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A Rage Review of THE ROANOKE GIRLS (Language Warning!)

The Roanoke Girls: A Novel - Amy Engel

I'm so goddamn tired of the same-old, predictable shit. For that reason, among the many more you are about to read below, this review is going to be rage-y as fuck. If you manage to not get offended by the contents, I hope you enjoy this review more than I enjoyed the book.

First and foremost, BOOBS! There were so many mentions of funbags in this book, I had to recheck the cover to make sure this wasn't written by a dude. Every few pages, in the first 30 pages, the author mentions "big boobs" or "plumb breasts" or some variation on knockers/melons/feeders/tigolbitties. I counted eight times in those first 30 pages. Everyone was described by the size of their bosom. We get it. Roanoke girls are stacked! Whoopty-fucking-do. The author goes on to space out her tit-mentioning, but only because the cast doesn't grow. No need to describe the same chesticles over and over again unless they change, right? Right. Moving on...

I don't know if anyone was paying attention when I first started reading this, but I mentioned how creepy it was. That was the first 13 pages. Can we say, "False start?" Not sure what I caught in those first 13 pages, but all that atmosphere dissipated like a good fart, one that doesn't linger and upset the kinfolk, within the very next chapter. Oh, I felt uneasy later on. Don't get me wrong. But that feeling of discomfort was for all the wrong reasons.

Next, and this is a first (paradox?), I had to delete two of my status updates because my jokes, my motherfucking goddamn sonuvabitching jokes, ended up being fucking spoilers. Lemme spell this shit out to you. I was fucking around, goofing off, as I am wont to do, and my goofiness ended up being a plot point. That's never fucking good. Well, maybe if this was a parody, but no, it's serious fiction. Which brings me to...

This novel (for lack of a better word) has the most unintentionally-funny fight scene at the end of it. The big denouement had me in tears not because it was sad but because it was mountainous - or, as the kids are saying, HILL AREAS!

These are the jokes, people. Fuck you, don't judge me.

Sexual dysfunction brought on by childhood trauma seems to be popular right now. Are that many of us being molested and growing into sex-starved fuck-puppets? Is this the new us? Are there any parents/grandparents/uncles/aunts/neighbors/clergymen/pets/inanimate objects in existence who are not out here diddling their children? You'd think this world was nothing but pederasts and pedopiles and hebephiles, what with how it's the plot or subplot of every goddamn literary thriller. I'm not making light of this topic. I have my own past and that's none of your business. But you'd think that, with all the safe-space-seeking readers out there, you'd see less of this stuff, not more.

My point is this: I'm fucking tired of reading about it because it's fucking predictable. Not because it's disgusting or triggering or any other topical reason, but because I fucking expect it. It's gotten to the point that I open up a literary thriller and think "I wonder who's gonna be molested in this one?"

The moment the killer hit the screen, so to speak, I knew who she was, and as soon as the molester hit the screen, I knew who he was. (I called both of them in my second and third updates, which I have since deleted by request because spoilers) As soon as the red herring hit the screen, I knew who it wasn't. There's a long-lost-then-returned love interest. One of the characters is a downhome cop who used to be friends with the main character. (I'm telling you, folks, there's nothing new in this book.) One of the characters is even a motherfucking V.C. Andrews cast member. Oh, you remember ol' V.C. Andrews. Motherfucking Flowers in the Attic motherfucking V.C. motherfucking Andrews. Amy Engel attempted to emulate one of the worst word mills in modern literature. In fact, now that I make that comparison, that's all this book is is a reboot of Andrews' early career. Tom Cruise help us all if this shit gets popular again. In the name of Brad Pitt, amen.

In summation: Holy shit this was bad. If you're looking for a book wherein you can predict the outcome in the first 50 pages, read this motherfucker. If you were offended by this review, damn sure skip this motherfucker. Most importantly, if you were spoiled during this review, good. Now you don't have to read it.

Final Judgment: Contender for Worst Book of the Year 2017... and it's only March. Fuck my life.

