Friday, February 28, 2014

Genre Character of the Week: Mr. Hublot

Last night I went out with friends and family to see the live action and animated short film nominations for this years Oscars.  The films are all pretty great and well worth watching, but the standout for me was the animated short, Mr. Hublot. 

The film focuses on a robotic citizen of a future city, who clearly has a few issues, (OCD being one of them), and his attempts to live a quiet life.

As the film was only 11 minutes long, I don't really want to spoil it past that, but the animation was great, the film created a wonderful world for its characters and I couldn't stop smiling all the way through.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Choosing my next Horror Series

So this week the universe answered my Necroscope question from a few weeks back, the copy I had purchased from my local used book store was a few pages shy, actually five pages, the last five pages, which meant that if I wanted to read the third book in the series I would have to find another copy.

So now I get to decide which horror series I'm going to follow next - although to be fair it may not be a specific series by one author, maybe I'll hit the award winners again or just go through my ever-increasing shelf of books I mean to get around to reading someday.

One quick stop in the horror genre I'm definitely going to be making however, is Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips series Fatale, which melds film noir-style crime stories with H.P. Lovecraft style horror.  At this point I've read the first collection and it was pretty amazing; moody, intriguing and really, really creepy.

So, while I'm looking for great horror series, if you happen to know of any, feel free to send a comment my way!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Book Review: Revival #1: You're Among Friends

Last fall in Library School I took a course on Comic Books and Graphic Novels in public and school libraries, and during that course I wrote a paper on the current stuff at Image Comics.

It's funny because going into the course I knew Image for three titles; Spawn, Savage Dragon, and The Walking Dead (of which I'm a pretty huge fan).  Little did I know that the publishing company had a number of other titles I should have been reading.

Number one of them was Hack/Slash - which I spent all of last October focusing on, but after finishing my paper I ended with a large number of titles to check out.

First up was Hack/Slash author Tim Seeley's series Revival.  In many ways you can think of it as Images other zombie book.

In the story a small town changes dramatically over the couse of an afternoon when all of the towns dead apparently come back to life.  Unlike in Kirkman's The Walking Dead, they aren't mindless killing creatures, but are instead the same people they were before, only a little different.

I really don't want to spoil this series (also it would be hard for me as I've just started it myself), but it does a great job of mixing Gothic Horror with Zombie themes.  An awful lot of fun and really compelling stories.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Prepping for the Oscars

With a week and change to go between now and the Oscars, I'm in pretty good shape for this year - I've seen eight out of the nine nominees for Best Picture, and my last one, Nebraska will be available on Video on Demand next week.

In this last week and change I've still got a few movies to go, but what I'm really excited about is the fact that here in Edmonton you can catch most of the Oscar Shorts this year while also supporting the Edmonton International Film Festival.  I was able to take advantage of the offer two years ago and absolutely loved the event as it let me see a number of films I would never have had the chance to check out before.

Although genre films don't tend to make much of an appearance in the big categories at the Oscars, this year there are actually two Science Fiction films, Gravity and Her, that are both well worth the watch and will both end up in my home video collection (although I have to say I'm nervous about how the visual grandeur of Gravity will translate from the big screen to my television).

Monday, February 17, 2014

Retro Viewing on Family Day

Here in Alberta Canada we celebrate Family Day on the third Monday in February (since 2007), which gives us a nice long weekend between New Year's and Easter.  This year my wife and I decided to show our kids some movies that they haven't seen, but should have; Purple Rain (1984) and Hackers (1995).

Purple Rain (which I have to admit I've never seen before, unless you include seeing the music videos from the film) was an interesting experience - part concert film, part romance, part family drama, the film moved back and forth between the amazing musical numbers and stuff that really just came across to me as strange: the creation of a girl band that was to be quote "…sexy but not dirty" which ended up being three women singing a song called "Sex Shooter" in lingerie, the fact that a woman is thrown in a dumpster by her boyfriend's henchman, or the incredibly rude way "The Kid" (Prince) treats two of his band members throughout 90% of the film.

Our biggest fear in showing the kids Hackers was simply that it wouldn't date well - that all the references to hacker culture or the mid-90s fear of what "Hackers" might do to your information may have seemed too cheesy for our kids.

Instead, they really just ate it up.  The fact that it starred current Elementary star Jonny Lee Miller definitely helped,   Also the fact that the film has a nice pace, over the top villains and is an interesting look at a specific (albeit dated) sub-culture was a lot of fun as well.

In the end, we didn't show the kids either film because they were the best movies of their time, but for my wife and I there were a part of our culture growing up, and now our kids have a taste of what we thought was cool growing up, just as their kids will have when shown films like High School Musical 2, Another Cinderella Story, and LOL.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's from Bookmonkey

Hello all,

Just a short one today as I'm spending my time giving my wife the Valentine's day she's been hoping for (which mostly means we'll be doing things on her to do list, like taxes and whatnot.)

So happy Valentine's to all my readers, can you believe it's been about four and half years since I started blogging here?

Anyway, I hope you all have a great day and get to spend it doing taxes with the one you love.

