Friday, April 27, 2012

'Red, White, and Blood' by Christopher Farnsworth

OK… this is my third Chris Farnsworth book and I’m getting sick and tired of saying the same damn things over and over and over again.  “This book is awesome”.  “This book is a bloody-thriller”.  “This book is great storytelling”.  “Case is one bad, shut yo’ mouth”.  So since I can’t say that, I need something else…

How about… “this series is so good that I will bribe, kill, murder, and steal to get an early copy”.  No?  How about… “Reading about Cade is worth the one year gap this lazy author takes between books”?  Too insulting?  How about… “The mix of vampire folklore and real American history is better than the mix that created Zoe Saldana”?  Too cheesy?  OK, OK, OK… one more… “the serial killer in this book is a man… (oops, sorry Cade) an IT after my own heart”?  However you take it, however you read it, one thing is for certain… YOU WILL READ IT!

I often wonder what goes on in the minds of writers.  That being said I’m 100% sure that I do not want to know that “special place” Chris goes to get his ideas.  The time honored joke for guys (including this one here) is “if I have to die I’d want to die while having sex”.  I think my mind might have changed slightly after reading ‘Red, White, and Blood’.  (But only slightly mind you).  Being between the pages of a book is good, the other is still much, much, much better!

N-E Way… in this third book in this ‘President’s Vampire’ series we find Cade battling a creature that he can’t seem to beat.  Not only is this his current nightmare, but was also the nightmare of almost everyone of us as child.  The Boogeyman.  But even back in the day I don’t think our Boogeyman was nearly as sinister as this Boogeyman. 

Chris takes a very unique, and quite frankly, ingenious take on what makes a serial killer a serial killer.  Or rather WHO makes a serial killer a serial killer.  Serial killers usually kill their own kind.  Apparently this killer was horny.  Very horny.  Be warned humans in heat, your quickie just might be your lastie. (Yes I’m quite aware that isn’t a word).  But a serial killer hunting orgasm seekers is only a small part in the Farnsworth Family storybook jambalaya.

The Boogeyman’s goal is to kill Cade.  But in order to do that he has to set-up the President!  Now… did you hear me?  how bad of a mofo do you have to be that your nemesis has to go after you by setting up the President of the freaking United States!?  Geez!!  Chris is tha’ man when it comes to setting the pace but where he really shines is in mixing the founding history of this amazing country with vampire lore and current history.  Oh he changes the names of the politicians to protect the “never-so-innocent”, but it’s fun to throw in the names that we think they are. 

Sorry… I keep getting off track…

 you’ll just have to read about this version of the Boogeyman to see what I’m talking about.  Chris keeps with the violence and gore which is par for the course when talking about a one-hundred and forty year old vampire.  Speaking of vampire… there was a part in here where I just got SICK of Cade.  Usually I’m on this freaks side but something happens (no spoilers coming, I promise) in this book that made me look at Cade in a different light.  A light that I didn’t like.  All I’m going to say is that “Cade, you’re a vampire brother… act like it!”  I don’t need my vampire protector going Immanuel Kant on me.  Seriously.  I’ve had it up to my sexy bald caramel scalp with vampires who don’t know how to be a damn vampire!  Get with it Cade or you’re gonna have to answer to me. (HA!  Even I had to laugh at that one).

‘Red, White, and Blood’ continues my streak of exceptional books read in April.  For the past two years the month of April has produced the book that I end up choosing as my favorite book of the year.  With a new one from Eric Jerome Dickey (check), John Grisham (check), Christopher Farnsworth (check), and Stephen King (he’s up next) this April is proving the same. 

I strongly suggest you read this series in order.  ‘Blood Oath’ is the first, ‘The President’s Vampire’ is the second, and this one is the third.  Reading about the young Zach is entertaining but reading about early Cade is frikkin’ awesome!  A few years ago at the Los Angeles Festival of Books Chris was asked how far is he going to take this series.  His answer was something to the effect of “at least ten books”.  I can only pray that he does.  


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

'An Accidental Affair' by Eric Jerome Dickey

‘Griot’ (gree-oh): a West African storyteller, praise singer, poet, and musician.  “A Griot must have the ability to extemporize on current events, chance incidents, and the passing scene.  His wit can be devastating and his knowledge of local history formidable”.  If that is the aged definition of a Griot, then Eric Jerome Dickey is its modern day doppelganger.  I became a fan of Eric’s after reading ‘The Other Woman’, a book that is three hundred plus pages of pure, uncut literary cocaine.  In this modern era where superlative words are tossed around like hacky sacks at a Grateful Dead concert, finding a true wordsmith with true talent takes some looking.  Be grateful in knowing then, that your journey is done.

Eric has penned thirteen NY Times Bestsellers and is poised to knock down number fourteen with ‘Accidental Affair’.  In this book Eric takes us into the world of the very rich and the very famous.  James Thicke is a screen writer with immeasurable talent who is married to Regina Baptiste, a woman who is so incredibly stunning that it would tempt Athena to give Medusa a twin.  But in the debaucherous land of unlimited milk and honey, even the rich have problems. 

Especially when that problem is on YouTube. 
Especially when that problem is naked.
Especially when that problem isn’t naked alone. 
Especially when that problem is your wife. 

