Friday, June 30, 2006

OOTB book tour: WHAT, NO ROSES?


Here's something a little different for a paranormal read!

WHAT, NO ROSES? by Marianne Mancusi
(Love Spell, July 4, 2006)

And you thought your Valentine's Day was bad?


AND ALL THAT JAZZ
Unless Dora Duncan can stop it, it's going to be another St. Valentine's Day Massacre. A year ago, her (now ex) boyfriend Nick stood her up at the worst possible moment. That was when she gave up important TV reporting for stories like "Too Stressed for Sex." And though such clips have a certain relevance, things have been a whole lot quieter. Too quiet. Until now.

Now she's gotta go back in time (don't ask!) and stop that very same Nick from messing up the time-space continuum. She has to travel back to a place where everybody speaks easy and cuts a rug-and this Chicago ain't no musical. Here, there are tommy guns and torpedoes, guys and dolls, gin joints, flappers, stoolies, rats and a whole lot more; and prohibition means anything but no.

It's the 1920s. Time for Dora to roar.


Excerpt:
http://www.dorchesterpub.com/Dorch/SpecialFeatures.cfm?Special_ID=2107

Cover:
http://a1204.g.akamai.net/7/1204/1401/06041914011/images.barnesandnoble.com/images/11030000/11037100.jpg


ABOUT MARIANNE MANCUSI

When not out exposing scams and righting wrongs, Emmy award–winning TV news producer Marianne Mancusi is probably writing.
Her first chick lit novel, "A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur's Court" was called "a sparkling debut" by Publisher's Weekly. And Romantic Times magazine awarded four Stars to her upcoming 1920s time travel "What, No Roses?", pronouncing it "fast, funny and as bubbly as bathtub champagne."
In addition, Marianne has six other adult and teen books under contract, including a teen comedy vampire series from Berkley called "Boys that Bite."
She lives in Boston's historic North End.


REVIEWS

Mancusi’s witty, tongue-in-cheek remarks and sprightly dialogue make for a joy ride of a read with an ending that’s as surprising as it is original. 4 stars – Romantic Times

Ms. Mancusi’s sense of comedic and dramatic timing is dead on... She masterfully blends a time in our history with an idea from her incredible imagination. – Once Upon a Romance


Website: http://www.mariannemancusi.com

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

SUPERMAN RETURNS to me!

SPOILERS: Do not read this if you haven’t seen the movie yet. If you just want to know if I liked it or not…YES. Go see it!

And now, for the SPOILER-filled review.

If you’ve read my blog or Crystal Says… before (the archives are accessible on my main page), you know I adore Superman. I had a monster crush on Christopher Reeve when I was but a lass, and some of my first works of fiction used the Man of Steel as a hero. Who knows what it is about him: he’s a real goody-goody sometimes, but I think I dig his dependability. When the first Superman came out, years and years ago, I was enthralled and the movie still holds up well for me. (See my December 31, 2005, blog entry for my gushy take on the first Superman.) But would this version hold up? I was a bit nervous, but when I saw it today…YOW, did it ever!!! Even from the first scene, when Lex Luthor is shown in all his rat glory, I was hooked. Kevin Spacey’s Luthor is a villain worth his salt; he’s been shaped by his last five years in jail. He’s not surrounded by Otis-like stooges this time—he’s running with criminals who’ll just as soon smash Lois Lane into a table than look at her. This Luthor is no deluded genius: he proves deadly and smart. He makes Superman sweat.

And, you ask, how was Brandon Routh as Supes? Well, let me qualify my answer by telling you that I’ll always be a Christopher Reeve fan: he had a charm that filtered from the screen to the audience and, while his Clark Kent was bumbling, the character was endearing. I used to absolutely love when Clark would do something dorky in front of Lois, apologize profusely, then let her walk past him only to flash a killer smile that told you who was really under the glasses. But how about Routh? Yes, he’s eerily similar to Reeve in many ways, but his shoulders aren’t as broad and his Superman isn’t as flippant. This isn’t necessarily bad, because Routh is built like a brick you-know-what house and his Supes is a little more serious and darker than Reeve’s. However, I do miss the larger-than-life version of the Man of Steel. I miss the belly laughs of seeing Clark’s face as he sees the newfangled phone booth, for instance. That sort of humor was definitely missing from this movie, but what the film lacked in humor, it made up for in heart. In spades. There are a lot of awesome moments that’ll have you worried or even grieving.

