Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

I Hope Everyone Has A Safe And Fun Halloween Night!

Winner Of Little Goblins Ten

The winner of Little Goblins Ten by Pamela Jane is.......


Because the first winner had already won one, the new winner is.....


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mailbox Monday for 10/31/11

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme created by Marcia at A Girl and Her Books and is being hosted all this month by Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit.

I received hardcovers of The Heights: Anatomy of a Skyscraper by Kate Ascher and Camp Nine by Vivienne Schiffer for upcoming TLC Book Tours.

The very lovely Staci of Life in the Thumb sent me her ARC of Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens.

I picked up paperbacks of  Miss Pinkerton and The Frightened Wife by Mary Roberts Rinehart from a used bookstore today.

Through the Disney Movie Rewards program I got The Reluctant Dragon on DVD.

My roommate gave me Michael Buble's new CD, Christmas.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bless The Child by Cathy Cash Spellman

Part Of The Synopsis From Dust Jacket:

What if your drug-addicted daughter left a newborn baby on your doorstep and disappeared?  What if she came back three years later and took the child you love into a satanic cult?  And, what if that child turned out to be mankind's last hope in the war between good and evil? 
Would you risk your soul to save her?

Maggie O'Connor is about to answer these questions...maybe with her life.  A vibrant, attractive, recently widowed partner in a Manhattan antiquities shop, she is too young to be a grandmother.  Yet the love and the bond between her and her little granddaughter Cody is deep and rare enough to make her fight - not just for custody, but for the child's life itself.

The law won't back her up.  But the exorcist priest believes.  And the rabbi who practices Kabbalah knows too much not to believe.  And ancient, raging memories of an Egyptian prophecy are rising within her own terrifying dreams.

When I saw this book at the Friends of the Library Bookstore, sometime last year, I knew the title was familiar but couldn't remember why.  I went ahead and bought the hardcover, for $1, and took it home.  It's been sitting on my shelves ever since, but since this was Halloween month, I wanted to get it read.  Once I started reading it, I realized why it was so familiar.  This was the book the Kim Basinger movies, of the same name, was based off of.  Luckily for me, the book was way better than the movie, which was mediocre at best.

I'm going to be honest with you right up front, this won't be a very detailed review, I have been trying to figure out what I can say about the book without spoiling the surprises, and I've decided that's not very much.  If you have seen the movie, which for your sake I hope you haven't, you'll know the basic plot points already.  If not, I apologize now for what will probably being a boring review.

What drove this book for me were the characters.  Lead by the strong willed, Maggie, the entire cast seems to be ready made for the big screen.  There is the fiercely loyal cop who not only falls for Maggie, but is willing to do whatever it takes to protect her and Cody.  There is the priest who was sent into exile for his views, he too falls for Maggie, but it's the memories of the past and a crisis of faith that help him put that into context.  The white witch, bookstore owner, proves to not only be a powerful ally for Maggie, but a good friend as well.  Maggie also has a martial arts master, her friend and business partner, and her housekeeper that will do what needs to be done to rescue Cody.  I'm not even getting to the FBI agent, the rabbi, or the various international agents that all, in some way, help Maggie along the way.  It's a large cast of characters, not one of them was weakly drawn.

What I was really impressed with is that Cathy Cash Spellman manages to mix in Christianity, Satanism, Egyptian Mythology, Kabbalah, and a few other disciplines and make it work.  Nothing feels forced or out of place.  She was able to create a seamless narrative that allowed me to believe in the Isis Messenger and the amulets.  I actually was hoping they were true, but alas they weren't.

I'm not sure what else she has written but I'm curious enough about her writing style to do a little more digging into her other books.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Favorite Fictional Character --- Frederick Loren

This will be my last Halloween Favorite Fictional Character post for they year, and I think it would be a sacrilege to not have a Vincent Price character at some point.  The problem is he had so many awesome roles that deserve the attention.  Last year I posted about Dr. Phibes, a character he played in two movies.  This year I wanted to go with a more human, relatively speaking, villain.  One of my all time favorite movies is the 1959 version of The House on Haunted Hill.  Vincent Price plays the main villain of the piece, Frederick Loren.

