THE LONG EARTH/THE LONG WAR/THE LONG MARS By Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter

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I found it fairly easy to figure out who was writing what in this episodic series. If there were trolls or kobolds then it was Terry Pratchett. If it was scientific explainations of phenomena, it was Stephen Baxter. The premise of this series presented in The Long Earth is that there are an infinite number of Earths separated into dimensions. An eccentric billionaire puts the plans to a “Stepper” online and suddenly millions of people are exploring alternate Earths. Our Earth, referred to as “Datum,” becomes unglued as people immigrate to an Earth of their own. Of course, there are problems. In The Long War, governments on Datum try to establish their power across multiple Earths and control the Great Migration. They build and launch a series of Zeppelins with the ability to “step” through the dimensions. The crews of the Zeppelins encounter plenty of adventures. The premise of The Long Mars is that if there are an infinite number of Earths, there must be an infinite number of Marses. A crew lands on Mars and launches gliders that can “step” through the dimensions to different Marses. At the same time on Earth, an expedition goes as far as 250,000,000 Earths on a grand quest to explore the planet’s possibilities. This is Big Concept science fiction. If you’re in the mood for long, rambling adventures then this series will entertain you. If you prefer more focused action and plotting, this might not be your cup of tea. GRADE: C+ (for all three novels)

ELEANOR & PARK By Rainbow Rowell

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Eleanor & Park is a novel of teenage love between two very different people. Eleanor is redhead who lives with her dysfunctional family in Omaha. Park has a Korean mother and an American father, but feels that he’s an outsider in the high school he attends. Eleanor sits next to Park on the school bus and slowly their relationship begins. Park is reading The Watchmen comic book and Eleanor starts reading it with him. Of course, true love never runs smooth. The kids on the bus harass Eleanor. The girls in gym class taunt her unmercifully. At home, Eleanor tries to deal with a mother in an abusive relationship and the poverty that goes along with it. I confess: my eyes misted up several times while reading this fine book. If you liked The Fault in Our Stars you’ll be moved by Eleanor & Park. Both books are great love stories! GRADE: A

BOYHOOD

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Director Richard Linklater took a huge risk in filming a movie that takes the measure of a boy’s life from age six to age eighteen. Fortunately, the risk paid off. In 2002, six-year-old Mason Evans, Jr. (played by Ellar Coltrane) and his older sister Samantha (played by Lorelei Linklater–the Director’s daughter) together with their divorced mother Olivia (played by Patricia Arquette) move from a small town in Texas to Houston. Olivia wants to attend the University of Houston so she can get a better job. When they get to Houston, Mason Sr. (played by Ethan Hawke) takes Mason and Samantha bowling which hints at the level of their father’s involvement. Boyhood presents an episodic journey of a young boy growing into a teenager in front of our eyes. Olivia makes another disastrous mistake marrying one of her college professors. Mason and Samantha deal with growing up with Mason, Sr. showing up erratically in their lives. With a nearly 3-hour movie you have to expect some tedious patches, but Linklater keeps them to a minimum. Linklater also captures on film the beauty of Texas. Boyhood is an astonishing technical and artistic triumph. It’s well worth seeing. GRADE: A-

THE STORIED LIFE OF A. J. FIKRY By Gabrielle Zevin

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Diane’s Book Club (members are all retired teachers) read The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry and loved this story of a grumpy independent bookseller. A. J. Fikry loves books, but he really really loves short stories. That’s why each chapter leads off with a short commentary on one of his favorite short stories. I had to go back and reread Irwin Shaw’s “The Girls in Their Summer Dresses” because I didn’t quite remember it. The rest of the short stories were familiar Old Friends, but I did go back an reread Flannery O’Conner’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.”. It’s was as good as the first time I read it. This book is a homage to reading and the power of books to change lives. There are a number of surprising twists in the plot so I’m being deliberately vague (I hate Spoilers). I highly recommend The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry! Trust me, you’ll thank me after you’ve read this book. GRADE: A

