Monthly Archives: December 2014

Happy New Year!

Hello Bookshelf Battlers,

Just a quick note to wish you all a Happy New Year!

One year down, and I’m at 400 blog followers, and almost 2200 twitter followers.  Let’s keep them coming!

As always, thanks for stopping by, and I look forward to discussing more books with you in 2015!

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Scrivener

Is it worth the money?  Anyone ever use it before?  Thoughts?  What does it do that normal word processing software does not?

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Movie Review – The Interview (2014)

Bookshelf Battler, here with another movie review.  So many movie reviews lately I should probably rename this site “Movie Shelf Battle” except that would not make sense, since movies aren’t put on shelves anymore.

But I digress.

So after all the hoopla, after the big hacking scandal, after the international hullabaloo, I finally had the chance to watch The Interview starring Seth Rogen and James Franco.

How do I say this?  I think the hackers might have accidentally done the boys a big favor.

I don’t mean they did them a favor in getting the movie pulled from – well, I’ve lost track, first it was every theater, then it was some theaters.  How did you see it?  I paid to rent it and Rogen and Franco now have 6 bucks I’ll never get back.  Lousy Hollywood types.

My thoughts?  Overall, the film is so-so and ultimately, kind of forgettable.  All of the free publicity caused by the hacking scandal will probably get this movie more views and downloads than it ever would have on its own, from people who will tune in just to see what all the fuss is about.

I love comedy.  Comedy is the most honest form of entertainment there is.  With drama, you can say you like it, that you even get it, but secretly you didn’t like it.  You’re just saying you like it to fit in and be cool.  But comedy?  If something tickles your funny bone, you will involuntarily laugh.  You might try to hold back, but if something is funny enough, you would be able to hold back.  And to its credit, The Interview did have a few moments where it did make me do just that.

But in my opinion, Hollywood has been on kind of a losing streak when it comes to comedy, and I mean laugh out loud, slap your knees all the way through the film comedy.  I haven’t seen a comedy that made me laugh from beginning to end since the original The Hangover in 2009.  So that’s, what?  Five, coming on six years since Hollywood has provided me with a genuine laugh all the way through the movie knee-slapper.

Do you mind if I give you SPOILERS?  Hell, the spoilers are pretty much out there already, aren’t they?

So, basic premise of the movie – Franco is Dave Skylark and Rogen is Aaron Rappaort.  Together, they are a duo that hosts and produces a celebrity gossip interview show – Skylark Tonight.  Rappaport feels the need to engage in more serious journalism.  The duo learn that Kim Jong Un is a fan of the show, so they arrange for, dun dun dun – an Interview.

The CIA learns of this and convinces the pair to try and assassinate Kim Jong Un, and I actually thought the film, rather than provide a caricature, actually provided an actor that is a bit tougher looking than the Dear Leader, but that’s just my two cents.

The funnier parts of the movie come from Rogen and Franco training on how to use a special Ricin poison strip on their hand, which they plan to deploy to Un with a poisoned handshake.  Naturally, the bumblers put the Ricin everywhere but Un’s hand.

At the end of the movie, Skylark and Rappaport, aided by North Korea’s turncoat propaganda minister, who secretly wants a free NK, decide not to kill Un but instead, to ambush him on air with hard hitting questions that will humiliate him and public and convince the North Koreans to reject him.

Skylark rattles off a lot of important questions about concentration camps, how the country spent 800 million on nukes when it has 16 million people starving, and so on.  Arguably, the film actually does provide a lot of important info to the American people, things a lot of inattentive Americans never thought about, namely that North Korea is a nuclear nation capable of launching a nuclear attack on the West Coast.  Yeah…yeah…sorry if you’re on the West Coast and you just read that, but try to get some sleep tonight anyway.  Probably not gonna happen.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

So toward the end of the movie, I think, “Wow, Rogen and Franco, how smart – they’ve used the assassination plot story line as just a pretext to reach an actual interview in which a lot of important political questions are asked, and important info is provided in a funny way.  But then, of course, they go ahead and have a final confrontation scene where Franco and Rogen, in a tank, go head to head with Un, in a helicopter, in a final battle royale to the finish.  So much for closing out the movie with a little dignity.

