Authors Are Public Figures

I get that, and I don’t dispute that fact. For the rest of my life, I will forever be associated with the characters I write. Whether it’s fair or not (and that’s another blog post entirely) my character’s values (or lack thereof) will be compared to my values. And that’s okay. I’m a big boy with a steel spine, and I can take whatever the world dishes out about me and Casey. The first one through the brick wall always gets bloody. Always. And I don’t mind leading the charge, because change happens when I tweak people’s expectations, and I push people just beyond where they want to go.

With Casey, it’s still a delicate act, and I’m working out the proper mathematical formula, but I don’t mind giving it a few more rounds (novels). So I’ve sat idly by while everything from my plotting to my character development to my writing was questioned, and sometimes spewed with enough vehemence to make Hannibal Lector blush. But I brush myself off and move on, because readers are entitled to their opinions, and I’m a reader first, writer second. It’ll always be that way, because I started reading (or more accurately had books read to me) before I ever picked up a pen and paper, and I’ve read more books in one year than I’ll probably ever write in my entire life. Again, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

But where I draw the line is when you start attacking my friends and family. At that point you’ve crossed over from being a reader into being an asshole, and I have a really low tolerance when it comes to assholes. Maybe it’s the introvert in me (who met his share of bullies), or maybe I’m focused on truth, justice, and the American way, but whatever it is, I can no longer sit idly by and let this shenanigan stand.

Here’s the title for the Amazon review: “Just because your friends said they liked the story, doesn’t mean it’s true.” For you grammatically astute folks playing at home, we have a tense shift in the middle of a sentence. Last time I checked, not a good idea, but we’re moving on. This reviewer is an author. Yep, that scared the shit out of me, too. But it gets better, as I dissect this a bit further. Reviews are opinions, and I haven’t found a single person yet that disputes this, not even this reviewer. But what this one simple sentence says is that my friends and family are liars, and they’re not entitled to their own opinion. Yep, even Casey Holden doesn’t have his head that far up his ass.

Pussy Galore

17622541Goldfinger by Ian Fleming
My Rating: 2/5 Stars

The movie has got to be better than this shit. Yes, I shall procure a copy for myself, and watch it all the way through. I must confess I have only seen parts of this cinematic Sean Connery classic, and the parts I have seen did offer up a slight sense of endearment for yours truly. But my attention span waned, and my movie prowess faltered, and I must confess I sometimes have the attention span of a fruit fly. But I shall push through, much as I did with this piece of male chauvinistic trash.

The golf scene proved longwinded and a bit of a bore. And I happen to really like golf. After the scene, though, I wanted to chuck my clubs through an open window and burn my golf shirts in a bonfire. So…I’ve got that going for me.

Pussy Galore is one of the best names of all time, right? Yes, you are absolutely correct. But the way she falls for James Bond made me want to hurl up a Happy Meal. She may have been a lesbian, but she’d never met a man like James Bond. I haven’t either, but that doesn’t mean I want to marry the bastard.

Even Auric Goldfinger felt limp-dicked compared to his grand cinematic self. And I’m sorry but I just didn’t buy Bond and GOLDFINGER working together. More than anything, though, I wanted to hear one of the most famous exchanges of all time, and I ended up with zip. Zilch. Nada. What exchange? You might ask. Why, it’s this one:

James Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
Auric Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!

I think it’s safe to say I was screwed.

Sexism Baby

18917353Cop Town: A Novel by Karin Slaughter
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Sexism baby. It’s pretty-freakin’-ridiculous. But if you can’t move past it, or you’re going to start swearing from the mountaintop, you better just slide right on by, because you will not enjoy this novel. Let that sink in for a moment before we move on. And if you’re going to bitch and moan about it, keep in mind Karin Slaughter wrote a realistic historical novel. She did not set out to write a politically correct novel. And for cripes sakes, this is fiction people.

