Thursday, April 26, 2018

Bitterwood

Bitterwood (Dragon Age, #1)Bitterwood by James Maxey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dragons rule the world and subjugate the men living in it. Those who aren't enslaved are taxed into poverty. The dragons rule forged a man into a dragon killing weapon. Dragons took away his family so he takes away their lives. His name is Bitterwood. Unfortunately it seems the feared Bitterwood has killed the wrong dragon. After killing the prince, the king decides humanity must be wiped out once and for all.

Bitterwood is truly not at all what I expected it to be. The dragons aren't truly the massive fire breathing monsters I envisioned. They aren't much bigger than men. They also live in castles, keep slaves, read books, collect taxes, and do many things ancient rulers were known to do. The most surprising thing is it gets weirder. The story itself is actually largely science fiction.

Some aspects of Bitterwood are just what I envisioned namely Bitterwood himself. After losing his family to dragons, Bitterwood turned into a medieval Punisher basically deciding the only good dragon is a dead one. He kills all the dragons he can and allows his hate to fuel and guide him.

While Bitterwood is the tile character most of the story is told through the eyes of others. The varied points of view were overall appreciated, particularly Zanzeroth. Zanzeroth is an advisor to the king, but is largely known as a deadly Hunter who is still somewhat feral. He stalks Bitterwood throughout the tale and is incredibly dangerous.

Bitterwood was a largely enjoyable story with little resemblance to what I initially imagined.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

THE STRANGER BESIDE ME BY ANN RULE

The Stranger Beside MeThe Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“And, like all the others, I have been manipulated to suit Ted’s needs. I don’t feel particularly embarrassed or resentful about that. I was one of many, all of us intelligent, compassionate people who had no real comprehension of what possessed him, what drove him obsessively.”

 photo IMG_1773_zps7vqzsukz.jpg
Would you trust this man?

Comparisons could be made between Lois Lane and the writer Ann Rule. She was caught in the middle of a bizarre set of circumstances that was quickly becoming a nightmare. Someone she considered a friend was being accused of things that she simply could not comprehend. Even with her years of work in law enforcement, she still had trouble believing what was being said about Ted Bundy. I was a bit surprised to read that she was not embarrassed that she had been so fooled. If Dr. Spock is right, maybe something on a more subconscious level was keeping her from accepting the truth.

“Dr. Benjamin Spock, who worked in a veterans’ hospital dealing with emotional illnesses during World War II, commented at the time that there was a pronounced cross-sex problem in dealing with psychopathic personalities. The male psychopaths had no difficulty in bewitching female staff members, while the male staff picked up on them rapidly. The female psychopaths could fool the male staff but not the women.”

Rule worked with Ted Bundy at the crisis center in Seattle, answering the calls of those in desperate need of help. Knowing what we know now about Bundy, I wonder if he didn’t work there just to feed on the pain of others. He made an impression on Rule, just like he did on most of the people he came into contact with. He was personable, charismatic, extremely good looking, and intelligent. In her mind, he was a substitute for her younger brother who had passed away. It was the beginning of a long friendship that never wavered, even as more and more evidence was turning slivers of doubts into shocking realities.

Wherever Ted Bundy lived, pretty, young women were dying.

”A sexual psychopath, according to Dr. Jarvis, is not legally insane, and does know the difference between right and wrong. But he is driven to attack women. There is usually no deficiency in intelligence, no brain damage, or frank psychosis.”

Whatever we may have in our mind of what a sexual deviant is, Ted Bundy did not fit that profile. He didn’t have a scar bisecting his face or a hunched back or a withered arm or bristling insanity twisting his features. To most women, if King Arthur were to take off his helmet, they would want him to look like Ted Bundy. He was well spoken and appeared about as harmless as a man 6 ft tall and 160 pounds can look. He was above suspicion.

 photo Ted20Bundy20Lawyer_zpsvmk3nvya.jpg
Bundy looked more like a lawyer than his lawyers did.

Bundy was in fact one of the most dangerous humans to ever walk the planet. He was born lacking one key ingredient, a conscience. Interesting enough, he played on the conscience of his intended victims. He tricked them with a fake broken arm in a sling, a leg cast, and other things that would lower their defenses even further. He had a knack for finding those women most vulnerable, the weakest, and separating them from the pack.

He was a merciless predator.

There is speculation that he killed over 38 women, but there are others that believe that the number could be well over a 100. All of his victims were beautiful, talented women who just happened to part their long hair in the middle.

