Friday, August 27, 2010

Ed's Mini Book Review - And Then There Were None

'CoverCover of And Then There Were NoneContinuing on my little kick of reading some of the Thrillers listed on NPR's top thrillers of all-time, I decided to give an Agatha Christie book a run and the highest rated of her works on the list was And Then There Were None (though I have heard that The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is rather highly rated, but not as well known). Now I think I was supposed to read this in High School but like many high school students, I didn't really read it and just skimmed what I needed to to pass (Hey, I'm being honest!).

Boy, I am glad I gave this a try all these years later. This is what I was expecting with The Hound of the Baskervilles. A tight, suspenseful whodunnit that doesn't disappoint. The set-up is something that I think most people are familiar with as it has been copied, spoofed and ripped-off for decades. We have ten people, all called to a remote island with differing letters, expecting something far from what they find. Soon after they arrive, they are called to dinner where a record plays, accusing each and every one of them of murder. Placed in each of their rooms is a variation of the nursery rhyme, Ten Little Indians and in the living room is a chess board with ten pieces on it. As our story progresses and the ten start to die off in ways depicted in the rhyme, pieces are removed from the chess board. Who has called them to the island and is he or she amongst them?

I think you can probably guessed that I loved this book. I was a bit worried that it would seem dated being written over seventy years ago but that was not the case at all, adding to the genius of the work. It keeps you guessing all the way through and just when you thought you know who is behind it all, they meet an untimely end and you have to start from square one again. I am being as cryptic as possible because I don't want to give any hints or give anything away. Just go out and pick up a copy from your local library. You'll that me for it.

My Grade: A+

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Ed's Mini Book Review - The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles
I posted a few weeks ago a list of the Top Thrillers of all time according to NRP, so that got me looking up and down the list to see which ones I have read. The verdict was, not that many. So I decided to knock a couple off that list and start with some classic Sherlock Holmes and The Hound of the Baskervilles.

I've never read any of the Holmes mysteries before and after giving it a start, I remembered reading somewhere that the mysteries are told from the perspective of Dr. Watson, Holmes' sidekick/companion. Add to this my envisioning of the character as they looked in the recent Guy Ritchie adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, and I have a very rich setting in my mind of Jude Law as the primary and Iron Man himself, RDJ as Sherlock Homes.

On to this mystery and it pains me to say, that I was rather disappointed. Now I am getting that feeling as I did with Neuromancer about reviewing a classic but hear me out on this one. First of all, I loved the atmosphere of the book, with the creepy old Baskerville Hall and the seemingy haunted bog. That really took me in and kept my interest.

What bothered me most about the book was the lack of mystery. Holmes has it solved with a quarter of the book left. The rest is the laying of the trap and the explianation of how he solved it. I was expecting something a little more climactic or another plot twist that never came. Maybe I was expecting a tale with more complexity, fed by my generation growing up with mysteries trying 'out twist' the next and didn't enjoy the weaving of the yarn so to speak. The bottom line, however, is that I was a bit underwhelmed.

My Grade: C+

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Late Summer Reading List

Reading on the BeachImage by cmcgough via FlickrHi ho library nerds. I have been able to get a good amount of reading done this Summer and have updated my reading list a few times.

So, instead of updating that one over and over again, I will add a new list (even though the summer is almost over), so here goes.

Dead Men's Boots by Mike Carey
Lamb by Christopher Moore (another requested read).

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Ed's Mini Book Review - Monster Island

cover to the bookImage via WikipediaMonster Island is the second book I've read from David Wellington, the first being 13 Bullets. This one had me back in to the zombie book realm which has been a while for me. Basic premise is that of a lot of zombie books, outbreak has ravaged the world and zombies have taken over most places. The first twist we get here to the basic zombie paradigm is that we have our group of heroes purposefully journey to an area that they know is overrun in order to procure some medical supples. That place that is overrun is none other than Manhattan.

This piqued my interest right away because many zombie books don't deal with the big city. They instead focus on the person living in a small town or in the sticks so to speak because that's easy. It's easy to have a survivor from a place where there aren't that many people around to turn into zombies or an area where getting to an isolated or relatively safe location is feasible. This book, sadly, skips that but we do get Manhattan after the outbreak and see what's left.

The next major twist in the rote zombie paradigm is with the character of Gary and how he progresses/comes to understand what happened to make the dead rise. Gary is a med student who throws his lot in with the superior numbers, the zombies. Wait, what? How does he do that, you say? That I will leave alone in case you decide to read the book, but in any event this goes along to explain what is happening. For my tastes, while appreciate it being a little different from the typical zombie fare, I wasn't a big fan of the revelation. Reminded me a bit of The Rising by Brian Keene, but it's not exactly like that explanation, and if you've followed my reviews, you know I wasn't a fan of that book.

To sum this bad boy up, Monster Island is an overall solid addition to the zombie genre. A little less of a survival horror book and a bit more into the 'whys' of what has caused the outbreak, though I am not sure the reasons given by certain dubious characters are the correct ones. Certainly entertaining but nothing groundbreaking. Enough to get me to read the next book in the trilogy, Monster Nation.

My Grade: B-

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Top 100 Thrillers of All Time

slience of the lambsImage by istolethetv via Flickr

Sadly I have only read six of the top 100. I need to get crackin' on this.

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