Tag Archive | "book review"

Book Review: David Castello’s “The Diary of an Immortal”

Book Review: David Castello’s “The Diary of an Immortal”

David J. Castello’s
‘The Diary of an Immortal (1945-1959)’

My reading of David Castello’s “The Diary of an Immortal” was often interrupted by the diction. I felt the writing could have been edited to be more concise. Also, I did not feel a strong sense of individuality between the characters, specifically through their speech. I found the writing to be more show, less tell. I would have enjoyed less of Castello’s exposition, summarization and description through dialogue and the main character’s over-explanatory first person narrative.

Despite these issues, “The Diary of an Immortal” nonetheless tells an amazing story. Castello combines two popular literary topics – World War II and the quest for immortality – and skyrockets them to the next level. U.S. Army combat medic Steven Ronson, 21, escapes World War II after discovering an immortality formula designed for Adolf Hitler. He begins consuming the formula in hopes to live long enough to forget the horrors he witnessed overseas and feel joy again. Ronson soon realizes he can’t return to his former life and travels to Manhattan to realize his childhood dream of becoming a jazz saxophonist with help from the supernatural powers that are a byproduct of the formula. His musical achievements soon draw attention from big names in the music industry as well as a disgraced British missionary and his niece who knew the Buddhist monks who guarded the original formula, which was ironically used as a form of punishment. After disturbing and prophetic visions begin to plague him, Ronson journeys to Xian with the ex-missionary and his niece to discover the truth behind his delusions. During this exploration, Ronson discovers incredible truths, pivotal origins and a horrible nightmare about to be unleashed on the world. Can he stop the evil villain before time runs out?

Author David J. Castello

There’s history, science fiction, Hitler, immortality, mystery, ancient philosophy and questions that plague our existence. Castello takes well addressed fictional topics beyond the scope of many writers imaginations. He weaves a fantastical tale through the truth of history while also comparing American and Buddhist philosophy. Despite my issues with the writing, “The Diary of an Immortal” is worth reading because it is a magical tale that takes the reader from the doldrums of everyday life.

About The Author
David J. Castello is the Editor-in-Chief and COO for the CCIN network where he has written hundreds of articles on a variety of topics for Nashville.com, Whisky.com, PalmSprings.com, Bullion.com, Traveler.com and more. On December 7, 2016, The Daily Beast featured his story “The Man Who Tried To Stop Pearl Harbor” for the 75th anniversary of the attack.  The Diary Of An Immortal (1945-1959) is his debut novel. Born in New York City (Bronx), David J. Castello currently resides in Nashville.

About Our Writer
Kate Vendetta, aka Dolores Price (if you really care to know, ask), is a staff writer and editor for the website. She enjoys knowing things and drinking alcohol, reading and watching TV and films, and writing. Furthermore, Kate is a Gemini and enjoys piña coladas and taking walks in the rain. Check her out on Twitter at doloresprice80.

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Boheim Explores Family Secrets, Revenge and The Supernatural In “The Silent Children”

Boheim Explores Family Secrets, Revenge and The Supernatural In “The Silent Children”

silentchildren_frontcover_hi_res

Amna K. Boheim’s “The Silent Children” begins with a mysterious letter from Annabel Albrecht to her son, Max. Included with her deathbed request is a troubling photograph from 1938 of a boy and girl with the inscription: “You knew.” Annabel pleads with Max to find the frightened young boy, now a man if he’s still alive, so Max can finally learn the reason for their troubled mother-son relationship.

Following a captivating opening, Max learns of his mother’s suicide and is pulled between the past and the present, trying to resolve his feelings for his hardened mother while investigating her secrets, secrets that soon breach his life.

Author Amna K. Boheim

Author Amna K. Boheim

Set in 2004 Vienna, with flashbacks to pre- and post-World War II, the setting mimics Max’s struggle with present day and the past as he becomes owner of his mother’s ancestral home in a city projecting cultural heritage through its architecture, environment and Max’s childhood memories. He is immersed with his mother’s past while surrounded by it as well. Boheim weaves a unique WWII tale filled with tragedy, revenge, secrets and the supernatural.

