Back in 1978, Lawrence Block released a book detailing his advice for prospective novelists. Now, nearly forty years later, while much of the materialBack in 1978, Lawrence Block released a book detailing his advice for prospective novelists. Now, nearly forty years later, while much of the material is still relevant, Block decided to add and expand the text with the digital world in mind. Now dubbed, “Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print to Pixel”, Block’s gives important information for both amateur and professional authors alike by offering guidance in moving through the fields of writing and publication.
I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
This marks only the second book I’ve read to date about writing - the first being Stephen King’s On Writing - and just like King’s, Block’s tips mirror those of several other authors whose advice I’ve taken in: you have to write for yourself first and most importantly, there’s no ONE way to approach the craft.
Applying the lessons within Writing the Novel isn’t like picking up a cookbook and producing a perfect meal, but rather taking what’s offered and using it to form your own routine, your own method of attack when it comes to forming a story. When it comes to the sections on both seeking publication as well as approaching self-publishing, the direction offered is invaluable. Block knows both worlds well and it shows in the details he offers up regarding the pros and cons of each option.
Being a prospective writer myself, I found this book informative and would recommend it to anyone looking to venture into the literary world. It’s given me renewed interest and has me eager to apply what I’ve learned....more
Velvet Templeton has been accused of setting up the murder of a field agent within her super-spy organization, ARC-7. While many simply viewed her asVelvet Templeton has been accused of setting up the murder of a field agent within her super-spy organization, ARC-7. While many simply viewed her as the complacent secretary, it comes to light that Velvet used to be a field agent herself – and a kick-ass one at that!
On the run and desperate to clear her name, Velvet begins assembling her own list of potential suspects as she tries to narrow down the real culprit.
Building on a hell of a first trade, Brubaker and company produced an enthralling read with this second volume that I consumed in a single sitting. Epting’s pencils and Breitweiser’s colors are just jaw-droppingly gorgeous and more than add to an already compelling story. I’m not sure if it’s Brubaker’s direction or Epting and Breitweiser’s god-given talent but they’re providing a visual presentation unlike any comic I’m currently reading.
Velvet continues to be a great character. Her back is constantly against the wall, but she shows no signs of slowing down. I suppose it doesn’t hurt that she has little alternative but she’s bright, quick on her feet and deeply confident. Did I mention she’s also in her mid-forties? How many series currently going today showcase that type of character?
I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on the next trade. Hopefully we get to see it this summer in keeping with the trend of putting out one book per year. Can’t wait to see where this one is headed....more
Having a career that requires one to be analytical doesn’t always translate well into personal life. After a whirlwind romance, Robin falls hard for aHaving a career that requires one to be analytical doesn’t always translate well into personal life. After a whirlwind romance, Robin falls hard for a client; an artsy world traveler who whisks her away to Morocco for six weeks of sun and relaxation.
Approaching forty and desperate to start a family, Robin grows frustrated as she’s unable to become pregnant. Following a discovery about Paul’s past that might provide answers to why she’s have difficulty conceiving, she walks out on her husband. After cooling down, she returns to an empty hotel room in shambles with blood spattered walls. Now the prime suspect of a murder investigation, can Robin uncover the circumstances involving her husband’s disappearance?
A copy of The Blue Hour was provided by Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.
Overall, I just wasn’t into this story. I found the main character far too neurotic and self indulgent to really enjoy any of what the author was presenting and for me, that’s generally a deal breaker – especially if you’re writing in a first person narrative. And while there weren’t many of them, I found the sex scenes unbearable. I wouldn’t say I’m a prude (there are some steamy images in those Brubaker/Phillips comics I’m always raving about), but I’m not a big fan of sexual play-by-play, I instead subscribe to the theory of “less is more”.
