October 31, 2012

Essay: To Ms. Foley, With Gratitude

Welcome to Literary Marie's Precision Reviews. Yesterday we had a special guest post from Mathias Freese, author of This Möbius Strip of Ifs, winner of the 2012 National Indie Excellence Awards in the non-fiction category and a 2012 Global Ebook Award Finalist. Today he is sharing an essay from the book. Enjoy!
Essay: To Ms. Foley, With Gratitude

I was casually informed a year after the fact by the editor of Graffitti that my short story “Herbie”  published in that magazine was listed in Martha Foley’s The Best American Short Stories of 1975, under “Distinctive Short Stories of 1974.”
                  Here I was rubbing literary shoulders with the prolific Joyce Carol Oates (7 citations), Isaac Bashevis Singer (2), and under “Foreign Authors” Milan Kundera, Heinrich Böll and John Hawkes, and other such luminaries as Donald Barthelme, Norman Mailer and Andre Dubus. In my naiveté I failed to appreciate or grasp who these individuals were. Dwelling in my own personal ambition, blinded, in the beginner’s dreamworld, I was too self-absorbed.
                  When I rushed through the pages to discover my listing, I was appalled to find that my story was cited under another’s name, the poet H.T. Kirby-Smith, who was on the facing page across my story in Graffitti. I wrote Martha Foley asking her to rectify the error. She wrote back in a handwritten note, this grand dame of the 30s, founder of the fabled Story magazine, publisher of Hemingway and Faulkner, that she was sorry for the mistake and if I were patient, she would gladly correct the error in the 1976 edition. Her note was from another era, stately, informal, kind, as if Lincoln had penned a note to a grieving mother who had lost a son at Gettysburg. I would endure a rejection note by her hand at any time, so gracious in spirit.
                  I never did hear from her again until I came across her obituary in The New York Times. And so, for a variety of feelings, I never did bother to have the error corrected. I had been instructed about fate, and I learned that lesson well. In a fashion it all became rather unimportant to me—credits and the like. In fact, I remain grateful for that experience. I owe Ms. Foley a debt. If the editor of Graffitti had not rejected a second story of mine about a year later, making note on the rejection slip, “Oh, by the way, did you know. . .,” I would never had known about my nomination or experienced Ms. Foley’s compassion for a new writer. When I relate this anecdote to friends with all its pearly meanings for me, they are upset, inquire if I ever remedied it. Missing the point entirely, they don’t get it which is all right with me.
                  At 34 I learned a remarkable truth about a whole lot of things in life, this Möbius strip of ifs. I could have reached my present age without ever learning about my distinction, a baby calf amid greater elephants. And it would not have made a whit of difference. I have continued to write, more emboldened than ever from what I had learned to the bone. Unknowing, in ignorance, casual random chance—spiky and spastic, serendipitous discovery, errors made, editor dies, up and down the slipstream of life, a Duncan yo-yo “sleeping.” And so I made my literary debut. And what of H.T. Kirby-Smith? What will the poet make of a stranger’s work appended to his or her literary resume? Did Kirby-Smith write a letter of different intent to Ms. Foley? (Did she nurture Kirby-Smith as she did me?) There’s a short story here, of an identity given without permission. And so it spins off into permutations.
                  Thirty years have passed—high school English teacher; psychotherapist; writer working part time at his craft, a small, amoebic body of work forming. Rejections never stung after the Foley encounter (I was fed well early on in the nest) unless they had that tinge of bitchy rancor some editors evince. It is the grape not the vintner that counts. The most encouraging , the kindest rejection in those early years, came from The New Yorker, finding the worth even in a poorly constructed story. The anonymous editor lauded the effort and so I was again encouraged -- nurtured -- to go on. I knew I had to say my say, with or without recognition, and I went about doing just that. In 1996 I wrote an intensely felt, graphic novel about a death camp, i, and it was written in white heat, “Made it, ma. . .Top of the world.” Finished in two weeks, it was clearly channeled from my unconscious.
                  I self-published the book because I knew another book on the Holocaust was not “fashionable,” although another manual on Quicken was deemed critical to the well-being of the homeland. Subsequently I felt encouraged to write more after the first reviews came in, and i is part of a tetralogy that I am trying to publish. New York publishers, some 200 or more, my agent queried, lauded the effort, even the writing as exemplary, but said no—one going so far as to imply that I might have stood a better chance if I were Elie Wiesel or Primo Levi. But, dear editor, Wiesel was kind enough to read parts of my book and wrote back that he was “moved.”