While I found her diction to be long-winded and too detailed at times, her first novel is authentic and compelling with complex characters. With a recent over-saturation of WWII accounts in entertainment, it is refreshing to find one with an uncommon tale that is, at the same time, captivating and well done.

Boheim worked in investment banking before becoming a writer. More information on her and “The Silent Children” can be found at http://akboheim.com/books/the-silent-children/. “The Silent Children” is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and everywhere e-books are sold.

About The Reviewer:
Kate VendettaStaff Writer, Editor
She’s a sassy staff writer and editor for Icon Vs. Icon. She makes it a point to knowing things, partakes in the spirits, reading and watching TV and films, and writing. She can be found on Twitter at @doloresprice80

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Book Review: David Sedaris’ ‘Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls’

Book Review: David Sedaris’ ‘Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls’

David Sedaris' 'Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls'

David Sedaris’ ‘Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls’

Fresh off the streets and into the library, Icon Vs. Icon’s Kate Vendetta is back once again with a brand new book review. This time around she tackles David Sedaris’ ‘Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls.’

Review: I would be lost at a book club meeting. I’m a thirty-something, wine drinking (guzzling), tanned white woman who stays at home with her children (hellspawn). I enjoy hors d’oeuvres and literature – I ate snacks, read books and wrote poetry and short stories while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nonsense. I wear boring clothing from generic outlets like Gap and White House Black Market. Sounds like it was meant to be, doesn’t it?

Wrong. First of all, I’m introverted to the point where being around others drains me like a pair of AA batteries in your marital aid. Secondly, the book selection is confusing. I, like many others, look to literature for an escape from my demanding life. However, I don’t like to escape to the same place as other ladies my age.
I cannot escape to a World War II landscape, at least not for a while. Why is it so popular these days? There were and are other wars. It was terribly tragic but I’m already sad enough. I don’t need other people’s sadness surrounding me like a swarm of flies.

I had someone offer me a book recently, saying it was, “Life changing.” Am I the only one who doesn’t want to read something that will change my life? I ain’t got time for that and, even if I did, I’m too apathetic right now (or maybe forever).
Then there’s the other person in my life who offers highly intellectual material. I read one recently and while it was good, I ain’t in Contemporary English 403 anymore. I’m not getting credits at a college and trying to earn that degree so leave me alone with your bookish scribble.

So, what’s left? I found it with David Sedaris and “Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls” or, as Hank calls it, “A Temple With Owls.” Intellectual yet humorous. Not every story has to be spectacular and dramatic. His short stories are humorous, everyday tales yet different – mostly because of the way he sees the world, not specifically what happened. There’s no time travel, no wars, no love stories, no horrific situations. There’s just the fabric of everyday life instead of contrived blockbusters ready to be adapted for the big screen.

Author David Sedaris

Author David Sedaris

The short story aspect is especially appealing because what happened to this source of entertainment? Where are the Mark Twains and Edgar Allen Poes of modern day literature, aside from David Sedaris? I fondly remember a college professor waxing poetic about the glory of short stories. A strong drink in hand, a comfy chair and a short literary reprieve from life.

Sedaris’ mundane life with his emotionally absent father and matter-of-fact mother is so relatable and comfortable. When discussing talking to a telemarketer, he writes, “Hugh would have hung up the moment his name was mispronounced, but I’ve never been able to do that, no matter how frustrated I get. There’s a short circuit between my brain and my tongue, thus, ‘Leave me the fuck alone’ comes out as, ‘Well maybe. Sure. I guess I can see your point.’”

Sedaris goes on in this short story, “A Friend in the Ghetto,” to explain the type of book he most enjoys. “The sales part was a little tiresome, but with that behind us, I hope we could move on to other things, and that listening to him would be like reading the type of book I most enjoy, one about people whose lives are fundamentally different from my own. By this I mean, different in a bad way. Someone who lives in a mansion spun of golden floss, forget it, but someone who lives in an old refrigerator beside a drainage ditch – by all means, call me! Collect, even.”

