Archive for January, 2012

31
Jan
12

Bunnybean’s #CBR4 Review #5: Dolphin Tale, A Tale of True Friendship by Emma Ryan

Last Fall, I saw the movie Dolphin Tale with my dad and really liked it.  Then I got the book, which I also really liked.

Dolphin Tale is the true story of a dolphin named Winter who gets caught in a crab trap, and all the people who try and get Winter a new tail (she had to have her tail removed to get out of the trap).  She kept swimming from side to side, and couldn’t go up and down without her tail.  The doctors invented a new plastic tale for her, but she didn’t like it and she ruined it.  They tried again and made a second tail, and it worked!  She liked the new tail and could swim again.

Sawyer is the boy who was Winter’s friend.  He found her in the crab trap and visited her every day.  He called the Marine Hospital and told them about Winter.  They are still very good friends.

This story makes me feel good, because Winter is saved, and I really like dolphins.  It is a great story of “true friendship.”

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31
Jan
12

Scootsa1000’s #CBR4 Review #5: Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

There’s never a shortage of Stephen King (or recently, some terrific Richard Bachman) reviews here in Cannonball land.  While I definitely consider myself a huge King fan, I have to admit that his “collected novellas” are my least favorite of his many offerings.  I love me some short story collections (Night Shift! Skeleton Crew!), I can’t get enough of his huge mega-novels (The Stand! 11/22/63!), and I obsess over anything Dark Tower related.  But I can honestly say that the majority of his short novels (the Four Past Midnight and Hearts in Atlantis collections comes to mind) are not on the top of any sort of list for me.

So I was happy to find that King’s most recent venture into novella territory was a good one.  Full Dark, No Stars is made up of four short novels (or, long stories):  1922, Big Driver, Fair Extension, and A Good Marriage.

1922, my least favorite of the four, is the story of Wilfred, a man in 1920s Nebraska, who decides to murder his wife (with the help of his son, Henry) in order to settle a land dispute.  Wilfred is then haunted by the idea that his wife might not be quite as dead as he thought she was, and becomes obsessed.  Meanwhile, Henry gets the neighbor’s daughter pregnant, and they take off on a crime spree (a la Bonnie and Clyde) across the midwest.  An interesting tale, but I could have done without the many, many rats that appear throughout the story.

Big Driver, on the other hand, was a nice departure for King.  It tells the story of Tess, a popular mystery writer, who takes a short-cut home from local speaking engagement and is brutally raped and beaten when her car is disabled.  Tess escapes, but soon realizes that she is not the only victim of this monster of a man.  As she slowly puts together the pieces of her attack, she creates her plan for vengeance.  King usually botches narrative from the female perspective, but I thought this was one of his better offerings.

Fair Extension reminded me quite a bit of the old Richard Bachman book, Thinner.  Dave is a dying man, quickly weakening from a terrible form of cancer that is eating away at him.  One day while out driving, he comes upon a man named George Elvid who claims that he can promise Dave 15 more years of a healthy life if he pays 15% of his salary every year, AND if he promises to transfer his problems to someone else.  Dave quickly decides to hand all of his troubles off to his “best friend” Tom, who appears to have the perfect life.  As the story progresses, we see the fortunes that occur in Dave’s life and the many tragedies that affect Tom and his family.  It gets a bit ridiculous after a while, but I guess that’s what you get when you do business with Mr Elvid.

The final story, A Good Marriage, tells the story of Darcy, wife to an accountant named Bob, who finds out that her ordinary marriage is anything but.  Another tale from the female perspective, but this one is less successful, mostly because Bob and Bob’s alter ego “BP” are a bit too much, even for King.

King will never find the same literary success with the short novel format that he had with something like Different Seasons, but I still appreciate his attempt to write all different sorts of fiction (and even non-fiction).

31
Jan
12

Jordan Catalano

Being from Boston, I’ve been a Buffalo Tom fan for years and years.  But it drives me crazy that every time I hear “Late at Night”, all I can think of is Jordan Catalano taking Angela by the hand in the middle of the school hallway.

And he’ll always be Jordan Catalano to me.  I don’t know who Jared Leto is.

30
Jan
12

Bunnybean’s #CBR4 Review #4: Ivy & Bean Break the Fossil Record by Annie Barrows & Sophie Blackall

Ivy & Bean are best friends, and there are lots of books about them.  In this book, Bean has a special book of World Records that everyone looks at and is interested in.  Everybody wants to break a record.  Ivy and Bean want to become the youngest people ever to dig up dinosaur fossils.

