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Thursday, July 10,2014

Book reviews: Notes from Neil

Vampires & Whales

by Neil Rajala

Thursday, July 10 — I hope you all enjoyed the long holiday weekend as much as I did. A quick road trip to Ann Arbor, barbecue and other fun with the kids; exactly what a summer holiday is made for. Here's what we're reading:



THE QUICK

Lauren Owen

I wouldn't say that Ms. Owen has done anything radically new with the 19th century British vampire novel, really. But she has created a marvelously satisfying example of the genre. A sensitive young man from the countryside, living in London for the first time, lots of fog and rain, narrow side roads and alleys, long shadows and a mysterious gentleman's club - fans of this type of book will recognize a lot of familiar trappings. Which isn't to say that the author hasn't put a fresh spin on some of the details. Her take on the hierarchy among the undead is interesting and creates a nice thread of tension throughout. The feared "Dr. Knife" is an original (and seriously creepy), character to say the least. The author claims to have taken much inspiration from JK Rowling, and the influence shows in her writing at times, but I picked up more than a little Stephen King, too. kobo eBook



WAR OF THE WHALES: A TRUE STORY

Joshua Horwitz

The opening scenario of this fascinating story is shocking and heartbreaking; a mass beaching of more than a dozen whales in the Bahamas, not far from a small cetacean research facility. It isn't too difficult to discover who the responsible party is: the U.S. Navy has been suspected of causing similar environmental turbulence for years with its deep ocean sonar testing. Mr. Horwitz's well-researched and passionate book tells the history of the Navy's experiments with sonar and submarine tracking at the same time he's recounting the Natural Resources Defense Council's attempts to stop the damage being done to marine life, and whales in particular. The NRDC and the Navy eventually ended up before the Supreme Court, where the argument came down to a military trying to be ready for any possible threat vs. the need for careful stewardship of our fragile marine ecologies.  



BIG DAMN SIN CITY
Frank Miller and Lynn Varley

Not just for the for the fanboy or girl. All seven of Frank Miller's gritty crime graphic novels in one monolith-sized book, released just in time for you to become fully immersed in the dark corners of Basin City before the second Sin City movie arrives. For those of you who are devoted readers of crime and mystery novels who might be waving this one off a just a comic book, I'd caution you against short-changing what Mr. Miller and Ms. Varley accomplished with this series. It's as epic a crime saga as any novel - Basin City is merciless, and yet not without hope, the heroes are imperfect, the villains are violent and ambitious and the vivid graphic world created by Ms. Varley (and captured so well in the first film) enhances every tense moment. Absolutely one of a kind storytelling.

In thinking of a question for this week (and thanks again to all of you who have answered so far) I couldn't help but think of the seasons. People talk so much about "beach" or "summer" reading that my question is simply: Do you read different types of books depending on the time of year? Do the seasons affect your choices?

Until next week,


Neil

NeilNeil Rajala is Currently Director of Community & Business Services for Schuler Books, Neil's decade with the company has included the wearing of many different hats - and lots and lots of reading.

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