Book Review-The Last Jazz Band by Charles Boeckman

Title: The Last Jazz Band

Author: Charles Boeckman

Format: Paperback Edition by Jazztex Publishing Company

Published: 2011


Charles Boeckman recently passed away, less than a month from the day I’m writing this review. For those who are not familiar with Mister Boeckman, he was 94 when he passed and had been writing since the 1930s, beginning in Pulp Magazines and moving to the digest magazines of the 1950s and on into books and collections, right up until last year when Pro Se Productions published his last fiction work.  Known largely as a writer of mysteries, crime stories, and westerns, Mister Boeckman was also quite well known as a jazz musician and band leader in Texas.  As a matter of fact, much of Boeckman’s fiction blended the genres of mystery and crime with his love for jazz, many of his characters actually being musicians of some type, everyone from Johnny Nickle who played the trumpet on a cursed song to Big Lip who solved a murder out of loyalty to a friend.

The Last Jazz Band in a way can be seen as autobiographical fiction to a point as it focuses on a Jazz band that forms shortly after World War II in Corpus Christi, Texas, Boeckman’s hometown.  Boeckman’s own life experiences definitely color every word, you can almost hear every peal of laughter and every note of music as the story of Charlie Niel unfolds. Neil, a veteran of the Second World War, returns home to find his wife has died. Without a life now, he returns to the one he’d known before flying dangerous missions overseas and reconnects with his old buddy, Ted Riley, a rounder of drinker who blows a mean tenor sax.  Along with Skinny Lang, a bass player, and Cemetery Wilson, the piano player who owns the car that will be their transportation, Niel and Riley put a combo together that really sings. And that’s just where the fun, pathos, and adventure starts.

The Last Jazz Band is a book that actually makes me think a lot of M*A*S*H, the Richard Hooker books, not the movie or tv series.  The way these two works are similar is the almost real life, accidental way that the characters in both come together and how they blend in unexpected, yet heart touching ways.  Boeckman not only nails the jazz musician aspects of these characters, but he really captures the emotional weight that their own individual lives leave them with and how their time in the band both relieves and adds to what they carry.

The only true negative to The Last Jazz Band is the feeling that Boeckman could have gone even further.  The disconnected way the story is told, sort of how real life happens, is engaging, but it also feels like that just about when the characters are on the verge of blossoming or collapsing, when it seems we are just about to get some really neat insight, Boeckman moves on to the next episode in their lives.  It is usually a desire of a reader to be left wanting more, but there were too many places in The Last Jazz Band where that feeling was one of emptiness, not anticipation.

Charles Boeckman’s The Last Jazz Band deserves four out of five pages. Even if you’re not a fan of jazz, there is something in this book for every person who has ever had that one friend that might not be the best person, but was the best friend you could have at the moment.  Combine that with Boeckman’s love for Jazz almost rising off the page and this is a winner.

The Last Jazz Band gets Five out of Six bullets in my gun as well.  Although I wish there’d been a bit more meat on the bone, it delivers fairly well as it is.

Book Review – Club Dead by Charlaine Harris

Title: Club Dead

Author: Charlaine Harris

Format: Hardback

Published: 2003


It’s been a while since I’ve read another Sookie Stackhouse Novel, or at least reviewed it.  After one horrific novel that plays at Vampires I decided to chase that off with something a bit better.  Now I’ll be the first to say that I don’t find the Stackhouse novels to be the end all of Vampires, but they do a better job than the book that shall not be named or as I like to call it ‘the book of dimples’.

Club Dead is the third book in at least a nine book series (I haven’t looked to see if there are even more or not).  This book take a different turn than the first two and wasn’t a classic murder mystery romance story of Sookie with her Vampire boyfriend Bill.  In this book (sorry I will spoil you some)  not everything is perfect in paradise for Sookie and Bill.

In the story we learn more about the Vampire world and the world of Werewolves an shifters as Sookie travels with a Werewolf named Alcide to Mississippi to save Bill’s life as his vampiric life is in danger and she is the only one who can possibly save him by using her mind reading abilities to find him.  Of course, she is having to enter dangerous waters as it is most likely the Vampire King of Missippi that has Bill.   Louisana vampires cannot help as they are tied with the Vampire Queen of Lousiana and a war would break out if things get too involved.  Thus Alcide is hired to help Sookie.

Over all, the tension of the book was decent from the worry and conflict over Bill, as he was ready to just up and leave Sookie high and dry without even properly breaking up with her to be with an old lover.  To a lot of the sexual tension felt as Sookie found herself highly attracted to Alcide and his animal magnetism as a werewolf.  I admit while very little occurred between Sookie and Alcide, it was very appealing to me to read as I have always been quite fond of Werewolves.

This book takes the Sookie character in new directions and really develops her as a person and I admit I’m intrigued to see how much of that will carry into the next books.  Over all the book was a decent read.  The mystery wasn’t too heavy this time around like it was in past books but there were a few driving questions that helped pull the book together.  In the end I will say that while the writing may not be to perfection for some people Charlaine Harris has a way of drawing you in as a reader and making you not want to stop reading till the end.  With such a writing style and ‘romance’ found in the book I honestly enjoyed myself with the book.  As such I will have to give it a 4 out of 5 pages.  If I was rating the story on mystery though I would have to knock things down a peg as again the mystery aspect of the story wasn’t as strong.

