Wednesday, February 24, 2010

'Heartbreakers'


More ghetto lust than ‘Flavor of Love’s’ New York, more hardcore than Tiger Woods on Viagra, and more street than a cardboard box in Bed-Stuy. This is a very hot piece of work from three different authors, only one of whom I have read. I plan to remedy that right after this review. Each one of these stories has a solid mix of street, sex, grime, and grit. I would even go so far as to call these “street espressos”. They may be short but they punch you like a drunk Mike Tyson.

My favorite was ‘Put ‘Em in Their Place’ because 1. It’s freaking good! And 2. Because Erick throws TWO huge, HUGE twists in here that leave you with your mouth hanging open like that kid from ‘Home Alone’. Cha is a chick you don’t wanna “f” with because if you do… heaven help you because hell will be too scared! ‘Slippin’ was a gutter obscene, gritty read as well. Reading about Sabrina makes me wish they would hurry up and clone a human because I would like to get a little of what she got. Heck, who am I kidding…? I’d sell my firstborn for bus fare and then ride that bus through Baghdad wearing a “What Would Jesus Do” t-shirt just to get a taste a’ that!

“Kandy Girlz’ was good but the strength really comes from the first two stories. It isn’t a bad story, but if these three stories were in the Olympics “Kandy Girlz’ would get the bronze. Not because it did not try or because it sucked, but rather because the other two were THAT good! All in all this was a very good book and I was introduced to two authors that I will keep an eye out for in the future.

Friday, February 19, 2010

LA Banks sends me a shout out!


'Mistress of Rome' by Kate Quinn


I saw this book at the SCIBA in October 2009 and it seemed to be calling me for a number of reasons. I love reading historical-fiction books that focus on Rome, I was looking for a good historical-fiction book to read, and… it was free! :-) Game, set, match!! Now when I read historical-fiction books I usually read cats like Conn Iggulden, Simon Scarrow, James Duffy, Scott Oden, and David Gemmell. I need a certain “literary carnage” and blood on the pages. Lots of violence, lots of gore, and lots of killing. While this book didn’t have the over-the-top stuff I look for in a historical-fiction novel, this book did have EXACTLY what I was looking for in an historical-fiction novel. Doesn’t make sense does it? Trust me, it does.

I was immediately drawn to Arius because of his in-your-face brutality and “who give a crap” attitude. While this entire book was very good, I did find myself becoming impatient when I wasn’t reading about him. Lepida Pollia was one of those special book characters that you can love, loathe, adore, and hate all at the same time. Kate did an excellent job of giving us diehard fans just enough of Roman carnage and brutality, while putting just the right amount of romance to appease “that”crowd. Not that there is anything wrong with “that” crowd (I’ll wait while you run and get the rotten tomatoes). :-)

Kate blends Roman life, Roman debauchery, Roman bloodlust, Roman lust-lust Roman politics, and Roman life in a story that entertaining and intriguing. Now comes the hard part… waiting for the sequel and the prequel! *sigh*… THANKS Kate!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

E-book pricing and my thoughts.


I saw another article today about e-book pricing. So here is a quick note to everyone who is bitching and complaining about paying more than $9.99 for an e-book. Simply put; please shut the fuck up. Are you seriously complaining about $10 for one of the most enduring and long lasting forms of art? I wonder what you Mensa rejects did before the e-book? Did you steal the hard cover? Did you wait a year for the $14.99 trade? Or two years for the $9.99 mass market? To echo one of my book sellers, “If price is what determines your reading then you are NOT a reader”. Eric Jerome Dickey could put out a new book and charge $200 for it. As a fan, I would find some way to get that damn book. Period! I’m not going to sit back and complain like a lil’ bitch like you $9.99 e-book sissies!

The $9.99 price isn’t necessarily what has me so pissed off. It’s the fact that you think that should be the MOST you pay for an e-book. You e-morons suffer from the same delusional dream as Amazon. You don’t get to tell someone what you will pay for their product. You have the right to shop around and find the best price, but you don’t get to set the price. Geez!! This entire conversation is just plain stupid. It’s pathetic that we in the book industry need to have it in the first place. If you e-morons don’t want to pay $9.99 for an e-book, then don’t. But please stop crying, bearing your breast, and dumping ashes on your head like an e-book for over $9.99 is such a travesty!

