June 26, 2009
I Am Legend
I saw the Will Smith movie I Am Legend a while ago, and really liked it (which should come to absolutely no surprise to those who know of my fascination with creepy monsters that go bump in the night). Somehow though, I had never read the book. Then I discovered that one of my favorite comic writers, Steve Niles (who wrote many of the 30 Days of Night books), had done a graphic novel version of I Am Legend. Somehow I felt if I was going to read it, I should at least start with the original book, and I’m so glad that I did.
The movie tie-in version of the book is actually a collection of short stories by Richard Matheson (not sure if this the the case with other versions). It leads off with I Am Legend; after a plague decimates society, infecting the living and creating vampires, Robert Neville finds himself as quite possibly the last living human on earth. It was creepy, but ultimately just a really sad, kind of heartbreaking portrayal of a man faced with the utmost loneliness.
There were a couple of other stories that I were just the right amount of weird and creepy. There were a couple that I really liked. The Near Departed, had a tinge of dark humor when a mysterious client plans for a death. In From Shadowed Places a young man suffers the wrath of an angered witch doctor. And my favorite, the uber-creepy Prey, where the trapped spirit of a bloodthirsty hunter escapes from it’s prison. Definitely an enjoyable collection, I can’t wait to look for more books by Richard Matheson.
June 17, 2009
Forever by Pete Hamill
I’ve put off writing about this book for a while now. I loved it so much, I’m not sure I can really do it justice without giving away the magic of the book.
Forever begins Ireland during the 1740s. Cormac O’Connor is a boy who learns that he is half Irish, half Jewish in a time and place where the only acceptable heritage is to be an English Protestant. After the death of his family, he accepts the Irish vow to avenge his father’s death by ending the familial line of his father’s killer, the Earl of Warren.
This vow takes him on an adventure, crossing the Atlantic to the bustling port city of New York. Through a series of events and encounters, Cormac is granted immortality (this is where I don’t really want to ruin the plot). His immortality comes at a price though….he may never again leave the island of Manhattan. Doing so would be considered suicide, a death that would prevent him from ever joining his family in the afterlife of the Otherworld. The story then follows Cormac through the ages as he tries not only to really live, but also stay true to his original vow of avenging his father’s death.
It’s been a really long time since I’ve loved a book as much as I loved this one. It weaved a wonderful story, combining history together with a bit of magic. I’m kind of sad that it had to end.
April 24, 2009
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
Despite my small addiction to romantic comedy movies, I spend very little time reading the equivalent chiclit book genre (teen books aside…I’m currently refering to just adult fiction). I have my favorite authors in this genre…Cecelia Ahern, Jane Green, Meg Cabot…but sometimes I get tired waiting for them to publish a new book and I find myself craving a nice adult fiction chic-lit book. Emily Giffin’s book Something Borrowed was recommended recently by a friend, and it one defintely took care of the craving perfectly.
Ever since they moved next door to each other twenty five years ago, Rachel and Darcy have been best friends, despite Darcy being “that girl”. The popular girl who always must be on top, one upping and using her friends in order to always get her way. Rachel used to defend Darcy, saying that was just who she is. But now they are turning 30, Darcy is getting married and Rachel is beginning to wonder if it is really worth it to always keep putting Darcy ahead of herself.
Then the completely unplanned happens, after a drunken night of celebrating her 30th birthday, Rachel sleeps with Darcy’s fiancee Dexter. At first she is willing to pretend it never happened, but when Dex admits he has had feelings for her since their law school days, Rachel must admit that she just may feel the same way. But is Dexter willing to leave the perfect Darcy? Is Darcy really perfect? And will Rachel finally take a stand and put her own feelings and needs before Darcy’s?
Something Borrowed was a great read, Giffin has created some great characters who perfectly demonstrate the morally ambiguous world we live in. This is also the first in a series, one which I hope continues to be as good as this first book was.
April 22, 2009
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
I decided recently at work that I need to brush up on my science fiction books for teens; it’s a genre used as part their required summer reading and I’ve never been particularly good at recommending or describing them. I figured I might as well start with Hitchhiker’s, I’ve had a copy of it floating around for as long as I can remember, and most people are appalled when they discover I have never read it.
And appalled they should be.
