Friday, December 28, 2012


During the month of December, follow this blog,and its Facebook page, and I will select one lucky follower to win a random prize from my stash of awesome doo-dads from Think Geek. Will you win a light-up light saber sucker? An awesome Mountain Dew Code Red -flavored lip balm? The possibilities are endless! Well, okay not endless, but FREE!

 You say you would appreciate a direct link to follow on Facebook? 
Why, certainly. Here you go:

See you soon!

Les Miserables: The 10-Tissue Movie

Turning a beloved, breathtaking stage musical into a film is a brave undertaking, at best. It's very difficult for devoted theater geeks not to have exaggerated expectations, but we are rarely satisfied with the casting, acting and directing of film versions of our favorite musicals. 

I tried to avoid reading reviews, positive or negative, before seeing "Les Miserables". I've been a fan of this show for over 20 years, I've seen it on stage a few times, listened to the London and Broadway cast recordings countless times, and recently raved about Alfie Boe's performance as Jean ValJean in the recorded 25th Anniversary Concert version. I was nervous about a few things. My primary concern is always the vocals and orchestrations living up to the experience of a great Broadway soundtrack, but I was also concerned about the casting choices, as I always am with a musical... 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Book Review: "Two Graves"

Before you read this review, if you haven't ever read any of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's books, start with "Relic" It's not necessary to start there, but the later Pendergast books refer sometimes to characters from the earlier titles, and it's well worth reading them all. They are excellent mystery/thrillers. Enjoy!!

Ah, Aloysius Pendergast is back. I missed him. In the last book he was a bit too... normal? Um... human, maybe. I adored the Pendergast of "Relic" and "Cabinet of Curiosities"-- enigmatic, mysterious; Holmesian with a Southern charm-- refined, incredibly intelligent and physically skilled... an intriguing character. But in the second "Helen" book, "Cold Vengeance", we began to see a different side of Pendergast. That continues into this book, but after a startling turn of events, and some very good Preston/Child twists, Pendergast returns to the hero we know and love. And the getting there is much better in "Two Graves" than "Cold Vengeance" implied it would be. Thank goodness.

I won't give you plot points, you can read the Goodreads summary for that, but I will say I loved this book. I read the bulk of it in one day (Christmas day-- I'm allowed to lounge in my PJs and read all day!)  It did take a while to really draw me in, but once hooked, I truly couldn't put it down. 

After my disappointment at the Preston/Child Gideon series, I was thrilled to see that they're still able to give me a satisfying Pendergast story, featuring, of course, all our favorite players: Corrie, D'Agosta, Constance and Proctor. I enjoyed the parallel sub-plots involving these old friends almost as much as Pendergast's storyline.

Good, good stuff. If you've kept up with Pendergast for this many books (12! Really!) you don't need me to tell you to read it. Go read it. It's well worth the journey through the first 2 "Helen" titles to get to "Two Graves".

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Glee at the Library

I nearly put off running to the city library until tomorrow. It's across town and it's very cold today and I almost didn't go. But I decided I wanted my son to do some reading this weekend while we're out of school, and the book being held for me was actually for him. So I went. And I thought, maybe I'll find something for me, too. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

God Bless Us, Every One

It occurs to me that others will think I am remiss if I don't say anything about the horrific shooting that happened this week in Connecticut. I do kind of feel guilty about continuing to write on my blogs as though it didn't happen, but I also don't like to profit (so to speak) from others' tragedies. I suppose I ought to chronicle a little here, though, as blogs are modern-day journals.

I can't effectively express the depth of my sorrow at all those sweet children and educators being brutally murdered. My heart aches, physically and emotionally, imagining what those families and community are feeling. I will add my prayers to the thousands more being offered for them. I don't know any of them and I have been on the verge of tears all weekend. I know God is watching over that community as they mourn, and I'm so grateful to know that our Savior welcomed those babies home to joy and love and eternal glory. 

This beautiful painting circulated on Facebook, and I liked it, so I'll share it here in a slightly more permanent place:
It's Christmas time-- I hope you take a moment to reflect on the love Jesus has for you and for the blessing of agency. Even when it is abused by wicked or deranged people, it is the greatest gift we have. As you hug your children tighter this season imagine a loving Heavenly Father, longing to put His arms around you, and let Him into your heart. 

In the immortal words of Charles Dickens' Tiny Tim: "God bless us, every one."

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Hobbit: Too Much Movie and Not Enough Story

"The Hobbit" finally opened this weekend, and I liked it. I didn't love it, and I found all the excess stuff a bit... excessive. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, read "The Hobbit" and then see the movie-- Jackson included loads of stuff that isn't in the book. At all. But my son assures me it's from Tolkein's appendices and notes and other stories and that it's all wonderful and will tie everything together with *LOTR nicely. I'm not convinced yet...) For one thing, it is long, and when a film has battle after battle after battle without a lot of story, I get bored of the battles.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Gathering Storm

LOVE this cover art. Wish my books had them!
Today I finished listening to book 11 of the Wheel of Time. I nearly cheered aloud (but I didn't. I work in a library.) when I heard Kate Redding say, "Epilogue". Why was I so excited to be at the end of "Knife of Dreams"? Simply this. I love book 12- "The Gathering Storm" and even more book 13- "Towers of Midnight". Such pure enjoyment in audiobook form. I am SO excited for book 14- "A Memory of Light" to come out next month. Like, ridiculously, fangirl-crazy-excited. I want to squeal with delight just thinking about it!!

I've given an entire year to listening to the Wheel of Time books. The Wheel of Time is the ultimate fantasy series, and the characters are like old friends. I haven't read them all in many years, and this time, I actually didn't either. October got here, then November, and I was only in book 8. And dragging along, as the story slows quite a bit in books 8-10. Then my friend Marc and my brother, Dave both recommended I jump ahead to 11, "Knife of Dreams". I'm so glad I did. 

"Knife of Dreams" is very satisfying. Lots of action and the story finally progresses again. There were scenes I skipped and some I skimmed through (audio-wise) because I know what happens and certain things that certain characters do are just... annoying. But I loved it. 

