Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cheers and Tears for America

*** This is not a review ***

Book: Cheers and Tears for America
Author: Uthers Say
Amazon Link:  http://www.amazon.com/Cheers-Tears-America-Broken-ebook/dp/B0093GEDM8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1350996509&sr=8-2&keywords=cheers+and+tears+for+america

I was sent this book to review, and though I disagree with many of its conclusions, and feel like there is a little one-sidedness to it all, it is still a well-written book and worthy of reading.

The book is a nice, unique take on American news and how we are (possibly) being brainwashed by Fox News. Part of my conspiracy-theory-driven-mind agrees with this, while the logical side does question a little bit, since the book doesn't always provide a lot of solid, peer-reviewed sources. And there is very little criticism of other news channels, e.g., CNN, which is available worldwide. Or even the arabic-language channels (because they aren't biased, are they?)

Now, I'm not going to give away much of what it discusses, since the beauty is in discovery. And, I must admit it was also a little "guilty" read, since I enjoy it at times when folks spout off and lambaste the right wing. But then my right brain takes over and I'm forced to admit that it's all pretty biased.

"Media is being swallowed up by a handful of multinational corporations." -- This is the scary part and it is true. It doesn't only apply to media, but to corporations as well. The world is shrinking, but so is power, and that is very frightening. Even the Internet is a target--it almost makes you wonder if what we are "allowed" to see is really all that is out there. There goes my conspiracy theory brain.

I would suggest you get this if you are interested in current events, politics, and alternatives to Fox News. Just keep in mind that it is a little one-sided. The writing is great and the author can spin a good tale.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The End of the Bizarro

After careful consideration and having done a great deal of research, I'm sad to say that I have to sign off on the bizarro reviews. I am currently working with a publisher on a bizarro book. Because of this, I feel that the ethics of reviewing other bizarro authors is slightly gray. Many authors review other authors' works, and that is fine, but I believe there is a stronger pressure to provide positive reviews in these cases. Or, the converse, perhaps a less-than-scrupulous author will try to sabotage another through poor reviews. Because of the tremendous amount of sock-puppets, saboteurs, and other dirty tricks out there, it really makes one gun shy.

I have given two star reviews, and a few threes. And as I said in my post, "The Shill Stops Here," (http://voltairereviews.blogspot.com/2012/06/shill-stops-here.html), I expected backlash from going down that path. But now that I'm in a different position, it's better to cut the cord completely than to try to walk a line that I'm not sure I can stay on.

There will be reviews here, but mainly of classics, some books in other genres (e.g., Endurance -- Shackleton's Incredible Journey), but I'm sorry to say that bizarro is out right now.
I will post a link to my book when it is released.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Hey all, check out Goodkindles


Listed as a blog on this site--great place for connecting readers and writers.

Included on the "Great Websites for Marketing & Connecting with Readers" list by Jeff Bennington from The Kindle Book Review.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Galactic Fat

Author: HC Turk
Description: In the near future, Robar Drill awakens from a chemical torpor to learn that he is not the average pizza boy he appears, but a former wino whose life has been commandeered by The Federal Government. During the years in which Robar's senses were nulled, The Government surgically transformed him into a metaman with enormous powers, the only person capable of saving Earth from an alien race bent on harvesting human cellulite.....
This one is a toughie. The book starts off in staccato form—very short, fast sentences. Usually this is verboten, but then Turk’s style levels out and the story begins.
But what it is about?
I guess that is bizarro. When the reader is not really sure what is going on, or what strange world we are going to be transported to.
The book does seem to ramble at times and drag through scenes. While I like the effective repetition of words and beginnings of phrases, there could be a lot of extra “stuff” cut out which would not hurt the overall flow of the story.
So, I went back and re-read this as I would most bizarro: In bits and pieces. By taking breaks from the story, I was able to enjoy it more and really get a good dose of the utterly twisted and perverse. And then it was back to Endurance.
Not everyone likes to read that way, and I’m not really suggesting it. What it gets down to is your stomach for this type of thing. People who love bizarro will enjoy this and have no issues, while others on the fence may struggle with it. Just hang in there and keep it going with other stuff, and I think you’ll come to the same conclusion... this is an excellent work of strange fiction.
Three stars because it’s really good, but it sometimes drags. Still, recommended.
I was given a copy of this for review.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Good? News

