Saturday, May 30, 2009

Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

Harry Harry Harry Dresden. He's getting on par with Lucas Davenport in the characters I'll follow everywhere.

Turn Coat is the 11th book in the Dresden Files. Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is a wizard/PI. He helps out the Chicago PD when weird things happen that no one can explain or no one wants to acknowledge. Harry is a member of the White Council and a Warden (big deal in the magic world). His nemesis, Warden Morgan, ends up on Harry's doorstep bleeding and begging for his help. Harry, being the nice guy he is, shelters Morgan and does his best to help him prove his innocence against some trumped up murder charge.

Captain Luccio is back and still hot and heavy with Dresden....but this ends in a plot twist that I didn't see coming. Molly is back as Harry's apprentice and is helping to protect Warden Morgan. A new Big Nasty is introduced in the form of an ancient skinwalker. A shape shifting beast that seems to be indestructible.

Turn Coat is on of my favorites in the Dresden series. It was fast-paced and introduced quite the boatload of new plot twists that will (hopefully) be carried forward into the rest of the series. One beef: Michael was injured badly in the last book, but Turn Coat only devotes one sentence to how he is. Tying up that little loose end would have been nice.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Kim Deitch

Deja vu because I've seen this before. Most likely in a Raw comic.

Blvd shows the progress, or decline, of Mishkin, the creator of Waldo the cat. Waldo is Mishkin's hallucination and comes to life through cartoons. Mishkin eventually loses it and everyone gets old and travels down the broken dreams boulevard. sad and crazy.

It's a good graphic novel. I just had to give it back to the library before writing this so I can't get too specific. Sorry!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Wicked Prey by John Sandford

I rarely enjoy a character so much that I stick with them through 19 books. Wicked Prey is the 19th book in Sandford's Prey series and it's just as good as the first. I don't know what it is about Lucas Davenport that is just so intriguing but as long as the stories are good and Lucas is in them, I'm a fan. If we include Kidd and that fuckin' Flowers, Sandford creates characters that you have to follow.

Wicked Prey has the Republican convention in Minnesota, with McCain and Palin (ugh). I wonder how dated and weird that will be when someone 10 years from now reads this book. Anyways, filthy rich politicians are swarming and taking up every available police resource. Which is the perfect scenario for some intelligent heists. The "villians" in this book are actually incredibly smart. Frighteningly smart. They give Lucas a fair run for his money while they manage to pull off some pretty detailed robberies that net them millions of dollars. Incredibly smart doesn't mean they aren't greedy and the greed, and need for one final heist, ultimately is their undoing.

The side story in this novel involves Letty, Lucas' soon to be adopted daughter. She goes up against her own set of evil-doers much to everyone's dismay. I realize that her character is still being fleshed out but in the Prey books, everyone is a supporting character to Davenport. So much time spent on Letty, in the end, irked me a little.

Great plot, great writing and great characters. What else do you need?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer

The 4th, and thankfully, final in the Twilight series.

Am I harsh? Yes. I understand that I am not the target audience for this series, I really do. But even teens and pre-teens deserve a well written book and they just didn't get it with this one. My review of her last book was harsh because she drives home this climatic plot and then fails to deliver.

She did it again. But this time we had to read almost 700 pages to get to it. Spoilers ahead. Be warned and beware.

Bella, still an incredibly whiny person, and Edward marry. They honeymoon. They have bed breaking sex. Bella gets preggers and it develops rapidly. It takes Bella too many pages to figure this out. They go home. Bella whines that she. must. have. this. child! It's a mini-Edward, she thinks. Bella almost dies having the kid. Bella becomes a vampire. An incredibly annoying vampire. Big fight planned, literally for lots of chapters. Fight? No. Everyone walks away. Happy ending. Yay teen marriages and pregnancies.

700+ pages condensed.

My beef again with Ms. Meyer is that she builds and builds a plot line, one that could actually work as plot, and then lets it fall. She has a good idea going, she has a great concept for a great story but she just doesn't do anything with it. And how in the world did she make Bella more annoying as a vampire? We know your vampires are fast. That's drilled into the reader's skull every chapter of every book. So did we need to hear how every move or thought Bella had "takes less than a second." "that took a sixty-fourth of a second." "an eighty-seventh of a second" I get your target audience is young, but they're not dumb.

