Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Darkness by Tony Cusumano

via Smashwords
Whenever a writer offers his work at discounted price or free, it's for exposure. Usually, the piece is a short story. Something that will hook a reader. However, not all freebies are the writer's best work. For instance, "The Darkness" by Tony Cusumano will not draw this reader back for more. In fact, I want to stay as far away from his writing as possible that I'm plotting to cancel my account with Smashwords - I won't because there are still several good writers there.

Maybe Cusumano has something in his work. Something new and interesting. The problem is that he's too - well - wordy. Repetitive. Redundant. Calling-captain-obvious-y. There's no way to explain it, so I'll give you a couple of examples:

"Darkness, or blackness, is the state of being dark, or the absence of light."
Really? Because I was totally unaware of this fact.

 "My hand, heavy, rough, and callused, fell heavy on your shoulder."
Well, of course your heavy hand will fall heavy on someone's shoulder. You just said it was heavy. As for "rough" and "callused," well, you know. Duh. There's a few more - like when the subject is drinking round after round, shot after shot, of bourbon. Or how passing cars light up the night with their twin headlights. Oh how a person is broken, beaten, and scarred.

It's creative writing 101 (whatever that means) to show not tell. However, showing by telling is boring. I'm not sure if that at all made sense to the reader here. Let's see, if you're too descriptive, you steal away from the story. If you can't make up your mind about one description of something - say round after round and shot after shot - maybe you shouldn't use either. Let's not for get the cliches. Oh my goodness, the cliches! 

The story is riddle with so many problems, I couldn't even get through the whole thing. And I'm "reviewing" this to be a jerk. No. Not at all. But if you're going to put something out there and want people to come back for more - probably with cash in hand - then you're going to have to give them something that's worth it. And I gotta tell you, "The Darkness" isn't that. 

 Another mistake - and I'm just assuming here - is the Jack Kerouac syndrome. You know the one - first draft, best draft! No. No. And no. I get it, we've all been there. We all think our writing is superb, that there is no room for revision. It'll betray what you were feeling. But if you're writing for yourself, keep a journal. When you're writing for an audience, you gotta, well, write for the audience.

Oh well, until next time. Keep on huntin'.

Alibris: Books, Music, & Movies

The First Hunt, or Why Working at a Library Isn't Such a Good Idea for a Book Hunter

Okay, I've embellished a bit. The top and bottom book were not purchased at the current book sale. The second to last book - Children of Wrath - is actually a book I snagged from a giveaway from LibraryThing, where I also snagged three e-books - Ministry of Morgasm (Richard Buzzell), The New Death and Others (James Hutchings), and Dirty Little Angels (Chris Tusa).

After missing work yesterday, I walked in to see that the Friends of the Library book sale table was set up this morning. A day wasted on reading and back pain could've been used on perusing these orphaned windows. Unlike like the last time - which only amounted to purchasing one book, Tuck Everlasting - the table held more promise in the form of Joyce Carol Oates' Foxfire, Borders by Pat Mora, a children's book by Ursula K. Le Guin - Catwings - and Che Guevara's Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War.

As for The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl, well, that was just a library gift shop fine. The week that I saw it, I told Lee - the gift shop runner - that if the book was there the following Monday after work, I'd buy it. It just so happened that the book gods wanted me to have it.

Total price for these beauties? $6 

Remember to shop smart and keep on huntin'.

AbeBooks.com - Find Books on Sale

Monday, February 27, 2012

Crack in the Glass by Jonathan Carter

via SmashWords
I'm tired of the haunted mirror subgenre in the horror world. It's played out. Stick-a-fork-in-it overdone. That aside, Jonathan Carter's short story "Crack in the Glass" is beautifully written. Meaning, it has more potential than most of the free stories offered by Smashwords.

Gina lies in order to get on the Mystery Channel reality ghost chasing show, Graveyard Shift. The premise of the show is that every contestant must follow through on a dare. The last one standing receives a nice little nest egg. Gina, your typical sorority girl, decides to give it a swing. However, Gina's dare takes her to the Mirror Room in an abandoned mental hospital - also overplayed. And what awaits in those wall to ceiling to floor mirrors is a reflection from a ghostly past.

Like I said, Jonathan Carter's writing is marvelous. It would have to be to keep me interested in a story with such a premise. That's not an insult, by the way. It's a compliment. Isn't that the writer's job? Churn out something old but still make it interesting? Okay, perhaps it's not that blunt. Still, "Crack in the Glass" is still worth the read. It's short. It's creepy. And, most of all, it's interesting. It'll have me coming around to see what other ghastly tales Carter has in his library. 

