A Test of Wills / A Long Shadow

a test of wills reviewIt is much harder to do a series character than most mystery authors seem to think. You have to make your protagonist interesting, perhaps with a gimmick that can be used to intrigue the reader. You have to make the character likable but not too saintly, vulnerable but not too fragile.

You have to reintroduce the character in each new book for readers just coming to the series, and you have to make the character grow and be dynamic from one book to the next, but not to grow too far from the roots that made the character popular in the first place. It’s a tall task and it can be very limiting.

That’s why it’s such a joy to read of the adventures of Inspector Ian Rutledge. Rutledge is the creation of Charles Todd, a pseudonymous American mother-and-son team which has crafted Rutledge as a traumatized British ex-soldier from World War I.

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BOOKS 2 FILM >> The H.P. Lovecraft Collection: Volume 3 – Out of Mind

books to filmhp lovecraft collection 3 reviewLurker Films’ first two H.P. Lovecraft DVDs gathered up short films based on the author’s work, but this one – THE H.P. LOVECRAFT COLLECTION: VOLUME 3 – OUT OF MIND – features an interesting take on his writing.

Originally shot for the Bravo channel in Canada, OUT OF MIND: THE STORIES OF H.P. LOVECRAFT – the disc’s centerpiece – is a quasi-biography program about Lovecraft, in which the author interacts with one of his fictional characters. What starts out looking like archival footage of Lovecraft speaking into a camera is actually from now, just made to look old-timey.

We watch as Lovecraft walks in the woods, working out some of the names that will become some of his most important creations. Cut to today, where we are introduced to a man named Randolph Carter, who meets an lawyer with a package that’s been waiting for him for some 30 odd years. That package contains a mysterious book that will rock Carter’s world in a huge way.

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SEARCH ME >> 2.07

Our monthly depressing look at the search terms that bring pervs to BOOKGASM!

search terms february 2007

Showcase Presents The Brave and the Bold Batman Team-Ups: Volume 1

showcase brave bold batman reviewWhen you’re a kid who has to use your own meager allowance to buy comic books, a company’s surest way to snag that money is a team-up book. At least it was in my spending decision, because it was like getting two titles in one not normally seen together – the four-color equivalent of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

That explains why I grew up with a stack of DC’s THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD in my collection. Each month, Batman would fight crime alongside one B-level hero or another, and the variety of oddball partners month in and month out made for half of the fun. Now 21 before-my-time early issues are collected in the clumsily titled SHOWCASE PRESENTS THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD BATMAN TEAM-UPS: VOLUME 1.

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BULLETS, BROADS, BLACKMAIL & BOMBS >> Howard Be Thy Name

bullets broads blackmail and bombsWhen most people think of Robert E. Howard, one name comes to mind: Conan. But he created some other great characters. Now, like H.P. Lovecraft, there are various tomes of Howard’s writing with massive crossover, and I know what a pain it is to sift through stuff you might already have bought or read. Del Rey is reissuing Howard’s series character stories – Conan, Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, Kull – but there are other publishers tackling more obscure tales, such as these…

boxing stories reviewBOXING STORIES by Robert E. Howard – Out on shelves, there are two collections of Howard’s boxing stories: this 2005 one and another called WATERFRONT TALES. For those interested, grab this one, since it’s cheaper yet printed on better paper.

An avid boxing fan and boxer himself, Howard loved writing these stories, which mainly star a sailor named Steve Costigan. All the stories are from Howard’s manuscripts with original character names and titles intact. When these were put out in the fight pulps, those were changed to be made more gripping for readers. You’re probably thinking, “How could Howard write stories that don’t just repeat themselves over and over?” Simple: exotic locales featuring those down on their luck.

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Robbie’s Wife

robbies wife reviewJust who is this ROBBIE’S WIFE? Before you know that, first you have to meet Jack Stone.

In Russell Hill’s new novel – a Hard Case Crime original – Stone is a 60-year-old screenwriter. Twice divorced and in a creative rut, he sells everything he owns but his laptop, which he takes with him to England, where he hopes to recharge his batteries, save his soul and produce a script that’ll bring him a landslide of a studio payday.

He settles on renting a room at the English countryside home of Robbie Barlow, a brutish sheep farmer who lives with his 10-year-old son and a true MILF of a wife, Maggie. At first, Stone fits right in like a member of the family. But he takes a shine to the two-decades-younger Maggie, and begins to confuse real life with the sexual fantasies he types out onscreen in proper Final Draft format.

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Geek Monthly #2

geek monthly 2There’s one in every office: that “wacky” guy where everything he does or says is some sort of forced craziness. Whether it be recounting a Dane Cook routine, putting up “ironic” posters of monkeys or getting a well-deserved smack to the breadbasket for taking “Talk Like a Pirate Day” way too far, you know who I’m talking about. It’s a facade – an attempt to carve a persona, a personality, where there is none.

And now, they have a new magazine to read. It’s called Geek Monthly. Because it’s for geeks – get it? Not for real, over- or underweight, socially awkward, D&D-playing nerds who wait until 2 a.m. for the latest copy of Windows Vista geeks, but those cool, fashionable ones who wear tight lime-green sweaters, have $500 faux-thick glasses and masturbate to photos of Weezer in between shopping sprees at Hot Topic, whereupon they buy a shirt of Chuck Norris playing an old-school Atari.

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The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow

sea of shadow reviewTokyopop is bringing super-popular Japanese novelist Fuyumi Ono to America. THE TWELVE KINGDOMS: SEA OF SHADOW is book one of what will be a seven-volume epic, and it definitely should stir the fantasy-loving hearts and minds of readers. The series has sold more than 15 million copies in Japan, and its success stems from its reliance on traditional and well-loved fantasy motifs peppered with a cool and exuberant visual aesthetic.

Yoko Nakajima is your typical Japanese high school girl, living with her typical family. She has the normal sorts of worries about school and friends, and there is little that blights her life, except for some extraordinary nightmares and the fact that her hair has an unusual reddish tinge. This is enough to set her apart from the others – a fantasy-fiction staple – but it causes her trouble in a conformist society that looks for excuses to punish the different.

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The Wicked West II: Abomination & Other Tales

wicked west 2 reviewWESTERN TALES OF TERROR whetted my appetite for Western comics with a horror/fantasy bent. While I await the next JONAH HEX trade paperback for such, THE WICKED WEST II: ABOMINATION & OTHER TALES fills the void.

ABOMINATION tells the tale – or, rather, two dozen of them – of cursed cowboy Cotton Coleridge, who’s always running across ghosts, monsters and other beings of supernatural origin. Apparently, the first WICKED WEST – I haven’t read it, and you don’t need to in order to enjoy this one – told one story, of Cotton battling vampires in the Old West. This sequel, however, is an anthology from a host of talented authors and artists.

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Lester Dent’s Zeppelin Tales

lester dents zeppelin tales reviewTo be honest, I never knew the stories of LESTER DENT’S ZEPPELIN TALES even existed. When I always thought of Lester Dent, the one and only thing that would spring to mind would be Doc Savage. But Dent wrote a variety of other pulp tales in his time, and this collection showcases his love for the airships.

The collection rounds up five such stories, nicely reprinted with some of the text harkening back to what Dent originally wrote before editors hacked away at it. A warning label on the cover cautions us of bad words and violence that permeate the stories. Some of the terms in the tales indeed may be considered offensive, but I don’t think we really needed a glossary for them.

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