And now... on with Sanderson! And there was much rejoicing. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Book Review: "Feedback"

The second book in Robison Wells' "Variant" series (trilogy? quad?), "Feedback", is... better than the first. The writing still feels a little unpolished and sometimes I felt like bits of the plot slipped through unnoticed and I had to go back a page or two and try to find what I had missed. I found "Feedback" compelling, just not amazing. Wells pushes the story even deeper into the Sci-Fi genre, so that's interesting, but I'm not a great fan of Sci-Fi, so that didn't make me like it more.

I guess I'm spoiled to want all the books I read to be amazing, but... it would be nice. :)

Though I wasn't totally sold on this book, my two teenage sons loved it. They loved the first, "Variant", as well. SO, I guess the good news for Robison is that his target audience is enjoying the books he wrote for them.

I do look forward to seeing what else Robison comes up with in the future- he is a decent writer, and often the first few books by an author are their weakest, so there is definitely hope for improvement. I sincerely wish him luck with that. 

To sum up: I liked, but didn't love these books. I would recommend these books for teens-- they would probably like them better than I did. Adults who normally only read YA will probably like them, too. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Book Signing: Brandon Sanderson

Tonight, I got very brave and went to my second-ever book-signing by one of my most favorite authors. I didn't let my anxiety keep me home. I sucked it up, thanks in large part to my son (16 y.o.) being willing to accompany me so I wouldn't freak out from nerves and stay home. It was so much fun! I'm really glad we went. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012


During the month of December, follow this blog,and its Facebook page, and I will select one lucky follower to win a random prize from my stash of awesome doo-dads from Think Geek. Will you win a light-up light saber sucker? An awesome Mountain Dew Code Red -flavored lip balm? The possibilities are endless! Well, okay not endless, but FREE!

 You say you would appreciate a direct link to follow on Facebook? 
Why, certainly. Here you go:

See you soon!

Book Review: The Great Unexpected

Sharon Creech is a very talented author-- I say that having only read a few of her books: the picture book "A Fine, Fine School", and two quirky poetry-laced books "Love that Dog" and my personal favorite, "Hate that Cat". 

I picked up "The Great Unexpected" quite by accident, randomly seeing it on the New Titles shelf at my local library. I actually got it for my 10-year-old daughter, but I ended up reading it first.  I adored this story.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Not Really a Review: Red Rain

I'm giving up on this book. Let me tell you why. I got about 110 pages in, finished "Part 1" and began "Part 2". I had a few problems with the writing style of the first segment, but not enough that I would have stopped, had I been enjoying the story (um... "Twilight", anyone?), but there are a few things that I just couldn't get over.

First, often when a writer transitions from writing for kids to writing for adults, they feel the need to toss in "adult" lingo. I didn't read far enough to get too much, but the single incident of the protagonist's husband oogling his assistant's... um... "t-word"s (yes, the author chose that word) was just plain annoying. The oogling I get, the using such a crude, childish word by a supposedly educated character was just silly.

Second, the story seemed (and I could be wrong here, since I didn't finish it) to be headed in the direction of a child demon who kills other children. I don't care for that, so I'm stopping before Stine has a chance to really piss me off. Children in peril are not my favorite storyline, so I tend to steer clear when that looks like the story.

Third, I just don't care about the characters. Lea, the main protagonist of Part 1, is self-centered, immature and unlikeable. Her husband is annoying and the newly introduced ominously beautiful orphan twins that Lea brings home without any adult thought or real-world legal process are spooky from the get-go, and come from a cursed island. A set-up with some potential, but I don't want to read about kids hurting or killing other kids, especially innocent ones like Lea and Mark's two kids and their baby nephew.

If you loved Stine's "Goosebumps" books when you were young, you will probably like this. I was never a big fan of his writing, so maybe that's my problem right there. Too bad. I was in the mood for something scary. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Review: "Who Could That Be At This Hour?

I will read anything by the incomparable Lemony Snicket. I find his dark flavor and unique writing style charming and I relish his signature linguistic humor, especially his twisty definitions. For example:

"What happens in a certain place can stain your feelings for that location, just as ink can stain a white sheet. You can wash it, and wash it, and still never forget what has transpired - a word which here means 'happened, and made everybody sad'." 

For those who may not know, Lemony Snicket is the pen name for American novelist Daniel Handler. Be that as it may, I still hear his books in a British accent in my head as I read them. Makes me wonder if he hears British while he writes... The signature face-hidden-from-the-camera photos of Snicket are like a little humorous bonus at the end of each book. I love running gags and visual humor and especially clever usage of language. As such, I was so excited when I saw there was a new Snicket book out. I highly recommend you check out the site for the book located here. Too funny. I adore glib, cheeky, dark chuckles.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph: A Review of Sorts

My three youngest children went with their uncle Dave and their younger cousins to see "Wreck-It Ralph" on Wednesday and came home praising it and saying how much they loved it. Adam, 16, said I had to go see it and that I would just love it. Ben, 13, said that I would cry at the end. To which Adam said, "Well, that's not saying much; she cries at every movie." (Which is almost true.)They all enjoyed it, including Katie, 10, who said it was hilarious and they told us that the rest of us should go see it in theater for sure. So we did. Kriss and our oldest, Jonah, 17, went tonight. 

The movie begins strong, with the bad guys in a support group meeting, and there are some funny lines and good sight gags. When Ralph leaves his game and begins an adventure, I thought we would see what happened as he moved in and out of lots of games. Unfortunately, Ralph (and the movie) gets stuck in a game called "Sugar Rush" where adorable little girl avatars race around a "Candyland"-esque world. The story stalls badly (no pun intended) and I quickly lost interest. The little girl that Ralph gets entagled with (she steals his medal, he wants it back... yawn...) is cute, but obnoxious and their sometimes potty-humor-laced banter isn't as funny to me as it would be to a 10-12 year old kid. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Celebrity Sighting!! Run Away!!!

'Twas the day before Thanksgiving
And all through the town
Everybody went shopping
At WalMart in Tooele.

Including George Lopez. 

Yep. That George Lopez.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Book Review: Variant

I started out thinking "Variant" by Robison Wells is yet another teens-in-peril at the hands of unknown, unseen, wicked-evil adults YA novel. Which, to be fair, it is. It's the first of... I don't know... a trilogy? Maybe. And the sole reason I gave this book a look is because Robison's brother, Dan, is among my favorite authors. His John Cleaver books are soooo good.