Book Review- He Done Her Wrong: A Toby Peters Mystery by Stuart Kaminsky

Title: He Done Her Wrong: A Toby Peters Mystery

Author: Stuart Kaminsky

Format: Paperback edition by iBooks

Published: 2001


If you’ve read my reviews, it’s no doubt that I am a massive fan of detective stories, particularly series.  It will also be evident to you, depending on how long you’ve been reading these, that I have already reviewed a Toby Peters book by Stuart Kaminsky, the one that precedes He Done Her Wrong in the series, by coincidence.  Even with that, though, this particular volume of Toby’s adventures left me less than satisfied, unlike almost every other Kaminsky book with Peters in it that I’ve read.

He Done Her Wrong opens with Toby in a room full of Mae Wests in 1942.  He has been invited to a party by the aging starlet who turned sarcasm into a career because West needs to get back a tell all manuscript that she’s penned from a blackmailer, who is to attend the party, a shindig that required all attendees to come as the hostess herself.  Toby encounters the bad guy, gets walloped pretty good, and the chase is then on. A chase that leads to two murders, Toby taking on protecting Cecil B. Demille as well, and even a short stint in an insane asylum for our hero.  Along the way, Toby uncovers family secrets, both of those he comes into contact with and even of his own family and takes quite a pounding, both physically and otherwise while doing it.

On the surface, this is a typical Stuart Kaminsky Toby Peters tale. Toby argues with his police officer brother, who is actually the person who involves Toby in this case, and he calls on his wonderful cast of friends, including the ever dapper little person Gunther Wherthman and the poetic giant Jeremy Butler, for help.  There is the requisite mix of classic Hollywood lore that Kaminsky is known for and Toby’s typical more bad than good luck is evident as well. Almost too much so, as a matter of fact.

He Done Her Wrong at best is just a typical Toby Peters tale.  Throughout the story, there is a heavy feeling that Kaminsky for some reason decided to put Toby through as much punishment as humanly possible, pitting him against a villain who seems to be one step ahead of him every step of the way. The twist at the end is good, but not enough to salvage the book from the feeling that this was simply and excuse to show in painful measures that Toby isn’t really that great at his job, but truly just does stumble through cases, as he is known for saying.

Another thing about this particular book that isn’t evident in other Peters stories is that Kaminsky spends pages on completely useless near interludes.  One of the running subplots in the Peters books is that Toby’s landlady, Mrs. Plaut, is writing her family history and she’s convinced Toby is an editor, so she delivers pieces of the book to him in different novels.  In He Done Her Wrong, Kaminsky actually spends 2-3 pages quoting Mrs. Plaut’s family treatise and this does nothing but slow down an already weak story.   He does something else similar when Toby is in the sanitarium, devoting pages to essentially a soliloquy that simply adds nothing to the action or the pacing of the tale at all.

He Done Her Wrong gets three out of five pages from me.  It is definitely one of the weakest entrants into the Toby Peters series and, if it’s the first one a reader picks up, will be the reason that reader doesn’t go any farther.  Something completists will want to read, but that’s about it.

This one gets three out of six bullets from me.  Read it if You haven’t and You like Toby. But don’t waste your time if you don’t already like the character from other better Kaminsky novels.

Book Review – Alice in the Country of Hearts: White Rabbit and Some Afternoon Tea Part 1 by QuinRose

Title: Alice in the Country of Hearts:  White Rabbit and Some Afternoon Tea Part 1

Author: QuinRose

Illustrator: Mamenosuke Fujimaru

Format: Paperback

Published: 2015


After pushing through the monstrosity that was last weeks book that shall not be named, I opted to read something light and fun this week.  Yes, another Alice manga.  For those who have been reading this blog for a while you know that this is my obsession.  I don’t know why but I love the story, the idea of an independent Alice who is not looking for love and yet surrounded by it (and gun fights) just intrigues me.  This story had by attention from the start and I love the infinite possibilities that branch from the story.  What if Alice chooses not to love?  What if she falls in love with the March Hare?  What about the Cheshire Cat?  What if instead of falling in love in the Country of Hearts she doesn’t fall in love till the Country of Joker?  There are an infinite number of ways things could go and I love it.  I also love how the love when it is chosen develops.  It also doesn’t hurt that the characters are attractively drawn and are very vibrant.  I am after all a sucker for a good story and great characters make for a good story.


Anyway, with my obsession with Alice in the Country of Heart series I always wondered what it would be like to have a story where Alice might actually fall in love with Peter White the White Rabbit.  It is a difficult story of course, because he was the one who kidnapped her away to Wonderland and he can be a ‘little’ over the top with his affection.  Honestly in almost every story there is a hate that resides with Alice towards Peter.  Honestly one can’t really blame her for that.   Still the idea has always intrigued me and as I’ve learned more about the character Peter White the more curious I got.  Such as Peter being her “Sunday Afternoon”, always there, always loving, and only wanting what is best for her.  It is clear in most manga and in this one in particular that Alice’s safety and happiness is all Peter wants.  While he would love to be with her romantically speaking he will settle for her being there in Wonderland and happy.


