Guest Review: Pretty Little Dead Things by Gary McMahon
Guest Posts , Latest Posts / October 31, 2012

Reviewed by Ren Zelen Buy this book in paper format It’s all a bit bleak. Not that I’m saying that horror stories should be a walk in the park, of course not, but sometimes a little bit of light might not be a bad idea, just for contrast if nothing else. McMahon’s depressing tale begins initially as a realistically gritty crime novel. ‘Pretty Little Dead Things’ follows Thomas Usher, a man whose life is both ruined and transformed one night when he is involved in a head-on collision in his car. Tragically, his wife and daughter die in the crash, but Usher survives. He emerges with the ability to see the deceased – all kinds of deceased, except, it seems, his own wife and child. Overwhelmed by grief, guilt and depression, he considers his newly acquired ability as a curse. A sense of sorrow and loss inform all his actions, but gradually, with the help of an old flame, he begins to surface out of his despair and begins working as a kind of paranormal private investigator, hoping to help others that have died, if he cannot help his own wife and child. He investigates the murder of a shady businessman’s…

Guest Review: So Sad to Fall in Battle: an Account of War by Tadamichi Kuribayashi
Guest Posts , Latest Posts , Non-Fiction / October 30, 2012

Few people in America knew who Tadamichi Kuribayashi was before Clint Eastwood’s heartrending film, Letters from Iwo Jima. They wouldn’t have known by name that Kuribayashi, ultimately, was the man responsible for one-third of the deaths in the Marine Corps in the Pacific theater of World War II. So Sad to Fall in Battle is available on Kindle, hardcover, and paperback. Letters from an unorthodox general Eastwood’s work (which is based on freelance author Kumiko Kakehashi’s book So Sad to Fall in Battle) makes clear that Kuribayashi was no ordinary soldier. Interviews with widows of long lost soldiers and the very letters and pictures that Kuribayashi penned to his dying day reveal a man unlike any American-held stereotype of a WWII-era Japanese. Far from the suicidal fanatics portrayed in Hollywood (who did, admittedly, exist, though in greater complexity than typically believed), Kuribayashi refused to allow his subordinates to execute banzai charges. Where many superiors in the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy were hyper-sensitive to class distinctions and made their disdain corporally known to all inferiors, Kuribayashi held the view that his men were not expendable. He ate the same rations as his men, drank the same water collected in rainstorms, and walked every inch…

Guest Review: In the Land of Invisible Women: A female Doctor’s Journey in the Saudi Kingdom by Qanta Ahmed
Guest Posts , Latest Posts / October 27, 2012

Pages: 464 Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc. Language: English ISBN-10: 1402210876 ISBN-13: 9781402210877 My rating: 3.5 stars Buy this book in paper or electronic format Synopsis: Qanta Ahmed, a British-born Muslim doctor, is denied a work visa in the United States. She opts to travel to Saudi Arabia where she works in a hospital in Riyadh. Although she was raised as a Muslim, and is familiar with the teachings of Islam, nothing prepares her for the culture shock she experiences in a country under Sharia Law. The first chapter grabbed my attention immediately as it described a Muslim Bedouin woman lying on an operating table. The woman is in a coma and connected to a respirator. Although the woman is naked, her face is covered by a veil. Doctor Ahmed finds it a striking clash between technology and religion. Meanwhile, the woman’s son is pacing with worry and anxiety over her veil remaining in place. So begins the contrasts and conflicts that Dr. Qanta Ahmed encounters during her years in Saudi Arabia. In this compelling narration, Dr. Ahmed lifts the veil of the upper-class Saudi women and exposes their culture and religion to the Western eye. The story is set during the…

Fun Facts Friday: James Boswell
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / October 26, 2012

Monday, October 29 in the year 1750, famous Scottish author James Boswell (29 October 1740 – 19 May 1795) was born. Mr. Boswell had a very colorful life and his vivid writing is still something to be admired. Portrait of James Boswell By Sir Joshua Reynolds circa 1785 Books by James Boswell 1 ) Born in Edinburgh. James’ father was a judge and belonged to an old Scottish family with the title Lord of Auchinleck. This made James the 9th Laird of Auchinleck. 2 ) As a supporter of the Corsican Republic, Boswell donated money, arms and went dressed up as a Corsican Chief to the Shakespeare Jubilee in Stratford-Upon-Avon (See a letter from Boswell about the Shakespeare Jubilee). 3 ) After finishing college Boswell toured Europe. On his tour he met several dignitaries including Rousseau and Voltaire. Taking careful notes Boswell created detailed profiles of the famous people he met. 4 ) In 1763 Boswell met Samuel Johnson. They remained lifelong friends. 5 ) Boswell’s book, An Account of Corsica, was published in 1768, translated into 4 languages and made Boswell famous. 6 ) Mr. Boswell liked to whore around. In 167 he wrote a letter to W.J. Temple…

