When her mother re-marries a minor league baseball player, seventeen year-old Bella Swan decides to move to the small town of Fork, Washington to liveWhen her mother re-marries a minor league baseball player, seventeen year-old Bella Swan decides to move to the small town of Fork, Washington to live with her father, Charlie. Bella enrolls in the local high school, setting of a wave of interest in the “new girl” in town. But as she makes friends and interest suitors, Bella finds herself draw to the members of the mysterious Cullen family and especially to Edward Cullen. Bella begins to look into the mystery of the Cullens (they’re all a bit pale, miss school on certain days and have an odd reputation around town) and discovers their secret–Edward and his family are vampires. Bella and Edward are attracted to each other, though each tries to downplay it at first.
Soon the couple is spending more and more time together and slowly falling in love.
For the first two-thirds of her debut novel Twilight, Stephanie Meyer captures the urgency and intensity of a first-love all while channeling a vibe of early season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the story of Bella and Edward. (Only big difference is Bella has no super powers). But once the two reach a point where they seem to be happy and content, things start go horribly awry–not just for the couple, but for the novel.
The pace picks up, but not in a good way. The storyline brings in outside dangers that feel forced, as if to prove the depth of the love Bella and Edward have. It also serves to introduce some conflict and disagreement between the two, as well as a reaction by another character who intially warns Bella about Edward. The novel ends with a distinctly unfinished feeling, almost as if at 500 pages (or in my case, 11 CDs), the publisher new the limit of an attention span for the target young adult audience and decided to call it quits. It’s not a natural end point to the story, though from a marketing standpoint, it makes sense to leave the reader wanting more and seeking the next installment. Hopefully future installments of this series won’t make the same mistake. ...more
Created specifically for audio book, "Pest Control" is an entertaining little story that encapsulates everything that's right and wrong about the modeCreated specifically for audio book, "Pest Control" is an entertaining little story that encapsulates everything that's right and wrong about the modern Doctor Who.
Read by David Tennant, the story finds the Doctor and Donna arriving on a planet torn apart by war. Each side has secrets and there's another evil lurking out there.
Not exactly ground-breaking Who, but it's still enjoyable enough for a quick listen. ...more
Before vampires were brooding, sparkly and sexy, Bram Stoker and Richard Matheson made them scary. They were creatures of the night, meant to be feareBefore vampires were brooding, sparkly and sexy, Bram Stoker and Richard Matheson made them scary. They were creatures of the night, meant to be feared and avoided at all costs.
If it was Stoker that introduced us to the world of the undead blood suckers, it was Matheson who took the genre the next step forward, exploring how the tropes of vampire mythology could be true based on scientific principles of the time.
But to categorize "I Am Legend" as just as vampire story is a huge mistake. As with all of the best Matheson stories, the supernatural element is the gateway to exploring something deeper about human beings. In this case, it's an exploration of loneliness and the depths it can drive a person to.
Robert Neville is the last survivor of the vampire apocalypse, started when China and Russia unleashed germ warfare as part of a border war. The germ proved too effective, quickly spreading across the globe and wiping out large chunks of humanity. Neville is immune to the disease thanks to a vampire bat bite he got while serving in Central America years before. Neville faces not only the horror of being tormented each night by a hoard of vampires led by his old friend, Ben Cortman, but he also has to live with the guilt that he had to kill his wife and daughter when they were resurrected as vampires by the virus.
As the story begins, Neville is eking out a day to day existence in which his only concerns are ensuring his house is safe from the vampire hoards each night and trying to deal with the oppressive loneliness he feels every waking minute of the day. It's been a long time since Neville had any company of any kind and the hope of female companionship is just one of the lures the vampires try to use each evening to draw Neville out in a moment of weakness.
Neville's essential isolation is underlined by his attempts to connect to anything that could possibly be a link to a normal life. Neville feels hopes when he sees an uninfected dog roaming the neighborhood and spends weeks trying to get the animal to trust him. Later he sees what appears to be an unaffected woman and he chases her down like a madman, trying to keep her from fleeing. Of course, what Neville doesn't realize is that the vampires are evolving and creating their own society. And that to them, he's become the monster and stuff of nightmares--an unchanged human with no regard to the fact that there are two different types of vampires now--some who are mindless killing machines and others who are evolving into something more.