Amazon put out a press release a few weeks back and, in a now infamous statement said, “McMillan has a monopoly on their titles”. No shit!!!... It’s THEIR TITLES!!! Charlie Brown had it right when he said AAARRGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!! I think publisher have the absolute right to set the price for their authors, employees, and profits. The prices will come out in the wash, they always do. A Stephen King book will cost more than a Jason Frost book because (duh) Stephen King has sold half a gazillion book and Jason Frost has not! In the same vein, his e-book should cost more than Jason’s. Seems like 1st grade math to me… but not to you kindergarten minded e-morons! You want to pay $9.99 for EVERYONE! I’ve even heard the extremely stupid argument that “these authors are rich anyway”. Please stop, you’re making my nose bleed with your dumb-assness! 1. Not every author is rich and 2. The ones that are, how do you think they got rich? They sold BOOKS!!

Anyway, the people that should be reading this probably won’t. They’re too busy bandaging up from the dry-fuck that Amazon gave them after they wasted money on the incredibly stupid and will-be-obsolete-in-six-months Kindle. Heal fast losers!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

'Big Girls Do Cry'


I’ve got a bone to pick with Mr. Weber. Either he starts selling neck braces and helmets with his books or he and I are going to have serious problems. The ENTIRE time I was reading this book I was beating my freaking head on the wall and shaking my head back and forth saying, “no, no, no, no, NO, NO”!!! Carl Weber must be Swahili for “drama”, because… wow!!...Carl brings a whole new meaning to the word!

I really wanted to bang my head against the wall because ‘STUPID’ is too light a word to describe Egypt and Rashad. I mean COME ON!! And let’s see if I can think of a word to describe Isis: toxic, demonic, unhinged, possessed, loony, bonkers, deranged, a lunatic nutcase. There. Pick one. Why Egypt keeps trying to help out this half-baked crack-head is way beyond me. I was wondering how this world could deal with a person like Isis. Then it hit me, Satan got tired of her. Carl wrote his butt off with this one y’all.

And, no, I haven’t forgotten about Jerome… with his wanna-be-player-ass. He plays best friend, he plays hard-working employee, he plays lover, and he plays other women’s husbands… yeah. But even with his playgirl lifestyle I didn’t see what I saw until I was forced to see it. There are other relevant characters in this book and they do add gust to the story, but Isis, Egypt, and Jerome win the Oscar!

This is definitely another non-stop winner from Mr. Weber.

'Big Girls Do Cry'
By: Carl Weber
ISBN: 9780758231819

Monday, February 8, 2010

'Henry Aaron's Dream'


I was at an author's reception at a book industry event called 'Winter Institute' hen I saw the poster for this book on as easel. The very first thing I thought was, "Kadir Nelson has a new book"? The artwork was THAT stunning. Working on that wrong assumption, I made my way over there. Imagine my surprise when I did not see bald-headed, caramel colored, quiet brotha' named Kadir, but rather a regular, full head of hair guy named Matt.

I picked up a book and... guys I'm telling you... the artwork was simply breathtaking! When you open this book, you see a picture of neighborhood baseball players playing behind a fence. On the fence is a sign that says "Whites Only". Even that picture with all of the ugliness and that it represents is somehow beautiful.

I know I'm not telling you guys much about (if anything) about the story but I will. I promise. As soon as I get off my e-high from the art.......................... OK I'm ready: this is a mini-bio. It does not tell Henry's entire life story, but rather his childhood to his first major league game. Matt gives us a nice, brief history of Mr. Aaron's life punctuated with fun facts here and there. One of the things I did not know was that Henry held his bat wrong. He batted right-handed but his LEFT hand was on top. Awkward!

