Wednesday, August 18, 2010

review: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane (book)

so for those of you who don't know - I worked at Border's books last year and one of the perks of working there was that we were given free rein over the ARCs (advanced reading copies) which meant we had access to the books thus receiving a sneak peak. this allowed us to be able to explain the books extremely well to the customers. we were never required to read them but usually the books were interesting enough that i would often pick one up and read it over break that way if i didn't like it i could put it down and pick another one or take the book home and finish it over a week or so. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane is one of the books i loved!

it is a work of historical fiction that takes place during the Salem witch trials but also is set in modern times. how does it accomplish this? by oscillating between the two. The main character is Connie Goodwin, a Harvard grad student who is actually writing her doctoral dissertation on the Salem Witch trials and witchcraft.

she had planned to spend her summer doing research but when her flaky mother drops the sale of her mother's abandoned home near Salem, Connie can’t refuse. while preparing it for sale, she uncovers a very old Bible and within it, an ancient key and a piece of parchment with the name "Deliverance Dane" written on it. Spurred on by her discovery, Connie searches to find out more about this woman, her fate, and a rare find only hinted about: a "physick" book - which pages hold a hidden, dangerous knowledge.

we follow Connie through the summer as she deals with an over zealous and perhaps crazed professor, a new love interest, and struggles to find herself and her connection to Deliverance's dark past.

this novel gives the reader: mystery, love, magic, sticking it to one's mother, and affirmation of self. i give The Physick Book of Deliverance Dance 4.5 out of 5 stars. minus half a star for some cliche.

Monday, August 9, 2010

review: The Dresden Files (books)

Currently this is my favorite book series. It is a long running science fiction series by Jim Butcher who has been on the New York Times Best Sellers list numerous times for this series as well as his other series The Codex Alera.

The story revolves around Harry Dresden, the only person listed under 'Wizard' in the yellow pages - and no, he doesn't do parties, love potions, or seances. Think of him as a "professional wizard" or wizard detective. Each book is usually a different case or linking cases however, beginning in the later books there becomes an overarching plot. In fact, Jim Butcher has announced that there will be twenty regular books in this series and then will cap it off with a massive trilogy! So if you're looking for the long haul (like me) this is the series for you.

The books tackle all sorts of magical creatures and problems including but not limited to: demons, angels, ghosts, evil wizards, gods, fairies, werewolves, and vampires. Each creature has their own twists on how they're portrayed which can differ significantly from their classical portrayals. Continuing on this line the series offers a refreshing spin on the classic wizard. Harry isn't your anti-hero or even your reluctant hero - in fact, he admits he's a sucker for a lady in need which often comes back to bite him in the ass. The series is set in modern day Chicago so you really won't find Harry running around in robes instead he wears a leather duster and jeans which gives him the lone Sheriff or cowboy appearance that he loves and hates.

Humor is a huge part of the reason why I love this series. Butcher will often take classic elements and make them incredibly witty and hilarious. For example in one of the books flying purple monkey demons are attacking Harry using... well, the same projectile missiles that they use in real life - poo. However, in Harry's case, they happen to be flinging flaming poo that explodes on contact much like liquid napalm. fun!

As for characters there's Harry, Karen Murphy, and Bob that are in almost every book. Harry's very stand-offish and doesn't much like to be intimidated or bossed around but when he is his humor really comes out. Ah, sarcasm. it truly makes the world go round. Harry also owns a skull... named Bob, who just happens to house a spirit of intellect who, despite not having a body or even a corporeal form, loves porn. Karen Murphy is the other main character in this series. She is a Lieutenant in the Special Investigations unit of the Chicago police department. She's a tiny, blue eyed blond haired ball of tightly restrained fury despite the fact that she looks harmless. She is described as "tiny but fierce". very true.

These books are witty, complex, and will keep your turning pages. The plot is interesting and the characters are well done and thoughtfully detailed. I give this series 5 out of 5 stars for length, humor, over-arching plot and zombies.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

review: Despicable Me (movie)

This was an okay movie. Quite funny for what it was but not the best movie ever.

Steve Carrell is the voice of Gru, the super villain with perhaps not the most diabolical of schemes. For example he steals the STATUE OF LIBERTY!!! the small one, from Las Vegas. But Gru's status of world's most evil villain is in jeopardy when a young up & comer steals an Egyptian pyramid. But Gru's next plan to steal the mooon is genius and will make the secret Bank of Evil very rich and he hopes it will set him back on top. The only snag in his plan is that he needs a shrink ray. Which is a slight problem since the only one that exists was just stolen from him.

Here's where things go from slightly ridiculous to completely unbelievable. To get back his shrink ray Gru decides to use the orphans who are selling cookies to infiltrate his nemesis' home. So, what does Gru decide to do? adopt the girls.

The rest of the movie becomes a giant cliche. not a bad cliche but still a cliche. after spending time with the girls he starts to change his evilish ways and begins to love the girls. the journey is funny and different and the ending heartwarming. I give Despicable Me 3 stars out of 5 for being funny and doing this cliche well but not being very original.

and here's the trailer for you: CLICK ME!