Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

12698350From Goodreads: San Francisco detective Ed Sampas is sitting in his office when Thelonius Noble enters and says he wants to hire Sampas to recover a stolen item. It’s a black statue of a bird, about a foot high, made of lead. “Sounds like the Maltese falcon,” Sampas jokes. “It is,” Noble responds. Turns out, Noble owns the statue from the 1941 film, and it’s worth a million dollars.

Reel Life Crime mirrors the plot of Dashiell Hammett’s novel and John Huston’s film, while being an original mystery in its own right, a tongue-in-cheek hard-boiled detective story, an affectionate tribute to the noir genre, and a commentary on how much movies impact our culture and our everyday lives.


This novel is very dialogue driven, sort of like a play or a movie script, which was very different for me as a reader.  I’m used to vast descriptors in my novels, but a dialogue driven novel is actually quite refreshing.  Unfortunately, on the whole, the novel itself just wasn’t for me for a number of reasons.  I, personally, had a hard time connecting to any of the characters, and I wonder if perhaps I needed to see the movie or be familiar with the story of the Maltese falcon to really “get it,” but I don’t think that’s entirely it. I’m not really a fan of wise-cracking characters, and AJ and Kermit grated my nerves with their “stoner” type attitude and nonchalance, which I found to be present in a majority of the characters, not just these two.  The characters themselves made it difficult for me to focus on the underlying detective story because I found them a tab bit annoying with all their pauses, tangents, and “likes,” and their inability to tell the story straight was jarring, if that makes any kind of sense.

I’ve also noticed over time that I’m just not a “funny” person, and many tongue-in-cheek and dry sense of humors are beyond me, even though I really try to “get” it.  My cognitive thought process just doesn’t wire that way, and it’s no fault of the author’s at all—it’s just a personal thing, I supposed.  I also had a small issue with the constant underlining as opposed to italics used in the dialogue, but that’s, again, a personal preference and has no barring on the story. Truthfully, I think this novel has a good premise and that many people will enjoy it, especially if they’re into old movies, detective stories, flighty characters, and tongue-in-cheek humor (my brother would probably really enjoy it, actually…).  It just wasn’t for me.  Two stars.

2 stars

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

12185711From Goodreads: When former baseball phenom Enzo Prinziatta is recruited into a powerful, shady-business fraternity, he thinks he’s found the solution to all of his campus-life problems.

But when he discovers the truth behind the frat’s prosperity, can he untangle himself from it before it’s too late for him to resurrect his career?


This novel has an interesting concept centering around Enzo Prinziatta and Barry Budiski, two college students that cross paths when Enzo falls for Barry’s girlfriend at a Halloween party.  Swept up in lust as he chases Jenny, Enzo stumbles upon the death of a stripper in the fraternity house, unleashing a set of events that put Enzo and Barry into close contact throughout the rest of the novel.  Readers feel the tension between the two males from the very first violent outbreak, and the tension remains high throughout the novel as it unfolds, crossing back and forth between the narration of Enzo and Barry, which gives readers a direct link to each as the plot thickens.  I love this narration style as it generally allows me to connect even more with the characters, however, in this instance it had the opposite effect for me.  The more I learned about the inner workings of the characters’ minds, the less I liked them—though no fault of the authors.  Enzo seems extremely immature, constantly drinking, fighting, and trying to score with Barry’s girlfriend, and I just wasn’t impressed or attracted to him at all.  From the sounds of his character descriptions, it seems he has a rather large beer belly, as well, and since he’s the star baseball player, well, that was difficult for me to envision, and his sloppy attitude didn’t endear him to my heart any further.

Barry was exceptionally sinister, and his arrogance and flippant nature was an instant turn-off for me from the beginning, but I feel like this was more or less intended.  While the pressure from Barry’s father helped shed light on his antics and lies, I never did feel sorry for him or even begin to like his character; he too seemed immature and sloppy to me, just as Enzo did, which made for a tricky read as disliking the two main characters doesn’t bode well for a novel I’m reading.  However, the writing was extremely well done, and the story carried through quite nicely from start to finish.  And though it’s slated as a sports novel, it’s really much more than that, with relatively little baseball, which was great for me because I really don’t care for sports all that much.  Honestly, I think many readers might find the events in this novel quite comical and enjoyable should they not mind the main characters’ immaturity.  I, personally, can only give it two stars, though.

2 stars

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

15810336From Goodreads:

A girl.
A coma.
A life she can’t remember.

When Emma Walker wakes up in the hospital with no knowledge of how she got there, she learns that she’s been in a coma for six months. Strangers show up and claim to be her parents, but she can’t remember them. She can’t remember anyone. Not her friends, not even her boyfriend. Even though she can’t remember, everyone wants her to just pick up where she left off, but what she learns about the ‘old her’ makes her start to wish she’d never woken up. Her boyfriend breaks up with the new girl he’s dating to be with her, her parents want her to start planning for college, her friends want their leader back, and her physical therapist with the hazel eyes keeps his distance to save his position at the hospital.

Will she ever feel like she recognizes the girl in the mirror?


I really liked the concept of this novel, as well as the two main characters. However, the typos–missing words really, like “the,” “a,” “an,” etc.–in sentences was a little difficult to ignore as it was fairly constant from start to finish and I found it to be quite jarring. At first, I thought it was intentional, like the characters were leaving out words when they spoke, sort of like my students do when they try to talk “hip,” but then I realized that it was happening with too many characters and was, therefore, an editing error.

The timing was off for some of the events, as well, which isn’t a glaring problem, but noticeable. For instance, If Emma’s just learned to walk again, how can she be running with the cheer team just two days after being winded from walking up the stairs in her home for the first time since her release? Or, if her first day of school is a Friday, then how come she goes to school the next two consecutive days, as well? Again, these are just small errors I noticed, but it was enough for me to notice, alongside the typos, which made the read less enjoyable for me overall.  A good editing and release of another edition should easily fix all these issues, though.

The novel storyline, on the other hand, was great. I had many suspicions throughout the tale concerning who was at fault for Emma’s accident, and I loved how Crane worked in the drastic change to Emma’s character because there is an explanation for her extreme change before and after the accident.  You just have to wait a while for it.  Three stars.

3 stars

I purchased this novel from Amazon.

et cetera
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