Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, by Erik Larson

This was an ok book, but I didn't love it like I thought I would.  When I had listen to the first couple of chapters several months back, I really thought the story would follow the serial killer much more closely (and describe his actions in more detail).  But it turns out this book is a lot more about Chicago architecture and the World's Fair, much less was devoted to the killer & his deeds.
Glad I read it, but wont be recommending it to anyone in the future.
Up next, I've been reading a Donald Westlake book (one of the Dortmunder novels, I've previously read The Hot Rock) titled What's The Worst That Could Happen.  This isn't my favorite series by any means, but I like Westlake and these books are entirely readable.  Nothing nearly as good as The Ax, which I think is my favorite Westlake novel.   What's the Worst that Could Happen was the only book I had an interest in reading in the small library at our new beach condo in Ocean City.  Probably 30 or so beach reads there, but nothing much of interest to me.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Boondock Saints, Children Of Men, In Bruges, Rambo [Movies]

A few more movies I've recently watched and enjoyed.  I wont be listing all movies I watch in this blog (as I am listing all books I read) but those that I enjoy or otherwise want to note or remember will be mentioned.
Boondock Saints:  This one has been in my Watch Instantly queue on Netflix for a while, and I finally got around to watching it last weekend.  Not sure why I waited so long, what a great film.  This is one I highly recommend.
Children of Men:  Liked this one, I'm a fan of post-apocalyptic books & movies in general.  This wasn't one of the best I've ever seen, but it was interesting.
In Bruges:  A surprise with this one, wasn't expecting such a great mix of humor and grief.  Overall another great film.  This is the kind of movie I probably would not have enjoyed if it had been on Netflix's Watch Instantly, as I need the subtitles.  I know it's crazy, but strong English accents make films like this so hard for me to understand all the dialog.  I really wish Watch Instantly offered closed captioning.  My wife and I turn it on for every single movie we watch, no matter what language/accent it is.  This includes all Hollywood movies.  I love closed captioning.
Rambo:  Maybe the biggest surprise.  Like the recent Rocky Balboa (a film I loved) Stallone seems to have come full circle with his other signature character.  This movie was violent, graphic, and crazy fun.  The first & last Rocky movies, and the first & last Rambo movies should be packaged together as four cinematic masterpieces.  All the middle Rocky's & Rambo's should be trashed.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers [Movie]

Continuing my run of reading a book and then watching a movie, my wife and I watched the 1956 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers a few nights ago.  It was pretty good, better than I remembered.  I think most of my memories are of the 1978 remake though. 
The 1956 film was reasonably close to the plot of the book, in some ways I liked it better. A little more suspenseful, darker maybe?  I'm not sure, but we both enjoyed the movie quite a bit.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon

Loved this book!  I had been waiting for several month to check it out from the library, but it was never available.  Finally I decided to start reserving books via the online catalog, and this was one of four books I reserved.  I picked it up and started reading it Monday night, finished last night (Thursday).  The premise is that this is a novel written by a teenage autistic kid, who is solving a murder mystery (dog murder).  But that's not really the story, it's not that it is hard to describe, but really I don't want to give much away.  The Wikipedia entry does that enough if you really want to know.
But really, an excellent book.  Up next is the other book that was available from my hold reservation at the library, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, by Erik Larson.  Devil is a book I had started listening too a few month back via an audio book download service at the library, at the time I had been listening to books on my morning jogs.  But then we got a dog just a few days after I had started this book, and now I jog with the dog and no audio.  Like the Haddon book, I'd been wanting to read this Larson book for months, so I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney

A quick trip to the public library on Saturday didn't net me any books I've got on "to read" list.  Luckily I had recently added the classic movie Invasion Of The Body Snatchers to my Netflix queue, and thought maybe I should read the book first.  Like my earlier post on the movie The Last Man On Earth, I have not seen the Body Snatchers movie since I was a kid watching Channel 44's Creature Feature with Host Dr Paul Bearer
I had certainly never read the book (a very short novel), but I did pick it and enjoyed it quite a bit.  A fun book with lots of excitement and man vs invading parasitic species, always good stuff.  And a theme often visited in Science Fiction, the idea of human beings (well Earth Human, anyway) having some special will to live that just doesn't exist elsewhere in the Universe.
Looking forward to seeing the movie next, to see how it compares.
I started The Detective after finishing Body Snatchers, but I didn't read much of it.  I might try to save The Detective if I can find a couple of books to read at the library soon.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Minotaur Takes A Cigarette Break by Steven Sherrill

Didn't love this one, another recommendation from a readers forum on Cracked.com.  The plot & writing were ok, but just barely enough so to convince me to finish the book.  In fact I think I probably only finished it because I had purchased it.  If I had been able to borrow this one from the library, I probably would have returned it unread.
The book for the wife, Short Lines, finally arrived.  Amazon Marketplace came though for me.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Last Man On Eath [Movie] & Panic In Year Zero! [Movie]

Thanks to Netflix's "Watch Instantly" I was able to check out the movie The Last Man On Earth, which was the first film adaptation of the book I Am Legend. I'd seen The Last Man On Earth before, several times in fact, as a kid. They used to show it on (in the Tampa Bay area) WTOG Channel 44's Creature Feature (hosted by Dr. Paul Bearer). But at the time, decades ago now (how is that possible?) I of course had not read the book, or even knew it was based on a book.

Not remembering the movie at all, I was surprised to see how faithful an adaptation The Last Man On Earth was to I Am Legend. Certainly when compared to The Omega Man or the recently released Will Smith version of I Am Legend. Last Man On Earth was a pretty good movie, enjoyed seeing it again. The real surprise though was the movie Last Man On Earth was paired with on Netflix, Panic In Year Zero!. Panic was excellent, much higher production value, better story, better cast (not that I've got anything against Vincent Price), and really an all around excellent movie. While Panic might have also been shown on Creature Feature (I really loved that program as a kid), I didn't remember it at all.

I wont bother reviewing the entire plot of Panic, but basically it's the story of a family trying to survive in after a nuclear war. Very entertaining, highly recommend this one.