This story honestly has done a masterful job of exhibiting the relationship between Alice and Peter and helped push things beyond physical attraction or a sudden change of character personality.  In the story there are many occasions where Alice over hears conversations that show her more of Peter’s character and his love for her beyond the apparent crazy obsession he has for her.  Honestly with out any kissing and hardly any hand holding the romance in this story was impeccable.  The soft quiet moments between Alice and Peter though rare and few were swoon worthy and the suspense in the story didn’t feel like a trope (classic Alice getting dragged into mafia wars or kidnapped.)  Okay so you could call what happened as a kidnapping but it wasn’t a classic kidnapping and that made the story all the more real.


Honestly, I loved everything about this manga.  There is not a single thing I would change, it had me laughing, sitting on the edge of my seat and swooning.  It was impeccable despite the fact that my two favorite characters Mad Hatter (aka Blood Dupree) and March Hare (aka Eliot) did not exactly feature in this book.  I think over all I am actually going to give this book a rare 5 out of 5 because I enjoyed the read that much and had no complaints about anything including the art as that was done my the original artist of the series.    With my high rating I will notate that this isn’t ‘the’ book to start with if you are looking to jump in on this Alice series but at the same time it isn’t the worst either as it will give you a clear picture of everything that is going on and you do not need to have past experiences with the story to derive enjoyment out of the story.

Book Review- Bullet Proof: An Eliot Ness Mystery by Max Allan Collins

Title: Bullet Proof: An Eliot Ness Mystery

Author: Max Allan Collins

Format: Paperback edition by Bantam Books

Published: 1989


If you’re a reader of modern mystery at all, particularly the private detective novel, then Max Allan Collins is a name that should be familiar.  Most recently known as the writer to inherit the work of Mickey Spillane and the mantle of Mike Hammer to go with it, Collins has had a long career of his own.  Known by many as the author of Road to Perdition or as the scribe of the Nate Heller, Quarry, and Mallory book series, or even as a one time scribe of the Dick Tracy comic strip, Collins also has another series under his belt, one featuring real life ‘super cop’ Eliot Ness.

Bullet Proof is the third of three Eliot Ness books written by Collins.  The premise of the series follows Ness to Cleveland, Ohio, where he becomes the city’s Director of Public Safety after his storied career as an Untouchable in Chicago.  Although technically the third book, Bullet Proof actually takes place in the midst of the timeline of the second Ness novel in the series, Butcher’s Dozen.

The novel opens in 1937 with Cleveland in the grip of Union troubles.  A town built on Unions, Cleveland is currently suffering under a strike, one that is threatening to explode violently.  Ness and his men are being pulled from both sides, encouraged heavily to back the common man in the Unions while also being nearly ordered to support the city’s money men, to back the companies.  Deciding to do neither, but instead whatever is required to do his job, Ness in a sense goes against both sides in the struggle, while still trying to keep whatever remains of peace.  As he does this, he uncovers an extortion plot within the strike that puts not only the entire city at risk, but businesses, individual livelihoods, and Ness himself. Two men bent on making themselves rich pose as much threat to Ness as Capone did in his day, both politically and physically.  It falls to Ness to find out who they are, get the evidence necessary to stop them, and keep the loss of blood and life to zero, if possible.

Every book in this series is gold.  Max Allan Collins is perhaps the best hand at taking solid crime and mystery stories and blending them almost seamlessly into actual history.  Real characters stride alongside the fictional in Bullet Proof, and some amalgams of several real life types join the mix as well.  Bullet Proof is as much about the political and man Eliot Ness is as it is about the policeman he wants to be.  Set in the most stressful time of Ness’ tenure in Cleveland, that being in the middle of the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run case (the subject of the the second book), Bullet Proof is complete with every bit of action and adventure you’d want from a 1930s noir mystery type book, and actually pretty well delivers on the mystery, in a police procedural sense.

Collins definitely also captures the best and worst of Eliot Ness.  Known to be sort of a glory hog by some, Ness also made his mark as a good detective and effective leader throughout his career.  Collins tackles both of these aspects and deals with them exceedingly well, showing us a man with his own flaws ready to utilize them to further what is best for the city he is assigned to protect.  Combine this with Collins’ other fantastic characterizations, and the story is a solidly balanced well plotted novel that delivers on every note.

Five pages isn’t enough for not only Bullet Proof, the worst of the three books if such thing is possible, but the entire Ness trilogy is top of the line.

A fully loaded six out of six bullets makes Bullet Proof a surefire hit, giving fans of historical fiction, mystery, and straight up crime action everything they could ask for.

Book Review – Life and Death by Stephanie Meyers

Title: Life and Death

Author: Stephanie Meyers

Format: Hardback

Published: 2015


There comes a point in every reader’s life where they finish a book and they are not sure what to say. In most cases this is the sign of a good book. Unfortunately, this is not the case for me, and hopefully this won’t be the case for anyone else that would think to read this. I have honestly spent an entire day trying to figure out how to even begin to describe this book and what I read. It’s not a matter that it was so unremarkable that there are no words to speak.  When it comes to this book, there is just that much wrong with it.

