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Paradox Bound Review

Paradox Bound: A Novel - Peter Clines

Paradox Bound was a five-star read spoiled down to four stars by a few phoned in twists. That is not to say that the book is not full of twists that work, only that two of the biggest plot developments can be easily predicted in the. Very. First. Chapter. Oh well, it was still a super fun read and I would recommend reading it, which brings me to whether or not you should take that advice, because there are several caveats.

Are you a Whovian? Not Dan, but you, the person reading this review. Unless you're Dan then... where was I? Anyway, if you know what that term Whovian means and identify as such, then you should know that Cline borrows heavily, and I mean FUCKING HEAVILY, from the man in the blue phone box. There's so many Doctor Who references in this novel that I had to look up if it was canon to the British TV series. Spoiler alert: it's not. And while our "time" traveller Harry is nothing like any of the doctors thus far (Harry might have more in common with the forthcoming Dr. Who, but like my gal River says, "Spoilers"), some of this book feels awfully familiar. Some of it, mind you. Not all of it. Just some of it.

That is not to say that this is a case of a different Cline. Specifically one named Ernest. If you recall my review of Armada, you'll know that I do not suffer pop culture references for the sake of nostalgia anymore, nor do I like it when authors repurpose fandoms for their own gain. If you're going to allude to connected universes between your work and someone else's intellectual property, you better bring something new to the fucking table. And Peter Clines does so in spades.

There's a load of new stuff in here, from the explanation and rules behind the "time" travel (there's a good reason for the quotation marks, but again, "Spoilers"), to the villains (even if they do have psychic papers), to the idea behind what Harry and so many others are searching for. The fictional locations come alive, as do the people populating them. The historical accuracy was spot on, too. But I think the most important part of this book is that it is simply a whole lot of fun. 

I loved every character on the page and wanted to see them succeed. And I want to say more, but everything I can think of right now is a motherfucking spoiler, so we'll just close it down for now.

In summation: Peter Cline does a fantastic job creating something new while paying tribute to those that came before him. You can expect loads of references to time-travel stories, new and old, but the book never feels like a carbon copy of any one of them. More like a love story to the genre. And that final chapter...Some motherfucker's cuttin onions and I don't appreciate it. Definitely recommended.

Final Judgment: SPOILERS!

 

This book was supplied by Crown Publishing in exchange for this review.

How does it feel to be a gender and not a person? SLEEPING BEAUTIES Review

Sleeping Beauties: A Novel - Stephen King, Owen King

How does it feel to be a gender and not a person?

Buckle in, ladies and gentleman, we're gonna be here for a while. I have a lot of coming-to-grips to do with this book and you're about to watch me decide whether or not I like it, almost in real-time. Let's do this.

This is a smart book. It's not a good read, but it is smart. Let's face it, if smart books made for good reading, David Foster Wallace would outsell James Patterson... (does that mean Patterson writes good reads? Fuck, stop. Let's reword that...). How about: if smart books were good reads, Don DeLillo would outsell Stephen King. Better. Whew. That was almost a disaster.

The brains of this book come from Owen King. Stephen King (for all my hero worship) does not write smart books. He writes entertaining books. Books you don't have to think too hard about. A lot of people are going to hate this book simply because it's smart. It's gonna go right over their empty heads and they're gonna take a break from fingerbanging their cousins to come on here to rage about how the book is sexist against men and nothing but feminist propaganda and yadda yadda Caveman make poopy in diapey. This book is anything but all of that, but we'll get to that later.

Right out the gate, this book feels like someone doing a middle-tier impersonation of Stephen King. Imagine a Stephen King book written by, say, Joe Hill after Hill's been hit in the head a few dozen times. In other words, it reads like The Fireman. That's the first problem. It's a big story told in a super small way that feels much less epic in scope due to the way it's told. Then again, The Fireman has its fans (who knows why that is), so if you liked that trainwreck, you'll likely enjoying watching this one occur.

Seriously, side by side The Fireman and Sleeping Beautiesare almost the same book. Damn near note for note, which is odd. I've been comparing Hill to King for a while now, so to compare King to Hill feels, I don't know, fucking backwards. Anyway, both books use the same generic flow, which is easy to read but devoid of that special something King fans have come to expect. For that reason, you're going to have lifelong King fans who're super pissed at this book, too. Shit, man, the Mercedes trilogy felt more like King than this did.

