Archive | June, 2007

The God Interviews by Natalie d’Arbeloff

24 Jun

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Have you ever stopped to wonder who God truly is?

 

 

Is he a man or a woman? Is he black or white? Maybe she’s purple or yellow? Would he be wise? Would she be menacing? What if we could sit down with God and ask those questions we all have burning a fire inside of us. What if we could actually interview God?

 

 

D’Arbeloff gets to do just that. In a series of comic strips, first featured on Natalie d’Arbeloff’s highly popular blog Blaugustine, her alter ego Augustine gets to interview God and ask him those burning questions. It might be interesting to note that God is a balding black man who is sometimes deep and sometimes evasive.

 

 

The God Interviews is flat out incredible. Augustine asks God some difficult questions: How do we know that God exists? Why does he allow hate? Why is there evil in the world? What is the most accurate portrayal of God? Why does God allow horrible things to happen?

 

 

You would think that a collection of comics dealing with such questions would be dark and morose fodder for evangelists everywhere, but d”Arbeloff manages to transcend religion and brings The God Interviews to another level entirely. The book is bright, fun and thought provoking and I found myself awed in quite a few places.

 

 

The focus in the comics isn’t religion. Instead, each comic focuses on something different and forces us to look within ourselves to view our personal reactions. In reality, each short strip (fourteen in all) is really a short piece of wisdom delivered through pictures and words. Each strip is so subtly simple you don’t realize that it’s affected you until much later.

 

 

I was charmed by The God Interviews. I was moved, awed and impressed. Is it good? No; it’s incredible. I had wondered at the start whether or not a comic strip about God could work and, in d’Arbeloff’s hands, it does. Her simple but colourful art is the perfect compliment to such simple and wonderful wisdom.

 

 

I’ve read the book three times already and each time, the fourteen comics just speak to me and touch something in me. d’Arbeloff has given us a comic strip with a soul and one I love very, very much.

 

 

If you haven’t had the chance to be charmed by The God Interviews, get yourself a copy, won’t you? It’s a beautiful, lyrical look at life and the world. It will make you laugh, think and you won’t be able to stop thinking about it. That is the real power of d’Arbeloff’s work.

 

 

It stays with you days after the last page has been turned. Truly wonderful and very inspirational and incredibly enjoyable. Don’t believe me? You’ll just have to get your own copy and find out for yourself.

 

Details of “The God Interviews” are on this page of Natalie’s website:

http://www.nataliedarbeloff.com/interviewgod.html

and can be ordered from:

http://www.lulu.com/content/610429

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The Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston and Lincon Child

24 Jun

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Things are jumping at the New York Museum of Natural History.

 

When a mysterious package arrives addressed simply to The Rocks and Minerals Curator, it sets off a chain reaction of events so stunning that no one could have predicted it. The package is leaking a small amount of brown powder that looks strangely like Anthrax. It isn’t Anthrax.

 

It is diamond dust.

 

A mysterious criminal known only as Diogenes Pendergrast was kind enough to return the diamonds he stole previously; albeit not in their original form. Suffering in jail for the crime is FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast. With Diogenes free to continue his spree of terror, he sets in motion his most diabolical plan yet.

 

Posing as a museum employee, he gains access to The Tomb of Senef. To counter-act the bad press from the diamond heist and their subsequent return, the New York Museum of Natural History decides to re-open an old exhibit long since closed.

 

The decision causes some outcry. There are some who say that the exhibit, a complete Egyptian tomb including sarcophagi and Mummies, is cursed. There are some who say that any who come in contact with the old tomb are doomed.

 

Diogenes plans to use this to his full potential to kill as many people as possible. The only person who can stop him is his brother, FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast. There are those coming to his aid but they may be too late.

 

By the time he is released from prison, the whole world may be in jeopardy….

 

I really wanted to enjoy this book more than I did. Being that I’m a huge fan of Preston and Child’s books (especially when they write together) I really wanted to delve into The Book of the Dead and be swept away by a fast paced story line and a fantastic race against time.

 

That didn’t happen.

 

Though the usual well developed characters appear in The Book of the Dead, and the plot has been thought out down to the last detail, everything just kind of fell flat for me. Characters that before seemed so full of life now seemed like nothing more than talking heads. The plot, which before had been planned to such perfection, now seemed silly and asinine.

 

I really wanted to love this book. In fact, I had been looking forward to it. It is the last in what is an unofficial trilogy, the previous two books being Brimstone and Dance of Death. Though many reviewers insist that you can read The Book of the Dead on its own, you can’t. I found myself flipping through the other two novels so that I could remember what the authors were referring to in The Book of the Dead.

 

That’s not to say that it wasn’t a good book. It was. It just wasn’t a great book. While a little flat and a lot dry, it’s a good book to read if you’ve read the first two books and want to know how everything ends. Other than that, though I wouldn’t waste your money on this one in hardcover and would wait for the paperback.

 

It’s an unfortunate end to what could have been a fantastic trilogy. Don’t take my word for it, though. It’s still a good read, just not as good as it could have been. Here’s hoping that, for their next book, Preston and Child try something new instead of dusting off the same old characters.