Now, before I get far along on in the review that may turn rain train, I want to make some things very clear to anyone person who loves Twilight the series or may find joy in this particular book. I am not ripping into this book because I am just ‘that jealous of Stephanie Meyers’ or because I ‘just hate the fandom’.   I don’t even come to you as a person who has only read this one book or only watched the movies.  I have read all the main Twilight books, and did so not as a person wishing to mock the books but a curious individual who wanted something to read aside from text books while in school.

Next, I will admit that I read the first books while still in college. I read most of them them in that mind numbing state of over caffeinated and dead asleep. It was easy reading and a decent story. (I will admit while I will tear this book to shreds – the bones of the story have something to them – the execution is the problem.) I was not as mindful of sentence structure at the time, and actually ‘liked’ the books before Breaking Dawn. I could probably spend a good portion of this blog ripping apart Breaking Dawn based on memories from several years ago, but I won’t.  Yet, it was in reading Breaking Dawn that I realized what crap the books were. (It was summer I had actually slept by the time I read the final book.)

So, considering my history with the books – going from liking them to hating them, it can be without question that I was a little curious about the story being gender swapped. I love little au (alternate universe) and twists of the like, so my interest was piqued.  Thus it was determined by a few of my friends, (some of them fellow bloggers on this site) that I needed to ‘take one for the team’ and read “Life and Death”, (which I did read in its entirety).  There were times I wanted to cry because I had to read it, but eventually the book became a comedy (Dimples!) before it returned itself to nightmare status.

I now ask that you hold onto your dimples, because this journey might take a while as I take you on my trek through the monster of a book (which it was a physical monster, being two novels in one in hard back – my arms cried for mercy!).

When I started reading, I was doing some comparison between the new story and the old, flipping between the two, and I tried to be optimistic. What was said in one page by Bella took one and a half for Beau to say. Stephanie Meyers was being more descriptive. Not a lot more, she wasn’t going for a hi–def picture, but there was a bit more substance. I remember sharing this with a friend going ‘maybe Stephanie had grown as a writer’. ‘It has been 10 years, maybe this book won’t be so bad.’ These were the words of my doom.

I tried to continue read along and not compare old with new and simply read the story, but as I read I would be forced to stop. I didn’t stop because I needed to compare old with new (though I did) but because the words were not making sense.   I wish I could share with you some of the early sentences that threw me for a loop.   I literally had to stop and go, ‘Was that even a sentence?’ At one point I poked my editor and asked her for her take on the sentence.  She confirmed that it was a sentence (barely), but it was very poorly written. We then went back and forth coming up coming up with new and better ways to write the same sentence. Want to know the kicker? We didn’t add or subtract words; we literally just rearranged the words so that they flowed better and made a lot more sense.

It was after that horrid sentence that I discovered my first continuity error, I had to re-read things to be sure I didn’t mistake something.  However, writing was just that bad. It wasn’t me; I didn’t miss something along the way. Literally the character talks about their overall day and how they were bad in their last class of the day, gym class. Then the character backs up to talk about how lunch that day went and spends a whole page plus some this.   Once done talking about lunch, we are back in the afore mentioned gym class again, with a remark on how embarrassing it was.  This wasn’t like a new day/new class or a second instance of the class in the same day, it was the same class on the same day! It did not fit and flow! You have NO idea how much I wanted to take those few pages rearrange and rewrite them where it flowed and worked better!   Alas I plowed on till I couldn’t take it.

Loathing the book, I concluded to read when I was sleep deprived. I powered through a few chapters because I was too tired to notice if a sentence was actually a sentence, and this worked for me till the book was due back at the library and I either had to power through it in two days or give up, because honestly I didn’t see myself checking the book back out, particularly when there is a wait list. (Yes, terrifying I know.) So I took a deep breath and plunged in and found myself in a sea of dimples.

Almost every smile Edythe (yes, we’ll get to her name in a bit) gave there were dimples. It was rare the word smile was actually used in regards to Edythe. She had dimples. She flashed her dimples, she was seen dimpling. These references were subtle at first, till I reached the following quote:

“She leaned against the frame, and threw her dimples at them.”

It was by this point I had lost it.  In my mind I saw a woman literally taking the dimples off of her face and pelting the poor guys she was talking to with them. It took me several minutes to get over the humor of this and the scene was not supposed to be funny. (Honestly, I shared this line with everyone who would listen and most of them were fellow writers. ) Everyone I have spoken to about this line has paused at it.   From that point forward, every time I saw the word dimples, I cracked up. This made the first ‘date’ quite amusing to me as the word dimples came up a few more times within only a few pages. In the end, I did have to compare the old with the new, and the comparison was something that is not easy to describe.

In booth books the human is trying to explain what sort of effect the vampire has on other humans. In Twilight Edward ‘dazzles’ to the point that he asks ‘Do I ‘dazzle’ you?’ while Edythe merely dimples to the point of causing mini heart attacks. I KID YOU NOT.  Beau had a couple of mini-heart attack episodes in the book.  In short, Edward dazzles while Edythe dimples.

