Princess of the Library

September 10, 2014

The Abominable

Filed under: Uncategorized — princessofthelibrary @ 3:36 pm
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This weighty tome was a very interesting read.  I enjoyed the style choice the author made.  The Abominable is written as if it is a manuscript written by and aging explorer who has never before told his story, after finding out he has cancer, he writes his experience climbing Mount Everest in the 1920s.  Upon his death the papers and a few other belongings are to be sent to the author, but a mix up has everything sent to a distant relative where they languish in a box for twenty years, but amazingly do finally make it to the author who reads the epic tale and gets it published.  Obviously this is not the case, because it is a novel, but it forces the reader to either buy in to it or not.  I like a good “true story” so I dove in. 

The climbing expedition is financed by the family of a previous climber who is believed to have died on the mountain, but the family wants proof.  Although that is the expressed reason for the mission, the climbers involved have designs on making a run for the summit.  I mean, how could they not?  To be that close to the pinnacle of the Earth and not try to be the first to get there (Mallory has already died on his fateful may have but probably didn’t voyage to the top of Everest) is crazy, even Lady Bromley (cousin of man they are looking for, experienced climber, but a woman…how can they climb with a woman?  Unfortunately its take her or lose the financing) knows they will try to summit.  Jake Perry is young and pretty idealistic, but clearly a good man.  As he narrates, his young self is evident even though he is able to reflect on some of the events from his prospective of many decades of life later.

This are progressing fine, some setbacks, but nothing they can’t overcome, when life takes a tragic u-turn.  Someone is pursuing the climbers, with lethal intent.  As they scramble to stay alive, they what they discover may have been the demise of the previous expedition and have world wide implications.

Too Young to Kill

Filed under: Uncategorized — princessofthelibrary @ 3:12 pm
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So I’m kind of obsessed with the show Snapped…It is about women who kill their husband, parents, rivals, friends, etc. in the name of love, money, revenge, or just plain craziness.  Mostly for the money though.  Anyway, my boyfriend totally thinks I am plotting to kill him because every time he walks through our living room I am watching this show which has a mysterious-voiced narrator woman who ominously says … well everything she says sounds ominous.  Lucky for me, I just started watching this show which has been on for 10 years and they often show marathons (yay!), so I spend all day watching episodes that are completely new to me! 

Anyway, a book came in ILL for a patron called Too Young to Kill by M. William Phelps, whom I immediately recognized from a couple of Snapped episodes.  Since the book did not get picked up Saturday, I took it home and read it before bringing it back on Monday to be picked up.  Too Young to Kill is the story which one of the episodes is based one (clearly one of my patrons is a fan of the show too because I doubt they came up with this obscure 2011 title by word of mouth). 

Adrianne Reynolds was missing and her parents  (well actually her Grandmothers’ exhusband and his wife) knew she wasn’t a runaway as the police expected.  They began contacted friends and schoolmates of hers at her special high school offering GED programs.  Adrianne wasn’t necessarily trouble, but traditional high school wasn’t for her.  However some of the friends she had made since her move from Texas were less than desirable.  Her parents and police tracked her last known whereabouts to the car of Sarah Kolb on a lunch run with Cory Gregory who said they dropped her off at a McDonald’s across the street from her home. 

Her burnt and dismembered body was eventually discovered in multiple locations and three teenagers from her school were prosecuted.  Although they were clearly the culprits, questions still remain as to why this was done.  In his book, Phelps has lots of positive things to say about Adrianne, but there seems there must be more to the story.  Here was a girl who had involved herself in casual sex, although it seemed she was not interested in drugs, she made a habit of hanging out with those who were constantly using whatever drugs they could get in a house described as a Juggalo hangout.  Juggalo’s being the followers of the horror-rap band, Insane Clown Posse and the ideals they believe come from the band and other like it.  The FBI considers Juggalos to be a gang, although the ICP has sued to have this label removed.  Anyway, although these kids had obviously come from rough family situations and were in a non-traditional schooling environment, it was still a shock to see how they murdered and dismembered a girl’s body, a girl who they knew and at different times had been friends and had romantic relationships with and showed little to no feelings.  Seemingly this young lady was killed because she wanted to be liked and Sarah Kolb, who had some sort of hold on those around here, thought she was trampy, which apparently seriously offended her.

When it came down to it, Sarah and Cory pointed fingers are the other one, but both were found guilty and clearly were implicit in the the murder.  While it does seem as though Phelps glosses over Adrianne’s bad decisions, it also seems as though he focuses too much on the Juggalo lifestyle, which although her killers hung out with Juggalos it doesn’t seem as though it really had anything to do with the whole thing.  Obviously the author is trying to make a connection to desensitization of murder and blood from the culture the teens involved themselves in, but it never quite gets there.

