Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sideswipe by Charles Willeford


(hb; 1987: third book in the Hoke Moseley series)

From the inside flap:

"Hoke Moseley, the leisure-suited Miami homicide detective. . . finally shows the world around him what a real 'burned out' cop does - he stops working, stops talking, stops thinking. . . and sits unseeing in his chair with a complete crime-induced breakdown of the highest order.

"In another part of the state: Career criminal Troy Louden - amoral, alias many other names, and reminiscent of certain reptiles - has arrived to upset the balance of nature on the city streets of south Florida.

". . . Here two sets of lives that should have absolutely nothing to do with each other collide in a spectacular and violent supermarket robbery that shouldn't have happened, but did."


Review:

Sideswipe, which takes place six months after the events of New Hope for the Dead, is, like its predecessor novels, an entertaining blend of neo-noir, relatable (and series-progressive) characters, and dark absurdist humor - reader-hooking work, this: own it, already!

Followed by The Way We Die Now.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Haunting Hour, by R.L. Stine


(hb; 2001: kid's horror anthology)


Overall review:

Okay anthology from Stine - a few of these stories ("Revenge of the Snowman"; "How to Bargain with a Dragon"; "Take Me with You") feel too-predictable, lazy, hackish, even for a young audience like Stine's: these are not the worthwhile works of a writer of Stine's publishing stature.

On the other end of the spectrum, these are standout stories: "Can You Draw Me?", "Are We There Yet?" and "The Bad Baby-Sitter".

Not a complete waste of time, this anthology is disappointing, at best.

The Haunting Hour - not these particular stories in their published forms - became the basis for a children's horror series, which began airing on October 29, 2010.


Review, story by story:

1.) "The Halloween Dance" - Two boys, bored at home, go out for kicks n' giggles, and discover how sinister Halloween night can be. Decent story.


2.) "The Bad Baby-Sitter" - Fun, excellent tale about a voodoo-minded babysitter (Lulu) and her two young charges.


3.) "Revenge of the Snowman" - A prank backfires in a big, terrifying way for one of the pranksters (Rick Barker). Decent set-up, plot-lame finish.


4.) "How to Bargain with a Dragon" - Interesting story about a peasant boy (Ned) who must capture a dragon in order to work for a cruel (but infamous) wizard.

This would have been a good story if Stine had provided logical foreshadowing for its end-twist. Disappointing, at best.


5.) "The Mummy's Dream" - A boy (Connor Franklin) suffers from a serious case of mistaken identity. Decent story.


6.) "Are We There Yet?" - Oddball, engrossing tale about a family road trip.


7.) "Take Me with You" - A girl (Kat) is given a musty, haunted trunk. This otherwise solid, mood-effective story is marred by a predictable, lazy ending that easily could have been improved with a mini-twist sentence or two. Disappointing, at best.


8.) "My Imaginary Friend" - Shawn, a boy with an imaginary friend (Travis), gets into big trouble because of Travis. Solid work.



9.) "Losers" - Two judgmental brats at the carnival get their comeuppance. Solid morality tale.


10.) "Can You Draw Me?" - Excellent, fun story about a young artist whose talent abruptly, mysteriously takes a disturbing turn.

John Dies at the End, by David Wong (aka Jason Pargin)


(hb; 2009: prequel to This Book is Full of Spiders)

From the inside flap:

"STOP

" • You should not have touched this book with your bare hands.

" • NO, Don't put it down. It's too late.

" • They're watching you.

"My name is David Wong. My best friend is John. Those names are fake. You might want to change yours.

"You may not want to know about the things you'll read in these pages, about the sauce, and Korrok, about the invasion, and the future. But it's too late. You touched the book. You're in the game. You're under the eye.

"THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS THIS:

" • The drug is called Soy Sauce and it gives users a window into another dimension.

" • John and I never had the chance to say no.

" • You still do.

"Unfortunately for us, if you make the right choice, we'll have a much harder time explaining how fight off the otherworldly invasion currently threatening to enslave humanity.

"I'm sorry to have involved you in this, I really am. But as you read about the terrible events and the very dark epoch the world is about to enter as a result, it is crucial you keep one thing in mind:

NONE OF THIS IS MY FAULT."


