Sunday, May 23, 2010

'Accused' by Mark Gimenez

Amazon Kindle - $259
Apple iPad - $499
Getting a book from the author himself – Priceless

Mark has published five books; I have only purchased the first two. The others have been sent to me by Mark himself. I’m not saying that to brag, only to show you how much this author appreciates this one lone reader. I’m sure this is NOT typical because author’s make their living selling books, not giving them away. But as the manager of a bookstore, there are few authors who I excitedly recommend as much as Mr. Gimenez. And what makes it even easier is the fact that Mark has a storytelling talent that should be the envy of new authors, current authors, and one-foot-in-the-grave authors.

‘The Accused’ is pure Gimenez talent throughout. At just over 400 pages it’s hefty enough to get lost in but small enough to finish in one sitting. Although, I haven’t finished a book in one sitting in YEARS, but that’s just because I have issues. (My doctor’s words, not mine). Mark takes us back to his first book, ‘The Color Law’, with this one and we become friends once again with Scott and his buddies. In ‘Accused’ Scott voluntarily takes an emotionally draining case. He must defend his wife (ex-wife) for murder. The person she’s accused of murdering? The man she left Scott for!! Let’s see… in how many languages can I say “awww hell no”!!!! Despite my strong feelings Scott goes on to defend her anyway. The story turns out to be nothing short of fascinating with enough twists to make Lombard Street sick.

But the parts of this book that had me rereading passages were the interaction between the friends. I love reading books about friendship and loyalty and how the bond grows stronger DESPITE the trials. This is such a book and theirs is such a friendship. And they’ll need it. Scott will need it. Defending your wife (ex-wife) from murder you’re bound to find out all kinds of filthy secrets, and Scott does. There is so much story here, but you’ll appreciate every single bit of it. You’ll fall in love with Boo and Pajamae. You’ll have mixed feeling about Rebecca, and you’ll wonder what in the world could have possessed Scott to take on such a case. Then you find out. You’ll wonder if you could ever love someone that much. You’ll wonder if someone could ever love you like that.

The last thing I want to mention is the humor. It’s sprinkled all in this book, kinda like cherries in cherry-vanilla ice cream. Only with this type of cherry-vanilla ice cream you can never get your fill. More than a few times you will find yourself holding your sides and wiping away happy tears. I would say that I love this book, but I’m sure you figured that out already. Mark makes reading fun and bookselling fun.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

'Cougars' by Earl Sewell

I was sitting here trying to think of something witty and funny to write about this book, but then I thought “why”? Sometimes you just need to be straight forward. So here is my straight-forwardness; I really enjoyed this book. This was my first Earl Sewell book so I went in not knowing that to expect. What I expect now is to buy more of his books. I was impressed that there was so much story in a 265-page book, and it didn’t feel rushed at all.

The ending was left WIDE the hell open so I can only hope we’re looking at a sequel soon. A very good book and one that I will be happy to carry in my bookstore. Of course I have to say a little something about the hot forty-year old hot women in this book. Whoa mamma!! I hope they never make a drug like the one in this book, because if they do I’m selling my mother’s plasma for a hit. Hopefully they would make one that could be absorbed through the skin; I’d be like “Hi I’m Jason”, reach out to shake her hand, and BAM!!! The drug is in her bloodstream… next thing I know, I wake up one week later sore, happy, and unable to walk! Cougars… I wish!


Saturday, May 8, 2010

'What's Really Hood' by: Wahida Clark

You know… the people that put down “street lit” are real idiots. Just because something is labeled “street, hood, or ghetto” does not mean that it doesn’t have any literary value OR that it doesn’t appeal to people. This book here, it appealed the hell out of me. Collections are always tricky because there are going to be some stories that carry most of the weight and others that are just along for the ride. I didn’t get that feeling from this book. I enjoyed every story in there. Yes, I enjoyed some stories more than others but that was because of personal preference NOT because of content.