BUT HOW ABOUT ROUTH?
Girls and boys, he totally pulls my trigger.

If you’re prone to heroics, you’ll know exactly what I mean. My gosh, you’ve never seen Superman done like this before. The guy can fly all right, but this time out, instead of being all, “La la la” as he meanders through the skies, he’s a rocket. This is no exaggeration. The action/rescue scenes are rousing, and you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen him manhandle a 777 plane (or “supermanhandle” it. Sorry. The joke was totally there for the taking.). In this movie, you get to see Superman tested in major ways because Luthor knows his foe’s weakness—kryptonite. And he damned well uses it.

Gosh so much to say, and 95% of it’s positive. But you know me. I still had a beef. We’ll get to that in a second because I want to gush some more. Indulge me?

Last year in Crystal Says… I reported on the Comic-Con San Diego presentation from Bryan Singer. He’d brought a clip with him, and it was full of positives. First, I fell for the movie’s cinematic tone: the dark, dreamy burgundies and noir nightscapes of Metropolis. This remains the same in the movie—it’s a gorgeous thing to behold, from many of the special effects to the art direction to Lois Lane’s throwback costuming. Supes’ retro-suit is wonderful, too. Second, I also loved the nostalgia and clear respect Singer was bringing to the production: he used Marlon Brando’s voice to accompany the teaser clips, for example. This quality was evident in the movie, from the rousing opening credits that harken back to the first Superman movies to the Kent farm. And, finally, Singer showed us that one incredible moment where Superman is hovering in space, just above Earth and WHOOOOOSH, he takes off in a burst of furious speed, then explodes forward in a sonic boom. The fans were won over and demanded that the clip be shown again. The love for Singer knew no bounds that day: every fanboy and fangirl knew that the franchise would retain that unbeatable Superman spirit. However, during the question and answer period, it became obvious that there was one big thing bugging the fans: the casting.

I’ve talked about Brandon Routh, the big question mark. His appearance in Singer’s Comic-Con clips did a lot to appease the fans. But there was also much concern about the casting of Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane. See, the timeline of Superman Returns is this: he has returned to Earth about five years after the ending of Superman II, the movie in which him and Lois did the deed. Of course, he wiped her brain of the memories with a super kiss. This movie finds him returning from a search of the galaxy to find another being like himself. Not everyone is happy to see him. Lois says she has a fiancĂ© and they’ve had a child together. Supes is not stoked at this news, especially since it’s real obvious that Lois is still carrying a torch for him. Now, the problem is this: in those first movies, Lois was played by Margot Kidder, who seemed age-appropriate for a seasoned investigative reporter. Kate Bosworth, who’s done some great work in films such as Beyond the Sea, is in her early-twenties. Not only has the character aged backward from the “other” Lois, but this is five years later and she has a child. It’s funny that I can believe a man can fly, but I couldn’t buy Bosworth as Lois. She’s a very strong actress—don’t get me wrong—but she is way, way too young for this part, and she can’t overcome that. In any other movie, I would believe she’s a crack reporter who's just starting out, but in this one, she’s supposed to be Lois Lane, an iconic character with a lot of expectation and fan baggage. Also, this Lois is missing a lot of spunk—she has the smarts (most of the time), but there’s none of the adorable cynical spark that Kidder brought to the role. This Lois is stoic and rarely even cracks a smile, which I can understand after she had her heart broken by Supes, but this was a major reboot of the character I’d grown up with and admired, and the change was unsettling. I related to Kidder’s Lois because she was a scattered single girl who was so type A that she seemed ready to jump out of her skin half the time; her turn from jaded city reporter to doe-eyed lovergirl never betrayed her core of scrappy, slightly goofy determination. This Lois has the determination, and that’s about it.

So why didn’t Supes’ age bug me as much? Actually, it did a little. In fact, at first I was wondering if I’d walked in to a presentation of Superman 90210. But, then again, he’s an alien and I could buy that his aging process might be slower. I cut that one some slack since I was already making allowances for the flying and X-Ray vision and crap.

But the lack of humor and the casting are small reservations because with the drawbacks, there are boons that more than make up for it.

See it!

