Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book Review: Dead Until Dark

Sookie Stackhouse is a cocktail waitress in the small LA town of Bon Temps. She lives in a time when vampires live out in the open and other supernatural beings keep coming out of the woodwork. Most of you who have seen True Blood already know this. I had actually missed the first season of the show and came in on the second so I wanted to read the first book, Dead Until Dark, which was the basis for the entire first season.

Sookie's voice in Dead Until Dark is strong and well-developed. It's in first person and I could hear her voice (or Anna Paquin's voice) flow in my head without any awkward sentences. In that sense the dialogue is quite realistic. Reading the book made me appreciate the casting job done on the show True Blood. My favorite was Sam Merlotte, who was very likable in the book and the show for me.

The main story follows Sookie beginning to date a local vampire, with murders piling up around town and all signs pointing to Sookie being next. There's an interesting dynamic in the storytelling where you almost have a 1st-person omniscient because Sookie can read minds. Therefore, the reader gets Sookie's point of view and she tells us what certain people are thinking. However, she can't read everyone's mind, which adds to the mystery.

I found Dead Until Dark quite charming with great characters and interesting storytelling. If you've only seen the TV show you're missing out. Pick up Dead Until Dark, it's just as good or even better than the show. Charlaine Harris did a really fine job.

Bookophile Rating: Excellent

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Book Review: Armageddon in Retrospect

Kurt Vonnegut's novels are among my favorite, which led me to question whether his essays and short stories would be as good. The 2008 publication was the first posthumous collection and has a pretty funny introduction by Kurt's son Mark Vonnegut. The book itself contains 13 stories and essays about War and Peace, two of Vonnegut's most common themes.

The stories contained a lot of autobiographical information. Each story had a character or two whose experience was more directly based on Kurt's life than the characters often found in his novels. Some of the most vivid tales were about the firebombing in Dresden, an experience Kurt drew from extensively in his writing. Few could portray the horrors of war and then make a joke about it to lighten the mood as well as Kurt Vonnegut. Every story has its gruesome parts and each made me grab my gut laughing at one point or another.

I would not only recommend this book to Kurt Vonnegut fans, but to first time Vonnegut readers. The stories in this collection might introduce new readers to his level of sarcasm so they can enjoy stories like Galapagos and Deadeye Dick.

Bookophile Rating: Excellent

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book Review: Eureka: Brain Box Blues

I'm a pretty big fan of the Eureka TV show on Syfy so I thought I'd check out Cris Ramsay's tie-in novel Brain Box Blues. The premise was promising, very similar to what one might find in a two-part episode of the TV show.

The story revolves around a device called the Brain Box which can extract the final thoughts/feelings from a corpse. Naturally, the General is involved in the project and forces Global Dynamics to use the Brain Box on a man (presumed to be a spy).

I'll start with the good. Cris Ramsay does a very good job of capturing the voice of Sheriff Carter and all of the rest of the cast. If you read it and then close your eyes you can see everything happening as though it were on your TV. That's a major plus as far as tie-in novels go. The reader wants there to be little difference between the book and the show.

Now for the bad. I knew whodunit by the time the character was introduced. The mystery was very easy to solve and Ramsay repeats clues over and over and over. I felt like there was too much rehash (the kind that would only be helpful if you put the book down for a month and came back to it having forgotten most of what you've read).

All in all I would read this book if you are a big fan of the show and need more Eureka action, but not so much for those who either have not seen or are only a casual watcher of the show. As far as the actual story goes (as a standalone novel) it is okay at best.

Bookophile Rating: Average

UPDATE: I'm told Phaedra Weldon is the author of Brain Box Blues and that Cris Ramsay is a pseudonym.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Book Review: Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor is the story of four Navy SEALs who fought against a force of as many as 150 Taliban and the one SEAL who made it out alive. Marcus Luttrell's story is gripping and terrifying. As I read I could see how the scenes could translate well to the big screen, which at the time of this post is categorized as in development by IMDB (to be released sometime in 2011).

I expected the book to be a detailed account of that one event, Operation Redwing. Actually, there is quite a bit of time spent on telling the story of how Marcus Luttrell became a Navy SEAL. For those who are already well-versed in the elite Navy Special Forces training, this section can seem to drag on in parts. However, the parts before he got to SEAL training were quite interesting. Scenes of former United States Army soldier Billy Shelton training Marcus were inspirational and brought context to the SEAL training scenes.

Once the story transitions to Afghanistan, the story really picks up speed. The mission is set up with great detail and context by sharing background information on the Afghan people, the Taliban, and tribal system. Without this information, I would have found myself lost with the Pashto language. Marcus Luttrell and contributing author Patrick Robinson did a fine job giving the reader access to language and customs unknown to someone who hasn't served overseas.

