Thursday, June 30, 2011

Echo: Moon Lake, by Terry Moore


(pb; 2008: graphic novel)

From the back cover:

"Julie Martin is taking photographs in the California desert when an explosion in the clouds showers her with liquid metal pellets that stick to her skin and begin to reform a powerful atomic armor. Now somebody wants Julie dead, and the only one who can save her is a woman they've already killed."

Review:

Terry Moore, creator of the excellent comic/graphic novel series Strangers in Paradise has once again created a mainstream yet offbeat series that has characters worth rooting for, a strong plot and plenty of action.

Excellent, worthwhile read.

Moon Lake is the first volume in the Echo series, anthologizing its first five issues.

Followed by Echo: Atomic Dreams (which anthologizes issues six through ten).

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

**Thingy's Hit was published on the Microstory A Week site

A new story is up on the Microstory A Week site.

Thingy penned this week's story, Hit, a vivid tale about the aftermath of a car accident.

Be sure to check this short story out, maybe even comment on it, if you're so inclined. =)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Live Girls by Ray Garton


(pb; 1987, 2006: prequel to Night Life. First book in the Davey Owens series.)

From the back cover

"The garish neon lights of New York City's Time Square can be very seductive. And so can the promises of dark pleasures on the seedier side streets. To Davey Owen, the lure of a glowing sign advertising 'Live Girls' was too hard to resist. he was looking for a little entertainment. He found instead a nightmare in the form of a beautiful but strangely pale woman. A woman who offers him ecstasy - and eternal life - but takes in exchange his lifeblood."


Review

Live is a solid, entertaining, gory and sexually explicit vampire/horror work. Live Girls possesses a strong cinematic sensibility and an underlying sense of humor, with nods at classic vampire literature.

Good, fast-burn of a read, this. Am looking forward to reading its sequel, Night Life.

The Missionary Position, by Bruce Dickinson


(pb; 1992: out of print sequel to The Adventures of Lord Iffy Boatrace)

From the back cover:

". . . Lord Iffy (a decaying and grotesque aristocrat with a taste for stilleto heels and at thirty-five still a virgin) rides again. Disguised as a clergyman, he travels to California accompanied by his faithful butler (he of the Pelvotron Sex Machine) and the partially chewed body of a deceased ancestor to meet the holy hit man Reverend Jimmy Reptile, the United States' most successful TV evangelist. There unfolds an epi-saga, which introduces such alluring characters as Sister Hyapatia Comebody, Mine's A Large One, Senator Standing Johns and Ballripper, and which climaxes in the hold of a medical waste disposal ship. . ."

Review:

Dickinson ups the hilarity, spectacle and raunch factor in this second Lord Iffy book. The frenetic pace, splattery and unpredictable situations and characters, and everything else in this worthwhile sequel reminded me of the laughter I experienced the first time I saw the 1963 film It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World - except Missionary is filthier, funnier, satiric and sillier.

No special interest groups or subjects escape skewering in Missionary - among them: cops, televangelists/religion, sexual habits, marriage/gender roles, hair metal bands, race/racism, etc.

As with Adventures, the first Lord Iffy novel, there's a blink-and-you-miss-it cavalcade of references in this imaginative sequel, including Zora Neale Hurston's novel Their Eyes Were Watching God and the Iron Maiden songs "Hooks In You" and "Holy Smoke" (Jimmy Reptile is a character in both this song and Missionary) - these songs appeared on the band's 1990 album, No Prayer For The Dying.

Exemplary and unrestrained in its savage debaucheries, Missionary is a looser, more plot and character expansive read than its predecessor - and, like Adventures, worth your time if you want to read a clever middle finger to "good taste."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

**MorningAJ's Jetsam was published on the Microstory A Week site

A new story is up on the Microstory A Week site.

MorningAJ penned this week's story, Jetsam, where a woman's oceanside hobby sets into motion a series of unforseen events.

Be sure to check this short story out, maybe even comment on it, if you're so inclined. =)

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I am in need of new stories for the Microstory site, if you or anyone you know is looking to get published somewhere other than their blogs. Here's the guidelines.

Foxy: My Life in Three Acts, by Pam Grier (with Andrea Cagan)


(hb; 2010: autobiography)

From the inside flap:

"Some may know her as hot, gutsy, gun-totin' Foxy Brown, Friday Foster, Coffy and Jackie Brown. Others may know her from her role as Kit Porter on The L Word. But that only defines one part of the legend that is Pam Grier.

"Foxy is Pam's testimony of her life, past and present. In it, she reveals her relationships with Richard Pryor, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, and Freddie Prinze, Sr., among others. She unveils her experiences as backup singer and a blaxploitation star. In particularly candid and shocking chapters, she shares - for the first time - her view of those films and the persecution of the blacks, especially women, needed to endure to make a name for themselves. . . including how it felt to be labeled one of the most beautiful women alive, yet not be permitted to try on clothes in a department store because of the color of her skin. . . she [also] tells the story of her ongoing battle with cancer.