That's reason enough to give his brother a chance, yes? The beginning of "Variant" reminded me a lot of James Dashner's "The Maze Runner", featuring a group of teens isolated from the world in a compound of some kind, unable to leave and forced to comply with strange rules and activities without any real explanations. "Variant" is set in a school in New Mexico, and the first-person character of Benson is likeable, if not loveable. He's incredibly well adjusted, intelligent and self-aware, considering he's spent most of his life bouncing from one foster family to another, and he copes better than the average teen would with what happens.

Book Review Copy & Paste: I am Not a Serial Killer

I just realized I never posted a review of one of my favorite books on this blog, so I'm dropping it in here before my next post goes up today. Copied and pasted from my review on Goodreads:

I liked this book even better the second time. Creepy, thrilling, exciting, enthralling and addicting. I can't wait to start the second book tomorrow!! Wells is a great author. I sympathized with John, even though he has tendencies toward violent thoughts and thinks he could, potentially, become a killer. His honest, brutal self-analysis is fascinating and heartbreaking. I especially loved his character's development at the end of the story.

While I don't have murderous tendencies, the heartfelt winding of John's story helped me to really understand him and to feel a connection to him that I didn't expect. His relationships with his mother, aunt, sister and lone friend are fascinating, and the way he solves the whodonit in town and, ultimately, triumphs over his inner demons and the one killing townsfolk is a unique story, mixing a little sci-fi or fantasy (or whatever genre has such things as demons) with mystery and thriller-style storytelling. I loved that the author told us very early on who the killer was, and the remaining story delved into psychology and the adventure of John setting out to stop him. Good stuff.

I increased my rating, and that's saying something. This is a fantastic book, maybe not for the faint-hearted, but the language is clean and there is no "adult" material. It is gruesome and downright creepy, though.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Book Review: The Cutting Season

"The Cutting Season" by Attica Locke is a decent stand-alone novel. There's murder, history, intrigue, politics, complicated family relationships and much more. This is the synopsis from Goodreads:

"The American South in the twenty-first century. A plantation owned for generations by a rich family. So much history. And a dead body.

Just after dawn, Caren walks the grounds of Belle Vie, the historic plantation house in Louisiana that she has managed for four years. Today she sees nothing unusual, apart from some ground that has been dug up by the fence bordering the sugar can fields. Assuming an animal has been out after dark, she asks the gardener to tidy it up. Not long afterwards, he calls her to say it's something else. Something terrible. A dead body. At a distance, she missed her. The girl, the dirt and the blood. Now she has police on site, an investigation in progress, and a member of staff no one can track down. And Caren keeps uncovering things she will wish she didn't know. As she's drawn into the dead girl's story, she makes shattering discoveries about the future of Belle Vie, the secrets of its past, and sees, more clearly than ever, that Belle Vie, its beauty, is not to be trusted."

Monday, November 12, 2012


James Bond hasn't looked so good since Sean Connery. Truly. Daniel Craig returns for his third Bond film, continuing from about where "Quantum of Solace" left off- moving the story forward from where it began (again) in "Casino Royale".
The opening credits of "Skyfall", which opened last weekend, have a distinct "Bond-esque" feel, including the mirror images melding together in the center (psychedelic!) and nude silhouetted women and some very cool sequences under water. However... they went on very long for a modern movie, and I'm not terribly sold on Adele's theme song. I'm not a big Adele fan anyway, and the simplistic lyrics of this song didn't win me over, though the haunting music did seem to fit the footage. Here, judge for yourself:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

And That's How to Cast a Musical!

My family loves to get together and watch movies and then have in-depth discussions about the casting, direction, plot, music, etc. Other people (ahem... in-laws) don't always appreciate or participate in these discussions, but we love it. These discussions are fun, lively and usually punctuated with lots of laughter. I am very blessed. 

Tonight we watched the new Blu-Ray release of an old family favorite, "Little Shop of Horrors", starring Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene. If you're not familiar with this one, it's an old story, with an old black-and-white non-musical film version (from 1960, I think) about an alien plant that comes to earth, convinces an unassuming gardener to feed it blood and proceeds to take over the Earth. It's campy, cheesy, goofy and loads of fun. 
Rick Moranis and Audrey II

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Book Review: A Wise Man's Fear

This is the second book in the "Kingkiller Chronicles" trilogy by Patrick Rothfuss
It's a crying shame to have such a charming and intriguing character as Kvothe wasting as much time as he did in this book. The editors should have cut most of the Fae scene (sexual content alert!) and there were a few chapters later on that I skipped. SKIPPED! Not skimmed, not passed sections of, but I skipped them. It was after some potentially important stuff happened with the Ademre people, and Kvothe was just traveling along and the story stopped being interesting. I got bored. I wanted to get back to the good stuff... so I skipped ahead.

It is worth reading this one so you can finish the trilogy (assuming the final book is worth the trouble), and there are some very good scenes here, some character development, and some new people worth knowing, but mostly... it's just a tease. We've gotten attached to Kvothe (though I still can't pronounce his name comfortably...) and we want to see how he gets his vengeance on the Chandrian, so we keep reading... even the over-written parts.

I'm ranting a tad, eh?

It's good. My recommendation is moderate. If you liked the first book, you'll probably read this one and maybe you can let me know what you thought.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Book Review: "The Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss

I started this book in good faith, having seen high ratings and praise from people I know have similar taste in books to mine. I immediately liked the main character, Kvothe, the red-haired legendary Arcanist (sort of like a sorcerer). The story does start rather slowly, however, and it took me some effort to keep going. I have a pile of books to get to and I don't like to waste time. I'm glad I stuck with it to the end, however, and I am looking forward to the second installment.

By way of short summary, the book begins with a semi-retired Kvothe running a small inn in a tiny rural town. A local man is attacked on the road and brings back an enormous spider-like creature (the villagers immediately decide it's a demon), setting up a small burst of action, followed by a lull. Soon a "chronicler" comes to town, searching for Kvothe, wanting to hear his story. Kvothe, known to locals as "Kote" is hesitant at first, but eventually agrees to tell his story, his history, the truths of the legend he has become. The remainder of the book is told in flashbacks, with the occasional scene in the inn while Kvothe and the chronicler take short breaks in recording the story. There is action, adventure, poverty and wealth, hatred and love. Kvothe is adventurous and charming, incredibly intelligent and gifted in the arcane arts. 

