Shooting Stars - Buzz Bissinger and LeBron James: Actually got this book to review for the other job. I wasn't expecting much, but it was actually pretty intriguing, well-written, kept my interest, and told a good story about a group of friends dealing with stardom. As a sports book it's well done (I'll admit it - my expectations are lower), but it's a decent read overall.
Roadside Crosses - Jeffrey Deaver: I used to love Deaver's writing, absolutely love it. However, I think stardom has changed him somewhat - similar to what I said about Dean Koontz a while back. It's not that this book was bad, it's just not at the quality standard he has previously set for himself. He also is putting too much of himself into the book. Do I really care the main character loves to find obscure music all over the world, listens to it in the car, and do I need to know the name of the group, the type of music, the track number, etc? If it's relevant to the story, fine - but this isn't relevant. Instead, it's just distracting because you keep expecting there to be some relevance where there is none. It's not like I'm a big-time writer or anything, but even I know you can't distract the reader. No matter how good the rest of the narrative is the reader - the only reason you write a book, other than narcissism - will not have a good experience. Unfortunately, that's how I felt here - the narrative was excellent, but there were too many distracting pieces that didn't fit.
Swimsuit - James Patterson and Maxine Paetro: This books was alternately engrossing and disturbing - for the first 90% of the book. The end, though, left a ton to be desired. It has an ending, but it was way, way too neat and for it to match with the rest of the detail and intrigue of the book should have been 10 times longer. In some books that might be too much, but it would have been good here. I don't know exactly how the dual writer role works in a book - I know Patterson has a couple proteges he works with - but it's almost like they mapped out only the first three-quarters, did that well, and then wrote the end in five minutes and never reviewed it. Sad, because this was a great read - typical Patterson fast and violent - most of the way through.
Watchmen - Alan Moore: I'd been on the waiting list at the library for this for almost a year. That's what I get for waiting until the movie was coming out to request it. Now, I saw the movie first, so I knew the story. I was hoping the story would fill in the blanks of things missing in the movie. For the most part it did, but the story was still, really, the same. Maybe it's because it's just so damn depressing, but while it was very well done and kept my attention, I can't say it was anything super significant to the literary world or even was that great. I thought V For Vendetta was a better story, a better epic.
You're Okay - It's Just A Bruise - Dr. Rob Huizenga: If you know who Huizenga is it's probably from NBC's The Biggest Loser, which is how I became aware of him as well. He's the doctor on the show, the one who tells everyone who they are on the brink of death in the beginning and then congratulates them on how far they have come later. I can't recall how I came across this, but apparently he had written a book because he used to be the team doctor for the L.A. Raiders - I had to check that out. Huizenga's writing style makes this book very accessible even though it's told from the doctor's perpsective, which was something I wasn't sure about - didn't want a medical book. He was the team doctor during the mid-eighties to about 1991, spanning the careers of greats like Marcus Allen and Howie Long. He also was intimately involved in the Lyle Alzado steroids and cancer story, talked to legendary owner Al Davis, had a falling out with the team's orthopedist, was horribly underpaid, was president of the NFL doctors, tested out thousands of potential draft picks (and Bo Jackson), and helped form the NFL's more stringent drug policy under former commissioner Paul Tagliabue. All of that, and now he's back in the spotlight on the 8th season of The Biggest Loser, and has his own medical practice in L.A. Yep, I'd say he's doing all right for himself - and he's led an immensely interesting life. The book is definitely worth a read, especially if you like football and/or the Raiders.
Coraline: Loved this movie. It was odd and weird - in a Nightmare Before Christmas kind of way - but enthralling. Definite recommendation. Thing is, it's supposed to be a kid movie - if I was a little kid this thing would freak the hell out of me.
Fanboys: I'll be honest - I'd never heard of this. Wifey thought it sounded good though, so it showed up via Netflix and I was very pleasantly surprised. It's infinitely geeky, but at the same time it's pretty funny. I could completely see this movie being re-done with sports fans - or, actually, maybe it has been already? It's called Big Fan. Might have to see it.
300: I thoroughly enjoyed this movie about Sparta, and on the Blu-Ray it had a feature talking about how much of it was true and how much was fantasy. I was surprised how much of this was true - wow. Glad I didn't grow up in Sparta. Entertaining, violent, and gory - how can you go wrong?
Fool's Gold: This wasn't the worst movie in the world, but it wasn't that great either. Not really the funny, the action and intrigue was just okay, and Matthew McConaughey has changed a lot as an actor since he was in A Time to Kill. Not in a good way. Kate Hudson is growing on me though.
Beowulf: Odd, crazy, weird - and yet mesmerizing. I still don't know if this movie was good or not, but I couldn't look away. The effects were excellent, the characters were strong, I just don't really know how I feel about it.