Frederick Loren is an eccentric businessman, with a mean streak a mile wide.  He probably killed his first 3 wives and it looks like he's on his way of getting rid of his fourth.  He has rented a old haunted house, with a very violent past,  to throw her a birthday party, but he didn't invite any of her friends.  Instead he invited 5 complete strangers and offered them $10,000 to spend the night.  The only hitch is that the electricity will be turned off and all the doors and windows will be locked after midnight.  Anyone who is still alive will get the money.  Of course, the demented man had a reason for inviting each of the people he did.  He plays a sick game in the movie, one that he makes sure to win.

What I loved about the character is the sheer genius of the man.  For those of you who have not seen the movie, I don't want to ruin it for you, but I have to tell one key point of the plot in order to gush about the character.  He is able to take a situation, where he was the intended target and turn it around.  Instead of being the victim (which he deserved to be) he got the people who were trying to get him.  And he did it in such a way, that they had no clue.  The were in the middle of celebrating when the tables get turned, loved it.

There are times when I want the bad guy to win, this movie is one of those cases.  Though I must say, there is more than one evil person involved.  I think Vincent Price, as usual, brought such a quiet menace to the role that as a viewer I loved to hate him.  I relished every minute he was on screen.  If you haven't seen this movie and his performance as Frederick Loren I would highly encourage you to do so.  Skip the remake.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Have A Guest Post At Wag The Fox

Gef, over at Wag The Fox, asked me to review one of my favorite monster movies.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do at first, but after lots of thinking, I went with Brotherhood of the Wolf.  For those of you not familiar with it, it's a terrific French movie with lots of action and a great cast.  Please go on over and read my review of it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Instant City by Steve Inskeep

Part of the Synopsis From The Dust Jacket:

In recent decades, the world has seen an unprecedented change in human life:  for the first time in history, more people now live in cities than in the countrysides.  As Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep so aptly puts it, we are living in the age of the "instant city," when vast metropolitan areas emerge practically overnight.  No rising metropolis has experienced this epic migration more dramatically than Karachi, Pakistan, which has grown from four hundred thousand people in the 1940s to more than 13 million today.  Karachi is the largest city in a nation of vital strategic interest to the United States - yet is a place Americans frequently misunderstand.  In his first book, Inskeep explores how this one city illuminates the perils and possibilities of rapidly growing megacities all around the world.

I like to think I'm pretty smart and that I have a decent grasp on world history and current geopolitical events that are shaping the world we live in.  Then I see or read something that makes me realize I really don't have a frickin clue.  These are the moments that I both live for and dread.  I love them because they help me remember that I will never stop learning, that there is so much out there for me to discover that I'll never get bored.  On the other hand, it's almost too much to comprehend.  There are times I feel I should be concentrating on one subject for the rest of my life, if I don't, I'll never know what I need to.  Reading Instant City was one such moment.

When I decided I wanted to read/review this book, I wasn't thinking too deeply about it.  There were really only two reasons I wanted to do so.  I'm a fan of Steve Inskeep, I listen to NPR all the time, and I want to know more about Pakistan, a country I don't know all that much about.  That, and this sounds really superficial, but every time I think of Karachi, I think of the last segment of one of my favorite movies.  At the end of Auntie Mame, as she is telling Patrick's son about the sites and sounds he is going to see on their trip, Karachi is one of the place she is telling him about.  Silly reason to read a book, but I'm glad I did.

What I enjoyed the most about this read, even though it made me feel a little dumb at times, was finally being able to understand a little of the history of the region and why India and Pakistan are always at each other's throats.  I know I heard of the partition before, but I never thought about it and the ramifications of splitting apart such a large country into smaller ones.  The concept of it being done along religious lines, gave me a better understanding of the history and and current troubles in the region.

Karachi serves as a perfect petri dish for studying the very modern phenomenon of an Instant City.  When you have mass migration from rural to urban settings, whatever the reasons, it's bound to cause problems that nobody really thought through or prepared for.  Buy investigating Karachi, even by narrowing down to one bloody day in December of 2009, Steve Inskeep is able to look at the subject from all angles.

I would like to thank Trish of TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read/review this book.  Please visit the  tour page to read some really insightful reviews on this one.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mailbox Monday for 10/24/11

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme created by Marcia at A Girl and Her Books and is being hosted all this month by Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit.