And why?

We always want to understand the criminally insane as if that will give us the keys to protecting ourselves from them. Unfortunately, psychopaths like Bundy blend with us as if they belong with us, but the truth is there is no rehabilitation for someone like Bundy. He is controlled by his darkest desires, his midnight obsessions.

I’ve always found Bundy to be one of the more unfathomable of the pantheon of serial killers. It was as if he found his victim’s beauty an affront against his own existence. He was so cold, calculating, and brutal. He was a rising star in the Republican party in Washington state. He even had a gig driving the governor of Washington around for awhile. He was a man with all the tools to become governor himself.

I have to give Rule props, though. She admitted to her own naivety. Her disbelief in the face of insurmountable evidence was in some ways frustrating to me. Even with her professional law enforcement experience, she struggled to bring herself to believe that the man she had thought so much of was also a homicidal maniac. There is something very human in her reaction. She was a loyal friend. She believed in the man that Bundy was supposed to be.

He wanted to tell her. ”’There are things I want to tell you...but I can’t,’ was there something I could have said that would have allowed him to talk to me then?”

Bundy left a string of bodies in Seattle, Salt Lake City, Aspen, and Tallahassee. He escaped from prison twice which led to more tragedies. His compelling need to kill was too strong to be put on hold even when the very best thing he could do was give himself a new name and blend back into the population again.

He...had...to...kill.

 photo Ted20Bundy20Wave_zpszpgvv0c9.jpg
Ted Bundy, always the showman, waves to the press.

Ann Rule probably had one of the more unique views of a killer I’ve ever encountered. Her account is honest and thorough. You will know Ted Bundy at the end of this book. You still won’t understand him. The fears you have of evil will never be manifested on the faces of the perpetrators. They are hidden beneath the skin. It is something dark inside them that writhes in the place where the soul is supposed to reside.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visithttp://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

View all my reviews

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Real Dwight

The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and IdiocyThe Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy by Rainn Wilson
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If for nothing else, this should be heralded for being an almost perfectly constructed autobiography.

But wait, there's more! Rainn Wilson, aka Dwight from The Office, has done a bang-up job at creating a very enjoyable read in The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy. His pacing, timing and storytelling are rock solid. Tangents and digressions are kept at reasonable lengths, are labeled as such and even apologized for, which is unnecessary because they're honestly not that long and generally have some bearing upon the topic at hand.

But here's the important thing: Rainn Wilson is interesting a.f.! His Dwight character is not that far off from reality. I kind of guessed that ahead of time, but it is absolutely fascinating to see the hows, whats, and whys behind the making this delightfully strange individual. Hell, even the wheres are intriguing! Here, I'll give you a taste: Young Rainn was raised for a time in a dirt-poor, secluded Central American former pirate town that still to this day must be approached via boat, and it's not an island! Trust me, that little tidbit is nothing compared to the cuckoo crazy times that made up this man's formative years.

Now, perhaps I'm gushing about Rainn's book, because it struck a chord with me. His tastes, his brand of humor, the fact that he played D&D and was a bit of an outsider, all these things I could relate to. So of course I'm going to enjoy this more than someone else who is his polar opposite. Let's put it like this: If you are repulsed by his Dwight personality, then just steer clear of this book. I don't know why you'd want to read it anyhow. But really, there's no point, even if you're just looking to hear a bit about The Office. Trust me, there's not enough on that topic herein to satisfy that itch and make reading this whole book worthwhile. You should be reading it for the love of Rainn!

Warning. He talks a lot about his personal religion, the Baha'i Faith. I don't know much about it, but it seems like a fairly positive umbrella religion for all the other religions, which means it will likely be attacked by all other religions out of fear that it might supplant them one day. Meh, what do I care, I don't go in for organized religion, so it's no skin off my scrotum.

Final thought: Don't read this book, listen to it! Rainn is a comedic character actor. His talents translate to vocal work. Thankfully, he's a good narrator, and specifically he reads this book with all the inflections and dramatic flair it requires. Unless you know him and his humor intimately, if you read it on your own you're going to miss many of the jokes. Whoosh, right over your head.

View all my reviews

Walking A Snowy Memory Lane

The Abominable Snowman (Choose Your Own Adventure, #13)The Abominable Snowman by R.A. Montgomery
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

YOU are a kid who likes to climb mountains, so let's hit the Himalayas!

*BRAKE SCREECH* Reread that title. This ain't just gonna be a hiking book, my friend. We're going after the yeti!