                  I am now sending queries out west, pestering small presses, the university presses, and moving north to Canada. Recently the Hungarian Imre Kertesz won the Nobel Prize for literature, and he published no more than 5,000 copies of Fateless worldwide, in what he now says was an inadequate translation by Northwestern University Press. If I am rejected again, I will publish the tetralogy for myself for, in a curious way, to publish at the hands of others is not to write for oneself. Martha Foley converted my nascent ambition into internal riches at the very beginning, bless her. I need not be extolled, given distinctions, just the merry appreciation of close ones, relatives and children. I have readers. Writing is much like parenting, one is never done with it. Sweetly rubied as publication can be, I do not crave the fruit. I chase no chimera, and I am much less striven, much more reasonably contented with what I can do with the literary tools I own. I have much less fear about my worth as a writer and who I am, much the same thing. I publish to share.
                  Since 1998, I have endured personal losses -- my eldest daughter committed suicide at age 34. Returning to New York from sweltering Alabama with her ashes by my side in a hard, “convenient” cardboard box, I dispersed them into a lake in Colombia County in upstate New York. Haunted as I am until I die, of mistakes made, of fatherly blunders and omissions, it is not guilt that daily lacerates. It is folly. This is the life now blown up into my face, the scree I experience in everyday living. The following year I lost my wife in a horrific automobile accident in which my other daughter suffered grievous bodily injuries, her boyfriend dying in the carnage as well. Shakespeare said it well, “Oh tragic and insupportable loss.”
                  Two more books followed after the deaths of my wife and daughter. Doubtless, on complex levels, my feelings about them imbued my efforts, for a river of being bereft sadly meanders throughout the novels, a pallor of resignation suffuses the atmosphere. A close friend startingly said it best: “Your whole life, as I know it, has been a holocaust.” Indeed, the early death of my mother and the depressed life we lived in our household turned me to writing. Putting on excess pounds, sleeping too much, shaving too little, I took my anguish and the bile it precipitated and metabolized all that into word. I poured my personal agonies into each page.
                  And so I persevere. I go on. Life is propulsive. I continue to write to explain me to me, hoping in so doing that you will see in that something of you. An irate person’s twitching tongue, a nagging debt, endless legal litigation, daily harrassments, I remind myself are detritus compared to what I have endured. I go on. My very DNA demands that of me. It is liberating to have little fear. However, and so comically human, I observe, I must continually prod myself to remember that. Unfortunately it does not become automatic. One need not be a former teacher or psychotherapist to understand, to really know, that lessons are never really learned. What I really do know is that fearlessness makes for authenticity in writing.
                  As I reconnoiter the past as I near my end, the decades of learning my craft, stonewalling of efforts by others, the callousness of an indifferent world – and marketplace, the limitations of self and others – and the losses along the way, I am beset by questions, always by questions. Answers are expired prescriptions.
                  I identify with Sisyphus in Camus’ famed essay, who apparently had an Attic smile on his face while struggling -- it is there, not there, but seems there -- as he pressed his shoulder laboriously against the boulder for another stiff day ascending the mountain. Reeling backwards, so close now to the summit, collapsing underfoot, tumbling down once more, he is condemned by the gods to suffer this eternal charade, a mythic repetition compulsion. Apparently he realized throughout the eons that arriving was rather humdrum. The struggle mundanely to close the Lark suitcase and get to LaGuardia on time for the probably delayed flight is when mettle engages the cog of character, the struggle, daintily put.
                  I struggle relentlessly to sustain some serious kind of deconditioned self. It is the writer’s task to be perched outside and away from his society, to translate the telling societal hum beneath his furred talons as he squats on telephone wires outside of town. He remains off the grid if at all possible. It is a variant of the stranger in a strange land, only stranger. Rather, it is an attained awareness of self that leads to the isolation and cold sweat any truth reveals. Teiresias agonized over that with Oedipus. I write for self. I seek knowledge and clarity. I do not necessarily become wiser, that is an anointment. The windshield is clearer and clearer, I can tell you that, as I can see better ahead.
                  As Krishnamurti so long ago observed, every society is essentially corrupt (any arguments about that?). I try to cleanse myself as often as I possibly can. It is in my very anonymity (thank you, Ms. Foley), that I can remain steadfast, honest, true. It is my destiny alone to sustain my losses, to endure, to wither or to last—to be gone. What I leave literarily is no more important than the creases in my pants, as this globe hurtles through space.
                  In a graveyard somewhere near the tip of Long Island stands a single cross that says “James Jones”-- that’s class. It is, at last, all an effort for self-awareness, as we struggle against a fuzzy fate and a hazy death. We need only connect, a wise scribbler once said.

