It’s been forever since I’ve posted, and it involved a huge dose of apathy. I also got sucked into an online game called evony that took up WAY too much of my time this summer.
But, I’ve broken out of that, taken my first Ruble Seminar for my CIC designation, and made some major life altering decisions. The most major of those – I’m going back to school! (Huge exclamation point, happy dance, wondering if I’m totally insane event) I’ve decided to go to grad school and get my MBA. Lots and lots of reasons, many many benefits, and tons and tons of student loans. But, I’m really excited about it. After coming to the realization that there is no way, as a single mom and full time employee, I can commit to a classroom approach to my MBA, I’ve checked out various online programs. My choice is Capella University. I’ve read reviews – both positive and negative – about Capella. I’ve decided that no university will have a 100% approval rating, and I will, as always, get out of it what I put into it. I’m determined to do well, and am excited about the course schedule.
To celebrate my decision and impending student-hood, I went to the bookstore this weekend. My good friend Bob, @redwingsbob, manager of the store and co-bookophile, recommended 3 books ….. ok technically, he recommended like a zillion books, but I chose 3. I’m excited about these – as they’re outside my normal fare of late – urban paranormals. I will do my best to review these when done, but knowing me, it will be more of a thumbs up or down, than a full on book review.
Chesley-winning illustrator Brom (The Plucker) weaves together gloomy prose and horrifying adventures in this macabre fairy tale inspired by J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. Born of faerie blood, Peter hunts abandoned children, runaways and the hopeless, recruiting for his Devils in Avalon and promising them a place where you never have to grow up. He conveniently fails to mention that Avalon’s monsters are very real, and the Devils must practice their war games or risk being tortured to death, eaten or worse. While early chapters are promising, this gothic fantasy stumbles on its own darkness. The devilishly amusing flashbacks to Peter’s origins don’t make up for the heavy-handed bloodshed, rampant violence and two-dimensional characters. It’s all fiendish monsters and desperate battles in this twisted, dark Neverland; the Disney Peter’s mirth and good humor are nowhere to be found.
While the Bible may be the word of God, transcribed by divinely inspired men, it does not provide a full (or even partial) account of the life of Jesus Christ. Lucky for us that Christopher Moore presents a funny, lighthearted satire of the life of Christ–from his childhood days up to his crucifixion–in Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. This clever novel is surely blasphemy to some, but to others it’s a coming-of-age story of the highest order.
Joshua (a.k.a. Jesus) knows he is unique and quite alone in his calling, but what exactly does his Father want of him? Taking liberties with ancient history, Moore works up an adventure tale as Biff and Joshua seek out the three wise men so that Joshua can better understand what he is supposed to do as Messiah. Biff, a capable sinner, tags along and gives Joshua ample opportunities to know the failings and weaknesses of being truly human. With a wit similar to Douglas Adams, Moore pulls no punches: a young Biff has the hots for Joshua’s mom, Mary, which doesn’t amuse Josh much: “Don’t let anyone ever tell you that the Prince of Peace never struck anyone.” And the origin of the Easter Bunny is explained as a drunken Jesus gushes his affection for bunnies, declaring, “Henceforth and from now on, I decree that whenever something bad happens to me, there shall be bunnies around.”
One small problem with the narrative is that Biff and Joshua often do not have distinct voices. A larger difficulty is that as the tone becomes more somber with Joshua’s life drawing to its inevitable close, the one-liners, though not as numerous, seem forced. True to form, Lamb keeps the story of Joshua light, even after its darkest moments.
Desperate to outrun the Black Death ravaging England during the sodden summer of 1348, nine disparate souls band together in this harrowing historical, which infuses a Canterbury Tales scenario with the spectral chill of an M. Night Shyamalan ghost story. Maitland (The White Room) gives each of the travelers a potentially devastating secret. How did narrator Camelot, a glib-tongued peddler of false relics and hope, really come by that hideously scarred face? What is magician Zophiel hiding inside his wagon? And just who is Narigorm, the spooky albino girl whose readings of the runes are always eerily on target? As the nine strangers slog cross-country through the pestilential landscape, their number shrinking one by one, they come to realize that what they don’t know about each other might just kill them. Despite Maitland’s yarn-spinning prowess, her narrative occasionally stalls because of unrelenting grimness and an increasingly predictable plot—that is, until its gasp-out-loud finale. (Oct.)