Like I said, it is not without its funny moments, moments that will make you laugh, but I doubt it will join the ranks of films I will ever bother watching again, so I think had the hackers just left this one alone, it probably would have easily faded into obscurity on its own.  Now with all the hype – I mean, Hell, my Grandkids one day will probably come up to me and be all like, “Hey Grandpa, what was that movie by those two doofuses that almost started World War III?”

I’m glad Sony did distribute the film, because to allow bullies to tell us what we can and can’t watch is just plain wrong – but sheesh, this was kind of a stinker of a film to get into such a major international argument about.

On a final note – this was a major event in direct to download movie distribution.  That topic was discussed earlier this year with the announcement that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2 would be released directly to Netflix.  Personally, I’m against direct to download first time movie releases, and I hope that all three of my regular readers, including my Aunt Gertrude, will feel the same way.

Why?  Go ahead ask me why.

Because I feel like that would just totally destroy the movie theater industry.  And sure, you might think back to the time you got ripped off at the theaters and had to spend a ridiculous sum on candy and popcorn but honestly – let me repeat, honestly – do you really want to see a day where going out to the movies on a Friday night becomes a thing of the past?  I certainly don’t.

Thanks for reading, Happy New Year!

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The NY Times Article Self-Publishers Are Talking About

Have I gained an interest in self-publishing too late?

After reading this New York Times Article, I’m thinking that I just moved to the Wild West at the tail-end of the period of discovery, after all the gold had been panhandled, all the saloon fights had been fought, and all the stagecoaches robbed.  Well, I never would have robbed a stagecoach anyway, but you get my drift despite my poor analogy:

For romance and mystery novelists who embraced digital technology, loved chatting up their fans and wrote really, really fast, the last few years have been a golden age. Fiction underwent a boom unseen since the postwar era, when seemingly every liberal arts major set his sights on the Great American Novel.

Now, though, the world has more stories than it needs or wants to pay for. In 2010, Amazon had 600,000 e-books in its Kindle store. Today it has more than three million. The number of books on Smashwords, which distributes self-published writers, grew 20 percent last year. The number of free books rose by one-third.

-David Streitfeld, NY Times, Amazon Offers All You Can Eat Publishing, Dec. 27, 2014

My thoughts, as a person new to this world, who has yet to hit the proverbial “PUBLISH” button on any self-publishing platform, but entertains thoughts of doing so one day:

1) 600,000 books in 2010 to 3,000,000 today.  Wow.  Kind of makes me wish I could hop in a time machine and travel back to 2010.

2)  On the other hand, is there anything that can be done about the glut of self-publishing?  I suppose we can’t start saying “You get to self-publish, but sorry, you don’t get to.”  After all, that’s what the Indie Market has always been against, isn’t it?

3) What do authors think about KDP Select?  I’d like to know.  If you’ve had experience with it, feel free to share.

4)  If you have any thoughts at all, feel free to share.

5) 600,000 to 3,000,000.  Sorry, I know I already said it, but I have still yet to pick my jaw up off the floor.

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Unbroken – Movie Review (2014)

WARNING:  Spoilers ahead.

Life – it’s all a matter of perspective.

The next time I pour a bowl of cereal and feel a fit coming on when I realize there’s no more milk, I’ll take a deep breathe and remember the choice Louis Zamperini had – jump out of his life raft and into water infested with hungry sharks, or stay in and risk being shot by a Japanese aircraft doing a strafing run overhead.

When you think about a situation like that, it kind of makes the little, everyday nuisances that we allow to drive us crazy seem trivial, doesn’t it?

How about when Louis, after spending so much time drifting in a raft at sea, only to be thrown in a brutal POW camp where he’s tortured and beaten, suddenly gets an offer from the Japanese government – read an anti-American statement over the radio and you’ll be allowed to live out the rest of the war in nice accommodations, with all the food and luxuries you want.

