Thursday, December 15, 2011


by Stephen King

The first book I read by Stephen King was The Dead Zone, way back in the early 80's. After that I determined to read anything the man wrote; little did I realize what a commitment that would be! I have failed to accomplish reading everything he has written, but I would say I've made a huge dent. At the time, I believed Mr. King capable of amazing stories based on mesmerizing ideas; I was right, he has written some of the most interesting and thought-provoking stories I have read: The Stand, It, Needful Things and The Green Mile to name a few. I'll admit, there have been a few duds, but he mostly bats fourth. This man has an amazing way of making a thousand pages read like a hundred.

In this latest novel, 11/22/63, King addresses time travel, alternate universes and saving Kennedy but altering the future. Some of these concepts are reminiscent of The Dead Zone, perhaps why I enjoyed it so much. Jake Epping first goes back to 1958 to save one of his student's from a horrible life-changing experience. After succeeding here, he decides to stay in the "Land of Ago" to also save President Kennedy from Lee Harvey Oswald. His belief is that this rescue will also stop Vietnam and the assassination of Martin Luther King, among other notable tragedies in the aftermath of that murder; he is hoping to save the world. Not surprisingly, things don't go as expected.

Set aside your notion that King writes horror stories, he writes great stories! At times he gets a bit too political for my taste (he is a raging democrat), but this is easily overlooked for quality. Read this one on your Kindle though to spare yourself lugging around that huge book.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Remarkable Creatures

by Tracy Chevalier

I've been on a stretch of reading historical fiction and really enjoying it. Here is the story of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, two fossil hunters in early 1800's England. When Mary was just 12 years old she unearthed the first ichthyosaur skeleton to be correctly identified. Mary's findings also included plesiosaur and the first pterosaur located outside of Germany. Because Mary was a woman she received little recognition during her lifetime, however her discoveries reshaped the way scientists thought about the earth's age and the concept of extinction. Elizabeth spent her time unearthing fish fossils. The finds of both women can still be found in the Natural History Museums in London, Oxford and Paris.

Remarkable Creatures is not only a book of fossil hunting, it is a book of the friendships, heartaches and frustrations remarkable women faced during an era when they were disrespected and disregarded.

I have read other works by Chevalier and can attest to her ability to bring to life the period, place and characters she presents. Despite that, this was not my favorite book of hers, I think because even though it is relatively short, it seems rather long. The story does not contain much action and lacks a plot to carry it forward. It was almost like reading journal narratives of daily fossil hunts on the beaches of Lyme Regis in great detail. If you have a great interest in fossils then Remarkable Creatures is for you. It gives great descriptions of many skeletal findings as well as how they are excavated, cleaned and preserved.