Many thanks to the publisher (because I didn't have to waste my hard earned dough on this book) for supplying the review copy of this shit-fest. I think it goes without saying that this is my unbiased opinion. I understand that they can't all be winners, but I've come to expect so much more from your company (Crown Publishing). Then again, good friends of mine loved this book, so what do I know? smooches

Thanks for the help...

Thanks to everyone who reblogged my freebie post and helped to spread the word. There were quite a few of you, so my apologies that I did not get around to each of you to say thanks. Know that you have my appreciation. 



Free Story and a Cheap Audiobook


For the next five days, you can grab the Kindle edition of "Margins" for free, and then get the audiobook from Audible for $1.99.




Amazon US














Sorry for the barrage of posts...

Sorry for the barrage of posts. I'm done now. 

Doodletopia: Fairies Review

Doodletopia Fairies: Draw, Design, and Color Your Own Super-Magical and Beautiful Fairies - Christopher Hart

All of the Christopher Hart books are good. My daughter owns nearly all of them now, and her artwork has improved drastically. In her words, "I'd buy this for anyone who wants to learn how to draw fairies." Highly recommended to anyone just starting out.

The Sun is Also a Star Review

The Sun Is Also a Star - Nicola Yoon

Oh, boy. Here we go.

Few things you should know before I go on with my review. 

a) I'm not this book's target audience, but I have enjoyed books in this genre. 

b) I know good writing when I see it. Unfortunately, I did see any in here. This is bare-minimum, barely-scratch-the-surface, creative-writing-course prose. It's a heavy outline, is what it is. Bland narratives do not a happy reader make.

c) I actually thought I'd like this premise. That's why I requested a copy for review. Thanks to Crown Publishing for the chance to read this for free. I always feel bad when I have to shit on a freebie, but I can't help it. I couldn't enjoy the premise because the writing and chapter length was maddening.

Having chapters with fewer words than the ingredients on a bag of lettuce is fucking annoying. No. Scratch that. It's infuriating. If it's one thing a writer should never do is go full James Patterson. Nicola Yoon went full Patterson. The book is written in this Twitter-post-length style that is aggravating and distracting. The moment you start to get a feel for a situation a new chapter from a different POV comes along and fistfucks the flow of the book. 

Yoon tells you why these characters are different, but they never feel different, unless of course she's writing in broken English, then I guess it's kinda obvious the main characters aren't the ones talking. If you've seen Margaret Cho do an impersonation of her mother, you'll recognize some of the dialogue.

From the author: I wrote this book for anyone who's ever desperately searched for meaning. For everyone who asks the big questions. For all the dreamers and questioners.

You know what I'm searching for and questioning and dreaming of? Where everyone is in this book. There's no details of their surroundings. At one point she mentions a theater and the description tells us that the place was small, what the marquee said, and that tickets were fifteen bucks. WHAT THE FUCK DID THE PLACE LOOK LIKE, YOON? Oh, right, we've all been in a theater so fuck us, right? There's also some repetition with the word small. Everything is "very small" or "too small". Well, not Everything, Everything (see what I did there? The author's first book is... Never mind.), but a lot of stuff is "too small" or "very small", and so was my patience with this book. My patience was so too very small that it was minuscule to nonexistent. 

In summation: Requesting this book was a mistake. But not because it's not my genre of choice or anything I could have known before opening the book itself. I guess I could've saved my time and effort by checking the Look Inside on Amazon. So my bad. Yoon and I definitely do not gel. I'll pass on anything else from her.

Final Judgment: Introducing the new YA novel, now with 50% less words and 3,000,000% more chapters!

Disaster Falls Review

Disaster Falls: A Family Story - Stephane Gerson

First and foremost, my condolences to the author. And that's about the nicest thing I can say about this book.

I'll start by saying it for you. I'm a terrible person, an emotional cripple. How can a father give this book anything below five stars!? 

Well, because the book is boring. I simply never wanted to pick it up again after I laid it down. I started it on the 7th and it is now the 17th. I made it through the first third of the book but nothing is drawing me in further. Thus, I am throwing in the towel.