You can have your housewives of wherever, your Kardashians and divas and models. Give me someone I can relate to, not a book club reading about World War II, racism and despair. No thanks.

About Our Writer
Kate Vendetta, aka Dolores Price (if you really care to know, ask), is a staff writer and editor for the website. She enjoys knowing things and drinking alcohol, reading and watching TV and films, and writing. Furthermore, Kate is a Gemini and enjoys piña coladas and taking walks in the rain. Check her out on Twitter at doloresprice80.

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Book Review: Max Allan Collins’ “Seduction of the Innocent”

Book Review: Max Allan Collins’ “Seduction of the Innocent”

'Seduction of The Innocent'

‘Seduction of The Innocent’

In “Seduction of the Innocent” by Max Allan Collins, the reader is transported to 1954. Social critic Dr. Werner Frederick is in the midst of a crusade against America’s most popular entertainment source – comic books. Frederick is disgusted with the blood, guts and gore found in many of these picture books and is sharing this disgust in book form, “Ravage the Lambs,” and in front of four Congressman and the public via public hearings on the matter.

When the crusade escalates from debating to murder, Jack Starr, vice president and private investigator for Starr Syndicate (closely aligned with the comic book industry), tries to solve the crime before the comic books community is completely tarnished.

It’s inspired by the 1950s witch-hunt against “Tales From the Crypt” publisher EC Comics and includes various characters who draw heavily, and not so heavily, on real-life people.

Collins should be commended on his recreation of 1954 Manhattan, complete with references to current events (i.e. Brown vs. Board of Education), automobiles (Kaiser-Darrin convertible), celebrities (James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson) and vernacular (“Pete’d had a snootful, I’d had a snootful.”) His detailed research is coupled with an easy-to-read prose helmed by narrator Jack Starr, a snarky but lovable wise guy.

Although this book is recommended for comic book aficionados and hard-boiled crime lovers, it’s also interesting in relation to the current crusade on violent video games and other violent media. Yesterday’s comic books are today’s video games and movies.

However, although this book was a pleasure to read, it fell short of masterpiece. In 260 pages, with a comic taking up two pages between each of the 12 chapters (expertly done by artist Terry Beatty), the crime in this crime novel took too long to occur, leaving less than half the book for the fun – figuring out whodunit. The juicy parts – sexual tension between stepmom and stepson, brawls, sex, alcoholism – took a backseat. Also, the ending felt rushed and almost Scooby Doo-ish.

I enjoyed “Seduction of the Innocent” but am not interested in reading more or reading it again.
Author Max Allan Collins is best known for “Road to Perdition.” “Seduction of the Innocent” is published by Hard Case Crimes. — Kate Vendetta

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Book Review: ‘The Twenty-Year Death’ By Ariel S. Winter

Book Review: ‘The Twenty-Year Death’ By Ariel S. Winter

The Twenty Year Death

Ariel S. Winter’s debut novel, “The Twenty Year Death,” features three separate crime novels that create a single saga of violence and tragedy intruding on the lives of a couple. Described as a 3-in-1 noir, each novel is set in a different decade, penned in a different style and told from a different perspective, starting out in 1931 with a body found in a gutter in France, leading to 1941 Hollywood with a callous slaying of a young starlet, and ending in 1951 Maryland with a desperate man’s last chance for personal and professional redemption.

“The Twenty Year Death” is a breath of fresh air in a literary world seemingly obsessed with zombies, vampires and everything supernatural. While reading, I traveled back in time to my youth when I’d sit with my father and listen to old broadcasts of CBS Radio’s drama “Suspense.” The Golden Age of radio was spread across 600+ pages for my delight as violence and tragedy hit again and again over a span of 20 years.

