Mission statement - To act as a tour guide to the enormous shifting worlds of literature, film, video games, comics, and other activities; pointing out and discussing events and dealiebobs worthy of your valuable leisure time.

The Brides of Rollrock Island, Shining Girls, Broken Monsters, Magic for Beginners

The Brides of Rollrock Island

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan is an interesting take on the selkie legend. In case you're not familiar with it, they are fairy women who are seals in one form and human looking women in their other form. When they come ashore and turn into a woman they cast off their seal fur coats. If you can steal that sealskin and keep it hidden from them then they're bound to you. Obviously this is an awful form of slavery. Brides of Rollrock Island at its heart is a look at the multi-generational damage that this slavery brings. Told in multi protagonist perspective it's an absolutely gorgeous book. If you've read Ms Lanagan's work in the past, such as Tender Morsels, you might be a little worried that it's going to be absolutely heart-rending. I'm happy to report that this book isn't nearly as traumatic as the other one. Or at least it wasn't for me. It's a beautifully written, moving story. You can read an excerpt here: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/209564/the-brides-of-rollrock-is...

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Shining Girls and Broken Monsters
I read Shining Girls last week and then followed it up with Broken Monsters, both by Lauren Beukes. Unfortunately that means I'm now done with all of her fiction and will have to wait for her to write another book. I very much enjoyed reading her novels. Every one is different from the last one which is nice. Don't get me wrong, I like series just as much as the next person but I also really enjoy authors who can change their styles from book to book. (Say for instance Neil Gaiman.) The Shining Girls is a time traveling serial killer murder mystery/thriller. One thing that I love about this story is that it doesn't focus on the killer or the killings or describe them in lurid, loving detail. This book is about the victims and the impact on the victims' family. A young lady survives what should have been a fatal attack and goes to work as a newspaper intern so that she can do what the cops haven't been able to do; find the killer. This is a terrific novel but it is a little confusing because the chapters jump around to different times and I had a little bit of trouble keeping straight what was happening when. You can read an excerpt here: http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2012/10/11/start-reading-the-shining-girl...

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Broken Monsters takes place in Detroit post bankruptcy. It's set in the burgeoning art scene and it also follows a series of murders. If you like the TV show Hannibal you should like this novel. Like Hannibal, it's also very surreal and features bizarre, disturbing manipulation of the victims' bodies. It's told from the perspective of artists, writers, a police officer and her daughter, and a homeless entrepreneur. I found this story quite confusing because I wasn't sure what was real and what wasn't. I'm not going to spoil it by giving you my interpretation. But if you don't like stories that can be read in various ways you probably won't like this one. However if you are up for a bit of a challenge with your mystery you should really like it. You can read an excerpt here: http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2014/09/16/broken-monsters-lauren-beukes-...

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Magic for Beginners
Speaking of stories that can be interpreted in different ways and are rather nebulous and vague, Ms. Link is the master of this type of story. I read her novella The Specialist's Hat more than a decade ago and I still have no idea what it was about or what was happening. I started Magic for Beginners a couple of years ago and misplaced it. I reread it a couple of days ago and was surprised to discover that one story, Stone Animals, that I previously found extraordinary baffling now seems much more straightforward. It's about a disjointed family that moves from the city into the country. They slowly abandon their possessions as they say that they are haunted. Dad, who is spending way too much time in the city, is informed that his entire office is now haunted. At one point the daughter says that her brother is haunted. Meanwhile mom becomes obsessed with painting and fantasizes about drinking paint and the lawn becomes infested with rabbits. As with all of Ms. Link's works, merely discussing plot doesn't at all convey the sheer gorgeousness of her work. Below is a link to The Faery Handbag, which is an absolutely fabulous story told by a young lady whose grandmother has a handbag in which an entire fairy hill and a small village live. This is one of my favorite stories of all time. The Hortlak is about a lonely young man who lives in a convenience store right by an abyss that's filled with zombies. Some Zombie Contingency Plans is a story with a mysterious painting, a gentleman who just got out of prison, and a teenage house party. The title story, Magic for Beginners is another one that I really like. Told from the perspective of a confused young man whose parents' marriage is in trouble, it's about friendship and fandom. There's quite a bit about a television show called The Library. If that was a real show I would watch the hell out of it. You can read The Faery Handbag here: http://smallbeerpress.com/free-stuff-to-read/2005/07/01/the-faery-handba...

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Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is from the Department of the Interior's Tumblr. It's a red fox who is having a bit of trouble. http://americasgreatoutdoors.tumblr.com/post/143893926234/is-it-friday-y...

Bonus Edition: New Netflix Offerings and Old Netflix Vanishings June 2016

Ready for the lowdown on Netflix's June offerings and vanishings? The biggest news is probably that we get a new season of Orange is the New Black in the middle of the month. Those of you who grew up in the nineties and are reliving your childhoods will be excited to see three Jurassic Park films are on their way, as well as a Pokemon movie and series. Scandal fans; if you can hang on until mid-month you'll be able to re-binge watch Season 6. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 3 will also be available mid-month, so Agent May fans can rejoice. Spotlight, a fantastic but deeply depressing film, is coming in June.

The Station Agent is leaving at the beginning of the month. This is terrific film; fairly dark and funny, starring Peter Dinklage. I believe this was his breakout role. Some scary films that are going away include the Others and Stir of Echoes. I don't know why those films didn't get more buzz when they were released. For the younger set, Mulan and Who Framed Roger Rabbit are both exiting towards the end of the month.

Netflix also makes a special mention of Season 2 of Between debuting July 1.

See below for a selection of titles that will be added to Netflix in June 2016.

All titles and dates are subject to change.
Available 6/1/16
7 Chinese Brothers (2015)
72 Cutest Animals: Season 1
72 Dangerous Places: Season 1
A Walk to Remember (2002)
Big Stone Gap (2014)
Bob Ross: Beauty is Everywhere (1990)
Breaking the Magician's Code: Magic's Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed: Season 1-2
Cold in July (2014)
Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land On The Moon? (2001)
Cuba: The Forgotten Revolution (2015)
(Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies (2015)
El Libro de Piedra (1969)
Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)
Extraordinary Tales (2015)
The Fear of 13 (2015)
Gabo: The Creation of Gabriel García Márquez (2015)
Gentlemen and Gangsters: Season 1
The Good Witch: Season 1
The Great Alone (2015)
Hadwin's Judgement (2015)
J. Edgar (2011)
Jaco (2015)
Janis: Little Girl Blue (2015)
Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park III (2001)
Lion Heart (2013)
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
Meadowland (2015)
The Odd Couple II (1998)
Off Camera: Series 1
Pokémon the Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages (2015)
Pokémon: XY: Kalos Quest: Season 2
Portrait of a Serial Monogamist (2015)
The Resurrection of Jake the Snake (2015)
Rock the Kasbah (2015)
Sam Klemke's Time Machine (2015)
Second Coming (2014)
Tab Hunter Confidential (2015)
UFOs: The Best Evidence Ever (Caught on Tape) (1997)
Underdogs (2013)
What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy (2015)
Wildlike (2014)

Available 6/2/16
Beauty & the Beast: Season 3
Hibana: Spark - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Pretty Little Liars: Season 6

Available 6/3/16
Bo Burnham: Make Happy - NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 6/6/16
Darkweb (2015)

Available 6/7/16
Every Thing Will Be Fine (2015)
Jarhead 3: The Seige (2016)

Available 6/10/16
LEGO Friends: The Power of Friendship: Season 2 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Voltron: Legendary Defender: Season 1 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 6/11/16
Me Him Her (2016)
Scandal: Season 5

Available 6/12/16
Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong (2015)

Available 6/14/16 The League: Season 7

Available 6/15/16
After The Spill (2015)
Boom Bust Boom (2016)
The Giver (2014)
In the Shadow of the Moon (2007)
Naz & Maalik (2015)
Night Owls (2015)
Poverty, Inc. (2014)
Top Spin (2015)
TransFatty Lives (2015)

Available 6/16/16
Being Mary Jane: Season 3
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 3
The Unborn (2009)

Available 6/17/16
All Hail King Julien: Season 3 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Orange is the New Black: Season 4 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 6/18/16
Cedar Cove: Season 3
Grey's Anatomy: Season 12

Available 6/19/16
Bunk'd: Season 1
I Am Thor (2015)

Available 6/20/16
Life Story: Series 1 The Making of Life Story

Available 6/21/16
Best Friends Whenever: Season 1

Available 6/22/16
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)
Spotlight (2015)

Available 6/24/16
Dragons: Race to the Edge: Season 3 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
The Fundamentals of Caring (2016) - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Justin Time GO! - NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 6/27/16
Cronies (2015)

Available 6/29/16
Life (2015)

Available 6/30/16
A Very Secret Service: Season 1 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Palio (2015)
(T)ERROR (2015)

Leaving Soon

The following titles will be disappearing in May. Better watch them while you can.

