Animals Humping In The Wild

20549484 by
My Rating: 2/5 Stars

I think it’s a damn shame more men don’t get accosted on trains. Ladies, you’re missing out on one hell of an opportunity. And fellas…what the hell? We need to rectify this situation immediately. If you’re a woman, you should strut like it’s your birthday…every single day. Having confidence is the key, and that confidence just might lead to more men being shoved into bathrooms and waylaid in sleeper cars. There’s a reason God created man first: If God had started with Eve, he would have clapped his hands together and said, “I think we’re done here.” Fellas, we wouldn’t even be a blip on the intergalactic radar. And it’s all because women have bodies that just don’t quit. Even God knows this.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d say THE INITIATION OF MS. HOLLY was written by a teenage boy. A teenage boy who wrote frantically, pounding away at the keys like some untamed beast, and grasping for every orgy and orifice he could think of. This was basically one long porn fantasy with dominance and subservience included for good measure. All the women were perfect with tits the size of watermelons, or smaller, perkier breasts with perfect precision and icicle nipples and tanned skin and luscious lips. Not that I can rightfully complain, mind you, but I felt like with every page I was about to get arrested, tossed in a government prison, and held hostage by some woman in a leather cat suit.

I like sex. But I was equal parts turned on and disgusted with this read. It was the equivalent of walking onto a porn set, and watching everyone from the actors to the producers to the lighting and sound guys humping away like there was no tomorrow. I mean, it might have been nice to have the sex actually come to a screeching halt and maybe even see a bit of character development. This doesn’t need to be literary fiction, but even an entire high school football team shoved into a brothel would take a few deep breaths or maybe stop to eat on occasion.

Instead of resembling actual people, the characters felt like pawns on a chessboard shoved into position for the next sex scene. In short, the characters reminded me more of animals humping in the wild than actual human beings.

If that’s your shtick, then by all means have at it, but I had hoped for just a wee bit more.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.

Latest Piece Of Fic

16068905 by
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I always wanted to be a FANGIRL. Ever since I was a wee, wee lad growing up in the hills and hollers of West-By-God-Virginia where I was shooting coons and skeet and squirrels with my hound dog buzzard who was hanging a little low to the ground on even his best of days, and who passed away when I was knee high to me pa. Where I sucked water from a stream, and marched around with a stick for fun. I may not have lived in Beverly, but by God I knew who The Hillbillies were. Those were the simple days from a much simpler life, and had I gotten lucky, I might have struck oil in my backyard on a Tuesday when one of my shots went a little wide.

But I didn’t. Instead, writing found me, or I found it, as a way to entertain myself, and to keep my agile brain in overdrive. Reviewing followed—a natural part of writing and reading and when you’re not quite ready to leave the confines of a particular universe, or sometimes the opposite occurs, and you can’t push the eject button fast enough, and you want to hose yourself off in the middle of your own backyard in the middle of a thunderstorm. Either way, the only way to move on with your life is to leave that world and those feelings on the printed page by giving fellow sympathizers nothing but honesty.

So I have a teensy inkling of an idea where Cath might have come from in her enthusiastic pursuit of an alternate universe where Simon Snow holds the magic wand and thereby enchants her with his wonderful, fantastical life. And where she goes online to the fandom and receives 10,000 hits on her latest piece of fic created out of serial installments that her readers gobble up faster than Goobers. Having this alternate personality on the Internet allows her to hide her latest panic attack or quirk-like tendency.

Sure, she and I may not have gotten off on the right foot, and probably not the left one either, since she slammed into me countless times over the first couple hundred pages, but she has one hell of a finish. Either she won me over, or Rainbow Rowell‘s clever writing shone through and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was some combination of the two. The sexy library look didn’t hurt her chances either.

She also dealt with, albeit fleetingly, more than her share of trolls (those nasty little buggers who have nothing better to do than attempt to bring you down to their level because their life lacks meaning and purpose). She’s a righteous and proper nerd. And damn it, I’m not. For years, I was under the distinct impression that I was. Instead of preferring the fictional world to the real one (like a proper nerd), I prefer both equally, even if I sometimes get so lost in a good book that I have to stop and ask for directions. That did happen with this one—I’m proud to say—but it wasn’t my first response.

