Saturday, October 15, 2005

Undead and Unemployed - MaryJanice Davidson

Betsy Taylor is adjusting to life after death as a vampire, but she still needs a job. To satisfy her lust for sexy shoes, she lands one in Macy's, but one night she is attacked by zit-remedy-scented slayers who are targeting female vampires. While trying to find out who is behind the plot, she befriends an adolescent gang called the Blade Warriors and the kindly priest who leads them. Betsy's unwanted consort, sexy Eric Sinclair, king of the vampires, doesn't know how to deal with a vampire queen who sneezes at holy water and wears a cross around her neck, and a charming subplot involving a mysterious five-year-old girl in saddle shoes adds poignancy to this wickedly clever and amusing romp. Davidson's witty dialogue, fast pacing, smart plotting, laugh-out-loud humor, and sexy relationships make this a joy to read. And Betsy's second adventure, following her debut in Undead and Unwed. The third and fourth novels are called: Undead and Unappreciated and Undead and Unreturnable. This is a great series and you will love it. It’s funny and a quick read.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Storm Front - Jim Butcher

I recently discovered a new series that has been out there for awhile, well at least long enough for eight books to come out. I like coming into a long series when most of it is out in paperback already. That means I don’t have to wait a year for the next book to come out. In fact, there are probably several books on my bookcases that have sequals that I have forgotten about.

The Dresden Files is an exciting series. I really like the wit and humor that the main character shows. The first book Storm Front, had me up all night, just simply because I did not want to put it down. Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he's the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the "everyday" world is actually full of strange and magical things -- and most of them don't play well with humans. That's where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a -- well, whatever.

There's just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry's seeing dollar signs. But where there's black magic, there's a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry's name. And that's when things start to get... interesting.

Magic. It can get a guy killed.

I am reading the second in the series now, Full Moon. I will tell you about it later.


Sunday, October 02, 2005

Revolution on Canvas - Rich Balling

This book, Revolution on Canvas by Rich Balling, is absolutely amazing. The poetry is insightful, and the bands deserve so much credit for their extreme talent. I find that it makes a great present for music lovers. You can't read this without finding something that will make you laugh or cry. This book proves that creativity is not dead in the independent music scene. It showcases hundreds of poems and prose pieces, as well as several artistic ventures, from the some of the most respected indie musicians of the day. Its contributors span from the well-established, barely-indie Something Corporate and Taking Back Sunday to up-and-comers on the verge of breaking through such as The Academy Is. I personally loved it and constantly find myself flipping through it. Some other bands that have contributed works include Silverstein, The Bled, Boys Night Out, From Autumn to Ashes, This Day Forward, Planes Mistaken For Stars, The Starting Line, Fear Before The March of Flames, and many more. For a good handle on modern poetry, or if you like any of these bands pick up this book.

Even if you are not a fan of punk/emo/hardcore/indie/whatever, you will still enjoy this eclectic collection. It's a poetry book so you can read it over and over again. I teach Freshman Composition and I use this book during my poetry/lyrics section. They seem to enjoy it also. You can buy it for about eight dollars from Amazon.


Saturday, September 24, 2005

Steven Brust - Favorite Author

Steven Brust is by far my favorite author. I have read every one of his books, some of them several times. I truly enjoy the worlds he has created in his novels. Jhereg was the first one to capture me and it was one of his first books. It tells the story of a young assassin trying to make his way in the world. From the very first passage, I was completely enchanted; it quickly & skillfully drew me in, heart and soul. Brust writes with wit, humor and charm, colorfully describing characters, scenes, thoughts, simply everything about the world he's created. It's obvious that a great deal of thought went into this creation; he passes along casual details that hint of greater stories to come, including histories, myths, and rumors.

The central figure is Vlad Taltos, one of the top assassins in the land. The other important figures are his assistants, his wife, a few antagonists, assorted friends and colleagues, but most importantly, his familiar, Loiosh. In addition to being a highly skilled assassin, Vlad is also a very powerful witch. Loiosh is perhaps his strongest ally, being able to communicate with Vlad telepathically. Several characters are able to communicate this way, and it's a handy method to advance the story more quickly, without intrusive time delays and journeys back and forth.

Part of what makes this story so easy to read is Brust's use of common language - he doesn't try to take us back into Olde Tyme, using overly-flowery, excessively eloquent language; he makes use of language as many of us do today, with only a few quirks thrown in to keep things interesting.

It takes a lot to charm me this thoroughly, and I can't think of the words to describe how happy I am with this book, and everything about it - the characters, the dialogue, the quick pace, the story line, the plot twists, the detail, the simple elegance, the vivacity of it all. It is, in other words, amazing. I'll bet you won't be disappointed.

There are ten books in the series right now, with also some splinter series that are just as good. The first ten are:
1 Jhereg
2 Yendi
3 Teckla
4 Taltos
5 Phoenix
6 Athyra
7 Orca
8 Dragon
9 Issola
10 Dzur

"This whole series is entertaining and worth reading!" -Locus
"Engaging...written with a light touch...good stuff!" -Publishers Weekly
"Watch Steven Brust. He's good. He moves fast. He surprises you." -Roger Zelazny
"Hard to put down . . . fun to read!" -OtherRealms
"Imagine James Bond in a world of magic...exciting!" -Voya

Hope you read and enjoy.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Stump - Niall Griffiths

Niall Griffiths was born in Liverpool and has since moved to Aberystwyth. Both towns have a strong hold on his imagination. His first two novels were set on the west coast of Wales, his third, Stump, re-visited his native city.