Table of Contents
PART I,
Lamb to the Slaughter, 3,
The Diamond as Big as the Ritz, 27,
The Luck of Roaring Camp, 41,
What Feels Like the World, 79,
A Good Man Is Hard to Find, 87,
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, 129,
The Girls in Their Summer Dresses, 159,
PART II,
A Conversation with My Father, 173,
A Perfect Day for Bananafish, 187,
The Tell-Tale Heart, 199,
Ironhead, 213,
What We Talk about When We Talk about Love, 239,
The Bookseller, 247,

MUSIC FOR ALFRED HITCHCOCK By Danish National Concert Choir and Danish National Symphony Orchestra

music for alfred hitchcock
I’ve seen most of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies and music plays a key role in many of them. I have a half dozen soundtracks from some of the major Hitchcock films, but I enjoyed this new collection of music from the major composers: Bernard Herrmann, Arthur Benjamin, Dimitri Tiomkin, Danny Elfman, and Franz Waxman. If you’re a Hitchcock fan you’ll enjoy this music. What’s your favorite Hitchcock film? I have to go with Rear Window.

THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY

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A family leaves India and after a brief and discontented stay in England (too near Heathrow Airport), they end up in the quaint French alpine village of Lumière. The family opens a restaurant bringing Indian cuisine to the small town. One hundred feet away from the Indian restaurant is a renown French food restaurant. The opening provokes Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren) the talented but bitter local chef. Don’t go to The Hundred-Foot Journey hungry. There are plenty of scenes showing the eye-popping French markets and restaurant kitchens with all the wonderful food. I enjoyed the members of the Kadam family especially the patriarch played by Om Puri and his gifted son, Hassan, played by Manish Dayal. This is a movie about the love of food and the people who prepare it. Most people will enjoy this movie. GRADE: B+

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #281: 100 GREAT DETECTIVES Edited by Maxim Jakubowski