If you’re specifically looking for a collection of street lit, then seriously. Stop here. The stories told between these covers are raw, offensive, and unforgiving. Oh, and let’s not forget sexual. Thugs and thug-ettes gotta get some too right? Whatever. It’s almost like the streets of New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia birthed these stories themselves. You know how like Athena popped out of Zeus’s head full grown? Same thing.

Every one of the author’s in this book holds their own weight. While the styles may be different, the one thread that holds it all together is the love, the hate, the swagger, and the power of the streets. My favorite one was ‘All For Nothing’ by Shawn “Jihad” Trump. There was just something about Jihad and Crook’s story that was just plain damn good. You can sleep on this book if you want. You’re a fool if you do. Wahida Clark has already shown her talent as an author. Her talents as editor are just as impressive.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Flexin & Sexin 2

If you’re looking for the “sophomore flop” on Volume 2 of this series, you will be sorely disappointed. This one takes off just as grimy and dirty as the first one, and that is completely because Erick S. Gray pops it off. If Erick’s regular books hit you, then these short stories will make you feel like your first name is Rihanna and your last name is Tina Turner. What he need to do is quit teasing me with these few pages and hook a brotha’ up with a full grown book! Again, all the stories (minus one) in this collection are on point and every one… Every. One. has a twist that will make you go “DA-YYUUMM”!

This collection is like a cross between South Central and Magic City. Expect pain. Expect brain. Enough gangsta and booty to make Nino Brown cry and Supahead sigh! My quick thoughts on the short stories:

‘Hit ‘Em Up 2’: read paragraph 1

‘Moving Weight’: never trust a big ----- and a smile. And for crying out loud, never think that you can out hustle a hustler.

‘Butta Love’: you only read about strip clubs like this in books (oh wait…). Trust and believe that women can be just as freaky AND nasty as men!! And men can be as nasty as women when scorned…

‘The Breath Taker’: cyber-sex gone WAY wrong! Way, way, way, way, way wrong!

‘House of Sin’: “I’m only stripping to pay off a few bills”. Ok dude, whatever. Think you’d be happy with making $4500 a night, utterly gorgeous woman at your beck and call, and a body like the young Arnold Schwarzenegger? Really? Aaight… go work at the House of Sin and get back to me in a week.

‘Joy Ride’: Bienvenidos a Miami. Hello, my name is Crave. Adios Miami!

Monday, May 3, 2010

'Six Graves to Munich' by Mario Cleri (Puzo)

Never heard about this book. Ever. First published in 1967; five years before I drew my first breath. Forty-four years later, the words have not lost their effect. 2,294 weeks later the impotent helplessness can still be felt. 16,060 days later and the need for revenge, still unsated. 385,440 hours later and the torturous hauntings of the Munich Palace of Justice are still causing nightmares.

Michael Rogan has been raked through hell and has lived to tell about it. Unfortunately, just because you make it through hell doesn’t mean that is a good thing. Michael has scars and not all of them are on the outside of his body. We also learn, in raw-nerve clarity, that time does not heal all wounds. Michael has a number of special gifts and chooses to use these gifts to help the United States win the war. His work is extraordinary but in his carelessness he does get caught. And in a page right out the ‘Terrorist Book for Cowards’, the Germans not only torture him… but his wife as well. Wait… his pregnant wife. Excruciating pain doesn’t even begin to describe what Michael’s despair as he heard his wife being tortured in the next room…

Adding that mind-numbing horror to the aberrant violence already visited on him is the perfect fuel to his fire. He goes on a revenge killing spree with the bloody precision of an assassin. What I truly liked about this story was how undeterred Michael was. Sometimes violence IS the answer and sometimes you must repay blood with blood. Mario Puzo tells a story of violence with severity, fury, and force. And as I said earlier, all of Michael’s pain isn’t on the surface; the same can be said for this story. Oh the perpetrators leave their share of blood, but the one question I have for Michael is, “what kind of pain must you be in to mete out THAT kind of punishment”?

Despite Mario’s celebrated bibliography, this is the only book I’ve read by him. But what a one it was.

ISBN ~ 9780451230591

'Blue-Eyed Devil' by Robert B. Parker

A conversation between my ego and my id about this book:

Rubicon: “… you like this book”?