Review:

Good, gory, zinger line-laden apocalyptic and imaginatively funny novel that would have been excellent, if the author had tightened up the rambling storyline, whose bizarre thrills threaten to peter out in the third quarter of the book. The ending redeems John with its intriguing and (like the rest of the novel) funny finish, which promises a sequel.

Worth reading, despite its excessive length.

Followed by This Book is Full of Spiders.

#

The resulting film is scheduled for "wide" stateside release on January 25, 2013.

Chase Williamson played Dave. Rob Mayes played John. Fabianne Therese played Amy. Paul Giamatti played Arnie. Clancy Brown played Dr. Albert Marconi.

Glynn Turman played Detective Lawrence "Morgan Freeman" Appleton. Doug Jones played Roger North. Daniel Roebuck played Largeman. Jonny Weston played Justin White. Jimmy Wong played Fred Chu. Tai Bennett played Robert Marley.

Angus Scrimm is listed as one of the film's actors, but his role isn't named.

Don Coscarelli scripted and directed the film.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

*T F Rhoden's Drywall was published on the Microstory A Week site

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

T F Rhoden penned this week's story, Drywall, a warm-hearted suburban piece about a musing, home improving soccer coach.

Check this short story out, comment on it, if you have the time and are so inclined!

Friday, January 20, 2012

**New website for environmentally-friendly, coupon-using consumers!

Melinda B., editor and contributor to the sites Melinda Makes Cake and Horses, Cakes and Other Things I Love, and her friend, Kristi, have started a new site for environmentally-friendly, coupon-using consumers: Welcome to Green Mamas. It’s educational, it’s entertaining, and it’s life-changing stuff.

Check it out, if you’re so inclined and have the time. =)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

**Sarah Gamutan's New weather was published on the Microstory A Week site

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

Sarah Gamutan penned this week's story, New weather, where a vacationing woman struggles to come to terms with her marital failure.

Check this short story out, comment on it, if you have the time and are so inclined!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hypothermia, by Arnaldur Indriđason


(hb; 2007, 2009: eighth book in the Reykjavik Thriller series. Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb)


From the inside flap:

"Inspector Erlendur has spent his entire career struggling to evade the ghosts of his past. But ghosts are visiting him, both in the form of a séance attended by a dead woman and also in the reemerging puzzle of two young people who went missing thirty years ago. And there's the ghost of the detective's disastrous marriage, which despite the pleas of his drug-addled daughter, he is unwilling to confront. In addition, he's still obsessed with the disappearance of his brother, who vanished without a trace when they were boys.

"He can only run from his ghosts for so long, and when they finally catch up with him, Erlendur is forced to face the heart-shattering truth of his past."


Review:

Structurally ambitious, entertaining and character progressive entry in the Reykjavik Thriller series.

As with previous Erlendur Sveinsson novels, the mystery element doesn't necessarily extend to the identity of the perpetrator(s) or the victim(s), but, rather, the hows and wherefores of the case(s).

Worth owning, this series.

Followed by Outrage.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Image of the Beast, by Philip José Farmer


(pb; 1968, 1969. Foreword by Theodore Sturgeon)

From the back cover:

"A grisly love-murder is recorded as a home movie. It is so hellish that seasoned policemen turn from it in horror. Then a second film is discovered. It shows the startling transformation of a beautiful, sensual woman into a ravening wolf. And this is only the beginning. . ."

Review:

This multigenre novel (in actuality two conjoined, plot-bound novellas, Image of the Beast and Blown) is one of the best science fiction/horror/neo-noir novels I've ever read. It seamlessly melds elements of the above genres into an often hilarious, reader-seizing read.

The plot: Herald Childe, a P.I., is investigating the horrific, freakish murder of his slimy business partner (Matthew Colben), when his tempestuous ex-wife, the aptly-named Sybil, disappears, too, leading him deeper and deeper into a fluid-splattery cosmic struggle that he couldn't have foreseen.

The darkly-comedic, carnally-explicit, over-the-top and literature-sourced storyline will likely appeal to horror/science fiction/neo-noir readers who don't mind mixing their genres, or seeing clichés skull-blasted into something original and unforgettable.

