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From The Blog
August 23, 2016
Page to Screen: Woman in the Dunes by Kōbō Abe
Brian Greene
August 19, 2016
Thomas the Train is a Dick
Paul Jenkins
August 19, 2016
Woman Butt Dials Her Way into Jail
Teddy Pierson
August 18, 2016
Why Wait? Writing as a Second Career.
John Keyse-Walker
August 16, 2016
What If This Could Really Happen
Rick Mofina
Showing posts by: Angie Barry click to see Angie Barry's profile
Mon
Aug 22 2016 4:00pm

Review: Waking Up Dead by Nigel Williams

Waking Up Dead by Nigel Williams is both a screamingly funny cozy mystery and startlingly strange ghost story asking the question: What would you do if you could bear witness to your own demise? (Available August 23, 2016)

On the morning of Jessica Pearmain's ninety-ninth birthday, her eldest son—George, a retired bank manager aged sixty-five—wakes to some terrible news.

It appears that, at some point in the night, an intruder broke into his Putney home, where several generations of the Pearmain clan have gathered to celebrate their matriarch's momentous milestone, and murdered the birthday girl.

George's wife, Esmerelda, discovers her on the kitchen floor surrounded by blood and broken glass. The house promptly descends into outraged chaos. A chaos that only becomes more confused and strident when Esmerelda rushes upstairs to tell George...

[Read Angie Barry's review of Waking Up Dead...]

Mon
Aug 15 2016 2:30pm

Passionate About Pulp: Revisiting The Mummy (1999)

THE SUBGENRE: Supernatural adventure.
THE HEROES (WHO HAPPEN TO BE LOVE INTERESTS): Egyptologist Evelyn Carnahan and French Foreign Legion soldier-turned-convict Rick O'Connell.
THE VILLAIN: Imhotep, high priest and murderous mummy.
THE SETTING: 1920's Egypt.

All her life, Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) has dreamed of exploring ancient tombs and proving her worth as a serious Egyptologist. But, in the 1920's, a lady has to really fight for recognition, especially when those pesky Bembridge Scholars keep rejecting her applications because she “doesn't have enough experience in the field.”

[The classic “I can't get a job because I don't have experience, but I can't get experience because no one will give me a job”...]

Fri
Aug 12 2016 11:00pm

Outcast 1.10 Season Finale: “This Little Light” Episode Review

A freshly-possessed Megan’s (Wrenn Schmidt) musings over her new body—and dead husband—are interrupted by daughter Holly and niece Amber (Madeleine McGraw), who promptly drop their chocolate ice cream and flee screaming.

When Kyle (Patrick Fugit) and Anderson (Philip Glenister) arrive, they find a house of horrors. There's a huge hole smashed in the glass of the back door. Mark’s (David Denman) body is cooling on the bathroom floor. Bloodied handprints mark the walls, the stuffed animals, the closet door... 

That is gonna be one monstrous cleaning bill.

[I couldn't live in that house anymore...]

Fri
Aug 5 2016 11:00pm

Outcast 1.09: “Close to Home” Episode Review

In this penultimate episode of Season One, we pick up in the woods—where Megan (Wrenn Schmidt) is busy picking up the shattered glass from her recent “therapy session.” 

Her initial destruction may have been a bloodless alternative, but in the aftermath of the recent revelations—husband Mark’s (David Denman) police brutality against Douchebag Donny and subsequent suspension from the force, the ensuing blackmail and fracturing of their family—is it any surprise when she inflicts some physical pain on herself to manage the emotional?

Boy, I sure hope that blood and broken glass doesn't become a motif for this episode...

[Please?]

Fri
Aug 5 2016 12:00pm

Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff is the first in an epic new fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author (Available August 9, 2016).

She looked the knife over, this way and that.

“Should I give it a name?”

“You could, I suppose. But what's the point?”

“It's this bit.” She touched the blade's tip. “The part you stick them with.”

