Sexual Healing

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My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Quarry might just be one beautiful bastard, even if he manages to lose a few teeth along the way. The women certainly don’t seem to mind. Whether he goes for the more experienced ones, or the younger ones who managed to knock themselves on the head with the beauty branch, right before their mouths open wide, he certainly empties himself in a rather judicious fashion. He’s an equal opportunity sexual healer, who pounds Percocet with reckless abandon, and always manages to get his man…or woman.

He’s not described as a large man, but he takes up a lot of space, and he’s not afraid to shoot right between the eyes, and stuff the bloodied corpse in the back of his trunk. Like the pages of QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE that somehow manage to contain his presence, he rushes toward the end, even if he gets tripped up along the path of redemption. More than one evil presence fills the pages of this tall tale. Even if the penultimate conclusion ends in a mild whimper, I still managed to root rather hard for the home team, and wield my Louisville Slugger with pride and compassion and mild resentment.

The curves on these broads, though, nearly had me on my knees. One day, when I’m probably on my deathbed, sucking turnip juice through my respirator, as pale as a white house, with varicose veins and a twitch in my right and left hand, I’ll tell the nurse, in between gasps of breath, “They don’t make ’em like that anymore.” And then I’ll probably pass out for the next twelve hours, only to snore so hard that I wake myself up.

If you don’t mind a few motherfuckers between the pages, a damsel in distress or two who just happens to own more than one pair of sheer panties and maneuvers better than a Hoover, then you’ll feel right at home between this warm blanket. Even if you have to sleep with one eye open and a hard look over your shoulder whenever you maneuver down a dark alleyway. I’d say it’s well worth the tradeoff, and I’ll try not to wait so long to read the next one.

The Other Mugger

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My Rating: 4/5 Stars


Don’t mess with Jordan Rivera. Who is she? You ignorant piece of shit, she’s the one that left me with a broken arm and spitting up teeth like I was a water fountain in the middle of Central Park. She went psycho on me after I tried to take her wallet, and you, you unconscious bastard, left me behind. I don’t care if you were flattened within an inch of your life. This was your goddamned idea in the first place. Of course you didn’t know she had a three-foot chain, and that she knew karate and shit, but if you want to live longer than twenty-two years, you need to take this kind of shit into account, or next time I’m going to leave you on the pavement, instead of dragging you away with your tail between your legs. I took a risk being your friend, and I had no clue it would put me in the fucking hospital.

You need to actually do some reconnaissance next time. What does that mean? You need to actually scout these chicks out, and if you find out she takes self-defense classes, then just step off. I ain’t in the mood to look like no damn fool, just so you can score some blow for some damn ho who won’t even let you see her naked with the lights on. This shit is important. You need to recognize that chicks like her with a glint in her eye and a warning that escapes her lips are fucking serious. She’s as serious as that dumb ho is about making a baby. And if you want to help populate the universe, instead of pushing up pansies, you will do the research, or maybe next time I’ll pound your stupid ass into the pavement. And maybe I’ll do it in front of the ho. Then your manhood will shrivel up to the size of a raisin, you know right where it belongs.

By the way, she’s getting a little long in the teeth. Maybe you should trade her in for a new model, before she secures you at the hip and falsifies one of them pregnancy tests, or maybe she grabs ahold of your sperm while you’re unawares. I can’t do all the thinking for you. I didn’t take no SATs. Hell, I didn’t even graduate high school.

Hell, now that I think a little more on it, I’m not even sure why we were friends in the first place. I’ll just leave this on your bed, and I’m getting the hell away from you. You’re like that cancerous growth my Uncle Bob used to complain about. I think it might have been on his big toe, and they zapped that shit out, just like I zapped out your sorry ass.


The Other Mugger

I received this book for free through NetGalley.

Two Thumps Up

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My Rating: 5/5 Stars

I’d say I’ve met my new favorite all American badass, and what I hope is the start of a beautiful friendship. Quarry is a former soldier that doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty, and there are enough beautiful dames and plenty of broads to keep even a man like Quarry satisfied throughout the pages of this action packed novel. The abundance of death rivals most Shakespearean tragedies, and the prose packs more punches than a heavyweight bout. Quarry has a smart mouth, and he utilizes all of his weapons to perfection.