 *The i Tetralogy was published in 2005.
This Möbius Strip of Ifs is available on Amazon.com ($10.95 for paperback; $9.99 for Kindle edition) and at Barnes & Noble ($10.95 for paperback; $9.99 for NOOKbook). 

Visit www.mathiasbfreese.com and check yesterday's guest post from this author.


October 30, 2012

Guest Post: Mathias Freese

Author of The i Tetralogy, Down to a Sunless Sea, and This Möbius Strip of Ifs

Welcome to Literary Marie's Precision Reviews. Today we have a special guest post from Mathias Freese, author of This Möbius Strip of Ifs, winner of the 2012 National Indie Excellence Awards in the non-fiction category and a 2012 Global Ebook Award Finalist.
Guest Post on Krishnamurti:

“. . . [T]hey introduced me to Krishnamurti fifteen years ago, by lending me a (now) tatty edition of his The Flight of the Eagle, which although baffling and to some extent unnerving me at the time, has led a direct path to the text I now write.” Roland Vernon, Star in the East

Since 1975 I have been reading the works of Krishnamurti, spiritual teacher and remarkable human being. Often we are surrounded by rather unusual people in our culture or the cultures of other peoples who we know nothing about. And then they die, and we die. When you read history, you muse about the life of Spinoza, for example, writing his philosophical work and then passing on. Often unknown to the world at large, these brilliant isolates, like Spinoza, are known to a few, most likely friends or family, and yet a hundred years later they have shaken the world with their ideas. Such was Krishnamurti.

His influence grows ever more and colleges have introduced his works into their curriculum, but he is hard to categorize, define, corral or explicate, as most unique people are. I have learned a great deal from him over the years; he has opened my eyes much more than they would have been. At the tip of my tongue are some of his insights: all societies are essentially corrupt, the observer is the observed (think on that one for an hour!), look as if it were for the first time (good for therapists and better still for family and relationships), the word is not the thing itself as well as the elusive and enigmatic, for we mere mortals, choiceless awareness.

After his death in 1986 at 90, the Krishnamurti Foundation continued to produce a plethora of materials, especially his recorded talks and writings; they are endless. The books that I have found quite telling are Think on These Things, The Flight of the Eagle and The Awakening of Intelligence. Read these three in this order and you either quit on him or have your pistons shut down. His teachings have saturated who I am as to raise high my good cholesterol, delightfully insidious. When I am stressed or experience angst, the fear of fear or the fear of death, I return to his writings. A disciple of his, Pupil Jayakar, wrote a biography of him which was given to me in the 1980s by a class that knew my fondness for K. They inscribed their feelings about me on the inside book covers which is interesting to read 25 years later. However, I am rereading the book once again; a chapter a night, for one has to go slowly with K. Here is one quotation I underlined last night.

Krisnaji asked: “If you knew that you were about to die, what would you do? Can you live one hour completely — live one day — one hour — as you were going to die the next hour? But if you die so that you are living fully in this hour, there is enormous vitality, tremendous attention to everything. You look at the spring of life, the tear, you feel the earth, the quality of the tree. You feel the love that has no continuity and no object. Then you will find in that attention that the ‘me’ is not. It is then, that the mind, being empty, can renew itself.”   

Let me assure you that this is accessible K, for he can lacerate your mental structure, sense of being through relentless and laser-like questioning that has no other purpose than to make you see.  Nor is he the soothingly ethereal musings found in Gibran’s The Prophet. He is not a Western philosopher as we know it. Surpassing Socrates in several aspects, he pushes us to see what is, in the moment, right now, to observe our minds at work, how we go about thinking, how we project upon the world all our jangled internal projections and misperceptions. It is much more, to my eyes, than merely examining one’s own self. And that is why, in some instances, western cultures find it hard to digest what he is dealing with. I still struggle with seeing. In any case I have returned to him from time to time for he provides not solace – he is not a sentimental thinker, but a kind of reaffirmation of questioning as a way to get at core issues, which is to my liking. Answers are given on tablets and handed down to slaves. What if the Decalogue was composed of ten or more questions? What larks, Pip, what larks!

As I go about aging, as I do my slow tango to non-existence, I choose not to waste my time any longer on seeing meaning in what I have been, done or doing, or accomplished, really irrelevant. I am more concerned in living the moments I have each and every day not in the pursuit of happiness, nirvana, or moaning mantras which are all ridiculous. I seek no respite, no relief, no pleasure, nor transcendental aims. Krishnamurti is about the awakening of intelligence, and we know how difficult that can be; but he is also suggesting that we maintain an ongoing internal dialoguing with ourselves; that we listen on levels that are at the edge of quantum physics; that we dare not live the kind of life he lived for a while, a designated and anointed Theosophist messiah, for he detests models, icons and disciples, the appalling regimens of authority.