Each novel is told in the voice of a literary great — Georges Simenon, Raymond Chandler and Jim Thompson, big names in detective fiction and pulp novels — as Winter taps into their styles to pay homage to their legacies without parody. His book features a unique framework that is a celebration of the history of crime fiction presented as a thrilling story.

“The Twenty Year Death” is a chronological saga in terms of action but the nitty gritty behind the main characters is dished out sporadically, and masterfully, throughout the three novels, so the image of the main character’s is forever evolving.

Maybe you’re not versed in the literary greatness of Simenon, Chandler and Thompson. That’s fine because, on its own, this novel is an intricate web of suspense and drama. No spoilers here because the best part of reading “The Twenty Year Death” is seeing how it all unfolds.

Ariel S. Winter’s “The Twenty Year Death” will be released by Titan Books on Aug. 7, 2012 and is available on Amazon. In addition to years as a bookseller for The Corner Bookstore in New York City and Borders in Baltimore, Winter is also the author of the blog “We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie” and has a children’s picture book, “One of a Kind (Aladdin),” coming out this year. — Kate Vendetta

You can follow Kate Vendetta on Twitter at @katevendetta.

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Book Review: The Dead Walk In Dana Fredsti’s “Plague Town”

Book Review: The Dead Walk In Dana Fredsti’s “Plague Town”

'Plague Town'

Dana Fredsti’s “Plague Town” is set in a small town in northern California and told in the first-person perspective of Ashley Parker, a 29-year-old older-chick-in-class college student. However, with any good horror fantasy story, it doesn’t take long before the town goes from sleepy to creepy as residents start contracting the mysterious Walker’s Flu, which wreaks havoc on their bodies until they drop dead momentarily before rising again as zombies.

Brains! Brains! Brains!

Unaware of any zombie apocalypse, Ashley and her younger boy-toy coed of a boyfriend go about their lives, rendezvousing for a picnic on campus, aka steamy romp in the woods complete with champagne, roast chicken, bread and brie — like that happened in college. Just as things are heating up, the two are attacked by rotting zombies and Ashley gets a hunk of her arm ripped out before passing out. When she regains consciousness, our heroine learns she’s part of a group of abnormal individuals, 0.001% of the population, immune to the zombie infection. Known as wild-cards, these folk have enhanced strength, stamina and senses. As for boy-toy fancy pants … well let’s just say he isn’t a wild-card.

With this status, Ashley and fellow wild-cards are recruited by a secretive paramilitary organization — which includes her History of Pandemics professor and her frenemy, the professor’s gorgeous T.A. (and I don’t mean T&A) — that needs her help to control the horde of zombies taking over the town. Will Ashley and her fellow wild-cards be enough to control the walking dead that are using the small town as an all-you-can-eat buffet?

The first novel in the Ashley Parker trilogy, the tale doesn’t waste time bringing the nasty, jumping out of the gate with a prologue featuring morphing zombies complete with bluish tinted skin, milky eyes, black ooze, one track minds for flesh, and blood, blood, blood! This italicized side-story is featured sporadically (I could have used more) throughout the novel to provide an inside view at the ever-increasing horde and, in a way, to humanize these rotting monsters. What would you do if your loved one turned into a zombie? Could you blow their brains out?

In addition to the wild-card take on the popular zombie genre, the book features mysterious characters and situations, including local M.D. and Walker’s Flu guru Dr. Albert, who is studying zombies and wild-cards to find a cure, and the recruitment-hungry paramilitary group. Turns out zombie outbreaks have been happening routinely throughout history with the knowledge of high level government bodies, an interesting twist for all you conspiracy lovers out there like myself.
When I was 60 pages in (the book is 350), the story was relentless with action, action, action, which is good to keep me on my toes but bad because I didn’t have a connection to the heroine yet. Bad stuff is happening to her but I don’t particularly care because I don’t know her. Her backstory was interesting — controlling ex-husband, wish for a fresh start — but definitely glossed over by the author and only referenced sporadically. This lack of character development was evident with everyone, especially other wild-cards and charging zombies being featured in cliche terms — jocks, a bitchy valley girl princess, leading man who is over-the-top Greek god hot but emotionally distant, shy-Goth chick, drunk frat boys, etc. There was also a lack of development in relationships with a definite hint of laziness — Ashley meets boy, Ashley and boy are enemies, Ashley and boy must work together but boy is emotionally distant, Ashley slowly learns she is sexually attracted to boy, they feel heat together, Ashley wins over boy. Blah.

