Saturday, March 29, 2008

Movie 19 of 2008: 21

Movie Description:

Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) is an MIT student who – needing to pay school tuition – finds answers in counting cards. In his non-linear equations class, he amazes his professor, Mickey Rosa, by correctly understanding variable change and correctly solving the Monty Hall Problem. As a superior math and statistics student, he is recruited to join a group of mathematically-gifted students that heads to Las Vegas every weekend with fake identities and the know-how to turn the odds at blackjack in their favor. Unorthodox math professor Mickey Rosa (Kevin Spacey) leads the way. By counting cards and employing an intricate system of signs and signals, the team can beat the casinos. Drawn by the money, the Vegas lifestyle, and his teammate, Jill Taylor (Kate Bosworth), Ben begins to push the limits. Though counting cards isn’t illegal, the stakes are high, and the challenge becomes not only keeping the numbers straight, but staying one step ahead of the casinos’ menacing enforcer, Cole Williams (Laurence Fishburne).

Movie Trailer:

My Opinion:

I went to see this not realizing until it started that this movie is based on the book, BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE by Ben Mezrich. (see below for cover art of original book) I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and thought that all of the actors/actresses did a fabulous job. The plotline was extremely interesting with the whole "counting cards" thing as I was finding myself trying to remember all the methods that they were using. Ha ha!!! I’ve never played BlackJack in a casino, nor will I ever most likely, but it still was intriguing to me. Typically I won’t read a book once I’ve seen the movie of it as it kind of ruins it for me, but I am curious to see how much more there was to the book considering how much I enjoyed the movie. I highly recommend to anyone looking for a comedy/action movie.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Book 20 of 2008: Rogue by Rachel Vincent

Book Description:

Okay, so cats don’t always land on their feet

I know that better than most. Since rejoining the Pride, I’ve made big decisions and even bigger mistakes: the kind paid for with innocent lives. As the first and only female enforcer, I have plenty to prove to my father, the Pride, and myself. And with murdered toms turning up in our territory, I’m working harder than ever , though I always find the energy for a little after-hours recreation with Marc, my partner both on and off duty.

But not all my mistakes are behind me. We’re beginning to suspect that the dead are connected to a rash of missing human women, and that they can all be laid at my feet--two or four, take your pick. And one horrible indiscretion may yet cost me more than I can bear...

My Opinion:

First off... I have to say how much I absolutely LOVE the covers of Rachel Vincent’s books. In case you haven’t seen the cover of the first book in this series, I’ll post it here as well:

I just think the color scheme and the design is absolutely gorgeous. I’m not sure who did the cover art, but I definitely hope to see more by them!

At any rate... on to the story. This book continued on where STRAY left off. (see my 2007 reading blog for my review of STRAY) There are several different events taking place in this book, yet all of them are tied together in one way or another... werecat killings, stripper kidnappings, human-turned-stray, etc... Vincent leaves little "down time" in the book as it is chock full of action scenes. I loved it from start to finish and found myself enjoying it even more than STRAY, but mainly due to the fact the characters are growing on me so much. The characters are absolutely fabulous and believeable. All of the "drama" between Faythe and Marc cracks me up and I keep on cheering for Jace, but I have a feeling where things will end up there in the end. LOL!!! I also found myself laughing at several other scenes in the book, the most memorable being when Faythe was flinging cassette tapes in order to attack someone and refused to use a classic Aerosmith cassette, so in turn tossed the Thompson Twins. Ha ha!!!

Unfortunately, the book left a major cliffhanger at the end and now I’m left waiting until the fall to find out what is going to happen next. Drat!!! Can’t these books get published faster?!?!? LOL!!! Seriously though, I am highly anticipating the 3rd book of this series, PRIDE, and commend Rachel Vincent for how wonderful she has done in writing this series thus far. I hope that she continues on with this story for many more books and one day moves on to some other storylines as I’m quickly becoming a huge fan of her writing style.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Book 19 of 2008: The Haunted Vagina by Carlton Mellick III

Book Description:

It’s difficult to love a woman whose vagina is a gateway to the world of the dead...

Steve falls madly in love with Stacy, but it isn’t until they move in together that he hears voices coming from Stacy’s southern junction. When a skeletal creature makes it’s way through Stacy into their world, Stacy convinces Steve he must go exploring to find out where this mysterious passage leads. After his fist foray, Steve almost doesn’t make it back from the alternate world, but the next time Stacy sets him up for a full spelunking.

