The Nobody by Jeff Lemire

Posted by on Jan 9, 2015 in 2014, 4 stars, Book Review, Jeff Lemire | 3 comments

The Nobody by Jeff Lemire

The Nobody by Jeff Lemire

Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 144
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Inspired the classic The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells this graphic novel tells a similar yet different story that is a haunting tale.

Why I Read It:
After reading the Sweet Tooth Series I just had to read more of Jeff Lemire’s work.

The Book:
From the publisher:

The tiny, isolated fishing village of Large Mouth never saw much excitement — until the arrival of the stranger, that is. Wrapped from head to toe in bandages and wearing weird goggles, he quietly took up residence in the sleepy town’s motel. Driven by curiosity, the townfolk quickly learn the tragic story of his past, and of the terrible accident that left him horribly disfigured. Eventually, the town embraces the stranger as one of their own — but do his bandages hide more than just scars? Inspired by H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, THE NOBODY explores themes of identity, fear and paranoia in a small community.

My Thoughts:
When I picked this up at the library I didn’t realize is was a retelling of The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells so I decided to wait to read this until I read the original. I’m glad I did.

When a strange bandaged man arrives in the small community of Large Mouth the locals are suspicious, then welcoming, then suspicious, then angry.

I liked the way that Lemire told this. He used The Invisible Man as a starting point but this story is different. There are similar characters with the same or similar names as in the Wells book but there are also characters and pieces of the story that vary widely. Vickie, the daughter of the owner of the local diner befriends the mysterious man and become the primary narrator. It’s told mostly from her perspective.

If you haven’t read The Invisible Man this is still an interesting and well told story. I was glad that I read them both close together. I think it helped me appreciate the similarities as well as the differences.

Lemire’s art is like his story telling. Minimalist in many ways but packed with emotion. It’s all in black and white and his rough hewn drawing style works well to convey the parts of the story that isn’t told by the words.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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Nutshell Review: 100 Bullets Vol. 3: Hang Up on the Hang Low by Brian Azzarello

Posted by on Jan 6, 2015 in 2014, 3 stars, Book Review, Brian Azzarello, Comics | 2 comments

100 Bullets Vol. 2: Hang Up on the Hang Low by Brian Azzarello with art by Eduardo Risso

100 Bullets Vol. 3: Hang Up on the Hang Low by Brian Azzarello

Genre: Crime Fiction, Comics
Series: #3 in the 100 Bullets series
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 2002
Pages: 126
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 3 is a compilation of issues 15-19 of the comic series.
From the back cover:

Life’s a Bitch . . .
. . . and then you die. Or at least somebody dies. Most likely, when you enter the shadowy world of 100 BULLETS, it’s a whole lot of people. That’s just what a young man named Loop is about to find out. With a gun and 100 rounds of untraceable ammunition – courtesy of the mysterious Agent Graves – he’s set to meet the father he never knew and find out first-hand what the underworld is really like. It’s going to be worse than he could possibly imagine.

My Thoughts:
The first volume of this comic series introduced the concept of being gifted with an untraceable gun and 100 bullets along with the proof about who had done them wrong from a man known only as Agent Graves. What they chose to do with the information, weapon and ammunition was up to them.

This third volume might be by favorite of the series so far. The five issues combined in this book really work as a self contained story. However, they also continue the mystery of Agent Graves his motive.

The story of Loop Hughes and his long absent father and their relationship is the main story in this volume. Pops left before Loop was born and when Agent Graves gives Loop the information to find his father they meet for the first time and both their lives are irreversibly altered.

It’s got a noir feel to it and that is greatly enhanced by Eduardo Risso’s artwork. It’s dark and mysterious with some well done action scenes.

I’m looking forward to Volume 4 because I am getting more and more intrigued about Agent Graves and what his long term plan might be.

3 stars  Rating 3/5

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Herbie’s Game by Timothy Hallinan

Posted by on Dec 27, 2014 in 2014, 4 stars, Book Review, Timothy Hallinan | 0 comments

Herbie's Game by Timothy Hallinan

Herbie’s Game by Timothy Hallinan

Genre: Mystery
Series: #4 in the Junior Bender series
Publisher: Soho Press
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 387
Source: copy provided by the publisher

The Short Version:
Junior Bender, professional burglar and occasional private investigator for those on the wrong side of the law investigates the death of his mentor and substitute father.

