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      BLOG — REVIEWS

      RIVERS OF LONDON

      "great summer read. supernatural murder mystery is not normally a genre i gravitate toward, but the author's writing style and the london history scattered throughout made for a thoroughly enjoyable book. clever, fun, and original." - Mark

      Check out more book reviews from Mark here.

      NOW READ THIS

      Part of your New Year's Eve resolution should be to read more books. Books are awesome. Some of the best movies came from books, and you know how annoying it is when people say "the book was so much better". You could be one of those people! Reading a book is sort of like getting to see a movie years before it's in the theater. Imagine that! You could see the Oscar-winning movie that comes out three years from now in the comfort of your own home. 

      Plus, you get to do all the casting decisions in your brain when you read a book. Hell, you can cast yourself as the lead and surround yourself with Ryan Gosling and Jennifer Lawrence. How many movies have been ruined by poor casting decisions? Hundreds? Millions? Trillions? That will never happen again if you read books.

      Now, the downside to reading books. The time. It takes way longer to read a book than it does to watch a movie. There is no getting around that. Sure you could try and read it really fast but that's never going to work.  And that's why movies were invented in the first place, by lazy non book-reading people. But not everyone has the time to invest in a book, where it is infinitely easier to find 90 minutes to watch a movie. We aren't going to lie to you, movies are great for that very reason, well that, and the popcorn.

      And the last part of this post on why you should read books. Some books never get made into movies. They never get to see their full potential up there on the screen, with subpar actors, huge subplots cut from the story, entire endings changed. Those books just have to remain happy just the way they are, and sometimes that's a good thing. 

      NOW READ THIS, is going to be a weekly...maybe, but probably every other week, spotlight on a book worth reading. This week's noteworthy book is:

      THE STORY OF "S"

      S., conceived by filmmaker J.J. Abrams and written by award-winning novelist Doug Dorst, is the chronicle of two readers finding each other in the margins of a book and enmeshing themselves in a deadly struggle between forces they don’t understand. Remember Abrams did the tv show Lost and is directing the new StarWars-VII, so you know he knows how to tell a story. Here is the outline of the book lifted from Amazon.com:

      One book. Two readers. A world of mystery, menace, and desire.

      A young woman picks up a book left behind by a stranger. Inside it are his margin notes, which reveal a reader entranced by the story and by its mysterious author. She responds with notes of her own, leaving the book for the stranger, and so begins an unlikely conversation that plunges them both into the unknown.

      The book: Ship of Theseus, the final novel by a prolific but enigmatic writer named V.M. Straka, in which a man with no past is shanghaied onto a strange ship with a monstrous crew and launched onto a disorienting and perilous journey.

       

      The writer: Straka, the incendiary and secretive subject of one of the world’s greatest mysteries, a revolutionary about whom the world knows nothing apart from the words he wrote and the rumors that swirl around him.

      The readers: Jennifer and Eric, a college senior and a disgraced grad student, both facing crucial decisions about who they are, who they might become, and how much they’re willing to trust another person with their passions, hurts, and fears.

       

      What they don't tell you is all the crazy stuff that comes with this book...postcards, clues, decoders. It's a mystery story, wrapped in a conundrum, crammed into a book jacket. It will blow your mind. They may make a movie about this book, or maybe about you reading this book and having it take over every minute of your life. You'll stop eating, quit sleeping, all you can do is read and then read some more until you solve the mystery. J.J. Abrams you have done it again, now don't mess up StarWars.

      THE BEST XMAS MOVIES OF ALL TIME

      Now this is always up for debate, so many factors, feelings, elves, candy canes... It is a tough call to make. But that is what we do, we make the tough calls so you don't have to. Now we all have our favorite Christmas movie, but is it really the best? 

      Some people will hit you right out of the gate with a Christmas Story, Charlie Brown Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, and those are ok, maybe even pretty good, but the best? Not a chance.

      What makes a Christmas movie the best is that it covers the big three. Hope, Family, and Revenge. Revenge you say? That's hardly the Christmas spirit?! You couldn't be more wrong. Revenge is the basis of all great Christmas movies. Revenge is what gets the presents delivered, revenge gets the sleigh off the ground, revenge brings families together.

       

      Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer

      This is the touching story of sweet revenge. Those other reindeers wouldn't let Rudolph play in any reindeer games. They basically bully him into a spiraling chasm of self doubt, but Rudolph takes those insults and turns them into the burning white hot fuel he needs to pull the sleigh and save the day and make those other reindeers bow down to the greatness. 

       

      Die Hard

      Now if this isn't on everyone's list as one of the greatest Christmas movies ever then it's time they sat themselves in front of the tv and revisit one of the greatest Christmas stories ever told. The terrorists: Karl, Franco, Tony, Theo, Alexander, Marco, Kristoff, Eddie, Uli, Heinrich, Fritz, James, and of course, Hans Gruber, you could put antlers on them and it's basically Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer all over again. With John McClane as Rudolph, and the Nakatomi building as the North Pole.

       

      Home Alone

      This is just a thinly guised copy of Die Hard for kids. One child soldier's war against terror. Throw a white tank top on Macaulay Culkin and we dare you to not see the similarities.  

      Now you know the formula for how to judge if your favorite Christmas movie is indeed one of the greats. Many of you were surprised on what a huge role revenge plays in the holiday season, but it is true. Revenge is a great motivator for doing good, and for helping others. Now get out there and spread some revenge this Christmas.

