Big Book of Reel Murders
October 28th, 2019 by diane92345

The Big Book of Reel Murders is chockful of well-known authors like Dashiell Hammett, Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Fleming, and W. Somerset Maugham. Even better, it has some of my favorite silver-age short story writers from 1950-1989 Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen mystery magazines like Cornell Woolrich and Stanley Ellin.

Stories are grouped by type: suspense, murder, thriller, horror, general crime, love (to death, of course), and detective fiction. There is literally something for everyone here. And then some. At 1200 pages, clearly this is a great value. However, you also get a curated collection of truly great stories. Many were made into iconic movies like Psycho and Witness for the Prosecution.

I can’t recommend this anthology highly enough. Here is your chance to read the source material for many of your favorite noir, mystery, and thriller movies. Some were better on the silver screen but many were not. It’s fun to see the changes. The Big Book of Reel Murders is extremely recommended for both mystery and movie fans. 5 stars!

Thanks to Vintage Crime, Black Lizard, Knopf Doubleday and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: , ,

Stephen King at the Movies
October 3rd, 2019 by diane92345

Running from Carrie through upcoming film Doctor Sleep, Stephen King at the Movies shows both the good and the bad of movie and tv miniseries adaptations of King’s work. But there are secrets scattered throughout the text.

The Shining as a fugue or an autobiography? The original Pennywise in It was terrifying but was it as iconic as the one used? Was Misery really based on King’s idolization of Bruce Springsteen?

I’ve always wanted to move to Maine. To visit Murder She Wrote’s Cabot Cove in Autumn or King’s Castle Rock in Winter. However, after reading that The Shining’s winter madness was inspired by King’s view of Maine’s excessive snow outside the fledgling author’s trailer, I’m rethinking my plan.

Stephen King at the Movies is a good overview of movies, mini-series, and even single episodes of series featuring King’s writing. It is full of pictures of the actors, scenes, and original movie posters. Perfect for any Stephen King or horror fan. 3 stars.

Thanks to Palazzo Edition and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

Finding Dorothy
February 22nd, 2019 by diane92345

Fascinating story about how the author of The Wizard of Oz went about Finding Dorothy interspersed with the making of the movie in 1938-39.

Maud Baum is the unifying character in the two strands of her life described in the book. It begins with a 77-year-old Maud attempting to get on the MGM lot to ensure that her long-dead husband’s book would be faithful carried to the silver screen. While the bright colors of Technicolor including the bright green of Oz were unfamiliar, Maud sees a vulnerability and talent in Judy Garland when she hears her singing “Over the Rainbow”. After proving her worth to the MGM honchos, Maud covertly takes Judy under her wing with the help of the studio head’s secretary.

In a parallel story, Maud at nineteen is one of the first woman at Cornell. Her mother, a famous suffragette, insists that she become an attorney. However, Maud only has eyes for handsome actor and small theater producer, Frank Baum. Once married, the couple are deeply in love but have ongoing financial problems. When Frank is convinced to publish the book he spends travel time on the train writing, the Wizard of Oz thrusts them both into the spotlight.

I enjoyed both parts of Maud’s story but perhaps the movie one slightly more. Finding Dorothy is an excellent look behind the scenes at the cost of both movie and literary stardom. 4 stars!

Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Literary Fiction Tagged with: ,

Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies
November 8th, 2018 by diane92345

Have you ever wondered about the engine under the hood of your favorite movie or television show? If so, Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies is a comprehensive resource you need to read.

Beginning with the screenplay, this book has a chapter about each part of the movie making process. Other chapters focus on acting, production design, cinematography, editing, sound/music and directing. There is also a short chapter about documentaries in the appendix.

Each of the chapters offer an in-depth look at the work of the providers of the skill. The author defines some industry terms. There are fascinating stories from the past. Who knew the first time the title of production designer was used was for Gone with the Wind? Names of actors and movies are given as both good and bad examples of the skill being studied. Finally, at the end of each chapter is a list of recommended movies to watch to see the craft at its highest level.

Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies is enchanting. It’s perfect for movie fans who want to see the multiple skills necessary to make a great movie. I loved it! 5 stars.

Thanks to Basic Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Nightmare Before Dinner
October 31st, 2018 by diane92345

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: , , ,

Vault of Frankenstein
October 17th, 2018 by diane92345

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: , ,

True Indie
October 8th, 2018 by diane92345

“Making a no-budget indie film is like going to war. But you’re not General MacArthur storming the beaches with a force of a hundred thousand soldiers. Instead, you’re more like a small squad of Vietcong guerillas behind enemy lines, trying to complete an impossible mission using guile and your wits, the odds stacked against you. It’s risky, difficult, and dangerous. I can swear to it. I’ve been there.”

–from the prologue of True Indie.

Beginning with a middle school film called The Fish Movie, the author’s life was filled with dreams of filming Hollywood blockbusters. Borrowing money from his father at 18 to make his first feature film, Coscarelli sells it to Universal Studios for a cool quarter million dollars. Turning down a seven-year contract at Universal and previewing his first feature, Story of a Teenager, the same week as the blockbuster Jaws debuted brought his studio career to a swift end. He was 20 years old.

If you have any interest in film, this memoir is a fabulous backstage look at the process. It is also a great look at someone realizing his childhood dream. The writing style is excellent. It feels like your middle-aged neighbor is talking about his long-ago exploits. There are plenty of secrets from Coscarelli’s films. You can’t ask more from a Hollywood memoir than the story of a True Indie. 5 stars!

Now I just need to watch Phantasm again to truly appreciate the difficulties of filming on the down low with no budget. Okay, I’m back. The author was listed in the credits as the writer, director, cinematographer, and editor. His dad was the producer. Talk about True Indie! It was a much better experience watching the movie knowing some of the filming challenges. On to my favorite film by the author, John Dies at the End.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for an advance copy.

Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,