You massive battle between good and evil was an enormous letdown. Even JK Rowling knocked off a beloved character or two. It's what gets the reader into the story and feeling along with the characters. Having everyone essentially turn to the reader and shout "PSYCH" is such a copout.

Ah well. It's done. I'll never see the movies, not even out of morbid curiousity. Not even while drunk. I'll just mourn the loss of a plot that could have been a contender .... in the right hands.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Always Looking Up by Michael J. Fox

Fox intrigues me simply because he went the opposite direction with his Parkinson's diagnosis than my dad did with his. After reading this book, I'm more impressed than ever. Fox began exhibiting symptoms of PD when he was 29 but brushed them off as overexertion. The actual PD diagnosis brought a some depression and a time of keeping it to himself. He continued to act on Spin City until the symptoms just couldn't be contained anymore.

This book is divided up into 4 sections: Work, Politics, Faith, Family. These are the 4 areas of his life that keep him going. The Work section describes his decision to give up his acting career and basically step aside. What he didn't know at the time was that he would create a Foundation that would take the place of his acting career. Fox created the Michael J Fox Foundation to fund research to cure PD. He eventually wants his Foundation to go out of business because that would mean that PD was cured.

The Politics section describes how he placed himself in the arena to advocate on the behalf of the millions of PD patients and the millions of other patients who could benefit from stem cell research. He has crisscrossed the country backing politicians who support stem cell research without regard for party lines (he can safely take a stand as the MJF Foundation receives no government funding. Chris Reeve couldn't because his Foundation did receive government funding). Most people will probably remember the Rush controversy, ie. Rush making an ass of himself by mocking Fox's commercial for Claire Gaskill and saying that Fox is acting or deliberately not taking his medicine. I remember being pissed because I knew how bad PD is WITH medicine. How Fox looked in his commercial looked like a good day.

The Faith sections expounds on Fox's childhood religious views (there weren't many) and how things have evolved since marrying Tracy, who is Jewish. They raised their children as Jewish but Fox has kept an open mind about all regligious aspects, being more curious than anything.

The last section delves into his Family. He talks about his kids, how they bond and how they handle "Shaky Dad".

Fox is a good storyteller and makes you laugh about the issues he has had to deal with having PD. It's a nice change because as I said, my dad has taken the opposite tack. No humor with lots of self-pity.

Fox's story is inspiring and the work he has done for stem cell research is amazing. His Foundation, in the short time it's been open, has done more for stem cell research and PD research than any other Foundation or government-sponsored program. With Obama as POTUS now and having lifted the ban on stem cell research, Fox may get his wish of having to close his Foundation down.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Iggy Pop: Open Up and Bleed by Paul Trynka

I borrowed this audio book from the library and didn't realize that it was 12 cds. It took forever to listen to and I'm afraid I may have forgotten what was on the first 6 cds. Ah well.

I'm a Stooges fan, newly minted. My friend introduced me to the Stooges music a few years ago and I was hooked. Naturally I knew who Iggy Pop was (the old guy who never wore a shirt) but I mainly new him from movies, oddly enough. Open Up and Bleed is a comprehensive story of Iggy/Jim's life - from growing up in Michigan to fronting one of the most prominent punk/rock bands still respected today.

Jim Osterberg aka Iggy Pop was something of an overachieving intellect in school, always trying to fit in and make people like him. But he also had a way of dumping folks when he thought they were no longer useful; a habit that persisted throughout his life. This book depicts Jim as an intelligent, considerate, charming person who just happens to have an alter ego.

Iggy Pop has been known to smear himself with peanut butter and slice himself up with broken glass on stage. Called the Godfather of Punk, Iggy invented crowd surfing - often falling face first into the ground when the crowd just didn't get it. Booed, humiliated, drug addicted Iggy had a rough go at making it big in music.

The Stooges were always dedicated to the music. Always doing anything for the music. Which makes them respected by most musicians.

Fans of Iggy or the Stooges will enjoy this book. But give yourself lots of time to read it. It's pretty long.