What’s in the Works? Write The Novel.

I write when I need to write. When the words are in my head and need to come out. Sorry about that, but all the “coming out” words are going into my novel rather than this website.

So, the novel. Now that I’ve mentioned it, I should expand upon it. The novel now has a goal for completion (not final final completion… completion in the sense that it can be pitched). I plan to have it ready for the speed-dating  Pitch Slam at Writers Digest 2018 in August.

Can I do it? This is where you all yell “YES YOU CAN!” in unison and I have a horrible flashback to that children’s show with the builder guy and his talking vehicles. Maybe you should skip the yelling.

If you want to know more about the novel, then comment on this blog. Really, I have no idea if you’re even interested if you don’t tell me. Would you prefer to have more reviews? Talk about TV and movies? WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?

Phew. Got that out of my system. Now it’s your turn.

Book Review From the Verge: Good Bones and Simple Murders by Margaret Atwood

You know that I love Margaret Atwood and am incredibly excited to see her in the spring, so it’s only fitting to do a quick re-read of some of her books. Good Bones and Simple Murders is a collection of whimsical-caustic-witty-parodies-and otherwise wonderful short pieces. She skewers the traditional views of women in fairy tales, reveals the chauvinism in the story of the little red hen, and otherwise reveals a cynical side in this interesting variety. She even adorns the pages with black and white illustrations that she has drawn.

As a writer, I read these stories and, while many are quite stabby, I can’t help but admire her turns of phrase. I marvel at how she expresses things for readers to puzzle over and consider. She is a master of her craft, whether writing novels or short fiction.

If you prefer your poison in small doses, pick the book up and read one story at a time. Some of you, like me, won’t be able to resist what delectable dish she will serve up next.

Rating:  (4.5 / 5)

Book Review: The Missing by C.L. Taylor

William Morrow, and imprint of Harper Collins, was kind enough to send me this book for review. I usually ghostwrite reviews for another website, but I’m trying to increase this type of content here, for you. Of course, that’s if you happen to stop by and read it…

This is the first novel I’ve read by C.L. Taylor. Genre? Psychological suspense, so if you like Jonathan Kellerman, Gillian Flynn, and some of Dean Koontz’s work, you may be interested in this one. Although I’ve compared her to all American novelists, Taylor is British, so perhaps I should throw in a Minette Walters.

In The Missing, 15-year-old Billy Wilkinson is, you guessed it, missing. The story is relayed by his mother, Claire, who is unreliable. Very unreliable. Deception, omissions, lies, and twists to Billy’s tale will keep you up at night, reading “just one more chapter.” At least that’s what happened to me!

My rating: (4.5 / 5)

Let’s Talk About mother!

 

By now you have likely been pummeled by headlines denouncing the latest film by Darren Aronofsky, mother! It has been intensely polarizing and there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. Why? Because people are either really looking at it and focusing on the film or they are only seeing the surface and taking it at face value.

Warning. This review contains spoilers. I usually avoid them, but I can’t this time. Read no further if you don’t want to know about the film. If you haven’t seen it, see it and come back and let me know what YOU think.

Here’s the deal. If you go to this movie expecting your standard horror flick, there’s plenty of weirdness and violence to go around. And it might offend you or you might just shake your head and say, “WTF was that?!” Those are the people who seem to drift towards reviews like, “Torture porn!” or “What the hell did I just watch?” or “What a mess.”

Well, the only REAL torture is the psychological kind. Sorry, torture porn lovers. You’ll have to go back and watch I Spit on Your Grave again or something.

This is my interpretation, not taking apart every second because I’ve only seen the movie once and I’m going for overvew. Javier Bardem is God. Nobody is called by any name in this movie – only Him or Her or “goddess” as Javier calls costar Jennifer Lawrence, who is Mother Earth. God has created Earth with her at his side and she constantly works to make it more beautiful. This is all played out as she fixes up his “old home that burned down” which symbolizes the world. She paints, she plasters, she does whatever she needs doing to make it perfect.

While MOTHER is busy and happily making Earth pretty, God is frustrated. He is a creator. He sits in his office with copies of his first book of poetry, trying to create something new. He is frustrated. He prizes one particular possession: a stunning crystal, run through with gold and red. No one is allowed in his office and even his wife can’t touch the crystal.

A stranger shows up at the door, Ed Harris, and he’s in rough shape. Eventually we see him with a bloody cut in his back in the rib area… and the next day his wife shows up. Adam and Eve, folks. These two just can’t help themselves. They throw the rules in Her (Mother’s) face and then they break the crystal. He (God) is pissed. The guests’ sons show up out of nowhere – did I mention this house has no driveway or sidewalk or anything anywhere around it in a great big circle? – and they are fighting. Guess. Go ahead. Guess what happens.