The Abominable Snowman is the first Choose Your Own Adventure [CYOA] I've seen that comes with a map. It's not a highly detailed map, but hey, it's a map! Whereas others were published as pure fun, this CYOA seems set on being a teaching tool. Along with the map, there's also an illustration of the Himalaya range with each peak's name and height listed.

The book kicks off with my buddy Carlos going ahead and getting stranded. Is he okay or should I go after him? Let's dive in!

Adventure #1: I decide to cancel my meeting with the director of expeditions and mountain research to go find my budski, Carlos! The director says he'll go with me. I think this is great, but...When we find Carlos' deserted camp, instead of suggesting we need to find Carlos, the director suggests we go in search of the yeti. Now, I think author R.A. Montgomery meant for us readers to take the leap together and jump to the conclusion that yeti have kidnapped Carlos, and so therefore we need to go find them in order to find him. But honestly, this scene just comes off as goofy. Oh shit, wait a sec...I'm sorry, I forgot I'm reading a children's book! ONWARD! I do my best to play it safe as much as possible, but Montgomery keeps pulling back in! Eventually, and quite out of the blue, I end up with some aliens traveling with Carlos to the Planet of the Seas to gain wisdom. Odd a.f.

Adventure #2:
The director and I find Carlos. The damn fool hiked off after yeti tracks by himself! We head back to camp and I find a weird hippie sherpa burning incense at the Kathmandu general store. We head off for the Annapurna peak and see what appears to be a signal light flashing. Thinking someone is in distress, we make for the signal and discover it comes from a yeti celebration bonfire. So, yeti do exist. Huh.

Adventure #3:
This time I leave Carlos for dead, and the director and I head off. We meet a monk and I agree to go on a Buddhist's journey of enlightenment. I have a transcendent moment, am given a benevolent yeti guide and we literally fly to Shangri-La. The alien abduction actually made more sense than this...

Adventure #4:
This time I say screw Carlos and the director, and go it alone!...and immediately hit a monsoon. Game over, dude.

Adventure #5:
Clearly I'm not meant to go without the director, so I apologize (yes, that's an option) and do ask if he'll join me on my expedition. He says he'll accept my apology and go...if he can be expedition leader. What a douche! Sneaking a peek ahead at my options, I see that I have no choice but to let him be our leader. It sucks, but what are ya gonna do? It turns out good for me, because we obtain better gear and provisions than what I could have got on my own. It also works out well for Carlos, because he gets rescued. But it doesn't work out so great for me, the reader, because somehow I end up back on the Buddhist's journey of enlightenment track from adventure #3, and there's no branch off storylines here, so it's the same old song and dance.


I could continue reading. There's 28 possible endings to this book. That seems like quite a few until you notice that there are numerous choices where it was basically do you want to continue? or do you want to end your journey?. A bunch of abrupt endings like that attached to one story path significantly reduces the overall adventure possibilities herein, and that's a bummer. However, there are more adventures to be had. They seem interesting from what I could tell from some of the illustrations by stalwart CYOA illustrator Paul Granger. Perhaps I will continue reading, but I'm not going to add to my review and spoil the whole dang book for you!

View all my reviews

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Half-Made Girls

Half-Made Girls (Pitchfork County, #1)Half-Made Girls by Sam Witt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Joe Hark is the Night Marshal of Pitchfork County, a rural area of Missouri plagued by meth and monsters. When someone crucifies a mutilated girl in a church, Joe finds himself balls deep in a mess involving drugs, demonic forces, and dark gods.

Sam Witt wrote The Astromundi Cluster, a Spelljammer supplement I should get around to writing a review for one of these days. On a whim, I wanted to see what else he wrote and this popped up, for free no less. I've long thought rural fantasy had untapped potential as a genre and I was right in this case.

The lazy way to describe Half-Made Girls is The Dresden Files meets Winter's Bone. There's a lot more grit and a lot more gore than the Dresden files and I don't get the feeling the Night Marshall is working with a safety net like I do with Harry Dresden. The Night Marshall isn't an overly glib white knight, either. He's the guy that gets his hands dirty and does what needs to be done when someone walks the Left Hand Path of dark sorcery.

Set in Pitchfork County, Missouri, a dirt poor place where being a meth dealer is one of the only forms of employment, Half-Made Girls is a tale of dark forces that threaten to consume the earth and the one man that can stop them, the Night Marshall, Joe Hark. Now if he could just put aside his alcohol problem and the curse that has forced a wedge between his family and himself....