So, yes, rage-comment below on how insensitive I am and how you wish me to die in a fire. I won't even respond to you. Let me have it. Punish me, mistress... Okay, maybe that wasn't the best choice of words. 

In summation: I feel for this family, but this book is, for me, banal to the point of being unreadable.

Final Judgment: A tragic incident discussed in the most sleep-inducing of ways.

Black Boy Review

Black Boy - Richard Wright, Jerry W. Ward Jr.

“Our too-young and too-new America, lusty because it is lonely, aggressive because it is afraid, insists upon seeing the world in terms of good and bad, the holy and the evil, the high and the low, the white and the black; our America is frightened of fact, of history, of processes, of necessity. It hugs the easy way of damning those whom it cannot understand, of excluding those who look different, and it salves its conscience with a self-draped cloak of righteousness”

― Richard Wright, Black Boy


In an attempt to further my literary education, I am taking this course: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...

Black Boy is the first book on the syllabus (I love that word, "syllabus", it's so silly for a serious, college word, but I digress). I burned through Richard Wright's much fictionalized autobiography in four days. I didn't want to put it down until the final 60-or-so odd pages. Up until those last 60 pages, the novel was beautifully written. The prose was in perfect harmony with the subject matter. And then, in those last 60, the text became dry and political. I didn't expect the shift and was thus jarred out of the story.

Interestingly enough, back in June of 1944, the Book of the Month Club seems to have thought the same thing. They wrote Wright and asked him to cleave off the second half, "The Horror and the Glory", and rewrite the ending of the first part, Southern Night, before they would select it as one of their club picks. I gotta say, other than some great paragraphs on the state of America at the time, I could've easily skipped Part Two. Nothing wrong with what's there. It just bored this reader to the point I wanted to put it down.

Slightly off topic: I highly suggest you follow the link above to the Yale Course and check it out, as well as their other free YouTube courses. There are dozens of them. For free. Did I mention they were free courses?

In summation: Highly recommended first half, but the second part can easily be skipped without losing much. Unless you like reading about communism, then by all means, dive right in. The topic simply does not interest me whatsoever and Wright goes on and on and on about it.

Final Judgment: Race relations and communism in equal parts.


The World According to Garp - John Irving

Book #4 in my John Irving Challenge, and the best one yet.

The idea that men and women are equal seems to me a basic truth. What sets us apart, medically, is our reproductive organs. Yes, you can have gender reassignment surgery, but a person born a man cannot carry a child conceived using one of that man's eggs because he doesn't produce eggs. Science has a long way to go on that advancement, if anyone is even working on it. Likewise, no person born a woman is out there fertilizing an egg with her semen, because she does not produce semen. So, when speaking about medical classification, our reproductive organs are the only things that separate us. You can joke and giggle and play the men-are-dumber card. I know I have, because there seems to be loads of evidence that we are, in fact, dumber, or, at the very least, slower to think and quicker to act, but there is no scientific proof that, say, a man's brain is smaller or less active than a woman's. (If you argue this in the comments make sure to back up your findings with cited proof. Thank you.) You can even say women are more emotional, which isn't a negative in my book, but that's not true either. Men are trained from a very early age not to have emotions, so we only seem heartless in comparison. "Stop crying! Be a man!" our fellow men bellow, and we salute our Generals in Masculinity with our throbbing erections and a call of "SIR! YES, SIR!" Okay, I'm done man-splaining. On with the review...

The World According to Garp deals with all of the above topics: feminism (which isn't militant man-hating, guys, it's the idea that both genders matter equally in society, so calm your man-tits), sexual identity, and masculinity. The book is surprisingly forward thinking in regards to the year in which it was published and the fact that it was written by a man. But of course I would think that. I'm a dude. I will only ever be a dude. Yet I have only ever read short-sighted or overtly-preachy diatribes from male authors on these topics. John Irving isn't sensitive in such a way as to come off as pandering. He truly seems to care and understand that everyone should be treated equally. Meaning, I do not believe he sat around after completing this book gloating over how progressive and clever he was in his writing of it.