My Opinion:

First off... I absolutey love the cover of this book. I think it’s gorgeous!!! The skeletal hand reaching up to the "girl" is a very neat touch (pardon the pun). The story itself is very f’ed up! Stacy has a "haunted vagina" in that it makes noises and expands, etc... She decides that she wants her boyfriend, Steve, to explore the "world" within. The adventures continue from there as he wanders around the insides of Stacy’s vagina meeting up with Stacy’s childhood "friend" as well as the Zephrans. I won’t say much more than that as I don’t want to spoil the story, but the story makes you laugh as well as wonder WTF!!! Mellick is definitely a writer I’m going to have to explore some more because his stories really make you think. Of course, the entire time I was reading THE HAUNTED VAGINA I kept having the same one though... Why doesn’t this girl go get checked out at the gynecologist!?!?!?!?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Book 18 of 2008: Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath

Book Description:

Lieutenant Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels is having a bad week. Her live-in boyfriend has left her for his personal trainer, chronic insomnia has caused her to max out her credit cards with late-night home shopping purchases and a frightening killer who calls himself "The Gingerbread Man" is dumping mutilated bodies in her district. Whiskey Sour is full of laugh-out-loud humour and edge-of-your-seat suspense. It also introduces a fun, fully drawn heroine in the grand tradition of Kinsey Millhone, Stephanie Plum and Kay Scarpetta.

My Opinion:

Fabulous read!!! I wish I had listened to my friends and started into this series sooner. I finally made myself start the series due to the upcoming release of SUCKERS which is co-written by J.A. Konrath and Jeff Strand (my favorite author for those who don’t know me all that well) as SUCKERS includes a character from both this series as well as Strand’s sickeningly-awesome Andrew Mayhem series.

Konrath definitely has a way with keeping his viewers interested. This book is full of action from the first page to the last. You are immediately thrown into the nightmare life of "Jack" Daniels. She is one kick-ass lieutenant who doesn’t take shit from anyone... well, except Harry McGlade, somewhat. I am looking forward to seeing what kind of "trouble" Jack and the rest of the cast get into in the future installments of this series.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Book 16 of 2008: Right House on the Left by Steve Vernon, Mark McLaughlin, and L.L. Soares

Book Description:

Right House on the Left is a deluxe chapbook with three imaginative tales mixing humor and horror. The first is "The Outhouse on the Edge of Forever," by Steve Vernon, where a mystical outhouse built for a community picnic becomes the source of some inspired horror and hilarity. "Don’t Look in the Little Storage Room Behind the Furnace," by Mark McLaughlin, takes many of the horror fiction staples and parodies them in a tale about a family moving into a house with a haunted past. Finally, in "The Blood Splattered Mirror Ball," by L.L. Soares, an exclusive club becomes haunted by the fun-loving spirits of some unpopular people who had always been refused admittance. The chapbook presents a wide variety of writing styles and tales and they all work well for those who are familiar with the horror genre. The chapbook is perfect for horror fans and recommended for libraries that support a large community of horror readers.

My Opinion

Right House on the Left was published by Novello Publishers in a limited release. I lucked into receiving my copy direct from one of the wonderful authors within, L.L. Soares, who I’m happy to have become really good friends with thanks to the wonderful Internet world!

Soares’ story, THE BLOOD-SPLATTERED MIRROR BALL, starts off with a scene of a guy snorting coke off of a model’s ass and from then on everything that happens makes you feel like you, the reader, are the one snorting that coke! Soares describes the events of the party in so much vivid detail that you feel you are standing in the midst of it, but thankfully you’re not as some very f’ed up stuff happens... though I’ll leave that for each of you to read as to not spoil it.

In addition to L.L’s story, I also got my first peek at the works of both
Steve Vernon and Mark McLaughlin. Vernon’s story, THE OUTHOUSE ON THE EDGE OF TERROR used some very unique alliteration that I found amusing and who can go wrong with a book full of potty humor? McLaughlin’s story, DON’T LOOK IN THE LITTLE STORAGE ROOM BEHIND THE FURNACE, also had a bit of potty humor in it as well what with the zombie eating creatures that pooped the zombies back out. HA HA HA!!! That was just classic!!! And ya know, now that I think back on it, Soares’ story also had potty humor due to the horse scene.

So... all in all... this was one "shitty" chapterbook... and I mean that in the best possible way as this story collection is hilarious and extremely well-written. I loved all of the varying styles of writing and the combination of stories. I will definitely be looking into other works of all three of these authors, as well as anything else published by Novello Publishers!

Book 17 of 2008: Dead Over Heels by MaryJanice Davidson

Book Description:

Three all-new paranormal stories of lust, laughter, and love from the New York Times bestselling author, including an original novella featuring Undead queen Betsy Taylor.

With her trademark "sassy dialogue, lusty lovemaking [and] irreverent humor"* New York Times bestselling author MaryJanice Davidson delighted fans with her wickedly sexy and wildly funny anthology, Dead and Loving It-stories in which the worlds of the Wyndham Werewolves and Undead Queens collided. Now she returns to that sensual and irresistible after-dark realm of werewolves, vampires, and mermaids in three more original novellas--including an all-new Betsy Taylor novella.

