The Third Julie Burwell Book

…is coming, trust me, it’s coming. 😀

I had a problem when I first started writing the third book in that I had set the story during the winter months in the Poconos. But as I wrote it, I quickly realized that it just wasn’t working.

Part of the problem was the winter time setting; we get a lot of snow in this region during winter, and I quickly realized that Julie, as well as the rest of the characters, were becoming too restrained by the weather. And the story itself just needed more work overall, as well.

So the new version of the third book (book 3.2) takes place in the summer, and this new setting opens up a lot more possibilities for the characters.

The third book is a direct sequel to Embraced By Darkness, and I’m shooting to have it ready sometime this summer, if not sooner. Keep it here for the latest news.

And just in case you might have missed the first two books in this supernatural cop saga. They’re available both in print and on the Kindle:

Restoree — a book review

Baby, you're the greatest!

Baby, you’re the greatest!

I bought this book in a used bookstore that I recently discovered near my home. I got this along with three other books, all for the grand sum of twelve dollars. After buying books mainly on Amazon for the past twelve years, now (and e-books on the Kindle for the last five), I’ve got to say that it’s very nice to find a book after casually browsing a bookstore. You just walk in, not looking for anything specific, until you find yourself looking through the worn out paperbacks on the science fiction and fantasy shelves (which are usually my favorite subjects to peruse) and you come away enjoying a book you’d never consider reading.

One such book was Restoree, which was first published in 1967 by Anne McCaffrey. It deals with a young woman named Sara who’s abducted from her mundane life in New York City by aliens. She awakens on an alien planet named Lothar in a completely different body (although it’s still a human female body) and gets caught up in the political intrigue converging around the Regent, a seemingly slow-witted man named Harlan. Sara discovers that she’s a lowly servant who’s taking care of Harlan–yet as she does her job, two things occur to her: she realizes that Harlan is being kept in a dim-witted mental state thanks to drugs that’s being given to him. The second thing Sara realizes is that she’s fallen in love with Harlan.

McCaffrey, who is better known these days for her Dragonriders of Pern novels, sets up Restoree as a one-shot romantic adventure that’s very dated in many aspects. But while Sara is clearly a pre-women’s lib heroine, she’s still very strong-willed and able to stand up for herself…and winds up doing so admirably on several occasions. Despite the book’s dated SF aspects (it was McCaffrey’s first novel), Sara’s journey through this strange land is still an interesting one, which I very much enjoyed taking. The copy of Restoree that I bought is the second edition, which came out in 1977 with a cover by the Brothers Hildebrant. This book is still available.

Stonehearst Asylum — A Review

I'm not really crazy, you know. I'm actually a vampire who hunts werewolves with automatic weapons.

I’m not really crazy, you know. I’m actually a vampire who hunts werewolves with automatic weapons.

To be honest, the only reason I watched Stonehearst Asylum was because Kate Beckinsale was in it. The only reason I’ve watched most of the films she was in (including the goofy, but fun remake of Total Recall) was because of her mere presence. So when I saw she was in what looked like a stilted gothic soap opera, I thought, what the hell, might as well give it a shot. Stonehearst Asylum is a mental hospital that’s operating in the wilds of England, about as far from London, or any vestiges of civilization, as you can get. It’s 1899, and a recently graduated alienist (a nineteenth century term for a psychologist) named Edward Newgate (James Sturgess) arrives at the asylum, ready to take up his post as an assistant.

You think you're Napoleon? I got that beat; I was Gandhi!

You think you’re Napoleon? I got that beat; I was Gandhi!

After a mix up (apparently the letter Newgate had mailed to them was never received), the administrator of Stonehearst, Dr. Silas Lamb (played by the always great Ben Kinsley) welcomes Newgate with open arms. Lamb has an unusual view of caring for the mentally ill; instead of using the barbaric nineteenth century treatments of what would now be considered outright torture by our present day standards, Lamb prefers to allow the patients to roam about the halls without restraint or drugs. But Newgate has his eye more on one specific patient: Eliza Graves.

I just wanted to say that you rocked my world in Underworld.

I just wanted to say that you rocked my world in Underworld.

Eliza Graves is played by Beckinsale with great vulnerability, but not so much so that she’s too wishy-washy. Eliza is the victim of spousal abuse, with her husband, a sadistic sod who wants a rematch, constantly pestering Lamb to officially release her back into his custody. But Lamb, knowing this would mean Eliza’s certain death, is determined to keep Eliza safe on the grounds of Stonehearst. On the surface, it looked like Stonehearst Asylum was going to be another trope-filled soap opera, but it’s got a great script that’s brought to life by a fantastic cast of actors, including Michael Caine, David Thewlis, Jason Flemyng and Brendan Gleeson, among many others.

How could you forget the cupcakes? You know how much they love them! What's the matter with you?!

How could you forget the cupcakes? You know how much they love them! What’s the matter with you?!

Directed by Brad Anderson, who also gave us Session 9 and The Machinist, this was based on an Edgar Allen Poe story, and contains a twist that packs a wallop. But aside from the extremely well-done manner in which this film is made, it also has a great attitude towards the mentally ill. In addition to telling a great story, Stonehearst Asylum also proceeds to humanize those who are afflicted with mental illness. Instead of going for the easy trope of viewing the mentally ill as scary monsters, the film posits that the real monsters here are the short-sighted administrators who abuse them. A great movie featuring great actors in a thrilling story–what more could you ask for? Go check in at Stonehearst Asylum. –SF