Anyway, the dimples soldier forward to not only be thrown at people, but also be put on display (I imagined a display case with dimples).  Then Beau got a face full of the dimples and then as my favorite, Edythe slowly smiled causing the dimples to appear, and it was the equivalent of the ending display of fireworks on the Fourth of July. Land sakes the dimples are Patriotic, and may have looked something like this:

Anyway, as much as I would love to continue on about the dimples and their hilarity to me, there is still more of the book to cover. (As an aside, I feel bad for the next author I read who uses the word dimples because I will laugh, and it won’t be their fault.)

By this point, I’m only half way through the book and we finally get to the point where the two lovers are separated because of the villainous tracker vampire that wants to drink the human’s blood.  So there was sadly a distinct lack of dimples (sorry I had to) by this point. This is where the story starts to deviate from the original. If you, for some reason don’t want to know the end skip down to the rating which I’ll have clearly marked. In this rendering of the tale, Beau becomes a vampire instead of going to play part in the horror that is known as New Moon (which we won’t get me started on that rant either). This is where the book had potential, I mean real potential. I had a friend once say that she (Bella) should have turned at the end of the first book, that, or died. I rather agreed and there was so much potential, and it was wasted.  ALL OF IT!

The whole transformation process is touted in the books as being pure agony, and the worst pain imaginable.  So the actual process was then referenced as fire, fire burning, simply burning, and every individual cell in the body burning.  Oh there was also pain, lots of pain.  It was during this time that the BIGGEST info dump I have ever seen in my life occurred.  Pages and pages of info dumping, with occasional moments for an ‘I’m sorry this had to happen Beau’ and ‘the flesh – it burns’ (okay, that last quote wasn’t from the book – brownie points if you can tell me what movie that came from though!) Supposedly, while in the worst agony of your life, because you are becoming a vampire, you remember every little detail, making it the perfect time to tell you all you ever needed to know about vampires and vampire life.   We learn about their ways, their rules and what the personal life stories are of people people the character hardly knows, because it was a good time to do it.  Honestly, this was Stephanie Meyer’s way of quickly covering things that came up in later books that weren’t originally covered in the first book.   This was done so that readers can compare what the differences are between the original gender character and the new gender character.  It was ridiculously dull and boring.  A better way to share that information, would have been to just use like an Afterward to go ‘hey these are things I’m sure you are wondering about that never came up in the story you just read….’ No she had to create a boring info dump, despite that fact that there is indeed an after ward for her to say – ‘this was fun and imagine what you will for anything I didn’t really cover!’

That pretty much sums up the end of the book, save for the epilogue which was odd, and I really don’t want to go far into it, beyond the fact that memories of life as a human are not easy for vampires to recall.  Thus, one can be very detached from their human past and yet somehow everyone remembers things from it, like important things such as what led to them being vampires (not just the changing process but like their near death experiences before the change, or life style before the change.  They also all supposedly suffer great pain of losing their left behind loved ones,  but can be impacted by watching their own funeral where said loved ones distraught over loosing them.  Yeah, it is really weird and messed up how the memory thing works. It appears it is only follows the whims of the author when she doesn’t feel like writing the raw emotions but still wants a character molded by said circumstances. *eyeroll*




For those of you who scrolled down to here, welcome back. For those who stuck this long post out with me congrats, we are nearing the end, and you deserve a cookie for reading all of this.   I think it is easy to guess the rating I’d give this book, which would be a 1 out of 5 pages. I know other reviewers have talked about negative ratings and 0 ratings but I’ll give the book a 1 because as I said at the start the bones are there.  The bones of the story are good, the execution however, was just horrific.  Honestly, tighter sentence structure, a good editor who will tell the author no, and no more sparkles,there could be something decent here, but sadly it isn’t decent and this is truly a hot mess, which I must continue to further outline.

If you read the forward, this book was created because of all the nay sayers who said the book was all about a damsel in distress and not about the romance. It was to show that everything would pretty much be the same if gender was reversed.  Which things were the same in a lot of ways.  Still by doing this gender swap I saw of lot things that came to light about gender in the books.  It showed all the more how there are still some massive issues involved.   While I try not to gender type at all, there were points where the actions of the character screamed the opposite gender of what they were.  I’m not saying that one gender can’t act like the other but with given societal norms (unfortunate as some may be) they did not work so well.  But there was a big deal about ‘man code’ not being broken, and the guys waiting for the girls to act instead of things being equal.   Also, it was in reading this book that I realized and noticed the gender typing in the first book. Of the school staff, we meet only 5 people, the secretary, the nurse, and 3 teachers. The secretary and nurse in the original book were female and the rest of the staff was male. Am I the only one that finds this a little bit wrong?

