Tuesday, December 30, 2014

'The Bridge' by Robert Knott

‘The Bridge’ is the seventh book in the Hitch-Cole series originated by the legend Robert B. Parker and the third one written by Robert Knott. After a better than decent showing with ‘Bull River’, it was unfortunate to see Knott slip back to the mediocrity that made ‘Ironhorse’ so bad. This story simply does not have any bite, and the spirt of Hitch and Cole is nonexistent. I kept reading and reading and hoping and hoping that it would show up somewhere. Sadly, no.

Even when we find out who did what, it was still kinda just… flat. Plodding would be the word to describe the goings on with this story. I kept hoping there would be one, just one, BAM! moment. But there wasn’t. There were a few semi-exciting parts and a couple semi-funny ones, but as a whole this story wasn’t engaging. 

Cole and Hitch are back in Appaloosa and things are relatively quiet. Virgil and Everett have built a house for Virgil and his lady, Allie, and Everett is being Everett. Life in the West, as they know it, is pretty good. But tranquility never lasts and soon Hitch and Cole are pulled back into the mix. This time out they have to find out who damaged a massive 200 foot bridge and why. This could almost be a western-mystery full of suspense and excitement, except for the total lack of suspense and excitement. 

The one “good” part of this book happens under gruesome circumstances. What happened to the sheriff and his two deputies was just… wrong. But it stood out because it was one of the few “whoa” parts. This was once an amazing Western series. The first four books (written by Parker) are ones that I still talk about and the ones I still handsell. Not so much now. And I DO want Knott to do well because Hitch and Cole are western literary icons. Not to mention that it’s no easy feat to pick up after a storyteller like Parker. 

Still… I would expect a better story than this. I don’t know how many more Hitch and Cole stories we’re going to get, but before they release the next one I hope Knott and company can root out the formula that they seemed to have found with ‘Bull River.’ 

Friday, December 26, 2014

'The Interview'

Well… I liked it. 

It wasn’t a tear laden Canne’s Film Festival pick but it wasn’t bad, and it was about what I expected. Almost. I think the biggest problem this movie will have is overcoming the overhyped hurdle. The cowardly decision that Sony made to initially not show this movie will only cause this film to be placed under a much tighter microscope. While I’m sure this movie was never made with the intention to make this the main course in the social media buffet, that’s exactly what happened. Now… we want to see what the hype is about. Why did the satanic midget from North Korea hate this movie so? Was his hatred warranted? Why was this movie the one they chose to rock the cradle of the Great Satan?

In order for this movie to meet our expectations it would have to have the writing of ‘Gone With the Wind’, combined with the action of ‘SkyFall’, with the drama of ‘Silence of the Lambs’, and the sexuality of ‘Poison Ivy’ with Ruth Negga as the female lead. 

Yeah. Well, this movie doesn’t even come close but it was enjoyable. The first three and a half minutes is… man. While I did laugh, it was an uncomfortable laugh because I bet that wasn’t too far from the truth. But I still laughed. This movie is one of those intelligently crass comedies. It’s pretty blue but it’s not “stupid” if you know what I mean. And pay attention. There are more than a number of subtle and not so subtle jokes thrown in there. 

To me that is one of the best types of comedy. And satire. Any fool can joke about any other fool. But (and I truly believe this) some of the smartest people in this world write ‘comedian’ on their tax forms. Now I’m not saying that Seth Rogan and James Franco are some of the smartest comedian’s in the world, but they are worlds away from being stupid. 

Anyway… back to the movie. I was searching for ANY reason for the mullet midget to hate this movie. And I couldn’t find one, until the end. And even then IT WASN’T BAD! He gets made fun of but no reason to call down the armageddon horses. The part with Eminem had me rolling! Franco’s part was frantic, comical, strange, and this fool actually befriends the knee-high lilliputian! The actor playing North Korea’s Asian PolPot actually does a pretty good job. Pay attention to him as well. In my opinion, the North Korean’s should have been more pissed off with how Seth and James Westernized their mini supreme pizza than the fact that they satired his death.

