Book review: The Narrows

The Narrows
By Alexander C. Irvine
Published by Del Rey, a division of Random House Publishing Group, 2005, released in paperback 2010
ISBN: 9780345466983
Advance review copy provided by the publisher.

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

This book should have been a delightful revisionist historic fantasy. Set during World War II in Detroit, the protagonist, Jared Cleaves, is a young man working in one of Henry Ford’s factories (Building G, near the center of the Ford River Rouge factory complex) manufacturing golems for the war effort. So why did I find it such a long, tedious read? Well, first there’s Jared’s rah-rah attitude about the war; he’s deferred from the draft because of a childhood injury to his hand that left him unable to hold a gun. He’s depressed because he actually wants to be at the front, shooting Nazis and getting shot at, to prove his manhood.
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Book review: Jack London’s Dog

Jack London’s Dog
by Dirk Wales, Illustrated by Barry Moser
Published by Great Plains Press, Chicago 2008
ISBN: 0963245937
Review copy provided by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

This is the most charming children’s book I’ve ever read since The Chronicles of Narnia, which the movies do not do justice to! It’s a fictional account of what might have happened to the dog named Jack that author Jack London knew during his brief sojourn in Alaska during the Gold Rush of 1897. This is the same dog on which London based the character of Buck, the domestic dog who goes feral in his classic novel “Call of the Wild”. Dog lovers will adore this book, which gives such loving insight into a dog’s point of view about the behavior of humans. Even a cat lover like me will find it easy to get into Jack’s character and sympathize with him.
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Book review: Women are Crazy, Men are Stupid

Women are Crazy, Men are Stupid
The Simple Truth to a Complicated Relationship
By Howard J. Morris and Jenny Lee
Published by Simon Spotlight Entertainment, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2009
ISBN: 9781439109748
Review copy provided by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

Oh boy, talk about Venus and Mars! This literary labor of love was written by a co-habiting couple in Hollywood, both writers of popular TV situation comedies, both divorced, both crazy about each other, but not so crazy about the little differences between men and women that keep popping up whenever they try to have a serious discussion.
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Book review: A Touch of Dead-Sookie Stackhouse: The Complete Stories

A Touch of Dead-Sookie Stackhouse: The Complete Stories
By Charlaine Harris, published by Ace Books a/k/a The Berkley Publishing Group, Penguin Group
Copy purchased by reviewer
ISBN: 0441017835

Reviewed by Ida Vega-Landow

For those of you who can’t get enough of Sookie Stackhouse, this slim volume contains five short stories about our mind reading heroine by her intrepid creator, Charlaine Harris, the Southern belle with the macabre sense of humor. This book is for those who wonder what Sookie does between books—I myself have often wondered when and how she found out about her cousin Hadley’s death before she went to New Orleans to settle her estate in “Definitely Dead”—and whether Ms. Harris can tell a complete story about Sookie without it being book length. Happily, she can do so, with the humor and solemnity we’ve come to expect from the creator of the Southern Vampire series.
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Book review: Roanoke, A Novel of Elizabethan Intrigue

Roanoke, A Novel of Elizabethan Intrigue
By Margaret Lawrence
Published by Delacorte Press, February 2009
Copy supplied by the publisher
ISBN: 0385342373

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

If you’re looking for a good mystery to read during this Season of the Witch, I recommend “Roanoke”, which is about the first, failed English colony in America. Nobody really knows the ultimate fate of the little group of Englishmen and women who settled on Roanoke Island back in 1585. It’s now a thriving city in the state of Virginia, but back then it was a backwater island up the windswept coast of the Carolinas, past Cape Feare, inhabited by the Secota Indians.
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Book review: Mystic Investigators

Mystic Investigators
by Patrick Thomas
Dark Quest Books, 2009
ISBN: 0979690145

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

Well, what do you know, here’s another collection of short stories by my homeboy Patrick Thomas! This one was published by Dark Quest Books instead of Padwolf, so you’re going to have to go to and click on “Fiction” to get your hands on it. But it’s worth it, believe me! Within this slim volume are eleven tales of terror, most of them with a lighter side to leaven the horror. But not all of them. Be warned, you may find some of these stories a little too much for your psyche, especially if you’re the type who believes in government conspiracies about the paranormal—Area 51, men in black, the Jersey Devil, and so on. Our boy Patrick goes into some deep, dark waters here, the kind where a lot of creepy things are swimming beneath the surface, most of them eager to chew your legs off. But more often it’s just your mind they feed upon, infesting your imagination to the point where you’ll find yourself sleeping with a nightlight on, or keeping a flashlight under your pillow to investigate those strange noises you hear at night when you’re home alone.
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Book review: Fairy With a Gun

Fairy With a Gun
The Collected Terrorbelle
by Patrick Thomas
Padwolf Publishing 2009
ISBN: 1890096415

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

Here’s a new book by my favorite male horror/fantasy author, whose body of work rivals Stephen King’s in volume. Unfortunately, he’s just a hometown phenomenon here in NYC, otherwise he’d be giving Mr. King a run for his money. And two for the show, as Patrick himself would undoubtedly add. Okay, so he’s addicted to corny puns. He’s also a bit careless about his spelling and grammar, and occasionally slips in his continuity. I try not to let little things like that bother me when I’m reading something I enjoy, and I do enjoy anything by Patrick Thomas, though it does bother me that he’s practically an underground writer. Maybe someday he will be given the respect and fame that he deserves. As well as a vigilant proofreader!
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Book reivew: Up Till Now, The Autobiography

Up Till Now, The Autobiography
By William Shatner with David Fisher
Published by Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin’s Press, New York
ISBN: 0312372655

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

What can one say about Bill Shatner that hasn’t been said already by so many? Hero, ham, hack, has been, he’s been there, done that, and gotten the tee shirts. He was the first captain of the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE in the never ending story of Star Trek, whose five year mission was cut short by two years, yet who lives on in eternity through syndication. He was T.J. Hooker, a good cop who made Los Angeles a little safer every week and always managed to get in a chase scene, as well as a little gratuitous exposure of female flesh. He was the host of Rescue 911, true stories of people who survived disasters, who never dreamed that one dark night he’d have to live through one himself when he discovered his third wife had drowned herself. And most recently he was Denny Crane of Boston Legal, whose appetite for sex and guns could never equal his affection for his young protégé Alan Shore, who was his willing partner in legal mayhem every week, helping him to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
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eBook review: The Devil’s Fire

The Devil’s Fire
by Sara Bell.
First Torquere Press Printing: January 2008

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

(This is another little goodie from Torquere Press that I left sitting on my hard drive since last year. You know you’re getting behind in your reviews when you finally get around to reading something almost a full year since it was released! Oh well, at least it’ll be fresh to both me and my readers.)

My first impression of this story is that the author, Sara Bell, must be as big a fan of historic romances as I am. It certainly has all the elements of a historic romance, set in an imaginary country during the Middle Ages; a handsome hero, a cursed prince, a villainous villain, noble kings and craven cowards, conspiracies, betrayals, true love and lust, everything except Rodents of Enormous Size. There are even lovely ladies in it, though they only play supporting roles.
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