Category Archives: Reviews

Generation War

imageshol0lpq5Recently, I watched Generation War again. It’s German-made series about World War II. There are three episodes, each one lasts an hour and thirty minutes.

I think it’s a good picture, but there are a couple things that I don’t feel are accurate, most notably are the partisans in Poland being anti-Semitic. That put me off. I looked into it and found out that, yep, the Polish partisans were most definitely not anti-Semitic. They are credited for rescuing many Jews from the Holocaust.

But otherwise, I really enjoyed this series. First time I watched it was about a year ago. I watched it again a month ago.

Generation War is about five friends from Berlin. Two are brothers and they’re in the German army. One is a nurse, one becomes a singer. One is a Jewish man who attempts to flee Germany, but finds himself swept up in the Holocaust.

So, each of the five have their own story. They thought the war would be over by Christmas and they would all reunite at their bar in Berlin. But the war dragged on much longer.

Horns, by Joe Hill

514s2pnk3zlSo, I finished and reviewed Joe Hill‘s Heart-Shaped Box a few weeks ago. I believe Heart-Shaped Box is the first novel Hill published. Yesterday, I finished Hill’s second novel, Horns.

Heart-Shaped Box and Horns are two completely different stories, but both were deep in music. Judas Coyne, the rock star who bled all over the pages in Heart-Shaped Box is criticized by a character in Horns. I guess not everyone is impressed with Jude’s music.

I like when writers pull that trick, mention a character from a completely different, unconnected story. It makes that character feel more real, alive, and it makes me feel like I’m being reminded of an old friend.

Okay, so… Horns. It’s a rather strange story, dipped in dark fantasy. Ig Perrish wakes up after a night of drunken raging and discovers he has grown horns. Now everyone is telling him their darkest secrets. Because of this, Ig starts to hear the truth of what happened to his girlfriend, Merrin, a year ago.

As usual, a good read and entertaining, even though the story touches on a highly sensitive subject. Hill showed very clearly how brutal and ugly rape is. I was uncomfortable as I read the scene where it happened.

Glory Road (2006)

51kaepxgrrl__sy445_The other night, I watched Glory Road on Netflix. It’s another one of those historic sport movies. This one is about the 1966 NCAA Basketball Championship team.

Don Haskins is hired to coach basketball at Texas Western, a small college in El Paso. Haskins goes  out and recruits black players from different states, such as Indiana, Michigan and New York.

This is 1966 and in the south. Although some NCAA teams had a token black player or two, the black players were not given much time on the court. I guess Don Haskins’s 1966 team was the first NCAA team where the majority of the players were black and they were given the most time on the court.

A good movie. I paused it several times to look up something mentioned, so I would know more about it.

Heart-Shaped Box, by Joe Hill

510wu8jwz-l__sx330_bo1204203200_It’s hard to read Joe Hill‘s Heart-Shaped Box without thinking about the Nirvana song with the same name, but I suspect that’s what Hill intended. This book mentions several rock stars and bands. Hell, the lead character’s dogs are named after Bon Scott and Angus Young. It’s a horror novel that pays homage to rock ‘n’ roll.

Heart-Shaped Box is the first Joe Hill book I’ve read. I have to say, Joe Hill is just as talented as his dad. Their styles are pretty similar, a lot of free flowing wordage that keeps the reader engaged.

Jude Coyne is a rock star, though he hasn’t recorded anything in the last few years. He’s living in a farmhouse in New York with his girlfriend, Georgia.

Jude has a dark hobby. He collects occult items, like a skull, a noose that was used to hang a man, a witch’s signed confession, things like that. When Danny. Jude’s assistant, tells him that someone is selling a ghost online, Jude decides to buy it even though he thinks it’s a joke.

But the ghost arrives. Jude finds out that the ghost is the stepfather of his former girlfriend. The ghost wants Jude dead and anyone who tries to help him.

Gunny’s Rules: How to Get Squared Away Like a Marine, by R. Lee Ermey

515miw5q3l__sx408_bo1204203200_Okay, I was out in my hunting shack when I finished reading Gunny’s Rules: How to Get Squared Away Like a Marine, by R. Lee Ermey.

I have mixed feelings about this book. I thought the writing was good. I agree with much of what he said,. Some of it was what I had been thinking all along, even some of the practices he suggests are things I had already been doing.

Other things he said gave me ideas on how to improve myself. But there were also things that I strongly disagree with and his attitude toward certain people rubbed me the wrong way. I saw holes in a couple of his arguments too.

So, I guess if you read this book, some things might be useful to you, other things might not be.

The Mars Run, by Chris Gerrib.

412j4hxtpl__sx322_bo1204203200_Chris Gerrib speaks my language when it comes to pirates and action-packed science fiction adventure novels. I remember Pirates of Mars (Book 2 of the Pirates series) and how much I enjoyed it. Last night I finished reading The Mars Run (Book 1) and it was fun.

Janet Pilgrim wanted to go to college after graduating high school. She had her sights on universities that were stepping stones to real careers. She believed everything was in place for her to go, but then her dad lost her college funds in another one of his get-rich-quick schemes.

Now Janet has no money for college and feels her life plan is postponed, but she is determined to get things back on track. While out and about, Janet comes across an ad for a space program. She decides to check it out and soon finds herself enlisting for a mission to Mars.

But Mars is a new frontier and sparsely  populated, which means the law is not much on Mars. When the ship is captured by pirates, Janet is put through harsh trials, but she does what she can to survive.

I’ll put The Night Watch (Book 3) on my to-read list, but I might reread Pirates of Mars first, just to get the series in order.

