Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween! - "Not So Scary" Movies

Someone asked me today, after reading yesterday's post about "Scary" movies, if I had any favorite Halloween movies or TV shows that weren't necessarily scary, but that were infused with the Spirit of Halloween.

(Ha!  Spirit - get it?  Muahaha!)

Anyway, the answer is - of course I do!!  These aren't in any specific order but I can honestly say I love to watch:

Hocus Pocus (1993) is fabulous - Why?  Because it's chock full o' Bette Midler, that's why!  If you haven't seen it (where've you been hiding?) it's about these three witches in Salem, MA who were sentenced to die 300 years ago, and have arrived in the present day to find that Halloween is drastically different from what it used to be!

Of course Halloween wouldn't be Halloween without "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."  It is a must see every year, no matter what.

Obviously, no Halloween list would be complete without the Roseanne Halloween Episodes!  Those were the best!!  Roseanne wasn't the only TV show to do Halloween episodes though - I didn't realize there were so many!!

Also (and these are probably my favorite) several of the Harry Potter movies show Halloween celebrations at Hogwarts, but even the movies that don't deal directly with the holiday are still fun to watch if you need some help getting into the Spirit of the Holiday!  (See!  I did it again - Spirit!  Muahaha!)

What is your favorite non-scary Halloween Movie or TV show?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween! - Scary Movies

Generally speaking, I am not a big fan of traditional "horror" movies.  I love suspense and terror, but I seem to be one of few people in the world who don't equate "horror" with "blood & guts & disgusting grossness."

This does not in any way indicate that I don't love to be scared witless - because I definitely do like scary movies - just not gross ones!  And since Halloween weekend is fast approaching, I thought that I would put together a list of some of my favorite "scary" movies.

1. Scream (1996) - Offhand, I don't think that there is anything that I don't love about this movie.  True, it has it's share of blood and guts, but what I mainly love about Scream is (a) the characters, their stories, and how they evolve during the course of the movie, and (b) I loved the way it sort of "re-invented" the scary movie, by turning the genre on its' head and poking fun of the more traditional blood-guts-screaming-girl-with-big-boobs and in the process made an intelligent yet frightening movie.  And the most horrific part was the killer's motivations!  Neve Campbell's character was strong when she needed to be and kicked ass at just the right time!  Scream 2 (1997) and Scream 3 (2000) were also highly enjoyable, each building upon the events and back stories of the first, but ultimately were not quite as good.  And even with the gore, it isn't truly Halloween unless I watch Scream.

2. Resident Evil (2002) - Resident Evil is another movie that defies my gore-free-zone!  Resident Evil is sick, disgusting, blood everywhere, gore & guts nastiness and I frakkin' LOVE IT!  It scares the crap out of me every time I watch it, but I love the characters, and when those characters are played by Milla Jovovich, Eric Mabius, and Michelle Rodriguez, I simply cannot pass it by if I stumble upon it while flipping through channels.  This movie mainly scares me because I sort of believe that this type of scenario could very easily happen - not the zombie part, but the "evil corporation accidentally causing loads of deaths and covering it up by killing everyone" part.  Again, the sequels aren't quite as scary, and seem to get progressively grosser and more gory, but I love them and can't "not" watch.

3. & 4. Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986) - I still remember when my older sister taped Alien from the television, and I watched it the next day - only the suspense was so bad that I only watched about 10 minutes at a time and then I would have to pause the tape and go do something else for a little while!!  What a wuss!  Now that I'm grown up I can watch the whole thing in one sitting, but the suspense is still deliciously terrifying!!  Oddly enough the sequel broke the suck rule and was as good - if not better than - the first one, but after that the series sort of went downhill, for me at least.

5. 28 Days Later (2002) - This one also got a little gross at times, but what made this movie so scary for me was the humans.  Yeah, it was suspenseful, and terrifying, and there were zombies everywhere, but what was so eerie was the scenery of empty city streets and houses, the shocking silence of a world where so few are left alive, and the horrific things that the survivors find themselves capable of doing to each other.  Some of the survivors were as monstrous as the zombies, who at least have no choice in the matter.

