The Nightmare before Dinner includes recipes used in the famous Beetle House restaurants in New York and Los Angeles.
There are chapters for sauces, appetizers, soups/salads, entrees, and desserts. Most look more tasty than scary though they do have clever names like Edward Burger Hands, Silence of the Lamb Chops, and Bloodbath Cobbler. The best part is the cocktail recipes that look both scary and tasty like the bubbling This is Halloween. Also included are menu and decor suggestions for four different dinner parties.
I wish the food recipes included nutritional information. However, they all seemed simple to make with mostly easily acquired ingredients. The drinks looked delicious. I can’t wait to try The Beetle’s Juice with tequila, blackberry schnapps, lime juice, bitters, and simple syrup. Yum!
The Nightmare Before Dinner is recommended for hosts who want something different for their next party. 3 stars.
Thanks to Race Point Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: Cookbook, Halloween, movies, Oct 16 2018
Whether you write mysteries, fantasy or science fiction, Putting the Science in Fiction is an exceptional way to avoid factual errors. But it is also just a great way to catch up with current technology trends.
When your spaceship dramatically explodes into a fiery cataclysm, scientists everywhere are screaming (with laughter). Of course, in space, no one can hear you scream. However, you should also know that without oxygen, you know like in outer space, fiery explosions can’t occur. To avoid giggling scientists, read this book.
The range of subject matter within Putting the Science in Fiction is impressive. From simple lab protocols to poisons, genetic engineering, mental health issues, disasters, rocket science, biology, computer science and more, this book has something for everyone. Each story is written by an expert in their field. Most are less than ten pages long.
Even for non-writers, some of the misconceptions exposed are fascinating. Walt Disney probably wasted his money freezing his head. Most of the Terminator series is impossible. However, the storm trooper’s pulse (really an intermittent laser) cannon has already been tested successfully by the US Navy. Unfortunately, Luke’s lightsaber is a non-starter as are all of the rebel’s ships. I guess we know who really would have won the (star) war.
Okay, I admit it: I am a total nerd. I absolutely loved this book. I am planning to use it at parties to debunk (okay, maybe ruin) popular movies. However, even as a non-writer, Putting the Science in Fiction gave me at least five great plots for a future bestselling novel. Unfortunately, it won’t be written by me. Perhaps you will write it so I can have the pleasure of seeing my idea in print. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Writer’s Digest, and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Fantasy, Mystery & Thrillers, Non-fiction, Science Fiction Tagged with: Oct 16 2018, science, writing guide
Just in time for Halloween, Pumpkinhead appears.
“For each of man’s evils, a special demon exists.”
Pumpkinhead is the demon of vengeance.
When two young children are killed in a hit and run, their hillbilly parents ask a local witch for help. She summons Pumpkinhead to kill the perpetrator and those who shelter him. The only way to stop Pumpkinhead is to kill him. The perp calls on the witch’s sisters to summon the demon’s five siblings: Sloth, Envy, Pride, Lust, and Greed. Soon Pumpkinhead is the least of the local’s problems.
Pumpkinhead is a southern gothic horror comic that is complete within this one volume. The plot and art were good—not great. It was easy to see the ending from the beginning. I liked the backup story’s plot better.
Pumpkinhead is a good choice for fans of the movie but not many others. I prefer Cullen Bunn’s original stories much more. 3 stars.
Thanks to Dynamite Entertainment and Edelweiss+ for an advance copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Horror Tagged with: Oct 16 2018, Southern Gothic
Ask Me No Questions is an excellent start to a new gilded age female amateur detective series.
Philomena Amesbury, Lady Dunbridge, has finally finished the obligatory 18-month mourning period for her husband. The Earl of Dunbridge, was, by all accounts, not a very good husband. Deciding that staying in England as a 26-year-old Dowager Countess doesn’t appeal, she escapes to America. With only her aging butler, Preswick, and Lily, a stowaway she decided to make her ladies’ maid, she arrives in New York City. Philomena sees her childhood friend, Bev, walking toward the gangway to greet her. Before Philomena can reach her, Bev rushes back to her car and finds her husband shot dead. Worse, he is lying in the lap of his mistress. When the police suspect Bev, Philomena decides to try to find the real murderer.
The setting of early 20th century New York is so well described that the reader is transported to a different time. The use of the language of the time period (like thimblerig and cortege) added to the authenticity. Philomena is an exuberant heroine who seems to be both of the time period but also more modern in her thinking. Both Preswick and Lily prove to be excellent sidekicks. The mystery was excellent. I didn’t guess the murderer though looking back there were plenty of clues carefully hidden in the story.