Atlanta is a wonderful southern city. There’s The Varsity and the College Football Hall of Fame and The World of Coke and Centennial Olympic Park and Stone Mountain Park. Yes, three out of the five attractions I’ve mentioned weren’t open in 1974, and yes, I am still going to mention them anyway, because all five are just plain cool. But if you want to ratchet up your confusion, try driving in downtown Atlanta. There are 71 streets with Peachtree in their name. Fuck me. That’s just crazy. Some city planner really wanted to fuck with tourists. Yeah, and I thought Boston was bad.

I did like COP TOWN. Actually, I really liked it. So why did it take me so long to finish? You might ask. My answer is simple: That first 15 percent or so nearly killed me. But once the train got rolling, it moved faster than a hamster on a wheel, and I was left clinging to the side for dear life. Had I stopped sooner, I would have missed out on one hell of a read. Was it the best novel I’ve read this year? No. Would I read it again? Probably not. But the atmosphere nearly caused me to inhale a carton of cigarettes, a bottle of Jack, and way too much hairspray.

I wanted to wave a red flag and a hand-painted sign for women’s rights, and yes, I really wanted to see what Kate Murphy had going on underneath her uniform. That woman could break a man in two, or serve up a heart attack to a twenty-five year old. Sure, her tits may have been mentioned more than once or twice, but if she’s got a pair that could make Susan Sarandon jealous, I want to hear about it. Yes, she was a blonde, and yes, that endeared her to me a little bit more, but again, I can’t stop that train because it’s already left the station.

This novel was locked and loaded better than a Glock 17. My only wish: there were a few more bullets in the chamber.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.

Hoped For A Bit More

24356316Stealing Rose: A Novel by Monica Murphy
My Rating: 2/5 Stars

STEALING ROSE didn’t exactly steal my heart. In fact, I may have gotten pricked by a thorn or two or three, but the words did flow freely, or maybe that was my imagination running through the fields and dipping into the valleys. Rose and Caden seemed like a perfect pair, except for the fact that the world is imperfect, and it’s easy to end up distracted when your dad is banging a younger woman with ice in her veins. Dirty talk and dirty deeds don’t come cheap, but sexual acrobatics are always a great party favor.

I’d hoped for a bit more, but I could have gotten burned out in my erotica endeavor, and instead of ending up with a smile on my face, I looked at the world in utter disbelief. What could have been a great adventure felt a little too contrived for my taste, and the plot seemed to go to waste just a bit. Had spontaneity entered the equation, I might have ended up with a slightly different persuasion. I’ll look to the left and slide my hand to the right, and hope that I don’t end up with stage fright.

Fowler might just be an apt way to describe a Rose that has fallen off the bloom. And if I am to believe what other reviewers have said this storyline follows OWNING VIOLET just a little too closely. It may seem just a little bit crazy, but I prefer it when authors are willing to take a risk or two. But then there’s always the possibility that I have no idea what I’m talking about.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.

A Bad, Bad World

21847076The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
My Rating: 2/5 Stars

It’s a bad, bad world out there, and it’s made even worse when you don’t stick to the plan. People tend to freak out. Simple abductions suddenly become much more complicated, and true intentions end up masked by pain and strain and suffering. True trauma hits worse than a woman named Elle wielding a 5-iron. And no matter how well you play the game you have to ensure you follow the rules.

THE GOOD GIRL shows the heart of human nature, and I think it’s safe to say: We’re pretty fucked up. It’s true there’s good in all of us…and bad too, but when push comes to shove we’re going to do whatever it takes to save our own ass. Sure, there’re a few out there who are heroes and heroines, but the vast majority of us just aren’t built that way. We mean well, and we have good intentions, but buses and automobiles and bicycles get in the way. And if we can nudge someone else off the curb instead, then more elbows will be thrown than in a UFC match.

The novel’s structure tossed linear completely out of the equation. Instead, you may need a roadmap to follow along if you’re not paying close attention. Mia and Colin didn’t always fall at the higher end of the likeability curve, but this tale clipped along at a rather frenzied pace even without their moral support. *BEGIN SPOILER* The Stockholm Syndrome angle proved a bit much for my taste, but maybe I’m just not a believer. *END SPOILER*

And everyone has secrets. It’s hard not to live your life without a few extra shirts hanging in the closet. And while THE GOOD GIRL proved rather intriguing and entertaining, it may have been just a tad bit overhyped. I’m just sayin’.