Neville is typical Matheson hero--the everyman facing extraordinary circumstances and trying not only to come to grips with them but to survive. Unlike many of the movie adaptations (when will Hollywood get this story right?!?), Neville doesn't start out as scientist but becomes one over the course of the story. Circumstances force him to begin a process of learning and studying to see if a cure is possible and why certain elements of the vampire lore might be true. Matheson's idea may or may not be scientifically credible in the real world, but they work within the confines of the story and make the entire novella that much richer for it.
One of the good things about "I Am Legend" is that the vampires in it are scary monsters, something to be feared and protected against. But Matheson also shows not only the evolution of Neville, but the evolution of the vampires as well. Early on, the vampires try to tempt Neville with the women pulling up their dresses and Cortland telling him to surrender and leave his safehouse. But as the novel goes along, the vampires become less aggressive in their attack, setting up a devious trap that eventually leads to Neville's downfall. It's a fascinating arc to consider and one has to wonder what the vampire society being created might be like once the final page of the story is turned.
"I Am Legend" is a great portal to exploring the literary world of Mattheson. Most editions of "Legend" will include a few short stories to give you a bit more of a taste of how good Matheson can be. In many ways, he's one of the most prolific and influential writers that most people haven't heard of. Stephen King often cites him as one of his biggest influences and the more you read of both, the more you'll see the connection.
"I Am Legend" is a classic of multiple genres and worthy of a read or even a re-read. I've read it several times now and enjoyed it each time. If you've not read it, put it on the to be read list. If you have read it, maybe it's time to visit it again and sit back in wonder of how good Matheson can be.
And Hollywood--it's about damn time you got the movie version of this book right.
Doug Parker is a 29-year old widower. He lost his wife Hayley (who was older) in a plane crash and has spent the last year avoiding life in Jonathan TDoug Parker is a 29-year old widower. He lost his wife Hayley (who was older) in a plane crash and has spent the last year avoiding life in Jonathan Tropper's "How to Talk to a Widower."
And while much of Doug's world is defined by his depression and anger over losing Hayley, it's not the only thing going on his life. His twin sister Clair is pregnant and leaving her husband, his father suffered a stroke and has good and bad days and his younger sister met her fiancee at the shiva for Hayley. And that's before you get to a rebelling step-son and Doug's decision to try living life again--if by living you mean, sleeping with the wife of a good friend, dating again and falling for the guidance counsellor at his step-son's school.
Tropper channels a Nick-Hornby-like vibe with first-person narrator Doug. Doug makes choices he admittedly knows are wrong, but continues the path due to his perceived pain and anguish over losing Hayley. Doug is, at times, selfish and the story is about his growing up. It's about coming to grips with the pain and realizing that Hayley would want him to continue living his life.
Now, it all sounds a bit dark and it is. But Tropper has filled this book with so many memorable characters that there are light moments sprinkled in the story to keep the reader from getting totally depressed. The circus of women around the newly-dating Doug is worth the price of admission alone.
Funny, sarcastic and sardonic all at the same time, "How To Talk to a Widower" is an ideal book for guys and the women who want to understand them. And don't let the new cover fool you. It looks like a light romance novel, but underneath is a story of a guy dealing with his demons. And while there is some romance, I wouldn't say it's a romance in the strictest sense of the word. ...more
Imagine waking up one day to find you have the "perfect" life--great job, ideal spouse, the right look and money to satisfy your every need and whim.Imagine waking up one day to find you have the "perfect" life--great job, ideal spouse, the right look and money to satisfy your every need and whim.
In "Remember Me?" Lexi Smart does just that--wakes up to the perfect life. Lexi wakes up in a hospital following a blow to the head and having amnesia. The last three years of her life are missing and she's gone from a frumpy girl with the nickname "Snaggletooth" to a high-powered corporate career woman with a complete make-over and a wealthy husband. It sounds a bit too good to be true...
And it turns out to be. In our climb to the top, Lexi alienated her closest friends and has become obsessed. She's become the corporate bitch in many ways and her perfect looking husband isn't quite the perfect guy he appears to be.
The story follows Lexi trying to put her life back together and figure out how she got there. The revelation of what drove her to become so ruthless is set up well in the early running and makes perfect sense within the context of the novel. Also, the story doesn't necessarily have Lexi find a perfect life for her beyond the perfect life she has on paper.
