Step on a Crack

January 3rd, 2007

Step on a Crack by James PattersonFirst there was Alex Cross.

Then there was the Women's Murder Club.

Now meet Detective Michael Bennett, NYPD.

Detective Michael Bennett is about to face the greatest challenge of his career. After the death of a beloved former first lady, the most powerful people in the world gather in New York for her funeral. Then the inconceivable occurs. Billionaires, politicians, and superstars of every kind are suddenly trapped within one man's brilliant and ruthless scenario.

Ten adopted kids.
Bennett–father of ten–is pulled into the fray but is then hit with devastating news: his wife is battling a terrible disease. As New York descends into chaos, he faces the prospect of losing the great love of his life and having to raise his children alone.

The crime of the century to solve.
Day after day, Bennett confronts the most ruthless man he has ever encountered, a man who kills without hesitation. As the entire world watches, Bennett has to find a way out–or face responsibility for the greatest debacle in history.

Step on a Crack is the first of four novels that James Patterson has scheduled to release in 2007. It would appear that Detective Bennett is being heralded as Patterson's newest serial character. So I hope this is a good book or maybe we will never hear from Bennett again. Look for Step on a Crack February 6, 2007 or feel free to pre-order a copy.

A Storm of Swords - George R. R. Martin

January 3rd, 2007

Storm of Swords by George R. R. MartinOf the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage, as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons left in the world. And as opposing forces maneuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mythical Others -- a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords...

My struggle here will be trying to express things about book three of a series that I have not already said about book one or book two. It is very difficult for me to try to write my thoughts on the book without either saying things I have already said or tripping over my excitement for the series while trying to give you a down-to-earth recounting of the book.

I can tell stories about me sitting up at night reading in bed and getting entirely too animated with my reactions to things Martin wrote...or I can compare it with the first two books of the series. When put that way, I think I'll opt for the latter.

By starting, or continuing, the series through book 3 you will not be disappointed. Not on a grand scale anyway. (One thing about George Martin is that he is not afraid to kill off main characters. As with the first two books, in book 3 main characters die. If you were attached to one or more who is killed/dies then you may be disappointed on a smaller scale.) The series is not new to me anymore; I no longer have the honeymoon feeling with the books. Gone is the initial excitement from finding something I loved, but my devotion is renewed at the end of each book.

The excitement in the series slowed somewhat in book 2, but not in book 3. A Storm of Swords is aptly named for the fast-paced action. There is a lot that happens, and you may find yourself (as I did) going back and forth trying to decide which is my favorite character. Sit tight, it is going to be a bumpy ride, but it will be a fun ride. With George R. R. Martin, I am consistently entertained.

I guess it boils down to this: If you have read the first two books, I would imagine you were somewhat eager to read book 3, but do not want to be let down. Don't hesitate. Get your copy of book 3 today and start reading. I tried to pace myself through the first three, knowing that there are still unwritten books in the series, to spread out the amount of time between books more evenly. I have given up on that idea. Book 4 here I come!

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December 30th, 2006
The BeachRichard: I just feel like everyone tries to do something different, but you always wind up doing the same damn thing.

Peter Pan in Scarlet

December 29th, 2006
Peter Pan in Scarlet

In 1929 J.M. Barrie gave the copyright in Peter Pan to the Special Trustees of Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital. Marking that work's centenary, the hospital authorized the creation of a sequel to Peter Pan. The result of the worldwide search for its author?

Peter Pan in Scarlet by award winner Geraldine McCaughrean.

Journey back to Neverland in the first-ever authorized sequel to J.M. Barrie's masterpiece, Peter Pan.

Set in the 1930s, when the devastating effects of World War I are still resonating throughout the world, Peter Pan in Scarlet sends readers soaring into a landscape of magic and adventure, on an unforgettable journey fraught with danger. All is not well. Nightmares are leaking out of Neverland as if chafes against the Here and Now, wearing holes in the fabric in between. Somehow Time is moving on where Time was never meant to. Fearing for Peter Pan's life, Wendy and the Lost Boys go back to Neverland -- with the help of the fairy Fireflyer -- only to discover adventure waiting in ambush and their worst nightmares coming true!

How Peter Pan -- the boy who never grows up -- and his friends restore Neverland to rights is the heart of this brilliant story told in a style that captures the elusive spirit of J.M. Barrie's classic. Illustrated by Scott M. Fischer, Peter Pan in Scarlet is a literary treasure that will leave no heart untouched.

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Top 5 Movies: Starring Harrison Ford

December 28th, 2006

A Prairie Home Companion

December 28th, 2006


A Prairie Home CompanionGo backstage with A Prairie Home Companion, and experience the laughter and joy of down-home America's favorite radio show. Acclaimed director Robert Altman (Gosford Park, The Player) leads an all-star cast in this magical, fictional account of the legendary show's final radio broadcast. As cast and crew assemble one last time to sing, tell stories and reminisce, the result is an unforgettable homage to a beloved American treasure.

The things I had heard about A Prairie Home Companion were positive ones. No one seemed to gush over the movie and no one called it an "absolute must-see." All of the thoughts I heard or read seemed to portray A Prairie Home Companion as a GOOD movie. And that is what it was. A Prairie Home Companion is a hearty, meat and potatoes, stick-to-your-ribs kind of good movie. The movie may be overflowing with highlights personal to you, but from a broader perspective I would only list one highlight. It wasn't "that kind of movie." Rather than a story about a radio show airing its last broadcast, it was a heartwarming story about a band of radio personalities giving their final performance. The focus was the people.

