Saturday, December 31, 2016

Movie Night: A Murder Of Quality

You might recognize some of the men and women in this performance.

This is based off of John Le Carre's novel of the same name, this takes George Smiley, who is "a civil servant" (ie: spy) who is looking into the murder in a small town of the local ... gossip, for lack of a better term. Instead of Alec Guiness -- who played Smiley in the two miniseries from the Carla cycle (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and Smiley's people) -- we get Denholm Elliot, known best as Marcus Brody from two Indiana Jones films.

This stars Joss Acklund as a professor, a very young Christian Bale as a student at a local school, and



Also, if you haven't already, check out some of the books below.

 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Music Blog: In Memory of Carrie Fisher

For reasons I can't possibly imagine, there's dust in the air every time this comes on lately.

Can't imagine why.





Also, if you haven't already, check out some of the books below.


 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Launch Party, for Live and Let Bite


So, yes, this is happening.

Live and Let Bite, my primary suggestion for the Dragon Award  in 2017, will come out at midnight on January 29th: ie: the 30th.

And, I'm having a launch party on Facebook. Sign up here.

While I'm at it, I should probably mention that as part of the event, I'm going to give away ARCs of Live and Let Bite, starting January 6th.  All you have to do is 1) join the launch party. I'll take "Might be going" as participation enough. 2) Have reviewed Honor at Stake and Murphy's Law of Vampires.  That's it. And let's face it, neither of them is a very long book, and most people polish off one of these books in the course of a weekend, so I figure that about 9 days isn't that bad.

"But wait, that's not really fair. Those people who've already read and reviewed the books have an unfair advantage."  Yes. That's right. However, don't worry about it, because I'm going to do the exact same thing for January 13th.

The launch party details are still in progress, but again, click on the above link, and at least sign up for some interesting prizes.

In short: FREE BOOK, FREE BOOKS, FREE BOOK!!

And ... here are the other books.


 

Cover reveal: Live and Let Bite

From cover artist Dawn Witzke, Book three of the Love at First Bite series.


The theory behind this one was simple: the first one had Amanda in a cemetary looking at a New York skyline, Marco with a San Francisco skyline, and Merle Kraft in front of the United Nations. Why? Well, if you've been reading closely, it's been a continuing element since book 1, and we're going to get more of an explanation of why in Live and Let Bite.

Yes, there will be resolution. It will  not be the end of the story, but multiple mysteries will be solved, and questions left hanging since book one will be answered.

And if you haven't read the other two by now ... what are you waiting for?

Monday, December 26, 2016

Midseason Review: The Flash

Let's just start with something simple: I would really like to enjoy The Flash. I really would. But they make this so hard, it's insane.

For the entire calendar year of 2016, Season 2 and 3 on The Flash had more to do with whiny angsty soap opera crying about crap that's easily fixed, or that people have no control over, or JUST. PLAIN. STUPID. CRAP.

You thought that it was a joke yesterday when I said that I fast forwarded through fifteen minutes out of every Supergirl episodes. The Flash is also a problem when it comes to this.  And it drives me crazy.

In fact, one of my biggest problems with Season 3 has been how little they're focusing on the villain of the week, and trying to focus on a primary villain for the season.

Except that some of the times they actually do try to make a villain du jour is ... half-hearted, at best, and a train wreck at worst.

And what is my problem?

Let me introduce you to Richard Swift, aka: The Shade.

I am such a fan of the James Robinson Starman comic, which had, as a side character, a Flash villain called The Shade.

He looks like, well, this.



Yes, with those specs, he looks like hipster Jack the Ripper. But his powers really are from Hell. No, not from a reactor, not from lightning strikes, but from sacrificing over a hundred lives (I think over 300, but I could be mistaken). His powers are essentially demonic in nature. He would call creatures from the shadows that look like the demons of Ghost. I'm relatively certain that he could have taken out the Flash -- any of them -- except he was too busy having fun. He was generally amoral, immortal, and had more than enough money on his own.

And the Shade was cultured. He quoted Len Deighton novels and Igmar Bergman films, and was friends with Dickens and Wilde and Hans Christian Anderson.

He. Was. Awesome.

And after I saw Stargirl on Legends of Tomorrow, my first thought was "Can I get the Shade now on Flash? Pretty please?"

And then, I see an episode title in the listings called: Shade.

YES!!!!!

I got .... nothing.

Really, nothing.

This is what I got. This is the best image my google-fu can come up with.



He wasn't The Shade, just "Shade." He didn't call up shadow constructs, he turned into a shadow golem. He didn't have a name. He didn't have any dialogue. He didn't have motivation. In fact, I'm not even entirely certain why he killed the victim in the opening, and I really hope to God it wasn't just for money, because he could turn into a shadow and walk into banks if he wanted to AND WHY AM I PUTTING UP WITH THIS CRAP? WHERE IS JAMES ROBINSON?

