2017 In Review: Lisa Marie’s Ten Favorite Non-Fiction Books of 2017

A word about Paperbacks From Hell, my favorite nonfiction book of 2017.  One of my goals for 2018 (and probably 2019, as well) is to read every single book mentioned in Paberbacks From Hell.  I’ve been told that it won’t be easy because several of the books are apparently no longer in print.  But that’s okay.  I’m looking forward to searching for them almost as much as I’m looking forward to reading them!

  1. Paperbacks From Hell by Grady Hendrix
  2. Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin
  3. Broad Strokes: Fifty Women Who Made Art and Made History (in that order) by Bridget Quinn
  4. Mrs. Sherlock Holmes by Brad Ricca
  5. We’ll Always Have Casablanca: The Legend and Afterlife of Hollywood’s Most Beloved Film by Noah Isenberg
  6. Ava Gardner: A Life in the Movies by Anthony Uzarowski and Kendra Bean
  7. How To Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell
  8. Black Dahlia, Red Rose: The Crime, Corruption, and Cover-Up of America’s Greatest Unsolved Murder by Piu  Eatwell
  9. High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic by Glenn Frankel
  10. The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man Who Captured Lincoln’s Ghost by Peter Manseau

On Wednesday, I’ll be listing my picks for the best of Lifetime and then, on Friday, I’ll finally wrap up my look back at 2017 with my picks for the best 26 movies of the year!

Previous entries in the TSL’s Look Back at 2017:

  1. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Single Issues by Ryan C
  2. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Series by Ryan C
  3. 2017 In Review: Top Ten Collected Edition (Contemporary) by Ryan C
  4. 2017 In Review: Top Ten Collected Editions (Vintage) by Ryan C
  5. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Graphic Novels By Ryan C
  6. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I saw in 2017 by Valerie Troutman
  7. My Top 15 Albums of 2017 by Necromoonyeti
  8. 2017 In Review: Lisa Marie’s Picks For the 16 Worst Films of 2017
  9. 2017 In Review: Lisa Marie’s Final Post About Twin Peaks: The Return (for now)
  10. 2017 in Review: Lisa Marie’s 14 Favorite Songs of 2017
  11. 2017 in Review: The Best of SyFy by Lisa Marie Bowman
  12. 2017 in Review: 10 Good Things that Lisa Marie Saw On Television in 2017
  13. 2017 in Review: Lisa Marie’s 12 Favorite Novels of 2017

2017 In Review: Lisa Marie’s 12 Favorite Novels of 2017!

I wish I had read more in 2017.  I really dropped the ball last year but I’m going to make up for it this year!

With all that in mind, here are my 12 favorite novels of 2017!

  1. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
  2. Magpie Murders: A Novel by Anthony Horowitz
  3. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
  4. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
  5. Without Merit by Colleen Hoover
  6. Final Girls by Riley Sager
  7. Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire
  8. Wait For It by Mariana Zapata
  9. The Ghost Writer by Alessandra Torre
  10. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  11. The Grip of it By Jac Jemc
  12. Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

My look back at 2017 will conclude next week.  On Monday, I’ll post my picks for the best non-fiction books of 2017.  On Wednesday, I’ll post my picks for the best of 2017 Lifetime.  And then, on Friday, my picks for the best 26 films of 2017!

(My apologies for dragging things out but I do need the extra time so I can catch up on a few films that I missed in 2017.)

Previous entries in the TSL’s Look Back at 2017:

  1. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Single Issues by Ryan C
  2. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Series by Ryan C
  3. 2017 In Review: Top Ten Collected Edition (Contemporary) by Ryan C
  4. 2017 In Review: Top Ten Collected Editions (Vintage) by Ryan C
  5. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Graphic Novels By Ryan C
  6. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I saw in 2017 by Valerie Troutman
  7. My Top 15 Albums of 2017 by Necromoonyeti
  8. 2017 In Review: Lisa Marie’s Picks For the 16 Worst Films of 2017
  9. 2017 In Review: Lisa Marie’s Final Post About Twin Peaks: The Return (for now)
  10. 2017 in Review: Lisa Marie’s 14 Favorite Songs of 2017
  11. 2017 in Review: The Best of SyFy by Lisa Marie Bowman
  12. 2017 in Review: 10 Good Things that Lisa Marie Saw On Television in 2017

Lisa’s Week In Review: 1/1/18 — 1/7/18

What’s This?

