Previews & Reviews that are Z's Views

15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Stand

Erik van Rheenen and Mental_Floss have posted 15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Stand.  As is our tradition, here are three of my favorites…

6. Christian Radio Made a Contribution As Well

King revealed a third inspiration for The Stand in Danse Macabre: A single line he heard in a radio broadcast of a sermon when he was living in Colorado. The line “Once in every generation the plague will fall among them” made such an impression on King that he wrote it down and pinned it over his typewriter. Later, when the author was struggling to write a fictionalized account of the Patty Hearst kidnapping (the unpublished The House on Value Street), he saw the gloomy quote and found the inspiration to start a new project that became The Stand.

8. The Extreme Length Led to Logistical Problems

The 1,200-page novel presented a serious problem – King’s publisher, Doubleday, couldn’t print a novel that long. Literally. In addition to whatever qualms the publisher might have had about trying to sell such a hefty book, its printing presses couldn’t create it. As King explained to Time in 2009, “Doubleday had a physically limiting factor in those days because they used a glue binding instead of a cloth binding, and the way it was explained to me was that they had so much of a thickness they could do before the glue just fell apart.”

10. The Cut Pages Weren’t Lost

Of course, when your fans are as rabid as King’s, it’s hard for lost pages to stay lost. In 1990 King restored the text he had hacked away to create The Stand: The Complete & Uncut Edition. King didn’t just slip all the cut pages back into the original manuscript, though – he retyped each one. He told Time he “had the manuscript on one side of an IBM Selectric typewriter and I had the pages of a book that I had torn out of the binding on the other side.” The restored edition had another quirk – King also updated the setting of the novel to the then-present day and included references to cultural touchstones like Freddy Krueger that had not existed in 1978.

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