An American Pope by Paul Xylinides – A Review

RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

A modernizing American has assumed the papal throne. One of His first acts is to select a seventeenth century priest for canonization. The Congregation for the Causes of the Saints recoils in horror at the new pontiff’s choice. Against a backdrop of Vatican intrigue and infighting, a long-unsolved crime comes to the attention of a retired detective. The forces that contribute to it reach far back into the distant past. No one can truly fathom the life of the candidate for sainthood including the nun and priest who join forces to prepare the submission to Rome.

Amazon Book Description

Continue reading “An American Pope by Paul Xylinides – A Review”

The Good Kill: A Killian Lebon Novel – A Review by Lee Hall

Many thanks to Lee Hall for reviewing my latest novel THE GOOD KILL. It’s such an honor and so very rewarding when someone like Lee gets your work.

You really need to learn more about Lee if you are just now being introduced to him. He is not only the creator of fine, independent literature himself, he is also one of its biggest supporters with his willingness to focus so much of his time and effort in reading and prolifically reviewing the work of so many other independent authors, authors who I am sure are just as grateful to Lee as yours truly right here is.

Lee's Hall of information

An enthralling, gripping tale of epic proportions taking the reader on a ride full of twists, turns and action…


Kurt Brindley has constructed an intricate  story that immediately immerses readers into the brutal world of organised crime,  drug and sex trafficking and a gangster underworld all of which is centered around main character Killian Lebon. This warrior and former navy seal embarks on a journey in search of answers and revenge while also dealing with a huge level of trauma. He’s a character that for all of his flaws and even dark moments you cannot help but admire and get behind.

The story unfolds gradually via a gripping and very readable style with the emphasis on Brindley’s descriptive full sentences (proper sentences, how I have longed for thee…)  with a series of stories and characters that all eventually find themselves linked later on. There are a wealth of three dimensional realistic characters…

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I’ve been got…

For years my barely read first novel INSIDE THE SKIN (formerly The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor) had been pegged at 15 meager but oh so appreciated and loved Amazon reader reviews…


However, as of today there are now only 7.

I mean, c’mon…

Thanks Amazon.



Our Amazon Overlord* Means Business

Especially when it comes to product reviews.

So, here’s some news you can use…

Well, at least it is useful news for me.

And by it, I’m referring to the fact that in order to be able to post a review on any of Amazon’s products — for example: a review for a favorite book — one must have spent a minimum of $50 (or your country’s currency equivalent, I’m assuming) within the past twelve months.

Continue reading “Our Amazon Overlord* Means Business”

To Review or Not to Review…

That is the conundrum.

More specifically, the conundrum is should authors review or not.

I’ve been meaning to write about this topic for a while now…

At least ever since reading back at the end of June horror author sensation Ania Ahlborn’s excellently articulated post I Won’t Pan Your Crummy Book. I’m Not That Type of Gal.

And then even more so after having an interesting Goodreads discussion with my internet buddy Author Joy Pixley about it (I know, I know… Goodreads, ugh!).

Fortunately, during my recent meanderings I found the excellent post Should Authors Review Books? by Author Raven Blackwood — an author and Navy vet! which makes her a lifelong shipmate of mine — that I’ve reblogged down below for your entertainment and instruction, and which sums up the issues nicely regarding reviews.

But as far as Ahlborn is concerned, in her post mentioned above, as well as her subsequent post, she comes down strongly against authors reviewing books.

And she particularly takes Indie Authors to task for it.

One should remember that after hitting the big times as an Indie herself and subsequently getting drafted by the Trades into the Big League, Ahlborn has returned to her roots and has gone Indie once again with her latest novel IF YOU SEE HER [about].

Which is very cool thing for her to do… and very profitable one I’m sure.

Both of which I admire (read: envy) greatly.

But I don’t necessarily agree with her position regarding reviews.

Indie Authors such as myself, those down closer, much closer, to the lower rungs of the authorial success ladder, need to do just about anything they can to expose their literary flare.

Showcasing the fact that they are not just well-read, but understand what they read and that they can articulate why they do or do not appreciate what they read can, in my estimation, go a long way toward proving their own writing chops…

Or lack thereof.