Joe Hark is more Roland the Gunslinger than Harry Dresden, a hard man that's been to hell and back a dozen times. When meth head cultist stir up some serious shit, The Night Marshall is forced to do some things he doesn't want to do and question his beliefs and methods in order to set things right. Heavy shit.

As befits the situation, the violence is stark and brutal and no one is making half-assed quips or tired Star Wars references. Even though I knew it was the first book in a series, I felt like all bets were off and I could be reading about a new Night Marshall in the second book.

There's a real sense of place to the book. Sam Witt paints a vivid picture of life in the Ozarks. When he's not painting it in blood and gore, anyway.

Sam Witt is also a much better writer than I thought he'd be. He knows how to write suspense and the dialogue is spot on. Also, he writes things like this: It looked like a bathroom at Hogwarts after a week long meth binge.

Half-Made Girls is a gripping, sometimes gut-wrenching read, so much more than the urban fantasy fluff I was afraid it was going to be. It actually has more in common with Brian Keene's Ghost Walk. Four out of five stars.

View all my reviews

Saturday, April 21, 2018

BookExpo 2018 and BookCon, the premier 5 day book event in New York City starts on May 30 to June 3


Book Expo  America  is the number one book author event in America and is a perfect way to see the state of literature and books.  It takes place at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City between May 30 and June 1, 2018.   www.bookexpoamerica.com

As a bookaholic, it’s a great way to meet authors and be surrounded by books. If you are in the industry, a bookseller, librarian or book reviewer, this is the event for you.  Besides huskers, who will sell you many items, and several special lunches or breakfasts, there are lectures by famous authors, readings and panels. BookExpo is for people in the industry. . It is not for consumers, who can attend Bookcon, that occurs on June 2 and June 3, which I will discuss further below.

The highlight for me, as always, is the books and the interaction with the authors.  BookExpo has a legion of autograph lines where free novels and non-fiction books are handed out to the participants.  One day is more devoted to young adult titles, while the other day, seems to be more devoted to older fare.  If you are willing to stand on line, you will get a few minutes with your favorite authors, a signed advanced reader copy or an entirely full book to read. Or as most librarians I talked to do, copies of books for their summer programs or chances to get soon to be published books to get a first read to see if the books are good to get.  
  
Book Expo 2017 returned from Chicago to New York City after a one year absence.  Although the show officially started on Wednesday, that day was limited to educational programs.  I went on Thursday and Friday, where the crowds were immense.  To my eye, the autographing area was smaller than two years previously, although the major publishers did have a lot of action at their booths.  This is definitely a place to go and meet other readers who all have similar interests.
Its also important to plan ahead.  BookExpo puts out an online schedule of authors and autographing.  Some autograph lines require tickets. Without a ticket, the chance to get that book are much lower. Since the event starts in a little over a month, if you are interested in going, now would be a good time to plot out who to see. 

MAJOR HINT:  Remember, books are heavy and unwieldy. The way to go is to bring a suitcase  or two and park it in the bag check aisle.  Then as you get your books, bring them to the suitcase. This way you can snare books but not have to lug them around.

A highlight this year is the Bernie Sanders speech on May 31 at 7:15 pm, but there are also Author Breakfasts and Teas.  The Author breakfasts and teas do have a separate charge.

A few words about BookCon.  This two day event that follows BookExpo is open to consumers and is relatively inexpensive.  Autographs are given out on books, but you need to sign up for tickets to the listed authors and tickets are all dispensed online.  In order to get tickets online mailed to your house, you must purchase them by April 23, 2018. Otherwise, tickets will need to be picked up there, which means another big line. Kids tickets (ages 6-12) are ten dollars per day.  Adult tickets are $35 on Saturday and $30 on Sunday.  Bookcon wants adults with all kids so you need to plan for that.
Hint. Parking near Jacob Javits is not cheap and the area is on the far west side.  Use a parking app like www.SpotHero.com  or www.Parkwhiz.com to get a spot now.

 Last year I went with three teenagers on Saturday and two teenagers on Sunday.  Saturday was a much more fun day.  Most of the publishers who were there on Saturday, had decamped by Sunday.  One or two major publishers were still there on Sunday, so the horde of people overwhelmed the space, which is much smaller than the BookExpo space.  Security had to get involved to clear pathways and it was almost impossible to get access to books.  

