Thursday, July 21, 2011

Another One Falls

Well, in a time period of little less than a year, three of the six brick-and-mortar bookstores in the Raleigh area will have closed. Two are already gone, and the third closing is about to get underway. The recent announcement from Borders sealed the fate of the lone big-box competitor to Barnes & Noble in this area. Now we have three Barnes & Nobles to compete against one another.

I’ll be honest: I haven’t read many articles about the final nail in the Borders coffin. I’m not the least bit surprised by the news because I figured this would happen when they first announced their bankruptcy. If you went into a Borders after that initial bankruptcy announcement, you wouldn’t be surprised either. I was practically tackled by employees and forced to buy a Borders Rewards membership the one time I went to the remaining store in Raleigh. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not blaming the employees. If we have to blame someone, let’s blame the bobbleheads calling the shots who ran the company into the ground.

This isn’t a time to mourn the death of a large retailer that seemed more focused on selling trinkets and other useless items rather than staying at the forefront of the bookselling industry. Yes, I do have to hand it to Borders, at least they had a “Horror” section. But I still couldn’t find the books that I really wanted to read. Instead, I found shelves full of the same few titles. If we’re going to mourn, we should mourn for all those employees who are now thrust into unemployment in this difficult economic period.

As readers, let us instead be excited about the time we are currently in the midst of. We can be hopeful that small, independent bookstores will rise from the ashes left from the demise of the big boys. The e-reader “revolution” allows authors at least a chance to find an audience, where a bookselling industry dominated by the big retailers was gatekeeper of what was put in front of people. I, as a reader, am more excited about this time than any other before. Then again, maybe I’m just strange.

Monday, July 18, 2011


One of the joys of being a freelancer is having the opportunity to read books that I probably never would have otherwise. I try not to make it a habit to review books I’ve proofed or edited here on my blog, but recently I’ve read a number of well-written books by authors who are sharing them with the world for the first time. One such book is Deadly Straits by R.E. McDermott. When I read this book, I was impressed by the quality of writing and how smoothly the story flowed. When the author told me this was his first book, I was utterly amazed.

Rather than summarizing the book myself, here is the summary from the book’s Amazon page:

Consultant and very part-time spook Tom Dugan is a happy man until his CIA handler comes calling. With a hijacking investigation pointing to his long-time client and best friend, London ship owner Alex Kairouz, Dugan is guilty by association and forced to go under cover in Alex’s company to clear his own name.

In attempting to prove Alex’s innocence along with his own, Dugan manages to implicate them both more deeply, and when one of Alex’s tankers is found adrift near Singapore with a dead crew, and another explodes in port, Dugan is framed for the attacks.

When Alex is hospitalized, in critical condition after a suspicious suicide attempt, Dugan finds himself almost out of options. Convinced the attacks are prelude to an even more devastating assault, Dugan follows his last remaining lead to Russia, to be shanghaied as an ‘advisor’ to a Russian Spetsnaz unit and find himself sailing into Deadly Straits.

With his debut novel, McDermott sets the bar high—very high. This ambitious novel will keep you turning the pages to get to the thrilling conclusion. This is a truly impressive first book. I look forward to reading more from him. His writing is polished, and he manages to handle multiple plot lines that cover the world over. If you enjoy action-packed thrillers that make you feel like you’re actually participating in the action, make sure to read Deadly Straits.

Kindle:       Nook:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Am I Here?

The rumors of my demise have not been greatly exaggerated. Okay, okay, maybe demise is a bit too strong. Hibernation, withdrawal, disappearance . . . call it what you will. Bottom line, I haven’t been around much lately. And there’s a good reason. Really, there is. I promise.

I’m at a bit of a crossroads in my life right now. I’m transitioning from the world of “real” work to the world of self-employment. During this transition, I’ve been nonexistent online for the most part. I’ve been working fifty to sixty hours a week with my freelance business while still working at my “real” job. Needless to say, this hasn’t left me with time to do much else.

I’ll be honest: I don’t know how often I’ll add reviews to this blog. I worked hard to build it up, and I love to share my thoughts about the books I read. I’m appreciative that anyone would take the time to read what I have to say about a book. However, I’m simply not reading books for review right now. The last book I read for enjoyment was a couple of months ago, and I don’t foresee any reading for review in the near future.

But never fear. There are a bunch of great sites out there with talented folks reviewing dark fiction. Just a few of them off the top of my head are The Crow’s Caw, Dreadful Tales, The Man Eating Bookworm, and Little Miss Zombie. Make sure to check them out to get your fix for the dark and macabre.

Who knows, maybe once I fully transition to being self-employed I’ll have a little more free time and update this blog a little more regularly. In the meantime, while I’m chasing my dream and working to do something I love, I’ll sporadically post a review here.

So to answer the question asked in the title of this post, yes, I am here. I’m just lurking in the shadows.