James Thicke isn’t the weak diplomatic “let’s talk about it” type so he does what any sane, super rich, extremely famous, pissed off husband would do… he dispenses violence like he was an extra from ‘300’.  Thus begins another one of Eric’s future classics.  All of Eric’s books open fast, and his last three have opened fast enough to default airbags. 

This one is no different. 

A great artist paints a picture and lets you figure out what you see how you see it.  A great writer does the same.  In the few minutes of the day that I wasn’t reading this book I was wondering “what the hell was in James’s background that caused him to do the things that he did”?  No really people… you’ll read about James and wonder where his sense of everything comes from.  Especially in the end.  Oh my lord.  Eric threw me for a loop in ‘Tempted by Trouble’, and while this ending isn’t all M. Night Shyamalan, I promise that you won’t breathe until the resolution.  Providing there is one.  “Tomorrow is another day”, right?

And what would an Eric book be without an incredible cast of surrounding characters.  Those who know me will know that my favorite is Patrice Evans.  (You’ll look at Post-It notes in a whole new way).  When I read Eric’s work I’m reminded of a phrase from one of my favorite movies, ‘Gladiator’.  The Doctore says “these slaves are rotten”.  The merchant’s response is, “which only adds to the flavor”.  Yep.  Real life is on full display in ‘An Accidental Affair’ as well as the flaws that make us and the flaws we make.  Sweet (sweet) Isabel, the filthy Bobby Holland, the afore mentioned sexpot Patrice, the shell Johnny Handsome, and the strong but stupid Berg Brothers. 

And Driver. 

In a mini interview with Eric, I asked him who his favorite ‘Hunger Games’ characters was.  He said, Rue!  Although her lines were minimal in the movie, her presence was just as powerful on the big screen as it was written in the novel”.  That’s Driver.  The powerful, menacing minimalist.  A shadow that has more power in a whisper than a preacher in the pulpit.  A man that causes other men, when they see him, to question how they lived their life and a man that causes women to cross their legs and question how they choose their lovers.

In a recent radio interview Eric said that he enjoys writing violence and sex.  Oh yes he does.  If you’re looking for a book that you can read before bed that will put you to sleep and give you sweet and pleasant dreams, might I recommend Dr. Seuss?  If you’re looking for a book that will excite you with its action, enthrall you with its language, and stimulate you with its sexuality, then ‘An Accidental Affair’ is it. 
One of the biggest reason I enjoy Eric’s work so much the dialogue.  The trick is to capture and keep the reader with your words but not bore them with your sentences.  Eric could teach a class.  He could also give an evening lecture on misdirection.  He captures you with the conversation and just when you think you are familiar with the cadence, BAM!  One sentence, one phrase, one word will change the dynamic of the entire chapter and you are left breathless.  Breathless and floating.

Every true booklover is always looking for that next author to take them hostage.  Well… not only will Eric’s work take you hostage, he won’t even bother to send your family a ransom note.  The man writes with a passion and talent that we usually only see in savants.  And if you think that’s an insult then you are as dumb and clueless as Piroska Anastazia Dorika Vass Torma.  18-2.  Read it, you’ll understand. 


Monday, April 9, 2012

'Horses on the Storm' by William Altimari

When the movie ‘Gladiator’ came out I wanted to name my son Maximus.  When I saw Savion Glover dance I wanted to name him Savion.  After I read this book I want to rename my son Rufio.  Roman Centurions are the all too forgotten work horses of the Legions, but there are a few who, either by purpose or design, stand out.  Rufio stands with both, and he does it in a way that is a quiet as gnat sleeping and as powerful as a pissed off Minotaur. 

This story centers around a single cohort that must go to Judea to help Herod the “Great” hold his kingdom.  The rub here is that Herod’s subjects don’t really like him… and neither does Rome.  Unfortunately soldiers don’t have a say in whom they get to protect so it’s off to the desert they go.  The soldiers are led by Crus, but as I’ve stated, Rufio is the character that you will follow from page to page.  It takes a special soldier to punch you out at breakfast, yet you are still willing to give your loyalty to him by dinner. Rufio is the type of person that will eviscerate you with his right hand and protect a child from seeing your painful, smelly demise with his left.

My jealously with Rufio is obvious, but none so much more than when I read about him and Flavia.  She is a true warrior seductress with a body that equals her passion and ferocity.  While Rufio is the warrior poet, the surrounding cast of characters are the verses from which that poem is built.  What I love about Roman novels is the TRUE friendship, the TRUE loyalty, killing TRUE enemies, and that TRUE feeling of “I wish I was able to live during this time”. 

OK, back to the story (I do that a lot)… in this desert hell the Roman soldiers are outnumbered and out of their element.  They must rely on help from the locals.  Locals who don’t trust them anymore than the Romans like them.  But each must get past their distrust for the greater good; ridding the bandit threat from King Herod.  A weak king if I may be so bold.  And what would a good Roman book be without blood, blood, and blood?  There are certain things that I look for in a novel about Rome.  Things that are completely hidden as I read the story, because I’m so taken with the story. 

One last thing, this author loves horses and that is very evident in the telling of this story as well as the part they play in it.  I think the best stories are made when you take made up characters and mix them with real passion.  This book was a lot of fun to read and I love, love, love, love, books like that!  It’s an authors job to take the reader to a place when they open a book, leave them to soar on the winds of the story, and then guide them back down after the trip.  I’m happy to say that William does a very good job with this book and I have no doubt that you will enjoy it.