As for Ashley, I was taken aback when she was first attacked by a zombie — when she was unaware they existed — and totally kicked ass like she’d been battling them for centuries complete with “Kill the brain. Kill the zombie.” Umm … OK? Not totally believable even by her as she thought, “I wasn’t sure why zombies weren’t outside of (my comfort zone).” There were a few other unbelievable incidents in the book, including Ashley and a fellow wild-card risking their lives to venture into unknown territory so they could save two cats, that left me unable to relate. But, hey, I’ve never been in a zombie outbreak so who knows, maybe I’d risk my life to save my aquatic frog Lenny Kravitz from being an appetizer. Stranger things have happened.

Also, too much of anything is not a good thing. Don’t get me wrong, Ashley’s snarky and wise-ass musings were funny but used to ad nauseum, especially in highly stressful situations. Furthermore, the specific guyish pop culture references she made and the detail of her 34C chest and Barbie-esque bod made me think this heroine wasn’t created for girl-power hurrah. Although, a female heroine is refreshing in dark genres whether she’s video-game stacked or soft and squishy like a jelly doughnut.

That’s not to say I didn’t like Ashley. There were times when her brutal honesty, kick-ass skills and empathy were refreshing! Badass zombie-fighting chick — sounds awesome, right?

The plot kept me reading on but, long story short, the character development was somewhat lazy and the ending was equally lazy (no spoilers) in a we-gotta-tie-loose-ends-up-quick-to-keep-this-book-short-but-with-a-cliffhanger. The story had all the elements but needed some tightening and expanding in different places.

Also, the book needed a focus. The comedy took away from the creepiness and horror (I could have used more disturbing and less snark), which is saying something for a chicken-heart like myself. With that in mind, it wasn’t funny enough to be “Shaun of the Dead”-esque so I’m not sure what it was. It definitely wasn’t sexy, as it was described on the cover, because … well I won’t spoil it but I definitely was a bit turned off by the sex scene.

Alright, I’ll stop being Negative Nelly. All in all, I enjoyed the book for what it was — a fun read. If you enjoy zombies or are a supernatural-lover but have found yourself tired of the watered down vampire genre, check out “Plague Town.” It’s a fun read when you want to escape reality … or is the world one step away from a zombie apocalypse?

For more information on “Plague Town,” released by Titan Books this month, visit www.danafredsti.com/home.html or www.titanbooks.com. — Kate Vendetta 

The links below will enable you to follow Kate Vendetta on Twitter at www.twitter.com/katevendetta and check out her blog at katevendetta.blogspot.com. 

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Book Review: Daniel O’Malley Makes Powerful Debut With ‘The Rook’

Book Review: Daniel O’Malley Makes Powerful Debut With ‘The Rook’

'The Rook'

Wow! What a debut for novelist Daniel O’Malley. I was in the bookstore a few weeks ago and picked up this gem of a novel just on a whim. The title and cover intrigued me, and the information on the inner flaps piqued my interest. By the time I was 10-15 pages into The Rook, I was hooked.

In The Rook, O’Malley deftly weaves a story of supernatural intrigue around his female protagonist, Myfawny (like Tiffany, but with an M) Thomas. Myfawny wakes up with a bruised and battered face, and with four bodies surrounding her. The thing is, she has no clue as to what happened; as a matter of fact, Myfawny has no memory of anything that has occurred in her life prior to her waking up.