As I read back over this I’ll admit that I’m putting a little too much on this “just OK” movie. But this movie definitely had a butterfly effect and a few of the ripples hit me. Here’s the bottom line, if you are a Seth and Franco fan then nothing will deter you from seeing this movie. If you aren’t a fan, then you would have hated this movie no matter what. If you go in with great expectations pushed by the tsunami of social media, you’ll hate it. If you just go in like a regular movie-goer I have no idea what you’ll think. 

I went in knowing that the North Korean thug-ant was blowing this out of proportion, and in that I was correct. I also wanted to see another Seth/Franco pairing. I enjoyed (to a point) ‘This Is The End’ and as I mentioned earlier, I love satirical intellectual comedy that is gross as Gabourey Sidibe’s thong and as blue as seventy year old Catholic priests nuts. 

And if you set aside all that white noise… I think it’s pretty damn cool that you are able to make a movie with your boy. Folks are saying that this movie cost $50 million to make or something like that. 1. I don’t see where or how they spent that and 2. Even if they did, they’ll make it back in about a month. Which brings up another point. If a major movie company can bring in that much revenue for a NEW movie on streaming and opening in a very limited theaters… 

Go see the movie. Go stream the movie. I think it’s worth it.

“They hate us cause they anus!”

Saturday, December 20, 2014

My Top Books for 2014

Well, 2014 is coming to an end. That means we can expect to see Santa Claus, the annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show, girls showing off their New Years Eve dresses, and a thousand and one ‘Best of Book’ lists. I always like looking back at the books I’ve read over the year. Why? Because I usually forget them. Not because they were bad, rather because my memory IS.

I can remember enough of a book to tell you why I loved it, but not each and every plot point or twist. But trust me… if I love a book… you’ll know I loved it. And it's not like I completely forget it, but I don't have that retainability that some of you have. I stopped ranking books a few years back. Trying to pick out why book #1 was #1 and not #2, and why #2 wasn’t #1 became too damn hard. Now I just list my ‘Top 10’ or ‘Top 15’. Even as I write this now, I have no idea how many books I’ll have in my ‘Top 10’. (See what I did there?)

So enough chit-chat, here are my choices for my favorite books of 2014!

Eric is a constant on my "best of" list... and for good damn reason.

MX-401, Reaper, Petrichor. Whatever name this young female assassin decides to go by, you can be sure that her end game is your death. This is one of Eric’s darkest books to date. Bad things happen around MX-401, bad things happen because of MX-401, and bad things happen to MX-401. 

If you’re a thriller book reader and you have yet to read one of Eric’s books, send me a note… I might buy you one. 

You might remember this author’s name from ‘The Traveler’ series. He’s been off the grid for a while but came back with this book as well as a short story that he released for free. JTH writes fiction but his books are steeped in his real beliefs. ‘Spark’ is a mix between philosophy, fiction, technology, and geek-dom. 

I’m going to cheat a little here because I bought these as a boxed set. A lot of the authors who write Roman fiction read this guy. That’s all the endorsement I need. 

(Pssst… one more thing. … the end of book #2. That’s all I’m going to say. The end of book #2.)

Allison is just a plain damn freak and it shows in each and every one of her freaky ass books. Munch is a character in one of Allison’s other books who was just begging to have his own. This is one of Allison’s short-stories but I really hope Munch gets a full fledged novel soon. 

I enjoy fictional books about the lottery because I always put myself in the place of the winner. I think we all have lottery dreams, but very few of us see it come to pass. The lottery winner in this book, LuAnn, if you’ll forgive me, if a frikkin’ idiot! This dirt-poor single mom in an abusive relationship gets the deal of a lifetime. $100 million dollars to leave the U.S. and never return. LuAnn has a killer body and is actually pretty smart. Unfortunately she’s as stubborn as mule with hemorrhoids, and that causes this thick moron a LOT of heartache. 

I wish someone would offer me $100 million. I love the United States but let someone offer me that much money to go and never come back. Y’all be on FaceBook like “anyone heard from Jason lately?” 

