Tag Archives: adventure

New Dan Brown ‘Robert Langdon’ Novel Coming

originWhether or not you saw or read Inferno — which you absolutely should have — have no fear; Dan Brown is blessing us all with another ‘Robert Langdon’ novel. Yes, I said blessing because yes, I truly love his books.

According to his web site, Dan Brown’s next book in the series is Origin, due to be released September 26, 2017.

Little is known about the  novel. It was only recently announced, and there isn’t even cover art yet. What we do know is that it will once again involve Brown’s character Robert Langdon, the Harvard symbologist and will “thrust” him “into the dangerous intersection of humankind’s two most enduring questions, and the earth-shaking discovery that will answer them,” according to the press release.

I, for one, am all in, but I hope Brown’s books continue to sell. Inferno, the movie, did…well…less than stellar in theaters, so hopefully people aren’t starting to get sick of this character and format. They truly are fun, adventurous, dark and thought-provoking books.

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Movie vs. Book: Inferno

**Note: This post does include spoilers about both the novel and movie versions of Inferno. 

Robert Langdon wakes up in a hospital. He has been shot, doesn’t realize that he’s in Florence, Italy — and not Boston, Massachusetts — and doesn’t remember anything that’s happened in the last 48 hours. So begins Inferno, the latest and easily one of the best of Dan Brown’s bestsellers conspiracy thriller novels that have been captivating readers since The Da Vinci Code was released.

In the latest adventure, Langdon teams up with his nurse, Sienna Brooks, and finds a projector in one of his pockets that displays Botticell’s Map of Hell. He knows that whatever reason he’s in Italy, it must have something to do with this map. Over the course of the novel, he discovers that he has been brought to Italy by the World Health Organization to solve a puzzle, whose answer indicates the location of some kind of virus or plague created by a billionaire geneticist named Bertrand Zobrist. Zobrist is well-known for his teachings against overpopulation, so it makes sense he would create a plague that would wipe out the population.

The reason why I believe Inferno was such a successful Dan Brown novel is because it veered far from the others, avoiding the format we’ve come to expect from a Robert Langdon novel. Langdon wakes up and not only has to solve the puzzle, but his amnesia is so bad, he doesn’t even know why he’s solving it!  The young ingenue with whom Langdon teams up is actually working against him! And what’s more — he does NOT solve the puzzle in time! The plague gets out after all. The end of Inferno is not only sad, it’s unsettling and alarming.

The movie followed the book so well until the moment when the characters arrive at the Hagia Sofia in Turkey, where the plague is expected to be released. The movie ends there. Langdon locates the soluble bag that contains the virus, Sienna is killed, and the WHO gets the bag before it dissolves and leaks out the virus. The novel, however, has much more story. We find out that yes, Sienna Brooks was working against Langdon, but she also wants to stop the virus from getting out and is essentially a good person. In the novel, they also learn that the virus had been released a week earlier anyhow, so the chase that led them there was irrelevant; it’s already out. The good news is that the plague is not a deadly one, but one that causes sterility.

It’s obvious why the movie adaptation’s ending is so different. Everyone wants a Hollywood ending. The idea of the movie ending with a sterility plague released is horribly pessimistic. Not to mention, viewers would condemn the fact that Langdon wasn’t really much of a hero after all. On the other hand, the book ending the way it did totally works. Sure, it’s unsettling, but it makes you think. People watch movies to make them happy. People read books to make them think.

Get Inferno now in paperback for $7.40.

Or on your Kindle for $9.99.

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Review: Whip Smart: Lola Montez Starts a Revolution

Recap: Lola Montez is on the run, and where to next? It’s the mid-1800s, and Montez is not one to settle. So when she is dared to seduce a king, she moves to Bavaria to try her hand at seducing King Ludwig I. That’s where she becomes one of the most famous mistresses in European history. Does this sound familiar? It might. That’s because it’s all based on the true story of the real Lola Montez, an actress, dancer, and mistress from the 19th century.

It’s her relationship with King Ludwig that results in backlash from the public. But Lola and her crazy self is too oblivious to notice the continental shakeup she’s had a part in starting. As she hooks the king, she continues to have sexual relationships with other men. Meanwhile, her daughter is cared for by her own mother — the fact that she’s the mother is kept secret from the both the little girl and anyone else Lola knows. Right decision or not, it’s enough to give Lola a reason to keep going.

Analysis: It’s hard for me to put into words what I didn’t like about this book. All I can say is there was a lot. It was twisty, and with no knowledge of the real Lola Montez, I didn’t know where the story was going. Her character comes off not so much cosmopolitan as she is casually slutty. The book is obviously meant to be comedic; we’re meant to laugh at her obliviousness and her ability to command attention and power without necessarily meaning to. But instead, I found it annoying. She came off as silly and dumb to me, making it difficult for me to connect with her and her story. The most interesting part was the relationship she had with her daughter — the daughter who doesn’t know Lola is actually her mom. But the reader only gets small glimpses into that relationship.

The book is also hard to read as a stand alone. It’s the third book in a series about Lola Montez, the Whip Smart series, and though it was teased as a novel I’d be able to read without having read the previous novels, it didn’t feel that way. It referenced things that happened in the earlier books fairly often. Eventually I was able to figure it out, but it made it hard for me to sympathize with Lola and what she had already been through.

MVP: Lola Montez. Despite how many issues I had with the book, she was nothing if not a spicy character with lots of personality! I couldn’t help but laugh at her casual looseness and aloofness.

Get Whip Smart: Lola Montez Starts a Revolution in paperback for $14.60.

Or get it on your Kindle for $5.39.