Jason: “I did”.

Rubicon: “What about it you like”? A lone tumbleweed passes between us as we sit in front of a worn down, empty saloon.

Jason: “When Virgil kills a man he don’t make a speech. Or brag. He don’t say much. Gotta ‘spect a man for that.”

Rubicon: “You don’t say much. Why”?

Jason: “S’pose, don’t have much to say”.

Rubicon: “Think the world will miss Robert B. Parker”? Jason thinks about this for a long while. So long in fact that I almost forgot I asked the question.

Jason: “Reckon they better”. I wait because years have honed me to his tone, his inflections. He wasn’t yet done.

Jason: “Too many writers now-a-days. Too many people with free time and a pen. Too many damn words that don’t tell anything”. (Another pause as he looks across the dusty, empty street). “Parker could speak more in one sentence that most folks could write in an entire book”.

I keep silent. That’s the most I done heard Jason talk, at one time mind you, in the seventeen years that I’ve known him. Once he sighs I know I can continue.

He does.

I do.

Rubicon: “Think they’ll be another like him”?

Jason: “Reckon not”.

Rubicon: “Wanna’ visit the hoar house”?

Jason: “Reckon so”. He smiles. I grin.

No, this wasn’t your ordinary review because Mr. Parker wasn’t your ordinary writer. Parker wasn’t just a guy with stories to tell. Stories that needed to be told, sought out Mr. Parker to tell them. And the magic of his storytelling was that he didn’t need a lot of words to do it. His brevity of words carries the power of a sawed-off shotgun. Our boys, Hitch and Cole, are back; and they are still as deadly and lethargic as ever. They are an impossible blend of Billy the Kid, Buddha, and Niche. ‘Blue-Eyed Devil’ is a brilliant continuation of ‘Appaloosa’, ‘Resolution’, and ‘Brimstone’. It was also nice to see a number of characters make cameos to help Hitch and Cole raise a little hell. OK, a LOT of hell.

This is a series where you definitely want to start with the first one because… well… Hitch and Cole are such powerful characters that you need to start off with the beer version before you start pulling shots of corn liquor. Sunset, saddle, and sage. Tipping my hat to you Mr. Parker…

ISBN - 9780399156489

Penguin vs. Amazon

OK, so now we have yet another publisher in a fight with Amazon. This time it’s Penguin. In case you haven’t heard about this ongoing fight, here’s a quick recap: Amazon in their quest to take over the world, told the publishers that they were only going to pay them what they felt was fair for books and especially e-books. Essentially this would be like you going into Red Lobster, eating, and then telling the waiter that you’re only going to pay $10 because you feel that’s all the meal was worth. And not only that, but you make the restaurant feel you’re doing them a favor by even paying them the $10!

Amazon is so wrong on this that it’s embarrassing. It’s like a REALLY bad SNL skit. Course that would be most of them, but you get my point. Now the publishers are saying, “You can’t take our product and tell us what you are going to pay us for it”. Amazon said “yes we can” (uuuuggggh, I hate that phrase). The publishers said “oh no you did-int”! Amazon said, “Watch us bitch”. That got old so Amazon started yanking titles off their website from the publishers that were sticking by their guns. They reached an agreement, of sorts, where Amazon would carry the books & e-books but underneath the price they put ‘price set by publisher’.

What I don’t understand is why the publishers are allowing themselves to be Bernie Madoff’ed by Amazon. If people can’t buy books off Amazon they will have to (insert heavy timpani drums here) buy them from BOOKSTORES! How can publishers lose!? It drives me insane!!! If someone is publically degrading your product and using it as toilet paper to see other junk, why would you still be beholden to them? I know, I know, the simple answer is money but I don’t buy that. If Amazon would stop selling books by the major publishers there would be an IMMEDIATE response with consumers heading into bookstores. Even with the market being flooded with e-reading devices. Our bookstores would get a much needed boost and Amazon would get a black eye the size of Buster Douglass’s!

