Monday, February 28, 2011

Free Books, Giveaways & Other Musing

If there's one thing a book hunter loves more than a book, it's a free book! Cheesy and predictable, I know but that doesn't rob it from the truth. Last year, without much announcement, I found a copy of Madeleine Wickham's - otherwise known as the Shopaholic Series writer, Sophie Kinsella - A Desirable Residence. Fearing the worse - a book hunter blackout shopping spree - I didn't know where the book came from. I checked out GoodReads, vaguely remembering that I had signed up for several of their giveaways. Lo and behold, I learned that I had won the giveaway for the novel. 

Because I'm horrible at following my preassigned queue - take this year's challenge for instance: I was supposed to read a bunch of books of and about religion and so far only managed to read an essay and half of a book - I still haven't read the novel. Today, however, I got some more amazing news:

Congratulations Guillermo!

You are one of our First Reads lucky winners! You will soon receive a free copy of Doc: A Novel in the mail. Please allow a few weeks for shipping.

Don't forget to add the book to your Goodreads currently-reading shelf, and we encourage you to also add it to a "first-reads" shelf when you are done reading. Posting a review is optional, but please keep in mind that reviewing the book is in the spirit of First Reads. Publishers provide free copies to Goodreads in hopes of getting early feedback about the book. First Readers who post reviews are also more likely to win free books in the future!

If you have further questions, please contact [redacted], who listed this book for giveaway. Goodreads is not involved in the shipment of books to winners. Books usually arrive within 4-6 weeks. If you've waited more than 30 days, visit the Giveaway Details page to let us know you haven't received your copy.

Thanks for playing!
The Goodreads staff
I haven't a clue - well, I didn't at the time - who wrote the book (Mary Doria Russell) or what the novel was about (Doc Holliday), but that didn't matter. What mattered was I won it.

As I continued flipping through my e-mail, I came across a message sent to me via GoodReads from someone who works over at Quirk Books (the publishers who brought us Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls). Letting me down easily and then picking up my spirits, the writer informed me of the following:

Hey there Guillermo!

Saw you entered the giveaway for a copy of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After. It just wrapped up and I was going through the folks who entered. Spotted your blog, saw you didn’t win… and thought I’d reach out to see if you wanted a review copy. :)

My name’s [redacted], I’m the social media marketing guy for Quirk Books, the publisher of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. It’s my job to find book bloggers like you who are into our books, and I figured I’d see if you were still interested.

Let me know! I’ll drop a copy in the mail for you soon. :D

I nearly pissed my pants, I tell you. The excitement - not to mention several glass of cool, refreshing ice tea - was overbearing. I can't tell you how excited I am about this. Not only did I win a copy of a book about Doc Holliday - who I remember as Val Kilmer playing rather than Dennis Quaid - but my book blog was noticed by someone from Quirk Books. You bet your sweet ass I'm gonna sit down and read the hell out of those books - and A Desirable Residence - when they arrive. Until next time, keep on huntin'. And check out the giveaway section over at GoodReads.

P.S. While I'm on the subject of giveaways, I'm still strongly in favor of opening a giveaway for this blog. I haven't found a book to give out, but I'm working on it. Tomorrow I'm book hunting with Monica so who knows. - Variety, Sweet Variety

To Date A Book Hunter

Via: WeHeartIt
Dating a book hunter is probably the hardest thing to do. By far worse than dating an avid book reader. We're constantly on the prowl. We're looking for a gem among other gems. It's not easy to love a book hunter. No, sir.  Not in a long shot. And attempting to tame us is the greatest mistake you can make. 

The other day, I read "You Should Date An Illiterate Girl" by Charles Warnke, a short instructional story that advises you not to date a bookworm of the fair sex. The narrator has obviously had a falling out with a female reader who realized what a loser he was. It was thought provoking, which is great because otherwise Thought Catalog is taking its name loosely. Over at Tumblr, however, someone posted a response story, entitled "Date A Girl Who Reads." Unlike it's counterpart, Rosemarie Urquico's instructional story falls short. If anything, it might deter the reader from every wanting to date a girl who reads. Though, this book hunter strongly advises never to date - as Urquico suggests at the end - to date a girl who writes. Never date writers. You'll do it, but you shouldn't. 

Until next time, keep on huntin'.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Amazon Kindle: Now with Page Numbers

I never bothered learning how to figure out how the Amazon Kindle measures its book lengths. With the printed word, there are page numbers. With Kindle, there's some weird measuring system that contains a percentage and location numbers that are hard to decipher (e.g. Location 20250 of 29449 - I'm currently reading "The Shadow of Innsmouth" featured in H. P. Lovecraft: The Ultimate Collection). However, in the coming months, Amazon will be adding actual page numbers - including in their Kindle apps

The update also includes removal of the pesky page numbering at the bottom of the screen - which, personally, I like - which will only be visible when you hit the menu button. Along side, a rating's page will be added when you finish the book - you won't only be able to rate the book after completing it, you'll also be able to share it on social networks, see other books by the same author and recommendations. 