I don't like to give too much away, but I do recommend this book, especially to fantasy fans. It's a great adventure, but the setup for the second book is a bit of a letdown at the end-- I wanted the story to continue immediately- I don't want to wait until I get my turn from the library for book two. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Best Animated Short. Ever.

Each October I eagerly look forward to my yearly screening of what I consider to be the most entertaining, balanced, well-written animated short in existence. Not that I've seen all that many, I confess. But this one? Hands down my favorite cartoon ever. I'm talking about Disney's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". Narrated by Bing Crosby, this hilarious take on the classic Washington Irving short story is engaging and entertaining from the very first frame until the last. There isn't a single slow or over-written moment. The script is witty and crisp, balanced by an impeccable score. The 63-year old animation holds up very well, even by today's standards. (It was released in 1949.)

My love for this show could be in large part because I have always loved Halloween and spooky-but-not-gory shows and stories. My birthday is in October and I have an insatiable sweet tooth, so Halloween has always had a special place in my heart. Though, for me, Halloween is little kids in costumes, free candy, Charlie Brown (another MUST see Halloween special is 1966's "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!"), non-threatening decorations and good, clean fun-- not so much what it has become today. "Sleepy Hollow" embodies all of that for me.

It is my life-long wish to host a Van Tassel Halloween party, complete with a huge fireplace, a live 3-4 piece orchestra, dancing, lots of food, and decor including corn stalks and Jack-O-Lanterns, and friends and family gathering around the fire to hear good ghost stories when the hour grows late... One of these days... :)
If you've never given it a look, you should try to find a better version of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" than what's on Youtube. Your computer's speakers surely can't do old Bing's narration justice. I'm not sure if it's available on its own, my copy is on a DVD called "Ichabod and Mr. Toad" and is preceded by the dull, dull, boring and dull Mr. Toad cartoon. We always go straight to selecting chapters and skip right past Mr. Toad so we don't fall asleep before Ichabod gets his turn.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Book Review: "The Maze Runner"

"The Maze Runner", by James Dashner, is one of my son's favorites and he's been telling me to read it for a year, so I pushed it up the list and read it this week. In familiar modern dystopic fashion, it's the story of a group of teenagers oppressed by evil adults and an even more evil government. In this case, they are trapped within a maze that is unsolvable and populated by horrible deadly creatures made of blubber and various weaponry. They have to figure out how to survive, how to escape, and how to solve whatever they're supposed to solve.

Dashner's writing style is simplistic (which is good, I guess, since this is a book for youth) to the point of annoying, and though the story moves rather slowly at first, as the reader approaches the climactic final scenes, it becomes much more compelling. The action scenes are well written and exciting, and most of the characters are likeable, though Chuck's storyline is painfully predictable, as well as Alby's. The main character, Thomas, is moderately likeable, if you can get past his almost violent mood swings and grating repetitive exposition.

Would I read it again? Nah. Will I read the sequel? Probably not. I just wasn't left really caring what happened next.

I'm beginning to wonder if maybe dystopian fiction just isn't my thing. I liked, but didn't love "The Hunger Games". Though I really enjoyed Dan Wells' "Partials", it wasn't my favorite of his books. In fact, it hasn't been since "The Shadow Children" series by Margaret Peterson Haddix that I really found myself enjoying a dystopian series. There's a familiar haze over all of them, the adults and rulers doing wicked things to tweens and teens theme, the post-apocalyptic feeling of an unrecognizable Earth, and the unavoidable survival challenges. As my son just said, "Does it always have to be the end of the world?"

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Book Review: "Neverhwere" by Neil Gaiman

After enjoying "The Cemetery Book" so much, I decided I was ready to give "Neverwhere" another look. I tried it a while ago, when my brain was a tad overwhelmed by a new job and crazy schedule, and couldn't get into it. 

This time around, I found myself more interested in the characters and the story, but there were times I kind of began to lose interest. I kept plugging along, because I was curious to see how Richard Mayhew's adventures played out, but found myself feeling like I would rather just be done and get to another book. Too bad. 

The story isn't bad-- it's an updated "Alice in Wonderland" type of story, with Richard Mayhew, an ordinary Londoner finding himself pulled into a world that exists beneath the streets of London, followed by various adventures using magic and involving evil people and frightening creatures and good-but-decidedly-odd folks, including a bunch of people who talk to and almost worship rats. The story slowed considerably in the middle of the book, but the last 1/3 or so picked up again, action and character development make all the difference.

Gaiman is a good storyteller, and I enjoyed the surprise twists toward the end a lot. Would I recommend it? Sure. It's clean stuff, and the good vs. evil plot and "Wonderland" reflection are interesting. Will I read it again? No. Not likely. 

I will, however, take a look at some of his other books before I give up on him, mostly because of how much I enjoyed "The Cemetery Book".

Book Review: "Legion" by Brandon Sanderson

This is the ebook cover.
Once in a while, an author comes along whose work I enjoy so much that I take a leap of faith and buy their future books without borrowing them to preview before I buy. Brandon Sanderson is on that list, with good reason. I think what he has done in finishing "The Wheel of Time" series is nothing short of genius. He took a series that had become a bit sluggish (and I'm a huge fan, don't get me wrong, even with slow phases, this series is better than anything else out there) and revived it, like Dr. Frankenstein, injecting life and energy and vitality back into it. I, along with millions of other fans, anxiously await the release of book 14 (!) in January.

In the meantime, I am slowly listening to the audiobooks of the first 13 (slowly because I read about 6x faster than the narration... and only listen to a little here and there) and enjoying the odd non-fantasy book on the side. Yesterday, much to my happy surprise, my copy of Sanderson's novella "Legion" arrived.

First impression? Glee! I love a new book. Second impression? Sheesh. I spent over $20 (including shipping) on this little thing? When they called it a novella, they weren't kidding! It only took me a few hours to read, and would have been much less if I wasn't required to cook my family dinner and give a neighbor a ride somewhere... at any rate, it's a very quick read, and I would have liked it to not cost me so much for just a short moment of entertainment. It's so short, it almost felt like a preview, created solely to hook readers into buying a whole series... hey, wait...

This is the HB cover.
However, as a would-be author myself, I do understand the wholly justified desire to make money from one's work, and I do like and want to support Sanderson, so I won't say anymore about the cost feeling exorbitant. 

