Friday, February 25, 2011

Some Music to Kick Off the Weekend

Not since Run DMC's "You be Illin'" or LL's "I'm Bad" have I felt that a rap song has looked deep into my soul and displayed it for the world the way this has:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Persuader by Lee Child

Persuader (Jack Reacher Series, #7)Persuader by Lee Child

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's really hard to say something about a Jack Reacher book--in a very real sense, if you've read one, you've read 'em all (maybe this changes after book 7, but I doubt it). But dang it all if you don't come back for more and more and more--like Pringles, or Fritos, etc. Great action; totally outlandish, but (in the moment definitely) believable plot; lots of testosterone-y fun.

Two things I'd like to mention about this book.

First, there's this fad in TV lately where you watch a scene or two at the top of the show, and then the chyron flashes "X days earlier" and you get to see how events led up to this, and even get a better picture of what happened. It's a tired and overused gimmick. But in '03 when this was published, it wasn't. And even if it was tired then, Child does it right, and I would've been totally on board with it then. Great hook to begin the book. Really great.

Secondly, I couldn't help but be impressed with the way that Child laid out Reacher's motivation to hunt down this particular criminal in bits and pieces, scattered throughout the present day action. Sure, it was predictable after a certain point, but it was skillfully done. Giving Reacher the proper motivation each time to go after the baddie has to be a struggle, especially since it has to be sufficient motivation to get him to perform superhuman tasks. This was one of Child's best efforts in that regard.

One more thing that I just thought of--since Parker's God Save the Child and The Judas Goat I've been a sucker for a fight between big, tough hero and impossibly huge, strong, psychotic villain, and the one here delivers the goods in spades. Loved it.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Blood Drive by Jeanne C. Stein

Blood Drive (Anna Strong Chronicles, #2)Blood Drive by Jeanne C. Stein

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is not the follow-up to The Becoming Anna Strong Chronicles 1 that I expected, it's a lot better. Something struck me odd about the way Stein included the detail about our heroine's dead brother in the first book, and I should've realized she was planting a seed.

The seed, no pun intended, is what just may be her brother's heretofore unknown daughter. Her brother's girlfriend at the time of his death appears, asking for Anna's help tracking down her runaway daughter, claiming it's Anna's niece. Before Anna can start looking, the girl's best friend turns up murdered in a grisly fashion with hints of the supernatural. While looking for the girl and trying to find the murderer, Anna deepens her understanding and awareness of the supernatural world that she's now a part of, and is reminded that perhaps the greatest monsters are merely human.

Great pacing, taught writing, good action--and even though I knew the identity of the bad guy at least one hundred pages before Anna did, I was on the edge of my seat.

The big issue that Urban Fantasy writers have to deal with his how to treat vampires (at least those authors that deal with vampires). Some leave them as horrid monsters, most find some way of toning down the whole vicious, blood-drinking, killer aspect. Stein doesn't do that, yet. If Anna ends up toning down the animalistic nature of her protagonist, it will be as a result of a lot of trial and error, and stubborn choices she makes. While I hope Anna never becomes someone that I want Ms. Summers and the Scooby gang to track down, I hope she doesn't turn off that aspect of her nature like a light switch.

I'm more than a little bothered by the dynamics between Anna and her boyfriend, and Anna and her partner, if Stein doesn't resolve or change them soon, it's really going to drag the series down. But I'm inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt.

I don't know why I keep comparing this series to the Rachel Morgan books as I read them, but I do. And, Anna Strong comes out looking better and better each time I do. I'm really looking forward to seeing where she takes this.

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Thursday, February 03, 2011

Eye of the Storm

what? not a book review? I know, I know, sorry. Other posts have been eaten by sloth or time lately...but anyhow

This is an awesome music video (decent song, too, I need to pay more attention to it than the video next couple of times I watch) that once upon a time would've been shown on a cable network devoted to the media...a magic time, known as the 80's

more about the musician and the making of the video, check out this post at The Nerdist.

And, yeah, I know, it's a cheap shot to talk about MTV not showing videos anymore, but given the fact that they're talking about airing new episodes of Beavis & Butthead, can't help feeling nostalgic for the good ol' days. (am seriously torn on the appropriate reaction to that piece of news, actually)

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Love in the Time of Fridges by Tim Scott

Love in the Time of FridgesLove in the Time of Fridges by Tim Scott

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's not often that a book leaves me as uncertain as this one does. Parts 1 & 2 were odd, amusing, a bit confusing (but not in a way that really detracted from the experience). Part 3, alas, fell apart, leaving me feeling all sorts the book.

Scott's prose is light, breezy, charming, incredibly quotable (about 50% of this book is worth memorizing to sprinkle in conversation), with just a hint of profundity, and a touch of sadness.

Other than the protagonist, Huckleberry Lindbergh, the characters are more hints, or sketches, of characters--in a couple of cases, a hint of a sketch--rather than fully-developed characters. Given that this is a thriller (and a fairly satirical one at that), it works, we don't need complete backstories. Fridges is about the plot and the world Scott's imagined, not people.

This is a world where the Nanny State has run amok, drunk on marketing. In part of their benevolent(-ish) efforts to protect the citizenry, they've developed technology to listen to moods, and search, print, and erase 24-hours worth of memory (anything more than that will likely lead to severe damage).

Oh, and there's the whole thing with sentient, verbal, and semi=intelligent appliances and furniture. No idea what that was all about.

The novel was built on a tight inner logic, and was a heckuva ride, until Part 3 where Scott found/created a loophole in that logic and gave his reader a sloppy deus ex Heisenberg uncertainty principle ending. And that's where he lost me. I'm still giving it three stars for the fun leading up to that tho'.

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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's NestThe Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blast it all, Larsson made me eat my words -- many of them, anyway -- about his ability to write a decent thriller with his third Millennium book. If anyone else had written this, I'd probably have given it 2.5-3 stars, but in comparison to his first two books, this one looks sooo much better.

A lot of the weaknesses of the first two books are still present--the persistent eye for irrelevant, and momentum slowing detail; an overabundance of characters; plotlines that do little-to-nothing to serve the main plotlines; stock characters abound; etc., etc.

But we see some real growth in Lisbeth, some potential growth in Blomquist, and a courtroom scene at the end that makes one wonder if there's another female character that's supposed to be the real hero of this set. In my book, that scene covers a multitude of crimes against fiction that Larsson committed.

Am I glad I slogged through the series? Not really. But having made it through the first book, and suffered through the second, I really enjoyed this one.

But man, am I so glad there's not a #4

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