Author: Paul Anthony Zecos
Description: Just go get it here

I don't review religious stuff, and don't read much of it. But this was sent to me to review, so I gave it a shot. Boy, oh, boy.
One of the biggest issues with this book is the formatting. He uses yellow text from time to time, which I can't read very well on screen. Additionally, I really do not like how certain words are highlighted or colored differently. I prefer a nice, clean, stable format throughout. If you want people to take key pieces away form a block of text, there are better ways: Indentation, bullets, etc.
Now for the message itself. Or lack thereof. There are snippets of ideas, some key points at the beginning that can be valid, and a coherent thought here and there.
In the beginning, the author details how God is love, how God expresses and evokes love—and in so doing, he mentions philosophies from other major religions: "Some fail to understand that the ‘Truths’ of their religion such as forgiveness, courage, joy etc. come from love." It was nice to see other religions included and not discounted.
A few ideas could be challenged, but I then one gets into a philosophical argument, and a review really isn't a place for that. Just let me warn you: Setting up a commune or "land of God", won't work—we are humans after all, and invariably a leader will seize and consolidate power and soon you'll all be drinking Cool-Aid. Besides, sequestering oneself away from the "wicked world" does no good if you want to try to be an example to others; show them a higher moral standard. You can't change others, but you can live your life to a standard. Life is easier when you're not trying to force the world to bend to your will.
And there are some big-time rants in here, including almost the last 2/3rds of the whole thing. Font, color, highlighting changes were never-ending and the book look some strange pieced-together story created from magazine cutouts. I'm telling you, you can get your message across without all of this... there are good points in here, at times, but the ranting and raving really doesn't make your case. It was painful to look at, and too painful to read. Re-do this, cut out the raging brimstone, and offer some actionable items that we can use to live our lives.
If you don't read this book, there are two things I thought worthwhile:
* God is Love
* Don't let the media guide and drive you; listen to God, make time for Him.

I was given a copy of this book for review.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Earworm Inception

Author: Jon Konrath
“Listen to long conversation about last week’s UFO sightings, theories on Vincent Price. Robots. Fiber. Victory.”
-- Jon Konrath. The Earworm Inception (Kindle Location 82). Paragraph Line Books.
You had me at Vincent Price. OK, you had me at “Sleep Has No Master.” Yes!
Sleep Has No Master is awesome, but I actually belly-laughed at points during this book. The stories are punchy, quick and seriously bizarre. Amazing work. This is a short review because a lot of my points about Sleep are valid for this book.
The story “Nancy Grace....” is both funny and an indictment on our current high-fructose-corn-syrup-coated food supply, mindless movies and television, and our crappy world in general.
And of course, the theme of heavy metal pervades. King Diamond? Sheesh, haven’t listened to his stuff in years (still can’t stand the falsetto, but album covers are awesome).
One reviewer mentioned that Konrath was good at telling these stories with a straight face. That is indeed a great way of saying—it’s so darned serious and then POW. Bloody face. Love it. If you like funny, bizarre, bizarro, or even period baroque instruments, this collection is for you.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sleep Has No Master