The next thing that comes to mind is how King-ish this book is without being anything like a Stephen King book. It has the cast from Under the Dome, a gender-swapped Andre Linoge (for you non-King nuts out there, he's the bad guy from Storm of the Century: An Original Screenplay) named Evie Black, and the most Condensed-Books version of The Stand you will likely ever read. But the writing sounds nothing like Stephen King, and I would hazard a guess that it's because he didn't write a healthy portion of this kitten-squisher. Owen did. You feel King in some sentences, but mostly it's Owen. Why is that? Lemme explain.

King and Owen did an interview wherein King says the idea for the book was Owen's. Owen told Stephen he should write it. Stephen said, nah, you do it. Then they settled on doing it together. It was going to be a television series (which I would've liked much more, I think) but somehow it became, well... it became this thing. And the book reads like a detailed script. For fuck's sake, the novel starts with a cast list. And if you're a King fan you know that none of his books that start with a cast list are any good. That cast list is there because not even the publisher has any faith in you remembering who the fuck is who and why the fuck you should care.

The thing is, like I said above, I've read about these people before. I didn't like them the first time I read about them in Under the Dome and I don't like them now. There's not a likeable person in the whole bunch. Why the fuck should that be?

Oh. I'm not supposed to like anybody because the book is packed full of villains, you say? Wait... what? 

What about Frank?

Villain. Duh.

What about Evie?

Villain. Super duh.

What about Clint? 

Villain. Less of a duh.

What about Lila?

Villain. She's not obvious at all, is she?

Goddamn it, where's the heroes? A 702-page goddamn book and there's not a single hero? How come, E.!? HOW COME??????!!!?!

Because this book has a message. And fuck me, it's a good one.

Ladies, dig it. How does it feel to not have a choice? How does it feel to have your reproductive organs, your own personal vaginas and uteri and ovaries and wombs and in-utero babies, controlled by men in government? How does it feel to be told what to wear so you don't get raped? Where to go so you don't get raped? Who to talk to so you don't get raped? How does it feel to be treated as if you are constantly in need of protection? How does it feel to be a gender and not a person?

Focus on that last sentence. 

How does it feel to be a gender and not a person?

Of course I'm man-splaining here, but fuck it, I'm going all in. This is what this book is about:

Women stripped of choice finally given a choice. Do they deal with the swinging-dick version of this world, or start over? Evie Black plans to give them that choice. But, in the end, even she tries to decide for them. Elaine tries to decide for them. Frank does... Clint does... Yes, even Lila does. Everyone thinks they know what's best for the female gender, but not one of them stops to think about what each individual personneeds. 

And THAT is what makes this book smart. Doesn't make this novel a good read, but it's smart as fuck. And that's all I have to say about that.

In summation: A gargantuan story told in a bubble. Not a fan of the delivery or the writing or the characters, but I loved the message. Awesome themes aside, I'd wait to find a thrift-store paperback version. Simply "okay".

Final Judgment: The brains get in the way of the story.

The Massacre of Mankind Review

The Massacre of Mankind: Sequel to The War of the Worlds - Stephen Baxter

I'm a big fan of HG Wells's WAR OF THE WORLDS. The Orsen Wells reading/hoax is one of my favorite pieces of history. I can't imagine what it would have been like to hear that come over the radio... Anyway, I digress. We're not talking about THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, we're talking about its sequel. And, well, it's not very good. In fact it's so bad I've decided not to finish it. Not sure what drove Baxter to continue this storyline with such verbosity, but it doesn't fit. Wells told the first story in half as many pages and here it shows. 

 

Long-winded and insufferably lackluster. Don't spoil you memories of the first book/experience by wading into this one. 

 

Book provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which you have just read.

Manga Art Review

My daughter's been studying manga for some time now. She's why I requested the book. So I'll let her tell you what she thought.

With a shrug of the shoulders, she said, "It was good. Nothing I didn't already know, though. That kinda sucked. I'd likely recommend it for newbies only."