The firefight on the mountain was hard for me to visualize, so I looked up pictures of the Hindu Kush mountains. I can't imagine dealing with what Marcus Luttrell's SEAL team dealt with on that mountain. It's truly something you have to read and see for yourself to fully understand.

The writing was in the voice of Marcus Luttrell, and I assume heavily edited for information that is still classified. Since it was first person and in his voice, it contained a lot of vernacular, some stream-of-consciousness, and the occasional tangent. The story, although dragging for me in a couple spots, was overwhelmingly interesting and captivating. I can't wait to see this on the big screen.

Bookophile Rating: Good

Book Review: Wizard's First Rule

For my first post on this blog I thought I'd review Terry Goodkind's 1994 release Wizard's First Rule. I had been pussyfooting around reading it for a while (daunted by the 820 page volume), but finally decided to pick it up a couple of months ago. What really tipped me over into reading it was receiving a free copy of The Law of Nines, which is Goodkind's 2009 book that is somewhat of a spinoff to his Sword of Truth series. I know the purists will scoff as I went out of order, but I guess I'd respond that I did what Goodkind had intended: attract readers to his Sword of Truth series from the masses of fiction readers who would normally not pick up the 820 page first book. Even the Law of Nines' page count of 576 pages seemed to be weening the reader into his more longwinded series.

But on with the review. The main character, Richard Cypher, meets a mysterious woman in the woods and is compelled to help her, which starts him on a whirlwind of a tale. The pacing was relatively fast and the characters were each examined extensively so that each had parts that were likable and each had their flaws. They were real. I'm impressed that Goodkind created a character in Kahlan that is truly powerful in her own right. From the beginning I was captivated by the mystery behind her.

There were twists that I expected and twists that I did not. Obviously, there were enough twists that I did not see coming to keep me interested and reading. It came as a bit of a shock in the last third of the book when there were graphic scenes of torture, rape, and dominatrixes. Up until that point the book would have qualified for PG-13. On the plus side, those scenes added a depth to the story and writing that made me feel for the main characters even more. On the minus, I'm not sure I can ever unread some of the Mord Sith scenes.

The ending carries several twists, none of which I will discuss here, and becomes a bit of a cliffhanger. I suppose that makes sense, given the number of books in the series now...Overall I was still satisfied with the outcome of Wizard's First Rule and look forward to reading the next installment, Stone of Tears.

Bookophile Rating: Excellent

Review List

The Master List of Bookophile Book Reviews
(Organized by Author)(Series are organized by author, then number in the series)


B -
Benioff, David - City of Thieves
Bush, George W. - Decision Points
Butcher, Jim - Storm Front (Dresden Files #1)
Butcher, Jim - Fool Moon (Dresden Files #2)

C -
Clare, Cassandra - City of Bones

D -
Dick, Philip K. - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Dick, Philip K. - Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said

Einstein, Albert - The Evolution of Physics

F -
Funakoshi, Gichin - The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate

G -
Goodkind, Terry - Wizards First Rule

H -
Harris, Charlaine - Dead Until Dark
Heinlein, Robert A. - Starship Troopers



K -
Kaku, Michio - Physics of the Future

L -
Lehane, Dennis - Shutter Island
Lightman, Alan - Einstein's Dreams
Luttrell, Marcus - Lone Survivor




P -
Powers, Tim - The Anubis Gates


R -
Ramsay, Cris - Eureka: Brain Box Blues
Ruiz Zafón, Carlos - The Shadow of the Wind

S -
Salter, James - The Hunters
Simmons, Wayne - The Natanz Directive 



V -
Vonnegut, Kurt - Armageddon In Retrospect

W -
Wood, Chaz (editor) - A Surfeit of Mandrake





You can contact our editor @ [at]

Follow on twitter: @trevorsschmidt

Film Reviews

The Master List of Bookophile Film Reviews:

A -
A Scanner Darkly

The Bourne Identity













P -
The Perks of Being a Wallflower



S -
Silver Linings Playbook








Review Policy

Now accepting submissions for review.

Guidelines:  I prefer to read literary, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, thriller, and humorous novels.  Due to heavy volume, I'm more likely to read something under 300 pages for the sake of time.

I'm certainly not opposed to reviewing self-published works and encourage authors to contact me directly at Trevor.Scott.Schmidt[at]  If I do review your work, I would appreciate if you promote the review to the best of your ability and link to my blog.

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An eclectic mix of book reviews for an audience with eclectic tastes.

Bookophile Reviews evaluates Books of most genres, the most common being SF/Fantasy, Literary, Mystery, and Thriller, with the occasional oddball thrown in. 

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I have worked as a writer, acquisitions editor, and marketing consultant and am what is often called a "voracious reader." I have a B.A. in English from Oregon State University.