hor: Jon Konrath
Description: “Can we tell the difference between our dreams and reality? In his latest collection of short stories and flash fiction, Jon Konrath dances between metafiction and nihilism in an absurdist world of geek culture where cancer is the latest fashion trend, books have been replaced in schools with episodes of Barney Miller, time travel is possible but annoying because of the commercials, and mutant krill/human hybrids perform special forces military operations in Iran. Each story either shows the narrator’s past in a land called Bighikistan, or peeks at his subconscious in a series of insomnia-influenced dreams and nightmares.”
Absolutely Insane
I think I have said at one point, “This is the strangest thing I have ever read,” and I keep saying it. Which is awesome. And this is awesome. A collection of stories that have a tiny sliver of a thread between them, but yet stand alone. If this type of thing was a complete novel, it would be very hard for me to follow along—honestly, one has to take a break from this type of thing frequently. It is very intense.
This collection is basically insane psychotic scripture, laced with prescription drugs, Colonel Sanders, and large quantities of heavy metal. In other words, it is perfect bizarro. While many of the stories have at least a modicum of what modern science would call a “plot,” others are completely random artifacts with no connection whatsoever to reality.
I loved it.
But hold on, beneath the total insanity is a scathing indictment of the real world. Microsoft may get the brunt of things, but there is still a theme of criticism against the institutions that have created an alternate version of reality; and, like the mindless drones we can be, many of us have been sucked into this world. Konrath reminds us that there is indeed a reality outside of Pixar, the Kardashians, and carbon-copy restaurants. It is a message that will sadly be missed by those who only purchase books and stories that are sanctioned by the aforementioned machinery, but will be appreciated by folks who tend not to take the world as presented to them by others—those of us who wish to create our own reality and our own experiences.
Within the insanity are such scathing attacks on the things that piss us off—such as getting conned at the oil change place. This has happened to me: I had recently had brand new tranny fluid put in, then popped by the quickie lube to get the oil changed, and guess what? They showed me “dirty” transmission fluid… probably not even from my car. Check out “Oil Change Introspection Therapy.” This kind of thing is enough for anyone to fall into a maddening, uncontrollable rage.
Even if you don’t like bizarro, get this anyway. Perhaps it will change your mind and offer you a new perspective in life.
4.3 stars.

What's in the Clouds?

[Image was protected... visit trentbdean.com to view]

Author: Trent B. Dean
Description: “The first of the Mr Twizzlepip series, What’s in the Clouds? is a fun, rhyming book suitable for children, ages 3 to 6. Join Mr Twizzlepip as he challenges his young readers to guess all the things that he can see in the clouds.
This book is a lot of fun to read out loud, especially when using a very posh English accent. Go on, I dare you ol’ chap.”
Review: This is the first children’s book I have reviewed. Having two boys, I have read to them a fair share of books, so I do have some experience. What’s in the Clouds is a great book to read to your young one, as soon as they are old enough to sit upright and pay attention for a few minutes. The pictures are bright, not too busy, the words large, and there is sufficient spacing.
There is a distinctly British appeal to this story, referenced of course in the blurb. I appreciate this different perspective and its ability to showcase a different way of phrasing to kids. It may be a turnoff for Americans, but I don’t think it is anything that detracts from the book. And the style still is in the vein of Eastman, with the short words and interchange between them; by repetition we can learn new words and phraseology.
This also drops a few points because of the first and last images of the man in the hat. When I look at it up close, the first image (with his small pupils dead-center in his eye) make him look a little scary and dangerous, as does the very last picture. Because of this, I’m not sure it would be the first book I would grab from the pile at book-reading time. Which is a shame because this is a really great book and kids will really enjoy it. It is a great way of encouraging children to look past the normal and the mundane, and expand their imaginations.

3.5 stars.
I was given a copy of this for review

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hym and Hur

Author: Phillip Frey
Description: “In this fantasy-comedy Hym and Hur are a young couple who never age and have been in love for more than a century.  They also possess an array of magical abilities, two of which are either to play pranks on humankind or to perform good deeds.  Enacting both at the same time is now what gets them into trouble, especially since it's the character of Death they must deal with to bring their plans to fruition.     The prank Hym and Hur have come up with must first be agreed upon by Death, who happens to be an unruly, difficult character.  Once agreed upon, the prank is set in motion.  But then Hym and Hur soon discover Death had tricked them into a contract with dire consequences for all of us.    During their attempt to break the contract, Hym and Hur try to save the relationship of an earthbound couple, knowing they are truly meant for each other.  A good deed that will bring Hym and Hur even more trouble.”
I like the concept for this story, though at times it felt a little choppy. The characters were fairly well-described, though I missed out on some action with Archie’s ability (not enough, that is). But I can understand that you don’t want to get into a derail and suddenly have this thing be about zombies. Like other reviewers, there was a sense of disconnectedness, and of not really getting into the characters. I realize it’s a delicate balance in a short story, but I still had that sensation.
Some of the criticisms of the editing have probably been taken seriously: I did not find too many errors (e.g., it’s now “wreaking havoc”, so that’s good). That is why Kindle is great—you can fix things very quickly. But, to that point, it did seem like it needs just a little more polish. Another little dab of Turtle wax.
I did not feel like the author was trying to push any type of agenda—he was merely pointing out the fact that we tend to kill each other a lot on this planet. Why blame the collector?
Death? I like him in this one. If you have read “On a Pale Horse” by Piers Anthony, you will understand when I say that this newest intern to the gruesome collector’s job is a bit of a prick. Funny, but still one who enjoys his work a little too much. Since Death is such a popular character in fantasy, I like how Frey keeps the focus on the main characters and doesn’t delve too much into Death, although I could see another whole story about this.
As an aside, I think it could have ended a little differently, a little darker. This is purely personal taste, but I thought of a specific ending as I read of the troubles that Hym and Hur went to in order to negate their deal with Death. I’ve shared this with the author, so perhaps another version sometime?
I was given a copy of this for review.
3.3 stars.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Paint, Present, and Future

