Finding Gideon

img_3611Eric Jerome Dickey is back with his newest release Finding Gideon, which came out on April 18th, published by Dutton.  I’m sure if you’re a fan of  Eric Jerome Dickey’s Gideon series you’ll be happy about this new release focusing on Gideon.  Having not read any of the Gideon series I was afraid that I would be a little lost trying to follow the story of Finding Gideon.  However, the publisher assured me that it wasn’t necessary to have read the other books in the series to be able to get into this book and said that it wasn’t a sequel.  I can confirm that this is true.  It wasn’t hard to follow the story, even though there are some references made to previous books.  In essence, Finding Gideon focuses on Gideon’s archenemy Medianoche (Midnight) who has targeted Gideon and wants him dead at all costs.  “Sam I am. Green eggs and ham.” Gideon is a smooth talking, ruthless, and sexy hitman who won’t stop until his job is done.  Remorseless and formidable, he still has some scruples.

The book contains all the right amounts of action and sex to keep the reader interested.  Nevertheless, the first 70-80 pages of the book are the least interesting to read .  The pacing is a bit slow and some readers may be convinced to quit.  I suggest hanging in there to really see what this story is about.  It’s best to read the book in very few sittings. That will help to keep your interest.  More interesting aspects are all the different cities that Finding Gideon takes us to – London, Buenos Aires, Miami, and Antigua.   That’s when the story gets better.  He even manages to wedge in a mention of Lake Char­gogg­a­gogg­man­chaugg­a­gogg­chau­bun­a­gung­a­maugg, located in Webster, Massachusetts.  It’s the longest place-name in the United States.

Spanish is also a big part of the novel, so be prepared to accept the Spanish even when you don’t understand it or look it up on a translating site if you must know what everything means.  I just let it fly and tried to use my instincts.  I also enjoyed the dialogue which made me crack up sometimes.  “Foxy Brown and Hercules wore identical suits; both wore paisley ties, green the dominant color.  They looked like Gladys Knight and a Pip who would never Pip again.” (Finding Gideon, p. 241) Eric Jerome Dickey has a way with writing women characters.  Loved Hawks! She’s a badass with a smart mouth.  She’s very intelligent and isn’t prepared to be used by anyone, Gideon included.  Some of the best dialogues are between Hawks and Gideon.  He doesn’t hold anything back.  Gideon could be considered fairly stereotypical in his actions and reactions but in spite of that he makes the reader want to root for him.  In any case, Gideon is searching for answers and trying to find out who he really is and what is true about his past.

The thing I hated most about this book was the ending and a scene which is literally repeated and doesn’t give any extra useful information. Wow!  Unfortunately, the reader is left hanging clear off the cliff by a shoestring because there are many questions left unanswered and that is unfortunate; especially since these questions are alluded to during 50% of the book.  I was expecting something to be answered by the end.  I suspect that means that there will surely be another Gideon book on the way.  I feel slightly manipulated by that.

So would I recommend finding Gideon? Yes if you’re looking for an easy to read thriller which contains some violence and erotica.  If this isn’t the kind of genre you usually read I’d say give it a miss.

My copy:  Finding Gideon, 367 pages

Big thanks to Dutton for providing me with this beautiful hardcover in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:  3 stars

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The Blackbirds

The Blackbirds is the latest release from Eric Jerome Dickey, known for writing contemporary novels about African-American life.  Naughtier than Nice, the sequel to Naughty or Nice and One Night, a standalone were the last two novels he published in 2015.  For me, It’s been a while since I’ve read anything from him so I sort of knew what I was going to be getting into with this one.  Exquisite cover, 400 plus pages, this is that “girlfriend book” that everybody has been anticipating this 2016.

img_2867Four best friends as close as sisters, Kwanzaa, Ericka, Destiny, and Indigo are all trying to find love and solutions to their personal quandaries.  The novel is plot driven like only Dickey knows how to do.  He has his writing formula down to a science.  It’s funny, zany, sexy, over the top, heartbreaking, and explanatory.  Dickey has found a way to balance what would be considered a typical urban erotica novel, while packing it with loads of social commentary.  He makes references to all sorts of incidents from police brutality to political to social media, etc.  The Blackbirds is brimful of urban expressions and millennial lingo, so if you’re not hip to the groove I suggest you read it with the urban dictionary open.

