Friday, October 31, 2014

The Delta by Tony Park ****

Sonja Kurtz shot her first terr (terrorist) at age twelve, and is now an assassin and a mercenary, and more lethal than anyone else. Virtually all of the other characters in the novel of global (Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, and mostly southern Africa) violence are men, except for small parts played by Sonja's daughter Emma, and her father's child bride Miriam, and a producer named Cheryl-Ann. Three stereotypical female roles: angry teenage daughter, devoted younger wife, and career bitch.

The Delta by Tony Park is about Sonja. She has the highest body count. She escapes multiple ambushes and double-crosses, usually leaving her attackers dead from explosions, gun fire, or hand-to-hand combat. Truly a Jason Bourne for the 21st century.

This book is thriller with continuous action from one crisis to another. I expect we will hear more about Sonja Kurtz from Australian author Tony Park in the future. The novel ends with the following sequel-demanding scene.
Sonja frowned, "I should have killed the pair of them. ... I don't suppose you kept a gun?"
... [Sam] hefted [the bag] ... Inside was the AK-47, two spare magazines of ammunition and a pair of hand grenades.
"Good," Sonja said, "I feel better already."
Sam sighed, "You're going to love America."
But, this book is not only a thriller. It is also a romance. True to the romance genre, Sonja spends plenty of time either thinking about her relationships, weighing one romantic interest against another, reliving and/or regretting past sexual encounters, and, of course, have new sexual encounters.

While many thriller protagonists might have casual sex, romance protagonists spend those quiet hours that could be used to plan murder and mayhem anticipating and regretting relationships with potential and past partners. Sonja seems to be preoccupied with her relationships, and engaging in casual murder and mayhem.

While Sonja has extreme agency in a fire fight, in relationships she is often the victim.
She had flirted only a little with Roberts, but she hated Martin for making her feel like a whore, and hated herself for falling for his lines every time.
This from the baddest assassin and mercenary in the territory.

I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway on October 1, 2014. I received my copy on October 14, 2014. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Why Homer Matters by Adam Nicolson ***

Why Homer Matters by Adam Nicolson is a comprehensive tome on the analysis of Homer. I imagine every student with a Homer writing assignment will now simply choose a chapter from this book and have their research done. Topics include: linguistic analysis, archeological analysis, origins of the Greeks, Mediterranean influences, nomadic steppe influences, etc. This must be the most up-to-date comprehensive compendium of research related to The Illiad and The Odyssey.

The book includes many fascinating details. For example one of the oldest copies is the Hawara Homer from AD 150. These papyrus scrolls, discovered in 1888, were found in an unmarked grave, a papyrus pillow. What was even more surprising, the text was very close to the text compiled by Byzantine scholars 800 years later, and thus the text we depend on today.

My only disappointment is the title. The title question is addressed on the last page, and this felt to me like an after thought. As Greek history through Homer, the book is a great read.

 I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway on September 20, 2014. I received my copy on September 30, 2014.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Runaway Bride by Carl Weber ****

In a plot reminiscent of a Shakespearean romantic comedy, with mistaken identities and misunderstandings, Runaway Bride by Carl Weber starts with domestic chaos. Tia leaves Choir Director Aaron Mackie at the alter. Bishop TK Wilson is jealous of his wife First Lady Monique and she is running around behind his back hoping to become a movie star. Aaron think his life-long friend and manager Ross is double crossing him. The mysterious new church secretary Tia seem torn between sweet Pippie, church handyman, and military girlfriend.

But soon enough this strife among friend and spouses becomes dark, very dark ... rape and murder dark. The scenes with blissful sex are replaced with mystery and death.

In the end this is a murder mystery where the long line of corpses keeps the reader and everyone else lost among the possible motives and suspects. A fast read with enough twists and turns to satisfy any mystery reader.

I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway on August 29, 2014. I received my copy on September 9, 2014.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Hope for Film by Ted Hope ****

What is a film producer? Who is a film producer?

You understand actors. Can you name 3? Easy! Jolie, Willis, Bullock,  and on and on...

How about directors? No problem! Tarantino, Kurosawa, Scott.

Now what about producers? What do they do anyway? Ted Hope is a producer. His book Hope for Film by Ted Hope is a manifesto for producers and an inspiration for aspiring producers.

What does a producer do?
... creative guidance and management ... sourcing the material--script, book, idea ... acquiring the participants and talent ... put together the money, find the distribution partners ... financial modeling and marketing plans ... being a community organizer ...
No wonder no one has a clear idea of what a producer is/does!

Hope illustrates the myriad producer roles with examples from his extensive filmograghy, interspersed with his wry observations...
No one ever says, "I wish it had been longer," when they leave the theater.
I had to fire Kurosawa ... which was akin to firing God.
But flies are living creatures ... you have to work with the [ASPCA] ... require flies go unharmed and returned to their prior habitat
For the [NY] indie-file scene, if you're not wearing a black T-shirt, you're dressed professionally.
if your spouse consistently chastises you for not putting the toothpaste cap back on, you know the relationship is over.
Anyone with an interest in film, and especially the changes brought about by the Internet, social networking, and streaming, should read this book.

I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway on August 27, 2014. I received my copy on September 9, 2014.