Author: Cindy A. Carl
Description: "In a quaint village in Mexico, Dani, a struggling, endearing, and somewhat klutzy artist, sets out in pursuit of her dream. Little did she know that the pursuit would become the dream. One night a Shadow Man appears and sends her on a quest: she must find a mysterious woman, and it can only be done through a series of ten paintings. Each painting is prefaced by bizarre situations; including a hurricane, a yellow-out storm, and an excursion into a curio shop with no doors. Three uncooperative guides: a translucent figure, a troll, and a typist who lives in a tree, hold the key... but to what?"
This was a very wonderful journey. While the book is not in the "normal" bizarro realm (is there such a thing?), it is still far outside of the norm that it really kept me flipping the pages. What is reality? What is a dream? Or is all of this some drug- or sleep-depraved hallucination?
As I read this book, I kept questioning my own place in “modern” society, in the daily chores, the endless trail of electronic paperwork, and the go-go-go world we live in. And, seeing as the lead character has given this all up for a simpler life in Mexico really had me wishing I could just pack up and go. But with it come a host of other problems—getting away from it all doesn’t always make us more creative or inspire us.
The writing is clean and the story is smooth and well-paced. But that is really a sidelight to my real enjoyment of the story: It made me think and question reality as it is. Bizarro (I mean the stuff with pink bunnies toting daisy-shaped machine guns and chewing on lima beans) is unpredictable and strange. This was unpredictable, but also clever enough to stretch the mind and alter perceptions—there are too many cookie-cutter works of fiction out there, and this one really stands out of the crowd with its ambition. The ending was so well done, and unexpected.
This book ranks high up there when it comes to anything I have been asked to review. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

4 solid stars.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


I really appreciate all of the review requests, and the super load of great books to review. While I don't have a set timeline to review, it is looking like books received after 8/10/2012 will probably get reviewed near the beginning of 2013, closer to February. That date may move (hopefully closer), but that's how it goes, I guess.

As a writer, I used to get frustrated when blogs had such far-out timelines, but now that I have a nice stack of great books to read, I can perfectly understand.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Night of the Assholes