Worth owning, this. Pick it up, already! =)

#

Big thanks to Gary Russell, a great friend who recommended - and sent - Image to me almost ten years ago. (I told you I'd get around to reading it!)

Gary Russell is an accomplished author of many stories, including Morph. and Nikkatsu. He co-edits the microfiction website, Leodegraunce - check it out! - with the incomparable and talented Jolie Du Pre

Friday, January 13, 2012

**One of my stories, Splatterdays, was published in the Best Gay Romance 2012 anthology

I just received two copies of the Richard Labonté-edited anthology, Best Gay Romance 2012, which contains one of my stories, Splatterdays. (Splatterdays is about two guys who fall in love at a thrash metal concert.)

Not only am I thrilled to see this story published (and get paid for it), I'm also thrilled to be sharing anthology space with C.C. Williams, whose distinctive work I've continually admired since I read it in the Erotica Readers & Writers Association online writing group! (C.C.'s excellent, tender story is called The Prisoner.)

This anthology is scheduled for January 17, 2012 publication, for those readers who are inclined towards the erotica genre, and arent' (strictly) hetero in their reading habits.

Here (again) is the home site for the anthology, which can also be purchased at Amazon.com.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

**Alvin G. Burstein's The crawfish boil was published on the Microstory A Week site

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

Alvin G. Burstein penned this week's story, The crawfish boil, where a Louisiana BBQ get-together is interrupted by an uninvited guest.

Check this short story out!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Don't Bump the Glump! and Other Fantasies, by Shel Silverstein


(hb; 1964: children's poetry book)

Review:

Fun, imaginative, often laugh-out-loud funny collection of (mostly) short poems by Silverstein, whose penned verses are accompanied by his equally idiosyncratic illustrations.

I loved eighteen (the majority) of the poems in this collection - especially:

The Crawfee

That silly fish, the Crawfee,
Has been swimming in my coffee,
But now I've drunk it up
And he isn't in the cup.
And he's nowhere to be found. . .
Do you think that he has drowned?


and

About the Bloat

In the undergrowth
There dwells the Bloath
Who feeds upon poets and tea.
Luckily I know this about him,
While he knows almost nothing of me.



Don't Bump the Glump! is a wonderful, smile-inducing work for readers of all ages. Worth owning, this.

Friday, January 06, 2012

New Hope for the Dead by Charles Willeford

(pb; 1985: second book in the Hoke Moseley series)

From the inside flap:

"Miami homicide Hoke Moseley is called to a posh neighborhood to investigate a lethal overdose. There he meets the alluring stepmother of the decedent, and begins to wonder about dating a witness. Meanwhile, he has been threatened with suspension by his ambitious new chief unless he leaves his beloved, if squalid, suite at the El Dorado Hotel and moves downtown. With free housing hard to come by, Hoke is desperate to find a new place to live. His difficulties are only amplified by an assignment to reinvestigate fifty unsolved murders, the unexpected arrival of his teenaged daughters, and a partner struggling with an unwanted pregnancy. With few options and even fewer dollars, he decides that the stepmother of the dead junkie might be the solution to all his problems."


Review:

This follow-up to Miami Blues is gentler in tone than Miami.

Like Miami, though, New Hope is a masterful blend of neo-noir, relatable (and series-progressive) characters, and dark absurdist humor - near-impossible-to-set-down, classic read, this: own it, already!

Followed by Sideswipe.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

**One of my stories, Love, Loud as a Bomb, will be published in Suite Encounters: Hotel Sex Stories


One of my erotica stories, Love, Loud as a Bomb, is getting published in Suite Encounters: Hotel Sex Stories, set for a June 12, 2012 release. Here's the Amazon purchase link.

Love, Loud as a Bomb is a light, fast-moving, theme-tasteful story. Its elements include: prescience, a natural disaster and a hetero date. It's fluff, but it still (somewhat) reads like one of my oddball works. I'm looking forward to reading the other authors' stories, as well, especially Remittance Girl's Proof of Desire.

Quick correction to the anthology promo site: Love, Loud as a Bomb is not set in Hawaii - a point mentioned in my story.

