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  1. The Infection by Craig DiLouie book review

    June 18, 2011 by Mathew Ferguson

    Craig DiLouie does zombies and the apocalypse very well. His descriptions are so vivid and his characters so true-to-life that I’m starting to wonder if he’s actually a time-traveller from a broken future where mutated and violent monsters stalk the land.

    The Infection starts off with a pretty standard trope of the Zombie genre: a virus that sweeps the world. This particular virus knocks some 20% of people into a coma and then three days later they awaken violent and hell-bent on spreading the virus to others.

    Chomp, bite, scratch!

    Meet our survivors

    Yes, they are archetypes of a sort but they are far more alive and deep than their simple descriptions suggest. We have Sarge, a military man driving a Bradley fighting vehicle (think Tank that kicks ass) and Anne, a hard woman carrying some deep trauma. They are the defacto leaders of the group who work to keep them all alive. We also have Wendy, a police officer, Ethan, a math teacher, Todd, a geek highschooler, and Paul, a minister.

    Yes, a minster.

    Now I know what you’re thinking. Someone is going to mention something about a “ragtag bunch of survivors” who maybe work together and it’s all so cliché you want to kill someone.

    Ah, genre transcendence…

    DiLouie’s characters have been through some serious shit and throughout the book we get a taste of their lives before the virus hit. The transformation from housewife to hunter is shocking and brilliantly written. There are no sudden experts here. No civilians who pick up a gun and then two pages later are shouting lock and load like soldiers.

    The survivors are doing just that – surviving, and barely. Each are carrying their terrifying memories and crushing guilt. Each has a dark story behind them.

    Meet our monsters

    Whether this book fits into the zombie genre or alien genre or something else entirely rises up when we discover the infected humans aren’t the only beasties out there. Hideous giant worms slide through the streets devouring corpses. Gigantic monsters who pluck humans up and eat them smash their way into buildings.

    And wait until you meet the monkeys and Towering Things.

    Plague or virus, there is something deeper than a onslaught of zombies to deal with. Strange creatures with their own purposes pursue the survivors and as they travel through Pittsburgh and onwards they discover the world is changing.

    To rest, to rest, just let me goddamn rest

    We follow our survivors first to an abandoned hospital and then to a camp straining under the influx of refugees. The pace! There is no real slowdown in this book. It really is a page-turner and all respite for the survivors is temporary at best.  It really is one of those books that you want to read in one sitting because at no point is everything okay enough for you to take a break. Monsters are coming! The civilians are rioting! What the hell is that thing sliding past!

    Why you should read The Infection

    It is simply one of the best toppling of society stories you’ll ever read. It’s a cross-genre masterpiece that doesn’t let go. It’s a zombie horror. It’s an alien thriller. It’s a stark examination of humans under too much pressure.

    How I got The Infection

    With my transition to Kindle this section is going to have to go pretty soon I think. eBooks baby! One-click instant download. I also high recommend his other zombie title Tooth and Nail which is six kinds of awesome and will be reviewed at a later date.

    Happy reading,

    Mat

    slow and steady wins the race but fast looks way cooler

     


  2. DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth – Book Trailer

    June 18, 2011 by Mathew Ferguson

     

    Dystopian fiction! Who doesn’t love it? In a society divided into five factions, every year the 16-year-olds must choose which faction they’ll join. Will it be Candor (the honest)? Perhaps Dauntless (the brave)?

    Beatrice must make her choice and face the consequences …

     


  3. The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong – book trailer

    September 18, 2010 by Mathew Ferguson


  4. Plague by Michael Grant – book trailer

    August 18, 2010 by Mathew Ferguson


  5. Playboy 50 Years: The Photographs book review

    July 19, 2010 by Mathew Ferguson

    playboythePhotographsThis book is beautiful.

    Forget gorgeous girls, celebrity portraits, amazing magazine covers and … the book is art.

    Hardcover, gold endpapers with a subtle repeated Playboy bunny logo, excellent paper stock and a foldout section … the aroma of the pages is well worth buying for.

    This is the aspect eBooks will never be able to replicate: the feel and smell of paper, the weight and heft, the physicality of the work.

    But that’s not why we buy hardcover art books is it?

    The Playmates, The Personalities, The Celebrities, The Lifestyle, The Art, The Covers

    Playmates I understand. Beautiful girls getting their gear off. But what is the difference between a Personality and  a Celebrity? Ah, that’s it. Personalities mean males who therefore don’t appear nude, partially clothed and we mostly only see their heads and shoulders. Celebrities means female actresses and models who do appear nude. So the difference between Celebrity and Playmate? A celebrity is famous for something other than being naked in Playboy. A playmate isn’t an actress or a singer … and doesn’t have any other skill of note other than beauty.

