Book Review: Frank Sinatra in a Blender

Used under Fair Use doctrine.
Used under Fair Use doctrine.

Yes, I have reblogged myself – centralizing all book reviews here at W&W.

Frank Sinatra in a Blender by Matthew McBride
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Warning: profanity follows. I’m not exactly the epitome of discretion myself when I speak, and I’ve been known to have characters who explode with the occasional socially awkward expression, but usually my expository writing is clean. But there is really no way to write cleanly of this particular novel. Fair warning.

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Book Review: Servants of the Storm

Used under Fair Use doctrine
Used under Fair Use doctrine

This is not the first Delilah S. Dawson book I’ve read; I have read one other, a more adult oriented book (The Peculiar Pets of Miss Pleasure) and I found Dawson very engaging, unerring in description (we get everything, how things look, feel, smell), delivering lifelike, sympathetic characters, lively dialogue and in that case, a plot that enticed. Servants of the Storm is different – but mainly in the target audience, YA, and that the plot is like a tree chipper, it drags you in right off the bat. (BTW, yes I read YA. I look a good book, whatever the genre.) There are a few times where the McGuffin aspect driving the protagonist wears a bit thin as there really is one primary goal for the whole book. But the side dishes to this meal are superb and on the whole it works fine.

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Book review: A Swollen Red Sun

Cover art used under fair use doctrine
Cover art used under fair use doctrine

McBride has come out of the gate with a very different book than the frenetic (and fun) pinball game that was Frank Sinatra in a Blender. That was a wild ride, focused set of characters, brash, loud, gory as heck and gleefully so. A carnival ride. In Red Sun, McBride establishes an entirely new genre: Southern Literary Tweaker. That’s not a slight nor is it sarcasm – the mood and descriptions in ASRS are finely crafted, and where the character set and pace in FSIAB was about right for a Tarantino-styled Sam Spade noir takeoff (which it was), this has all the breadth and slower pace of Faulkner. There’s cousins, wives of cousins, lovers of wives of cousins, cops, convict brothers-of-cops/nephew of someone else, young, old, older….everything but a jimson-weed slobbering mute. And dogs. And they are all presented in an unrelentingly unforgiving lack of flattery. These are People of Walmart: rotten gums, overweight, unclean, beer-swilling, rampantly crazy or drug-crazed. Their unifying characteristic is crystal meth and the book could be called a Tweaker Procedural — lots of detail on smoking meth, some on production, logistics, etc. McBride opens with a beautiful presentation of the country life, in all its down-home, poverty-wretched glory and builds tension nicely. We get into the mind of the chief protag and quickly stumble across the catalyst of one of the main story lines, and we are off.

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Book review: A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century

A Distant Mirror cover. Under fair use policy.

I like history a lot – especially history which gets into the nitty-gritty of what people did and their motivations. That is often lost in histories, especially histories which are of large temporal scope, as this on (the entire 14th century). The tendency in many histories is to discuss events, as if they just happen, with insufficient setting as to understand why people pursued the amazing things they did.

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Pulp fiction in the 20th century: Super Man Chu vs. Game of Thrones

I recently reviewed a book on my future fiction blog (here) which was essentially a celebration of pulp genre – unabashedly raw, rambunctious, and disgusting in parts. A lot of folks liked it, giving 4 & 5 stars on Goodreads. It was a little over the top for me and I wondered if maybe I’m behind the times. I miss things. We don’t have cable — that was a conscious decision before having kids — though we do have internet. (That was not a superfluous decision in the beginning!)

Source: HBO wallpaper dnload, rights reserved by HBO
Do not trust this man with your daughters

One might be tempted to bemoan the callow ‘modern era’ as being desensitized by video games, violent movies and sex on TV. Take Game of Thrones. I first was introduced to GOT on an airplane, when the gent next to me opened his laptop and started playing the first episode. Look, this was coach, it is hard not to see naked women cavorting in my¬†peripheral vision. He was on the aisle, too, so there were a good 5 rows with a view. I thought he had something from Bob Guccione going over there. I was rather taken aback. Later, I discovered it was Game of Thrones, available to anyone on HBO. Yeah, things had gotten pretty steamy on cable since I had last watched it.

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