Friday, September 28, 2012

Spartacus: Vengeance - The Complete Second Season

FINALLY!  Yeah, I was one of those people who didn’t have ‘STARZ’ but DID have Netflix.  Unfortunately Netflix was being stupid (or maybe it was STARZ) but for whatever reason, I was unable to stream this “season” of ‘Spartacus’.  I had to suffer (first world suffering mind you, but still suffering) through all the FaceBook and Twitter updates from my friends and the cast members of ‘Spartacus’.  I did well in avoiding it but it was hard, hard, hard.  I didn’t line up at midnight to get this DVD boxed set, but I was one of the first.

Was it worth the wait?  Yes!  Was I disappointed that there were only ten episodes?  Hell yes!  I don’t follow ‘Spartacus’ enough to know why there are only ten episodes, but finding that out was a bit of a disappointment.  Despite this meager offering, the ten episodes are VERY good!  And I do mean very, very, very good!  There is plenty of blood, sex, drama, fighting, death, gore, skin, and intersecting story lines to keep you hooked for the ten episodes.  I tried my best to space it out but I gave up after episode 2.  I ran through those DVD’s like a gladius through soggy intestine.  The new Navia was a treat for the eyes and Ilithya is just… damn… hell hath no fury as Ilithya scorned! 

I know people are obsessed with the blood, sex, and tears this show is known for but what keeps me glued is the story.  (OK, OK, seeing a bare chested Mira and Naevia doesn’t hurt) So many twists, so many turns, so many things you don’t see coming.  Our favorite characters are back and they are bathed in blood, booty, and unbreakable bonds.  Do yourself a favor and pick one weekend to watch this DVD.  Get it out the way… so you can watch it again. 

In some strange twist of fate I was reading ‘Spartacus: Rebellion’ by Ben Kane at the same time I was viewing this DVD.  So like a female pleasure slave, I was getting it from both ends.  It was very interesting to see the differences between the two.  Since there is very little literature/written history on Spartacus there is a lot of room to “fill in” and embellish on the true myth that is the man.  I laugh at the idiots who actually take time to form an argument about how this series isn’t accurate.  ARE YOU SERIOUS!?!?  This is entertainment!  Pure and simple!! 

I truly enjoyed every episode in this DVD but my favorites were #5 and #10.  Matter of fact I shouted on very loud s-bomb in the middle of #5 that pretty much woke up the house.  Episode #10 I must have watched the last fifteen minutes five or six times.  Not joking.  All in all this was a very good DVD, but at only ten episodes calling this a season is a joke.  I hope the cast and crew are given more time to really bring it home with ‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

K'wan. Animal. The Preview.

Every reader has their comfort zone.  That special place within that special place they visit whenever they read.  I have it, you have it, and that annoying person in your book club has it.  It’s comfortable, it’s familiar, and it’s soothing.  But you know what; some of the best books I’ve read lately have been out of my comfort zone.  That is why I’m telling you about this book. 

K’wan is a writer whom I admire because he is simply one of the best street writers in the game.  The man eats, sleep, bleeds, and hustles Harlem.  K’wan’s books are gritty-street-gritty.  What does that mean?   Well… take a gangster, a pimp, wet asphalt, 105 degree heat with 98% humidity, nasty people with a disposition towards murder, and good old fashioned bullet bloodlust, and put them in a blender.  Hit “high” for about two minutes and pour into a neon green Kool-Aid cup.  The substance in the cup is the substance K’wan’s books are made of. 

By this time you’re probably thinking “seriously Jason… what… you can’t… wait… are you serious… Yes.  I am.  If there is one book that you need to read this year that is out of your comfort zone, then ‘Animal’ should be it.  I said earlier that K’wan is one of the best “street” writers out there.  I meant that.  All too often we correlate a certain genre with a certain type of writing.  In the history of the world, “street” writing has never been seen as a legitimate form of literature.  Unfortunately this rule has been set by those who haven’t taken the time to read the work.  They assume and they assume wrong. 