So there you have it!  My top 5 scary movies - do you agree?  What scary movies are on your list?  Leave a comment and tell me what you think!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - Soulless

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

The Tease:
"Miss Tarabotti, with nothing but her own thoughts for company, was left alone in the dark.  She was particularly annoyed with herself; she had meant to ask about the brass octopuses appearing everywhere." - Soulless, by Gail Garriger.

What's your Tease?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sci-Fi & Tears

Today over on, Jo Walton has written a very interesting article about Classic Science Fiction Tearjerkers - authors who may or may not have deliberately tried to cause their readers to feel strong emotions through their writing - and she poses the question of whether or not it is a rare occurrence, or if there are loads of attempts but few that succeed.

In her article she is mainly referring to "Classic" Sci-Fi authors - Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, etc - but in reading through the comments, a lot of people were also referring to more recent authors and novels, which I found interesting.

Anyone who knows me knows that I cry at the drop of a hat.  I've been known to tear up during long distance telephone commercials, (thank goodness they don't have those much anymore), and also during every frakkin' episode of Grey's Anatomy I've ever watched (Curse you, ABC!  Curse you!!)  I've cried while reading many other genres of books - Fantasy novels, Biographies, the occasional Thriller/Mystery - But the only time I remember tearing up during a Sci-Fi novel is when I read the third installment of The Star of the Gaurdians: King's Sacrifice.

The series is really more of a Space Opera than hard Sci-Fi, but the first time I read King's Sacrifice, I sobbed for an hour after finishing the final piece of Lord Sagan and Lady Maigrey's saga.  I've re-read the series several times since then, and while the scene doesn't affect me nearly as strongly now as it did then, I'd be lying if I said that my vision doesn't get a tad blurry when I reach that portion of the story.

Have you ever been brought to tears by a Sci-Fi novel?  It's not generally a genre that encourages sadness or tears, so I'm curious if any of you are willing to admit to crying (or even just a minor blurred vision!) during a Science Fiction story.  Anyone??

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review - Vieux Carre Voodoo

Scotty Bradley Mysteries       
1. Bourban Street Blues, 05.20.2005 * * * *
2. Jackson Square Jazz, 05.21.2005 * * * *
3. Mardi Gras Mambo, 03.26.2006 * * * *
4. Vieux Carre Voodoo, 10.19.2010 * * * *

"Former go-go boy turned detective Scotty Bradley is back!
When an old family friend apparently commits suicide from his French Quarter balcony, Scotty’s life accelerates from boring to exciting again in a nanosecond. Why would anyone want the old man dead, and what were they looking for in his ransacked apartment?  It’s up to Scotty, Frank, his crazy family, and friends to get to the bottom of this bizarre mystery—and when an old, all-too-familiar face turns up, it’s not just Scotty’s life that’s in danger, but his heart."

I love Scotty Bradley! This series is quirky and funny, with just a touch of romance thrown in, (really, it's barely there).  Scotty is an ex-go go boy who has become a private investigator and started his own business with his partner/lover Frank (an ex-FBI agent).  Together they solve mysteries and try to keep each other from getting killed by the bad guys.  Scotty's family is an eclectic bunch of well-meaning, warm-hearted souls, who help and/or hinder often.  Scotty uses his considerable assets to solve the case, including his well toned body, stunning good looks, a small amount of psychic ability, and occasionally a pack of tarot cards.  It all comes together in a fantastic smash-up of fun and mystery, with highly memorable characters.  Technically this most recent installment could be a stand alone, but I would still recommend reading them in order.  I give them 4 stars each for being enjoyable, fun, light reading that you won't soon forget.

So, what's your opinion?  Leave a comment and tell me about it!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - Vieux Carre Voodoo

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

The Tease:
"The sun was coming up in the east, and the gloom of the night was burning off.  There was a man lying in the middle of my balcony, face down. 
He wasn't moving."  
--Vieux Carre Voodoo - A Scotty Bradley Mystery, by Greg Herren.

