Monster

monsterOn a scale of 1 to 5, I’d give this one a 3. But, don’t let that keep you from reading this book! Monster (by A. Lee Martinez) mixes humor, fantasy and fiction all together to create a reality where magic is real but going extinct. Dionysus Monster, the main character of the book, is a monster catcher. Much like a dog catcher, he is called in to catch monsters on the loose. Anything from Yeti to Hydra are his domain. Problem is, he is pretty mediocre at his job and well at his life in general. Once he meets Judy though, things begin to change. Under attack constantly from Judy’s subconscious, Monster must deal with rogue monsters bent on getting him. Judy does not know she is doing this to Monster and no one is even sure how she is doing it. I’ll let you read the rest of the book to keep from spoiling it for you…

Suffice to say, this is a book about growth. It is lame in several areas. The dialogue could use help and the plot is sketchy. But beneath all that, is the story of Monster’s growth from being mediocre and self absorbed to becoming admirable and involved in life.

The most memorable quote from the book for me was “Being a good person is more than just not being a bad person”. Simple yet good advice.

If you’re looking for a quick, easy and fun read, this is your book. I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.

“The Fight”

UBB-TheFightbyLukeWordleyBoxing intrigues me. To me, fighting has always been something I’ve shied away from. I’m definitely not one of those guys who tries to prove himself by being tough or getting into fights. I am a trained blackbelt but even that has never made me crave fighting. In fact, it taught me just the opposite; the very harshness, danger and consequences of using our bodies as weapons.

With that being said though, boxing is a sport of focus. You must learn your opponent and anticipate his next move and yours at the same time. Split second decision making is not only required, it is imperative. In Luke Wordley’s newest book, “The Fight”, the reader sees the positive impact boxing can have on a life.

Sam Pennington is an angry kid who has lost everything. A dead father, a drunk mother and the harshness of moving into public housing has led Sam to his breaking point. It is at this breaking point that he comes to a crossroads. After a particularly brutal fight, Sam is introduced to Jerry Ambrose, a boxing trainer. Jerry takes Sam under his wing and Sam begins to discover a hidden talent and passion for boxing.

The story is redemptive in nature and deals with the core of what happens to our lives when our emotions rule us. It is also a coming of age story for Sam. This is a longer book at 380 pages but the story keeps your attention and drives home some important messages.

All of us has demons and skeletons that resurface from time to time and we all must learn how to deal with them or we will be ruled by them. We all have a “fight” we must engage in. How will yours turn out?

Other “Fight” thoughts:

http://christianbookshopsblog.org.uk/2012/02/25/a-novel-to-fight-over-introducing-luke-wordley-and-the-fight/

https://jimkane.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/my-review-of-luke-wordleys-the-fight/

Anya’s Ghost

Ever read a really weird book? The kind where you get done and go, “hmmm…that was just…strange”. I recently read a book just like this called “Anya’s Ghost”. Written by Vera Brosgol, the book is mainly intended for a younger age than mine. It is a junior literary guild book.

Brosgol was born in Russia and received a Classical Animation diploma. This book shows her talent. Anya’s Ghost is written in comic book style, which means it is animated and broken into block segments (much like a comic book).

The story follows a young girl, Anya, through a typical day. She is an outsider but wants most of all to fit in. She isn’t quite smart enough, quite athletic enough, quite popular enough and doesn’t quite have the money to fit in with the rest of the teenagers she wants to hang out with.

The adventure begins when she accidentally falls into a well and stumbles onto some bones. The bones belong to another young girl who can’t leave unless someone carries her bones out. Anya does and that is where the trouble begins. The ghost helps Anya get what she wants but at a very high price.

This is a fairly quick read and the comic book style is interesting and refreshing. If you are looking for a light read in between some heavier books, check this one out.

Some other voices on Anya’s Ghost:

Amazon – Positive Review here

Amazon – Not so Positive Review here

Read About Comics Review here

As Catch Can

ascatchcanI read this book in about a two day period.  It was a light read and turned out to be pretty good. Told in 1st person by Jack “Keeper” Marconi, a warden at a maximum security prison, the tale includes greed, envy, back stabbing, cold blooded murder and the occasional reference to male prison encounters ( I’ll leave it at that).

Zandri is pretty effective in character development, but his mental visualizations that he leaves you with are what really makes this book stand out. The flashbacks to Attica that “Keeper” has are still seared onto my brain registered under the file for fear.