She eventually begins to uncover pieces of her past through a series of letters…letters that have been left for her by the previous inhabitant of her body, who knew ahead of time that she would be losing her memory and leaving her body behind. Through these letters, Myfawny comes to realize that she is part of a secret, supernatural organization named the Chequey that protects the United Kingdom from supernatural forces, and that she has lived and trained with this organization since she was a small child. Not only has she, for the most part, been with the Chequey since she was very small, but Myfawny learns that she has a high ranking position (she is called a Rook, Rook Thomas to be exact) within this powerful, supernatural organization that is set up like a chess hierarchy (pawns, rooks, bishops, chevaliers—instead of knights, and the lord and lady—in the place of the king and queen). More shockingly, Myfawny realizes that she has supernatural powers herself as do all of the higher ranked members of the Chequey’s “Court”. Or ruling body. What exactly are her superpowers? She can control the nervous systems of others, well, most others.

Author Daniel O’Malley

The Court is central to the book, and central to the protection of the U.K. The court keeps intelligence on the various supernatural enemies of the United Kingdom, some of whom can fill homes with mold……and that is the least of the court’s worries. Fortunately for the members of the court, they all have powers of their own, such as the ability to enter one’s dreams and to be split into four bodies. These and other powers allow the court to keep enemies at bay, or do they?

After a while, Myfawny realizes that someone close to her is behind the attack on her that caused her memory loss? Could that someone be a member of the Court with whom she closely works? After a while, Myfawny finds herself in a race against time…..and in a race for her life.

O’Malley brings, in The Rook, a world rich in fantasy, but also a world rich in action, suspense, and even some political maneuvering. It is a book that a wide range of readers will no doubt find highly appealing. Give The Rook a try; you will not regret it. — Duke Foster

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Book Review: “Tales From Development Hell: The Greatest Movies Never Made?”

Book Review: “Tales From Development Hell: The Greatest Movies Never Made?”

'Tales From Development Hell'

There is a place in Hollywood where some of the greatest movies never made spend their days. It is known in the industry and by movie fans around the world as “Development Hell”. The movies that end up in this purgatory not because the aren’t potentially great ideas but because of rewrites, casting or location issues and various production woes. Hollywood, it seems, can be a very dangerous place to make a movie!

In his new book, Tales From Development Hell: The Greatest Movies Never Made?, author David Hughes talks a look at some of the most intriguing silver screen projects that never saw the light of day. Well versed in the field of cinema, the author has written about film for numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian, Empire, GQ, SFX, Fangoria and Cinefantastique. He is the author of Virgin’s The Complete Kubrick, The Complete Lynch and the fan favorite The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made. For his latest outing, Hughes examines what could have been with examples ranging from the Oliver Stone-produced PLANET OF THE APES reboot, Darren Aronofsky’s BATMAN: YEAR ONE starring Clint Eastwood, James Cameron’s FANTASTIC VOYAGE, the problematic development of Steven Speilberg’s INDIANA JONES IV and John Boorman’s LORD OF THE RINGS, which could have potentially starred The Beatles! How crazy is that? And remember, that is just the tip of the iceberg!

The book is packed full of exclusive interviews with directors, writers and producers that shine a light on what exactly sidelined these potential blockbusters. As you read, it almost seems that you are taking a glimpse into an alternate universe of cinematic awesomeness. Speaking as someone who would have been very eager to see any of the aforementioned projects take shape, I found the subject matter brought forth by David Hughes simply fascinating. I don’t want to give to much away in the form of spoilers for the book, but know that the author seamlessly blends a wonderful mix of cautionary tales coupled with movie history and trivia. It truly kept me glued to each page. Lest anyone think that the author is a Monday morning quarterback, as he even dishes on his own personal experiences with development hell. He knows first hand the pitfalls of the movie industry, as a number of his screenplays, including T.J. Hooker: The Movie, ended up there!