My Opinion:

Undead and Wed: A Honey Moon Story
This story follows up Betsy & Sinclair’s wedding. I couldn’t believe Jessica and Nick decided to "crash" their honeymoon. LOL!!! The story was classic and I about died when the shoe got stuck in the wall. I do wonder how Nick will be getting along with everyone after the events in this story. Only a bit longer to wait for UNDEAD AND UNWORTHY. YAY!!!

Fred the mermaid doesn’t actually show up in this story, but it tells a bit about the adventures of a loan guy, Con Conlinson, who is stranded at sea, and is being followed by a "silver severed head" better known as a mermaid. HA HA!!! Enter Ree, the beautiful mermaid, who ends up having to rescue Stupid Con and help him survive. This story had me laughing at several points and I hope the characters appear in future mermaid stories by MJD.

Speed Dating, Werewolf Style
Okay, so Laura was telling me about this book and how this story wasn’t all that great... yada yada. Well, let’s just say that I made the mistake of taking this book with me to lunch the other day and while I’m sitting there eating my Wendy’s chili I read a part in the story that makes me laugh so hard I actually choked on my chili! Due to that scene and many, MANY others this became my favorite story of the anthology. I just kept thinking that one day that I may end up doing some kind of speed dating thing like Cain does in this story.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Book 15 of 2008: Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Book Description:

Sooner or later, the dead catch up . . .

Judas Coyne was a collector. The bizarre, the uncanny, the grotesque. A cookbook for cannibals. A used hangman’s noose. A snuff film. Many of these objects were gifts from the black-clad fans who made his metal band a legend and made him rich.

But not all. When his personal assistant told him there was a ghost for sale on the Internet, Jude knew he had to have it for his private collection, didn’t think twice. He should have. Jude has spent a lifetime evading ghosts -- of an abusive father, of the bandmates he betrayed, of Anna, the suicidal girl he loved and abandoned. But this spirit is different. This one means to chase him to the edge of sanity.

His new acquisition -- delivered to his doorstep in a black heart-shaped box -- is the restless soul of Anna’s vengeful stepdaddy. Craddock McDermott swore he would settle with Jude for ruining his daughter’s life. Soon, everywhere Jude turns, Craddock is there: behind the bedroom door; in Jude’s restored vintage Mustang; outside his window; on his widescreen TV. Waiting -- with a gleaming razor blade on a chain dangling from one bony hand.

If ever there was a case of caveat emptor, this is it . . .

My Opinion:

I checked this book out from the library after getting good reviews from both Cindi and Nick. I had heard from Nick that the first few chapters were very scary. I’m not sure that I was scared by the book... I do remember getting freaked out at one point though when Craddock was trying to "control" Judas to the point of shooting and killing Georgia. I even had dreams about it, though I don’t recall them now. This book was VERY well written though and I truly enjoyed the story line. I think that Joe left enough of an opening *IF* he’d want to write a sequel to the book as I’m sure that more could become of both Anna and her mother ... especially if the mother were to escape from jail. Plus Anna could become a sociopath or something after having been through so much crap over the years. I’m looking forward to reading further books by this author and definitely need to track down his anthology TWENTIETH CENTURY GHOSTS!

A couple of side notes...

1 - if you aren’t familiar with Joe Hill... this is Stephen King’s son

2 - I was just surfing around a bit and it appears that there IS a movie in the works on this book so I’ll be curious to see how that turns out. It could make for a VERY creepy movie or it could just suck... only time will tell!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Movie 18 of 2008: The Break-Up

Movie Description:

In Chicago, the art dealer Brooke Meyers feels not appreciated and neglected by her immature husband Gary Grobowski, who is partner of his two brothers in a tourism business, and decides to break-up with him to make Gary misses her. Gary misunderstands her true intention, both follows the wrong advices of family members and friends, beginning a war of sexes with no winner.

Movie Trailer:

My Opinion:

I just stumbled across this movie at the rental store and since I typically like Vince Vaughn I decided to rent it. Unfortunately, I didn't care much for the movie. It had some funny moments, but overall the movie was fairly boring. If you really want a romantic comedy to watch, check it out, but if you're wanting lots of romance or lots of comedy... this isn't going to be either of those. It's mild in both categories, but I don't know what else to classify it as besides a romantic comedy because it's not quite serious enough to be labelled a "drama".

