Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Game of Thrones

Before I get into the HBO version of Game of Thrones, I would like to tell you that my book Cursed is now available at Scribd!

Scribd! is a newish service much like Netflix for books. You can read as many ebooks as you like for $8.99 a month. I've already read a couple like Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell and The Selection by Kiera Cass.

I only discovered the service after Smashwords announced an agreement with Scribd! and moved its collection over.

Also on the Smashwords front, they now have an agreement with Overdrive, the mammoth service that allows library patrons to borrow ebooks and electronic audiobooks. I use it often. My book has not been sent yet to the service, but it's waiting to be shipped.

I think those two deals are great news for independent publishers and helps authors reach a whole new market, especially library patrons.

Of my two books, Cursed does OK everywhere but at Amazon, while New Parent Survival Guide is only available through Amazon because I wanted it enrolled in the KDP Select program. I had lots of people borrow the book through the Amazon Prime program rather than buy it, which netted me more money. But I am now considering making it available on other sites as it is no longer a Select choice.

My next announcement is I am doing final edits on Evolution, my epic dystopian novel that reads a bit like Stephen King's The Stand mixed with the now defunct television show Heroes. You can read a sample on my website.

And lastly, Game of Thrones.

 I've read all the books by George RR Martin and am now caught up with the television series. I am conflicted. I think HBO did a fabulous job on season one, that's what got me to read the books. The episodes stuck very close to the book and so I assumed the rest of the seasons would too. That hasn't happened as much and maybe that's a good thing.

By deviating from the books, the television producers have accelerated some storylines (Sansa in the Erye) and slowed some down (Joffrey's assassination).

The fourth season is still comprised much of book three, a Storm of Swords, but has chunks from book four, A Feast for Crows.

I will be completely honest here. I can't remember everything that happened in the books. It's been three years since I read A Dance with Dragons and Martin's books are so full of intricate details, it's hard to remember what happened when.

I want to say that everything going on with Jon Snow and the Night's Watch happened in book four and that Snow didn't even make an appearance in book three, but again, I can't really remember. I do know that Snow never raided Craster's nest to kill the rogue Night's Watch members. I thought they were all dealt with by the Others/White Walkers.

With the producers changing stories and making up new scenes, it helps make the series a little less predictable for book fans and I think that's good. It makes some plot turns unexpected and that keeps me watching, waiting to see what's new. That can only be good for the show and its fans, book or television.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Netflix's House of Cards

I am a terrible procrastinator. I haven't done much writing and instead have indulged in my TV addiction.
Ok. I'm exaggerating. I don't watch that much TV. I have deleted shows off the DVR that I just don't have time to watch. I'm thinking Glee will head that way. I watched half of the first episode of this year - can you say boring?
I don't have time for boring television, like I'm sure many of you don't either.
Anyway, my coworker was telling me how much she liked Netflix's House of Cards and since I have the service and don't use it for myself, I thought, what the heck. I'll try it. 

Holy cow what a great show!! There were a few episodes that I could have done away with, but man, the pace of the show is lightening quick. It's super clever and has great evil characters.
I was very surprised - and blow away - when Mr. Evil decided to send Zoe to the subway cleaners. Up to that point I was wondering why ABC's Scandal has lots of murders and yet House of Cards, a show that is so much better, did not. Was House of Cards too pure for murder? Were the writers too good to stoop so low? And then it happens and it didn't seem cheap. It wasn't expected and if anything, it seemed sophisticated in its simplicity.
If you do not like political thrillers, House of Cards isn't for you. It's like an insiders game to politics. It's all about maneuvers, out-maneuvering people, even the simplest snags are planned in an over-reaching storyline of getting Francis Underwood into the White House.

Since Underwood is a very ambitious man and doesn't seem like the type to wait for his turn at the presidency, I can see President Garrett Walker getting bumped off and then Underwood can brag about being in the presidency and not being elected to that either.
I have always loved Robin Wright since she was in Santa Barbara with her hair so long she could sit on it. She is perfect as Claire Underwood and frankly I am surprised. I've never seen her play this type of character before but she's doing a great job.

And then there was Kevin Spacey. This guy is fantastic. I became his biggest fan with Usual Suspects, still one of my favorite movies.  I think he always does best when he's the lead.
I'm only a few episodes in to season two but already I'm dragging it out so that I can savor the show before the next season is released.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Walking Dead second half

I'm trying to stay on top of the Walking Dead on a weekly basis, which is new for me. Normally I'm weeks, if not years behind, so it's new for me to have to wait for a new episode.
I haven't formulated my feelings yet about this second half of season four. I'm loving that they ditched the prison, which was just driving me crazy. It was dreary and such a magnet for nuttyness. That being said, this is a zombie apocalypse, which on its face is nutty.

