Monday, April 28, 2008

"Emily the Strange" by Cosmic Debris

I really, really wanted to read this book after seeing reviews of it on Amazon. Emily was awesome! Emily wasn't going to be your typical teen heroine! Emily was going to be all moody and almost Goth! I put the book on my Wishlist, then waited and waited and waited for my friend to find it at the book store. Imagine my shock when I saw that the library had ordered it. YES! So I placed a reserve and waited and waited and waited for it to be processed. Unfortunately, someone else had beaten me to it, so I had to wait for them to finish it, and they were late turning it in. So I waited some more.

Until - FINALLY - it showed up! YEAH!

Imagine how I felt when it took me all of FIVE MINUTES to read the entire freakin' book. Yep, you read that right - 5 minutes. The book is pitifully short, and very, very disappointing. Emily is not strange, more like anti-social. Disturbingly so in some cases; witness her shooting a boy in the family jewels with her slingshot. Yeah, not exactly what I was expecting.

I really tried to find things to like about this book. I will say that the artwork is pretty cool, especially the little "hidden" things that seem to pop out when you hold the book at just the right angle. Still, that's not enough to recommend this to anyone. And much as I hate to sound like a prude, I would definitely keep young kids away from it - it's just a bit too adult for them.

Cosmic Debris has gone and turned Emily into a series of actual comic books. If I happen to get my hands on one of them, I might give her another try (hopefully, the comics would be longer and worth the time/effort to read). But this original Emily the Strange book isn't worth it, not in my humble opinion.

"The Adventures of Guy" by Norm Cowie

They say you can't judge a book by its cover, and that's true. However, Cowie goes one better and tells you on the back cover all the things this book is not - such as inspirational or a possible Oprah book. I like that about the author - he already recognizes that this is probably not going to make any one's "great literature" list.

Nothing says you can't have fun while reading!

Guy (no, really, that's his name - Guy) lives with his roomies Thurman and Knob. They are the world's worst housekeepers and evidently, on every telemarketers call-list. Thus, the phone at their place rings constantly - but no one ever answers it. Why bother? Thurman works for a pizzeria and brings home the pies, so there's no reason to call out for anything. And Guy's mom just sends his little brother Seth over with any messages. It's a pretty perfect system - until the day that Seth happens to pick up the phone. He becomes a walking zombie almost instantly because the telemarketers have stolen his brain!

Thus begins The Quest to find and retrieve Seth's brain. And while we already have a small gang of men/boys ready to do battle, everyone knows that on a Quest, you have to have a Warrior. So the guys (including Guy) go to the Warrior's house and invite her (you never do learn her "real" name). Seems she's a warrior because she's the mother of THREE sets of twins - double uteri and all that, which also means she gets double PMS. Thus, the Warrior.
There are all sorts of sarcastic comments about the afore-mentioned telemarketers, as well as pot-shots as lawyers, oil companies. Oh, and watch out for the spy flies, too.

It's a very weird and strange book that Mr. Cowie has written, and I can't say that it always makes sense - on any level - but I did find myself laughing and generally enjoying it. I don't think it would appeal to everyone, though - it's sort of a niche kind of book. Not sure which niche it would fill, but definitely not yours if you read all the latest best-sellers, I'm thinking.

And there's a sequel! Stay tuned for a review of that in the next couple months...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"The Four Day Win" by Martha Beck

To say I actually read this is a bit misleading. I've given up about half-way through. I had high hopes for this title, but really, it's just a "love yourself and you'll lose weight for good!" kind of book. And we've heard that quite often from other people already! I do like the author's style, and I definitely agree with her that you can't crash diet and keep off the weight. I don't know about all the other advice, as most of it sounded familiar, albeit a bit New-Age for me. If you need to learn to love yourself and stop the abusive internal dialogue, this might be the book for you. Me, I know I'm wonderful!

Check out reviews on if you need or want other opinions on this title.

"Vampire Hunter D: Demon Deathchase" by Hideyuki Kikuchi and Yoshitaka Amano

Way back in the day, there was this little video called "Vampire Hunter D". I think my sister was the one that originally found it and bought it. It was a cool anime movie, pretty much back before anime really exploded. In fact, I think it was still termed Japanimation or some such thing at the time. Wild stuff, and of course, kinda romantic, that Vampire Hunter D character. Well, to a young shy teen, anyway...

Imagine my surprise when this book showed up at the library a month or so ago. I had no idea they'd written books about D, let alone volumes of them! And they are books, not graphic novels, so I was happy about that. Sorry, never really got into that genre.

Ah, how time changes our view of things! Maybe it's my age, maybe it was the writing (or the translation, perhaps) but this was just so-so. It was short, I'll give it that much. The plot is basically D chasing after what appears to be a "bad" vampire lord, one who has appearantly kidnapped a young lady and run off with her across the wastelands that now make up the world. When D shows up to take the job, so do a family of vampire-hunters; I use the term "family" in the loosest sense possible. Although the gang is related by blood, they have to be one of the most dysfunctional, incestuous families to roll down a dusty road in a long time. They consider themselves to have taken on the job of rescuing the girl, so D is now their enemy, one they will kill if possible.

And that's pretty much it. Of course you find out the evil vamp is no such thing, that the story is pretty much a star-crossed love story, and that the town is a victim of an entirely different sort of vampire. Of course D is going to have to kill (or attempt to kill) most of the family of vamp hunters; others will be picked off by other nefarious characters. It all seemed very cartoon-like; maybe that was the point.

After finishing this, volume III, I doubt I'll look too hard for the others. If it makes any difference, my husband really enjoyed it. Then again, I don't think he ever saw the movie, and maybe this is just more of "boy" kind of writing.

"The Blonde" by Duane Swierczynski

It sounds like a joke gone bad: guy walks into a bar...and meets a beautiful blonde, who proceeds to inform him that she's poisoned his drink. Should he believe her or not? Is she worth the trouble? Is she crazy? Will he be paying for this in the morning?

Yeah, in spades, baby, in spades.

This is a fast-paced, white-knuckle kind of read, a pulse-pounding thrill ride, and any other jacket-worthy blurb you can think of. The author starts the book with that line, "I poisoned your drink" and that's it - you're hooked until 226 pages later. Our man in the bar is Jack Eisley, a news guy from Chicago, who has traveled to the city of brotherly love for a decidedly un-lovely reason - a meeting with his soon-t0-be-ex-wife's attorney. He's sucking down some liquid encouragement when he meets Kelly White, aka The Blonde. She's the one that delivers that infamous opening line; once these two start talking, it's non-stop chaos until the end.

Kelly is no bubble-headed bimbo, though. She's actually a scientist on the run; she was working on a top-secret project in Ireland when the you-know-what hit the fan. Yes, young Kelly was a do-gooder with stars in her eyes, until the wool was pulled away from them, that is. Now she's living on borrowed bodies, one at a time, trying to get to someone, anyone who will not only listen but believe her story of nanotechnology gone bad.

Woven into this is Mike Kowalski, a hitman for Homeland Security; you won't find him on the payroll, though. He's in the part of HS that no one talks about, and his newest assignment is to track down a scientist that has the same out-of-control nanobots in his system that have infected Kelly. He doesn't need to bring in the scientist, just his head. And yes, his quest is taking him to Philly and eventually to Jack and Kelly.

It's a wild book, a wild premise, but somehow, it all works. I really enjoyed the "oh my gawd, what's next?" feel of it, a bit different from the other fare I've been reading lately. I look forward to tracking down other works by Mr. Swierczynski. Check out "The Blonde" today!