Category: Book Reviews

“Leave The World Behind”

“Leave The World Behind” is a book that hauntingly parallels our time. The story of a white family of four (Archie, Rose, and their parents Amanda and Clay) on vacation in an AirBnB where there is limited (if any) cell reception only to be suddenly disrupted by an elderly black couple (G.W. and Ruth) who claim to be the owners of the house and that a massive power outage had occurred across the entire east coast.

The two families are soon awkwardly forced to share the space while trying to determine the cause and scope of the power outage. On top of the general awkwardness between the characters, there are inexplicable occurrences that are noticed throughout the house and the yard only to exacerbate the mystery behind their predicament.

The story masterfully explores the human condition in what is believed to be life or death situations to battle situations like starvation, infection, and isolation. The author (Rumaan Alam) narrates the story almost like a work of epic poetry; abundant in description and emotion but with very little dialogue between the characters.

I had never heard of this book or author before a few weeks ago. I found the book accidentally in the Charlotte airport, but this New York Time Bestseller and National Book Award finalist has quickly become one of my favorite books of all time. An absolute must-read!

“Ready Player Two” – Ernest Cline

Once upon a time, back in 2011, I read a book that changed my life.

It was a story about me, or, at least, I saw a lot of me in the main character. A lovable high school loser who loved video games and movies of a bygone era. He related and compared his life to that of the characters in the game and movies he loved so much. Then, throw in there the most savage scavenger hunt ever conceived for the ultimate prize. “‘Willy Wonka’ meets ‘The Matrix'” as so flawlessly described by USA Today.

Nine years later and after an abysmal film adaptation, the sequel to the NYT bestseller brought about an older Wade “Parzival” Watts living the life of a recluse billionaire; hidden away (though not ignorant) from all the major issues of the world that seem to be worse than ever. Along with the older Wade comes a different OASIS experience known as ONI that gives the user a seamless experience that gratifies the senses so intensely, it fools the user’s brain into thinking it’s real.

SOME SPOILERS AHEAD!!! DO NOT READ ON IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE BOOK YET!! (more…)

“Arts & Entertainments” – Christopher Beha

“Arts & Entertainments” by Christopher Beha is a book that at the start I felt was written just for me. It had a parallel and even eerie introduction that had many similarities to my own life about a man named Eddie. He’s in his thirties desperately trying to hold on and improve his meager success of his earlier years in the film industry only to realize that nearly a decade has passed him by and is now teaching at his former high school; a private Catholic school for boys.

I am now in my thirties, was a substitute teacher for two years at my former high school (a private Catholic school for boys), and still effortlessly trying to make my mark in the entertainment industry. There are a few major exceptions of which will never apply to me. The first is that Eddie was trying to be an actor, whereas I am trying to make it as a screenwriter. The other is that in this book, Eddie willingly crashes and burns into it by selling a sex tape he had made with a former ex girlfriend and now television superstar to a reality show… and that is where the freight train that is the parallel stops. (more…)

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

imagesI remember hearing about this hypothetical comic book crossover wet dream becoming a reality over a year ago. Naturally, I wrote about it as soon as I heard. How more perfect could it be for me? My two favorite comic/movie/television franchises of my lifetime uniting for what I was certain would be an epic series and storyline. I’m only mad at myself for not thinking of it sooner and creating my own storylines for it. (But who’s to say I won’t even after this?)

The first (of the six-part issue) released in December of 2015 and the final issue of the series released in May of 2016. Back in May of 2015, I called every comic book store I could find in Los Angeles. No one had them and/or they would sell out within hours of receiving them. So I looked to eBay and the individual issues would sell for anywhere from $20-$45 each!! As much as I wanted to read them, I knew that it was more important for me to be able to eat and pay rent.

So I made an executive decision:  (more…)

Achieving The Perfect In-Home Library

45ae47879849694321ac2d328a0c02e6It’s no secret that movies are one of my biggest passions in life and they forever will be. In the past year, however, I have re-kindled my passion for another form of storytelling; books. Books-I mean we all know what books are, right? Of course we do. It’s a webpage without ads made of trees. A real book. No wifi signal required. Ever. None of this e-reader crap either.

How old did I just sound as you read that last sentence?

Anyway…

For years I’ve relished in spending hours walking aimlessly in libraries and bookstores of all kinds. I sometimes fantasized that I was the guy from The Twilight Zone (but without my glasses breaking.)

Books are often times the catalyst for a movie. A story told in a different medium. An original medium. A timeless medium.

This thinking and over-thinking about books got me fantasizing about wanting to build a home library. Let’s be honest, it would be a lot cheaper and reliant than a game room or a home theater for sure.

But of all the billions of books in existence… which books belong in MY library?

This is not going to be another Top 10 list. For one thing, this list will certainly recommend more than 10 books. But aside from the classics or cliché titles, (which will obviously be included), I want to give you my reasons as to why these particular books would go in my library and why they’re so important to me. That being said, I absolutely suggest and recommend all of these books to you if you have a home library already and want to add to it or are about to build one.

It should also be noted that the list will be in a chaotic order. But that’s on purpose. Because you need to introduce a little chaos when you want to recommend so many stories and characters in your head at the same time.

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“The Martian” – Andy Weir

91c4ZDFCn1L._SL1500_I will admit to sometimes being a prisoner of the moment. I think most of us can be susceptible to this from time to time. I’ve been on kind of a sci-fi/looking WAY beyond what the eyes can see mood lately. This was brought upon in the last year with that show “Cosmos” hosted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. It got me in the mood to find more information (either in an academic or creative space) to feed my imagination. I have found all that and more with “The Martian” by Andy Weir. Fair warning that there will be minor spoilers in this review, but I will do my best to keep it as vague and ambiguous as I can. I will also write this review in the style and voice of the main character in the book to give you an idea for the writer’s style and sense of humor.

So there’s this guy named Mark and he’s marooned on Mars. (more…)

“Ready Player One” – Ernest Cline

ready-player-one-cover1In the midst of the sudden passing of Apple’s first and original genius, Steve Jobs, this all seems a bit too coincidental; but such is life. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but in case you didn’t know, I certainly have no shame or make no apologies for saying this again: I AM A NERD/GEEK! I am a child of the 1980’s and 90’s and I’m about to tell you about a novel that brilliantly embraces and encourages that ever-growing sub-culture that has become an ever-evolving way of life. I haven’t been this excited nor have I enjoyed a book so much since “The Da Vinci Code.”

“Ready Player One” starts off in the year 2044. A not-too-distant, believable future, about to be post-apocalyptic world where overpopulation, limited resources, and pollution has turned America (and most of the world) into sector after sector of people living in trailers stacked on top of each other like a game of Jenga.

The story revolves around The OASIS-a virtual reality simulation-where everyone is logged on all the time. The OASIS is basically a billion times bigger in scope and size than WoW (World of Warcraft,) Facebook, and eBay combined. A world created by renowned video game designer, James Halliday.

The book starts with the announcements of Mr. Halliday’s death. (more…)