Saturday, February 26, 2011

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (Book review)

If you strip away the circus aspect of this book, your left with what amounts to a rather typical love triangle. But, the fact that the circus aspect is so detailed and obviously so well researched is what makes this a good read.

The story is told from the point of view of an old man in a nursing home who is awaiting his family to take him to the circus. As he waits he thinks back to his own days with a traveling circus. After tragedy hits his family, a young Jacob Janowski runs away from his responsibilities and jumps a train in the middle of the night. Unbeknown to Jacob, he's just joined the circus.

Soon after he is appointed the circus' vet, and falls in love with one of the performers and later, a large elephant. The girl, however, is married to his boss. A cruel and angry man that has a habit of mistreating animals and people alike.

Sara Gruen manages to pull the reader into the atmosphere of a depression era circus with impressive imagery and highly flawed characters. As a result, what could have been a run of the mill story becomes an entertaining read filled with a few comedic and tear jerking moments.

4out of 5 stars

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bright Eyes: The People's Key (Review)

The People's Key is the new album from Indie hero Conner Oberst and his band Bright Eyes. The cover art is typical of most of their previous albums, with artwork (a wall of fire) only and a lack of band name or album title. Also sticking with Bright Eyes tradition, the first track starts off with something strange to drive away casual music fans. In this case it's two minutes of a man talking about ancient aliens and the evolution of man. This man appears a few more times throughout the album, but in shorter portions.

Oberst has stated that this would be the last Bright Eyes album, I for one hope this isn't true. Unlike his solo work, the Bright Eyes CD's seem far more intricate in both music and lyrics. Changing gears from their last album (Cassadaga) which was far more "Progressive Folk", The People's Key brings back the electronic style that was present on Digital Ash, Digital Urn. The result is a nearly perfect collection of songs.

Oberst is at his poetic best, with complex and intelligent lyrics that throw the verse/chorus/verse cookie cutter format of most artist right out the window. Whether it's the slow, rhythmic beat of  "Approximate Sunlight", the raucous acoustic guitar in "JeJune Stars", or the tribal drums of "A Machine Spiritual", every song is vibrant and refreshing. At a time when artist like Ray LaMontagne, Mumford and Sons, and The Avett Brothers are gaining in popularity with "Progressive Folk", Oberst and company once again show their disdain for the mainstream by reverting back to a music style similar to Tricky, Portishead, or Kenna.

Even so, Oberst is a true word slinger, and it's his mastery of the English language that's most impressive. Along with Sage Francis and B. Dolan, he is the very best in the business.

5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Bearded Man!!

Welcome to the relaunch of my blog, now entitled; The Bearded Man.

The idea for the bearded man actually formed in my mind several years ago as a monthly magazine. With the lack of funds at my disposal to start up a magazine I turned to a free blog. This will not only be a place for me to post my plugs for my work and reviews on other peoples books, I will also review music, video games, and the occasional movie.

Beyond this I hope to feature several guest bloggers to share articles on various topics as they are related to the male point of view. Fellow writers and some of my more enlightened friends will stop by from time to time to share their opinions on topics of their choice. Of course, anyone is welcome to contribute, if interested simply message me at my facebook profile.

Thank you, and enjoy!

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Demon Girl by Penelope Fletcher (book review)

As a self-published writer, I know how difficult it can be to edit your book so that there are as little mistakes as possible in the final form. Hell, it took me several reads to get Avenging Autumn to where it is in the latest Nook edition and I'm sure there are still a couple of things I missed. Not only do I read my own books, I have friends and family read them as well to try and catch all of the errors.

The Demon Girl, however, is so heavily burdened with spelling and grammatical errors that I couldn't make it past the forth chapter. This is an author that could really benefit from some constructive criticism. From what i could tell, the story of a young girl who discovers she's a fairy (demon) in a world where humans despise and hunt demons is an interesting concept. But, the delivery leaves much to be desired.

The two good things about this book (which are the only reasons I downloaded it to my Nook in the first place) is the captivating cover and the free price tag. I think the author has some potential, as long as she can find a good editor or some friends to help clean up her very sloppy work.

1 star out of 5

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Wintermen for $0.99!!!!

