Sunday, June 26, 2016

Summer Reads…Make Me Feel Fine

Ah yes…summer has officially hit the calendar and the summer reading season is in full swing.

Pressure – Brian Keene – (Thomas Dunne Books)

Author Brian Keene has penned a shelf full of books along with scripts, graphic novels and a whole pile of other media vehicles including some zombie classics. He is a guy that came to this project with a built in fan base of folks who dig scary stuff; so naturally those folks were waiting for this book to drop so they could gobble it up.

Keene, being open and honest readily admitted that he was approached by the publisher who offered up not only the title and the plot line, but a big fat check. Knowing a couple of things; one- that if he didn’t take the check, somebody else would and two- he needed the money, Keene accepted. And then proceeded to knock out the book in the brief span of one month! While as a writer who’s never at a loss for words, I have always chuckled at those writers who talk about writing as if it were giving birth and the pain they endure to create; it still makes me wonder how Keene could crank out this book in four short weeks.
The results, Pressure, end up being a bit of a muddled outcome. For a  supposedly scary read set in the sea, there is an awful lot of action that takes place on land. And for a character described in the hype leading up the book as a mix between Jaws and Alien, the creature in this feature ends up more of a mystery.

Don’t get me wrong, while I find book’s plot to bit a bit like Swiss cheese, full of holes, but also a bit tasty. Isn’t that what a summer read is supposed to be? This one is just a slice of fun and there are times when Keene seems to be in on the gag offering up the occasional chuckle on the way to the bank.

Hell’s Gate: A Thriller – Bill Schutt and J R Finch (William Morrow)

It seems to be a summer of comparisons when it comes to summer reads. Bill Schutt and J R Finch’s lead character in Hell’s Gate, Captain R J MacCready is drawing comparisons to fabled film character Indiana Jones, for this World War II era thriller.

To be fair, I guess I can see bits of Dr. Jones in MacCready’s blustery zoologist who likes to crack wise. It likely stems as much from the character as it does from the design of this thriller wrapped in a mystery. With the improbable discovery of a marooned Japanese submarine in the unlikely locale of the Brazilian jungle setting off a very real fish out of water story combined with always pulse revving game of beat the clock.

Schutt and Finch deliver not only a winning character I could see hanging around for future adventures, but a deft swipe at historical adventure the likes of which we haven’t seen in a while.

Robert Ludlum’s Bourne Enigma – Eric Van Lustbader (Grand Central Publishing)

Unenviable. That is the only word that I can use to describe the folks who have been given the task of carrying on not only the legacy but the characters of some of fiction writings most skilled practitioners. We have seen the likes of Robert B. Parker, Mickey Spillane and Vince Flynn’s epic characters continue to live on after the author’s passing. While Flynn and Parker are among my personal favorites, I would have to rank the task that falls to Eric Van Lustbader, a bestselling author in his own right, to continue Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne character to be likely the most difficult.

Ludlum’s Bourne was among the most unique characters in thriller fiction and has taken on a life of his own with the Matt Damon movie series. Van Lustbader’s continuation of the Bourne series has been met with mixed reviews; hardcore fans are hard to win over and critics are equally difficult. So in approaching this review of Robert Ludlum’s Bourne Enigma, I attempted to objectively removed the history and the original author from my perspective and take Van Lustbader’s book as a one off, stand alone book.

Because you have to account Bourne’s previous interactions with some characters into account, this proved to be a greater challenge than I would have thought. There is an element of ripped from today’s headlines in the interactions of the characters in play and the locations that Bourne finds himself chasing down leads and the storyline which gives it an up to date feel. I found that to be a positive, because I didn’t feel like I was fighting old battles all over again.

Bourne’s seemingly innate ability to decipher the mystery and chase down the next lead is one of the things Van Lustbader has been able to continue to infuse in the character. He also skillfully ratchets’ up the racing clock as Bourne careens between locales in an effort to stave off what could be a cataclysmic war.

Is it Ludlum? No. Is it perfect? No. Is it Bourne? Yes. Is it entertaining? Absolutely!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Is This The Case for Trump?

Barons of the Beltway: Inside the Princely World of Our Washington Elite—and How to Overthrow Them – Michelle Fields – (Crown Forum)

Okay…let’s get this out of the way, right up front: author Michelle Fields is the now former Breitbart reporter who alleges she was manhandled by now former Donald Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. I am certainly not going to try to settle the argument of did he or didn’t he; I doubt I could change anyone’s mind on either side. What I would venture is, could Fields and this book, make the case for voting for Donald Trump?

