What I did on my Holiday – Part Two

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As I mentioned yesterday, I did quite a bit of reading on my recent trip to the UK. First up was Pwned (Lexy Cooper Book 2) by Christa Charter. I don’t read a lot of mystery books (and I’m not really sure what the difference is between a mystery novel and a crime novel) but the Lexy Cooper books are set in the world of videogames and that was enough to tempt me into trying them. I read the first Lexy book, Schooled, the week before I left for the UK. Schooled has Lexy working with detective Mike Malick to solve the murder of one of Lexy’s coworkers. Lexy works as a community manager at Xenon, a very thinly veiled version of Microsoft. Coincidentally, Christa Charter used to work as a community manager for Microsoft’s XBox console and she’s used that experience to create a fun “world” for Lexy to play in. Schooled was a quick, fun read so I picked Pwned as my first “holiday read”. I didn’t enjoy Pwned quite as much. There’s two separate plots in the book – Mike’s murder mystery and Lexy’s personal life. The two barely intersect and the Lexy plot veered dangerously close to cheesy afternoon TV territory. That said, I still enjoyed it enough to buy the rest … Read More

Tusk Equalizing

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Monday was a holiday here in Canada so my wife and I decided to spend the afternoon watching a couple of films. First up, Kevin Smith’s Tusk. This one is tricky to recommend. It’s a mix of comedy and cringe inducing horror and it’s a very odd film. For me, the early comedic elements fell a bit flat. Wallace Bryton, played by Justin Long, is co-host of an all too believable podcast called the Not See Party Show (say it out loud a couple of times). That’s about the level of humour you get in that part of the film. But as things progress the humour gets just a little bit smarter (or at least more subtle) and the creepiness ratchets up until the film transitions into some quite effective horror. Michael Parks is superb as the deliciously creepy Howard Howe and Guy Lapointe gives a suitably over the top performance. We enjoyed it but it’s not going to be everyone’s idea of a good time and I can certainly see why it’s not getting a good reception. I love the poster though. Next we headed up the road to see The Equalizer. I don’t remember much of the original TV series starring Edward Woodward (other than that it … Read More

Gettysburg by Chris Pourteau

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I’ve mentioned Michael Bunker’s Amish science fiction novel, Pennsylvania, here before and it’s been doing very well. Most recently, it cracked the top 100 on Amazon and hit number one in the cyberpunk category. Not too shabby. Now, Pennsylvania fan fiction is beginning to hit the shelves. First up is Gettysburg: A Tale of the Second War for Pennsylvanian Independence by Chris Pourteau. Here’s the blurb. In Michael Bunker’s Pennsylvania, Jedidiah Troyer becomes the hero of TRACE’s fight against the Transport Authority. But even before Jed’s adventure begins, the Second War for Pennsylvanian Independence has raged for a generation. Gettysburg is one tale of that long and bitter struggle. When we join them in their fight, the forces of TRACE are running out of time. Severely outmanned and outgunned, they know that if they can’t find a way to level the playing field with Transport—and soon—defeat is inevitable. Fate presents them a chance to turn the tide of war. A large supply of Transport’s okcillium—the all-important material powering laser weapons and other military technology—sits largely unguarded in a small town between the AZ and the City. That town’s name is Gettysburg. But fortune rarely allows history to be made so easily. Tactics, heroics, and … Read More

Guardians of the Galaxy

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We really are living in a golden age of science fiction and fantasy movies and TV. The (relatively) low cost of computer generated imagery coupled with the suitability of genre blockbusters for 3D conversion (and the associated additional income) have created an evironment where it’s finally feasible to create pretty much any ridiculous scenario authors and screenwriters can come up with. And…It’s wearing me out. I can only take so many explosion laden blockbusters before I retreat to the subtle charm of an indie character piece. I pick and choose which of the big films I go to see (no Transformers or Turtles for a start) and this year I’ve seen three – Lucy (which I talked about here), Edge of Tomorrow (which I thought was surprisingly good but neglected to mention at the time) and now Guardians of the Galaxy which we watched in 2D. I have to say, I’m happy with my choices so far. Guardians is quite different to both Lucy and Edge of Tomorrow but I enjoyed it just as much. It’s fast paced and doesn’t take itself at all seriously. The 80s vibe worked really well for me and I was reminded of The Last Starfighter (although I … Read More

Deep Breath Hold Tight by Jason Gurley

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As a thank you for being a member of his mailing list, Jason Gurley sent me a free copy of his first short story collection – Deep Breath Hold Tight : Stories About the End of the World. I bought a copy anyway – that’s how much I enjoyed it. I’ve already talked about his short story – The Dark Age – and how memorable it was. Deep Breath Hold Tight contains The Dark Age plus six other stories, all loosely connected by the end of the world theme. These stories are all previously published either as standalone ebooks, in anthologies or as part of a full length novel. Wolf Skin Wolf Skin is the story of someone who becomes a member of one of those murderous roving gangs so popular in post-apocalyptic fiction. It’s the darkest of the seven stories in the collection. The opening few pages in particular are quite graphic, more so than the rest of the stories in the book. My preferences lean towards horror anyway so I was pretty comfortable with the content but it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But the story quickly moves beyond the violence into more thought provoking territory and I enjoyed it. The Caretaker One of my favourite pieces in the collection, this … Read More

The Dark Age by Jason Gurley

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I first came across Jason Gurley on the writers’ cafe forums on kboards. He’d just lost his job and was selling some very impressive premade book covers. Since then he’s become one of the top cover artists for indie authors and the go-to guy for the biggest names in indie publishing including Hugh Howey, Mathew Mather and Michael Bunker. But he’s actually an accomplished author himself. He’s probably best known for his Silo novel, Greatfall and the Movement Trilogy. He’s also published several short stories and has a collection of them, Deep Breath Hold Tight, coming out on the 13th of May. I haven’t read any of his novels (yet) but I picked up one of his short stories, The Dark Age, in February and was completely blown away. I hate spoilers with a full-on fire raining down from the heavens vengeance so I’m not going to talk about the plot here. I’ll just repeat what I put in my Goodreads and Amazon reviews. A great story stays with you long after you finish reading it and that’s exactly what The Dark Age does. A heart-wrenching slice of sci-fi goodness – read this and then go and hug your loved ones. I was going to write something more here but … Read More

Book – Attic Clowns by Jeremy C Shipp

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This weekend, I finished reading my first book of 2012 – Jeremy C Shipp‘s Attic Clowns: Horror Stories. As the name suggests, all 13 stories in this book contain clowns and attics but if you think that means you know what to expect, you’re wrong. I first encountered Jeremy as the instructor of an online writing course (which incidentally, I highly recommend). I’ve read several of his books and stories since then and quickly became a fan of his work. This collection showcases Jeremy’s warped imagination at its best. Inside these stories you’ll find a toenail clipping eating demon, men made of soap, astronauts, flying couches and a host of other, equally twisted, inventions – I particularly enjoyed Giggles, the story of a malevolent being trapped in an attic by the practical jokes of the woman who watches over him. These are stories that start with lines like: I can’t for the life of me remember why my mother didn’t attend her funeral yesterday, so I ask her. or Benny only thinks about one thing, so it’s no surprise when I find a miniature version of him curled up in my underwear drawer. or Things could get depressing in here with that dead body … Read More