The Movie Was Better

18628363The Shining by Stephen King
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

The movie was better. A small part of me wanted to just drop the mike and walk away. But I like to expound upon my perceptions, even if I’m doing it for my own pleasure and edification. First, I’d like to thank Trudi (aka The Busty Book Bimbo) for throwing down the gauntlet and calling yours truly to the red carpet. Yes, she may have called me out a while ago, but I’m from West Virginia, and we tend to talk and move a little slow. And, yeah, I had the movie version in the back of my mind with Jack Nicholson at his finest level of insanity. Rather than break the spell, I wanted to hold onto my crazy ways.

THE SHINING was a slow bleed for me. Sure, it was freaky and crazy and had a certain level of insanity and madness, but it’d take me about three days to bleed out. The movie version, however, bled me out in less than twenty minutes. That shit was crazy. And grotesque. And strange. And weird. And the way Jack Nicholson pounded away at the keys…well, that reminded me of the great man himself slaving over his typewriter in the 1970s with a gleam in his eye and a razorblade in his hip pocket.

But Stephen King never quite captures that level of horror for me, where I’m sleeping with my Honey Boo Boo nightlight and sucking my thumb for a week at a time. He freaks me out a little, like an itch I can’t quite scratch, and I may look over my shoulder once or twice, before I move on with my life. And, sure, I get the feeling that he might be a little bit nuts, because genius and hovering outside the norm walk hand-in-hand across I-95. But that’s where I meet the brick wall going at 70 mph in the slow lane.

The story dragged along a bit longer than necessary. Sure, the man can spin a yarn better than Calvin Klein, but a little brevity never hurt anybody, and unfortunately, you won’t find it here. That being said, though, I’m glad I was taken to task for my novel skipping ways, and I shall make a more valiant attempt in the future at staying on top of things. When I do, I shall most definitely alert the proper authorities.

Oh, and I may never stay in a hotel in rural Colorado. But I’ll kindly thank Stanley Kubrick for that one.

A Texting Fiend

23013977Vanilla by Megan Hart
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Elise kind of rocked my world. She’s damaged and half-crazy and filled with domination tendencies and a texting fiend who doesn’t let a single message go unanswered (the callback can occasionally be an issue for some) and sexy and an outfit whore and there’s probably just a bit more that I’m missing. But she’s good at falling for the wrong men. Which begs the question: Why settle for a bastard? Tis one of life’s great mysteries. Curiosity has gotten the better of me before, and it probably will again sometime soon. Questions tend to lead to more questions, and before I know it, it’s completely out of control.

Niall wasn’t one of my favorite characters. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. Maybe it’s because I became protective of Elise, and her domineering antics. Were I to have her all to myself, though, I’d probably be in over my head in less than ten seconds. But good plans fail and even great ones don’t always succeed.

VANILLA proved a little formulaic, but I was willing to forgive it this shortcoming, because yes, I was rather invested with Elise. Probably too much in this particular instance, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. Isn’t that why we read erotica? At least that’s the case with me anyway. I want to see the panties drop and the breasts bounce and the shower scene and the ladies scream and debonair with more than a hint of flair and slightly contrived plots that sometimes coat check my imagination and the occasional ménage a trois. And all I can say is I’m a man with an active imagination. And I don’t give a shit if it’s supposedly just for chicks.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.

Pre-Mature Evacuation

17796163Wicked Beat by Olivia Cunning
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

If you want to learn how to deal with important concepts like pre-mature evacuation and how to lure the best hottie when you’re buried behind a drum set and the fourth famous member of a band, then WICKED BEAT is for you. The cover alone knocked me on my ass and had me conjuring up images of black panties and blow jobs in the back of cabs, and I might have even passed out once or twice on my living room sofa. But it’s all part of an Olivia Cunning experience where the sexual acrobatics practically levitate off the printed page, and I found myself being transported to the next room to listen in on the dirty deed.

