Archive for category Book Reviews

Christmas Truce by Aaron Shephard

I have long known the nearly miraculous story of the World War I Christmas Truce of 1914. As a college student I was deeply touched by the story and it has stuck with me for these many years. It was barely touched on in my text book but I was lucky enough to have a truly spectacular teacher who told us the events of that Christmas.

I have never before read any account of it (fictional or otherwise) and I was a little apprehensive of how it would be presented in a book aimed for children. I was pleasantly surprised at the realism of the telling as well as the care taken in how to present such a horrific war in a way that remains true to what it was yet not so much so that a child wouldn’t be able to take it in.

This is a gentle and beautifully written retelling of an important moment in time. It is done so impeccably for children and adults alike. It would be a perfect tool for a teacher to use to introduce the topic to a class. I can see how it could foster a great discussion even among children in regards to  important truths about humanity.

I most appreciate not only the historical accuracy but also the delivery in consideration of a younger audience. However, as an adult I also found it to be a nice, uplifting read myself.

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I Shouldn’t Even be Doing This by Bob Newhart

I love Bob Newhart and found his book to be as charming and understated as he is. He is a true comic genius with the longevity to prove it.

If anyone expected this to be a nitty gritty Hollywood tell-all than you don’t know Bob Newhart at all. However, it was a great trip through the history of television and an amazing career.

You’ll be surprised how this one-time accountant became a comic legend. It’s a light read that’s well worth the time.

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The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

There were parts of the book that were actually difficult for me to read because of how they personally hit me.

I am much like David. I rely greatly on books as an escape and always have. I lost both of my parents to cancer and developed many of the same psychological issue he has because of it. I not only suffer from OCD but I often find myself so consumed with the fear of losing more people that I love that I can hardly enjoy having them in my life at all.

For me, this book was almost too real in David’s thoughts as many of my own. I felt often like a cold bucket of water was being thrown on me as I read. For this; I’m grateful.

Aside from that I found the plot itself a bit infantile. Of course, his dad still loves him even though he’s remarried with a new baby. I don’t need a whole epic journey to see that one coming.

 

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Inferno by Dan Brown

I was really disappointed in this book. I’ve read all his books so far and I’m a little tired of seeing the same characters over and over again. They have different names and nationalities but that’s about it.

Langdon’s story this time is too off the wall even for Brown. I’m alright with the plot to be a little convoluted but this one took the cake. You don’t even want me to start in on Sienna. Doesn’t Dan Brown know any women in real life? Is that why he has no ability to write one convincingly?

I can’t for the life of me figure out why it took him so long to write this? Just take Angels & Demon and The Da Vinci Code and alter the location (slightly) and the “puzzle” and you’re done.

My opinion is that Dan Brown wanted to spend some time in Florence and Venice and writing this book was his excuse.

Not Impressed.

PS- It’s always awkward when you put down a book feeling like the hero was the “madman” everyone was trying to stop. Just saying…

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Power Play by Catherine Coulter (FBI Series #18)

I have to admit that this was my first foray into the Catherine Coulter FBI series. Actually I’ve never read anything of hers. I did not prepare myself at all by reading anything online about the series. I wanted to see if I would be able to follow along not already knowing the characters.

I had a few moments of confusion considering how much was going on and just how many people were in it and with the different story lines. I’m sure there were probably things that I missed because it is my first book that fans wouldn’t.

I’m impressed with how easily I was able to come into this world and make it through the book not feeling completely lost.
I enjoyed the dialogue between characters- I find that I’m usually critical of this with a lot of writers.

I don’t usually like getting involved in a huge series like this because I get bored with the same old same old and like a lot of variety so I don’t know if this was enough to get me hooked and make me want to start with book one.

I don’t think fans will be disappointed though.