In Barons of the Beltway: Inside the Princely World of Our Washington Elite—and How to Overthrow Them, Fields gives us a brief history lesson of how the Founding Fathers viewed not only the role of government, but also the elected politicians sent to Washington to represent us. Given the ridiculous spending habits that these elected officials lavish on themselves, it’s a safe bet the Founders would be spinning in their graves.

If you have been paying attention at all, then much of the information Fields Gathers about the perks, the trips, and the general plunder that our elected officials treat themselves too annually. Private gyms, luxury automobiles, expensive lunches and dinners and so-called “fact-finding” junkets too far off locales, which are nothing more than freebie vacations wrapped around a PowerPoint presentation or two.

So what’s the remedy? Simple…it’s long overdue that we kick these scoundrels to the curb, take back control of Congress, hold the replacements accountable to make changes in the way things operate and get back to what the founders intended; citizen leaders, who serve and then go home; back to their families and their regular jobs. It’s time for slugs like Senate minority leader, Democrat Harry Reid to stop further enriching himself and go away. When Reid entered politics he had a net worth approximated at $1 million dollars; he never earned more than $200,000 per year and yet today his net worth is upwards of $10 million. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the corruption has played a role in allowing scum like Reid to have a Ritz Carlton penthouse in Washington, DC.  

While Fields is clearly not a fan of Trump, I think Barons of the Beltway makes the case that we need a leader who comes from outside the world of corruption, underhanded dealing and excess to guide this change.



Thursday, June 23, 2016

Two Thirds Hollywood…One Third Conservative

There Goes My Social Life: From Clueless to Conservative – Stacey Dash – (Regnery Publishing)

By Tweeting out her support for Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney during the 2012 election cycle Hollywood actress Stacey Dash quickly became the darling of conservative circles. Here was an actress, famous for her role in the movie Clueless and an otherwise spotty selection of roles on the big and small screen, at least as African American as the President, boldly proclaiming she was a conservative. Naturally there was the expected backlash from liberals and race pimps bad mouthing and name calling her because there natural assumption is if you are and actor and you’re black, then you are automatically a liberal, Democrat.

Dash delivers the detail not only of her public transformation, but also the story of her difficult childhood, her dabbling with drugs and alcohol, her physical and sexual abuse, and her serial marriages/relationships and the negative impact it all had on her life. In her new book, There Goes My Social Life: From Clueless to Conservative Dash talks about how she chose to persevere and overcome her challenges rather than falling prey to the entitlement mentality.

Dash clearly touches on some classical conservative thoughts along the way and it’s clear that she sought out and self-educated throughout her transition process. While that transformation is clearly the cornerstone of her story, I found myself mired down by the habitual bad choices, relationships and vices that Dash made leading up to that transition. I kept plugging through the two thirds of the book that focus on the trials and tribulations, knowing that there would be a payoff in the end.

The one major takeaway from There Goes My Social Life is that Stacey Dash is truly fearless! She willingly goes toe to toe with liberals and more often than not reduces them to the sniveling, clueless piles of mush, who have no alternative but the resort to name calling and bashing. While many other seems to wither and falter under this kind of attack, Dash seems to take it all in and come out stronger.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Truth and Fossil Fuels Will Set You Free

Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy – Stephen Moore and Kathleen Hartnett White (Regnery Publishing)

For me, it has truly become a tossup. I don’t know which steaming pile of Liberal crap drives me more-crazy; their ridiculous claims about guns and the Second Amendment or their claims and policies regarding the environment and global warming. It could be because Liberals are equally stupid and wrong, on both topics or the fact that they constantly try to pass off lies as the locked down truth.

Always a willing participant when it comes to debating these topics, I am always on the lookout for useful and concise tools to better arm myself for battle. One outstanding new tool for your crushing Liberals tool belt is Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy, the new book from economist Stephen Moore and energy expert Kathleen Hartnett White. They write with clarity and a firm grip on the reality of the wrongheaded goals of Liberal and environmental wingnuts who are hell bent to destroy our way of life and dial us back to the Middle Ages.