Either way, this true crime writer shines light on a shocking set of circumstances and personalities where there would be no happy ending.

August 6, 2014

Mr. Mercedes

Filed under: Reviews — princessofthelibrary @ 2:24 pm
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Stephen King never fails to keep me guessing.  Mr. Mercedes is not at all what I thought it was going to be about, however, I am much happier with what it was than what I thought it was going to be.

Retired detective Bill Hodges is settling in to his life of leisure by allowing himself the slow, sedentary death of television and junk food until his passion for life is reignited by a taunt from a killer he never caught.  The Mercedes Killer mowed down a bunch of people in line for a job fair with a stolen Mercedes.  He was never apprehended, but the lady to whom the Mercedes was stolen eventually commits suicide.  Upon receiving a letter from Mr. Mercedes Bill is prompted not to kill himself, but to find this a-hole and keep him from hurting anyone else.  The cast of characters is relatively short, Bill, neighbor boy Jerome, and family of the owner of the Mercedes, mostly.

What is different about this Stephen King novel is it reads more like a James Patterson.  In fact, it reads just like a James Patterson, and I mean that in a good way.  This is pure suspense, crime with no supernatural or science fiction that can sometimes turn people off from SK.  I though it read quickly and kept my interest right up until the last page.  I also enjoy SK’s shout out to his son, novelist Joe Hill, by having someone wear a Judas Coyne T-shirt, Coyne being the main character and rock star into all things macabre in Hill’s The Heart-Shaped Box.

July 9, 2014

Deliver Us From Evil

Filed under: Reviews — princessofthelibrary @ 4:02 pm
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Insipired by true stories from NYPD detective Ralph Sarchie, this scary movie seemed better suited for a fall release than the 4th of July. Sarchie, played by Eric Bana, finds a creepy evil undercurrent in some other the cases he is investigating. he ties them all together when he learns that the 3 men involved in these cases served in Iraq together and were dishonorably discharged. The police are on the lookout for a man who is a painter and is tied to different crime scenes. The wife of one of the veterans is beaten when her husband snaps. He is arrested by Sarchie and his partner Butler (played hilariously by Joel McHale). Next the wife of another guy throws her son over a fence at the zoo, and seems to be possessed by some sort of evil. She is committed to a mental hospital. Another family notices strange happenings in their house, so terrified they begin sleeping int he livingroom together. Sarchie finds the painters business partner dead in the basement, they had been there doing a paint job and apparently only one left.

Sarchie and the police eventually find the mad painter, but only after he had kidnapped Sarchie’s daughter and pregnant wife. Under police custody Sarchie and a bad to the bone priest try to get the devil out of him.

Now, all in all, it wasn’t a bad movie, but there were a few things that bothered me. For starters, what is with the rain? Seriously, it rained (like torential downpour) ever night scene of the movie, but daughter a soccer game, sunlight and no rain…furthermore, no puddles or mud. The on/off rain was distracting and a big annoying. Secondly, the whole movie was filled with cheap scares. Things were jumping at the screen, loud noises, things meant to give you that fun house jolt…it seemed a cheap way to operate. The movie and the plot were scary enough, the director should have had faith in the movie.

The best part of the movie was seriously Joel McHale. His funny one-liners were perfectly delivered (haha) and it was unexpected to see him in a role like this after watching him for years on The Soup. Although seeing him with the obviously fake tatoos was funny too. He certainly provided needed comic relief.

Tammy

Filed under: Reviews — princessofthelibrary @ 2:30 pm
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I know this Melissa McCarthy movie has been widely panned by critics, I admit I thought it was funny. Well, more funny than not. Melissa McCarthy just hits me in a funny spot.
Here she stars as Tammy, recently fired from her job and discovered her husband is cheating on her, she sets out to leave town. Having no money and no car (due to an unfortunate accident with a buck) she is force to take her boozy grandmother (Susan Sarandon) along for the ride since she has cash and wheels. They set out for Niagara Falls, a trip the grandmother always wanted to make…needless to say, they don’t make it. Hijinks ensue.

Tammy is funny because McCarthy commits to each scene. She throws her body around, which is funny, and she says ridiculous things, which is funny. Ultimately, you feel bad for this character and although you know people like her, you probably are not friends with them. Tammy is a bit mean in her actions, as if she is mad at the world because her life isn’t what she thought it would be.

