Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Wind Through The Keyhole by Stephen King

The two most beautiful words in any language are: I forgive

This Dark Tower book is labeled as #4.5, it should fall between Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla but, as King lets you know in the forward, you can read this as a stand alone book if you've never ventured into the Dark Tower series. So, non-DT fans, feel safe to grab this excellent story-within-a-story-within-a-story novel.

I really love how this book is set up. We start off with Roland and his ka-tet of Eddie, Jake, Susannah and the billy-bumbler, Oy. They are still traveling to the Dark Tower but they all notice Oy acting peculiarly. Roland is sure he knows why but can't grasp the thought (he's been through quite a lot by this point). An old man named Bix is the one to inform them that billy-bumblers detect Starkblasts, terrible freezing storms that appear out of nowhere, unless you have a billy-bumbler to detect them. Our crew hurries to the nearest stone building to take shelter from the starkblast.

Which leads us to the new story.....

To while away the night and storm, Roland tells the story of his young self and fellow gunslinger, Jaime, who are sent to a small town in search of a skin-man. A skin-man might be described as a were in modern times,  a human that changes shape into an animal. Except the skin-man can become any animal and can rip the arms from people and beat them to death with their own arms (the story gets a bit gruesome - a la King).

Which leads us to the new story......

While trying to calm a young survivor of the latest skin-man attack, young Roland tells the story of Tim Stoutheart, a young boy who is very brave (and foolish) and goes on a quest to help his mother. He encounters dragons, plantpeople, mages, and many more scary and fascinating creatures.

Which winds us back to....

The young gunslingers and the skin-man

Which winds us back to....

The ka-tet finishing out the Starkblast on their way to the Dark Tower.

This was a book to take to your recliner with your cup of tea and a blanket. While the storms rage around you, you have a good place to go...with Roland the Gunslinger and his stories.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Heat Rises by Richard Castle

I found this one at the library even though I was determined to not get any more library books since I have so many books at home to read.

My willpower, she is weak.

This was a pretty darn good book. Nikki Heat catches the case of a priest who is murdered in a bondage dungeon. Things get weird (that wasn't weird enough) as her Captain, Charles Montrose, is acting strangely and keeps her from fully investigating this murder. It turns out that the dead priest is just the tip of an iceberg that reaches back to Monstrose's patrol days.

Short review because I don't want to give anything away, but this is a rather excellent mystery.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Phantom of The Opera by Gaston Leroux

Part of my goals for myself this year was to read more classics. I started off by listening to Phantom of the Opera. I've never seen the play, the musical, what have you. All I knew was the gist.

And the gist is this: a scary opera ghost (referred to as OG often in the book) is haunting an opera house in Paris. He terrorizes a singer.

What the book really is: a great story told from the perspective of the author as the person investigating the claims of the opera ghost and of the disappearance of Christine Daae. The opera ghost, according to the author, is really Erik. A person, although a deformed person. And a crazy person.

Filling in the blanks from the gist I had was entertaining. I would recommend the audiobook simply because of all the French, it just sounds better than what I could have read in my head.

1 classic down....

Monday, April 2, 2012

Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer

This was a pretty interesting and entertaining book about the art of remembering. Foer, as a journalist, was covering the Memory Championships and, while interviewing some of the contenders, believes he needs to try to become a contender as well.

Remembering is an art. Back in the day (WAY back in the day), everything pertinent to life was memorized. Now days, we don't remember anything because we have computers, cell phones, etc. Honestly, who remembers phone numbers now? You just look up the person's name on your phone and there you go.

Ed Cookie, one of the mental athletes, takes to coaching Foer. We learn how to create memory palaces to remember pretty much everything. We learn tricks to memorizing a deck of cards (hence the title of the book). But really, this book isn't a how-to on improving your memory. It's a trip, through history, through interviews with savants, amnesiacs and Rainman, into why your memory is so important.

Our memories are intricately linked to who we are. It contains our life, our autobiography, everything we are.

I think the best piece of advice Foer offered up was that to remember you need to be present. You need to be mindful of what's going on around you. When you meet that new person, really pay attention to that person. Don't think about yourself and what you plan on saying or doing next. Be in the moment. In the end, Foer learned that the tricks were cool but he really learned to be here, in the now. And that's what helped the most.

How zen.