Book Review: Desert City Diva, by Corey Lynn Fayman

Desert_City_Diva_-_Cover_t240I have a “funny” relationship with mystery novels, and I tend to stay away from them as I normally end up disappointed by the result, or bored, or both, and so I was a little bit sceptical when I received a copy of Desert City Diva, but this turned out to be kind of sceptical-proof.

Rolly Waters is a guitar player that also works as a private investigator. He then meets Macy Starr, a client, who contacts him regarding a pretty weird guitar thingy with only one string. This Macy girl is very pretty and a little bit crazy, and so you expect what is to come: strange encounters with weird people and alien stuff involved. Well, maybe it is not what you would expect, but the characters are pretty much perfect for the mystery that is to come.

The story is very entertaining, and the way it is written is fair to the events, as it feels fast paced and the characters act according to expected, although, it may feel like they act too expectedly sometimes. I sort of knew what the result was going to be when I was midway, and I felt like Rolly was a little behind his times for being a private investigator. He is in his forties but this should not forgive him for not having a computer and not even trying to Google whatever information he receives throughout the investigation (which would have saved a lot of trouble and time).

“Rolly considered all the things he didn’t know in the world. There were a lot of them.”

Although I understand completely, this gives the author an excuse to make characters disappear throughout the story, making the book a trap for eager readers. I also believe that the book would still be good regardless the result of the story, because the characters are enjoyable by themselves, really full of life, and fairly funny.

“Things would get complicated with Macy now, accounting his hours, parsing them into the personal and the professional. Last night they’d had sex in the Tioga. The spider bite was a message. The message said he was an idiot.”

This is made literally for anyone, any age, regardless what you are into. It was fun, and entertaining, and different, so it is worth giving it a go. And trust me, it will force you to keep on reading, beginning to end.

Book Review: Post Office, by Charles Bukowski

postofficecoverI find it easier for me to write a review on a book I dislike because the wrong comes easily to point out, but a review is way harder to complete when you find the book to be a really good one, and you have to pick and choose what is more important than the rest. I will try my best here, but I have feelings for this boozy bastard, so if I do not achieve what I intend to say, just know that I deeply like Bukowski.

“It began as a mistake.”

This is how we are introduced by our narrator, Henry Chinaski, who appears in this novel for the first time (basically because this is Bukowski’s first work), and who represents his creator himself and his experiences working in the Post Office (hence the name). This novel is completely autobiographical, almost, may I say, too autobiographical. It is basically every-day life made novel, as the character parades from work to home and then back to work, which may sound as the most boring thing taking into account that this is what almost all of us do in a daily basis. However, I believe here is where the greatness of this novel resides, because no one had ever thought that normal life could be so entertaining.

This entertainment has a lot to do with the way our narrator copes with life: alcohol and women, both in abundance. Now combine the rudeness of his character with an amazing literary style. No literary plethora, no academic words, no pretty writing, just pure words straight from a drunk genie.

“Was I some kind of idiot, actually? Did I make things happen to myself? It was possible. It was possible that I was subnormal, that I was lucky just to be alive.”

Bukowski received a lot of critic because of the same reason I find him so great. He was too real, and some do not get to read in between the lines. By writing this book he was criticizing the people around him, his job, the United States of America, and himself, all of this at the same time. Because he is not trying to be a figure to follow at all, he is only showing his vision of life, how one can still be happy with the small things in life. What if the guy is always drunk and has a serious weakness for women? He is just trying to survive the best way he can.

And he is funny, really funny.

“Look, let’s give it up. Let’s just lay around and make love and take walks and talk a little. Let’s go to the zoo. Let’s look at the animals. Let’s drive down and look at the ocean. It’s only 45 minutes. Let’s play games in the arcades. Let’s go to the races, the Art Museum, the boxing matches. Let’s have friends. Let’s laugh. This kind of life is like everybody else’s kind of life: it’s killing us.”

 “I was being raped by a high yellow enchantress! For a moment, it excited me. Then I told her. “Shit. Get down, baby. It’s been a long hard day. There will be a better time.” She climbed off. The thing went down like an express elevator.”

It was hard to choose quotes, I would put the whole book down here if I could. I can’t do that (copyright and stuff), so you may have to read it yourselves and decide whether you love it or you hate it. One or the other, this book is worth reading nevertheless.