I may not have been the audience for this one. The first third of the book read like a romance novel, which put me off almost immediately. I love thrillers and I love mysteries but something about The Blue Hour just didn’t click with me....more
The Night & The Music holds eleven Scudder short stories that cover a wide spectrum of his literary life. The first few tales take place while MatThe Night & The Music holds eleven Scudder short stories that cover a wide spectrum of his literary life. The first few tales take place while Matt was still sucking down bourbon and coffee while the latter bring us up to his marriage with Elaine as well as his friendship with Irish gangster Mick Ballou.
There’s a lot of great stuff in here, particularly a story that involves Scudder investigating the suspects of a robbery/murder titled By Dawn’s Early Light. It draws a lot of parallels to A Long Line of Dead Men, one of my personal favorites in the Scudder saga.
I found it pretty jarring to go back to Scudder’s beginnings. It goes to show just how much the character had grown over time. I’ve grown accustomed to Matt and Elaine living together as well as TJ popping up on occasion - both of which are elements missing from the first half of the book. Matt was just treading water in those early years, unsure of who or what he was supposed to be. Seeing him seemingly drift through life was like watching another person.
It goes without saying that “One Last Night at Grogan’s” is an important story that every fan of Block’s signature detective should seek out. While Block has on more than one occasion believed he was finished with Scudder, this one definitely gives you that feeling he’s content to put the series to bed.
The release of The Night & The Music is kind of like a best-selling musician releasing a compilation of their b-sides; those extra tracks that you wouldn’t find on a greatest hits album. That’s not to say they’re of lesser quality, they’re more for fans you would consider “completists”. After all, it’s nice to get all those “songs” in one easy-to-find “album”....more
“Glass became suddenly aware of the sound of the river. It was an odd thing to notice, he thought. He had clung to the river for weeks. Yet suddenly h“Glass became suddenly aware of the sound of the river. It was an odd thing to notice, he thought. He had clung to the river for weeks. Yet suddenly he heard the waters with the acute sensitivity of new discovery. He turned from the fire to stare at the river. It struck him as strange that the smooth flow of water would create any sound at all. Or that the wind would, for that matter. It occurred to him that it wasn’t so much the water or the wind that accounted for the noise, but rather the objects in their path.”
Mauled by a grizzly while on an expedition through the mid-west United States, fur trapper Hugh Glass is left with injuries so catastrophic, he’s not expected to survive. Two men are tasked with staying behind burying him upon his death while the rest of the troop forge ahead. Fed up with waiting for Glass to expire, the two men rob him of his possessions, leaving while he’s still clinging to life. Furious that his comrades would abandon him without means to defend himself, Glass is driven by a thirst for vengeance as he slowly recovers.
This might be one of those rare times when a movie is better than the book. From what I’ve seen, the screenwriter kind of plays around with structure and injects a little more emotion into the story, giving the plot a deeper narrative. While I found the story of Glass’ redemption compelling, Punke wrote in an almost droll, dull style that made parts of the book drag with what seemed like a fair amount of filler. After all, while this is based on a true story, it is listed as a novel, so Punke could have played around with the subject matter a little. Then again, these are just my issues with it....more
Scene of the Crime follows private investigator Jack Herriman as he’s tasked with tracking down Maggie Jordan, a missing person in the California BayScene of the Crime follows private investigator Jack Herriman as he’s tasked with tracking down Maggie Jordan, a missing person in the California Bay Area. Jack’s efforts lead him to a commune where it's believed Maggie had last been seen. From there, it isn’t long until a trail of clues takes him to a motel in which he locates Maggie alive but heavily under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Once Maggie sobers up, Jack questions her about her disappearance. After some coffee and conversation, Jack drops Maggie off at her room and heads home for the evening. Events take a turn the following morning when Maggie is found murdered, shot to death in her room, with about ten thousand dollars in cold, hard cash.
Despite only being hired to locate her, Jack is not content to let sleeping dogs lie and begins a second investigation, this time into Maggie’s murder.
Scene of the Crime was Ed Brubaker’s first series with what would become his long-time collaborators Sean Phillips (Incognito, Criminal, The Fade Out) and Michael Lark (Gotham Central, Daredevil) and they clearly quickly developed an undeniable chemistry. The story has plenty of excellent twists and turns that match up perfectly with Lark’s gritty art and Phillips deep, dark inking.