Told from the first-person perspective, "Remember Me?" is an intriguing commentary disguised as chick-lit fluff. ...more
Takes a fairly forgettable and padded Pertwee six-parter and turns it into something special. Malcolm Hulke embellishes some things, fudges some contiTakes a fairly forgettable and padded Pertwee six-parter and turns it into something special. Malcolm Hulke embellishes some things, fudges some continuity and delivers a story that works better as a novelization than it does on-screen.
Sedaris's latest collection of essays will make you laugh and think, sometimes within the same sentence. Sedaris is able to take the little things inSedaris's latest collection of essays will make you laugh and think, sometimes within the same sentence. Sedaris is able to take the little things in life and focus on them to the point of obsession, both pointing out the humor and the fallacies in them. ...more
In many ways, Cujo is the animal equivalent of The Shining. In The Shining, it's Jack Torrance going mad and inflicting reign of terror upon victims iIn many ways, Cujo is the animal equivalent of The Shining. In The Shining, it's Jack Torrance going mad and inflicting reign of terror upon victims in an isolated location. In Cujo, it's a 200 pound St. Bernard, bitten by a bat and gone slowly mad due to rabies infection who becomes a killing machine and inflicts a reign of terror upon victims in an isolated location.
And while most of Stephen King fans will agree that The Shining is the better novel, I think a lot of King fans are too quick to dismiss Cujo as one of the lesser novels from the master of horror. I think part of this comes from King's confession in On Writing that Cujo was written at the height of his battle with alcohol and that he doesn't remember writing large chunks of the novel. That may be a good thing because I know that large chunks of the novel have stayed with me since I first picked it up years ago.
Cujo was the first novel by King that I read all the way through. I'd started Firestarter but the long, slow burn of that novel (pun not intended) meant it took a bit longer for it to hook me as a teenager. And while Cujo does take a bit of time to get rolling, the hook of the 200 pound St. Bernard gone mad and becoming an epic killing machine is set early and the horror factor comes into play within the first hundred or so pages of the novel.
Simply put, this book scared the hell out of me when I first read it and it's still pretty damn scary today. Glimpsing the audio version on the shelf at my local library, I decided it's been a couple of decades since I'd first read the story, so why not take a chance and experience the story again and see if it held up well.
And while the novel doesn't quite live up to the memories I have of it, I think it's still one of King's better mid-range stories.
Listening to Cujo this time around, I couldn't help but feel that there was some influences of Alfred Hitchcock at work here. From the opening pages, we know that Cujo is a ticking time bomb, slowly waiting to explode. And yet, Cujo is such an innocent character who is the victim of bad circumstances. It's not the dog's fault that his owner hasn't had him vaccinated for rabies. It's also telling that King sets some of the novel from Cujo's point of view as he tries to understand what's happening to him as the rabies slowly takes over his mind and destroys his body.
And while the dog later does inflict some horrific damage upon humans, it's hard not to see the story as a tragedy.
But it's not just Cujo that is the tragic figure here. King sets up a parallel character arc for two families--the Trentons and the Cambers. Both families have marriages that have reached a cross-roads. In the case of the Trentons, it's the fallout from wife Donna's admitted infidelity and Vic's fighting to save an advertising account in the wake of a national scandal. For the Cambers, it's a tug of war between wife Charity and husband Joe about lottery winnings and raising their pre-teen son. Charity fears that her son will turn too much into her father, a domineering man who has to be bribed into letting the two make a bus trip to visit her sister in New Hampshire.
King wisely spends the first hundred or so pages of the story setting up the characters and building our investment in them. Once Cujo goes on his killing spree, it allows us to have a bit more investment in those dying or being threatened than you might in your standard horror/slasher film.
Things all reach a head when Vic heads out of town to save the account and Donna heads out to the Cambers' place to get her Pinto fixed. I've read a lot of other critical looks at the novel that say the story loses much of its momentum here, but I strongly disagree. Yes, we spend a lot of time out in the car with Donna and Tad trapped in the heat and facing the wrath of Cujo. But as I listened to the novel again, I couldn't help but feel that it wasn't so much that King was stretching things out as I was invested in the characters that I wanted them to be saved and have some glimmer of hope sooner than it actually happened in the story.
OK, sure Cujo has some flaws, I'll admit. The red herring of Donna's jilted lover who returns to throw Vic and the sheriff's office off the trail to where Donna really is seems a bit much. But other than that, the story remains just as compelling and scary as it did when I was a teenager. In fact, if you live in and around Music City, you may have noticed a driver in the morning commute looking a bit more stressed out than the actual traffic actually warranted. That's because I was listening to Cujo and finding certain scenes just as horrifying as I did back in the day.
