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Book Reviews

Vultural

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Zombie Love by Ray Garton

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Been buying Ray Garton for years, always hoping he would write his way back to the glory, gory era of Live Girls, Lot Lizards, and New Neighbor.
Splatter seems like a long time ago now, the punks aged and were supplanted by Eddie Lee and others of that ilk whose shock crutch was often cousin lovin’.

Zombie Love begins with three teens visiting the creepy old lady on the town outskirts.
The main character’s girlfriend recently died in an auto mishap, and they were hoping - maybe - that the old lady - if she were actually a witch - might be able to - “so something.”
She gives him a bottle of goo, tells him to rub it on the corpse, say some words, and whatever happens will be his responsibility.
Hardly original. Basic plot from “Monkey’s Paw” to Deadly Friend.
Quick read. Wickedly funny in the middle, copped out ending.

The wicked bit - not for prudes.

Of course the girlfriend gets revived. Yet, she is still dead.
Reference the title. Zombie!
Being teens, they make frequent stupid ass assumptions.
The boyfriend hides dead girl in the family poolhouse, goes to his room to sleep, thinking he’ll come up with a plan tomorrow.
Middle of the night, he wakes to his girlfriend straddling him, grinding away.
Dead or not, her primal instincts run strong, and his bedroom window was conveniently open.
Of course, she is dead and rotting, so along with love juices flowing from the temple of doom are also entrails. How will he explain those poor sheets when Mom washes laundry?
Lengthy passages describing the fragrance issuing from her portal are omitted here.
Another great scene is when the friends are taking her out for her daily stroll through the park.
She is fast and loose pets make fresh meals. So do unattended babies. Unhappy meals.
After one fast food feast, zombie girl’s face is smeared in blood so the teen friends wipe her clean with a tissue.
Except her nose falls off in their hands.
Without the nose, her sunglasses won’t stay on. There goes her disguise!
Book is howlingly funny in the mid section, before yielding to a tired, cliché ridden end.
Perfect example of Garton’s writing trajectory.
 

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Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet

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I really enjoy the film and figured I'd see how the play compares.
Surprised to see how simple it was. Two scenes in Act 1, one scene in Act 2.
I enjoy the movie quite more, but this was great.
 

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The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton

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An early Crichton novel, and possibly the best I've read of his.
Historical fiction tale (emphasis on fiction), some chaps are lookin to pull a ream flash pull, rob a shipment of gold from a moving train.
Crichton changes history to make the story more entertaining, if you want an accurate account of the affairs look elsewhere. If you want to read one hell of a heist story, pick this one up.

I also recommend searching out the movie version, directed by Crichton and starring Sean Connery. It's more farcical, but thrilling nonetheless.
 

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Holes by Louis Sachar

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Sachar struck gold with his tale of youth-inmates digging holes in the desert, unwittingly searching for lost gold.
Very entertaining, sure to delight young and old.
The Disney movie wasn't bad either.
 

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Nine Stories by JD Salinger

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The only other Salinger I've read is Catcher in the Rye, which I absolutely loved... back in high school.
These stories were hit and miss for me, unfortunately more misses. The most famous ones were the best (Bananafish, For Esme, Teddy) and the rest were frustrating.
The characters are fascinating, but rarely do they have anything interesting to say. I guess that's life though.
 

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Zero Cool by John Lange

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This was Crichton's fifth "Lange" yarn, published the same year as his first "Crichton" novel.
Young doctor Pete Ross is on vacation in Spain, he meets a lovely lady on the beach and soon receives a mysterious warning to refrain from performing any autopsies.
He's immediately swept up in a chase for a McGuffin, finding himself in the middle of rival gangsters and double-crossing women.
A fun tale, great for a sunny afternoon.
 

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London Blitz Murders by Max Allan Collins

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Collins, better known for hard boiled mysteries, delves into cozy pastiche.
Based on a real life spree killer, the Blackout Ripper, the plot follows a trio of sleuths (DCI Edward Greeno, forensic expert Bernard Spilsbury, and Agatha Christie) hunting for an escalating murderer.
The plot jogs along, with neat touches: life under blackout, the crowded arrival of thousands of Yanks, and circumstances of working girls with limited options.
Not a book of any great depth, but a quick page turner, nevertheless, and a fun beach read.

West End buffs will appreciate the “actresses” who worked the Windmill Theatre -


- As well as tried out for ongoing rehearsals of Christie’s new production, “Ten Little Indians” (“And Then There Were None” for Americans).
Differences between Agatha Christie and Agatha Mallowan are interesting, though old hat for serious Christie fans.
I had a problem with the “voice” of this. Despite watching documentaries of Christie, despite seeing her likeness at Madame Tussaud’s, I still kept picturing - and hearing - Joan Hickson.
So much so, I wondered if Collins inadvertently used the actress as his template.
Could have been me, though.