Hi there!  Welcome to Lisa’s Week In Review.  This year, on Monday, I’m going to post everything that I watched, read, and listened to during the previous week.  Since I love to make lists, I’m hoping that this will encourage me to see more, read more, and listen to more this year than I did last year!

I’m happy that 2017 started on Monday, which is also the start of the week.  I like it when things are neat and orderly like that.  For the first three days of 2018, the temperatures in DFW were below freezing though, unlike the rest of the country, we didn’t get any snow or ice.  Around Wednesday, the temperature got up above 32 degrees and the last few days have actually been wonderfully pleasant.  Of course, I spent most of the week lying on the couch with a cold.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s my week in review!

Movies I Watched:

  1. The Bachelor Next Door (2017)
  2. Blood, Sweat, and Lies (2018)
  3. Cast A Deadly Spell (1991)
  4. Cradle Swapping (2017)
  5. Dazed and Confused (1993)
  6. Deadly Exchange (2017)
  7. Dr. No (1962)
  8. From Russia With Love (1963)
  9. Goldfinger (1964)
  10. Honey 3: Dare to Dance (2016)
  11. Insidious: The Last Key (2018)
  12. The Love-Ins (1967)
  13. Neverknock (2017)
  14. Psycho Brother-in-Law (2017)
  15. Psycho In-Law (2017)
  16. Psycho Wedding Crasher (2017)
  17. Riot on the Sunset Strip (1967)
  18. The Sandman (2017)
  19. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (2008)
  20. Stage Fright (2017)
  21. Stickman (2017)
  22. A Tale of Two Coreys (2018)
  23. Tiny House of Terror (2017)
  24. Thunderball (1965)
  25. What a Girl Wants (2004)
  26. The Wrong Mother (2017)

TV Shows I Watched

(For whatever reason, I watched a lot of true crime last week.)

  1. 2018 Winter Olympic Trials
  2. 60 Days In
  3. The 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards
  4. The Amazing Race 30
  5. American Justice
  6. American Monster
  7. The Bachelor 22 — I usually stop watching The Bachelor once all the crazy people get kicked off the show.
  8. Betrayed
  9. Cheaters
  10. Dance Moms
  11. Dead Silent
  12. Degrassi
  13. Dr. Phil
  14. Evil Lives Here
  15. Full House
  16. Hell’s Kitchen 17
  17. Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda
  18. House Hunters
  19. Intervention
  20. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia — For the record, I laughed so hard at the episode where Frank and Dee got a job selling knives door-to-door that I literally fell off of my couch.
  21. King of the Hill
  22. Last Call With Carson Daly
  23. Model Killers
  24. Murder in the Heartland
  25. My Evil Sister — I had to make Erin watch this with me.
  26. The Office — The Prison Mike episode.
  27. People Magazine Investigates
  28. Project Runway All-Stars
  29. Saved By The Bell
  30. Shattered
  31. The Twilight Zone — SyFy always does a Twilight Zone marathon on January 1st.
  32. Twin Peaks: The Return
  33. U.S. Figure Skating Championships
  34. The X-Files
  35. Your Worst Nightmare

Books I Read

(I’m ashamed to say that, over the course of last week, I watched over 60 different movies and TV shows but I only read two books.  This will change in the future.)

  1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953) — I found a copy of this at Half-Price Books last week.  The copy that I found once belonged to a student named Ashley and she filled the margins with notes about her friends Taylor and Sidney.  At the start of the book, they were best friends.  About halfway through, she suddenly hated both of them but, by the end of the book, they were friends again.  Yay!
  2. You’re Ok, Your Cat’s Ok: How to Establish A Meaningful Relationship With Your Cat by Marcus Schenk and Jill Caravan (1992) — This book is full of helpful hints on how to get along with your cat.  Of course, it’s also full of pictures of cute kitties, which is the main reason we own it.