“O, bravo. Mind you don't cut yourself on a wit that sharp.”

“All great blades have names. It's just how it's done.”

“Bollocks.” Mercurio took back the dagger, held it up between them. “Naming your blade is the sort of faff reserved for heroes, girl. Men who have songs sung about them, histories spun for them, brats named after them. It's the shadow road for you and me. And you dance it right, no one will ever know your name, let alone the pig-sticker in your belt.

”You'll be a rumor. A whisper. The thought that wakes the bastards of this world sweating in the nevernight. The last thing you will ever be in this world, girl, is someone's hero.“

Mercurio handed back the blade.

”But you will be a girl heroes fear."

Mia Corvere is an assassin. 

By ten, her entire family has been either publicly executed or imprisoned for treason, leaving her the sole survivor. The kind of survivor who will risk life and limb—her own and any who cross her path—in order to achieve revenge. 

[Read Angie Barry's review of Nevernight...]

Mon
Aug 1 2016 3:30pm

Review: Miss Dimple and the Slightly Bewildered Angel by Mignon F. Ballard

In Miss Dimple and the Slightly Bewildered Angel by Mignon F. Ballard—the 5th in the Miss Dimple mysteriesguardian angel Augusta Goodnight, an earlier series character, suddenly finds herself assigned to Phoebe Chadwick's rooming house in the small Georgia town of Elderberry. (Available August 2, 2016).

...Bob Robert gripped his hands to keep them from shaking. He had seen dead people before, even helped lay some of them out, but this was different. He had never just come upon somebody like that. Crazy woman had no business in that steeple anyway!

“Bob Robert. Are you alright? You look like you've seen a ghost.” Phil Lewellyn, the local druggist, paused in the doorway and took him by the arm. “I think you'd better sit down.”

Mr. Phil! He would know what to do. Bob Robert wanted to hug the man. “The steeple — she's at the bottom of the steps in the steeple, and no use calling a doctor,” he said. “Don't know how long she's been there, but she's way past helping now.”

It's fall in the sleepy Georgian town of Elderberry, and everyone is gearing up for Halloween. But, amidst the grinning jack-o-lanterns and crepe-paper decorations lurks a bona fide murderer.

[Read Angie Barry's review of Miss Dimple and the Slightly Bewildered Angel...]

Fri
Jul 29 2016 11:00pm

Outcast 1.08: “What Lurks Within” Episode Review

This week, we get a better look at Evil Data/Sidney—and any lingering feelings of fondness we may have held onto thanks to actor Brent Spiner's turn as a beloved android in Star Trek: TNG goes straight out the window when we see that, unlike some of the others who have been possessed, Sidney has never been a nice guy. 

Child predators are absolutely the sort of people you'd expect to see hosting evil demonic entities. 

While Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey) is busy arresting Sidney, the Reverend (Philip Glenister) sees the very real toll caused by his public outburst when Sunday services are attended by exactly... 

No one.

[Notta. Zilch. Nothing...]

Fri
Jul 29 2016 3:00pm

Review: No Pity for the Dead by Nancy Herriman

No Pity for the Dead by Nancy Herriman is the 2nd Mystery of Old San Francisco (Available August 2, 2016). 

She'd barely dipped her spoon into the mulligatawny when someone pounded on the front door.

“Not another patient at this hour!” Addie called out from the kitchen before hurrying though the dining room on her way to the foyer. “I'm turning them away, ma'am. You're closed.”

It wasn't a few seconds before she heard Addie scream. Celia jumped up and rushed through the parlor. 

“Stay there, girls,” she told Barbara and Grace, shutting the parlor doors on their startled expressions.

Owen Cassidy stumbled across the threshold, gasping for breath. He was covered in coal dust and dirt from head to toe; the only pale parts on him were the whites of his wide green eyes. 

“Och, lad,” chastised Addie. “Dinna even think of coming inside—”

“Ma'am! He's dead!” he cried, gaping at Celia. “He's dead!”

