The Darkest Thread (Flint K-9 #1)

By Jen Blood
ISBN-13: 9780998229607

Publication Year: 2016

Tags: Avoid-At-All-Cost, Feminism v3.0, Thriller

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Canine Search-And-Rescue (SAR) units find bodies, ghosts, and a serial killer in a haunted wood, thanks to persistent neo-feminists risking their lives and careers against male liars and evildoers. And that’s more description than this book deserves. Continue reading “The Darkest Thread (Flint K-9 #1)”

Dyeing Wishes

By Molly MacRae
ISBN-13: 978-0-481-23956-3

Publication Year: 2013

Tags: Cozy Mystery, Series

Rating: ★★★★★

Kath Rutledge is back, this time with her friends from a knitting group, all gathered together at a peaceful sheep farm to have one of their number demonstrate some yarn-dyeing techniques. When the group heads out to see the sheep, the beautiful spring day turns sinister with the discovery of two bodies spread beneath a tall tree… and worse, one of them is someone they know. Kath’s friends want her to investigate, as she did not that long ago (in Last Wool and Testament). She is reluctant at first, but when a third victim shows up, she calls on her home-grown “posse” to help her sort through the clues and catch a killer. Continue reading “Dyeing Wishes”

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

By Shirley Jackson
ISBN-13 978-014-303997-6

Publication Year: 1962

Tags: Thriller, Horror, Classic

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The book’s beginning: “My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise, I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.” Continue reading “We Have Always Lived in the Castle”

Interstellar

(2014, rated PG) Matthew McConaughey (Cooper), Anne Hathaway (Amelia Brand), Jessica Chastain (Murphy “Murph” Cooper), John Lithgow (Donald), Michael Caine (Dr. Brand), Casey Affleck (Tom Cooper), Matt Damon (Dr. Mann), William Devane (Williams). Music: Hans Zimmer. Screenplay: Johnathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan. Director: Christopher Nolan. 169 minutes.

Tags: Sci-Fi, Epic, Dystopian, Special Effects Extravaganza

Notable: Various aspects of “hard science” heighten the film’s believability; a PG-rated film with a single f-bomb in it, which used to make a film require an “R” rating.

Rating: ★★★★★

In the mid-twenty-first century, the Earth can barely sustain life. Cooper (McConaughey) is a former NASA astronaut, now trying to eke out a life as a dust-bowl farmer after NASA had been abandoned some years before. His daughter Murphy finds a strange pattern in the dust on the floor of her room, a pattern she blames on a ghost. When the pattern keeps recurring, Cooper deduces that it’s a gravitic anomaly, that the lines are actually a binary code for geographic coordinates. Following them, Cooper discovers Brand (Hathaway), his old boss from NASA, heading a secret facility that has been researching the presence of an artificially-created wormhole, an opening in space that could lead to a planet that could sustain human life… if they can get there. Continue reading “Interstellar”

You Are A Badass

By Jen Sincero
ISBN-13: 978-0-7624-4769-5

Publication Year: 2013

Tags: Self-Help, Unoriginal, Potentially Dangerous

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

I had this book recommended to me by someone who said that it changed her life. (She’s still working at a discount book store, so maybe other areas of her life were changed.) Short Form: Another self-styled Life Coach hypes herself as having THE ANSWER, using all of the worst self-help suggestions in the world, barely repackaged into modern, poorly-written tripe. To quote a favorite short review, “This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly; it should be throw with great force.” (Attributed, without confirmation, to Dorothy Parker) Continue reading “You Are A Badass”

The Parade of the Grotesques

As but a pup, I remember using words like gross or even “groady” (which isn’t a word) to describe something disgusting, foul, probably even slimy. These would seem to be the modern American abbreviated forms of something being grotesque which, in this sub-dialect of the English language, has come to mean not merely unnatural, bizarre, or freakish, but more often malformed, ugly, or just plain puke-worthy. Considering the origins of the word, and its use early in the last century in the sense of fantastic (something out of fantasy) or outrageous (something so unusual as to cause wondrous disbelief), it would seem to be a word worth revisiting. Continue reading “The Parade of the Grotesques”