After running into some trouble with the law, grandmother Pearl turns to an old lesbian friend, Kathy Bates (and her girlfriend, played by Sanra Oh) for help. After attending the obligatory lesbian BBQ, things start to turn sour for Tammy, although, it happens to be the beginning of her turnaround as a human.

My biggest complaint with this movie was Sarandon seems miscast as the grandmother, Kathy Bates would have been a much better choice here. Sarandon is funny and played the part well, but he dowdy gray wig didn’t convince me of her being grandmotherly. However Bates and Oh, really hit the nail on the head as a lesbian couple.

June 25, 2014

Lost Lake

Filed under: Uncategorized — princessofthelibrary @ 2:07 pm

Over the past year or so I have stumbled upon a few titles by the author Sarah Addison Allen.  Mostly because I was looking for books on CD and there were a few of her titles in my library’s audio collection.  Her newest book, Lost Lake found its way onto the audio shelves and I have come to pick her titles out.  While they are certainly geared towards women readers, they are not mushy.  Her titles feature women characters who are strong and while there tends to be a romantic storyline, it seems not to be the focus.  I find that appealing.  Sappy, sad women characters are a major turn off for me.  Anyway, Lost Lake features Kate, a widowed woman with a young daughter.  Since Kate’s husband died, she has been in a fog.  Her mother in law has stepped in to help take care of her.  She sold Kate’s house and business and has taken care of her daughter Devin…in fact maybe a little too well, Mother-in-law Cricket is pretty over bearing, and when Kate comes out of her fog one day she takes a spontaneous trip with Devin to Lost Lake, a camp run by Kate’s aunt that she hasn’t been to since she was twelve.  Upon arriving, it is clear that the camp is in decline.  The cabins are in decline and no one is making reservations to come anymore.  Kate’s Aunt Eby has decided to sell to a developer, but the reader gets the quick sense this will change before the book ends.  Actually, it is pretty easy to guess the ending of this book, which doesn’t really take away from the satisfaction of the read, it is what you would want to happen.

Allen has a way for setting a scene and making the reader believe in her characters which makes her writing worth reading.  Her writing is genuine.  The one element the stuck out like a sore thumb in this book is the parts about the crocodile…there’s sort of a supernatural element that just doesn’t seem to fit with the earnestness of the setting and characters.  However, I enjoyed this “summer read” and will undoubtedly pick up the author’s next offering.

The Titanic Murders

Filed under: Reviews — princessofthelibrary @ 1:16 pm
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I found the book The Titanic Murders by Max Allan Collins immediately interesting.  Right from the first page the author hooks you into this fictional tale about a murder aboard the RMS Titanic.  The premise is that some treasure hunters exploring the Titanic wreckage found two body bags filled with bones in what would have been cold storage aboard the Titanic.  These seems to indicate that these deaths occurred during the voyage before the shop struck an iceberg and sank.  The daughter of a couple who were on the ship (mother survives, father does not) tells the story as her mother told her, although until this evidence of bodies turned up the daughter always thought the mother was embellishing the story.  Embellishing because she was an author…and the father was famous mystery writer Jacques Futrelle.

Collins goes out of his way to use actual passengers for the Titanic for his murder mystery, and largely succeeds in getting the proper feel and tone down.  It seems there is a blackmailer aboard, working to extort some of the world richest and when a dead body turns up, both the ship captain and White Star Line director turn to the mystery writer to discretely work the scene.  It has a very dinner theater feel to it.  Richly written and knowing that the character are real people in the last hours of their life makes this view through a porthole to there comings and goings a great “what if”.

The action is thankfully not as stuffy as the aristocrats aboard the ship and Molly Brown, as always, can be counted upon for Mae West-sish one-liners.  The Titanic Murders has a dynamite premise and is a satisfying read.

Edge of Tomorrow

Filed under: Reviews — princessofthelibrary @ 12:59 pm
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Ok, I admit it…I love Tom Cruise.  Not so much the public persona of him, but I do love him in movies…beginning for me in the mid 1980s with Top Gun.  I do in fact know every word to this cinematic classic and often recite them as I watch.  (much to the dismay of anyone viewing the film with me)  Now, I have seen almost every TC movie, but lately I have missed a few.  I’m not huge on sci-fi, and it seems that is where his interest lies the past few years.  However, I did make it to the theater to see Edge of Tomorrow.

