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Showing posts from October, 2012

CBR4 #39: Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson

I have recently had to admit to myself that I have become a Trekkie. Mind you, this DOES NOT mean that I am going to put on some go-go boots, pick up a phaser, and go stand in line to catch a glimpse of Leonard Nimoy. But when you live with a person who has to have Star Trek playing in order to go to sleep at night, you pick things up, whether you want to or not. Now, I don't know much about the original series, since The Boyfriend does not understand camp and thus does not enjoy the original. I have, however, seen pretty much every episode of Next Generation, Deep Space Nine (ugh), and Voyager at LEAST once, probably multiple times. I'm not aware of every piece of trivia, but should the conversation turn to Klingon battle philosophy or the plight of the oppressed Bajorans, I can hold my own. I have even been known to say things (out in public, no less--how embarrassing) like "We are not the Borg! Just because one of us knows something doesn't mean we ALL know it!&quo…

CBR4 #38: Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manfesto by Chuck Klosterman

I suspect that Chuck Klosterman (much like fellow Chuck, Palahniuk) is one of those authors that you either love or hate. Either you love him--because the thoughts that he's writing down mesh perfectly with the things that you have already been thinking, and the conversations he's having are things that you either already discuss or wish you could, and the connections he's making are connections you've either already made or at least understand completely--or you hate him--you find him a whiny first-world hipster who wastes entirely too much time thinking about 90s sitcoms, soft rock, and Axl Rose.

I fall into the first category.

People have been recommending Klosterman to me off and on for years, but somehow I never got around to reading him before. (Sometimes, when a whole bunch of people recommend a book and tell me "Oh, this is SO YOU!" I find that reading the book turns out to be a disappointing experience which just makes me think my friends don't k…

CBR4 #37: Dark Echo by F.G. Cottam

I love ghost stories. LOVE them. The problem is that I insist ghosts have a purpose--I don't like when an angry spirit shows up somewhere and is just evil for no reason. I like ghosts to have back-story. I want them to have history. And in a ghost story, I want the characters to find that history. I want to uncover it as they do--I want to feel like I too am racing to try and put the pieces together before it's too late. Dark Echo was an excellent example of everything that I want in a ghost story.

Martin Stannard is a disappointment to his father, titan of industry Magnus. Martin had a talent for boxing, but wasn't a successful boxer. He tried to enter the priesthood, but couldn't stick with it. He is a nice enough guy, and successful in his own way, but his father has never been quite satisfied. Therefore, it's rather a shock to Martin when his father tells him that he is going to purchase and restore an antique sailboat, which the two of them will then sail acro…

CBR4 #36: Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales by William M. Bass and Jon Jefferson

I have read quite a few of these books by top-notch medical examiner/forensic pathologists, and there is quite a bit of room between the best and the worst. Some are procedural, some are poorly organized, some are either too personal or too clinical, and some are just boring. Death's Acre isn't any of those things. It's a really excellent, interesting, and educational book, with a little bit of everything. And it's held together by a narrator with a wonderful, avuncular, self-deprecating voice.

Dr. Bill Bass created and oversaw the University of Tennessee's "Body Farm," where dead bodies are used in experiments (related to insect activity, decomposition, etc) to advance the cause of forensic science. The work done by Dr. Bass and his students has helped solve and successfully prosecute murder cases all over the world. Knowing how long it takes for a dead body to break down under a specific set of conditions can be the key to setting an innocent man free o…

CBR4 #35: Catch Up 2: Electric Boogaloo

In my ongoing attempts to catch up with my blogging for the Cannonball Read, here are five more mini-reviews on books I have read (I was going to add "recently" to this sentence, then realized that I read some of these in July, which is no longer considered "recent". Oops).

1. Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris: These books just keep getting stupider and more outlandish, but I still keep right on gobbling them up. They are the literary equivalent of Velveeta, but I just can't quit them. In this entry (allegedly the next-to-last in the Sookie series), there is a mystery, and some complications, and some stupid vampire politics, and stupid faerie politics, and Sookie Gets In Trouble Yet Again! Her relationship with Eric is down the tubes (boo, I really liked Eric) and there are just waaaay too many characters. I'm kind of glad this series is ending, because I think the author's been tired of it since somewhere around book eight. I'll read the final one wh…

CBR4 #34: Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Sometimes I think that as much as I love his supernatural brick-sized books, Stephen King's real talent shines best in novella form. Some of my very favorite of his work are novellas (The Bachman Books and Different Seasons, particularly) and while I enjoy his more extensive work, I think that the shorter form reins him into telling tighter stories. After all, "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" is a novella, but the story is epic.

In Full Dark, No Stars, King presents us with four novellas and a short story.

In the first tale, "1922" a man makes a confession and regrets the choices he made in his life. This may or may not be a supernatural story (it depends a lot on your interpretation of it) but it is definitely disturbing. It's tough to decide whether to condone or condemn the main character, and I'm sure that the side you take will color your view of what happens and your interpretation of the narrator. This one has some great historical co…