Check My Tongue

18822308 by
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

If it weren’t for Kemper and Dan, I might have never heard of Megan Abbott. And had I not heard of her and went through life aimlessly lacking direction and motivation and reading material, I might have had to kill myself. That would have resulted in a serious shit storm that would have blown the universe to smithereens, and thereby reducing the otherwise wonderful and happy-go-lucky world into the next apocalypse. Yeah, kind of like a Megan Abbott novel. Don’t let her small height and cherubic features deceive you, she’s one cold-hearted bitch. But if you have any sense, you love her anyway. Because she’s that cool. I mean, she’s like the latest reality star, only she actually has sense and a brain and can actually form a coherent sentence. And not just one, mind you, an entire novel filled with coherent sentences that make me want to swoon with lust-filled envy, right after I pull the knives out of my back and thigh, and practice my duck and cover maneuver, so that I actually live to see my next birthday and my wife and unicorns and rainbows and peace signs.

Even sitting in the same room with her, her coolness reaches your level, after it drops from the rafters, and basks you in warmth and smiles. But you don’t smile while reading a Megan Abbott novel, if you know what’s good for you, and you don’t turn your back on it either. You run through that gauntlet like there’s a rattlesnake that’s about to devour your skinny ass, and you crash through the nearest brick wall you can find, even if it results in a knot the size of Wyoming and thirty-seven stitches.

And if I had any sense whatsoever, I’d probably avoid writing the below review, because of all the greatness that has come before me. But I need to have my head examined, and until then, I’m under the distinct impression that I’m somehow a contributing member of society. So…here we go.

THE FEVER made me want to check my tongue in the mirror, swallow a round of medicine, and turn in early for possibly the rest of my life. But, on the other hand, I finished the novel, and found myself wanting. Wanting more story, more character, and more straight evilness, even if the high school depicted in these pages made me want to pull the fire alarm and run for the nearest exit. And even if I finished said novel in rapid fashion with no real time to slow down and smell a few dandelions.

Sure, Ms. Abbott has some serious writing chops, and her credentials could make even the most brazen teenager blush, but I just can’t seem to help myself in my pursuit of excellence. The funk is most likely my own, and I blame the greatness that has blazed the path before me for my sudden hard right turn into the nearest ditch, as I look to cop a feel in the front passenger seat of my motor vehicle with a woman dressed in a miniskirt and pom-poms and a smile white enough for the TV.

The prose sung, the dialogue had punch and direction, and yet I still wanted more. Maybe I need to have my head examined, and possibly the only cure is to read more Megan Abbott. So I’ll have to take a note and make that a priority. So I can learn the error of my ways. As for you, my fellow reader, you may want to read Queenpin and Dare Me, like stat, because those two novels are seriously fucked up in an absolutely wonderful way.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.

Book Crack

9303735 by
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

When your wife’s away, it’s nice to read about somebody getting laid. BACKSTAGE PASS, however, takes the term Boy Band Ass to a whole new level commensurate with flashing lights and gleaming beacons and beautiful girls in black lace bras and thongs. If that’s not enough to get your mojo running, there’s also a Human Sexuality professor who not only heightens the overall sexual experience to a mind-boggling level, she’s got the body of a porn star.

Had I read this book in my teens, I’d have probably dropped out of school to become a rock star, even though I’m devoid of all rhythm, can’t carry a tune to save my life, and have no inkling of any musical talent whatsoever. But the fans, man. The fans. You might have to play a few dive bars in a few dive towns and sleep on a couch and drink directly from a faucet and pee in the bushes when the neighbors aren’t looking, but that’s a sacrifice many a man would indeed make. Because the girls are young and uninhibited and filled with lust and love and starry-eyes and butts that could stand up to Jennifer Lopez.

The makeup might be a bit too thick and the eyes a bit too black and the skirts a bit too short, but that’s all just a part of the wonderful, inebriated experience. I’d have to say that this book might indeed be filled with crack, or some other illegal substance. Because the writing made me laugh out loud at times, the dialogue had a serious aftertaste and more than a little cringe to it, the plot lacked a certain amount of sophistication, and the characters felt a bit too stereotypical and one-dimensional. But I seriously couldn’t stop reading. I mean, seriously.

