Vote now!…new and improved

January 31, 2010

Sorry for the small size but this is what I have to work with….

Which photo should be used for "The Cigar Maker?" Left or Right?

Which photo should appear on the back of The Cigar Maker?

January 30, 2010

****New improved pictures will be up later****

#1 just a normal guy

#2 your stereotypical cheesy author photo

Good news for Amazon…but good news for authors?

January 29, 2010

It looks like the answer is yes, as long as your book is on Kindle. Amazon’s fourth-quarter earnings skyrocketed 71 percent and it does not expect the growth to slow. Full article here. Keeping in mind that Amazon sells more than just books – much, much more than just books – this quote caught my attention:

[Amazon] is selling six Kindle books for every 10 physical copies for the titles available in both formats. Amazon had previously said it reached a Kindle milestone on Christmas Day, when it sold more copies of e-books than physical copies for the first time.

What does that mean for you? It means you need to make your title is available on Kindle if it isn’t already.

Over 1,000 visits this month

January 28, 2010

A thank you to everyone who has visited The Boogle, even the people who found their way here while Googling “women and money” and “patrick swayze roadhouse” and other weird search phrases.  A couple days ago we logged our 1,000th visit this month, the most ever, and there are still 4 days left in January. Check out how The Boogle has grown in popularity over the past few months…A big thank you to all of you!

Click for a larger image…

Baseball is America: A Child of Baseball

January 26, 2010

Victor Alexander Baltov Jr.

AuthorHouse, 2009

516 pages, Non-fiction/History/Politics

1 1/2 out of 5 stars

I love baseball. Have loved it my whole life. I was there when Kent Hrbek hit a grand slam in the 6th game of the 1987 World Series and I bit my nails all the way through the exciting 2009 post-season, which was preceded by an incredible one-game playoff between the Twins and the Tigers, forever dubbed in my home town by a simplistic and poetic moniker: Game 163. I also have a passion for political dialogue and love nothing more than an intelligent debate about elections, tracking polls and policy. I jumped at the opportunity to review a book by Victor Baltov that combined the two worlds and explained how one was the other. Baseball is America sounded like the perfect way to warm up for spring training.

I have not been this disappointed since Joe Nathan surrendered a ninth inning home run to Alex Rodriguez in Game 2 of the 2009 ALDS.

What could have been a provoking expose on the disappointment of baseball’s steroid era and its connection to America’s political landscape is instead nothing but a bitter, rambling journal overflowing with sarcastic and often mean-spirited hostility. It seems the author is trying to be funny and irreverent while showing off his intimate knowledge of baseball but it becomes a self-gratifying exercise. As if he’s writing in a diary, not to educate but to feed his own ego. This book is for people who are both die-hard baseball fans and far-right ideologues. If you meet both requirements then this book is filled with home runs but Baltov’s audience is limited to people who are exactly like him. Why do we need almost 500 pages? He could have done all this with a blog, which is probably a better option for material of this type.

His chief hypothesis, that a liberal, secular culture is responsible for introducing, sustaining and celebrating the use of steroids in baseball is never supported with any facts or data, and the connections he draws between liberalism and baseball’s steroid era are tenuous at best. His argument is more wishful thinking than scientific theory.

Writes Baltov on the steroid era: “The over-medicated, gadget addicted, sensory-deprived American fan base, indoctrinated into political correctness, metaphorically void of pitch recognition and unable to identify the curveball or change-up, is apathetic to the entire fix and continues to celebrate a crime that is immoral.” Hey baseball fans – this is you he’s talking about!

Where does he get off insinuating that baseball fans are not completely outraged at the steroid era? Head over to the fan forums at and see if you can find a single person who applauds the use of steroids. You can’t find them. Everyone agrees that steroids nearly ruined baseball. This is not a political issue any more than the use of cocaine in the workplace, or domestic violence, or drunk driving. We all agree that these things are wrong.

The structure is poorly organized and nothing seems to follow what came before it. The thoughts are not presented in any coherent fashion, it’s just non-stop raving. Here’s an example. After a prolonged exposition on the flaws of Communist Russia, he says this: “Rasputin, the Mad Monk or Black Monk, who was thought to have special healing powers, especially with respect to the tsar’s son, who was suffering from hemophilia, was really just another pervert trying to live the ‘seventy-two virgin’ life he imagined without the encumbrance of a suicide bombing act.”

What does this have to do with baseball or America??!! I found myself asking this question throughout the book.

When he moves away from ranting about Russia and sticks to baseball the book becomes more personal, except that he constantly insults baseball fans, and as a result, his readers. He refers to the current generation of baseball fans as “a generation of secular, unprincipled addicts packaged under a politically correct feel-good label of being a ‘forgiving people.’” For a man who repeatedly flaunts his devotion to God, one wonders what problem he has with a nation of forgiving people?

