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Monday
Jun202016

Put Your Dollars Where Your Passion Is

A couple of nights ago two of my favorite musicians were performing close by, along with Adam Faucett, whose music I was unfamilar with. Christopher Gold and Austin Lucas alone are a bill worth traveling to see; Faucett turns out to be a songwriter with an unusually sweet yet powerful voice. The show, put on in a local micro-brewery, was wonderful. But I'm not here to talk about their amazing music.

After the show the performers were hanging around their merch table, meeting fans and offering for sale whatever they had of their own music. A couple of vinyl LPs, the odd T-shirt, and of course compact discs. I bought Gold's latest (already the proud owner of his earlier releases), as I'd been waiting to purchase it directly from him. As I handed each of these three artists $10 for their current CD, I was reminded how much this simple act of commerce means to them.

This is how they make their living, really. Sure, there is some arrangement with the venue, but it's often little. Maybe a free pizza and some beers, and a cut of the door. But that doesn't buy gas, lodging, or pay for real life. The few helpuful, hip record stores still in existence are a big help, but they take their cut, too.

When you have the chance to put some bucks right into the hands of the musician whose work you enjoy, do so! Help them continue to write songs and perform. 

And thank them...

@Cgoldmusic, @AustinlucasIND, @Adamfaucettsong

Thursday
Jun022016

House of the Rising Sun by James Lee Burke

James Lee Burke is one of the greatest American novelists of the last thirty years. His recent House of the Rising Sun enhances his hard-earned reputation, rekindling my hope Burke lives forever and continues to write an amazing novel each year. 

Hackberry Holland, Texas Ranger, is at the center of events in House of the Rising Sun. Burke has worked with him before. He is of disciplined spirit and resilience, with and an attitude of strength and a moral compass uncommonly strong. Set in Texas, beginning in 1918, Burke weaves an adventurous tale incorporating treachery, lost and found faith, and man’s struggles.  

Holland carries within himself a constant threat of danger, a knowledge that he has the capacity to do whatever must be done. Sometimes others realize this; to their unhappiness, often people don’t. The reader will find themselves captivated and riding an emotional roller coaster along with those whose lives intertwine with Holland.

On the surface House of the Rising Sun is an adventure story set in a time and place in American history little-known to most.  Holland’s interaction with others, notably his son, provides opportunity to witness and reflect upon good and evil. Tension slowly, effectively builds throughout the story. I find myself glued to the pages, not wanting the story to complete.

James Lee Burke writes in such a way that my reading is slowed, my comprehension is lifted, and my enjoyment is amplified. Few bring people, their thoughts and struggles, the path of life itself, to the printed page as Burke can. Don’t let me raves for the people in House of the Rising Sun, and how they are brought to life, take anything away from what is a hell of a good adventure tale, either. James Lee Burke is, first and foremost, a tremendous spinner of yarns. Thought provoking and full of conflict, but always at heart, superb stories.

#houseoftherisingsun, @JamesLeeBurke, @simonschuster


Thursday
Jun022016

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith is the third of the Cormoran Strike novels. If I tell you each improves on the preceding, and that the initial book was terrific, will that sound like too much praise?

Strike is a private eye, not doing all that well in the world of investigation, troubled by physical limitations (a prosthetic leg), and huge samplings of pride. His assistant, Robin Ellacott, has steadily become a bigger part of his life and his business, seemingly knowsing him better than most others. She assumes a vital role in Career of Evil, beginning when a woman’s severed leg is messengered to her at work. Cormoran Strike is a fascinating character, and author Galbraith has made him so. She (J.K. Rowling) uses her superior storytelling and characterization skills to bring us the world Strike and Ellacott live and work in, and carry us through a compelling mystery.

I’m hoping Rowling continues to follow Cormoran and Robin through the ups and downs of their struggling detective agency, and their relationship. The profound tension between the two of them, and the resulting misunderstandings, then the resolution, are masterfully handled. These interludes help these two come alive on the page, and provide some of my favorite reading in the novel. I’m anxious for the next installment.

#careerofevil, @RGalbraith, @mulhollandbooks


Monday
Apr252016

My Healthy Dish by My Nguyen

Autor My Nguyen follows the now-common path of finding satisfaction preparing interesting, healthy meals at home and sharing via social media (Instagram, in her case), creating an accompanying website, and doing such a good job she ends up with more than a million followers! Damn, I’d give her a book contract too.

My Healthy Dish concentrates on the realities of preparing quality meals for a family, within the time constraints of children and a busy life. To this end, Nguyen offers useful, effective tips for food prep, some of which I found terribly helpful.

My favorite chapter covers Slow Cooking. In this book, it's the most pertinent to my life. Slow Cooker Chicken Sausage Jambalaya is remarkable, and simple to assemble and walk away from. 

As My says in her introduction to the chapter, “I’m surprised more are not doing it already." I've been on the slow cooker path for a long time and consider my crock pot an essential kitchen tool. 

Dig into My Healthy Dish and help yourself make meal preparation and planning a bit simpler and easier for yourself.

@MyHealthyDish, www.myhealthydish.com, @skyhorsepub

Monday
Apr252016

Back Blast by Mark Greaney

Back Blast is a damn enjoyable thriller. I was unfamiliar with Mark Greaney’s work, but reading Lee Child’s endorsement smack on the front cover, I knew I was going to dig into Back Blast and see just who this Gray Man was and what was going on here.

Far more than a tech-politics-oriented thriller, and turning out to be so much more than I expected from a writer subbing for the great Tom Clancy, Court Gentry as an ex-CIA operative in Back Blast is well developed and fascinating. I cared about him, his story and his mission. Gentry is complex, his past constantly catching up, but when he desperately needs to know why the Agency is trying to kill him, rather than run away he moves directly towards trouble. I found myself liking the guy, and feeling like I understood his thought processes, sharing his emotions. Gentry's relentless attitude, and the "who is this guy?" remarks from those he's pointing towards are rewarding.

Back Blast is so good, I’ve made it my mission to find Greaney’s earlier Gray Man novels and read 'em. That’s success in my world.

@MarkGreaneyBook, #backblast, @BerkleyNAL