And We’re Back To Supernatural Fiction

•July 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Next up on the list is a book that I read a few months back, when I was busy not updating this thing like I should have been. And it’s another urban fantasy book, big surprise there, isn’t it? Anyway, this one is called Nightlife by Rob Thruman and it’s actually really good. Here’s the back of the paperback and the cover.

“There are monsters among us. There always have been and there always will be. I’ve known that since I can remember, just like I’ve always known I was one…

…Well, half one, anyway.

Welcome to the Big Apple. There’s a troll under the Brooklyn Bridge, a boggle in Central Park, and a beautiful vampire in a penthouse on the Upper East Side–and that’s only the beginning. Of course, most humans are oblivious to the preternatural nightlife around them, but Cal Leandros is only half human.

His father’s dark lineage is the stuff of nightmares–and he and his entire otherworldly race are after Cal. Why? Cal hasn’t exactly wanted to stick around long enough to find out.

He and his half brother, Niko, have managed to stay a step ahead for four years, but now Cal’s dad has found them again. And Cal is about to learn why they want him, why they’ve always wanted him: He is the hey to unleashing their hell on earth. The fact of the human world will be decided in the fight of Cal’s life…”

Not exactly a step outside of my usual genre, is it? Oh well. Either way, it’s a great book. It’s written first person from Cal’s point of view and he’s sarcastic as hell, which ends up making the book itself quite funny as well. The ideas in the book are great, like the troll living under the Brooklyn Bridge, and the way the whole thing is put together is just fantastic. It’s definitely worth reading if you’re into this sort of thing.

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It’s Not Just About The Show

•June 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Really, I only got Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent by Anthony Rapp because of the fact that he wrote it. I’ve been a fan of Rent for half of my life, so of course I would want to read the first hand account from my favorite OBC member. But I got a lot more than I bargained for.

“Anthony had a special feeling about Jonathan Larson’s rock musical from his first audition, so he was thrilled when he landed a starring role as film maker Mark Cohen. With his mom’s cancer in remission and a reason to quit his newly acquired job at Starbucks, his life was looking up.

When Rent opened to thunderous acclaim off-Broadway, Rapp and his fellow cast members that something truly extraordinary had taken shape. But even as his friends and family were celebrating the shows success, they were also mourning Jonathan Larson’s sudden death from an aortic aneurysm. By the time Rent made its triumphant jump to Broadway, Larson had posthumously won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize. When Anthony’s mom began to lose her battle with cancer, he struggled to balance the demands of life in the theatre with his responsibility to his family. Here Anthony recounts the show’s magnificent success and his overwhelming loss. He also shares his first experiences discovering his sexuality, the tension it created with his mother, and his struggle into adulthood to gain her acceptance.

Variously marked by fledgling love and devastating loss, piercing frustration and powerful enlightenment, Without You charts the course of Rapp’s exhilarating journey with the cast and crew of Rent as well as the intimacies of his personal life behind the curtain.”

While the book does focus a lot on the sho, that’s not where it begins. You actually find out a lot about both the years before Rent and the years between Rapp leaving the stage production and starting to shoot the movie.

But the most important part of his book, to me, wasn’t the stuff about Rent like I thought it was going to be. Instead it was the stuff about his mother and her fight with breast cancer. That hit me hard, and it was written so well that as soon as I finished the book I turned to my mom and handed it to her, saying simply, “Read this. He explains exactly what I felt when you were fighting breast cancer.” Because that was true.

When she finished reading it she came and gave me a hug for it. She wasn’t quite as moved by it overall as I was, but she finally understood what being the child of someone going through that felt like.

This is a book for a lot of people. Theatre fans, people who have dealt with issues about sexuality, people who are dealing or who have dealt with cancer, doesn’t matter if they’re the ones going through it or if it’s someone they’re close to that’s going through it, the list goes in. It’s beautiful, funny, and heartbreaking.

Hang Tight, It Gets Better

•June 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

It was probably around July of last year that I got around to reading Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris all the way through. I’ll admit, it was my third try when it came to reading the book. Most people know it as the first True Blood book, but the series has gone by several different names over the years and True Blood is just the most recent of the lot. They’re also known as Southern Vampire Mysteries, Southern Vampire Chronicles, and The Sookie Stackhouse Books.

