After coming into a small fortune, a quiet closed accounts registrar named Mr. Berger decides to pack it in and retire. At only thirty four years of a...moreAfter coming into a small fortune, a quiet closed accounts registrar named Mr. Berger decides to pack it in and retire. At only thirty four years of age and with countless years ahead of him, Berger decides to pursue his dream of becoming a writer.
After a particularly frustrating evening with pen and paper, Berger embarks on a walk to clear his mind when he witnesses a young woman throw herself in front of a speeding train. However, a spotless track and lack of evidence leave both Berger and the authorities dumbfounded.
Several weeks later, the same woman appears again and when an identical scenario threatens to repeat itself, Berger prevents the woman from doing so, chasing after her until she enters a large non-descript building. What Berger discovers inside will change his life forever..
Winning the 2014 Edgar Award for best short story, Connolly’s Museum of Literary Souls (or the alternate title ("The Caxton Private Lending Library and Book Depository") reads like a love letter to literature. Connolly writes about the power of fiction and how truly great works can bring a culture together. Readers can often identify with certain characters, speaking about them as if they’re real people.
My only gripe is given how deeply Connolly immersed me into the story, I was disappointed in how quickly the ending snuck up on me. While I have a deep appreciation for short stories (Hell, I even wrote a few), truly great ones always leave the reader wanting more. Don’t take this as a criticism but rather just a self-entitled reader whining.(less)
Buying and reviewing single issues of comic books isn’t something I normally do (I think Locke & Key has been the only exception). I’m the kind of...moreBuying and reviewing single issues of comic books isn’t something I normally do (I think Locke & Key has been the only exception). I’m the kind of reader that would prefer to wait until the trade paperback is released and read it all in one shot. However, seeing as I have the opportunity to get in the ground floor of a Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips project, why not give it a go?
The dynamic duo of noir return with The Fade Out, a story about murder most foul in post-war America. This time around, the creative crew have taken on a research assistant in an effort to make this tale as historically accurate as possible as well as an editor (a first for the collaboration in nearly a decade) to assist in smoothing out any bumps along the road. For a team as talented and ambitious as Brubaker and Phillips, this can only be good news.
With Phillips’ perfect penciling and Brubaker’s grim and gritty storytelling, The Fade Out could prove to be their most polished and remembered work yet.
My thoughts on Gillian Flynn’s blockbuster novel have been marinating in my brain for the past few days. I’ve written, erased and rewritten this revie...moreMy thoughts on Gillian Flynn’s blockbuster novel have been marinating in my brain for the past few days. I’ve written, erased and rewritten this review several times struggling to come up with what to say while cautiously tiptoeing around spoilers.
Amy Dunne is missing, her home torn apart. Standard protocol in the event of a missing persons case is to rule out the spouse. Unfortunately for Amy’s husband Nick, evidence continues to pile up against him and the fact that he’s less than honest with the police isn’t doing him any favors either. What does Nick have to hide? Can Amy be found?
Oh my God, the hype! I initially kept my distance from Gone Girl because I just assumed it couldn’t possibly live up to the heaps and heaps of praise placed upon it. After turning the final page, I felt like quite the fool. Flynn not only crafted an expertly paced thriller but she succeeded in knocking me on my ass with a plot twist I haven’t seen since the likes of Chuckie P’s Fight Club.
Opting to present the book through dueling narratives, Flynn creates structurally sound characterizations of both Nick and Amy as each chapter offers up a he said/she said dynamic. One chapter will spotlight Nick’s struggle in navigating through the media circus that develops following Amy’s disappearance while another chapter takes us back to the beginning of their relationship through Amy’s early diary entries.
I’m glad to see I’m not alone in my disappointment with the ending. It’s not like it didn’t make sense given where the story had taken me but I had my own thoughts on where it should have headed and while that’s no fault of the author, it left me feeling underwhelmed. Supposedly it’s been rewritten for the upcoming movie adaptation so I’m interested to see if it goes in the direction I had initially predicted.
Gone Girl was a pleasant surprise given it’s a book that has produced such polarizing opinions. I can certainly see some of the valid reasons behind the negative reviews but it’s hard for me to agree with them given how immensely readable I found her prose. I was hooked on this from the beginning and once that shift happens in the middle, it was pedal to the metal straight to the end.
