Author Archives: george

THE WITCH ELM By Tana French


Tana French livens up the Halloween season with a stand-alone novel, The Witch Elm. Toby Hennessy, a marketing guy at a small art gallery, confronts two intruders in his apartment in the middle of the night and gets beaten badly. Toby wakes up in a hospital with a concussion, broken ribs, and PTSD. The reader who is not used to Tana French’s ways might conclude The Witch Elm will center around Toby’s beating: who were those thugs? What were they stealing? Did someone hire them?

But, no. The Witch Elm pivots to IVY HOUSE and dying Uncle Hugo. Toby travels to be with his beloved uncle to recover from his injuries and to help a relative with cancer. But that isn’t what The Witch Elm is about, either. A body is found in the wych elm tree on Uncle Hugo’s property. Who is the dead man? Was he murdered? Who murdered him? The Witch Elm juggles several plots until the Big Reveal in the last 40 pages. If you’re a Tana French fan, you’ll enjoy this twisty mystery. If you’re looking for an absorbing crime novel, The Witch Elm will keep you guessing for all of its 501 pages. GRADE: B+

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!


The “Cloudy Affair” costume is on sale for $49.95. The official description: “Uh oh! We sense a political scandal! Disclose all your dirty little secrets in this exclusive Cloudy Affair costume featuring a red mini dress with a plunging cowl neck, halter straps, a form-fitting skirt, a low open back, and large, foam, fake breasts. (Wig and mushroom not included.)”

I hope Stormy Daniels gets some royalties from this outfit! Enjoy a wonderful Halloween!

TEA WITH THE DAMES


Director Roger Mitchell (best known for Notting Hill) sets up some cameras while legendary actresses Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Eileen Atkins, Dame Judi Dench, and Dame Joan Plowright chat about their careers, their husbands (Plowright was married to Sir Lawrence Olivier), and their futures. All four women are in their 80s and suffer from a number of physical problems. But, despite the years, these wonderful actresses liven up the screen talking about roles won and lost. Eileen Atkins admits to turning down the role of Cleopatra FOUR TIMES because she didn’t think she was beautiful enough. Roger Mitchell includes footage from various movies and archival clips of these actresses in action over the decades. These four friends have been meeting together for years and their interaction shows us another softer and funnier side to these stars.

My favorite line in Tea With the Dames comes from Judi Dench’s then husband, Michael Williams. Dench took the role of James Bond’s boss, M, when Williams told her, “I long to live with a Bond woman.” GRADE: A-

New England PATRIOTS VS. BUFFALO BILLS


It’s been 10 years since the Buffalo Bills hosted a Monday Night Football game. ESPN executives must be pulling out their collective hair wondering why they’re broadcasting this potentially lopsided game. The New England Patriots have a 9-1 record playing the Bills in Buffalo over the past 10 seasons. The Patriots are averaging 31 points a game, the Bills score a meager 12 points a game. The Patriots are favorited by 14 points. Not good. The Bills’s best player, running back LeSean McCoy, is in Concussion Protocol. Looks bad for the home team tonight.

HAUNTED NIGHTS Edited by Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton


Just in time for Halloween, Haunted Nights edited by Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton presents an anthology of scary stories. My favorite stories are “Witch-Hazel” by Jeffery Ford and “Lost in the Dark” by John Langan. Datlow and Morton’s anthology provides a wide variety of stories so there’s something here for almost any reader’s taste. If you want to get into the Halloween spirit, these stories will take you there. GRADE: B
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
INTRODUCTION By Lisa Morton ix
With Graveyard Weeds and Wolfbane Seeds /by Seanan McGuire 3
Dirtmouth /by Stephen Graham Jones 23
A Small Taste of the Old Country /by Jonathan Maberry 45
Wick’s End /by Joanna Parypinski 70
The Seventeen Year Itch / by Garth Nix 83
A Flicker of Light on Devil’s Night / by Kate Jonez 100
Witch-Hazel /by Jeffrey Ford 114
Nos Galen Gaeaf /by Kelley Armstrong 129
We’re Never Inviting Amber Again / by S. P. Miskowski 149
Sisters /by Brian Evenson 169
All Through the Night / by Elise Forier Edie 182
A Kingdom of Sugar Skulls and Marigolds / by Eric J. Guignard 201
The Turn / by Paul Kane 226
Jack / by Pat Cadigan 244
Lost in the Dark / by John Langan 269
The First Lunar Halloween /by John R. Little 325
About the Authors 341
About the Editors 349
Permissions 351

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #500: The Future Is Female! 25 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women, from Pulp Pioneers to Ursula K. Le Guin Edited by Lisa Yaszek


It’s hard to believe I have written 500 Friday’s Forgotten Books reviews! Patti Abbott invited me to join the group and Bill Crider encouraged me as well. So on January 9, 2009 I posted my first Forgotten Book review of THE DREAMING JEWELS (aka THE SYNTHETIC MAN) By Theodore Sturgeon. Over almost 10 years, I’ve tried to alternate Science Fiction with Mysteries each Friday. I reviewed some Fantasy titles, too. To celebrate this milestone today, I chose The Future Is Female! 25 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women, from Pulp Pioneers to Ursula K. Le Guin. The Library of America has done some great volumes of Science Fiction especially the Philip K. Dick sets, but this new volume includes some of the best SF writing of the 20th Century. I read C. L. Moore’s “The Black God’s Kiss” in the early 1960s and was blown away. I quickly searched my local used bookstores for more of C.L. Moore’s work.