Now enough about the various names of the series and on to the back of the paperback, because that is the version I have.

“Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She’s quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn’t get out much. Not because she’s not pretty. She is. It’s just that, well, Sookie has this sort of “disability.” She can read minds. And that doesn’t make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill. He’s tall, dark, handsome–and Sookie can’t hear a word he’s thinking. He’s exactly the type of guy she’s been waiting for all her life…

But Bill has a disability of his own: He’s a vampire with a bad reputation. He hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, all suspected of–big surprise–murder. And when one of Sookie’s coworkers is killed, she fears she’s next…”

First thing is first here. This book? I kinda almost hated it. Almost. That’s why it took me three tries to read it. But here’s the good news. The books after this one are great. And at less than three-hundred pages it isn’t a long read so it won’t take long to get through.

And for people that watch the show there’s still plenty of surprises in the books. Most characters that get a lot of story on the show don’t get very much in the books because they’re from Sookie’s point of view, she doesn’t know what Jason and Lafayette are off doing while she’s not there. Some characters from the show are either dead or never existed in the books in any way. And some characters in the books aren’t allowed on the show for various reasons. Like Bubba. Bubba is absolutely fantastic and though he doesn’t show up in the first book it’s worth reading at least until you get to him. Bot for all of the changes they have made when it comes from taking a book series and turning it into a show, nothing is all that horrible. Not really, at least.

Really though, I recommend the series. Just don’t give up based on the first book.

We Are All Terminal Cases

•June 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Now for a book that I honestly haven’t read in several years. And even though I haven’t read it in ages I don’t mean to imply that it isn’t any good, it’s actually one of the books that lead me out of the romance genre that I used to be neck-deep into. Not that there’s anything wrong with the romance genre, but for a few years there that was about all I read.

Anyway, the book I’m writing about this time is The World According to Garp by John Irving. Not exactly a new release considering it first came out in 1976, but the age of the book doesn’t make it any less good. I felt like doing a write-up for it because I know a lot of people who have never even heard of it, and the fact that it came out in the mid-70s certainly doesn’t help. But anyway, onto the picture and what it’s about.

“This is the life of T.S. Garp, the bastard son of Jenny Fields–a feminist leader ahead of her time. This is the life and death of a famous mother and her almost-famous son; theirs is a world of sexual extremes–even of sexual assassinations. It is a novel rich with “lunacy and sorrow”; yet the dark, violent events of the story do not undermine a comedy both ribald and robust. In more than thirty languages, in more than forty countries–with more than ten million copies in print–this novel provides almost cheerful, even hilarious evidence of its famous last line: “In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases.””

Okay, so maybe it doesn’t sum up the basic plot in a neat little box with a bow on top, but it’s very possible that the reason for that is simply because the book can’t really be summed up as simply as so many others can.

Plus, it’s one where you can’t really just skip the book and watch the movie version. There is a movie of it starring Robin Williams that came out in 1982… and it is absolutely horrible. At least I think so, as well as everyone I know that has seen it. People that have read the book and people who haven’t alike. But hey, maybe one day I’ll run across someone who actually liked the movie!

Either way, movie or not, the book is fantastic. And I highly recommend it.

Coming of Age Actually Done Right

•June 21, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Yes, I know. It’s been absolute ages since I’ve updated this thing at all. Bad on me. Seriously, that wasn’t sarcasm. I hit a bit of a new book funk and was mostly continuing series’ that I’ve already gone over the first volume of on here, and I’m not going to cover anything but the first book of a series here to avoid spoilers as much as possible. But, enough about me, I’m back with a vengeance. That’s really all I need to say on that.

Friday I picked up a new book from Books-A-Million without realizing it had hardly been out over a week. For once it was a book that caught my attention that had absolutely nothing to do with the supernatural in any way. And the book in question is A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner. And here is what the jacket says.

“For months Cass Meyer has heard her best friend, Julia, a wannabe Broadway composer, whispering about a top-secret project. Then Julia is killed in a car accident, and Julia’s drama friends make it their mission to bring the project–a musical entitled TOTALLY SWEET NINJA DEATH SQUAD–to fruition.

But Cass isn’t one of the drama people. She can’t take a summer of swallowing her pride and painting sets, and she won’t spend long hours with Heather Galloway, the girl who rudely questioned Cass’s sexuality all through middle school and who has somehow landed the starring role.