K solely engages us to make our way in the world free of all conditioning, the pollution we face daily with the media and the fish bowl we live in with other human beings; that we march not only to the sound of a different drummer, but that indeed, we become the drummer and drum, the music, the rhythm and the harmony (the observer is the observed). What I admire about this spiritual genius is his diamond-hard injunction to be in the world, or as he said in the title of one book, you are the world.

The fact that such an uncanny man has lived in my time gives me some hope that humanity may yet have something going for it. He was no god, he was mortal, and for me that carries greater weight than any god created by man. I read his works for insight, for I am not a follower. Luckily for K, in any other century he probably would have been turned into a god. When he was cremated his ashes were spread in Ojai, California, England and in India, countries in which he taught for all of his life. By this time if he had a grave, there would be a mausoleum above it, and all the appurtenances of a “god.” Such is mankind.
This Möbius Strip of Ifs is available on Amazon.com ($10.95 for paperback; $9.99 for Kindle edition) and at Barnes & Noble ($10.95 for paperback; $9.99 for NOOKbook). 

Visit www.mathiasbfreese.com and check back here tomorrow for an essay from the book.


October 28, 2012

Series Sunday Guest Post: Carol Cassada

Author of the Westmore series

Welcome to Literary Marie's Precision Reviews. Today we have a special guest post from Carol Cassada, author of the Westmore series.

Guest Post:
First off, I’d like to thank L. Marie for this wonderful opportunity and allowing me to share my books with everyone. Today I’ll be talking about my book series Westmore, which is what I call a literary version of a soap opera; the series revolves around three families as they experience love, heartache, and drama in their everyday lives.
I’ve written three volumes so far and I’ll talk about each volume to give readers a brief glimpse into the series. 

Westmore vol 1:
The first volume is simply titled Westmore and basically it was an introduction to the series and the characters.
The Green family consists of widowed matriarch Charlotte, who vowed never to date again after the death of her husband Michael, yet a dangerous situation lands her in the arms of detective Jim Bryant. Charlotte’s oldest son Jack is a bartender, who longs to do more with his life. Her other son Scott and her daughter Alicia are members of a rock band, looking to make it to the big-top. Youngest son Peter returns home from college with his new girlfriend Zoey, who is ten years older than him, and causes concern for Charlotte.
The Reynolds family consists of widower Stan, whose life is thrown for a loop when his son Jacob starts dating rocker Alicia Green, whom Stan dislikes. This causes friction between the father and son. As if Stan’s life couldn’t get more complicated his divorced daughter Laura and his granddaughter Megan move back home. Just as Laura’s life is returning to normal, her ex-husband shows up unexpectedly.
The Braxton clan includes Jeff, who is the youngest brother and all his life he’s felt like he was second best. Jeff and his wife Marie are experiencing marital problems now that their only child has left home. Andrew is the oldest brother and CEO of the family’s publishing company. He has a controlling attitude just like his father. Andrew’s attitude has caused his daughters to leave home and his wife Elizabeth is fed up with his behavior and contemplating divorce. Meanwhile, their son Wayne is reaching his breaking point in his tense relationship with his father.

Westmore: The Aftermath
In the second volume of the series, there’s a car accident involving Scott, Alicia, and Wayne. Scott manages to escape without any injuries; however Alicia is badly injured and is in a life or death struggle. Wayne, who panicked and fled the scene of the accident, can’t live with the guilt and despite his mother’s protests confesses to his crime. Wayne is afraid of going to prison and must rely on his father for help and soon changes in their relationship begin to take place. Meanwhile, the accident cause problems in Jeff and Marie’s relationship, due to Marie’s friendship with The Greens, however a medical crisis could bring the couple together. Scott is forced to make a decision about the band’s future and whether to carry on without Alicia. And Laura is reeling from the appearance of her ex-husband and is fearful he’ll expose her secret.