Yep. One kills the other. There’s your Cain and Abel. Eventually the guests all get out of the house and She goads Him into sex. So, ignore those “rape” articles. She is immediately pregnant. Time is really out of whack, so roll with it. All is well. He is creating and she is pregnant. And the house is good. Oh, by the way, She can touch the walls and visualize her own heart. As time goes on, it becomes slightly charred looking – and more charred – and more… Symbolism, people, she’s trying to give her love, but it’s taking a toll.

Anyway, he finishes his poem and there is an onset of IMMEDIATE adulation as they are inundated with unwelcome guests that have come to praise and idolize him. They break things in the house and loot like maniacs. They tack up pictures of Him that look curiously like prayer cards. They are a mob destroying the Earth with pollution and ruination, and human trafficking and lots of other bad things.

Meanwhile, She is in labor. She finally gives birth with Him blocking the two of them in his office. But she doesn’t trust Him anymore. He is welcoming this horde of horrors in her house. She has a boy and no way is She going to let Him touch the baby. But how long can you stay awake? Well, time is meaningless anyway. She dozes a moment and catches him with the baby as he opens the door to show his followers. Cue Simba moment.

And then the Baby (you get this, right?) goes crowd surfing because He hears that the mob wants to touch him. A horrific crack signals the beginning of the most awful part of the film. She shoves and pushes through the crowd to find an altar with only bloody bones and people eating bits of flesh. Holy Communion, anyone?

After lots more psychological torture (she has never been able to leave the house), she goes to the oil tank in the basement and burns the house down. Humans have brought ruin to the Earth. Somehow, She is burned, but alive and He literally takes her love in the form of her heart, which he crushes to create another amazing crystal. He will create again. If he could think of something else to create, maybe he wouldn’t have to repeat the story. Maybe if humans didn’t give in to the bad in world, his story would change. But I digress…

The movie can be hard to watch, but I liked it. I scored it a 9 on IMDB. There is a lot to this movie. The acting, directing, cinematography… all top notch. And you have to think. Allegory. It’s a powerful thing.

 

Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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Full disclosure: I read this book because it was on a list of books “to read before you see the movie” even though I have no intention of thinking of considering seeing the movie. Period.

I liked the cover. Shallow, but true. Little did I know it was about cancer. The thing is, this wasn’t super depressing. I like Hazel and Augustus. Their illnesses were sad and shaped them into amazing individuals. It was a story of love and intelligence and a book that links characters together.

A movie will never be able to capture the significance of “Okay”. A movie will never be able to capture the essence of the characters, the situations, the little joys and victories, or the deep sadnesses.

I won’t see the movie. I’m very glad I read the book. You probably should give it a try. It would be a great book for a discussion group.

Enjoy.

Book Review: Odd Apocalypse by Dean Koontz

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I love Odd Thomas. I really do. The character has charmed me from the first book in the series… until now. Suddenly, he has an enigmatic sidekick… and I don’t like her. She seems to serve no real p

This entry in the series relies on intricate science theories and horror instead of Odd’s talents as one who helps the dead with their unfinished business so they can “cross over”. urpose and is incredibly annoying and distracting for both Odd and the reader.

If you’re a fan, you’ll like it but not love it. Come on, Koontz. Ditch the chick and give us back the old Odd. We love that fry cook.

The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian are Strangers I Don’t Want to Meet at Night

10209997 I just finished reading The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian. I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t what I got. It was definitely strange. And a lot happens at night. But what about the herbalists and their bizarre obsession with the 10-year-old twin girls who just moved into town with their family? What about the weird house they moved into with it’s more than strange history?

I promised to never “spoil”, so all I can tell you is that this novel may not be what you think it is… but it WILL keep you up reading at night.

The Art of Fielding is an Art of Writing

10996342I wasn’t going to read this book. I didn’t care what the reviews were or how many lists it was on. I was NOT going to read it. I don’t like sports books, so why would I? Well, my book club gave me the reason. It is this month’s selection.

When I started reading The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, I did so with a closed mind and the feeling that I would give it a try (no more than 25 pages) and if I couldn’t stand it I’d give up. I was hooked within the first ten pages.

If you think it’s all about baseball, you can forget it. It’s about perfectly imperfect characters. Oh, there’s baseball, too. But it’s really a beautiful character drama.

Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen – the Monkey is Bad but the Book is Good

BAD MONKEY by Carl HiaasenIf you have read Hiaasen before, you know that he writes environmentally friendly novels… with bizarre characters… and even more bizarre circumstances. This one contains a bad monkey, a severed arm with the middle finger up, mango popsicles, greed, violence, and revenge. Just another day in Florida. It’s out this summer. Read it. You won’t be sorry.

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer

This is not a new book… but we read it for my book club and everyone was pleasantly surprised. I say “pleasantly” because I am that member who chooses books outside of everyone’s comfort zone. This was a compilation of short stories that was wonderfully written. Each was a snapshot of a life in transition. The club members gave it an 8.5and they are tougher than Rotten Tomatoes! I’m not normally a short story fan, but this book has changed my perspective. Give it a try. Seriously.