As described in THE FIRST QUARRY, he’s not an assuming man, but he’s not one that should be underestimated either. Multiple individuals make that mistake in the novel, and it’s often their last one. I delved into this novel so deeply I felt like I was the action star, and I was playing on the big screen at one of the local multiplexes. Needless to say, I was rather disappointed when I reached the end, and not because the end wasn’t satisfying. In fact, I was rather giddy with the prospect of reading eight more Quarry novels and knowing that there is a ninth one coming out early next year with a cover that looks every bit as scintillating as all the other Hard Case Crime novels out there.

Now I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the lovely ladies in this novel in more detail, and what a fine troop of women it is that trek through the pages of this noir tale. Dorothy Byron may have a few miles on her, but as Quarry puts it, he wouldn’t mind helping her with a few more. And with a mouth talented enough to suck a basketball through a garden hose, she’s every man’s wet dream. Annette, on the other hand, has dark hair and a dark complexion, and what she lacks in age-related experience, she more than makes up for in youthful enthusiasm and daddy issues.

If this is ever made into a movie, I’d like to put in my vote for a black and white film, and Hollywood needs to bring in the curvy women. Forget the stick thin models, let’s see some curvy broads and femme fatales with a sharp tongue or two. As for the rating (and in tribute to the late Roger Ebert who passed away two days ago), I’ll resort to the old Siskel and Ebert standard of two thumps up. Way up.

Lacked Cohesion And Passion

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My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Well, it could have been better, and it could have been worse, but I certainly found myself a bit out of sorts…as I reached the end of this tale, and I exclaimed “Oh my!” with my head pointed up toward the sky. Instead of a pause, INSURGENT jumped right in, and picked up right where DIVERGENT left off at the end. It lacked some of the cohesion and passion that held the first tale together, and still left us wondering what was ever outside of the fence. And that kept the peace at bay, even as the factions came out to play.

Tris and Four attempted to even the score with strong dedication to the task at hand, each voice ringing louder than the sound of a band. The tale sped by with ease, because there was plenty of white space in between…the pages. I flipped through my Kindle, even as I lacked a smile on my face, as I tried to keep myself abreast of this place. It may have been Chicago, or it might have been Indiana, or possibly even Alabama. With white smocks and tan and loud voices of the land carrying me higher to a place where the blood runs dry.

Veronica’s heart may not have been in it, or maybe this was her plan all along, since her debut novel did much better than a song, and it still rings true for the ages, even as tigers roar in their cages, and slurp back meat with a mere slip of the tongue, and I can merely hope that we include everyone. It could have been good, or it could have been all for naught, I just hope that I don’t end up caught…in this made-up land where evil comes with a gun.

Sure, it was easy to see why folks might have been on board with this one. But I hopped off the train somewhere along the way (before I reached the fence), and then another train came along and ran me over. So, yeah, it was a fun ride, this one, and I’ll certainly read the conclusion, to see how this dystopian world ends, but I’ve reached a stage of lesser enjoyment, when I had hoped the engineer could have found another gear.

The Hard-Boiled Convention

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My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Kinsey Millhone might have her iconic status entrenched about as well as Sue Grafton has hers, and the series has kept me just interested enough to continue through to O, but I’ll need to take periodic breaths in between, or I might find myself gasping for air as the clock strikes E. Who knows? I might make it all the way to G before I pass out, but there’s the distinct possibility I’ll turn blue sooner rather than later.

Like a female version of James Bond, she has her good points, and she has her bad ones, but she goes down easier in small doses. Sugar helps, and divorces might too, of which she’s had a few, even if she’s only in her mid-thirties, and her smile might be an easier pill to swallow, if the mystery didn’t feel as though it was a bit forced.

Her male counterparts may lack in development, and end up a bit too lean on their stocky frames with hard noses and hard attitudes, and a lack of conviction, and possibly convention as well. A personality injection might even the score, even if they could probably use a little more. The mystery felt undernourished, and could probably have used a bit more flourish. Or maybe panache might have made my smiles a bit cleaner, even if the prose was already leaner…than many tales with a PI at the center of attention, even as she strives for the hard-boiled convention.

Even the women proved of a crazy sort, with eccentric personalities that they should probably abort. It was slow, and it was fast, and often somewhere in between, but I never felt fully engaged in the scene. I might have laughed, but I certainly didn’t cry, as I watched some poor motherfucker die. And when it was all said and done, I needed a pause before I attacked the next one.