While the first half of season four had some great dramatic moments - I'm thinking about Rick and Carl being overrun with zombies after the fence falls - but also had some super slow pacing and was somewhat of a repeat of season three with the governor converting seeming normal people to murderers.
I almost wish they'd held the governor back for a reunification a year down the road or something. That would have been a super big surprise. Now that the big bad, other than zombies, has been dispensed with, we are left with the survivors being scattered in the woods.

I personally would not camp out in the woods as Daryl and Beth did. I would be climbing up a tree or finding a house like Rick.
I'm glad to see Glenn is alive and I like his cleverness in finding riot gear and plowing through the mass of dead heads.
My big question is how did all of the prison folk on the bus turn into zombies so quickly? Either one person died and then bit them all or somehow a zombie got on board. It was kind of a sad outcome but I guess it makes room to bring in new characters, like the commandos Glenn and Tara encounter at the end.
It is a little odd to keep bringing in new people as the writers sweep out the old. I guess that's the reality of the kind of show this is. Few can survive and characters must keep dying.  The cycle is also predictable too.

While I feared too that Judith was dead, and I was surprised when Tyrese turned with the baby in his arms. I was happy to see her alive and since the show went so far to lead us to believe she was dead, I knew that when  Lizzie was smothering Judith, she wasn't going to die. She didn't need to cover her nose and mouth to get her to stop crying but whatever, it made for more significant drama if you believed she was in jeopardy.
I didn't get a chance to read the sign that seemed to point to more survivors, but I wonder if it is the governor's old hideout. If it's a new survivor community, I wonder how it will differ from the other communities they seem to encounter that are all run by dictators.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The way of the knife: Fox's The Following

Any regular follower of this blog knows I'm a bit of a binge TV watcher. My Netflix subscription is mostly used by my daughter in watching Spiderman, My Little Pony or Barbie. She's on a Mulan kick right now.
I don't have time for Netflix and the movies are really out of date. BUT -- when I'm off recovering from foot surgery (like last spring) -- I become a bit of a Netflix junkie with its TV offerings. (I am still way behind on AMC's Breaking Bad and Showtime's Dexter because I am watching those with the hubbie, but alas, I only have so much time.)
I finally got caught up on PBS's Sherlock Holmes and now record the current season. While season one and two were great, season three has a lot of fast-forward moments. Dr. John Watson's wedding was just so boring I skipped through most of the episode. Or it was interesting and the fact that I am recovering from foot surgery, the flu and some bizarre week of terrible headaches could have tainted my viewing attitude.
Anyway on to the main topic The Following. I am a Kevin Bacon fan in that I think he does well in choosing good roles to play. If you look through his acting history, he has good taste. Also to his credit he's married to Kyra Sedgwick, the star of TNT's The Closer, a kick ass show that never failed to entertain.

So, I did not watch The Following until last week. I binged on season one and two over the past five days. I had flashbacks to The Vampire Diaries, but I'll explain in a minute.
The show is pretty dark, loves knives and is kind of twisty-turnie in its plot. I think season one could have been abbreviated to eight or nine episodes, down from 15, because it got really repetitive and a bit formulaic. The problem with binge watching is you see everything up close and don't have the advantage of short term memory loss between episodes.
So to sum up season one, in practically every episode a good guy was kidnapped and a bad guy got killed. The bad guys multiplied faster than rabbits so they never ran out of evils, but the number of scenarios where Ryan or Claire or Joey were facing either rescue or peril was ludicrous. It really got kind of silly after a while a nd to a point where I just knew no one significant was going to die -- of course until the end.

Also in almost every episode, especially near the end of season one, there was a dark scene where Ryan or Mike or Debra, or all three in one case, are in a deserted house/abandoned armory/empty hotel under construction -- you fill in your location -- searching for bad guys by themselves, off book, and get caught/knocked out/taken hostage/beat up etc. I started to see flashbacks to season one while watching season two because they are using the same type of setup. It's dark. The protagonist is alone. They are knocked out by the bad guy and the bad guy/girl gets away. These guys really need new foils.
That takes us to the Vampire Diaries. I binge watched about five seasons of that show about 18 months ago and it was the same kind of scenario. Actually, I'm going to venture to say the Vampire Diaries was more thrilling in the first three seasons because the show wasn't afraid to actually kill cast members. See my old review on that mark. At the same time the central characters constantly faced danger/near death weekly that it became a bit absurd.

Which brings us to Kevin Williamson, who is the creator and writer of both shows. I only seem to think of Dawon's Creek when his name comes up, which is strange because I recently checked out his writing history and about 90 per cent of the work he's done is horror/thrillers not teenage dramas. He's of Scream fame, which has to be the movie that gave horror a resurgence when it opened with its over the top horror/gore. I think Williamson was making fun of the genre and I think he does that with The Following and did that with the Vampire Diaries, I don't think he writes for the show any more.

