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Friday, September 28, 2007

Casino Royale - Ian Fleming

Nothing beats the original. Casino Royale proves that.

Ian Fleming's first venture into the life of James Bond is, to say the very least, a fascinating read that, when compared to the modern-day amped-up film version featuring the scrumptious Daniel Craig and an Aston Martin with a V12 engine, allows the classic elements of Fleming's timeless series to come back.

Not that there's anything wrong with Daniel Craig. Or an Aston Martin. Or Daniel Craig in an Aston Martin.

However, there is no pleasure like falling deep into Fleming's brilliantly constructed detailing and scenery, absorbing the full meaning of Bond's settings and actions. Much like its film version, Fleming's account of the baccarat match between Le Chiffre and 007 can send one's heart into a flurry, with tiny twists that have enormous impact. And though the mysterious Vesper Lynd's demise doesn't match the book's, the 181-page thriller's version is just as stirring, answering questions and raising many more.

It took me a while to get through this book because of time constraints, but it was worth the time spared. I'm not much for the shoot-'em-up genre, but Fleming's writing is much deeper and more detailed than any meaningless action tale. Casino Royale delivers a power not often found in many hero-villian-damsel stories. Fleming's penetration into Bond's mind as he contemplates the truth behind right and wrong ("The Devil has no prophets to write his Ten Commandments and no team of authors to write his biography. His case has gone completely by default.") and his true feelings for Lynd will give any reader a few things to think about.

And now, having read only a fraction of the brilliant Bond series, I can see why the suave sophisticate has decorated the bed stands of millions through its time...though I'm sure a few ladies have wished he'd decorate their bed instead.

Also see: Grasshopper's Casino Royale Review

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hellgate London: Exodus by Mel Odom

Publisher: Pocket Star

ISBN-10: 1416525793
ISBN-13: 978-1416525790

In the year 2038, London lies in ruins. Demons are invading our world. The Royal Army has been almost totally destroyed. The fate of the world is in the hands of a small group of dedicated warriors.

The Knights Templar were destroyed hundreds of years ago, or so they let the world believe. They have existed in hiding. Leading an underground existence, they have trained and prepared for this moment for generations. But even this outstanding group of warriors was not prepared for the total onslaught of the demons.

Simon Cross grew up training to be a Templar but lost his faith. Simon no longer believed in demons. He turned his back on the Templar path and traditions. Abandoning his father and the only life he has ever known, Simon left the London underground and headed for South Africa. When the demons do invade, he is not there to fight alongside the Knights. He was not there to say goodbye to his father, who died in a desperate attack on the demon hordes.

Simon does everything in his power to get back to London and join the fight. But his former brothers in arms think he is a traitor and may not want him back.

Warren Schimmer has lived his life in misery. Friendless, Warren has learned that the world is his enemy. Warren has lived his life from moment to moment, never giving much of himself, never expecting help or kindness from the world. Warren has been a victim for most of his life, but he has a secret.

Warren is one of the few humans that can use the magic the demons have released into the world. As he grows on power, he is drawn into the world of the Cabalists. The Cabalists have been preparing for the demons to return to our world, but they desire to control the demons and the powers they wield. Soon, Warren is brought into contact with Merihem, a powerful demon with plans to become the most preeminent power on our world.

The two men wind up leading the different groups and soon are in opposition. The Templars seek to find a way to drive the demons from Earth and rescue humanity. The Cabalists seek to gain the demon's powers and rule the world.

Hellgate London: Exodus is based off the the video game Hellgate London. Exodus is an intriguing blend of fantasy and science fiction, with plenty of excitement. I normally do not like books based off of video games, but this one hooked me. You can count on me buying the next two books. Simon Cross is a hero in search of redemption. He has always been a man tilting at his personal windmills and when the demons invade, he comes into his birthright. Simon cross is simply a hero, a paladin on a quest to save humanity. He has a problem with authority and has a habit of going his own way. He is a character that I can identify with, and that is a large part of why I enjoyed the book so much.