"From her disappointments to her triumphs, nothing is held back. . ."

Review:

Solid autobiography of a level-headed, upbeat woman who's seen a lot of life, good and bad. Inspirational (without getting Lifetime Movie of the Week about it), meaningful and deftly written.

Check it out.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Audition by Ryû Murakami


(pb; 1997, 2009, 2010. Translated from Japanese to English by Ralph McCarthy.)

From the back cover

". . . Aoyama, a widower who has lived with his son since his wife died seven years ago, decides that it is time to remarry. Since Aoyama is a bit rusty when it comes to dating, a filmmaker friend proposes that he stage auditions for a movie he never intends to produce in order to cast the perfect woman as his bride. Only one of the applicants catches Aoyama's attention: Yamasaki Asami, a striking young ballerina with a mysterious past. Blinded by his infatuation, Aoyama discovers too late that she is a far cry from the innocent young woman he imagined her to be."


Review

Short, taut and emotionally-effective novel. Audition begins as a personal drama about a lonely man trying to find love, a quest that results in sadistic and horrifying situations.

Murakami wastes no words in Audition. Between the author's deliberate, sharp focus and pacing, and an increasing sense of unease, this disturbing novel is unique and excellent. It is not for the squeamish.

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This was released as a film in Japan on March 3, 2000.

Ryo Ishibashi played Shigeharu Aoyama. Eihi Siina played Asami Yamazaki. Tetsu Sawaki played Shigehiko Aoyama. Jun Kunimura played Yasuhisa Yoshikawa. Miyuki Matsuda played Ryoko Aoyama. Toshie Negishi played Rie. Yuuto Arima played "Shigehiko as a child". Ayaka Izumi played "Asami as a child".

Takashi Miike directed the film, from a script by Daisuke Tengan.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Enter Night: A Biography of Metallica, by Mick Wall



(hb; 2011: rock biography)

From the inside flap:

"As Led Zeppelin was for hard rock and the Sex Pistols were for punk, Metallica became the band that defined the look and sound of 1980s heavy metal. Inventors of thrash metal followed - Slayer, Anthrax, and Megadeth - but it was always Metallica who led the way, who pushed to another level, who became the last of the superstar rockers.

"Metallica is the fifth-largest selling artist of all time, with 100 million records sold worldwide. Their music has extended its reach beyond rock and metal and into the pop mainstream, as the band moved from speed metal to MTV with their hit single, 'Enter Sandman.' Until now there hasn't been a critical, authorative, in-depth portrait of the band. Mick Wall's thoroughly researched, insightful work is enriched by his interviews with band members, record-company execs, roadies and fellow musicians. He tells the story of how a tennis-playing, music-loving Danish immigrant named Lars Ulrich created a band with singer James Hetfield and made his dreams a reality. Enter Night follows the band through tragedy and triumph, from the bus crash that killed their bassist Cliff Burton in 1986 to the 2004 documentary Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, and on to their current status as the leaders of the Big 4 festival that played to a million fans in Britain and throughout Europe and continues in the United States in 2011."

Review:

Excellent biography of the band.

Wall, a longtime music critic and friend of Metallica, chronicles the personalities, music eras and facts/opinions in an entertaining, straightforward and informative write. His take on their music, both its faults and merits, is pointed, kind and constructive - the best thing any critic or friend can be.

Worthwhile read, if you're fan of the band, past (Cliff Burton-era or pre-Load) or present.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

**Nick Nicholson's Tangier was published on the Microstory A Week site

A new story is up on the Microstory A Week site.

Nick Nicholson penned this week's story, Tangier, the last loosely linked story-chapter in his theme-adventurous, eight-part serial.

Be sure to check this 200-word story out, maybe even comment on it, if you're so inclined. =)



I am in serious need of new stories for the Microstory site, if you or anyone you know is looking to get published somewhere other than their blogs. Here's the guidelines.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Treason at Lisson Grove, by Anne Perry


(hb; 2011: twenty-sixth book in the Charlotte & Thomas Pitt series)


From the back cover:

"The man who lies bleeding to death in a London brickyard is a secret informant prepared to indulge details of a potentially devastating international plot against the British government. Special Branch officer Thomas Pitt arrives seconds too late. As the mortally wounded man's life slips away, so too does the information Pitt desperately needs. Pitt pursues the assassin from London to St. Malo on the French coast. Meanwhile, Pitt's supervisor, Victor Narraway, is accused of embezzling government funds. With Pitt incommunicado in France, Narraway turns to Pitt's wife, Charlotte, for help."


Review:

Set in 1895, Treason is a fun, international Pitt outing. The villains are obvious, for the most part, but the manner of their revealings is often clever, with some shocking and justified violence thrown into the word/mystery mix.

Good read from an excellent writer.