Enjoy The After-Party

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My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My wife told me I flew through this series. By most accounts, I wouldn’t consider myself a speed reader, but I can certainly dedicate the time to read a good book, or in this case, a great series. And after finishing The Hunger Games trilogy, I can honestly say this series has it all. The characters, the setting, action scenes galore, great dialogue, and we lived in Katniss’s head for the entire three-book ordeal. What a fresh, wonderful character who wouldn’t take crap from anyone. *BEGIN SPOILER* She stood her ground through two Hunger Games, and she walked away a stronger, better person, despite the obstacles the Head Gamemakers tossed in her path. *END SPOILER*

This was a great read. Did it live up to the precedent of the two tales before it? Probably not. But it’s hard to compare greatness. Can I see where readers may have been a bit disappointed after the first two mind-bending reads? Sure. But, again, greatness is a fleeting endeavor. It’s like popularity. One minute you have it, the next minute it’s moved on to someone else, as it develops a big grin and laughs in your face.

To her credit, Suzanne Collins knows how to write a great novel, and to do it three times over is no small feat. Each book stood on its own, and each one was a slightly different type of story, but in the end, readers saw the complete Panem picture, and it’s a photo worthy of more than just a passing glance.

Maybe I missed the party, the band, the cake, the toasts, and the dancing, but I still feel like there’s music playing in the background. Why? Because as I write this, MOCKINGJAY occupies slot #7 of the Amazon Kindle eBooks Bestseller List. I don’t know about you, but I plan to enjoy the after-party, “and may the odds be ever in your favor.”

Rare Phenomenon

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My Rating: 5/5 Stars

I can’t decide if I like THE HUNGER GAMES better than CATCHING FIRE or vice versa. For the movie industry, it’s rare when a sequel lives up to the hype of the original. But fortunately for readers, this is a lot more common in the book industry. Even still, it’s a rare phenomenon to have two different stories and two excellent books. Sure, the same characters are back, and sure, this is all part of the trilogy that Suzanne Collins had envisioned. But to tell two different stories takes a rare talent with a firm grasp on her genre and a firm direction for the story.

THE HUNGER GAMES certainly has more action inside the arena, and we only catch nuggets of information about the history of the games, along with the history of Panem. CATCHING FIRE fills in some of those missing details, and it has more action outside of the arena. A nice contrast, and if you enjoyed the first one, you certainly need to pick up the second one. Once again, Katniss Everdeen shines in all of her independent glory, but she’s a year older and a year wiser, and she manages to show the reader fine glimpses of her compassion as well. While we may not know everything about the secondary characters, since we’re only seeing Panem through her eyes, we don’t have to. And once again the suspense builds to a rip-roaring crescendo.

If you like dystopian fiction, and you enjoyed the characters and the storyline of the first read, then you’d better race to the bookstore to pick up Book Two.

Sucked Into The Kiddie Pool

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My Rating: 5/5 Stars

While the party may have ended, the band has packed up their instruments and is boarding their bus back to Panem, the streamers have been torn down by the kiddos, and everything that could have been said about THE HUNGER GAMES has probably already been said, I still feel the need to review it. Why? Because I’ve never been very good at marching in step with the rest of the crowd. Plus, as I write this, THE HUNGER GAMES occupies #9 of the Amazon Kindle eBooks Bestseller List for only the 840th day.

So how did Suzanne Collins create this international party with a rabid group of followers? By writing a damn good novel, and despite catering to the YA crowd, she held nothing back with the violence, as she dropped it across the blood spattered pages. As for her main character Katniss Everdeen, she is the real hero of this story, and she’s the glue that holds this entire novel together. Without being inside of her head every second of this novel, the entire structure on which it is built would fall apart. You can claim that this should have been written in third person, and that it would have added suspense, as well as rounded out the other characters. But it would have changed the focus of the novel entirely, and it would have lacked immediacy. In order for first person to work successfully, a novel needs a strong, well-defined main character. Check and check.