Anyway, the fight continues with Penguin saying no as well and Amazon gets back at them by reducing the price of their new hardbacks to $9.99!!! You know what Penguin ought to do (but won’t)? They should show Amazon their black and white behind and tell them to pound sand! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?! You are letting another company completely degrade your authors’ hard work and all you can do is sit in board rooms and discuss this and send out useless press releases!?! I wish I had a decent computer (MacBook Pro please) that had a webcam because I wish you could see the emotion on my extremely handsome face. What the hell is the publishing world thinking? Amazon is literally spitting on your product and you are doing what? I did a blog a few days ago about this ridiculous $9.99 Kindle campaign. This is just another example of how Amazon is helping to kill the book industry.

I’m not worried about e-readers. Not when I have this to contend with. If Amazon won’t comply with publishers request then the publishers need to pull their product. Trust me… people will seek out their book and get it. Screw two day shipping when you can drop by your local bookstore and pick it up. Can you imagine what would happen if Amazon didn’t have the ability to sell the new James Patterson? Do you seriously think a *true* reader is going to sit back and wait while Amazon and the publishers do their version of ‘The Wall Street’ shuffle? No! They are going to get in their ugly Honda Prius and drive to their local bookstore! Instant fix for everyone. Bookstores will get the traffic and the revenue. Customers will have their book. And Amazon can go crying on the shoulder of Sam’s Club. I wish a publisher would help me with this. Again, it can’t be the money. That seems too simple and doesn’t make sense. If Amazon is selling your product for $9.99 and a brick and mortar store can sell it for $18…

I thought about big-business contracts but that can’t be it either. Meaning Amazon has to be violating something with selling books for $9.99, right? If not then the publishers can violate theirs by yanking their product. Hell, I don’t know. All I know is that I’m a bookseller working at a very nice indie bookstore in Bakersfield for a family that personifies the word “community”, and we have to clinch it while we read blogs about industry killing virus’s like Amazon laughing at sickness of the industry that we love. This problem is easily fixed and actually… THAT might be why nothing has been done. For some reason we feel that we have to pass everything by a committee instead of just GETTING IT DONE! Publishers, Amazon is showing that it could give a damn about your work, your art, your clients, your industry. Stop giving them the bat in which to beat you.

If you yank your books from their website, I’m throwing a party! Why? I’ll be able to afford it. Why? I’ll have customers in my store. Why? They must come to me to purchase their books. Why? Because the publishers stood up and said to Amazon “you will no longer demean my work and use it as a loss profit item! Why? They read this blog. :-)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

'Deliver Us From Evil' by David Baldacci

There are a lot of stupid questions floating out there in the psyche of American minds. Is the sun hot? Was Michael Jordan the best ever? Was Ray Charles blind as a bat? Is Kim Kardashian a hoochie mamma? Can David Baldacci write his ass off? Every single one of these can be answered with a big ole' fat YES!! 'Deliver Us from Evil' is another reason why! The thrilling and unstoppable action on these pages is breathtakingly unbelievable. I almost hate to put the word 'thrilling' in there because it makes it sound like a flippin’ roller-coaster. So let's try some others: *Ahem*: 'Deliver Us from Evil' was (choose two) highly charged, engaging, exhilarating, gripping, heart-stopping, maddening, mind-blowing, sensational, and thrilling (sorry).

This book is a stunning piece of work that only cements Mr. Baldacci as one of the reining authors of the “thrill read”. I’m a sucker for vigilante justice and getting rid of aberrant evil, minus the courts. Oh courts have their place, yes. But not when it comes to Nazi’s and other cowardly terrorist roaming the earth. The main characters and group in this book feel the exact same way. And they spend their lives hunting down and decimating the Nazi’s who made the lives of six million others, a pure living hell. I do warn you that Baldacci does not hold back on the extremely graphic description of torture, mutilation, and violence. So prepare yourself for a trip that your brain and mental pain receptacles will not want you to take.

Should you proceed, you will be taken on a terrific trip of revenge, blood, pain, heroism, hunger, desolation, and finally, redemption. I’ve read a number of VERY good books so far this year and this is definitely in the stratosphere of the best.