And, after all, it was generously offered as an e-book for only $2.99. I just don't have an e-reader or iPad, so I opted for the book rather than to read it on my computer screen. Which makes my eyes leaky. :)

As for the story, true to my expectations, it is very good. The story is about a man named Stephen. He has a form of schizophrenia that causes him to see various people-- hallucinations, that he calls "aspects", which is how he comes to be nicknamed "Legion". The aspects are varied and unique and have different abilities, but together they add up to his being a genius. In this first book about him, he tries to find a camera that's been stolen-- a camera that can take photos of the past. He's doubtful, naturally, that it really can, and if it can, that it should. He is brilliant (with the help of his aspects) and remarkably sane for someone who hallucinates constantly. He is also likeable and self-aware, and able to do remarkable things.

I'm always on the hunt for something original to read, as most books have overly formulas and patterns, so it's refreshing to read something so completely unique. At least, in my reading experience, it is totally new and fascinating. I especially loved Stephen's observations on what would happen if time travel were possible--amazing! I've never, ever heard time travel discussed that way. I love it when an author makes me think, without overwhelming me, and by reading his book I feel like I've actually expanded my brain a little!!

As you can see, there are different covers for the different versions. I prefer the ebook cover-- it seems to capture Stephen's aspects better than the other, but the chaos of the other seems to capture the relationship of these "characters" better.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in something new, very well written, and thought-provoking. Excellent little book.

Friday, September 14, 2012

You'll Fall in Love With Timothy Green

"The Odd Life of Timothy Green" is a sweet, unassuming story about a couple who cannot conceive, but who desperately want to be parents, and Timothy Green magically enters their lives, touching and changing them and everyone around them for the better.
The parents, played by the always lovely Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton, whom I had not seen before, jump into parenting Timothy, fumbling and over-thinking and making all the mistakes we real-life parents try to avoid, but often make ourselves. Garner and Edgerton gave solid performances, had good chemistry together, and seemed to genuinely care for Timothy. He may not have had top billing, but the real star of the show is definitely CJ Adams, who plays the precocious, smarter-than-his-age, funny, adventurous, sweet and loving Timothy. Maybe it's the mom-of-sons in me, but I couldn't take my eyes off him. He's adorable and his performance was excellent. He has a real presence onscreen and he rightfully stole the show.

As for the story, it's fantastical, light-weight, sugar-sweet and fun. There are moments of humor and heartache and a lot of suspending reality, but that's what good fantastical fiction is all about. The story is told in a flashback style by Garner and Edgerton's characters, and although there is the standard Disney live-action film kids-who-are-smarter-than-the-adults feel, it's still a very enjoyable show. Except for the reminder that children only stay with us (as children) for a short time. As mine are nearing adulthood, I'm reminded of this bittersweet life truth all too often. I should have taken more tissues. :)

So go see it! I found it appropriate for nearly all ages, except maybe the preschoolers and toddlers, who just ran around the theater (ahem...) in front of us. There is nothing offensive, but the subject matter is a bit grown up for small children. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

DVD Review: "Comicon Episode IV: A Fan's Hope"

Sitting down to watch "Comicon, Episode IV: A Fan's Hope" with my true-geek son, my wanna-be-geek son and my "I'm not a geek!" son, as well as my husband, I expected to see lots of goofy people in outlandish costumes, interview bits with famous and not-famous con attendees, and an overview of what happens at "the con".  I was not disappointed, and in fact, the movie included much more than what I expected.

I've never been to Comicon, but I've always thought it looked like a really good time, and the movie really only made me want to go even more. It looks like it would just be great fun to let loose among folks who are fans of the same things I am. And then some. I'm not a video game fan, and really, not a comic-book fan per se.

The documentary follows a handful of subjects' stories: two artists hoping to break into the comic book world (both were very good, Eric Henson, who is in the Air Force and has an adorable little family was phenomenal), a costume designer and her group of friends preparing to perform at the "Masquerade", a cute couple who met at Comicon a year prior and his efforts to set up a memorable wedding proposal, and a comic book store owner and his struggles to make enough money selling comics at the con.

As expected, there were loads of strange costumes, some characters were recognizable, many not (I'm not a "true" geek, according to my son), some were downright embarrassing-- large people wearing only a bikini and body paint or roly-poly Superman-spandex costumes are always a bit... odd... Storm troopers and Avatars, villains and heroes. I think it would be a blast just to go and people watch.

I liked the stories, and the interspersed Q&A with both attendees and celebrities-- the best of which were Joss Whedon's comments. He's just naturally funny. Oh, and my favorite thing had to be the comic-book style transitions from one story to another-- a freeze-frame of the subject would become a comic pane of the scene, panning back to show a full comic-book page and zooming in on a new pane, featuring the next person being profiled. It would be so cool to have a comic-book drawing of yourself!

I'm not a huge Morgan Spurlock fan (I wrote about his well-known anti-McDonalds documentary here a long time ago. I don't mind his agenda as much as I mind his superiority complex... but that's just me) but I was amused, entertained and fascinated by this documentary. I found it very entertaining and I would be interested to see even more!

There is some language, a handful of bleeped f-bombs and even more s-words, and a couple of crude sexual comments, for those sensitive to such things.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Book Review: The Third Gate by Lincoln Child

This book took me FOREVER to read. Mostly because I'm just so busy I hardly get time to sit and devour a book anymore. Also because it didn't suck me in like a good book should. I have long been a fan of Lincoln Child-- I own all of his and Douglas Preston's Pendergast books, and while I have not been impressed by their new joint venture, the Gideon books, I always give their books a chance.

You can read a full synopsis of the book elsewhere, I'll give you the short version. Jeremy Logan is a scholar of unusual phenomena, an empath, and a sophisticated "ghost hunter", who is recruited by the world's leading archeologist to accompany a team of people who are the best in their fields: an egyptologist, a doctor who runs a center for people who've had near death experiences (including his wife, who is along to see if she can communicate with any ancient egyptians) and various archeologists and technicians, etc.