One thing that bothered me, though. Only so much information can be pushed in a short story. "Crack in the Glass" could have been a least a novella. With Gina's Ouija board past, there could have been so much to work with. 

Anyway, I'm going to do something a little different now (only not really). Here's my 5 movie list dealing with mirrors and/or mental hospitals:
  1. Mirrors
  2. Poltergeist III
  3. Psych 9
  4. Grave Encounters
  5. Gothika
"Crack in the Glass" is currently free on Smashwords. Until next time, keep on huntin'.

Doofus and Valiant by English Teacher X

via SmashWords
Remember those old issues of Highlights you read as children? Remember the polar opposite young boys named Goofus and Gallant? They had their own comic strip and everything. Goofus was the screw up of the duo, while Gallant did everything right. Well, I suppose, Doofus and Valiant - the short graphic story - explains what happens to the two after they graduate college and become English teachers.

And that's pretty much all I have to say about the story. Well, not really. I've never read anything by English Teacher X. Never even heard of him until this ebook, actually. The story's comical, but it's doesn't really offer anything - then again, neither did Goofus and Gallant. It's a quick read. And it's very much worth the price.

Doofus and Valiant is available on SmashWords for the low, low price of nothing.

Until next time, keep on huntin'.

Saw something that piqued your attention on the Oscar's last night? Why not check it out? Shop Amazon Movie - Oscar Central!

Boudoir Books by Summer Ellis

A more appropriate title for this post would have been, "Summer Ellis, Book Tease," but I digress.

Or have I? Because Summer Ellis is a book tease, at least with her short story, "Boudoir Books." Who ends anything with "to be continued" and not expect to be called names like book tease - which is sort of like co...you know what, I'll drop it.

A woman - does she have a name? who pays any attention to names when reading erotic fiction? - attempts to distract her sexual appetite by hunkering down at a bookstore. However, a man catches her eye as he reads erotica in a public place, his ever growing member calling to this nameless woman. What follows is way better writing than this review of mine - it's a short story, what do you want from me?

I may or may not have read something by Summer Ellis in the past. I'm too lazy and in pain to check for myself. Feel free to search the tags if you want. 

You should purchase "Boudoir Books" at SmashWords. I'm using the word purchase a tad loosely because, well, the book's free.

"Boudoir Books" is available in all formats via SmashWords. It's also available for Nook at Barnes & Noble. Amazon, however, does not have a copy so Kindle users are forced to open an account with SmashWords, which isn't such a bad thing.

Note on the "censored" image above: A while back, Google chided me for posting an comic image of a woman's hind side. This was a comic book image, and I stress this. I can only imagine the huffy, frothy message I'd get from them for posting this pic uncensored.

Until next time, keep on huntin'.

Collection of Women's sexual fantasiesA collection of stories about real couples exploring their sexual fantasiesWith stories contributed by Alison Tyler, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Sommer Marsden, Jacqueline Applebee, Donna George Storey, Cecilia Tan etc.A book of erotic stories published by Cleis Press and edited by Alison Tyler, from light-hearted party games to devilishly simple competitions, here are stories for readers who love to play.Elizabeth Coldwell's "Heat" describes the fierce affair between a barmaid and her brutish boss, a man she doesn't even like but who sets her heart pounding. In "Spike," Rachel Kramer Bussel gives us tFemale readers' letters to Penthouse.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Woman

via Furious Cinema
Meet the Cleeks, the model family. Father, Chris, works in civil services. Belle is the modern housewife. Peggy, the teenage daughter, fends off advances from boys. Brian attempts to please his father, aspiring to grow up into a man just like him. And little daughter Darlin', who is still new to the world around her. Life for the Cleeks is just as Chris would like it, until the day he brings home a feral woman. Then things get a bit messy.

Based on the book of the same name, The Woman is far from your typical horror movie. In fact, the monsters that hide beneath the bed at night do anything but. It's easy to confuse yourself at first blush who the bad guys are - especially if you only look at the trailer.

It's not difficult, once you get the whole plot sussed out, what The Woman represents to the Cleeks - men and women, alike. It's less of a horror and more of a suspense thriller. Nevertheless, it's a movie worth watching. I would explain further, but fear I may let spoilers slip. Just go watch it.

The Woman is available on DVD and BluRay.