The themes seem to be typical of what Dickey writes – sexuality, homosexuality, male/female – mother/daughter – father/daughter relationships, cheating, female friendships, illness, etc.  It touches on just about everything. The thing that surprised me the most was the quantity of sex in the novel.  I knew it would contain sex but not to that extent.  Sex scenes took over the story in the second and third parts of the novel.  So if you have a problem with reading erotica, this won’t be the book for you.  Surprisingly, there is no mention on the stunning cover about the novel being erotica, but when you look on the inside flap it’s written at the top in red.  Now this has intrigued me because when books are written by white authors they always put some kind of trigger warning that it contains copious amounts of sex, etc.  So I’m wondering how is it that this novel has no mention of it on the front cover.  Could it be that Dutton thought that the way the book was going to be marketed that only black readers would be interested in it?  Or is it that Dutton assumed that black readers like reading about sex so no need to point out the obvious?  Or maybe it’s just that Dutton doesn’t think that white readers will go for this one anyway because essentially it will be in the black interests section in Barnes & Noble, so no need?

To exacerbate my previous questions, I saw a comment made in the review section of Goodreads where a white man said he was disappointed by The Blackbirds.  “He said he had to quit before he plucked out his eyes and that it was dreadful.  He then commented that he was obviously not the the target audience and moreover he thought Dickey’s talent would shine through. Alas!”  (Goodreads user)  I didn’t realize the reader had to be the target audience to enjoy a book.  That’s a new one for me.  Granted, Dickey’s book isn’t 5-star in my opinion, but it isn’t totally bad either.  If anything he’s guilty of, it is of sensationalizing his book with too much sex and trying to develop too many story lines at once; which I believe is always a trap when there are several main characters.  For instance, there are a few story lines which are thrown together quickly to end the book just over 500 pages.  Those story lines should have been treated with more care, but instead their development was bypassed for some juicy sex scenes, which made the last 200 pages feel rushed.

Nevertheless, The Blackbirds is a nice escape read that titillates, amuses,  makes you smile, makes the head shake, and the mind say Amen (at times). It’s loud, hysterical, ratchet, violent, sexy, etc.  It’s a story that reads quickly, plot developing as well as characters growing.  It’s definitely worth picking up if you want erotica with a bit more real storyline.  EL James could take a few pointers from Eric Jerome Dickey.  I’m just sayin’ y’all. 😉

My copy:  The Blackbirds – hardcover, 508 pages

Rating:  ***

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge – Day 14

Day 14 – A Book for Lovers:

Today is Valentine’s Day and the photo pic for the day is a book for lovers.  While rummaging through my shelves I realized that I don’t read lots of stories that contain a romantic/love connection and nor do I plan to read any from the looks of my enormous TBR pile; that is at least I don’t think so.  I decided to go with twoIMG_1418 of Eric Jerome Dickey’s novels:  Friends and Lovers (1997) and Between Lovers (2001).  I know a lot of people who are Eric Jerome Dickey lovers have at least one copy of something by him.  These two novels contain all the ingredients for guilty pleasure reading.  They are light, fast reads, funny, have a juicy love story along with all the typical tropes, and of course a bit of sex.

Now it’s been ages since I actually picked one of his books up.  Both of these two would be a great Valentine’s Day read and wouldn’t take up too much of your time to finish.  Some of you might be wondering who h is.  Well, Eric Jerome Dickey was supposed to start a career as a computer expert in an engineering company.  Soon after that he started acting and doing stand-up, which eventually led to the development of his writing.  Dickey is one of the most well-known and loved Urban fiction writers and has written a variety of novels, a screen play, and a comic.  For the moment,  I’m most interested in the Gideon series.  Haven’t had the time to start it yet.  So many other books have sped up the TBR and have become higher priority.  I promise to change that and finally dig into the Gideon series which was popular from 2007-2009. “It introduces a great new bad-boy narrator: a hit man who goes by the name of Gideon. He’s a man who lives off the grid, drifting along while making love on the run as he works as a hit man—enacting the revenge of the broken-hearted . . . for a price.”(Goodreads novel description)  I’m a little late to that game but I’m still going to try it out.  More on Eric Jerome Dickey click his name.  If you’ve read the Gideon series tell me what you thought.  What would you suggest as a book for lovers?

May-June 2014 Reviews of Graphic Novels

Reading graphic novels is such a pleasurable experience and can be an excellent way to convey simple to complex ideas.  Many avid readers have a tendency to ignore graphic novels for they are perceived as maybe too simple and not profound enough.  Reading them is surely very different from reading books, but it’s all a welcome challenge and can even pull readers out of deep reading slumps.