So there you have it. Newbies only. 

I will say, in a see of manga art books, nothing about this one stands out. Because she gave such a short review and I have no knowledge of the artform, I flipped through some of her other manga art books. They're mostly all the same, with slight variations here and there, but it seems they all hold roughly the same information. Then again, I'm no expert on the subject. 

Dear Shane Staley of Darkfuse, Go Fuck Yourself

Hello peeps. I want to start this blog post by extending heartfelt condolences to all those affected by the douchebaggery of Shane Staley. I only had one book with him. To those of you who had loads of books with him, I cannot imagine how much time and money you’re losing with the bankruptcy of Darkfuse. I can imagine, however, that you are far more upset than I am. I also know that there are still people out there defending him. That’s on you, buttercup. There is way too much evidence to backup everything I say in this post. If I didn’t have proof, I wouldn’t put it out there. He’s screwed a lot of people, both this time, and the last time he pulled this shit.

 

Shane Staley, former owner/operator of Darkfuse and Darkfuse Magazine sent out an email this morning. You can read that pile of shit HERE. Many people took offense at this letter, and I’ll go over why. But first, I’d like to share my story of dealing with this fucking liar.

 

My first interaction with Darkfuse was with their Twitter games. I forget what they’re called now, but Shane requested people write the most disgusting thing they could think of in a tweet and submit it to him. I played along. That won me a subscription to the magazine. I then submitted a story, and it was accepted, I was paid within hours of acceptance, and then given a link to submit longer works. I had a novella sitting around, so I threw it at the wall to see if it would stick. Shane accepted it, gave me a detailed payment/publishing schedule, which I agreed to, then I signed the contract.

 

In that initial email, I was told the book would be released as a serial on the website in November, with a hardcover release in December, and then an ebook release in March. I was suppose to receive my advance before the publication of the hardcover, so in my mind, that was to be before the end of December. When I didn’t receive payment by the first week of December (I was hoping for extra Christmas money), I emailed Shane and he said that he “might be able to pay early.” I didn’t question the “early” part. Maybe the book wasn’t going to be published until after Christmas. Fair deal.

 

Then January came and still no word of my advance. I will make this long story short by saying Shane Staley did not respond well, nor professionally, to my inquiries of payment. He said, “Since this is such a problem for you, I will go ahead and pay you.” A month late, mind you, and only because I was seemingly bothering him. The novella didn’t even come out until March, and from what I hear, I’m glad I fought to be paid my advance, or else I might never have seen a penny for my book. Remember, it was up on the website since November. Had I not argued Shane down in January, I’d likely have a theft of services on my hands.

 

So, if you’ve read the letter he sent out, you will see that the money issues began before January reporting. That’s the first lie. I can only assume he paid me my advance out of his own pocket. Which goes against everything he’s been saying for the past few years about how profitable his company was. That’s the second lie. I’m not sure if the posts are still up, but Shane published several articles called “Son of a Niche” which promoted a false narrative. In these blog posts, he bragged about how respected in the community he was, and how he was a businessman to be revered, and that the publishing world should bow down before him. I like people who talk like that. Confidence is an attractive quality, and I wanted to be a part of this “movement” he was talking about. But let me be clear. I like braggarts as long as they can back it up. Shane Staley is a bloviating liar.

 

“But E.! But E.! He only recently started having problems!”

 

Ahem. No. No he didn’t only recently start having problems. Anyone remember Delirium Books? I didn’t even know about this myself until after I signed my contract with Darkfuse. I still don’t know all the details, but I’ve since spoken with numerous authors and readers who were royally fucked by Shane Staley and his first foray into the publishing business. I also received some hate mail after signing with Darkfuse because I’d signed with them, one person even going as far as saying, “I thought you were better than this.”

 

Even in his farewell letter, Shane brags and lies and screws people over. Notice that authors who hung around will be paid by November, but those of us who asked for a reversion of rights, because the ship was most-obviously sinking, have to deal with the courts. Having a positive history of paying authors only when times are good does not make you a good businessman. Especially not when you’ve been coming out of pocket to keep things running. That’s the exact opposite of a good businessman. It means you profited at one point but couldn’t manage the company when sales were down. You even admit to this in the goddamn letter. You blame authors for your own failures and inadequacies. You blame consumers for liking cheap products. You blame everyone but yourself. You fucked up. You. No one else. This was your ship, and just like the first boat you captained, you sank the motherfucker.