A story about the very real horrors of child sex trafficking. I found out about this book from a book reading group on FaceBook. Everyone was chatting about it so I checked it out. This was one of the times where the chatter was correct, this was a good one. 

Teen angst meets DNA. Definitely one of the most entertaining books I’ve read this year.

The legal master does it once again, and this time he’s ticking off the coal industry.

A new roman fiction author who is a little rough right now, but you can see and READ his potential. 

“Street lit” or whatever you wanna call it (for some stupid reason) is looked down upon by others in the literary world. True you have your trash books out there, but there are authors out there who are pretty decent. JaQuavis Coleman is one of them. Now… if only this brother could get his books out by the advertised publication date then everything would be gravy!

Mark can do no wrong in my book. My opinion on his writing is, there are books of his that I love and there are books by him that I really love. 

This was my first book by this author (thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy) but HOLY SMOKES it certainly won’t be my last! I literally flew through this book!

My previous ‘Top Books’ lists:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

'Gray Mountain' by John Grisham

I’ll admit that I was a little apprehensive about this book when I heard that John Grisham was penning a female lead. Not because it was a female lead, but because he was SPECIFICALLY writing for a female lead. It seemed that instead of penning the damn story and letting the characters reveal themselves, he was trying to appease the spineless “everything must be equal” PC crowd. I don’t mind have a female as a lead character, but if it is meant to be then it will be. Don’t force it. The last time Grisham set out to base a book on a specific character was ‘The Racketeer’ and, in my humble opinion, that book was just… ‘good’.

So I started this book with a bit of trepidation because I didn’t want it to be a book written to appease a certain group. Happily it was not. ‘Gray Mountain’ was a book that I thoroughly enjoyed from a man whom I enjoy reading. 60% legal thriller, 40% thriller-thriller. That means this book had the classic Grisham legal dance, but there was also a lot of action that took place in the wild. The wild in this case being Appalachia. A beautiful and pristine part of the Eastern United States. Well… parts of it are beautiful and pristine. Other parts are… well… not much. The reasons why fuel the conflict wages within these pages.

The coal companies have wages war on this land and the casualties are wide and plenty. Man, beast, land, air, and water have all felt the shame of being stripped, spread eagle, and violated all with the blessing of those meant to protect them. Now if you feel that last sentence was coarse you aren’t ready for this book. Grisham holds back nothing when it comes to describing the rape of the land by the coal companies. Nothing. Now I’m no tree hugger by a long shot. I think there are few things better than getting in a Jeep, finding an off-road trail, watching your passengers boobies jiggle, while having a good time. But any Jeeper will tell you (the responsible ones anyway) to ALWAYS “Jeep responsibly.” Have fun but don’t destroy the damn place.

Apparently the coal companies didn’t get that memo. Or maybe they did get it and summarily ignored it like they have everything else having to do with the law, regulations, codes, or ethics. This fight over coal has been going on for a long time and our girl, Samantha Kofer, is about to go in. Samantha is a New York lawyer who has lived the good life since she was born. The product of two very ambitious parents who worked extremely hard and brought in a lot of money. It was interesting to watch Grisham write about her mom and dad. Workaholics that were neither negligent or attentive. I actually liked reading about the relationship Samantha had with her father. Interesting man with an entertaining life. Anyway…

Samantha loses her $100,000+ a year (not including bonuses) job and is given the choice to work a year with a non-profit FOR FREE, with the possibility of maybe getting her job back. Unfortunately that possibility is slimmer than Stacey Dash jumping out of my birthday cake this year. She lands in Brady, Virginia a town with a population of 2,200 that is host to some of the most beautiful country this side of Eden. Coming from a background of D.C. and New York, Samantha not only experiences a culture shock, but a work shock as well. No longer dealing with the piles of paperwork that come from her job in big-law, she must immerses herself amongst everyday people who have everyday problems.