Westmore: Broken Ties
In the third volume, relationships between couples and families are tested. Laura has to deal with unresolved feelings for her ex-husband Elliot. Peter and Zoey are having problems, and soon Zoey is finding comfort with one of Peter’s brothers. Jeff and Andrew are in for a shock when their sister Caroline comes back into their lives. The brothers have been estranged from their sister ever since the death of their mother Alexis. Caroline accused their father of murdering their mother, and her claims led to a falling out with the siblings. Her reappearance stirs up old wounds for the family and the siblings find themselves at odds. However, the family could be driven further apart when it is revealed that a certain family member knows the real truth about Alexis’ death.
Currently, I’m working on volume 4 of Westmore, which I plan to release in early 2013, or possibly sooner depending on how everything goes. Readers can expect a lot more drama between the families, new couples, and new characters.
Westmore series is available on Amazon.com ($15.50 and $10.99 for paperback; $2.99 for Kindle edition) and at Barnes & Noble ($13.95 for paperback; $2.99 for NOOKbook). 

Visit www.carolcassada.net and follow @dramacjc on Twitter.


October 26, 2012

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.

"When I was twelve, a fortune-teller at the Herbert Hoover Junior High School carnival said to me: 'Gemma Craig, you listen to me. Do not get married. Ever. If you do, you'll end up cooking for a man who'd rather eat at McDonald's; doing laundry for a man who sweats like a rabid pig, then criticizes you for not turning his T-shirts right side out; and cleaning the bathroom floor after a man whose aim is so bad, he can't hit a hole the size of watermelon—"
~ When in Doubt, Add Butter by Beth Harbison


October 25, 2012

Red Rain

"Daniel may be the match, but I am the fire." ~ pg. 324

When you hear R.L. Stine's name, you think of the Goosebumps and Fear Street book series. Well, R.L. Stine is back with an adult horror novel. In Red Rain, adventure travel blogger Lea Sutter is on a small island called Cape Le Chat, located off the coast of South Carolina, when a big hurricane hits. The island has not seen a hurricane this bad since 1935. In the aftermath of the hurricane, Lea discovers two orphaned twin boys. She impulsively adopts them and brings the twin boys back home to her family on Long Island. The boys, Daniel and Samuel, seem grateful but their true nature says otherwise.

Life would've returned to normal if Lea listened to her husband's objections about adopting the twin boys. But—you guessed it R.L. Stine fans—the twins are evil. First they start making demands. Then items are stolen. And worst of all, Lea's husband is implicated in two brutal murders.

Listen. It is raining blood in the prologue! Chapter One hasn't even begun and already the book seemed unnatural, creepy and so R.L. Stine. Then it faltered. Maybe I am used to the old Fear Street books where the storyline is straight to the point. Red Rain has four parts, one of which could have been eliminated. The story could have been told in 100 pages less. If you grew up reading Fear Street books like I did, you will have expectations for this new adult novel. It is written with the legendary suspense and horror that R.L. Stine is known for...on a young mature adult level. As a grown adult novel, it is an unfortunate dud. The twin boys just didn't horrify me on a level that should scare adults. 

Thanks to R.L. Stine for acknowledging that his faithful following have come of age and are now adults. However, stick to writing young adult books where your talents are best appreciated. 

DISCLAIMER: This book was received for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Title: Red Rain
Author: R.L. Stine
Published: October 2012
Pages: 386
Edition: Galley
Rating: ♥♥


October 21, 2012

Series Sunday: Shelter

Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name.

 "Talk about history repeating itself." ~ pg. 172

My Series Sunday pick is Shelter, the first book in the Mickey Bolitar series by Harlan Coben. Mickey was first introduced in Live Wire, the last book in the Myron Bolitar series. He's every bit as sarcastic, witty and smart as his uncle. The mature teen is also a basketball player, like his legendary uncle.

Mickey is still haunted by witnessing his father's death. His mom has never fully recovered from the loss either. Unfortunately, Mickey takes on more responsibility than a teen should and is the unofficial caretaker of his mother. After sending his mom to rehab, Mickey is forced to live with his uncle Myron, whom he dislikes. Along with adjusting to life without parents, Mickey has to adjust to a new high school and being stationary. Mickey spent his entire life traveling overseas while his parents worked for a charitable foundation. Now, he has the chance to stay in one place, make friends and hopefully join a basketball team. In his first days of school as a sophomore, he meets Ashley, a girl that has potential to be his girlfriend. Just when things are going smooth, Ashley disappears. Mickey is determined to find Ashley and follows a dangerous trail that leads to a conspiracy involving his deceased father.

What good is a main character without loyal sidekicks? Mickey becomes friends with two memorable characters: Spoon and Ema. Spoon is a smart kid that randomly states facts. Ema is a gothic girl that stays to herself. The three of them make quite the team.

Shelter is Harlan Coben's young adult debut. Well done, Harlan. Well effin' done. It is a great easy read for young adults and entertaining for grown folks as well. The story line is not juvenile or dumbed down for younger readers. This book has the same formula as other Coben books that his fans appreciate: fast-paced, multi-layered suspense and mystery with a dose of cheeky humor. The Mickey Bolitar series will definitely tide me over until the next release in the Myron Bolitar series.