 

I love that little part about how all companies fail. What a load of horseshit. There are companies around today that began in the 1800s. Those companies were run by great businessmen. Men and women who were the exact opposite of Shane Staley.

 

To Shane Staley, personally, should he ever read this, I will do everything in my power to warn people about you, should you resurface like you did after Delirium Books. You may now return to your tennis lessons, asshole.

 

Oh, and go fuck yourself. smooches

 

E.

Foundations of Drawing Review

No frills. Pure necessary information. I requested this book for review from Crown Publishing with the intention of giving it to my daughter, as she's shown not only an interest but and aptitude for drawing. She loves it. 

 

"It's helped me a lot. Especially with shading and pencil techniques. Now I know what I need to get certain results. It's very cool."

 

There you have it. Recommended.

Surprise New Release! PIG!!!

Craig Saunders and myself have finally made good on a promise to deliver a book co-written together. I know, I know, it’s been yeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaars, but it’s finally available. Buy it. Review it. Share it. We work solely on word of mouth. The more it sells the more there’ll be from us.

 

Click on the book cover to buy from Amazon.com. International links will be below that.

 

Thank you for your support, and we hope you enjoy the book!

 

pig3

 

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The Cider House Rules Review

The Cider House Rules - John Irving

Oof. This is gonna be a tough one to review. 

First, it should be known that I was not looking forward to this book. Nothing about it called to me. Nothing about the film adaptation ever made me want to watch the movie, either. (Let it be known that I still have no interest in watching the movie.) And if it weren't for this John Irving Challenge I'm doing, where I'm trying to read all of his novels in a year's time, I likely never would have picked this up. Do I regret reading it? Yes and no. Let's discuss, shall we?

I hated the first chapter and a half of The Cider House Rules. I've come to expect that I'm gonna be pretty confused for the first fifty to a hundred pages of an Irving novel. Usually the stuff at the beginning doesn't pay off until halfway through the book, and sometimes he makes you wait until the very end before he returns to why the opening chapter was needed. Here, I never felt like that opening chapter was needed, not to mention the chapter is just fuckin boring to read. We could've easily opened with Chapter Two (Larch's history) and then summarized the info from Chapter One into the beginning of Chapter Three. That's how I would've done it, anyway.

I only really liked one of the characters, and it wasn't until Homer started learning from Larch that I really started to care for her. I never once cared about Homer, period. For a main character, dude was surprisingly weak. And him constantly answering everything with "Right" got on my nerves as much as it got on Wally's nerves. I was thrilled when Wally finally decked him in his cocksucker. Which brings me to Authorial Intent. Did Irving mean for Homer to be an annoyingly weak character? I believe he did. Doesn't mean I have to like it, though. It only means Irving possibly accomplished what he set out to do. Bravo, or, you know, whatever.

My favorite character throughout the entire mess was Melony. She rocked. I dig a multi-layered strongly-developed female character and Melony checked all of those boxes. Lorna and her love story was beautiful and heartbreaking, and I'm glad Irving took the time to follow Melony's storyline all the way to the end. I was worried that there for a moment the book would end on Homer, and I thought, "Fuck everything about this book." Then Irving brought it all home and I was graciously satisfied.

Oddly enough, despite the exclusion of wrestling and bears, this was Irving's most repetitive work. I've read about all of these characters before, some more than once, and I think that's why I didn't give a fuck for any of them. They all felt like carbon copies of better-drawn characters from earlier novels. Irving just changed their names and put them in a different story. 

Some other aspects of Irving's work has become predictable, too; mainly who will live and die by the end of the book. He sets up character's deaths the same way each and every time, and the formula has become irritatingly obvious. A major character's death was ruined for me in this book because of Irving's signature phoning-in of plot points. This isn't a thriller, the book does not depend on surprises, but I'd still appreciate not being able to see certain things coming.