K’wan is a talent and a storyteller of the highest caliber and I would easily pick one of his books up as I would a Dickey, King, Alten, Thor, Flynn, Iggulden, Zane, or Bussel.  I choose whom to spend my money and time on very carefully and K’wan is simply tha’ man.  So I guess after 3 ½ paragraphs I should tell you who Animal is huh?  Animal is the only child of Mother Gutter and Father Violence.  To say he’s a corrupt soul would be an insult to the word.  A man who is so beast that if you say he’s one of God’s children, God would be like “uh uh… no he ‘aint”! 

Animal does not care about me.  Animal does not care about you.  Animal is about violence.  Animal is about the streets.  I wonder… does it say something about us or something about the author when there is a character so full of depravity, yet we still love?  Not really sure that I know but I’m sure that I don’t care.  I’ll let someone else wax philosophical about a character; I’ll just enjoy said character.  ‘Animal’ is not a character you will want to read before bed.  Unless of course you’re in prison or homeless… then you’ll feel right at home.

The cover of is menacing.  The characters are sinister.  The author is gifted.  His readers are fanatic.  This story is shocking.  Your comfort zone is history.

Friday, September 14, 2012

'Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores' by Jen Campbell

Some things were made to go together. Peanut butter and jelly, steamed crabs and Heineken, rootbeer and vanilla ice cream, me and Zoe Saldana, John Williams and high trumpets, Irish Spring and hot water, and this book and ANYONE who has worked or is working (*ahem*) in a bookstore.

This book (page 38) is a glimpse of just some of the stupid, weird, jaw dropping, sphincter clinching, WTF, and "you gotta be kidding me" questions and comments that bookseller go through on a daily basis. Let me repeat that... on a daily basis. In my eight hour shift there is always one person who makes me wonder if their parents are brother and sister.  I keep a copy of this on our front counter for two reasons. 1. To read when I should be working and 2. Hand selling books don't come any easier than this.

As I alluded to earlier, this book is perfect for book sellers, book lovers, people who love book lovers, and more importantly, people who are looking for that perfect book to get that impossible to buy for bibliophile. (page 38) Christmas is coming and aside from a gift card from their favorite indie bookstore, or a hammock on an island next to a stack of books, this book is the next perfect choice.

This book is broken into chapters each with a different category filled with the comedic absurdity that we call 'work'. Read it. Not all at once though. Share it. Laugh at it. Laugh with it. Take notes to send in for part two. (I have no idea if there will be a part two). If you want more, Jen has a blog and is on Twitter.  

Eight hours later: (in my Spongebob voice) I just checked her blog this morning and she is indeed (page 38) working on a part two!  So if you missed sending in your entry for this one then do not miss #2.   Also, if you are on Twitter then please check out the hashtag #bookstorebingo for more funny and insane bookstore comments. 

Oh… if you’re wondering why I keep putting “page 38”, buy the book and see.  :-)

A few examples of what this book has to offer:

Girl: “Dad, can I have this book for my kids”?
Dad: “You don’t HAVE any kids”!
Girl: “I know, but in case you die I want them to have something from Grandpa”.

HS Girl: “I’m looking for Anti-Gone” by Shakespeare
Me: “Do you mean ‘Antigone’ by Sophocles?
HS Girl: “Yeah, whatever”.


Monday, September 10, 2012

'No Easy Day' by Mark Owen

I’m going to have to change my stance on nonfiction.  I’m a very strict “fictionarian” and it takes a lot to pull me from my comfort zone.  They hype on this book did a lot to help push me over to the dark side, but the main reason was; I wanted to hear a true narrative from a real-life SEAL.  I read books by Brad Thor, Vince Flynn, Ted Bell, and Brad Taylor (to name a few) and enjoy their books immensely!  However, while their books are based on true accounts and true warrior-heroes, they aren’t the real true stories.  THIS is a true story and there was no way I wasn't going to read it.  And damn, what a story!