In addition, in the forward, Stephanie Meyer’s states that the one major set of genders she did not change were the parents, because historically speaking when they split in the mid 80’s courts have been more inclined to leave a child with a mom, so a moving dad would not have been deemed suitable for a child while a moving mom is fine. I am not complaining about this because it is a unfortunate truth of our court systems, even today. However, where this does bug me is when history is so important to the author in this case, but it’s not a big deal that Edythe was the name of the vampire who was born in 1901! Edith fine, Edythe NO! Edythe didn’t make name charts till 1949, while Edith existed in 1880. (See So with this alone I find her history argument rendered invalid.

I’ve gone on for nearly 2500 words and feel I have only dented the surface of problems and issues with this book. Were I more patient person, I would spend more time and do a whole series on issues with this book and tear it apart page by page (line by line in some cases), I would, but I am not.  I was all too glad to send it back to the library, even if I couldn’t mark the book red with edits – which is saying something from me as I know that this blog post alone probably has a plethora of grammatical mistakes in it. (I did not have the time to run through and edit before posting.)

So while I hope and feel most people here would agree with me, that this book is horrid and the author is not that great, anyone who loves Stephanie Meyers please refrain from nitpicking my grammar (which I know is horrid right now) and basal insults. Thanks.

Also because I can, (and coined the phrase long ago) and I still think it is quite true to this day:

Book Review-Dick Tracy: The Secret Files, edited by Max Allan Collins and Martin H. Greenberg

Title: Dick Tracy: The Secret Files

Author: Max Allan Collins, Mike Resnick, Henry Slesar, Ron Goulart, Rex Miller, Terry Beatty and Wendi Lee, F. Paul Wilson, Ed Gorman, Francis M. Nevins and Josh Pachter, Barbara Collins, Wayne D. Dundee, Barry N. Malzberg, John Lutz, Ric Meyers, Edward D. Hoch, Stephen Mertz

Format: Paperback edition by Tor

Published: 1990


Let it be no secret that I am a Dick Tracy fan, have been since I was a kid.  Not just a fan of a particular era or of Dick Tracy from the newspapers, or the movies, or any particular medium.  I am a straight up fan of Dick Tracy.  I love the hard boiled type tales, I adore the science/technology stuff, and even absolutely go nuts over the more science fiction stuff (looking at you, Moon Maid!)  So, when a copy of Dick Tracy: The Secret Files ended up in my hands, it was something special to me.

Fortunately, I wasn’t overall disappointed.  Not overall.

Dick Tracy: The Secret Files was a collection released in 1990, in conjunction with and due in large part to the Warren Beatty movie that debuted that year (Yes, I actually liked the movie, but that’s a whole other argument to have elsewhere).  Two legends in literature, Martin H. Greenberg and Max Allan Collins, at one time the writer for the Dick Tracy strip, helmed this sixteen story juggernaut of a collection and brought on talent of all types to tackle the yellow trenchcoat wearing wunderkind of crime deduction created by Chester Gould.  From Edward D. Hoch to Ron Goulart to F. Paul Wilson to John Lutz and beyond, the list of contributors to this book held a lot of promise, a fair amount of which was fulfilled.

Overall, this is a good bunch of stories.  It appears writers were pretty much allowed to come at Dick and company in any fashion they chose to and there were a variety of approaches taken.  That part turned me off a little as I read through the collection.  Yes, there were some definite straight up true Dick Tracy type stories, but there were others that, I think, tried to hard to be something different.  As a fan, I wouldn’t have minded seeing Dick take on his old and established villains throughout an entire collection, but he didn’t do much of that in this book.  Most of the adversaries were either new oddities or they were simply ‘normal’ criminals. And let me say, Dick has come up against his share of normals, but I’d hoped we’d see Pruneface and Flattop and more of the traditional Tracy villains.

Another way this didn’t deliver due to attempts to be different was that some of the stories were not about the Dick Tracy universe.  One was a fictionalization of how Dick Tracy was created in a sense, another took Dick Tracy to Hollywood, but he ended up being a deus ex machina bit player in his own story, and still another focused almost exclusively on Tess, Dick’s wife.  Now, this doesn’t mean they were bad stories, as you’ll see when I list my favorites in a bit.  But I simply wish the collection had been more streamlined with a ‘theme’ of sorts, a spine authors worked around, more than just ‘Here’s Dick Tracy. Leave your mark however You wish.” Maybe that wasn’t what was done, but this collection definitely feels that way.

The stories in this collection, though, that do stand out are numerous.  Dick Tracy and the Syndicate of Death by Henry Slesar, The Cereal Killer by Rex Miller, Auld Acquaintance by Terry Beatty and Wendi Lee, The Curse by Ed Gorman, Homefront by Barbara Collins, The Paradise Lake Monster by Wayne Dundee, Old Saying by John Lutz, Whirlpool, Sizzle, and the Juice by Ric Meyers, Chessboard’s Last Gambit by Edward D. Hoch, and Not a Creature Was Stirring by Max Allan Collins are all great stories and hit on most, if not all the right notes for a Dick Tracy collection.

Dick Tracy: The Secret Files is a hard one to rate for me. Using the blog’s system, I’d have to give it 3 out of 5 pages.  This has a lot for Tracy fans as well as quite a bit for fans of Detective stories, but the scattershot approach to how Tracy’s world is addressed will probably make this a not read for many.