       

      YOUR FRIEND THE DONUT FRIEND

      Jerusalem, Mecca, Varanasi, Disneyland, like all holy places, one must make the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. We made the trek to Highland Park last week to the temple of Mark Trombino's Donut Friend. Mark got his start in the donut business like most people. He started out in the music industry, making good music sound great for the likes of Jimmy Eat World, Blink-182, Motion City Soundtrack, Midtown...the list goes on and on here.

      Mark's take on the donut is a refreshing one. Sure, they have some with fun band-inspired names, but it's way more than that. He's brought a novel approach to an industry that hasn't seen a new idea since the donut hole was discovered in 1913 (we aren't counting the Cronut as a new idea since it's still just a donut, and fried croissants have been around since the early 80's). Mark's idea, put simply, has combined the ease of ordering at Subway with the toppings of a PinkBerry yogurt shop.

      You can pick your donut canvas from several choices. We went with vanilla cake. They take your donut, slice it in half and that's where the fun begins. Now, we move over to the fillings. Locally sourced jams and other concoctions of delight await. The raspberry habanero jam was calling our name. 

      From there you move down to glazes, yes glazes. And then, regrettably there is only one last step, your toppings. Candies, nuts, sauces, sugars, bacons, and more. Enough to blow your mind that this is really happening....that this place really exists and it's not just a fever dream brought on by the onslaught of Stage 2 Diabetes.

      Be sure to check out this place. It's pretty amazing, but we suspect that most of you didn't get halfway through this post before jumping into your car and heading to the new holy land, which is 5107 York Blvd.

      SUMMER TV WATCHING

      Some of our favorite TV shows are in between seasons.  Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Mad Men. They're all gone for now, leaving a giant hole in our TV-viewing hearts.  So we went searching for summer programming, and here are our discoveries.

       

      RAY DONOVAN

      Naomi Watts's partner stars as the man in LA who can fix what you need fixed, provided you've got the fame, the money, or the connections.  Kind of a private eye to the stars.  You wake up in a hotel room next to a woman who's died of an overdose?  Ray Donovan is your man.  You're a rising star with a persistent stalker lurking outside your Malibu beach house?   Get me Ray Donovan.  But it's not all TMZ and spurning the advances of starlets.  Ray's family itself suffers a dark past.  Angelina Jolie's dad plays the patriarch of the Donovan family.  Just released from a long stint in prison, his return heralds a dark cloud descending on Ray and his brothers.  It's like if the Wolf from Pulp Fiction were a character on Entourage, transported into an episode of the Sopranos.  Showtime.

       

      ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK

      To begin with, this premise is wearing thin.  Fresh out of college, a young woman falls in love with a lesbian drug runner from a large cartel, transports a suitcase full of drug money through the Brussels airport, eventually separates from her lover, finds the man of her dreams, gets engaged, only to have her past catch up to her ten years later, leading to her arrest and incarceration, where she struggles to find her way in prison life, stay connected with her fiance, and keep up her business of creating artisinal hand soaps and lotions.  Typical.  Netflix.

       

      LUTHER, SEASON THREE

      Luther is a cop with a troubled past, whose heart is in the right place, but sometimes he pushes the edge of the law to get results.  Are there any TV shows where the cop DOESN'T have a troubled past or push the edge of the law to get results? Where's Human Resources at these precincts?! Shouldn't someone vet these investigators before they get their badges?  Season Three finds Luther back doing what he does best: stopping the worst that society has to offer.  With the spectre of Alice Morgan gone (maybe), there's a new woman in Luther's life, and things are looking up.  But there's something hiding in the shadows.  A fellow officer intent on bringing Luther down.  Many of the monsters Luther stopped over the years have ended up dead, and this officer is determined to expose Luther as a cop-gone-mad.  A killer.  He'll use those nearest and dearest to Luther to bring him down.  As always, Idris Elba is incredible.  BBC.

      FRIDAY MOVIE REVIEWS

      WORLD WAR Z

      When did we stop making movies about dinosaurs coming back to life? That used to pass for a scary movie. Dinosaurs coming at you used to be the most frightening thing you could think of. Even the little dinosaurs would mess you up. You couldn't trust any of them. Well, supposedly you could trust the herbivore ones but who could be sure? What you can be sure of is if you have a movie with fast-moving zombies, not just fast, but 2016 Rio Olympic runner fast, that you are going want those simpler times when all you had to worry about was the occasional T-Rex.

      MANIAC

      We could write a bunch of Lord of the Rings jokes about Frodo going crazy but that's pretty weak. We respect our readers too much to sink to that level. We could make some Willard jokes? No? Ok, have it your way. Maniac is a remake of an 80's horror movie of the same name. Word on the street, is that the original is still better and the best parts of this movie are right here in the trailer.

       

      MONSTERS UNIVERSITY

      This is going to be predictable for the most part, it will be silly, it will be stupid, it will be sort of funny, but what do you expect from a movie that has to appeal to little kids and adults? There will be something in it for everyone. The only hope you had to have your mind blown is if you found out that Quentin Tarantino directed this Pixar film, and sadly, he did not. But what if? How crazy would that have been. Let's all just sit back and imagine what a Pixar X Tarantino film would be.