Water For Elephants

Just finished Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen last week — excellent read. This book came at the suggestion of my wife, who keeps surprising me by her recommendations!

The book is about Jacob who’s about to sit for his vet final exams, but he learns his parents just died in a car crash. He finds out that there’s nothing left. The banks own everything, and to make matters worse the story takes place during the Great Depression. Jacob winds up running away and joining a struggling circus as a vet. He meets and falls in love with the wife of his boss, and I’ll stop there.

What I like about Gruen’s writing is her pacing. From the descriptions to the thoughts of the main character, the book moves well and picks up speed where it needs to and lets you catch your breath when you need to.

I was reluctant to read this book at first. I figured it was some kind of sappy romance about the circus. Of course, I was way off. The story is gritty and tense, but equally beautiful and exciting. The characters aren’t novel ideas, there’s nothing new here. What is new is throwing these characters into a traveling circus during the Depression. This discovery made me realize that while some agents often cite interest character driven novels, I enjoyed watching Gruen’s average characters live in a world unfamiliar to most.

I highly recommend this book as I believe it will appeal to almost any literary tastes. The writing is exceptional and the story is first-rate. I’ve read that this book will be a movie soon. As most books to movie go read Water For Elephants first than wait for the movie on Netflix or cable.


Armageddon Week

Last week The History Channel set aside episodes about Hitler, Ax Men, and Pawn Stars to showcase documentaries about how the world will end. “Armageddon Week” was fantastic! I don’t why The History Channel doesn’t do more programming like this? Shows like the “Nostradamus Effect”, “Doomsday 2012”, “After Armageddon”, and my personal favorite “Apocalypse Man”. Now, I know this week was created to buy into the 2012 hype, but I found it refreshing from a science fiction point of view.

Right now, science fiction is diluted with space operas, alternate history, and fantasy. I’ve never really been into any of these genres. As mentioned in early posts, I’m dystopian, end of the world type-of-guy. So when “Armageddon Week” came along, I was psyched. I got more out of the documentaries like “After Armageddon” and “Apocalypse Man” because they were dramatized end of the world scenarios. The others were just recycled tidbits about Easter Island, Nostradamus, and Mayan prophecies. What I liked most about “Apocalypse Man” was the survivalist theme that ran through the show. How to set up a base, acquire information, and convert grease into fuel were just some of the topics covered. The host was a little over the top at some points, but still was fun to watch.

I really get a kick out of this stuff. I know I shouldn’t. God forbid, something catastrophic happen! I’m sure I’d forget all the stuff I learned from “Apocalypse Man” and just hide in basement. However, there is something that attracts me to watching civilization fall apart. Maybe it’s sick or maybe it’s my desire to live a simpler life. The U.S. is becoming a lost place. We’re losing our identity as a nation day by day. It’s still better than any other place I can think of to live, but just watching the news I can’ t help wonder what the future holds. Even with technology that surrounds us today, are we any further advanced? I personally think the technology has dumbed a lot of our society. Talk to any high school kid and you’ll know what I mean. (Although, I’m sure I wasn’t all that articulate at 16 either.)

I don’t believe the world will end in 2012. I do believe there will be a chain of events that will affect the world and change everyone. Some for the good and some for the bad. No one really knows and that’s why The History Channel can run Armageddon Week — suckers like me buy into it…hook, line and sinker.

Now I’m off to try to convince my wife of the coming zombie apocalypse. Good luck surviving!


13 Bullets

A new year with new opportunities. I’m still focused on crafting a solid query and targeting agents that have an interest in my area of science fiction. I have had some recent interest in my book and hope that something might be in the works. Much like 2009, this year will be one of patience.

Aside from my query efforts, I just finished 13 Bullets by David Wellington. I read Wellington’s Monster Island so I was already familiar with his writing style. I would consider our writing styles similar in that we are straight-forward storytellers. He doesn’t shift the point-of-view and keeps the plot tight and simple. Not only do I enjoy writing like this, I like reading it too.

13 Bullets was a refreshing read for the vampire genre. Wellington dispels the myth of sexy vampires and creates a world of ugly ones. Jagged, shark like teeth and pointy ears are Wellington’s vampires. You won’t read about any Twlight type vamps in his world; that point alone makes this book a worthy read. 

Laura Caxton is a state trooper that’s a lesbian is pulled into the world of vampire hunting. The fact that Caxton is a lesbian is more of an aside than the focus for Wellington. I appreciate this even though I have no problem with gay characters. Caxton lives a normal life with her dogs and partner only to be pulled into the world of vampire hunting after a traffic accident. The Caxton character is a good match because along the way she figures out what vampires really are in Wellington’s world.

There’s a bit of pyscho-drama that’s pulled into this novel. This makes Caxton a richer character and believable. There’s not a lot as the vampire action eventually overwhelms in the end.

13 Bullets is the first in a series of vampire novels featuring Laura Caxton and will prove to remain interesting since the vampires are not as easy to kill. Though I enjoyed the first book of this series, I’m not sure if I’m in it for long haul. That’s my preference; I’m just not a series type of guy. However, I’m still open for the right one to come along.