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Archive for October, 2011

Mr. Dark and His Pandemonium Carnival

Something Wicked This Way Comes DVD coverIt is a gusty October day when the lightning rod salesman comes to town, warning of a coming storm.  Soon an autumn carnival arrives, under the leadership of the intimidating Mr. Dark (Jonathan Pryce).  The sleepy town is ripe for excitement, and Will Halliday and Jim Nightshade investigate by night.  When citizens start disappearing, Will’s father (Jason Robards) realizes that the boys have stumbled into a frightful discovery.  Not your typical Disney fare, Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) is the disturbing tale of an eerie carnival and its strange attractions by way of “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment”.  Ray Bradbury originally wrote the screenplay for Gene Kelly and later reworked it as a novel.  Though the studio made significant changes, including the addition of a James Horner score, the creepiness is still intact.

By MPPL on October 17, 2011 Categories: Horror, Movies and TV, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense

LISTS: If You Like Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison author photoToni Morrison is a Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. She is best known for writing The Bluest EyeBeloved and Sula. In these books and others, Morrison creates complex characters in detailed historical settings who strive toward enlightenment against themes of racism and sexual oppression.

If you’ve exhausted Toni Morrison and want other authors who create deep characters and explore thorny, societal themes, click here.

By MPPL on October 14, 2011 Categories: Books, Lists

A Scent-Obsessed Murderer

Perfume book coverJean-Baptiste was born without any personal scent and has been shunned most of his life for it. Because of his unnatural nature, Jean-Baptiste becomes obsessed with finding the most perfect smells in the world to blend into a divine perfume. Unfortunately, this makes Jean-Baptiste a dangerous man to beautiful, virginal women – their scents being the penultimate in purity – and Jean-Baptiste must kill thirteen to create his ideal fragrance. The sense of smell becomes a character equal on the page to Jean-Baptiste in Perfume, by Patrick Süskind. Perfume is a disturbingly stunning novel that has been made into an equally eloquent movie starring Ben Wishaw, Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman.

By MPPL on October 13, 2011 Categories: Books, Historical Fiction, Movies and TV

Cynthia’s Pick: Nickel and Dimed

Cynthia staff picks photoIn 2001’s Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich set out to walk in the shoes of the working poor, trying to find jobs and living on the wages or lack thereof. The book remains timely and offers an eye-opening account of the challenges and obstacles faced by millions of Americans.

By MPPL on October 11, 2011 Categories: Books, Nonfiction, Picks by Cynthia, Staff Picks

Of Fog and Fear

Ghosts by Gaslight book coverIf changing leaves, creeping mist, and chill-laced evenings put you in the mood to be pricked with fright, we have the book for you.  Ghosts by Gaslight: Stories of Steampunk and Supernatural Suspense brings together masters of the sublimely eerie in an atmospheric assortment of Victorian-inspired horror tales.  Even the titles cast their spells:  “Why I Was Hanged” (Gene Wolfe), “The Iron Shroud” (James Morrow), “The Proving of Smollett Standforth (Margo Lanagan), “The Unbearable Proximity of Mr. Dunn’s Balloons” (John Langan), and Peter S. Beagle’s exquisite “Music, When Soft Voices Die”.  Dare to be scared with visitations by strange machines, seductive spirits, and grim obsession.  We won’t blame you for keeping extra candles nearby.

By MPPL on October 10, 2011 Categories: Books, Horror, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense

LISTS: Christian Hard Rock and Metal

With Roots Above and Branches Below album coverIf you think that all Christian music sounds soothing or mellow, like Amy Grant or old-school hymns, you’ve got another thing coming. Christian metal bands have all the thrashing and distortion you can take.

Want the hard-driving press of metal, but not the secular themes? Click here.

By MPPL on Categories: Lists, Music

The Perfect Jennifer Crusie Halloween Read

Wild Ride cover imageDreamland is a crumbling amusement park that Mab has been hired to restore. What Mab doesn’t know is that Dreamland is more than an old fun park. It’s a demon keep. Four of the world’s most dangerous demons are held prisoner in various statues and rides. As Dreamland’s Halloween grand re-opening draws closer, someone starts releasing demons. Meanwhile, Mab thinks she’s in love, and Ethan, the park owner’s son, well, he’s not looking for love, but he is looking for a good time. Wild Ride, by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer, is a comedic, supernatural romance à la Joss Whedon. In fact, it’s even dedicated to him. If you like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you should give Wild Ride a try

By MPPL on Categories: Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Romance

John’s Pick: Hard Eight

John staff picks photoIn Hard Eight, Philip Baker Hall delivers a multi-layered performance as Sydney, an aging professional gambler who takes down-on-his-luck loser John (John C. Reilly) under his wing. John’s involvement with an equally wounded waitress (Gwyneth Paltrow) and a shady casino worker (Samuel L. Jackson) introduces a noir element into this compelling character study of a film.

By MPPL on October 4, 2011 Categories: Movies and TV, Picks by John, Staff Picks


Candor book coverRenee of Fiction/AV/Teen Service recommends Candor by Pam Bachorz:

Always be courteous.
Academics are the key to success.
Healthy breakfasts make for smart minds.

What if subliminal messages like these ran through your head all day? Then you’d be living in Candor. Through brainwashing, teenagers in Candor love to do chores, they get straight A’s and no one is ever an outsider. Oscar is handsome, smart, popular and…different. He’s learned to turn off the messages in his head and makes money helping other kids do the same, so they don’t walk around like programmed drones for the rest of their lives. Oscar’s latest target for business is Nia, except that Oscar finds himself completely smitten by her. Does he save Nia from the messages and never see her again or keep her close and risk exposing everything?

By MPPL on October 3, 2011 Categories: Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Staff Picks