Guest Review: Seed by Ania Ahlborn
Guest Posts , Latest Posts / October 24, 2012

Book review by Ren Zelen Buy this book in paper or electronic format Amazon is trying its hand at the movie business. Two-year-old Amazon Studios has optioned its first horror movie, buying the film rights to an e-book, the Southern gothic thriller, “Seed,” by Ania Ahlborn. Released in 2011 as a self-published title, “Seed” reached the top of Amazon’s bestselling horror list by ‘nothing more than word-of-mouth’, according to Amazon spokespersons. The horror novel was re-released in 2012 after Ahlborn restructured particular plot points with the help of input from fans and added another 6,000 words to the manuscript. The news of Amazon buying the film rights broke as, coincidentally, I was about halfway through reading the e-book. I can understand why Amazon decided to pick-up this particular story. It lends itself to the visual image, exuding a seedy, oppressive, Southern Gothic ambience, and offering an ideal opportunity to create a particular nasty and memorable demonic entity and a possessed child. Ahlborn has a kind of proto-Stephen-King, descriptive writing style (and we all know how often that has attracted movie-makers, though with mixed results). I consider King to be a master storyteller, a deft spinner of compelling yarns, and like…

Book Review: Light & Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page by Brad Tolinski

Article first published as Book Review: Light and Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page by Brad Tolinski on Blogcritics. About: Light & Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page by Brad Tolinski is a non-fiction book which is a compilation of interviews the author did with the famed and private guitarist. Mr. Tolinski is the editorial director of Guitar World, Revolver and Guitar Aficionado magazines. 320 pages Publisher: Crown Language: English ISBN-10: 0307985717 My rat­ing for Light & Shade — 4 Buy this book in paper or in elec­tronic format* More Books by Brad Tolinski Thoughts: Light & Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page by Brad Tolinski shades some light (pun intended) on Jimmy Page, mostly known as Led Zeppelin’s guitarist, his career, life and profession. Through hours of interviews we get a glimpse into Page’s life and aspects of his life which he has had much influence (fashion, magick and more). I’m sure that if I wanted to know more about Led Zeppelin I could find an almost unlimited amount, all written by other people and maybe with a cooperation of the band. Even though the band is legendary, the members of the band rarely let the public into their private life which is why I chose to read this book. In the interviews…

Book Review: Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times by H.W. Brands

Andrew Jackson was born in northern South Carolina and at the age of 13 was already a member of the Revolutionary Army and a prisoner of the British. After securing his release, his mother left him an orphan at the age of 14, but Jackson thrived and became a lawyer through apprenticeships. By 1788 Jackson became the solicitor for Nashville, a frontier town.

Guest Review: Star Wars: The Truce at Bakura by Kathy Tyers
Fiction , Guest Posts , Latest Posts / October 20, 2012

Buy this Star Wars Book in paper or electronic copy* Andrew: Originally published at 3/5 Rancors – There are no vacation days for the heroes of the Rebellion. Finally, the Emperor’s reign of terror has been ended, the Empire is in disarray, and the Rebellion is suddenly in a position to start laying the groundwork of a new galactic government. Unfortunately, mere hours after these tumultuous events a distress call from the remote system of Bakura arrives at Endor and it’s back in the proverbial saddle for Luke Skywalker and his buddies. The Truce at Bakura by Kathy Tyers tells the story of an alien invasion of the Bakura system, a place “protected” by the Empire but in desperate need of aid. The Rebels must find a way to help the Bakurans while maintaining an uneasy alliance with Imperial Governor Wilek Nereus and his forces. The alien invaders are an extra-galactic reptilian species named the Ssi-ruuk. Total enslavement of all other life is the Ssi-ruuk reason for their assault on Bakura and other systems. The most unusual aspect of these creatures is the method they use to power their fleet. It is called entechment and involves draining living beings of life to power…

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