She does a great job with world-building, and I was sucked right into the kiddie pool with the surroundings, circumstances, characters, districts, and everything else that she so expertly articulated. So what if the love triangle is overdone? Without it, the story would have lacked heart. Besides, if you really want to talk plot, there are only seven basic plots, according to Cristopher Booker. Sure, this number ends up being a bit arbitrary, but it’s not like authors have an unlimited number of plots to choose from. So what it really boils down to is execution. Over and over again this book proves its point with Katniss, the quick flip of the pages (or push of the button for us Kindle users), the action scenes, how far we get into Katniss’s head, and the world-building. If you haven’t already hopped on THE HUNGER GAMES phenomenon, you better board the bus now, or you’re liable to miss out on the after-party.

See-Monkeys And Sparkle Pants

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My Rating: 4/5 Stars

In my younger days, when I had more sass in my head than I had sense, I managed to hit a few boys, and I got walloped a few times in return. Momma always said my mouth wandered off more than it stayed home, and my jaw got more exercise than a coon hound on a huntin’ expedition. I had more than a little trouble stopping words that were better off swallowed, and I had my defiant face all practiced and rarin’ to go faster than my granddad’s John Deere tractor.

I was fixin’ to visit my momma in Nashville, where I had bigger dreams than those country music singers on the radio, and I was at my wits end and back again, with an incoherent thought that was stretched further than the truth. I had a case of the red rage somethin’ mighty fierce, and I stomped my foot so hard I thought a floorboard or two was about to give way. I hated Jimmy ’cause he was the turd of the century, and I was on a one-way ticket to the reform school faster than one of them drag racers.

So, yes, for the better part of two days, you could say I had an out-of-body experience. I was ready to pack my shit and move to North Carolina or Virginia, watch NASCAR and SEC football, chip 6 of my teeth, have tea on Sundays with biscuits and visit the Baptist church, fill my mouth full of sweet tea (the only kind of tea there is despite my wife’s protestations to the contrary), conduct a PowerPoint presentation on the proper use of Southern words, raise the Confederate flag, pray for Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, shove a shotgun in the back of my pickup truck and tear off toward the nearest access road, and I felt like screaming Prissy Pants in my best nine year old voice.

I need to look up See-Monkeys and Sparkle Pants (whatever the heck they are) to go along with my new Barbie House; I will be pursuing my new profession (curb girl at the drive-in); I plan on going out half-cocked and I’ll be double sure; and I plan on incorporating skitterjittery, pinkie-swore, crap on a cracker, extra-smart, skeeters, bless her heart, h-e-double-hockey-sticks, squallin’, caterwaulin’, dumber than a box of rocks, truth be told, lick of sense, shitbird, hollered, and stinky dog doo into my vocabulary.

I often like to whistle past graveyards, or at funerals, weddings (including my own), receptions, bat mitzvahs, airports, waiting for the bus, or at bats that are about to buzz the top of my head. So I enjoyed this book something mighty fierce. And I feel as though I should send this novel to all my Massachusetts’ friends and family as a Christmas present, so they can brush up on the proper way of conversatin’.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.

Having Faith

It’s amazing to me how much of my life requires faith—and I’m not even talking about the religious kind—but faith to apply for jobs that I sometimes feel like I have no business applying for; faith to try new books and new opportunities and meet new people, knowing some will work out and some will not; faith to write books knowing that I will fail many more times than I succeed and that others, in many cases, won’t view my work with nearly as much enthusiasm as I do; faith to write reviews and send them out onto the Internet and into the blogosphere in the off chance that someone might find my reviews helpful, or even slightly meaningful, or possibly if I’m really lucky, enlightening; faith to continue to trudge ahead when I face one brick wall after another, where one bad day seems to roll into the next and before I know it I’ve faced a week of bad days; faith to trudge on when the odds are stacked against me, and when it feels like the entire world is looking in the other direction.

What I’ve learned is having that much faith is a truly rare gift, and that even if I’m filled with that much faith, or confidence, that I still have my doubts, those moments where it feels like it will all go to hell, but it won’t really matter because no one is paying attention anyway, and I can make whatever mistakes I need to make, and that ends up being another great gift: the opportunity to fail miserably without the whole world watching. Just when it seems like I’m at my lowest point, and there’s no way I can move up from the bottom of the glass, I realize that people really do care, that they are paying attention, and maybe I can’t measure it, or quantify it, or even extrapolate it and place it on a graph, but it’s there just the same. And while encouragement from others is a great and wonderful and beautiful thing, the best strength comes from within.