Friday, August 31, 2012

Living Reading List - Confessions and September

I have a confession to make. There are stacks and stacks of un-read books in my house. I've started a major undertaking to read them all or move them on to someone who will appreciate them more if my interest has flagged. It means that books on my list may be older than most of the books you see on other blogs. In our society there is always a quest for something new, but often times we miss gems that miss a major hype cycle. Here's my reading list for September...
  • GARMENT OF SHADOWS, Laurie R. King - I love King's Mary Russell series - a strong woman marries and it a match for Sherlock Holmes. These books are so much fun. This book comes out first week in September but I managed to get an early copy. 
  • THE CLASH OF KINGS, George R. Martin - I'm going to allow myself to read the book behind the second season of HBO's Game of Thrones because I really liked the first novel. These books are really long and complicated -- and I already know what will happen...still they keep me interested.  I can't wait for season three. 
  • WHERE GOOD IDEAS COME FROM: THE NATURAL HISTORY OF INNOVATION, Steven Johnson - This month's non-fiction title dissects where great ideas come from. I love coming up with great ideas (who doesn't?), so this book sounds intriguing. 
  • THE ACCOMPLICE, Elizabeth Ironside - The Evening Telegraph in the UK called it, "A spellbinding story of love, murder, and deception." That was enough for me to try it.  

Here's the report on August's list:

  • THE OTHER WOMAN, Hank Phillippi Ryan - I'm reviewing this book for Criminal Element. This book comes out on September 4th, and my Fresh Meat review will come out the week before. I'll post it when it goes live. 
  • THE WINTER PALACE, Eva Stachniak - This is a novel about Catherine the Great. She was many things, but boring was not one of them. 
  • I LOVED THIS BOOK. This is a really really great book. So hard to put down.
  • THE ART OF INTELLIGENCE: LESSONS FROM A LIFE IN THE CIA'S CLANDESTINE SERVICE, Henry A. Crumpton - Who doesn't love a good spy story, especially if it's true.... 
    • The first part of the book is a little slow but establishes the credentials of the writer. The stories in here are fascinating. I do wish there had been more detail on fewer stories. Perhaps that isn't possible with security concerns. It's a good book though. 
  • THE ACCOMPLICE, Elizabeth Ironside - The Evening Telegraph in the UK called it, "A spellbinding story of love, murder, and deception." That was enough for me to try it.  
    • I didn't get to this one so it gets bumped to September.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Olde Fashioned Brain Jam and Creepy Crawlies in a Can

I have found my new favorite store for monster supplies... Hoxton Street Monster Supplies in London. It has everything from Olde Fashioned Brain Jam to cans of salt made from tears of different kinds. Frankensteins of all kinds will appreciate the special neck bolt tightener. Hoxton has everything a monster could need. 

Thanks to Lovely Package for bringing this fabulous store to my attention. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Three Indelible Short Stories

There are handful of short stories that live inside you once you read them, they are undeniable, there forever. I may not remember the whole story, every character's name, every plot detail, but I remember that moment where it became indelible and what happened in the story to make it so.

There's a great post from Terrie Moran over at Criminal Element about the life and works of Shirley Jackson. Jackson is probably best know for her short story The Lottery where townspeople gather each year to stone one of their own to death. I read it in school many years ago, and it made such an impression it's still with me. You can read The Lottery here.

In fact, while watching the movie 'Hunger Games' The Lottery came back to me, as did my second selection for an indelible short story, The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell.

In that story a big game hunter becomes the big game. You can see how easily Hunger Games ties the two themes together to create a completely different but compelling story that tugs on our psyche.

The third story is called Jigsaw Man by Larry Niven. You can find it in the short story compilations, DANGEROUS VISIONS edited by Harlan Ellison ( it is not available in the public domain as the other two stories are. Jigsaw Man paints a future where humans can live forever as long as they continue to have organ transplants.  Convicts organs are harvested to help meet the need, but demand grows larger than the prison population so society starts punishing smaller and smaller infractions with death and the harvesting of your organs. I won't tell you how it ends so you can go enjoy for yourself.

What are your indelible short stories?

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Closer Spins Off Major Crimes

Tonight The Closer will end a successful seven year run and spin off a new series, called Major Crimes. When spin offs work well, they can be fabulous - delivering a new show to an audience who is already predisposed to The art of a spinning off a show is to retain elements that made the first show great while making it fresh enough to leave room for new story telling, like when Happy Days spun off Laverne and Shirley.  Major Crimes is a bit unusual in that it is retaining most of the original cast (only Kyra Sedgwick, J.K Simmons and Corey Reynolds are leaving.) Most spin offs feature a character or two leaving to go to a new place (Private Practice), start a new show with a familiar format (Law and Order, CSI, NCIS), or a a character or two crosses over to introduce a new, but similar show (JAG to NCIS, Happy Days to Laverne and Shirley).

What will I be looking for in Major Crimes? I like the strong female investigative lead - true in both The Closer and Major Crimes.  I like the whole squad - Flynn & Provenza's antics, Sanchez's hard line, and Taylor's evolution.  There's room to run as the squad hasn't warmed up to Captain Sharon Raydor as Brenda and most of the audience has. Raydor is vastly different than Brenda - Raydor thinks rules are important. Brenda gets around them if they stand between her and a confession.  TNT says Major Crimes will focus more on the art of the deal rather than closing cases. 

Even after seven years, I have not gotten bored with The Closer and I hope Major Crimes is just as good. The first minute of the first episode of Major Crimes is below.  Already you can tell it has a very different vibe than The Closer

If you want to get caught up on The Closer before tonight, you can read the recaps for the first five episodes of this season here:

Armed Response

Last Rites

Drug Fiend

Fool's Gold

Hostile Witness

You can also watch full episodes at