OK. Enough Williamson blather. I see a lot of similarities in these two series. Vampires suck blood in a gory fashion, Joe's followers love to carve up victims with knives. These two series are full of blood-loving characters and since no one runs out of blood, there is always a supply for the gore-loving.
So, I just finished the third episode in season two of the The Following and I really liked it, for two main reasons, because there was some humor and sarcasm, ie: best line: utopian slut palace - and the story finally started moving forward with this year's psychos, who seem sicker and more twisted.
It was clear last season that while most of the characters loved killing, no one seemed to do it for sport or just for the fun of it. The deaths all had a thrill -- or a personal self satisfaction. This season the French loonies are bringing some spontaneity and unpredictability to the show that is much needed.
So far the one important piece missing from this season is emotion. I liked listening to the killers when they visited Joe in prison talk about their adoration for him and their past. In particular, I think they did a good job fleshing out Roderick's devotion and in the end Joe's betrayal of him. I actually felt sorry for Roderick, who was one sick puppy. Same goes for Charlie. I liked that guy and saw it strange/sick and twisted that he let Joe kill him because he'd failed his mission.
Also at the beginning at least, the Emma/Jacob love story seemed quite real and that scene with Emma's mother was very powerful. I just don't see any hints of that kind of attachment in season two, but it's only been three episodes, perhaps it's coming.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Walkind Dead craziness

So I'm finally up on the Walking Dead and saw the mid-season finale last week. I'm a little shocked the show isn't going to be back on AMC until February. Ahh. We have to wait two months!!!!
The finale reminds me of what happened in season 2 when the farmhouse was overrun with dead people and the group was scattered.
I have no idea where Michonne went or Tyreese after the kids shot his attackers and took off. There might be a might up place, but who knows. I think in the chaos there were instructions to take to bus to a meeting location. Anyway, at least our favorites Daryl and Michonne are still alive.

I think it's a bit sad that we lost another loved one. I really liked Herschel as a character, he was a nice guy despite everything that happened. But you do start to think after awhile, the young and old are the weakest links. That being said I never thought Herschel was a weak link, but it stands to reason he was on the hit list. The only protected person is Rick. I don't even think his son is going to survive to the end.

There was one big missing link in this season. I  can't remember when this happened but there was one scene where there was a view of hundreds of thousands of walkers headed in one direction. I can't remember whose journey it was. Maybe the trip to the college or something like that. Remember the car was surrounded by dead folks and they couldn't move.

I figured that crowd was going to take the walkers out. That mob is still out there and I wonder if that's going to be the next big challenge.

So far season 4 has been great and offered new unexpected challenges. I just wonder how long they can carry this on. I'm not sad they lost the prison. I thought it was a terrible place. Too big and had too many problems and when you get down to it, a fence can't really keep out a mob of walkers. They were able to push down the fence in this season before the tank raid. They need a castle. Stone walls. independent water source or maybe an island.

My prediction is as follows:
Someone in the group is going to find Carol.
Judith is still alive although they like you to think she's dead because blood was found in her car seat. That being said I thought Carol's daughter would be found alive and I was very wrong there.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

No time for Walking Dead

Ok. A slight exaggeration. I just finished watching last week's The Good Wife (kickass episode) but I have two Walking Dead episodes, three after tonight, that I haven't watched yet.
I started watching one last night and I just got too creeped out!!!
It's the one where the kid in the shower died from some virus, turned into a Walker and just ate out the neck of someone who was sleeping. Ick.
They started the episode with grossdom to appeal to the preteen crowd I guess, which just doesn't appeal to me. I like the strife, the adventure and some of the danger. But just pure gore shots I can do without.

I have watched now the three episodes of the spinoff series Once Upon a Time in Wonderland and while the acting is great, I am wondering how they are going to keep this up for years to come. After a while I can see losing interest in Alice's efforts to free Silas, which is also the same name of the BIG EVIL in this season of the Vampire Diaries. Coincidence? I think so.

I love the strong character of Alice. Her perseverance is admirable and I like how clever she is.
I do wonder when writers will get tired of the BETRAYAL theme. It seems in every show I've watched, the lead character is betrayed by someone close to them and it's been quite obvious.
There has to be a better way to move a plot forward without having me sit there and assume someone is going to turn the hero in for self serving reasons. The whole thing is quite tired and overused.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Contest winners: Books in the mail

Books were mailed today for the five winners of the Goodreads contest. This was a very expensive endeavor for me. Not including the price of buying the book, the five packages cost $58 in postage fees. The U.S. addresses were cheap, under $3. The U.K. winners cost me $18 each.
Happy reading contest winners!!

Lastly as an observation about the giveaway. About 1,925 people entered the giveway in the four weeks it was listed. I made it to page one and two of the most popular books requested, which I think is amazing exposure. More people added the book at the end of the giveaway than at the beginning.
 I had 1,009 people add it in the to-be-read file and as of today, a little more than a week after the giveway ended, 12 people removed the book from to-be-read file since last Monday, but two added it.
It's very hard to figure out psychology and I'm just glad the book got a lot of exposure.