I absolutely loved this book and can not believe that it has taken me this long to finally read it! I’m not going to describe the whole plot in depth, most people are fairly familiar with it….Arthur Dent is saved by his friend Ford Prefect (who happens to be an extraterrestrial) in the last minute just before the earth blows up. The two then find themselves traveling the galaxy in search of answers to the universe’s biggest questions, meeting strange and funny characters along the way.
This was funny and thought provoking at the same time, and I can not wait to read the next book in the series. That and I can finally let myself watch the movie, even though I know it will never be as good as the book!
March 13, 2009
The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer
Ooooh, the was such a great spy book. For years, Milo Weaver had no real name, identity or home–he essentially didn’t exist. A Tourist for the CIA, his job was to carry out orders and collect information in any way necessary. In 2001, his career fell apart, the stress of the job finally getting to him. After an assignment gone wrong, Milo quit working as a Tourist; instead taking a desk job and becoming a family man.
However, in 2007, a break finally comes in a case he is working. For six years, Milo has been tracking The Tiger, an international assassin who never left enough evidence to be arrested but who supposedly was picked up in Kentucky for domestic abuse. When he arrives to identify that the man arrested really is the man he has been searching for, Milo is given information that quickly sends his world into a tailspin, forcing him to return to his life as a Tourist in order to find answers.
What follows is an intricate game of political cat and mouse, where no one can be trusted and nothing is as it seems. This was an incredibly quick and compelling read; intelligent, but yet not bogged down with overwhelming details (as I find in so many spy novels).
March 3, 2009
Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass
I came across this series while looking for something to satisfy my Kathy Reichs and Patricia Cornwell addiction. This certainly worked.
Jefferson Bass is really two people: journalist Jon Jefferson and Dr. Bill Bass, the creator of the actual Body Farm (officially called the University of Tennessee’s Anthropology Research Facility). The Body Farm series is heavily rooted in Dr. Bass’s real life experiences, which lends the writing nice detail and authenticity.
In Carved in Bone, Dr. Bill Brockton finds himself unwillingly dragged into the back country of Tennessee, filled with secrets and crooked law enforcement; a place where outsiders are not welcome. Called on by Tom Kitchings, Cooke County football hero turned sheriff; Brockton goes to examine remains of a young woman found in a local cave. The situation turns ugly when the victim is identified; causing decades old tensions to resurface. As he searches for the victim’s killer, Brockton finds nothing in Cooke County is as it seems, leaving him unsure and questioning which are the good guys and which are the bad.
Although not quite as heavy on the forensic and body examination as I would have liked, this is definitely a series that I’m going to keep reading. On a slight side note, I now can’t wait to also read Death’s Acre: inside the legendary forensic lab the Body Farm where the dead do tell tales and Beyond the body farm: a legendary bone detective explores murders, mysteries, and the revolution in forensic science. Both are non-fiction books about Dr. Bill Bass’s real life work experiences.
February 20, 2009
The Swap by Antony Moore
It didn’t mean much to him. He pitied the kid, the one everyone (including himself bullied and picked on. Bleeder Odd the called him. Besides, it was only a comic; whereas Bleeder’s length of plastic could chop down grass.
However now it’s twenty years later, and Harvey will never forget that day. The day he swapped away a mint condition Superman One. A comic now worth over 200,000 pounds. The irony that he now owns a comic book shop doesn’t escape him, and the “what ifs” plague his thoughts….what if he hadn’t swapped? What if Bleeder still had it? Or, even worse, what if Bleeder had just thrown it away?
With his twenty year high school reunion coming up, Harvey decides that if Bleeder shows up at the reunion, he could maybe find a way to tactfully inquire about the comic. Make it sound nostalgic, like a random remembrance, rather than something he has thought about everyday for twenty years. Maybe if the comic still exists, Harvey could even get Bleeder to swap it back to him.
However, things quickly spiral out of control for Harvey. After talking with Bleeder (who is no longer a scrawny, bullied kid but a well off man called by his proper name of Charles), Harvey is convinces himself that the Superman One still exists. Thinking that he may find it at Bleeder’s old house, he decided to break in and look for it and finds more than he bargained for.
Part murder mystery, part boyhood nostalga,The Swap is a darkly comic (no pun intended), centering on an elusive “white whale”…in this case Superman One.