Latest Reads and Views

One of the nice things about summer - and the dogs days of summer at my moonlighting job - is you can take some time to relax and catch up on things, like books and movies. Since I love books and movies, I've been doing a lot of that over the past few weeks. Here's some quick hits and misses.


Slumdog Millionaire - Bet you didn't know this was a book, did you? It was originally published under the name Q&A and was written by Vikas Swarup, an Indian diplomat. The book was the basis for the movie, but in general terms only. The main characters have different names (Ram as opposed to Jamal for the main character), but the story where the poor kid knows the answers to all the quiz show questions based on the experiences of his life is the same. Of course, the specific stories are all different as well. In a way, that makes the book better than I expected after watching the movie because it was all new, and it tells the story in a different way. I can't say the book or the movie is better than the other, but the book is definitely worth a read.

Relentless - This is the latest offering by Dean Koontz and I have to say I'm disappointed. It's not that the story is bad or boring, but I think something has been lost in how Koontz tells a story from his earlier days of such amazing thrillers as Intensity and House of Thunder to what he does today. Since he started the Odd Thomas series his characters have changed a bit, like Koontz is more concerned with creating the idea of his characters rather than continuing to do what made him a star. The stories aren't bad, and when he gets to the action its just as riveting as in the previous best sellers, there is just less of it. In fact, in this book nothing action like really happens for 50 pages. That's fine and doesn't make it bad, it's just not my expectation when I pick up a Koontz book, you know? Of course, I'll keep reading though. Tom Clancy went through something similar until his most recent novel, when suddenly the old Clancy was back. That's what I'm hoping is in the future for Koontz - bring back the thriller!

My next read is Shooting Stars, about LeBron James by Terry Pluto. Two chapters into it and I'm pretty enthralled. After that I have a stack of books I'm on the short list for at the library...good thing I have a vacation coming up!


The Watchmen - This movie was epic, definitely, but I'm not entirely sure it was good. I felt like there were multiple pieces of the story I wasn't getting, so thankfully I'll be getting the graphic novel from the library soon. Of course, that doesn't say good things about the movie. I was a tad disappointed they couldn't pull this off as well as they did V For Vendetta (loved the graphic novel and the movie).

Oceans Series - In a span of a few days we watched Oceans 11 off the Roku box via Netflix (if you have Netflix and don't have a Roku box you are missing out), watched Oceans 12 on Blu-Ray from the library, and then had Oceans 13 delivered on Blu-Ray from Netflix. Oceans 12 was the least good, but all of them were entertaining. I'm a fan of the repartee between the characters of Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Matt Damon (and those other guys), but can I say any of them were actually good? Oceans 11 I would probably call good - the other two were just pretty entertaining.

The Soloist - I found this one pretty entertaining, and I enjoy the true stories. Jamie Foxx - as usual - was an excellent actor and I thoroughly enjoy Robert Downey, Jr. even if he does play the same character in every movie he is in. Thumbs up.

Knowing - I won't say this was especially good, but it was entertaining. I like Nicolas Cage's movie more than a lot of people, but it's not for the acting that's for sure.

I Love You Man - I admit it, I'm a big fan of Paul Rudd. I was hoping this movie would be really good and funny, but in the end it was just pretty amusing - it didn't really break the mold on anything. Still, a fun watch.

Nim's Island - $25 says you have never heard of this movie, and you'd be surprised to hear it stars Gerard Butler, Abigail Breslin, and Jodie Foster. It's a kid's movie about a girl stranded on a tropical island after dad gets stuck in a storm at sea. It's actually pretty entertaining, for something rated G and not a cartoon. Foster, in my mind, was excellent as an agoraphobe, though how she finally got talked out of the house isn't entirely believable. Decent movie to watch with kids, but it's not really date night material.

P.S. I Love You - This movie made be angry. Not because it's bad or anything, but it was billed as a romantic comedy and is really just a depressing sobfest. Butler shows up again and does a solid job, and Lisa Kudrow reprises her Friends role without the blondeness. I'm not a Hillary Swank fan, but she was entertaining, though my favorite actor was Harry Connick, Jr. in his role as the guy with no filter. Big fan of his. The movie is good - just don't go into expecting laughs, because it's assuredly not funny.

License to Wed - I think every member of The Office made an appearance in this move except Steve Carill. John Krasinksi didn't have to step outside of his Jim character at all, so he did great. Not a big fan of Robin Williams, and the extras on the DVD all involve him doing not funny things people think are funny. What people, I don't know. The movie was entertaining, but really all I could think about through the whole thing was I am so glad Wifey wasn't some religion where I had to go through something like that. After the movie she told me the same thing about me. Three cheers for small weddings on the beach in Maui!

Fool's Gold is probably up next, and Netflix has Adventureland on the way...more reviews in a week or two!

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