As with all of Irving's novels, this one relies heavily on a strong ending. The middle of the book is a padded mess, detailing long stretches of time I didn't give a single shit about. These lengthy chapters are further rendered pointless when, later in the book, Irving skips ahead in time fifteen years. If he could skip fifteen years of a child's life and still make us care for the kid, why couldn't he find a better way of telling of Wally's time in Burma succinctly? What a clusterfuck of odd details that chapter was. And if Irving's able to skip fifteen years in the life, why drone on and on about the day to day life of orchard workers when, by the end of the book, none of it really matters? Why? Because Irving cares about what Irving cares about. These are, first and foremost, his books, and he will write them how he sees fit. He also know that, (again) by the end of the book, you won't give a shit about the bloated middle. By the time you flip that final page, you will be basking in the glow of an ending so well told that you will let slide all the times you were bored, even if that time was less than a hundred pages ago. Yes, the ending is that strong. Irving's endings always are. 

In summation: Nowhere near his best work, but much better than his debut novel, Setting Free the Bears. So far in my challenge, I've thought, "I will reread this book at some point in my life," but I will never reread this one. It was a chore just finishing it the first time. Recommended for Irving completionists and fans of apples and abortions.

Final Judgment: Show up for the coming-of-age aspects that Irving does so well, and stay for Melony and Lorna's story.

Here and Gone Review

Here and Gone: A Novel - Haylen Beck

If you're going to write the same old shit, the least you could do is write with some flare. But no. Not here. Haylen Beck goes through the motions, traveling a road of cliches and uninspired prose into a congested horizon filled to bursting with mediocre writers.

 

In the first six percent this book has someone daydreaming while driving, only to come back to reality mere seconds before running headfirst into a semi coming the other direction. And someone's *coughtheauthorcough* read Uncle Stevie's DESPERATION. Collie Entragian called. He wants his bag of weed back. Tak!

File this under: Life's too short to read the same book with a different title.

The Sound of Broken Ribs now in stock!

Thunderstorm Books has announced that my new novel, The Sound of Broken Ribs, is now in stock. The signed limited edition hardcover will begin shipping on Monday. If you haven't ordered the regular edition (deluxe edition coming this winter) you can do so here: 

 

http://thunderstormbooks.com/thunderstorm/book/the-sound-of-broken-ribs/

 

Thank you for your support. I hope you dig the book.

 

E.

Broken-Ribs-NA

Hag-Seed DNF Review

Hag-Seed - Margaret Atwood

The Tempest is one of my favorite works by Billy Shakes. For that reason, I thought I'd love this. This is my first Atwood book and I doth believe she's not for me. I wouldn't have bothered to review this, but it's a review copy, so here you go. A one-star DNF review. Sad panda. 

John Dies at the End Review

John Dies At The End - David Wong

"There's nothing new under the sun."

If you're an insecure creative person, you'll hear this phrase quite often. Friends will try to build you up, because there's no easy (or friendly) way for them to say, "Maybe storytelling isn't for you, you know? Perhaps take up model-building or lint-collecting?"

I used to agree with "There's nothing new under the sun." Really, I did. Hell, I'm even guilty of uttering it once or a dozen-hundred times. The truth is, that sentence is bullshit. "There's nothing new under the sun" is a lie creative people (or people who identify as creative people) tell each other when they can't think of something original. How do I know this? Because books like this exist.

I've recently (recently, as in, like, yesterday, fam) sworn off bitching about unoriginal content and shitty writers. You assholes do you. But when you get a negative review lambasting your ass for unoriginal content and/or crap writing, you don't get to complain. I tried to warn you that you were shit. You just wouldn't listen.

"Big words from some fat fuck on a computer. My mommy says I write all the good words!"

Good for you, Pudding. Here's a pat on the back. Now kindly go write another couple thousand words on your super-original vampire/werewolf/zombie/plague novel set in Nazi-run Victorian England. There's totes an audience for it. I promise. smooches.