Title: Shelter
Author: Harlan Coben
Published: September 2011
Pages: 180
Edition: eBook
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥


October 19, 2012

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.

"John Luther, a big man with a big walk, crosses the hospital car park, glistening with night rain. He strides through sliding doors into Accident and Emergency, approaches the desk, and badges the Filipino triage nurse."
~ Luther: The Calling by Neil Cross


October 17, 2012

Movie Review: Alex Cross

Earlier this week, I had a venting hour on Twitter about my displeasure of Tyler Perry being cast as Alex Cross in the upcoming movie. It's no secret. I've been expressing my thoughts on the bad casting choice since July (original blog post here). But I recently saw one movie trailer too many and stepped back up on the soapbox with a mic and vented more.

For the record, I am not the only person who feels this way. Well, the tweets are watching, people. Guess it was in the cards to prove me wrong. I was invited to an early FREE screening by my friend Patrice. (Thanks again, girlie! If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have seen the movie at all.) We had a great time.

Tyler Perry (Alex Cross)
Carmen Ejogo (Maria Cross) - Wife
Cicely Tyson feat. her lacefront (Nana Mama)
Edward Burns (Thomas Kane) -Partner
Matthew Fox (The Butcher) -Villian
John McGinley (Captain Brookwell)
Jean Reno (Mercier) - Target

Detective Alex Cross is on the case to catch "The Butcher." While investigating the multiple murders, he psychoanalyzes and profiles the villian, like he does with most murderers. Instead of focusing on the hit he was hired for, The Butcher turns his attention to Alex Cross. Right before his eyes, The Butcher guns down Maria Cross, Alex's wife. Now Alex is determined to catch The Butcher for professional and personal reasons.

The movie is supposed to be based on the 12th book in the Alex Cross series by James Patterson. However, there were some deviations from the book's storyline. For example, in the movie this was Alex Cross's first encounter with The Butcher. While in the book, the villian is Gary Soneji and has faced Cross before. Also, Cross's partner is and has always been John Sampson in the book series. I don't know where this Thomas Kane character came from in the movie. To be friends since childhood and partners for years, their chemistry was just blah. Not extraordinary. Not strangers.

One of the major differences between the movie and the book is the setting. In the book series, Alex Cross lives in Washington D.C. In the movie, Cross lives in Detroit and is a detective with the Detroit Police Department. I'm not complaining about the setting change because it gives a great spotlight for the City of Detroit. My friend Patrice and I had fun calling out the different locations, streets, and Detroit references. The movie includes its own version of Mayor Kilpatrick, Christine Beatty, the Police Chief, and more figures. Even the cross streets mentioned in the movie—St. Aubin and Mack Ave.—really intersect. Although, Cross called the People Mover a train. The RenCen, Compuware, and Centaur Bar are just a few of the buildings shown in scenes. Needless to say, I loved the setting!

My Two Cents
Overall, I will rate the movie 2.5 out of 5. The story was good and majority of the cast acted well together. Matthew Fox especially did an awesome job playing a psychopathic killer. John McGinley played the perfect asshole captain that is only concerned with the political aspect of police work. I kept waiting for him to slip and say, "What's the fucking procedure when you have a gun to your head?" I could have done without Cicely Tyson and actually surprised that Tyler Perry didn't try to play Nana Mama too.

I'm not sure if it was my seating in the theater, but the action scenes seemed too jumpy. It was very clear that stunt doubles were used. I know this is standard for action movies, but does anyone really believe Tyler Perry can play in an action movie? No. My opinion on casting Tyler Perry as the main character has not changed after seeing the movie. He just didn't convince me. I had trouble separating Cross from Madea, especially when Cross would pull out his gun in a non-masculine way, or try to act sexy in a scene. We don't believe you, Perry. You need more people.

I still believe that if you are a TP fan, you will enjoy the movie. My friend Patrice has not read the book series, likes TP, and rated the movie a 4 out of 5. If you are a fan of the book series, you will most likely remain disappointed in the casting choice but like the movie's storyline. Besides, some rather see Morgan Freeman as the one and only Cross, regardless of how old and gray he is. Alex Cross fans, save your money. Wait until its available for rental or free in the comfort of your own home. James Patterson series fans know and expect better.

Alex Cross opens in theaters Friday, October 19. Will you go see the movie?

