Previews & Reviews that are Z's Views

Z-View: The Martian by Andy Weir

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir

 The Martian by Andy Weir is one of the most unique and enjoyable novels that I’ve read in years. Weir’s stranded [on Mars!] astronaut, Mark Watney, is intelligent, witty, and just enough of a wise guy.

I loved how real science was used. I loved how Weir widened the scope of the story to include not only the people on Earth [who’ve learned of Watney’s plight] but also the only astronauts in a position to attempt a rescue.

Z-View: Bravo by Greg Rucka

BravoBravo by Greg Rucka

I’m a huge fan of Greg Rucka. I really enjoyed Alpha and was hoping that Bravo would be as good or better. Alpha was an action-packed page turner and I was expecting more of the same.

Rucka shifted gears and created more of a psychological thriller with Bravo. It was slow-going for me. I kept waiting for the action.

Hate to rate Rucka’s work so low because he’s always been an author that greatly entertained… but Bravo just didn’t work for me. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Sly Stallone and “The Drawings of Bob Peak”

The Bob Peak drawing above is of Sylvester Stallone from Paradise Alley!

I discovered the piece as part of an advertisement for a new book of Bob Peak drawings being put together by Thomas Peak through Kickstarter.  Here’s the book’s description…

“THE DRAWINGS OF BOB PEAK”.  This new 160 page oversized soft cover book (14″ x 11″) curated collection of his best drawings is a comprehensive look into a rarely viewed side of Bob Peak with never before seen charcoal, graphite, art marker, pen, ink, pencil, and pastel drawings from the maestro himself.  This oversized book will take on the look and feel of the actual artwork with drawings large enough to study and admire the mastery of the artist Bob Peak.  A “Collectors Edition” of (100 copies only) is also available.  Produced by Art Works Fine Art Publishing which also produced the original “The Art of Bob Peak” book, this new book will be of the same high quality that you expect and I require.  I will produce nothing surrounding the legacy of my father Bob Peak that does not meet with the highest standards.  I appreciate your support.  You will NOT be disappointed.

I’ve backed the project and look forward to getting the book in my mitts.  If this sounds like something you’d like, then  jump on board!

21 Things You Might Not Know About “Justified”

Justified is my current favorite tv show so I was glad to read 21 Things You Might Not Know About Justified.

Here are my three favorite of the facts listed…


Before his passing, Leonard was very vocal about being a fan of Justified—particularly with the way that Olyphant interpreted the character of Raylan. In 2012, The Wall Street Journal asked Leonard whether the series had influenced the way he visualized the character in his writing, to which he responded: “No, because Tim Olyphant plays the character exactly the way I wrote him. I couldn’t believe it. He’s laidback and he’s quiet about everything, but he says, if I have to pull my gun, then that’s a different story. And it works. There are very few actors that recite the lines exactly the way you hear them when you’re writing the book. George Clooney [in the 1998 movie Out of Sight] was one. He was very good.”


James LeGros got there first, playing Raylan Givens in the 1997 TV movie adaptation of Pronto. And LeGros has popped up on Justified, too: In 2011, he began a recurring role as small-potato criminal Wade Messer.


In order to be the coolest guy in the room, Olyphant claims that he just acts as Sam Elliott might. The irony, of course, is that Elliott will star as one of the final season’s bad guys. “On his first day of work, I took [Sam] aside and said, ‘Look, buddy, here’s the deal: Raylan is really just me trying to be you and failing miserably,” Olyphant joked to Rolling Stone.

Source: Mental_Floss.

“The Strain” Season 2 Teaser

One of my must-see tv shows is The Strain  on FX.

The Strain is based on the novels created by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan and explores the idea of a vampire apocalypse.

Be advised: These are not your parent’s or your daughter’s vampires.  They aren’t dark, brooding or romantic and they sure don’t sparkle.

Eric Beetner Talks RumRunners, Writing Tips and More

If you don’t like Eric Beetner’s crime stories it just means you haven’t read one.  Give The Devil Doesn’t Want MeDig Two GravesA Bouquet of Bullets or any of Beetner’s other crime yarns a try and you’ll be sold.

Beetner also reviews crime novels from time to time and his reviews are short, entertaining and to the point.  Beetner has turned me on to some really good crime novels.

Beetner is also the subject of a short but informative interview by S.W. Lauden where I learned about Rumrunners and few crime yarns Beetner is cooking up for us.

Z-View: The Big Ugly

The Big Ugly  by Jake Hinkson.


Ellie Bennett is an ex-corrections officer who has just served a year inside Eastgate Penitentiary for assaulting a prisoner. She’s only been out for a day when she accepts a strange job offer from the head of a Christian political advocacy group. He wants her to track down a missing ex-con named Alexis. Although no one knows where Alexis has gone, it seems like everyone in Arkansas is looking for her—from a rich televangelist running for Congress to the governor’s dirty tricks man. When Bennett finds the troubled young woman, she has to decide whether to hand her over to the highest bidder or help her escape from the most powerful men in the state.

Jake Hinkson writes noir… but always with a twist from expected conventions.  In  The Big Ugly our protagonist is a wrongly-convicted, tough ex-con who becomes a private-eye of sorts.  No twist there, right?  Oh, did I mention that our “hero” is a woman?

Ellie Bennett is a tough-talking, rough broad who is all woman.  Ellie finds herself dealing with two-competing factions who want to “silence” Alexis – the woman Ellie has been paid to find.  If Ellie refuses to cooperate she’ll end up back in prison at best and at worst in an unmarked grave with Alexis.

Ellie is in way over her head.  Either Ellie cooperates and still ends up with one of the competing factions after her or she refuses and has both groups after her.  Perhaps there is a third option…

The Big Ugly is for mature audiences due to mature language, sex and violence.