My suggestion for BookCon is to go on Saturday. Major Hint, get there early.  Although tickets are dispensed for the authors online, there is a mad scramble from the basement of Jacob Javits – bare concrete walls, to the publishers up above.  Thousands of people will be underground. You want to be close to the front in order to secure a good spot when the breakout finally occurs.

Go to www.bookcon.com to pick out your authors. It pays to get your tickets early so you can get tickets to the autographing.  You need the barcode from your entrance ticket to get tickets to the autographing tickets.  According to BookCon's website, the list of authors will be posted in early May and you can select thereafter.  2 author signings per person per day. While autographs are free some books will cost money. Its important to check the site to make sure you secure a ticket to an author you want to see.

Be prepared to wait and wait and wait some more.  This is a convention, lots of people so there is lots of waiting.  But you should come out with a lot of books as well.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Boston's South End


Anthony Mitchell Sammarco
Arcadia Publishing
4 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Nancy



Summary



Originally a narrow, barren strip of land known as the Neck, Boston's South End grew from a lonely sentry post and execution grounds to what is today the largest Victorian neighborhood in the United States. With the filling of the South Cove in the 1830s, the area became one of the greatest planned residential districts of its time, a heritage preserved in unique architectural features such as red brick swell bay facades, elaborate balusters, and fanciful porches.

My Review



This is a nice pictorial history of the South End in Boston, MA. The neighborhood is known for its Victorian style houses and parks. It was once known as the Neck, a barren strip of land connecting Boston to the city of Roxbury that was once the site of executions. The South End is now a flourishing neighborhood, home to a diverse population and known for its restaurants, boutiques and art galleries. Though the South End is very expensive, there are a number of low-income housing projects.

The pictures featured here include schools, hospitals, the library, businesses, and transportation. There was an interesting tidbit about Dr. Mary Jane Blake-Safford, among the first female gynecologists in the US and a lecturer at Boston University. There are pictures of trolleys, a perfectly efficient and inexpensive mode of transportation that gave way to cars and buses. Like many urban areas, the South End underwent urban renewal, demolishing many old buildings. It would have been fun to see some “then and now” pictures. Instead, I found myself referring to Google Maps to see how some areas stayed exactly the same while others were completely changed.

Reading this makes me want to learn more about the neighborhood I enjoy hanging out in.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Tornado of Sparks

Tornado of Sparks (Bitterwood Trilogy)Tornado of Sparks by James Maxey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Sky Dragon Vendevorex seeks to be named to the court of the dragon King Albekizan. The King demands a different demonstration of Vendevorex that leads to a human baby being orphaned. The would be wizard is far from heartless and he seeks to reunite the baby with her relative that escaped the wizard's demonstration.

Tornado of Sparks is an interesting prequel. First while this takes place before the main series, it was published afterward. This undoubtedly provides some greater insights into the main series. The idea of a dragon king with his court living in a castle was surprising and different from any dragon tale I've read before.

One main curiosity struck me with this book and that is why is Vendevorex seeking a place in court. Vendevorex clearly has power even if it isn't magical as he claims. If he can destroy stone so easily, then dragons like Albekizan should fear the destruction he could cause and stay away from him.

Tornado of Sparks was a good prequel that peeks my interest for the main series.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

PAPERBACKS FROM HELL BY GRADY HENDRIX

Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror FictionPaperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

”Between April 1967 and December 1973, everything changed.

In a little more than five years, horror fiction became fit for adults, thanks to three books. Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby, Thomas Tryon’s The Other, and William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist were the first horror novels to grace Publisher’s Weekly’s annual best-seller list since Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca in 1938. And except for three books by Peter ‘Jaws’ Benchley, they’d be the only horror titles on that list until Stephen King’s The Dead Zone in 1979. All three spawned movies and, most important, set the tone for the next two decades of horror publishing.”


 photo The20Exorcist_zpscotchpah.jpg


When I started in the book business in Phoenix, Arizona, the Horror section was one of the most pillaged sections in the store. Guys in ripped black t-shirts, Goths with pentagrams tattooed on their wrists, truck drivers displaying way too many inches of butt crack as they searched the lower shelves, and flirty housewives with a glimmer of something dark lurking in their pupils would bring stacks and stacks of black covered paperbacks up to the counter and leave me a heap of cash in exchange. They couldn’t get enough of it.

The Goth chicks were so cool. In an attempt to look edgy and tough, they somehow came out looking adorable.