True Believer

(1989, rated R) James Woods (Eddie Dodd), Robert Downey, Jr. (Roger Barron), Margaret Colin (Kitty Greer), Yuji Okumoto (Shiu Kai Kim), Kurtwood Smith (Robert Reynard), Tom Bower (Cecil Skell), Miguel Fernandez (Art Esparza), Charles Hallahan (Vincent Dennehy), Luis Guzman (Ortega). Music: Brad Fidel (“Busload of Faith” written/sung by Lou Reed). Screenplay: Wesley Strick. Director: Joseph Ruben. 108 minutes.

Tags: Mystery, Courtroom Drama, “Criminal Justice YRW”

Notable: Downey as a baby-faced 24 year old; spun-off short-lived TV series Eddie Dodd, starring Treat Williams.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Eddie Dodd was a crusading lawyer in his day; now, he’s a burn-out, defending drug dealers that he knows are guilty in order to make points about the unfairness of governmental and police procedural flaws… so he says. Roger Barron, fresh out of law school, was impressed with Eddie’s early cases, comes to San Francisco to work with him, not sure that he’s even meeting the firebrand of years past. The knifing of a prison inmate by another inmate calls into question whether or not young Shiu Kai Kim (the alleged killer) should have been in prison in the first place. After all these years of having lost his own belief in The System, Eddie now has a chance to defend an innocent man. The question becomes… can he? Continue reading “True Believer”

The Gods Themselves

By Isaac Asimov
ISBN-13 978-0-5532-8810-0

Tags: Science Fiction, What-If, Cautionary Tale

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Through an accident of science, Earth now has a seemingly unlimited supply of energy, enough to last a trillion years. Three people — an outcast scientist, a rebellious alien in a parallel world, and a lunar-born human Intuitionist — are aware that this boon to humankind could cause an imbalance in the nature of nuclear attraction that will cause the sun to explode with enough force to destroy the entire solar system and beyond, in perhaps as little as a few years. Continue reading “The Gods Themselves”

The Sentinel

(1977, rated R) Chris Serandon (Michael Lerner), Christina Raines (Alison Parker), Martin Balsam (Professor Ruzinsky), John Carridine (Father Halloran), José Ferrer (Robed Figure), Ava Gardner (Miss Logan), Arthur Kennedy (Monsignor Franchino), Burgess Meredith (Charles Chasen), Sylvia Miles (Gerda), Deborah Raffin (Jennifer), Eli Wallach (Detective Gatz), Christopher Walken (Rizzo), Jerry Orbach (Film Director), Jeff Goldblum (Jack). Music: Gil Mellé. Screenplay: Michael Winner (based on the book by Jeffrey Konvtiz). Director: Michael Winner. 92 minutes.

Tags: Horror, Suspense, Kitsch

Notable: Jeff Goldblum almost invisible; Christopher Walken with about three lines; presentation of a lesbian couple (who are, of course, evil).

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Model Alison Parker catches a great deal on a Brooklyn apartment, with her few neighbors being a bit eccentric, particularly the old, blind priest, Father Halloran in the upper floor apartment who sits in the window, staring at nothing, and never moves. It takes some time for her and her lawyer lover, Michael Lerner, to discover that the building is actually the gateway to Hell… and Alison has been invited to join the occupants of the building permanently. Continue reading “The Sentinel”

Millennium

By John Varley
ISBN-13 — 978-0441006779

Publication Year: 1983

Tags: Science Fiction, Time Travel

Rating: ★★★★☆

Far over Oakland, California, a DC-10 commercial aircraft strikes a 747 in mid-air, bringing down both planes in an area covering several miles. No survivors. Air disaster investigator Bill Smith is searching for the reason for the crash, as a woman calling herself Louise Baltimore prepares, 50,000 years in the future, to stop him from finding out too much. The crash had to happen. It wasn’t that Louise caused it, but she left something behind on that plane, and Bill Smith can’t discover it before her, or the entirety of human history could be wiped out at a speed of hundreds of years per hour. Continue reading “Millennium”