Archive for October, 2012

If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor by Bruce Campell

If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie ActorIf Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor by Bruce Campbell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was looking for something to read, and my to-read list was full of books I wanted to read, just not now. So, I went to one of my favorite websites (Goodreads) to see what they would recommend to me. I found myself clicking on biographies and one of the books at the top of recommendations was If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor by Bruce Campbell. The book has a high rating and I love watching a good B-Movie (and such things do exist). I’ve seen several movies Starring Bruce (Evil Dead, Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness) and I enjoyed them all. So, I decided that his book would make an interesting read.

After the first few chapters I was questioning my decision. I was thinking that the book was written well and I do like movies but, I’m not a movie buff by any means, I’m not that interested in Hollywood and I really don’t care about the private lives of actors. At this point I would have said, and did say, there is no way this book would get more than three stars from me. But, I kept on reading and I’m glad I did.

It was interesting to follow Bruce Campbell’s journey from making super 8 films with some school friends and reading about the difficulties of making the low budget instant classic Evil Dead and several other projects. But, the book also touches on several other unknowns (at that time) who made it big in Hollywood, many behind the camera.

The more I read the more I enjoyed this book. Bruce does a wonderful job of showing Hollywood as a whole. From the grunts behind the scenes, who do the jobs like shoveling horse apples to directors dealing with the big (A list) stars. There is no part of making a movie that Bruce doesn’t cover. I found myself really enjoying this book and I’m now in the mood to re-watch many of Bruce’s movies, but this time I’ll have to keep an eye open for several things I didn’t notice before, Bruce mentions several things and scenes to watch for.

If you are a movie buff or if you just like movies, you should read this book. If you want to become an actor or get into show business in any form, you should DEFINITELY read this book.

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Quite Ugly One Morning by Christopher Brookmyre

Quite Ugly One MorningQuite Ugly One Morning by Christopher Brookmyre
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was described to me as a disgusting, raucous comic thriller. Even with that description I wasn’t ready for the thought of the stickiness/slipperiness of vomit to be put in my head or the overly detailed description of the dump someone took on the mantle!

The gross out factor waned after the first few pages and the story settled in to a more normal comic thriller. Quite Ugly One Morning is about an investigative reporter who is thrown into the middle of a messy murder mystery and with the help of the victims ex wife sets out to solve the mystery.

Even though I enjoyed a lot of the writing and liked the characters, a couple of things bothered me. First is when the victims ex wife is telling Jack (the reporter) about how her husband started gambling over a year before his murder (she wasn’t there), he was out with the boys and apparently (as the day went along) he got so drunk that the bookie wouldn’t take his bets (so a friend placed some bets for him. She somehow knew the horses he bet on, the odds and a lot of other information that even the victim or his friends probably wouldn’t remember. The second thing was that the killer, described as a professional, seemed more like a bumbling idiot who shouldn’t walk around without a helmet on. Other than those two (unrealistic) things this was an entertaining read and quite enjoyable.

One day I may read something else by Christopher Brookmyre but I don’t see myself jumping one of his books to the top of my to read list anytime soon.

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The Song of Roland by Anonymous

The Song of RolandThe Song of Roland by Anonymous
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Song of Roland was written around 1090 and is based on events that happened about 300 years earlier. The forward is filled with all the theories, what we know or more precisely what we don’t know. In my opinion, any story that is this old (nearly 1,000 years) and has to be translated is bound to lose something be it through the translation or just the fact that things have changed so much over such a long period of time. The version I read had a forward by W. S. Merwin.

I was drawn to this book because of Don Quixote, The Song of Roland would have been one of the books read by Quixote that drove him mad with chivalrous ideas. The Song of Roland shows many of the ways of the knights during medieval times, faithfulness to your lord, honor, to fight and die for your cause. To make a reputation, one that after your death, wouldn’t shame your family and one of honor, bravery, and loyalty was what was most important to knights.

I was not disappointed, this book was what I expected, violent, epic battles against overwhelming enemies, pride, loyalty, and bravery that defines the word quixotic. Good Christian knights against evildoer pagans (non-Christians), and the idea that God will make sure that good triumphs over evil. No matter how many evildoers one must cleave in two (and there is plenty of cleaving).

This was a fast and easy read that I would recommend to those who are interested in the subject of knights and chivalry.

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Matter by Iain M. Banks

MatterMatter by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Out of the dozen or so books by Iain (M.) Banks that I have read, Matter is my least favorite, and it still received 4 out of 5 stars.

It took about 70 pages or so to get into the story, but once I did the book was hard to put down. All of the “Culture” books that I have read have an epic story with layers and layers of content and undercurrents of many subjects, some subtle and some not so subtle. Yet, they are still character driven stories with enough advanced and wondrous technology that will satisfy even the most ardent science fiction fan.

The beginning of the book goes into great detail about “shell worlds” an ancient technological device (some questions remain about the purpose for which they were created). Kind of a “species” made hollow planet with different layers (floors), each floor has been settled by a different life form. Some life forms are more advanced than others.

The description of the shell world was so detailed that for a moment I was convinced I could build one or at the least draw up a blueprint to have one built. So much detail made the story drag a bit, but it also gave me a great understanding to the world the characters lived in.

The flow of the writing style in Matter changes throughout the book. There are plenty of detailed descriptions of technologies, species, characters … etc., parts felt like a well written suspense/thriller, and there are a few speeches that felt reminiscent of Shakespeare. I feel that this changing flow will annoy some readers.

I still found this to be a great read, but if you have never read a “Culture” book, I wouldn’t recommend this as a starting point. The only drawback to “Matter” for me was that the ending didn’t meet my expectations for the usual Banks standard (but it was still excellent). So far, it is the only book by Banks that I figured out the ending before I got there.

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