Saturday, June 15, 2013

Post 446

Couldn't even make it to 450 let alone 500. Don't get me wrong, though. I love this blog. It's been my child for four years. It went through a lot of format changes, a child, and a separation. And still it came out on top. My only wish is that I actually made more money off it. Sadly, all things must come to an end.

What started as a chronicle of my book hunting to an attempt to show others how to become a successful-yet-thrifty book hunter molded into a semi respectable (quasi respectable?) book blog to the constant declarations of my love for Alison Tyler, who shaped the later posts (because I did my best to read all her works). This has been my first and most successful attempt of a serious blog (though, I'm often not so serious in my writing). And while this will remain in the cyberworld for years to come as an archive of what I've read and saved for the last four years, it's time I packed up my bags and moved toward a brighter future. 

My personal blog and my book blog will fuse into one single blog about books, music, and film and how they've affected my life and writing as well as reviews and thrifty finds (and love letters to Alison Tyler). I'm currently in the process of building something better and following a daily schedule. This also means better reviews (hopefully), longer and shorter posts (for people who love to read about reading, and those who just want some quick information about writing, editing, music, and movies), more creative writing (nothing worth selling, but something worth reading), personal posts, and more. My goal is to mimic a literary magazine and fill it up with things most literary publications wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole (like recycled cliches).

So thank you to Alison, Lana Fox, Go Deeper Press, my two followers, and all of you who have stumbled onto this blog via random Google searches and links embedded in someones post about a review I wrote. If anything, you have made this all worth my while. Until we meet again.

Yours always,
Guillermo Corona
the Observant Reader.

P.S. Happy huntin'.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Batman Begins a Novelization by Dennis O'Neil

I've never read a novelization before. Never much wanted to. Why bother, right? The process of working backwards never intrigued me. A movie adapted from a book is common place – "We're going to read the book before watching the movie," a mother told me at the library while her fifth grade son held a copy of World War Z – but I've never heard anyone mutter, "I'm going to read the novelization after watching the movie." Still, a morbid sense of curiosity rose in me. And in a three-day weekend of sheer boredom had me sitting down in the living room with the only book close to hand was Dennis O'Neil's novelization of the Christopher Nolan film Batman Begins. Why the hell not?

The book took me a tad longer than expected. I blew through the first hundred pages in a matter of an hour (a feat for me because normally I get distracted). The added details were enough to sell me on the idea. I wasn't disappointed too much, but I wasn't enthralled. O'Neil adds Bruce Wayne's research into the League of Shadows, seeking out their history. But O'Neil also leaves Nolan's realism behind by mentioning the pits and the possibility that Ra's may indeed be immortal.

I really don't have much to say about this book. You either read it or you don't. You can still purchase - oddly enough - the novelization at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Until next time, keep on huntin'.

Tungsten World Inc

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Walking Dead Compendium Two by Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard

I wanted to put off reading Compendium Two for the next pay check. Even at a discount price, this undead tome is still quite expensive. After my sudden coming to for Kirkman's zombie bestseller, I couldn't hold back my urge. Rather than buying it at my usual hunting grounds (online or Barnes & Noble), I purchased this guy at Walmart. No need wiping your computer screen, I bought this guy at the super-center for $4.31 more than I would have paid at Barnes & Noble online. What can I say? I love instant gratification over savings.

I'm almost certain that I devoured the second forty-eight issues faster than the first. The story opens after the attack on the prison, with Rick and Carl pushing forward after the death of two loved ones. Kirkman opens the door for a darker passage of time, where are heroes see their truer selves. On the brink of insanity and survival instinct, Kirkman touches on something very little zombie movies and books feature, human nature. Where the reasoning and rationalizing ends and the justification for the evils we're forced to in order to survive out in the undead wilderness. Rick is pushed into trusting new members and a new community, and pushed passed his limits. In the end, he comes to realize his purpose in the world. And it's not one we were expecting. At least, not me.

Laying off on Kirkman's writing with this book. Either I'm getting used to it, or he learned to share the storytelling with artist Charlie Adlard. Adlard's work is haunting, depicting every annoyance, every forced smile, every bit of anger the characters convey. It's an amazing body of work, and I'm a fool for doubting it in the past. And as an act of contrition, I will force everyone who hasn't read these books to do so.