As if I couldn't love my Kindle anymore. This just keeps on getting better and better. Until next time - if you don't own a Kindle, pick one up now! - keep on huntin'. 

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Satellite TV

I might have said this a thousand times on my blog already, but a certain cable company (names are always withheld when I'm talking smack about a company) has been airing these misleading commercials about their services. Not only with their cable television but their internet provider, the mascot of which is a beloved Looney Tunes character. One of the many misleading pieces of information is how, with satellite TV, you're bound to get black outs. Because I'm a customer of said cable company, I have to say this: There are constant times - despite the weather - where my cable television just goes kuput!

I'm not saying Satellite TV might be a better choice, but you have to allow in some options here because if cable had it their way, you'd be left in the dark with empty promises. And I can tell you first hand that empty promises DO NOT make for good entertainment when you have company over to watch the season premiere of a beloved show. 

So here's what you'll do. You can easily just do an internet search on local Satellite TV providers, do your research and decide if the price out weighs the empty promises cable offers. Of course, you might be like my friend who states - constantly - that he never has such problems. Of course, it's only a matter of time. 

Don't let cable providers boss you around, letting you think there are no other options. It's time to become informed. It's time to switch over to satellite. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Unlike its predecessor, Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Dearly Devoted Dexter wasn't adapted for the small screen. The Showtime series, instead, creates something original for our dark defender. However, aspects of the book were borrowed for the series, such as - spoiler alert - the removal of Doakes from Dexter's life and the engagement to Rita. 

After the death of LaGuerta in Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Dexter finds himself in a different role - the hunted rather than the hunter. Dead on his trails is Sergeant Doakes, whose suspicion of our Dark Defender is now ten-fold. Having to give up his dark duties, Dexter assumes the role of doting boyfriend as he puts on a show for Doakes' amusement. All the while, he bides his time for the moment Doakes is out of his life so he can resume his work on the second half of a murderous pedophile duo.

Opportunity knocks when Dr. Danco comes to town - a madman seeking revenge for a betrayal that happened years ago in El Salvador. Along with a love interest for Deborah by the name of Kyle Chutsky - who served on Special Forces with Doakes and Dr. Danco - Dexter is pushed into working with the very man who'd rather see him dead or behind bars. How can Dexter play Doakes into becoming Dr. Danco's  next victim?

It's obvious the show's writers created Frank Lundy to play the Chutsky role in Debra's life for the series, but the two are different. Lundy is focused and determined - not to say Chutsky isn't - but he was more likable and agreeable with Debra's personality (where Deborah's personality clashed with Chutsky's). But we're not going to talk about the show anymore.

While the pace from the first novel seemed quick, with little time to enjoy what was going on, the second book seemed better paced, despite being of similar length. It seemed Jeff Lindsay learned how to create more developed secondary characters rather than the two-dimensional ones featured in the first book. Not to mention the dialogue improved, as well. Though, if the third book starts off with Dexter hunting a child-murderer, I'm going to assume that his creativity on the first kills is limited.

The only disagreeable aspect featured in both novels so far is Dexter's inability to kill the main bad guy. In Darkly Dreaming Dexter, he let's his murderous brother get away; in Dearly Devoted Dexter, Dr. Danco - spoiler alert! - is gun down by Deborah. Once again, I think the series has spoiled my ability to allow Dexter to do these things. But isn't that, essentially, who he is? The guy who takes out the bad guys?

Will you be seeing me posting a review for the third novel in the series, Dexter in the Dark, soon? You bet your sweet ass you will. Until next time, keep on huntin'.

Kobo WiFi eReader

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Weekend Movies & Television

I originally wanted to call this post Valentine's Day Means Slasher Flicks, Mental Hospitals, Lesbians and British Teen Dramas, but it seemed a little over the top. Shall we begin?

Starring: Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sherri Moon & Karen Black
Director: Rob Zombie
Release Date: 11 April 2003
DVD Release Date: 12 August 2003
Approx Time: 88mins
Genre: Horror/Slasher
Rated: R

Friday called for a slasher movie. My first option was the slasher horror classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Sadly, I don't own that film. I do own the cult film, House of 1000 Corpses, which marks the directorial debut for musician Rob Zombie. Back in high school, I caught wind that Mr. Zombie was to write (possibly direct) the third installment of the Crow franchise - the film to be entitled The Crow: 2037. The film, however, was dropped and my curiosity about Zombie's ability to cross to the silver screen waned and vanished. Then, in 2003, this film was released and I heard so much about it that I had to see it for myself. It wasn't until its DVD release that I purchased the film and popped into my DVD player only to be greatly disappointed.

