As with all Maupin's "Tales" books, there a lovely intertwining of character, time, place and coincidence. And so it is in tho fitting send off to Ann...moreAs with all Maupin's "Tales" books, there a lovely intertwining of character, time, place and coincidence. And so it is in tho fitting send off to Anna Madrigal and the rest of the folk formerly of 28 Barbary Lane.
I especially enjoyed (and would have relished a novel full of) the chapters with Andy and Margaret (with a side of Mother Mucca).
So promising and yet so mediocre. The use of Hawaiian Creole is nicely done, but in the 1st 100 pages, it is just repetitive...the same scene of "who...moreSo promising and yet so mediocre. The use of Hawaiian Creole is nicely done, but in the 1st 100 pages, it is just repetitive...the same scene of "who is doing this bad thing?" replayed out amongst different groups of friends. Also, the nice, local tone of the piece is shattered when the writer's third person narrative starts throwing in thesaurus words which are jarringly out of place and then inexplicably starts a long stream of run-on sentences. Also, one of my pet peeves when dealing with paranormal subject matter....telling chapters of the story from a ghost's point of view. Next to anthropomorphism, that is my least favorite literary "trick" (which, to me, is just lazy). Went in ready to love this. Couldn't wait for it to end.
It's very fitting that Andrew Gaska and the Blam! team chose one of the most fondly remembered lines from the british cult-classic series Space: 1999...moreIt's very fitting that Andrew Gaska and the Blam! team chose one of the most fondly remembered lines from the british cult-classic series Space: 1999 as the title of this collection of "remastered" comic books based upon the series. Uttered by Professor Victor Bergman (the late Barry Morse) as Moonbase Alpha faced a nearly unavoidable destruction, that line was Professor Bergman's way of recognizing that--even at the worst of times--he had cherished every moment of the journey. And that is what Gaska and his team has done here...cherished what came before. "To Everything the Was" is a loving and painstakingly beautiful tribute not only to the series, but also to the work of all the artists that contributed to the original works as they were produced over 30 years ago.
To Everything that Was contains refurbished versions of those original comic books, but Gaska, while respecting the original material, is not wont to treat them as holy relics. Wisely he and his team not only restored the artwork but embellished it, making relevant in a 21st century, sophisticated graphic novel world. What he also does so wisely is tie all of these disparate works together into a cohesive whole. No, there isn't a specific plot that runs through all of the stories. What Gaska and team does is far more subtle.
Continuing the treatment in the excellent "Aftershock and Awe," Gaska manages to unite the best of season 1 and season 2 of the series -- seasons as different as tone as night and day -- within these remastered works as well. He does so by working these stories into the series timeline, taking characters that had only appeared in season 1 and introducing them to the comic early on. The result is that all of the works together have a story arc feeling, a through-line. Yes, Gaska rewrites some of these stories, but he does so to their betterment. Events that occurred in the series are subtly referenced and deaths (or disappearances) of characters from the 1st season are worked in as well. And it all flows wonderfully.
For me, I already owned all these original comics; so I wasn't looking for a straight re-printing. For me, Gaska managed to breathe new life into these works, augmenting, altering but always respecting the source material. He manages to give comics that are over three decades old a new life, a new relevancy. And in the process, he pays homage To Everything That Was.(less)
"Beautifully written, a kaleidoscope of finely drawn characters and an unfolding mystery that reveals the hope and horror in the human heart."
-- Alan...more"Beautifully written, a kaleidoscope of finely drawn characters and an unfolding mystery that reveals the hope and horror in the human heart."
-- Alan Brennert, Author Honolulu, Moloka'i and Palisades Park
"...likely to be the best book you might not read this year...a gorgeous, genre-defying novel of heartrending truth...that builds slowly and confidently toward a page-turning climax that will leave you breathless..."
-- Stoker Award-winner Vince A. Liaguno, Dark Scribe Magazine
"Reminiscent of Stephen King...[Bens] is an author to watch."