The Walking Dead Compendium Two is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Until next time, keep on huntin'.

Stock Images

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Walking Dead Compendium One by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Tony Moore

In the past, I've given The Walking Dead comic series in the past. Namely for my disliking of Robert Kirkman's inability to share a panel with the artist he's working with. Sure, there are a lot of silent panels that graces the pages, only after he's taken up an entire page with his word balloons. I stopped reading the series (in trade form) before I made it to the Governor arc. I don't know what possessed me to purchase Compendium One, I just did.

There was something that began to nag at me. Something, I couldn't put my finger on until I cracked the pages of Compendium Two (which I purchased yesterday, against my better judgement - monetary reasons, not taste). He makes no use of captions. Outside of comic strips and slice of life graphic novels, traditional comic books have made great usage of captions, even if it's just the "Meanwhile" piece. And that's when I cracked a knowing grin.

While I still feel Mr. Kirkman should stick to prose or TV scripting - he's a great writer, don't get me wrong, but his need for dialogue that often falls upon the repetitive and unnecessary still makes my skin crawl while reading his comic books - I've learned to reassess my opinion on his zombie series. If anyone should know that when it comes to the zombie genre it's often times the people that make the story flow, it's me. Loving the undead since a child, I respect the man's ability for us to draw our own conclusions and make our own captions subconsciously. He doesn't need that written down, doesn't need it to make his story flow from past to present to meanwhile.

It's a great job he's done, and he's won my respect.

The Walking Dead Compendium One is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Until next time, keep on huntin'.

Design By Humans

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle by Christopher Healy

"Stuuuuuurum-hayyyyyyy-gennnnnnn!" That's right, boys and girls, Gustav, Liam, Duncan, Fredrick, Ella, Lila, Briar, Rapunzel, Ruffian, and Snow are back in Christopher Healy's follow up to last year's The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. They're off on another hilarious, edge-of-your-seat adventure to reclaim the Sword of Erinthia from the depths of the Bandit King's – who's an official king! – castle.

A year has past since the events of the first book, leaving the princes scattered in their rightful places. Except for Liam, who is now living with Fredrick and Ella. Duncan has moved on to write a guide of hero-ing, and Gustav is still living in his brothers' shadows. While the heroes are still laughing stocks throughout the continent, Briar Rose still wants her Prince Charming to live up to his end of the bargain. And thus sparks the powder keg that sends our heroes on their next adventure where they face more than they can chew. But sneaking into the Bandit King's castle, located in the recently founded kingdom of Rauberia (formerly the Orphan Wastes which housed the castle of the witch-villain from the first book whose name has slipped my memory) isn't as easy as they assumed. Each prince (and princess) is pushed to his (and her) heroic limits, leaving them wondering if they have what it takes to be a hero. 

Christopher Healy's writing draws the reader in, making it difficult to put the book down. And there's never a dull moment, every chapter holds significance to the characters and plot (and subplots), so no fluff of information that isn't tied up neatly at the end, or left leading toward the next book (could his League of Princes series be a trilogy or are we looking at Harry Potter proportions here?). And even though he's more than capable of breathing life to his characters, Todd Harris's artwork compliments the prose. 

The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as, for Kindle and Nook. Until next time, keep on huntin'.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy

In this modern, post-Stephenie Meyer age anything vampire or werewolf is held with some skepticism. For me, anyway. The last thing the genre and mythos needs is another writer to take a large, Mormon turd upon it. Well, I don't know what religion Brian McGreevy practices, but his mission is clear – he set off to scrape off the Meyer (get it?) and make teenage vampires and werewolves cool again.

I promised myself this post wouldn't just bash the Twilight author, but forgive me one more, okay? Where Stephenie Meyer fails as a writer, Brian McGreevy flexes his literary muscle. Literary references, not just throwing a classic title around, and in depth research of the occult, gypsy traditions, and introducing us to a breed of vampire that can walk in the daytime without sparkling like a goof fill the covers of this not-quite-so-teenage-horror book. And here's a spoiler alert: The main plot isn't about love. It's not even about seeking a girlfriend/boyfriend. It's about bringing a killer down. So fans of Twilight need not to apply as the psychological aspect, unromantic aspect, allusions, and meaning might fry your tiny noodles (okay, I'm done).