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Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton

Just a Geek

By Wil Wheaton

If you read my previous review of Wil Wheaton’s Sunken Treasure than you already know how difficult it was for me to decide to give him a chance as a writer. I enjoy reading celebrity autobiographies but most of them are ghost written and heavily edited by a professional. Just a Geek is all Wil Wheaton pure, honest and stripped down bare. His courage and honesty are virtues with which every writer struggles. The ability to tell any story without holding anything back is the Holy Grail of writing and being able to do that while telling your own personal story is something most writers would never even consider. Yet, there he is, this “has-been”, this struggling actor, someone that most people look at with a don’t-I-know-you-from-something stare, beating us writers at our own game. I read Michael J Fox’s books Lucky Man and Always Looking Up and have just started his newest (A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to the Future) he is an amazing man with an optimism that is beyond words. I have a great respect for him as a human. Now, why am I suddenly talking about Michael J Fox? I mention his books specifically for a reason; I want my next statement to have optimal impact. I have never been so deeply touched or affected by an autobiography as I was by Wil Wheaton’s Just a Geek. Think on that for a moment.

Hollywood is really just perpetual high school, the “A list” being the most popular cheerleaders and jocks with most other stars falling someone where between that and, as Kathy Giffin puts it, the “D list”.  In this analogy Wil Wheaton really is just a geek, like the rest of us. He has struggled in Hollywood since he left Star Trek: TNG. Let me make one point abundantly clear right now, this is not a book just for Star Trek fans, although fellow Trekkies would probably love it, it is a book for any person who has ever struggled emotionally or financially, felt insecure, lost or simply unhappy with their life.

When he writes about the insecurity he felt when meeting up with some of the cast from ST:TNG I was heartbroken for him. I also knew exactly what he meant. My own personal insecurities jumped into my head. Times when I have seen people from my high school at the super market and jumped behind a display of canned corn so they wouldn’t see how much weight I’ve gained. Or when a friend from college wrote me on Facebook asking if I’ve had any books published yet and I was too embarrassed to respond that no, I haven’t even managed to finish one yet and that I haven’t done anything at all with my degree other than a couple of WordPress blogs.

There is one story in particular that I can’t get out of my head or my heart for that matter. Mr. Wheaton was at an audition and ran into his old friend, Sean Astin (Sam from LOTR). They chit chat a bit and agree to stay in better contact. Sean Astin gives him his phone number but he never “gets up the courage” to call him. The vulnerability in admitting to that is staggering to me. The entire book is filled with very candid heartbreaking embarrassments that most people would want to keep hidden, especially people with an “image” but Wil Wheaton not only shares those moments unabashedly but he goes into honest detail about how those situations made him feel. He gets angry, he gets hurt, he gets embarrassed, he gets scared, he gets his hopes up, they come crashing down, he has every possible human emotion that you sometimes forget other people go through too especially actors who the rest of us tend to think have such great lives. I’m not saying he doesn’t have a good life and I don’t think he would either. He loves his wife and stepsons, but he certainly hasn’t had everything handed to him and everything does not come easily. He does an incredible job of exposing his weaknesses in an unapologetic and honest way that is rarely rivaled.

I feel that I have touched on some of the things I love about this book and my new admiration for Wil Wheaton but there is one thing I feel I must mention; Why all the hating on Wesley? I don’t just mean from Wil Wheaton (who has a whole separate emotional issue with that character), I mean from all the Trekkies at the conventions. I would be embarrassed to put into writing just how many times I have seen every episode of ST:TNG and I still don’t understand it. Yeah, he was kind of whiny and a little annoying but he was a teenager. The writing for him wasn’t great I am not going to argue that it was but I wouldn’t go so far as to say he was “unbelievable”. What is so wrong with showing a smart teen interested in math and science and taking an active role in his own future (working on the bridge)? Wil Wheaton did an excellent job with what he was given, the scene when he sees the hollow message his father left for him before he died is incredible. It is all in the face, there was no writing for that one it was all Wil Wheaton and it is very touching. I can’t believe that any Star Trek fan would claim that Wesley Crusher ruined the show, come now. He wasn’t that bad and Star Trek isn’t that fragile. Aside from that I have to say that I was so upset to hear how Wil Wheaton had been treated by people who claim to love the series. I am about to completely geek out now so be warned. First of all, you don’t treat people that way, booing him off the stage and saying you hate him. Second, you don’t treat a teenager that way, ever. Third, if you truly love Star Trek and the Star Trek universe you show some respect for its cast and characters. Look I’m not a fan of Ensign Ro but if I ever met Michelle Forbes I would certainly have the sense and couth not to blame her. But most importantly, has watching Star Trek taught you nothing? Did you somehow miss the whole concept? The entire point of Starfleet? Rant over, I digress.