Followed by Dorchester Terrace.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Honourable Schoolboy, by John le Carré


(hb; 1977: fourth novel in the George Smiley series; second novel in the Karla trilogy)

From the inside flap:

"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. . . ended with the devastating unmasking of a double agent at the heart of the British Secret Service (known as the Circus). Now, in The Honourable Schoolboy, George Smiley -- who has assumed the unenviable job of restoring the health, and reputation, of his demoralized organisation -- goes over to the attack. Salvaging what he can of the Service's ravaged network of spies, summoning back a few trustworthy old colleagues, working them -- and himself -- around the clock, he searches for a whisper, a hint, a clue, that will lead him back to his opposite number: Karla, the Soviet officer in Moscow Centre who masterminded the infamous treachery.

"When he find his opening, Smiley moves without hesitation. His battleground: the Far East. His choice of weapons: the Honourable Gerald (Jerry) Westerby, an Old Asia Hand, veteran of several marriages (and wars), unquestioning in his readiness to answer Smiley's summons. 'You point me and I'll march,' says Jerry.

"Jerry's odyssey begins: to Hong Kong -- and blackmail and murder; to collapsing Cambodia and Vietnam -- and drug traffickers, the CIA, and a huge and mystifying 'gold seam' spilling out of Russia. Slowly, manipulated by Smiley and his cohorts back in the Circus, Jerry thrusts himself into the centre of an intrigue of money, defection, passion -- and finds not only fertile ground for Smiley's revenge, but a drama of loyalty and love that both tests his courage and spurs his belated coming of age, in tragic defiance of the voracious requirements of the Service which owns his allegiance."

Review:

Epic in scope and characters (many of them spillover characters from Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), the events in Honourable take place six months after Tinker, from mid-1974 to 1975.

The action and political manueverings, this time, aren't restricted to the Circus headquarters in London; this time, the action also covers the Far East, including Cambodia and Vietnam, where the American military, defeated and befuddled, is staging a chaotic withdrawal.

Excellent, gripping read, this, even with its occasional overlong scenes - a minor nit, considering the breadth of le Carré's applaudable vision.

Followed by Smiley's People.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

**Michelle Purvis' story, Smoldering, got published on the Microstory A Week site

A new story is up on the Microstory A Week site.

Michelle Purvis penned this week's story, Smoldering, where an ex-lover's emotional fallout turns corkscrewy.

Be sure to check this story out, maybe even comment on it, if you're so inclined. =)



I am in need of new stories for the Microstory site, if you or anyone you know is looking to get published somewhere other than their blogs. Here's the guidelines.

Monday, June 06, 2011

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins



(hb; 2008: first book in The Hunger Game series)

From the inside jacket:

"In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the capital of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

"Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before -- and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she became a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love."

Review:

Good action-packed, romantic and descriptive teen novel, with science fiction leanings. It reads like a Westernized, more gauzy-eyed (and more straightforward) variation on Koushun Takami's 1999 novel, Battle Royale.

The Hunger Games would have been an excellent read, except for Collins' use of the present tense in her writing. Interested readers - like myself - who are put off by that editorially frowned-upon writing approach may want to borrow the novel from the library. Initally, I only read beyond the first few pages because a literate, professional cake-making friend challenged me to give it an hour (thanks, Melinda!); I did, and Collins' descriptive writing and race-through pace made me, for the span of the novel, tolerate Collins' use of present tense writing. (For me, present tense writing only works in short-short stories, plays and screenplays.)

Worth owning, if you're an afficionado of first-person/present tense teen fiction (I prefer to borrow my teen fiction, as my reading fare usually runs toward darker, more adult fare).

Followed by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.



The Hunger Games is scheduled to be released stateside as a film on March 23, 2012.

Jennifer Lawrence is set to play Katniss Everdeen. Josh Hutcherson is scheduled to play Peeta Mellark. Liam Hemsworth is set to play Gale Hawthorne. Woody Harrelson is set to play Haymitch Abernathy. Willow Shields is set to play Primrose Everdeen. Lenny Kravitz is set to play Cinna.

Isabelle Fuhrman is set to play Clove. Alexander Ludwig is set to play Cato. Amber Chaney is set to play "Avox Girl". Leven Rambin is set to play Glimmer. Amandla Stenberg is set to play Rue. Dayo Okeniyi is set to play Thresh. Latarsha Rose is set to play Portia. Brooke Bundy is set to play Octavia. Tim Taylor is set to play "Gamekeeper".

Donald Sutherland is set to play President Snow. Stanley Tucci is set to play Caesar Flickerman. Wes Bentley is set to play Seneca Crane. Paula Malcolmson is set to play Mrs. Everdeen. Toby Jones is set to play Claudius Templesmith.

The film is set to be scripted and directed by Gary Ross.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

**Baird Nuckolls' He Preferred Red, was published on the Microstory A Week site

A new story is up on the Microstory A Week site.

Baird penned this week's story, He Preferred Red, a saucy, loving tale about marriage, memories and aging.

Be sure to check this story out, maybe even comment on it, if you're so inclined. =)



I am in need of new stories for the Microstory site, if you or anyone you know is looking to get published somewhere other than their blogs. Here's the guidelines.