Hemlock Grove is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and for Kindle and Nook. And check out the Netflix original series based on the novel. Until next time, happy huntin'.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

On Trial for Prostitution by Sammie Lake

Sammie Lake followed me on Twitter, so I gave the writer a chance. And considering saying that the short story "On Trial for Prostitution" was free on Amazon, I shrugged and downloaded it. It's as if I haven't learned my lesson. Nothing free is rarely worth reading (unless that free item comes from the publisher or writer).

Now, Sammie Lake has a good idea here. If you ignore the cliche tale of a student turned prostitute, you'll have to muddle through the cliche dialogue, the porn-speak, and the spelling errors (amongst other stuff, but I have another blog for detailing how this story could've been better). 

In short, this short story took longer for me to read than necessary. I'll head over to Chapin City Blues to write my input as an editor. You can read that when it's done.

You can purchased "On Trial for Prostitution" for you Kindle, but buy it when it's free.

Femme Fatale: Erotic Tales of Dangerous Women edited by Lana Fox

First off, I want to thank Go Deeper Press for allowing me to read this collection, and for thinking of me in the first place. I'd also like to thank Lana Fox for collecting these sexy tales for us to read. Moving on.

I always find it difficult to review collections and anthologies. I never know what to focus on, or what to say without giving away too much plot of one short story. Normally, I pick a few short stories to talk about. However, this collection only contains seven (that's right, one for every day of the week).

Murderous vixens skip through the pages of this book. Stories such as "La Femme Chocolat" by V.C., Bracken Macleod's "Some Other Time," and Zöe More's "Our Courtship, Our Romance" enrapture you with the stories of the most dangerous women.  V.C. introduces us to a candy maker who uses her sweets for revenge on those who have resisted or broken her heart. The writing brings the feel of a long forgotten pulp magazine, filled with modern references that easily go unnoticed. Bracken Macleod's brings to life an androgynous villain that sneaks into the heroine's sexual fantasies and, thus, our own. And the darkly deviant lovers featured in Zöe More's tale would make the Marquis de Sade and Wanda von Dunjew blush.

But not all the women featured in the stories are murderous by nature. The title character in Maricia Verman's "Elisabetta" is but the personification fantasy (the piece is short, so I might have given away too much there). And the woman featured in Abyssinia Grey's "Ash Wednesday" is but a Catholic cocktease reminiscing about the times she spent with the priest in a life before. And "Peeping" by Stephen Dorneman, a peeping tom gets a little more than he can handle when he's caught by a woman. 

However deliciously decadent these tales are, the one that stood out the most (that buried itself into my memory and woven into my fantasy, because it's been a fantasy of mine for some time) is Lana Fox's "Smart Folks Won't Screw Witless Girls." The tale follows a con-woman who robs the people that pick her up at bars and take her home with them. Then Elle walks into her life and it's a gamer changer for her.

You can purchase Femme Fatale: Erotic Tales of Dangerous Women for your Kindle or Nook. Until next time, happy huntin'.

Design By Humans

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Personal Post

When you're like me, there are three settings: Manic, depressed, and grey. Most of the time, I'm in the grey mode. I get my work done. I read a couple of pages here and there. I write a post. When I'm manic, I'm rampaging through several tasks at once. I attempt to read while shelving, cooking, cleaning, writing, jogging (who am I kidding?), showering (this is actually true), when I should be sleeping. I get nothing done. I don't even read a page. And if I do finish a book, my mind is reeling that I can't sit still but for two seconds. When I'm depressed, I don't even attempt anything. I don't read. I don't have it in me to write. And I just want to stay in bed and do nothing. Now most of you are already stating you have days like this, and your mama said you'll have them. My days-like-this stretch for weeks. And sometimes, months. As of late, I haven't been motivated to read anything. Everything I pick up, I lose interest in. And every time, I try to write, I wind up typing the same sentence over and over. My reviews are never that great. The only real effort I put into a review is when I'm doing it because I got a book out of it, or because it's for Alison Tyler. So, I'm sure you've noticed the lack of effort in most of my posts of late.