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Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

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I watched the Disney cartoons repeatedly as a child, yet I never read the book until now. It's absolutely wonderful, highly recommended.

I suck at writing book reviews, oh well whatever no bother.
 

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The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker

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My buddy is a big Clive Barker fan and turned me into a Hellraiser fan. If you've seen Hellraiser 1 then you know the plot of this novella. Barker stuck pretty close to his material when he adapted the film, but there's more passion in the writing.
 

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Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

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I haven't read this since I was 10 or 11. It was much easier to understand this time around (duh).

I read an interesting online article arguing that the movie is infinitely better than the book. He makes some good points (the T-Rex attack is much more exciting on screen) but it's obvious he is biased towards the movie. And he can't recognize that a 400 page novel and a 2 hour Spielberg movie are completely different mediums. In a book it's perfectly fine for Alan Grant to be "bland" since we can get inside his thoughts, something you do with dialogue in the movie, thus making him feel more relate-able to the audience.
 

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The Gunslinger by Stephen King

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Fifth time reading this, absolutely love it. And I've been reading the comics (finally) and they're not too bad, but they make Jake an annoying pissant.
 

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The Lost World by Michael Crichton

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Again, read this the first time right before the movie came out. I think I like this one better than the first book, there's less convoluted action and he keeps things pretty simple.
 

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Books of Blood, Vol. 1 by Clive Barker

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A great collection of horror stories, involving ritualistic murder, serial killings, demons, ghosts and mythical giants. Favorite story was "The Yattering and Jack".
 

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When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne

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Cute poetry by the Winnie-the-Pooh creator. In fact, this book introduces Pooh, as Edward Bear. My favorite poem was "The Dormouse and the Doctor".
 

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The Big Book Of Noir by Server, Greenberg and Gorman

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Thick, hit n miss, compendium on the genre Noir.
Not the best introductory book.
The movie section has chapters on lesser known stars, directors, and screenwriters.
Second section is on books, either biographical sketches of hard boiled authors (as differentiated from Pulp), or synopses of books from the major houses. This part became wearisome, seemed more like the collector’s checklist.
Then gave a quick history of comics, referencing how violent the 30s comics were, and how one of the big houses, Detective Comics, changed focus to superheroes and abbreviated its name to DC.
Finally, a section on OTR (Old Time Radio), which might be helpful to anyone curious about old shows, and which were the better hardboiled. And an interview with Howard Duff (radio’s Sam Spade), whose career limped for five years during the Blacklist.
Good research book, though there are better books for newcomers.
 

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I read books in August, but eh who cares.
 

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People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry

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True crime history of English girl, Lucie Blackman, who leaves Sevenoaks for Tokyo.
Chronicles how impossible it had become for her to live in England. To escape a needy, whiny mother. To climb out from a pit of debt.
She worked the international route as stewardess with British Airlines, but a Tokyo gig promised more money.
Hostess in a club in the seedy Roppongi district. Chatting and listening to lonely Japanese salarymen. Ensuring they repeatedly return to the club, and keep spending heavily.
The work was stressful, but harmless. Mostly.

Long interview with club owner explained strategies. Initial visitor to club would immediately receive the prettiest girl in the room, for one hour. After an hour, she was reassigned and a less attractive girl went to him. “Hey, where’s the first girl?” “Oh, she’s busy. You can pay extra for her company, or you can wait another hour when she’s free again.” Of course, salarymen pay by the hour in those clubs. Girls flirt, make the man the center of the universe, and keep the bills coming. Free dinners were involved, as were gifts. Sex was supposedly a no no.
She phoned a friend after a dinner date and said she was an hour away.
Then she disappeared.

Took months of political leverage and police prodding before detectives found the bags.

Absorbing, in-depth read of the unlucky soul encountering the serial hunter.
That, and the aftermath.

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Read Stephen King's Cell (bought it at a second hand expo) which was really surprising.
Starts off as a zombie/28 days later rage kind of novel, and evolves into something... well, quite refreshing :)
Highly recommended for fans of the aforementioned genres.

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Then went on to Star Wars: Coruscant Nights III - Patterns of the Force, which was entertaining, without anything more or less.
Recommended for Star Wars fans, particularly those who like EU stories. Features Jedi Knight Jax Pavan, Sith Inquisitors and Darth Vader.
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Now into the first 20 pages of Harry Potter 1. Only read the first four novels in Dutch when I was younger, now Im' going to read them again in English (don't recall much of the books' details any way) :)

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Witness To Myself by Seymour Shubin

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Successful attorney carries a secret.
Years earlier, still in his teens, he killed someone.
Or he might have killed them. He was frightened and ran away.
Guilt gnaws at him, and he begins to retrace his old steps, just to find out.

Man, over and over, I kept telling this guy to live with it - forget it - bury it.
Course then there would be no story.
We all do things we're ashamed of, we all live with skeletons.

Could not relate, did not enjoy.
 
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