Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Historian - Elizabeth Costova

The Historian written by @Elizabeth Costova is a complex book. We, the reader, are compelled to enter a world that is both familiar and yet intriguing.

The story covers a period from the mid 1930's until the 1980's. The story is told in three voices. Each is wonderfully brought to life in a series of diary entries and letters. Costova manages to hold you wrapped in the world of her story.

The story is a detective story. Each character brings some clues to the table and you are held breathless at times as to the meaning of each clue.

All the time the hero and heroine of the story are dogged by political and academic intrigue and an ever present danger of death. But a death unlike any other, the death of becoming one of the "Undead."

BecauseThe Historianis a retelling of the familiar vampire story.

Vlad Tepec "Dracul"
Prince of Walachia in the mid 15th Century
He led many rebellions against the invading Ottoman Empire.
Because of his love of torture He became known asVlad the Impaler"
Costova does not merely retell the Bram Stoker original story, nor does she create a world of handsome and gentle vampires. The vampires in this book are evil and cruel, they haunt your nightmares and come to you in the darkness. Blended with historical research and fictional fascination this book is compelling and a very good read.
I personally enjoyed the Audio CD version which has several actors reading the parts of the various "voices". This made the story even more compelling.
Definitely not a read on a black moonless night when you are all alone.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thunder Dog -Michael Hingson

This will be one of my favorite books of 2012.

Michael Hingson and his guide dog Rocelle worked in tower 1 of the World Trade Center in New York City.

On 9/11 they were in their office on the 78th floor of the WTC, Michael was preparing a sales conference and Rocelle was calmly sleeping under Michael's desk when American Airlines flight 11 hit the tower some twenty storeys above.

So started a day of escapes first from the burning tower, then rushing from the collapsing debris of the towers as they fell, finally an escape to New Jersey and home from one of the most horrific days in US history.

Hingson takes the opportunity to give us the back story of his life. Made blind after he was born prematurely, Hingson never takes blindness as a reason not to do something, riding a bicycle around the streets of Palmdale CA or driving a car and flying a plane, Michael does it and earns an honors degree in Physics along the way.

This story is the inter woven tale of that one day, 9/11, and Hingson's road to the 78th floor of the WTC.

Fascinating and moving at the same time. I was unable to put this book down until I had read it from cover to cover.

This is a book of heroism, not just on the human level but also on the level of the guide dog. Rocelle could never have been trained to get Hingson out of the WTC but she did. Calm, reliable and loyal she was with him on every step, on the way stopping to soothe the panic of others and offer a passing lick to firemen climbing up the stairway to their ultimate scrifice.

This is a must read book.