The second Book in the Seasons Change Vampire Series is now available for the Barnes and Noble Nook and Amazon Kindle for only $0.99! Here's a 5 star reader review;

"Where Avenging Autumn had a tender love story at it's base, The Wintermen is a father trying hard to uncover the whereabouts of his son in a city that is crawling with rouge vampires and werewolves. 

Dr. Harold Robinson's story is told from a first person point of view through a confession note and works to keep the action going in the first part of the book and when Frank finally meets up with Harold, the ensuing scene is one of the most violent and disturbing things I've ever read and I loved every minute. 

All of this led up to the final four chapters which were non stop action and had me enthralled the entire time. I really could not put the book down."

Frank Writeman's search for his son, Jack leads him to New York City, a major hot spot for unclaimed vampires. He soon partners up with Dr. Harold Robinson, a mentally unstable werewolf hunter, in an effort to find his son before the mysterious Wintermen, a race of mutated vampires who want to claim Jack for their own growing ranks. With Frank's fragile probation with the werewolves and Harold's tendency to shoot everything in sight, Jack's chances of being rescued grow more unlikely with every passing day.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

33 A.D. by David McAfee (review)

This was a very interesting take on the crucifixion of Jesus. The author weaved a fascinating conspiracy story involving vampires and roman soldiers into a well known biblical tale. The characters were well developed and despite the actions of Taras, a Legionary assassin, I found myself pulling for him to have a happy ending. Great storytelling, supporting players, and settings, beautifully descriptive. The only negative thing I can say about this book is that occasionally the dialog slipped into what seemed to be more modern terminology than what might be heard in 33 A.D. This is really a minor gripe and does not hinder the story in any way. All in all a very enjoyable read.

4 out of 5 stars

Sunday, February 13, 2011

New for Nook; Avenging Autumn

A brand new, re-edited, and re-formated edition of Avenging Autumn is now available for the Barnes & Noble Nook. For only $0.99 download the book that kicked off the action-packed Seasons Change Vampire Saga. Follow this link; Avenging Autumn to get it for your Nook or smart phone Nook app.


Benny Writeman was a peaceful artist who lived in a small Indiana town with his lovely wife, Autumn. But, when his wife is murdered, then returns from the dead and reveals her murder must be avenged before she can truly rest, he drags her ghost across the country on the hunt for the vampires responsible. With the help of his brother, Jack and their father, Frank, they leave an ever mounting trail of carnage behind as they confront nightmarish creatures around every corner, only to discover a heartbreaking truth at the end of their journey.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks (review)

This blog will also serve as a place to publish book reviews of what I've been reading as of late beginning with my most recently completed read.

The Way of Shadows (Night Angel #1)
By Brent Weeks
5 out of 5 stars *****

Brent Weeks has a talent for creating complex and interesting characters that fit perfectly into the brutal and unforgiving world he has created. Durzo Blint being the most interesting. Here's a character that lives by a creed that states life is worthless, thus creating a roadblock for a guilty conscious, yet still struggles with doing the right thing at times when his job is at stake. Durzo is a wetboy, which is like an assassin, only he uses his Talent (magic) to enhance his abilities. Blending in with shadows, silencing his movements, creating extra hands to carry out his dark deeds.

When Blint takes on an apprentice (Azoth) he grows into an efficient assassin but lacks the Talent needed to become a wetboy. From there the story grows into a fast paced adventure with a cast of supporting characters that are just as deep and rich as Durzo and Azoth and a few villains that are as nasty as they come.

This was a very enjoyable read and I look forward to the second book.

The Way of Shadows on Goodreads

Serpent and the Summer War!

It's finally here!! The thrilling conclusion to the Seasons Change Series is now available on Amazon's Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook. Serpent and the Summer War can be purchased for your e-reading device or smart phone for only $0.99. Plus, look for the first three books in the series, also just $0.99.

War is coming. In an attempt to draw the vampire god, Deppleo out into the open, Jack Writeman and Vlad the Impaler plan to pit the five vampire clans against each other in a bloody conflict of epic proportions. Meanwhile, Harold Robinson, the great werewolf hunter, is sent on a mission to assassinate a dangerous vampire lord and at the same time regain the trust of the young witch that he's been partnered with. Werewolves, hunters and zombies join the fray, old friends return, and all out carnage spirals the Seasons Change Series to its shocking conclusion. 

Seasons Change Series:
Avenging Autumn
The Wintermen
Moonlight Springs Eternal
Serpent and the Summer War