My take on the idiot “$9.99 campaign”.

If any of you posted a review on this book because you were mad at the price of the Kindle version, you are pathetic. Actually there are not words enough to insult you and not enough curse words to spew at you for being so incredibly and exponentially stupid! If Amazon is going to look the other way as you degrade another man’s hard work because you are too cheap to pay more than $10, then they can look the other way while I call you out. There are UNLIMITED discussion boards all over the web for you to cry and moan over this. Catch a ride on the small yellow bus and take your whining there. Please. To give this book… any book… a one-star rating because you feel that you are OWED a $9.99 tome. Wow. I’ve seen smarter people on ‘I am Sam’.

Unfortunately I fear my words will be wasted on you because if you are stupid enough to rate a book based on the price set by SOMEONE else, then you are probably too stupid to understand what I’m saying. What’s more embarrassing is the fact that big-box faceless Amazon allows this. But why am I not surprised when the faceless teams up with the brainless? Stop crapping on art plebes. What you are doing to this author and author’s like this is unfair, wrong, and extremely dishonest. People come to Amazon to shop and to read reviews by people who have actually READ the book or used the product. They didn’t come to hear you and your ilk scream and cover your face in ash because you have some bone to pick with Amazon. Grow up. If you don’t want to pay more than $9.99 for a book, then don’t. Shop the web until you find the price you want. But stop degrading work that isn’t yours because you feel that capitalism turns your stomach.

I do understand part of your frustration though. Like most lemmings, you followed the crowd, jumped on the one-trick-pony-Kindle-bandwagon, and wasted almost $300 on an inferior device that can only read books. Then you got duped when Amazon snatched that one book was on there illegally, now they are reading your highlights, AND they aren’t standing by their promise to give you the Kindle version of books (that aren’t theirs by the way) for the embarrassing price of $9.99. Therefore, while I completely disagree with your anger, I do see WHY you would be angry. (not). Freedom of speech is an amazing thing to have. However, use the proper venue and stop crapping on another’s work just because you feel you have a bone to pick with your master. To do this on a book that sucks is bad enough. To do this on a book that will probably make every Top 5 list for 2010 just adds to the madness!

Ugh, I’m done. Talking to you guys makes me feel like I need a shower. (Anyone seen my Zest)?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

'Play Dead' by Ryan Brown

I had this book on my shelf for about a week or two. I passed it on the way to the shower, I passed it in the middle of the night to soothe my son’s scary dreams, and I passed it on the way to get clothes for work. And every time I passed it I swear I had to stop and look at the cover because it freaking creepy. Once I smartened up and stopped the stupid window shopping, I had a BLAST reading this book! Amongst the Texas football and the squishy gore was a humor that was as grotesque as it was funny. Yes, the story is fantastic and *almost* too much of a stretch in some areas but the fun factor pulls you right through that.

Cole Logan is the classic small-town-bad-boy-rebel-football-quarterback. He has his football team in position to win the football district title… if they can 1. Stay alive and 2. Stay dead. Yeah. I know. I really enjoy books that have testosterone, humor, first downs, and flesh eating humans. (You don’t find too much of that nowadays). Then you have your cross-town rivals that are so stupid they make Opie look like John Forbes Nash Jr. One of the funniest parts of this book is the planning of “the incident” and then conversation immediately afterwards! “Yes, I’ll take living near nuclear power plants for $200 Alex”.

The few part(s) I had a tough time wrapping my head around was after the crash. There were certain things that happened to the football players that made me go “aint NO way in hell”. Everyone knows how Texans feel about football, but seriously. How much undead can you overlook before common sense kicks in and says, “OK, I know you survived high school on moonshine, but... no”. As fantastic as some of the situations were, it only made the story better because you were wondering how in the HELL were they going to get out of those situations.

Despite that, ‘Play Dead’ is extremely entertaining and one of those “ahhhhhhh… I really had fun reading” books.

'Bookstore Math'

another 'RubiconReader' funny book video!!