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Review: Amazon Burning

Recap: When a traumatic and potentially life-ruining legal matter threatens Emma Cohen’s shot at finishing college, she takes a sabbatical — which isn’t really much of a sabbatical at all — interning for the newspaper her father works for during a summer in Rio De Janeiro. It starts out fun, but quickly becomes dramatic when a famous environmentalist is suddenly murdered.

She flies with her father to the Amazon to cover Milton Silva’s suspicious death and funeral. Along the way, she meets a good-looking photographer, Jimmy, but because of her ongoing legal battle in New York, she must keep her hands off. Emma decides to focus on the story of Milton Silva and — together with Jimmy — begins to investigate.

But the deeper they dig, the more they come across crime and suspicious activity. Add to that the craziness and chaos of Amazonian weather and and you’ve got yourself a crazy thriller-adventure with a little romance mixed in.

AnalysisAmazon Burning starts off strong. There’s a mysterious murder. There’s a college girl, with a secret of her own, working to uncover all the details. There’s a sexy man, a sexy location and a sexy summer season. But the story itself doesn’t exactly live up to the hype.

As Emma and Jimmy get deeper and deeper into their investigation, they open up, and we finally learn what Emma’s secret is. But their investigation doesn’t go as far as they’d like. They get closer and closer, but ultimately reach several dead ends. As it turns out, the biggest plan they coordinate winds up screwing up a federal investigation that’s going on at the same time.

As much I wanted to root for them, their inability to solve the case made it hard. Then I got to thinking — why would they even try to solve it? As a journalist, I understand the job of a reporter, and of course, were one to come across a case that they thought they could solve, that’s great. But more likely than not, reporters are following cases and  reporting on them, not solving them themselves. That’s the job of an officer or detective. The journalist aspect story seemed far-fetched, especially by involving a college student. And when Emma and Jimmy wind up failing anyway, it makes the story that much more unfulfilling.

Get Amazon Burning in paperback for $9.74.

Or on your Kindle for $4.99.

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Neil Patrick Harris To Release “Adventure” Memoir

nph-3dHow often does a beautiful, sometimes talented, or sometimes famous-for-no-reason celebrity release a memoir? These days, pretty often. And while some are rather enjoyable to read, others fall flat when we realize these people aren’t that great, that interesting, or that talented when it comes to writing.

But Broadway and TV star Neil Patrick Harris is offering something different. NPH announced that he’s releasing an “adventure” memoir, entitled Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography. It’s unclear exactly how it works, but this is how it’s explained on the book’s web site:

In this revolutionary, Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative, actor/personality/carbon-based life-form Neil Patrick Harris lets you, the reader, live his life. You will be born in New Mexico. You will get your big break at an acting camp. You will get into a bizarre confrontation outside a nightclub with actor Scott Caan. Even better, at each critical juncture of your life you will choose how to proceed. You will decide whether to try out for Doogie Howser, M.D. You will decide whether to spend years struggling with your sexuality. You will decide what kind of caviar you want to eat on board Elton John’s yacht.

Whatever that means! The web site also says the book will include NPH’s recipes, childhood photos, and magic tricks. What more could we ask for? The book is set to be released October 14, 2014.

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Review: Ready Player One

220px-Ready_Player_One_coverRecap: In 2044, the world is a scary place. A permanent economic downturn leaves most people living off minimal means. Instead of immersing themselves in reality, people are now spending their time in a virtual reality online. This online virtual world, called OASIS, allows people to log on and be transported into a universe where things aren’t so bad. Every person has an avatar, and the avatars can go to school online, work online, drive, shop, and travel online. Wade is one of those people; with his avatar, Parzaval, he’s able to escape from his lonely world without parents, real friends or a girlfriend and suddenly become just another person.

James Halliday is the OASIS creator, and when he dies, he leaves behind a scavenger hunt or “Egg Hunt.” Just like any other video game, the avatars must find the keys to three different levels and then pass each one. The first to win will win millions of dollars and take over Halliday’s empire. In order to win the game, players must have a vast knowledge of Halliday’s life and 1980’s pop culture and video games (which Halliday is obsessed with). Most players are also trying to beat the “Sixers” to the finish line. The “Sixers” are a group of employees who hope to take over the empire and charge usage fees for the OASIS, which had always been free.

No one can find the first key for five years. Then Wade does it. With his friend Aech and crush Artemis, Wade sets out to win. But he soon learns that knowledge isn’t the only thing that will get him through the competition.  He also needs friends, persistence, and heart.

Analysis: Part adventure, part coming-of-age, and part dystopian, Ready Player One draws similarities to already familiar stories. The search for the key and the ability to enter the First Gate is similar to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But much of the story plays homage to George Orwell’s 1984. Not only does the story revolve around movies, TV shows, music and video games from the 1980’s; and not only does author Ernest Cline flat out reference Orwell’s classic novel in the book, but like 1984, the “Sixers” in Ready Player One watch the players, much like Big Brother. Just like in 1984, the people in this dystopian society are fed up with the government and use the hunt as a way to rebel and take control of the universe in which they’re suffocating.

The story may not be the most original, but Ready Player One‘s true beauty reveals itself in its pop culture references and jokes, and in the author’s ability to create an entire online universe. It had me wonder if a universe like OASIS may not be so far off. Ready Player One is a fun, enjoyable and smart novel that makes a broader statement about our reliance on technology as way to get by in life and maintain relationships.

MVP: Wade. When reading the book, it’s hard to decide what kind of ending you want for Wade. But when the end comes, you know it’s the right one. He not only accomplishes his goals, but he also does it in an unselfish, heroic way.

Get Ready Player One in paperback for $10.89.

Or on your Kindle for $9.99.

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