The story unfolds with a very familiar pattern, similar to Jurassic Park and other books like it. I enjoy these kinds of stories, though, so I figured, even though it was familiar, I would keep going. People go into a situation thinking they've got everything figured out, thinking they are in control, and slowly, in this case mysteriously, bad things begin to happen. There's an ancient Egyptian curse, a mucky swamp in the middle of the Nile, far away from anyone, they're cut off from civilization and looking for a tomb miles below the surface of the swamp. Things go from mysterious to scary and adventure ensues.

I liked Logan's character, as well as the female Egyptologist. I liked the Egyptian stuff, hieroglyphs and tombs and curses, cool stuff. I liked the setting and that Child isn't afraid to go supernatural. It's a good read. It's pretty standard Lincoln Child stuff-- well-conceived characters, fascinating science, history and technology, tension and excitement. Will I buy it? No. Will I read it again? Not likely. But it was a decent one-time read.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Really Good Show You're Not Watching. Unless You Are.

"Justified" is an FX show based on a book called "Fire in the Hole" by Elmore Leonard. I have not read the book, though I would like to, as well as the others featuring the character of Raylan Givens.

The show is set in Kentucky, where Givens has been relocated after spending a few years in Florida. Givens is a Federal Deputy Marshal, who grew up in the coal-mining country of deepwoods Kentucky, in Harlan County, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Marshals' office where he is assigned, unearthing a series of Givens' complicated relationships, including his ex-wife, his ex-con father, his boss (played ingeniously by Nick Searcy-- who threatens to steal every scene he appears in) and the men and women he grew up with, who operate on various sides of the law.

In the TV show, Raylan is played by Timothy Olyphant, who succeeds at being tough, fearless, humorous, sexy and emotive all at once. Raylan is an extremely quick draw, faster with his gun than any of the baddies he ends up fighting, and the depth of the character's development is surprising.

The only thing I hate about this show (other than the fact that once begun, I have trouble not watching 4 or 5 episodes at a time) is the opening credit music, Gangstagrass' "Long Hard Times to Come", here: It's pretty awful, but I've come to love/hate it, because it indicates good TV viewing approaching...
I'm currently about halfway through the second season and this is one of those shows that just gets better and better. The evolution of Boyd Crowder's character has been outstanding. Expertly played by Emmy nominated Walton Goggins, he began as a baddie I loved to hate, but over time has become a character with such depth and unexpected developments, that I can't wait to see what he'll do next. And I find myself liking him in spite of his lawlessness.
"Justified" has a unique western-but-not feel to it. Set in the deep South, peppered with neo-nazis and moonshiners, it's definitely not set in the wild west. Raylan's cowboy hat and boots and action-packed, quick-draw shoot-outs, combined with that slow southern drawl is a captivating mix of flavors.

Oh, and lest you think "Justified" is exclusively filled with men, I should mention how incredible the women are. They really are. The whole cast is fantastic, very believable and the writing is clever, full of unexpected twists and the directing is tight. Oh, and it's been fun to watch "Lost"'s Jeremy Davies as Dickie Bennett. Brilliant bit of casting.

I hope Netflix picks up the show soon, because it really is great, and it's hard to find. Seasons 1 and 2 are out on DVD, and 3 will be soon, I'm sure. I assume Season 4 will begin soonish..

Sensitivity Warning: This show is quite violent; occasionally I end up cringing with my eyes and ears covered in anticipation of a violent act, like someone's hand being smashed with a hammer, but usually it's just gunplay or fist-fighting. Also, they are fond of the s-word and sometimes use religious swears. And there are random sexy scenes as well, though not too graphic. This show is definitely not for young people or children. Or uber-sensitive adults. :) Consider yourself informed.

UPDATE 9/3/12: We just finished Season 3, wherein the writers & director upped the ante on the sheer wickedness of the baddies and the gore, a bit. I hope Season 4 doesn't try to top Season 3 or I will have to stop watching. There was one character in Season 3 that was shockingly evil and it was not enjoyable to watch. Just sayin'. Although the climactic final episode was satisfying, it was unpleasant getting there.

UPDATE 3/25/15: The show is in its final season, and I stayed with it. With the exception of the nastiness of the bad guy in season 3, I have LOVED every bit of this show. I'll be sad when it ends!!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Bourne Blahgacy...

I probably got my hopes up too much going into "The Bourne Legacy" tonight.  I went in hoping for a movie matching the caliber of 2002's "The Bourne Identity", which is my favorite of the original films. I went in hoping that Jeremy Renner could carry off the action-hero physical-weapon-super-spy character that Matt Damon made so believable and sympathetic. I went in with high hopes that the new director, who did not direct any of the first three films, but was a writer on them, would resist the urge to use shaky-cam close-up shots. I was also hopeful that the story would be compelling, as Bourne's original story was. I was disappointed on all counts, except the camera work, which, while here and there it was shaky, it wasn't nearly as motion-sickness-inducing as the second and third Bourne films were.

The movie begins okay, with Renner surviving in a cold, northern wilderness. He's alone, being stalked by a pack of wolves, and his survival is mildly interesting. Meanwhile, we are shown scenes that make it quite clear that Jason Bourne's story timeline is sort of parallel to Renner's character, Aaron Cross' story. These scenes pepper the movie, which is kind of distracting from the Cross storyline, which begins mild and never really picks up steam.

The whole premise of the story (besides the government trying to kill him-- as required by a Bourne story, right?) is that Cross has run out of his meds, which keep his body and mind in super-human shape, whereas before he was inducted into the program, he was just a mediocre mind... nowhere near as intriguing as Bourne's story of not remembering the program, not remembering what he's done, or anything about himself, drawing us into the unraveling of the secrets of his government program and the lengths they are willing to go to cover it all up. Bourne's character is sympathetic, strong and believable. Cross is less sympathetic, less strong (not physically, but the way Renner delivers his dialogue isn't quite up to the standard set by Damon- maybe this is all in the writing) and a bit less believable.

There are rooftop chases reminiscent of Damon's turn, and a lengthy car-motorcycle chase, and the film ends somewhat abruptly, before Cross and Rachel Weisz's Dr Marta Shearing even begin to develop their relationship. Which would have made the movie better... she was quite good.

There were some good things, and Renner is decent-- he has a good physical presence and the fight scenes were okay, but I wanted more mystery, more cloak-and-dagger action, more near misses and I wanted to feel the sympathy for Cross that I felt for Bourne, but I just didn't.

