An End-Times Hero


Are you tired of post-apocalyptic fiction? Perhaps you might enjoy some pre-apocalyptic fiction. "Countdown City" by Ben H. Winters is the second book in "The Last Policeman" series. It is a fast-paced and thoughtful read.

The hero is Henry Palace, former policeman in Concord, New Hampshire. Palace and his fellow citizens are living in strained circumstances. A large asteroid is set to collide with Earth in 77 days. People disagree about what exactly will happen, but everyone agrees that it will mean the end for humans on earth.

Chaos reigns in society. Many people have left their homes, choosing to live out their last months wandering, skydiving, or using drugs. Others are stockpiling weapons and food. Some are terrorizing their fellow citizens.

"A Clockwork Orange" Unpeeled

Clockwork Orange


In the 50th anniversary editions of Anthony Burgess's "A ClockworkOrange," Americans can read the controversial twenty-first chapter that was not published in U.S. editions. While the rest of the world read the entire novel, we missed how it really ends.

Burgess insisted that his decision to structure the novel with 21 chapters was a deliberate reference to the coming of age of his protagonist. In this respect, "A Clockwork Orange" is an unbridled celebration of youth, if not also a eulogy to its passing.

Andrew Biswell edits the new "Restored Edition," to incorporate Burgess's manuscript corrections and notes. He presents a history of the book's inception and publication and shares insights into the author's creative personality. Also included are facsimile manuscript pages with illustrations and annotations by the author.

More Spice than Sugar with these Female Film Heroines



Last year was a good year for tough female heroines in action films. Worth considering if strong females don't make you quake are "Hanna" and "Haywire." "Hanna" stars Saoirse Ronan.  Raised by Eric Bana in the Arctic Circle, she is homeschooled out of an encyclopedia and trained to take down a grown elk and a grown man with deadly efficiency. She wants out of their lonely existence, but may soon regret it once she learns people are out to kill her and her father. Bana and Cate Blanchett are strong in their supporting roles. As the tension ratchets up, you watch them calculating the collateral damage. Action-packed, "Hanna" has both physical feats and psychological thrills.

The Messenger Delivers

The Messenger

"The Messenger" stars Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson and Samantha Morton.  It's a small independent film, but it makes a big statement. Foster's character, Will, has three months left on his tour of duty with the Marines.  He returns from Afghanistan after an IED has taken part of his squadron and injures him.  Will's commanding officer assigns him the duty to notify the next of kin when a Marine is killed. More than the duty itself, Will is apprehensive of his instructor played by Harrelson.

Casino Infernale


"Casino Infernale" by Simon R. Green is the latest in his Secret Histories series. It's an action packed supernatural thriller featuring Eddie Drood and the wild witch, Molly Metcalf. Their mission is to infiltrate the Casino Infernale and break the infamous Shadow Bank. If they're successful, they will prevent a supernatural war that would destroy the world.

Simon R. Green masterfully blends scenes of intense action that features a lot of gore with a snarky sense of humor. His characters are interesting and fleshed out. This book reads almost like a "who's who" of heroes and villains that have been introduced his previous books. I especially liked Bruin Bear and the Sea Goat. By including them, Green introduces a touch of whimsy in the story line.

Indigo Girls Share their Brilliant Dream

"Staring Down the Brilliant Dream" by the Indigo Girls


Folk fans already know the luscious harmonies and heart wrenching lyrics of the Indigo Girls, composed of Emily Saliers, Amy Ray and a variety of guest musicians. For those not familiar with these multi-talented ladies, "Staring Down the Brilliant Dream," a live double disc, is an excellent place to start.

Though the radio airwaves feature many female singer/songwriters that live reclusively and show up only on MTV unplugged, the Indigo Girls are the ultimate touring band. Often their live shows are better than their studio material.  What is lost in production quality is made up for by the passion and exhilaration of their performance.

Farewell to Vince Flynn

"The Last Man" by Vince Flynn


Many readers will be saddened to hear that author Vince Flynn has died. They may also be surprised to learn that he was only 47 years old. Given the number of his bestsellers on library shelves, I pictured a much older man - perhaps a retired military officer who used his years of intelligence experience to craft successful espionage thrillers.

Actually Flynn was working in commercial real estate when he began writing his first novel "Term Limits." After receiving 60 rejection letters from publishers, Flynn decided to self-publish the book in 1997. It was a hit, and Flynn soon had both an agent and a deal with a traditional publisher.

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