Saturday, January 26, 2019

#6: My Sister is a Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

A nurse, plain-speaking and plain-looking, is devoted to her spoiled, beautiful younger sister; so when her sister steadily dispatches her boyfriends for various offenses, she has no choice but help with the coverup in Oyinkan Braithwaite's My Sister is a Serial Killer.

This darkly comic novel seems ready-made for the movies in its breezy pacing and style.  Braithwaite earns points for the Nigerian setting, filled with corrupt cops and a lackadaisical health care system, both of which contribute to the sister's continued success in going without notice.

Braithwaite's novel is a fun read, with some darker subtexts woven throughout about what might have sent the sister around a murderous bend.

I checked this out from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library in New Castle, Indiana and read it quickly.

Friday, January 25, 2019

#5: Slaughter at Buzzard's Gulch by Scott Harris

An ambidextrous gunfighter ends up crossways of a saloon owner forcing women into slavery in Scott Harris' Slaughter at Buzzard's Gulch, the first in a new western series featuring a bounty hunter called  Caz.

Harris' first western series, featuring easygoing--but lightning-fast--gunfighter Brock Clemons, is more about finding family and community, while Caz's adventures are decidedly less sentimental and more action-oriented.

Caz always warns owlhoots to walk away, but if they did the book would be much shorter.  Thus Caz steadily dispatches the local nest of vipers from the first chapter to the last, with little cause for self-reflection.

A more spaghetti-flavored series than Harris' other protagonist, and an enjoyable read.

I bought this for my beloved Kindle and read it quickly.

Monday, January 21, 2019

#4: Valiant Bugles by Gordon D. Shirreffs

A broken-down fort in the heart of Apache country is the setting for a feud between a vengeful soldier and an Apache leader called The Butcher in Gordon D. Shirreffs' Valiant Bugles.

I have enjoyed reading Shirreffs in the past, and this one is especially tough-minded; our hero has lost everything close to him, and has become murderously obsessed to the point that his troops are on the brink of mutiny, all while the infrastructure around them collapses and the enemy wins every encounter.  A seemingly hopeless finale, holding one final twist, finishes out the last few chapters.

A good solid western that I read over a few wintry nights.  I found this at a flea market for a solitary dollar and read it quickly.

Friday, January 18, 2019

#3: Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Anna Kendrick's rise from child actor on Broadway to indie film to Hollywood blockbusters, all while awash in self-doubt but equipped with a sardonic sense of humor, is the focus of her autobiography Scrappy Little Nobody.

I didn't realize how much I had actually seen Kendrick in until I read her account; she has had a pretty varied career in a lot of avenues.

Like a lot of these autobiographies, it is a mix of Hollywood adventures and revealing personal stories.  How much you enjoy this retelling depends on how much you like Kendrick, but the audiobook reading by her (which I listened to on loan from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library) adds value.

To me, the most profound part was when she said, basically, that making a movie was like hosting a wedding every day, in an uncharted forest. 

Worthwhile for fans.

Friday, January 11, 2019

#2: Pictures at a Revolution by Mark Harris

In the late 60s the Hollywood studio system was dying out, and a new way of making films--egged on by European cinema--was making itself known.  In Mark Harris' book Pictures at a Revolution the 1968 Oscar race for Best Picture symbolizes this, with the five movies being the square Guess Who's Coming to Dinner; the colossal dud Doctor Doolittle; and three films that were capturing what was in the air, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, and Bonnie and Clyde.

I have always been interested in this time period in American film, and Harris' book provides all the detail and research you could ever want about this era.  But what struck me the most was the portrayals of the various talents involved; a broke Dustin Hoffman sleeping on Gene Hackman's floor, a raging, fading Rex Harrison's drunken exploits, a dying Spencer Tracy trying to get one more performance in, an isolated and conflicted Sidney Poitier. 

The book shows how hard it is to make a movie, any movie, even ones that turn out to be classics, full of twists and turns and dead stops and changes of fortune.  Fascinating for those, like me, interested in moviemaking.

I listened to this on audiobook on loan from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library in New Castle, Indiana.

Friday, January 4, 2019

#1: Death in the Lava by John Benteen

The hired gun Sundance tries to save a hidden tribe of Indians, and grab an equally hidden cache of gold, in John Benteen's Death in the Lava.

John Benteen was (most of the time) Ben Haas, one of my favorite western writers, and I like his series character Sundance.  Sundance had a white father and a Cheyenne mother and lives in both worlds and neither.  As a hired gun, he funnels most of his money to Washington D.C. to help with Indian relations.  Overall a pretty interesting character.

But the novels never lack for action, as in this one Sundance is besieged on all sides, including by a band of owlhoots from a bandit town called "Hell, Yes!"

I got this one in a stack of Benteen books a friend sent me.  A recommended series for western fans.