Preview of cover for For a Good Time Call... book 2


I just want you guys to see this cover for the second book in the Blaze For a Good Time Call... series. It's Nancy Warren's INDULGE, and it takes up in the San Francisco Wentworth-Holt Building where INNUENDO leaves off. This is to say that another member of the Sisters of the Booty Call has drawn a business card from the pot and will be going on her own hot date....

BTW, I'm going to try to be back later, after I see SUPERMAN RETURNS. I'll post my impressions. Had to do it on opening day, of course, seeing as I love Supes. Cross your fingers that I can buy a ticket!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Short update

Well, I'm just about done with my Blaze vampire proposal. I've polished my pages, but I've yet to input the changes. I'm going to try to do that at the airport as I wait for my flight. (I'm just doing a little family traveling.) This past weekend, I also corrected my AAs (Author Alteration copies, AKA "galleys") for BAITED, my October Bombshell. (BTW, cool news. I've decided to hire COS Productions to do a "teaser" for BAITED. More on that as I get more information, but as of now, they have my synopsis and suggestions for a brief non-actor advertisement that'll be sent to viral stations for promotion.) Here's some news on that Blaze vampire proposal: it looks like it's going to come out in July, 2007! Perfect beach reading. It should be the first vampire Blaze in the "Extreme" miniseries.

What's next? A proposal for Special Edition. I'm suggesting a trilogy about a sort of "urban tribe" family that centers around a Laundromat; I'm calling the miniseries "The Suds Club." We'll see how it goes....

After that? Hopefully I'll have time to do another proposal for a paranormal story that's eating away at me. And then...BREAK OF DAWN, the third Vampire Babylon book!!!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

iPod shelf: FAST FOOD NATION

As I mentioned in a previous blog, I'm pretty into audio books now. In fact, I just joined audible.com, and I'm totally excited because of all the titles they have available. You might remember my review of RUNNING WITH SCISSORS recently, too, which was a great audio experience since it was read by the author himself.

My latest foray into audiodom is with a non-fiction offering, FAST FOOD NATION. Now, remember that documentary SUPER SIZE ME? (I reviewed it a few months ago.) Well, this isn't the same thing. It's similiar, with the focus on McDonald's and the negative consequences that the food has visited on this country in particular. But FAST FOOD NATION, which will somehow be a movie itself, come fall, takes a broader sociological approach to the main topic. FFN (abbreviation time--I'm already tired of writing the whole title) is pretty much an expose, a fact-laden testiment to the far-reaching ramifications of what we've chosen to eat in the 20th century. Poignant anecdotes relate the human cost of these industries, which have seriously become kingdoms--not merely businesses. What Eric Schlossinger (sp? LOL) has to say will make you think about what you're choosing to eat day in and day out.

The worst part of the book is the "slaughterhouse horror." I listened to it about a week ago, and I still get physically ill just thinking about it. Ugh. FFN has spurred a lot of thought on my part, as a matter of fact. Thought and outrage. I can't help feeling as if we, as a society, are being heavily--and willingly--played by the food industry. And guess what? Many parts of the government are helping them, not stopping them.

Reading FFN will definitely give you (dare I say it? okay--whatever) food for thought. And I promise you that this sustenence will give you more to digest than any Happy Meal.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

CineVegas report, part 2

Told ya I'd be back to finish my CineVegas movie-watching adventure. I have two more films to report on, even though I would've loved to have seen more. Today's offering features my favorite film of the festival as well as a movie that was both puzzling and oddly intriguing.

DANIKA starred Maria Tomei, and I'm telling you that she's been sorely missed--especially when she gives performances of this caliber. She plays a woman who might be losing her hold on sanity: Danika's having ultra-violent visions that all threaten the happiness of her family. The film was often jarring, with very effective shock shots (You know what I'm talking about: it's when you're watching a scary movie and a dang cat jumps out of a cupboard and everyone goes, "Ahhh! Ohhhh. Hah hah hah, I'm so embarrassed for being faked out. Or sometimes it's when a character is creeping around the house in an effort to find out what that strange noise is and they open a door, look around, then close it--only to find Robert DeNiro standing there! "Ahhh!" Now back to DANIKA.) The eerie tone is effective, as is the twisty plot. But the best thing about the film is the ending, which is absolutely heartbreaking. I don't say this lightly, but I was actually fighting tears as the credits rolled. Marisa Tomei really sold her character, and I hope this film gets the attention it deserves; she shines.

