Required Reading

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Books I have authored.

Many times I receive books for FREE to give them an honest review. I do not get paid to give a good or bad review. Spotlights are promotional and should be regarded as advertising for the book spotlighted. Regardless of where or how I got a book, my review will be as honest as I can make it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Deadly Promises by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dianna Love, Cindy Gerad and Laura Griffin

Romantic suspense was a surprising genre for me.   My introduction was fairly recent.   The three stories in this book have a commonality of action and sexual tension.   The guys are all hunks with soulful eyes, gentle hands and the smell of danger.  

My only complaint about this book is that there doesn’t seem to be any normal kind of guys who rise to heroic deeds.   The male protagonists are way larger than life, reveling in physical mayhem and then showing up in a silk shirt with passionate plans.

The stories are harder to believe than the sword and sorcery or space operas that I prefer.   That doesn’t mean that the books won’t cause heaving bosoms and shortness of breath in the gender targeted audience.  (I don’t think I have ever typed the word bosom before.)

What is truly dismaying is that I didn’t find the book repugnant.   I enjoyed the stories.  I can’t decide if this means that I am a manly man in touch with my feminine side or a major woos.   (Word defined woos as to woo, but the Urban dictionary clearly states woos is a synonym for wimp.)  I am sure you can guess which description I favor. (at least in my own mind.)

I recommend the book.  

Body of work of Sherrilyn  Kenyon
Body of work of Dianna Love
Body of work of Cindy Gerad
Body of work of Laura Griffin

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Racing in the Rain, My Life as a Dog by Garth Stein

 This is a painfully poignant story narrated by a dog.   If you like soupy books and love dogs, prepare your reading time with a full box of tissues. 

This is the story of a family and their dog.   A dog that just knows that his next revolution on the wheel of creation he is going to have opposable thumbs and vocal cords uses his insight and narrative skills to tell the story.

The story is moving and characterizes the value of perseverance, patience and tenacity.   Love can not conquer all but love can sustain life.    Driving race cars provide Denny and Enzo metaphors for living their lives.   This story can teach compassion and a willingness to help others. 

This is purported to be a kid’s book and admittedly the reading level is hardly taxing.   However it is emotionally charged and could be a bit intense for the younger reader.  (Remember Ole Yeller?) 

Although this book could easily be read by the literate first grader I would not recommend it for the primary grades.   I think it would be fine for the upper elementary grades and on up.  I enjoyed it but then there have always been questions regarding my maturity level.

I recommend the book, it is inspiring, sad and satisfying.

Body of work of Garth Stein

Web Site:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dominance by Will Lavender

This is a mystery the bounces back and forth between 1994 and the present.

The plot involves a grizzly murder a psychopathic professor and a group of students.

I suspect if you were a big fan of silence of lambs you will probably enjoy this book too.
For whatever reason I don't find mental dominance books particularly interesting. I found this book a struggle to read. It seems like the characterizations are good and the plot is interesting, I just
couldn't get into it.

This book wasn't my cup of tea but I suspect that it will be well regarded by many people.

Body of work of Will Lavender

Web Site:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Revenge: No Statute of Limitations by Whit Gentry

 If you carry a grudge, you will find a pair of kindred souls in this debut thriller.  

Whit Gentry has successfully created a positive reputation with his first book.   His characters were believable and portrayed with clarity and panache.   I found myself highly outraged at the circumstance and oddly sympathetic.  

Evoking emotion always indicates to me a consummate story teller.   Whit has certainly evoked emotions in this book.   A masterful display of creative ambivalence characterizes the plot.  

I look forward to reading more from Whit Gentry.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Whit Gentry

Web site:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

All the Sad Young Literary Men by Keith Gessen, A Guest Post

All the Sad Young Literary Men is literal in its title and literary in its aspirations. The novel chronicles the lives of three young men who you will have a really tough time telling apart. When Gessen wrote All the Sad Young Literary men, he claimed he was attempting to revive a style of writing about young, White, urban, hyper-educated men in a way that hadn’t been seen since F. Scott Fitzgerald. Whether or not you agree that his subjects are over or under-covered, it’s clear that Gessen has succeeded in his Fitzgerald imitation.