Straddles The Line

18284680 by
My Rating: 2/5 Stars

This novel tries to straddle the line between literary and commercial fiction. What the publishing gods have deemed upmarket fiction. Unfortunately for THE GRAVITY OF BIRDS, it probably tries a little too hard, and therefore doesn’t do either as effectively as if it just picked one and flew above the treetops. Instead, it crash landed into a cactus, and I was left picking needles out of my butt.

The structure proved a little confusing, with the movement between time periods, and I was prone to forget who I was, or where I was for brief periods of time (sometimes a wee bit longer). This was certainly a literary element, as I end up more confused and discombobulated when I read “more serious” works than when I read the high-octane commercial fiction. What can I say? My brain likes to be entertained, and I feed it generous helpings of the good stuff.

Not that this novel lacked an entertainment factor. It just might not have been what Tracy Guzeman intended, as I wanted to throttle Thomas Bayber within an inch of his life for being a self-indulgent ass. Note to readers who are not artists, we are not all like this. Some of us (surprise surprise) actually have a soul. The other source of entertainment was a “Who’s on First?” sketch between Finch and Jameson that made me want to slap my head and then get on a plane in the middle of a blizzard.

As for the other characters, I was less than impressed, except for a cameo appearance near the end of the novel. The cameo setting—New Mexico land of the sand and vast openness—proved a rather beautiful side trip during which I could have indulged myself further, had I just been given the opportunity to do so.

While some might call this a mystery, or hear it marketed as such, and then proceed to be disappointed when it’s not, I’d say this is more of a coming of age or contemporary fiction tale that had more of a literary spin than it knew what to do with. In other words, this book had an identity crisis, and I’m not sure I can really help this novel solve its problems. But someone smarter than me can probably make a better effort at identifying its feathers.

Impressed With The Concept

9717320Divergent by
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I have to say I was rather impressed with the concept of DIVERGENT. It would have been easy for Veronica Roth to turn this novel into a HUNGER GAMES knockoff. I mean, why not? Suzanne Collins had plenty of success, and those dystopian aficionados are hungry for more. So just give them what they want and be done with it. But Ms. Roth took the dystopian world and made it her own. She created a world that I was totally sucked into, and I was left flipping pages like some movie junkie with a never-ending stream of red envelopes.

Aside from the world she created, though, the characters felt as real to me as peanut butter and chocolate at the top of an ice cream sundae. Tris was a character that every woman could root for, and Four proved just as interesting for the men as Tris did for the women. Their relationship didn’t feel forced, or out of place. It grew naturally from the two characters, and that’s another tribute to the author and her writing abilities.

Beyond the characters and this alternate reality, this novel tackles issues like tyranny, unjust rule, and the corruptness that comes with the selfish possession of power. In other words, it’s easy to grab the pages and consume them like cotton candy at the state fair, but it’s also possible to get more out of it than just a skim across the surface. If you let it, DIVERGENT forces you to think about themes important to the author well after the pages have been consumed.

So if you’re looking for another worthy book to add to your dystopian collection, you probably don’t need to look any further.

Stone Cold Sober

16130549Doctor Sleep by
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

I’d like to thank Kemper and Will and Dan and Delee and Trudi for pretty much doing my job for me and writing such excellent reviews that I don’t even have to offer up one of my own. Ha, you crazy bastards, who would I be if I let you off that easily?

King might just be one crazy son of a bitch for calling this a sequel to THE SHINING (I should probably add here that I have never read said novel) when it’s about as much of a sequel as the James Bond films are to one another (especially the Pierce Brosnan versus Daniel Craig versions). But I love him anyway, even if I didn’t exactly love this novel. Sure, this is vintage King where the man breathes and breathes across pages and pages of exposition and dialogue and prose and where the number of characters could fill a village and where the man knows evil so well he can pull it out of a hat as easily as a rabbit, a frog, or a Siamese cat.

Even though I was stone cold sober when I started DOCTOR SLEEP, I felt as though I had imbibed a few by the end of the story, passed out, and was revived with steam as a one-toothed raven-haired beauty breathed into my mouth. Had the steam not done the trick, I might have passed out all over again. Dan Torrance swaggered and swayed his way through this novel (at least he made an effort to change), so I must say he wasn’t exactly my favorite character. Abra, on the other hand, proved every bit as precocious as her fourteen years allowed, and I rooted for her every step of the way.

The length proved a bit daunting at times as words upon words piled up, and there were so many characters that it was sometimes hard to keep track. It meandered and bobbed and weaved and bounced along more than a few backcountry roads. We switched time zones, and we nearly switched coasts, and I found myself staring at a plaque from the Overlook Hotel. For a brief moment, I felt as though my entire universe had been stripped away right in front of me.

