Sunday, January 25, 2015

'The Book of strange new things' - an earthbound review

WATKINS GLEN, New York - The Book of strange new things by Michel Faber is, indeed, a strange book itself.

It's part science fiction, part theological treatise and part counseling about loneliness, couples and long-distance relationships.

Oh. And throw in a multi-galaxy corporation that has established an outpost on a planet a gazillion miles (or was it light years?) from earth.

Still, the story of an earthly minister who travels to a colony where aliens are intrigued with the idea of Christianity works for the most part. And although the book runs slow in some spots, the relationship between the minister and the wife he left on earth (temporarily, temporarily!) is as intriguing as it is hard to watch.

The Book of strange new things is actually the Christian Bible and the pastor's interactions with the aliens are, well, I don't want to spoil it.

Michel Faber
By the way, I suppose it is entirely wrong to call the indigenous people on the planet aliens. It is, after all, their planet.

This  book is not an easy read, yet I couldn't stop slogging through it.

I have read that the author has announced that this tome is his last.

Well, it did take him 10 years to write it so he has earned his rest.

It's on the new book shelf at the Watkins Glen Public Library.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Hiaasen's new novel 'Bad Monkey' is good

WATKINS GLEN, New York - Carl Hiaasen's latest novel, Bad Monkey, isn't really about a bad monkey, although there is one it in. And he is bad. Oh my, he is bad.

Instead, Bad Monkey is a somewhat typical Hiaasen romp through the byzantine and bizarre world of South Florida politics and police. Bad Monkey at first seemed a little, well, too Hiaasen with characters acting so bizarre, you can't believe them. Even if they are supposed to reside in South Florida. Which is a bizarre place.

But there is no putting this book down. Within the first 100 pages most readers will be totally hooked and rooting for the protagonist of the book, a guy has been busted from his police post as a detective to the roach patrol - a restaurant food inspector. By the way, this book won't encourage you to do much restaurant dining in South Florida either.

How the main character got busted from cop to food inspector I really cannot write about here.  My granddaughter sometimes reads these posts. Right Samantha?

But you find out early in the first of the book. It involved a vacuum cleaner. I've said too much already.

Carl Hiaasen hardly needs any promotion from me. But this book is entertaining reading. It might help you bone up on your voodoo skills, too. For more on that, check out Bad Monkey.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A book about a man called Iscariot - as in Judas

WATKINS GLEN, New York, USA - There are challenging biographies and there are challenging biographies.

But Judas Iscariot, the ultimate Christian symbol of betrayal?


In Iscariot, author Tosca Lee creates a fictional account of Judas Iscariot's life and times, leading from childhood to his suicide (by hanging himself). The work, although a novel, is based on years of research by Lee who also authored Demon: A Memoir and Havah: The Story of Eve - both bestsellers.

It's a fast-paced book, full of the kind of historical detail that makes such volumes easy to read. After all, you know how it ends. But getting there in this case is everything.

Tosca Lee
Lee builds a case that Judas was not the penultimate devil that most Christian theologians have made him out to be. If anything, he was more devout than the other apostles. But in a twisting and turning set of events, he ends up with the famous 30 pieces of silver.

It was a mistake and he knew it right away. But the book postulates  it was all way more complicated than that.

Iscariot is actually an uplifting book in many ways. And well worth reading.

It was good enough that I am on the trail of copies of Tosca Lee's two other works.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"The Eye of God" James Rollins' latest thriller

MONGOLIA - Normally, covers that indicate a book is part of a series - in this case a Sigma Force Novel - turn me right off.
James Rollins

It might be the same reason I don't eat at franchise restaurants. I want something original, fresh - like a Lionel Shriver or Jodi Picoult novel where the characters are new, the plot lively, and not a rehash of some old plot or formula that resulted in an avalanche of book sales. (James Lee Burke novels are a notable exception to this by the way. His new book Light of the World will be out July 23 and the characters in it are old friends.)

In the case of The Eye of God by James Rollins, I decided to take a look anyway, as it had quantum physics, time travel and religion mixed up in the mash with the Sigma Force people.

It was a formula that worked.

If the book were shorter, I would recommend it for reading during an airline flight across country. But at just over 400 pages, it's longish. And the action is fast and a little too tiring take in to read in just one or two settings.

Like many action books, this has a serious end-of-the-world bent, but just enough plausibility of science, religion and military action to make it, well, believable. The physical feats of some of the characters stretch credulity, but then swimming under ice flows in Lake Baikal never seemed like a good idea to me anyway.

I can't speak for other Rollins' books, but The Eye of God is worth of look. And if you do pick it up, follow it all the way to the very end. There's a surprise ending with a heart warming twist involving time and its relation to the universe.