Let me be clear about one point from the start: I don’t think “Owen” should have told this story.  My mantra is simple: “serve and shut the fuck up”.  Soldiers are people like the rest of us and are prone to the same mistakes we all trip over.  Sometimes we talk too damn much, hell I know I do.  But to write a book and go through the process of telling us about one of the most important missions in the history of the U.S.? Something about that doesn’t sit right.  Of course in the paradoxical world in which live, I was the first one in line to buy (download) and if I had ANY conviction at all, I wouldn’t be supporting the author by doing so.  Despite my feelings about “Owen” running off at the mouth, I enjoyed every minute of this book and I don’t feel the least bit guilty in saying so.

'No Easy Day' is a VERY good book!  Any story that gives you a “fly on the wall” perspective into an operation that we only hear (and only in snippets) about is a thrill.  This is extremely well written and not choppy or staccato like someone just trying to rush out a tale.  ‘No Easy Day’ starts out with a note from the author covering his bases.  “This books won’t tell you about any secrets”, “this book has changed the names of all involved”, “this book has been checked by a special attorney”, "this book was endorsed by Ronald Reagan in a séance"… whatever.  If you have the stones to put out a story like this then don’t bother with covering your ass.  We get it and we don't need it OK?  And the people that need an explanation won’t believe anything you have to say anyway.

After those few pages we get what we came for: the mission.  “Owen” starts off with the team being on a Blackhawk one minute out from the compound on the mission to kill Osama.  This story switches from the past to the present but not in a confusing way.  In the first part of the book we get a taste of what drove him to want to be a SEAL and the absolute agonizing vetting process these guys go through.  Physical doesn’t even begin to describe it.  Grueling doesn’t either.  Matter of fact; just throw out every adjective that comes to mind because you won’t even come close.  These guys are the guys that Alpha Males want to be.

We learn about SEAL training, we read about “Owen’s” first missions, and we also learn about two million and one military acronyms. You wanna see what Sesame Street would be like if everyone was on crack?!  Good heavens! We are taken on missions and we see, in a small way, how SEALs run their operations, and it was a good buildup to why I wanted to read this book in the first place. "Owen" mentions more than a few times about how Hollywood gets these types of movies wrong all the time. Reading about the missions in this book I can see that. One of the best parts of this book was the mission was when they went after the pirates that kidnapped one of our. Remember that?  I do.  The precision in which they did their job is chilling. And even though I had nothing to do with that mission, I was proud. Borderline giddy.

As I alluded to earlier, this book goes from past to present and it does so because "Owen" is setting the foundation for the big story. Bin Laden.  As "Owen" says in this book, "this is the mission they all dream about". Not necessarily Bin Laden, but one with implications that will be felt for years, even decades later. After years of tracking and misinformation, the U.S. gets lucky with a bit of Intel and that little bit turns out to be the golden ticket.  Enter the SEALs and start the death timer for that animal. In the earlier missions we didn't hear much about the political caca that must be dealt with. With the hunting of this animal the American PC machine is in full useless bloom!  It's so bad the SEALs didn't even believe they would get the green light.

One of the most sickening parts of this story was when they were planning the mission with the VIP's, and in the room with these elite, professional, war tested and war proven soldiers... was a lawyer. A  freaking lawyer!!  This is a quote from this idiot: "If he doesn't pose a threat you will detain him". WHAT?!  I was literally yelling at the book, "this is Bin Laden you moron!!  What do you mean "if he poses a threat"?  "This guy’s very life is a threat!!" Typical Washington BS.

Stupid comments like that as well as other things done for the betterment of politics, rather than for the betterment of the mission was why the SEALs didn't believe Washington had the balls to say "go".  In this case they did and the SEALs did what they do best. This part of the book just flew by because I wanted to know what happened. OK fine, I already knew what happened, but I wanted... more.  Make time for this part of the book folks... you'll need it. I reread and highlighted more in the last 1/4 than I did the entire 3/4 of this book. Parts of this mission have their own chapter and the most arresting one was the one entitled "Geronimo". All of the (so called) controversy is worth it when you read this section. That's all I'm going to say about that.