100 great detectives
100 Great Detectives was published in 1991. Each essay discusses the detective and concludes with a bibliography of the detective’s work (of course, many of the bibliographies are incomplete as more books with some of the detectives were published after 1991). But the classic detectives–Holmes, Fell, Poirot, Campion–have complete bibliographies. I found the essays enlightening for the most part. If you’re looking for a directory of great detectives and their works, this volume will come in handy. How many of these great detectives are you familiar with?
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction By Maxim Jakubowski
1. Margaret Lewis on Ngaio Marsh’s RODERICK ALLEYN
2. Mark timlin on William Hjortsberg’s HARRY ANGEL
3. Aaron Elkins on Michael Innes’ SIR JOHN APPLEBY
4. Doughlas Wynn on Ross Macdonald’s LEW ARCHER
5. Ion Mills on Arthur Lyons’ JACOB ASCH
6. Rober Adey on Joseph Commings’ SENATOR BROOKS U. BANNER
7. Philip Kerr on Friedrich Durrenmatt’s INSPECTOR BARLACH
8. P. C. Doherty on Umberto Eco’s BROTHER WILLIAM BASKERVILLE
9. Scott Herbertson on Sjowall & Wahloo’s MARTIN BECK
10. Philip Harbotttle on John Russell Fearn’s “BLACK MARIA”
11. Colin Greenland on Charles Burns’ EL BORBAH
12. Victoria Nichols & Susan Thompson on Gladys Mitchell’s DAME ADELA LESTRANGE BRADLEY
13. Neil Gaiman on G. K. Chesterton’s FATHER BROWN
14. Wayne D. Dundee on Andrew Vachss’ BURKE
15. Iain Sinclair on WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS
16. Joe Gores on Michael Gilbert’ts MR. CALDER & MR. BEHRENS
17. Michael Moorcock on Margery Allingham’s ALBERT CAMPION
18. Mike Phillips on Ed McBain’s STEVE CARELLA
19. Jonathan Main on Nicholas Freeling’s CASTANG
20. Russell James on Peter Cheyney’s LEMMY CAUTION
21. Anthony Lejeune on Earl Derr Biggers’ CHARLIE CHAN
22. Socur Van Folly on Simon Smith’s THE CLEWSEYS
23. Richard A. Lupoff on Dashiell Hammett’s THE CONTINENTAL OP
24. Eric Wright on Howard Engel’s BENNY COOPERMAN
25. Paul Buck on Johnathan Latimer’s BILL CRANE
26. Mark Schorr on Thomas Harris’ JACK CRAWFORD
27. Barry Fantoni on Raymond Chandler’s JOHN DALMAS
28. John Malcolm on Reginald Hill’s DALZIEL & PASCOE
29. Ralph H. Peck on Brian Garfield’s CHARLIE DARK
30. Susan Dunlap on Joyce Porter’s CHIEF INSPECTOR WILFRED DOVER
31. Michael Eaton on Edgar Allan Poe’s C. AUGUSTE DUPIN
32. Michael Gilbert on Dorothy L. Sayers’ MONTAGUE EGG
33. Patricia Moyes on Elizabeth Peters’ AMELIA PEABODY EMERSON
34. Maxim Jakubowski on Marc Behm’s THE EYE
35. David Langford on John Dickson Carr’s DR. FELL
36. Susan Moody on Edmund Crispin’s GERVASE FEN
37. David Williams on Haughton Murphy’s REUBEN FROST
38. Gwendoline Bufler on Elizabeth Daly’s HENRY GAMADGE
39. James Melville on H. R. F. Keating’s INSPECTOR GHOTE
40. Jill McGown on Josphine Tey’s ALAN GRANT
41. Deborah Valentine on P. D. James’ CORDELIA GREY
42. Philip L. Scowcroft on A. E. W. Mason’s INSPECTOR HANAUD
43. John Conquest on P. B. Yuill’s HAZELL
44. H. R. F. Keating on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s SHERLOCK HOLMES
45. Scott A. Cupp on Fredric Brown’s ED AND AM HUNTER
46. Margaret Maron on Dorothy Dunnett’s JOHNSON JOHNSON
47. Cay Van Ash on Sax Rohmer’s MORIS KLAW
48. Benjamin M. Schutz on William McIlvanney’s LAIDLAW
49. Jim Huang on Sara Caudwell’s JULIA LARWOOD
50. Harold Adams on Seymour Shubin’s LIEUTENANT LaSALA
51. Bob Biderman on Tony Hillerman’s JOE LEAPHORN & JIM CHEE
52. Michael Z. Lewin on Liza Cody’s ANNA LEE
53. Reginald HIll on Anthony Trollope’s MACKINTOSH, BUNFIT AND GAGER
54. Peter Robinson on Georges Simenon’s INSPECTOR MAIGRET
55. Loren D. Estleman on Raymond Chandler’s PHILIP MARLOWE
56. Wendy M. Grossman on Agatha Christie’s MISS MARPLE
57. Celia Dale on Magdalen Nabb’s “THE MARSHAL”
58. Bill Pronzini on Marcia Muller’s SHARON MCCONE
59. Sharyn McCrumb on Carter Dickson’s SIR HENRY MERRIVALE
60. Adrian Wootton on James Crumbley’s MILO MILODRAGOVITCH
61. Simon Brett on Sue Grafton’s KINSEY MILLHONE
62. John Williams on Ed Lacy’s TOUSSAINT MARCUS MOORE
63. Ralph Spurrier on Clin Dexter’s INSPECTOR MORSE
64. Mike Ripley on Charles Willeford’s HOKE MOSELEY
65. Ed Gorman on Bill Pronzini’s NAMELESS DETECTIVE
66. Peter Lovesey on Michael Kenyon’s DETECTIVE CHIEF INSPECTOR HENRY PECKOVER
67. Martin Edwards on Cyril Hare’s FRANCIS PETTIGREW
68. Anne Hart on Agatha Chritie’s HERCLULE POIROT
69. Barbara Wilson on Dorothy Gilman’s MRS. POLLIFAX
70. Nigel Algar on Loren D. Estleman’s RALPH POTEEET
71. Daniel P. King on Nigel Morlands MRS. PYM
72. Edward D. Hoch on Ellery Queen’s ELLERY QUEEN
73. Jerry Raine on James Lee Burke’s DAVE ROBICHEAUX
74. Jerry Kennealy on Edward Mathis’ DAN ROMAN
75. Stephen Gallagher on Leslie Charteris’ THE SAINT
76. Lesley Grant-Adamson on Julie Smith’s REBECCA SCHWARTZ
77. Barbara Mertz, Barbara Michaels & Elizabeth Peters on Charlotte MacLeod’s PETER SHANDY
78/79. Duncan Torrens on Anthony Berkeley’s ROGER SHERINGHAM and Philip MacDonald’s ANTHONY GETHRYN
80. Adam Barnett-Foster on Jerome Charyn’s ISAAC SIDEL
81. Marcel Berlins on Sarah Caudwell’s PROFESSOR HILARY TAMAR
82. B. J. Rahn on Patricia Wentworht’s MISS SILVER
83. Robert Wallace on John le Carre’s GEORGE SMILEY
84. Kim Newman on James Ellroy’s DUDLEY SMITH
85. Jack Adrian on Edgar Wallace’s THE SOOPER
86. Julian Symons on Dashiell Hammett’s SAME SPADE
87. Frederick Nolan on Robert B. Parker’s SPENSER
88. Catherine Aird on Emma Lathen’s JOHN PUTNAM THATCHER
89. Sarah Caudwell on Patricia Moyes’ HENRY AND EMMY TIBBETT
90. Robert Campbell on Robert Irvine’s MORONI TRAVELER
91. Alex Auswaks on David Williams’ MARK TREASURE
92. Haughton Murphy on Robert Barnard’s PERRY TRETHOWAN
93. Jan Bitsche Steffensen on Nicolas Freeling’s VAN DER VALK
94. Helen Esper Olmsted on Loren D. Estleman’s AMOS WALKER
95. Linda Semple on Sara Patetsky’s V. I. Warshawski
96. Melodie Johnson Howe & Catherine Kenney on Dorothy L. Sayers’ LORD PETER WIMSEY
97. Carolyn G. Hart on Phoebe Atwood Taylor’s LEONIDAS WITHERALL
98. Brian Stableford on M. P. Shiel’s PRINCE ZALESKI
100. Frances Fyfield on Michael Dibdin’s AURELIO ZEN
Notes on Contributors
Acknowledgements

