orchid. Not only is this book on cd recommended, but it also made this reviewer want to seek out more of Stuart Woods's books.
The Killer Inside Me, by Jim Thompson
Recently made into a movie for the second time (which was released just last summer), Jim Thompson's 1952 literary crime classic The Killer Inside Me is a harrowing journey into the mind of its protagonist Lou Ford. Seemingly at first nursing a grudge against the millionaire whom he seemingly believes murdered his brother, Lou, a deputy sheriff in a small but corrupt town in Texas, sets off a chain of events with one killing after another. Possibly due to mistreatment as a child by his father's mistress (which he uses as an explanation for some of the killings) , Lou suffers from "the sickness", which got him in trouble as a youth and now manifests itself in his adult life. At first Lou's "sickness" is focused towards the millionaire but quickly spreads to anyone -friends, strangers, even loved ones- who threatens his freedom.
As the bodies start piling up and wary authorities try to poke holes in his various alibis, Lou, a true sociopath, tries to justify to himself and us the reasons for his murder spree. During the course of the novel we start to worry along (and take sides) with Lou as to whether he'll actually get caught or not. Subsequently, both Lou and the readers are broadsided by the shockingly powerful surprise climax. Violent, nasty and thoroughly engrossing from start to finish, The Killer Inside Me holds your attention with nail-biting suspense that never lets up.
(P.S. Thompson was a darn good writer. Check out the other books by him that we carry, like The Grifters, plus two we don't: The Getaway and Pop.1280.)