There’s also a short tale tagged on at the end that details Jack heading to Chicago around Christmas to find a material witness in a court case. I liked this one just as much as the main story, so I’m glad it was included. Also inserted as extras are Ed’s notes for pitching the series and an essay that details his love of crime fiction and what attracted him to the genre.
I’ve become sort of a Brubaker/Phillips completest and to date, have yet to read something by them I haven’t liked. This one is definitely worth a look....more
Aside from It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol – and all its variations – is my go to holiday movie. This goes for anything from the straight upAside from It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol – and all its variations – is my go to holiday movie. This goes for anything from the straight up Alastair Sim adaptation to the Bill Murray classic Scrooged – most, if not all, are welcome. But despite this being one of my all time favourites, I’ve never read Dickens’ original story. Seeing as it was a free download for my Kindle, I thought I’d give it a shot.
Turns out I didn’t quite care for this as much as I thought I would. I couldn’t be a bigger fan of the stage and screen adaptations I’ve seen up to this point but as far as the source material goes – humbug! Look, I’m not going to lie, I can confidently say that my disinterest can be chalked up to the style of writing. Dickens originally published this in 1843 and while it’s a wonderful, timeless story, I struggled to get into it. The language was just a bit too much of a barrier for me and I’d often catch myself gazing over large chunks of text until a recognizable quote pulled me in.
For the record, I’m glad I tried it and can finally say that I’ve read it. However, I’ll just stick with Scrooge McDuck and his twenty two minute journey through the past, present and future from here on out....more
“The Bruins story of all time had Esposito recuperating at Mass General after surgery. In burst a masked surgeon - Orr in blue scrubs. “OK wop-po, you“The Bruins story of all time had Esposito recuperating at Mass General after surgery. In burst a masked surgeon - Orr in blue scrubs. “OK wop-po, you're coming with us.” Acting on Dr. Orr’s orders, teammates wheeled Espo out the door and into an elevator. The kidnappers peeled off existing railings to ram their fallen comrade’s gurney out of the hospital. Finally, they were bobsledding Esposito through icy Boston streets. “Turning, stick out your hand,” Orr instructed Phil at one point. Minutes later, they arrived at Bobby’s bar, the Branding Iron, for yet another Bruins team party.”
Stephen Cole looks at hockey’s wildest, most unpredictable era: the 1970s. By following the decade’s most dominant teams - the Boston Bruins, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Montreal Canadiens - Cole examines the game's transition from the classy sportsmanlike conduct of the 50s and 60s to the rough and tumble brutality of the 70s.
By the time the disco decade danced onto the scene, the NHL had been experiencing a lull in popularity. Luckily for them, the game was evolving. Gone were the days of sportsmanship and honour; enter mullets, missing teeth and bruised knuckles. When Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito’s Boston Bruins changed how the game was played with their mixture of skill and intimidation, you either had to get with the times or get out of the way.
It wasn’t long before Orr’s army inspired the famed Broad Street Bullies, Bobby Clark’s ferocious Flyers, a team that destroyed and punished their opponents in the rink. While they were busy bruising bodies, the Montreal Canadiens were constructing an unbelievable juggernaut. By the time 1976 rolled around, the Habs produced a team so full of talent, that even today they’re still arguably considered the greatest hockey team ever assembled.
While the bulk of the book’s focus is on those three hockey clubs, Cole also sheds some light on the 1972 Summit Series, the rise of the WHA (World Hockey Association) and the NHL expansion. They’re welcome distractions from the sometimes monotonous play-by-play but it also left me wanting more information - especially on the WHA. There are probably other books written on the subject, so it’s a minor complaint. After all, Cole can’t include everything.
Hockey Night Fever is an uncompromising look at the vicious yet brilliant talent assembled in hockey’s most tumultuous decade....more