The whispers came in a heavy, breathy voice, and the pages were filled with enough sexual exploits to keep a married couple occupied for nearly half a year. The book porn industry is alive and well, my friend, and totally thriving at the truly capable hands of Ms. Cunning. She must read the Kama Sutra for “research purposes,” and if I could write a sex scene the way she could, that might be how I’d spend my downtime as well.

Eric Sticks reminded me of your average man in the biggest rock band, and his goofy personality and relatableness added another dimension to this sexually deviant tale, and Rebekah Blake was a blonde so hot she needed to be 50 feet away from flammable objects. So, yes, y’all this ended up being a rather nice fantasy for your average male of average intelligence who may not have started out as a Casanova in the bedroom, but was willing to take direction from a pink-pantied temptress who was stacked with a rather nice rack and adventurous to boot.

While it would be easy to make the argument this was a teenage fantasy written by a more than capable author, it ended up being more than that. But I need to space out my Olivia Cunning reads to ensure proper and even blood flow.

You Might Be A Redneck

19288050Joe by Larry Brown
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

You might be a redneck if you read this novel, and you feel as though you’ve met a few of your kin. You might be a redneck if you read between these pages, and you feel like you’re coming home. You might be a redneck if words like y’all and fixin’ to flow freely from your lips. You might be a redneck if JOE makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. You might be a redneck if you’re building relations with your second cousin on your mama’s side. You might be a redneck if you whistle between the gaps of your missing teeth. You might be a redneck if soda pop is your favorite breakfast beverage.

This novel helped me get reacquainted with my southern side, where the tea is always sweet, the hollers are narrow enough that you pinch your gut around the turns, the neighbors greet one another in the morning, where the gathering spots are the local Wal-Mart and Burger King and, where the widest road is a four-lane highway. Where an entire town gets all up in your business and “Country Roads” is your state’s unofficial song. Yes, I’m talking about West By God Virginia, which ain’t all that different from the heartland of Mississippi. At least according to the latest poll where we’re ranked as the two most obese states.

So, yes, one could make the argument that I already had a predisposition to like this novel, and I’d agree with you. But Larry Brown knows how to spin a tale on the back roads, conjuring up dirt and dust, and a voice that sang me to sleep in a country twang where the syllables were extended on account of them being important words, and y’all don’t want to miss ’em the first go round.

If you missed this book the first go round, as I’m willing to bet a few of ya might’a done, you’d better find that horse and saddle up and don’t forget your spurs, in case this particular colt decides to shove you off.

Second Tier

20980959Blue Labyrinth (Pendergast, #14) by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

If you want to read a high octane novel, and discover where the bodies are buried, and the long dead secrets on a familial history with more quirks and twists and turns than your typical thriller, then BLUE LABYRINTH is for you. If you want an agent that’s at the top of his game, and you want a cast of secondary characters that will stretch the limits of your imagination, then this novel is for you. But if you want to read a great Pendergast novel, where the dialogue flows crisp and clean and this is your first turn on the merry-go-round with Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, I would start at an earlier point in the series.

This dynamic co-author duo didn’t phone it in from afar, but it didn’t feel like they brought their A game. Sure, their B+ game is better than many an up and coming and already established author, but I’ve seen the top of the mountain, and I’m not settling for a spot on the second tier.

The secrets and history were great, and I did feel as though I was in the middle of a maze, and I had no idea what sort of friend or foe would end up in my path next. But I didn’t feel the mad rush to the finish line that I like to experience with a typical Preston & Child novel. Maybe it was because I was in a dark place when I attempted to read this particular tale, and the harsh reality experienced between these pages only added to my melancholy state, but I’d still like to believe that a great novel can take me anywhere. With this tale, I didn’t get that.

The plot moved as quickly as a 1 ½ mile race, but the dialogue felt static and forced at times, and I began to wonder if I had been left on the wrong dock in the wrong town staring up at a boat pointed in the opposite direction. With that being said, you could do a whole lot worse than BLUE LABYRINTH, but I feel like you could do better as well.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.