I was also a huge fan of “Andre Norton” in the 1960s. Later, I learned both “Andre Norton” and “Andrew North” were actually Alice Mary Norton. Her “All Cats Are Gray” thrilled me as a kid. I read a lot of Leigh Brackett’s work, too. A born story-teller! I recently reread “In Hiding” by Wilmar H. Shiras about mutant children featured in one of the Bleiler and Dikty YEAR’S BEST volumes. Still powerful after almost 70 years! James Tiptree, Jr. (aka, Alice Bradley Sheldon) was one of my favorite writers and “The Last Flight of Dr. Ain” shows why. Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness shocked the SF world and made Le Guin one of the genre’s Major Stars.

This volume includes a variety of stories and some of them were new to me. I hadn’t encountered Leslie F. Stone’s “The Conquest of Gola” and Leslie Perri’s “Space Episode” before reading this book. If you’re interested in the evolution of Science Fiction, the impact of women writers on the genre, and reading some wonderful stories, I highly recommend The Future is Female! GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction by Lisa Yaszek
CLARE WINGER HARRIS: The Miracle of the Lily | 1928
LESLIE F. STONE: The Conquest of Gola | 1931
C. L. MOORE: The Black God’s Kiss | 1934
LESLIE PERRI: Space Episode | 1941
JUDITH MERRIL: That Only a Mother | 1948
WILMAR H. SHIRAS: In Hiding | 1948
KATHERINE MACLEAN: Contagion | 1950
MARGARET ST. CLAIR: The Inhabited Men | 1951
ZENNA HENDERSON: Ararat | 1952
ANDREW NORTH: All Cats Are Gray | 1953
ALICE ELEANOR JONES: Created He Them | 1955
MILDRED CLINGERMAN: Mr. Sakrison’s Halt | 1956
LEIGH BRACKETT: All the Colors of the Rainbow | 1957
CAROL EMSHWILLER: Pelt | 1958
ROSEL GEORGE BROWN: Car Pool | 1959
ELIZABETH MANN BORGESE: For Sale, Reasonable | 1959
DORIS PITKIN BUCK: Birth of a Gardener | 1961
ALICE GLASER: The Tunnel Ahead | 1961
KIT REED: The New You | 1962
JOHN JAY WELLS & MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY: Another Rib | 1963
SONYA DORMAN: When I Was Miss Dow | 1966
KATE WILHELM: Baby, You Were Great | 1967
JOANNA RUSS: The Barbarian | 1968
JAMES TIPTREE, JR.: The Last Flight of Dr. Ain | 1969
URSULA K. LE GUIN: Nine Lives | 1969
Biographical Notes

FORGOTTEN MUSIC #87: 80’s POP HITS [3-CD Set]