Your old pal,

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Book Review: The Long War

Yesterday I finished The Long War, Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter's follow-up to their 2012 novel The Long Earth.  The book takes place ten years after the discovery of The Long Earth, a series of parralel Earths accessible to most everyone on Earth; also when I say a series, I mean millions.

The book itself focuses on how governments across the world deal with a massive shift, being the exodus of their citizens into parallel versions of their own countries sometimes millions of worlds away.  Are these people still citizens?  Do they still pay taxes and require government services?

The book continues to follow the main characters from The Long Earth, and has both multiple story lines and in some of those story lines a quest format, but for me the most exciting bit was the sheer world building that goes on in the series.

The authors have already signed on for more books in the series, and if your interested in a great introductory novel to science fiction, the series is definitely worth a try.

Monday, February 10, 2014

How long should you stick with a series?

So I'm in a bit of a pickle; I've read the first two books of a series and am unsure of whether or not I want to continue.

The first book I read, Brian Lumley's 1986 novel Necroscope, was actually pretty great - Although aware of the series for a long time, I was unnerved by the cover art, and was pleased to find the novel was both exciting and had me intrigued to read the rest of the series.

Then I read the second book in the series, Necroscope II: Wamphyri! and found myself a little underwhelmed; the story didn't quite move fast enough for me and there were some plot holes I couldn't get past.

Now the series overall has a lot of sequels and spin-off titles, but the reviews I've read over the years say it's pretty great, but after being disappointed by the sequel I'm a little hesitant to sign on to such a large series of books, and I'm pretty sure if I read book three I'm going to in it for the long haul.

I'm not actually sure whether to continue or not, anyone out there have any suggestions?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Walking Dead is Back!

Although I've spent a lot of my last month working my way through various films nominated for the Best Picture Oscars (8 down, 1 to go - I'm looking at you Nebraska) today marks the return of one of my current favourite television shows currently on the air.

The Walking Dead is back!

Tonight's episode had me pretty excited as it's quite (sorry, mild spoiler here) Carl-focused, which is really nice, because the story of this kid growing up in a world overrun by zombies is one of the more intriguing ones to me.

Anyway, although I'm enjoying the various Oscar-nominated films a lot (haven't found one I regret yet - also go see Gravity in theatres if it is at all possible for you to do), there is something really great about being able to look forward to some great quality television.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Catching up with Spartacus

Working on my never-ending quest to catch up with what was popular a few years ago, my wife and I have recently begun to watch teh Starz series Spartacus.

For years now I've been a pretty big fan of the classics, whether the stories of mythology, the actual history, or many of the fascinating novels, films, televison and games that have used Ancient Greece and Rome as a resource.

Spartacus was a bit of a hard sell for me - when I initally looked at the advertisements for the series it all looked pretty fake - both the sets looked a little too computer generated, and the actors looked far more muscularly toned than any ancient gladiator would ever have been (they preferred bulk over tone).  But as the guy who owns more than a few series set in the ancient world, eventually I was going to give it a try.

Honestly?  I'm really liking it!  Even though I'm familiar wih the story of the historical Spartacus, and therefoer aware of most of the broad strokes of the story, I was very quickly drawn into the drama and action of the series, and as we are now almost halfway through season 2 (which is technically season 3), I'm pretty sure I'm going to be championing this show for a while - it's relatable, filled with good characters and a lot of sex and violence (so definitely not for the kids), and is completely, almost addictively watchable.

If you've never given it a shot, it is worth a look - although to be fair, once you start you may find it hard to stop.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Book Review: Nine Princes in Amber

Last month I began reading my latest Fantasy series, Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber (1970 - 1991), with the novel Nine Princes of Amber.

The story begins with a man waking in a long-term care ward of a hospital, unsure of his identity and trying desperately to figure out an escape.

For a series which begins with such a simple concept, it moves into high fantasy incredibly quickly.  Our main character, Corwin (who begins the novel not even sure of his own name) moves beyond his hospital bed into an adventure that gets bigger and bigger with each chapter.

Even though the story is nearly 35-years-old, I really want to stay away from spoilers as finding out exactly how Corwin's world works is a huge part of the enjoyment of the series.

If you've never tried the book, it is definitely worth a look, but be warned, once you start, it may be pretty hard to pull yourself away from discovering the rest of the series.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Things I've Noticed: It's tough killing time before the next Song of Ice and Fire novel

Last year I read the five available novels of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series at the rate of one a month.  I took a couple breaks to spend a month watching season one and season two of the HBO adaption Game of Thrones, but even taking the time to read the connected novellas about Dunk and Egg, I reached the summer of 2013 entirely caught up on the series and hungry for more.

So I looked around and came across the book Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, a book of essays on the series either examining concepts or how the series has been adapted into different forms.

So far I'm about halfway through the book, so it should last me until later this year.

Also I'll take a month off of reading the book to watch season 3 when it comes out on DVD, and this month I got to read the related short story "The Princess and the Queen", in the collection Dangerous Women

After that I'm kind of out of luck…

But so far I'm okay!