Saturday, December 12, 2009

Read the Book See the Movie Challenge

Posted by Simcha 7:15 PM, under | 4 comments


I've been looking for a new challenge to take on, since I completely failed to complete my last two challenges, NaNoWriMo and the YA Dystopia Challenge, and the Read the Book See the Movie Challenge looks like a good one.

I rarely have time to watch movies anymore and I've been wanting to watch
Blade Runner to see how it compares to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which I recently read. I'm hoping that this challenge will give me the incentive to make some movie-watching time.

For this challenge you can choose the challenge level that you want. I think I'm going to go with the Double Feature, which means I need to read two books and watch the movies based on them. For the first movie I have already chosen
Blade Runner though I'm not sure about the second movie yet. Since one of my customers is a former Hollywood actor who was in the movie Dune I'm thinking of reading Frank Herbert's book (which could also serve as my monthly scifi book) and watching the movie, which would make my customer happy since he's asked me a few times if I've seen the movie yet.

Although the challenge is open to all genres I think I'm going to stick with scifi or fantasy. If you have any suggestions as to some good movies I could watch , I'd love to hear them.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Servant of A Dark God by John Brown

Posted by Simcha 6:45 PM, under | 3 comments

Servant of a Dark God, is John Brown's debut novel; a unique epic fantasy that was released by Tor this past August.

Talen resides on a farm with his father and two older siblings living a rather uneventful life consisting of working in the field, caring for the animals and trying to stay two steps ahead of his wily brother and sister. But all that changes the day that Talen sets off to do some trade at the nearby village and nearly gets killed by a mob of crazed villages who suspect Talen of being Sleth. Sleth, Talen knows from the stories, are people who accept the twisted power of the god Regret, and use it to suck the fire and soul out of others and then use the bodies of their victims in horrible ways. When a visiting Fir- Nor priest claims that some recent attacks were due to Sleth in the vicinity, Talen becomes the scapegoat.

When Talen is finally released, bloodied and bruised, he is determined that he himself will capture the escaped Sleth, thereby earning both reward money and respect. But Talen’s plans go awry when those Sleth children turn out to be hiding on his very farm, being protected by his family and putting all of their lives on the line. Suddenly Talen and his family find themselves being attacked on all sides as they are hunted by the local authority, the Fir-Noy priests and a mysterious, frightening monster who no one can stand against. Not only that, but Talen soon discovers that his family has been keeping secrets from him, deadly secrets that could get them all killed and which reveal that no one in his family are what they seem, including himself.

I enjoyed reading Servant of a Dark God, though on finishing it I’m not quite sure how I felt about the book as a whole. The story starts out lightheartedly with Talen being chased up a tree by his siblings after he hides some of their belongings. The story progresses at a good pace, slowly building in intensity but peppered with some amusing scenes and playful banter. At one point I had to take a break from the book because everything seemed so bleak and hopeless that I couldn’t see a way out for the characters, but I persevered, and was glad for it.

I think the character building was very well done, with some of the characters slowly being revealed to the reader in the process of the story-telling and others growing and maturing as they discover themselves and what they are capable of. Sugar, in particular, is a wonderful character who faces the challenges thrown at her, head-on, and shows remarkable strength and bravery, as well as wit and humor. I enjoyed watching the relationship between Sugar and Talen tenuously develop. Talen, on the other hand, is full of self-doubt and fear. He just wants to hand over Sugar and her brother to the authorities, collect the reward, and avoid being killed. He is not your average hero, but he is a regular guy reacting in a realistic manner to the frightening situation he suddenly finds himself in. Although I wished he would give Sugar a chance and stop trying to think of a way to capture or kill her, I respected the fact that he does actually behave in a realistic way. And as the story progresses, Talen slowly matures as a character, coming to terms with the truth about his family and himself, especially as he realizes that he and Sugar are not so different.

The monster itself is also an interesting character. Each person he has consumed became a part of him and so he is aware that the very people he is hunting down were once his friends, but he will continue to capture them because it’s the only way he can save the souls of his wife and children, by acquiescing to the demand of his mistress.


The only problem with the book for me was that I never really got a good handle on all the various religions, gods and political factions that the story revolves around, or even a proper understanding of the magic system. I don’t know if this is due to the writing or maybe I’ve just overdosed on fantasy reading and made-up religions and governments. I never really grasped what the Divines were, what the Order was and how the Bone Faces fit into it all, or even what a Sleth was, all of which are central to the story. So while I was enjoying the story itself, a lot of essential information was going over my head which makes me feel like I only read half of the book.