I received a hardcover of The Conference of The Birds by Peter Sis for an upcoming TLC Book Tour

I received a trad paperback of The Tin Ticket by Deborah J. Swiss form the publicist for review

I bought a trade paperback of Three Act Tragedy by Agatha Christie on my last trip to Barnes & Noble

Friday, October 21, 2011

The 3rd Annual Top 10 Sexy Vampire List

I've done this last for the last two years, so how could I pass it up this year.  It seems there is a never ending supply of eye candy when it comes to vampires.  Be they men or women, some gorgeous actors have taken on a role involving fangs and blood.  If you are even a bit curious to see who made the list in 2009 and 2010, please be my guest and go gaze on some undead beauty.  As far as this year, let me introduce you to ten of the hottest vampires around.  But be careful, you may find yourself offering your neck or other place for them to sink their teeth.


Mick St. John, as played by Alex O'Loughlin in the TV show Moonlight.  I'm a sucker for a sexy private eye, there is just something so intriguing about the job.  If you need a private dick to help you out, I'm sure Mick would be glad to lend a hand.

Dracula, as played by Dominic Purcell in the movie Blade: Trinity.  Dracula is a character that should ooze sex appeal, this version does that in spades.  All the other vamps want his blood so they can walk in daylight, here's hoping that if they all look like this, that they succeed.

Aaron Gray, as played by Adrian Paul in the movie The Breed.  Aaron is trying his hardest to stop a war between vampires and humans.  He's in league with a hunky human cop, trying to figure out why a vampire killed a human and if that has anything to do with a virus that can wipe out all the vampires.  It would be a shame for a vampire that looks like this to die any kind of death.

Cash, as played by Channon Roe in the TV show Kindred: The Embraced.  Cash is the Toreador Primogen of Los Angeles and this guys likes it rough.  He wears leather, rides a motorcycle, and is very in touch with his primal side. 

Marius de Romanus, as played by Vincent Perez in the movie Queen of the Damned.  For a man who is over 2000 years old, Marius is looking better than ever.  He is the kind of man that can sweep you off your feet, enchant you with his art, and make you forget the rest of the world even exists.


The Countess, as played by Lauren Hutton in the movie Once Bitten.  Being 400 years old is starting to wear on The Countess a bit.  She needs to find a virgin to feed off of in order to stay looking this good.  So if any of your are in the L.A. area, I would advice you to make sure you don't remain a virgin much longer.

Elisabeth Nodosheen, as played by Ingrid Pitt in the movie Countess Dracula.  The bloodthirsty countess has no problem bathing in a tub of virgin blood.  I could show you the picture of her doing just that, but I would have to place a warning on the blog.

Katrina, as played by Grace Jones in the movie Vamp.  The owner of a strip club, Katrina rules her little kingdom with a iron hammer.  She's a tough, dominating woman who doesn't take kindly to being told no.  Her raw sexuality puts her into a class all her own.

Cym, as played by Phina Oruche in the movie The Forsaken.  Cym follows Kit wherever he goes.  She is his lover and his strongman and will do anything for him.  She's tough, sexy, and just a little scary.  If you happen to run into her, run the other way.

Nyssa, as played by Leonor Varela in the movie Blade: II.  Nyssa is a take no prisoners kind of gal.  She's handy in a fight and know her way into a man's heart.  She is destined to rule the vampiric world someday, now she just needs the right man by her side.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Synopsis From Back Cover:

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley Again."

So the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter remembered the chilling events that led her down the turning drive past the beeches, white and naked, to the isolated gray stone manse of the windswept Cornish coast.  With a husband she barely knew, the young bride arrived at this immense estate, only to be inexorably drawn into the life of the first Mrs. de Winter, the beautiful Rebecca, dead but never forgotten... her suite of rooms never touched, her clothes ready to be worn, her servant - the sinister Mrs. Danvers - still loyal.  And as an eerie presentiment of evil tightened around her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter began her search for the real fate of Rebecca... for the secrets of Manderley.  

I'm not even going to try to go into an in depth review on this one.  I think almost everything that can be said about this one, has already been said.  I don't think I will have a new take on it or any breakthrough in understanding of the themes.  What I can say, is I loved it.  I'm not really sure why it took me so long to read it.