Author: Kevin L. Donihe
Description: “The Assholes are coming to get you, Barbara . . . From Wonderland Award Winner Kevin L. Donihe, comes a hilarious tribute to Night of the Living Dead A plague of assholes is infecting the countryside. Normal everyday people are transforming into jerks, snobs, dicks, and douchebags. And they all have only one purpose: to make your life a living hell. Today is the worst day of Barbara's life. The assholes are everywhere. They're picking fights, causing accidents, and even killing people. But she must remain calm. If you raise your temper to an asshole you'll become one of them. After losing her brother to the asshole onslaught, Barbara flees for her life. She finds safety in a desolate farmhouse with six other survivors. Cut off from the world and surrounded by a sea of assholes, they must figure out a way to last through the night. But more and more of those annoying bastards are gathering outside, preparing for the coming of something much worse. . .”
Review: Well, then. The author gets a massive pass, and is spared the rod, for stating clearly that this is a parody of “Night of the Living Dead.” Because we all know that the a-holes are stand-ins for zombies, right? OK. And we’re sick of zombies, vampires, Harry Potter knock offs, erotic thrillers, and paranormal YA. Sick. Sick.
You can call them what you want, even if they have a semblance of intelligence and are not mindless killers. But, you *said* this was parody, so you are given a free ride. After all, who doesn’t like a little Weird Al now and again (or all, day, if my 5-year-old had his way). And it is a good parody, written within the boundaries given and yet still studded with unique bizarro thrills.
This is a great story, full of little quirks that set the genre apart. Lint-covered sandwiches, caves within clocks—it all has this strange and wonderful dream-like feel. It is well-written, though there are some clunky parts, and a few places where some stuff could have been cut out to make it move faster. Still, a very quick and entertaining read, well worth it for the bizarro/parody fan. I put the slash in there because this really does have a feel of parody, not only of the original movie, but of life in general. Everyone really *is* an a-hole from time to time, and our leaders for sure.
Matter of taste: Sick of the drugs. Don’t need ‘em. Really? Why does pot have to even enter into the story, what does it add? Not everyone looks at a bag of green herbs and grins at the opportunity to stunt their brain functions. It’s one part of the genre that I have a hard time with.
... and the s-e-x. Really. I know just about every book on the planet has scenes; it makes them sell. But folks, they are not required. Or maybe they are and I missed the memo. Perhaps that is why I don’t sell any of my own stuff. Who knows. Well, in this case, it is kind of important to the plot... and then the entire world is flipped on its slimy head and the book is masterfully wrapped up.
Three stars because of the parts that move slow. As one reviewer mentioned, the boarding-up parts were long. I know that it’s par for the course in the genre, but maybe just one scene where Todd has seventeen layers of plywood, lined with the pink frill pillowcases. A perfect, fast and fun read for fans of the genre.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Last Explorer

Apologies to those whose books are in my queue--I am reading them, really I am. But I'm a sucker for arctic and polar exploration books as well, so here is a quick review of a terrific book. Highly recommended!


“True Adventure Thrills” Indeed!
Ever a fan of arctic and polar exploration, the first chapters of this book, while captivating, had me wondering when we’d get to the “good stuff”. Of course, the descriptions of Wilkins’ work as a war photographer were harrowing stories of the unique ability the man in escaping danger and staying alive.
But then we get to “Ultima Thule”, and my eyes rarely strayed from the pages of this book, which translated into one long sleepless night! Nasht skillfully describes Wilkins and Eielson’s survival in the arctic, fashioning sleds from parts of their shattered plane. Where most explorers would have called it day, Wilkins returned back to the arctic in a plane, being the first to cross the wide ocean in a plane. What is amazing is that they went 2,200 miles and crossed ten time zones!
Wilkins had also crossed paths with many more well-known explorers: Byrd, Amundsen, Shackelton, Stefansson. In so doing, we get a glimpse as the age of explorers slowly faded away, as more and more of the map was filled in. But in his explorations, Wilkins also opened the door to deep-sea exploration, and the study of weather (especially how the poles affect global climate). His forays into ESP is pure bunk and a waste of ink in my opinion.
This book did drag from time to time, as mentioned above. But yet I wanted to read more, to discover what the man would do next, and to read with a smile how he was finally delivered posthumously to his ultimate goal, the north pole.
Terrific book, highly recommended for fans of arctic exploration and survival.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Odd Adventures of the Five Food Groups

Author: Casey Audelo
Description: "Foodville, a land so odd it rivals any in our human world. Normally everything goes about the same but one day a wet titian is awaken. Shroom, a mushroom to those who don't know it well, is the last hope for the town of Foodville. If he can overcome sex, delicious alcohol, and his own awesome selfish nature then maybe this land where foods live and play can be saved."
Review: Rainpeople and Weird Food
Another interesting entry in the bizarre humor realm. For much of this book, I felt like I was reading a cross between bizarro and a children's book... OK, it read much like a kid's book most of the way. Because of the subject matter, this little feature did not bother me too much, nor did it take away from the story. And what a strange, bizarre little story it is. Well, not little, it's kind of long, actually.
This needs a good edit. I know there is an editor listed, but that just confuses me, given the mistakes in here... There is a good deal of trimming that could be done in phrases/paragraphs, that would not take away from the overall story. However, there are quite a few flubs and mistakes, a lot of dialogue that doesn't really flow or connect, and some of the scenes are quite clunky in how they are described I know we are talking about a bizarre world here, but that doesn't let you off the hook for readability and flow.
It is a very interesting concept in a cute and funny world. Personally I didn't really like the story, but I don't knock stars off for personal taste. The ranking is based on the quality of the work, its structure, plot, flow, etc. And this just needs a good going-over to make it shine.
2.7 stars

