#895 The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

The Historian by Elizabeth KostovaThe Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Paul has told his  daughter some strange stories involving Dracula and a book. One day, Paul goes out, again, in search of something. As the story unfolds, we learn that Paul found a strange book. It was old and had no business being in the library. Paul goes to see his professor, a man named Rossi, to seek an explanation for the book. It’s about vampires alright, the Dracula, or Vlad Tepes, is the central figure in this story. Is he really dead? Are vampires real?

This is the last intellectual session Paul has with his professor because he just up and disappears one night, the professor not Paul. Paul plans to go off to Europe in search of his professor, but meets a woman named Helen. She says she is Rossi’s daughter. Yet more of the story comes out. Rossi had been in Europe and had met a beautiful young woman with a green dragon imprinted on her skin. It’s said the family is descended from Vlad. Rossi has to go on to other adventures in his historian life, leaving his lover alone in Europe.

As Helen and Paul find out more, stranger and stranger things keep happening. A scary librarian starts to tail the couple. They dig through documents. They visit other countries. They get chased down. Something develops between Helen and Paul. The mystery of Dracula is not solved with their trip though and the idea of him still lingers over the family, years later.

What I liked

This was my second attempt to read this book. I started, years ago, before I was ever married, when I was still in college, when I still worked at the nursing home. I tried. I tried valiantly to get into this book, but I never finished it. I carried around my copy, from move to move, until I donated several hundred books to a couple selling books to raise money for an adoption back in 2015. The book just didn’t grab my attention then, which is strange seeing as I’ve been all over some Dan Brown, which is quite similar to this book. I was able to finish the book this time, though; listening to it helped.

I do really like the history in this book. Elizabeth did her research, a lot of it. She got all that weird crap about Dracula correct. He was a warlord. He was considered a hero to an extent. He did impale people. His grave really was empty. He really did build churches. Apparently, he thought God would be cool with him impaling people as long as he made churches in return. While he was a savvy man in the political and war arenas, he was not a nice man.

This book did have that Dan Brown feel to it, which makes it intellectually stimulating.

What I didn’t like

I don’t believe in vampires. I don’t believe Dracula is alive somewhere or that he’s amassing a personal library and stealing scholars to tend to it. While the history surrounding Dracula is absorbing, I feel that a book suggesting Dracula is real, presented in a real-world manner, is a bit much. It’s not my cup of tea.  Really, Dracula is out there, as a vampire, sucking blood, and stuff?

Overall

If you find a strange book at the library, you kind of have to read it.

Weigh In

Could someone ever convince you that Dracula is alive and well?

What do you think about historical thrillers? Yeah or nay?

#894 The Vampire Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Vampire Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Vampire Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Aldens learn about a local author who wrote a vampire book. They get to meet him, but he’s having trouble selling his house. Things keep happening. Someone steals his for sale signs. Plants get pulled up. Strange things keep happening in general. There are whispers that it could be a vampire, as the author based the house in the book on his own home, complete with  a graveyard in the backyard. Can the Aldens get to the bottom of this undead mystery?

What I liked

This is one of The Boxcar Children books where the author tries to mix in a little “woo” to the very realistic world of the Aldens. While I appreciate the effort, because it does spice things up a bit, I don’t think it worked.

What I didn’t like

I am not a huge fan of the idea of vampires. I do not understand the obsession. The United States doesn’t have a huge history of vampires. If you visit places like New Orleans, there’s a bit more local lore about vampires than the rest of the United States. We simply don’t have that local history of vampires like Europe does, or even places besides Europe. Vampires have stories from all over the world.

The author tried to bring some “woo” into this book, but it doesn’t work because we know the Aldens are just going to figure out that it’s something logical. The same thing happens with the other Boxcar Children books that mention ghosts or banshees as possible culprits in weird goings-on. Does the author expect me, or anybody, to actually believe the Aldens are going after a real vampire, or ghost, or banshee? There is a running story element in this book series in which the phrase, “Ghosts aren’t real,” is repeated over and over again; vampires certainly aren’t going to be real if ghosts aren’t.

Unlike Scooby Doo, where there are some actual ghosts and monsters from time to time, the Aldens have regular, old human culprits all the time.

Overall

A vampire did it…oh, wait, it’s just a guy.

Weigh In

What do you think about vampires?

What do you think about series, television or book, that present themselves as logical and real that try to throw in the supernatural as an actual story element?

#822 The Three Lives of Lydia by Delilah S. Dawson

The Three Lives of Lydia by Delilah S. DawsonThe Three Lives of Lydia by Delilah S. Dawson

Lydia wakes up in a strange place. She’s naked, but there are clothes and wigs. She gets dressed. She leaves just one of her tattoos showing, the sparrows, near her collar bones. She tries to find out where she is at. She knows it’s a carnival of some sort, but all the wagons are in a circle and there’s nothing inside.

A very nice man soon comes to meet her. He likes her right away. He’s also a vampire she soon finds out. He introduces her to his world. It’s a world of imagination, mystery, and danger. The man who runs the carnival says she can stay. She’s got enough tattoos to show off. They’re all over her skin. She has pink spiked hair beneath the wig. She can handle this. When Lydia is attacked, things swirl and go grey, but she doesn’t wake up where she expected to.