Because I usually read the fictional stories I had to tell myself that this was a true and these were real people.  Jen was a woman who really stood out.  She had a small part in this book but a big part in our real world.  And I know that we are talking SEAL this and SEAL that, but "Owen" paints a very detailed picture about the number of people working behind the scene. Of course SEALs usually work behind the scenes (ouch)... I've never served even as I was/am surrounded by people who do. As a layman I didn't see any secrets being given up. True I wouldn't know what to look for, but I do admit that the bigger issue is he spoke, not what he spoke about.

Another big issue being bantered around was what "Owen" said about President Obama. Ummmmm... I finished the book and didn't see any disparaging remarks about our President. There are some remarks that were made by teammates that I'm sure were private (again, shut up "Owen") but I didn't see anything disrespectful at all. The only thing I saw were soldiers being soldiers. Soldiers, who were tired of politicians making laws from behind a desk while they put in the work. Tired of burying friends while they bury earmarks. Tired of fighting and detaining the same enemy every thirty days because they are very versed on our laws, and has taken to running and hiding under the constitution of a country they profess to hate and actively seek to destroy.  Yeah I see the frustration there and some things will be said in the heat of the moment.
That being said, no soldier should publicly say anything negative about the Commander in Chief.  Privately… go at it.  (Holy crap, am I really at three pages for this review?)  OK I better wrap this up.  Look, bottom line; if you are looking for a quick very good non-fiction read then I highly, highly recommend this book.  Ignore the hype, and to be fair, ignore the good AND bad hype.  This is a book that you will need to read personally to draw your own conclusions.  No matter your feeling on Mr. “Owen” and his yammering jaw, we can at least agree that the SEALs are an elite and extremely brave type of soldier that America is honored to have on her soil and who will forever be in debt to these men.


Monday, September 3, 2012

'Zoo' by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

Well now… this was a fun book.  Did you ever wonder what would happen if animals developed a conscience?  What would happen if they decided that they were sick and tired of being locked inside that house?  Sick of being locked inside a cage?  Sick of eating nasty pet food?  In ‘Zoo’ we find out.  In scary, bloody, and horrific fashion.  The basic plot; the animals have lost their damn mind and the roles between man and beast have been reversed.  The delicate balance that is between predator and prey, pet and owner… isn’t so delicate anymore.  We’ve become the #4 value meal and the animals are DAMN hungry!  I know what you’re thinking, “Is this like ‘Planet of the Apes’”?  No.  Not unless I missed the part where the apes went Paula Deen on Detroit. 

Aside from this story forcing me to skip lunch and ignore my bedtime in order to read it (I can blame the Olympics for part of that though), the other driving force in this story is Jackson Oz.  He is a total and complete smartass.  I loved him instantly.  Oz is a brilliant scientist.  Oz is a brilliant scientist who has a smokin’ hot sex-buddy.  Oz is a brilliant scientist who has a smokin’ hot sex-buddy who is with him despite Oz being a joke in the scientific community.  Despite his evidence to the contrary, nobody believes that the animals are going coo-coo.  Correction: the ones that are alive don’t believe him.  The ones that have had their face chewed off, entrails spayed across the sidewalk, and eyes turned into meatballs have no doubt. 

Probably the most shocking thing (other than the ending) is the reason for the animals’ murderous coo-coo behavior.  It was a good mix of real science and fantasy science.  Heck, it could be a good mix of real science and real science, but some of that stuff was above my pay grade.  This is a fantastic science fiction tale so please save me your false "this can't happen in the real world" indignation. It's fiction Einstein, and it's very entertaining fiction.  Your innocent pet might not look so innocent anymore after a reading few pages of this book.