Title: Alex Cross
Opening Date: October 19, 2012
Genre: Suspense/Thriller/Action
Run Time:  1 hour, 41 minutes
Rating: ♥♥♡


October 16, 2012

Lit Tidbits

  • Mo Yan, 57-year-old Chinese writer, is the first Chinese national to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.
  • Did you know that Pam Grier wrote a memoir in 2010? Foxy: My Life in Three Acts is her life story and life lessons.
  • NFL quarterback Michael Vick published a memoir in early September titled Finally Free. In the memoir, he comes clean and sets the record straight about his participation in a dogfighting ring.
  • A collection of about 300 of John Lennon's letters, postcards, childhood writings, and life stories is published in a book titled The John Lennon Letters.
  • The Harvard School of Public Health conducted a study examining the risks of neck and head pain from tablet use. Bookhearts, be conscious of your posture while reading on your computers, tablets and eReaders.
  • Are you still looking for a Halloween costume idea? Try being a literary character.

October 14, 2012

Series Sunday: I, Michael Bennett

Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name.
"Lord of the Flies with drugs and guns." ~ pg. 216

My Series Sunday pick is I, Michael Bennett, the fifth book in the Detective Michael Bennett series by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. Michael Bennett is labeled New York's greatest hero in his personal and professional life. He has solved crimes since starting in the NYPD in 1992. At home, he is the father of ten adopted children: six girls, four boys, ranging in age from seven to sixteen years old. 

Manuel "the Sun King" Perrine is a notorious drug kingpin who runs the most violent drug cartel in Mexico. The Tepito Mexican drug cartel has been tied to 700 murders in the last three years. During Perrine's secret visit to the United States, Detective Bennett arrests the drug kingpin in a deadly operation. Perrine vows to wreak epic violence upon New York and to get revenge on the man who arrested him. Judges are murdered. Innocent people are shot. Gangs are at war. No one is safe.

Bennett takes his family on vacation to a cabin near Newburgh, New York. His goal was to escape the violence and get out of the target's bulls-eye. In the process, more people are hurt and the once happy town is now a nightmare.

The amount of terrorizing action in this thriller gripped me. Yes, ME! I haven't enjoyed a James Patterson novel in quite a while. But this fifth installment in the Michael Bennett series was a page-turner. In fact, I couldn't turn the e-pages fast enough. Chickadee and I read it on our NOOKs and had the same reactions. Our only complaint is that we have to wait months until the next book in the series.

Every James Patterson novel claims to be the "most thrilling." I co-sign this statement for I, Michael Bennett. The New York detective, his ten children, grandfather Seamus and nanny Mary Catherine's lives will never ever be the same. 

Title: I, Michael Bennett
Author: James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
Published: July 2012
Pages: 317
Edition: eBook
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥


October 12, 2012

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.

The NOOK is loaded with October eMags. Featured stories are:

"An Entire Month of Dinners" ~ Real Simple

"Essential Guide to the New OS X and iOS6 Features" ~ MacLife

"Set Your Writing Free: How to Confront and Conquer Your Demons" ~ The Writer

"The Triumph of Adele" ~ Rolling Stone

"Rob Takes Her [Kristen Stewart] Back!" ~ US Weekly

"New Trends To Try For Under $100" ~ Marie Claire

"Coats For Every Occasion" ~ Vogue

"Your Makeup Super-Pretty Every Day" ~ Elle

"The Only Heels To Wear This Fall" ~ Elle Accessories

"Gabrielle Gets Personal" ~ Ebony

"Jill! On Her New TV Movie, New Hairstyle & New Mind-set About Men" ~ Essence


October 11, 2012

Adventures of a One-Breasted Woman

"Miss Cummings, you have highly suspicious micro-calcifications in your left breast." ~ pg. 3

No woman wants to hear those words at the age of 47 years old. Within a month, Susan had a mastectomy. Even though there is a 99% chance of a recurrence, how do you move on after that? Through words, Susan Cummings goes through the emotions from finding faults to sweating through future mammograms.

Through a steady process of healing and recovery, Susan reclaimed her moxie. In Adventures of a One-Breasted Woman, she shared experiences over the span of a few years that helped change her life, including drawings that are displayed in the book. I thank the author for sharing her honest story. In the midst of her emotions and fears, there are laugh-out-loud moments that remind us laughter really is the best medicine.