The movie was a look into their lives. They tell stories, some for the first time, with others they've lost count. They laugh. They cry. They are a family. And while the stories may not be familiar to us, the faces sure are.

The cast includes Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, Garrison Keillor, Kevin Kline, Lindsay Lohan, Virginia Madsen, John C. Reilly, Maya Rudolph, Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Marylouise Burke and L.Q. Jones. Surely you've heard one or two of those names! So many names, some bigger than others. It was nice to see so many people be a part of a movie like this when many of the roles were limited. Try to argue all you want that there aren't big names in that list, but I will fight you there.

Oh, and before I forget: that highlight I mentioned earlier. Kevin Kline. If you are a fan of Mr. Kline, I probably won't need to elaborate. If you have seen the movie, then you may even agree. This guy is magic. I loved the part he played as Guy Noir, the short-of-work 1930s private eye stuck manning security for the theater. As he spoke, whether it be conversationally or in narration to the movie, he did so in an overly dramatic style characterized decades ago by men and women in film. In the DVD extras, director Robert Altman talks admiringly about Kline. He says that the camera has to be on Kline's body rather than zoom in because he plays his parts with his entire body. Think about that after watching one of his movies if you don't believe it. The man is talented, and his performance was the highlight for me.

I liked A Prairie Home Companion. It was fun to hear some of the ridiculous jingles that the performers had to sing. It was a pleasure to be let into the lives of the characters facing the end of the careers they loved so deeply. And it was a riot to hear some of the jokes. A Prairie Home Companion may never see an award from the Academy, but please do not limit your movie watching based upon that metric.

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December 27th, 2006
matt pond pa - Several Arrows Later - HalloweenIf you don't know or care, you'll be all right. I heard it's modern to be stupid. You don't need to talk to look good.

Movie of the Month - January, 2007

December 21st, 2006

Danny Deckchair

Danny DeckchairAn average guy uses gags and pranks to liven up his blue-collar life and accidentally ends up taking off in a deck chair strapped to giant helium-filled balloons while his friends watch helplessly from below. He starts a whole new life in a far-off town where he crash lands...until his old life catches up to him.

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Book of the Month - January, 2007

December 20th, 2006

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

Running with Scissors by Augusten BurroughsRunning with Scissors is the true story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her unorthodox psychiatrist who bore a striking resemblance to Santa Claus. So at the age of twelve, Burroughs finds himself amidst Victorian squalor living with the doctor's bizarre family, and befriending a pedophile who resided in the backyard shed. The story of an outlaw childhood where rules were unheard of, and the Christmas tree stayed up all year-round, where Valium was consumed like candy, and if things god dull, an electroshock-therapy machine could provide entertainment. The funny, harrowing, and bestselling account of an ordinary boy's survival under the most extraordinary circumstances.

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The Great New Wonderful

December 19th, 2006


The Great New WonderfulMaggie Gyllenhaal (World Trade Center), Tony Shalhoub (Monk), Edie Falco (The Sopranos) and Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report) deliver brilliant performances in this intoxicating, intelligent comedy. In this character driven masterpiece several New Yorkers -- an oddball office shrink, a cluelessly competitive pastry chef, and a flirtatious security guard -- reveal their eccentric private stories. It's a deliciously bittersweet comic triumph from director Danny Leiner (Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle).

How does that Meat Loaf song go? Two out of Three Ain't Bad? I guess that means one out of three is bad. This movie was neither Great, nor Wonderful. And as soon as it is no longer considered "new," it will be zero out of three.

I wanted to enjoy the movie. For most of the movie I enjoyed the characters and felt for them in certain scenarios. Something was just missing. Well, I figure two things were missing: cohesion and closure.

I can appreciate the idea of many smaller stories combined to form one bigger super-movie. Maybe I am just used to seeing it more when the stories have some common element. These stories never intertwined and nothing, except the emotional roller coaster of life in The Big Apple was the same for any of the characters.

There were emotional highs and lows. Hopes were exalted and dashed. And all the while...nothing really happened. There was no story; we simply follow a few people on their day-to-day routines and see the happiness and pain they experience at whatever intervals they experience them.

And then the movie ends. That's it.

Well to be fair they showed one more scene that only serves to compound the abundance of loose ends and detract from any feeling of compassion. I won't spoil the final scene, but it was not the most "pro-family" scene I have ever watched.

The movie does have a decent list of names associated with it. Probably my favorite of the bunch is Jim Gaffigan. He may not be the funniest comedian, but I have enjoyed seeing him in what I can when I can. He and Tony Shalhoub bantered well together as doctor and patient. Their story was a little forced, but the two had good chemistry.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is finally beginning to grow on me. Or then again it might just be the part she played was much more...wholesome than roles she has had in the past (e.g. Happy Endings)

It certainly would take much more than additional witty banter from Jim Gaffigan and wholesomeness from Maggie Gyllenhaal to even make The Great New Wonderful into A Movie Worth Seeing. I do not recommend you see this movie. I will even go one step further to recommend you avoid it altogether.

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