One other surprising aspect of this book was the time fame. (No spoilers) I didn't see this book taking that route at all. Not time warps, but time jumps. Interesting concept that plays well within the story and only made the decisions and actions taken, even more ridiculous.  Patterson is known for his blazing fast stories and this one is birthed from that same womb.  ‘Zoo’.  This ‘aint the San Diego variety.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

'Z Rated: Chocolate Flava 3' presented by Zane

Whoever said "patience was a virtue" obviously wasn't a book lover. Having to wait on a book (written or edited) by Zane is as pleasingly torturous as watching Gabrielle Union getting undressed... slowly. You want her to hurry up and take her time at the same time!  Well 'Z-Rated' is here and Gabrielle is naked (just work with me here).  Picking stories to put in a collection has to be an impossible job. Choosing the right stories out of the thousands of submissions must be as stressful as it is fun.  I mean we are talking erotica here folks.  

Reading this book, for me, was a no-brainer. Zane is a talent no doubt, but a talent who is also good people. And that matters. TRUST ME. In a world of fewer dollars and more (not necessarily better) books, you better believe that having an author/editor/publisher that cares about their industry and readers, matters.

But enough of the Jason soapbox, let's get to the sex!  Hot, nasty, steamy, call out to Jesus and his best friend, dirty, on top of the car, under the bleachers, all up in it sex!!  Zander starts us off and Allison Hobbs follows. See?  Right there with that starting lineup you know Zane is coming out strong and ain't playing any games. 'Meat Me' by Lynn Lake is the story that really sets it off. Oh my goodness!!  This woman is the definition of "freak" and has the spent body to prove it. This story is hot, hot, FREAKING hot!!

'Choices' by Tenille Brown is another one that stands out. Why?  Because of her short purple dress and mocha colored thighs, that's why. (Oh yeah... and the orgasmic sex on the Cadillac didn't hurt either).  The Night Game by Patt Mihailoff is another extremely sexual and extremely physical short story.  Ive never been big on Little League baseball, but I might now.  The animalistic passion given off by Jaleel and Nyrah will have you at the ballpark at night with a flashlight just hoping!  The Pussy Pleaser by Cairo is about what you would expect from the male freak himself.  The first sentence in this story speaks truth and judging by the stuff he posts on FaceBook, its probably his personal motto.  The Brother by Alegra Verde gets a mention because its just plain damn wrong.  Sexy as hell!!  But wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong!  Atlanta Proper by Tabitha Strong is hot because we see that like murder, the statue of lust has no time limitations.   Sweet Chocolates First Taste by Richard Burns is a sweet (yeah I said sweet) story about a soldiers first time.  Every male should be so lucky to meet a real woman like Trisha. 

My literary lust continues with Sneakin and Peekin by Perkdaddy is about a voyeurs dream come true like you wouldnt believe.  Now, when I got to the next story I must say that I was pleasantly surprised, a little shocked, and very pleased to see that Rachel Kramer Bussel had a story in here.  Now if you dont know who RKB is let me help you out.  Shes a freaking legend!  Getting her is like signing the 2000s Kobe Bryant on the 1990s Bulls team.  Its like having Meagan Good ride you reverse cowgirl immediately after having Nicole Ari Parker doggy style.  Rachels story is Party On and if youre into spankings and being dominated, this one is for you.  Hell, even if you ARENT into spanking and being dominated, this one would be for you. 

Zane closes this collection with a banger!  Throughout this entire collection I thought I had seen and read almost every freaky thing these authors could come up with.  Zane still found a way to shock me.  I (of course) wont tell you but I have never, and I mean NEVER heard of doing that with strawberries.  Seriously Zane?  OMG!!!!  As with every Zane story there is the laugh out loud moments and the orgasm out loud moments.  (Barnacle?) 

This anthology ends with contact info for the authors and a special treat; another short story, this time from R.W. Shannon.  All in all there are twenty-seven short stories (twenty-seven!) in here to keep you and your partner slick, sweaty, sticky, and satisfied.  But dont take my word for it OK maybe you should take my word for it, this will be one collection that youll want to keep on your shelf at work or on your tablet to revisit from time to time.  Speaking of which, I gotta go now