As for my usual scale, this gets four out of six bullets.  The strong stories outweigh the weak ones and my issues with the organization of the collection enough to make it one that hits more than half of the things it’s aimed at.

Book Review – Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Afterworlds

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Format: Audiobook

Published: 2014


Generally speaking I do not make a habit of listening to books I have not read first. It is a weird rule of mine. When I listen to books I’m traveling to work and am stuck in massive traffic jams. I need to many times keep my attention on the road and not on what is coming out of my radio. It is why I pick books with which I am familiar that way I do not get caught up with the story and neglect to pay attention to the road before me and the jerks who suddenly decide to cut me off.


Yet, I reached a point where the book I was familiar with was not in yet and I had just finished the previous book, I was in a bind and I needed something good and I needed something fast. So desperately I took to looking at the books that were in at my library and my eyes fell upon Afterworlds. I debated for a very long time. Should I go with something new or rack my brain for something old that I enjoyed. In the end I choose after worlds and I’m glad I did. The book was rather good, though I admit it was a bit of a mind screw at the same time.


The premise of the book is two stories at once. The first story is of Darcy a young girl who wrote a novel in November for National Novel Writing Month. (Funny that’s going on right now!) Once completing the novel she submitted her story to an agent for publication and got signed for an amazing deal not only for the one book but for a sequel as well. To be honest, the deal she got was a little too good to be true based on my experience and research of the publishing industry. The other story is Darcy’s novel Afterworlds about a girl named Lizzie who has a harrowing experience where she should have died but instead can will herself between the world of the living and the world of the dead.


Throughout the novel the story goes back and forth between the two plot arcs. Darcy’s world is one of deep fascination. She is navigating waters that are still foreign to me but I have read a lot about, the world of publication. As I read her tale I found myself sitting there going ‘Is this what it is really like? Or is this a convenient plot point?’ I always asked that question as I struggle to believe the reality of the generous contract Darcy received at the start of the story. Yet I know there has to be some nuggets of truth littered in the story as the author Scott Westerfeld is a seasoned published author.


The other half of the story about Lizzie was creepy and gripping as well. I loved the fantasy element and the picture that was painted of the afterlife in this world. I was gripped by this story as well as it was filled with intrigue and suspense. The story came to a nice end which was built up as in Darcy’s story she debated the end most thoroughly. I do know that I wonder if there will be a second book simply because Darcy was signed for a sequel and she had an interesting start of an idea to write for her next book.   If there is you can be assured that I will want to read it because I enjoyed this story and would give it a 4 out of 5 pages and because it is a story by my all-time favorite author.


Writer Wednesday – John Allen

Who are you?

My name is John F. Allen and I’m an American Speculative Fiction writer who resides in Indianapolis, IN.

What type of stuff do you write?

I write across the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery and Comic Books.

What do you want to pimp right now?

My latest release is a novella titled, “Codename: Knight Ranger”. The book follows the origin of Captain Alexandre “Neal” Du Bois aka Knight Ranger, a former soldier whose unit is ambushed by supernatural forces while in Afghanistan. Du Bois, whose body is destroyed, is the sole survivor and receives a new, superhuman, bio-engineered body thanks to a shadowy government agency. He is then forced to act as an agent of this organization in exchange, while coping with the loss of his unit, being estranged from his family and finding his place in the world as a new man in a world where the supernatural is a reality.

What is your favorite book? (or three)

The Widening Gyre by Robert B. Parker, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley.

Besides the author hat, what hats do you wear?

Editor and Publisher (of my own independently produced works), Artist, Marketing Agent and Mentor.

Where can we find you?

Please visit my website: There are links to my twitter account, facebook and other social media sites I’m affiliated with.



As writers, we’re inclined to devote much of our time in the pursuit of our main objective and that’s to write. Most writers make lousy business people, unless their background is in a business related field.

We are imaginative people who have a passion to create, so we tend to be oblivious to the business of writing. However, one of the first things that writers need to understand is that they can write eight million stories, but if no one knows about them they won’t get published and no one will read them.

There are many reasons that it is necessary for writers to create a platform. The most basic reason is to inform the public—your potential audience—about your writing. However, the concept of a platform is a bit deeper than merely letting people know you’re a writer, it’s also your ability to personally sell books through:

Your own individual merit

Networking—personal and professional connections

Media outlets which can be utilized to sell your books

How well people know you and know of you, is extremely important as it relates to establishing a platform.

Well before I signed the contract for my first novel and short stories, I began using as many resources as I could think of to let people know that I was a writer and I had work to sell!

I instinctively got out in front of creating a platform for myself and my writing. Mostly I was simply geeked about the idea of people reading my work. Now, I am developing, maintaining and utilizing my platform for more focused reasons.

For the purposes of this blog post, I will assume that most of my readers are new writers or those who are just now accepting their calling. Although anyone, at any stage in their writing career needs to create a solid platform—if they haven’t already—and could benefit from the information contained here.

The following is a list of the most basic and common building blocks necessary for creating a platform.