The last movie was an offering from Romania, a subtitled work called LOVESICK. The film description was vague enough that I had absolutely no idea what the contents would be besides love. Good enough for me, so in I went. I soon found out that the plot concerned a love triangle. Easy enough--but the triangle was composed of two women, plus one of their brothers. No, that is not a typo. What's interesting, though, is how the second woman reacts to the possibility of the other woman being in love with her brother: she actually begins to *encourage* the relationship on an intelluctual level (She uses literature to defend the incest, maintaining that there is a sublime beauty to this kind of love. I guess that's why they called this movie LOVESICK.). The movie doesn't treat the subject sensationally--the relationship between all three of the characters just is. I'm pretty sure most of the audience was freaked out: no applause afterward and barely any conversation--which was weird because, after THE FAVOR and DANIKA, I heard lots of buzz.

Until next year...

contest update

A perceptive reader has reminded me that I didn't post the contest winner from last month as I said I would in the newsletter (Thank you, Cathie!). Here it is:

Congrats to Cathy Truman for winning the regular site contest!!! And Terry Brown was the winner of the Seasons of Authors Giveaway (yea!). Good job to both.

I hope all of you are entering my contest this month. Heck, I hope you're doing it every month!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

CineVegas film report, part 1

It seems like ages ago that I posted about my first film festival--CineVegas. It was only last week, but time flies, I guess. Since then, I've seen a posting at aintitcoolnews.com from someone who was also at the festival. He didn't see the four movies I did, so it was interesting to get his perspective.

What I learned from that guy's post--and I should have known this--is that CineVegas takes great pains to screen movies that are a little more experimental than your average film. That explains a couple of flicks I saw, but I'm really happy that there's a festival around that does this. There are a lot of things I like about the festival (see last week's blog for details) but there was one thing that got my goat: I, along with many, many other patrons, didn't realize that if you buy a ticket to a screening, that doesn't necessarily mean you'll get to see it. What? Isn't that a lot like that Jerry Seinfeld truism about car rental reservations? (Doesn't a reservation mean that you've got a car reserved???) Anyway, next year I'll be buying a pass which will allow me to see a great many movies and will make me a first-class viewing citizen since pass holders are let into the theaters first. I missed one of my movies thanks to this policy; in fact, a lot of unaware ticketholders were ticketed off because we couldn't see MARY, a retelling of the Mary story from the bible.

But, onward, right? I did see four other selections, and I'll chat about two of them today, and the other two later....

The first film I saw was called THE FAVOR. It was a small offering from a first-time female director (Ack! I don't have my notes here, but you can go to www.cinevegas.com for movie details). The plot--more of a slice-of-life, really--goes something like this: Lawrence is one of those guys whose life just kind of lost air. He's not necessarily a definitely sad man, but he is a bit of a sad sack. He works at a small police station in Bayonne, New Jersey as a clerk; there, he takes mug shots. He moonlights as a pet photographer, too. He goes home every night to pet his adorable doggie (that is not a sexual euphemism, you) and eat dinner in front of the TV with said pooch. The next day begins just as the other one did. And so does the next day...until his high-school girlfriend--the big love of his life--reappears and invites him to dinner. See, just before college, she dumped Lawrence, then got into a crappy marriage in which she had a son. She's divorced now, taking care of an ailing dad, and dealing with that son, who is a sort of...well, I'll get to him in a second, because he's interesting. In short, the mom accidentally dies, and Lawrence decides to take the son, Johnny, in as a foster child as a favor to the woman whom he'd once planned to marry and have a family with.

THE FAVOR wasn't a fast-paced movie big on plot: it was a character exploration. One thing that really blew me away was the director's talent for using amazing faces. She often allows the actors' expressions and body language do all the talking, and that takes guts as a storyteller. Trusting your "props" or your actors instead of relying on dialogue you create is a virtue. And, my God, the faces on these actors--two in particular. First, let me tell you about the older lead actor; I haven't reacted to a face in such a visceral way since I saw Barry Pepper in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. The man who played Lawrence is one of those guys you just want to comfort: his smile is genuine, yet strained. He is the everyman no man wants to become. And the kid who plays Johnny? You might've seen him on The O.C. as a similarly troubled youth. I remember the sound of his name--Ryan Donawho--because I recognized him and I was really impressed. On The O.C., he faded into the Marissa's diva scenery, but in THE FAVOR, he more than holds his own. His face is pretty, but it's thrown off-kilter by a mouth that's too large for his face; and it's almost as if he doesn't know how to smile or communicate properly with that mouth, at times. His character does some awful things, too, but I was never able to dislike him. I felt incredibly sorry for him. Ultimately, all around, the acting was great, so kudos to director and cast. However, I did feel as if some of the plot was predictable, especially the ending, and I thought Lawrence had a tendancy to be too good for words. But those were small wrinkles in the texture of THE FAVOR. The audience really loved the film--it won an honorable mention in the viewer's favorite category.