Since I really enjoyed the characters, and watching them develop, I will probably be following them to the sequel,
Dark God’s Glory, which will be released in 2011, to find out where it takes them.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Favorite Fictional Character: Carl the Dog

Posted by Simcha 4:13 AM, under | 4 comments

Favorite Fictional Character
Hosted by Ryan at Wordsmithonia


My favorite fictional character this week is Carl the dog, from
Alexandra Day's series of children's picture books.

Carl is a Rottweiler who lives in San Francisco, and he is absolutely the coolest dog.


When Madeline's mother leaves Carl in charge, she knows that she is leaving her child in good hand (paws?). When Madeline was a baby, Carl would babysit her many times. He entertains her (which involves dancing and then sliding the baby down the laundry shoot), feeds her, bathes her and puts her to bed just as the mother gets home.

Carl also watches Madeline in the department store while the mother is shopping.
Together they read books, try on clothes, grab samples in the supermarket and release all the animals from the pet department.



And Carl even comes one day to nursery where he takes care of the whole class while the teacher gets herself locked outside of the classroom.













I, for one, would love to have a dog like Carl to help take care of my kids, something I was thinking about today while unsuccesfuly trying to find a baby sitter. Though I'm not so keen on the swimming in the fish tank idea.

Street Magic by Caitlin Kittredge

Posted by Simcha 4:02 AM, under | 3 comments

While I like the urban fantasy genre, I’ve been having a hard time finding books within this genre that I actually enjoy, after having read everything by Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews and Charlaine Harris. So when a fellow blogger recommended Street Magic, by Caitlin Kittredge, I was happy to give it a try.

The last time Pete had seen Jack was when he had convinced her to join him in the cemetery to participate in a magical ceremony. Even though he was her older sister’s boyfriend, and Pete didn’t even believe in magic, she couldn’t resist any request from Jack Winter, and so she came. But despite her disbelief, something happened that night, something that brought forth a frightening creature from out of the crypt. A creature which killed Jack and left Pete mentally scarred.

Twelve years later, Pete has taken over in her father’s footsteps as a police officer and she is in search of a little girl who has gone missing. An anonymous tip leads Pete to Jack, whom she has believed to be dead all these year, and who is able to tell her exactly where to find the missing child. Tragically, the child has been badly damaged and is unable to tell the police what happened to her. When another child goes missing soon afterwards, Pete forces Jack to help her in solving this case.

But Jack is no longer the sunny, mischievous youth that Pete remembers. The years since that terrible event have turned him into a hard man who fights his ghosts with regular doses of heroin. But to save these children, Pete will do whatever she can, even if it means putting up with Jack’s inexplicable hatred of her and confronting her own ghosts from the past.

The description of Street Magic had sounded interesting and unique enough that I made an effort to get a hold of the book soon after hearing about it. And in the beginning it seemed like this could be a book that I would really enjoy. The first few chapters immediately drew me into the story and Jack and Pete seemed liked they would develop into really interesting characters. But unfortunately this didn’t happen and I never warmed up to the two protagonists.

Jack just turned out to be a jerk the whole book who repeatedly manipulated and used Pete for his own ends. And I couldn’t understand why Pete, a strong, smart and independent woman, was so solicitous of Jack and even sacrificed herself for him, when he had done absolutely nothing to deserve it. The two of them never even had a real relationship, other then Pete’s infatuation with Jack when she was sixteen, so I couldn’t understand their behavior towards each other through out the book. I also didn’t get any sense that the relationship between Pete and Jack progressed or developed at all, which I found very disappointing.

In addition, I felt that Street Magic would have been a much richer book if the author had included some colorful secondary characters, or even any secondary characters. I was hoping that Pete’s ex-fiance, who she argues with on the phone a few times, or her older sister, who blames Pete for Jack’s death, would make an appearance. But both of these characters remained shadowy figures in the sidelines, which I think was a big mistake as they could have added a lot to the story.

I was also disappointed with each of the fights that take place between Jack and Pete and their various attackers. While there was a certain amount of build up for each battle, the fights themselves would just fizzle out with the enemy getting killed in a very anti-climatic way. And I didn’t understand what the heck happened in the final battle, the one the whole story had been leading to.

So in conclusion, despite its strong start, I ultimately found Street Magic to be a disappointing and unsatisfying book and I’m unlikely to be tempted to pick up the sequel.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Reading interrupted

Posted by Simcha 5:52 PM, under | 2 comments

For the past week I've been reading Servant of a Dark God, by John Brown, and I had intended to finish it today so that I can get the review written. Instead I'm going to turn off my laptop and curl up in bed with Street Magic by Caitlin Kittredge. I had seen Street Magic recommended a couple of days ago and I idly picked it up yesterday as a diversion during a tense point in Servant of a Dark God. But the book has completely drawn me in and now I must finish it before I can get anything else done. So my review, and all of those brilliant posts I was going to put up today will have to wait until tomorrow.

Goodnight everyone and happy reading!


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