What I liked

This was kind of one of those stories within a story kind of things. I liked it. Lydia has this part of herself she thinks of as herself, but it’s not the Lydia that everyone else knows.

What I didn’t like

I kind of get this. Lydia has this fantasy self she thinks about to get away from her real life. This happens when your real life sucks so bad that just about the only thing you can do to cope is to imagine yourself as different. Maybe you can keep a few of that other you’s qualities as you move forward in life, or maybe it’s just a coping mechanism that’s temporary. I have spent many, many, many hours daydreaming when I was in crappy situations. Now that I’m not in crappy situations, I don’t have to spend extraneous amounts of time daydreaming that I’m someone else, somewhere else, and with someone else. Lydia is doing exactly the same thing. You’ll just have to read the story to figure out if she makes it out of her daydream.

Overall

Daydreams are fun, but you can get sucked in.

Weigh In

Have you used daydreaming as a coping mechanism for a crappy life?

If so, did you find that daydreaming helped?

#803 The Cold Girl by Rachel Caine

The Cold Girl by Rachel CaineThe Cold Girl by Rachel Caine

Kiley always wanted to date her boyfriend, but no one else really saw why. People flat-out didn’t like him, but she did. One night,they were going out, there was a carnival in town. There was a mix up with their phones. Kiley’s ended up smashed and she ended up with her boyfriend’s phone. She knew she shouldn’t peek, but she decided to anyway. He had been really concerned about photos and videos on the phone. She saw the photos; they were of her boyfriend and another girl. She saw that there were videos, she decided to watch one. The video wasn’t what she was expecting. The video showed her boyfriend strangling this girl and then raping her.

Kiley knew she had to get away from her boyfriend. He knew she had seen the phone. He tried to take her on a ride, but the carnie people seemed to know she was in trouble. They told her to go and see the fortune-teller. Kiley’s fortune was not good. She would die tonight. It would take her two days to die. The cold girl would come for her. Her boyfriend did catch up to her and he did kill her. She lay there, for two days, no one found her, but one boy did find her ghost. The cold girl finally came. She had been with the carnival for some time. Her touch froze skin. She told Kiley she could save her. She was a vampire, of course. She liked revenge and maybe Kiley could enact some revenge on her murdering boyfriend.

What I liked

I thought this story was interesting. I’m not all into vampire stories, but this one was kind of neat. I love how this mythology seemed to follow the cold girl, who was cold not only in temperature, but in her lack of human feeling. It seems the murdering boyfriend got what he deserved, much like Rosalie’s one-time fiance in the Twilight series. The story is a bit similar between the two characters.

I, like many people, tend to like retribution stories. If the bad guy gets what’s coming to him, we feel better about the story. We have this deep-rooted sense of right and wrong. We always feel that punishment must accompany a bad deed and we can get upset when it doesn’t. Think something like the Casey Anthony case, most of us feel punishment was not meted out. In this story though, the bad guy does get what’s coming to him.

What I didn’t like

I think I would have liked a full-length book rather than just this little bit. Who knows–I may read more from the series,

Overall

Just one more reason to think carnivals are creepy, as if the Freakshow version of American Horror Story wasn’t enough.

Weigh In

Do you find the mythology of vampires interesting?

Should evil-doers always be punished or are you the bigger person for not punishing them?

#686 Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris

Deadlocked by Charlaine HarrisDeadlocked by Charlaine Harris

Things in Sookie’s world are strange as usual. Her boyfriend has been betrothed to the vampire queen of Oklahoma, without his say. There is suspicion all around because of Victor’s death. Claude, Sookie’s fairy cousin, is whisked away by her grandfather Niall. Jannalynn also still has it out for Sookie.

Since Sookie has given Sam a loan to keep Merlotte’s afloat, he considers her part owner of the bar. With this, Sookie has gained more responsibility. She orders things and tries to find ways to make the bar better.

Sookie goes to a strange party at Eric’s house. There’s a strange woman there giving blood to Eric, but how did she get in? Where did she come from? Why did Eric’s day man tell her to come an hour later. When the woman ends up dead out on the front lawn, a police investigation starts. Who killed this girl, nevermind that she was a stripper, who killed her?

After the party a couple of people go missing. Bill starts an investigation to determine where they’ve gone to. Sookie helps him out in one of the plots to recover one of the missing persons. During all of this, it’s known that Sookie has powerful faye magic known as the Claviel Dor. People are looking for it and it puts Sookie’s life in added danger. She feels she should use it, but should she really use it? Couldn’t Eric figure out his own problems, because he loves her?

What I liked

Again, I love the fact that this series is a southern paranormal series. The South is an interesting place in and of itself, but add paranormal/supernatural stuff into it and it just gets better. This seems to be the book where Sookie learns some hard truths about herself. Is her fairy tale romance really that? Is Eric really the person she wants to be with?

What I didn’t like

This book makes me think that Team Eric is dead and gone. I like Eric. I think Eric is great, but maybe Sookie doesn’t end up with Eric and that makes me kind of sad, but we’ll see.

Overall

Someday, this girl is going to stop getting into trouble.

Weigh In

Which man would you choose?

If you had powerful magic, would you use it, or would you always have a fear that you used it for something that wasn’t that important?