Ask Me No Questions is the first Lady Dunbridge Mystery and I can’t wait for the next. If you like Sherlock Holmes type mysteries with a dash of American spunk, you will love this new series. 4 stars!
Thanks to Forge Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: amateur detective, gilded age, Oct 16 2018
Snoopy: Boogie Down is a collection of veteran Peanuts strips marketed to the middle grades.
It’s not just Snoopy. All the gang is here: Charlie Brown, Lucy, Sally, Peppermint Patty and even Snoopy’s brother Spike at the way from Needles. The comics were selected to appeal to the middle grades by emphasizing sports, school, summer camp and pets. Older adults may have to explain some of the celebrity references like Farrah Fawcett and even what the word “Boogie” means. However, even older readers will enjoy this trip down Memory Lane.
Snoopy: Boogie Down is recommended for anyone looking for a humorous reflection on life’s ironies. 4 stars!
Thanks to Andrews McMeel Publishing and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Children, Graphic Novel Tagged with: middle grade, Oct 16 2018, Peanuts, Snoopy
She Wants It is a Hollywood film and television memoir by Jill Soloway. Jill is the writer/director of Amazon’s Transparent. Transparent is based on Jill’s real life.
Jill’s father was depressed and a mostly absent workaholic father during her childhood. After Jill and her sister, Faith, went to college, their parents divorced.
During an early morning phone call, Jill is the first family member to which her father comes out to as trans. Jill’s first thought is this is part of her story and she was going to tell it. If her father can become Carrie London, why can’t she become the film writer/director she always aspired to be?
Jill polished up an old script and it was green-lighted. After post-production is complete and Afternoon Delight is submitted to Sundance, Jill goes with Faith to meet their father for the first time as a woman. When her terminally ill aunt asks her to deliver a card to her father asking him not to dress as a woman at the aunt’s funeral, she begins writing Transparent.
She Wants It is a great memoir of how someone hurtles the obstacles of getting a screenplay developed in Hollywood. It also incorporates a bit about Jill’s life as a wife and mother of two. There are many psychological asides about life and her own journey to understanding the non-binary world. I was expecting more about the real-life childhood experiences of having a trans parent. However, for those looking for a Hollywood memoir, this is a good choice. It just wasn’t what I was looking for and I never felt connected to the author though her personal story is heartfelt. 3 stars.
Thanks to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: Hollywood, memoir, Oct 16 2018
A Gift of Bones is a good small town private investigator cozy mystery.
Eve is days away from giving birth when she disappears. A ransom demand is sent to her cousin. Private investigator, Sarah Booth Delaney, and her partner, Tinkie, are hired to find the missing woman.
The missing woman’s life becomes the focus of the investigation. With parents who disowned her for her unwed pregnancy and an unknown baby daddy, suspects are hard to find.
The setting in a small town Mississippi detective agency and the use of an unwed mother as the victim are frequent cozy tropes. However, the use of a transgendered character updates the story to 2018. Other than that, a Gift of Bones is a good cozy mystery but not very unique. I like the previous entry in the series much better. My 4-star review is here. However, a Gift of Bones gets a reluctant 3 stars.
Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: cozy mystery, Oct 16 2018
From Mary Shelley’s 1818 book to The Munsters and beyond, the Vault of Frankenstein is an extensively researched look at the impact of a single book published 200 years ago.
“Only Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan and Dracula have appeared more often in media than Frankenstein’s monster.”
Not bad for a nineteen-year-old first-time writer who only wrote the horror tale on a dare from two older published poets. Her real story is almost as famous as the monster himself. It opens the Bride of Frankenstein and was the entire plot of three other movies.
The Vault of Frankenstein explores how a book written so long ago has inspired so many interpretations. Emphasizing movies and television shows, the book also briefly summarizes plays and books based on Frankenstein. The illustrations include pages from the first edition books, engravings of locations, playbills, movie posters, candid production shots, and movie stills. The final chapter goes beyond film into cereal, cartoons, comics, dolls, models, and music in the Frankenstein genre.
I consider myself a horror fan. I even had the Frankenstein model shown in this book. However, I learned many new facts from the Vault of Frankenstein. Who knew the original silent 1910 Frankenstein film is 13 minutes long, restored and available on YouTube? Or that Igor (or his original incarnation, Fritz) was a device used by plays and movies so the audience would know Dr. Frankenstein’s thoughts? He wasn’t in the book at all.
