Book review: 4 Quick Picks

By , August 25, 2009

The Angel’s Game
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

3 stars

A stylish, suspenseful read. Ruiz Zafon’s cinematic writing style evokes a gothic, Modernist Barcelona that both intrigues and frightens.

- Jessica

It All Started with a Dog
by Leigh Somerville McMillan

4 stars

- Cheryl

The Little Stranger
by Sarah Waters

This phenomenal haunted house story called to mind the best work of Daphne DuMaurier, Shirley Jackson, and Patrick McGrath.

Undress Me in the Temple of Heavenn
by Susan Jane Gilman

Ignore the ridiculous book cover and title and check out this gripping description of a trip to China gone horribly, horribly wrong.

- Beth

Music Reivew: Bebe, Pafuera telerañas

By , August 25, 2009

bebe

Pafuera telerañas

By Bebe, 2005

3 stars

Fun, smart, sexy pop along the lines of Ingrid Michaelson, Yael Naim, or Feist, but en español.

Jessica  at Bordeaux

TV review: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

By , August 25, 2009

drhorribleDr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
5 stars

I need a t-shirt that says, “Joss is my King.” Why, you ask? Because I love Joss Whedon. That’s right, I heart him very much. I especially heart him when he does wonderfully witty things like Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

For those of you uninitiated with the Whedonverse, Joss produced the cult TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and then Angel, of course, as well as a little known gem entitled Firefly which made it to the big screen as Serenity. Last year when the television writers went on strike, Joss got together with his equally zany brothers and created Dr. Horrible. Part satire, part musical, but all genius, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog tres enjoyable.

Striking out in the new world of free online video, Joss and crew released Dr. Horrible in the summer of 2008 in three different installments spread over a week’s time. When the first act was posted, Whedonites flocked to view the show en masse and the site crashed almost immediately – even though they’d taken special precautions to use a very large server to prevent this from happening. Once they got all the bugs worked out, everyone got to view Dr. Horrible to their heart’s content. I, myself, came into work on my day off just so I could see how it ended on the third day. Amazing, right?

Not so much, when you consider that the featurette stars Neil Patrick Harris in his second outing playing a doctor as Dr. Horrible, Nathan Fillion also in his second role as a captain, playing NPH’s nemesis Captain Hammer, and Felicia Day as the third member of their love triangle, playing do-gooder Penny (most likely for the first time). Our story begins with Dr. Horrible trying to get into the Evil League of Evil and from there wackiness ensues. Together with his sidekick, Moist (played by Howard from The Big Bang Theory), you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you may even sing along. Whatever you do, don’t skip the extras on the DVD, including Commentary: the Musical, featuring Nathan singing, “I’m Better than Neil.” If you miss this, it’ll be curtains for you. Gently wafting curtains. Uh…sorry, you’ll just have to watch to catch that last one. Ok, I’m off to go watch it myself for the gazillionth time. AaaaAAAAAaaa (evil laugh and exit stage left)…

View the first episode on Hulu.

- Amanda

Book review: Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure

By , August 3, 2009

Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip
By Matthew Algeo

Harry Truman left office in 1953, before ex-Presidents had Secret Service protection or pensions. With only his Army pension for income, Harry returned to his Independence, Missouri home to resume life as an ordinary citizen. Harry loved to drive, and was determined (despite his wife’s misgivings) to make a 2500-mile vacation road trip to New York and back. He and Bess set out in their new Chrysler on a journey over America’s back roads (no interstates then), with stops at small-town diners and Mom and Pop motels, during a hell-busting heat spell (no air conditioning in cars then, either).

This book is utterly charming. This is not a 1000-page deep history. What it offers is an intriguing and humorous look at Harry Truman, the 1950s, and road trips in general. It offers fascinating side stories (like Harry’s feud with Dwight D. Eisenhower), details of meals taken (Bess really eats quite a lot of fruit), and a view of what has happened since 1953 to some of the places they visited (one of the motels is now a halfway house for felons). A very satisfying read, and an incitement to read much more about Harry Truman.

- Pam

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