Moore and White make the case that the unmatched growth and power that the United States enjoys was truly driven by fossil fuels. They chart the detailed evidence of how our rapid rise can be tied directly to the steady, reliable generation of power which is directly related to fossil fuels. While so-called renewable energy sounds wonderful, Moore and White lay waste to the green weasel’s high minded talk with the simple fact that wind, solar and bio fuels provide for a miniscule amount of our actual energy use. Combine that with the seemingly endless string of Obama green energy handouts that have failed to bump up that tiny output number.

As to diminishing supply of fossil fuels, the earliest reference to so-called “peak oil” that I can find dates back to 1909 when the folks at the Titusville (PA) Herald made the claim that we would hit the oil producing peak in 25 to 30 years. Moore and White paint a much brighter picture for our oil and gas future due to horizontal drilling technology and hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking. The writers provide insight into the volume of untapped energy that will last into the hundreds of years.

Moore and White also cite a new favorite line to drop on Liberals, which comes from Christopher Horner from the Competitive Enterprise Institute who is fond of saying “you can build windmills with steel, but you can’t build steel with windmills.” While it is a very simple statement on its face, it carries a profound impact and the weight of truth; if Obama, Gore and their friends get their way, how will we produce the goods and services and the freedom we all enjoy


Kanye West Owes Me $300: And Other True Stories from a White Rapper Who Almost Made It Big – Jensen Karp (Crown Archetype)

When I read the premise for this book I couldn’t help but conjure the Hollywood stereotype of a white rapper, imagine something the stupid movie, Malibu’s Most Wanted. What I got was almost wholly unexpected; a hilarious tale, that is at various times: caustic, enlightening and confirming about my thoughts about the music industry, and always entertaining.

In Kanye West Owes Me $300: And Other True Stories from a White Rapper Who Almost Made It Big, Jensen Karp and his alter ego Hot Karl weave a tale about his evolution from obsessed rap listener to 12 year old Bar Mitzvah rapper to radio competition rap sensation who industry lemmings signed to a seven-figure recording and publishing contract. Oh and let’s not forget the part where it all fell apart and Karp left holding onto crushed dreams of stardom.

Karp writes with skill and good humor and tells the story of his rebound from the down bound train from the almost fame that was ripped from his fingers. In the process he proves to be more than just a young white guy with a dream who came soclose.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Sleep is Over-Rated

Bare Bones: I’m Not Lonely If You’re Reading This Book – Bobby Bones (Dey Street Books)

Full Disclosure/Confession up front – First- Addiction specialists will always tell you that the first step is admitting you have a problem; that being said, I am a recovering radio talk show host. Second – while I am a fan of country music, I had never heard of or listened to Bobby Bones before this book; which could stem from the fact that I am in recovery and don’t listen to the radio all that much anymore.

In an effort to get a handle on this guy, I dialed him in and listened a couple mornings only to discover he’s like much of radio currently has to offer…he’s just meh. So it’s safe to say that I didn’t approach his book, Bare Bones: I’m Not Lonely If You’re Reading This Book as a Boner or a Bonehead or whatever his diehard fans a dubbed.

As I delved into his story I discovered what I have run into all too often during my 25 years behind a mic; outsized ego, paired with minimal talent, wrapped in the persona of an insecure little boy. Like so many stereotypical “celebrity” bios, this guy lived a tough life, pulled himself up by his bootstraps, struggled through the radio wars and worked hard to overcome it all and become the big success he is today. Ladle in a few scoops of unhealthy personal and mental problems and it starts to sound like a freakin’ movie of the week.

Oddly enough, as I slogged through the book I found myself actually starting to like this guy! He started to hit on some things that I could related to; he wrote about asking different questions instead of the rote tired things that his guests always get asked and then actually listening to his guest’s answers. It’s what I call the “and then I murdered my wife” moment; where the host so hell bent on asking the next question on their list, completely missed the real story.

While I won’t admit to being as obsessed as using three alarms to wake up at 3 AM, I could totally relate to worrying about being late and or not getting to the station with the necessary two hours before the start of the show! But “hey you have a great job, you only work 4 hours a day, right?” I laughed out loud when he wrote about the sleep deprivation of being a morning host. Many years into my recovery, I still only manage about 4 hours a night…sleep is over-rated.

While the Boner-dudes and dude-ettes will dig this book because it adds flesh to the Bones (Yes, I am sorry…) I found myself liking it because it brought me back to the, good(?!) old days…although I’m not sure it helped my recovery much.