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pills in a Little Cup

Author: Reverend Steven Rage
This is probably the strangest thing I have ever read. I have never taken any drugs apart from aspirin and its knock-offs, or caffeine, and certainly not recreationally. But I can imagine that if I did, I would write something like this, or at least as insanely bizarre and utterly corrupted as this little collection of stories.
I'm so sick of vampires that I could vomit, and though the author does well in creating an entirely new class, and new visage... I'm not interested. That won't knock stars off, because it is really about personal choice, but really. No more. Please.
"Klonopin" was for me the story that screamed "bizarro," a story written in the throes of a massive binging on pills or something else. For a long moment I could not figure out "egg layer", until I realized the author meant "chicken." Holy... wow. And you think it cannot get any stranger when it descends into a world for which there is very little explanation. A dark, scary, depraved, and terrible place... but you can't leave, you can't look away, you have to know what happens. As hard as you try, you can't scratch the memory, erase the words, remove those wonderful, horrible images from your brain.
This collection would get four stars except for some editing and proofing issues. The style is bizarro, but yet I can't imagine the elderly talking/thinking they way they do in the first story. Unless I missed something. The style can be crude, which is normally not a problem, but sometimes it comes across as too colloquial and not feathered into the general style of strangeness.
3.4 stars. If you enjoy your sanity, this is not for you. If you do not want to go to dark places from which there may not be escape, don’t bother. But if you wish to discover a challenging and strange work... by all means pick this up.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Spanish Cape Mystery

Another great Ellery Queen novel. I enjoy the challenge to the reader, because unlike other mystery writers, the EQ team provides everything for you to solve the case. Although I can't ever seem to do it (probably because I just enjoy the ending and "listening" to Ellery explain everything in his reasoned, clinical manner). At least in this one, I had it down to two folks, one of whom was the murderer... oh well.

I wonder how audiences received this in 1935; EQ put some things on the table that I wasn't sure were so openly discussed back then. But then again I could be wrong.

However, it was a little long. I think the authors were trying to fit their standard length and it just went overboard. True, it was a clever way to bury a few clues within details, but it could have been a novella, or a longer story included in a collection.

All in all, a nice one. I enjoyed it, as I do all of the EQ novels in the 1930s. As I mentioned in my review of On the Eighth Day, I do not like that many of the later novels were farmed out to others... I prefered the originals, in their yellowed, musty tomes.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Malice in Blunderland

Author: Jonny Gibbings
Description: "The comedy-hero of Malice in Blunderland’s life is shite. He is inept, depressed, and in a job where the highlight of his day is a swift wank in the customers’ toilets. He has a drug problem so big that the cow-shaped cookie jar in his rank kitchen is usually full of speed and Ketamine. It’s all his ex-girlfriend’s fault."
This is the definition of vulgarity, with a side of Keystone Cops-esque blundering and fumbling. Seriously, at some points I just hope the guy snuffs it and takes himself out of the gene pool; but then I get all teary-eyed and want to send him flowers. Er, no. Not that. Ever.
The grammar miscues, spelling errors, and the utter lack of a past/present tense coherence are intentional. If they weren't, this would drop to two stars just because that crap ticks me off, even in a genre (is this a genre? What is genre? Where is my cleaver?) like this. But the author told me, and us, that it wall part of the story. So I had to toss the red pen in the bin and read it for itself. Because, as I think about it, it's hard to write like that, when you're a good writer, like Gibbings.
And then I went crazy and a few psychiatrists came for me—they said they were from Pluto, but they wore paper hats and spoke Ukrainian. Don't piss off the Ukrainian mafia, OK? Perhaps that should be something learned in grammar school, or earlier. Look both ways, eat your vegetables, and avoid men named Stadnyk and funny-smelling apple juice. Let this book be a lesson, kids. Oh, but don't let your kids read this.
Did I say this was vulgar and at some times utterly base? If you don't like that kind of stuff, you won't like this, so just don't bother. Don't knock a dude for writing for fun, for a specific audience. If, like me, you had a wonderful relationship with your father, and you miss the hell out of him now that he's dead, you will probably not like the constant "F-U, Father." But if your dad was a deadbeat who beat the crap out of you every day, then it's fine. Perhaps that was the only part of this that got me, but I didn't read the author bio until after the book... That was a tangent, a derail, and utterly meaningless. Do you have a problem with that?
At one point I was wondering when this would all end, but Gibbings then nicely ties up all the little loose ends and wraps the whole bundle of fecal matter in cellophane, and we can get on with our otherwise pathetic and pointless lives. And maybe this reviewer will get off his damned soap box and do something productive, like holler obscenities at an attractive co-worker... or not. You'll have to drag me off this box with a Uni—oh, I see, OK, I'll come down now.
I was given a copy of this for review.
3.8 stars
Additional Info: Seriously, folks, this book is a matter of taste, plain and simple. It was pretty raw at points and I did cringe. But I can't blast a book because it tweaks my delicate predispositions, or saws off a toenail. The writing is stellar, especially with the intentional mistakes—it's close to a perfect first-person rendering.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sunwar the Dead