Why I Read It:
I have enjoyed the series so far and this one about Junior’s mentor was sure to fill in some background on one of my favorite fictional investigators.

The Book:
From the author’s website:

Junior Bender returns for a fourth outing. Seeking the murderer of his mentor and substitute father, burglar extraordinaire Herbie Mott, Junior finds out along the way that Herbie might not have been the man Junior thought he was, and that choosing to play Herbie’s game might have cost Junior far, far too much.

My Thoughts:

So you see, kid,” Herbie said, ‘we’re like Robin Hood. We steal from the rich and we give to the poor.”
“How do we give to the poor?” I asked.
“I said we were like Robin Hood, not a slavish imitation of Robin Hood.”
“So we’re sort of like Robin Hood,” I said.
“Yeah,” Herbie said. “If you squint.”

I have enjoyed every book in the Junior Bender series. A professional burglar who occasionally operates as an investigator for those on the wrong side of the law Junior is smart and witty even though he’s not always exactly keen on his job.

The idea of investigating crimes on behalf of crooks hadn’t been mine, and much of the time it took a gun to my head, metaphorically and occasionally literally, to get me to go to work. Even though I kind of enjoyed figuring things out and it was mildly flattering ot be asked, there was the drawback of my possible death every time I went to work.

This time around Junior is hired to investigate a theft but the investigation leads to his mentor Herbie who is most definitely dead. Junior is shaken by Herbie’s death and the investigation into both the initial theft and the identity of Herbie’s killer becomes more and more complicated and surprising. Junior learns things about his mentor that he’d rather not know and learns some things about himself along the way.

I really enjoy Junior and the cast of recurring characters, in particular Junior’s teenage daughter. Junior’s girlfriend Ronnie intrigues me. She’s got some secrets herself.

It’s a fun series with plenty of action and humor along the way. I recommend it. They do work as stand alones but there are some continuing stories that make a bit more sense if you read the series in order.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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Nutshell Review: Audiobook – Spirit of Steamboat by Craig Johnson

Posted by on Dec 23, 2014 in 2014, 3.5 stars, Audio, Book Review, Craig Johnson | 2 comments

Spirit of Steamboat by Craig Johnson, Narrated by George Guidall

Spirit of Steamboat by Craig Johnson

Genre: Fiction
Series: related to but not part of the Walt Longmire series
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: 2013
Length: 3 hours, 42 minutes
Read by: George Guidall
Source: Library


The Book:

From the publisher:

Sheriff Walt Longmire is in his office reading A Christmas Carol when he is interrupted by a ghost of Christmas past: a young woman with a hairline scar and more than a few questions about his predecessor, Lucian Connally. With his daughter Cady and undersherrif Moretti otherwise engaged, Walt’s on his own this Christmas Eve, so he agrees to help her.

At the Durant Home for Assisted Living, Lucian is several tumblers into his Pappy Van Winkle’s and swears he’s never clapped eyes on the woman before. Disappointed, she whispers “Steamboat” and begins a story that takes them all back to Christmas Eve 1988—a story that will thrill and delight the bestselling series’ devoted fans.

My Thoughts:
I always try to listen to or read a holiday themed book or short story collection in the latter part of December. This year I chose this wonderful little novella featuring some of my favorite characters from Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire series.

The story is set up with the arrival of a stranger who gets Walt to take her along on his regular Tuesday night trip to play chess with his former boss. From there it becomes a flashback to 1988 and the Christmas Eve just a couple of months after Walt became sheriff.

A winter blizzard, an historic plane, a dying little girl and just enough people who feel that the right thing to do is to try set the story in motion. The identity of the stranger and the outcome of the flight really aren’t in question but the adventure and suspense remain high throughout this story.

For fans of Walt Longmire it’s a nice holiday story without being an integral part of the main series.

