Thursday, January 31, 2013

Review: Book of Why by Nicholas Montemarano

Eric Newborn is a disillusioned self-help writer and widower living alone with his female German Shepherd named Ralph. "I didn't know, when I thought I knew it all, that I would join the chorus of askers," he says at one point in the book. Sam Leslie who comes looking for him is one of those askers. Her arrival and their subsequent adventure are the catalyst for Eric to finally tackle writing the book that he has promised the lady in the yellow dress he would write ages ago, The Book of Why.

Interspersed in the book are sections of his previous self help texts and talks. He spoke strongly about the law of attraction among other things: what you put out into the universe is what you get back. And this is one of the things that the other askers puzzle over so hard. Why is it that someone who does good and puts out good or is innocent as is a young baby can still have something bad happen to them? (Don't read it looking for a definitive answer to Why.)

Also throughout the book there are pieces of his life from when he is young through his marriage with Cary that help to explain first his belief system and then the disillusionment with it.

The book is beautifully written.  It will linger on your mind afterwards. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review: British Guinness by David Xavier

British Guinness is supposed to be a humorous travel memoir through England, France, and Italy. 

Simply put, this book is not funny. The author frequently comes across as an example of what not to be like as a tourist. The phrase "Ugly American" comes to mind. Even in the description for the book, the way he talks about the locals as "people that inhabit the land like wild animals" shows his negative attitude. He generally seems to find things dirty and smelly. Communication problems aren't always solved amicably either. Sometimes he becomes annoyed because the person doesn't speak any English even though he is the one visiting their country.

I had a lot of trouble finishing this book. Small Spoiler: In particular after he sees two young women walking small dogs and the dogs get into a fight. He decides he would rather "sit back and enjoy the show" than help.

After a while it becomes a series of cappuccinos for the men and shopping trips for the women punctuated by sight seeing. As far as humor in the book goes, I think it probably is humorous to the author and his family and the people that know them, but that the humor doesn't seem to translate to a broader experience.

On a more positive note, there are a few places where the descriptions shine through. In Paris: "Ascending the stairwell from the station was like being slowly dipped into a vat of creamy butter. Everything around us changed with each step. Everything became deliciously foreign." Now, if only he had been able to keep that sort of attitude and language.

I gave this book 2 stars out of 5.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for my unbiased opinion.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Review: Six Gun Tarot by R.S. Belcher


This title will be released on January 22, 2013.

"Buffy meets Deadwood in a dark, wildly imaginative historical fantasy

Nevada, 1869: Beyond the pitiless 40-Mile Desert lies Golgotha, a cattle town that hides more than its share of unnatural secrets. The sheriff bears the mark of the noose around his neck; some say he is a dead man whose time has not yet come. His half-human deputy is kin to coyotes. The mayor guards a hoard of mythical treasures. A banker’s wife belongs to a secret order of assassins. And a shady saloon owner, whose fingers are in everyone’s business, may know more about the town’s true origins than he’s letting on.

A haven for the blessed and the damned, Golgotha has known many strange events, but nothing like the primordial darkness stirring in the abandoned silver mine overlooking the town. Bleeding midnight, an ancient evil is spilling into the world, and unless the sheriff and his posse can saddle up in time, Golgotha will have seen its last dawn…and so will all of Creation."

My first thought was that the book was a little bit busy. There were too many main characters, too many religions/mythologies, and too much action all at once towards the end. But then when I really thought about it, I felt that somehow it all seems to balance out. Each person involved represents one of the ideologies. Each area of town also seems to have its own belief system. And as for the fight scenes, fights do happen all at once and not so much in a linear fashion. As such, I thought that R.S. Belcher handled the fight scenes well after reflection.

You meet the main characters at a slow enough pace and with enough background to make them memorable and well developed. Some are so memorable, like Maude, that I would love to see more of them in future books. And some of them there is so little, that I would like to learn more about them in future books, such as Deputy Mutt and Sheriff Jon Highfather.

When trouble begins, Maude's neighbor asks her when Maude returns home muddied from an incident in town, "Is it regular trouble or Golgotha trouble?" The townspeople have experience with this sort of weirdness, so it's not surprising when they work together to battle the evil that is threatening to end all existence. I do wonder if H.P. Lovecraft is one of the authors that influenced R.S. Belcher. The monster itself is reminiscent of Lovecraftian horrors. 

The book is aptly called a "weird western" by Mike Resnick. I think it's weird in a good way - part western, part steampunk, part coming of age story, part horror. The characters are interesting and well written. The world is built well and will stand up to repeat visits. I hope that R.S. Belcher visits Golgotha again.
I give this book 4 stars.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for my unbiased opinion.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Review: Forever Werewolf by Michele Hauf

Forever Werewolf  by Michele Hauf is really a compilation of 2 books: Forever Werewolf and Moon Kissed. 

Forever Werewolf is kind of a sweet love story between a werewolf, Alexis, and a werewolf/vampire, Trystan. It's almost a Romeo and Juliet set up. Alexis belongs to a pack and is the leader's daughter and acts as if second in command while her father is so very ill. Trystan's family is on it's own since his mother is a vampire and his father is a werewolf and he has acted as courier to bring something to help Alexis's father. Alexis finds herself drawn to Trystan for so many reasons among them his helpfulness when there is an avalanche. She also finds he just might be the one to help her change to wolf form completely, something she has been unable to do, but her father forbids her to become romantically involved with Trystan. The subplots add to the story making it more intriguing and fleshing it out. It's an enjoyable read.

Moon Kissed comes across as a little more dangerous in some ways and passionate. Honestly at times it seems there is power play involved between the main characters of Bella and Severo because they are both fiercely independent. To begin with, Severo saves Bella from 3 vampires who were chasing her on her evening run. He crushes her to him and holds his hand tightly over her mouth. And at the end takes a kiss as payment and tells her that he can find her any time because he has her scent. In other words, he is in control. On another occasion at her apartment, he relinquishes control to her. And back and forth they go.

Bella didn't even know that vampires existed until that night. When she tells her best friend Seth about what happened, he not only confirms they exist, but says he is dating one and that her encounter was most likely with a werewolf. To me, she seemed to accept the existence of these supernatural creatures a little too easily.

The rest of the novel is a combination of romance, power play, and vampire vs werewolf. There is a subplot involving her best friend, but it doesn't really add much to the story in my opinion. Still, overall I found it to be enjoyable reading. It is a little sexier and a little more passionate than Forever Werewolf. Fans of one might not like the other because they are so different from each other while others might enjoy both like me.

I gave the book 3 stars over all. It's likable. It's enjoyable.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased opinion.