Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"The Dead Zone" review

This is one of my first experiences with Stephen King, and as such, I was unsure of what to expect. He's called "America's Schlockmeister", but from what I've read of his before, The Gunslinger, he's pretty good. Although I'm not a particular fan of the horror genre in general, I decided to give this one a try. And I'm glad I did.

The Dead Zone starts with a man named John Smith. Strange already, no? Well, Smith is prety much living the American dream: he has a job he enjoys, along with a steady girlfriend he's pretty close to popping the question to. Then, as in any good novel, his entire life changes. Well, falls apart is more like it.

When he's hit by a car, he goes into a coma he's not expected to come out of. He's supposed to start dwindling, and eventually fade into death. But four and a half years later, he awakens to find the world a different place. However, this is no Rip Van Winkle knock-off. That would be no fun. Johnny comes to learn he can sometimes, through touch, sense the future. His ability shocks America as he confounds reporters looking hungrily for a flaw.

And then, things begin to happen around him. He is used in an investigaiton to find a serial killer. He is hounded by the editor of a magazine who quickly turns vicious. And when he shakes hands with the man who could be the next president, Greg Stillson, he recieves his most horrifying vision yet. If he doesn't do something soon, it will lead to World War III.

The power of King's words is not lost on me. They kept me frantically turning the pages. He never said anything with overy complex vocabulary because, it seems, he knows the big words aren't all that matter. In short, this is a tightly paced thriller (not exactly horror) that seamlessly weaves together characters and story, blurring the line between fiction and reality in a story that may jump off tomorrow's headlines.

Long live the King.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Coming Soon: Movies

February 14: The Spiderwick Chronicles. This is a film adaptation of the bestselling quintet of fantasy books by Tony Diterlizzi and Holly Black. Description: Upon moving into the run-down Spiderwick Estate with their mother, twin brothers Jared and Simon Grace, along with their sister Mallory, find themselves pulled into an alternate world full of faeries and other creatures. The film is rated PG.

May 2: Iron Man. This is a film adaptation of the comic book franchise. Description: When Tony Stark is forced to create a life support suit to keep him alive after an accident he decides to use the technology in his suit to fight crime. This film is not yet rated.

May 16: The Chronicles of Narnia-- Prince Caspian. This is a film adaptation of the second (or fourth) of C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia. Description: Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are transposed from a country railway station to an island in Narnia when young Prince Caspian X-who is heir to the throne at Cair Paravel, and is in danger in a battle against the Telmarine seige of Narnia-blows Queen Susan's magic horn. This film is not yet rated.

May 22: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. This is the fourth film in the popular series. The plot is being kept tightly under wraps at this moment, but it returns Harrison Ford, now 65, to his famous role as the whip-cracking archaeologist. This film is not yet rated.

July 18: The Dark Knight. This is the sequel to Batman Begins. Description: Batman and James Gordon join forces with Gotham's new District Attorney, Harvey Dent, to take on a psychotic bank robber known as The Joker, whilst other forces plot against them, and Joker's crimes grow more and more deadly. This film is not yet rated.

November 21: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This is the film adaptation of J. K. Rowling's sixth internationally bestselling novel in the Harry Potter series. Description: As Harry Potter begins his 6th year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he discovers an old book marked mysteriously "This book is the property of the Half-Blood Prince" and begins to learn more about Lord Voldemort's dark past. This film is not yet rated.

January 30, 2009(?): Inkheart. This is a film adaptation of Cornelia Funke's novel. Description: Mo has the special talent to bring characters out of books. One night he brings out three characters from Inkheart, a story set in medieval times and filled with magical beings. Capricorn and Basta, two villains, and Dustfinger, a fire-eater. Now, 10 years later Meggie discovers the truth and it's up to her to escape Capricorn's evil grasp. This film has been rated PG.

June 26, 2009: Transformers 2. This is the sequel to the blockbuster smash hit Transformers. There is no plot information available at this time. This film is not yet rated (or produced, for that matter).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Coming Soon: Books

February 26: The Last Apprentice-- Attack of the Fiend by Joseph Delaney. This is book 4 in the series. Description: "I see your future clearly. Your master will be dead, and you will be alone. It would be better if you had never been born." Thomas Ward is the apprentice for the local Spook, who banishes boggarts and drives away ghosts. But now a new danger is threatening Tom's world: the witches are rising and the three most powerful clans are uniting in order to conjure an unimaginable evil. Tom and the Spook set out to stop the witches before they unleash the demon. But when Tom finds himself on his own, he wonders if he has the courage and cunning to defeat the most powerful enemy he has ever encountered.