By far the biggest problem with this movie is that the writers/director felt like audiences would need everything explained to us through conversations, instead of just showing us. Right from the beginning, when one character told another, "You're the director of the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America!" I thought, "oh boy... here we go. If they had to have someone tell him that, they must think we're all idiots." Maybe this exposition was necessary, but I found it confusing and, frankly boring. The movie should have started with the scientist shooting things up (you'll know it when you see it). Unfortunately, the action in the movie begins rather late into it. I wanted less talking and more action!

Is it unfair to compare this movie to the original? Renner to Damon? Maybe. But reincarnating a franchise simply begs audiences to do that. Think Bond. Who doesn't compare James Bond actors and films? You can't help it... or Batman movies... or Spiderman.

I do like Jeremy Renner, and I look forward to seeing more of him. I just hope he is better used in the future. Oh and speaking of being underused,  Edward Norton in this movie? Wasted.  And he seemed to know it.

Almost redeeming factor: although there are some s-words, the movie is otherwise very clean. No sex, no nudity, and no f-bombs.

A weird thing-- IMDB says the movie is 135 minutes, but our show started at 4:00 (after 4:00, with trailers and ads) and we were out of the theater at 5:30. Explain that! I wonder if more of the film happens after the credits? Weird. Really weird. Especially since it ended oddly.

For a better review than mine, read this one.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Batman

My expectations for "The Dark Knight Rises" were somewhat shaky. After the dark, evil tones of "The Dark Knight", I was nervous to see this one, unsure what to expect, and a bit cautious in my anticipation. I knew there was a good chance this one would also be dark and evil, but I have faith in the very talented Christopher Nolan, and though I kept them in check, I did have hope that it would be a more... enjoyable ride than the second film, which was almost a painful experience-- effective, emotive, but agonizing.

"Batman Begins" is one of my most favorite movies, partly because I really appreciate Christian Bale, but also because it was a wonderful Batman movie. Gritty without being overly heavy, emotional without being melodramatic, and the origin story is authentic and heartfelt. Plus I like Christian Bale. A lot. Remember what I said about him at the Oscars this year? Impressed by his recovered classiness and professionalism? Yep. I'm a fan.

Besides the darkness of the second film, I also found myself increasingly irritated by Bale's affected, gravelly voice whenever Bruce put on the mask, and as I recall, I felt like he was in costume more than not, which is fine, but I like to see Christian Bale, and I felt like there was too much mask.

I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. I was thrilled that though it's dark and violent and has some decided brutality, there is a lot more light. Joseph Gordon Levitt as Blake is a bright, fresh face, a great actor in his own right, and Anne Hathaway is a refreshing as Catwoman- she's funny, sexy and butt-kicking-awesome without being campy or too absurd. And there is a lot more Bruce Wayne out of the mask than in the last film, so I was happy on that count, as well.

Bane provides a very frightening villain, though the dialogue was hard to understand-- maybe I rely on being able to see lips moving to be able to really "hear" what's being said, but his character was a great nemesis for Batman. 

There are a few surprises in the film that I won't give away, but the end was deeply satisfying and made it worth sticking with the franchise just for that. I loved this movie- it felt much more like "Batman Begins" than "Dark Knight", which was refreshing-- "Dark Knight" was completely right to set us up for this final film in the trilogy, though I would be fine only watching the first and third in the future... the second movie was very hard for me to watch.

I really wanted this blog entry to better thought out and executed, but I'm frightfully busy and feeling overwhelmed and I've had a broken-brain week, so this is all you get. Sorry it's not my best assessment of a movie. Short version: I liked it. Very much. Especially Christian Bale. Did I mention I kind of like him? 

Friday, July 13, 2012

After 60 Years, Fans Still "Singin' in the Rain"

In celebration this year of the 60th anniversary of the theatrical release of "Singin' in the Rain", local theaters, in partnership with Turner Classic Movies, held special screenings of the film last night. The movie was preceded by a filmed introduction by TCM's Robert Osborne, including clips of him recently interviewing the charming Debbie Reynolds, as well as interview clips with Donald O'Connor and Gene Kelly's widow and others. The interviews were good and quite interesting, but we were all quite excited when the movie finally started.

The theater was almost full, which was wonderful; hopefully that sets the precedent to screen more great classics. Some of us are young enough to have never seen these films on the big screen, and others are old enough to remember just how thrilling it is to watch a great movie in the theater. They truly don't make them like they used to.

I had forgotten just how great this movie is. I haven't watched "Singin'" in years. In fact, I'm not sure whether I've shown it to any of my children or not. I took my youngest, my 10-year old daughter, with me last night, though, and I intend to show my sons the film soon-- she kept commenting that Cosmo reminded her so much of my 13-year old, Ben (and I agree). 

Cosmo is by far my favorite character in the movie; O'Connor was an adorable mix of a Marx Brother and Danny Kaye (kids, if you don't know who they are, I would happily introduce you to some of their better films... after I stop weeping at your cinematic cultural ignorance...). He choreographed the superbly entertaining "Make 'Em Laugh", throwing in the funny bit with the dummy after his backstage schtick proved hilariously entertaining to the whole crew. He was a master of physical comedy, he was a fantastic singer and dancer, and frankly, he steals every scene he is in. Almost.
Debbie Reynolds at 19 absolutely glows onscreen. She was so beautiful and funny and had such a powerful presence that when she's on, it's hard to look at anyone else! She's wonderful. In the interview before the movie, she told how she had never really danced before-- amazing that she was able to keep up with Donald O'Connor and the great Gene Kelly in this film! She was the perfect choice for the role of Kathy and it was so much fun to watch her on that huge theatrical screen.

Gene Kelly directed this movie, and he certainly had a good eye for what worked well. His show-stopping performance in the title song is amazing- he is the ray of sunshine in that rainstorm. Every time I watch this movie, I want to go find some puddles to dance in. Here in Utah, we never get a downpour like the one in the movie (well, maybe not never, but seldom), so I haven't ever reenacted that scene, but wouldn't that be a joy? He makes it look effortless, though it was actually a lot of very hard work: isn't that what great performers do?
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the perfect performance of Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont. She is so funny and so believable and speaking of scene-stealing, she very nearly steals the whole show.