Music I Listened To

  1. Amy Winehouse
  2. Anders Nilsen
  3. Armin van Buuren
  4. Avicii
  5. Big Data
  6. Blanck Mass
  7. Bob Dylan
  8. Britney Spears
  9. Calvin Harris
  10. Chappell Roan
  11. Charli XCX
  12. The Chemical Brothers
  13. Cindy Alma
  14. Coldplay
  15. Daft Punk
  16. Dillon Francis
  17. Donots
  18. Elle King
  19. Fitz and the Tantrums
  20. Ghastly
  21. Gerry Rafferty
  22. Icona Pop
  23. Jakalope
  24. Jeff Buckley
  25. Lindsay Cardy
  26. Lindey Stirling
  27. Martin Garrix
  28. Nghtmre
  29. P!nk
  30. Rebecca & Fiona
  31. The Shelters
  32. Steve Aoki
  33. Superorganism
  34. Taylor Swift
  35. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
  36. The White Stripes


Links From Last Week

(These are blog posts that I saw last week that I’m recommending you check out.)

  1. In honor of National Take A Poet To Lunch Day, I shared my favorite poem at SyFyDesigns.
  2. From the Ferguson Theater, Derrick Ferguson shares his picks for the best films of 2017.
  3. From Musings Of A Classic Film Addict, a tribute to the late Peggy Cummins.
  4. On the World’s Common Tater, Tater shared his year in reading for 2017.
  5. On Film Grimoire, Anna shared her top ten songs of 2017, something I’ll be doing on this site during the upcoming week.
  6. On Ted Book, Ted shares a story about how Amy Winehouse inspired him to reopen his site.
  7. From the Daily Grindhouse, here’s a review of a book about Christmas horrors on tv and in the movies.
  8. Janika, a member of the Late Night Movie Gang, writes about watching Cast A Deadly Spell with us and several other things.
  9. Here’s a poem from John Coyote.
  10. On the Immortal Jukebox, Thom Hickey goes on the radio.
  11. Over on her photography site, my sister Erin shared a picture of a squirrel getting ready for 2018.

On this site, be sure to check out:

  1. Patrick’s reviews of Driving While Black and House of Salem,
  2. Val’s picks for the 25 Best and Worst Things she saw last year,
  3. Erin’s picture for the New Year,
  4. Gary’s reviews of The Wild Angels, The Poseidon Adventure, and Willard,
  5. Jeff’s tribute to Isaac Asimov,
  6. Necromoonyeti’s Top 15 albums of 2017,
  7. Ryan’s thoughts on Cut Away Comics, Crust, and everything else he read last week!
  8. If I may brag on myself, check out my history of the men might have been Bond.

Have a great week everyone!


Book Review: WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE CASABLANCA by Noah Isenberg (W.W. Norton 2017)

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CASABLANCA was released seventy-five years ago today, and The Cult of Casablanca is stronger than ever! The film resonates with young and old alike in its themes of lost love, redemption, and answering to a higher moral authority. Noah Isenberg’s latest book, WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE CASABLANCA: THE LIFE, LEGEND, AND AFTERLIFE OF HOLLYWOOD’S MOST BELOVED MOVIE, takes a look behind the Silver Screen to track the history of the film  from its beginnings through its continuing popularity today.

Isenberg, a professor of film studies at The New School and author of the definitive EDGAR G. ULMER: A FILMMAKER AT THE MARGINS (2014), gives the reader a three-pronged look at the film. In the first, he meticulously delineates the screenplay’s roots, from its birth as the play Everybody Comes to Rick’s by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison, to the adaptation by brothers Julius and Philip Epstein, to the contributions of writers…

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Pulp Fiction #1: Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer

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“The roar of the .45 shook the room. Charlotte struggled back a step. Her eyes were a symphony of incredulity, an unbelieving witness to truth. Slowly, she looked down at the ugly swelling in her belly where the bullet went in.

“How c-could you”, she gasped.

I only had a moment before talking to a corpse. I got it in.

“It was easy”, I said. “

– from I, THE JURY by Mickey Spillane, first published in 1947 by EP Dutton

Mickey Spillane’s PI Mike Hammer made his debut in I, THE JURY, and set the shocked literary world on its collective ear with its sex-and-violence laden story. Critics savaged Spillane, but the book buying public ate it up, turning I, THE JURY into a best seller and launching Hammer as a pop culture icon. Hammer’s roots were deeply set in the bloody pulps and another 20th century phenomenon… the four-color comics!

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Horror Book Review: Jamie Lee Curtis: Scream Queen by David Grove

I cannot let this Halloween end without recommending Jamie Lee Curtis: Scream Queen, David Grove’s biography of one of horror cinema’s most iconic stars.