These might not be the biggest hits of the 1980s, but 80s Pop Hits brings together three CDs full of memories. There’s a lot of value here for the money. Classics like Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” are included along with more obscure songs like “Every Time You Go Away” by Paul Young and “The Warrior” by Scandal. How many of these 40 songs do you remember? Are any of these songs your favorites? GRADE: B+
TRACK LIST:
DISC 1
1. Easy Lover
Philip Bailey / Phil Collins / Nathan East
Philip Bailey / Phil Collins 5:06
2. Rosanna
David Paich
Toto 4:33
3. You’re a Friend of Mine
Jeffrey Cohen / Narada Michael Walden
Jackson Browne / Clarence Clemons 4:49
4. All Cried Out
Full Force
Full Force / Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam 4:45
5. Keep on Loving You
Kevin Cronin
REO Speedwagon 3:21
6. Total Eclipse of the Heart
Jim Steinman
Bonnie Tyler 4:30
7. Sexual Healing
Odell Brown / Marvin Gaye / David Ritz
Marvin Gaye 4:00
8. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
George Michael
Wham! 3:52
9. Let’s Hear It for the Boy
Dean Pitchford / Tom Snow
Deniece Williams 4:22
10. Talking in Your Sleep
Coz Canler / Jimmy Marinos / Wally Palmar / Mike Skill / Peter Solley
The Romantics 3:57
11. Wishing Well
Terence Trent D’Arby / Sean Oliver
Terence Trent D’Arby 3:32
12. Voices Carry
Michael Hausman / Robert Holmes / Aimee Mann / Joey Pesce
‘Til Tuesday 4:21
13. Take Me Home Tonight/Be My Baby
Jeff Barry / Ellie Greenwich / Michael Leeson / Phil Spector / Peter Vale
Eddie Money / Ronnie Spector 3:30
DISC 2
1. Girls Just Want to Have Fun
Robert Hazard
Cyndi Lauper 3:49
2. Shake You Down
Gregory Abbott
Gregory Abbott 4:07
3. Carrie
Mic Michaeli / Joey Tempest
Europe 4:31
4. Can’t We Try
Beverly Hill / Dan Hill
Dan Hill / Vonda Shepard 3:59
5. Stop to Love
Nat Adderley, Jr. / Luther Vandross
Luther Vandross 5:10
6. Time and Tide
Basia / Basia Trzetrzelewska / Danny White
Basia 4:04
7. The Flame
Nick Graham / Bob Mitchell
Cheap Trick 4:39
8. When I See You Smile
Diane Warren
Bad English 4:19
9. I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)
Maurice Starr
New Kids on the Block 4:24
10. Eternal Flame
Susanna Hoffs / Tom Kelly / Billy Steinberg
Bangles 3:55
11. Heaven
Joseph Allen / Jerry Dixon / Jani Lane / Steven Sweet / Erik Turner
Warrant 3:56
12. How Am I Supposed to Live Without You
Michael Bolton / Doug James
Michael Bolton 4:16
13. Shining Star
Leo Graham / Paul Richmond
The Manhattans 4:39
DISC 3
1. How ‘Bout Us
Dana Walden
Champaign 4:36
2. Break My Stride
Greg Prestopino / Matthew Wilder
Matthew Wilder 3:01
3. Shower Me with Your Love
Bernard Jackson
Surface 4:54
4. Hearts of Fire
Eric Kaz / Randy Meisner
Randy Meisner 2:46
5. Key Largo
Bertie Higgins / Sonny Limbo
Bertie Higgins 3:19
6. This Could Be the Night
Jonathan Cain / Paul Dean / Harry Nilsson / Mike Reno / Phil Spector / Bill Wray
Loverboy 4:59
7. Leader of the Band
Dan Fogelberg / John Philip Sousa
Dan Fogelberg 4:17
8. Your Love
John Spinks
The Outfield 3:37
9. Everytime You Go Away
Daryl Hall
Paul Young 4:25
10. Footloose
Kenny Loggins / Dean Pitchford
Kenny Loggins 3:47
11. Who Can It Be Now?
Colin Hay
Men at Work 3:21
12. The Warrior
Nick Gilder / Holly Knight
Scandal / Patty Smyth 3:48
13. Der Kommissar
Falco / Andy Piercy
After the Fire 4:08
14. Love Me Way
John Ashton / Richard Butler / Tim Butler / Vince Ely
The Psychedelic Furs 3:32

MEN EXPLAIN THINGS TO ME By Rebecca Solnit


Men Explain Things to Me was one of the books Patrick and Katie gave to Diane for her Birthday. After Diane read Men Explain Things to Me–before she lent the book to Katie to read–Diane suggested I read Rebecca Solnit’s book. The essay that became the title of the book refers to the tendency of some men to talk down to women, explaining the obvious. Men seem to think they know just about everything and women need “help” no matter what the subject is. Solnit sees this as a fundamental problem in conversations between men and women. Solnit’s other clever essays tackle the problems of rape, marriage equality, and Virginia Woolf’s concept of doubt and ambiguity. This short book, just over 100 pages, packs a wallop! GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Men Explain Things to Me p. 1
The Longest War p. 19
Worlds Collide in a Luxury Suite: Some Thoughts on the IMF, Global Injustice, and a Stranger on a Train p. 41
In Praise of the Threat: What Marriage Equality Really Means p. 59
Grandmother Spider p. 69
Woolf’s Darkness: Embracing the Inexplicable p. 85
Pandora’s Box and the Volunteer Police Force p. 109
Image Credits p. 125
Acknowledgments p. 127

STARDUST MEMORIES: A BIOGRAPHY OF 12 OF AMERICA’S MOST POPULAR SONGS By Will Friedwald


Stardust Memories features Will Friedwald’s deep dive into all of these classic songs. GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
INTRODUCTION & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS xiii
STAR DUST (1927) 2
THE ST. LOUIS BLUES (1914) 38
MACK THE KNIFE (1928) 76
OL’ MAN RIVER (1927) 104
BODY AND SOUL (1930) 142
I GOT RHYTHM (1930) 180
AS TIME GOES BY (1931) 212
NIGHT AND DAY (1932) 242
STORMY WEATHER (1933) 276
SUMMERTIME (1935) 308
MY FUNNY VALENTINE (1937) 348
LUSH LIFE (1938) 374