That sense of horror and the vivid impressions this book has left in my mind's eye is probably the biggest reason I've never watched the movie version. I've seen other adaptation of King's works on the screen, but for some reason I've left Cujo alone. Part of it is a belief that it would be next to impossible to condense down the character arcs in the story into a 90 minute film. That would reduce the story pretty much your standard slasher flick in my mind. Of course, the other part is that I was so unnerved by the book then and now that I can't imagine the movie capturing that same sense on-screen. Or maybe it's a fear that it would truly be the stuff of nightmares because they actually did realize it well on-screen.
One factor that makes me think I may watch the movie at some point is that King admitted that one of his regrets as a writer is the fate of one of the main characters in the novel. This is changed for the film and while I disagree with King, thinking that the original fate only lends to the tragic nature of the story, I'm still curious to see how a happier ending to the story works out. (And for those of you wondering, no Cujo doesn't survive the movie version.)
As I've said before, Cujo isn't necessarily one of the best works by Stephen King nor is it necessarily my favorite King work. But it's still one of his novels that is most indelibly printed onto my imagination. It was scary when I was a teenage reader and it's still scary now. ...more
One of "Doctor Who"'s original leading men reads the first story novelization with "Doctor Who and the Daleks."
Written when audiences would rarely, ifOne of "Doctor Who"'s original leading men reads the first story novelization with "Doctor Who and the Daleks."
Written when audiences would rarely, if ever, have a chance to see the original seven-part story this was based on, author David Whitacker makes some interesting choices in the novelization of Terry Nation's original scripts. The first is to have the story told from the first person perspective of travelling companion, Ian Chesterton. This choice makes for some interesting moments in the story, such as seeing and hearing Ian's reaction to first finding the TARDIS and being inside a Dalek, but it also takes away one of the most iconic moments in television with Barbara's first encounter with a Dalek. (Perhaps Whitacker felt the scene couldn't be done justice on the printed page).
Whitacker also uses the story to introduce readers to the Doctor and the TARDIS, borrowing some of the elements of the first episode of "Doctor Who" in the first several chapters. This alternate look at how the TARDIS crew came together is interesting and I find it particularily fascinating that Ian and Barbara don't know each other before entering the TARDIS here.
Also of interest is the final stages when the Daleks are clearly controlled by a glass Dalek, something that would have been nearly impossible to achieve on the budget of the 60s, though it was attempted years later during Colin Baker's reign. Not sure if this was meant to tie into Whitacker's two Dalek stories during the Troughton era with the Emperor Dalek, though I did find msyelf thinking of Davros when we first met the mysterious force behind the Daleks.
Differences aside, this is a nice telling of the orignal adventures with the Daleks. Some portions of the story are truncated, some expanded, but for the most part it works. Whitacker's storytelling is well done, though Ian does seem to be a bit focused on looking into the eyes of his travelling companions.
As read by William Russell, the man who brought Ian to life on the small screen, the audio book is a treat. Definitely a must-hear if you're a fan of "Doctor Who." ...more
The 1958 NFL championship game between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts is one of those games that sports legends are built around. BilledThe 1958 NFL championship game between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts is one of those games that sports legends are built around. Billed as "the best game ever," it was the moment when a multitude of factors came together to give birth to the most popular sport in the world, the NFL.
Unfortunately, footage of the game is lost to the ravages of time.
That only makes Mark Bowden's account of the game more compelling and extraordinary. Bowden interviews players who played in the game, coaches and staffs as well as looking at the unique series of factors that led to the crossroads in history. Bowden puts you in the action, making you feel like you're there, watching the game unfold or even playing the game. The story of the strategy, the hopes, the dreams and the game itself will keep you turning the pages. Even if you're not a football fan, you'll find something intriguing about this account of events. ...more
Carl Hiassen is a very funny guy. If you don't believe me, just check out any of his abusrdly funny novels.
Turning his eye to the non-fiction realm,Carl Hiassen is a very funny guy. If you don't believe me, just check out any of his abusrdly funny novels.
Turning his eye to the non-fiction realm, Hiassen looks at his taking up the game of golf again after a 32-year break. Hiassen's look at how the game can grow into an obsession is wonderfully witty, wryly observed and self-deprecating. The great part is that Hiassen doesn't take himself too seriously, allowing the reader to experience the highs and lows of trying to play the game of golf.