What's your Teaser?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Review - The Moses Stone

The Chris Bronson Series, by James Becker:
1. The First Apostle, (TBR)
2. The Moses Stone, 10.12.2010 * * *
3. The Messiah Secret, (NYP)

From The Back:
"In Morocco, an English couple discovers a clay tablet covered in ancient writing.  One day later, they are dead.  And the hunt for a priceless relic is on...
Called to North Africa to investigate, Detective Chris Bronson follows a trail of clues that leads him from the hustle of a Moroccan market to the deserted caves of Qumran; from the sinister echoes of a water-filled tunnel under the city of Jerusalem to a windswept fortress whose name spells death.  Threatened on every side by ruthless men with their own agendas, Bronson is plunged into a mystery that has gone unsolved since biblical times. For the stone he must find is older and far more dangerous than he could ever have imagined."

My Thoughts:
This was a good fun read, y'all!  Light, fairly fast-paced, and fun.  Chris is a British detective, and his ex-wife Angela works for a museum, so when he begins to suspect that this clay tablet has something to do with the murders he pulls her onto the case.  The two have some nice chemistry as a divorced couple who are still friends, and slowly working on getting back together.  The action moves from Morocco to London and then to several locations in Israel.  Chris & Angela are trying to find some ancient artifacts described on the clay tablet, before several groups of unscrupulous bad guys find them, who want to either sell them on the black market, or alternately destroy them so that the world doesn't find out about them.

Overall the story was a little predictable at times, but was fun enough that I didn't mind too much.  The one problem I had with the story was one point where a character describes the Book of Revelations as being part of the Old Testament of the Bible, when it is quite obviously NOT in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament.  Blame my early religious upbringing, but it just seemed like a sloppy detail for an editor or researcher to miss.  Also there was one character whose name seemed to alternate between Decker and Dexter, but he was a minor bad guy, so I didn't really care.  Overall, though, I basically enjoyed it enough to look for the first book in the series.  I've given this one a rating of 3 stars - entertaining, fun, and quick to read.

Have you read any part of this series?  What did you think?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - The Moses Stone

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

Now that I have finally finished the Millennium Trilogy, this week you get to have a Teaser from an all new book!  This week, that would be The Moses Stone by James Becker.  This is actually book two in a series, but I  picked it up on impulse without realizing it was part of a series and haven't been able to find book 1 yet.  However I haven't felt like I was missing anything or walking in right in the middle of the story by starting with book two, so I think they must be somewhat independent.  The story is about a British investigator, Chris Bronson, who gets called to Morocco to look into the seemingly accidental fatal car crash of a middle-aged couple on vacation.  But when the dead couples' daughter and son-in-law are also attacked, Bronson begins to suspect foul play!

Here's the Tease:
"The sound of the shot was thunderously loud in the confined space, and Bronson had no time to check if Angela had been hit: he was already moving, fast.  He pushed himself off the wall of the cave and barreled straight across the rocky floor, smashing into the man's stomach with shoulder."  The Moses Stone, by James Becker.

I've almost finished the book, so hopefully I'll have a review up soon!  Meanwhile, leave a comment and tell me what you think!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Book Review: The Girl who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, by Stieg Larsson

The Millennium Trilogy, by Stieg Larsson:
1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, 09.07.2010 ****
2. The Girl who Played with Fire, 09.23.2010 ***
3. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, 10.06.2010 ****

(Warning - Minor spoilers ahead!)
The third and final installment of the Millennium Trilogy begins (with a bang!) with Salander arriving at the hospital shortly after the conclusion of Book 2.  We find out through flashbacks how she got there, and then the story rockets off through her surgery and recovery.  Unfortunately, Zalachenko was also rescued and is recovering in a hospital room two doors down from Salander, and both of them are determined to kill the other as a preemptive strike.  Zalachenko is spinning a web of lies to the police, of course, and no one believes anything Salander has to say.  But apparently, The Section has become tired of cleaning up Zalachenko's messes and decides to cover their tracks - they simply have to strong-arm Zalachenko into following the party line.  But Zalachenko has never been particularly good at following directions...