Naturally, we all say, “No, I’d never take that deal.”  As a mere, humble book blogger, I’ll never find myself in such a situation, but I’d like to think I’d tell my captors where they could stick such a deal.  Do any of us really know how we’d respond to such an offer until we find ourselves in that position?  Heroically, Louis refuses the deal.

Overall, it is a movie about choices – forks in the road where Louis could have gone in one direction or the other.  In his youth, he was an angry little punk who was a menace to his town until his older brother convinced him to channel his energy into joining the track team.

He becomes an amazing runner, good enough to go all the way to the pre-World War II Olympics (which, ironically, were held in Germany),  leading to an eerie scene where American, German, and Japanese athletes are all standing around like friends – who knew at the time that would be the last time they’d be doing that for awhile.  He’d hoped to return to the next Olympic Games, which had been scheduled to be held in Tokyo of all places, but we all know how that turned out.

It’s hard to find a more class act than Louis.  His fellow POW’s are ordered to punch him in the face.  He’s more worried about telling them it is ok and to not feel bad about it than he is about, well, his face.

I could go on and on, but you get the drift.  The next time I’m late for work and ready to fling myself off a cliff because I can’t find my keys, I will think about brave Louis defying the Japanese POW camp Sgt. and lifting the beam over his head, and realize that I am a major wuss in comparison.

The movie is based on author Laura Hillenbrand’s non-fiction book of the same name.  You might remember her as the author of another non-fiction work turned movie, Seabiscuit.  

I’ve never read either book and unfortunately, I have a bad habit of never reading a book once they’ve made a movie about it.  If you’ve read either one, or just want to commiserate about how Louis makes us all look like pansies when compared to his saint-like bravery, feel free to do so in the comment section.

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Banners

I hope everyone had a good holiday!

For the New Year, I’ve been thinking it would be good to get some new headline banners for my blog.  The Army Men on my bookshelf was about the best I could do with my limited artistic ability.  Who knows a good artist that would be into such a thing?

Some ideas:

  • Two cartoon books with faces and boxing gloves slugging it out.  Silly?  Yes, but that’s what bookshelfbattle is all about.
  • Various tiny soldiers, warriors, monsters, aliens, robots, etc – fantasy fighters going to war on my bookshelf.  The artist could go nuts.  The armies could meet in traditional battle on my bookshelf or they could hide behind books, jump out from between the pages like ninjas, be like guerrilla warfare dudes.
  • Or any other fun ideas an artist could come up with.
  • I could probably use some logos too – i.e. that gravatar image or whatever you call it – the image that shows up when you comment, and something I could use as a Twitter profile image too.

I doubt I could afford a hefty bill, but I could probably work out some meager compensation and provide some attribution to said artist or artists.  Obviously, the final product would have to be provided to me in digital form, ready for me to just stick up on the site, or at the very least the artist would have to be able to work with me to make that happen.

If anyone knows anyone trustworthy and reliable like that or know of resources/sites  where such artists can be found, please let me know in the comments!

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The Official Bookshelf Battle Dog

Everything is awesome around here, including Bookshelf Battle Dog. Here he is- doing a beats solo selfie.

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Self Publishing – Thoughts?

Bookshelf Battle

I find myself intrigued lately about the idea of self publishing.  It amazes me that the technology is there to write a book, edit it, package it up and distribute it online through Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, wherever.  My NanoWriMo book, originally started a few weeks ago as a fun hobby, has become a preoccupation – something I’ve been laboring away at and I really don’t want to give it up.

First of all, it is a long way away from being in readable form.  And obviously, I’d like to try the get an agent and find a traditional publisher route first.

But I have to admit, the self publishing possibility is like a security blanket for me.  The idea that if the inevitable rejections come in, I could, at the very least put the book out there and who knows what happens after that but at least I’d be able…

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Thank You! (Christmas Call to Action)

Hey Bookshelf Battlers,

Just a quick thank you to fellow book lovers out there for the help provided to me in just 24 hours.  Last night I was around 1900, maybe a little over, twitter followers.  After a push for 2000, I’m at 2035 as of tonight.  That wasn’t meant to be pushy.  It was meant to find more people to spread the joy of the written word to!  So thank you everyone, you’re all very cool.