I enjoyed Edge of Tomorrow more than the person I saw it with.  I thought it had an interesting plot and was kept moving in a better way than the measure for all movies with a repeating day in the plot, Groundhog Day.  Cruise plays Major William Cage, who finds himself repeating the same day over again.  Each time he gets killed and the day begins again.  Now…some background…First some asteroids began hitting the Earth, apparently these brought some sort of aliens to the planet, called Mimics.  These Mimics are taking over, spreading from Eastern Europe and have now worked their way to France and England.  People are dying and a worldwide military effort is failing.  After a win over the Mimics in Verdun, there is some hope that humankind can win.  Cage is sent to England and informed he will be sent to the front line, and although his is high ranking, he has never seen live action.  He tries to bully the commander but is instead stripped of his rank and sent to fight.  In his first fight he clearly knows nothing but does succeed in killing one of the Mimics.  Next thing he knows he’s back to his arrive at the base camp before the fight.

Each time he dies he comes right back to that point in time.  However, he is able to try different tactics in each fight since he knows what will be coming.  Eventually he meets a woman who believes what is happening to him because it happened to her, in fact it happed to her in the only battle won against the Mimics.  She helps him become stronger and more willing to fight to try to get to the leader of the Mimics.

I think the most underplayed attribute of this movie is that it is funny.  Not barrel of laughs funny, but Cruise’s playing of Cage’s annoyance of the repetition is amusing.  With his charming, and still boyish, good looks, he portrays the feeling with the perfect notes of resignation and here we go again.  He finds out from Emily Blunt’s character Rita that the most important thing is that if he doesn’t complete the mission he must die or the day won’t reset, some of the most amusing scenes are the ones where he is injured in training and Rita shoots him to reset, doesn’t sound amusing, I know, but it is, trust me.

So, this is never going to be a favorite movie of mind, but it was far better than fair.

June 11, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars

Filed under: Uncategorized — princessofthelibrary @ 1:44 pm
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Happily this movie adaptation of John Green’s book of the name followed the book closely.  Following a teen-aged cancer patient Hazel as she navigates first love and yearning to be a “normal” kid, knowing that she may never make it to adulthood.  Shailene Woodley stars as Hazel with Ansel Elgort playing opposite her has the charming Augustus Waters, fellow teen-aged cancer patient.  Obviously a  movie about two kids with cancer is sad…and this movie is sad.  There were teen girls sitting behind me in the theater sobbing.  But, it is funny and irreverent too.  Hazel and Gus have a worldly view about life and struggle with getting close to other people knowing that they are going to die too soon. 

Laura Dern plays Hazel’s mother with appropriate over-enthusiasm.  She has decided to be the cheerleader for Hazel and plays the part beautifully.  Hazel’s father is played by True Blood’s Sam Trammell.  The character the I thought was wonderful was Willem Dafoe, playing author Van Houten.  He plays the alcoholic, mad at the world type to a T.  

What will delight viewers about this movie is that it is for the most part played unsentimentally but also not in your face about the teens having cancer.  Take away the cancer and it would still be a good story, with that storyline it makes the movie (and book) more accessible to young adults and adults.  

June 2, 2014

Innocence

Filed under: Uncategorized — princessofthelibrary @ 2:37 pm
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I listened to this Dean Koontz latest…and was not impressed.  I could simply never get into it.  There were some promising story points, but overall, I found this one a clunker.

When a boy who can never let himself be seen by people meets a girl who hates to be touched, it seems like a doomed relationship, but these two outcasts find solace in having someone else who understands their loneliness.  Addison (he who remains unseen) and Gwyneth (she who won’t be touched) meet they have an immediate connection.  As the story unfolds Gwyneth is on the run from a man who murdered her father and tried to rape her, Addison hangs around, not really doing much other than being her friend.  Throughout the book, the reader does not know what type of issue Addison has that he keeps his skin covered, including his face and hands.  It is revealed through flashbacks about his father, who was like Addison, that something is off about them and it scares people, to the point they can attempt to hurt them.  In fact, this is how Addison’s father died, he was seen by some men and upon gazing at him, they beat him to death. 

Maybe this is why I didn’t enjoy this book, I kept wondering what was wrong with him, some sort of physical deformity I assumed, and since it was never revealed until almost the end, I couldn’t concentrate on the plot.  Just postulating…  *(and I was way off, btw)

Anyway, Gwyneth is a pretty tough chick, dresses very goth/grunge…this may be the most interesting thing about her.  She wasn’t really interesting, her situation was, if it wasn’t so bizarre.   Her wealthy father set up multiple safe houses and trust funds for her, in case something ever happened to him, (he was killed by poisoned honey…for reals…) so as she is being chased by the bad museum man, she goes from safe house to house…until it is evident that the trust manager has been compromised and she is no longer safe…good thing her father set up a super secret safe house for just this reason…blah.

The plot moved quick enough, but never took hold.

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