And when it comes to reviewing well-established authors backed by the highfalutin publishing industry, I’m all for being brutally honest in regards to how one feels about their work.

Meaning all is fair: from one-star reviews to five; as is even making note of the fact that a book of theirs had to be DNF’d…

As can be witnessed by those DNFs found on my sidebar.

But, as an Indie Author who understands that this writing gig is a tough one, I do believe we Indie Authors need to find ways to uplift and showcase each other’s work…

And providing positive reviews for each other is one way to do that.

I didn’t always believe this.

Back when I first started this Indie thing a decade or so ago, I wrote a few rough reviews of other Indie Authors’ work.

And I still feel guilty about it.

And I won’t do it anymore.

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to be dishonest with my Indie Author reviews.

It just means I will look harder for the positive when reviewing them than I probably would for non-Indies.

And if I can’t find enough positive in an Indie’s book to at least write a decent three-star review?

Then I won’t review it.

And if it’s so bad I have to DNF it, gawd forbid — let’s be honest, there are a lot of less than good books out there, especially by Indie Authors I’m sorry to say…

Then I will do it without mention or fanfare.

Which means, if you are an Indie Author and if one day you find your book on my Currently Reading list and then the next day it disappears from the sidebar altogether, never making it to either the Recent Reads or Recent 5-Star Reads lists where all books are rated and (some are) reviewed…

Well then I apologize in advance, for, with my particular literary sensibilities being the way they are, I just couldn’t stick with your book to the end.

But so what, right?

I mean, my opinion about a book is just that…

An opinion.

And we all know what that means, right?



Now do yourself a favor by disregarding this extremely long opinion of mine and go read Raven’s most excellent one on the matter!

TL:DR: Some think it’s okay for authors to review other authors’ books, some don’t. Yours truly here thinks it’s okay… albeit with some provisos attached.

Raven Blakewood

Reviewing books can be difficult, especially as an author. You don’t want to hinder future working relationships by one staring an author’s work, but you don’t think it’s right to dismiss the book’s pitfalls.

I’ve had my share of time as both author and reviewer, sometimes both. I’ve interviewed authors I’ve given negative reviews to. It is awkward, especially if they are the author who publicly gets all whoa is me when someone doesn’t give their book 5 stars.

That’s only the beginning of the dilemma. The one I tend to suffer from is how should I review. I’ve gone from short and snappy to 1,600 words. That isn’t even a joke. I once wrote a 500 word review on a one-word poem an author was charging $0.99 for. Surprisingly, the review went from a rant to a rave.

I’ve tried many styles and formats, different star rating systems. None…

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The Good Kill Summer Giveaway

If you like action-filled, full-bodied thrillers, then have I got a book for you…


Thanks to everyone for the interest and support.
Perhaps we’ll do it again come autumn.

I’m giving away all the books you see here, each with its own snazzy bookmark to accompany it, to anyone in the Americas or UK who is willing to write an honest review for it and submit the review to Amazon and Goodreads, and anywhere else you’d like as well… your blog perhaps, Barnes and Noble, Yelp, Foursquare, Uber, your call as long as it at least gets on Amazon and Goodreads. :)

It’s received some pretty decent reviews so far. Heck, even the sole three-star review it received is a rather stellar endorsement:

I generally shy away from reading novels about dark subjects, and nothing is darker than sex trafficking. Despite that proclivity of mine, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel…I like the author’s voice and writing style. I would love to read a novel of his that is not so dark. That prejudice of mine should be taken into account when considering the three star rating that I give to this novel. 

Ed of Whispering Stories

So if you’d like to own one of these babies* for nothing more than an investment of your leisure time, then please let me know where to send it by emailing me through the contact page and I’ll get one of these bad boys* out to you posthaste.


*non-gender specific

What a Bizarro World We Live In

So, it’s kind of becoming a thing for me to head straight to the WordPress reader after publishing a new post to do a search on whatever it is I have just posted about so I can see what others have written about it.

I like to do this especially after posting reviews since I don’t like to read other reviews regarding whatever it is I’m reviewing prior to writing the review…


Anyway, I did exactly that yesterday after posting my review of AND THE HIPPOS WERE BOILED IN THEIR TANKS .

First I did a search on the title and pretty much came back with zippo, except for my review.