Career criminal Parker is double crossed and left for dead but they didn’t confirm the kill. After surviving an attempt on his life, Parker’s search f...moreCareer criminal Parker is double crossed and left for dead but they didn’t confirm the kill. After surviving an attempt on his life, Parker’s search for the scumbag responsible has led him to New York City. While finding the man may prove difficult for Parker, one thing is for sure, he’ll get his revenge or die trying.
While I’ve read all of Darwyn Cooke’s tremendous graphic novel adaptations as well as watched the late 90s movie “Payback”, I’ve yet to check out the original source material - Stark’s acclaimed Parker novels. Given that I’m immersing myself deeper and deeper into the world of noir and crime fiction, I figured it was about time that I checked out one of the genre’s standards.
This is truly textbook noir - despicable people doing despicable things to other despicable people. Sure, you can root for Parker to succeed but he’s no better than any of his adversaries. He’s a tough bastard who wouldn’t think twice about taking you out if you got in his way. He’s a man driven by his own sense of what’s right in a world where everything is wrong. His relentless pursuit for what he feels is rightfully his, by his own admission, is crazy and it makes him a great character. Everything he does in The Hunter makes sense - I didn’t find myself questioning his actions or the actions of others.
Both the writing and the dialogue are sharp and precise, like a surgeon’s scalpel. The tight 198 pages it takes to the tell the story are used with precision. Nothing is wasted and there’s no sense of filler.
I’ve got a long road ahead of me (about 24 books in total) but I’m strapping myself in for the ride. Why oh why did I wait so long??
Ian Doescher’s presentation of William Shakespeare’s take on the original Star Wars trilogy has come to an end. Hopefully Doescher stays away from the...moreIan Doescher’s presentation of William Shakespeare’s take on the original Star Wars trilogy has come to an end. Hopefully Doescher stays away from the prequels – if not, I’d fear Shakespeare could rise from the dead to keep his name far from that garbage.
Luke Skywalker and the rebel alliance are getting ready to make their final stand against the tyranny of The Empire. The second Death Star is fast approaching completion and the good guys must find a way to regroup following the events of The Empire Striketh Back. I could go on but if you’re not aware of the Star Wars saga plot, why are you reading this review? Come on!
All the creativity that Doescher has shown throughout his time adapting the “holy trilogy” once again shines in the final chapter. While he closes out the series on a simplistic note keeping things very by-the-book, he still assigns himself a challenge in working with the Ewoks. While he mainly stuck to the script in the first two installments in leaving many characters’ alien vernacular untranslated – he did something different with the Ewoks, offering up a sort of pseudo-English which expands upon their roles in the story. Very nice.
Overall, I liked it. It’s clear that Doescher had a vision from the very beginning and throughout the whole journey, he didn’t lose his creative edge nor phone it in. Quirk Books seems to have cornered the market when it comes to these cross-over experiments. More!
Following Deadpool’s murderous rampage through the Marvel Universe, he decides to jump into the classic tales that inspired the comic book crusaders o...moreFollowing Deadpool’s murderous rampage through the Marvel Universe, he decides to jump into the classic tales that inspired the comic book crusaders of today. With a hit-list consisting of Ebeneezer Scrooge, Captain Ahab, Mark Twain and many others, Deadpool is set to wipe the classics from literature’s illustrious history.
Deadpool is easily one of my favorite comic book characters and why wouldn’t he be – he’s Deadpool, the merc with a mouth! He consistently breaks the fourth wall, his verbal jabs are hilarious and he’s got a sweet skill-set that would put any adversary to shame.
In this slim four issue collection, Deadpool runs the gamut of literary greatness, wasting everyone in his path. This leads to cool visuals, some hilarious moments and the usual air of originality that accompanies the character. While I enjoyed most of it, it was a little on the short side and I was really disappointed with the lack of time given to A Christmas Carol. It also falls short when compared to the very funny and creative run that both Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan are on as the current series writers.
All in all, Deadpool Killustrated is a quick read that feels like it finished too early.