As fascinating look at the Hollywood machine, this book definitely makes you wonder how many potential blockbusters fall through the cracks in the Hollywood system or how anything ever gets accomplished in such treacherous waters! It is also important to mention that the book is broken down into easily digestible chapters for the film fan on the go.I enjoyed that because it allowed me to tackle one film at a time and even let me do a little of my own investigation into the projects online. In short, this book is definitely worth a look for any movie buff. Who knows what other projects may follow these projects into development hell but when it comes to this project, there is definitely room for  sequel!  — James Comise

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Review: Corey Taylor’s ‘Seven Deadly Sins: Settling the Argument Between Born Bad and Damaged Good’

Review: Corey Taylor’s ‘Seven Deadly Sins: Settling the Argument Between Born Bad and Damaged Good’

Slipknot and Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor released his book, “Seven Deadly Sins: Settling the Argument Between Born Bad and Damaged Good,” this month to share his worldview about life as a sinner.

“I was 22-years-old, a hard-on with a pulse, wretched and vice-ridden … too much to burn and not enough minutes in an hour to do so. The year 1995 was a full 365-day year of drinking, fucking, lying, raging, and exploring. It was a time of self-shit: self-importance, self-absorption, self-indulgence, and selfishness.”
Sans ghost writer, Taylor speaks directly to his fans for the first time, leaving no topic off limits – from drugs and sex in a hard-living and hard-loving live-for-the-moment existence to realizing he doesn’t need all the booze, women and chaos. In addition to the personal, Taylor also confronts the notions of good and bad and speculates if sin makes us human than how bad can it be?

The book starts at 100 mph, with no sense of beginning, end or middle. Taylor has a lot in common with Slipknot and Stone Sour — attention grabbing image and aggressive chaos — and this similarity is evident in his writing.

The book reads like a psychoanalysis, with the reader as doctor and Taylor as patient, as his stream of consciousness thoughts jump from metaphor to metaphor, from talking about nachos to wrath to rage to religion all while discussing his favorite topic, himself. He judges and labels people, he creates absolutes wrapped in hateful metaphorical bouquets mixed in with a healthy dose of egotistical narcissism. His thought process is just as jumbled.

He states “you see I have been able to move on. I have been able to release, to tap the valve of hatred and turn it into something positive” but later states how much he hates “mall walkers, dog walkers, speed walkers, slow walkers — these people are so frustrating they make us all want to chew and ingest stained glass until we pass out from internal bleeding.”

Also see “I will make you all fucking choke on it,” “you make me sick to my fucking stomach,” “I hope the world gets Mono.”

Hmm … he says he watches the “world without presumption” but his rants say otherwise as he judges the world like the religious zealots he loathes. He criticizes religion but, a few paragraphs later, takes on the form of Father Corey and preaches about sin and how he “gets it” and “empathizes.”

One of the funniest parts was when he said “it is that self shit again, the attitude in which the only one who exists today is me.” Hmm … do as I say not as I do, perhaps?

What else is in the teaches of Father Corey? I don’t care to know.

Readers note: this book isn’t so much about Taylor. It’s a rant from someone who has all the answers with tidbits of his life sprinkled in for taste.

When it comes to musical tastes, it’s so my-way-or-the-highway (you don’t like (insert name here)? Well then f- you! You suck!) so I’m going to recommend this book for Slipknot and Stone Sour fans because, as a fan of Taylor and his lyrical mastery, you will enjoy this half look into his mind, half rant on sin. Hence the subtitle “Settling the Argument Between Born Bad and Damaged Good,” if this is a topic you’ve thought about before or at least care to settle, read on. If not, at least check out Slipknot and Stone Sour if you enjoy awesome heavy metal. — Kate Vendetta

“Seven Deadly Sins” was released by Da Capo Press. More information is available at thecoreytaylor.com.

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Book Review: Janet Evanovich’s ‘Smokin’ Seventeen’

Book Review: Janet Evanovich’s ‘Smokin’ Seventeen’

Janet Evanovich’s latest book in the Stephanie Plum series, “Smokin’ Seventeen,” was released June 21, 2011, supplying another round of sex, absurdity, gossip and murder!