The novel’s greatest achievement is its translation of a Fitzgerald-esque style to contemporary fiction. Gessen writes about bloggers, Harvard jerks, and working day jobs the same way Fitzgerald writes about lawn parties, impotence and post WWI life in the roaring 20s. The Fitzgerald influence is clear from the title to the subjects to the style of storytelling. It’s refreshing to read about a contemporary age – the 90s in this case – in a voice that sounds familiar, but takes its cues and structure from 1920s literature. The characters, unfortunately, are less interesting.

Sam, Mark and Keith all go to Ivy League universities, keep the company of other intellectuals, have trouble with women, sign book deals (or don’t), and feel insecure about themselves from the beginning to the end. They are all connected by a lowest common denominator (education), and don’t interact much besides.

If the characters seem like three versions of the same person, it’s because they are. Gessen barely manages to fictionalize the three facets of his own personality: the Harvard graduate, the writer, and the Russophile. Each takes a slightly different path, and spends a large time considering what could have been. Incidentally, the whole novel feels like Gessen himself is wondering what could have been had he followed the whims of his inner Sam, Mark or Keith. This is narcissistic to be sure, but many can relate to these themes, and in its chronicle of a certain sebset of society, the book is a triumph.

The writing is at times labyrinthine, but rarely obtuse. Gessen has a roundabout way of making his points, but he gets there eventually. This is something I can identify with and therefore appreciate, though I understand if it’s not everyone’s slice of cheesecake. 

The book is very personal, and very quiet. Conflict is kept to a minimum, but that doesn’t keep characters from fretting about everything. That is to say, nothing really happens. Relationships form and dissolve, egos rise and fall, transcontinental flights are taken and don’t seem to go anywhere. By the end of the novel, I don’t know the characters much more than when I started. Despite this, the lessons each character learns on their respective journeys to nowhere are insightful and worth the price of entry.

Those in the mood for a traditional, yet interesting story about the lives of young white intellectuals will enjoy this book, provided they do not also like tidy endings. Though the characters can go from insufferable to underdogs in the same sentence, there is heart here that is worth exploring, even if you can’t immediately relate.

Blake Fields is a literary omnivore and home improvement enthusiast. He spends his free time looking for internet deals, and supporting his local library. Find him in the New Fiction section!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Spycatcher by Matthew Dunn

Will Cochrane is the Spartan.  MI6’s answer fictional answer to the fictional 007.   A one man killing machine, Cochrane is thrust into a situation that has Byzantine subtleties and world changing consequences.

Angst in spades may be a good description on Will.   A veritable thrashing machine of violence and a heart throbbing with compassion describes this most secret of secret agents.   I found the compassion part a bit difficult to accept based on the acts of violence committed by Cochrane.   Of course all the violence was supposedly for the good of mankind with the exception of some personal acts of revenge.   The dichotomy of mission goal and personal goals occupied a great deal of the plot.  

There is violence and mayhem galore and not all of it is noteworthy for it’s nobility of purpose.   The plot is superb in it’s complexity.   I also liked the loyalty of the support characters.   It was moderately believable considering the current world situation. 

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Matthew Dunn

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Accidental genius of Weasel High by Rick Detorie

In the tradition of a diary of a wimpy kid this book chronicles the adventures of a 14 year old boy and that age groups humor.  That humor is demonstrated in the title.  BTW it is nice to read something like this after the last review which was a bit intense.
Larkin Pace is a vertically challenged 14 year old teenager.  His goals and aspirations are subject to the people and kids around him.  His control over his life is minimal.  He spends a lot of time frustrated.   This is going to resonate well with young teens who share the same feelings.   “Just because I am a kid doesn’t mean I am stupid”, has been said my own grandson.   Kids often feel powerless.   This book may help them to deal with that frustration.

The book has loads of graphics but I wouldn’t consider it a graphic novel.

This format has been a best seller with the Diary of the Wimpy Kid.  I think both the format and story will be appealing to the young teenager.

It is humorous and entertaining I recommend it.