For some reason, he talks about Orthodox Christianity and says 1917 was the year that it was “out with the old and in with the new for the most Orthodox Christian country in the world after the fall of the Holy Roman Empire at Constantinople in AD 1453.” The Holy Roman Empire was a country? And how holy were they, really? On the very same page he accuses Senator Al Franken of Minnesota of committing voter fraud but gives no evidence. None.

He constantly refers to Barack Obama as the Black Lenin who is degrading the red, white and blue of America. Fair, but back it up with some examples please. Help us connect the dots, otherwise you come off as a nothing more than a narrow-minded ideologue. Taking swipes at the left every chance he gets, he often invents those chances from thin air, causing the book to read like a rant at times, like a diary or memoir at others. This book has plenty of red meat for conservatives, and not much for anyone else.

He even goes so far as to trash the Boy Scouts and compare them to a pro-Communist youth organization while touting their godlessness, when every Boy Scout states during the Boy Scout Oath that they will “do my duty to God and my country.” I was a Boy Scout. I went to scout camp many times. We prayed before every single meal.

Seeing the world through the lens of baseball the author weaves baseball jargon into everyday life, equating elementary school grades to innings (4th grade = the 4th inning), sins to errors, good deeds to hits, the crucifixion of Christ to a sacrifice bunt, and death to the post season.  But he takes off on wild, undisciplined tangents hopping from his uncle to Joseph Stalin to the Iliad to the Dead Sea scrolls, all in the same paragraph, never tying any of it together. The tone settles during the second half but that becomes nothing but a very detailed and very wordy account of his amateur baseball career – nearly every game of it – and contains the consistent theme that Baltov could have been one of America’s greatest athletes, if not for our country’s secular, liberal sports culture.

This book about baseball reminds me not of The Unforgettable Season but of a book by the former German chancellor : a disorganized collection of incoherent ideological rambling with plenty of typos (since you asked, on p. 3 & p.14, just to name two). At times Baltov’s opinionated and staunchly-political ravings are just too intense. He even compares Soviets troops surrendering to Nazis in World War II to Americans voting for Barack Obama.

One thing that will really bug a lot of people, no matter your political stripes: the author almost refuses to name pro baseball players by their real names, relying almost completely on nicknames. You can mention that Ty Cobb was the Georgia Peach and then refer to him as the Georgia Peach for the rest of the story but the author does not do this. Instead we have a hodgepodge of nicknames like Hammerin’ Hank, Bucketfoot Al, Goose, and Black Mike that would have sent me online to look them up if only there weren’t so many of them. I stopped caring pretty quickly. When he rattles off four or five nicknames in one sentence without any context he’s either showing off or assuming incorrectly that his audience knows who these people are. It gets old. Fast. Take this: “The hometown Reds were a hitting machine on the Senior Circuit, leading the league in six offense categories led by Susan Derringer’s future Hall of Fame grandfather, 48-Ounce Edd.” Does he expect you to know who these people are? When we don’t know who he’s talking about we don’t know what he’s talking about.

For a guy who openly deplores the secular, liberal powerbase of American pop culture (read: Hollywood) he sure does consume a lot of their product. He constantly trashes the liberal media and the destructive culture of Hollywood yet he frequently drops enduring movie references that show he has appreciated, even cherished, his time spent before the screen. It’s an absurd duality. Baltov shows a clear love for a medium he abhors. It’s like watching a chocolate addict bemoan the evils The Hershey Company while watching him buy a case of Milk Duds with a handful of dollars bills glazed with chocolate fingerprints.

The book contains an almost fatal flaw: there are blank pages with missing text. How could a colossal error like this ever get though?? We’re not talking about one missing page, which would be colossal in itself, but several blank pages. Chapter 12 ends in mid-sentence on p.187 with p. 188 left completely blank. The next two pages have photographs followed by a pair of blank pages. The missing text never appears. This continues into Chapter 13 which starts on p. 193 but ps. 194, 195, 197, 200, 201, 203, 206, 207 and 209 are completely blank. The pages filling the gaps contain text, but only in portions, leaving an incoherent Swiss cheese chapter. This holey practice continues into Chapter 14 but there is no need to break it down. You get the idea.

I hope this book is sent back to the printer before it hits the mass market because this crucial error destroys all credibility. I love a controversial book, and Baseball is America is certainly controversial but errors this monumental cannot be excused. This cost the author to be penalized an entire “star.”

If you want a great book about baseball and American history you probably can’t do much better than Cait Murphy’s Crazy ’08, an amazing history of the 1908 baseball season. Yogi Berra said “It ain’t over till it’s over” and in the case of Baseball is America, I couldn’t wait until the final out of the ninth inning.

