Thursday, November 26, 2015

Review: Omerta

OmertaOmerta by Mario Puzo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Was Mario Puzo a great writer? I don't know if I'd go that far. Some of his figurative language came off as sophomoric and his sex scenes left much to be desired. But was he an effective writer? Absolutely. You could blow through these books in a few days (a few hours!) if you wanted to, which is the sign of any effective writer.

This story features a character named Astorre Viola who is similar to Michael Corleone in that he is reluctant to get involved in a world of crime. But once the murder of someone he admires occurs, Astorre sets off to action since he believes in Omerta, which is the code of the Mafia. He must seek revenge. But being the calm character that he is, his revenge is more calculated, which leads to some interesting developments. I'd be lying if I said I didn't prefer the lack of action to action, since the violence is a little cartoony. This is not really a problem Puzo had in The Godfather, but he had it here. It just seems like the great set-up he made in establishing the plot was diminished when the action started to occur. It almost feels as if it was written by a different author.

There are also too many characters. Yes, you can keep track of all of them, but some of them feel a lot less necessary than others. Even so, as I mentioned earlier, Puzo was an effective writer, and I never felt bored with the book, even though there was a bit too much backtracking. It's a fairly enjoyable book and it doesn't leave a bad taste in your mouth. Though, now that I've finished it, my appreciation of it is already starting to wane. It's not The Godfather, but it's a fine novel to read on a plane ride.

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Review: Library of Souls

Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, #3)Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh, yeah. Now I rememeber why I liked these characters. After the lackluster second book, I kind of thought that the series hit its apex with the first book, but this third title hits most of the right notes. Sure, it has its problems - you're kind of stuck with two of the most uninteresting peculiar children for a majority of the book, some locations wear out their welcome sooner than appreciated - but the plot chugs along nicely, and the conclusion is satisfying and complete.

I'm also glad the author kept this to being a trilogy rather than dragging the series out. It all works in an elegant way and I'm glad I read the series. Don't worry about the second book. The third book makes it all worth it.

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Review: The Watchmage of Old New York

The Watchmage of Old New York (The Watchmage Chronicles Book 1)The Watchmage of Old New York by C.A. Sanders
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I usually hate fantasy, but I love this book. It's because of the characters and plot. They're legit! I'm sure there are other fantasy mysteries out there (This is more fantasy than mystery), but this is the one I've read and I'm pleasantly surprised.

The story, which takes place in old New York, features a father and son on the hunt for a missing baby. What happened to the baby? What are its deeper connections to the supernatural world? All unfolds at a steady clip, and the final answer is quite the twist. I didn't see it coming.

Now, there are a LOT of fantastic elements in this book, and usually, that's a deal-breaker for me. I don't like trolls or pixies or flying animals. I find the genre annoying. But I didn't find this book annoying. It's because the characters, Nathaniel (the father) and Jonas (the son) ground the narrative. Nathaniel, who is the magician, reminds me somewhat of Dr. Strange, which is pretty much the only magician I'm really into in comic lore. His desire to protect his son at all costs is what really cements the story for me. And what's great is that you get both perspectives, so you see it through two different eyes. And the scenery is amazing. I never thought I wanted to read about old New York until I read this story, but now that I have, I want to travel back to this world. It reminds me somewhat of the game, Dishonored. It just has that feel to it.

In the end, I highly recommend this book. It's a tad bit longer than it needs to be, but the ending is satisfying and it's worth the read. Looking forward to more.

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Review: Sister Carrie

Sister CarrieSister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sister Carrie is a really good, if not deeply flawed, novel. I call it deeply flawed since it might as well be called Sister Carrie, Featuring (I won't spoil who it is, but it might as well carry his name, too. Kind of like a rap single in the 90s featuring some R&B singer who practically carries the whole song). This other character steals the show later in the book, leaving Carrie to almost be like a background character in her own story. It's not that I didn't like this change of pace, as I did. It's a story that moves because it has so much to say with the characters it employs. But in doing so, I feel like something is missing here. It just didn't feel complete by the time I reached the final page.

That said, it's a pretty spectacular story, if not a tad bit long (It doesn't really pick up until the half way point at page 200). Even so, it kept me engaged, so that's saying something. A good, classic book. Though, I wouldn't say it's for everyone.

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Review: The Fall

The FallThe Fall by Albert Camus
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

More a lesson on Camus' contribution to existentialism than an actual story, The Fall is about a man who realizes how absurd existence is, and he has a fall from his higher position because of it. The thing is, unlike other books by lesser authors, the protagonist in this book doesn't feel constrained or defeated because of his fall. He actually feels slightly liberated.

At first, the story is annoying since the protagonist spends all his time talking about how great he is, and why he felt more intelligent than everybody else. But in the end, you realize how important all that truly was so you can understand how the events that happen lead to his eventual fall. It's certainly not what you're thinking (I thought he had murdered someone or something). It's a highly perplexing book, and one that takes much thought once you wrap your head around its philosophies. I would give it a higher score, but I usually prefer a true narrative to philosophy disguised as narrative. Even so, I read it in one sitting, so that's saying something.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Review: The Martian

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Okay. The Martian is a great book. A towering achievement in realistic science fiction. It's just not for me. The part that bored me was the actual science . It was interesting in the beginning, but after awhile, even I had to admit to myself that I really didn't care about the science and math. I just wanted to get more to the danger. Is it any wonder that the parts I looked most forward to were when we weren't with the protagonist and were instead with his crew and the people at NASA?

That being said, I can understand the love for this book, especially from males who don't normally read. This might be a newsflash to you, but lots of men do not read fiction. They think it's boring and a waste of time. But give them a book that seems like it MIGHT ACTUALLY HAPPEN, and they lap it up like cake frosting. It's the novel for people who don't like fiction!

Actually, that's not entirely true, because at its heart, its a story about survival and perseverance, and who doesn't love that?

So, yeah, it's a great book and all. It's just not MY kind of book. If that makes any sense. Read it if planting potatoes on alien soil sounds interesting to you.

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Monday, September 7, 2015

On releasing free books on Amazon

Well, I've released my third free story of the summer. This one is a doozy. It's a full novel and it's called, The Interdimensional Subwoofer: A dimension hopping, time traveling, science fiction novel. Why release it for free? Especially when it took two years of my life to write? Well, it's to find an audience, which is something that has eluded me ever since I started pumping books out. I read a short book called, Reader Magnets (Also free), which talks about all the benefits of putting out free books, mainly in getting people to sign up to your mailing list.

So far, it hasn't worked. I put out two short stories, Clean Hands, and Q: Are We Not Human? A: We Are Corpses!, which have been downloaded thousands of times but have only gotten me 20 subscribers, and haven't gotten many reviews. But this is an actual novel, and hopefully will show up on more people's recommended screen. In the end, I guess I'm just saying the same thing that any struggling artist says these days: The struggle is real.