Hell, so much of the episode dealt with the year-long arc, I'm trying to figure out why they even bothered with an enemy du jour in the first place. And to grossly, painfully, and deliberately use a character who was so freaking awesome for the near decade of Starman comics ... this really pissed me off.

And that's only ONE element of this that pisses me off.

This season started with a highly disorienting Flashpoint alternate timeline, which was then reversed. Honestly, I can't tell you why messing with time released this year's enemy, even though I'm certain they've mentioned it at least once. Then they brought out an enemy so obvious, HE'S PLAYED BY DRACO MALFOY.  I mean, seriously. Might as well have "Villain" tattooed on his forehead. And for some reason, Caitlin Snow is manifesting Killer Frost powers ... why? How? When did this happen? No idea. Never explained. Why do her powers turn her evil? No idea. Never explained.

So far, the best elements of this season involved their Christmas episode, which actually explained something .... and the crossover episode.

This is another one I might have totally given up on. I haven't decided yet. Though, honestly, there's nothing else on Tuesday night in that time slot except for NCIS. So, maybe. But I doubt it. There have been 9 episodes this season, and it feels like there may have been 4 episodes worth of content going on here. They should really and truly stop it.

And the first person who tells me that Agents of Suck is good this season, no, I don't want a Ghost Rider TV show. Thanks.

Here. Here's something way more interesting, and a crap ton less angsty and whiny than any single episode this year.


 

Midseason Review: Supergirl

The first half of the season is done. Time to break them down.

Item the First

It's a puff piece, it's agit-prop, no, it's Supergirl!

Dear, God, SOMEBODY SAVE THIS SHOW.

Sigh. Too late.

Okay, fine, let's break this down.

The Good: The move for the CW has definitely improved the series. In the first few episodes, you can see the budget actually show up on the screen.

 I guess that means that the filming on location in LA really did eat up most of the budget while they were on CBS.


There is obvious effort put in here and there. The end result of the villain Parasite, for example, wasn't that bad. I say the end result because he was really a global warming fanatic who went insane.

They had one or two obvious character choices for certain players that they did not take that surprised me -- mostly, their decision to not make every member of the Luthor family into a flaming psychopath.

And, to be honest, I don't mind their Superman. I mean, heck, he SMILES. Was a Superman allowed to smile since Christopher Reeves? Hell, Brandon Routh was so dang stiff, he should have been an awesome Superman. He wasn't even allowed to smile until he became Ray Palmer, and now, he makes a great Clark Kent on Legends of Tomorrow ... as the wrong character.

The Bad: everything else.

No, really. This is bad. The opening of the season wasn't that bad. It had Kara and Clark, and it wasn't that bad ... okay, the Cat Grant lusting after a man who is obviously 15-20 years younger than herself was amazingly creepy, and everyone else just looked uncomfortable without calling her on it.

The primary thread for the season revolves around "anti-alien sentiment" and a "home-grown terrorist group, Cadmus." I mean, I can't imagine why anyone would have harsh feelings against aliens. I mean, they nearly DESTROYED THE PLANET last season. Though they actually have some counterpoint to this thinly-veiled political analogue, with even the Martian Manhunter directly opposing an "alien amnesty" proposed by a President Lynda Carter. So they have some props there.

And, seriously, "amnesty"? I'm sorry, in a world where Superman has official citizenship of the United States, are they telling me there's no way for these people to just fill out some paperwork? Is INS / ICE really still screwed up, even in the DCU? Are we kidding?

And we won't even get into the blunt forced message fiction about Kara's sister becoming a lesbian out of ... nowhere, really. Yes, the character of Officer Leslie Thompson from the Superman comic was gay ... then again, so was Rene Montoya, Cassandra Kane, and about half the women in the DC universe feel like they're at least bi, if not 100% lesbian. But they've spent so much time with the sister becoming gay, and less and less time addressing an overall plot. I fast forward through at least a third of every episode, looking for a plot. Kickass female characters ... and they made them gay. Yes, of course. Because "kickass" somehow must mean ... what? Butch? Therefore gay? Um, no, people. That's not how this works.

The sister's sudden coming out of the closet is particularly startling after first season and her having a relationship with Maxwell Lord -- who was so overbearing and overshadowing last season, his disappearance this season is whiplash-inducing.

Oh, and then there's Jimmy Olsen becoming the Guardian .... Do I even have to explain why this is a bad idea? Jimmy Olsen ... as a superhero.  Somehow, Jimmy Olsen is a cross between Iron Man and Batman. Look at him. He's even IN IRON MAN'S SUPERHERO POSE.

Even Kara mentions how her cousin sometimes works with a guy with a lot of gadgets and a lot of issues -- ie, Batman.