Stephen King has no equal…in punctuation. He punctuates and paragraph breaks like no other writer I’ve seen before, and he does it with such dexterity and effortless ease. He must have taken a punctuation class that no other writer in the entire universe was privy to. In the end, that’s okay (not that he needs my approval), and I applaud him on his uniqueness. It’s probably safe to say that I could decipher a Stephen King novel based on punctuation and paragraph breaks alone.

Even if the master may have backed off a step or two on his game, he’s still well ahead of the rest of us mere mortals. It’s certainly not a bad read, but on the other hand, I wouldn’t say it’s one of his best efforts either.

Debonair Masterpiece

17304110Live And Let Die by
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

James Bond on the page certainly comes across a lot different than James Bond on the big screen and LIVE AND LET DIE only serves to further hammer this point home. Ian Fleming has created a debonair masterpiece, with more than a hint of chauvinism. Sure, he uses terms then that he probably couldn’t get away with today, but this book was first published in 1954, so you have to roll with it a bit. If you’re a woman, or you’re easily offended, you might want to hesitate before picking it up.

The action moves slower than it does in the movies (that’s understandable), but it’s nice to get a fuller and complete picture of a true icon. At times this novel reads like a military intelligence briefing, but it’s still well-written prose, and given Ian Fleming’s, along with James Bond’s backgrounds, it’s not all that surprising.

If you’re looking for a quick read and a strong male lead, it doesn’t get much better than this.

A Different Thriller Style

15954464Casino Royale by
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

James Bond is as much of a weapon as his Beretta 418, although he’s more of an agent by chance than by choice, a weapon as sleek as his 1933 Bentley convertible. He has his vices: gambling, martinis, cigarettes, and sex. Ian Fleming may not have painted women in the most favorable light, may have used a different writing style for a thriller than I’m accustomed to—the agency brief, plenty of inner dialogue and thoughts, and only a dusting of intense action sequences—but this was an enjoyable read for me from the first page to the last.

Having watched and enjoyed all the Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig James Bond films, along with a few other films from previous James Bond actors, I wanted to look at the man behind the mask, and I must say I’m rather glad I did. This was a quick read, although I wouldn’t necessarily call it light, and while I won’t rush to read the rest of the Ian Fleming novels, I do want to see how both his main character and writing style develop.

A Few More Rounds

18815227 by
My Rating: 2/5 Stars

I just need to stop reading historical fiction. Like right now. But I keep trying, like the little kid who keeps reaching for the electric burner, even though he’s bound to burn himself for the thirteenth time and once again lose several layers of skin in the process, or like the woman who just can’t stop dating that man-child with the six-pack abs and commitment issues and the Mickey Mouse voice, because damn it she can bounce quarters off his belly button, and that ought to be worth a few more rounds on the merry-go-round.

Because like that little kid I want to reach out and just one time find the burner turned off, or like the woman I just want to meet a man who looks like Brad Pitt but has a bit of substance for once in her damned life. Well, not me personally, but I feel your pain sister. With historical fiction, I am beginning to think it’s a bit personal, and I am beginning to think I’m the only one who hasn’t been let in on this wonderful, exotic secret that will somehow change my life, but maybe not. And it’s frustrating and intoxicating and I keep coming back for more. Just spin me one more time, and this stint is bound to be different.

And I end up…right back where I started. Let’s start with the dialogue shall we. Now I love me some good dialogue. I want to hug it and squeeze it and kiss it and pat its little forehead and somehow find a way to make it my own. More often than not (and this novel is no exception), I end up disappointed with the overused phrases tossed in my direction. It reminds me of the jellybeans often found beneath the sofa cushions. Just don’t eat them. Sure, they might have been great and wonderful three months ago (like the dialogue might have been snappy and witty about two or three generations ago), but I’m not feeling the love now. And I want to feel the love.

The characters proved a bit too unlikeable. Heck, let’s face it, at least one or two were probably borderline bastards. And that works for me, if the others pick up the slack and shine brighter than a Colt revolver. But I’ll be honest: I didn’t really like any of the sons-a-bitches. Again, sometimes that works when it’s done correctly, but yeah, that wasn’t really working for me either. The characters were just a bit too full of themselves, or completely and totally self-involved (like six-pack abs guy).