Not only did the film make me think that Zombie really wanted to remake The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There were elements that felt really familiar in the film and I was somewhat disillusioned by his ability to convey a story.

However, the film wasn't that bad. I just had higher hopes for it. So every once in a while, when I'm completely bored out of my mind and want to watch a silly little slasher flick that isn't one the Scream films, I pick up this one. Overall rating: 3 stars.

The Devil's Rejects
Starring: Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sherri Moon Zombie, Ken Foree, Matthew McGrory & William Forsythe
Director: Rob Zombie
Release Date: 22 July 2005
DVD Release Date: 8 November 2005
Approx Time: 109mins
Genre: Horror/Slasher
Rated: Unrated

After being disappointed with House of a 1000 Corpses, I was more than reluctant to watch its sequel, The Devil's Rejects. Picking up a few years after the events of the first film, the Firefly family are woken from their sleep by a vindictive sheriff seeking revenge for the murder of his brother (who was murdered in the first film).

Again, it seemed that Rob Zombie borrowed a bit element from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel. However, the film reminded me of a western rather than a horror film. While the film was better scripted, better directed and several times more coherent - goodbye Dr. Satan! - than the first, it was a film that provided everything I had wanted from the first movie. Cult Classic status immediately, however, this movie is a classic in its own right.

It wasn't until I saw Rob Zombie's Halloween 2 that helped me realize that he has a knack for sequels. Halloween was unwatchable (clearly, this is all my opinion), but the sequel was better structured. Overall rating: 5 stars.

Starring: Keir Gilchrist, Emma Roberts and Zach Galifianakis
Director: Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck
Release Date: 8 October 2010
DVD Release Date: 8 February 2011
Approx Time: 101mins
Genre: Teen/Comedy/Drama
Rated: PG-13

It was finally time that we watch something a little romantic. And because Valentine's Day landed on a Monday this year, we did our romantic movie watching on Saturday.

Based on the novel by Ned Vizzini, It's Kind of a Funny Story opens with a suicidal Craig seeking help from a mental hospital. Expecting an in-and-out treatment, he finds himself stuck in the facility for a nearly a week. And while the world outside seemed complicated, the help he's seeking is equally as tough.

The film mixes the romantic teenage drama with hints of comedy - thanks to funny man Zach Galifianakis. It reminds you just how tough things are growing up, shining the light on those who don't handle it so well in a less banal way. Overall rating: 5 stars.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Starring: Marilyn Burns, William Creamer, Allen Danziger & John Dugan
Director: Tobe Hooper
Release Date: 1 October 1974
DVD Release Date: 26 September 2006
Approx Time: 83mins
Genre: Horror/Slasher
Rated: R

We chased our romantic mood with the slasher classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the original, of course). Having already seen Rob Zombie's rendition of it (yeah, I'm talking about the familiar elements from House of a 1000 Corpses), I wasn't as into it as I had hoped. Still, the original is better than the remake.

It's amazing how much screaming the 1970's contained. I wonder if anyone will ever make a film in which it just highlights the best screaming scenes from 70's horror flicks. It's an idea, isn't it? And how about that frustrated chainsaw dance at the end of the film? Pure gold. Overall rating: 4 stars.

Starring: Dennis Hooper, Caroline Williams, Jim Siedow & Bill Moseley
Director: Tobe Hopper
Release Date: 22 August 1986
DVD Release Date: 10 October 2006
Approx Time: 89mins
Genre: Horror/Slasher/Dark Comedy
Rated: Unrated

Unlike The Devil's Rejects, a sequel that perfected its predecessor, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 failed me greatly. The fact that it had Dennis Hooper - who I'd rather not think of as that guy from Speed, but the guy from Easy Rider - and Bill Moseley - who starred as Otis Firefly in both of Rob Zombie's films - I hoped that film would actually be good. And through most of it, it was. Mixing in the horror slasher elements with dark comedy. The film is funnier than the first one - and it's meant to be funny.

However, it runs too long and the decisions by the characters - namely Stretch - seemed a little unrealistic. And can we cut the screaming? I mean, it is the 80's now. Overall rating: 2 stars.

Also on my plate Sunday, I started watching The L Word again. I started watching it at the tail end of 2010, but petered out before I finished the first season.

Having already watched the entire series, it was refreshing to see lovable, (not so) innocent Jenny before she takes that turn for the worse and becomes a bitch everyone hates. Not to mention Shane. Damn. I'd forgotten the reason I loved this show. I'm skipping along on the seventh episode. Hopefully, this time, I finish the entire series.

Not only was The L Word a part of my weekend television viewing, so was the British Teen Drama, Skins. After a horrible ending to series four, series five is beginning to take on the old feel from the first two. Hopefully, the storylines get better and we could put behind us the days of randomly killing off main characters at the hands of psychopathic therapist that add not plot to the story other than shock value. Shock value that almost ended its fan base.