In May and June I read quite a bit but only 3 graphic novels.  The first on the list was Storm.  You guys must know who Storm is. She the black superhero featured in the Marvel comics’ Ex-Men.  With her white long tresses and blue IMG_0373eyes, we find out the life of Storm as a young twelve-year-old trying to survive with a group of young people stealing in the streets, somewhere on the plains of Africa.  They are being led by an adult master thief, Storm calls Teacher.  Storm is already aware of some of her powers but not all of her capacity.  She is learning slowly but surely about who she really is and what she is capable of.

The story was written by bestselling author Eric Jerome Dickey.  He’s an African-American author who is known for having written contemporary fiction novels with relationship themes containing African-American characters.  Some of his popular novels are Milk in My Coffee, Sister, Sister, Between Lovers, and the four-part Gideon series(detective series).  I felt that Dickey was an interesting choice to breathe some life into this neglected superhero.

The comic was beautifully published and the story was interesting, however some explanations aren’t fully clarified.  Nevertheless, the comic did its duty which was to help me escape and provide me with a light read.  The artwork is detailed and colourful, while the artistic depiction of Storm as a twelve-year-old left me perplexed.  She looked to be 20+ years old.  I don’t know why, but comics are usually drawn by men who enjoy all their women in comics depicted with overtly shaped bodily features (even if they are supposed to only be 12).  Even though, check it out.  Storm is such a wonderful character that deserves to have her own X-Men film. Hint! Hint! For anyone out there that could actually make that happen.  Please do.

My next adventure read had me travelling through space to a futuristic world in the popular growing comic Saga vol. 3.  Hesitant to jump on IMG_0282this bandwagon at the beginning of this year, I decided to give it a try.  The first volume introduces the reader to Marko and Alana. These 2 fantastic characters are described as the Romeo and Juliette of space.  Although I feel that analogy is a simple version of a well put together graphic novel that combines societal commentary, science-fiction, creative uncanny characters, and high quality artwork.

The story is being recounted by Hazel the daughter of Alana and Marko.  So, we know that in the end she will survive all the trials and tribulations of her parents, who are having a relationship that is forbidden and trying to escape from all the people who want them dead.  Alana is from the Continent and Marko is from the Crown.  In this real futuristic world they aren’t meant to be together.  Hazel is a product of their love (a miracle she’s survived) and they spend each volume trying to protect her and to give her a good life.  On their journey they encounter many strangely unique looking characters that give the story sentience.  Through each episode we get closer to understanding the worlds of Marko and Alana and why their people are warring and have been for aeons.  We root for them to finally find peace and happiness in this tragically war ridden world.  Their adventures are what keeps the reader wanting more.

Volume three opened up so many new angles to the story that when it was over I would have liked volume 4 to already be by my side ready to devour.  The artwork is done by Fiona  Staples and the story is written by Brian K. Vaughan – the Dynamic Duo if you will!  Definitely a series to pick up if you’re not squeamish about sex in comics and stories that take place in far off futuristic worlds.

The last but absolutely not the least of the graphic novels/comics I read in May and June 2014, was Chroniques de Jérusalem (Chronicles of Jerusalem in English) by Guy Delisle.  This is a non-fiction graphic novel about Delisle’s stay in Jerusalem with his wife and children.  While his Médecins Sans Frontières= Doctors IMG_0156without Borders wife performs her medical duties in Gaza and other citiess in Israel, Delisle discovers the complexities and idiosyncrasies of this vibrant, in constant movement country Israel.  Delisle tries to record events and places through travel and meeting people, but soon realises that things are never as simple as they should be.  He conveys to the reader the good, the bad and the ugly of Israel and he does it with a certain sense of humour that keeps the reader wanting more.  I could have read this graphic novel in one day but it was so interesting and informative that I found myself reading slower to savour the moment.  I visited Israel for about a week 16 years ago and there were stories that brought back memories for me. I also learned a lot about the culture that I didn’t know and hadn’t heard of before.

Delisle’s black and white simple style of drawing puts the accent on what he’s trying to say, but is pleasing to the eye.  His artwork isn’t dark and gloomy like a lot of black and white comics.  He’s managed to capture the essentials of the story harmoniously in 333 pages.  This is a must read for everyone, especially those that don’t know much about the Middle East conflict.  Check out this five-star winner of the best graphic novel in the Angloulême, France competition in 2012.

So what about you? Are you lovers of graphic novels, comics, or manga? Let’s chat below on why you are or aren’t.  I definitely prefer graphic novels to comics, but hate manga. Shhh! Don’t let my daughters hear me saying that.