Welcome to Woofer's Lair. Curious as to what you will see here? Well, for the most part, you will find book reviews, maybe the occasional movie review, and if you are lucky, you might stumble across one of my own works in progress. If you like what you see or what read, and even if you don't, please feel free to leave your comments. As I am somewhat new to blogging, all of your constructive feedback is appreciated. Have fun and thanks for stopping by.

Wicked Seasons

Wicked Seasons
My short story, HUNGRY FOR MORE, is included


Grady Hendrix's Horrorstor

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Of Angels and Demons

When I found out Rob Thurman had a new series coming out, I grabbed it the minute I saw it. I love her Cal Leandros series and I was curious to see what else she would come up with. The book was published last year, but with any series, I always hold off until the second book is in hand before starting to read. Thus the reason for a delayed review. I also have to admit that, after seeing some of the reviews that were coming out, I was a bit hesitant to give Trick of the Light a chance.

Trick of the Light is set in the same universe as the Cal Leandros series, and a couple of the characters from the Leandros series, while not actually appearing, are mentioned. I had heard through the grapevine that this was the case, and that added another reason to hold off reading until I was totally caught up with the adventures of the Leandros brothers. I didn't want there to be any spoilers. There weren't, so if you are in the process of playing catch up with the Leandros books, you can sneak this in. It won't spoil anything.

The central character of Trick of the Light is Trixa Iktomi, a bar owner, a seller of information, and an occasional demon hunter. Sharing the responsibilities in the running of the bar is Leo, and joining her in her demon hunting are Zeke Hawkins and Griffin Reese, "brothers" in arms. As members of Eden House, a nationwide network of telepaths and empaths working for Heaven and supervised by Angels, Griffin and Zeke make it their mission to exterminate demons, so it's more like Trixa joins them in the demon hunts. For the boys, it's a job; for Trixa, it's personal. She has made it her life's mission to hunt down and destroy the demon who killed her brother.

It is during one of these hunts that Trixa learns of The Light, an ancient artifact that is being sough by both Heaven and Hell, as whoever possesses it will be invulnerable to attacks. While the minions of Above and Below are both looking for it, Trixa plans on being the one to find it, and once it is in her possession, she plans on using it as a bargaining chip to have her brother's murderer turned over to her. Whoever can deliver the demon can have The Light. With the race for The Light now on, both sides put it all on the line in order to be the one to whom Trixa turns over the artifact. The demons attempt to seduce her (there's no such thing as an ugly demon -- not in human form anyway), and the angels show their true colors, proving that they are just as vicious as the demons and are not above killing to get their holier-than-thou mitts on The Light. Playing both sides, will Trixa be able to achieve her goal before being found out?

While I enjoyed Trick of the Light, I was disappointed to find it was not of the same caliber as the Cal Leandros series. Trixa, the central character, for me was the weakest; Griffin and Zeke came across as the stronger characters, and they were the ones who carried the story along, which was interesting as the story is told in the first person from Trixa's point of view.

I also found the first half of the book was not as developed as the second half. There was quite a bit of repetition littered throughout the first half of the story. How many times do we have to be told that Trixa's favorite color is red, or that it was five years ago that Griffin and Zeke first showed up in her bar, running from social services because of something Zeke did. It felt like Thurman hadn't fleshed out Trixa completely in her mind before sitting down to write. The other possibility is that Thurman's weakness in her writing is female characters. Her male characters come across as stronger and more interesting, even the minor ones.

The story itself is interesting and contains a number of twists, some surprising, some not so. I had figured out some of them a quarter of the way through, and the finale kicks some major ass.

Despite what I consider to be obvious flaws, I enjoyed Trick of the Light and I will be reading the next installment, the just-released The Grimrose Path. I'm curious to see where the series is headed, and if there is going to be a Cal Leandros/Trickster crossover. I think it would be amazing to have Cal and Nik teamed up with Zeke and Griff. The mayhem that would ensue would be awesome!

Would I recommend Trick of the Light? Yes, but not if you are reading Rob Thurman for the first time. Consider picking up Nightlife, Book 1 of the Cal Leandros series, first to get a feel for what Thurman is capable of.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Qwillery: Werewolves and Shapeshifters and a Vlog

The Qwillery: Werewolves and Shapeshifters and a Vlog: "It's all explained in the vlog except the bits that aren't: What: 1 copy of Werewolves and Shapeshifters: Encounters with the Beasts Wit..."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Darkness in the Hearts of Men

Every so often a book comes along that stirs up quite a buzz. You hear people talking about it just about everywhere you go. In many cases, it's a book by an established author who has a huge following and is being pushed by a major publisher as their latest cash cow. Other times the book is by an unknown backed by the money of a major publisher, their latest find, and sometimes it's by an independent author seeking to make a go of it on their own.