Leaving 6/1/16
A Wrinkle in Time (2003)
About a Boy (2002)
Bounce (2000)
Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury (2004)
Clear and Present Danger (1994)
Click (2006)
Darkman (1990)
Disney Animation Collection: Vol. 5: Wind in the Willows
Dude, Where's My Car? (2000)
Duplex (2003)
Elias: Rescue Team Adventures: Season 1
The Faculty (1998)
Far from Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog (1995)
Ghost (1990)
Groundhog Day (1993)
Hamlet (2000)
Hercules (1997)
In the Bedroom (2001)
Jersey Girl (2004)
Kinky Boots (2005)
Lassie (2005)
Losing Isaiah (1995)
Madonna: Truth or Dare (1991)
Marvin's Room (1996)
Music of the Heart (1999)
My Boss's Daughter (2003)
Nine Months (1995)
The Others (2001)
Paris Is Burning (1990)
Private Parts (1997)
Proof (2005)
Schoolhouse Rock!: Earth (2009)
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)
The Station Agent (2003)
The Stepford Wives (2004)
Stir of Echoes (1999)
Stir of Echoes 2: The Homecoming (2007)
The Super Hero Squad Show: Seasons 1-2
Velvet Goldmine (1998)
View from the Top (2003)
Wayne's World (1992)
The Yards (2000)

Leaving 6/2/16
Eureka Seven: Seasons 1-2

Leaving 6/14/16
HawthoRNe: Seasons 1-3

Leaving 6/15/16
The Bank Job (2008)

Leaving 6/18/16
A Late Quartet (2012)
The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss: Season 1

Leaving 6/21/16
Mixology: Season 1

Leaving 6/24/16
Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (2013)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame II (2002)
Marvel's Avengers Assemble: Season 1
Mulan (1998)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

Leaving 6/30/16
Sophie's Choice

Through the Woods, Forfeit, Slay Ride

Through the Woods

I've mentioned Emily Carroll in this column several times, because she is so amazing and inventive. She draws the most beautiful, disturbing comics, many of which have a root in various fairy tales. Her story His Face All Red (discussed here: http://qualitytimeweekly.com/content/sixty-one-nails-and-his-face-all-re...) was probably the piece that first got her the kind of acclaim that she deserves. A couple of years ago she published a gorgeous collection of her work called Through the Woods, which I finally read last night. As a result I didn't get to sleep until five a.m. Yes, for me her work is that scary. The one that I found most perturbing is called A Lady's Hands Are Cold and has the bones of the story of Bluebeard but the flesh is new. A young lady is told to marry a gentleman but once she is ensconced in his home she hears a wailing voice singing a dreary song of death. What would you do? Maybe what she does and maybe not.

My Friend Janna is about a pair of young ladies who are fake spiritualists until something happens and the real supernatural world intrudes. The Nesting Place begins with terrifying stories a mother tells her daughter and then goes on to be even creepier. Our Neighbor's House starts deceptively quietly and quickly goes all south. And of course His Face All Red is included in this collection, which all revolve around the terror found in or near the woods.

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Forfeit and Slay Ride
My mom tried to pass her love of certain authors down to me, but I was maybe too young to enjoy them at the time. She would read me a paragraph or two and I would just be thinking I wanted to be outside playing. But later I did come to love two of her favorites; P. G. Wodehouse and Dick Francis. But rereading two of Mr. Francis' early works, Forfeit and Slay Ride, I can see why I didn't like them when I was younger. They both have kind of strange attitudes towards the women characters. In Forfeit the protagonist is married and his wife is mostly paralyzed from polio. As a result he indulges in short flings, hopefully with women who don't get emotionally attached and ask for more than he can give. In the course of writing a series of investigative articles he meets a woman called Gail and they fall into bed together. This is all sort of background to the central mystery of the novel, which is interesting and clever, but to me the final resolution of his lady situations seemed much too facile and objectifying. I wonder of the author wasn't influenced by the popularity of the James Bond books and was trying to infuse that whole “sexy douchebag” flavor?

I felt something similar in Slay Ride, which is about a young man who is an investigator for the Jockey Club, who goes to Norway when an English jockey is suspected of stealing thousands of kroner from a Norwegian racetrack. The protagonist is immediately infatuated with the head of security's wife and spends too much time wondering if she cheats on her husband. And at one point he says, in reference to another woman, something along the lines of “Widows are made for comforting.” Seriously? Thank God I have read Mr. Francis' later work and am pretty sure this bizarre attitude is only temporary.

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Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat more of a reminder than anything else. If you haven't been to your library lately you might want to see what new things they have added. Almost everything I am reading these days is coming from the library. I think I sent twelve books back today. I am so lazy I don't even go to the library. I look things up on their website and place holds on what I want. When they are ready they go to the library where a friend works and she brings them back to me. (In exchange for me letting her take my car to work.) The older books I am reading are often not available at my county library but I can get them through inter-library loan. This means I can check out anything in the entire state of Maryland, including the contents of the fabulous Enoch Pratt Free Library.

And of course there is much more to the library than books. You can do all kinds of research, including genealogy, or take classes, or go to anime or knitting club, or bring your young one to story time, or check out toys. My library used to check out paintings but I am not sure if they still do that. Some libraries even have seeds! And that's not counting more mundane things like DVDs and CDs. There really should be something for everyone.

Stotan, Cycle of the Werewolf, and the Talisman

Stotan

Earlier this week I got an email that mentioned a book called Staying Fat for someone somebody; a title I found intriguing. (It didn't actually say someone somebody, I just can't remember what it actually said.) It's by Chris Crutcher, who turns out to have been writing award winning novels since the mid 80s. I grabbed one of his older books, called Stotan, from my library and gave it a try. For a skinny little book, 183 pages in paperback, it's quite intense, with an awful lot going on. It's ostensibly the story of four friends who are on the swim team who go through an intense week long training exercise called Stotan Week but it also touches on quite a lot outside of sports, like bigotry, white supremacists, first amendment rights, domestic violence, the importance of honesty, and more, that I don't want to spoil. It seems as though that would be too much; jamming so many problems into one little book, but Mr. Crutcher pulls it off deftly. Told from the perspective of Walker, a young man who is somewhat alienated from his family, Stotan is a physically and emotionally grueling journey. I didn't think I was going to like it because I'm not a big fan of sports stories in general, but I did and the swimming details flew by as quickly as everything else.

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Cycle of the Werewolf, the Talisman
I'm still in my Stephen King reread phase. I thought it would take me most of the year but at this rate it will take me a lot longer. I am only up to 1983, Pet Sematary. There are two books by Mr. King that I have never wanted to reread; Needful Things and Pet Sematary. They both crossed a line I didn't want to cross and left me feeling depressed and just plain bad. I'll see if the same thing happens on the reread. When I first read Clive Barker's Damnation Game I actually threw up partway through. I reread it this past week and I didn't even gag. I don't know if it was because I knew the disgusting scenes were coming up or if it was because I was pregnant when I read it the first time and throwing up was a daily habit. Either way, I'm hoping Pet Sematary won't be so painful on the second go round.

I also zipped through Cycle of the Werewolf and didn't like it one bit. This has always been my least favorite of Mr. King's work, followed by Carrie. Cycle of the Werewolf is told in vignettes, one for each month of the year. The writing comes off as somewhat pretentious and it's just mildly irritating. I would not recommend it.

I did finish the Talisman, by Stephen King and Peter Straub. I don't know how many times I've read this novel but it never gets old. It's the story of a 12 year old boy called Jack who can flip into another world called the Territories. As the novel begins he is told that he can save his dying mother's life by traveling from New England to the west coast and bringing back a talisman. Naturally there about a million obstacles, some of them pretty gruesome. The novel clocks in at 900 plus pages and is a nice leisurely read. (My copy, which came from the library, reeked of smoke, giving me a glorious headache. How much do you have to smoke to stink up a book you only have for three weeks?) One of my all time favorite characters is in this book, a teen werewolf called Wolf. He is the best.

