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Drama: An Actor's Education
Drama: An Actor's Education
by John Lithgow
Edition: Hardcover
125 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A born storyteller, telling the story of his life, October 6, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Lithgow is a born storyteller, whether he be acting or writing, and this book provides ample evidence of that proclivity: Drama is a fascinating little artifact, well written, full of intriguing incidents and insights. Although you might sometimes wish he revealed a bit more of what he was going through at a particular moment, you'll probably come away feeling you've gotten to know this fascinating man, one of the best actors of his generation, a little better, and, having done so, come to appreciate his gifts and talents a little bit more.

The Boy Who Loved Batman: A Memoir
The Boy Who Loved Batman: A Memoir
by Michael Uslan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.91
76 used & new from $4.96

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I want to be Michael Uslan when I grow up!, October 1, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a fantastic book, must reading for comics fans in general and
Batman fans in particular (count this reviewer as both), as Uslan
delivers a very personal, upbeat, knowing and funny tale of
his long term love affair with comic books, a relationship that began
even before he started kindergarten and continues to the present day.
Along the way, Uslan,who cannily saw the value of puchasing the rights
to make Batman films back in 1979, tells about how he discovered comic books,
his triumphs and traumas in amassing a huge collection of them, and the
early days of comic fandom, when conventions on the scale of today's San
Diego Comic Con only existed in the fervent imaginations of obsessive fanboys.
He proceeds to describe how he came to teach the first accredited college
course on comics at Indiana University, started working at DC Comics, and
finally, delves into his quixotic quest of bringing a serious Batman to the
silver screen (in his words, upgrading the pop culture "Batman" to the dark
and gritty "The Batman").

Uslan's is an inspring tale of a kid born at the right place and the
right time (1952, so that he experienced the advent and fruition of the Silver Age
of comics, and still had access to the products and creators responsible
for the hobby's Golden Age), and of the power of childhood dreams, as,
against the odds, he actually accomplishes his youthful vow (sworn in 1966, after his
disappointment with the live action Batman TV show which premiered that
year) of producing a movie that would make audiences take his
favorite character seriously. It's an uplifting story, full of a
variety of grace notes guaranteed to make you smile. It may also inspire its readers
to greater heights, as the New Jersey native frequently cites the importance of believing
in yourself and your work. All in all, a light, engaging read that really warmed
this particular comic
book junkie's heart.

The Cypress House
The Cypress House
by Michael Koryta
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.01
157 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars This one has it all!, September 21, 2011
This review is from: The Cypress House (Paperback)
Set in the Depression era, The Cypress House opens with a truly memorable first line and only gets better from there. Koryta's chief protagonist, World War I veteran Arlen Wagner, is on a train with his idealistic young friend, Paul Brickhill, along with several other men, all headed to the Florida Keys in search of work. Several days into the trip, Arlen has a disquieting premonition that everyone on board will perish unless they disembark. He communicates this to the others, but only Paul, who looks at Arlen as a older brother/father figure, heeds his warning. Escaping one danger, they unknowingly set off on an even more perilous adventure, one that will test the duo's wits, survival skills and loyalty to each other.

Koryta's third standalone novel reminds me of comics that I read as a kid that loudly proclaimed "This one has it all!" on their covers, because that's exactly the case here: Koryta impressively blends the best elements of gothic romance, suspense, thrillers, mysteries, bildungsromans, crime and horror novels into one happy package,
delivering this concoction via deft plotting and confident, agile storytelling enhanced by a matchless prose style and language so pretty it makes you stop a moment to savor certain passages. The talented Koryta continues to impress, displaying skills that other authors can only envy.

Build a Website for Free (2nd Edition)
Build a Website for Free (2nd Edition)
by Mark Bell
Edition: Paperback
51 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Useful and informative, August 17, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Well organized and vey readable, and, most importantly, easy to understand, Mark Bell's book is a treasure trove of useful information, providing a great grounding in the basics of (cheaply) creating and maintaining your own website. A great reference book, it proves itself to be a valuable resource for advanced users and novices alike.

Kiss Her Goodbye: An Otto Penzler Book (Mike Hammer Novels)
Kiss Her Goodbye: An Otto Penzler Book (Mike Hammer Novels)
by Mickey Spillane
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.21
87 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Collins honors Spillane's literary legacy, August 17, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As Kiss Her Goodbye begins, Mike Hammer is in self imposed exile in Miami, recovering from serious wounds received in the previous Spillane/Collins mashup, The Big Bang. Mike is suffering from mental as well as physical trauma, a far cry from the cocky, self confident, danger loving risk taker that legions of fans have come to know and love over the years. Reluctantly returning to New York City to attend the funeral of his beloved mentor, Bill Doolan, Mike wonders whether his love affair with the chaos that is the Big Apple is over, whether he is indeed ready to "kiss her goodbye" after all these years. Shortly after returning to her embrace, however, he starts to find the old juices flowing again: something doesn't seem kosher about the purported suicide of Inspector Doolan, so he starts doing what he does best, namely, making enemies and turning himself into a living target. Suddenly, bullets are flying, and bodies are turning up in his wake, as he relentlessly marches towards the answers to the various puzzles his city has offered up to him.

It was great fun for this long time Hammer fan to see the PI in rehab mode, slowly returning to form as he wreaks havoc in NYC. The City is to Hammer as the earth's yellow sun is to Superman--it's a source of his strength, both nurturing and inspiring him. In return for the strength it provides him, Hammer serves as the City's protector, wiping its mean streets clean of the human garbage that despoils it. Collins appreciates this symbiotic relationship, exploiting it to its fullest.