Until next time, keep on huntin'.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Greek & Other Updates

via EW.com
A couple of weeks ago, I started watching Greek - the ABC Family original series - on Netflix, because I saw Scott Michael Foster in a few episodes of Californication this season. It reminded me that I never saw how the series ended because Time Warner Cable, which has the habit of raising the bill and removing channels from my package, decided to place ABC Family in their digital only category. Long story short, I wanted to see what happened to the students of Cyprus-Rhodes and lucky for me, Netflix was nice enough to stream on my television - suck on that, Time Warner Cable!

I was happy with the direction of the finale season, even though it felt a tad rushed (no pun intended). And to learn Cappie's real name is just the icing.

Anyway, I picked up two books at the library - meaning I checked out - that I'm currently reading along side an advice copy of Children of Wrath - thank you, Library Thing! I also purchased a book at the library. However, I haven't posted an image of my prizes because I stupidly loaned my camera to my brother and haven't seen it for a week. Thank you, family!

Okay, I won't bitch about it. Until next time, keep on huntin'!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Monster Calls a Novel by Patrick Ness From an Original Idea by Siobhan Dowd

When a boy refuses to grow up, he visits the monsters. When a boy needs to grow up, the monster comes to him. 

The clock hits 12:07AM and Conor O'Malley is visited by a Monster, but it's not the one he was expecting. This isn't the monster from his nightmare. It's not the monster that's slowly taking his mother's life. This monster is here because Conor unwittingly called upon him. 

Taking a story idea from the late Siobhan Dowd, Patrick Ness has created a most memorable monster. A Monster Calls is horrific, harrowing tale of a thirteen-year-old boy being forced to grow up as he watches his mother slowly succumb cancer. When the monster awakens him at 12:07AM, Conor doesn't get what he expects. Instead of the punishment he longs for, the monster comes bearing three tales and expecting the fourth tale to come form Conor's lips. The monster wants the truth, Conor's truth. But is Conor ready to accept his fears and admit what his nightmare really holds?

I know it's stereotype to think that a juvenile book contains no merit - even though I dislike J.K. Rowling, I will admit that Harry Potter holds some weight in the world of literature - A Monster Calls is the most powerful novel I've read this year thus far. It outmatches anything I read last  year, as well. It's a curiosity on how Siobhan Dowd would have written it had she not passed on, but Patrick Ness doesn't fail in giving us this masterpiece. The illustrations within the book are beautiful in that haunting sort of way. 

A Monster Calls is available at Amazon and B&N, as well as for your Kindle and Nook.

Until next time, keep on huntin'.

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Enter the Void

via Incontention
Remember that really detailed rape scene in Gaspar Noé's Irreversible? You know the one, you couldn't look away at the same time that you did. And it just seemed to go on for hours rather than the few minutes? That came to mind while watching his 2009 film, Enter the Void. Not that the film is graphically violent like that rape scene, but that it's a train wreck. Hell, I don't think it's going overboard to say that Gaspar Noé just spent the last two hours of my life raping my mind, insulting my intelligence, and spitting on my love for movies (did I mention that he basically ejaculates on your face, as well? Those of you who've seen it, know which part I'm talking about). Unlike Irreversible, Enter the Void isn't worth the time, or the money - lucky for me, Netflix has it on Instant Stream.

The film, set in Japan, features a brother and sister relationship - should I have said bond? - that doesn't border on incestuous because they survive a traumatic event that took both their parents' lives. I say bond because every brother/sister film has some sort of sibling relationship that we see as common. The one featured in this film is a little more affectionate, obsessive, compassionate, clingy(?) because all they have is each other. Noé attempts to mix in the Tibetan Book of  the Dead into his storytelling, but fails to keep the story from getting lost. The idea of seeing the life of someone who has just died, the before, the after, the during, etc. is something that would normally pique my attention and leave me in awe. Noé, however, fails. He fails miserably.

It's an extended film school movie. It's the sort of film that people watch in college in order to pass off as deep, but it's really just a piece of shit. My advice is not to watch it. Pretend it doesn't exist and do something more meaningful with your two hours.

However, if you want to see for yourself, Enter the Void is on Amazon on DVD and BluRay.

Until next time, keep on huntin'.


via Wikipedia
A few years ago, a friend loaned me her copy of Caligula. I started watching it, but noticed the high quantity of nudity and graphic sex presented in the film. Normally, this doesn't bother me, but this film was jam packed with it. And it didn't move the story along - sure, I get that they were attempting to show how depraved Caligula was and the horrors that went on during his reign - probably exaggerated for the film - but there was nothing actually behind the sex other than shock and awe.