So Cass decides to follow her original plan for a cross-country road trip with Julia. Even if she has a touring bicycle instead of a driver’s license, and even if Julia’s ashes are coming along in Tupperware. When Cass returns late in August she’s not the same person–and neither, she discovers, is Heather. In fact, it’s hard to tell what will happen to the play when they start falling for each other…

This is a story about friendship. About love. About traveling a thousand miles just to find yourself. And it’s a story about the craziest high school musical one quiet suburb has ever seen.”

That’s right, Cass and Heather. I know that has the potential to be a touchy subject for many people for various reasons, least of all it being a Young Adult book, but the story felt amazingly honest to me. And in all honesty (clearly I’m not a professional writer, using variations of the same word twice within as many sentences) I found some of the THEN chapters incredibly hard to read due to losing a friend to a car accident when I was in high school as well. It wasn’t a friend that I was as close to as Julia was to Cass, but it was still something that I could relate to.

Speaking of THEN chapters, even the way the book was laid out drew me in. It alternates between chapters marked NOW–after Cass’s return to her hometown–and THEN–everything between Julia’s death and Cass’s return. And her THEN story wasn’t spoiled by the NOW thing as so many authors may have ended up accidentally doing.

All in all, I highly recommend this book. I was just expecting a quick fluffy read when I chose it, amused by the possibility of a love story between two girls in a Young Adult book, but I got so much more than I expected with it. I honestly couldn’t put it down.

I Shouldn’t Look So Forward To Armageddon

•June 30, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I mean it. I shouldn’t. But hey, if it all ends the way it’s described in Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s (I know, you’re surprised that I’m writing about him.) Good Omens: the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, it’s going to be a Hell of a time! Literally. This is one of the two tied-for-favorite-Gaiman books of mine that I mentioned in passing ages ago.

And now I’m going to move on to the pictures (yes, there are two different covers) and the description on theĀ  back of the paperback.

“According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner. So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon–both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle–are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture. And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist…”

Never have I read a book with so much Christianity and humor woven into it side by side like this. I mean, come on. Every cassette tape left in Crowley’s car for more than a fortnight becomes a Best Of Queen tape. By the way, Crowley is the demon and the book was written in 1990, hence the cassette tape.

So far, every person I have handed my copy off to has absolutely adored it, and many of them ended up buying their own copies as well, which is fine with me as mine is starting to fall apart. Okay, so it started to fall apart a couple of years ago. I expect that if I keep reading it over and over, it’s just a couple more years until I have to keep it held together with a rubber band!

As stated, this is one of my absolute favorite books ever written. I recommend it to anyone that has a sense of humor. And no, just so you know, you absolutely do not have to be a Christian to love it. Just like you don’t have to be an Odinist to read American Gods and you don’t have to worship the old African gods for Anansi Boys. Both of which will probably have reviews on here eventually anyway.

Historical With A Touch Of Fantasy

•June 30, 2009 • 1 Comment

When it comes to describing Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, I honestly didn’t know where to start. This page sat here, open and blank for a long time before I even wrote the first word. I’ve told so many people over the years to pick this one up that I’m pretty sure I’ve just narrowed down my reasoning to simply, “It’s really good.” I know, I know. Not the best pitch when trying to tell someone why you think they would enjoy the book, but it’s the truth. And now I’m going to move along and give you what it says on the back of the paperback. (Or, at least the version I have in front of me.)

“Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another…

In 1945, Clare Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon–when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach–an “outlander”–in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord… 1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire’s destiny is soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidding Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life… and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire… and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.”

Yes, I know. It sounds like a strait up romance novel. But it’s not, trust me, if it was I probably wouldn’t have written much of anything about it on here. It’s more historical than anything else, with a touch of fantasy thrown in, but that only comes in from the time travel. It’s fantastically written and at 850 pages (paperback), it’s the shortest, as well as the first, book of the series, so you would be getting plenty of reading out of it.

Diana Gabaldon really does have a way with words. The descriptions are beautiful and she really does know how to insert humor into the dialogue without making it seem forced. And, as you can probably tell with me by now, I’m a big fan of humor. So go pick it up if you’re a fan of historical reading, and especially if you like hearing about Scotland.