Like many of Mr. King's works the Talisman is essentially about the battle between good and evil, but it is also an adventure story and never bogs down in ethical or moral quandaries. (I can't say if Mr. Straub's work deals with the battle between good and evil because his novel Shadowland scared me so much I haven't read any more of his work.) I would love to see this novel turned into a television series.

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Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is a video of the wail of the loon. In Pet Sematary Louis hears a cackling, laughing cry and is told it is the sound of the loon, so I looked them up to see if they really sound like that. This particular cry sounds a bit like a wolf, or a lonely dog in a backyard.

Midnight Riot, Con Man, and Hero at Large

Two of my favorites this week are Ben Aaronovitch's novel Midnight Riot and Alan Tudyk's new video series Con Man. Midnight Riot is what Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series wants to be and Con Man is either Alan Tudyk's love letter to science fiction fans or maybe a poison pen letter; I suppose it could be viewed either way. I also quite enjoyed an older contemporary romance by Janet Evanovich, who is best known for her Stephanie Plum bounty hunter series.

Midnight Riot
Midnight Riot takes place in London, in fact its name in the UK is the Rivers of London, and features Peter Grant, a mixed race probationary constable who's just getting ready to get his first real assignment. To his dismay he's told that he's basically going off to work in the paperwork department, facing a lifetime of drudgery and data entry.
But when he and his partner Leslie May are called to a strange murder everything takes a turn. He meets a witness to the murder but this witness is no ordinary witness. This witness is a ghost. When he goes back looking for the spirit to get more information from he's approached by an older gentleman who asks him what he's doing and he thinks the hell with it I'll just tell him the truth. And that's how he meets the man who becomes his new supervisor, Detective Inspector Nightingale and begins his career as an apprentice wizard/cop.
Overall Midnight Riot is lots of fun. The author is also a screenwriter so it's no surprise that the book has excellent visuals and the dialogue runs smoothly. The book is quite funny but it's also kind of heartbreaking. Partner Leslie May is bright, witty, and steadfast whereas Peter is a bit more ditsy, and easily distracted. While she is a steady officer with good detecting skills, he is better at picking up stray impressions and making nebulous connections.
Midnight Riot is a mystery which involves a series of peculiar murders. Told in the first-person, we really get inside Peter's head. While quite a bit of urban fantasy involves werewolves and vampires, which are fun and interesting in their own way, this one explores territory that is probably new to many readers, including deities having territorial disputes over London rivers. I started book two, Moon Over Soho but I'm not quite as enamored. I'll let you know in a future column what my overall impressions are.

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Con Man
Created, written, and directed by Alan Tudyk, Con Man is about an actor called Wray Nerely who starred in a beloved but ill fated science fiction show called Spectrum. Set 10 years after the cancellation of the show, Wray bitterly resents science fiction and by extension fandom, but he makes his living going from convention to Convention interacting with fans. He badly wants to leave Spectrum behind and work in more mainstream films but everything seems to conspire against him.
His boneheaded moves, trials and tribulations, and just plain bad luck result in very funny but cringe-inducing scenes. In this sense it's like HBO's Veep in that the characters get into so much trouble and make such fools of themselves it's almost painful to watch.
We get to see the negative side of being famous, or at least famous in certain circles. Wray is pestered for autographs while he's literally on the toilet, and any negativity towards others is immediately going to be online. He should be on his best behavior whenever he's in public, but of course that doesn't actually happen.
My older brother gave me this series for my birthday, with a strong recommend and he's right; it's excellent. I'm watching it with my middle son, and we're both really enjoying it. Of course both of us have been to quite a few science fiction conventions and I've been a panelist on several panels so we have experienced some of this stuff firsthand. (I was in the restroom once when a woman tried to give her manuscript to an agent, offering to slide it under the stall door.)
With an all star cast including Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, Nathan Fillion, and a gazillion others, this series is a real treat. You can watch a trailer here.

Hero at Large
Hero at Large is Janet Evanovich's first published novel, which she says changed her life. She has re-released her older contemporary romances that ran before her Stephanie Plum books became so popular. Hero at Large is the story of Chris, a single mother who is a skate coach for figure skaters. She lives with her aunt Edna, who's extremely opinionated, and her little girl. While she's excellent with her students, she's not mechanically inclined and her car dies as she's on her way to work. Ken Callahan, hero, stops to help her and she inadvertently breaks one of his arms.
As a result he ends up moving in, renting the downstairs, which will help her make ends meet and give him a chance to mend. But she is horrified by her burgeoning feelings for him and is determined to not disrupt the calm life that she's built for herself and her family. Ken on the other hand is determined to become a permanent fixture in her life.
This is another fun story with lots of details about figure skating, which is nice as I haven't read a lot of books that are set in the figure skating world. I had some minor problems with the book which are partly because it's fairly dated at this point. They have a whirlwind courtship, falling in love in a very short time, too short for my tastes. Of course they've got problems that are coming down the pike because if it was just a story about people falling in love it would only be a couple pages long, but the speed of their relationship made me kind of nervous. This is this is not a story that would work very well today because this guy is a complete stranger and she doesn't do anything to research him. He wouldn't even be in her house for five minutes today before she was looking him up on Facebook or something. But this book was originally written in 1986 when hardly anybody was online. Anyway it's a fun read and a fast read. I think I read it in about an hour. So if you like romances give this one a shot. You can read an excerpt here. http://www.evanovich.com/books/hero-at-large/

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Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat comes from cartoonist Jim Benton. I think we all know or are this person. http://www.gocomics.com/jim-benton-cartoons/2016/04/11

Zoo City, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Heartbreak Hotel, Celestial Blues: Book One, The Taken

This week I found time to do a little gardening, which in my case means watching my friend weed my garden. Then I came back in the house and went right back to reading. I'm definitely on a big reading streak, partly because I had to cancel my cable last December as a cost saving measure. Which means I can't go online or I'll be inundated with Game of Thrones spoilers. So anyway, this week I read several cookbooks the most interesting of which is called Vegan Tacos by Jason Wyrick. The author has a nice breezy style and there are tons of gorgeous pictures. If you are all into tacos you should give this book a look.

(Purchasing anything via these links will net us a commission from Amazon, which helps keep the site up and running.)

Zoo City
I read Lauren Beukes' second book Zoo City and liked it even more than I liked Moxyland. She takes the idea of an animal spirit and plays with even more than Philip Pullman did when he wrote His Dark Materials books. In her world not everyone has an animal manifestation. Only people who are responsible for the death of another person has one. Naturally this makes people without animals a little nervous and the animaled live in segregated areas. Our main character Zinzi has a Sloth, who is kind of endearing, even to me to find sloths rather terrifying. He acts almost as her conscience, grumbling and complaining when she wants to do things that are unethical or immoral. He's also quite literally a guide in that when she's trying to make her way through the labyrinth of a condemned building in the dark he steers her by poking her with his claws to tell her which way to go.

Along with the animal spirits comes some sort of psychic / otherworldly ability. In her case she can find lost things. When she looks at a person she sees sort of trails coming out of them with the missing object hanging at the other end. She's making a living finding lost things for people but she's also involved with some major scams. As the story begins she's finding a ring for an elderly woman but when she comes back the elderly woman has been murdered. So who's the suspect? Obviously it's going to be our heroine whose animal indicates she has killed before. This is the first step in an extremely convoluted journey that will take her into the depths of a corrupt music industry.

The story is interspersed with quotations from sources talking about the animaled and what it means. One of my favorites is a supposed transcript from a documentary about prisoners who have animals who are behind bars. The different ways that they're treated by their particular prison and their particular country was quite interesting albeit depressing.

Once again Lauren Beukes look at segregation, class struggle, and the wildly different lines of the Haves and the Have Nots. Zoo City was a fascinating and entertaining novel. You can read an excerpt here: http://bookslive.co.za/blog/2010/06/10/book-excerpt-zoo-city-by-lauren-b...

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Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
I started Tom Robbins' novel Even Cowgirls Get the Blues back when it was first written. For some reason I never finished it. Maybe I lost interest? Anyway I finished it this week and don't know what to think. It's the story of Sissy, a young woman who is born with ridiculously large thumbs which she puts to work hitchhiking as soon as she can. She has a series of adventures that take her all around the world and bring her into contact with teenage cowgirls who are taking over a ranch, whooping cranes that vanish, rigid upper-class New Yorkers, a hermit, and a couple of fairly crazy doctors.