Currently: trying to finish “How to be both” by Ali Smith before I start reading “High Rise” by J. G. Ballard (I have to read it before I watch Tom Hiddleston going crazy on screen).

Pretender Readers

I am struggling a bit lately and I am unable to write a good review, so here is another opinion post, because I though I was in a bad mood but it has been a few months now so I guess this is who I am now, a hater with a blog.

There is something that has been catching my attention lately, and it is this particular type of people that do not read but pretend they do and go on about it. They love feeling like they know everything about something without having the slightly idea on the subject in question. They will tell you how they loved this book they read years ago, how they tried and make everyone they knew read it afterwards. They will tell you about this other book they did not read but searched reviews on and got their own conclusions on, how amazing it is, how touching, how interesting.

I find this really funny because more and more people read less and less nowadays, and so this works with and for all them. These pretenders are used to find non-readers, and so their strategy gets better, but what is interesting and equally entertaining is how they do not know how to react with a deep reader.

If you are a reader you will understand how you cannot be tricked anymore. You know your readings, you know your books, and what you do not know about you want to know, you want to read everything about anything and get your collection bigger and bigger. Now, when you happen to find one of these, let’s so call them, pretender readers, you get that grin on your face while they speak. You know what they are trying, and it does not work with you. They will talk about easy readings, books that have spread among the masses for the past few months, novels that lack of any depth, novels that you know everything about now and that are not interesting enough.

I have mastered a skill now, I have my tricks, and this is to follow them into their conversation. Be a bit like them, pretend you are interested, ask questions, get to know them. Once you know where they come from, start talking about real books, name Salinger and Bukowski and Franzen, find their weakness, and so show them how wrong they happen to be.

As I am writing this I am feeling like a “mean girl”, but to me this is something that we have to fight and eradicate. We have to teach people how to be real. Me myself, I do not really know what I am talking about most of the time, but I will be honest about it, I will not pretend I am an expert on a subject, I will try and learn more about something and share only what I do know for sure. We should get away from the “I am cool because I am a reader” that we sadly see more often on social media now. Since when did we start pretending to be readers to impress others?

My reading list is still growing and is very long, but I do not pretend I have read books I haven’t even heard of; instead, I find new books and get the time to read them, and then grow my own opinions on them. The world is already too unreal for us to praise this falsehood.

Review on reviews

Reviewing a book is easy. You open the book, you read the book, you finish the book and then you write your opinion on it. Your review may be on the book as a whole, on the story itself, the way it is written, or even in the cover only. At the end it does not matter, a review is an opinion and this opinion is personal and untransferable.

Now, there is people writing these reviews and these reviews exist because there is people reading them. People want to know what a book is about before reading it, they want to know if it will be worth the time, if they will get something out of it at the end. They are looking for something a preview will never provide as a preview will give you a glimpse of what is to come, but it will never tell you about how the book is written, or if the settings are credible, or if you will relate to the characters in any way.

Reviews provide a wider vision of what is inside a book and the tricky thing is that it comes straight from the reader’s point of view, subjectivity at its fullest you may say. But then, if this is the case, you may wonder: are reviews trustworthy?

Well, they are and they are not. They will never be objective of course, but they will give you a better and more reliable idea on the book in question, and just like with movies, if the amount of bad reviews is greater than the good ones, then why even bother. But of course, and being fairly honest, if you want to know if you would like a book, you should just go an read it yourself, because at the end of the day your opinion is the only one that will matter.

As I see it, reviews are tools for readers, and they should only be seen as such. Once you start doing some research and building a little community, you start to know who to trust and who shares your same –or similar- vision, and that is when you start to choose whether to read or not to read a book based on a review, and not before.

However, you should never judge a book by its cover (although marketing has improved a lot in the past five years), and you should never base your thoughts on other people’s views. Just go read, read a lot, and build your own bedrock, as your own opinion is the most reliable one.

Short Story Review: The Story of Lucius Cane, by Vanya Ferreira

51MXFYPCahL._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_Lucius Cane is a Vampire. Jack the Hound is a half lycanthrope. They are both in London, 1794, and they both happen to have an encounter that does not end up very well.