The novel also deals with female rape from a man's point of view. Yes, men can be raped, too, but that's not what Irving is talking about. He discusses how men deal emotionally with the rape of a female loved one. Specifically how some men will go into hyperactive protection mode, which can be as emotionally harmful for their loved one as the rape itself. Male or female, you can never truly fathom emotionally the violation of rape unless you have been in that situation. Anyone who says otherwise is a liar.

Furthermore, Garp touches on something I've believed for as long as I can remember: that rape is worse than murder. Kill someone and they are gone, they no longer exist anywhere but memory. Their life is over and only their loved ones are left behind to deal with the tragedy of loss. Someone who is murdered is no longer hurting; they cannot hurt as they no longer feel, emotionally or physically. But rape, if survived, leaves that individual to deal with the past on a daily basis. Every day can be a recurring nightmare. You relive the assault over and over and over, until you wish and beg and plead that your rapist had just fucking killed you. There are no murder victims sitting around praying to be raped to get away from their own minds.

In summation: This is a pitch-perfect book that deals with tough issues respectfully. Not necessarily sensitively, but respectfully. There is a difference. You might be triggered upon reading, but I'm betting you and Irving alike would appreciate your bravery for making it to the end. But what do I know? I'm just a dude. Read at your own risk.

Final Judgment: Powerful, engaging, thought-provoking, intelligent, and immensely entertaining to read.

Looking for a literary fiction reading group.

Anyone have a lead on a literary fiction reading group? Especially people who enjoy postmodern authors, please.


Thanks in advance.

Dare I say "It's fixed"...

Hello folks. I've been logging into Booklikes once a week since October 2nd and every week, without fail, the site either times-out or takes upwards of ten minutes to load. Even when the site did load, only the first three posts would be visible. I'd click on Show More and I'd have to wait another couple of minutes for three more posts to load. It was a crap shoot if I could even get to the point were the create-a-post page would work.


Well, I logged in tonight and the site is running nicely. Everything loaded quickly and old friends are active once more, so I'll try again tomorrow and we'll see where we go from there. 


I've missed everyone. Hope you're all doing well and that this is a new beginning for one of my all-time favorite websites.




Hello everybody. Long time no see. I won't take much of your time.


I know there are a few of you who did not follow me when I left Booklikes that enjoyed my War on Christmas series, and I wanted to jump in to let you know that, Beyond the Gates of Toyland is live and will be free from December 14-18. This is the final installment of my War on Christmas series. I hope you enjoy the way it ends.


So here you go. Beyond the Gates of Toyland, the conclusion to the War on Christmas


Click on the picture to get your copy from Amazon.com. International links are below the image.








GodBomb! Review (My Last Review or Post on Booklikes: Hope to see you elsewhere!)

GodBomb! - Kit Power

I was planning on writing a separate post saying goodbye to all you wonderful Booklikes users who I've gotten to know over the past three years, but I can't seem to get the site to load on the worst of days, and on the best of days, it takes forever to post over here because of how slow the site has become.


So this is my final post. Much love and thanks for all the support. Please believe that it's not you, it's this broken-ass site. I don't have the patience for it. I hope to see you guys elsewhere on the interwebs. 


Oh, I probably wouldn't comment on this post if you want me to see it. This is the first time since my last review that this site has loaded for me. If you want to say goodbye (I wish you wouldn't because I'm loads of other places, like Wordpress and Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and Goodreads, to name a few), email me at edwardlorn@gmail.com. I'm not deleting my account because there are hundreds of reviews and posts here that I've linked to in other posts and guest blogs and such, so my account will still be here, but I won't. 


*hugs and fist bumps and high fives all around*


Now for my review...


Exceptional. Far beyond all expectations I might have had regarding quality. I know most of my friends have given this novel high praise (that's how I came to read it), so I was expecting it to be good, but the writing herein is well above your average small-press or indie author. I'd even risk saying that Kit Power is one of the best writers working today, at any level of publishing. I'd have to read more of him, of course, but right now, I'm very impressed.