**** I don't do a lot of music reviews, but since this was partly inspiration for a short story, I'm including it. ****
Artist: Elend – Sunwar the Dead
Website: http://www.elend-music.org/news.php
Description: Music CD
Review: I am a big fan of Elend, owning all of their albums, but I think this is my favorite. Heck, "Ares in their Eyes", coupled with reading this: http://www.amazon.com/dp/070904285X/, inspired me to write a short little story. One may not think of this type of music as inspiring, given its crushing intensity and huge wall of sound. But I guess it can be.
I have this classified as metal, and the band has a slot in the Encylopaedia Metallum, to be sure. But yet its classical-oriented nature is in full focus: Fifty artists participated on this album, including the Ensemble Orphique. Perhaps considered "neo-classical", and probably garbage by a few stuffy old men in ivory towers, to me it is the essence of classical music:
Perhaps the best album of them all, though Leçons de Ténèbres ranks high as well.
Emotion, power, drama, layers, and layers, and layers. The lead vocalist has a dark, pleading, almost decaying edge to his voice, that further adds to the impression of impending doom. You can feel the surf heaving as you approach it, can smell the stench of decay and a nameless dread; fears unfounded yet dangerously real, as they edge closer, and closer to you. Your only recourse is to enter the sea... and drown.
If you have never heard Elend, I would start with Sunwar. Lock the house, turn off the phone, put the cat in another room, and crank up your speakers for an hour of bliss; enjoy listening to a masterpiece that defies the categorization of music into so-called "genres." Dive into the swirling depths of this music, become a ship on the Hemlock sea, and let Ares burn in your eyes as you float along.
Absolutely amazing. I'm just sad it took me so long to review this.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mad Mannequins From Hell

