Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Get ready for some werewolves...

As we head into the glorious month of October, it's time to gear up for another of my yearly dips into a horror theme.

This year it's the Netflix series Hemlock Grove.

As with my month on the Saw franchise a few years back, I'm going in blind, having never seen an episode of the show and with very little idea of what to expect.

Here's what I know so far:

1) It's based on a book (which I start reading today!)
2) There are sure to be some werewolves
3) It's currently in season three, but I'll be focusing on season one

Also, I may be talking about all sorts of other werewolf titles I'm fond of, so get ready, because on Friday

Bookmonkey visits Hemlock Grove!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Book Review: A Breath of Snow and Ashes

Diana Gabaldon's fifth book in her Outlander series, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, was, for me, a pretty great addition to the series, but there were a few items I took issue with.

First of all the good - even through these books take a lot of time to go through, the view of little day-to-day activities in the mid-1770s America was a huge part of it's charm. Just seeing how issues ranging from marriage, birth, infidelity, and the law worked at the time, through the eyes of time-traveller Claire Fraser is one of the books great strengths. As with the rest of the books in the series, there is a lot of action and intrigue going on as well, but exploring this woman's life is definitely the highlight for me.

My biggest complaint with the book was (sorry for the mild 10-year-old spoiler) all the kidnapping - at this point both Claire and her daughter Brianna have been kidnapped multiple times and I found the fact that yet again, both of them were kidnapped at different points in the novel to be more than a little repetitive.

Will I still keep reading? Oh absolutely, the good far outweighs the bad in these book and I've only got two more to go before I'm all caught up with all the other Outlander fans out there!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Book Review: The Princess and the Pony

Rarely do I find the need to purchase children's picture books anymore.  My kids are both out of high school, and although I am hoping for grandchildren someday, that day probably won't be anytime in 2015.

But every once in a while, I come across a title that really needs to be purchased.

Yesterday, that title was Kate Beaton's The Princess and the Pony.

I have long been a fan of her collection Hark, A Vagrant (2011), which was a delightful mix of Canadian History, Literature, and more than a few strips featuring "Sexy Batman".

The Princess and the Pony focuses on a young warrior princess who desperately wants a warrior steed for her birthday and ends up with... ummm... The delightful little guy on the lower right-hand corner of the book cover.

The book is a wonderful look at gift giving, acceptance, and finding the value in things you may at first overlook.

Also there is farting, and my inner three-year-old boy found this incredibly hilarious!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Bear with me, I'm almost finished my latest Gabaldon

All right, I'll admit that reading fantasy fiction does often come with a down side - as the books are bigger, you end up having to spend longer and longer amounts of time to read them.

Right now I'm on day nine of my latest book by Diana Gabaldon, A Breath of Snow and Ashes.  Now that's not to say I'm not enjoying this 980-page tome, (although I will admit - mid 10-year-old spoiler - that two kidnappings happening in the same book to two characters that have both been kidnapped before stretches my sense of reason a little), but I will say that usually in the same space of time I could have knocked out a couple horror or science fiction novels, and I'm pretty sure (not 100% however) that I'll finish tomorrow, and will be able to put up my review at that time.

Thanks for bearing with me.

Once more unto the breach!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Riding the new Metro Line

The View at MacEwan Station
This weekend our city finally got it's second train line - the Metro Line, which adds three stations to where our Light Rail Transit (LRT) can go - two Post Secondary Institutes and a Hospital.

So on the first day of operation I did what I always do with a new transit line, and spent some time on it while reading.

The ride was pretty nice, and filled with people either video recording or taking snapshots, and I heard more than once the mention of "This will be going on my YouTube Channel", all of which faded to the background of the view (see pictured right) and of my Superior Spider-Man comic.

It's always nice to see infrastructure developed in your home town, now I've just got to see how this might benefit or hinder me in my daily commute.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Book Review: The Scarlet Gospels

In my reading I have three favourite authors, three people who get space on my shelves no matter what, and although there are a few close seconds, so far no other author compares for space in my collection when it comes to Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett and Clive Barker (Although Charles de Lint is quickly moving into a strong contender for number four).

I've re-read all three authors a few times and still go back for more, so when a new book comes out, you can bet I'm chomping at the bit to crack that new spine and get reading.

Barker's latest, The Scarlet Gospels, combines two of his most famous characters - the demon known as Pinhead (introduced in his novella The Hellbound Heart - later adapted into the film Hellraiser), and Harry D'Amour (introduced in the short story "The Last Illusion" in Books of Blood volume 6 - later adapted into the film Lord of Illusions).  

Personally I enjoyed it, but as someone who has been looking forward to this book since he first mentioned it as an idea in the late 90s, I will say I felt it lived up to it's promise, and worked quite well as an extremely creepy read.

As with most of his books, I wouldn't recommend it to the faint of heart - it is filled with some truly gruesome and horrifying content, and as it focuses largely on characters from his previous works, I wouldn't recommend it as a  first dip into the books of Mr. Barker (check out Books of Blood for that).

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Book Review: Modern Romance

So let me start by admitting that I'm a big fan of books by comedians; whether learning about American history through Jon Stewart or Nick Offerman, or reading a fun autobiography by Amy Poehler or Tina Fey (which had me laughing so hard I drew uncomfortable stares on the bus - a near-criminal public display up here in Canada), if any comedian I enjoy puts pen to paper, I'm likely to give their efforts a try.

So earlier this week I picked up Aziz Ansari's first book, Modern Romance, expecting a look at the actors life when I was stunned to find out the book was largely focused on the issue of romance and relationships in the era of social media.  Also to be fair, I'm sure most people already knew this, as I would have had I looked into anything about the book or even read the back cover.

Co written by sociologist Eric Klinenberg, the book works as a really great piece of creative non-fiction, is well-researched and includes interviews and references to authors such as Clay Shirky and Sherry Turkle.

The book was a pretty fascinating look at how people are meeting, dating, and marrying each other these days and as a communications studies major, played directly into the stuff I love to read for fun.

This may be my favourite non-fiction book of 2015.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Book Review: Crooked Little Vein

Okay, so think of a hard-boiled detective story, mix in a healthy dollop of Hunter S. Thompson and understand it's written by the fellow who wrote Transmetropolitan, and you'll have a pretty good idea of where this novel is going to start.

The book follows a private investigator named Michael McGill who goes on one of the craziest cases I think I've ever come across.  His case (don't worry, spoilers will be limited to the first thirty pages) is to track down a secret "second" United States Constitution for the White House, as it may contain magic political power to sway audiences.

Then the book goes more than a little insane - not for the faint of heart, and really just try to answer the question "Whatcha reading?" asked by anyone while in the middle of this book, trying to explain it in a way that won't make you uncomfortable is impossible.

The book is an awful lot of fun, however, working much like a standard detective novel, but mixed in with some of the weirdest, strangest, Fortean plot points I've ever found outside of the Illuminatus Trilogy.

Well worth the read.