Then in the early 1990s it just stopped like someone turned off the hydrant to the firehouse. The horror section that was featured so prominently when I started in the business drifted to the back of the bookstore until it evaporated all together. Other than the crossover writers, like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Peter Straub, the market for horror just disappeared. Writers began suggesting to their publishers to market their books as thrillers and not horror. So what the heck happened?

Even now when I write a review of a book that falls into my Nostalgic 1970s Horror Tour Category, I notice that those reviews receive a lot less attention than other reviews I write. So in about 1990, did everyone start sleeping with Blue Smurfs under the glow of a unicorn nightlight?

 photo Burnt20Offerings_zpskpshlqto.jpg


The publishers were churning out so much horror material in the 1970s and 1980s that there were plenty of steaming piles of drivel published, sort of like what is happening with the Young Adult market right now, but there were also writers of the horror genre who turned out some fantastic, creative, dare I say literary works, that make a book archeologist like me euphoric.

Grady Hendrix has devoted a chapter to each different subgenre of horror: Hail Satan, Creepy Kids, When Animals Attack, Real Estate Nightmares, Weird Science, Gothic and Romantic, Inhumanoids, Splatterpunks, Serial Killers, and Super Creeps. I came away from this book with a list as long as my arm of novels that I need to investigate further. I was expecting that. I wasn’t expecting Grady to be so damn witty. I haven’t laughed out loud so much reading a book in a long time. My wife was frequently giving me the raised eyebrow look, so I ended up reading her little snippets like this one:

 photo Rosemarys20baby20book_zps0dyyrb0u.jpg


”Most important try not to have sex with Satan. Fornicating with the incarnation of all evil usually produces children who are genetically predisposed to use their supernatural powers to cram their grandmothers into television sets, headfirst. ‘But how do I know if the man I’m dating is the devil?’ I hear you ask. Here are some warnings signs learned from Seed of Evil: Does he refuse to use contractions when he speaks? Does he deliver pickup lines like, ‘You live on the edge of darkness?’ When nude, is his body the most beautiful male form you have ever seen, but possessed of a penis that’s either monstrously enormous, double-headed, has glowing yellow eyes, or all three? After intercourse, does he laugh malevolently, urinate on your mattress, and then disappear? If you spot any of these behaviors, chances are you went on a date with Satan. Or an alien.”

Okay, so maybe my wife didn’t find that as funny as I did, but she still laughed despite herself. Then there was Grady’s observations on clowns and magicians.

”Hating clowns is a waste of time because you’ll never loath a clown as much as he loathes himself. But a magician? Magicians think they’re wise and witty, full of patter and panache, walking around like they don’t deserve to be shot in the back of the head and dumped in a lake. For all the grandeur of its self-regard magic consists of nothing more than making a total stranger feel stupid. Worse, the magician usually dresses like a jackass.”

 photo It20book_zpsbtgyamek.jpg


I’m not one for advocating shooting anyone in the back of the head and dumping them in the nearest body of water. I do have a short list of mostly politicians who I would help tie heavy weights to their legs and shiver with guilty pleasure at the sound of that final splash. I could get behind a scheme, though, to put all the clowns, magicians, and mimes in the United States on a leaky boat and ship them off to Central America where I hear their kind are flourishing.

 photo Omen_zpses28rloa.jpg


The book is an oversized paperback loaded with pictures of the innovative and evocative covers that vied for the attention of potential readers. Many have become quite collectible, and reading copies of some of these books can actually be rather difficult to find. There are some small presses, like Valancourt and Telos, who are starting to bring some of these lost treasures back into print. In the late 80s I was too caught up in reading The Beats, Woolf, Bukowski, Fitzgerald, Hemingway etc. to give any time to such “nonsense”. I’m making up for it now, and probably I’m enjoying them more now than I ever would have back then.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

View all my reviews

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Space Opera By: Catherynne M. Valente

Space OperaSpace Opera by Catherynne M. Valente
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is beautiful, insane fun. It feels like golden age science fiction, where every step you take is weirder and more out there than your last and the only thing you want to do is go forward to see what's there. I have read several of Ms. Valente's works, really enjoyed them all, but the only issue I ever had (and it was a personal thing) She will use 40 words for something that may need 5 (THIS isn't a bad thing, just a personal thing) but here...HERE. She tap dances and waltzes her way through this bizarre landscape with words, beautiful, maddingly gorgeous language. Descriptions and paragraphs and references that are as wild and music filled as the story being told.

This book has won 2018, we can all go home, it's over... Go give her your money, read this!!

5000 stars, a treble clef and 4 blue flamingos out of 5 stars.

View all my reviews