And for the second film I saw.... SKIN CITY, a work-in-progress documentary about--where else?--Las Vegas. Living near the city, I guess I'm pretty aware of everything this doc covered: from the yearly porn convention to the Elvis impersonators to the rather large Bible contingent. All in all, I wasn't really enlightened by any of it, though someone else could've learned a lot. Also, for such a naughty-sounding film, the contents were pretty tame, as if the makers were painfully self-aware of being labeled "perverts." Technically, the film was polished, but I can't say I was wildly impressed.

Next installment: DANIKA (my festival favorite) and LOVESICK (both words are extremely operative)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Fathers Day

Hope you all are having fun with Pops! Also, I just wanted to let you know that I've run into a few time constrictions (er...holiday time) and I haven't had a proper moment in which to blog. This coming week, I'm planning to lend my opinion to those films I saw at the CineVegas festival, so I'll be back!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

CALIFORNIA DEMON - Outoftheblogosphere.com


This sounds like a fun one!

CALIFORNIA DEMON: The Secret Life of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom
by Julie Kenner
(Berkley Trade, June 2006)

What's a mother to do, when there are only so many hours in the day, and the fate of the world is in her hands?

Kate Connor was a retired demon hunter. Now, after fourteen years busting her tail as a suburban housewife, raising two kids, and supporting her husband's political ambitions, she's rejoined the workforce-and except for a few minions of evil, no one has a clue. She tries hard to keep her home and work lives separate-a good idea when your job involves random slaughter.

Between fending off demon attacks, trying to figure out why the mysterious new teacher at the high school seems so strangely familiar, and keeping a watchful eye on her daughter's growing infatuation with a surfer dude, Kate is the busiest-and most dangerous-soccer mom on the block…

FROM THE DESK OF KATE CONNOR…

• Groceries
• Pay bills
• Gas up the minivan
• Pick Allie up from cheerleader practice
• Clean out nest of evil, blood-thirsty preternatural creatures with a few wooden stakes, some holy water, and a can of Diet Coke
• Self-defense class
• Volunteer at nursing home
• Battle determined demon while making meal
• Put Timmy to bed
• Clean up dishes
• Dispose of demon carcass
• Iron Stuart’s shirt
• Write tomorrow’s to-do list



Excerpt:
http://www.juliekenner.com/CaliforniaDemon.htm

Cover:
http://images.amazon.com/images/P/042521043X.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg


ABOUT JULIE KENNER
National bestselling author Julie Kenner's first book hit the stores in February of 2000, and she's been on the go ever since. Her books have hit lists as varied as USA Today, Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble, and Locus Magazine. Julie is also a former RITA finalist, the winner of Romantic Times' Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Contemporary Paranormal of 2001, and the winner of the Reviewers International Organization's award for best romantic suspense of 2004. She writes a range of stories from sexy and quirky romances to chick lit suspense to paranormal mommy lit. Her foray into the latter, Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom, was selected as a Booksense Summer Paperback Pick for 2005, was a Target Breakout Book, was a Barnes & Noble Number One SFF/Fantasy bestseller for seven weeks, and is in development as a feature film with Warner Brothers and 1492 Pictures.

Julie spent four years mainlining venti nonfat lattes in order to write, practice law full time, and take care of her kiddo. Then she wised up, quit the practice of law, and settled down to write full time. She now lives in central Texas with her husband, daughter, and a bunch of cats.