Strengths: a very strong point of view that never backs down, and an informed sense of baseball history

Opportunities: way too long, rambling, contains several major formatting errors

Will alienate:  just about every baseball fan, anyone who does not regularly attend Sunday Mass in a Catholic church, and anyone who has ever voted for a Democrat, especially Obama

Baseball is America: A Child of Baseball is available on amazon.

Reviewed by Mark McGinty, January 2010

Look at who else is on Facebook…

January 26, 2010


Yeah, he did…

The Last Days Of The Lacuna Cabal

January 25, 2010

Sean Dixon

Other Press, 2009

304 pages, Fiction

4 out of 5 stars

The Last Days of the Lacuna Cabal by Canadian author Sean Dixon is often a fun, irreverent, quirky, and wonderful stream-of-consciousness novel that lends itself to readers who like to invest themselves deeply into a story full of amusing—and often annoying—characters and their unusual, high-concept exploits. Other times, it holds on and won’t let go—even if you’d like it to.

Dixon’s novel, in the simplest terms—if that is at all possible!—is the story of a group of women (and a few men) who belong to the Lacuna Cabal Montreal Women’s Book Club. Their book club is no ordinary book club in that they choose to re-enact the books they read. Narrated in third person by two former members of the book club, we join the club as they begin, somewhat reluctantly, to read and live out the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest known pieces of literature in history. Yet one of their members, Runner Coghill, convinces the club to work from ancient clay tablets rather than a modern translation. This creates interesting challenges for the group as they question the authenticity of Runner’s interpretation of the text and the ultimate purpose of the club’s existence. The club begins to fall apart for various reasons, including the death of a very influential member, but the Epic re-enactment continues with strange results.

Dixon does a nice job of creating and displaying his characters for the reader: all hopelessly flawed but not beyond repair—definitely human, quirky and, yet sadly, not very sympathetic or likeable most of the time. In some ways, it felt that a few of the characters seemed so similar they were difficult to keep straight at times. That could be the reason Dixon introduced his characters at the beginning of the book with their names in boldface type as a way to quickly reference each character later (“…the reader can flip back and refer to them from time to time”).

Often I find myself melancholy as books end because I’ve just begun to find the characters engrossing and engaging (i.e., I develop a love for them?), but I can’t say that about Dixon’s characters or story. That’s not necessarily wrong. Dixon may have desired to leave you feeling that way. If so, he succeeded.

While Dixon paints his characters with various colors, they all seemed to have oddly the same…sameness. Like picking out colors for your master bedroom from Disney paint samples: no matter how many colors there are to choose from, it all comes down to pink, and that’s just wrong, isn’t it? Unfortunately, my favorite character died halfway through the book and left me with sympathizing with the robot (Yes, a robot. Didn’t I mention the robot?).

Overall, the book is an expressive bit of narrative, but there were many times I couldn’t help but say, “Can this book please end now,” only to be confronted with a remaining 200, 100, or 50 pages left to read. At times, Dixon swept me along with his tale but other times it would drag along waiting for the action or even the dialog to get more interesting.

Dixon is an incredibly talented writer whose imagination takes the reader to places few authors can or wish to travel. My mistake was to judge the book too early on and this only serves to hinder the reader of this “damaged masterpiece” to borrow the author’s own words.

Read it, but it may be an acquired taste.

The Last Days of the Lacuna Cabal is available on amazon . You can check out the author’s blog here.

Reviewed by David Stucki, January 2010.

The Cigar Maker – Official Release Date

January 18, 2010

Mark McGinty’s second novel The Cigar Maker will be released nationwide June 1, 2010 by Seventh Avenue Productions.

The 466 page historical epic tells the story of Salvador Ortiz, a Cuban cigar maker who battles labor strife and vendetta in Ybor City, Florida in the early 1900’s. Read more about the book:

The Cigar City. The year is 1898. Young Cuban rebel Salvador Ortiz and his family have escaped the hardship of war-torn Cuba, but the union halls, cigar factories, and dark alleys of Tampa are filled with violence and vendetta. Salvador must defy constant labor strife and deadly corruption in a one-industry town filled with backroom cockfights, street thugs, late-night abductions and mass production of the world’s best hand-rolled stogies. An ideological battle for control of the cigar industry tests Salvador’s self-respect and love of hard work as he fights to abandon his rambunctious, outlaw past and lead his proud Cuban family through a colorful immigrant society. His wish for a peaceful life as a husband, a father, and a man of dignity is threatened by a lawless underworld and a cultural conflict with a dangerous, bloody history.