    The text introducing the Personalities carries on about interviewing famous actors and musicians and sports figures until they exhaust their rehearsed answers and get down to truth – stripped of the aura and protection they bring in with them. Yeah … right. Hefner’s guidelines are repeated (remember these for any boring as hell copywriting jobs by the way): “Tell them what they’re going to read, tell them what they are reading while they are reading it, and sum it up for them. Tell them what they read. Help them along”. So Personalities (with that capital P) give honest interviews which are reported as given? I don’t think so. I suppose Playboy like to think so and want their audience to think so, too.

    There are plenty of interesting black and white sections of Personalities, Celebrities or whatever you want to call them. Some dead, some disgraced, some still around and others looking ridiculously young and vital.

    For some reason I always think of Christmas when I see this photo.

    For some reason I always think of Christmas when I see this photo.

    Playboy as ice-breaker

    In the Celebrities section, the story of Playboy as the morality leader, the ice-breaker of foolish sexual suppression and hypocrisy starts to build up steam. They fancy themselves as cultural warriors rather than smut peddlers. They were the forefront of importing European freedoms into America rather than pushing sex to make a profit. I agree to a point but there is plenty they leave out – starting with the money to be made. Hugh didn’t start his magazine to be a cultural warrior – he started it for cash baby!

    Oh, I forgot – plenty of naked girls in this bit. Actually, through all of it. Is that clear? This whole book is packed full of naked girls and a few male celebrities in black and white. 250 pages, full-colour chosen from ten million images.

    The Lifestyle

    Naah, forget it. You’re not buying this book for the words just like men don’t buy Playboy for the words either. The text is only slightly interesting and once you’ve read a few pages it’s pretty clear it is a biased retelling of the tale. Let’s move on.

    There are only a limited number of faces in the world

    If beauty is in symmetry and now we can record faces for posterity we will eventually see actors who remind us of actors and models of the deep past. Faces seem familiar … was she that actress? Wasn’t she in …? But no, they weren’t. They’re models, beauty queens, pin-ups …

    As you look through the photographs you see these old actors and actresses long gone and can pair them up with their current incarnation. It’s quite strange to see someone who is almost George Clooney – but not.OldPlayboyCover

    The dimensions of women certainly have changed over the years as has the positions they photograph them in. The early photos are much closer to the dimensions of “real” women (although even the very first photographs are still of extraordinarily gorgeous girls). The later photos have proportions heading towards Barbie. Hips narrow, waistlines slim, breasts change shape and position. Girls stretch like gum on a hot day, extending at the waist. Facial features and teeth come into alignment. The expressions imply more and combine with the position. The sexual beat becomes stronger.

    On the muff

    In the fifties you can’t see anything … then comes the seventies and it appears! Muff for all. Move on a few more years and it vanishes again – not because it is demurely hidden like 1950s Marilyn but because it’s gone. Trimmed. Cut. Brazillianed.

    It is perhaps this part of the book that is most interesting. Playboy is not a cultural warrior but a cultural record – perhaps the first photographic record of a changing society. The photographs change tone and quality as technology progresses but pay no mind to that – look at the content. There is a photo of two women on a sofa, close to kissing. Then we realise in the mirror above them we can see a man watching them. He is fully dressed – they are naked. It acknowledges voyeurism and sets the scene for a staged sexual experience. There are other photos of this type also – some appearing as perhaps frames from pornography. Instead of capturing the girl they now seek to capture the moment.

    Will it get you jumped?

    Hmm. I’m going to go with … no. It’s simply too big a book. Taking it off the shelf is like pulling down the encyclopedia. Smaller books like Eric Stanton’s work or smaller photographic journals are inviting. This is a tome – big and heavy and too much to be casually taken off the shelf.

    How I got Playboy, 50 years: The Photographs

    $95 from the Technical Book Shop in around 2003 I’m guessing. I think it was an impulse buy which just shows I was much richer and more impulsive back then. It’s a big heavy book so I suggest buying it from a shop rather than online – the postage will be a killer.

    Happy reading,

    Mat

    Ponies were central to our mission

    Follow me: http://twitter.com/mathewferguson


  6. I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore video book review

    June 18, 2010 by Mathew Ferguson


  7. 1000 Pin-up girls book review – ooh baby baby.

    April 26, 2010 by Mathew Ferguson

    You can pin them up anytime you want.