REVIEWS

"more witty, funny and poignant adventures from the marvelous Kenner." Combining PTA dangers with demons certainly keeps the characters on their toes and readers chuckling. 4 stars – Romantic Times

While there is a plethora of outstanding romance/dark fantasy sagas currently being released … Julie Kenner's Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom novels are noteworthy in large part because of the author's wit and incredibly intuitive sense of humor. Lines like "Infiltrating a nest of vampires at dusk might be a tad on the treacherous side, but it's nothing compared to telling a fourteen-year-old that she's not allowed to wear eye shadow" will have readers laughing out loud from the first page to the last. If you've changed a leaky diaper, picked up a spilled sippy cup, or purchased a McDonald's Happy Meal within the last 24 hours, this fast-paced, delightfully irreverent amalgam of romance and dark fantasy is for you. – Barnes & Noble


Website: http://www.juliekenner.com

Monday, June 12, 2006

DVR alert!

You might want to set your DVRs/TiVos on "record" for tomorrow's CBS Morning Show. My friend and fellow writer, Erica Orloff, will be on it! She'll be hanging out with Survivor/Amazing Race Rob as he attempts to solve her problem in his own unique Rob Way: It seems Erica's husband is a terrible fisherman and whenever he takes the kids out to catch some dinner, they never do. However, Rob is there to save the day, so tune in!!!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

CineVegas

Yesterday I went to my first film festival. That might not sound like a huge deal, but it's actually pretty amazing, and I can't believe that there is a whole new world out there that I've been missing up until now (I'm returning today and tomorrow.). First, CineVegas is only eight years old, and it's still a true small festival. People congregate in the hallways to rave about the "short" or the full-length feature they've just seen, and there are very few higher-profile movies (the biggest one is probably NACHO LIBRE). Compare that to the monstrosity of something like Cannes and it's an eye opener. Isn't the idea of a film festival to create a place where the smaller "guys" can showcase their talent and hopefully gain some recognition (and distribution for a movie that doesn't have the support of a company who can give it a wide theater release)? Isn't it a place where true movie-loving fans can discover new directors and actors? CineVegas remains pure in those respects, and that's ironic, considering Vegas is known to be such an unpure pit. In opposition, consider what Cannes is: X-MEN 3 was showing there. Seriously. X-MEN 3, with its gargantuan promo budget and built-in audience. It wasn't in competition with the smaller films, but why does a giant like X-MEN need to horn in on the territory of these little guys? I mean, my gosh, can't these filmmakers have one place that's all their own without Goliath invading it?

That's why I'm enjoying CineVegas: because in those hallways, film students talk about their latest projects and network. Because yesterday I saw a cool little film with an actor who's going to hit the big time and a director who has a real future, and I was there to "discover" that. Because there's a real appreciation for story and quality here, with no talk of box office. Again, it's pure (not that I don't like my "event movies"--Lord knows I love them--but I adore this raw affection for film that I'm seeing).

Later this week, I'm going to be posting about the films I saw (THE FAVOR, SKIN CITY and today, MARY, then DANIKA and PARK.). So come on back for my CineVegas report card, ya hear?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Bookshelf: RUNNING WITH SCISSORS

Lately, I've been listening to audiobooks more and more. Maybe it's because I've discovered it's fun to take in a story during a morning walk. Or maybe it's because my eyes have been fixed on a computer screen for most of the day and I tend to fall asleep within five minutes if I try to read before beddy-bye time most nights. What I really know for certain is that listening to a book is a great way to pass time on an airplane.

I'm also discovering that there are definite types of books that work best for me in the audio format. I don't enjoy listening to fiction as much as literally *reading* it, so audio books are allowing me to delve more into the non-fiction and memoir realms (and I'm referring to non-research non-fiction,which I do read quite often for my own books).

I just finished a great memoir. It was hilarious and tragic all at the same time. It was lighthearted and pathetic, too. It's a book that a lot of people could very well hate because it offers so many gritty details about a teen growing up in a vacuum of insanity. It's called RUNNING WITH SCISSORS, and it might not be for everyone.

SOME SPOILERS HERE: When the memoir first starts, we're introduced to Augusten Burroughs by way of his mother, Deirdre. She comes off as one of those pseudo-nutty Ya-Ya Southern women who revels in her eccentricity. Little by little, we find out that this lady truly is mentally deficient and even abusive. Burroughs somehow balances truly funny stories with the growing menace of his mother, so as a reader, I was kept off balance for most of the book. I was also fascinated, especially when Deirdre casually drops her son off at her psychiatrist's house. Here, Dr. Finch reigns over all, and he is sick, too; while it's tempting to take his superficial Santa-Claus-crazy at face value, there's an underlying cruel carelessness about Dr. Finch that extends far beyond his family to affect everyone he comes into contact with. He's a virus.