Dianne Salerni, author of We Hear the Dead, has saidFrom the mountains of 19th century Cuba, where bandits and revolutionaries fought to overthrow Spanish dominance, to the floor of the cigar factories in Ybor City, Florida, where labor leaders sought to defend Cuban workers from exploitation by Spanish business owners, The Cigar Maker delivers a riveting, little-known chapter in the history of Latino-Americans in the US southeast.

“Salvador Ortiz, a young man orphaned by violence in his homeland of Cuba, joins a group of bandits as a ‘torch and machete’ man, terrorizing a Spanish plantation owner by kidnapping his daughter, but grows into a husband, a father, a community leader, and a man of honor and dignity in this novel of labor movements and corruption in turn-of-the-century Florida.”

The book’s cover will be released in February. You can preview The Cigar Maker here, where the first three chapters are available. The interior maps will also be released in the coming months along with the official website.

To request a review or schedule an interview, please contact Mark McGinty at

Specs below the fold… Read the rest of this entry »

Awesome search terms used to find The Boogle

January 14, 2010

All you bloggers out there know there’s a feature that shows the search phrases people have used to find your blog. One of the most common search phrases is probably the name of the blog, in this case “boogle.”

But everyday there are those weird phrases that people have typed into Google, or Yahoo, or whatever search engine they use. Weird because 1) the phrase is just weird and 2) the weird phrase somehow brought the web-surfer to this specific site.  So here is a list of search phrases that have caused people to end up here at The Boogle.

patrick swayze roadhouse – I get more of these than you would think. At least 5 per week and usually once a day. Other renditions of this include Dalton roadhouse or just roadhouse. Probably has something to do with my Tribute to the Swayz post from way back when.

little emo in slumbaland – Of course. No surprise there….wtf?

underground bunkers for 2012 in +Midwest – Makes complete sense given this frightening state of affairs. I wonder if they found any???

melissa gilbert plastic surgery – Yep. Another popular subject of discussion on this book review blog.

suze orman women and money – This one actually does makes sense since as it is in fact the author and title of a book. I also get a lot of hits for women and money and just suze orman. I mentioned her book once, in an old post from awhile back about book covers.

smiling biden – Check out the book cover link up above and you’ll see smiling Biden himself.

elvis in space – Well I did write a book about this.

funny pictures of dr. phil holding sign – Curious to know the other results of this web search and what this person did when they found what they were looking for.  

take me on a journey i can’t resist! – I wish I could, baby! Sorry you ended up here.

fotografias de stephen hawking – Since I  post so many Spanish articles about Stephen Hawking.

POETRY! Handle With Care: a book of poems and something sort of like art

January 13, 2010

Chazda Albright

Lulu, 2008

125 pages, Poetry

4 out of 5 stars

Poetry is hard to write. I quit trying 15 years ago. It’s just as hard to review. I always think I’m missing something, that I’m not appreciating the aesthetics or reading it in the right cadence or rhythm. Once I got into Chadza Albright’s POETRY! Handle With Care: a book of poems and something sort of like art  I realized that this would not be a problem. While I’m not such a fan of artistic prose I did enjoy Albright’s witty and whimsical observations of the world around her. The sarcastic “advice” was filled with funny little nuggets like these:

“When you read, don’t

walk. It annoys people.”


“Do not hit your doctor.”

This stuff makes me laugh. Exploring themes of love, sexuality, body image and dreams, Albright delivers a very honest and personal – and sometimes very funny – collection of lifelong poetry. From her experiences riding the bus, to her thoughts while waiting to be interviewed, we can imagine Albright with a notepad on her knee, head down, furiously scribbling phrases that just came to her, hoping to get them onto the page before the bus reaches her stop or she’s called in to be interviewed.  They’re personal and they’re real and usually pretty good. Check out “Unpoem (bad poem)”…

“I never want to be

A good poet…

Poets are sullen and


She goes on to describe the dark, turtlenecked poet stereotype and how she’d rather wear comfortable T-shirts and feel the wind in her hair. Most of these poems contain a strong sense of feminism, and Albright even gives advise to her fellow feminists:

“Do not be bitter

or cynical

or vile.

Do not have contempt.”

Now those are words that any guy can appreciate.

Each poem is separated by images drawn using Microsoft Word, thrown onto the page as spontaneous reactions to the poems they follow. This unique and resourceful type of artwork, this arrangement of arrows and thought clouds feels limited and downright corporate at first. But as the we move through the pages, the pictures get more interesting, more complicated. They resemble people instead of documents, they come from the heart instead of the toolbar. It’s good stuff and you can check it out, and see what else Chazda has to offer, right here.

You can purchase POETRY! Handle with care here.

Visit Chazda’s site.

Reviewed by Mark McGinty, January 2010.