Detective Gabriella Versado is called to the scene of a brutal murder. A boy who had recently been declared missing is found chopped in half, his life...moreDetective Gabriella Versado is called to the scene of a brutal murder. A boy who had recently been declared missing is found chopped in half, his lifeless torso sewn to the lower half of a deer carcass. The crime, albeit an exceptionally grizzly one, is yet another statistic within the husk of the once powerful city of Detroit and it’s not long before the person believed to be responsible for the murder kills again. With a serial killer on the loose, can Gabi track down and put an end to the rampage or will the body count continue to rise?
I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Despite the straightforward description above, Lauren Beukes’ Broken Monsters is so much more. While the murder mystery and the pursuit of a serial killer both form the backbone of the novel, commentaries on the fragility of the American Dream, the permanence of social media and the ever increasing poverty problem flesh it out, giving it certain richness that could have easily been lost in a run of the mill, by-the-book thriller.
Very much like Stephen King’s Carrie and more recently, Nick Cutter’s The Troop, Beukes pulls information from the world outside Gabi’s case in the form of internet culture, slipping it into the story. By injecting posts from fictitious Facebook accounts, a subreddit titled “r/detroitmonster” as well as comments through various YouTube videos, Beukes applies a real world feel to the thrilling tale that extends the story beyond the city limits of Detroit.
From beginning to end, Beukes had me hooked and the pages kept flying by. I can’t wait to see what she does next. With Broken Monsters, Beukes doesn’t have to worry about eclipsing her previous effort, The Shining Girls; she outshines it (excuse the terrible pun).
Bob Howard spent nearly fifteen years performing all over the world as “Hardcore Holly”, a tough-guy wrestler in WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment)....moreBob Howard spent nearly fifteen years performing all over the world as “Hardcore Holly”, a tough-guy wrestler in WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). After retiring in 2010, Holly chose to write a memoir detailing his time in the business. While Holly didn’t achieve true superstardom, he was a loyal, dependable worker who maintained a featured spot during wrestling’s hottest period – the late 1990s and beyond.
What sets The Hardcore Truth apart from other wrestling memoirs is Holly’s flat-out brutal honesty. He’s a man who admits that had he played the political game backstage, he might have achieved greater success but by staying honest to who he was, he has no one to blame but himself. It was refreshing given that the majority of these books tend to fall into the “poor me” category and fault is placed on just about everyone else’s shoulders other than the performer. At times, it does feel like he’s straying a little into humble brag territory but the majority of what he says here can be backed up with facts.
When I say he’s brutally honest, I mean it. Holly does nothing to hide his feelings about Paul Levesque (a.k.a WWE performer Triple H), the executive vice president of talent, live events and creative. It’s been suggested by many others that Levesque has done more harm to the business over the years than good and while Holly sings the praises of his ability as a performer, he vilifies him as a businessman and backstage politician. The same goes for performers Shawn Michaels, Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) and Kevin Nash (Diesel) who terrorized the locker room during their run on top in the mid 1990s. This leads to Holly detailing who he believes received a raw deal and who also deserved better during that time.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the sections devoted to his racing career but given that it is a relatively big part of his life that did in fact lead to Holly getting his foot in the door of WWE, you can’t expect it to be left out. Thankfully, like his life before wrestling, it’s only a small portion of the book.
Overall, there’s some great stories involving Holly standing up to management, schooling rookies and a plethora of other backstage shenanigans littered throughout the book. It’s an enjoyable read that offers up a glimpse into the life of a solid mid-card performer that isn’t often seen in the number of wrestling memoirs that get released.
At the urging of an opinion piece, a vigilante takes to the streets of New York knocking off an accused child molester who up until now, has escaped t...moreAt the urging of an opinion piece, a vigilante takes to the streets of New York knocking off an accused child molester who up until now, has escaped the hand of justice. Succeeding in his mission, he dubs himself “The Will of the People” (or “Will” for short). Shortly after, he writes into a prominent New York newspaper threatening the lives of several other less than savory citizens.
It isn’t until a particularly well known lawyer finds himself in Will’s crosshairs that Matt Scudder is brought into the fold. Hired to track down and uncover Will, Matt enlists the assistance of his sometimes employer, Reliable Security to keep an eye on the frightened barrister.