History of the Millenium (So Far) - Dave Barry

If Dave Barry's account of this millenium (so far) and the previous one holds any truth, it's a wonder how the human race has survived this long, especially with Bode Miller crashing into everyone.

Barry brings a humorous recollection that isn't completely accurate to the book shelves, but for anyone familiar with his past column work with the Miami Herald, it isn't a far stretch for the comedic writer who tells it like it is...or how he thinks it is, anyway. In Millenium, we get an invitation into his mind, and let me forewarn you - you may need a few new pairs of undergarments to get through this fast-paced page-turner, because it is downright hilarious in every single sentence.

Those with a devout political standing may not take a liking to this if they don't have much of a sense of humor. But independent voters should roar with Barry's book, with its wonderfully worded jabs at both the Democrats and Republicans. Bush, Gore, Cheney, Condoleeza, Saddam, Osama - no one is spared.

Barry's historically-inaccurate account of years 1000 to 1999 are hilariously mixed with modern properties, like mathematician Charles Babbage (inventor of the computer's ancestor) and his passing while waiting to "talk to somebody from Technical Support"; or the 'Y1K' problem with parchments' wording being turned inside out ('OTTO' becomes 'TOOT' is the example used). Even Bach is placed into the mix with his unforgettable hit, "Just Fuguen' Around".

Flash forward a few hundred years and we've got Tiger Woods claiming every known sports award (just because he can) and presidential candidates spreading their influence to much younger audiences with appearances on Scooby-Doo and the Teletubbies. (Forewarning: There was some lip-locking involved here, disturbingly enough.)

Barry has always humored me with his columns, and this book is no exception. Not everything is laughs, though - out of respect for the 9/11 attacks, he doesn't cover the year 2001 in this book, even though he has "no doubt that many stupid things happened" during that time.

If you're looking for a good, hearty laugh, pick up this new release. I can't wait until he lets loose on 2007...boy, will he have a hey day!

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Winter King - A Novel of Arthur by Bernard Cornwell

The legend of Arthur in during the Dark Ages in Britain is a tale that has never been proven to truly exist due to the sad lack of writings from that period, hence the name Dark Ages. In his Notes at the end of the book, Cornwell gives a synopsis of the historicity of the legend of Arthur some of the characters of his story.

The Winter King is a story written from the point of view of Derfel, a Christian monk who, in the guise of re-copying passages of the New Testament (for his Bishop cannot read), is writing the tales of Arthur as he experienced them as Arthur's warrior and friend. Derfel's story begins with the birth of Lord King Uther's son and heir to his throne. Mordred is born crippled and Uther is old. The rulers of the factions of southern Britain make pacts to ensure the prince's upbringing is safe.

But when Uther dies, we find how brittle the peace was during his reign is Lord King, for kings begin to fight amongst themselves and sweeping battles and barbaric executions commence.

Conspicuously missing so far are Arthur and the lordly Druid, Merlin.

Arthur soon arrives on the scene and he befriends Derfel, who is really the main character in this story. Derfel goes from being one of the outcasts of Tor, Merlin's lair, to being one of Arthur's battle commanders.

Merlin enters the scene in a most unexpected time and place but the Druid is an odd pagan in that he has no interest in the politics and war and skirmishes of Britain. His only interest is in the Knowledge of Britain, which are possession that will allow Britain to return to the pure Druid nature that existed before the Romans and Christians entered.

The main pivot for the story happens when, as a show of peace, Arthur is betrothed to the fair Ceinwyn, princess of a rival piece of a Britain. But at the the betrothal, Guinevere enters. Arthur is completely taken with her and abandons his betrothal to Ceinwin and goes off to marry Guinevere. What follows are years of bloody war between the factions of Britain, all caused by a broken betrothal.

Bernard Cornwell's vision of Arthurian Britain is a fantastic story filled with bravery, tragedy, love and gore and is an excellent read. He gives a gritty mural of life in the Dark Ages, a time of much death, superstition and violence.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hundred Dollar Baby by Robert Parker

I’ve got to tell ya that I’ve found another favorite author. Hundred Dollar Baby by Robert Parker, is #34 in the series, and is written just the way I like them.