    You can pin them up anytime you want.

    Take a break from endless free porn and every variation of naked girly girls and rediscover the incredible allure of not seeing everything with 1000 Pin-up Girls by Taschen.

    Collecting together luscious illustrated front covers and ludicrous black and white photoshoots (uber-babe Betty Page in her underwear taking a dog for a walk down the street) from Beauty Parade, Eyeful, Titter, Wink, Whisper and Flirt, 1000 Pin-up Girls shows us that … guys don’t change.

    These girly magazines were printed through the 1940s and 1950s and on every few pages you can see things you wouldn’t have thought were around back then. Hmm … incredibly hot blonde girl (Bound Beauty) photographed with wrists chained. Hmm … girl on girl wrestling. Hmm … girl with whip. Is it just me or do most people think the 40s and 50s were much more puritan than they obviously were?

    Going Everywhere and Doing Everything in Underwear

    The black and white photographs (known as photo-plays) tell ridiculous stories where girls in underwear get into all kinds of absurd almost silent-movie catastrophes. Trapped in a travelling chest – of course! Going to the dentist in your underwear and it just so happens the dentist is another hot girl in her underwear as well? Yes certainly!

    Publisher Robert Harrison (who was involved in many a scandal back in the day) knew that men don’t read and don’t care what the story is so long as there is a girl in underwear involved. He was right then and he is right now. I’ve owned 1000 Pin-up Girls for a few years and looked at every picture but hardly read any of the accompanying text. What do I care why that girl is dressed as a sexy cop? She’s a sexy cop in underwear!

    Before I talk about the brilliant illustrations I’ve got to mention the odd feeling I get whilst reading this book. No … it’s not that odd feeling in the pants. It’s the some-of-these-hot-girls-are-dead-and-gone feeling. These pictures are from say 1950 and the girls were about 25ish or so. So they’d be about 75 – 83 right now. Which means … they’re either dead and you’re getting hot over them or they’re 80 years old and you’re getting hot …

    In the photos they’re so young and beautiful – perfect miracles of physical beauty and health and they’re all real girls. These are the days before Photoshop, breast implants and other tricks of beauty.

    Enough sidenoting.

    Sexy Illustrations

    Pinup_Girl1Those with a passing interest in “cheesecake illustration” or pinups have probably heard of Peter Driben, Earl Moran and Billy Devorss. Harrison hired them to illustrate the front covers of his many magazines and in our time we now call what they did “art” whereas at the time it was probably called smut or some other 1950s word like … saucy.

    The illustrated pinup girls are simply extraordinary works. Sexy girls with long legs and wide real-girl hips are painted in amazing detail. As you flick through the book it’s easy to find an illustration far sexier than a real-life girl massaging another real-life girl (of course the masseuse would be in her underwear as well!). There is a lot of winking and expressions that are far hotter than the vacuous wide-open mouth expectant stare of a modern porn star.

    It’s the anticipation you see. Illustrated girls waiting on beds, tying up bathing suits, stretching out their long legs and winking at you in their oh-so-seductive way. You feel as though they are in front of you, allowing you to watch … a mere moment away from you carrying them kicking and screaming over your shoulder to your bedroom.

    I think the smiles really do it in making these illustrations so alluring. When did you last see a porn star smiling?

    1000 Pin-up Girls is another one of those must-pick-it-up books for your bookshelf which may lead to your date jumping you. It gets people hot without anyone calling it x-rated.

    Love that top

    Love that top

    Spread throughout the book are some of the original advertising pages from the magazines and they are hilarity compressed into tiny squares. 100 feet of film of Betty Page dancing sent to you in brown-paper package. 1000 photographs of female beauty around the world in five picture-packed volumes (only $1.98 for the complete set and you’ll see Oriental modes of marriage and female slavery in China, Japan, India etc). Perhaps you’d like 16 glossy photographs of Gorgeous Grapplers showing lovely young blondes and brunettes testing their strength on the wrestling mat? Only $1.00 and will be sent in plain wrapper.

    How I got 1000 Pin-up Girls: I’m going to have to go with the ever-amazing Polyester Bookshop in Brunswick Street. You can find it in mainstream bookshops though (at least those big enough to have some of the nicer art-type books from Taschen).

    You can buy it from Amazon but check out the shipping first – it’s a bit of a chunky book in hardcover. You can also find a lot of illustrations around on the unite-o-wires if you do a bit of google-diving.

    Oh yeah, there is a whole introduction to the various magazines and a bit of history on the publisher but no one will read it. Not when there is a girl lion-taming in her underwear to check out.