March 18: Maximum Ride-- The Final Warning by James Patterson. This is book 4 in the series. There is no description at this time.

April 1: Adam by Ted Dekker. This is a stand-alone novel. Description: FBI behavioral psychologist Daniel Clark has been made famous by his arguments that religion is one of society's greatest antagonists. What Daniel doesn't know is that his obsessive pursuit of a serial killer known only as "Eve" will end in his own death at Eve's hand. Twenty minutes later Daniel is resuscitated, only to be haunted by those twenty missing minutes of life. It soon becomes painfully clear that the only way to stop Eve is to recover those missing minutes by dying . . . again. What isn't nearly as clear is just how many times he will have to die to discover the truth, not only about Eve, but about himself. Daniel will have to face haunting realities about demon possession in the modern world-and reevaluate his prejudice against religion-to stop Eve.

April 8: Septimus Heap-- Queste by Angie Sage. This is book 4 in the series. Description: There's trouble at the Castle, and it's all because Merrin Meredith has returned with Darke plans for Septimus. More trouble awaits Septimus and Jenna in the form of Tertius Fume, the ghost of the very first Chief Hermetic Scribe, who is determined to send Septimus on a deadly Queste. But Septimus and Jenna have other plans—they are headed for the mysterious House of Foryx, a place where all Time meets and the place where they fervently hope they will be able to find Nicko and Snorri, who were trapped back in time in physik. But how will Septimus escape the Queste? Queste, like all the books in the Septimus Heap series, is filled with nonstop action, humor, and fantastical adventure as Septimus continues his journey of Magykal self-discovery.

April 22: Skulduggery Pleasant-- Playing with Fire by Derek Landy. This is book 2 in the series. There is no description at this time.

May 6: The Lost Books-- Renegade by Ted Dekker. This is book 3 in the series. Description: Everyone tries to be God at some point in their lives, and this time it's Billos's turn. Turning his back on all that he once held precious, he enters the forbidden book and lands in a reality that is as foreign to him as water is to oil. A place called Paradise, Colorado where he's approached by a sinister man named Marsuvees Black. In this third installment of the Lost Book series, Billos is the renegade and every one knows that all renegades must die.
The Lost Books-- Chaos by Ted Dekker. This is book 4 in the series. Description: Deep in the mountains of Romania lies a fortress, and deep within that fortress a chamber. And in that chamber, ruling the dead for over two thousand years, lives one Shataiki bat, straight from the bowels of the Black Forest. If he has his way, no child will be safe by morning. But there are four who stand in the way. This is the end, a gripping finale to the search for the seven Books of History.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians-- The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan. This is book 4 in the series. Description: Percy Jackson isn't expecting freshman orientation to be any fun, but when a mysterious mortal acquaintance appears, pursued by demon cheerleaders, things quickly go from bad to worse. Time is running out for Percy. War between the gods and the Titans is drawing near. Even Camp Half-Blood isn't safe, as Kronos's army prepares to invade its once impenetrable borders. To stop them, Percy and his friends must set out on a quest through the Labyrinth -- a sprawling underground world with surprises and danger at every turn.
Along the way Percy will confront powerful enemies, find out the truth about the lost god Pan, and face the Titan lord Kronos's most terrible secret. The final war begins . . . with the Battle of the Labyrinth.

May 20: PENDRAGON-- Raven Rise by D. J. MacHale. This is book 9 in the series. Description: Bobby Pendragon has quit. After battling Saint Dane on eight territories, Bobby found a way to end the war and prevent the demon from continuing his evil quest to control Halla. With a single, massive explosion of tak, he destroyed the entrance to the flume on Ibara. The gate was buried under tons of volcanic rock, sealing off Saint Dane’s means of escape. And his. Bobby and his enemy were trapped. Together. Forever. He traded any chance of returning to his old life in order to end the war and begin a new life on the tropical paradise of Ibara. That was okay by him. He was ready to make the beautiful island his new home. He wanted to rebuild the village of Rayne. He wanted to make new friends. Most of all, he wanted nothing more to do with protecting the territories of Halla from Saint Dane. By burying the flume, Bobby felt certain he had ended the war he had grown so tired of fighting. He was sure that after so many battles and so much sacrifice, Halla was finally safe. He was wrong. The Convergence that Saint Dane had been planning for Halla was already underway. The territories were changing. Alder realized it on Denduron. Patrick Mac learned it on Third Earth. Things weren’t the same. The war was far from over. The next target was set. Only Mark Dimond and Courtney Chetwynde knew the stakes. They found themselves faced with an impossible task. It would be up to them to try and stop the inevitable wave of evil that Saint Dane had already set in motion. And they would have to do it without Bobby Pendragon.