This might as well have been book porn, as the porn factor seeped through the pages and into my living room. It had the trademark bad dialogue, a lack of plot, and characters who probably needed a Happy Meal and a brain transplant (other than the sexually liberating professor). I had this entire list of things to do today. But none of that particularly mattered, as I read onward and upward with a glazed look in my eye and my mouth hung at a slight angle, as I waited with bated breath for the next scene to pound away at my senses. And I might have even stood up and cheered if I wasn’t already glued to my seat.

When I need some more book crack or book porn, I’ll tear off another jacket or miniskirt and hold on tight for the wild ride. In the meantime, I plan to get as far away from romance novels as possible for the foreseeable future, otherwise there’s a more than good chance I’ll spontaneously combust, and my wife will be picking herself up from the airport.

Conflicted Individual

20943457 by
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Debbie may not do it anymore, but she was pretty damn good at it when she did it. She started out giving fifteen dollar blowjobs in her teens, living a life on the streets, and in the passenger seat of the latest motor vehicle, and offering up her own piece of heaven to the casual male observer who just happened to park his car in the parking lot and beckon her over. Her long platinum blond hair and crystal blue eyes along with the tattoo under her eye became her trademark in an industry filled with thousands of boobs and genitalia. It certainly didn’t hurt her reputation that she could handle approximately four guys at once, and still leave the poor bastards begging for more. And her hundreds of films along with her trademark looks made her instantly recognizable to many men over the age of eighteen, and possibly a few who slipped under the radar.

Losing her fornicating husband to a hot tub electrocution while he pounded away at the next wannabe starlet managed to slow her down just a bit. But in the end it wasn’t too much. Instead, she’s a woman on a mission, and that mission is to move on with her life, and leave her waxed past firmly in her rearview mirror.

Debbie Dare/Sandra Peel might have been one of the most conflicted individuals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting over the course of a novel. She was raw and uninhibited and passionate and suicidal and conflicted and emotional and overflowing with turmoil and grief. But the way she stepped across the page with naked and unadulterated ambition, pretty much telling the world they can either pay attention or not, and that either way she doesn’t really give a fuck made me love her all that much more.

She may have had the greatest orgasm of her life on her last porn shoot before the instant and dramatic change in her existence, but I must say I had a rather enjoyable (certainly not the greatest) reading experience, as I pounded my way through DEBBIE DOESN’T DO IT ANYMORE with something resembling a reckless abandon and a burning need and desire to find out what would happen next.

Oh, and for those of you who are certainly going to make the comment “This ain’t no Easy Rawlins novel” and then be proud of yourself for your profound and bold statement. I’d just like to take a moment and say that it’s not that profound and certainly not that bold, and that each book should be judged individually and stand on its own merit. If it doesn’t work great, or if it does great, but to make that particular comment isn’t really making a statement at all. And this is one book that should certainly be celebrated for the statement it does make.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.

Suck My Soul

13068332 by
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

If you’re packing a pair of DDs beneath your peek-a-boo blouse, you may want to keep the following in mind: “With great breasts comes great responsibility.” Or so says a t-shirt. That I briefly considered acquiring simply for the amusement factor alone. Maybe I could get my wife to wear it. Although there’s a more than good chance she probably won’t find it nearly amusing as I did. Just as I’m convinced some of you (and I can’t imagine why) won’t find SECOND GRAVE ON THE LEFT nearly as amusing as I did. And if you don’t—let’s get this out of the way right now—I’m sorry but I can’t help you. Because this is some highly entertaining shit. I mean, the voice and zingers and main character are more than worth the price of admission, and I just happen to have a stack of ones at the ready.

When I die and float up to the big house in the sky, I want to pass through Charley Davidson, the hottest grim reaper in seven continents. She has a mouth on her, doesn’t like mornings, is as stubborn as a loan shark chasing after a man with a gambling addiction, and may, or may not, have somewhat questionable taste in men, but she’s got a juicy ass and a seriously enlarged chest area. If you’re a guy, it kind of makes you want to cry (in a good way). At least if you’re into that sort of thing. Which for the record, I’m going to go ahead and say it right now “I like curves, damn it!”