Then I did one on Jack Kerouac and a ton of stuff came back on him of course, but nothing regarding the book I just reviewed.

Next came the search for William S. Burroughs.

I found nothing on his relationship with the book, as expected, but I found a whole slew of information about him that I didn’t no otherwise, which was easy because I really didn’t know much about him except that he was an OG Beat, the author of Naked Lunch, a junkie, and a murder.

Quite the portfolio of virtues, no?

So I had fun reading up on him for a while.

But then, all of a sudden, I scrolled upon a post by Zé Burns entitled How I Discovered Bizarro Fiction, and which I have reblogged here (way) down below for your entertainment and instruction…

And a whole new world opened up to me.

I cannot believe I have never heard of Bizarro Fiction before.

After reading Ze’ informative and highly interesting article about how he got turned on to the genre and where he trumpets the virtue of one bizarro writer in particular — Danger Slater, whose book now adorns my Want to Read list — I spent the next several hours digging deeper and deeper into the subject as a result.

What a ride that was.

Here are some description of the genre direct from Bizarro Central:

  • Bizarro is like:
    • Franz Kafka meets John Waters
    • Dr. Suess of the post-apocalypse
    • Takashi Miike meets William S. Burroughs
    • Alice in Wonderland for adults
    • Japanese animation directed by David Lynch

So, to be honest (Now, I’m not saying that I haven’t been honest up to the point… or am I?), I don’t really think the genre is for me.

I mean, I like the idea of it…

Just like I like the idea of low-grade cult movies, which is another comparison of bizarro fiction I found…

But I never, ever watch cult movies.

At least not any more.

Which takes me to where yesterday’s adventure eventually ended up.

When I was a kid growing up in Ashtabula, a lake-front town an hour or so east of Cleveland, there were some pretty bizarre dudes on TV back in the 70s and early 80s that would “perform” severely bizarre/warped skits interspersed and sometimes overlapping with seriously low-grade cultish movies, and/or Three Stooges skits, and/or cartoons.

These bizarre dude were Hoolihan & Big Chuck, The Ghoul, and Superhost… and their sole purpose in life was to lovingly pollute the hearts and minds of every adolescent in the Greater Cleveland area.

And they did.

At least they did of yours truly.

Poor Froggy never had it easy…

But that was long, long ago and I have long since pretty much turned up my nose to such bizarre, cultish entertainment…

And I expect I may end up doing the same with bizarro fiction.

I didn’t know it at the time when I read Brian Evenson’s Last Days [about] that he is regarded as a bizarro author (at least he is included in the long list of them on Bizarro Central’s website).

As you can tell by my review, I didn’t think too highly of his work…

Not because of its highly bizarre, cultish story (it really is a story about bizarre cults)…

But because it was poorly executed in my opinion, one which, as evidenced by the high praise it receives from others elsewhere, seems to be in the minority.

But who knows…

Maybe I’ll like Danger Slater’s work better.

In Zé’s interesting and informative post, of which I reblogged here down below for your entertainment and instruction, hé highly recommends Slater’s HE DIGS A WHOLE [about].

But I’ll probably start off with his novella ROADVOLUTION [about] since its available with Kindle Unlimited.

Hey, I’m not cheap…

I’m cost conscious.

Anyway, I’ll report back to you after I finish the read.

I promise…


TL;DR: There’s a thing called Bizarro Fiction. I may or may not like it.

Zé Burns | Blog

Prague_old_town Old Town Prague where it all began … (via Wikimedia Commons)

We’ve all had those life-changing discoveries, those moments where we find things we could never imagine living without. Mine came with an obscure, underground small-press genre called bizarro fiction.

In the summer of ’06, I visited Prague with my mother. My reading and writing at the time revolved around fantasy with bits of literary fiction thrown in. But as we explored the art and history of the city, I discovered Surrealism. I was obsessed. These artists and writers became my superheroes. It altered my writing forever. But still, it wasn’t exactly right. So I started my own one-man literary movement.

André_Breton André Breton, author of “The Surrealist Manifesto” and co-founder of Surrealism (via Wikimedia Commons)

I thought I was real clever. I had invented a genre so unique, so out there, I was sure to be the next André Breton

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