Blog Posts by Uncle Will

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by John Bream

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03/05/09
With apologies to Auntie Anne, I did not really begin to listen to the complete works of Led Zeppelin until my kids coerced me in the '80's. Although this book has a great many illustrations, I found the anecdotes the best part. I wasn't really aware of just how famous this band was and the impact that it made on the lives of so many young musicians and artists. I grew up on Swing music and Sinatra, not heavy rock and roll. At the time I did know that Jimmy Page was arguably one of best ever lead guitarist and a creative genius and innovator. I remembered a picture from the '70's where he was playing electric guitar with a violin bow and thought "...Gee, that's K00L, who would've thought..." I also remember that this road-weary band was brutal to motels. There are several stories mentioned about their shenanigans on and off stage. I think what I enjoyed the most was that this book was a collaboration of many writers who all had interesting perspectives.
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by James Patterson

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02/20/09
So I checked out this new book by James Patterson.  It is the 2nd in his Michael Bennett series.  I had a little free time so I started reading.  Another day off blown.  Several hours later I was finished (technically, I saved the last 10 pages for bedtime).   Just couldn't help myself.  Bennett is the character who just lost his wife, who together they had adopted 10 children; the oldest being 13.  He is a hostage negotiator and homicide detective in New York City.   His struggle is to provide a loving home for his kids and still keep the streets of NY safe.  This time around Bennett is dealing with bad guys that take his family hostage.  We know that in the end this hero will prevail.  It is his journey that I enjoyed reading.
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by John Ajvide Lindqvist

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02/03/09
At the half-way point of this novel the word "vampire" is first mentioned. I've read my share of vampire novels and I really enjoyed this one because of how different it is. The setting is modern day Sweden. A strange elderly man and young girl arrive late at night in a taxi in the town of Blackeburg and move into an apartment. Their nocturnal transgressions are viewed by their new neighbor, Oskar, who lives in the adjourning apartment with his mother. Oskar is a middle-school student who is terrorized daily by the town's three bullies. He has dreams of serious payback.
 
Oskar befriends the new girl, Eli, who is like no one that he has ever met. Around the same time that the new couple hit town a serial killer begins mutilating his victims. There are several subplots which all blend nicely together.
 
This book is not blatantly gruesome like several in this genre. It is more subtle. Take for example this description of a newly turned vampire: ". . .Inside Virginia's heart a separate little brain is forming. This new brain has, during its initial stage of development, been dependent of the large brain. Now it is self-sufficient, and what Virginia during a terrible moment sensed is completely correct: it would live on even if her body died..."
 
How often does a reader get an attempt by the author to actually describe the transformation going on inside the body of his vampire character? Check out the picture of the author on the back sleeve and read what he did for a living before turning to writing. I think he should have used this picture on the book cover instead of the other one. This book has been made into a film that is coming soon to a theatre near you.
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01/17/09
This book is over 10 years old, but like some fine wines, some films, especially the more seedy type, need time to "age" and acquire a reputation and cult following.  This doesn't mean that the films get any better, but it can mean that one might find something redeemable or worthwhile when watching it.  I was a student of film years back and have seen a great number of films; some good, some mostly not good.  This book is a tribute to the latter:  B-movies and their directors such as Roger Corman, who was known to circle automobiles and have them put on their headlights and use that as his lighting technique when filming outdoors after dusk!  This was a fun book.  It has a lot of pictures and the 1-paragraph film descriptions are clever and concise.  It features a nice Director, Category and Cast Index.  This is a pleasant alternative to sitting at a computer and navigating IMDB.
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by Andrew Vachss

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01/02/09
It takes a special kind of reader to interpret and understand what Andrew Vachss' fictional character, Burke, is saying in his series of novels.  The reader should have some knowledge and experience on the streets.  Being streetwise is only one of the prerequisites before reading his books.  One also has to be able to accept the darker side of life.  Burke's world is the underbelly of urban life.  It is a world where only the strong survive.  There is a me-against-you philosophy that exudes violence.  Burke has his immediate family that is comprised of social misfits and castoffs.  His family is his bloodline and no one else matters.  He is a master thief.  He makes his living bilking chumps and tracking-down young, lost souls and stealing them away from their current predicament.   In this story, Burke is hired to find the 2-year-old son of a Saudi prince who was kidnapped, but not held for ransom.  As usual Burke must use all his wits to try to find this little needle in the proverbial haystack.  Loyal followers of Vachss will enjoy the secondary plot of Clarence falling in love with the nurse that is helping heal his father.
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by Benjamin Carter Hett