It's a book that is both hilarious and really dull. The language is lyrical and I love the metaphors and descriptions, such as a character wearing a skirt so short her crotch doesn't realize she finished getting dressed, but the philosophy and character rambling became very hard to get through. Maybe if you read like a chapter a day for years something it will be easier to cope with. Honestly I don't even know if I'm recommending this book or not. I guess you'll just have to give it a shot and see what you think. I may never know what I think. You can find an excerpt here: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/155513/even-cowgirls-get-the-blu...

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Heartbreak Hotel
Heartbreak Hotel is Anne River Siddons first novel, published after her nonfiction essay collection John Chancellor Makes Me Cry. Set in the fifties in the deep, deep south, this is the coming-of-age story of a very privileged white girl. She is pretty. She is smart. She is pampered. She's the apple of her parents eyes. It's almost like she's in a cocoon. She just drifts along doing what everybody else is doing. She's in a sorority. She's pinned to a super rich dude whose family owns an honest-to-god plantation in Mississippi. She writes for the school paper but she mostly just kind of writes about nothing or at least nothing important. Until for one moment she's able to empathize with someone who is the opposite of her. When she writes about her experience and how it changed her she sets off a ripple effect that will impact everyone around her and change her forever.
The story takes place at the very beginning of the civil rights movement or at least when the civil rights movement is coming to the attention of the average American citizen. It was written in 1976, which makes reading it now when we've both come such a long way and no way at all quite interesting. If nothing else this book is worth reading if you have any interest at all in mid-century Southern life. The amount of drinking and driving that goes on is absolutely appalling. I felt like I spent half the book cringing, between the drunk driving and the racism.

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Celestial Blues: Book One, The Taken
I read Vicki Pettersson's new book Swerve not too long ago and had mixed feelings about it. I did like it enough that I wanted to give her another try so I picked up a book called The Taking which is book one in her Celestial Blues series. Also set in Las Vegas, this story is quite different from Swerve which was a straight-up thriller. This is a supernatural story with a hero called Griffin who has been dead for fifty years. Unable to move on, obsessed with solving the murder of his wife and himself, he is a sort of angel that escorts the newly murdered to their next destination. He inadvertently starts a chain of events that will lead to the murder of a feisty young reporter called Kit, who lives a rockabilly lifestyle and looks like the women of his day. He is told he has to watch her rape and murder and then take her to wherever she goes next. Of course there is no way he can stand for this so he steps in, which leads to even more chaos and confusion.

There are lots of stories about angels falling in love with humans and I've always found them fairly creepy. In this story Grif is not a pure angel; he's a man who's been given angelic powers. He and Kit get the all-clear from me. If they want to have a romance I'm not going to say no. By which I mean I'm not going to put the book down and refuse to finish reading it.

I really enjoyed this one. I liked it a lot more than I liked Swerve. In fact I liked it enough that I'm reading book two in the series already. This book brings together a whole bunch of my various interests. Kit loves vintage and retro items and her house is beautifully styled. As a seller of vintage items myself I got a kick out of reading about her possessions.

There is an extensive trail of dirty doings in this book. Grif was a private detective in life and with Kit being a reporter they're both on the case trying to sort out who's done what and who killed Kit's friend. Like Swerve this book has some very grim, gritty elements, so be forewarned. You can browse inside the book here: http://browseinside.harpercollins.ca/index.aspx?isbn13=9780062064646

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Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is video of a baby elephant seal that is making the rounds. I'm pretty sure it was a cat in a former life.

Bonus Edition: Netflix Comings and Goings for May 2016

There are a ton of new films and television shows coming from Netflix in May, as well as several that are leaving. If you're old enough to have been a teen in the eighties you'll be thrilled to see Sixteen Candles is coming, but perhaps saddened by Blade Runner and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure going away.

Fan's of Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock will be excited to watch A Study in Sherlock, a 2016 documentary. Another great choice is Pleasantville, which throws Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon into a black and white television world that is stuck in the fifties, a place that is not the idyllic world some politicians would have you believe.

If that's not enough for you then perhaps you'll be thrilled to hear that Bring it On, the cheerleader showdown film starring Kirsten Dunst and Eliza Dushku will be Available May first, as well as Bring it On: All or Nothing.

See below for a selection of titles that will be added to Netflix in May 2016. (Descriptions courtesy of Netflix.)

All title and dates are subject to change.

Available 5/1/16

A Study in Sherlock (2016)

Mark Gatiss, who co-created “Sherlock” and plays Mycroft Holmes, discusses the show with Benedict
Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and others in the cast.

Admiral (2015)

In the 1600s, when the Netherlands is under attack by the British navy and on the verge of civil war, a
Dutch admiral is his country’s only hope.

Ava's Possessions (2015)

A young woman joins a support group for survivors of demonic possession to help her recover from a
recent exorcism and expose her repressed memories.

Bring It On (2000)

Pressure mounts on the captain of a decorated cheerleading squad as she attempts to lead her crew to
its sixth consecutive national title.

Bring It On: All or Nothing (2006)

Cheer captain Britney plans to have her squad earn a coveted spot in singing sensation Rihanna’s video
but must think fast when her plan is derailed.

Easy Living: Seasons 1-3

Drowning in debt and shackled to a spendthrift wife, family man Tapio takes dodgy jobs from career
criminal Eki in order to keep his family afloat.

El Crítico (2013)

A pretentious film critic who despises romantic comedies realizes that his life is turning into one when he
falls for a free-spirited woman.

FernGully 2: The Magical Rescue (1998)

When poachers capture their baby animal friends, the rain forest fairies of Ferngully must brave the perils
of civilization to rescue them.

Finger of God (2007)

When filmmaker Darren Wilson set out to document God’s presence in today’s world, he had no idea
what he would find or where the journey would take him.

Gary Gulman: It's About Time (2016)

Gary Gulman tackles topics like extreme laziness, Hitler and the joys and pitfalls of shopping at Trader
Joe's with his typical neurotic bewilderment.

Great Expectations (1998)

Unattainable to Finn since her youth, Estella holds his fascination. He soon becomes obsessed with
being a successful artist to gain her love.

I Am Road Comic (2014)

In his follow-up to “I Am Comic,” filmmaker Jordan Brady books himself a weekend gig and interviews
fellow comedians about why they go on the road.

Jesus Town, USA (2014)

When the actor playing Jesus in a small town's annual Easter pageant steps down, a young member of
the cast takes on the role --but he has a secret.

Just Friends (2005)

Years after high school, a once-portly nice guy comes home for the holidays and reunites with a former
crush he still has feelings for.

Kevin Hart Presents Keith Robinson: Back of The Bus Funny (2015)

It's everything you might expect from the man who taught Kevin Hart how to be a comedian. Keith
Robinson, brings his in-your-face style to everything from the moment he stopped liking his own son to
the real reason why Obama was elected.

Kevin Hart Presents Lil Rel: RELevent (2015)

In Lil Rel Howery's first hour-long special, he talks about everything from his upbringing to raising his own
children to getting roasted by teenagers on public transportation, all with his signature high-energy
delivery. A natural performer, Lil Rel proves that he can hold his own when it comes to all the relevant
issues.

Kevin Hart Presents: Plastic Cup Boyz (2015)

Comedy trio the Plastic Cup Boyz take the stage at San Diego’s House of Blues for a wild night of stand-
up, sketches and more.

LoliRock: Season 1 (2014)

LoliRock follows the journey of young Iris, a spirited teenage girl with a beautiful voice and an unending
desire to help others. When Iris joins the girl group LoliRock, her life is changed forever, as a new world
of music, mysteries and magical powers is revealed.

My Last Day Without You (2011)

During a brief trip to New York on business, German executive Niklas meets a young female musician
who exposes a new side of the city to him.

The Nutty Professor (1996)

Humiliated while trying to impress a pretty grad student, portly professor Sherman Klump takes a massive
dose of his new weight-loss potion.

Off the Map (2013)

Four friends in middle school – Federico, Paula, Graciela and Fabián-decide to skip class and sneak in
to the school basement. But Miriam, the class’ gossiper and teacher’s pet, discovers them and threatens
them. She will rat on them if they don’t let her stay and be part of the adventure. This way, what was
meant to be a time of intimacy, playing pranks and having fun between friends, is turned into the time
when jealousy, fear, hatred and hidden crushes are exposed, unveiling a series of conflicts unthinkable of
before skipping class. Meanwhile, upstairs, on the school’s surface, the Teacher and the Principal
discover five kids are missing and warn their parents, who react in different ways, hence revealing
conflicts of their own.

