Monday, May 30, 2011

Book review: Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth

In my previous entry, I commented on meeting Christopher Farnsworth at a book signing for his newest book, The President's Vampire. At the time, I was only part of the way through his first book, Blood Oath.

Farnsworth's vampires are thankfully sparkle-free, and the research on sociopaths that he did before writing this book shows. Nathaniel Cade is a consummate predator, albeit one bound to the service of the President. Born from the premise of "What would the President do with his own vampire? What wouldn't the President do with his own vampire??," Cade is the ultimate Secret Service agent, bound to protect the President and the country from all supernatural, nonhuman enemies, both foreign and domestic. Both cold and intense, Cade is an antihero who knows that he is beyond redemption yet possesses a dedication to his service that goes beyond the bond that has been placed on him.

Farnsworth's writing is fast-paced and reads like a well-written political action drama that on more than one occasion kept me reading well beyond when I intended to stop, thinking "well, I'll just finish this chapter, then I'll go to bed." Farnsworth's antagonists prove to be a source for much rich conflict well beyond the pages of this novel, and Konrad in particular chills and repulses with a veneer of oily slime that makes you feel like you need a shower after each chapter.

The conclusion is satisfying yet leaves enough loose ends to lead well into the next novel and beyond, and while it does resolve the story, it gives the reader just enough frustration to eagerly reach for the next book.

From G.P. Putnam's Sons (a division of Penguin) and available at your local, independent bookstore.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

So why a book blog?

After a great deal of deliberation and thought, I finally decided to start a blog specifically about books. I've got one about teaching and life in general, one about food, and finally figured with all of the reading I do, I should do one about books. But this one is going to be about more than books; rather than just write reviews, I'm going to include my views on bookstores, author short, anything that comes to mind about books in general.

So where to start? Well, that's easy, actually, especially since I attended an author event at The Tattered Cover in Denver. Once again, I find my opinions about supporting local, independent bookstores reinforced. Last night, I had the definite pleasure of meeting Christopher Farnsworth, author of The President's Vampire series. He was engaging, interesting and entertaining, and the hour flew by as he read from his newest book and discussed his inspiration for the series, who he thought would fit various roles in the upcoming Blood Oath movie, and shared his favorite conspiracy theory with the audience. I've often enjoyed hearing authors speak, and Farnsworth was no exception. I'm currently reading last year's Blood Oath, and am looking forward to sinking my teeth into his second and newest book, The President's Vampire (pun fully intended). While I'm still reading Blood Oath and I'm not ready to post my commentary/review of it, I can say that it's really nice to read a contemporary vampire novel in which the protagonist neither sparkles nor mopes. While researching for his novel, Farnsworth read about psychopaths/sociopaths, and it shows in the predatory nature of Nathaniel Cade, the President's vampire. More about that later.

The ability to meet and talk with authors is something that I have yet to see the national chains offer, at least on a regular basis; quite frankly, I'm fine with that. I like going to the independent stores; in fact, I prefer local stores to chains. Local bookstores are like being at home; the chains are like staying in a hotel.

After getting my copy of The President's Vampire signed, I headed upstairs to peruse the shelves to see what else was in the store. I wandered around the various sections, eventually finding the bargain books and used book section. It was there I found my latest happy little treasures to add to my collection. My eyes first hit on The Tales of Beedle the Bard. I have a copy of this book at home, so was intrigued by the different cover I was looking at. I picked it up and looked at the back then smiled. I was holding in my hands the U.K. version of the same book, as evidenced by the original price listed in Sterling Pounds instead of dollars. I definitely wanted this for my collection. Further browsing in the used/bargain section revealed a first edition, U.K. version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which also made its way home and onto my bookshelf for a very inexpensive price. Chances of finding either of these in a chain bookstore? Not so much. Chances of me being  super excited about finding these little treasures? 100%.