This is a good, light read for some “in between” time between more though provoking books.

A Handful of Dust

image“A Handful of Dust” is a welcome read for anyone who has felt love and loss. The book revolves around the marriage and subsequent disintegration of Tony and Brenda Smart, two Bristish aristocrats, who live a comfortable live at an estate in the English Countryside called Hetton. Tony’s life is consumed by this family estate and its upkeep and Brenda who longs for a little more in life and a much more urban lifestyle begins to wander and roam. Enter the reactionary agent, John Beaver, to the infidelity concoction and you have a recipe for a failed marriage.

For a little more than half the book, we see how Brenda and John Beaver sneak behind Tony’s back and assume all is well. Brenda even is bold enough to rent a flat (apartment) in London to say she is pursuing her “Economics” studies. As the book progresses, we see the lie begin to take over the lives of the characters and its cover up gets harder and harder to keep until one tragic moment. I won’t give away what the tragic moment is but it seals the nail in the coffin of what you will think of the characters.

The second half of the book, deals with the aftermath of what happens following the tragedy. The book has two endings, each very different than the other, but neither that leaves the reader with a feeling of well being. Instead, a feeling of shock resides from the first ending and a feeling of deserved revenge follows the second.

One good thing about this book is that Waugh was not writing from inexperience. His first marriage ended from infidelity and he bore the feelings and emotions that have been captured in this book. I highly suggest reading the introduction provided with the Everyman’s edition, however it does give the ending away in a round about fashion. “A Handful of Dust” is not just a book, it is a work of humanity and that is what truly makes this book a classic.

Everyman…

Have you ever thought about what would of or could have happened? Or maybe you have thought about what others, especially those closest to you will say and think of you once you have passed on? Our actions have consequences. They are very real and carry weight. Perhaps more than we know.

This is the terrain of the novel “Everyman” by Philip Roth. The main character is dead and his family and friends have come to mourn him. Some attend out of respect, some out of love and some out of duty. Told in almost backward glance, the novel shows the main character’s life and the choices he has made. He makes hard choices, sacrifices, makes choices on passion rather than reason, and in the end must come to terms with what he has left in his wake. He is “Everyman” in terms that he must make a choice and live with the consequences, good or bad.

The novel is important because it makes the reader aware of how who we are affects others around us. We are not mere islands, but rather connected in ways we may not even think about. This book will make you think twice and think more deeply.

The novel does have some coarse language, but it is very minimal.

Happy Reading!

The Black Pearl

Pearls are odd. Let’s just face the facts. For a pearl to develop, usually something miscroscopic invades the tissue area of a mollusk. The mollusk in counter attack, secretes a substance that wraps this invader in a shell. The shell is called a pearl sac. Over time, the sac solidifies into what is the pearl. Basically, something bad invades and becomes something good and valuable, the pearl.

“The Black Pearl” tells a similar metaphorical story of a young man named Ramon Salazar that realizes true value is not always what we think of. Ramon and his father are Pearl divers and sellers in the town of La Paz. They are successful and enjoy a relatively good life. But Ramon wants more. He wants fame and respect and he wants it immediately. In the quest to get this he finds a gigantic pearl, called the Pearl of Heaven. This pearl is the size of a grapefruit and dark, hence the title the Black Pearl.

Unfortunately, the cave he steals the pearl from is guarded by a huge stingray, called Manta Diablo. This stingray is said to walk among people, communicates with fish and sharks and even hunt those down who steal this pearl. (By the way, this book is not an action-thriller, sci-fi thing). After stealing the pearl, the Salazar’s fleet of ships is sunk and Ramon’s father is among the causalities. Ramon, who at first was skeptical of the Manta Diablo, begins to grow in belief.

In an effort, to set things right, he attempts to return the pearl only to be hunted down and almost murdered by a ruthless criminal. In the end, Ramon must decide between fame and fortune or honesty and character.

This book is a fiction work that tells the struggle of each of us to battle the lusts of the flesh. It makes you ask yourself, “what is more important, money or character?” The pearl is symbolic and reminds us that sometimes getting what we want is not really what we need.

This is a relatively quick read that can be easily read in 2-3 days. It is reminiscent of Steinbeck works. The Black Peal is a good book that is suitable for probably 3rd grade and above.

Happy Reading!