Folks, I love the technologically advanced time we’re living in – a time where we’ve become the gatekeepers, a time where if you have something to say, your ability to say it does not depend on who you know.  You can just log on, blog on, and say it.  To ruin that sentiment with an Austin Powers quote, this is all “very groovy baby, yeah!”

This hopefully the beginning and the best is yet to come.  I don’t mean to brag, gloat, or show a lack of humility, because honestly, humble is my middle name.  I should just change the blog to “Bookshelf Humble Battle.”  I suppose what I’m trying to say is, if a) you all stick with me and tell your peeps to join the ride and b) I can kick my own butt to get into gear, then I think within a year to a year-and-a-half I’ll have produced some awesome reading material.  Blogging and Self-Publishing=the way of the future.

Well, heck, now that I wrote that, I have to do it, lest egg be on my face in a year to a year and a half. Someone call me out on the carpet if by mid-2016 I haven’t published something awesome please.  Thank you.

Finally, I try not to get too political on this blog because, well, come on, whoever we are, however we vote, can’t we all hold hands and come together in the spirit of promoting fantastic books?  But I have to say the whole debacle with The Interview irked me.  The idea that some tin pot dictator thinks he can tell our Hollywood Executives that they are not allowed to air their crappy movie is outrageous!  This is America!  Land of the Free and Home of the Brave Baby, where our Hollywood Executives have a god given right to produce their own crappy movies and distribute them on their own terms!

So that being said, if you have nothing better to do (and who are you kidding, you know you don’t because you’re reading this ) then do your patriotic duty and log on to You Tube to watch The Interview!  

ROGEN/FRANCO 2016!!!

In conclusion, apologies for all this philosophical babbling folks.  Bottomline:  You keep reading.  I’ll keep writing.

Merry Christmas.  Happy Holidays.  Happy Hanukah.  Happy Kwanza.  Happy Whatever Holidays I Missed, and If You’re an Atheist, Have a Top Notch Thursday!

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Thoughts for the New Year

This year has been a building year – all about learning how to blog.  2015 I hope will be the year to where I’ll be more productive and turn out some quality work product.

Thoughts for 2015 include:

1)  Committing to at least 1 book review a month because, you know, this is a book blog, or so I keep hearing.

2)  Starting more discussions about writing for writers and those pesky situations we always find ourselves in.

3)  I’d love to interview some Indie Authors, for the selfish reason of picking their brains on self-publishing success, but also for the non-selfish reason of paying it forward and building cosmic karma (which, if you stand on your head, cross your eyes, and think about it really hard, is selfish!)

4)  Interview some other book bloggers about their favorite books, book blogging, and other booktastic issues of a booktabulous nature.

5)  Bring more organization to the site, set up some pages at the top of the site to funnel my posts into for easier access.

6)  I am starting to think maybe less is more and I’m hoping to have a standing appointment with you all on Sundays, using them to make at least one post a week.  More if inspiration strikes.

7)  The past few months I’ve really gotten into self-publishing – listening to podcasts, doing research, etc.  I do have a goal of getting a longstanding idea I’ve had written by the end of 2015, submitting to traditional agents and if no luck, self-publishing by the end of 2016.  So hard to think about things 2 years in advance but I suppose that is the name of the game.  Anyone with advice, tips, tricks, etc on that always feel free to share!

8)  I’d be interested in what social media platforms and/or other ways in which you have found success in promoting your blogs.  Thus far, the most success I’ve had is with Twitter (shameless plug if I can just get 80 followers by the end of Christmas Eve I will have reached my goal of 2000 followers by Christmas!)

I’m on Tumblr and Facebook, but unless I’m doing it wrong, I just don’t see them as being very useful.

YOUR THOUGHTS – If you have any thoughts on how I can make this site better, please feel free to share them!  Compliments are always welcome, but harsh and brutal criticism is actually preferred.  I have thick alligator-like skin so please have at it and rip me a new one!  If you’ve been thinking, “Look, Bookshelf Battler, you insufferable doofus, it makes me go crazy when you do X, Y, or Z” now is the time to share!   Criticism is how we grow, change, and get better!

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