A website and/or blog—the goal is to build and maintain a large and loyal readership

Social media—this is one of the most important aspects of building a platform as it allows for the most immediate and wide-reaching exposure you’re likely to get

Blog posts—this is how you are able to relate your writer’s journey to your readers and help them to learn from your experience(s)

An e-newsletter and/or mailing list—this helps you to maintain your readership and keep them informed of important info pertaining to your writing

Guest post on the blogs of other writers—this is a way for you to broaden your readership and outreach

Memberships in writing organizations—this helps to establish your standing and credibility within the writing community

Media exposure—writing articles for media outlets, public speaking and media appearances (here the BIGGER the better)

While not all of these components are going to be relevant to you and/or necessary, they are the most important to consider. In today’s market and society, a website/blog, mailing list and social media are the three most important building blocks to consider in my opinion. These three components are the ones which will account for the maximum amount of exposure you get and the farthest reaching attention you receive.

It’s important to understand that building a platform takes time and effort.

This doesn’t happen overnight!

Developing a following/readership takes perseverance and dedication. It is a continuing effort which happens daily.

The amount of effort and foresight you put into it, is directly indicative of the gains you get out of it. Simply creating a website/blog and being on Facebook or twitter doesn’t constitute having a platform.

Simply writing your novel or short story isn’t enough. Even getting it to the publisher or self-publishing isn’t enough. You have to establish an identity/brand, own your marketability and work diligently to cultivate your readership with every opportunity available.

In closing, I’d like to encourage any writer—new or established—to consider taking the time and making the effort to build and maintain a solid platform. It is a highly essential component of selling your books/stories and connecting with loyal and well entertained readers.


Writer Wednesday – Stephen Zimmer

Who are you?

I am just a guy who keeps moving forward.  But a major part of me is being a writer.  I love the creative possibilities and the call to living that writing offers to me.  

My works span several genres, from epic fantasy (Fires in Eden Series) , to cross-genre (The Rising Dawn Saga), to steampunk (the Harvey and Solomon tales), to horror (the Hellscapes short story collection), to sword and sorcery (the Rayden Valkyrie stories).  I have a wide range of interests, from practicing martial arts, to a love of history, travel, motorcyles, music and guitar playing, movies and filmmaking, and other activities.  All of it is a part of who I am, but like I said, at the end of the day, I’m just a guy who keeps moving forward.

What type of stuff do you write?

Epic fantasy, sword and sorcery, horror, steampunk and sword and sorcery are the genres I have been published in.  But I do have writing projects developing in YA dystopian and paranormal romance areas, though I do not have a projection just yet as to when I will be able to get those focused on (as I’m working on the followup to Heart of a Lion and the 4th Fires in Eden books right now).

What do you want to pimp right now?

At the moment, I’m touring in support of Heart of a Lion, which is the first book of the Dark Sun Dawn trilogy.  It is hard-hitting, dark fantasy/sword and sorcery that stars my heroine Rayden Valkyrie.  It is very action intensive and I feel that Robert E. Howard fans definitely would love it.  

I also had a brand new release last week, Hellscapes, Volume II, the second in my horror collection featuring tales that are set in various visions/depictions of Hell (hence the title!)

What is your favorite book? (or three)

My favorite book or three is the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  That lit the fire in me at the age of seven.  But we will count that as one and mention a few more.  The Chronicles of Narnia we will also count as one.  The Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia were at my foundation, in my childhood, and will always be the root.  Since then, there have been many works that have influenced me, from Clive Barker’s Books of Blood short story collection, to George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, to, more recently, The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo, which was an amazing read.  

Besides the author hat, what hats do you wear?

I am one of the principle individuals with Seventh Star Press, a small press based in Lexington Kentucky focusing on speculative fiction that has about 20 authors and eighty titles at the moment, including several anthologies.  I am also the founder and director of the Imaginarium Convention, a convention all about creative writing that is held annually in Louisville, Kentucky.  The third year is coming October 7-9 of 2016.  I also serve as a volunteer literary programming director for Fandom Fest Louisville and Tulsa, as well as the Fright Night Horror Weekend.  I am also a filmmaker, and am in the process of developing a TV pilot project based upon the Rayden Valkyrie character.

Where can we find you?

The principle areas I maintain online are:


Twitter: @sgzimmer

Instagram: @stephenzimmer7




A Call to Live – The Real School of Writing

One of the core things about writing that I have come to realize and appreciate is the call to live that is inherent within it.  Experience is one of the best teachers out there, and life experience provides an abundance of invaluable lessons for writers.

Getting out and meeting people from all walks of life, traveling to numerous different places, trying out different activities, and taking risks all contribute to the growth of a writer.  From experiencing different kinds of people to different kinds of cultures, life experience offers an education unparalleled for developing your writing.  

A great many writers are introverts, so this is not the easiest path for some, but the rewards for one’s writing are tremendous.  Having extensive life experiences helps you to create realistic characters and cultures.  It helps you bring realism to the action and atmosphere of a story.   It inspires you in an abundance of ways, and even gives birth to new ideas.

Over the years, and now at the stage where I have eleven books in print, I have come to realize that being a writer involves a call to living.  I encourage all writers to try new things, go new places, and meet new people.  I am absolutely certain your writing will be the better for it.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: