100th Anniversary of Bram Stoker’s Death: On Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’
Guest Posts , Latest Posts / April 28, 2012

  By Ren Zelen   “There was one great tomb more lordly than all the rest; huge it was, and nobly proportioned. On it was but one word, DRACULA.”   Of all our monsters, the Vampire remains our most malleable fictional creation, rediscovered by each generation and reinvented to reflect its own fears and repressed desires. Contemporary concerns and attitudes always serve to colour our perception of these adaptable bloodsuckers and their slayers, and the character of the Count has so inspired the human imagination that he has become one of the most versatile figures of popular culture. Vampire mythology has various historical sources and literary precedents, but its cultural impact began with Bram Stokers novel.   Stoker’s book ‘Dracula’, entered the literary world and was thoroughly absorbed into the Western imagination. Like a vampire itself, the myth continues to feed on the lifeblood of popular culture in order to attain immortality. It has infected a host of other mediums – there have been countless adaptations in the movies and on TV and it has mutated into forms the Count himself would not easily recognize.   But it was the repressive society of Victorian England that gave birth to and…

Guest Review: The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill
Fiction , Guest Posts , Latest Posts / April 26, 2012

Since Susan Hill’s most famous ghost story ‘The Woman in Black’ has enjoyed such success as a long-running theatrical production and now as a movie by the iconic Hammer Horror Films, it seems timely to examine some of her lesser known ghostly tales. There are several others, ‘The Mist in the Mirror’ ‘The Small Hand’ and this, perhaps the least well known, ‘The Man in the Picture’. It is a short work, first published as a small hardback at only 145 pages. Buy this book in paper or in elec­tronic format. The tale begins when Oliver visits his old tutor at Cambridge, Theo Parmitter, and is told a strange story. In the apartment of the professor, there is a late eighteenth century painting of Venice – a mysterious depiction of masked revellers at a night-time masked festival around the canals, lit by torchlight. One figure looks out of the scene at the viewer, frightened and beseeching, while the others continue in their revelry. On this cold winter’s night, Oliver’s professor has decided to reveal an eerie secret. Though strangely repelled by it, he admits that the painting has an inexplicable hold over him. He has twice been offered whatever price he would name for…

Thoughts on: Temptation by Douglas Kennedy
4 Stars , Fiction , Latest Posts / April 25, 2012

Article first published as Book Review: Temptation by Douglas Kennedy on Blogcritics. About: Temptation by Douglas Kennedy is a fictional book which takes the reader on a ride from the height of success to the lows in life. What happens when a gilded door opens to a man who suddenly has ample opportunities and Hollywood clout? My rating for Temptation – 4 Buy this book in paper or in elec­tronic format. More books by Douglas Kennedy Thoughts: I have never read any of Douglas Kennedy’s books before, Temptation was my first one. The novel was a fast read, sarcastic and the narrative flowed from the start to the end. I could never put my finger on why I liked this book. I’ve been to California but I don’t “get” the culture, mind set, and attitude of the west coast. I also don’t “get” much-ado-about-nothing scandals and why do people actually care. Yet, from some strange reason the book grabbed me, which I can only attribute to Mr. Kennedy’s storytelling. I found the characters to be very relatable, David the screenwriter and protagonist isn’t exactly likeable but I could certainly feel his struggle. The story of rise to the pinnacles of professional success and the sharp descent from those…

Thoughts on: The Art of the Sale by Philip Delves Broughton
5 Stars , Latest Posts , Non-Fiction / April 24, 2012

About: The Art of the Sale by Philip Delves Broughton is a non-fiction book in which the author shares stories and theories about what makes a salesperson. Mr. Broughton believes that we are all salespeople and could use sales skills everyday of our lives. I’m in agreement. 304 pages Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (April 12, 2012) Language: English ISBN-10: 1594203326 My rating for The Art of the Sale – 5 Buy this book in paper or in elec­tronic format. More book by Philip Delves Broughton Thoughts: The Art of the Sale by Philip Delves Broughton (website | Twitter) is a fun, charming and educational book which gives one a glimpse into the world of the sales force. The book can be read in parts as every chapter gives anecdotes from successful salesman. One of my biggest regrets is not learning how to sell. My friend Tripp Braden told me a long time ago that if I knew how to sell I’d never have to look for a job. The more I get immersed in the business world, the more I see how right he was. I convinced myself I was a bad salesman, from some unbeknownst reason which I’m not willing to dwell…