Stephanie’s family and friends finally had enough. It’s time to put up or shut up! Who’s it gonna be — longtime on-again-off-again boyfriend Joe “Officer Hottie” Morelli or dangerously seductive security expert Ranger? Everyone has an opinion per usual, especially Stephanie’s mom who encourages the fearless bounty hunter to dump them both in favor of a former high school football star who recently returned to town. Insert awkward family dinners here, aka let’s lure Stephanie with promises of a delicious home-cooked meal so we can fix her up with some nice young man and solve all her problems! Pass the cannoli Grandma Mazur!

Of course, Evanovich’s novels are never this simple (not that they’re complex either). While Stephanie is weighing her options, she discovers she is on a killers to-do list, a killer who leaves dead bodies in shallow graves on the empty construction lot of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds. Will Stephanie be next? Is the killer someone from Stephanie’s checkered bounty hunter past? And, of course, who’s it gonna be — Ranger or Morelli?

The gangs all here! You get Grandma Mazur and Lula’s inappropriate insanity and one-liners, Morelli’s tight buns, Ranger’s Cuban-American-Batman hotness, Grandma Bella’s evil eye, Connie’s killer curves and mob attitude and Vinnie the weasel. Mix in perma-stoned Mooner driving a bus that serves as a mobile Bail Bonds headquarters, a senior citizen vampire with a set of false fangs, and all the vordo and FTAs your little heart desires, and you’ve got another Stephanie Plum adventure.

It’s a summer family reunion to catch up with old friends and let the story continue. Not to be a total perv (and if I premise a statement with that, obviously I am a pervert) but the nitty gritty sexual aspect of this book is superb.

People don’t start a series with the 18th book, they start at the beginning (hopefully), so I am directing this next part to all Stephanie Plum fans out there … It’s obvious Evanovich phoned-in the last few books in the series and wrote on auto-pilot, or her assistant/ghost writers penned them. I guess that’s what happens when you reach the teens of a book series, using the same ol’ formula, mixed in with New York Times bestseller status. It’s a shame because the beginning of this series was superb!

Author Janet Evanovich

“Smokin’ Seventeen” is not nearly as good as the first 11-12 books in the series, but it’s not as bad as the last few. Evanovich’s voice from the earlier books hasn’t completely resurfaced but at least she made a U-Turn and is headed back in the right Jerseylicious direction.

Since I’m emotionally involved with these characters, I take what I can get.

While the majority of “Smokin’ Seventeen” showed signs of the good ol’ days, it also hinted at the lameness of books 13-16. There’s Stephanie’s lack of character development. There’s the forced and disjointed feeling with some scenes and situations, especially the awkward, rushed ending (no spoilers). Evanovich bumped up the heat with (spoiler alert) Ranger but, in turn, lowered the heat with Morelli to the point their relationship seemed odd.

Evanovich took advantage of the fact we know the background and all the players involved. Some parts of the book were rushed and screamed for more emotion from Stephanie and other characters, especially the love triangle. Some characters were downplayed, including Grandma Mazur who was not nearly as hilarious as usual. I am happy the book wasn’t as bad as the last few but I can’t help but feel Evanovich is still taking her large fan base for granted.

However, I can analyze “Smokin’ Seventeen,” the series as a whole and characters, pick apart Stephanie’s immaturity with men and life choices and her lack of growth, pick apart the absurd scenarios — i.e. a senior citizen skip who thinks he’s a vampire — or I can take the series for what it is: a fun, lighthearted escape with my hero Stephanie Plum and all the usual suspects.
If you want in on the fun, start at the beginning with “One For the Money.” The series is a perfect summer beach read. Work your way through the series and when you hit the teens, around 12 or 13, warning … it’s not going to be as good.

Luckily for Evanovich I, along with thousands, fell in love with Stephanie and the whole gang many books ago so we’re stuck — hook, link and sinker — ready for the 18th book to come out in November and hopefully some development in Stephanie’s love life. Wink wink, nudge nudge. — Kate Vendetta

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Visit Janet Evanovich’s official site at www.evanovich.com or buy the book on Amazon.com!

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