Saturday, January 29, 2011

Wish you had a good book to read?

Bored? Looking for a good novel or mystery to read?  Check the link to The Good Stuff to find recommended books, music, and more.

Good books are hard to find.  Let's talk about what books we like. I want to know your views, so post your comments on the books reviewed here.  And join the Facebook group, comment there, and get more info on what I really enjoyed reading - and what I did not!

It's all about finding Something Good to Read. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Movies We Like: Sundance Winner and Oscar Nominated "Winter's Bone"

Looking for a good movie to watch over this winter weekend?  Then rent or download Winter's Bone, which was nominated this week for the best-picture Oscar.  It's really good.

Winter's Bone, which won top prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, is set in the Missouri Ozarks.  Seventeen-year old Ree Dolly must track down her dad, a meth cooker.  After her dad's last arrest, he put up the family home and wooded acreage to make bond.  Now he's gone missing and Ree, her two younger siblings, and mentally ill mother face the possibility of losing everything.

The plot is suspenseful.  Filmed in the drab colors of winter, poverty and danger, Dee's determination to keep her family together and do what everyone warns her not to do - find Jessup Dolly - is a force on the screen.  And actor John Hawkes, who plays Dee's uncle, does an outstanding portrayal of a man you should fear if you are smart.

Check it out this weekend:  Winter's Bone.

Video on Demand:

The DVD:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Some Amazon Shoppers May Want to Up-Date Their Password.

It's time to up-date your Amazon password if you have not done so in the past few years.

The Consumerist reports that some older Amazon accounts appear to have a flaw in their password protection powers.  This flaw makes the account vulnerable to a brute force cracking attempt.  According to The Consumerist, "For affected accounts, if you haven't changed your password in several years, and it's over 8 characters long, it looks like all people have to do is enter the first 8 characters correctly and they're in. Even if after the 8 characters they just type gobbledygook."

How to create a good password?  Here is one strategy.  Think of a sentence that you are likely to remember, and use the first letter of each word to form the password root.  For example, the sentence "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may" (from a Robert Herrick poem), creates the root "gyrwym".  Now, toss in a couple of numbers memorable to you and you have a password:  gyrwym21.  For more password tips, check out this article from Lifehacker.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Patti Smith is Writing a Detective Novel

Singer, songwriter and poet Patti Smith continues to undertake new challenges as an artist.  Smith is reportedly working on a detective novel set in London.  In 2010, she won the National Book Award in nonfiction for her memoir Just Kids.  

Patti Smith is so talented.  I'm looking forward to seeing what she does when working in my favorite genre of fiction.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

"Major Pettigrew's Last Stand" by Helen Simonson.

Sometimes events converge.  This morning I see that Powell's Books posted a review of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, a popular novel from last year.  Last week my friend (and sister-in-law) started this same book, which I read last summer.  "Did you like it?"she asked.  "Well, I finished it," I replied.  This, as you may imagine, is not my most ringing endorsement for a novel.

I did finish Major Pettigrew's Last Stand because it is a readable and mildly engaging story about race, relationships, and community in a small, English village, but certainly not because it was lighting my reading world on fire.  For me the book read like sparkling water gone flat:  Acceptable, drinkable, but not what you hoped for.

Have you read this book?  Let me know what you think about it:  Fabulous or Flat?  


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Books into Movies: "Pride, Prejudice and Zombies" by Seth Graham Smith.

Reportedly there is a new chink in the chain bringing out a movie adaptation of Seth Graham Smith's book "Pride, Prejudice and Zombies."  Various web sites are reporting that director Mike White has left the project because of scheduling conflicts.  

On the positive, this gives everyone plenty of time to either read the book or read it again.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

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Edgar Award Nominees 2011

Below are highlights from The Mystery Writers of America list of nominees for the 2011 Edgar Awards.  For the complete list, click here.

"Caught" by Harlan Coben (Penguin Group USA - Dutton)
"Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter" by Tom Franklin (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
"Faithful Place" by Tana French (Penguin Group USA - Viking)
"The Queen of Patpong" by Timothy Hallinan (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
"The Lock Artist" by Steve Hamilton (Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books)
"I'd Know You Anywhere" by Laura Lippman (HarperCollins – William Morrow)

"Rogue Island" by Bruce DeSilva (Tom Doherty Associates – Forge Books)
"The Poacher's Son" by Paul Doiron (Minotaur Books)
"The Serialist: A Novel" by David Gordon (Simon & Schuster)
"Galveston" by Nic Pizzolatto (Simon & Schuster - Scribner)
"Snow Angels" by James Thompson (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam's Sons)

"Long Time Coming" by Robert Goddard (Random House - Bantam)
"The News Where You Are" by Catherine O'Flynn (Henry Holt)
"Expiration Date" by Duane Swierczynski (Minotaur Books)
"Vienna Secrets" by Frank Tallis (Random House Trade Paperbacks)
"Ten Little Herrings" by L.C. Tyler (Felony & Mayhem Press)
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What to Read Next: "The Dark Vineyard" by Martin Walker.

Last summer I read Martin Walker's book, Bruno, Chief of Police.  A "gentle" mystery set in a small village in rural France and featuring Police Chief Benoit CourrĂ©ges, or Bruno as he is know, it was a fine book.  Now it's January and, battling a winter cold, I've spent the evenings reading Walker's second book featuring Bruno, The Dark Vineyard, and what a nice book it is.

In The Dark Vineyard, the village way-of-life is threatened by arson at a secret research station and efforts by outsiders to purchase local vineyards and consolidate the holdings for mass production of wine.  Murder happens along the way and Bruno is on the case, working to solve the crimes and preserve his beloved home town.  The Dark Vineyard is one of those "happy" mysteries that have a good puzzle to provide tension, but also entertains and engages.  It's recommended reading.    

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Book Lookout: A New Book from T.C. Boyle Available in February.

Up-dated 1/5/2011:  Here is a link to a review of When the Killing's Done from Kirkus Reviews.
A new book from T. C. Boyle is available this February.  Called When the Killing's Done, it is described as "an action-packed adventure about endangered animals and those who protect them."  That sounds good.

T. Coraghessan Boyle has written 12 previous novels, the most recent being The Women.  While we wait for number 13 to arrive, consider going back to the beginning and reading the book that started it all, Boyle's first novel Water Music.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Books into Movies: "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Jonathan Safran Foer's wildly successful book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, is being made into a movie and we will thus be left again to ponder the age old question:  Which was better, the movie or the book?

The cast for the film adaptation reportedly includes John Goodman, Sandra Bullock, and Tom Hanks.  Check out more movie details here.   And while you're waiting for the movie, take time to read (or re-read) this very interesting novel about a boy whose father died in the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Some Kindle Titles May Be Loaned for 14 Days.

One of the big gripes about the Amazon's Kindle e-reader has been that it doesn't permit people to share the books they have bought.  That's starting to change; now, Kindle owners may start lending certain books to other readers.

Eligible Kindle books may be loaned for a period of 14 days to anyone with either a Kindle, PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android device.  According to Amazon's web site, whether or not a book can be loaned is decided by the book's publisher or rights holder.  Check this link for more details.