Monday, March 3, 2014

Quick Notes: The Year I Died Seven Times Book #2, The Guns of Santa Sangre, States of Grace, Lyrics for the Blues

The Year I Died Seven Times Book #2 by Eric Beetner

This is the second installment of the new serial from Beetner. I said that the first installment was "a fast paced story with enough twists and turns to keep the reader engaged until the end", the second installment is more of the same. It's tough to review a serial in its parts as they are being released because the story isn't finished. With that said it was entertaining.

The Guns of Santa Sangre by Eric Red

On one hand there was much to like with this book, I mean what's not to like about werewolves vs. cowboys. It's action scenes crackle with intensity, the cowboys are filled with cowboy toughness, the werewolves are scary creatures. The prose is muscular.

On the other hand, there is Pilar. Pilar is basically the main character as she is the one to leave her besieged town to hire gunfighters to come back and protect them from the invading force. She should be a well rounded character. Except damn near every time she's described it's to describe her beauty or a body part is emphasized ("heavy bosom" is used a couple of times). Then you get a line like this, "As her rump smacked against the saddle leather, the girl scanned the arid piles of wheat and corn on either side of the rows." where she can't even just ride a horse and has to be reduced to her butt. Pilar is also a fan of cowboy dime novels. Great, so she wants to be a gunfighter and wants to pick up the iron and defend her town? Nope, she wants to carry the child of a cowboy, who she doesn't expect to stay around, and will raise on her own. 

Good book with a glaring problem. I'm sure mileage will vary for some readers.

States of Grace by Stephen Graham Jones

States of Grace is a collection of flash length stories. Some of the stories are more impressionistic in nature, some of them really pack an emotional punch ("Bulletproof"), and others are so damn creepy that you'll forever view certain objects differently ("The Piano Thief"). This is a short book that will slay you with a thousand cuts. 

Highly recommended (Though may not be the best place for those new to Jones' fiction to start)

Lyrics for the Blues by Gar Anthony Haywood

Lyrics for the Blues is a short story collection featuring Haywood's series character, LA PI Aaron Gunner. Pros: This is a great introduction to the Gunner character. You get a good feel for Haywood's style, a good sketch of the character, and some cases that raise interesting questions with no easy answers. Cons: This book is formatted terribly.

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