Daphne Du Maurier wrote this with an almost decadent lushness that I found overly appealing.  I got lost in her descriptions of the grounds of Manderley.  I wanted to walk those paths through the woods to the beach.  I wanted to wander the halls and peer into rooms, long abandoned after Rebecca's death.  I wanted to touch, taste, and smell everything our heroine was experiencing.  If it had been possible, I would have lost myself and not been able to make it back.  I would have holed up in a room somewhere and forgot the rest of the world.  If there is only one aspect of a Gothic novel that I love, it's that decadence in the writing.

The other aspect of this book I found utterly fascinating were the female characters.  I love the idea of our heroine never having a first name.  It makes the recounting of the past that much more personal.  It gives the impression that as a reader, we are already friends with her.  It was as if we were together, sitting in a library much like the one in Manderley, and that she is telling her tale during a lazy afternoon.  It allowed me as a reader to get even more involved with the action and the characters.  It was in intoxicating feeling at times, one that I never wanted to let go of.

I guess that leads us to Mrs. Danvers.  I'm not even sure where to being on my feelings towards her.  Before I had actually read the book, the one thing I've heard from everyone is how evil and nasty this woman is.  When I began the book, I was waiting to meet her, because I wanted to see how bad ass she really was.  At first, I was a little disappointed.  For a while, I thought she was a bitch, but not much more than that.  She just seemed to have a massive chip on her shoulder, one that would never go away.  Needless to say, I was feeling a little let down.  I was wanting the devil incarnate and instead I was getting Gargamel.  Thankfully, Mrs. Danvers redeemed herself.  She finally became the manipulative hag I had been hearing so much about.  What she tried to do to the new Mrs. Danvers will go down in literary history as one of the most evil examples of mental abuse.  She was brilliant at it, and I love her for it.  This book was worth reading, just for Mrs. Danvers.

I haven't watched the Hitchcock adaptation of this yet, but if everything I've heard about it is true, I can't wait.  Either way, I think this will be a book I reread often.  It will be one of those that I discover new things in every time, and I can't wait.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Favorite Fictional Character --- Roderick "Rick" Fitzgerald

I am going to try my hardest to keep this post about the character, not the movie he's in.  That's going to be really hard for me because The Uninvited is by far, my favorite ghost movie of all time.  The movie is brilliant and still sends chills up my spine every time I watch it, despite it being made in 1944.  The cast is brilliant, the cinematography is award worthy, and the story itself is superb.  So I'm going to try and separate Ray Miland's character, Rick Fitzgerald, from the rest of the movie.

Rick Fitzgerald is a London based composer, but makes his living as a music critic.  On vacation, with his sister, they fall in love with Windward House.  I don't blame them really, it's a lovely old house sitting on a bluff overlooking the sea.  The decide the best thing to do is buy the house, move to the country, and start life all over again.  Rick hopes it will give him a fresh start on his music.

Once they are settled in, they meet the granddaughter of the man who sold them the house.  Through her, they learn of the home's tragic past and her connection to the home.  Rick and the young woman, quickly form an attachment, one that you could easily see going towards the romantic side.  Their relationship is the first real glimpse into Rick as a human being.  He's a gentleman through and through, the kind the we all dream about meeting ourselves one day.

He's driven, but easily distracted.  He's considerate, but once he has his mind on something, he will do what needs to be done.  He plays the gallant well, when the young lady gets into trouble, Rick rides off like a White Knight.  He handles the paranormal with a bit of skepticism at first, but allows himself to belief once he has no choice.

I think that it helps he was played by Ray Miland, who was such a gorgeous man.  He had a air of distinction around him that highlighted all the best traits of the character.  If any of you have not seen the movie, please do so.  Discover for yourself what a truly scary ghost story should be like.  Hopefully you will enjoy Rick and the rest of the characters as much as I do.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Alibi For Isabel by Mary Roberts Rinehart

There are two things I love in life, well more than that but only two that have anything to do with what I'm doing here, short stories and Mary Roberts Rinehart.  Now granted, when I got a hold of this book, I did not know that it was a collection of 9 short stories.  I thought I would be in store for another great mystery set around a wonderful heroine and an intriguing storyline.  What I ended up with was so much better.

Each one of the stories, mystery or not, showcases what Mary Roberts Rinehart was so good at.  In a rather short span of time, each story is around 13-15 pages, she was able to capture not only the characters but the atmosphere as well.  Each character, regardless of their circumstances, are fully fleshed out and capable of starring in their own full length novel.