Palm Trees in the Snow (2015)

The accidental discovery of a long lost letter drives Clarence to travel from the snowy mountains of Spain
to Africa, to visit the land where his father Jacobo and uncle Kilian spent most of their youth, the island of
Fernando Poo. In the heart of a land as lush and seductive as dangerous, Clarence unearths the secret
of a forbidden love story framed within turbulent historical circumstances whose consequences will have
repercussions in her present-day life.

Pleasantville (1998)

Teens David and Jennifer get sucked into the black-and-white world of a 1950s TV sitcom. But Jennifer’s
attitude literally brings color into the show.

Shark Lake (2015)

An exotic animal dealer accidentally lets a bull shark loose in Lake Tahoe, and the ravenous creature
wreaks havoc on the peaceful town.

She's Beautiful When She's Angry (2014)

An inspiring look at the brilliant, outrageous women who spearheaded the 1960s women’s movement
resonates with those who still face gender inequality.

Sixteen Candles (1984)

Samantha’s family has forgotten her sixteenth birthday, a day that could be perfect if only Jake Ryan
would look her way.

Sugar Coated (2015)

This documentary investigates the history of the food industry’s use of sugar, its health impact on society
and the politics of the “new tobacco.”

Terra (2015)

We no longer see the wild, we dream of it. It’s an age-old fascination, visible in the paintings of the
Chauvet Cave. But this dream is today disappearing, vanishing in factory smoke and industrial smog.

Things We Lost in the Fire (2007)

Attempting to piece her life back together after losing her husband in a tragic incident, grieving widow
Audrey turns to an unlikely ally: her husband's childhood friend Jerry, an emotionally wrecked heroin
addict.

To Catch a Thief (1955)

Suspected in a new series of heists in the hotels of the French Riviera, a reformed jewel thief sets out to
clear himself and catch the real thief.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin' Down a Dream (2007)

Explore the history of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, including Petty’s famous collaborations and
notorious clashes with the record industry.

Who’s Driving Doug (2016)

When a college student with muscular dystrophy agrees to let a slacker be his new driver, they set off on
a reckless road trip to Las Vegas.

Available 5/2/16

The Replacements (2000)

In the wake of a player’s strike, an old-guard coach drafts a team of gridiron misfits and losers as
replacements for the Washington Sentinels. (I am an extra in this!)

Available 5/3/16

Submerged (2015)

When the kidnapping of a controversial corporate figure’s daughter goes awry, her limo careens off a
bridge, leaving the survivors trapped underwater.

Available 5/4/16

The Keeping Room (2015)

With the men of their clan all fighting or lost on the battlefield, three Southern women face the sinister
attentions of two Union Army deserters who are pillaging the landscape ahead of the main forces in this
taut Civil War drama.

Shanghai Knights (2003)

Dynamic duo Chon Wang and Roy O’Bannon are in London to avenge the murder of Chon’s father but
end upon on an even bigger case involving the royals.

Available 5/5/16

Fourth Man Out (2015)

A young mechanic comes out to his extremely straight best friends. Once they get used to the idea,
they’re determined to help him find the right guy.

Marseille -NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Robert Taro has been the mayor of Marseille for 25 years. Now he faces a merciless election against his
young, ambitious former protégé.

Available 5/6/16

Ali Wong: Baby Cobra -NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Unapologetic and nasty mom-to-be Ali Wong desperately wanted a conventional life. Baby Cobra is
Wong's hilarious journey of how hard she worked to find Mr. Perfect, get married, buy a house and have a
baby. But it all didn't exactly turn out how she planned. And while Wong complains that feminism is the
worst thing that's ever happened to women, what's more empowering than being the first and only comic
to film a 1-hour stand up special 7-months pregnant?

Baby Daddy: Season 5

Ben unexpectedly becomes a parent when an ex-girlfriend drops off a baby girl. But with help from friends
and family, he steps into the role of dad.

Grace and Frankie: Season 2 -NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin co-star as two women forced to reinvent their lives in this funny, honest
Emmy-nominated Netflix original series.

Young & Hungry: Season 3

A female food blogger is hired as a personal chef by a young tech tycoon and faces a new menu of
challenges, both inside and outside of the kitchen.

Available 5/8/16

The Chosen Ones (2015)

Young Ulises falls in love with teen Sofia, even as he is forced to lure her into his family’s prostitution ring.
Now he’ll do anything to rescue her.

Available 5/9/16

A Stand Up Guy (2015)

When his outrageous open-mic standup comedy routine goes viral, low-rent mobster-in-hiding Sammy
gets a lot of attention he seriously doesn’t want.

Available 5/10/16

Eisenstein in Guanajuato (2015)

In 1931, famed Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein’s trip to make a film about Mexico’s history becomes a
journey of personal and creative awakening.

Available 5/11/16

Chelsea -NETFLIX ORIGINAL

It’s not her first talk show, but it is a first of its kind. Ideas, people and places that fascinate her, three
times a week, all in her unique style.

Goosebumps (2015)

None-too happy about moving to a small Maryland town, teen Zach Cooper finds his outlook changing
after meeting the gorgeous girl next door, Hannah Stine --whose reclusive father happens to be hiding a
big secret.

They Look Like People (2015)

While visiting an old friend in New York City, a man begins receiving eerie phone calls that warn him
something evil is about to happen.

Available 5/12/16

Bleeding Heart (2015)

A yoga instructor reunited with her long-lost biological sister is determined to save her from an abusive
boyfriend and a life of prostitution.

Available 5/15/16

We Are Still Here (2015)

A couple recovering from their son’s death finds themselves haunted by vengeful spirits when they move
to a rural town that hold a horrifying secret.

Yo Soy la Salsa (2014)

More than a genre, the salsa was a cultural movement that arose in a time of need for strengthening the
Latino culture and spread across the world with such force that 50 years later still moving the feet of the
dancers in the most inhospitable corners world. At the heart of the movement is the figure of Johnny
Pacheco, who know as one of the great musical legacy responsible for gender salsa.

Available 5/17/16

American Dad!: Season 10

This comedy follows a conservative CIA agent and his eccentric brood, which includes a talking goldfish
with the brain of an East German athlete.

Kindergarten Cop 2 (2016)

Assigned to recover sensitive stolen data, a gruff FBI agent (Dolph Lundgren) goes undercover as a
kindergarten teacher, but the school's liberal, politically correct environment is more than he bargained
for.

Slasher: Season 1 (2016)

Although her parents were murdered just moments before she was removed from her mother's womb,
Sarah Bennett is all grown up and ready to leave the past behind. But when she and her hubby return to
the family home, history begins to repeat itself.

Available 5/18/16

A Girl Like Her (2015)

Amid South Brookdale High School's social scene, sophomore Jessica Burns suffers unrelenting
harassment by class queen Avery Keller. But with help from best friend Brian Slater, Jessica turns the
tables on her tormentor.

Available 5/19/16

Benders: Season 1 (2015)

Though their amateur ice-hockey squad comes up short on skills, Paul Rosenberg and his teammates are
united --not only by their passion for the sport but by an almost equal passion for drinking beer.

Available 5/20/16

Lady Dynamite: Season 1 -NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Comedian Maria Bamford stars in a series inspired by her own life. It’s the sometimes surreal story of a
woman who loses -and then finds -her s**t.

Available 5/22/16

David and Goliath (2015)

An epic drama drawn from biblical accounts of King David's life. While the army of Israel cowers before
the taunts of hulking Philistine giant Goliath, young shepherd David finds the courage and faith to meet
him in combat.

The Letters (2014)

Letters written by Mother Teresa to a spiritual adviser over decades reveal her inner struggles as she
devotes herself to helping the poor in India.

The Ouija Experiment 2: Theatre of Death (2015)

A group of unsuspecting theatre goers are trapped, after a ravenous spirit is resurrected and released
from a Ouija board.

Available 5/23/16

Electricity (2014)

ELECTRICITY is an Alice in Wonderland for the modern day -an extraordinary hallucinatory journey seen
through the eyes of a young woman with epilepsy as she searches for her long lost brother.

Available 5/26/16

Graceland: Season 3

Joining forces in their undercover efforts, a group of agents from the FBI, DEA, and U.S. Customs move
into a beachfront house in Southern California.