What happens to Augusten is shocking, yet he relates the anecdotes like he's Alice dropped down the Rabbit Hole. But this is clearly the only way he can cope; this memoir seems like therapy for him. Reading RUNNING WITH SCISSORS is a unique experience--not exactly a fun one, but you'll be thinking about the book after you "read" the last page.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Trailer for THE WICKER MAN

I had to post about this, because THE WICKER MAN is just one of those 70s-era movies that give you a physically ucky feeling after you finish watching it. In other words, I LOVE the film in all its disturbing, twisted, island-idyll-gone-to-hell glory. Very basically, the story concerns an upright policeman who comes to an island that seems locked in time; he's there to find a missing little girl. Bit by bit, the inspector solves the mystery, and the finale is massively horrible. This is a movie that leaves you with the heebie-jeebies not because there's gore galore, but because it's truly a nightmare.

Of course, Hollywood has decided to remake THE WICKER MAN, giving it the A-list treatment. Nic Cage stars and it's directed by Neil LaBute (IN THE COMPANY OF MEN--a genuinely bent movie in itself). Really, I've been curious about the remake, mostly because I want to see how badly Hollywood can mess *this* one up, even with the top-notch talents working on it. But...Neil LaBute. The man is good, and I want to have some faith here.

So, you all, the trailer is up and running on Apple.com: http://www.apple.com/trailers/wb/thewickerman/

It does look unsettling, but I defintely don't get the same atmospheric feel that permeated the original. The atmosphere was key to the success of the first WICKER MAN, so...I don't know. And Nic Cage's cop character? Where's the essential holier-than-thou attitude that originally made this character so fascinating? I'll see this new one, no doubts about it, but I wish they'd left this quiet classic alone, because the first WICKER MAN was a true horror gem.

If you haven't seen the 70s version, I highly highly suggest it if you love to get creeped out. See it before this new version, because I don't know how the eek! factor can be improved....

Funny link

I just saw the funniest take-off on STAR WARS. You gotta go here:

http://www.needcoffee.com/updates/2006/05/22/what-the-hell-is-an-aluminum-falcon/


For more sensitive viewers: the language is a tad colorful, but the worst of it is bleeped out. If you're a STAR WARS fan, you'll be rolling.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

BLOG tour: SHADOW OF THE MOON

Love werewolf stories? Here you go!!!


SHADOW OF THE MOON by Rebecca York
(Berkley, June 6, 2006)

Lance Marshall has a nose for great news stories-not surprising, since he's aided by his werewolf abilities. Now he's prowling outside an ultra-exclusive Washington, D.C. nightclub-"The Castle." But he is not alone. Savannah Carpenter wants to know how her sister ended up in a coma, and she knows that The Castle has something to do with it. But when Lance and Savannah pretend to be lovers to gain entrance, they learn that deception and unbridled lust can be a dangerous combination.

Excerpt:
http://mywebpages.comcast.net/glick/sneak-p24.htm

Cover:
http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/P/042520961X.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg



ABOUT REBECCA YORK
Ever since she can remember, Ruth Glick has loved making up stories full of adventure, romance and suspense. As a child she corralled her friends into adventure games or acted out romantic suspense stories with a cast of dolls. But she never assumed she could be an author, because she couldn't spell. Her life changed, however, with the invention of the word processor and spelling checker--and the help of her husband, Norman Glick, who spots spelling errors from fifty paces away. Writing as Rebecca York, she has authored or co-authored over 45 romantic suspense novels, many for Harlequin Intrigue's very popular 43 Light Street series, set in Baltimore, and many with paranormal elements.