Let’s talk about setting. I love Massachusetts and Boston. I love the Cape and the North Shore with its quaint little towns and storybook houses. I love it even more when its spring or summer or fall, and when there isn’t a foot of snow on the ground with layers of ice packed underneath. But this didn’t really feel like Massachusetts to me. Something was just a bit off, and that’s probably a rather quick way of summing up TIGERS IN RED WEATHER.

Kicking Justin Bieber

8136066 by
My Rating: 2/5 Stars

Sometimes I feel as though I’m genetically hardwired to be a contrarian. Not because I actually like being different than everyone else or going against popular opinion, nor do I actually want to stand on the mountaintop and scream “All you fuckers are wrong.” Because let’s face it, it’s easy to follow everyone else, to march in line and in step, even if it sometimes means you’re headed for a cliff or the occasional mountain lion. Nor do I get some sort of sick, demented pleasure from bashing other authors and other people’s books, because I’m right there in the trenches with you, buddy. Not necessarily holding your hand, but we’re in the same foxhole, staring out at the same battlefield, and trying to make heads or tails of the opposition. Not that writing is a war, but it sometimes feels that way, to get those pesky words down on paper, and then actually have others get behind the words that you have written, until they make them their own.

So what does all of this mean for NEMESIS? Well, if you’re looking at the date I started this novel (by the way, that is not a misprint), and the day I finished it (that’s not a misprint either), there’s a massive gap between the two. Where I know I had plenty of fun, and most of this fun was had while not reading said novel. Does that mean it’s badly written? No, absolutely not. But it felt repetitive and redundant, and I was never fully engaged in the story. To be honest, it wasn’t even really all that close of a call. But I wanted to be engaged, I wanted to be fully invested, and I wanted to like this story, because so many others have called it a great and wondrous read with high ratings and glowing reviews. But I just can’t consider myself one of them. Maybe I was built with a different set of Legos.

You see, the characters resembled emotionless pits; the dialogue felt trite and pedestrian; the plot plunked along like a Corvette ambling down the train tracks on a Sunday afternoon, to the point that I had to reread the back cover copy to figure out what it was I had just finished; and I ended up so lost within the twists and turns of the story that I forgot where the heck I even was.

If I were to sum up this novel, I’d say it made me want to kick Justin Bieber. Which isn’t that much different from how I normally feel. What I really want to find is the novel that makes me want to hug the Biebs. I’m thinking it’s not possible, but I’m going to continue to hold out hope that it’s out there somewhere, and I will continue to expend energy looking for it.

So Help Me God

18754147Double Dip by
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

So Help Me God, this was a funny novel. Not the kind of funny where I was clutching my side while rolling on the sidewalk, threatening to breach the threshold of oncoming traffic, and end up as a hood ornament or flattened to the road to the point where I needed to be peeled off the pavement with a shovel. But it was certainly funny in an amusing, quirky sort of way where the characters often surprised me with either their next line of dialogue or the situations that they managed to find themselves in the middle of, often with very little effort on their part.

Davis “Don’t you dare call me, David” Way has a heart of gold, a friend named Fantasy, a lover named Bradley, a job as a body double, and sometimes lends her hand as casino muscle in the middle of Biloxi, MS. That’s Mississippi, y’all, home of the third largest concentration of casinos in the lower forty-eight, and previous stomping grounds of Hurricane Katrina, which left her thumbprint and watermark long after she blew out of town. Just as Davis does when the story takes her to Beehive, AL, and she finds herself in the middle of a holier-than-thou slot tournament scandal that threatens to take every dime from the blue-haired and blue-eyed church going folk. Sure, the job may not be for everyone, but Davis Way is about to have her day.

The long list of misfits and miscreants include ex-ex-husbands (it’s a long story and don’t get her started), an elderly woman that can’t shoot for shit (popping a cap in the ceiling and another one in her own foot), and more than a few scam artists. If you’d like to end up on your own two feet (as opposed to having your feet up on a hospital bed), you’d better watch out for the banana pudding when you’re around this crew. You might want to take your job a bit more seriously, and you’d better walk around with a smile in this town, or you just might find yourself outside the glass doors looking in.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably mention I sent a manuscript to Henery Press approximately two weeks ago. Which means in four more weeks, I’ll receive a polite but firm rejection via email, and in four weeks and a day, Henery Press will have forgotten who the hell I am. Just so you know.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.