The Last Man on the Moon (2016)

In this artful blend of memoir and documentary, former Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan looks back to the
glory days of NASA's lunar landings and his unique distinction of being the last man to stand on the
moon.

Available 5/27/16

Bloodline: Season 2 -NETFLIX ORIGINAL

When the black sheep son of a respected family threatens to expose dark secrets from their past, sibling
loyalties are put to the test.

Chef's Table: Season 2, Part 1 -NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Find out what’s inside the kitchens and minds of six international culinary stars in this Netflix original six-
part docu-series.

The Do-Over (2016) -NETFLIX ORIGINAL

The life of a bank manager is turned upside down when a friend from his past manipulates him into faking
his own death and taking off on an adventure.

Mako Mermaids: Season 4 -NETFLIX ORIGINAL

This “H2O” sequel follows Zac, a boy who accidentally turns into a merman and threatens the existence
of three young mermaids who guard Mako Island.

Available 5/28/16

Hell on Wheels: Season 5

Former Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon sets out on a quest to find his wife’s killer as post-Civil War
America struggles to rebuild its identity.

Leaving Soon

The following titles will be disappearing in May. Better watch them while you can.

Leaving 5/1/16

The Animatrix (2003)

From the creators of the Matrix trilogy, these short films fuse computer graphics and Japanese anime to
provide the background of the Matrix universe.

Anna Karenina (1948)

When a debonair army officer sweeps a married Russian noblewoman off her feet, the resulting scandal
destroys her societal standing.

Author! Author! (1982)

Before playwright Ivan Travalian can attend to his flailing career, he must deal with the unraveling threads
of his personal life.

Beware of Mr. Baker (2012)

Legendary and indestructible rock drummer Ginger Baker is the focus of this documentary, which recaps
his turbulent history and many influences.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)

High school underachievers Bill and Ted will flunk out if they don’t ace a year-end history presentation, so
they transport themselves back in time.

Broadway Idiot (2013)

Join Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong as he prepares for the debut of American Idiot, the
Broadway sensation based on the band’s 2004 album.

Bus Stop (1956)

A loutish cowboy kidnaps a beautiful nightclub singer, intending to bring her home to his Montana ranch
and make her his wife.

Election (1999)

Tracy Flick appears to have the election for student council president sewn up until a teacher rounds up a
worthy opponent: a popular football player.

The Good Life (2012)

A seemingly perfect couple risks losing their marriage when they begin to sacrifice their vows for growing
career and personal ambitions.

Holiday Engagement (2011)

Hilary’s plan to hire a good-looking guy to act as her boyfriend backfires when she brings him home for
the holidays to try and fool her family.

Kiss of Death (1995)

An ex-con tries to distance himself from his past but reluctantly agrees to help his loser cousin with one
last heist that goes terribly wrong.

Mad Hot Ballroom (2005)

Ballroom dancing goes from lame to cool for a group of students in this documentary, which follows a
group of 11-year-olds as they learn to dance.

Mona Lisa Is Missing (2012)

This documentary examines the case of Vincenzo Peruggia, an unassuming house painter charged with
stealing the “Mona Lisa” from the Louvre in 1911.

Ralphie May: Austin-tatious (2008)

Comedian Ralphie May brings his outrageous stand-up to a Texas audience in this comedy special,
recorded live at Austin’s historic Paramount Theatre.

Terms And Conditions May Apply (2013)

Through interviews with technology thought leaders and futurists, this timely documentary examines the
erosion of privacy in the digital age.

That's What I Am (2011)

After his teacher pairs him up for a project with the school’s biggest reject, a boy forms an unexpected
bond with his new partner.

Thérèse (2012)

Bored by an arranged marriage to a dull but well-meaning husband, a young wife in rural France in the
1920s seeks a drastic solution to her problems.

Truth or Die (2012)

Four teenage friends are taken hostage by a vengeful psychopath and forced to play a party game with
life-or-death consequences.

Young & Handsome: An Evening with Jeff Garlin (2008)

Self-deprecating comedian Jeff Garlin exhibits his flare for storytelling in this concert filmed at Chicago’s
Second City improv theater.

Leaving 5/2/16

Slightly Single in L.A. (2012)

After moving to L.A., Dale finds her life crumbling. Now she’s caught in a love triangle, and turning her
luck around will take a huge leap of faith.

Leaving 5/3/16

JFK: The Smoking Gun (2013)

Veteran Police Detective Colin McLaren spent four years on the forensic cold case investigation of JFK’s
assassination.

Leaving 5/4/16

Stealing Harvard (2002)

In need of cash to put his niece through Harvard, mild-mannered John Plummer enlists help from his best
friend -who convinces John that crime pays.

Leaving 5/6/16

Finding Normal (2013)

A big-city doctor traveling to her new home in the Hamptons has a run-in with the law, forcing her to do
community service in a North Carolina town.

Leaving 5/7/16

JFK: A President Betrayed (2013)

This documentary presents evidence that John F. Kennedy pursued peace talks with Nikita Khrushchev
and Fidel Castro, determined to get out of Vietnam.

Leaving 5/9/16

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (2012)

On the day of Dolly Thatcham’s wedding, the sight of her former beau leads her to realize that going
ahead with the ceremony would be a huge mistake.

Cracks (2009)

A boarding school teacher is unusually close with her charges, until a new student’s arrival evokes strong
emotions and disrupts their relationships.

Tears of the Sun (2003)

Bruce Willis stars as a Navy SEAL sent to the African jungle to rescue a doctor, only to realize he must
also save the refugees in the doctor’s care.

Leaving 5/10/16

The Score (2001)

Ready-to-retire safecracker Nick, flamboyant fence Max and talented but volatile thief Jackie team up to
rob the Montreal Customs House.

Leaving 5/12/16

The Ladykillers (2004)

A Southern professor-turned-criminal puts together a group of thieves to rob a riverboat casino, but their
old lady landlord complicates matters.

Leaving 5/13/16

Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? (2013)

Director Michel Gondry uses lively animations to illustrate conversations with activist Noam Chomsky as
he hold court on his theories, life and work.

Leaving 5/14/16

The Master of Disguise (2002)

Simple, sweet Pistachio Disguisey discovers his keen hereditary talent for imitation when he must rescue
his father from a criminal mastermind.

Offender (2012)

When Tommy’s girlfriend and unborn child are brutally torn away as collateral damage by a ruthless and
murderous gang, his rage erupts uncontrollably.

Leaving 5/15/16

A Pope For Everyone (2013)

This film profiles Pope Francis, the first pontiff from Latin America, exploring his life and work before
election and what he brings to the office.

Bratz: BFF: Best Friends Forever (2007)

The Bratz are as close as ever in these episodes which find the gals helping one pal build confidence
while urging another to be true to herself.

The Greatest Places: IMAX (1999)

This IMAX documentary takes viewers to seven amazing sights, including Greenland’s foreboding
icebergs and the Namib Desert’s undulating sand dunes.

In Her Skin (2009)

When pretty Rachel goes missing, everyone soon suspects Caroline, the overweight, acne-ridden
daughter of a domineering father.

Inhale (2010)

Looking into an illegal lung transplant, an attorney crosses the border, where he learns the truth about
where these “donated” organs come from.

The Quest: Season 1 (2014)

Reality show contestants venture to an imaginative realm and test their own heroism, with ogres and
dragons standing between peace and chaos.

Search for the Great Sharks: IMAX (1995)

Journey around the world on an expedition to discover some of the planet’s most majestic and notorious
creatures -sharks.

Tiger Eyes (2012)

Based on the acclaimed novel by Judy Blume. Following her father’s murder, a teenager goes to stay with
relatives in New Mexico and falls in love.

Leaving 5/16/16

Blade Runner: Theatrical Cut (1982)

In the smog-choked dystopian Los Angeles 2019, blade runner Rick Deckard is called out of retirement to
snuff out a quartet of escaped androids.

The Last Tycoon (2012)

After becoming apprentice to a Shanghai crime boss, Cheng Daqi gets a taste for power in this story of a
real-life gangster that spans 30 years.

Leaving 5/19/16

Peep World (2010)

Problems arise as four siblings gather for their father’s 70th birthday. One of them has written a novel with
characters that resemble them all.

Leaving 5/21/16

Struck by Lightning (2012)

Carson is bent on escaping his hometown for college. His last few weeks of school unwind in a flashback
-until the fateful day when lightening strikes.