Still, I was told the film was something I should watch. At least give another chance because Malcolm McDowell starred in it. Because Netflix offered it in their instant stream, I decided to give it another go. Fortunately for me, the film they offer is the R-rated version with the graphic sex scenes either removed, cut short, or zoomed in on just the faces. And my only thought is that perhaps the parts that made it unwatchable were the only reason people watched it.

The story is a bit drab, the acting over the top. I think some creative liberties were given, but there was nothing worthwhile. It was all I can do to keep myself awake. It leaves me with the impression that the sole reason behind the film was to shock and awe people by sneaking in some pornography into the mainstream.

Caligula is available DVD and BluRay on Amazon. The R-rated version is currently offered on Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.

Until next time, keep on huntin'.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

via Media Bistro
Let's be honest: If not for the fact that I work in the Children's Department of the local library, I would have never picked up a copy of Brian Selznick's Wonderstruck. I would have not paid $16 dollars - that's $14 off cover price - for this insanely thick children's book. I may not have even beaten myself over the fact that it took me four days to read rather than the one night/one morning time span it should've taken me (my eyes do get tired). However, I can't say I didn't enjoy the book. Hell, it might be a brick but it's still a damn good book.

The novel follows to characters. Ben, a partially deaf boy who becomes fully deaf after an accident during an electrical storm and recently suffered the loss of his mother after a car accident; and, Rose, a young deaf girl who dreams of escaping her father's house in order to find a place in the world. The two stories are set fifty years apart - Ben's taking place in the 70's while Rose lives in the 20's.

Having never read anything by Selznick before - and if the price of this book is any reflection, it'll take another mandatory reading to get me to pick up anything by him - I don't know much about his style. Whether or not The Invention of the Hugo Cabret follows the similar structure is beyond me. See Ben's story is told through conventional storytelling - you know, with words - while Rose's story takes a more primal spin - with pictures. It's a lot of guess work to be made with the latter story, but it's still just as powerful. It's the allure of the book. And probably why it was chosen for that International Book Discussion we're doing at the library late next month or early April. The story is about language barrier - not entirely, obviously. And when you have a school of predominately English speaking kids discussing with those of a predominately Spanish speaking school, well, you see my point. Clearly not at all like the characters lost in New York in the book, but you know, what are you going to do? 

 It's a sweet story of two kids looking for their place in the world with a mixture of pop culture, Deaf culture, arts, history, and nature. The art work is beautiful and its detail is breath taking. Selznick has a way to keep his readers captivated and wanting more, while dropping subtle clues as it leads you down the path.

This 600+ goliath is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

One more thing before I go. As I mentioned, Wonderstruck is part of the International Book Discussion we host at the library. It brings two schools together - a local school and one from Mexico - to discuss the chosen book. The responsibility of the children's library is to creative activities that will get the children discussing the novel. There are a few that I've encountered via Google searches - such as the ones offered in TeachMentorTexts - but nothing that really grabs the attention. A part of me thinks that having the children create their own cabinet of wonders would be a great way to get the ball rolling, but the required materials they'd need to provide might be a little too much. 

Anyway, if there is anyone out there currently or recently teaching this book in your class, please do send suggestions. It would be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Binky Under Pressure by Ashley Spires

via Waking Braincells
If you haven't been keeping up, I work at the children's department of the local library. One of the perks that's stapled to the job is getting to see the new book arrivals. Some of these are reminiscent of my childhood - I recently green dotted a copy of Horrible Harry and the Ant Invasion, which is actually packed somewhere in this house - and others just bring the child out of me. Enter Binky, space cat. 

Binky and I only became acquainted recently. And if what Ashley Spires presents in Binky Under Pressure reflects anything in the other books, then I hope the department has the other books (I found out today that we have Binky the Space Cat, but not Binky to the Rescue - though that latter just might not be on the shelves as I didn't browse the card catalog).

Binky is a great space cat. He remembers his exploration into outer space fondly. And while space was fun, he couldn't imagine leaving his humans. Still, he protects his space station from the alien invaders that attempt break in.

Enter a new invader: Gracie. Another cat moving into Binky's territory, eating his food, stealing HIS best friend! Binky. Must. Bring. It. But Gracie isn't all that she appears - is she a friend or foe?

It's a fun read. I'm even sure your kids will love it.

Binky Under Pressure is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Until next time, keep on huntin'.