What Kit Power was able to accomplish with character development in such a short period of time matches the skills of Stephen King and Herman Koch. Power is not afraid to look deep into the hearts and minds of those he writers about. While the book reminded me a small bit of one of King's early novels, his Bachman book Rage, GodBombstands on its own legs. I would even say that Power's novel is better than Rage and Rage is one of my favorite Stephen King books.

The ending was the highlight of the book for me. Those who know me will understand why. I don't want to give even the subtlest of hints, because, while it's not necessarily a twist ending, it did shock me. I thought for sure we were headed one way, and Power took me a completely different direction. I can't say whether or not you'll be shocked, but that was my experience.

Being a opioid junkie of ole, I especially liked Mike's history. I did heroin in the late 90s and early 2000s, before I met my wife and managed to kick the illegal stuff, and currently am what they call a "functioning addict" because of my need for high-dose narcotic pain medicine due to a chronic back condition. I'm not sure if Kit Powers ever chased the dragon, but he sure nailed the character of Mike. Bravo.

I don't know nor will I theorize about Power's religious beliefs, or if he has any at all, but I believed that his characters were devout. If he's not a practicing Christian, I commend him for making these characters believable. It's hard to be respectful of characters with this level of faith if you're not a believer yourself. I know how hard that is. I ran into problems while writing one of my books, trying to make a Christian woman believable while keeping her from feeling overly silly. It's a testament to the power of this book that I found it so engaging when in reality I hate religion of any form. I don't mind religious people as long as they don't try to convert me every time we see each other, but I do hate the gimme-gimme structure of Christianity.

"Lord, please let my sports team win the big game."

"Lord, please let me win the lottery."

"Lord, gimme, gimme, gimme, Amen!"

Oh, and I can't forget the pastors and preachers of the world. But their gimme-gimme is called tithing. Then they can be like Joel Osteen in his million dollar mansion and say "These are just blessings! God is GOOD!" When translated, that statement reads "My congregation is GULLIBLE! Praise the Almighty Dollar!"

I've lost some of you, and that's okay. That means you won't be around for me to offend later. If you're still here, high five. Good job thinking for yourselves. *smooches*

In summation: Kit Power is a talented dude. While he reminds of the best, he's definitely got his own style. A style I image will be a pleasure to read for years to come.

Final Judgment: What a blast!



Hide and Seek Review

Hide and Seek - Jack Ketchum

This is a typical Jack Ketchum novel. 85% of it is a narrator droning on about young(ish) people being young(ish) people: raising Cain, having sex, drinking and/or doping, telling stories. The last 15% is horrific to the point you think you might be sick. It's the Ketchum formula. You either like it or you don't. Me? I have to be in a certain mood for it. I read this one right after The Girl Next Door and I shouldn't have. Would have enjoyed myself more had I spaced these two book out more. I love a good dark read, but I can't do them back to back. Fucks with my mood. The audiobook, read by Wayne June, is good. No complaints there. If you have Kindle Unlimited you can listen to it for free. In summation: Mostly boring with a kicker of an ending. Not Ketchum's best but far from his worst. Final Judgment: Better than dog food. Kindle Unlimited money saved: $27.94 Quality of books: $2.99 In case you're curious how my process of quality-versus-money-saved is calculated, here's a break down: If a book is one I would've bought no matter if it was on KU or not and I enjoyed it, it goes in the quality column. If a book is one I would not have read without KU and I enjoy it, it goes in the quality column. If a book is one I would've read and I disliked it, it goes in both columns because I would have paid money for it anyway, so the quality comes from not having to pay for it by itself. If a book is not something I would've read without KU and a terrible read, it goes into money saved, but not quality.

The Girl Next Door Review

The Girl Next Door - Jack Ketchum

There's going to be some personal information in this review. If you feel uncomfortable reading about child abuse of a sexual nature, you might want to skip this one.

The Girl Next Door was one of the first Leisure paperbacks I recall buying. I don't know what I was expecting, but what I got was a kick in the teeth. This book is brutal and unapologetic. And, in my opinion, Ruth is one of the scariest characters to be found within the pages of the book. What makes this all the more terrifying and unsettling is that the story is based on true events.