July 1: The Keys to the Kingdom-- Superior Saturday by Garth Nix. This is book 6 in the series. Description: The secret of his own identity. The identity of The Architect. The complete Will of the House. The fulfillment of his fate. Arthur Penhaligon is getting closer and closer to these things... but not without risks, conflict, and adventure.

July 15: Artemis Fowl-- The Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer. This is book 6 in the series. There is no description at this time.

Summer: Charlie Bone and the Shadow of Badlock by Jenny Nimmo. This is book 7 in the series. There is no description at this time.

August (13?): Isle of Swords-- Isle of Fire by Wayne Thomas Batson. This is book 2 in the series. There is no description at this time.

September 20: Inheritance-- Brisingr by Christopher Paolini. This is book 3 in the series. There is no description at this time.

October: Project Showdown-- Sinner by Ted Dekker. This is book 3 in the series and the final book of the Books of History/Project Showdown series. There is no description at this time.
Leven Thumps and the Wrath of Ezra by Obert Skye. This is book 4 in the series. There is no description at this time.
Erec Rex-- The Search for Truth by Kaza Kingsley. This is book 3 in the series. There is no description at this time.

April 7, 2009: The Kingkiller Chronicle-- The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. This is book 2 in the trilogy. There is no description at this time.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


To those of you who have read Eragon and Eldest, the word means fire. But to Knopf and Random House, the word means money. Today, it means "Book III of Inheritance is coming September 20".

"Erec Rex-- The Monsters of Otherness" review

I really enjoyed volume one of this series, The Dragon's Eye. But I was more than a little skeptical, sequels being sequels and all, that this book would not live up to the high standards set by the first book. I'm so happy to say I was wrong. Erec Rex-- The Monsters of Otherness is a fantastical adventure that even manages to surpass its predecessor in just about everything.

When we last saw Erec Rex, he was promised he would be king. But he must complete a series of twelve tasks designed to test his character before he canweild a scepter-- that is, if he even wants to. But if he doesn't do his twelve labors, so to speak, Balor and his cronies will take the throne, plunging Alypium and its two neighboring realms, Aorth and Ashona, into darkness.

Erec has a lot of issues on his plate right now. The people of Alypium say he rigged the tournament in book 1, that he's an impersonator because (and here's the biggie) the real Erec Rex died years ago. Plus, he's got a secret admirer who sends him letters via a literal sort of "snail mail", anger against King Piter, who's hiding something from him, problems with his dragon's eye, and an encounter with the Memory Mogul, who may hold one of the most crucial clues to Erec's past.

In a world where magic is controlled by remotes, where monsters hide in plain sight, and where a madman is plotting to rule the world as we know it (and as we don't), Erec must make sense of the riddles and deception surrounding himself and others. Oh, and he's got to save the world.

I loved The Dragon's Eye not just because of its original story, characters, and world, but because of the little things. This one takes all of the elements and special touches and raises them up a notch (a tough thing to do when the previous volume was so good). The stage has been set for something fantastic, something with lots of literary magic, fun, and-- dare I say it?-- heart.

Kaza Kingsley's work is slowly beginning to move to center stage. Erec Rex is getting himself on the map. And with the series only a quarter of the way done, we're in for a long ride. And isn't it great?

Book Three, The Search for Truth, is in the works, scheduled for a release later this year. The Monsters of Otherness is a hard act to follow, but I've got a feeling this is going to be big.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"Erec Rex-- The Dragon's Eye" review

So I got some money for Christmas. I looked around at the bookshelves, wondering what to spend it on. And then this book's colorful cover got my attention. I opened it up to see several good reviews on the inside. So I started to read. Once I finished Chapter 1, I realized I should probably buy the book. And it was money well spent. I finished in less than a day.

Erec Rex (nice name) is not even attempting to be just like your average, ordinary kid. He's twelve years old, acts normal, but lives with his adopted mother in a cramped house-- so cramped he doesn't even gett a bedroom to share. He also has a glass eye that he's had as long as he can remember that doesn't match. His hair is part straight, part curly. Okay, so that's a little strange, but normal.

One day, however, his mother gets kidnapped, and Erec is told by a "cloudy thought", or one of his unusual premonitions, to go after her. He runs into a girl named Bethany who may know where his mother went. Together they get chased...

...into the sidewalk.