The Road Within (2014)

712youpdrel__sy445_Finally I get around to telling you about this fantastic movie, The Road Within. I would love it if everyone stopped what they were doing right now, logged into their Netflix accounts to  watch this movie.

Why is this movie so important to me? Why do I want people to watch it? Well, mostly it’s because the lead character has an extreme case of Tourette’s..

I might have Tourette’s, or rather, I’m pretty sure I do. I admit, I have never been diagnosed, though I hope to have a confirmed diagnosis eventually. It really makes me mad when people wave off the notion that I might have Tourette’s and tell me, “Oh, you’re probably just frustrated.” as if I wouldn’t know the difference.

I’ve done a lot of research on the subject and it all seems to fit. I wouldn’t say I have an extreme case, but it is bad enough that I often feel like the Disturbance of Peace. I keep my windows closed at night because I’m terrified of my neighbors hearing my outbursts. I don’t worry about it so much during the daytime, because there’s usually lawnmowers and things like that running that I feel covers most of my outbursts.

But at night, it’s pretty quiet outside and I worry that people can hear every word that comes out of my mouth, whether I shout it at the top of my lungs or just blurt it. I feel that with the windows closed, my outbursts are at least muffled. Of course, sometimes they are very, very loud outbursts and I think the whole neighborhood hears them, even when my windows are closed.

What people don’t understand is these outbursts are not in anger. Yes, I have a terrible temper and I do yell in anger a lot too. But that’s a whole other issue and it doesn’t bother me near as much as the Tourette episodes do.

The stuff that comes out of my mouth during the Tourette episodes is often embarrassing shit and it comes out for no reason. It’s like some freak takes over the part of my brain that controls my vocal cords and tries his damnedest to destroy my reputation. Or as Vincent described it in The Road Within: “There’s a clown in my head, and he shits in between my thoughts. And he forces me to do the most inappropriate thing at the most inappropriate moment.”

So, why The Road Within?

Sure, there’s Jim Carrey movies, and you might’ve seen documentaries about Tourette’s, and whatever else. But I feel that The Road Within really shows you how Tourette’s works. I also find this movie entertaining, while many other accounts on the subject are boring.

The movie opens up with Vincent at his mother’s funeral. This is a stressful time for him and his Tourette’s are in overdrive. He’s twitching and blurting out numerous obscenities, all of which leave him visibly embarrassed. Eventually he gets up and exits the church to do some screaming outside.

Vincent’s father, Robert, sends him to a home for teens with problems. There Vincent meets Alex, who is a germaphobe, and Marie, who has anorexia. The three of them end up stealing their counselor, Mia’s  car to take a trip to the beach where Vincent wants to leave his mom’s ashes.

Their friendships develop along the way and they gain better understandings of each other, as do Robert and Mia who are in pursuit.

My All-American (2015)

A1H6YuL6kRL__SY445_Ouch. This movie hit hard at the end. Last night my brother recommended My All-American. Tonight, I needed a break from playing Grand Theft Auto and decided to watch the movie. After watching this, I feel differently toward the Texas Longhorns. I’m not necessarily a Sooner fan, but I feel more in key with the Sooners, and,  well, the Longhorns are the Sooners’ top rival.

During the first half of the movie, it feels kind of like Rudy. Freddie Steinmark is shorter and lighter than your usual college football player,  but his dream comes true when Coach Royal of the Texas Longhorns recognizes his talent and offers him a full scholarship to attend the University of Texas.

Freddie soon becomes a starter and plays the safety on defense. His role on the team is a big part of the Longhorns’ successful season. After the last regular game–before the Cotton Bowl, Freddie learns that a limp he had during the last few regular games is not a football injury, but is instead a tumor.

It’s a bone cancer and the doctors have to remove his leg. Freddie does make it to the Cotton Bowl, to be with his team while they play, but he dies a year and a half later, on June 6, 1971. He was twenty-two years old.

To this day, the Longhorns continue to honor Freddie Steinmark. His memorial is in the stadium and the players touch his picture on their way out to the field.

Up, Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers, Edited by Patricia Flaherty Pagan

51CV7P7FZzL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Edited by Patricia Flaherty Pagan, Up, Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers is, as the subtitle suggests, an anthology of short stories by women.

I thought all of these stories were very good, outstanding even. Not a single one of them was disappointing in any way. The stories were about a variety of different things and several of them really got to me emotionally.

So, yeah, this is an anthology I’d recommend.

Quantum Night, by Robert J. Sawyer

51dp9x2F0SL__SX329_BO1,204,203,200_“Holy shit, it’s Professor Marchuk! Run!”

Robert J. Sawyer‘s latest novel Quantum Night explores psychology and has me wondering if I’m a Q1, a Q2 or a Q3. Or maybe I’m sometimes one or another, depending on the time of the day and whether I’m wide awake or not. Right now I’m awfully tired and feel like I’m just going through the motions, much like a classical Q1 p-zed.

Jim Marchuk is a professor at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg who developed a procedure that determines whether someone is a psychopath or not. Because of this, he is asked to be an expert witness at a murderer’s trial in Georgia.

Jim travels to Georgia for the trial. Though he’s only there to explain his procedure, the prosecutor grills him about his past and he does not remember things that he should remember. When he returns to Canada, he discovers that he’s missing six months of his life.

Jim’s missing six months are the result of an experiment he took part in twenty years earlier. The experiment changed him from a fully conscious, thinking human being (Q3) to a mindless animation (Q1). Jim is determined to understand what had happened to him during those six months, and what had he done?

A good read and quite fun.