Back to the real person, Wil Wheaton, I find that I am cheering for him still. Everyday I want to hear that he’s going to be on TV or in a movie. Hell, I’d love to write a best seller and demand he play the lead role, whatever it may be. I want to know how he’s doing, how life is going, if he has had any auditions, even though I don’t feel he is of the caliber of actor that should have to audition at this point. But what do I know? I would have never canceled Firefly either so apparently Hollywood and I disagree on a lot of things. I have to say that after reading Just a Geek I have completely rethought all of my beliefs and misconceptions of the people that I watch on TV. They are so much more real to me now. For the first time in my life there is even one I would like to meet and have over for dinner.

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Sunken Treasure by Wil Wheaton

Sunken Treasure

By: Wil Wheaton

Okay, let’s be honest when you hear the name Wil Wheaton you think either, Star Trek, Stand by Me or “who”? For me, it is always Star Trek. Actually the people who don’t know who he is at all shock and sadden me but I acknowledge that they are out there. As a proud Trekkie I follow Mr. Wheaton on Twitter. After a couple of months of noticing that he posts links to his own blog I finally decided to venture over and have a look at one. You need to understand something about me first so that you can understand why it took me so long to simply read a blog. When I am a fan of someone I never really want to meet them, I don’t like to see them do interviews or read anything they have written (without a proper ghost writer or editor). This may seem counter intuitive but I have firm grip on the reality of the fact that actors are just people, full of human flaws and because of this I don’t like to have my little fantasy of them in my head shattered into a million pieces. As stupid as it sounds, it works for me. Well, like I said after a few months of reading his tweets I started to feel like I was developing a new impression of who this person really was, separate from Wesley Crusher. As I began to compartmentalize the two more firmly I decided that I really like this Wil Wheaton guy and I want to check out what he has to say. The first blog I read was about his time as a guest on the show Leverage. I had never watched the show but was a huge Angel fan and knew that Christian Kane from Angel was now on Leverage so I thought it would be interresting. (Yes, my life is a game of 7 degrees of separation when it comes to entertainment.) As he continued to post blogs I continued to read them and found them honest, down to earth and above all, well written. There were occasional mentions of a couple of books he had published and one I believe he was still working on called Memories of the Future, Vol 1. It was to be a detailed “going over” of each Star Trek: TNG episode he had been in and there was no doubt I would be getting this book. But the others I wasn’t so sure about. As I did a little more research I discovered that Sunken Treasure was a compilation of excerpts from the other books and a few blog posts. A “Hot Cocoa Box Sampler” he calls it. I figured this would be a perfect way to check out his writing before committing to Just a Geek (his autobiography). Hey, I’m a busy girl and I can’t read just anything just because it was written by some guy from one of my favorite shows. Who am I kidding? Yes, I can. Anyway, I decided to ease in with Sunken Treasure for whatever reason. I downloaded it from iTunes on my iPad, as I always do with books these days, and I had it finished in a couple of hours and had Just a Geek downloaded and ready to go. This is all by way of saying, I truly enjoyed it. I loved to explore his ability to successfully write using different and specialized styles. You wouldn’t write a blog post the same way you write a piece of fiction or your autobiography for example. Having my BA in English I know the importance of writing in a style appropriate for your audience and medium. As an actor, there is no reason he should know this but he clearly has it mastered. There is so much I want to say about Mr. Wheaton and his writing but I am going to save most of that for my review of Just a Geek, in the meantime I will say this, try Sunken Treasure. I think it was something like $4.99 on iTunes. It is an easy read. Unless you are a writer you probably don’t understand what a compliment that is. “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”  I must warn you though Sunken Treasure is a gateway drug to the world of Wil Wheaton.

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