Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Little People

Little People by Tom Holt

Michael Higgins sees elves. At the age of eight he saw his first one smoking in his family's garden. When he told his step-father about it, the reaction he received was so surprisingly abrupt and alarming that he knew what he had seen was real and that his step-father (the owner of a shoe-making factory - can you say "miniature slave labor force"?) was aware of them.

Tom Holt is a British fantasy author that I feel has way too small of a readership on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. He's written thirty-something humorous fantasy novels yet is still widely unknown here in the States. His books are inventive, smart, and oftentimes, the literary equivalent of a Monty Python sketch.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mister Slaughter

Mister Slaughter by Robert McCammon
440 pgs  (Matthew Corbett series #3)

This is the third book in the Matthew Corbett series, a series I'm very excited about, since in my opinion, each book has been better than its predecessor. The series takes place in colonial America, seventy years before it declares independence from England. Corbett, who is still in training as an employee for the London-based Herald Agency, finds himself tasked with the job of transporting Tyranthus Slaughter, a murderer being housed at an asylum near Philadelphia, to the docks in New York. Slaughter, who brings to mind Hannibal Lecter, makes Corbett and his colleague an offer they can't refuse.

McCammon is an excellent storyteller. His characters in this series are multi-dimensional and intriguing and the plot is engrossing, suspenseful, and full of unexpected twists. He does a great job of creating the look and feel of the early 18th century in America while incorporating real and unique individuals from our country's history.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Little Women

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

It takes a real man, who is secure in his manhood, to admit to reading a book like Little Women. I am such a man. A few months ago I read Pride and Prejudice, although to be fully honest, the reason I read it was so that I'd appreciate this more. There are certain books that I feel should be read by everyone. This is one of them.  It's classic literature and has stood the test of time.

That being said, I can't say that I particularly enjoyed reading it. Was I on the edge of my seat wondering if Meg would learn how to make fresh jam or not to spend her husband's earnings on frivolous things? No. Did I cry when Beth was on death's doorstep with Scarlet Fever? Not quite. Was my heart warmed when Jo sold her hair to help with the family's finances while their dad was away at war? Please. Nevertheless, it's an excellently written book. I can see why it's considered a classic. But before I'd be able to read another book like this, say Jane Eyre or something, I'd need to read 25 or so books for pleasure.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Monster, 1959

Monster, 1959 by David Maine

David Maine made a modest name for himself with his first book: The Preservationist, a novelization of the story of Noah's ark. His next two books: Fallen and The Book of Samson were likewise novelizations of biblical stories. All three of those books were enjoyable and creative.

With Monster, 1959, Maine leaves the bible behind (although, if it was a story from the bible, it would have been my favorite one by far. Every Sunday growing up I would have been praying that the Sunday School lesson was going to be about the 40-foot monster that terrorized the wicked people of Galilee or Nineveh) and attempts to either pay homage to the B-movie monsters of the 50's or to perpetuate his own political ideologies.

The story is blatantly unoriginal - hapless thrill-seekers stumble upon an island inhabited by a monster (the result of nuclear fallout from the government's testing in the Pacific in the early '40s). The monster kidnaps a blond from the expedition, is then captured, taken back to the U.S., and displayed across the country as the headliner of a circus. Maine's own political views are inserted throughout the book, almost randomly, and by the end I was left with the impression that his real intent in writing the book was to give those views a platform to stand on and decided at the last minute that he ought to accompany them with a story. So he combined Godzilla and King Kong and thought, "It is good." It was not.

★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