They go in Bean’s backyard and start digging.  They make a huge mess.  They tell everybody at school about their plan, and everybody else tells Ivy and Bean that they tried to break records, too, but it didn’t really work out.  Ivy and Bean tell their friends that they really did find dinosaur bones, but nobody believes them.  They tell their friends to come and see the bones at 4pm after school.

All the friends come to see the bones, and Ivy and Bean let everyone look at and touch the bones.  They aren’t sure if they are dinosaur bones or bones from a mystery creature.  Their friends think the bones are cool.

I really like the Ivy & Bean books because they are books about friendship and are funny.

22
Jan
12

bunnybean’s #CBR4 Review #3: A Series of Unfortunate Events (The Bad Beginning, Book the First) by Lemony Snicket

In this story, there are three siblings.  It all starts when they are at the beach and their parents die!  This book is very unfortunate!

Their parents’ friend, Mr. Poe, tells them the bad news.  He takes them to his house, and he has two sons who are very sloppy, and the kids have to share a room with them.  Even worse, the kids have to go another house where a man named Count Olaf lives.  He is not a nice guy.  He doesn’t have any books or other things to do.  Every day for breakfast, they have cold oatmeal.  His neighbor seems to be nice, but Count Olaf doesn’t let the kids go see her.

One day, Count Olaf tells the kids that they are going to be in a play, and that in the play the oldest sister will “pretend” to marry him.  That sounds fishy, huh?  Then when it is time for the play, the oldest sister puts on her costume and gets on stage with Count Olaf, and he tells her that she should really marry him.  Everybody in the audience is horrified!  Mr. Poe saves the siblings from Count Olaf.

I liked this book and my favorite part is when they have to cook dinner for Count Olaf’s friends.  They make spaghetti and meatballs, but Count Olaf wanted fancy roast beef.

 

22
Jan
12

Scootsa1000’s #CBR4 Review #4: V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton

I love it when authors come up with a character that is so successful that it deserves a series of books. I’ve read all 18 of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books, all 18 of Ian Rankin’s fantastic Inspector Rebus novels, and now I’ve just finished book 22 of Sue Grafton’s alphabet series featuring private detective Kinsey Millhone.  I like getting to know a character so well that its almost comforting to read about them doing the things they like best (Stephanie Plum likes to eat donuts, Inspector Rebus likes to drink and listen to classic rock, and Kinsey Millhone likes to eat peanut butter and pickle sandwiches).

Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone is a twice-divorced, 38 year-old private detective (and former cop) in fictional Santa Teresa, California.  Kinsey lives in a studio apartment, spends a lot of time with her octogenarian landlord, Henry, as well as his older brother William and his wife Rosie, who own the local dive tavern where Kinsey eats and drinks most nights.  She doesn’t care much about how her hair and makeup look, she rarely wears anything other than jeans (she has one single black dress that has appeared in every book), and she drinks wine most nights, eats egg or peanut butter sandwiches, and tries to jog every day.

In this book, Kinsey witnesses a woman shoplifting at Nordstrom and reports her to security, leading to the woman’s suicide (or was it foul play?).  This sets off a chain reaction of events and introduces all of the main players, including a local mafia boss who runs a huge shoplifting ring, the wife of a wealthy doctor who finds out her husband is having an affair, a small-time thief who is in over his head, and a crooked local cop who will do anything to forward his career.  Kinsey gets mixed up in the middle of all of these characters when she is hired by the fiance of the shoplifter to find out why she jumped off a bridge and what was going on in her life to get her mixed up with all of these undesirable characters.  And Kinsey ends up with a broken nose and two black eyes.  On her birthday, no less.

One thing I enjoy about these books is that they take place in the 1980s — no cell phones, no internet, etc.  Kinsey has to solve her mysteries by writing her clues on index cards, writing reports on her typewriter, leaving messages for contacts on answering machines, and doing research at the library. If these stories took place today, Kinsey could do a quick Google search, text some contacts, and solve the crimes in half the time.  And no broken noses.

P.S.: If you’ve never read any of the Inspector Rebus books, I can’t recommend them highly enough.  They are fantastic.

21
Jan
12

Song of the Day

Today’s song that I can’t get out of my head.  Until 5 minutes ago, I had no idea this was a song from the musical Hair.  I just thought it was some weird peek into Evan Dando’s drug addled mind.




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