Drew Gaska and BLAM! Ventures have come up with a winner. For fans of the television series (of which I am, admittedly, one), they’ve taken a story I’...moreDrew Gaska and BLAM! Ventures have come up with a winner. For fans of the television series (of which I am, admittedly, one), they’ve taken a story I’ve loved for decades and breathed new life into it through their attention to detail. This isn’t a quick drive-by recreation, not some slapping on of a franchise name to all new material. It’s an A-class reinvention and it is Gaska’s respect for the details in the source material that helps him bring new cannon into old and make it work exceptionally well. It’s believable because the BLAM! team understands and appreciates the original and pays homage to it rather than simply exploits it.
Gaska reveals himself as a skilled storyteller and a masterful juggler. With his attention to detail and extensive knowledge of the franchise, he not...moreGaska reveals himself as a skilled storyteller and a masterful juggler. With his attention to detail and extensive knowledge of the franchise, he not only puts forth a highly entertaining work of science fiction, but also weaves a discordant and often contradictory history into a highly logical summation. Most importantly, however, Gaska stays true to the vision and tone first birthed by writers Boulle, Serling and Dehn by delving deep into the political, religious and sociological aspect of Apes society and holding the Ape mirror up to humankind. A welcome addition to the Apes franchise.
Unlike every film adaptation, this book is not focused on The Scarlet Pimpernel himself. Percy plays a relatively minor role. The protagonist of this...moreUnlike every film adaptation, this book is not focused on The Scarlet Pimpernel himself. Percy plays a relatively minor role. The protagonist of this novel is Marguerite St. Just, Percy's wife. A great tale told from the correct perspective. A fascinating lady who has, unfortunately, taken a back seat to The Pimpernel is every adaptation out there.(less)
Dunbar takes a modern twist on a familiar fairy tale and he gives it a thoroughly moody and tension-filled retelling that is nothing short of entertai...moreDunbar takes a modern twist on a familiar fairy tale and he gives it a thoroughly moody and tension-filled retelling that is nothing short of entertaining. But like all of Dunbar’s work I have read, he gives us layers to pull back should we so choose. In essence, Dunbar reveals to us an absolute necessity of any living being: the need to interact...the need to be exposed to others who are different than we...the need to be constantly challenged—by goodness or evil—in order to evolve and survive. Without others we—any form of life, be it human or monster, the life of a city or a neighborhood—simply waste away, becoming nothing more than urban decay that litters the world.
I must admit, I am woefully under-read when it comes to lesbian fiction; so this review will not so much be based on specifics of the genre, but upon...moreI must admit, I am woefully under-read when it comes to lesbian fiction; so this review will not so much be based on specifics of the genre, but upon readability and the enjoyment the story brings. And on that front, author Thomas excels, delivering a thoroughly entertaining read for the beach or the living room.
Margaret "Ret" Butler is running the once glorious Gay Banana, a resort just outside of Palm Springs that her father and mother had once made into the social hot-spot. There were glamorous parties held here, with alluring women and classic gentlemen. Now, its days of being the place to be seen are far behind it, but the resort still manages to eek out a meager existence. But Ret has a problem. The deadline her father had given her to turn the resort around is fast approaching and, unless Ret takes some drastic action, ownership of the Gay Banana will revert to him. And who knows what Daddy will do with this magnificent place that Ret still finds romantic.
But things get complicated. One of the gentlemen Ret considers going into partnership with is a young genius...a snotty, know-it-all youth who sets her ill at ease with his cockiness and the slightly shady and mysterious business practices that just seems to hover about him. To make matters worse, Daddy has gone missing and Ret's high-society, no-nonsense mother--convinced he is cheating on her--is plotting his death. But let's not stop there. Enter Billie: the most beautiful and enigmatic woman ever to have visited the Gay Banana during its hey-day who returns after more than a decade just to see Ret. Will the Gay Banana survive? Will Mother get her way? Will Daddy turn up or just turn up dead? And what about the alluring Billie? Believe it or not, it all comes together in the end. But you'll have to read it to find out how.