Celebrate World Book Night
Latest Posts / April 23, 2012

Today we celebrate World Book Night (website | Twitter | Facebook) where readers around the world will celebrate their love or the written word by handing out free copies. Thousands of cities and towns around the world will be participating in the second annual World Book Night where the expected number of books to be donated reached 2.5 million. The event, first conceived by Jamie Byng, Managing Director of Canongate Books in Edinburgh, Scotland. This year though would be the first time US readers will participate along with Germany, Ireland and the UK of course. The date, April 23, was not incidental as it marks both the death of Miguel de Cervantes and the birth of William Shakespeare. The goal, in the United States, is to give out half a million books to those who ordinarily wouldn’t have bought them. Designated givers, 25,000 in the United States, will give out brand new paperback books specially printed for the event. Among the 30 titles available are The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, The Stand by Stephen King, A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, The Poisonwood…

Author Q&A with Kathy Hep­in­stall
Author Q&A , Latest Posts / April 23, 2012

Kathy Hep­in­stall’s Blue Asylum (my thoughts) was a quick read on two very interesting subjects – The American Civil War and the definition of insane. i was glad to get the chance to ask Ms. Hep­in­stall a few quick questions. Q. There is a famous story (which I cannot recall where I heard) about a psychiatrist who was interviewing a very pleasant man who thought he was a famous figure (Jesus? Napoleon?) . The man asks “what if I’m right”? The phsychologist answered “you might be right, but there are more of us”. Blue Asylum seems t thrive on the notion of who is considered insane at a moment in time. was that the story you set out to write? What’s your opinion? A. I’m not sure if I set out to write that story, but it ended up that way – I mean, it’s ridiculous, isn’t it, when you think there were people being held in an insane asylum at the exact time we were actually fighting a war in large part, over whether we should keep other human beings as slaves? I found myself really loving and feeling empathy for the inmates of Sanibel Lunatic Asylum. Q. why did…

Guest Review: Breathe : A Ghost Story by Cliff McNish
Fiction , Guest Posts , Latest Posts / April 21, 2012

‘Mommie Dearest…’ Mother-love is a complex thing. Our relationship with our mother is the most fundamental and determining relationship most of us will ever have,whether we like it or not. It can be a force for good or… not.  Its repercussions may be felt throughout life and sometimes, persist even after death. Buy this book in paper or in elec­tronic format. In reality we don’t always find the ‘unconditional’ devotion and support that is the idealized version of motherhood. If we dig a little deeper into the mother-child dynamic we might discover the most complicated of motivations and desires – as different in each case as the individuals involved. In Susan Hill’s popular novel ‘The Woman in Black’ we saw the vindictiveness that could be unleashed when motherhood was denied. One might also wonder what the possible conclusion of an over-protective mother-child relationship might be? Cliff McNish takes a look at obsessive mother-love in his book ‘Breathe: A Ghost Story’, and explores its more chilling consequences. After twelve-year-old Jack’s father dies suddenly, his mother Sarah moves them to an old farmhouse in the country. It’s an isolated,crumbling old place, and it has a history. Sarah hopes that by surrounding Jack with unfamiliar things he…

Fun Facts Friday: Charlotte Brontë
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / April 20, 2012

Tomorrow, 21 April will be the birthday of author Charlotte Brontë who was born in 1816. While I did not care much for Jane Eyre , I did appreciate its literary qualities. Check out my Fun Facts Friday on Charlotte’s sister, Emily. Books by Charlotte Brontë 1 ) Charlotte Brontë was the only one of her sisters to live past the ripe old age of 31. 2 ) The author’s most famous work, Jane Eyre, was originally published in 1847 under the nom-de-plume Currer Bell. 3 ) After Jane Eyre was published, the Brontë family suffered three tragedies in eight months. In September 1848 the family’s only son, Branwell, died, Emily died in December of 1848 and Anne died in May 1849. Charlotte stopped writing for a while but continued her second novel, Shirley, after Anne’s death as a way of dealing with her grief. 4 ) As a way of gaining attention to her Shirley, Charlotte sent copies leading authors of the time including Elizabeth Gaskell. 5 ) Charlotte’s third book, Villette, was the last one published in her lifetime. As her previous novels, the book has some autobiographical aspects. The novel was acknowledged as having sophisticated writing, but…

Thoughts on: Flags Over the Warsaw Ghetto by Moshe Arens
5 Stars , Latest Posts , Non-Fiction / April 19, 2012

Flags Over the Warsaw Ghetto: The Untold Story of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising by Moshe Arens, former Ambassador to the U.S., Israeli Defense Minister and Foreign Minister, tells the story of the uprising in Warsaw Ghetto which the history books have missed. Interestingly enough, the uprising started on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Passover, a holiday known as celebrating liberation.

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