The book opens with a former teen-age runaway turned madam of a bordello April Kyle walking into Spencer’s office asking for help. The two have a relationship from previous years and the emotion shows. Spencer who has a soft spot for April agrees to help her with the problem of allegedly being harassed by an unknown assailant. Then there is a couple of murders of which anyone could be the trigger puller.

The deeper Spencer digs the more he finds out that at every turn and question someone is lying to him about what’s really going on, including April. The story is packed with bad guys, and bad-good guys that beat the living crap out of anyone who crosses them.

Hundred Dollar Baby ends with a bang that really doesn’t surprise, but the dialog in the story is great. Parker sprinkles minute details that make you feel as though you are there on the streets of New York investigating the mobsters with him. To me this is the greatest thing a writer can do in a story.

Again, this is the kind of book I like. It yanks you in, and is a great ride. Fast paced, not sludged up with a bunch of back-story and sub-plots. Has some damn funny parts too. I caught myself laughing and talking out-loud when there was no one around.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Rogue Angel: God of Thunder by Alex Archer

I received an advance copy of Alex Archer's Rogue Angel: God of Thunder.

Publisher: Gold Eagle (July 10, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0373621256
ISBN-13: 978-0373621255

I have read all of the Rogue Angel books. The premise is that Joan of Arc's sword, which was destroyed the day she died, has been reformed and is now in the possession of an archaeologist, Annja Creed. The sword has some mystical properties and for some reason causes Annja to be a trouble magnet. She is often drawn into fantastic adventures, quite often to right a wrong or bring justice to the downtrodden.

God of Thunder is no different. It is part murder mystery, part action adventure.

Like most good adventures, God of Thunder starts off with a gripping action sequence. Annja is attacked by four men who are masquerading as law enforcement. She immediately is involved with a chase and running gun battle. At first she has no idea why these men are gunning for her.

Then Annja receives a mysterious package from and old friend. Before she can talk to him, he is brutally murdered. She must solve a riddle he friend left behind before she can continue his search for the mythological Thor and his magic hammer, Mjolnir. Along the way, she meets up with a varied cast of characters that all contribute to the story. Her mentor,Roux, and his nemesis, Garin, are thrown into the mix. These books are always more interesting with the two of them involved.

In this book, we see a little deeper into the relationship of Roux and Garin as well as their relationship with Annja. I think that the repercussions from the ending will be interesting to see in the later books.

God of Thunder is one of the better books in the Rogue Angel series. I picked it up and could not put it down, even to sleep (that is until I could not keep my eyes open). It is a book that keeps your attention and makes you want to keep turning the pages. A good read, I recommend it.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Omen by David Seltzer

The Omen is a book about the Anti-Christ and how he is born into the living world. I do go to church though I’m not a Bible prophecy expert. I don’t think the story follows the book of Revelation all that close. Consult with your local Pastor for guidance.

The Omen opens with up and coming Presidential hopeful Robert Thorn flying to Italy for the birth of their son. Upon arriving at the hospital he discovers the “death” of his child. Fearing a mental brake-down by his wife, he takes the offer of substituting an orphan child named Damien for his blood child.

As the child grows, strange things start to happen. The first of which is his nanny committing suicide by hanging herself from the rooftop at Damien’s birthday party. Then a distraught Priest with a shadowy past attempts to convince Robert Thorn that Damien is the Son of Satan and according to legend has to be killed in a church with the seven daggers of Meggado.

The story amps up with creepy action all the way through. It’s a short read and has some pics from the movie inserted for visuals. If you’ve seen the movie don’t bother with reading the book, but if you’re planning on watching the movie, I’d read the book first. There are some things in the book that will help you understand the movie a bit better.

Not the best book I’ve read and it sure doesn’t belong with the Left Behind series if that’s your style. It’s predictable and has some dragging spots but I think that adds a bit to the creepy-ness.