The "feel" of the stories though is where, as usual, Rinehart shines for me.  She is capable of bottling the tension in the air in a way that I'm not sure most other authors could.  Every emotion and reaction are palpable as each page is turned.  The fear and desperation these characters feel, at times, chocked the air I was breathing.  It made me lose my sense of time and place as I got lost in their lives.

Since they aren't all mysteries, I would think this would be a good introduction to her writing style for those who have not read her before.  I think it would give somebody new to Rinehart a good sense of what she was capable of, without becoming too invested in a story that you may not like as much.  For anyone who hasn't been swayed by my previous reviews, I hope you will give this one a try.

Challenges: FMVM

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mailbox Monday for 10/17/11

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme created by Marcia at A Girl and Her Books and is being hosted all this month by Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit.

I received an ARC of A Train In Winter by Caroline Moorehead for an upcoming TLC Book Tour.

I won a trade paperback of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson from Bea of Bea's Book Nook.

The lovely Melissa of My World...In Words And Pages sent along a hardcover of Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel.

I bought Oliver And Company on DVD

Saturday, October 15, 2011

10 Giant Monsters Whose Feet You Should Avoid

I had a lot of fun with these lists in 2009, but for whatever reason, I only did one last year.   I've been watching a lot of monster movies for another project and for whatever reason, quite a few of them had some really LARGE monsters in them.  Most of them I had met before, for a few this was the first time they sent me running.  I thought I would share some of these monsters of ginormous size, mainly so you know to run the other way if they ever visit your town.

The Kraken, from the 1981 version of Clash of Titans, will never bother any of you who happen to be landlocked.  It's those of you who live on the coastlines that need to worry about this one.  Then again, he only devours virgins, so at least you now how to prevent him feasting on you.

The giant mutated ants from the 1954 classic Them! aren't going to raid your picnic for your packed lunch.  They have something a little bit larger in mind for their midday snack.  Don't know if they make Raid cans big enough for these guys.

Sadly, if Cthulhu show up, there isn't a damn thing you can do to save yourself.  This alien dark god who has been lying dormant in the Pacific Ocean is going to wake up one of these days.  Hopefully it's well after I'm already gone.

The "impossibly tall creature" from the 2007 movie, The Mist, is just one of many creatures that came from another dimension because the military was playing around with things they shouldn't have been.  It's not only  the biggest, it's also the ugliest.  A hard feat to achieve given the circumstances.

Poor Nancy Archer, the star of the 1958 classic, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.  She has everything a girl could want, well maybe she doesn't.  What this wealthy heiress has, is philandering husband, who would like nothing better than Nancy out of the way.  When she encounters an alien in the desert and is transformed into the 50 Foot Woman, her husband and his mistress better watch out.  If she shows up, let her know where Harry is hiding, and tell her to stay away from power lines.

You can take all your stupid remakes and give me the original King Kong any day.  This 1933 classic is still the only one I will watch.  I know I'm supposed to feel sorry for him, and I do.  But if it comes down to him trampling your city or him taking a rather large concrete dive, if you are smart, you will go with option 2.

The only air powered force of destruction to make this list is Rodan, the aerial frienemy of Godzilla, who will make an appearance later on.  This flying terror made his debut in 1956, starring in his own movie, aptly titled Rodan.  He has been on the side of good and chaos in the past.  But either way, if you see him flying above your neighborhood, just remember one thing.  No matter where he goes, cities get destroyed.

I know Cloverfield is one of those movies you either love or hate, I love.  Either way, the idea of an adolescent monster rising from the oceans and wreaking havoc in New York City is just awesome.  He has no agenda, no goals in life.  He's a scared, hurt kid who doesn't understand what's going on.  The fact he takes out most of city, bites the head off The Statue of Liberty, and kills hundreds of people is just a bonus.

Godzilla, the biggest example of a monster who can't make up his mind.  Sometimes he's good, fighting other monsters.  Sometimes he's bad, leveling cities with his feet, tail and fire breath.  Either way he's a lot of fun to watch, though I don't think I'll be moving to Japan anytime soon.

The hilarious hit of 1984, The Ghostbusters, brought the wonderfully cute Say Puff Marshmallow Man.  The fact he could crush you beneath his gooey foot and may end up putting you on a stick over the campfire, made him even cuter.  If you run into him and don't have a rather large bonfire going, run the other way.