“What nonsense are you blathering?” asked Addie.

“The fellow in the cellar! He's dead!”

Celia Davies leads an interesting life. Newly arrived in San Francisco, the English nurse has only recently opened a free medical clinic for women and is often called out to attend to saloon girls, prostitutes, and immigrant mothers. 

[Read Angie Barry's review of No Pity for the Dead...]

Mon
Jul 25 2016 3:30pm

Passionate About Pulp: Revisiting Dick Tracy (1990)

THE SUBGENRE: Comic book noir.
THE HERO: Hardnosed detective Dick Tracy.
THE VILLAIN: Crime boss Alphonse “Big Boy” Caprice.
THE LOVE INTEREST(S): Loyal “Girl Friday” Tess Trueheart and gangster's moll Breathless Mahoney.
THE SETTING: A 1920's metropolis.

Pulp fiction gets a bad name in my opinion—no, not the Quentin Tarantino flick where Travolta jams a giant needle into Uma Thurman's chest and Christopher Walken has the creepiest speech ever about a watch.

When I talk about pulp, I'm talking about a brand of story that jumped straight off of 20th-century magazine shelves and WHAM!-ed and BAM!-ed their way across the big screen.

Gruff detectives, flying aces, adventurers, and early superheroes abound in pulp flicks. There are a lot of fedoras, trench coats, goggles, and impressive boots on display. Our hero carries a pistol or a knife, maybe even a magic ring or jetpack.

They travel to exotic locales or prowl dark city streets, ever on the watch for an innocent in need of saving, a damsel in need of smooching, and a baddie in need of a swift punch to the jaw.

[POW! Right in the kisser!]

Fri
Jul 22 2016 11:00pm

Outcast 1.07: “The Damage Done” Episode Review

Anderson (Philip Glenister) is cleaning up the aftermath of his bloody encounter with Evil Data/Sidney (Brent Spiner)—good God, talk about a bathroom of horrors—when Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey) arrives for their standing poker game. 

But, it's difficult to keep your mind on the game when there's a pentagram still oozing on your chest. It's even harder when Giles provokes Ogden (Pete Burris) into some light fisticuffs over the card table; afterwards, the good Reverend has no choice but to reveal what happened to the Chief, who is understandably frustrated that he didn't come directly to him.

What's the point in having a BFF on the police department if you don't call him when a demonic psycho breaks into your church to carve arcane symbols on your body?

[Lay down your soul to the god's rock n' roll...]

Fri
Jul 22 2016 2:30pm

Page to Screen: Comics I’d Love to See on My TV—Rat Queens

The Series: Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch, and Stjepan Sejic.
The Heroes: A team of hard-drinking, foul-mouthed, fun-loving, totally asskicking female mercenaries.
The Ideal Format: A live-action series with a serious budget for the necessary magical SFX and prosthetics—HBO or Starz would be a good fit, given the mature subject matter.

When you hear “Dungeons & Dragons campaign,” your mind probably conjures up a dank basement, a card table, and four or five pimply boys with nasal voices and smudged glasses.

In truth, the D&D community is full of women, college students, and fantasy geeks of all ages and stripes who love to tell stories and enjoy a sense of community. The parents'-basement-dwelling social outcast is more an outlier than an apt representative of the collective whole. 

In my own personal experience, I've known over a dozen lady D&Ders to every one man. That's a helluva ratio.

Which is why Rat Queens is so damn important: it's essentially a D&D campaign driven by women. The heart of the story follows the eponymous mercenary team, a brash quartet who know what they want and just go for it.

[I know what I want, and I want it now...]

Fri
Jul 15 2016 11:00pm

Outcast 1.06: “From the Shadows it Watches” Episode Review

I don't know about you, but there are few things I enjoy more than a night in with a glass of booze and a stack of movies. 

The VHS tapes Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) has selected for the evening's entertainment, the ones chronicling dozens of past exorcisms, aren't what I'd usually go for. But, to each their own, I guess.