John Dies at the End was written by a data entry clerk in his free time. Word of mouth begat word of mouth and soon enough he had offers from publishers and filmmakers alike. You can tell the author is not a trained writer. He's a gifted storyteller, but the writing is your basic high school creative writing. We're not talking Billy Shakes here, but I think you already knew that. Dude's got a tale to tell and he's gonna tell it in the simplest way possible: with pop culture references and a metric fuck-tonne of naughty language. Sometimes the best stories are written this way. Nothing pretty to get in the way. Just words in the proper order to waylay confusion. Rad.

Me? I loved every minute of it. Yes, even the wacky pacing and start-over mechanic employed between parts one and two. The only thing I could've done without was the use of "retarded" in place of "stupid", but given the narrator is the type of guy he is, it fits the profile. I was certainly not triggered. Just wanted to let those of you who are sensitive to such things know that such things happen in this book. A lot. Like, everything's retarded to this dude. Even himself. Then again, I think I'm only one of like six people who haven't read this book or seen the movie. So whatever.

I will refrain from talking about the movie here because I don't remember a fucking thing about it. Like, nothing, son. I know I watched it. I even discussed it with my dude Linton the following day. We were both confused by the fact that (view spoiler). Still, I have no idea what happened in the movie. I do hope the book is not equally forgettable.

Will I be reading the next book, This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It? Probably. Not anytime soon though because I have twenty-three bazillion kajillion other books to read before the end of the year. But, yeah, I want to.

In summation: A wacky, original novel with a few pacing problems and a dumb-fun narrator who's equally likeable and offensive. What might shock you is the level of character depth on display. More than once the author sneaks deep moments into his otherwise shallow narrative. Bravo to him.

Final Judgment: Come for the bizarre shit. Stay for John's one-liners.

The Bone Tree Review

The Bone Tree - Greg Iles

1.5 stars rounded up. It was, in parts, "okay".

First and foremost, thank FUCK that is over. I started reading this on April 23 and I am just now, today, June 5, finished reading it. Considering I finished the other books in ten days or less, I gotta say my pace here is telling.

This book is a padded mess of inconsequential bullshit, and I would be the worst kind of fanboy if I ignored the hundreds of pages of filler here and five-starred this train wreck of a novel. But I think the WHY of the matter is the most interesting subject here, so let's discuss why I feel that Greg Iles stuffed this book to bursting with filler in order to create (or force) some kind of legacy.

Many years ago (2011, I believe), Greg Iles was in a car accident in which he almost died. He lost a leg and had a long recovery ahead of him. Before the accident, he'd written almost to completion a book called Unwritten Laws, which can still be found on Goodreads. The novel looked to be a direct follow-up of Iles's novel The Devil's Punchbowl because he mentions at the end of PUNCHBOWL that Cage's story will continue in 2011. Great. Wonderful.

Unfortunately for Iles fans, we will never get to read Unwritten Laws.

So what the fuck happened to Unwritten Laws? My theory is this: Greg Iles, fresh off almost dying, decided to chop the book up into three novels and pad them with some insane JFK subplot. If you were to strip the JFK nonsense from Natchez Burning and The Bone Tree you'd have a very tight, albeit lengthy literary thriller. I can only imagine that Mississippi Blood will lend further evidence to my theory, should I ever choose to read it. The JFK stuff is nothing but expositional dumps that are a fucking BORE to read. Had I not read and loved the previous four books in this series, I would have tossed this pile of overstuffed nothing out the window.

But why would Iles do such a thing? Because near-death experiences make people do weird shit. Look at Stephen King. After getting ran over in 1999, and the long recovery he suffered, we got the utterly garbage Dreamcatcher. But we also got the final three Dark Tower books. Nothing lights a fire under your ass like the realization your ass won't be around forever. So Iles came back to Unwritten Laws, butchered it, and added a bunch of JFK conspiracy theory nonsense in order to create, in his words, his "magnum opus".

Spoiler alert: It's never a good idea for an author to go into a project expecting it to be the greatest achievement of their career. I don't care how good you are, it never works out well. You end up coming off as a try-hard.