Body of work of Rick Detorie

Surprisingly I did not find a web site but this site has a nice article on Rick Detorie:

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Devil All The Time by Donald Ray Pollock

A post World War two beginning extending to the 1960’s, this story is an extraordinary characterization of Appalachian poverty.  

Growing up in a steel town and teaching in a tiny impoverished coal town in Pennsylvania gave me the background to find the characters in this book believable.   As a college student, drifting down to West Virginia I drank n some pretty despicable places.   None were quite as despicable as described in the book.    The scenery was familiar as was the attitudes.  

The acceptance of fate by Arvin and his sordid childhood was sobering.   Carl and Sandy were too reminiscent of some of the horror flicks of the 60’s.    The corruption of local law enforcement was something that was accepted in some of the more rural communities as part of the job.   (Hmm, I guess not just rural communities.)

This is not a book for the faint of heart.   There is behavior here that turns the stomach and curdles the soul.   It was not a pleasant book to read but compelling to read as watching a train wreck.  

I recommend the book for those with strong stomachs and who can handle violent behavior. 

Body of  work of Donald Ray Pollock

Web Site:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tablet Despair

I just read an article on Zd net about the new hp tablet.  Since I am dictating this blog I have figured out yet how to put long internet addresses in.  If you google z d net .com and mobile gadgeteer. You should be able to find the post "Should we now expect to pay 500 dollars to be tablet beta testers."  Sadly the author has concluded the HP tablet is not a competitor to the apple ipad 2.  Check out his blog post it is very informative. 
This post was made by dictating to my droid x.  Perhaps sometime in the future it will actually be quicker than typing.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Kid Table by Andrea Siegel: Guest Post by Naida Jones

It's something that almost anyone, whether young or old, can empathize with—having to sit at the so-called "kid table" during family gatherings. When I first picked up Siegel's YA novel, just the cover of the book was able to "take me back" to those days, when you approach a certain, transitional age in which you may just be considered for the adult table. The Kid Table is a remarkable book, mostly because of its blunt treatment of serious, coming-of-age issues, and its poignant ability to portray a family, that, like all families, is anything but perfect.
The Kid Table tells the tale of a family beset with problems of various kinds. The novel is narrated from the point of view of Ingrid, one of five cousins who share the notorious "kid table." Ingrid is sixteen years old in the novel, and is mired in the usually perils and pleasures of being that age. Her cousin, Brianne, is a sophomore in college, studying psychology. Brianne convinces others in the family that Ingrid is a "psychopath", but as the story progresses readers become aware of more than just one skeleton coming out of the family closet. The family saga unfolds over the course of five separate family events, and the drama heightens after Ingrid kisses Brianne's boyfriend, not being aware who he is.
The first vignette of the novel is set at a family Bar Mitzvah, in which the theme of the kid table is set:
"Over the years, the Baby Table had evolved into the Kid Table, even though it now had a baby again: my four-year-old cousin (barely) Katie, illegitimate child of my half-uncle Tobias and his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Brooke. For some reason, my extended family stopped having children after our gang. Either we were enough for them, or we hadn't been enough to encourage more."
And so the stage is set for a riveting story that deals with very adult issues in a manner that doesn't sugar coat, but at the same treats these more serious topics with a certain child-like wonderment and confusion that typifies the best Bildungsromans out there.
For parents who are looking for books for their children, be forewarned that the book may not be appropriate for children who are younger than 15. At the same time, it's a wonderful recommendation for a precocious teenager who may be experiencing the same growing pains that the book's characters endure.
Author Bio:
This is a guest post by Nadia Jones who blogs at online school about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at nadia.jones5 @

Saturday, July 2, 2011

CSI Crime Scene Investigation, The Burning Season By Jeff Marriotte

This book reads like a script for the TV show CSI.  If you like the TV show you will love the book.  You find characters you already know immersed in fast paced action.
I happen to like the TV show CSI so I was predisposed to like the book.    I was not disappointed.  I think that someone who isn't familiar with the show might have a little difficulty because there is not a lot of background data on the characters. 

There are multiple scenarios running simultaneously.  The author sets a good pace and the book is an easy read.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Jeff Marriotte