Meanwhile, the police have decided to charge Salander with attempting to murder Zalachenko, even as they grudgingly admit that she had nothing to do with the original three murders in Stockholm.  At the point the story slows down.  Way down.  Mikael hires his sister to be Salander's lawyer, the police are looking for Neiderman (Salander's half-brother), the police are investigating The Section, The Section is investigating everyone else.  Berger leaves Millennium Magazine to work at a large daily newspaper and immediately comes under attack from a stalker.  Numerous superfluous characters are introduced that have little to do with the main story, but finally, at long last, the day of the trial arrives!

Mikael has been running around investigating like crazy, helping Salander and his sister plan their defense, and working with the police to take down The Section.  On the day of the trial, he releases a book and a special issue of the magazine devoted to the truth about The Section, Zalachenko, and Salander; as well as releasing the original sex-trade scandal book that prompted The Section to get involved in the first place.  At the trial, Dr. Teleborian, Salander's old doctor from when The Section had her committed as a teenager, postures and poses on the witness stand about the lies that he and The Section have decided to tell about Salander, until Salander's lawyer finally rips him and his testimony to shreds on the stand, leaves him speechless and confused, and then allows the police to haul him away to face charges of his own!  This was the single most satisfying moment of the novel, among many.

I won't spoil any more of the story - there's lots of detail and tons of things happen, including the ultimate showdown re-match for Salander and Neiderman - but suffice it to say that this is by far the best of the three novels.

What I did find interesting was that, once again, this novel is all about the parallels, it seems.  It continues the theme from the previous two books of the dangers of social indifference to violence against women and how laws don't work if they aren't enforced (at least that's what I got out of it).  But in this one I noticed a much stronger reference to what I see as the nature vs. nurture argument.  The parallels between Salander and
Neiderman I found fascinating - She's tiny, rational, and fearless, he's monstrously huge and terrified of the delusions produced by his irrational mind.  He also has a genetic physical condition that causes him to feel no pain at all. 

Salander, on the other hand, feels pain, but has been conditioned by the way society treats her to be completely emotionless, feeling neither love nor hate.  But wait, you say, she clearly hated Bjurman & Teleborian, Zalachenko & Neiderman, for what they had done to her and her family.  And that's true, but even her hatred of them is not so much emotional as based on principle - "you're a bastard jerk and must be punished."  Her motives are very much based on her own morals and perspectives of right and wrong. (It's wrong for men to treat women like trash, but she sees nothing wrong with stealing from them or committing other crimes against them- in her mind it is a just punishment for what they have done - they were wrong first, etc.).

Throughout this 3rd novel we see Salander struggling, not against the men who want to lock her up and silence her - she seems to see the trial as a mere inconvenience to be swatted away. Her struggle is all internal. She seems to begin to realize how the events of her life have affected her socially, and struggles with the idea and process of letting someone into her life, of trusting other people (especially men), and most of all what it means to be a friend and to have friends.  Unlike Neiderman, who overcomes nothing and will never feel anything, she grows, and towards the end of the story we see a hint that she might be making progress towards that goal.

All in all, this was a good series, serious at times, and exciting also.  The social commentary never got too heavy.  This is not a series that I would probably ever re-read, but I'm glad that my friend "T" loaned me the books and convinced me to read them. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and am curious to see how the film versions will turn out - although they could never be "quite" as good as the books.

Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Booking Through Thursday

The Question:

When you travel, how many books do you bring with you?
Has this changed since the arrival of ebooks?

The Answer:

I nearly always have whatever book I'm currently reading with me at all times.  Usually in my backpack, which travels back and forth with me to work, etc.  When we travel though, I usually only take one book with me, and it must be a new book, usually purchased in advance for the trip - even if I'm currently in the middle of reading something else, I still make sure I have a brand new book for the trip, and I cannot start reading it before we leave. 

This doesn't stop me from picking up more books while on the trip, though!  Oh, no, sir!  Browsing the bookstore at the airport is a great way to pass the time, even though I have a brand new unread book in my bag.  And if I happen to find something great while shopping, there's no law that says I can't come home from vacation with more books than I left with!