Right now, I have The Hobbit sitting beside me. I have the TV blaring. And I'm trudging through this post as best as possible. As much as I love J.R.R. Tolkien's book, I don't have it in me to read it. I just don't care. As of late, I've been both manic and depressed. I have days when I crack up over anything and everything. And then the next, I'll be introverted. There are times, when the world seems like a wonderful place. Others, I just want to snuff myself out (don't worry, I won't). 

A lot of this stems from my relationship (I have none, really) and the fact that I miss my son. I haven't spoken too much about my personal life here because it rarely relates to books (and this is a book blog, after all). As of last year, I've been separated from my girlfriend of several years, who happens to be mother of my child. We attempted to fix things, but in the end, I'm just not what she was hoping for. I stated several times I've accepted the situation, but it's obvious that I haven't. And this has put my emotions (usually in check) into a tailspin.

Once I get over this hump, I'll resume reading and posting. So until then, happy huntin'.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

"[P]eople want to remember what it's like to be young," I can't sum up it any better than Park Sheridan did on page 45. Why did I like–close to love–Rainbow Rowell's sophomore novel? Because, somewhere deep within this calloused jerk facade, there's a person who remembers his youth, and remembers what it's like to be in love.

Reading Eleanor & Park is close to having sex with an Elliot Smith song. No matter the sadness behind the words, nothing read is ever this beautiful. 

Despite it's typical teenager drama/romance story, Rainbow–isn't that just a great name?–mixes in popular culture like a pro. It's the adolescent version of Love is a Mixtape or something written by Chuck Klosterman. And the fact that it's set in 1986–I was only three at the time, mind you–makes it even better. Because I recall the time before iPods and Pandora and Spotify and iTunes, where compilations took heart and patience, not some drag and drop routine. Even though most teenagers will never appreciate mix tapes, they should appreciate the tale. 

Here's a bit of confession time: Very few writers have managed what Rainbow Rowell has, making me well up with tears. Congratulations, Rainbow. Congratulations.

Eleanor & Park is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It's currently on sale for Kindle, and is available for Nook.

Barnes & Noble

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Rum Diary

Johnny Depp discovered the long lost novel, so it only makes sense that he plays a part in the film. Also, let's not forget his stunning performance as the author, Hunter S. Thompson in the film adaptation for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. However, his portrayal as journalist/writer/novelist/rum drinker, is Hunter S. Thompson lite.

The film does the novel an injustice that no act of contrition can mend. Adding elements and removing characters and shifting ideas around doesn't make an interesting story. It creates a little more conflict that puts Paul Kemp on a different banal adventure, but there isn't a thing about this movie that captures this reader's attention.

When I asked my coworker what he thought of the movie, he said he couldn't keep his eyes open. He expected a Fear and Loathing in Puerto Rico, but received a hack job love story instead. Love story? There wasn't one in the book. Sure, there was an attraction between Kemp and Chenault, but it was all sexual. Yeamon? Well, he's been ripped in two and mend with Sanderson and Moberg.

And it's not surprising. Several adaptations take liberties with a story, but this doesn't do anything for it. I'm glad I only watched this on Netflix than spent money on it.

The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson

It's almost a crime, how little I've been focusing on reading anything. I lost motivation and interest in books. And this blog, which is focused on books and book related subjects, is suffering severely.

I picked up Hunter S. Thompson's long lost novel, The Rum Diary, at The Book Stop located in McAllen, Texas. The store, which deals in mostly thrift books wrapped in plastic to protect their aging pages, normally charges out of my price line, but every now and again, I find a used book worth the extra couple of dollars. This book, the first edition published in 1998, cost me ten bones. It was worth it.

Gonzo writer, Hunter S. Thompson sends us on a banal adventure of journalist Paul Kemp. There's nothing beautiful in this book, there is no deeper love story, and none of the characters learn much of anything except how to appreciate rum and drink rum and get drunk on rum and travel to drink more rum and get shitfaced on rum and appreciate pubic hair on a girl high off her mind while they sip down paper cups filled with–you got it!–rum. And despite that I don't appreciate the marvels that alcohol brings, I want to visit Puerto Rico regardless.

Thompson has a way with words, even with his dry prose. Any true reader will find something to love about this book. I have to assume the rest of you only wanted to read the book after watching the Johnny Depp flick.

You can pick up a copy of the long lost novel at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It is also available for Kindle and Nook.

Stock Images