Posts tagged: series

Popmatic Podcast for March 25th, 2015: Crime Wave

By , March 25, 2015

Nobody Move by Denis JohnsonReal life crime is down but crime books are as popular as ever. The Popmatic crew clues you onto sure bets ranging from the darkest true crime to the funniest parody novels. Plus – Mike’s tribute to the late, great Terry Pratchett.


Lost Girls by Robert Kolker

A is for Alibi: a Kinsey Millhone mystery by Sue Grafton

Payback, aka The Hunter, first in the Parker series by Richard Stark, aka Donald Westlake

Point Blank DVD | Hoopla

The Score: Ricard Stark’s Parker Volume 3 by Darwyn Cooke

The Hot Rock: the First Dortmunder novel by Donald Westlake

Nobody Move by Denis Johnson


R.I.P. Sir Terry Pratchett


Hinterland aka Y Gwyll


iZombie comics


Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

Book review: Breathless Trilogy

By , January 15, 2015

Rush by Maya BanksRush (Breathless Trilogy Volume 1)
by Maya Banks

Have you recently read certain romance novels and wondered what it would be like to read steamy romance that’s actually been edited and written for adults? If you answered, “Yes!” then Maya Banks is your woman!

Because the film version of 50 Shades of Grey will be upon us this Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fun to talk about other titles within the genre. I recommend the first novel in Ms. Banks’ Breathless trilogy, called Rush. This book is the most similar book to the 50 Shades books—yes, I’ve read them the 50 Shades trilogy. There’s a pretty young girl named Mia, who is chased by the rich and ravenous Gabe. Who happens to be her brother’s best friend, and one of the people who helped take care of her when she was younger…at least they know each other?

The book opens with Mia alone at a party hosted by her brother, and his two best friends. They have a prosperous consulting firm. Gabe walks in, and his heart immediately skips a beat because little Mia isn’t so little anymore – she’s about 22 years old. We know from the jump that Gabe’s been crushing on Mia for a while and feels angst ridden because of it. But why, one may ask? Well, Gabe and his friends are bad boys. How bad? Well, think Christian Grey without the mommy issues.

The two main conflicts are: 1) Gabe is trying to hide his relationship with Mia from his besties, Jace (Mia’s brother) and Ash because he fears that they wouldn’t approve; 2) Gabe approaches relationships like Christian Grey—“Here, sign this contract!” He doesn’t want to admit that he’s in love with Mia, and he doesn’t think their relationship can work on a long-term basis.

Mia is Anastasia with some back bone. She has no problem telling off the man she loves when he does something she isn’t happy with. She also has a legitimate connection with Gabe due to the fact they’ve known each other for years. She is also of this world. She’s had enough life experience to understand in general terms what Gabe is into, and to make some demands of him. However, like her counterpart, there are moments where you want to go, “What!?” This reaction will probably happen to you, at least once, in every book in the Breathless trilogy. For instance, Gabe knows full well that Mia is only generally familiar with his proclivities, but just jumps right into it without much thought. Jace doesn’t think too hard about the people he associates with which almost gets his sister and several others hurt. Ash seems to be the only sane one, until he starts telling his girlfriend stuff that no partner should ever tell the other!

The books are explicit so if that is not your thing they are not for you. But if you are looking for a grown up romance that is better than 50 Shades but still easy to read and entertaining – Maya Banks’ Breathless trilogy is for you.

Fever by Maya Banks           Burn by Maya Banks           

- Sade

Book review: Southern Reach Trilogy

By , December 24, 2014

Area X (The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VandermeerArea X (The Southern Reach Trilogy)
by Jeff Vandermeer

Earlier this year everyone was talking about HBO’s True Detective. The thing that really caught me about the show was that it seemed to take a gritty, hard-boiled noir landscape and mix in a Weird horror-fantasy element. In the end that was all just atmosphere and the whole thing ended like an episode of CSI Miami – so disappointing. I wanted the Yellow King that was promised to me.

I’m not trying to denigrate True Detective. I really enjoyed it, but I wanted to draw a comparison to my favorite book of 2014 because it comes from a similar place and gave me more of what I wanted. I’m talking about Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, a series published in it’s entirety in 2014. Its three volumes Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance where recently released in one hardbound edition titled Area X. The library has the omnibus and all the individual volumes too. I should say that I haven’t finished the last book of the series, so you should probably question my advice after I bashed the ending of True Detective, but the Annihilation and Authority are so good that the third book would have to be pretty awful to diminish my enjoyment of the other books.

So why my comparison to True Detective? These aren’t crime novels, but similarly they take the form of other genres that have Lovecraftian, Weird science horror imposed upon them. The great thing is that both of these novels are coming from different places. The first book, Annihilation is written as the journal of a biologist, and it has the feel, almost, of a quaint meditation on nature and conservation, but it is quickly superimposed with environmental terror. Authority is like John Le Carré except the normal paranoia of spycraft is tainted by the horror of literal monsters. These books are as much about atmosphere and mood as plot, which was also the highpoint of True Detective, but here the uncanny atmosphere actually delivers with glimpse at the uncanny. I mean, how much cooler would it have been if Matthew McConaughey found an interdimensional portal to the yellow king rather than a dumb, inbred serial killer?

Vandermeer wrote an article in the LA Times about how sci-fi and fantasy writers use real environments to craft their worlds as much as writers of realistic fiction. It struck a chord because it’s definitely something I’ve noticed — some of the best descriptions of Charleston, SC’s marshes and rivers are in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. In The Southern Reach Trilogy, the world is based on the wilderness areas outside of Tallahassee, FL, a place I once called home, and I see North Florida all over this series.

I’ve managed to say a lot without talking much about the actual book. The Southern Reach is a government agency managing the secrets of Area X, spun to the public as an environmental disaster, though it’s more likely a localized invasion of extraterrestrial origin. The first book is about an investigative expedition into Area X, the second about the inner workings (and failings) of the agency managing the area, and the third, at least as much of it as I’ve read so far, is pulling together loose ends and revealing more about the secrets of Area X.

One last thing I’ll say about True Detective, which may or may not apply to this series as well — I don’t care about endings. Sometimes great books or films have bad endings. A lot of my favorite books fizzle out at the end. Endings are hard. If you enjoy 95% of something and the end is lacking, who cares? Let’s stop caring about endings.

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer           Authority by Jeff Vandermeer           Acceptance by Jeff Vandermeer

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