Monthly Archives: November 2009


I own all of Enya’s CDs so you would think I wouldn’t be in the market for this new collection. But you would be wrong. I can’t think of a better stocking stuffer than an Enya CD. Her ethereal music and distinctive voice are magical. Most people I know don’t have all of Enya’s CDs (but probably wish they had) so this new VERY BEST OF ENYA makes holiday giving easy. I’ll probably buy a dozen copies to gift to friends and relatives.
Track Listings:
1. Orinoco Flow
2. Aniron
3. Storms in Africa
4. Caribbean Blue
5. Book of Days
6. The Celts
7. Only Time
8. Wild Child
9. Water Shows The Hidden Heart
10. Anywhere Is
11. Cursum Perficio
12. Amarantine
13. Aldebaran
14. Trains and Winter Rains
15. Watermark
16. Boadicea
17. A Day Without Rain
18. May It Be
19. Oiche Chiun


Concluding the Jimmy Paz trilogy is Night of the Jaguar. A shaman from South America makes the journey to Miami to stop a company who plans to destroy his forest habitat. By chance, the shaman links up with an environmentalist group. Suddenly, the executives in charge of the company that plans the deforestation start dying. Their corpses look like a 400 lb. jaguar had ripped them apart. Once again Jimmy Paz investigates an other-worldly series of crimes. Michael Gruber’s trilogy revels in originality and kooky plotting. If you’re looking for novels that are unique and unusual, try reading Tropic of Night, Valley of Bones, and Night of the Jaguar. This is the most memorable trilogy I’ve read in recent years. GRADE: B+

VALLEY OF BONES By Michael Gruber

Michael Gruber’s second book in his Jimmy Paz trilogy contains one of the most harrowing journals I’ve ever read. A woman named Emmylou Dideroff is accused of murder, but Detective Jimmy Paz thinks something is wrong with her story. Emmylou asks to write her confession and she fills three notebooks with her incredible story of sexual abuse, survivalist plots, and African politics. The novel ends with an explosive ending that left me drained. Valley of Bones reminds me of a roller-coaster ride with its change of pace from slow to fast, from up to down. GRADE: A-


Michael Gruber’s trilogy featuring Jimmy Paz, Miami police detective, confounded me. I’d never read a review of the books and no one in my circle of mystery reading friends had ever mentioned it. I came to read this series because one of my favorite reviewers, Robert Birnbaum, recommended it. You can find out more about Robert Birnbaum and his excellent reviews at This series is about as far as you can get from a police procedural although Gruber uses that template. There’s a series of grisly murders: pregnant women killed, their fetuses cut from them, and portions of the fetuses removed. Paz finally figures out the perpetrator is using African sorcery to help him commit his crimes. So, at this point, we leave the realm of mystery/crime fiction and enter the science fiction/fantasy realm by way of H. P. Lovecraft and Robert Bloch. It’s disconcerting, but if you stay with it you’ll find some incredible writing and story-telling. Tropic of Night still lingers in my mind weeks after I’ve read it. GRADE: B+


Terrific science fiction artwork fills this wonderful volume. The great artists are all represented here: Wayne Barlowe, Hannes Bok, Chesley Bonstell, Vincent Di Fate, Leo & Diane Dillon, Ed Emshwiller, Virgil Finley, Chris Foss, Frank Frazetta, Kelly Freas, Jack Gaughan, and dozens of others. My only quibble is that the author tries to do too much. There’s a section on Star Trek artwork. There’s a section on Star Wars artwork. There’s a section on science fiction comic artwork. I would have rather seen more artwork by Wally Wood and Roy Krenkel instead. But that minor complaint aside, what’s here represents a cross-section of the best science fiction artwork ever published. That’s worth buying. GRADE: A-


Daedalus Books once again is offering an irresistible deal: The Completely Mad Don Martin 2-volume set for a rock-bottom price of $29.98. This set lists for $150. AMAZON wants $109 for it. It doesn’t get much better than this! I read MAD MAGAZINE as a kid and loved Don Martin’s distinctive work. Martin was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2008, a well-deserved honor. Just go to and start saving! GRADE: A


There was nothing like it on TV back in 1964. The macabre situations, the strange characters, the alluring Morticia (played by Carolyn Jones), her manic husband Gomez (John Astin), the strange children Wednesday and Pugsley. And the bizarre disembodied hand (Thing) and the hairy Cousin Itt and Kitty Cat, the family lion. And, of course, the giant butler, Lurch (Ted Cassidy). Who can forget the harpsichord music and the snapping fingers (still played at NHL games)?

They’re creepy and they’re kooky,
Mysterious and spooky,
They’re all together ooky,
The Addams Family.


Sandra Bullock plays a wealthy suburbanite in Memphis who incredibly takes in (and eventually becomes the legal guardian of) a homeless African-American youth who goes on to become a First Round draft pick in the NFL. This is the best role Sandra Bullock has had in a decade. She actually disappears into this role. Unfortunately, in too many recent Bullock movies, I sat there thinking: “There’s Sandra Bullock playing an ingenue. She’s too old for that role.” Not this time. Singer Tim McGraw effectively plays Bullock’s husband. Quinton Aaron plays the hulking Michael Oher convincingly. Child actor Jae Head steals almost every scene he’s in. This movie is based on Michael Lewis’s non-fiction book with the same title. Of course, artistic license in a few scenes in the movie has to be granted to keep the drama up. The movie is a bit too long, but it delivers an emotional punch. GRADE: B

SOUNDTRACKS By Michael Nyman

Here’s another holiday gift idea: Michael Nyman’s Soundtracks box set. This set includes the soundtracks from the films The Piano, The Libertine, and
Greenaway Revisited
. If you like haunting, melodic music then you might want to give Michael Nyman’s CDs a try. The box set runs between $30-35 depending on where you buy it. But it’s well worth it. GRADE: A