One of my favorite books, The Stand by Stephen King, was purchased while on vacation in Portland years before I moved here.  I wandered into a Tower Books to kill some time and stumbled across it, read the back and decided I couldn't live without it.  Best decision ever!!

The arrival of ebooks has had no effect on me, as at this point I have not been brave enough to buy one.  I keep weighing the pro's and con's, and then run screaming back to my delicious paperbacks!  But I am slowly being won over, and think it might be a good idea to take the plunge...someday.  Just not  yet.

What about you?  Do you travel with books?  And what's your opinion of the various e-readers out there?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - The Girl who Kicked the Hornets' Nest

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

"Judge Iversen was suddenly very alert.  In a most unorthodox way, Giannini had launched a serious attack on a witness, and she had already made mincemeat of an important part of his testimony. And she claims that she can document everything she says." - The Girl who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, by Stieg Larsson.

Monday, October 4, 2010

News - Towers of Midnight

In case you've missed it and are unaware, "Towers of Midnight," the 13th installment of the epic fantasy Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson will be released on November 2nd, 2010.

That's less than a month away, people!!  OMG!

Granted, not everyone may be as excited as I am about this, but I have to say that after last years "A Gathering Storm" I am once again excited about this series.  Sanderson managed to breathe new life into the story while still remaining true to Jordan's vision and wishes.

I started reading this series back in the mid-1990's.  The first book, "Eye of the World" was published in 1990, but I did not discover the series until around '94 or '95, (I don't remember exactly and I wasn't keeping a reading list back then!), so I was able to read the first 3 or 4 books all in a row.  Since then, however, it's been a long slow process of waiting for each new book to come out with waits of several years in-between.  By the time the final volume is published (expected in late 2011) the series will span almost 22 years.

And I have to say that it's totally been worth it.  This is without a doubt the best fantasy series I've ever read in my life, and I'm fairly sure that it will be the series that all future series will be compared to.

Now, the whole point of that was to share a link with you guys.  This idea of "book trailers" is new to me, but I totally dig it.  So go watch the book trailer for Towers of Midnight at, because it is freaking awesome!  (Be warned, there are spoilers).

Leave a comment and tell me what you think of the book trailer, or the series in general if you've read any of it!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Star Wars - Third time's a charm?

So, by now I am guessing that everyone has heard about Lucasfilm's announcement regarding their intention to re-re-release all 6 Star Wars movies in 3D, starting with Episode 1 The Phantom Menace in 2012.

On the surface this sounds really frakkin' awesome!  I mean really - what could possibly be better than 3D Star Wars?  Imagine the light saber duels!  Picture the Death Star exploding!!  Blaster bolts zooming all around the theater!  Pretty cool, right?

Possibly.  Or maybe not.  As we all know, movies that were filmed in the new RealD 3D technology look AMAZING!  But we also know that movies which were not filmed in 3D, but later converted to 3D, don't look nearly as nice.  And while I'm sure that it would be carefully and lovingly converted, the fact remains that it is still a conversion.

For myself, this announcement sort of makes me feel that Lucas has run out of steam.  Apparently they have no more good ideas, and so they just want to trot out the same movies again.  And again.  And again.

What would be really awesome would be if they would move the story forward into the future.  There have been some really amazing novels written in the Star Wars Universe that take place after the Emperor and Darth Vader are destroyed.  There's a whole galaxy that had to be put back together, ya' know?  Why not take "The Thrawn Trilogy" by Timothy Zahn, and make movies of those novels?
  1. Heir to the Empire, 1991
  2. Dark Force Rising, 1992
  3. The Last Command, 1993
Or if they don't want to have to deal with existing stories in existing novels due to copyright issues, etc, well there are still plenty of gaps in the storyline.  Create something new - tell us a new story, something we haven't imagined yet!

But please don't just re-hash the same movies over and over and expect us all to cheerfully pay extra for the "privilege" of watching the same story - again - in 3D.

What do you think?  Leave a comment and let me hear your opinion!!