In this debut novel, Ret is our narrator and Thomas imbues her with a wonderful voice: a little bit edgy, a little bit lost romantic. The style is a bit stream of conscious which only adds to the charm of Ret's character and adds much of the humor. Ret ping-pongs a bit between the unraveling--and at times overwhelming--developments in her life. She's pulled in all directions by a demanding (and funny as hell) mother, a concerned staff, and two potential business partners. And when Billie enters the scene, there is a wonderful romance between the two that is believable and charming, and which helps to create the romance and glamour of the bygone days of the Gay Banana. We see why the old place is so important to Ret and why she wants so desperately to save it.
The prose reads swiftly and easily and I found myself smiling through most of it and enjoying the various red-herrings that Thomas throws out in the story. Now, it's not the perfect novel: I would like to have seen some of those red herrings played out and I longed to see a bit more of the past (and present) relationship between Ret and Billie, but in the end, this novel charmed me to no end. It's a wonderfully fun novel, a breezy read with a little romance, a smidge of mystery and an infectious spirit. (less)
Vampire fiction. Just whisper the words and they’re likely to evoke groans from horror readers, writers and editors across the globe. Let’s face it, t...moreVampire fiction. Just whisper the words and they’re likely to evoke groans from horror readers, writers and editors across the globe. Let’s face it, the vampire is a character which—pardon the expression—has been done to death. Of course, every once in a while, a King or a Rice or a Brite comes along and unexpectedly re-invents the old vamp, giving him back his teeth and his terror, but then hundreds of sub-par copycats inevitably follow, flooding the market with sparkly, erotic or just plain pornographic vampires who lack bite as well as literary merit. Understandably, respect for vampires falls dormant and the welcome mat at publishing houses is withdrawn. Despite this cycle, there are always those authors unafraid of tackling the subject; luckily, for readers, Michael Rowe is one of them, his debut novel Enter, Night beautifully capturing a feeling and horror and dread long absent from most vampire fiction.
Built on the blood of the displaced Native population and the backs of generations of its residents, Parr’s Landing, in 1972, is a ghost of a community, its gold mines long run dry, opportunities scarce and the people wanting nothing more than to find a way out. Fifteen years earlier, Christina Parr and her husband were one of the few to escape the suffocating confines of the town, one ruled with an iron fist by matriarch Adeline Parr. Not long after, Christina’s brother-in-law Jeremy also escaped after a gruesome attempt at gay reparative therapy forced upon him by the controlling Adeline. Following the death of her husband, however, Christina, her teenage daughter Morgan, and Jeremy have no other choice but to return to the Landing to live under the roof and constant eye of the woman from whom they had once fled. But Adeline Parr isn’t the only thing Christina and her family has to fear; for far beneath the ruined mines of Parr’s landing lurks a horrific being who has just been awakened after 300 years.
Enter, Night may be Michael Rowe’s debut novel, but Rowe is far from a neophyte. A life-long devotee of all things horror, a seasoned editor, short-story writer and journalist, Rowe has numerous awards under his belt for both his fiction and non-fiction work; so it’s not surprising that Rowe’s freshman outing has a maturity and style about it that puts other first time novelists to shame. His prose is lean but at the same time lush, evoking not only a sense of time and place, but also an atmosphere of intense suspense. In his hands, Parr’s Landing and the surrounding countryside come alive, transforming into characters in their own right.
At night, Parr’s Landing breathes in its population and doesn’t exhale them until morning.