I opted for the audio version because I adore George Guidall’s narration of this series and was not disappointed at all.
3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5 for the book

4 stars Rating 4.5/5 for the narration

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Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

Posted by on Dec 19, 2014 in 2014, 3.5 stars, Book Review | 2 comments

Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

Genre: Horror, Suspense
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 247
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Employees in an IKEA like store stay overnight to find out what’s causing the strange happenings and chaos ensues.

Why I Read It:
Swapna at S. Krishna’s Books mentioned it on twitter and after reading the book description I had to give it a try.

The Book:
From the publisher:

Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Columbus, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring wardrobes, shattered Brooka glassware, and vandalized Liripip sofa beds—clearly, someone or something is up to no good. To unravel the mystery, five young employees volunteer for a long dusk-till-dawn shift—and they encounter horrors that defy imagination. Along the way, author Grady Hendrix infuses sly social commentary on the nature of work in the new twenty-first century economy.
 
A traditional haunted house story in a contemporary setting (and full of current fears), Horrorstör comes conveniently packaged in the form of a retail catalog, complete with illustrations of ready-to-assemble furniture and other, more sinister accessories. We promise you’ve never seen anything quite like it!

My Thoughts:
Part of the reason a horror story set in an IKEA knock off store appealed to me was because I’ve been to IKEA twice and both times felt relieved to have escaped with my sanity intact. The disorienting layout and sensory overload of the displays, not to mention the crowds are just torture as far as I’m concerned.

So a horror story set in this type of environment? Totally plausible to me.

The fun part is that the book cover at first glance looks like an IKEA catalog. Inside chapter breaks are descriptions of merchandise that are initially innocuous but grow more and more disturbing as the story progresses.

It’s not a slasher type or blood and guts horror story, It more of a haunted house on a big box scale. There is plenty of humor along the way but it’s definitely a horror story.

It’s a little different. It’s a little creepy. It’s actually a lot of fun. Get the book – the IKEA catalog comparison just cannot come through in an ebook or audio version.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Posted by on Dec 16, 2014 in 2014, 3.5 stars, Book Review | 8 comments

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resiliance and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Genre: Non-Fiction
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 457
Source: Loan from my sister-in-law

The Short Version:
A story that would be completely unbelievable if it was fiction is the best way to describe the life of Louis Zamperini.

Why I Read It:
Everyone I knew was loving this book 4 years ago and I’ve had my sister-in-law’s copy on my shelf for almost that long. It was high time I finally read it.

The Book:
From the publisher:

In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943. When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

My Thoughts:
This is one of those books I had on my shelf (on loan from my sister-in-law) that I purposely avoided for a long time. Initially it was because everyone seemed to be reading and recommending it. When that happens I tend to avoid the book because my expectations are so high that I always feel like I’m setting myself up for disappointment.

I finally started it as part of my unofficial Non-Fiction November and then started seeing ads and trailers for the upcoming movie version. I’m really glad I read it before the movie came out.

Louis Zamperini’s story is an amazing one. It’s actually several stories.

His transformation from wild kid to Olympic athlete is one. A wild child headed for trouble, he almost accidentally found his talent as a runner. That he made it into the record books and to the 1936 Olympics is a triumph in itself.

World War II changed his path. When his plane crashed he and two other crew members were the only survivors. To survive 47 days floating in the ocean with no food or water is an amazing story. To follow that up with 2 years of the horrific conditions endured by Japanese prisoners of war is truly a story that would be unbelievable if it hadn’t actually happened.

Zamperini’s final story is his struggle with PTSD and alcohol abuse. His encounter with evangelist Billy Graham was a turning point.

In addition to these stories Hillenbrand takes several detours along the way to tell more about Zamperini’s crewmates, his family and even the sadistic prison camp guard.

Parts of this were extremely difficult to read. In particular the treatment of the POWs was horrific.

Hillenbrand clearly did massive amounts of research and Zamperini’s life is clearly a long and amazing one. I’m glad I finally read this book but it wasn’t one that I’d call excellent. There was a lot of information about a lot of people and even though this is primarily Zamperini’s story it felt rather distant and removed. It full of facts and details but even when the details were about Louie it felt disengaged.

So while I think it was an amazing story, I don’t necessarily think it was an amazing book.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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