It’s really hard to say if I liked the story as much as the first one. If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say probably not. It just seemed a bit too contrived to me, but crap on a cracker, Charley’s welcome in my world anytime she wants to stop by for a visit. Given the right temptation, I’d probably even let her suck my soul from my body with a straw.  Who knows? I may not even need it anyway. And if I do, I can tell the big boss “Woo-eee, I had one hell of a ride!”

And that, my friends, is probably the best way I could ever possibly sum up this novel. I can’t wait to come on back for the third installment. I’m thinking I’ll need a fix again real soon.

Even Steven

20543124 by
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

I’d have to say I’m not really used to A LIFE IN MEN, unless we’re sitting around discussing football, or Breaking Bad, or Kansas being whacked from the NCAA Tournament. But you’ve gotta start somewhere, and I rather enjoy usurping the occasional insight about the fairer, more complicated sex. The ones who really do make life worth living, even if I’m occasionally left in the dark, sleeping on the sofa, or forced to change my wardrobe for the second time that day.

You see, men like to think we’re in charge, but smart men know the real story. We’re only in charge if our wives grant us knighthood, but again, the smart ones don’t complain too much, because we know the benefits are normally pretty good. This novel certainly had its share of benefits, but it felt more like a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, the language nearly caused me to drift off, floating freely in the otherwise complicated universe, as my hand darted around my face, the characters felt lifelike and real and complicated and motivated. On the other hand, I managed to lose myself a time or two over the course of this tale, I had trouble completing the race, and I nearly stumbled my way toward the finish line.

But I wanted to like it. The realness of it all left me more than a little depressed, as I slammed my fist against my chest, and contemplated the difficulties of being a woman. Which tended to scare the hell out of me just a bit, if we’re being perfectly honest here. Because with women, even friendships are extremely complicated, and let’s face it, my brain just doesn’t work that way. I like simplicity, and in fact, there are times I even crave it like crack or chocolate or copulation.

What made this story a bit difficult for me to follow was the timeline at times. Maybe I’m just a simple man, but I tend to appreciate a more linear flow to my tale. If you don’t need it, or want it, you’ll probably be a bit happier with this story than I was. And that’s okay. We don’t have to agree on everything, but it’d be nice if we could agree once in a while. As for the rating, we’ll call it Even Steven, and we’ll both move on with our lives.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.

The Past Attacked

17453786 by
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

While Kit and Grif still had plenty of appeal and charm and various other pleasantries, I found myself a bit lost with this particular read. Sure, the hard-boiledness still captured and held my attention, and sure, the story moved along at a rather reasonable clip, but I found my mind drifting toward the nether regions, and my heart didn’t miss a single beat. A nurse may have visited me while I was counting ceiling tiles, and I may, or may not, have had an IV injected in my arm, somehow improving my overall well-being.

The past may have attacked my faded blue jeans, and my hat may have been tilted just a bit to the side, as I tipped it in the direction of the skirts and blue-eyed wonders that happened to cross my path. THE LOST left me a bit red in the face, and more than once I was forced to consult the map on my passenger seat. I probably missed a turn or two, but I was certainly happy when I reached my final destination.

The mystery certainly intrigued me, but it wasn’t a perfect logical leap from the first tale, and it wavered a bit during various increments along the way. I found my attention vacillating and my car swaying as I took more than a few turns too sharply. Blinking a bit too rapidly, I propelled myself into a ditch, since I didn’t have Griffin Shaw to show me the way.

Kit came alive in this novel after a bit of a slumber in the first go round, but it wasn’t enough for me to rate this novel higher. Maybe it was my place in the universe, or my sense of self, or I might have gotten just a bit spoiled after I first dipped my toes in the swimming pool, but I’m a bit sad to admit I didn’t like this one better. A part of me feels as though I’ve somehow failed this book, but with the curveball headed my way, I’ll probably take one more last swing for the fences and hope I don’t spin myself around and tumble to the ground.