Book Review: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Heinlein is one of those names that when I hear it I am instantly filled with a sense of respect and admiration. With the likes of Bradbury and Asimov, Heinlein has me from the outset. Unlike the others, Heinlein usually loses me in pretty short order.
This book is probably the best of the old masters that I have read, or the one that has held up the best. Heinlein is just so deeply wedged in his own ideology that his science fiction is unable to see beyond his limited scope.
I enjoyed this book. Yet I found it too often fell into the Heinlein flaws of still rejecting females as worthy characters and always having the government as the ultimate evil. In short, I am starting a campaign in my own mind to revoke Heinlein’s legend status, not because he no longer deserves it, but because he never deserved it in the first place.
Orson Scott Card may be a horrible human, but at least his books don’t show that.
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Book Review: The Monk by Matthew Lewis

 

The Monk is widely regarded as one of the greatest horror novels ever. I don’t think it lived up to its reputation. I think the book shocked people back when it was written because people didn’t speak ill of monks and priests. Priests were revered as holy men. Since that time, priests have fallen from societies graces. I would sooner trust my daughter in the hands of your average beggar than with a priest (an un-average beggar). Starting the book with a view that most priests are sexual predators at the worst and sexual deviants at the best, I didn’t see anything shocking in the slightest in the entire book. I would say, if you own the book and don’t want to dredge through the entire thing, read the last 25 pages. It is the most action in the whole book and really a great ending.

The thing that struck me most was the way the book is told. The drum that is beat loudest in creative writing circles is to always show the story, not tell it. Lewis basically runs the gambit of he said-she said for the whole of the book. Styles change, and perhaps when it was written it was the style of the day, but it was a poor example of a well written book in today’s terms.

Book Review: Reduced by Robin Tidwell

So I am trying to get back to the book reviews, since I enjoy reading back and remembering how I felt about them. I wanted to talk about a book titled Reduced by a fellow St. Louis author, Robin Tidwell. I have to say, I didn’t love this book. I really wanted to love this book because it had a lot of really cool features. The books leading characters are all bad-ass, strong women. The structure of surviving the apocalypse was presented in a fun fashion that really drove the story forward in a fresh way. And I found the first half to be truly amazing. That’s when it took a political turn. The book framed the apocalypse to be liberalism run rampant. As a man that refuses to define himself as a Democrat because I am far to the left of the do-nothing party, I found Tidwell’s conclusions to be ridiculous, ill-informed, and quite silly.

I really don’t have a problem reading fiction from a perspective that differs from mine, but it still must keep me in the story. Just as any time-travel story written by an author that doesn’t understand Relativity (most of them) will lose me, Tidwell lost me by writing a story about liberal mindsets without understanding liberal mindsets. The end result was that my suspension of disbelief was shattered and I found myself arguing with the book rather than enjoying it.

With that said, conservatives may find this book to be just the one they have been looking for.

I read this book almost a year ago. I never posted the review because I didn’t want to hurt the author, as she is really a wonderful person that I respect. I recently wrote a book, There are No Zombies in America, that is perhaps just as guilty of the same things I criticize Tidwell of, but from the other side of the spectrum. I realized I would be delighted if someone wrote a review of mine in this manner. So I am posting this review, and only hope Robin will forgive me.

 

Book Review Across the Ocean

I just finished reading a fantastic book by a new writer on the rise, Hawa L Crickmore’s Across the Ocean. This book was unlike most books that I read in that it was serious. It took itself serious. The content was serious. Even the writing style was serious. It was quite different than most fiction that I read which is always a bit tongue and cheek in its delivery. I have often said that horror writers are all comedians, but we are the only ones that get the joke. Not that I only read horror of course, but even most serious literature that I read, and Across the Ocean is certainly serious literature, is still playful in the delivery. Part of me wants to contribute the seriousness of the book to a failure or inexperience on the part of Crickmore, but I may be wrong. Perhaps the subject matter just doesn’t lend itself to a playful attitude. Regardless, the stories seriousness made it a quicker read and one that worked on multiple levels.

The story of the book is a very interesting one. A white British cage fighter comes down with a rare illness that requires a bone marrow transplant from a family member, the only problem is that he was an only child and is orphaned. Dumb luck was in his favor when a new friend, an African American, tested to be a match for donation. This wonderful, lifesaving rarity does not come without questions.

Research is then done to try to find if the pair were related. The book then moves through time to different countries and different people to illustrate how the relationships of drastically different people can be traced to common ancestors. It really is a small world after all.

One place Hawa really excelled was the chapters on slavery. They are heart-wrenching and beautiful.

The place that I thought this book could have been improved was in possibly hiding the conclusion from the reader a bit more, as I felt the outcome was certain right from the beginning.

All in all, a powerful book that I would recommend.

Book review: Finders Keepers by Stephen King

Even when King is off, I still find him to be the best. This one is a miss for the master. This is the second book in the Bill Hodges/Mr. Mercedes Trilogy. It is the story of Morris Bellamy, a fan of a JD Salinger type of writer, but imagine if Salinger had turned Holden Caulfield into a sell-out advertisement agent before he stopped writing. You may not be outraged by the indignation, but Bellamy was. He was driven completely insane by the idea, driven to the point of murder. Bellamy’s monomaniacal fan-boydom is the driving force behind the book. While I would say it is a miss, I enjoyed the hell out of it and would still recommend it with gusto. I look forward to reading book three.

Book Review: Winesburg Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

I picked this book up again recently because my recent project had me thinking about it. I last read it fifteen years ago, and loved it. After reading it again, I still enjoyed it, but not on the same level I did when I first read it. I found that all the best parts I still remembered, but the bulk of the book, the parts I forgot, were very forgettable. It is a short read, and if you haven’t read it, you should. But don’t read it twice.

Book Review: The House of Thunder by Dean Koontz

I have never been a huge Koontz fan. I view Dean Koontz as the McDonalds of genre fiction. Nobody really likes it, but a lot of people go there. Or maybe Coors Light is the better comparison since Coors light can do the trick, but you aren’t going to like it while it’s going down, and you may need to chase it with whiskey just to get the burn you need. The House of Thunder is very much a Coors Light. It is a novel with promise but no punch. It has a pulse but lacks a soul. Enough mixed metaphors? Okay, then let’s talk about the book.

First let me say that if you want to read this book, I suggest you don’t. It is crap, but if you insist, then stop reading this now. I will not hold back on spoilers. Deano spoiled it enough for everyone just by writing it.

Still reading? Okay then, let’s continue. The House of Thunder is a book about a young woman that wakes up in a hospital with no knowledge of how she got there. Then she starts seeing people from her troubled past, people that murdered a childhood boyfriend. There is some wonderful scary bits in this first 100 pages, but Deano being Deano, spoiled it all to shit by having her start to uncover a conspiracy in the hospital. This fragile, emaciated woman that had just came out of a coma begins running around and seducing the doctor. Just when the whole story becomes completely unbelievable, Deano outdoes himself by having it be a town wide conspiracy. Everyone is in on it except for lover-boy Doc. Around this time you as a reader will be ready to leave the book on the transit bus for the next poor sucker to pick it up and waste several hours reading it, but I wasn’t that smart. I finished the book. Want to know the big kicker, the big surprise ending? It was Russians. Yep. Russians. Now, go read something else, something that really burns going down.