And Greg Iles tried too hard. This storyline did not need the JFK subplot. There is some terrific shit in this book, but it's all overshadowed by Greg Iles's attempts to create a literary legacy. You can pinpoint every scene that is tacked on because they feel exactly like that--tacked on. Every scene that doesn't mention JFK is superbly written, while every chapter that mentions the assassination feels like someone else wrote them. Someone drastically less talented than Iles has proved himself to be with previous books. The plot becomes so absurd that even the characters start commenting on it. Toward the end of the novel, Penn Cage says "Unbelievable" in response to another asinine and obviously forced plot twist. This is because, deep down, Iles knew how badly he was fucking up, but he wanted so much for it to work. So much, in fact, that the desperation drips from the page. "Please, believe this, dear reader! PLEASE!"

Iles drones on and on trying to make his theory plausible, but it never takes hold. By the end of the book, I was defeated and dejected. I'm seriously contemplating not reading the final book. I'm so goddamned disappointed. Because there is a good story in here. Somewhere.

FInally, we lose some cherished fan favorites, but their passing is tainted by the thriller-filler bullshit of the JFK subplot. I wasn't remotely affected by their passing, even though the scenes were well written. I remember how hard I took a major character's death in The Quiet Game and I can't help but feel like Iles failed the characters in this book. They deserved so much better than to be bookended by an insane subplot and cheesy thriller elements.

Why, man? Why?

Sometimes, authors are their own worst enemy. That's why.

In summation: No doubt the weakest book in the series, and definitely the worst Greg Iles book I've read. Nowhere near his usually high quality. A perfect example of an artist wanting too badly to be taken seriously when they were already fine the way they were. Super disappointed and unsure if I'll carry on to complete the series.

Final Judgment: NOTICE ME, SENPAI!

Long Black Veil Review

Long Black Veil - Jennifer Finney Boylan

I suppose with the world heading in the direction that it's headed, books like this will become the norm: overly PC books that try their damnedest not to piss anyone off. The problem I see with novels like Long Black Veil is author intrusion. When you move forward with a piece of art (music, film, literature, etc.) with the sole purpose of being progressive and inclusive, you better be damned sure your own hangups do not float to the surface. Because, in a book that struggles to always use the proper pronoun and goes out of its way to discuss gender and religion and race with the utmost respect, any deviation from your course will be painfully obvious.

Yes, the political-correctness within this book was strong but not a bad thing, but it is my opinion, founded solely on evidence written in this book, that Jennifer Finney Boylan has a problem with the morbidly obese, or as she calls them in this book "fat fucks". Normally those two words wouldn't bother me, because I am, and have always been, a fat fuck. But when every race, religion, gender, and so on gets treated fairly and equally and suffers no slurs, I find it odd that "fat fuck" would be left in. Which goes a long way in proving that, even in progressive-minded literature, it is still okay to pick on fat people. Poor goddamn Casey, man. He couldn't catch a break. He was either a fat fuck or a walrus or the morbidly-obese friend, or my favorite, "worthless." While everyone was accepting of the two trans characters, poor fut-fuck Casey bumbled around, bouncing off shit and just being all around too fat to be respected. For fuck's sake, I think the only time Boylan described her character's appearances were if they were fat. If they were otherwise normal, meaning not a fat fuck, we got no description of their appearance whatsoever.

Anyway, enough whiny bullshit about how offended I was or was not. I really wasn't offended at all, but I mention it as much as I do to prove a point; everyone has their own prejudices, even Boylan, who makes a point of using as many acronyms as she can in her bio. I honestly couldn't give a fuck what she thinks about chubby bastards like myself. I'm simply pointing out how it's still completely acceptable to shame the fat character, be the author liberal, conservative, or any other asshole. The one thing we seemingly all agree on is, fat fucks are fair game. Moving on...

The writing in this book is fantastic. I can pick on the author for showing her prejudices all I want, but she truly can write her ass off. I enjoyed every bit of this read, aside from maybe the suspense-killing reveal toward the middle. If the characters hadn't been so terrifically drawn, I probably would have quit reading as soon as the killer was revealed. Literary-minded types will scream, "The murder wasn't the point! The book is about identity and WHINE WHINE BITCH BITCH!" I get that, Internet Rage Machine. I might sound like an illiterate fat fuck, but I do pay attention to theme. What I'm saying is, the writing and character-development was what kept me reading, not the pasted-on murder plot. Calm your moobs, dude.

