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Showing posts from August, 2009

Cannonball Read #49 - 51: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

I am not typically a big fan of fantasy books. I mean, I enjoy them when they happen across my path, but I don't tend to seek them out. This particular set of books I bought on a whim--the three books were being sold in a box set used for about $3. I figured I might as well read them--I greatly enjoyed two of the three movies, and these are my father's favorite books as well. It turned out I was surprised how much I enjoyed these.

The first book, Fellowship of the Ring, starts out very slowly. I was disheartened at first, not sure that I'd be able to slog through the whole thing if it all was as dull as the first few chapters. Luckily, once we got past all the descriptions of Hobbit social structure and Hobbit landscapes, the story began to pick up. Admittedly, nothing of real note actually HAPPENED until nearly 3/4 of the way through, but once the Hobbits got on the road and truly began their adventure, I got sucked in. By the time the Fellowship forms and sets out from th…

Tidbits

It may be a while until I get my next Cannonball Read done, since I have tasked myself with reading Lord of the Rings. I am more than halfway through Fellowship of the Ring right now, which--after starting off fairly slowly--has become a lot more interesting. (I can see why the Tolkien purists got all pissed off about the movie, though. I love the movies, but they're pretty different.) I figure while you wait I'd collect a few thoughts for your amusement.

1. It took me all of five minutes to realize I was going to hate National Treasure: Book of Secrets, which I subjected myself to on Saturday. I'm pretty sure it shouldn't have taken me that long to hate it, but I like to give things the benefit of the doubt. However, once they screwed up the Lincoln assassination, though, nothing they did was going to be right so it didn't matter. Probably didn't help that the plot was one of the stupidest things I've ever seen committed to film. Did they let Jon Voight wri…

Cannonball Read #48: Fade Away by Harlan Coben

Fade Away is another entry in Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar mystery series. In this episode, sports agent Myron returns to the world of professional basketball in order to locate a missing superstar. Along the way he meets up with bookies, 60s radicals on the run, a semi-pro groupie, and some very unpleasant underworld characters as he tries to solve the mystery of a disappearance and a murder. He also gets serious with his girlfriend Jessica, comes to terms with the end of his basketball career, and finds out a dark secret from his own past.

The book is all right--it's funny and decently plotted. The characters are still very likable. I found the solution to the mystery surprising but not entirely out of left field. The only problem I had was the pacing: I felt that the story moved along almost TOO quickly. It seemed to me that things happened all of a sudden and there were points where things could have been expanded a little. I was somewhat disappointed that we didn't get…

Cannonball Read #47: Batavia's Graveyard: The True Story of the Mad Heretic Who Led History's Bloodiest Mutiny by Mike Dash

Batavia's Graveyard is another entry into my "maritime disasters" series. It is exactly the kind of book I love--one that is full of heroics, nefarious deeds, and an overabundance of historical context.

The story is that of a wreck and mutiny aboard a Dutch transport ship in 1629. The Batavia, hauling a load of treasure to the Dutch interests in southeast Asia, ran aground on a series of atolls just off of Australia. While the head Dutch merchant and the ship's skipper left in a longboat to try and reach help in Java, the other 200+ survivors were left to fend for themselves on a desolate atoll without food or water--and as they were soon to discover, governed by a mad man.

The book mostly focuses on the escapades of JeronimusCorneliesz, a lower-level merchant who takes the opportunity to use his charming (and psychopathic) nature to dominate and ultimately destroy the majority of the survivors left under his care. With a group of soldiers and sailors who had originall…

Cannonball Read #46: 1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina by Chris Rose

Anyone who has been following this blog at all this year (and thanks to the two of you I know are out there--I definitely appreciate both your readership and your comments) knows that I have been fixated on disasters. Shipwrecks, fires, blizzards, floods--I've been reading about it all...but it's all been historical. In all the reading I'd done until this point, the most recent disaster was probably the Andrea Doria sink, which I believe happened in 1958. I like my disasters in the past, thank you; the older they are, the more comfortable they are to read about. Plus there's all that fascinating and previously unknown historical context to discover. However, I'd come to the decision that maybe these historic disasters were just a bit TOO comfortable. Maybe it was time for me to get uncomfortable. I saw Chris Rose on an episode of Anthony Bourdain'sNo Reservations reading snippets from this book, and it seemed like something I wanted to read.

1 Dead in Attic is a…

"Screws fall out all the time. The world's an imperfect place.": RIP John Hughes

I wish I had something profound to say about the passing of John Hughes. I tried writing something about how The Breakfast Club changed my life--about the character of Brian Johnson made me feel like someone out there actually understood what my life was about at the time: the nerdiness, the loneliness, the clubs, and the unbearable parental pressure to succeed and be the best. But it's hard to come up with something that will make sense to anyone but me. I can maybe explain why I loved it, but there's no way for me to make you FEEL the way I FEEL. I loved that movie. I wore out two VHS copies in the span of about five years--there were periods in my life when I watched that movie nearly every day, sometimes twice on weekends. I loved each and every character (it cemented my love for vulnerable bad boys, which also changed my life, though perhaps not for the better on that count.) I could recite nearly every single line of dialogue along with the film. Even though I was 14 an…

Cannonball Read #45: Odd Hours by Dean Koontz

I really liked the first book in the "Odd Thomas" series. I thought the second one was all right. The third tried my patience a bit...and this fourth one just sucked.

Odd Hours is the continuation of the story of Odd Thomas, a lowly fry cook who sees dead people. This particular story takes place in a pretty coastal town, where a mysterious pregnant woman gets Odd mixed up in a convoluted plot involving a small town sheriff, coyotes that are not coyotes, nuclear weapons (!), the ghost of Frank Sinatra, and a golden retriever. The plot doesn't really make sense at all, and feels almost totally unfinished...I understand the idea is that this is a series, and we are meant to be left anticipating the next book, but you have to tie off at least a FEW plot points. The side characters--usually the most charming part of the Odd Thomas books--are two dimensional at best, or (in the case of the mysterious pregnant woman) infuriatingly annoying. This wouldn't be so bad if Odd hi…