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Sirens: A Novel (An Aidan Waits Thriller) - Joseph Knox

This is one of those rare times I hate reviewing review copies. Crown Publishing sent me this book in exchange for an honest opinion and that's the only reason I'm bothering to review this at all. If I don't review it, they won't send me another book. Simple as that.

Life is too short to read the same shit over and over and over...SIRENS is the worst kind of thriller. You have you cliched cop, your sultry vixen, your rich asshole, your blah  blah blah...


The-Patterson-cut-to-another-chapter-in-the-middle-of-a-thought bullshit annoys me. There's no reason for it. Complete your thought and action and leave us in a compelling place before moving on. There's literally a chapter in this book where the author describes a building and that's it. New chapter. This is done to give you a false sense of making progress. "Oh, wow, I've read twenty chapters in a sitting!" We'll, that's easy when the chapters are a page long. I'd say two pages, but they start half a page down and end on the backside with half a page blank. I feel sorry for the poor trees who gave their lives to print this.


There's nothing wrong or new with the writing. It's serviceable to a fault. I hate writing like that. The exact bare minimum. No style. Just words in the proper order. You couldn't pick this author's writing out of a lineup of all the genre writers if the book had his name on it.


In summation: I'm giving it two stars because there's absolutely nothing wrong with the writing. If you're a fan of paint-by-numbers noir thrillers, give it a go. Don't expect anything new.


Final Judgment: Thank fuck this was free.


POK POK The Drinking Food of Thailand: A Cookbook - Andy Ricker, JJ Goode

This book is amazing, from beginning to end. I loved the stories and the insights to this culture I had been until now missing out on.The recipes are easy to follow even if they're not all easy to prepare, meaning, I personally do not have the skill required to complete some of these dishes, but that's not this book's fault.


Highly recommended for those who enjoy Thai food and culture.


Many thanks to the publisher for the awesome review copy!

Fliers Review

Fliers: 20 Small Posters with Big Thoughts - Nathaniel Russell

Some people can look at a piece of toast and see Jesus. Or perhaps they find a Mother Teresa-shaped potato chip. Then you have people who cannot live without memes: dank memes, shit posting, pop culture reflection, social media masturbation, and so on. 


If you're either of these types of people, you'll like this silly little book. I honestly can't believe it's a thing that exists, but hey, a fool and his dollar are easily separated. Not this fool, tho, because I was given a copy of this "book" by the publisher in return for this review.


Is a book of fliers wrapped in a dust jacket that moonlihgts as a telephone pole worth $12.99 plus tax? Who's to say? Not this guy. One man's trash is another man's treasure, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and yeah, there you go. It's whatever. 


Buy it and keep it out in the open so your friends can judge your life choices. But let's be real. If you've purchased this book you don't have a life. Nor do you have friends or make choices beyond whether or not to wear clean underwear today. So maybe use the fliers inside as Kleenex to wipe away the crushing depression and ease the pain of your anxiety-induced seclusion?


Eat mor chikin.


The Chalk Man - C.J. Tudor

It's been an age since I put a book down after reading fewer than fifty pages but holy banana socks, Fatman, this motherfucker is terrible.

In the first ten pages we have the briefest of introductions to a cast of seemingly worthless throwaway characters: the obligatory fat kid, the prerequisite douchebag, the Beverly Marsh character, and a narrator with a voice so bland plain yogurt is planning to sue for copyright infringement. The main character is so goddamn generic that I didn't even know their gender until page 23. I was sure I was reading about a woman, but no, the narrator is a dude named Eddie. My bad.

The biggest sin here is the oldest sin in the history of literature: telling over showing, where we're given character introductions on par with D&D player cards.

Here's Bob. Bob is a mage. Bob is handsome and funny. Bob cracks jokes and people laugh. Ha-hee-ha-hee! This is Mary. Mary is pretty because she's the only girl in a crew fulla dudes. She has breasts. Because she's a girl. Did I mention she's a girl with breasts.


Instead of showing us these kids interacting, we're given character sheets and laundry lists of reasons to like or dislike them. How about you just let us watch them interact and let us (the readers) decide how we feel about them? Nah, because that would be too much work and this author is lazier than a vampire working graveyard shift at a blood bank.

So, in summation, I'm done. You know a book is bad when you can't even force your way through the first thirty pages.

Many thanks to Crown Publishing for the review copy. Thank fuck I didn't pay money for this one.

The Sound of Broken Ribs


My new novel The Sound of Broken Ribs is now available for preorder. The book is $2.99 during preorder and release day only. After that, it goes up to $4.99. You can grab it in your respective area of the world by clicking any one of the links at the end of this post. The paperback should be available the same day as the ebook goes live, and the audiobook, produced by Veronica Giguere, will be out in the next few months.


Thank you for your support!


Advanced praise for The Sound of Broken Ribs:


"Lorn's latest tale is masterful, and absolutely mesmerizing." ~ Craig Saunders, author of Highwayman


"If you’re already a fan of the nightmare factory that is Edward Lorn, you’re in for a major treat with this newest addition to his lexicon. If you’ve yet to discover his work, fix that. He’s a rising star in the firmament of horror and an author you–and I–want to keep up with, someone who is the real deal, doing his own thing in his own way and doing it up right." ~ Shotgun Logic


"Visceral and harrowing, this book isn't just a punch to the gut. It caved my whole damn chest in and broke my heart in the most beautiful ways. Lorn is a wonderful torturer, and this book captivated me like few others." ~ Michael Patrick Hicks, author of Black Site and Let Go


"Breathing, flawed characters you come to sympathize with and a perfect balance of moments that make you cringe and others that will make your jaw drop, this is on my top 5 list for sure so far for the year. " ~The Behrg, author of Housebroken


"Lorn has written an incredible book on the horrors of humanity with a monster that haunted my dreams every night this week. This is by far his best book I have read." ~ Deep in the Crease.


"Lorn's writing has always reminded me of a young Stephen King's: lean, evocative, and powerful... I can't praise this book enough. If I hadn't already anointed Edward Lorn the Future of Horror, I would with this book. "Dan Schwent


US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07885XCV3


UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07885XCV3


Germany: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B07885XCV3


Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07885XCV3


Australia: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07885XCV3

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



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!











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: 




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




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