Rare is the movie that is so perfectly cast that you wouldn't change a single actor for another. "Singin' in the Rain" is that movie. It's often been called the "greatest movie musical of all time" and I'm inclined to agree. It's timeless, it's incredibly funny and heartwarming, the drama doesn't slide into melodramatic... it's a really great time at the movies. I am so glad I went to see it on a movie screen. 

My one complaint about this movie is the gratuitous ballet scene. Ugh. I assume that certain scenes were included to showcase Kelly's dancing ability, as well as Cyd Charisse's, but some of it feels like padding. "Broadway Rhythm" is okay, but way too long, and the whole long white veil duet-dance with the fans blowing the veil hither and thither is artistically lovely and yes, they are amazing dancers, but every time a movie musical goes into anything like that (think the even worse ballet in "Oklahoma" or the excessive "Minstrel" numbers in "White Christmas") I feel yanked out of the story. I love musicals, but I rather prefer song-and-dance that at least loosely relates to the actual storyline of the show. Meh... that's just me. And as I write this, I'm realizing that there are a great many songs in shows that don't relate to the story at all, which I do love, so maybe it's just that I'm nitpicky sometimes. 

If it's been a long time (or not) or you've never watched "Singin' in the Rain" you should really go give it another (or a first) look. It's classic, but timeless, cinema entertainment that the whole family will enjoy. I'll be fast-forwarding the aforementioned white-veil dance sequence when I show it to my boys, but other than that I think they'll love it.

In Which I Finally, FINALLY, Watch "Serenity"

Over a year ago, I watched every episode of "Firefly" on the insistent recommendation of my brother, who is a huge fan of all things Joss Whedon. It's basically a western-style science fiction show, about a group of folks on a spaceship who do their best to avoid the law (they are smugglers and bank robbers) and the "Reevers"- a population of insane, bloodthirsty folks who eat their victims alive. That's over-simplifying it a lot, but it's the gist. I'm sure there are many, many geek-fan sites out there that would give you a much better synopsis than that.

I enjoyed it; I found it amusing, engaging and unique. It took me a while to really get into it, but I did enjoy it. But I wasn't in a hurry to watch the movie that the much-lamented, cancelled show culminated in: 2005's "Serenity". I can't explain why, I just wasn't. My brother kept encouraging me to watch it, though, and after loving what Whedon did with "The Avengers", I decided I'd better give it a look.

I did enjoy it, though it's not my favorite movie ever, and I'm not in a hurry to see it again. Mostly I liked Nathan Fillion (of course); he's as adorable as ever- manly, but just soft-hearted enough, funny but deadly serious when needed. The story was tight, the action believable and exciting, and the special effects surprisingly good for a not-huge-budget film. There is a small amount of sexuality; consider yourselves warned (if you're worried about that)- mild PG-13 level, I would say.

The sci-fi elements are really quite good- the story revolves around River, a girl who was taken by the government and experimented on because she's psychic. Skills and information were implanted in her brain, and the government wants her back. Not knowing the details, the crew of Serenity take her and her brother (who stole her from the govt. facility) aboard in the first episode of the series. The series does not revolve around this storyline, it is one of many, but the film "Serenity" is about this storyline and how it affects the crew, what the secrets are that the government will kill River to keep hidden, etc. It is very well written- intelligent and fascinating. In true Joss Whedon style, there is a lot of humor, exciting action and lots of surprises. Oh, and as my sister-in-law warned me (after my frustration at Whedon killing off Agent Colson in "The Avengers" this year) Whedon always kills someone you love. Which, as I've said before, lends a bit of authenticity to even the most outlandish story, simply because that's the most logical scenario. Someone will/would die.

If you haven't watched "Firefly", you can still watch "Serenity" and understand it, mostly, but I would recommend watching all of "Firefly"'s 14 episodes first, so you have a good feeling for the cast and the characters, as well as the setting. Just be prepared that the pilot ep. is extra long.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Book Review: The Hollow City by Dan Wells

"The Hollow City" is about a man named Michael Shipman who has schizophrenia and finds himself in a mental hospital being treated with various drugs to help control hallucinations, having lost two weeks of recent memory, (which coincide with the gory murders of members of a nearby cult-- whom he believes kidnapped and murdered his mother right after his birth). As if that's not enough to wrap your head around, along with hallucinations of "faceless" men, he sees other things, hears voices and believes there is a massive conspiracy and a Plan that has something to do with him and is very dangerous.

As the story moves along, we are just as unsure as Michael about which people and events in his life are real or imagined, and the deeper aspects of mental illness, and its treatment, are explored through his first-person present-tense narration. They psychosomatic drugs he is treated with cause uncontrollable physical reactions: his teeth click, his head bobs and his left arm involuntarily and compulsively swings. The matter-of-fact way he narrates these things makes him so relatable. Don't we all try to hold back if our body tries to shake or twitch or fidget? Wouldn't it make you frustrated if you couldn't control your own body? I feel like I totally understand this, even though I don't have anything in my life quite like what Michael has. Which brings me to my next point:

Dan Wells is very good at planting readers right into the minds of his protagonists, and not only do you become deeply sympathetic to them, but his compassionate and honest storytelling make you love them. In his John Cleaver books, the protagonist is a sociopath, and I quickly found myself caring about, sympathizing with and, on some level, really understanding him-- his motivations, his feelings (and lack thereof) and how his mind worked. I connected with a sociopath, causing some pondering about how my own brain is wired. I love a book that makes me think, without overwhelming my puny brain.

In "The Hollow City", Dan has done the same thing with the schizophrenic patient. The story is so well written that as the reader experiences Michael's story, we feel his fear, love, hate, anger, frustration, confusion, sadness, and sometimes clarity right along with him. I've never known much about schizophrenia beyond the fact that people with it generally hear voices and hallucinate. I feel like I have a little more sympathy and a tiny bit more understanding of the disease now, and imagine that- gained from a work of fiction. As he said at the book signing,  (and I'm paraphrasing from my faulty memory, forgive me if I get it wrong) Dan didn't want to "demonize" or "canonize" mental illness, as so many fictional stories do. He wanted to make it real and relatable. He did just that.

The story is very good, the resolution satisfying and exciting, and the very last scene is AWESOME! I said it before, I think Dan Wells is a serious smarty-pants. I can't wait to see what he does next.

I blew through this book in about a day and a half (and had I not a full-time job, it would have only been a matter of hours); now what the heck should I read next? Suggestions?