Five Books for Christmas!

None of these books are Christmas themed, but they all make great gifts.

No, SUPERPOWERED won’t be out in time for the Holiday Season. So I figured I’d do the next best thing and recommend the best books I’ve read this year (even though Click Your Poison Books make great stocking stuffers… /end_shameless.plug)

Here they are, the five books I absolutely could not put down in 2014. I’ve given a brief explanation why you should read each, but hopefully not enough to ruin your chances of a Monet Experience.

1) First up is The Martian by Andy Weir. This book is probably the year’s biggest self-publishing success story. From obscure indie, to bestseller with movie rights optioned by 20th Century Fox, Mr. Weir’s ride is enviable to any author. But I didn’t know any of this when I picked it up, and that’s not the reason you should. You should read it because it’s a great book! Fast-paced, believable near-future science fiction at its best. In fact, once you’ve read this one yourself, check out my Martian Theory.

2) Next is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, a non-fiction book that bills itself as “The Story of Success.” This is a book that will change the way you look at the world. Do you really need more of a recommendation than that? I listened to the audiobook here and it’s one of the few author-narrated books that doesn’t suffer from the lack of a professional voice actor. Good luck reading this one and not telling everyone you know about what you learn from it.

3) As part of my superhero research, I picked up Watchmen for the first time. Written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons, this graphic novel redefined comic books. All the dark and gritty superhero movies we love so much owe their existence to Watchmen. I learned much about writing a compelling superhero tale from the pages within, and though I didn’t really enjoy the movie when it came out, I had a newfound respect for the film after reading the book. Isn’t that always the way?

4) After thoroughly enjoying The Edge of Tomorrow with Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise (you can read my blog on the ending if you’ve seen it), I sought out the script and novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. And while they don’t line up with the movie much at all, I enjoyed the novel in its own right. It’s a much more philosophical and romantic journey, clearly inspired by videogames, but still kicks ass and takes names with buckets of sci fi action.

5) Rounding out the list as my anchor is the Ex series by Peter Clines. Start with Ex-Heroes and go from there. The book is heralded as The Walking Dead meets The Avengers, but for my money, it surpasses both. As someone who writes zombies and superheroes myself, this series is right up my alley and highly recommended as worthy of your time.

Honorable Mentions

First we have Wearing the Cape by Marrion Harmon. Another self-published gem, Mr. Harmon has some extremely creative ideas in here. I enjoyed the read overall, but it didn’t quite make my list because of the simplistic characters. Caveat: I don’t read much Young Adult, so I wasn’t the target audience, but if you’ve got a youngster on your list–go ahead and pick this one up.

Next is The Boys written by Garth Ennis and iillustrated by Darick Robertson. Another superhero tale that I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s dark, twisted, and rounds out with a great surprise. The only reason it doesn’t make my list is that it’s too gratuitous. If you’ve read my books and chosen some of the more sinister options, you know that’s saying something. I don’t mind dark and gritty, but this graphic novel went over the top IMO.

My other favorite non-fiction read in 2014 was Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne. I had no idea just how far science has come since Darwin first published his theory, and this book does a great job presenting those proofs. Want to know how new species come about? This book will explain it. My only complaint is that the author spends a bit too much time battling his religious opposition in these pages, to the point that it might turn off some readers who would otherwise give the book a read with a more open mind.

Rounding out the honorable mentions is Suicide Squad written by Adam Glass and illustrated by Federico Dallocchio. I only read a few issues of this bad-guys-are-the-good-guys graphic novel, and while I initially enjoyed the story, it didn’t manage to hold my attention. That said, I am really looking forward to the movie!

So, what do YOU think? Have you read any of the titles listed? Any suggestions for me?

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Edge of Tomorrow Ending Explained!

I know, I’m late to the party (or early if we’re talking DVD release!) but EDGE OF TOMORROW was easily my favorite big budget action-er of the summer. It was funny, exciting, creative, and thrilling. Until the last five minutes. Skip past the spoilers if you haven’t seen the film.


While I wish I’d seen the movie as a Monet Experience (I mean, how much more intense would that opening 30 minutes have been if you didn’t know he was coming back after death?!), that wasn’t my main gripe. With few exceptions (CABIN IN THE WOODS comes to mind) a movie’s ending can make or break the experience.

First, a quick re-cap, just to refresh your memory. Because you’re not reading this if you haven’t seen the movie, right?

Cage (Cruise) loses the ability to “reset the day” after a blood transfusion, which he had gained via Alpha, so he and Rita (Blunt) mount a final attack against the Omega with the stakes at an all-time high. What results is a brutal, hard-wrought victory where both our heroes die. That is, until the Omega’s blood seeps into Cage’s lifeless body and the day resets before anything bad has yet happened, but somehow the Omega is still dead in the past, so Cage is able to greet Rita with a smile and offer the audience a happy ending.

Bullshit Hollywood rewrite, I thought.

So I went and read the 2010 screenplay ALL YOU NEED IS KILL by Dante Harper based on the novel of the same name by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, and…wow that was different. As in, huge changes to the plot such that the different endings had nothing to do with one another. No help there.

Then I found the answer I was looking for in the unlikeliest of places: an internet comment thread. Such occurrences are usually reserved for your birthday, when the planets are aligned, after you’ve just found a four-leaf clover sitting atop a head’s-up penny–so I’ll count myself lucky.

Allow me to paraphrase the new, improved version of the ending:

When Cage killed the alpha on the beach, he didn’t share its abilities, but instead (and here’s the key) he stole them. So that particular Alpha can never come back again. It’s dead. Off the timeline. No longer even existed. Which is why we don’t see it on the beach again when he resents the day time after time. That’s point #1.
Point #2. The ability sends you back roughly 24 hours, but you only awaken the last time you gained consciousness. Which, in this case, was after he got tased and woke up.
So….when Cage later loses his resetting ability, then goes and fights the Omega, it’s still the day before the beach invasion. When he steals the Omega’s ability, it gets erased from existence. He dies much earlier than he ever had, and time resets roughly 24 hours earlier — which is BEFORE he gets tased, and instead he wakes up in the helicopter.

And the Omega is gone because it ceased to exist.

RECAP: He steals the ability from two different aliens, erasing each of their existences in the process. And he dies at two different times, so the “reset” sends him back to two different times as well.

Now the happy ending makes sense. Oh and Cage is now immortal, haha.


So, what do you think? Can a disappointing ending ruin a whole movie? Are you the type that clings to story logic or will you overlook some faults if you’re given a happy ending? Did the new ending work for you? Let me know in the comments below!