Principal Linda MacDonald wants Career Day at Gaudalupe Middle School to be memorable. But as she frets over the language of her introductory speech, little does she know what will unfold on this day and how truly memorable it will be for herself, the students and the participants.
Laurie R. King’s Lockdown bills itself as a novel of suspense. And like a film by Alfred Hitchcock, King gets us to invest in her characters to help build and ratchet up the tension until it finally reaches a boiling point. And when it does, King not only earns the payoff, but has a few well foreshadowed surprises for readers as well.
Alternating between multiple viewpoints and characters, King invests the world of Gaudalupe Middle School with several potential scenarios, slowly building to the (seemingly) inevitable outcome and the lockdown of the title. Leading up to an event that is taken from today’s headlines, King gives readers multiple options of who and what might be the trigger for the events of Career Day. Continue reading
Gwendy’s Button Box feels like an homage to Richard Matheson’s superlative short-story “The Box” (which if you haven’t read yet, please add it to your summer reading list!).
Young Gwendy Patterson is running the town’s Suicide Stairs in the summer of 1974 in an attempt to leave her derogatory nickname behind when she enters middle school that fall. She meets a mysterious man in black who offers her a box with buttons. One button will give her a chocolate treat that will help curb her appetite. Another dispenses silver dollars and the others come with warnings that they shouldn’t be pushed except under extreme circumstances. Continue reading
Time again for Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish). This week’s theme is a “summer freebie” so I’m going to make a list of the books I hope to read this summer. (We just signed up for our library’s summer reading program yesterday and I’m ready to go!)
- Lockdown by Laurie R. King
- The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman
- Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
- Bad Girl Gone by Temple Matthews
- Ten Dead Comedians by Fred Van Lente
- Doctor Who: The Pirate Planet by James Goss
- Vicious by V.E. Schwaub
- Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles
- It by Stephen King (re-read)
- The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan
That should keep me busy this summer! And, of course, there will be reading to Shortcake so she can get prizes too!
Good films are a product of their time. And sometimes understanding not only what went into making a film but also the time in which it was made can lead to a deeper and richer viewing. That’s the case with one of the greatest films ever committed to celluloid as examined by Glenn Frankel in his latest book High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic.
Frankel brings together many of the threads that led to the making of the film — from the events leading up to the infamous Blacklist and naming names to the casting decisions for the film. Walking away from the book, you’ll marvel at how many times things could have gone wrong for one of the iconic films of American cinema, but how they all lined up to produce a film that is as taut, entertaining and fascinating today as it was upon its initial release.
Picking up this book will give you a new respect for High Noon and also leave you wanting to view the film again with the new insights gained from Frankel’s thorough account about the making of this celebrated classic.
The story of Will Kaine, a man deserted by his supposed friends in his hour of need, becomes even more gripping knowing what the screenwriter and many of those behind the scenes were putting on the line to make this movie.
Frankel moves easily back and forth between giving us the micro and macro view of events unfolding to create this classic Western. If you’re a fan of cinema, this is an absolute must read. Think of it as a printed version of the best DVD extra features you’ve ever seen.
View all my reviews
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish) asks us what are some of the factors that go into picking up a book to read. There are a couple of things that will lead me to pick up a book or put it on reserve at the library.
- I have certain authors who are on my “automatic” list. Among them are Stephen King, Elizabeth George, Laura Lippman, Michael Connolly Garrison Keillor and John Scalzi.
- If it’s a Star Trek: New Frontier offering from Peter David. I love this series. One of the few on-going series I’m not behind on reading, too!
- If the book is recommended by Stephen King. King used to have a regular column in Entertainment Weekly that offered his thoughts and recommendations from pop culture. I found that nine times out of ten if King recommends a book, I will probably enjoy it.
- If the book gets good buzz from reviewers with whom I share similar tastes.
- The cover grabs my attention. Yes, I know we aren’t supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, but if you’ve got good cover art that grabs my attention, odds are I’ll at least try the book.
- If it’s a series that I enjoy and the last installment ended on a cliffhanger.
- If I see a trailer for a movie or TV show based on the book.
- If it examines the making of a favorite TV show or movie. It’s kind of like an extended, in-depth special feature on the DVD or Blu-Ray!
Those are a couple of things for this week. I’m sure I could think of a half dozen or so more, but those are some of the big ones.
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish) reflects on the authors we’ve met or would like to meet.
Authors I’ve Met:
- Garrison Keillor. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to Garrison Keillor twice and each time has been a pleasure. I attended a concert Keillor gave at Wolf Trap and sent a couple of my books backstage to see if he’d sign them. After the show, a small group gathered by the stage door to retrieve our signed items and Keillor delivered them himself, taking a few minutes per person to engage us in conversation. Years later, a good friend and I attended a reading at the Nashville library by Keillor and I got to talk to him again. Just like the first time, Keillor took time with each of us to engage in conversation.
- Phillip Gulley. Gulley came for a reading at our local library and then signed books after the event. Like Keillor, Gulley took the time to engage in conversation with the people in line and not rush anyone aside to get to the next person.
- Peter David. I used to read every Star Trek tie-in novel that came out and Peter David’s were among the ones I looked forward to most. I’ve fallen behind on my Trek novels in the past several years, but I still go out of my way get the ones written by David. I met David at the only DragonCon I’ve attended. He signed a couple of my first edition favorite Trek novels, including Q-Squared.
- Rick Burgess and Bill “Bubba” Bussey. I’ve been to multiple book signings by the “two sexiest fat men alive.” I think I’ve got a full set of signed books by the duo.
- Ray Stevens. One of my favorite entertainers, I’ve wanted to see him in concert since I bought my first album on vinyl by him years ago. And while I haven’t ever seen him in concert, he did write a memoir. So, I met him there, bought an autographed copy and listened to him talk about his history with the Nashville music scene for an hour.
- J.P. Bauman. I spent several evenings working at the Tennesee State Fair last summer and Bauman’s booth was the one next to mine. Got a chance to meet him, hear his stories about writing and the chance to buy several autographed copies of his books.
For most of his life, Quentin Coldwater has used the Fillory (think Narnia) books to escape the doldrums of his everyday life. Now at the age of seventeen, Quentin has been given a chance he never dreamed he had — magic is real and he can become a magician.
Instead of heading to a mundane, normal college, he enlists at Brakebills, a university of magic and begins training. The one thing the books never included was that becoming a Magician is difficult, tedious work and nowhere nearly as exciting as depicted in the novels.
Lev Grossman’s The Magicians follows Quentin and a group of students during the course of their studies at Brakebill’s. Rather than having one book equal one year of Quentin’s life, we’re treated to the highlights of his magical training — from the semester spent in Antartica to the rather odd magical game played among his school and others. The episodic nature of Grossman’s novel ensures that Quentin and the reader never get entirely comfortable with how things are going, including when Quentin and his love interest Alice test out of some of the first year and are moved up to second year early. Continue reading