REVIEWS

The York werewolf moon novels contains several excellent paranormal romantic suspense tales (see CRIMSON MOON), but SHADOW OF THE MOON may be the best of the series so far. The action-packed story line is fast-paced and filled with sexual tension accentuated by the danger that the audience will taste as if we have the enhanced sense of a werewolf. The lead couple is a delightful pairing as they investigate the goings on at the club, what happened to Charlotte, and the attraction between them in a gripping thriller. – Harriet Klausner

Fans get to meet yet another Marshall boy in Rebecca York’s latest novel about the werewolf clan, SHADOW OF THE MOON.
This time it's freelance reporter Lance Marshall and he's scented out a story on an very exclusive D.C. establishment that he's heard rumors about, the Eighteen Club.. . .
As if werewolves, psychic abilities and lifemates aren't enough, York adds yet another element to her werewolf series in SHADOW OF THE MOON. It makes for excellent reading. -- http://fromthestacksmacon.blogspot.com

York’s highly popular werewolf tales take an even more intriguing turn in this new story. The sexual tension is taut and the story crisp, which keeps up the momentum. The small side plot is an engrossing teaser for the next chapter in this quite compelling saga. 4 ½ stars – Romantic Times


Website: http://www.rebeccayork.com

Friday, June 02, 2006

X-MEN: Why?

I'd heard negative rumblings about X-MEN 3 way before the movie came out. That's what you get for tuning into www.aintitcool.com in unheathly doses. I'd heard that the early script was littered with screw-you moments for the true comic fans: there were surprising and needless deaths, there were plot twists that totally went against not only the letter, but the spirit, of the X-Men mythology. Thus, the hardcore fans had their panties in a bunch long before the movie was released. With Bryan Singer, the director of X-MEN 1 and 2, leaving the franchise to work on SUPERMAN RETURNS, the producers began entertaining a revolving door contingent of substitutes. They finally settled on Brett Ratner, a so-called "work for hire" director who has a pretty decent box office record.

And that's when the fan-call for blood *really, really* began.

Then, when preview reviews began hitting the Net? Ugly. Fans hated the movie but general movie goers who weren't as familiar with the comics...kinda liked it.

That's when I knew that I'd definitely have to see the movie. And pronto.

Now I do like my comics, but I don't read X-MEN. It's more a matter of time constraints than anything, really, because I'm intrigued by the X-MEN world. The parallels it draws to society are cutting and relevant, and I love the characters and their mutant powers. Hence, I went into X-MEN 3 wanting it to be really good and expecting a lot, since I really enjoyed the first two movies. I felt that Singer did a good job of shutting up the naysayers who like to dismiss graphic novels as trash. (How much do you bet these people don't read comics? Ask them to describe *one* they've read recently and you'll find out.) But this third movie?

Disheartening.

***spoilers ahead***
Truly, I tried to enjoy it for what it is--a parade of confrontations and explosions--but I just wasn't content with that. Not when such a strong precedent had already been established. I loved the premise (a cure for "mutancy" has been found and this divides not only the mutants themselves, but it pits homo sapiens against the mutants once again). I loved the first two flashbacks, too, because they had some power, mystery, and tragedy to them. To many mutants, their powers are a bane, not a blessing, and this is great fodder for conflict and character growth.

But after the first few minutes, that's where the characters stopped growing.

I couldn't help thinking of how Singer would've treated Rogue's situation in particular. (BIG SPOILER) Here, we have a young girl (in the movies, at least) who feels cursed with her powers to suck the lifeforce and memories out of those she touches. What a miserable existence--but what a springboard to grow into adulthood and heroism. On a human level, it makes absolute sense that the movie Rogue would be drawn to a cure for her "ailments"--I feel sympathy for her there--but what was disappointing was the lack of care the script gave to her dilemma. This girl is "special," with the power to change the world in a lot of ways, but there's no emotional resonance to her decision to give that up and become normal at all. Not even a flicker. And all those X-Men deaths you're hearing about? Inconsequential. They exist only to serve as plot turns and that's about it. Shouldn't the personal destruction have mattered more to the characters? Yeah, token moments are paid to, say, Charles, graveside, but I never got a sense that the deaths shook the very foundations of these people.

After the movie, I started to understand why a true fan would be disappointed. Heck, *I* was not happy. I started to think about everything I've heard about "the Dark Phoenix saga," which is an X-MEN comic storyline that is held in great esteem. It's what X-MEN 3 is supposedly based on. (Supposedly.) It's one of *the* storylines of the entire comic world, as a matter of fact. How, and more importantly, WHY did the producers blow such a promising premise so badly? As a person who loves lore, I just can't understand the carelessness. Why????????

I'm just crossing my fingers for SUPERMAN RETURNS, you all. It's got to make me happier.