Rating: 4 out of 5 

Z-View: “A Simple Plan”

The Tagline:  “Sometimes good people do evil things..

The Overview:   *** Beware –  spoilers are found below ***

Hank [Bill Paxton] and Sarah [Bridget Fonda] are living the American Dream.  Married and expecting a child, Hank works at the local feed store and Sarah is a librarian.  Known and respected by folks in their small town, things seem wonderful for the young couple.

When Hank, his dim-witted brother, Jacob [Billy Bob Thorton] and Jacob’s alcoholic friend, Lou [Brent Briscoe] accidentally stumble across a downed plane buried in the snow, they find their morality tested.  The plane contains a dead pilot and over four million dollars cash.

Hank wants to report their find to the police with hope there will be a reward. Lou wants to keep the money and say nothing.  Jacob sides with Lou. Ultimately, they decide that Hank will keep the money for the three. If no one comes calling after the plane is found in the spring, they will split the money equally and leave town going their separate ways.

It is a simple plan.  What could go wrong?

*** Even More Spoilers Below ***

The Good

  • Hank’s simple plan.
  • How when the plan begins to almost immediately unravel, the steps taken to correct things leads to worse events.
  • The twists along the way.
  • Director Sam Raimi creates so many suspenseful scenes.
  • Screenwriter Scott B. Smith skillfully adapts his novel of the same name.
  • How logical choices lead to unreasonable actions.
  • Paxton, Fonda, Thorton and Briscoe are excellent in their roles.
  •  “That man’s got a gun, Hank.  When he sees the plane, he’s gonna shoot you both.”

The Bad:

  • The evil that good people will do for money.
  • Making a pact with a dimwit and mean drunk.
  • When two of the three break their promise not to tell anyone what they found.
  • When Lou comes calling for his share of the money.
  • When the sheriff comes around asking questions.
  • When the FBI agent comes asking about the plane… and is he really FBI?

The Ugly:

  • When one bad decision forces worse choices.
  • When people don’t die straight away.
  • Learning how people talk about you when you’re not there.
  • The pain of betrayal.


Rating: 4 out of 5

Z-View: The Cold Kiss by John Rector

The Cold Kiss by John Rector.


Nate and Sara, on the run from their past, are driving to Reno.  When they’re approached at a roadside diner by a man offering $500 for a ride into Omaha, they can’t help but see it as a sign of blessings to come.

But in a few hours, that man is dead in their back seat . . . and he’s got a bag of money . . . more than either one of them know what to do with.

Forced off the road by a blizzard and trapped in a run-down motel, Nate and Sara make a life-altering decision that unleashes a nightmare.  Before they know it, Nate and Sara are fighting for their lives and forced to confront every bad decision they’ve made along the way.

For two young lovers who may have used up all their chances, this is a final trip down a dark tunnel that might lead them to heaven, but drags them through hell.

First, let me give credit to Eric Beetner whose 60 Second Review turned me on to The Cold Kiss.

Rector takes what could have been cliche –  nice young couple stumble on more money than they ever dreamed possible and their decision to keep it costs them more than they could ever have imagined.  

In fact their decision to keep the money is just the first of many that take them deeper and deeper into a nightmare that might only end when they are dead.

The Cold Kiss is for mature audiences due to violence. 

Rating: 4 out of 5


Z-View: Code Zero by Jonathan Maberry

Code Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel by Jonathan Maberry.


For years the Department of Military Sciences has fought to stop terrorists from using radical bioweapons—designer plagues, weaponized pathogens, genetically modified viruses, and even the zombie plague that first brought Ledger into the DMS. These terrible weapons have been locked away in the world’s most secure facility. Until now. Joe Ledger and Echo Team are scrambled when a highly elite team of killers breaks the unbreakable security and steals the world’s most dangerous weapons. Within days there are outbreaks of mass slaughter and murderous insanity across the American heartland. Can Joe Ledger stop a brilliant and devious master criminal from turning the Land of the Free into a land of the dead?


The Good

  • Jonathan Maberry can tell a story!
  • Like all Joe Ledger novels this baby sucks you in and then never lets up.
  • The cast: Joe Ledger, Mr. Church, Samson Riggs, Aunt Sallie, Dr. Hu, Junie, and others — not only do they get their scenes but every character gets enough backstory to feel real.
  • We lose characters in every Ledger story – the losses hurt because of the great characterization and because Maberry creates a world where the good guys don’t always come out on top.  When someone is killed the loss is not only felt but can have ramifications throughout the series.
  • Maberry isn’t afraid to create a villain that is smarter than everyone.
  • A major scene unfolds at DragonCon.
  • Maberry creates a universe where events have ramifications felt throughout the world but he never loses sight of his plot and the writing never feels padded.
  • The scene when a team member is bit by a zombie, his suit torn and another team member points his rifle and demands to see the bite… tension, terror and sadness!
  • A villain with a unique motivation that doesn’t involve money, world domination or revenge.
  • The way Ledger turns a loss into a win.

The Bad:

  • Mother Night.
  • Zombies.
  • Berserkers.
  • Those that have to “burn to shine.”
  • Vice President, Bill Collins.
  • Artemisia Bliss.
  • The people close to Ledger who die this time out…

The Ugly:

  • What happens when Mother Night’s followers “burn to shine.”
  • Getting bitten by a zombie or attacked by a Berserker.
  • Trapped on a stalled subway car with one zombie, then two, then four…
  • Did I mention the people close to Ledger who die this time?

 Code Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel is for mature audiences due to excessive violence and sexual situations. 

Rating: 5 out of 5