Author: August V. Fahren
Description: "Days from Christmas in Portland, Oregon: It's white, it's wet, and it's weird. From its Rampaging Santa rumbles to its voodoo and vintage clothing, it is a liberal center for beards, fixed-gear bikes, and microbrews. Now, a dark ritual gone wrong threatens to turn this tranquil wonderland into a living hell when the mad mannequins roam free. And caught in the nightmare are four holy figures bound by longing, loss, and blood...
Burton Vilmos, an unemployed special effects makeup artist, is called upon to right a great wrong before he loses his best friend, his new wife, and his seven-year-old son, Max. Aided only by the Trinity Sisters, three machete wielding battle nuns, Burton may just have a prayer. That is if he can manage to survive an encounter with a midget in a Mexican wrestler's mask, the haute couture hell hound, kung fu (baby) Christ, and unholy demon spawn of the evil retail underworld--the mannequins."
"Oh God, Brides!"
These are the last words you will ever speak as the horde of demonic mannequins lets loose its fury upon the world. It's too bad Burton read from that one little book. Don't read from that book. Drink the cool-aid instead.
As in, *this* cool-aid, this book, this wonderful, crazy, wonky, fast-paced roller-coaster of a novel, with four-hundred sizzling chapters. Well, not four-hundred. Actually not even a hundred... or forty.
When I received this book, I started reading, and was unable to stop. Though I may be 3% through Swann's Way, even that riveting tale could not keep me from leaving this story. But this isn't Proust. But, heck, I thought I'd throw that snobby little comment in there—the mannequins aren't a threat anymore, are they?
Where the honk was I?
OK, so first of all, the style for this is definitely it's top quality. This is bizarro, and as such there is a very small audience. Which, as one reviewer said, is a shame. If people unplugged their pathetic preconceived notions about popular fiction, formulaic fantasy, sparkly vampires, and paint-by-numbers romance, they would realize what a colorful world we live in. Or at least a colorful world that lives only inside the heads of bizarro authors. And Fahren's world is a beauty. Come on in.
I'm used to this genre, but still the whole nun thing caught me a little off guard. Once we were in it, however, it was perfect—Fahren did a good job of setting the reader up, or lulling them into a sense of security. Then again, shame on me for not expecting the unexpected. I almost wonder if there should be another story with just the nuns as the main characters...?
It's not always perfect, but then again it probably isn't supposed to be. Some scenes and dialogue are a little forced, or sound a little like bad action movies. Part of it is intentional, I understand. At times, though, it is a little clunky and could use some tweaking. There aren't many of these parts.
This felt like a mix of Big Trouble in Little China (whose main character is also Burton), Evil Dead, and Dead Alive. Just replace the zombies with mannequins and you pretty much have it. I applaud Fahren for creating a unique monster—but at the same time, I had this knowing that the mannequins were stand-ins for zombies or vampires, especially with the religious/spiritual component. For someone sick to death of zombies this was both a  welcome change and a little of the "same old, same old." Matter of taste, I guess.
3.7 stars (rounded up to 4 on Amazon).
Additional Info: Found a couple of typos and very minor editing things—sent to author to fix up. Nothing that takes away from the main story.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Author: Mark Hayes
Blog: http://trickaduu.com
RanDumb: http://amzn.to/pGtbqY
RanDumber: http://amzn.to/xunZDQ
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/trickaduu
Description: "From Beverly Hills mansions to Irish country lanes, super-yachts to side-alleys, howling cougars to psychotic nutters, stand-up spotlights to police helicopter searchlights, superstar highs to inner demon woes, along with so much more, Mark Hayes takes us on quite an adventure in RanDumb-er, the random but hardly dumb tales of an Irish chancer."
Review: After reading the existing reviews on this, I wondered if I had the same copy, or my worldview is completely distorted.
After the first two chapters, I definitely agreed with everyone; this was some really funny stuff, quick, random, wild, and bizarre. It was different and fun... but for a limited time.
Because this really defies classification in a genre, I am not going to knock points off because of the one-word sentences or random punctuation. But there should also be a limit to this type of thing, a balance.
And I hate to knock things down because of taste—I really try not to do that. There have to be other glaring problems, such as plot holes, editing, etc. I'm not sure there would be many editing concerns with this one, since the sentences are quick and punchy. And there really is no plot, but is that OK?
The basic premise is: Try to get going in LA, get career started. Meet girls, get drunk, have some sort of intimate encounter (usually only ones that benefit the author), wake up, regret everything, and try again. Because of this, the main character comes across as very self-centered, as if the world just spins for his own benefit. The same routine over and over really got to me for some reason, and though that is a matter of taste, it also rings of a "plot" problem.
I do not like to be the one to knock down a book like this. As I said, the first pages really got be because the style was out-there, and I figured things were going to get weird. They got weird, but then fell into a monotonous routine. I think this could have been a lot shorter, maybe even a long story/novella, and come across perfectly.
I was given a copy of this for review.
Additional Info: I did a little digging and something just seems a little odd about this. First I checked out RanDumb and its 90+ glowing reviews... OK, so I have no life apparently but something stuck in my craw and so I followed up. Then I checked out this one.
Only THREE other reviewers had reviewed any book (some had reviewed products, but I was only looking at books) other than Hayes' works. Only three. Out of almost 100 reviews for these two books, we only have three people who have reviewed anything else. And oddly, almost every review is 5 stars. Curiously, those who gave negative reviews had many other book reviews... but they get buried in the avalanche of five stars.
I can't say for sure what this means, but my instinct tells me something is up.