They soon find themselves in a world that's hidden right under (or above, as the case may be) our very noses. Alypium is a wondrous place, filled with little touches of genius-- my favorite was called an Inquizzle, a ball that answers a yes/no question. No sooner does the reader begin to ponder how the author came up with all of this than Erec is whisked off to take part in a tournament to decide who the future king will be. And Erec is beginning to uncover some secrets about his past that suggest he is not at all who we think he is. We, the reader, are taken along with Erec on a thrill ride we won't soon forget.

I really, really enjoyed this book, as well as its sequel, The Monsters of Otherness (review coming soon). Kaza Kingsley's loosely mythology-based world is full of all of the little details that made Harry Potter great. But the boy wizard's reign is over. Long live Erec Rex, and his wonderfully original tale of the magic that lies hidden beneath our feet.

The best part? There are going to be eight of these books.

Best Summer Blockbusters of 2007 (in my humble opinion)**

Best Series Starter: Transformers*

Best Sequel: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Best Threequel: Pirates of the Caribbean-- At World's End*

Best Comic Book Movie: Spider-Man 3

Best Toy-based Movie: Transformers

Best Book Adaptation: The Bourne Ultimatum*

Best Opening Scene: Pirates of the Caribbean-- At World's End

Best CGI/Visual Effects: Transformers

Best Fight Scene: Pirates of the Caribbean-- At World's End

Best End Scene: Pirates of the Caribbean-- At World's End

Best Credits/Post-Credits Scene: Pirates of the Caribbean-- At World's End

Best Summer Blockbuster: Pirates of the Caribbean-- At World's End

*denotes a truly entertaining romp

**There were very few "great" movies this year, but there were some fun ones. I've only reviewed the fun ones. Since this only counts for summer blockbusters, there are no runner-ups.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Best Books of 2007 (in my humble opinion)

Best Debut: The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss*
Runner Up: Erec Rex-- The Dragon's Eye, by Kaza Kingsley*

Best Title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J. K. Rowling*
Runner Up: Erec Rex-- The Dragon's Eye, by Kaza Kingsley

Best Series Starter: The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss
Runner Up: Erec Rex-- The Dragon's Eye, by Kaza Kingsley

Best Sequel: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J. K. Rowling
Runner Up: Snakehead, by Anthony Horowitz

Best Middle Novel in a Series: The Titan's Curse, by Rick Riordan*
Runner Up: Leven Thumps and the Eyes of the Want, by Obert Skye*

Best Fantasy World: Erec Rex-- The Dragon's Eye, by Kaza Kingsley
Runner Up: Leven Thumps and the Eyes of the Want, by Obert Skye

Best Christian Fiction: Isle of Swords, by Wayne Thomas Batson*
Runner Up: Skin, by Ted Dekker

Best Fight Scene: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J. K. Rowling
Runner Up: Gregor and the Code of Claw, by Suzanne Collins*

Best Finale: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J. K. Rowling
Runner Up: Gregor and the Code of Claw, by Suzanne Collins

Best "To be Continued..." Moment: PENDRAGON-- The Pilgrims of Rayne, by D. J. MacHale
Runner Up: Leven Thumps and the Eyes of the Want, by Obert Skye

Author of the Year: J. K. Rowling
Runner Up: Ted Dekker**

Book of the Year: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J. K. Rowling
Runner Up: The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss

*denotes true literary excellence
**I just discovered Ted Dekker this year. If I hadn't, the runner up would have been Patrick Rothfuss.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

"Project Showdown" review

Isn't Ted Dekker great? I mean, he keeps churning out books at such a rapid pace, and with such quality, he could well be considered as one of the most prolific writers of our day. So far I've reviewed THR3E, House, Black, Red, and White, and I'm just getting started. Now, there's still one book left to come out in his Project Showdown "series", but since I've read the first two, I'll review them now.

Showdown: The name of the town is Paradise, and it becomes more and more ironic over the course of the story as events come into play to create what is perhaps the ultimate showdown between good and evil. A man named Marsuvees Black comes into Paradise, spreading a message of revival, giving everyone a taste of what he has in store. But his true intentions are more sinister than anyone is willing to suspect.

I can't reveal much of the plot, but well-versed Ted Dekker readers will find some interesting ties to some of his other books. And I can't praise it enough. It's perhaps my favorite of his novels.

Saint: Carl Strople doesn't know anything about his past, only that he's being put through a series of tests to become one of the deadliest assassins in history. The X Group has plans for him he doesn't grasp the fullness of. And he doesn't know if he even really is Carl Strople.

This is another of Dekker's signature blend of several genres, accompanied by a signature Dekker plot twist. And the tried and true formula works.

I'll be back again sometime to post some news in the book world, as well as some reviews of other Dekker books and other books in general.