Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Jason's 'Top 10 Books' for 2013

Well, 2013 was a very busy book year, but it was also a slow book reading year.  I don’t know if I was just busy or just very particular with what I read and what I spent my money on, but I didn’t read as much this year as I have in previous years. 

So while I have fewer books from which to choose, I also think having fewer books means that I really had to pick the crème de la crème!  As I look over this list I see familiar faces like Eric, Steve, and Rachel, as well as newcomers like Rebecca and Terry. 

But new or old these writers all have one thing in common, they can write the stink off a skunk.  Reading is so much better when you have good material to read.  I think reading should be fun, I think reading should be something that one looks forward to, I think reading should be savored like good food and great wine, and I also think that reading should be a part of ones soul.

It's damn sure part of mine.

So here it is, one man’s opinion on what he thinks are the best books he’s read in 2013.  The books that kept him up at night, the books that made his heart beat, the books that made him reaffirm why he does what he does, the books that left impressions on his soul like Play-Doh, and the books that made him write this blog and caused him to suddenly start writing in third person.  

**The title will take you to my review and the author's name will take you to their website.**


Upcoming work:

‘A Wanted Woman’ – April 15th, 2014

Jason's Take:
Eric is simply my favorite author.  Period.  An amazing talent that is known to those who have read him and missed by those who don't.  You're asking "how can you miss something that you've never seen/read?"  Steve Jobs already answered that question in the tech arena.  Eric answers it in the literary one. 

Eric's FaceBook Fan Page 

Eric's Twitter


Upcoming Work:

‘Dog Training the American Male’ by L.A. Knight – July 2014
‘Sharkboy’ – August 2014

Jason's Take:
My man Steve.  This man already has two books on my 'best book I've ever read' list.  I wonder how many he'll have when it's all said and done?

Steve's FaceBook Fan Page


Jason's Take:
This book doesn't come out in the U.S. until May 27th, but I've already started telling my people about it.  This is a 700-page book but it reads like it's 50.  I hate to sound cliche' but damn if this book isn't fu*king epic in every damn sense of the word!  Put this one on your 'to read' list now... you can iMessage me a thank you later.  

'I Am Pilgrim' FaceBook Page


While Rebecca doesn’t have a title or release date set for her next book she did say this about it – 
“It's about the biblical Queen Esther, an orphan who was taken into the harem of the king of Persia (Xerxes, in my novel), and went on to become queen. She must stand up to the most powerful advisor in the empire and sway the king if she wants to save her people from genocide. This book is a sort of biblical ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ with a touch of ‘Game of Thrones’”.

Jason's Take:
This is one of those books where the cover just grabbed me.  This is just a gorgeous cover!  Luckily the magic doesn't stop there, I really enjoyed this book as well.  Usually religious-fiction book don't grab or hold my attention.  Rebecca did... so did Javan!  

Rebecca's FaceBook Page

Rebecca's Twitter


Jason's Take:
Roman-fiction is my FAVORITE genre and lately it seems like when I do a search for new stuff, all I get is crap.  Ben isn't a new voice but when I talk books in the bookstore, his is a name that most of my people haven't heard of.  I make sure to remedy that.  Rome, seen through different eyes.  

Ben's FaceBook Page

Ben's Twitter

Upcoming work:

'Hannibal: Clouds of War'
February 2014 (UK Date)


Jason's Take:
One of Grisham's very better books!  And yes, I meant to say 'very better'!

John's FaceBook Page


'Arena' by Simon Scarrow

Jason's Take:

This book was actually made up of five different eBooks released every two months or so.  Having to wait two months for each story gave me a new respect for crackheads.    

Simon's FaceBook Page

Simon's Twitter


'Apacheria' by William Altimari

Jason's Take:

I did a FaceBook post saying something like, "can anyone help me find a GOOD Western?"  Next thing I know I'm downloading this book.  This wasn't a good Western, this was a GREAT Western!  I wrote William after I had written my review for this book and he writes back a THREE PAGE letter back.  I won't say what was in the note but it was one of the nicest and most personal letters I have ever received from an author.    