Stump is a surprisingly gentle novel, despite the harshness of two of the book's characters, and the hardships endured by its narrator. The story unfolds cleverly: each chapter written from Stump's POV is followed by a chapter written in the third person, consisting mainly of dialogue, and concerning two rather unpleasant yet clueless scousers sent on a mission to track down Stump. The narrator himself is a one-armed ex-alcoholic scouser intent on rebuilding his life in the 'softer' surroundings of a small Welsh town. He is both inspired and challenged by the simplicity of his new life and the rural environment in which he has escaped to, and Griffiths tells his story without great apology or pity. There are some scathing attacks on the 12 step program but recognition also on the narrator's behalf of his own shortcomings and past f*ck-ups, and how they will change his life forever. The plot concludes amusingly but plausibly, and the writing throughout is wonderfully suited to the characters it portrays. This was the first book I've read by Niall Griffiths, and I will be seeking out more in the near future. A very enjoyable read, but you do have to get used to the dialect. It reminded me of On the Road by Jack Kerouac.


Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova

Okay, I am a major vampire fan. I love books, movies or anything about vampires. So, when I heard that a new book was out called The Historian, I, of course went out and bought it. With all my schoolwork, it took me about four days to read it, and that was reading it every spare minute that I had. I love it, what a great new take on an old story.

The Historian was written for us book lovers, for those of us who love literature of all kinds. The book takes us on a tour of the greatest libraries in the world and some very remote ones as well. I would be heartbroken to learn that all of them were made up, and I think that some of them must be real.

The story follows several historians as they hunt for the tomb of Vlad the Impaler, the man behind the Dracula legend. Its elaborate time-scheme involves three generations of academics. In 1930, Rossi, an Oxford don, becomes obsessed with Vlad Tepes (the medieval warlord who was Stoker’s model) and his role in resisting Turkish rule. Twenty-five years later, Rossi vanishes, revealing in a letter that Dracula is still at large, and his protégé Paul sets off for eastern Europe in search of him, hooking up en route with Rossi’ s daughter Helen, an anthropologist, who turns out to be a descendent of Dracula. Their quest and Rossi’s are related in the 1970s by Paul to their teenage daughter, the novel’s overall narrator and (as we learn from a prologue dated “2008”) a future professor. The restless Helen has resurfaced after years of traveling and minimal communication, and her husband and child hunt for her separately, converging at a French monastery.

This is not a book for the normal reader. You have to really love literature and reading about literature to enjoy this book. There are few action packed sequences, very little blood, and next to no fighting. So if you are looking for action packed, Dracula hunting novel, keep looking. This is a novel for historians themselves, interested in the legend of Dracula.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Decipher - Stel Pavlou

In this fascinating blend of science, mythology, and language, ancient monuments the world over are being awakened by a signal emanating from deep within the ice of Antarctica. The signal contains secrets that threaten to destroy the world. Atlantis has awoken. Ancient monuments all over the worlds from the Pyramids of Giza, to Mexico to the ancient sites of China are reacting to a brewing crisis not of this earth, but somewhere out in the solar system. Connecting to each other through the oceans. Using low frequency sound waves to create an ancient network. The earth is thrown into panic stations. For it seems that the signals emanating from Atlantis are a prelude to something much greater. Could it be that the entire city is in fact one giant ancient machine? What purpose would such a machine be built for, and who built it? It is the year 2012, the same year Mayan belief prophesized the end of the world. War for the control of the most potent force ever known to man has broken out, but what is war to the destruction of the entire race. There are secrets in Atlantis, secrets that are encoded in crystal shards retrieved from the sunken city. Secrets that Mankind has had twelve thousand years to decipher, but which will now destroy it within one week.
The mix of sciences, mythology and language are a great part of this book. Not one of them would have been able to solve the riddle of the sphinx, or translate the message left for us over 12,000 years ago. All had to work together to save mankind.
This was a great read. I am not a science person, but I do like hearing new theories in science, but this book is not just about science, it is about language; where it came from, how it evolved and how it relates to the legends and myths from around the world. I could not put this book down and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes to think outside the box.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Guns, Drugs and Monsters – by Steve Niles

A Cal McDonald mystery

This was a fun, quick read, only 196 pages, several of which are blank filler pages. The story, however, had a very noir feeling to it. There is the old, scarred detective, named Cal Mcdonald, living in a rat-hole of a place, where it always seems to be raining and working jobs no one else will touch. Just one thing though, he works cases that involve the supernatural. You know, things like vampires, warewolves, and pimple faced kids using black magic. He also has a partner that is a Ghoul, which for those of you that don’t know, is an undead person walking around. Cal doesn’t seem to mind though, ghouls are very passive and hard workers. They make great postal workers.

This story starts out with Cal receiving a head in the mail. It is an old friend of his from LA, and after the head explains how it got there, Cal decides to pack his bag and head over to help fix things.

This is definitely a bizarre trip through an America populated by monsters, freaks and ghouls. The book was printed in Canada and costs $16.99 but I found it at Borders. I loved reading it and I think anyone with a sense of humor and a fondness for the strange and unusual, will like it as well. You can read this book without reading any of the others, but I think I’m hooked and will be buying some of the other Cal McDonald mysteries, starting with Savage Membrane.