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12/18/08
This book is about a trial that took place in Germany in 1931 where a Jewish prosecutor, Hans Litten, subpoenaed Adolf Hitler to testify at a criminal trial. Litten's story depicts a man with exceptional courage and high moral standards who is willing to suffer the consequences of his actions in the name of truth and justice. He took on the Nazi Party at a time in history when the most powerful nations in the world dared not. When I first looked at this book I had my doubts. My initial impression was that the man must have have had a strong death-wish. After reading the book and understanding his motives, I was surprised that his story was not more well-known and chronicled. This book covers Litten's childhood to his growth in the legal system during post and pre-war Germany up to& his suspicious death at Dachau in 1937. I couldn't help but see a movie-in-waiting while reading this book. If this book was written and adapted 40 years ago, I could see Orson Wells playing Litten in the film.
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by Alice Borchard

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12/11/08
This is the first in a series of three novels written by the sister of Anne Rice. The time is the Dark Ages. The setting is Rome. The heroine of the story is Regeane. She is part human/part wolf. She is a virtual captive her money-grubbing uncle and mean-spirited cousin. It is a time when church and state are competing for power. Like in all ;power struggles there are elements of good and evil on all sides. To appease a throne and seal a power move, Regeane is promised in marriage to Maeniel, who is the Silver Wolf. He has a loyal following of other half-man-half-wolves, who unlike Regeane, understand the origins of their duality and immense power they hold over mankind. This is a love story with a different twist. This series is touted as historical fiction, but left no impression because I am far from expert on that time period. There is a lot of time spent in detailing food, drink and clothing, etc. It reminded me of The Lady and the Hawk only with no humor.
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by Stephen King

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12/01/08
King hasn't published a collection of short stories is several years. He wrote in preface that writing a good short story is very different from writing a good novel. Ain't that the truth! He hasn't lost his touch. There are a few very interesting stories in this collection that do not deal with the macabre. I especially liked the one about the end of the world entitled:Graduation Afternoon. And the one called: Rest Stop. For SK fans that like the gory stories, there are a couple of those that won't disappoint; like the one named: The Cat from Hell.
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by James Patterson

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11/28/08
This book was so good I read it at one sitting. Alex Cross is back and this time his investigation takes him to Nigeria, where he's smack in the middle of a revolution. An old, dear friend of Cross' is brutally murdered in D.C. along with her entire family. Cross is hot on the trail of their murderer who is known as The Tiger. The Tiger has a small African army of assassins; all around the age of 10; personally recruited from Sierra Leone detention camps to do unspeakable things at The Tiger's command. This book was such a page-turner that I kept getting annoyed when the pages stuck together and I couldn't separate then fast enough!
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by Boris Starling

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11/20/08
I had never read this mystery author before and like many readers was drawn to the cover art and title. I was pleasantly surprised by the story and writing style. The setting is England, post WW II. The main character, Herbert Smith, is a former "watcher" for British Intelligence (MI5) and now an inspector for Scotland Yard's Metropolitan Murder Squad.  The story begins six years after the war when "The 1952 Great Fog of England" took place; where for 4 days, the island was blanketed in a dense fog that caused the deaths of over 4,000. The pollutants in the air led the way to the Clean Air Act of 1962. Herbert is investigating the mysterious death of a scientist who was shopping a scientific discovery that would shock the world. Unfortunately, he was shopping it to Russian, American and British spies, who all were willing to kill to get the information. During his 4-day investigation, Herbert falls in love with a former inmate of Auschwitz, a blind twin, who was one of Dr. Mengele's many experiments. This book is historic fiction, but I didn't realize it until I got to the Afterword. I was very pleased with this book and I am going to look for this author's other books.
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