She’s not snobby, just privileged. And in the course of learning new positions, new clients, new first world problems, and new cases she finds herself learning about the dark (hahahaha) world of coal. A classic case of catch-22. The coal companies bring in steady work and tons of money to the poor parts of the world. Life is good is only getting better. Unfortunately the bad side is bad. Dangerous working conditions, long hours, long term medical problems, and the worst of all, complete decimation of the surrounding environment.

Samantha’s new employers have been veteran’s in this fight for a while but welcome an extra hand. Enter Donovan. Donovan is the catalyst for some much needed sexual tension, but it doesn’t turn out quite like you would expect. You see, Donovan is a quite the litigious rockstar with the locals yet quite the pariah with the local coal consortium. He’s a fighter but he doesn’t fight clean. By his logic if the coal mafia aren’t going to play by the rules, then neither will he. And while he might not have the typical groupies of a rockstar, he does stir passion with certain women. That sub-plot was fun. And like I said, it turns out like you wouldn’t expect and THAT was quite the twist.

The ongoing litigation exposes a lot of the casualties of this war and they are not pretty. Grisham’s storytelling here is blunt as well. He delves into the medical history of the coal miners, their painful lives, their senseless deaths, the impact on the families, and the cruel aloofness and villainous acts of the coal companies. It may seem that reading about a fired lawyer taking on a coal company in the mountains of Appalachia may seem a bit boring. Motions, briefs, objections, judges, paperwork, billable hours, non-billable hours, clerks, and courtrooms all sound like the start of a snooze lecture for ‘Law 101’. Not so here. I finished this book in quick order for good reason. It’s Grisham telling a story, and I will never pass that up. While not being a heavyweight like ‘Sycamore Row’ (holy cow!) ‘Gray Mountain’ is a solid addition to the living storyteller legend that is John Grisham.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

'Addicted' (movie score) by Aaron Zigman

One thing I enjoy doing after watching a movie is hanging out to see who composed the music. Not only can you have a resolution phase after the movie, but you get a chance to hear more of the score minus that annoying movie dialogue. One of the first things that noticed immediately as I was watching ‘Addicted’ was the piano music. It wasn’t just ordinary piano music, it really stood out. The type of score you immediately train your brain to soak up as you watch the movie. 

The main title sets up this score of perfectly, and I do mean perfectly. (I’m listening to it now). It sound like ‘Addicted’ would sound if ‘Addicted’ were to sing. Or hum. Each movement is a beautifully orchestrated voice of the piece it is named after. The first thing I did after leaving the movie theater was search Google Play-Music to see if they had this score. They did. 

The second thing I did was add it to my playlists.

And since October 10th I don’t think a day has gone by where I haven’t listened to this score, sometimes back to back. Now… as far as soundtracks go, this IS a pretty short one, coming in at just under forty-five minutes. It kind of makes sense because the movie is also a short one (1:40) as well. I don’t have a favorite movement because I sincerely love them all. As will you. I’m not sure how I managed to miss Aaron Zigman all this time, but it’s a mistake easily, and happily fixed. 

At the time of this review Amazon isn’t showing a track list so I’ve added one below. 

1. Main Titles (1:43)
2. Happy Family (1:05)
3. Round Three (1:18)
4. The Museum (1:24)
5. I Think That’s My Favorite (1:17)
6. Did We Have Plans? (1:43)
7. I’ll Make It Up To You (1:47)
8. A Terrible Path (1:09)
9. I Want To Paint You (2:34)
10. Scrubbing Clean (1:03)
11. I Can’t Do This (1:14)
12. Warehouse (0:53)
13. I Can’t Help It (1:47)
14. Painting Zoe (0:56)
15. Other Women (3:53)
16. I Think We Should Talk (1:11)
17. Take A Walk (1:09)
18. Unveiling (1:53)
19. A New Client (1:01)
20. Special Delivery (1:12)
21. You’re Not Leaving Me (3:49)
22. Jason Knows (2:33)
23. Welcome Home (1:52)
24. Brochure (1:02)
25. Our Love Is Forever (3:43)