This time around, I decided to listen to Jack Ketchum read the book to me via audiobook. The one criticism I have is that Ketchum, like Ruth, is a heavy smoker. You can hear evidence of this in the way he breathes. I constantly felt myself drawn out of the story and and wondering about Ketchum's health. His voice isn't unpleasant, but his breathing is. You likely won't notice, but I did. He reminded me of my father, who was on oxygen during the final years of his life.

Here's where the personal info comes into play. You can skip to "In summation" if you like.

Growing up, I lived down the street from a pedophile named Eddie. The guy was arrested after a neighbor walked in on him molesting his mentally-impaired son, Jamie. Jamie's brother Ryan soon confessed that, yes, Eddie had been messing with both of them. After that, all the kids in the neighborhood came crawling out of the woodwork with stories of how Eddie had been at them.

I recall very clearly playing hide and seek with Ryan and group of our friends. Ryan and I hid in a closet. While we were in there, Ryan unzipped his pants and pulled out his penis. He said, "Put it in your mouth." I was ten and he was a year older than me, but even then I knew there was something wrong with what he was asking me. I mean, you pee out of that thing. Why would I want to put my mouth on it? I called him nasty and he laughed. He put his dick away and said he'd only been kidding. We played the rest of the day and never mentioned it again.

That was my only odd experience with that family, meaning Eddie never got a hold of me. Although there were stories about how my sisters offered themselves up willingly so he would leave me alone. To this day I'm not sure if that's true. It's not something I feel comfortable asking them, because we're not that close.

Soon after he was caught, one of the girls on the block came up pregnant. Rumors flooded the street about how the father was Eddie. The girl's mother had had a thing for him and used her daughter as a bargaining chip to win Eddie's attention.

Years later, I remember thinking, what kind of woman would do such a thing? Reading The Girl Next Door hit me that much harder because of all that.

Monsters come in all shapes and sizes. They come in all genders. Unfortunately, people like Ruth exist. Trust me. I know.

When Eddie got out of jail a few weeks later, he would park on the cross street and walk up and down our block. He'd point at houses and nod his head. He'd wave at anyone he'd happen to catch in their yards or looking out their windows. This was years before sexual predators had to register on a national list, and it was months before a restraining order was put into effect.

Some of you might recognize parts of this story because I put a different version of these events in one of my books. Looking back, I know how lucky I was.

In summation: Rereading this wasn't a bright idea, but I don't regret it. I'll never say that I enjoy reading it, but I feel everyone should experience it at least once.

Final Judgment: Utterly horrific.

Deathcrawl Review

Deathcrawl - Rich Hawkins, Daryl Duncan

One thing is obvious after finishing Deathcrawl. Rich Hawkins is an above-average writer. The editing is on point and he was able to extract physical reactions from me. The dinner scene toward the end was intense and disgusting and I damn near threw up. That scene is also where, in my opinion, the book should have ended. Deathcrawl ends up drifting into nonsensical territory that dropped my rating from a solid four stars all the way down to a low three. 

In summation: A short review for a short book. Deathcrawl is reminiscent of Stephen King's Cell, up to and including the lackluster ending. Instead of Phonies, we get mad cannibals who may or may not be possessed. Luckily, Hawkins's book is a quarter of the length of King's, so the rushed ending doesn't annoy as much as it would have had the book been longer. Worth a read if you have Kindle Unlimited.

Final Judgment: Rushed and nonsensical finish leaves a bad aftertaste to what was an otherwise delicious cocktail.

Kindle Unlimited Update: Money saved = $3.98

Spoiler Discussion:


What sense did it make for Charlie and his mom to leave Jed alive only to come back six months later to kill him? None. That's how much sense it made. Zero. And both Jed and Charlie surviving a bombing run and being able to hear each other afterward? Highly unlikely. Charlie's mom running out of the mist made me literally laugh out loud. Everything after the mad dinner party felt like a rush to tie up all loose ends. Even the writing took a hit, as Hawkins's prose went from lush to bare minimum quicker than I could blink. This is all a huge shame because I was thoroughly enjoying myself until the last few pages.

(show spoiler)

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