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Movie 16 of 2008: Ed Wood

Movie Description:

From Tim Burton, acclaimed director of BIG FISH, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, and BATMAN, and the producer of THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, comes the hilarious, true-life story of the wackiest filmmaker in Hollywood history, Ed Wood! Johnny Depp (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL, CHOCOLAT, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS) stars as the high-spirited movieman who refuses to let unfinished scenes, terrible reviews, and hostile studio executives derail his big-screen dreams. With an oddball collection of showbiz misfits, Ed takes the art of bad moviemaking to an all-time low! The all-star cast features Bill Murray (LOST IN TRANSLATION, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS), Sarah Jessica Parker (TV's SEX AND THE CITY), Patricia Arquette (STIGMATA, LITTLE NICKY), and an Academy Award(R)-winning performance by Martin Landau (Best Supporting Actor, 1994) as Bela Lugosi. Hailed by critics everywhere, this laugh-packed comedy hit is sure to entertain everyone!

Movie Trailer:

Interview with Johnny Depp about Ed Wood:

(Note: I can't believe they spelled Johnny's name wrong at the 0:33 mark!!!)

My Opinion:

First off... to those surprised I haven't seen EVERY Johnny Depp movie, well... I haven't! LOL!!! (though I have seen the majority of 'em!) Anyway, Ed Wood was a really great movie! I wouldn't put it in my top 5 Johnny movies, but I enjoyed it quite a lot. This movie was done completely in black and white, which made for a bit of a different viewing than most movies today. Tim Burton always picks the best cast of characters and ED WOOD is no exception. Burton is probably my favorite director (granted it helps that he knows to cast Johnny in a lot of roles - 7 of his movies feature Johnny, 3 of which he plays a character named Ed). I recommend this movie to anyone who hasn't seen it as it's a really good movie!

Movie 17 of 2008: Beetle Juice

Movie Description:

Beetlejuice: Thanks to the carelessness of a cute little dog, newlyweds Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin are killed in a freak auto accident. Upon arriving in the outer offices of Heaven, the couple finds that, thanks to a century's worth of bureaucratic red tape, they're on a long celestial waiting list. Before they can earn their wings, Davis and Baldwin must occupy their old house as ghosts for the next fifty years. Alas, the house is now owned by insufferable yuppies Catherine O'Hara and Jeffrey Jones. Horrified at the prospect of sharing space with these obnoxious interlopers, Davis and Baldwin do their best to scare O'Hara and Jones away, but their house-haunting skills are pathetic at best. In desperation, the ghostly couple engage the services of a veteran scaremeister: a yellow-haired, snaggle-toothed, profane, flatulent "gonzo" spirit named Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton). The problem: Beetlejuice cannot be trusted-especially when he falls in love with O'Hara and Jones' gloomy, black-clad teenaged daughter Winona Ryder. Beetlejuice producer David Geffen, director Tim Burton, and composer Danny Elfman were also involved in an animated TV-series spin-off.

Movie Trailer:

My Opinion:

This actually wasn't my first viewing of Beetle Juice. I remember going to the theater with my friend, Missy, to see this when it first came out back in '88. I believe this was the night I stayed overnight and we didn't go to bed at all, but I remember the movie creeping me out back then so that could be part of the reason I didn't sleep. LOL!!! Re-watching this movie was a blast from the past and I really enjoyed it. As I said in my post earlier today about Ed Wood, I really love Tim Burton's movies. I have a feeling I'm going to be watching and/or re-watching some of his other movies again very soon. Beetle Juice is definitely not a scary movie, but I can see why I was freaked out a bit at a much younger age. I think my favorite scene from the movie is the scene at the dinner table where Adam & Barbara make everyone dance/sing to IKO IKO! Of course, I also have always loved that song so it makes it that much better. (I even knew a dance to it way back when...) Definitely a movie worth checking out if you haven't done so already, but I'm sure most people have seen it.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Book 14 of 2008: Like Death by Tim Waggoner

Book Description:

Scott Raymond is a man haunted by his past and terrorized in the present. As a young boy, he witnessed the brutal murder of his family, but there is so much of the gruesome tragedy that he simply cannot remember — including the identity of the killer or why Scott alone was spared. The memories won't come, but the trauma won't go away.

Scott is an adult now, still emotionally scarred but learning to deal with it. He has come to Ash Creek to write about a different mystery, a six-year-old girl named Miranda who has disappeared in broad daylight one year ago. Here, Scott meets another girl named Miranda, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the one who's missing — but this one's a teenager. She will draw Scott into the bizarre hidden world known as Shadow. A world where nightmares are very real . . . and very deadly.

My Opinion:

Again... this Tim Waggoner book goes above and beyond the description provided for it. Waggoner is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors as his writing style and ideas are extremely fresh and different from other horror I have read (albeit a bit f'ed up... lol!!!). I have no idea where he comes up with the ideas he has his books filled up with, but my oh my they are bizarre! I love how he integrates everything together and twists the plot so much it makes one dizzy trying to figure out what is going to happen next. I'm looking forward to reading DARKNESS WAKES in the near future and any other Waggoner books I can get my hands on.