There is not much more to say about The Story of Lucius Cane (it is 20 pages long), but it happened to be quite entertaining. It kind of took me back in time to my younger days as it reminded me of the type of fantasy novels I used to read back then. The way it is written matches the story and the characters fairly, and so do the descriptions of the events. These descriptions may seem grotesque at some points but the fights, though very realistic and specific, did not really shock me, they just seemed right for the story.

It is a short story that I assume was excerpted from book one, which is still to come, or at least that is what I hope, as the author career is definitely promising and I would not mind reading the whole story.

Vanya Ferreira was born in South Africa and currently resides in Serbia. He has been reading since he can remember and has a passion for writing; he simply finds the syntactical nature of language to be a beautiful and mesmerizing creature. Apart from his short story collection, Vanya is also currently working on a full length psychological crime thriller that should be released before the end of the year.

If you are not a youngster anymore but you used to love vampire stories back at the time, then you should entertain yourself with this story, it is good.

INFO: I have stopped accepting books for review. You can get more information on my Review Policy page.

Currently

I know, it has been a while, but I have my reasons. February has been a busy month so far, and there were some events in London that I just could not miss, so here is a summary of what’s been going on.

I spent A Night Of Amy in The Roof Gardens in Kensington, and it was just lovely. I tend to stay away from these types of fancy venues, but this was a good reason to get out of my comfort zone. The gardens are amazing, the nostalgia was latent in the place, and the overly priced beer tasted better with the music. If you get a chance to go to one of these events please do, you will not be disappointed.

I was also waiting for months for Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats to finally visit the city, and so did the rest of 2000 people that manage to fit in the O2 Forum in Kentish Town. That was literally one of the best shows I’ve ever been to. The voice is unbelievable, the band put together sounds amazing, and we were first row like proper groupies, so I could not ask for more.

Also, my sister visited London for the first time, and we decided to record her trip and do a little compilation. It was fun. It was also stressful and cold, but fun nonetheless. Here is the video in case you want to see how my face looks like and how weird things can get in London.

I will get back to my long reading list now. Please be patient if you have submitted your book for review, I have a full time job I have to go to and it is not that easy for me to read 10 books a month now.

P.S.: If you don’t know who Nathaniel Rateliff is, go check them out, now.

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On Online Publishing

Getting a book published nowadays is undeniably easy, as you can just go online and create your own editorial and edit and upload your own book yourself. In the US only there are in between 600.000 and 1.000.000 books published every year, and going up. You can imagine the global figures.

This is fascinating, as this means that there are millions of people writing books every day. These books are being made accessible for everyone to read online and the possibilities are endless. This gives the author total autonomy on their book, from beginning to end. And this may sound idyllic, but, with all honesty, this is making more damage than good to the publishing industry.

I don’t think it is necessary for me to relate here how the book industry sales are actually declining, how hard it is for an author to have their book on an actual bookshelf on an actual store, and let’s not talk about having a best seller.

My thoughts on massive publishing and why it is not a recognized market has nothing to do with statistics. The problem comes with non-controlled releases and how this affects the quality of what is being published, because literally anyone can publish a book online right now.  Most of these online publications have been rejected by proper editorials, and, being harshly honest, there are books out there that simply should not exist.

And now you will say: “But there is a lot of good authors that are not being recognized and this gives them an opportunity to stand out by themselves without having to wait for a miracle”. Yes, indeed. But this also gives really amateurish authors the freedom to publish books poorly edited, making it even harder for brilliant authors to stand out in between the mess.

What I intend to say is that I have always thought that the editing of a book is almost as important as the story itself. If you write a book and you do not have a good editor behind it, that book will never be a master piece, as authors tend to be sentimentally attached to their job and stubborn when it comes to changes, meaning they will leave their book as they feel looks right to them, but not to the expected public.

I am not saying that this market should disappear, or that these new authors should stop writing books. I want to encourage authors to keep on writing, to keep on publishing, as the freedom of speech is one of the most sacred rights we have nowadays, something that has been really hard to achieve and which is still being watched closely by overly-offended people. So keep on creating, but learn from your mistakes, do not rush into publishing your work, do not take bitter reviews personally, and appreciate quality over quantity, as this is what will give you recognition at the end.