....Has anyone else in this crazy town been at all concerned about the sheer VOLUME of people being possessed in such a small backwoods area??? Just speaking from a law-of-averages viewpoint here, this number seems unusually high to me. If your population is under 10k and you're having dozens of people climbing the walls speaking Latin in reverse, maybe you should think about ringing up the Pope.

Just saying.

[Don't leave me hangin' on the telephone...]

Fri
Jul 15 2016 2:00pm

Review: Day By Day Armageddon: Ghost Run by J.L. Bourne

Ghost Run by J.L. Bourne is the 4th installment of the Day by Day Armageddon series (Available July 19, 2016).

...The lock flew off; a tiny piece of steel struck me in the forehead, right between my mask and hood, splattering a few droplets of blood down into the fray below.

The undead went beserk.

I jammed my boot down blindly, striking bone and teeth, loosening the creature's bear-trap grip on my foot. Without looking, I threw myself upward, hitting the hatch with the back of my head and spilling light into the darkness below. Resembling strange deep-sea plant life, an ocean of hands reached up in unison to somehow will me back down the ladder and into their arms. One of them emerged from the array of limbs...

I took the shot down the hole, sending the thing back into the sea of waving hands.

Our narrator is Kilroy, a former military commander turned ultimate zompocalypse survivor. It's been over two years since the undead arose and the living fought back with nuclear bombs, reducing much of America—and probably the entire world—into a wasteland that’s both radioactive and teeming with hungry zombies.

[Read Angie Barry's review of Day by Day Armageddon: Ghost Run...]

Fri
Jul 8 2016 11:00pm

Outcast 1.05: “The Road Before Us” Episode Review

In the wake of last week's revelations about the demonically afflicted in Rome, West Virginia, Kyle (Patrick Fugit) is in something of a tailspin of worry about his estranged wife, Allison (Kate Lyn Sheil). He desperately wants to talk to her, face to face, and assure himself that she's no longer a threat to herself or their daughter Amber.

The only problem? It's technically illegal for him to do that. Given his recent stint in prison and Allison's restraining order, even setting foot on his erstwhile property could land him in jail again. 

The Reverend (Philip Glenister) humors him to an extent, driving him to the curb so they can—somewhat creepily—watch the house for a while. Word to the wise: if you want to convince your wife that you mean her well, maybe don't lurk outside her house at night staring up at the windows?

[Every breath you take, every move you make...I'll be watching you]

Fri
Jul 1 2016 1:00pm

Review: The Big Sheep by Robert Kroese

The Big Sheep by Robert Kroese is a delicate balance of sci-fi, mystery, and humor.

“That's a really big sheep,” said Erasmus Keane, his observational powers functioning as flawlessly as ever.

The woman in the lab coat nodded curtly. “He's a Lincoln Longwool,” she said. “Largest breed of sheep in the world.” She had introduced herself as Dr. Kelly Takemago, Director of Research for the Esper Corporation. We were standing in her lab, a vast white room filled with the low humming of vaguely terrifying machines that hung from the ceiling like colossal clockwork bats. Poised in the middle of the room was the sheep in question, which Keane and I were regarding with professional interest. The sheep, in turn, was regarding us. It didn't appear impressed.

Our narrator is Blake Fowler, an erstwhile chief of security that has become a professional babysitter and bodyguard. The detective, Erasmus Keane, is made along your standard Sherlockian lines: he has absolutely no social skills, very poor hygiene, is so caught up in his own thoughts that he rarely eats or pays attention to those around him, can be a complete asshole, and is always—always—the smartest man in the room.

[Read Angie Barry's review of The Big Sheep...]

Fri
Jun 24 2016 11:00pm

Outcast 1.04: “A Wrath Unseen” Episode Review

Boy, nothing says depressing quite like a funeral with only three attendants—and of those three, Kyle (Patrick Fugit), is the only one that doesn't have to be there. 