Once upon a time, independent authors were only known in small circles because the authors lacked the means and the funds to distribute and market their books. But since the birth of e-books and the self-publishing boom, thanks in part to Amazon's Kindle digital publishing platform, independent authors are beginning to make their mark. One such author is Andrew E. Kaufman, whose debut novel While the Savage Sleeps quickly rose to the Number One spot on Amazon's Kindle Best-Seller List. Among the Kindle forums, it was all that was being discussed. Granted, many self-published novels are lackluster and leave a lot to be desired, as they are either poorly written or in major need of a good editor. Kaufman's novel is not one of these.

Faith, New Mexico, is a sleepy, little town nestled in the valley of two mountains. It can be described as picture perfect, where mom and pop-type stores are in abundance and crime is virtually non-existent, which is why, when the body of Deputy Bradley Witherspoon is discovered, savagely mutilated and strung up like a side of beef, it sends shock waves through the community. And it's only the beginning.

While Sheriff Cameron Dawson races against time to stop the murderer before he/she can strike again, Doctor Kyle Bancroft, a prominent and "gifted" physician in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is being visited by mysterious visions of an old hospital and a little girl who delivers a dire warning: time is running out. As Kyle struggles to make sense of her visions, the body count in Faith continues to climb. Will Kyle be able to figure our the riddle of her visions in time to help Sheriff Dawson before the killer strikes again?

I'm normally not one to follow the herd, so to speak. I've never read a Grisham novel, as he tends to be consumed by the masses. A new one comes out, it's all you see on the train in the morning. I refuse to be one of those people. I read King, I read Koontz, but at the time I started reading them, I was young enough not to know who they were or just how popular they were with the masses. The fact that Kaufman's novel was being billed as a paranormal forensic thriller, I had my doubts. Forensic thrillers? Can't say I'm a fan. Paranormal? Okay, I admit it. Paranormal, supernatural, I'm so there. Numerous 5-star ratings on Amazon? Amazon ratings have burned me in the past, so it didn't really sway me. It's was the buzz online that finally swayed me. And let me tell you. . . I don't know what I was expecting, but what I wasn't expecting was a fast-paced, well-written mystery that I didn't want to put down.

Kaufman has a way of ending each chapter unfinished, prompting you to read on with an urgency, a need to know what happens next. There aren't many writers who can hook me in the first chapter and carry me all the way through to the end. In fact, the only author who has been able to do this to me in the past was early Dean Koontz, and even he seems to have lost something, as I have struggled with his more recent works.

Were there things about While the Savage Sleeps that I didn't like? Yes, but that can be said about every book I read. In recent years, only one book has blown me away so completely that there wasn't a bad thing I could say about it. While the Savage Sleeps comes close to that, and what I didn't like about it wasn't necessarily a bad thing; it just didn't work for me. There was a romance element that seemed out of place with the rest of the story. In my opinion, it didn't fit, but others I have heard from loved that aspect of it. It was the light in the darkness, as Kaufman's novel is dark.

All in all, While the Savage Sleeps is a breakout novel from a promising new author, and Andrew E. Kaufman is definitely a talent to watch out for, and I eagerly await his next novel. I highly recommend checking out While the Savage Sleeps.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Bastardization of the Classics

A few days ago, I came across something on Twitter that rubbed me the wrong way. A well-known publisher had asked the following question: Which classic/popular literary work do you want to see overrun by zombie hordes? Add your opinion in the latest zombie survey.

When I first read about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I admit to being intrigued by the idea. I thought it was novel, taking a classic and "zombie-fying" it, and I was interested to see how the author would approach it. Little did I know -- and maybe I had just read the wrong reviews -- that it was going to be Jane Austen's novel word for word with additions and tweakings to include the zombie hordes. For me, while there was an originality of concept, there was zero artistic creativity. This was more about creative editing than it was about writing. So for the life of me I cannot understand why this book is receiving the rave reviews it has. I would have preferred to see the author rewrite Austen's story in his own words and include the new elements while maintaining the tone of the original work. This, to me, would have been worthy of the reviews it has been receiving.

Now, unfortunately, due to the commercial success of
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, we are see a glut of copycats hit the shelves. There's The Undead World of Oz (which I have had the misfortune of reading), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim, Alice in Zombieland, and War of the Worlds Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies, to name a few. And it hasn't stopped with zombies. There's also Emma and the Werewolves, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Android Karenina, and these are just the ones I've heard about. I'm sure there are others, and now a publisher is toying with the idea of adding more?! When is it going to end? Enough is enough. I would love to see these authors apply their creative energies to something original. Leave the classics alone and come up with something new.