One of the most moving passages was when we read that Henry and his team in Jacksonville won the pennant. Because of the overwhelming racism, Henry (who was MVP by the way) and his Black teammates had to stay in the kitchen while the rest of the White team partied in the restaurant. The way Matt drew this particular picture speaks to the proud, and undaunted spirit of these extraordinary individuals. The story, honesty, was a good one. However, what kept drawing me from page to page was the exceptional artwork.

I also want to give a personal thank you to the author, Matt, for signing a copy for my boys and for actually holding a conversation with me. All too often, I have seen authors shoo people along through a book signing just to get it over with, not Matt. He took time; he had a smile, and was happy to share his talent. Thank you. This booklover, father, and reviewer appreciated that.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Where are my Black authors and publishers?


A quick note to my Black authors and Black publishers:

This past week I attended Winter Institute 5 (Wi5) in San Jose California. It was an industry get-together, meeting, pow-wow, schmooze session to talk about books, book selling, and issues affecting our industry. While I had a wonderful time and learned a lot from the staff of the ABA (American Bookselling Association), one thing was glaringly missing: Black authors and Black publishers. Why? I have no idea but I’m hoping you can help me with that. Opportunities like this would be perfect to get some much needed exposure for your craft and our business.
I don’t know the politics behind trade shows or book meetings, but if one publisher can get there then why not another? I seriously doubt that the ABA is in a habit of saying no to publishers and authors so why are we not represented? I KNOW Black authors are out there because I talk with you. I KNOW Black publishers are out there because YOU are the ones who print the work of the authors I talk to. I just think that trade shows like this can’t be missed and should be populated by everyone… including us. Especially us! Trust me, I know the economics play a huge factor in publishing, but even if you can’t make the “big” events you can certainly make the regional ones. The ABA has chapters and indie bookstores all over this country and they would love to have the participation of other publishing houses and authors.

We all go to the BEA, (well… not me anymore because morons in power are now keeping it in New York instead of sharing it with LA like they used to… but that’s another bellyache rant for later) but the BEA should be the frosting on the cake, not the entire cake. I’ve been to a number of industry meetings, mostly in LA, and we are so underrepresented I hurts! Please don’t get me wrong; this isn’t a rebuke. I just wanted to bring this to your attention as someone who loves books and works in the book industry. There is so much potential at conferences and mini-conferences for authors and publishers that it would be foolish to miss out. And in LA to boot!

I absolutely LOVE my Black authors and I LOVE your work and that is why I want more of it out there. I know you guys are working your collective asses off and we readers appreciate it. I just think that you guys should look into attending these conferences because I truly think the literary world misses out when your work isn’t showcased.

I love you guys.

'The Ark'

Once again I must thank Wendy from Simon & Schuster for sending me another (awesome) book. This one caught my attention in an e-mail that was sent out a few weeks back. Biblical history, sounds good. A discovery that could end mankind, even better. High suspense and non-stop action, oh you got me now! I got the book in the mail, turned it over and the entire back was fully of accolades from authors like; Douglas Preston, Steve Berry, and James Rollins. Getting an endorsement from these guys is like Paula Deen saying “damn, you can cook”!

Like a good thriller, this one catches you from the beginning and does not let up. I’m always intrigues when an author “takes on” the Bible and some of its teachings. For the record I do believe the Bible 100% but that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy a contrasting viewpoint from time to time. It won’t change my faith. I was wondering what angle Boyd would play and I must say that even I was surprised when I found out what the “flood” really was. The villains are plenty mean and the good guys are chiseled muscle with a healthy sense of humor.

There are a few places in this story that remind you that this is his first book however. Certain things wrapped up a little too nice and fit a little too perfect. In spite of those few hiccups, this book is a serious thrill ride with words. I don’t like when books like this are compared to ‘The DaVinci Code’ because it paints a certain stereotype that isn’t fair to the author and creates an impossible mountain to overcome. This book doesn’t need to be compared to anything because it can stand on its own. If you’re looking for a literary recipe that includes a dash of something Biblical, a sprinkle of something historic, a pinch of something engrossing, and a smatter of something fun then I would say this should be the next book on your menu.