Poor neighbor Norville is being buried following his “suicide”—I put that in quotations because there's definitely something wiggy about it, a suspicion that's only reinforced when Evil Data (Brent Spiner, who finally introduces himself as “Sidney”) appears and claims to be one of Norville's old friends.

Uh huh. I buy that.

[Read Angie's review of Episode 1.04: “A Wrath Unseen”]

Fri
Jun 24 2016 3:00pm

Page to Screen: Comics I’d Love to See on My TV—The Sandman

The Series: The Sandman by Neil Gaiman.
The Hero: Dream (also known as Morpheus, among other aliases) of the Endless.
The Ideal Format: A live action series with significant amounts of CGI and puppetry, à la Mirrormask and the Henson films of the 80's.

It's one of the most critically acclaimed comic series of all time, and one of the first graphic novels to ever make the New York Times Bestseller list.

It was one of only five graphic novels to be included in Entertainment Weekly's “100 best reads” (it came in at #46, in fact).

It's garnered more than 26 Eisner Awards, Bram Stoker Awards, a World Fantasy Award, and was nominated for a Hugo.

With all of that acclaim, and with its rather rabid fanbase, why hasn't The Sandman already been adapted for film or TV?

[Cause it's hard to watch TV when you're dreaming?]

Fri
Jun 17 2016 11:00pm

Outcast 1.03: “All Alone Now” Episode Review

Police partners and long-time friends, Brock (Lee Tergesen) and Luke (JR Bourne), go bowling as a double-date with Luke's wife and a friend—but Brock's not acting like himself. He's consistently throwing gutterballs and being unforgivably rude to his date. 

With the night shot, he follows Luke and wife Teri home. The diagnosis seems simple enough: Brock's coming down with something. So, Luke heads to the store for soup and medicine, while Teri puts on the kettle for tea.

But this is no mere cold or flu, and no sooner is Luke gone before Brock is brutalizing his helpful, kind wife. The cop returns home to find his wife horribly murdered and his erstwhile friend looming over her corpse.

[Symptoms include: pale skin, crass language, body contortion, black goo]

Fri
Jun 10 2016 11:00pm

Outcast 1.02: “(I Remember) When She Loved Me” Episode Review

Picking up right where we left off last week, little Joshua is still carrying the marks of his exorcism. Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) is rabble-rousing his congregation. Kyle (Patrick Fugit) is putting his life back together: cleaning the house, getting the water turned back on, wrapping a present for his daughter's seventh birthday.

But the trauma of the past is ever-present and insidious. The scars on the walls only mirror the scars of the mind. A tooth under the stove can trigger all sorts of unpleasant memories.

(Jiminy Christmas, that was a terrible little beat. How Kyle can live in a house permeated by such fear and pain, where the physical marks of his experience abound, where a bloody human tooth can still be lying under the stove, is hard to stomach. I probably would have put a torch to the place years ago; but I digress.)

[Burn it! Burn it with fire!]

Mon
Jun 6 2016 12:00pm

Review: Doing the Devil’s Work by Bill Loehfelm

Doing the Devil's Work by Bill Loehfelm is a gritty, provocative story of a flawed woman struggling to be a good cop and the 3rd installment of the Marueen Coughlin series (Available in paperback June 7, 2016).

Someone's been cutting throats in New Orleans.

The victims weren't nice men—in fact, considering they were Neo-Nazi homegrown terrorists, the type more than willing to kill a few cops and innocent bystanders if given the chance, the number of people sad about their passing could only be recorded in the negative digits.

Still, murder is murder, and Officer Maureen Coughlin is duty-bound to get to the bottom of things.

Then, a traffic stop goes terribly wrong, opening a can that isn't so much full of worms as it is venomous snakes. In only a handful of hours, Maureen finds herself standing on dangerously shifting ground, unsure of who to trust or how to get out of the quicksand.

[Read Angie Barry's review of Doing the Devil's Work...]