As you can probably guess from the title, the focus of this book is on the start of Jamie Lee Curtis’s career, when she was almost exclusively appearing in slasher films.  Beginning with her starring role in Halloween and going all the way through films like Terror Train, Prom Night, Road Games, The Fog, and Halloween 2, the book shows both how Curtis dealt with suddenly being a horror icon and how she eventually left the horror genre behind in an effort to show that she was capable of doing more than just screaming and running.  Eventually, as the book details, she reached a point where she could return to horror with Halloween H20 but, for a while, her horror work was truly a double-edged sword.  It made her famous but it also kept her from being considered for the type of roles that she truly hoped to play.

That said, this book takes refreshingly positive look at her early film career, providing both serious analysis of and fascinating behind-the-scenes details about all of Curtis’s horror films.  Yes, even Prom Night.

In fact, the two chapters devoted to Prom Night were probably my favorite part of the book.  Though Curtis herself was not interviewed, several members of the cast and crew were and their recollections of their work on this not-very-good but oddly watchable film provide an interesting portrait of life during a low-budget movie shoot.  Of course, everyone focuses on how in awe they were of Jamie but, at the same time, they are also open about their own personal feelings and recollections about the shooting of this movie.  Their hopes and dreams, many of them destined to be unfulfilled, come through just as vividly as their memories of watching Jamie Lee Curtis film the famous disco scene.  The passages dealing with Casey Stevens, who played Jamie’s Prom Night boyfriend and subsequently died of AIDS, are especially moving.  In the end, Jamie Lee Curits; Scream Queen is not just a biography of Jamie Lee Curtis.  It’s a tribute to both movies and the people who make them.

If you’re a lover of the horror genre or a student of film history, this is one of those book that you simply must have.  It’s got just about everything that you could possibly want.

Horror Book Review: Ed Wood: Nightmare of Ecstasy (The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr.) by Rudolph Grey

Beware all who open this book!

Nightmare of Ecstasy is an oral history of the life of Ed Wood, Jr., the man who has unfairly been declared the worst director of all time.  Not only does it include interviews with people who knew and worked with Wood at all the stages of his life and career but it also includes plenty of details about what went on behind the scenes during the making of Wood’s most famous films.

And, make no mistake, a lot of it is fascinating and hilarious.  Wood truly did surround himself with a collection of eccentrics and, fortunately for this book, several of them were very verbose eccentrics.  (Sadly, since this was book was originally published way back in 1992, some of the most notable interviews are with people who have since passed away.)  Wood was a storyteller so it’s perhaps not surprising that he was drawn to other storytellers.

Nightmare of Ecstasy is credited as being the basis for Tim Burton’s film, Ed Wood and it serves as a nice companion piece.  Since Ed Wood was highly fictionalized, Nightmare of Ecstasy is a good resource for setting the record straight.  Some of the more memorable moments in Ed Wood come across as being rather mundane in the book.  Meanwhile, some of the book’s more flamboyant passages did not make it into the film.  For instance, only by reading the book can you discover that one of Ed Wood’s frequent actors, Kenne Duncan, was nicknamed Horsecock.

At the same time, it’s a sad book because it follows Wood all the way to his final days.  Wood is such a legendary figure that I think it’s sometimes forgotten that he was also a human being.  Reading the book, you admire Wood for never giving up but, at the same time, you discover that he wasn’t the eternal optimist that Johnny Depp played in Burton’s film.  At the end of his life, he was a rather sad man, an alcoholic who sometimes pawned his typewriter so he’d have enough money to buy a drink.  He was reduced to working on the fringes of the adult film industry, even trying to convince his Plan 9 From Outer Space co-star, Vampiram to appear in a hardcore film.  At one point, Dudley Manlove (who played Eros in Plan 9) quotes a drunk and angry Wood as using a racial slur to describe his neighbors and it’s a shock because that’s just not the way that most of us like to think about Ed Wood.

Though the book may ultimately be rather sad, it’s also a valuable resource.  At the end of the book is a list of all of the films and TV shows that Wood is believed to have worked on.  (Wood has more credits than you might expect, though sadly some of them appear to be lost.)  Even more importantly, there is a list of every “adult” novel that Wood wrote, along with a plot description and even a few excerpts.  Longtime fans will be happy to learn that, just as in his films, Ed Wood the novelist always took the time to mention angora.

Ed Wood, in his later years.