DOCTOR WHO: THE VAULT

doctor who the vault
DOCTOR WHO returns for Season 8 on BBC America Saturday, August 23. To get into the mood, I browsed Doctor Who: The Vault which I borrowed from the North Tonawanda Public Library. The sub-title of this coffee-table book is “Treasures From the First 50 Years.” This book takes a chronological approach showing Neat Stuff year by year: classic posters, comic books, games, toys, photos of actors and monsters. It’s all great fun! I’ll probably wait until Doctor Who: The Vault gets remaindered before I pick up a copy. At $45, this is a bit pricey. But, if you’re a hardcore Doctor Who fan, you’ll want this entertaining and informative volume. GRADE: A

LEGENDS, SEASON ONE PREMIERE [TNT]

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Legends
Tonight’s first episode of Legends on TNT features ex-CIA agent Martin Odum (Sean Bean). “Legends” is CIA-speak for “deep cover identities.” Legends is based on Robert Littell’s book, Legends: A Novel of Dissumulation. Littell’s character has so many legends he loses track of who he really is. I could have done without the sessions Odum has with the CIA shrink. In fact, I could do without the constant jumping back and forth in time as Littell shows us Odum’s various missions and their outcomes. I’m guessing tonight’s TV version has a lot more action and continuity. The promos on TNT tout that Legends was developed by elements who worked on 24. That could be a Good Thing. We’ll see.

A MOST WANTED MAN

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A Most Wanted Man UK paperback by John Le Carre 2012 film Anton Corbijn
Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last leading role is a scruffy, chain-smoking German who heads an anti-terrorist team in Hamburg. Based on John le Carre’s novel of the same name, A Most Wanted Man shows how spies really operate. Rachel McAdams plays a lawyer who specializes in getting foreigners amnesty and citizenship in Germany. There’s also Nina Hoss who plays Irna Frey, a key member of the anti-terrorist team. She steals every scene she’s in. There’s also Robin Wright as CIA agent, Martha Sullivan. William Defoe plays a German banker convincingly. If you’re read any of John le Carre’s spy novels, you know what to expect: a twisty plot, double-dealing, and betrayal. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last major movie is a dandy. GRADE: A