Friday, 18 October 2013
Title: No Good Deed (Kelly & Umber Book 1)
Author: Bill Blais
Genre: Urban Fantasy
“No Good Deed” by Bill Blais is the first in a series of Urban Fantasy novels entitled the Kelly & Umber series. The story follows Kelly McGinnis, a typical suburban mother who accidently discovering the existence of demons when she interrupts what she initially believes to be a case of police brutality. When she manages to defeat the demon through a fair dose of luck, she begins to wonder if what she saw really happened. However, she soon gets approached by a group of people who have been fighting demons and wish to now offer her a job on their team. And so Kelly embarks on a life in which she must face monsters that she never knew could really exists.
As you can see the plot above sounds pretty standard for an Urban Fantasy novel and on the whole I can’t say it varied too much from what I expected. However, this doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable and it doesn’t mean there aren’t some interesting aspects present. For example I really liked the novel’s pacing as it moved along at a good rate and the action packed elements kept me turning the pages to find out what would happen next. In addition, I think Blais has worked hard to detail and describe the various demons, it was nice to see such depth and I found it easy to envision what he was writing about.
Then there is Kelly herself who I really enjoyed reading about because she was one of the more interesting and different elements to the novel. She isn’t the usual young, good looking, popular heroic character that you will see in many other books, instead she is a middle aged, overweight and unfit mother who you would never expect to be out trying to save the world. I just appreciated getting to see a protagonist like this and I can imagine many readers enjoying getting to see someone who may be more like them than many other characters out there.
I did have some issues however, the first of which is the believability of it all. I know that you need to suspend your disbelief when reading speculative fiction but I did find it a little hard to accept that just because Kelly managed to kill a demon a group of skilled, veteran fighting would suddenly believe that she would be good for the team. Then there is her family, who just came across as being a little bit too wonderful and sweet. It felt to me like they had been set up in a way to ensure Kelly could do everything she needed to without an issue. As a parent myself I found it rather unbelievable how easy it was for her to arrange everything she needed too without any real issues.
Overall, as long as you accept the minor believability issues with Kelly’s life and how she gets involved in demon hunting then this is an entertaining urban fantasy novel. Kelly herself is an interesting character that many readers should be able to relate to on some level which helps to enhance the story. The demon hunting team plot line isn’t anything that original but it should still be enjoyable for many fans of the Urban Fantasy genre.
Friday, 11 October 2013
Title: I am Spock
Author: Leonard Nimoy
“I am Spock” is an autobiography written by Leonard Nimoy, an actor who is still best known for his portrayal of Spock on Star Trek. It was actually his second autobiography created to showcase a few more stories from his career in addition to trying to dispel the rumour that he hated playing Spock which had been initiated due to the title of his first book, “I am not Spock”.
I have never read that first book but it is made very clear here that he loved playing Spock and feels that whilst he has influenced that character, it in turn has influenced him. In fact there are quite a few internal dialogues contained within the book between Nimoy and Spock which are a nice touch and showcase that whilst they are different, there is a form of love between them.
In regards to the writing itself, it was clever, informative, humorous and entertaining. I really did enjoy it from start to finish but as someone who is interested in Star Trek I suspect I was always going to. As is regular with an autobiography from an actor there is a slight element of self-importance prevalent within the book that needs to be accepted and understood. However, I didn’t find it excessive and I actually enjoyed getting to find about how own thoughts and opinions.
You shouldn’t believe that this book is all about Star Trek however as there is much more to Nimoy than this. He is a talented actor and director in his own right and he tries to cover other aspects of his life in this book. It was particularly interesting to follow the stories about his interactions and involvement with other people and projects in Hollywood. The only thing missing in my opinion would be something about his amazing pop song “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” but I suppose we can’t have everything!
One thing to note about the book is that it was written quite a while ago now round about the time he first appeared in The Next Generation. It therefore doesn’t include his appearances in the new movies, Fringe or anything else in his recent resurgence into the acting world. Personally, this is something I would love to see in the future as I really am curious to read about his more recent escapades and his thoughts on how Trek etc. has progressed.
Overall this was a thoroughly enjoyable book that does let the reader learn a little by more about Nimoy and his own thoughts. It can feel a bit one sided in its narrative but as long you accept that this is being told just from one person’s viewpoint it shouldn’t bother you. For any Trek fan this would be an enjoyable read and personally I am now considering picking “I am not Spock” in an attempt to read some of Nimoy’s earlier musings.