Kiss Her Goodbye is a worthy addition to the Hammer/Spillane canon, continuing the hot streak that began when co-author Max Allan Collins finished The Goliath Bone back in 2008. Hammer fans should feel fortunate that Spillane's brainchild has been left in such capable hands; with Collins overseeing it, this franchise can continue on indefinitely, with no diminution of quality or thrills.

Handling the Undead
Handling the Undead
by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.99
117 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lindqvist's unique take on zombies, August 16, 2011
This review is from: Handling the Undead (Hardcover)
Several impressive novels have come out of Sweden recently. In the area of crime novels, many have become addicted to Stieg Larsson's compelling Millennium Trilogy, featuring the character find of the last decade, the force of nature known as Lisbeth Salandar. In horror, there's the work of John Ajvide Lindqvist, author of the 2004 vampire novel Let the Right One In (published in the US in 2007 as Let Me In), and the more recent Handling the Undead, to be published in the US later this year. Like Larsson, Lindqvist brings a fresh perspective to his genre work; whether it is cultural, or unique to these authors, it's difficult to say. What is certain is that it makes for seductive writing, the kind you can't wait to recommend to friends.

In Handling the Undead, Lindqvist writes about a phenomenon that strikes the city of Stockholm: after a strange, unexplained power surge, the recently dead return to an eerie semblance of life. Obviously caught completely off guard, the city's still living denizens struggle to cope with and understand what's happening.

Lindqvist excels at portraying these struggles, detailing the believable reactions from the government, medical personnel, and family members. It is the latter that provides most of the emotional power of the novel, as the living, only recently beginning to cope with the deaths of their loved ones, must now deal with their reappearance as literal shells of their former selves. These zombies, or the "re-living" as they are soon dubbed, aren't the repulsive, nasty, dangerous, flesh eating creatures you are used to; rather, most are passive blank slates, much like someone stricken with Alzheimer's. Their resurrection and "quasi-living" physical states create many questions: What are they? Why are they? Who is responsible for them? Do they have rights? What does the future hold?

As is the case with several vintage dark fantasies, books like Kevin J. Anderson's outstanding Resurrection, Inc., Stephen King's horrific Pet Semetery and Chet Williamson's classic Ash Wednesday, Handling the Undead forces the reader to consider his or her own responses to illness and death. This disquieting subtext, along with Lindqvist's considerable skill in bringing his characters to vivid life on the page, and the disturbing set pieces he places them in, make this novel required reading for horror fans. Just be sure you set aside a decent block of time after opening it, as it's almost impossible to disengage once you've flipped through those first few pages.

The Identity Man
The Identity Man
by Andrew Klavan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $25.00
114 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Klavan gets back to basics, March 5, 2011
This review is from: The Identity Man (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
While many found Klavan's previous novel, Empire of Lies, enjoyable (this reviewer among them), there was a feeling among a sizable group of readers that the author's conservative politics bled through a little too much, distracting from the main story. No such problem exists with The Identity Man, a crime novel's crime novel.

John Shannon is a petty thief who finds himself in a mess of trouble, and then, miraculously, is offered a way out. He literally starts over, but, just when he feels he may have a chance at redemption, he's frustrated to discover that his old existence is impinging on his new life. The choices he faces will affect him the rest of his days, perhaps forcing him to abandon all that he has come to hold dear.

Klavan is in rare form here, recapturing the energy and verve of previous successful novels like True Crime and The Animal Hour. Pick up The Identity Man ASAP, as experiencing Klavan in this mode makes for an unforgettable reading experience.

Odd Is on Our Side (Graphic Novel)
Odd Is on Our Side (Graphic Novel)
by Fred Van Lente
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.89
97 used & new from $2.97

3.0 out of 5 stars Odd 'lite", March 5, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's probably a safe bet that fans of Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas series will probably enjoy the second graphic novel to feature his popular series character, set in the time period before the events of Odd Thomas, the novel. Those coming to the book cold, so to speak, might not derive as much pleasure. That said, Koontz's story, as scripted by Fred Van Lente and illustrated by Queenie Chan, is interesting and entertaining; overall, reading the book is a pleasant way to spend an hour or so of your time. There are also two nice features, "Artist's Sketchbook" and "Script Development" at the back of the book, for those interested in a behind the scenes peek at how the package came together.

AVG Antivirus and Antispyware 3-User 2011 [Old Version]
AVG Antivirus and Antispyware 3-User 2011 [Old Version]
Offered by Ship and Save
Price: $18.15
9 used & new from $13.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Pleased, March 5, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm not a techie, so I appreciate simplicity. Installation was easy and hassle free, and, so far, everything seems ok on the virus and spyware front. A nice step up from the free version AVG offers, which I used up until I installed this edition a few weeks ago.

A Visit from the Goon Squad
A Visit from the Goon Squad
by Jennifer Egan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.53
164 used & new from $1.17

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific, October 31, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Jennifer Egan's latest proves that the critical success of previous novels like The Keep was no fluke: A Visit From the Goon Squad is a very successful experiment with narrative, utilizing Pulp Fiction type time jumps to tell the stories of a group of people in and on the fringes of the music industry, spanning the course of several decades. Egan has a very firm grasp of what makes her characters tick, illustrating their habits and foibles in a variety of ways, whether it be through their actions, or even in the very way they tell their stories. The best example of this is the seventy five page Power Point presentation titled "Great Rock and Roll Pauses," which appears near the end of the book. It's both highly entertaining and illuminating, propelling the narrative forward in an amusing, unusual, and almost jarring, way. In retrospect, however, it's entirely appropriate and satisfying, making this novel one of the more memorable reads of 2010.

(Self indulgent side note: my nominee for one of the "Great Rock and Roll Pauses" comes around the fifty second mark in the Cake song "Short Skirt/Long Jacket." Just perfect.)
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