Oh, does this mean I can have Batman now? Please? Pretty please?

But, yeah, Jimmy Olsen as a superhero ... because the son of the Toyman made him a suit. Um, point of order, but did Wynn cobble together this super suit out of DEO technology? Did no one notice what had to be millions of dollars in hardware suddenly going missing? Is it as inefficiently run as every other government organization that millions can just disappear without anyone noticing? And screw that, now we just have the problem that Tony Stark has -- why is Wynn not making Guardian suits fro everyone in the DEO? Considering the amount of crap that they have to put up with on a daily basis, why hasn't Wynn made an entire SWAT team suits like this?

Worst of all ... why is JIMMY OLSEN having more time on screen as a superhero THAN SUPERGIRL. You know, in a series called SUPERGIRL?

Yes, I do consider it possible that Supergirl could recover. There was hint that Lynda Carter's President was an alien, suggesting that she be an alien menace, and that all of this illegal immigration analogy falls apart. But I don't see it happening, I truly don't.

And the sad thing is that this is all so easily fixable. I honestly don't care about Kara's sister and her new girlfriend -- that the sister has become gay, or that she has a girlfriend -- if they focused less on that and more on THE PLOT, I'll be happy.

In fact, you will find that complaint very often in the Berlantiverse reviews.  I want less focus on interpersonal relationships, and more of a plot. The sad thing is, for Supergirl, this is still an improvement over last season.

I may keep watching, if I have additional brain cells I feel like sacrificing. Otherwise, this is one hero I can without.

And, I can say without any shame at all, you're better off reading any of the following books.

 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Music blog: What Child Is This?

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Yes, I know, I had hinted at a prerecorded Christmas show for Christmas day, but to be honest, I was still coughing up a storm for most of this week, and couldn't make it work. Sorry about that.

So for Christmas ... you get more Peter Hollens. Enjoy.





Also, if you haven't already, check out some of the books below.

 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Movie night: The Force Awakens - Nostalgia Critic

This ... pretty much sums up my feelings on The Force Awakens.

If you've seen the train wreck that is the Star Wars Holiday Special, you will get the in-jokes. And if you've never seen said holiday special ... you've been blessed.

And if you have seen the Star Wars Holiday Special ... I'm so, so sorry.



Also, if you haven't already, check out some of the books below.

 

Friday, December 23, 2016

JD Cowan's Review for Murphy's Law of Vampires

This is a review I didn't see coming. 

Okay, I did see it coming, after a fashion. I was aware that JD Cowan had the novel. And he had reviewed Honor at Stake.

So, yes, I knew there would be a review.  I just didn't quite expect this review.

And I was definitely looking forward to his review. Not only did Mr. Cowan review book 1 (see above), but he's also been named one of Castalia House blog's Top 15 book bloggers of 2016.

So, yeah, There were a few reasons to look forward to this.

But, yikes, I did not expect ... well ... this.

And you have to love the post's header: "The Most Apt Title Ever ~ A review of "Murphy's Law of Vampires" by Declan Finn."

For example
[Finn is ] an author as fearless with his stories as he is with genres. He writes comedy thrillers, speculative swatting, and horror romance tales, all with the same energy and spirit as one would take a torch to a vampire. And there isn't a lick of subversion to be found in any of them.
I'm ... fearless? I'm confused, though I don't know about fearless. I just thought these were ideas that were really good, and if no one else was going to, I would.
Mr. Finn does not beat around the bush.
....Okay, that's true enough.
avoiding that annoying trope of trilogies where the second book is superfluous and is merely treading water to the final book.
On the one hand, it's going to be a quartet.

On the other hand ... to be honest, I was worried that Murphy's would be a lot like what Cowan describes.

Terry Brooks' book on writing is entitled, Sometimes the Magic Works.  Sometimes it works, even when the writers are worried it doesn't.

What, me? Neurotic?

.... I'm a writer, of course I'm a little odd at times. I make my living off of the conversations I have with people in my head. Heh.
Marco and Amanda, are a strange pair .... their interactions and burgeoning romance [are] far more interesting to watch than when things blow up. And that's saying a lot coming from me.
I'm always so happy when things like this work out.
Stories with no genre boundaries are fascinating to me in proving the universality of certain truths, particularly in love and heroism. The Love at First Bite series effortlessly combines romance, horror, thriller, fantasy, comedy, and science fiction, in a way that feels organic and exciting. They are all one and the same, just as they were always meant to be.

But most importantly: it's fun. If you are looking for something a bit different than stale vampire fiction and perverted romance stories where there's more sex than plot then you should really check out the Love at First Bite series. There is nothing like it out there.
Wow....

And Obviously, I haven't posted the entire review here. But go check it out on his blog. I was blown away.

Merry Christmas, y'all.