    Happy reading,

    Mat

    i swear i didn’t sleep with your girlfriend

    Follow me:

    Twitter: http://twitter.com/mathewferguson


  8. Firelight by Sophie Jordan Book Trailer

    March 18, 2010 by Mathew Ferguson


  9. Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z Brite book review

    January 2, 2010 by Mathew Ferguson

    Blood and sex, death and sex, cannibalism and sex, New Orleans and … sex.exquisitecorpsepoppyz

    Andrew Compton, escaped serial killer, lands in New Orleans, hot sweaty fuck me now New Orleans and meets Jay, another serial killer. They soon form a bloody bond, twined together in a death spiral of murder and lust.

    19 year old Tran, a beautiful Vietnamese boy, still aching from his failed love affair with Luke, an infected writer, spins into Jay’s orbit and tempts him to break his golden rule: never kill a local boy.

    Luke, thin and mad, infected and furious, wants to execute the breeders, to kill all those pushing for pairing and children.

    Poppy Z Brite writes some truly fucked up prose.

    Cannibals

    If you ever wanted to read in gory detail about people eating dead bodies, this is the book for you. Poppy is detailed.

    Poppy lingers.

    “He sank his teeth into flesh that had gone the consistency of firm pudding. He ripped at the edges of the wound. Pulling off strips of skin and meat, swallowing them whole, smearing his face with his own saliva and what little juice remained in this chill tissue.”

    Poppy embraces seeping liquids, our essential meatness and pulls us along from standard human behaviours (swallowing cum, revelling in vaginal juices, drinking from the lips of a lover) to further down the spectrum: swallowing blood, revelling in ichor, drinking from thrawmeat1e throat of a lover.

    It’s gross but a very well written gross.

    The Mythical New Orleans

    For anyone who has read Anne Rice, you’ll be instantly familiar with the New Orleans that perhaps only exists in fiction: hot, dark, luscious New Orleans. The French Quarter, the drugs, the beautiful waifs and doomed wanderers snuffing out like glowing embers floating from a midnight bonfire. The rich food, the good heroin, the wrought iron fences and clash of old money and new.

    Poppy’s New Orleans is essentially Anne’s New Orleans. It seems impossible that it has a business district or playgrounds. Instead it has little restaurants where tourists flock, preyed on not by locals but by the excesses of the city itself. It is easy to imagine Anne and Poppy’s worlds overlapping: Lestat is stalking the streets just as Jay and Andrew are.

    Her intense writing

    Poppy has an amazing style of writing. It is both lurid but clean, over the top but balanced. She spends time on the details but moves her focus so we don’t tire of it. There is blood and death here but also love and relaxation.

    “When morning light woke us, we rose aching and stinking, staggered into the house, and leaned on each other in the warm spray of the shower. Clean as babes we burrowed into bed and slept for the rest of the day, half unnerved and half comforted by the nearness of each other’s breathing body.”

    Oh, and the fucking

    This is a book of sex. A lot of sex.

    Exquisite Corpse of another kind

    An exquisite corpse is a surrealist technique where words and/or images are collectively assembled, resulting in a mixed piece of art. How does this relate to the book? I’m not really sure. The structure switches viewpoints as it moves from character to character but it is hardly a proper exquisite corpse: there are no multiple collaborators. I feel Poppy chose the name because she is into horror and the words have a beautiful pairing ring.

    Jeffrey Dahmerdahmer1

    In 1991, one of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims escaped, heavily drugged, and encountered the police while wandering the streets naked. Despite the neighbours protesting, the police turned 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone over to Dahmer, who subsequently took him home and murdered him.

    I won’t tell you who dies or who kills but this exact scene is written in the book and it is fucking chilling.

    Why you should read it

    Exquisite Corpse is beautifully written. As the story glides along we’re pulled into the simmering New Orleans, wading into it and leaping from one character to another, chapter by chapter. The serial killers are violent and maudlin, dark and terrifying, disgusting and wrong and then … we refresh with Tran, a cleansing of the palate before the next dish. The story is a meal, a dark and disturbed meal easily consumed.

    How I got Exquisite Corpse

    I have no idea so I’ll tell you something else instead: I once had a housemate who was really into Poppy Z Brite. She was also into internet dating. So she met this guy who had told her he was a sex addict and had a huge cock. She brought him home and he showed it to her. And apparently it was huge. They didn’t have sex though.

    So think about that.

    Happy reading,

    Mat


    tiny fish cleave the concrete path


  10. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver – Book Trailer

    December 18, 2009 by Mathew Ferguson