Leaving 5/22/16

Ida (2013)

Raised in a Catholic orphanage during the Nazi occupation of Poland, a woman is poised to join the order
when she learns the truth about her heritage.

Stand Off (2012)

Unable to pay a debt to a mobster, Jimbo robs a fish market. But when realizes the mobster owns the
market he goes on the run with his baby.

Leaving 5/23/16

Black Hawk Down (2001)

When U.S. forces attempt to recapture two underlings of a Somali warlord, their helicopters are shot
down and the Americans suffer heavy casualties.

Leaving 5/27/16

Escape from Tomorrow (2013)

On the last day of a family vacation at Disney World, Jim White learns that he’s lost his job. Soon
thereafter, he begins to lose his mind.

Run & Jump (2013)

While struggling to support her family after her husband’s stroke, an Irish woman forms a bond with an
American brain researcher.

Vanishing of the Bees (2009)

This documentary details the economic, political and ecological consequences of a puzzling
phenomenon: a dwindling world honeybee population.

Leaving 5/28/16

Barfi! (2012)

Years after rejecting Barfi, a hearing and speech impaired young man, for a more “appropriate” suitor,
Shruti finds herself falling for him.

Leaving 5/29/16

These Birds Walk (2013)

This inspiring documentary profiles both legendary humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi and a young boy who
lives at one of Edhi’s orphanages in Pakistan.

Leaving 5/31/16

Clerks (1994)

A glimpse at a day in the life of Dante and Randal, convenience store clerks who are sharp-witted, potty-
mouthed, and bored out of their minds.

All titles and dates are subject to change.

The Mystery of Grace, Moxyland, The House Next Door

You guys, I have been on a huge reading spree and finished quite a few books this past week. I'm going to jam in as many as I can, but they might not all fit. Ready?

The Mystery of Grace
I love Charles de Lint's writing and the book I just finished by him does not disappoint. Called the Mystery of Grace, it's set in the American southwest. Grace is a young woman who is very close to her abuelo (grandfather) sharing his love of old cars, rockabilly and surf guitar music.
When he passes away she is left with a giant void that leaves her numb and withdrawn. She takes up smoking again and heads down to the local grocery store to get a pack of cigarettes. But while she's there something terrible happens and she essentially starts a brand new life.

It's very difficult to talk about this book without giving any spoilers but I will do my best. This is essentially a love story but it's also a story about finding yourself while learning to be closer to others. Grace has a lot of friends and acquaintances but she kind of holds everybody at a distance.

This is a beautiful story and I loved it so much. Grace is a fantastic character that I would be happy to call my friend. There are lots of descriptions of working on old cars but they don't get too technical and you won't get bogged down like you would in a Tom Clancy novel. Instead we see just enough to understand her deepest passions and to feel the connection with her abuelo. The gorgeous cover by John Jude Palancar is just the frosting on this extremely tasty cake. This is a book that you want to hand around to all of your friends. You can read an excerpt here: http://www.tor.com/2009/03/26/lemgthe-mystery-of-gracelemg-by-charles-de...

If you choose to purchase the novel using this Amazon affiliate link I will receive a finder's fee, which helps keep this site running. My thanks if you do.

Kill My Mother
I think Neil Gaiman recommended Jules Feiffer's Kill My Mother, a graphic noir novel, in his journal, but I may be misremembering. I got my filthy paws on it recently and read it straight through. Like many things I have read recently it could be summed up as terrible people doing terrible things. (I think there are three characters that aren't awful, greedy, self centered twerps. Maybe four.) Essentially everyone either shoots someone else or gets shot, so don't get too attached to the characters. The book is a fun, fast moving homage to the film noir that was so popular around the Great Depression. The author and artist was a kid when film noir was in its heydey but he says it took him sixty years to be able to draw in the proper style. I was plagued by a feeling of familiarity while I was reading the book, as though it was a well loved story, but it wasn't until I was almost finished that I realized Mr. Feiffer drew the illustrations for the Phantom Tollbooth, a book I read dozens of times as a child. You can read an excerpt here: http://www.npr.org/2014/08/12/339598213/exclusive-first-read-jules-feiff...
If you choose to purchase the novel using this Amazon affiliate link I will receive a finder's fee, which helps keep this site running. My thanks if you do.

Moxyland
If I had to sum up Lauren Beukes' debut novel Moxyland in one word it would be “whoompf.” That's the sound of the wind getting knocked out of me. This is a powerhouse of a cyberpunk novel set in the near future, in South Africa. If you feel we're all corporate stooges or wageslaves now, you will cringe over this book. In this terrifying future your phone is your lifeline and you can be disconnected at any second for not toeing the corporate line. The police can essentially taser you via your phone, so of course they do, at any provocation.

Moxyland follows the lives of four characters who are at nexuses in their lives. Kendra, who is an artist about to let a corporation experiment on her, Toby, who is basically a You Tube star with the morals of a starving tomcat and the personality of a depraved 18th century French aristocrat, Tendeka, an activist walking a narrow line as he tries to get funding for the kids he works with, and Lerato who works for a giant conglomerate, revels in her privilege but is also working to undermine the company. Because she is a thrill-seeker? It's hard for me to say.
I feel kind of odd saying I enjoyed such a dark book but I did. It reminded me a little of Cory Doctorow's For the Win which also looks at how corporations use poverty, class and racial discrimination to treat employees poorly. Although in Moxyland it's also the consumers who are treated poorly, not just the employees. There is very much a one percent trampling and feeding off the 99 percent feel.
You can read an excerpt here: http://angryrobotbooks.com/samples/Moxyland.pdf It looks as though it is about to come out for the Kindle.

If you choose to purchase the novel using this Amazon affiliate link I will receive a finder's fee, which helps keep this site running. My thanks if you do.

The House Next Door
Stephen King spends a fair amount of time discussing Anne River Siddon's scary novel the House Next Door in his nonfiction book Danse Macabre. He gives plenty of spoilers but still made it sound intriguing enough for me to request it via inter-library loan. (It's an older book so a bit hard to find.) It's a little dry but the end gave me the super creeps. It's a haunted house story about a privileged couple who are dismayed when the vacant lot next to their house is purchased and slated for development. But when they see the plans for the new building they think maybe it won't be so bad. But it will. It will be quite a lot worse than they imagined. There are no howling ghosties stretching out long, ectoplasmic limbs, snatching up the neighbors as they go by; no poltergeist smashing all the dishes and throwing people off of roofs. This haunting is more sedate but nonetheless chilling. The House Next Door is well worth spending the time to ferret it out.

If you choose to purchase the novel using this Amazon affiliate link I will receive a finder's fee, which helps keep this site running. My thanks if you do.

Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is fairly melancholy. Losing Prince was quite a blow. Here he is singing the first song I remember of his.

Why Are So Many Characters Underground?

I'm completely baffled and more than a little dismayed by the sudden surge of pop culture products featuring people being held captive in tiny spaces, usually underground. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Room, and a godawful novel called the Light of the Fireflies or some such are all about people who were kidnapped, are being held against their wills, and are/were being systematically lied to.

Of course stories about kidnappings and liars are a dime a dozen (especially on Amazon where you can buy a book for a penny) but these seem more hurtful to me, perhaps because the people who are treated like this in real life never get to put it behind them. Say the name Jaycee Dugard and one doesn't think about her current life as a writer and creator of a support foundation for those damaged by trauma. The first thought is of her terrible ordeal. Years ago I knew a fella who worked with Patty Hearst on a film. She was chatting with him at craft services as they both got breakfast, but all he could think about was her kidnapping and brainwashing. And this was literally decades after she had been freed! So I find it offensive on some level when we're told that these types of crimes are funny, as in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, or a couple of hours of diversion as in the film Room, or whatever the hell the fireflies thing was supposed to be. (Yes I hated that book as I haven't hated anything in quite awhile. I don't usually talk about entertainment that I hate in this column as there is so much that I enjoy to talk about, but I have been a little obsessed with loathing it since I finished the thing a few days ago.) Anyway, despite my concerns this type of story seems to be pretty embedded in today's zeitgeist.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

I watched Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt as I was preparing to vote in the SAG awards and despite my misgivings there is a lot to like. Ellie Kemper (The Office, Bridesmaids) plays the title character, who goes around with a bit of a daft, disbelieving expression throughout season one (season two debuts today!). Her character was kidnapped as a middle schooler by a dude pretending to run a doomsday cult, and hasn't yet matured beyond that middle schooler sensibility. So what does an “Indiana Mole Woman” do when she's rescued? Takes off for New York City of course, where she will be able to fit in with the eclectic populace.