If that isn’t enough on Scudder’s plate, he’s also recruited to look into the murder of a friend of a friend; a man named Byron Leopold, who had been shot in cold blood while sitting on a park bench. With Matt unsure of where to begin with Will, he concentrates his time tracking down this other killer. With such a heavy workload on his shoulders, can Matt juggle both cases?
While I was disappointed Mick Ballou’s small role, Block shines the spotlight on both TJ and “Hard Way” Ray, hoping they can hold their own as the supporting cast. A relatively new addition to the world of Scudder, “Hard Way” Ray provides a great wall for Matt to bounce theories off of and offers a distinctly different viewpoint that no other character can offer – what with being a criminal defense lawyer and all. TJ makes strides as Scudder’s right hand man as the two grow closer than ever; further developing a father/son relationship.
While I enjoyed the case surrounding “Will” and the payoff was surprising; it’s the case that involves Byron that I found most compelling. It’s hard to really talk about how interesting it was and how it unraveled without getting heavy into spoiler territory but given my chosen profession, I thought it was an intriguing angle (even if it is a common staple of the detective fiction genre) and brought to light a practice I wasn’t even aware of.
Even The Wicked is another strong entry in the Scudder saga that clearly shows that despite being the thirteenth entry in the series, Block still has plenty of gas left in the tank.
With the summer of 1927 being one of America’s most historic, celebrated non-fiction writer Bill Bryson took a long, hard look at everything that went...moreWith the summer of 1927 being one of America’s most historic, celebrated non-fiction writer Bill Bryson took a long, hard look at everything that went down that year in his acclaimed 2013 release, One Summer: America, 1927. Events covered include:
- Charles Lindbergh becoming the first man to cross the Atlantic Ocean alone in an airplane – without stopping for refueling or for navigational purposes.
- The sensationalization of crime and the rise of the tabloid.
- Babe Ruth breaking his own record for home runs in a single season.
- The beginning of the downfall of ruthless mobster and bootlegger Al Capone.
- A meeting among financial minds that ultimately planted the seeds for the legendary stock market crash of 1929.
- The debut of the first "talking picture" exploding out of Hollywood.
..and so much more!
I had such a tremendous experience with Blake J. Harris’ Console Wars that I began seeking out other acclaimed non-fiction to digest. On a routine trip to the local bookstore, I spotted Bryson’s One Summer and decided to give it a shot.
I learned so much from this book! Did you know that the only reason the steering wheel was shifted from the right side of the car to the left so that the “lady of the home” could avoid stepping onto the road? Were you aware that Henry Ford was an ignorant anti-semite? I sure didn’t. In fact, it seemed most people were anti-semites as racism and bigotry ran wild during the roaring twenties.
Of all the subjects studied, I found Henry Ford to be the most fascinating. A giant egotist, the man frequently shunned advice from anyone who claimed to be an expert in any given field. One of his biggest blunders involved completely stopping production on his immensely popular car the Model T to concentrate on designing and producing his next creation, the Model A. The only problem? He didn’t know what the Model A was. He completely shut down operations without a clue on what he would manufacture. This led to massive job losses and a huge decline in business (no cars to sell=no revenue).
His other ridiculous idea involved buying a huge chunk of land in South America and creating a model American community that would produce the rubber required for his vehicles. Dubbed “Fordlandia”, the venture failed spectacularly. He seemingly did zero research into the climate and location and appointed dangerously under-qualified men to oversee the operation. How the Ford Motor Company survived is astounding.
One of the biggest obstacles with writing non-fiction has to be getting the flow or style right. Obviously Bryson has a wealth of experience with writing non-fiction, but I’m sure it’s always a delicate balance when trying to stay somewhere between page turning prose and blatantly regurgitating facts. While Bryson does a fine job, there were still moments (albeit few) when I found my mind wandering and skimming over long patches of information without digesting anything. Bryson has clearly done his research so there’s a wealth of knowledge crammed into a tight four hundred plus pages – probably why it took me a few weeks to get through the book. It’s a style that I find is best absorbed in small bursts.