There will be some people who have a fit over the soft-thriller aspects because, for all appearances, it looks like a literary thriller. There is nothing thrilling or suspenseful about this book. It's a character drama. That being said, the final 50 pages were too much melodrama for even me and I found myself simply wanting the book to end. I feel Boylan's points were made just fine without the silly-ass who-lived-and-who-didn't bullshit and the I-died-twice nonsense. You can stuff all that shit right back up where it came from.

One final note, smarty pants. Frankenstein was the doctor, not the creature. So when you write that there were several Frankensteins walking around the party, I hope you meant people wearing lab coats and god complexes.

In summation: If you're into PC-culture and fight on the SJW side of things, this is probably the book you've been waiting for. It is built on an offend-no-one chassis, but its tires are too fat to move too quickly, so expect some lulls. Expect mucho melodrama at the ass-end that no one asked for, and you should be just fine.

Final Judgment: If Nicole Arbour and Lacy Green wrote a book, this would be the eventual outcome.

Many thanks to Crown Publishing for the review copy, which I received for free in return for a review written by a fat fuck, aka me.

We Are Always Watching Review

We Are Always Watching - Hunter Shea

As much as I want to give this book five stars based on enjoyability alone, I'm not going to because it does have its problems. The middle of the book could use another proofread or two for typos and missing words. This seems to be a running issue with Sinister Grin Press and modern horror novels in general. I really wish authors and publishers would do better with their editing. Sinister Grin's covers and formatting are great, and they pick great stories, but the quality of the editing is half-assed at best. This one was much cleaner than the first two SG books I read, but there were still more errors than I was comfortable with. And I have a feeling that it was cleaner because Shea's been around a while and knows what he's doing.

One thing's for sure, the story is terrific. I had a lot of fun getting to know West and Matt and Debi and Grandpa Abraham. And, yes, even Faith. By the time the shit hit the fan, I knew each of them well enough that I cared what happened to them.

The last 60% of this book is adrenaline-fueled madness. I only put it down to eat and use the restroom, but I didn't want to put it down even then. Were it not for the necessities of being human, I'd have easily finished the last 40% in a single setting.

It's been a long time since I read a horror novel that cared this much about its cast. I'd forgotten how much fun it is being invested in the people I'm reading about. I can't think of the last horror novel I read whose character's names I can remember. Several times I found myself thinking, "Man, what's gonna happen to West... or Debi... or Matt." I loved that these characters were flawed but still likeable. Especially Matt. Even Grandpa Abraham's curmudgeonly ass. Sure he was racist and crude and an all around dickhead to everyone, but I wanted to read about him. I wanted to know what was going to happen.

Not sure if Hunter Shea reads his reviews, but I have to apologize to him. I'd put off reading the guy for the longest time because I was told he was just another word mill, someone who cared more for quantity over quality. If this book is anything to go by, the person who told me that was wrong. I hate that I've missed out on reading Shea's work. I plan on fixing that ASAP.

In summation: This book brought back a slice of my childhood; memories of reading under the covers with a flashlight, of chewing my nails in anxious anticipation of what was going to happen next, of rooting for the good guys to overcome the bad guys against all odds. This book is simply a lot of fun, which makes the lack of proofreading hurt that much more. But that seems to be the state of modern horror fiction, and horror fans don't seem to care, either. I guess I'll just have to learn how to ignore it. I'll definitely be looking up more Hunter Shea in the near future.

Final Judgment: The most fun I've had with a horror novel in ages.

Mexico DNF review

Mexico: Stories - Josh Barkan

There's very little I liked about the first three stories I read. My main problem is I do not connect with the way Barkan writes. Sad to say, because the ideas behind the stories themselves were interesting. The delivery just isn't my thing. I have no want in my heart to pick this up again, so I'm not going to. 

 

I'm giving this two stars instead of one because it's not garbage. It's simply not my thing.

Currently reading

It: A Novel by Stephen King
Howard the Duck Omnibus by Steve Gerber, Val Mayerik, John Buscema, Carmine Infantino, Frank Brunner, Gene Colan
Progress: 82/800pages