She gains a roommate, Titus Andromedon, an aspiring actor/singer played by Tituss Burgess (30 Rock), a loopy landlady played by Carol Kane, who I know best from her iconic role in Princess Bride, and an even loopier employer played by Jane Krakowski (30 Rock). Chaos ensues, as they say.

My favorite part of season one is Jon Hamm (Mad Men, Minions) as the kidnapper/leader of the cult, Richard Wayne Gary Wayne. He is disgustingly good as a snake oil salesman type, defending himself at his trial and weaving a sparkling web of lies. If you haven't seen it yet, here is Titus Andromedon singing his breakout hit Peeno Noir, an ode to black penis.

If you choose to purchase Netflix using this Amazon affiliate link I will receive a finder's fee, which helps keep this site running. My thanks if you do. Netflix

Room
Room is a film that I would never have seen if it weren't for the SAG awards. It's also about a young lady who is kidnapped by a horrible person, who rapes her and holds her captive in a shed in his backyard. Ma (Brie Larson) gives birth to a little boy called Jack (Jacob Tremblay) who is celebrating his fifth birthday as the film begins. He has no idea there is more to the world than “room” (he names all of the inanimate objects, with very practical names) and believes that what he sees on television is not part of his world. They are existing as well as they can but when their abductor Old Nick (who should be called Old Scratch) becomes unemployed Ma realizes they are in more danger than ever. She comes up with a terrifying scheme that she hopes will result in their rescue.

The film is essentially split into two parts; in room and out of room. The first half deals with the problems of being incarcerated while the second deals with post traumatic syndrome, the invasion of the media, family problems and everything else that comes with a widely publicized terrible event. Both Ms. Larson and Mr. Tremblay are phenomenal in this film, giving nuanced performances that are heartbreaking and poignant.

A bit of a spoiler: at one point Ma submits to a television interview and the reporter asks her if she doesn't think she was being a bad mother by keeping Jack in the shed with her. Isn't she selfish by not sending him out into the world without her? While Ma is devastated by this question I just wanted to holler at the reporter. Old Nick is a kidnapper and a rapist. Why would anyone trust him to drop a baby or a tiny child off in a safe space? Killing and ditching the child would by far be the easiest thing to do. She did the right thing by keeping her little boy where she could watch over him.

If you choose to purchase Room using this Amazon affiliate link I will receive a finder's fee, which helps keep this site running. My thanks if you do.
Room [Blu-ray + Digital HD]

The Horrible Fireflies Novel
And now we come to the book I hated so very much. Called the Light of the Fireflies and written by Paul Pen it's a story about horrible people doing horrible things. The narrator is a preadolescent boy who lives in a basement with his mother, father, developmentally disabled brother, grandmother and a brand new baby. His sister is the mother of the baby which immediately raises the question who is the father? With only the family ever seeing each other there is no answer to that question that isn't disturbing and criminal.

The narrator seems to be a decent child who is facing his first real ethical dilemmas. I liked him and I think he does very well through most of the book, especially given the handicaps he struggles under; ie role models who are abusive and frightening.

Everyone older than he is has been burned badly, with his sister so disfigured she has to wear a mask. At the beginning of the novel I kept wondering how this worked. They seemed to be hiding from some sort of post apocalyptic event, or perhaps a genocidal war, or something similarly calamitous. Assuming they were burned in the last minutes before they went underground, how did they all survive? The types of burns they have are difficult enough to treat under the best of circumstances. Unfortunately that wasn't the only thing that didn't add up for me.

The entire second half of the book is ridiculous, with people behaving just about as badly as you can behave. Suddenly the sister goes from someone we care about and want to protect to a supposed monster that the entire family reviles. But the motivations didn't work for me. Yeah the sister makes a few mistakes, some of them rather large, but her subsequent punishment is so far out of proportion to her “crimes” that I kind of gave up on the book.

Which is not to say I didn't finish reading it. I did and the ending was the worst part. As an Amazon reviewer notes, the boys in this family are catered to in every way while girls are considered disposable and neglected to the point of no return. The novel was one of the March Kindle options that are free to Amazon Prime members. I have read three of them so far and didn't even bother getting one for April. I couldn't even finish January's choice. February was okay but nothing to write home about and March was the fireflies book.

While I am ending on a downer note next week will be more positive as I am tearing through a stack of library books at a frantic pace and already have a couple of fun ones to discuss with you. Until then!

If you choose to purchase the Light of the Fireflies using this Amazon affiliate link I will receive a finder's fee, which helps keep this site running. My thanks if you do.
The Light of the Fireflies

Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is an interesting idea. Called Radiooooo, it's a site that allows you to listen to different types of music from all over the world, through the ages. Pick a country and pick a decade and you are good to go. http://radiooooo.com/

Reserved

I'm reading a bunch of kind of depressing books, trying to power through them and get them out of the way. If I read a chapter a day I'll get through them eventually, right? I hope. (History of Rome in 35 books anyone? I don't think I've ready anything so violent and rapey since I last read the bible. Also a Journal of the Plague Year about the black death in London in 1665 and yet another book about the French Revolution. All clear indications I've lost my mind.) Anyway, when Net Galley offered me an ARC (free advance review copy) of a romance novel called Reserved, by Tracy Ewens, I jumped at the chance. I definitely needed a nice palate cleanser. Reserved is a very sweet, charming romance set in a restaurant backdrop.

Makenna is a single mother who works for two family businesses; a farm and the restaurant, called the Yard. (It used to be a lumberyard.) She does the “noncreative” things like the paperwork and the scheduling while her brother and his friend Travis come up with interesting new food combinations. They have all been working together for a few years and all is going smoothly, until Kenna has a dream that places Travis smack into her kitchen, wearing pajama bottoms and nothing else.

Now she can't look him in the face, and is spending way too much looking at his various luscious body parts. He notices the new awkwardness and asks about it. When he discovers the reason, his longtime low grade crush on Kenna kicks up into a higher gear. Naturally this leads to complications and conflict.

Both Travis and Kenna are damaged; but in very different ways. Kenna is still scarred by her husband's sudden death and is afraid to do anything that will upset the balance of her new, carefully formulated life while Travis comes from a family of awful people, who wrote him off when an injury prevented him from devoting his life to sports. They don't see his delicious, delicious cooking as anything other than running away from his family and his destiny.

I liked how sweet this story is and the tender relationships between Kenna's daughter Paige and the other characters. She lost her father when she was only five weeks old, (she is now almost six) but she has a very loving relationship with her grandpa and her two uncles. Her friendship with “My Travis” as she calls him is also warming up, with her relying on him as a father figure more and more. (She enlists him in her culinary war with a fellow student, a girl called Sierra who she classifies as a “predator.”)

There were only a couple of little things that interfered with my enjoyment of Reserved. I was a little weirded by some of the insistence on “manliness.” One character puts the kibosh on a potential date because his favorite movie is Princess Bride, which isn't manly enough. Come on, it has swordfighting, pirates, revenge; what could be more manly than that? Not to mention that Jon Huertas, who plays Esposito on Castle, is a big Princess Bride fan. You really can't get any manlier than Jon Huertas. The other thing that bugged me, albeit only a little bit? Call me morbid but I wanted to know how Kenna's husband died. He was fine when the baby was born and then dead five weeks later. An accident? Some godawful fast moving illness? I'll never know.

But those were minor quibbles; easily overlooked in the sheer fun of this story. I was pretty psyched to see that Sage, Kenna's dear friend, is going to be the star of her own book, called Stirred, in the near future. I'm definitely going to look for the rest of the books in this series, especially while I an bogged down in heavy historical tomes.

You can find an excerpt here, if you scroll down a bit. http://tracyewens.com/book/reserved-a-love-story/

If you choose to purchase the novel using this Amazon affiliate link I will receive a finder's fee, which helps keep this site running. My thanks if you do.

Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is something to play with while you are out enjoying the sunshine (assuming you have that where you live) and the breezes. It's a pdf for a paper airplane called the Dragonfly and it's pretty sweet. Enjoy! http://funpaperairplanes.com/pdf/Dragonfly_sample.pdf There are some very specific printing instructions at the bottom of this page, along with several other design styles. http://funpaperairplanes.com/

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