This anthology was edited by the wonderful Rachel Kramer Bussel, who’s snipped, expanded and otherwise put together forty-plus other erotica anthologies.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Miami Blues by Charles Willeford


(pb; 1984: first book in the Hoke Moseley series. Introduction by Elmore Leonard)

From the back cover:

"After a brutal day investigating a quadruple homicide, Detective Hoke Moseley settles into his room at the un-illustrious El Dorado Hotel and nurses a glass of brandy. With his guard down, he doesn't think twice when he hears a knock at the door. The next day, he finds himself in the hospital, badly bruised, with his jaw wired shut. He thinks back over ten years of cases, wondering who would want to beat him into unconsciousness, steal his gun and badge, and most important, make off his with his prized dentures. But the pieces never quite add up to revenge, and the few clues he has keep connecting to a dim-witted hooker, her ex-con boyfriend, and the bizarre murder of a Hare Krishna pimp."


Review:

Darkly and brutally hilarious crime comedy that fans of Elmore Leonard will likely enjoy. It's all there: character quirkiness, effective violence and humor, and water-tight, character-centered plotting and pacing.

This is a wonderful neo-noir read, worth owning.

Followed by New Hope for the Dead.

#

Miami Blues was released stateside as a theatrical film on April 20, 1990. George Armitage scripted and directed the film.

Alec Baldwin played Frederick J. Frenger Jr. (aka "Junior"). Fred Ward played Sgt. Hoke Moseley. Jennifer Jason Leigh played Susie Waggoner.

Charles Napier played Sgt. Bill Henderson. Nora Dunn played Ellita Sanchez. Paul Gleason played Sgt. Frank Lackley.

An uncredited Brent Armitage, son of the film's director, played "Carjacked Dealer".

**Janet Yung's Behind the shed was published on the Microstory A Week site

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

Janet Yung penned this week's story, Behind the shed, where a girl's secret could result in parental blowback.

Check this short story out, comment on it, if you have the time and are 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.

I'm a big fan of speculative fiction/horror/anything that mixes genres (particularly Ray Bradbury, Chuck Palahniuk, Douglas Adams, Richard Matheson, Clive Barker, Harlan Ellison), but I'm also open to other mainstream elements.

Here's the guidelines.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Wishful Drinking, by Carrie Fisher


(hb; 2008: memoir)

From the inside flap:

". . . In Wishful Drinking, adapted from her one-woman show, Fisher reveals what it was really like to grow up a product of 'Hollywood in-breeding,' come of age on the set of a little movie called Star Wars, and become a cultural icon and bestselling action figure at the age of nineteen.

". . . Wishful Drinking is Fisher, looking at her life as she best remembers it (what do you expect after electroshock therapy?). It's an incredible tale: the child of Hollywood royalty - Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher - homewrecked by Elizabeth Taylor, marrying (then divorcing, then dating) Paul Simon, having her likeness merchandised on eerything from Princess Leia shampoo to PEZ dispensers, learning that the father of her daughter forgot to tell her he was gay, and ultimately waking up one morning and finding a friend dead beside her in bed."

Review:

Hilarious, admirably entertaining and breezy read about what could have been a dark, sad read about a likewise life: lifelong (and often surreal) fame, bipolar depression, drug addiction, sexual/romantic confusion (in her choice of date mates), and other, in her words, "f**ked up" stuff.

Good, word sly and often sarcastic read, this.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Arctic Chill, by Arnaldur Indriđason


(hb; 2005: seventh book in the Reykjavik Thriller series. Translated from the Icelandic by Bernard Scudder and Victoria Cribb)

From the inside flap:

"On an icy January day, the Reykjavik police are called to a block of apartments where a body has been found in the garden: a young, dark-skinned boy, frozen to the ground in a pool of his own blood.

"Erlendur and his teams embark on their investigation and soon unearth tensions simmering beneath the surface of Iceland's outwardly liberal, multicultural society. Meanwhile, the boy's murder forces Erlendur to confront the tragedy in his own past. And before long, facts emerge from the snow-filled darkness that are even more chilling than the Arctic night."


Review:

Good, entertaining and character progressive entry in the Reykjavik Thriller series, as worthwhile as the previous Erlendur Sveinsson books.

Worth owning, this series.

Followed by Hypothermia.

<em>Phantom</em> by Jo Nesbø

(hb;  2011, 2012: ninth novel in the Inspector Harry Hole series. Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett .) From the back cover...