I recommend this memoir to other women who have experienced cancer treatments and to their loved ones. It will also inspire those who struggle with body image issues. There aren't other memoirs available like this one. It takes a brave, courageous and determined woman to survive life after cancer. Susan, you did it! Thanks for writing this good book to inspire others. 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Show your support by reading and recommending Adventures of a One-Breasted Woman: Reclaiming My Moxie After Cancer by Susan Cummings. For more information, excerpts and to order, please visit www.susancummings.net

DISCLAIMER: This book was received directly from the author for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Title: Adventures of a One-Breasted Woman: Reclaiming My Moxie After Cancer
Author: Susan Cummings
Published: September 2012
Pages: 170
Edition: ARC
Rating: ♥♥♥♡

October 10, 2012

How Do You Read?

Meet Cocoa Comfy, my reading chair. I usually prop all the pillows, stretch my legs on the footrest, and open the window for natural light and a breeze. I can get lost in a good fiction story for hours in Cocoa Comfy.

Now that the temperature is dropping and autumn is here, I like to read curled up in my snuggie. With the oversized sleeves on a snuggie, it sometimes becomes difficult to hold a book. May I introduce the...drumroll please...bookrest! This perfect reading companion was a birthday gift from my brother. It is a chic convenient way to read. (And it matches my leopard snuggie!) The bookrest is light and fits comfortably on my lap or a flat surface. The pyramid-shaped bookrest has four (4) sides. Why do you need four sides, you ask? Hmmm...I don't know what the makers intended but I use the sides for a book, my NOOK and a magazine. The fourth side, unfortunately, is not deep enough to fit a snack. The grooves are also not deep enough to hold thick hardcover books, but it fits magazines and standard-sized eReaders perfectly. Another nice feature of the bookrest is a tassel bookmark. Never worry about misplacing your bookmark again! Below is a picture of this fab reading accessory.


October 9, 2012

B*tches in Bookshops Video

Check out this hilarious, catchy video by readsohard. It's to the tune of Jay-Z and Kanye West's N*ggas in Paris.


Best Books of the Year?

It is almost time to create a list of the best books of 2012. What book(s) are making your list?


October 7, 2012

Series Sunday: Reflected in You

Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name. 

My Series Sunday pick is Reflected in You, the second book in the Crossfire trilogy by Sylvia Day. Gideon Cross and Eva Tramell's romance picks up exactly where the first book, Bared to You, left off. Gideon Cross is one of the top twenty-five richest people in the fictional world. Eva Tramell is a new hire in an office located in Cross Industries and Gideon's girlfiend of one month.

This is the most dysfunctional, mucked-up couple ever. But I love them! They are addicted to each others presence, touch, desire and thoughts. Both characters are seriously flawed with troubled pasts. Both characters are sexual abuse survivors; yet their intense passion and jealousy creates a unique romance. What other couple do you know admits to being seriously broken and seeks couples therapy? I'll wait...No one? Didn't think so. This is one of the many reasons why Gideon and Eva belong with each other and no one else.

Gideon and Eva's relationship may not have progressed much, but my opinion sure has. This is not just a Fifty Shades ripoff. It's different. It's addictive in its own way. Their damaged roller coaster romance is erotic, jaw-dropping and mind-boggling. Both of them are complex and remain a mystery to me. The first two books just scratched the surface so I cannot wait for the final book in the Crossfire series, Entwined with You. Hopefully Gideon and Eva have a happy, healthy ending.

I recommend this erotic romance series. Give it a try and most likely, you will not put the book down until the last page is turned.

Title: Reflected in You: A Crossfire Novel
Author: Sylvia Day
Published: October 2012
Pages: 256
Edition: eBook
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♡


October 5, 2012

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.

"I had a choice after I graduated from the University of Colorado. I had planned to continue in school to earn my credentials to teach high school English, but then I was offered a Ford Foundation Fellowship to teach English as a Second Language at the American University in Cairo. Choosing took a nanosecond."
~ Adventures of a One-Breasted Woman: Reclaiming My Moxie After Cancer by Susan Cummings


October 2, 2012

Swim: An eShort Story

"Queen Helene's Mint Julep Mud Masque, which, she swore, kept her looking not a day over sixty." ~ pg. 15

Swim is an eShort story that inspired Jennifer Weiner's novel, The Next Best Thing. Main character Ruth left her job writing for a television show. Now she spends her time helping high school students with college application essays and writing online dating profiles. When she's not working, Ruth is swimming laps at the local pool. The familiar smell of chlorine eases Ruth's homesickness, heartbreak and shame. Swimming is her solace. 

Swim is a nice short introduction to Ruth, two very interesting clients of hers, and her grandmother. You may download this prequel for free on your NOOK or Kindle. See where the story leads in The Next Best Thing.

Title: Swim
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Published: May 2012
Pages: 70
Edition: eShort Story
Rating: ♥♥♥