Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gotta Book

Back in August, I did a review on a piece of juvenile fiction. Sine then, I've gotten severely sidetracked in writing random thoughts about the books I've read. I've read quite a few over the past four months, but other things have conspired to prevent me from offering select nouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives about them. Things like blogging, writing, and the real world immediately spring to mind.

But now, as the winter season starts to take hold somewhere in these United States, now would be a good time as any to offer my opinions on the books I've read. This post will be comprised of three short reviews of books that I've read in the past four months. Feel free to agree or disagree with my opinions, as I always enjoy lively banter about my point of view.

Note: None of these books that I'm about to review were offered gratis. For each and every book talked about here, my wallet became lighter in the process, as my hard earned cash gladly went to the intended recipient.

First up is the third and final volume of Charles Gramlich's fantasy series "The Talera Cycle".
Please see previous reviews of book 1 and book 2 here.

The battle that was thought ended, was not. Resurrected, it blossomed into a full blown war. Complete with treachery and fresh new heroes, the final book brilliantly concludes the journey that Ruenn Maclang embarked on when he, his brother and his cousin were blown through a portal and landed in a world that was similar in some ways, yet quite different in others, to Earth. The plotting and pacing was steady, if not riveting at times, and in keeping with the previous tomes, the reader was treated as an equal throughout the book. An entertaining read from beginning to end, it is a book series that I will enjoy revisiting in the future.

"The Tarnished Star" by Jack Martin. Jack Martin is the pen name of writer/actor Gary Dobbs, who runs a fascinating blog called The Tainted Archives. This tome is his debut novel, and for the most part, it did live up to the brilliant marketing campaign he created for it.

The story revolves around Sheriff Cole Masters, who arrests the depraved son of the wealthy rancher who owns the town. A confrontation eventually leads to a showdown and Cole Masters finds himself on the run for killing his corrupt replacement.

The plotting and pacing is pretty steady, with the violence minimal and the sex non existent, which to me is reminiscent of the westerns from the 50's & 60's. The book did keep my interest throughout, which if you've read my previous reviews, is an essential component to me liking a book.

The book is an excellent throwback to the days where the suggestion of what was happening, as opposed to going into excruciating detail, was the better hook. A solid read and a decent bang for your buck (about $20 or so US), this book would make a good intro for someone who is looking for a new genre to explore.

The last one is a review of a book series, as opposed to a single volume. If you click on my profile (go ahead, I'll wait for you), you'll see s few authors listed there, of which one is Susan Hooper. Susan Hooper is the one that turned me onto self publishing, and for that I'll be eternally grateful.

Now, onto her book series. She writes murder mysteries, specifically called "The Barnaby Moss/Arnie Kotkin Mysteries". They're pretty decent mysteries in that they do keep your interest and they aren't that all cut and dried, so you can't really figure it out say, thirty pages in. So far she has about 8 tomes out and I've read the first five. All of them meet my criteria for enjoyable book reading.

One interesting thing about the murder mysteries is the secondary story that is woven throughout the series. The main characters, Barnaby Moss and Arnie Kotkin, are gay, and she tastefully explores the complex issues that are involved with this type of relationship. From coming out, to living first as domestic partners then later as a married couple, all of the issues are presented as factually and as plainly as possible.

So although you may be reading a particular part of the series that on the surface has a disconnect with others in the series, in order to understand the underlying issues in that story, you actually have to read the prior parts to the story you're reading. I know it sounds complicated, but she makes it work in the long run: The basic story of whatever book you're reading, plus the underlying story that is weaved throughout the series.

So there you have it folks, my reviews for two books and a book series. I've done a lot more reading in the meantime, and I hop to offer another opinion or two in the near future.


  1. THANK YOU for the great reviews of books. I'm going on vacation over the holidays and I'm planning on just hunkering down and reading.
    I'll add these to my list and let you know what I think when I get back. One of my favorite mystery writers is still John Sandford, all his Prey books. I like the style, pace and characters. :)Bea

  2. I second your opinion on Jack Martin's book and Gramlich's Talera series. Fine writers at the top of their game.

  3. Glad you enjoyed Witch of Talera. I appreciate the kind words. I also read "The Tarnished Star" and thought it recalled the traditional western very well. Haven't read anything from the series though.

  4. Bea: Glad you enjoyed the reviews.

    David: Thanks. As you know, I'm still a bit gunshy on giving my opinion on what books I read nowadays, but I really did enjoy this books.

    Charles: You're more than welcome for the kind words. The trilogy was indeed worth the money and worth the read.

    Tarnished Star most definitely was something I enjoyed. I haven't read many westerns that were similar in the vein of the classic throwback and that one has definitely had peaked my curiosity.

    The book series is one of those self-pubbeds that I thought was pretty good, sort of like a decent intro to exploring that genre.

  5. I'm always looking for great reads and these sound terrific. I have been reading Stephen King's "Just After Sunset" short story collection and it's been a mixed bag so far. Thank you for the reviews - I'll definitely be checking these out.

  6. You are a good reviewer, and I say that as 1) a fellow reviewer and 2) an editor for a review web site.

    Love the comment about Westerns :)

  7. Talon: You're more than welcome. Even though the amount of what I read has dropped considerably, I still enjoy what I do read, and I'm more than happy to pass on my random thoughts about what I read.

    R.K.: I greatly appreciate the compliments. I guess doing all that writing has come in handy for other things after all.

    Always on the lookout for other avenues to pursue. Please keep me in mind if something comes along that you think I might be interested in doing.

    Ahh the western...having grown watching all kinds of westerns and reading more than my fair share of every type of western out there, it was very refreshing to read that particular type of western. Once I got used to a few little nuances, the book really was fast paced read.

  8. Thanks for the reading recommendations - I will check these out. It is so difficult to find time to read these days. I sort of miss taking the train in which gave me about 2 hours of reading time every day. (Although I used to people watch a fair amount of that time.) :)

  9. I can understand that particular issue. About the only time I read nowadays is on the weekends when I need a break from writing.

    And you're more than welcome.

  10. I am thinking you and I have different reading tastes. I am reading Superfreakonomics right now..haha

    Then again Barnaby Moss sounds pretty good for my next vacation read.

  11. My reading tastes are very eclectic. About the only thing I haven't read is Young Adult, and I probably never will.

    I just can't seem to wrap my mind around something that is geared towards the under 16 crowd.


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