The Vault of Frankenstein is perfect for a horror fan or Frankenstein memorabilia collector. The hardcover includes replicas of book manuscript pages, a playbill, movie posters, and stills. This book is a fascinating deep dive into Frankenstein lore. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Becker & Meyer, and NetGalley for granting my wish and providing me an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Horror, Non-fiction Tagged with: monsters, movies, Oct 16 2018
A multitude of suspects fills Nantucket Counterfeit, an enjoyable merging of a cozy setting with a police procedural.
Horst Refn is the Artistic Director of the Nantucket Theater Lab. He is a ladies man and a possible blackmailer. Worse, he is found face down in his basement’s chest freezer—frostbitten and dead by strangulation.
Nantucket’s police chief Henry Kennis has no shortage of suspects. Even his girlfriend, Jane Stiles, is identified as running away from the crime or could it be her lookalike, Marcia Stoddard. Both had motive and no alibi. Or it could be Donald Harcourt who found the body and verbally fought with the victim recently. Or even Joey Little who had texted Harcourt to meet him at the victim’s house. Refn was both screwing his wife and blackmailing him.
When the police chief discovers that the first play of the season, Who Dun It?, appears to be based on real people’s stories, he investigates and finds even more motives for murder.
Nantucket Counterfeit is a fun dive into the backbiting world of community theater. The characterizations are great. Despite many more suspects than the usual cozy, it was easy to keep them straight.
This is the fifth book in the Chief Kennis series but can easily be read as a stand-alone. Recommended to both cozy and police procedural fans, Nantucket Counterfeit gets 4 stars from me.
Thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: cozy mystery, Oct 16 2018, Police procedural
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Seek is a continuation of the famous Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide. We are obviously playing Hide and Seek.
Attorney Utterson is set to inherit Dr. Jekyll’s substantial estate after the doctor is missing a full seven years. Two weeks prior to his inheriting, a person claiming to be Dr. Jekyll moves back into his house. Utterson believes it is an imposter. For the doctor left behind a confession for his attorney’s eyes only stating he was Mr. Hyde. Mr. Hyde had been found dead by his own hand in Dr. Jekyll’s house the same night.
The new Dr. Jekyll has a story of assault and amnesia to explain his long absence. He has convinced Scotland Yard, his long-time butler and all of his friends save Utterson that he is genuinely the doctor. Utterson already had ideas on how to spend his inheritance and so is unconvinced. Has Dr. Jekyll returned? Who is the mysterious man who bears a striking resemblance to Mr. Hyde? How will Utterson woo the love of his life, who was formerly the doctor’s beloved, away from Jekyll without any inheritance to bribe her with?
This story is a really intelligent updating and continuation of the original Jekyll and Hyde tale. While reading the original first isn’t required, it is fun to see the subtle twists made to the story in this book.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Seek is intelligent horror like the original. Set in Victorian London, it is historical fiction. It reads more as a mystery than horror. The book is recommended to mystery fans or those who enjoy a slow thriller. 3.5 stars!
Thanks to Skyhorse Publishing and Edelweiss+ for an advance copy.
Posted in Horror, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: classics, Oct 16 2018
An interesting character study of a lonely police detective forced to retire. The Darkness is another character as is the beautiful isolation of Iceland.
Hulda is 64. She is dreading retiring to her lonely apartment when her superior tells she has been replaced effectively in two weeks. He allows her to investigate one cold case. She selects a drowned Russian girl who was awaiting asylum in a remote hostel. Was her death an accident, suicide or murder?
Telling three alternating stories of an unwed mother forced to give up her daughter in the 1940s, Hulda’s investigation and a mysterious woman’s adventure in the Icelandic winter. The Darkness is a slow-simmering tale rather than a thriller. The mystery was extremely easy to solve. However, Hulda’s story is an interesting one. Plus the exceptional conclusion has to be read to be believed.
The Darkness is recommended for literary fiction fans rather than those readers looking for an exciting thriller or challenging mystery. This is a tale within a tale within a tale. 4 stars!
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Literary Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: aging, Oct 16 2018, Police procedural
Claw the System: Poems from the Cat Uprising is a short book filled with luscious cat photos and poems written by extremely upset cats.
Cats have a four stage plan for their uprising: recognize, resist, revolt and rebuild. Each stage has a chapter filled with at least ten poems and an equal amount of cat photos. Most of the photos relate directly to their neighboring poem. The photos are, of course, cute. The poems have the snarky feeling that I get off my cats right after I have fed them.
Claw the System: Poems from the Cat Uprising is the perfect gift for the cat person in your life. If you want to scare a first-time cat owner, this would also be a good pick. I think this book is only funny to those who are allowed to live in their house by their furry and purry master. 4 stars!
Thanks to Andrews McMeel Publishing and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Humor Tagged with: cats, Oct 16 2018, photography, poetry