William's FaceBook Page

Upcoming work:

‘Rider in the Rain’ 
 Mid-winter release date


Jason's Take:

Damn.  What can I say about K'wan?  I think the thing that I admire most about K'wan is the fact that he grinds his ass off!  He's been in the game a long time and truly respects the craft, his fans, and the art.  2014 looks like it will be a busy publishing year for him... I can only hope a cookbook is in the mix somewhere).  

K'wan's FaceBook Page

K'wan's Twitter

Upcoming work:


Jason's Take

Rachel is another writer who is constantly busy!  Always writing, editing, submitting, traveling, reading, proofreading, blogging, and cupcake-ing.  The general public has been thrust into the world of '50 Shades', but Rachel has been putting out (hehehe) good erotics stories LONG before it became mainstream.  Haven't read anything by her?  Change that in 2014.  Your imagination (and blood pressure) will thank you.

Rachel's FaceBook Page

Rachel's Twitter

Upcoming works:

Friday, December 13, 2013

'Poster Child: She Could Be You' by Vernica Roberson

At the time I wrote this review (July 2013) I have not read one non-fiction book this year.  That's of no surprise to anyone who knows me.  I read non-fiction less than I work out.  So why this one?  Well basically, the author is a friend of mine and she asked me to.  Granted it took me a while, but again... if you know me then you know that I read according to how I feel, not when I should.  

I was also apprehensive because anytime a friend asks you to read something you always wonder how they will react if you didn't like their work.  I mean let's be honest.  Authors have thinner hides than some onionskin Bibles I know.  Don't laugh, they do!  But I let her know like I let everyone know; I'll read it on my time and give you an honest critique, are you OK with that?  She was so, I did.  

And let me tell you, she has nothing to worry about.  

This is one of the shortest yet most heart breaking short story collections I've read in a long, long time.  Like I said earlier, I'm not a non-fiction reader.  I'm fiction junkie 99% of the time.  Any of the violence, cruelty, and hurt I read about I can detach myself from because I tell myself that it isn't real.  

Not so with non-fiction.  Even less so with this book.  

Matter of fact when I was reading this book I actually texted Vernica to ask her if these stories were truly real.  She said “yes" and I said "damn".  

Every one of these stories is real and every one of these stories will touch and haunt you.  The stories focus on HIV and AIDS and how it affects the person with the disease as well as the people around them.   Vernica writes that it was an "honor and a privilege" to be invited into these women's lives.  I don't doubt that at all.  But it damn sure couldn't have been easy... no way it could have been easy.  These eight stories are difficult to read because of the subject matter, but they are eight stories that should be read because they are as poignant today as they were when AIDS blasted into our consciousness in the last 1970's and changed our world forever.

Here are a few that really tore at me:

'Ms. S' - This old lady... while her body may spill the secrets of her age, her spirit never will.  Unfortunately living free and young comes with consequences.

'Tameka' - This sister was a TRIP!  Easily the most colorful character in the book… and I couldn't stand her ass!  The worst type of evil (in my opinion) is doing evil with full knowledge knowing that you're doing evil.  I read this entire story shaking my head and secretly wishing bad things would happen to Tameka.  And no, I didn't feel bad in the least bit doing so.  

'Vivian' - This one was shocking because of the revelation at the end of the story.

'Amy' - If there is one story that stands in this collection that stands out as the most heartbreaking and raw, this one would be it.  Even now I'm having trouble putting just how... raw this story was.  It's impossible not to feel her pain and you wish so much that you could just reach in the book and take some of that pain away.

'Holley' - is another story that made me upset while I was reading it.  But unlike Tameka, I was mad at Holley because she was malicious.  I was mad because Holley was just stupid.  Sorry, but she was.  Her husband Ralph wasn't any better but damn Holley... really?!  I know it's probably not fair to want to backhand this woman, but hell, she needs it.  

At the end of each story Vernica gives us facts and figures about HIV and AIDS as well as information in case we need to reach out to someone for help.  These facts coupled with the true stories really make you sit up and think about how AIDS has affected our neighborhood, community, and world. 

Vernica is very passionate about this subject and it is evident in her writing. There are a few small areas where she gets preachy (the Mona and Vivian stories for one) but I assume that's to be expected when you are around this every day.  It's always hard for first time authors to make a splash in today's book world and it's not easy. But if you're going to do it, then I suggest writing about something that is true to your soul. 

Vernica did.  And it shows.