This skill isn’t limited to the setting. Rowe likewise has a deft hand when it comes to creating characters whom we understand. We may find them endearing or infuriating, but never boring or one-dimensional. And this applies evenly to all the characters, not just our “leads.” Even the most minor of characters are rich and deep; while they may be little more than vampire fodder within the plot, they are never, ever disposable in Rowe’s hands. We feel each of their “deaths” immensely because Rowe finds the details in their lives that resonate with the reader. He opens them up (sometimes literally) so that we see all of them. And it is this penchant for making the reader care about each and every character that makes the horror and tension more palpable. Because in this novel, every single character is at risk. We feel it almost from the moment we meet them and the loss of each one—even those we fear will disappear—is felt deeply. Take, for example, the following, which reveals a relatively minor character, Jordan:
Late at night, Jordan sometimes heard his parents arguing through the wall of his bedroom. His father’s voice would rise and Jordan would catch words like normal and wrong and dreamer and other boys in between his father’s raw profanity...His mother’s voice would rise in answer. Jordan heard words like someone and out of this town and success. And dreams, which sounded like a completely different word when his mother said it.
That passage tells us a lot about Jordan and while we may think we know where the author is taking the character, Rowe always manages to throw in a bit of a curve. And this extends to the major characters as well. Though matriarch Adeline may at first seem a stock horror character, Rowe imbues her with a depth and history that manages to endear even this cold-hearted bitch to the reader. Christina is a woman shrouded in grief, but hardly in a shambles or a pushover. Jeremy, who has experienced the freedom of gay life back in Toronto, is forced to confront not only the homophobia of small towns, but also the reality of a long lost love whose time may have passed. Add to the mix, young outcast, Finnegan, a comic book nerd whose strength surprises even himself, the aging but appealing Donna and her closeted “beau” Elliot, and the sadistic and insane Richard Weal and you have a brilliant mix of characters that are rich, darkly humorous at times and fascinating through and through.
Rowe also manages to work in a bit of social commentary within the novel, though he does so with a subtle hand. He expertly captures the realities of small time life: how such a life traps one but also how the residents also seem to take comfort in their captivity. He touches on bullying, homophobia, the repercussions and collateral damage of living in the closet and, with the most fascinating character (Dr. William Lightning), the treatment of the Native Canadians and the stereotypes of them that infect small-minded people. Rowe never beats us over the head with it; it’s all there, though, skimming the surface.
Rowe draws on the entire history of classic vampires, from Stoker’s Dracula to the better vampire films and, most importantly, from the amazing work of writers and illustrations like Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan and Tom Palmer—and connects it all both regionally and theoretically to the legend of the Wendigo. But perhaps what Rowe does best of all is to resist the urge so many authors who tackle vampire cannon fail to. Rowe isn’t interested in reinventing the vampire, on putting his “unique stamp” on the lore by creating new abilities or making them little more than whining, introspective gadabouts. You’ll find no vampires walking around in the daylight, or eating meals at the local malt shop, or getting married to their high school sweetheart. His vampires aren’t interested in discovering why they are they way they are, what great sins lead them to their lot in life. Rowe’s vampires still fear the symbols of Christianity, still must be invited into a house, still fall prey the slings and arrows affecting the most historic of vampires. They are fierce, brutal, enigmatic, appealing and terrifying.
In the end, Rowe manages to do what so many others writing “vampire fiction” fail to...he creates an astoundingly creepy, violent, atmospheric and frightening novel that not only pays homage to the literary and cinematic past, but also manages to restore the vampire to his former and deserving glory. Highly, highly recommended. (4.5 stars)(less)
Given this book was written in the 30s, it is not surprising that the writing style is incredibly stilted. I thought this might go away as I went thro...moreGiven this book was written in the 30s, it is not surprising that the writing style is incredibly stilted. I thought this might go away as I went through the book (i.e., that I might get used to this style), but, instead, it got worse. Written without any style or grace or any particular skill, this very short novel grates on just about every level. What should have been a fascinating look into this legend falls terribly flat and suffers, I'm afraid, from a lack of passion. Part of this may be due to it being told from the eyes of a haole (outsider), but I fear it mostly suffers from this because the author simply was not a very skilled writer.
It's odd for me to rate something dealing with Hawaii low, but the major flaws of this book simply don't merit anything higher.
ETA: I do have to give props to Eskridge for his beautiful illustrations which are, oddly, a bit homoerotic.(less)