A Collection of Love, Pleasure and Pain by Corlis

12 Jun

 

 

Everyone wants love.

 

People crave love, desire love, need love. Some obsess over it; some dream of it. Some are even consumed by it. There are all kids of love in the world and with love, there is always pleasure.

 

But pleasure can bring you something else. Something darker that speaks to you in the shadows. Corlis knows what speaks there, what whispers to us as our pleasure crosses that very thin line and becomes something else altogether.

 

The sweet kiss of pain.

 

In A Collection of Love, Pleasure and Pain, Corlis Martin has crafted five glorious stories, each more different and shocking than the last. Each use love, pleasure and pain as a theme within the story. Pressed together, crammed within one hundred and seventy pages, the passion seems frantic and hot. Inviting but dangerous.

 

In the title story, Love Pleasure and Pain, we are shown just how far Christine will go to get revenge on the boyfriend who raped her. And what happens when she gives into her passion as she flees to another city aboard a rocking, rollicking train?

 

In The Absence of Pleasure, Jon Paul has left his lover Bradley after twelve years. Not able to admit his homosexuality to himself or to the world, Jon Paul leaves Bradley never knowing what consequences his actions will have.

 

In When Only Love Remains, Monique catches Mark, her husband to be, in bed with another woman. She has a hot night of passion with him, her jealousy inflamed, but realizes she must make a choice. Can she live without the man she loves more than anything in the world?

 

Corlis has written a patchwork quilt of lust, sex and violence. I will freely admit that I was made uncomfortable by almost all the stories in this gripping collection. At first I was really put off by this but then, something occurred to me: what is comfort but an absence of pain?

 

After that, I was able to read the stories in a new way, one that let me see into a world where pain and pleasure mix and swirl like a good red wine with a smoky aroma. Though I was uncomfortable, I needed to read more. The stories got into my blood and wouldn’t let go.

 

Though A Collection of Love, Pleasure and Pain isn’t for everyone, it is a gripping read. My only major complaint was that it could have done with some basic editing. But don’t let that stop you from reading what is sure to be the most engaging, sensual, disturbingly erotic book that I have read in years.

 

Pick it up and read it. You might just have to examine where you draw your own lines between pleasure and pain but you’ll enjoy every minute.

In Search of Adam by Caroline Smailes

11 Jun

When she is seven years old, Jude finds her mother dead from an overdose.  A bottle of pills lay scattered on the bedside table and there is a note. Jude approaches her mother carefully, slowly. The note says: Jude, I have gone in search of Adam I love you baby. 

Jude doesn’t understand. She climbs into bed with her dead mother and curls up beside her, taking in the last of her mother’s warmth. Taking in the last of her mother. She does not understand that her mother can’t come back. She doesn’t understand that she won’t be coming back, Adam in tow beside her.  

Her mother’s death starts Jude on a downward spiral. Floating through a sea of emotions, she is adrift and without her mother, there is nothing to anchor her. She tries to find love from her father only to have him look at her strangely. There is no acceptance there; there is no love.  

Jude begins to keep a book, a diary of sorts, where she collects anchors, where she gathers information to keep her grounded, so that she has something to hold on to. Something to mark time. She collects the number of coloured doors on the street, the number and colour of cars. The names Information on the neighbours, some nicer than others.  

Something happens to Jude shortly after her mother’s funeral that shatters something inside herself. Having no one to turn to for guidance, all Jude can do is collect, gather, observe.  

And wait for her mothers return.  

In Search of Adam is flat out incredible. We’re only part way through 2007 and I can state without a doubt that In Search of Adam is the best novel of the year. Hell, it may very well be the best novel I’ve read in years. I don’t have enough words to describe how good, how amazing, how mind blowing this novel is. I can’t find the words, they escape me.  

In Search of Adam left me breathless.  Jude is an incredible protagonist. She is the ultimate observer, taking in all and everything around her; you live through Jude, you breathe through her. This is her world and her life and you are looking through her eyes. She has been drawn so beautifully, so completely, that I found myself looking for her when I wasn’t reading the book. She haunts me. While reading the novel I wanted to wrap my arms around her and hold her close to me. It has been an incredibly long time since I’ve been so moved by a book.  

This is a grim book but never have child abuse, suicide, rape, emotional issues and death been written about so beautifully. Caroline Smailes is no mere writer; In Search of Adam is no mere book. She is a wordsmith, an artist and In Search of Adam is a moving, changing, gorgeous piece of word art; a tapestry that lives and breathes beyond its pages.  

In Search of Adam is not just a novel you read. It’s a journey you take with Jude, holding on to her hand for dear life and watching, feeling everything that happens to her. Are you brave enough to take her hand? This is a book you don’t want to miss, a story that will move you and a journey that will touch your heart in its darkest places.  

I am staring at the book as it sits on my coffee table and I can hear Jude calling to me. She still haunts me though I have closed the book; but I will pick it up again soon. Now, though, I run my fingers over the cover, over the image of Jude and know that, when I meet her again, I will know her.