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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dangerously Innocent - Nesrine Joseph

I assure you, the tiger on the cover has nothing to do with the book, plot, or really anything. It's a pretty picture, but this book is not about a tiger. Or even mentions a tiger. But even a tiger-less book can be good.

Dangerously Innocent starts out with the beheading of the husband of Jo-Beth Eaton as they're preparing to head to dinner. This mysterious murder, in which only the husband Mitch's head is left on the scene, is one of many similarly executed incidents, involving a strange variety of body parts. (Tongues, hearts and hands galore!) All victims are male, but little or no connection to one another. Or do they?

A chat with a mouthy neighbor leads detectives Rochelle Trevelyan and Luther James on the hunt of their lives, one with progressively cold leads that together may cost the cops their careers...and their loved ones. As the detectives get ever closer to the killers, they make themselves more and more vulnerable to the life-altering repurcussions that follow.

If you like those detective, true-crime stories, you might find this to be an enjoyably quick and fulfilling read. The unveiling of the killers and the events that follow are unexpected and a bit misplaced in an almost desperate attempt to put some sexual tension and eroticism into the story, but it doesn't really work out that well. Sure, there's some heat between the detectives, even with Luther's snarky attitude and Rochelle's griping lover in the way, but not much is indicated between the pair romantically besides their constant presence around each other. (They're literally partners in crime, after all - that's to be expected.)

Overall, a good, solid read, but it could use more tweaks and fewer body parts.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Zombie Haiku by Ryan Mecum

A book about zombie written in bite sized chunks. It's just as simple as three simple lines of five syllables, then seven, and finally five more. It's powerful little morsels of story telling. "Zombie Haiku" is both a unique concept and a brilliantly fresh take on an horror genre mainstay. It's such a good idea that I wish that I had come up with it first, and it's such a good execution of the idea that I searched bookstores all over town until I finally got a copy of my own.

It takes 139 pages to tell this story. Most of the pages have two or three and sometimes four haiku. A few are filled with hand scrawled text. This is a story that was written into a poetry journal by a man after a plague has turned most everyone into zombies. The poetry journal belonged to someone else that had undergone "the change". It only takes one sitting to read this book from cover to cover. Of all the things that haunt me after reading this story, the weirdest has to be that it was written by a youth pastor at a Presbyterian church in Cincinnati, Ohio.

To be sure, "Zombie Haiku" will never be put on display beside ANY of the masters of Japanese literature. Seriously, how many of those ancient masters would have paired brains and artificial hips in verse, much less an entree?

Some, if not most, of the "haiku" in this book aren't even formal haiku, but 100% of these haiku-shaped stanzas are punchy, provocative, or funny. What's more is - all of them taste great and are less filling. If you want a smile, bite into this book today!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

North from Calcutta - Duane Evans

Nuclear bomb? Check. Evil leader bent on instigating war? Check. Beautiful woman? Check. Optimistic overweight sidekick? Uh...check.

North from Calcutta follows Tarek Durrani, a Pakistani intelligence officer, to London, Bangladesh, Dubai, the Himalayas, and a few other places in attempt to stop a plot to cause a world-changing war between Pakistan and India, as well as save the woman he's hopelessly fallen in love with. Seems like a typical action/adventure, 'save-the-world-before-it's-too-late' kind of tale, but it's really not.

While meeting with architect Advani (his last name; his first is way too long to even attempt to spell) about the plans of a dam named Farakka Barrage built north of Calcutta (hence the book's name), he meets Advani's beautiful daughter Sahar and falls head over heels. But after obtaining the plans he needs for Farakka Barrage, Durrani learns of a plot to blow the dam and pin it on Pakistan. Worse still, a commencement ceremony at Farakka Barrage is to take place with both Advani and his daughter present, putting them as well as hundreds of others in the possible line of fire. It's no wonder Durrani call on his connected, jolly and plump sidekick Habibi to help in stopping the plot's execution.

To be Evans' first novel, he writes like a veteran. Could definitely be owed to his own personal experience as a CIA operative, but even still, he uses all the right words to describe the situation in just enough detail to keep the reader enthralled and begging for more. I'd recommend the writers of 24 pick this guy up - he could make for some amazing scripts for season 8!

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Sneakiest Pirates/The Heroes of Googly Woogly - Dalton James

In an adorably-illustrated set of tales following Pete and his father James, seven-year-old author and illustrator Dalton James paints a brilliant picture of adventure and fantasy in his two books, The Sneakiest Pirates and The Heroes of Googly Woogly.

In the first, Pete and James set out to sea to find the buried treasure of pirate Peg Leg Chuck and keep it out of the hands of the king. The father-son team quietly snatch the treasure as Peg Leg and the king are demolishing each other's ships; with their newfound wealth, James and Pete decide to leave the sea-faring careers of pirates and become rock stars.

Googly Woogly picks up where Pirates left off, this time following the pair in their desire to become astronauts. With a space refrigerator packed full of sweets, the pair jet off in a spaceship and arrive at Googly Woogly, a rectangular planet home to the SooDos and the SooDonts. In an effort to aid the SooDos, an alien race that helps the sick and unfortunate, Pete and James use their arsenal of gum to trap the SooDonts that are stealing the SooDos' spaceships. When given a trophy (shaped like wads of gum) made out of a mysterious substance (besilium ore), the pair decide to head back to Earth and become scientists to study it.

I may be nineteen years old, but I loved these books and can't wait for the next installment! James explores a world full of opportunities an imagination only as big as Googly Woogly could fathom. An excellent, out-of-this-world read for kids and adults alike.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Silly Little Rich Girl - Jimmy Gleacher

No one would've ever thought a cross-country search for a family member could be this...interesting.

But Gleacher's Silly Little Rich Girl proves it's possible in many, many ways. Narrated by Liza, a Wall Street mainstay, the book follows her on her quest to find her sister and includes all the twists, turns, pitfalls, antics and perverted tasks done throughout the journey. On the side of a van she receives in a simply indescribable transaction with her mother's lover, Liza paints the portrait of her sister and her cell number in order to bring in the attention of any part of the public who may have spotted her. But her journey from New York to Washington in the said van turns into an unexpected media frenzy as she bunks with a designer to the stars, falls in love with a guy obsessed with death, and wins a best legs competition with a mannequin that resembles her sister. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

It's hard to describe and summarize Silly Little Rich Girl in just a few words. It's interesting, enthralling, frightening, moving, hilarious, disturbing, cringe-worthy, and so many other things. Gleacher flawlessly combines these elements into a very simply-plotted story that evolves into an out-of-this-world adventure.