An American Pope by Paul Xylinides – A Review

BOOK | FICTION | LITERARY
AN AMERICAN POPE
PAUL XYLINIDES
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”
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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…

goodk.PNG

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…

about

However, as of today there are now only 7.

I mean, c’mon…

Thanks Amazon.

Sigh…

#itainteasythiswritinggig

BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO — A Review of Sorts

BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO
FILM | MOVIE | BRITISH | HORROR
WRITER: PETER STRICKLAND
DIRECTOR: PETER STRICKLAND
STARRING: TOBY JONES
IFC FILMS UNLIMITED
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


If Kafka were to have written movies…

He would have written a movie like Berberian Sound Studio.


Now if you know me, you know that calling a movie Kafkaesque, and calling this movie Kafkaesque is an understatement, is all I really need to say about it since, you know me, I am pretty much a slave to anything ol’ Franz has put to paper.

But I’m also a slave to the word count so, for the sake of it, I guess I should say a few things more.

Continue reading “BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO — A Review of Sorts”

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?

Yeah…

Exactly.

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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AND THE HIPPOS WERE BOILED IN THEIR TANKS — A Rapid Review

BOOK | FICTION | LITERARY
AND THE HIPPOS WERE BOILED IN THEIR TANKS
BY JACK KEROUAC AND WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS
FORMAT: AUDIOBOOK
RATING: ★ ★ ★

In the summer of 1944, a shocking murder rocked the fledgling Beats. William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, both still unknown, we inspired by the crime to collaborate on a novel, a hard-boiled tale of bohemian New York during World War II, full of drugs and art, obsession and brutality, with scenes and characters drawn from their own lives. Finally published after more than sixty years, this is a captivating read, and incomparable literary artifact, and a window into the lives and art of two of the twentieth century’s most influential writers.

Book description, grammar errors and all, as found at Amazon
Continue reading “AND THE HIPPOS WERE BOILED IN THEIR TANKS — A Rapid Review”

THE CONTORTIONIST’S HANDBOOK — A Rapid Review

BOOK | FICTION | LITERARY
THE CONTORTIONIST’S HANDBOOK
BY CRAIG CLEVENGER
FORMAT: AUDIOBOOK
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

This is the book’s description, as diminutive as it may be, and as it may be found on its Amazon page…

John Dolan Vincent, a forger who suffers from migraine headaches and mental illness, invents a new identity for himself in order to be released from a mental hospital and build a new life.

And this is my review of the book, as diminutive as it may be, and as it may be found as follows (huh?)…

Continue reading “THE CONTORTIONIST’S HANDBOOK — A Rapid Review”

LAST DAYS by Brian Evenson — A Reluctant Review

BOOK | FICTION | HORROR
LAST DAYS BY BRIAN EVENSON
RATING: ★ ★

I had been looking hard for a killer horror noir novel ever since reading FALLING ANGEL by William Hjortsberg, a stellar benchmark of the sub-genre that is in close competition for greatness with ANGEL HEART, its movie adaptation starring Mickey Rourke.

I eventually came across a couple of pretty good lists of horror noir books and found that LAST DAYS was high on both of them.

In Last Days I thought for sure I had a ringer.

And then when I began reading Peter Straub’s introduction for it there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that it was going to be the absolutely best horror noir book I had ever read.

Continue reading “LAST DAYS by Brian Evenson — A Reluctant Review”

Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo | A Miranda Reads Review

If you’re going to go negative, this review by the wildly popular Goodreads reviewer Miranda Reads that I’m reblogging here for your entertainment and instruction is exactly how it is to be done.

You’re welcome, now do yourself a favor and go check out more of her magic…

Miranda Reads

description

IT WAS A COMPLETE DISASTER.

Whelp…that was horribly disappointing…

I cannot begin to explain how utterly…blah this one was.

SO many people recommended it, and I honestly feel a bit awful with the low rating – but ehhh, what’s the point of goodreads if I can’t rant? 

How to Write a Hit YA Novel 101 

(In 5 easy steps!)

1. Make your main character ugly

“She’s an ugly little thing. No child should look like that.”

Like realllllllly ugly.

Pale and sour, like a glass of milk that’s turned.

And she must be skinny, but in the malnourished-and-kinda-hot sort of way.

AND REMEMBER 
– she can never be so ugly that the Generic Love Interest(s) aren’t attracted to her!

I’m sorry it took me so long to see you, Alina. But I see you now.

Your Main Character must be ugly enough so that…

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Hurts so good…

House of the Rising Sun – A Review of Sorts

So, last night was a night just like any other night where, at 8pm(ish), I shifted the butt from the office chair to the recliner and happily fired up the new Fire Stick (a Prime Day upgrade (half-price and 2 free months of HBO!) from an old stick that had been rode hard and put away wet if you know what I mean) and the big screen and, with much hope and anticipation, began yet another heroic search through the multitudinous movie apps for something fun and entertaining to watch for the night.

You feel me?

(I recently finished watching The Wire (for the third or fourth time, can’t exactly recall) so I’m still feeling a bit Omar-esque. Hence the, “You feel me?,” if you know what I mean).

Long story short, it wasn’t long before I surfed upon a flick starring Dave Bautista and immediately had to put on the brakes.

Continue reading “Hurts so good…”

Midsommar Review

So, I’m reblogging this Midsommar movie review by Michael Van Zanten (cool name) for two reasons…

The first reason is because it is a very will-written and informative review for a movie that I am very interested in seeing.

The second reason is because Michael, the author of the review, regards the director Ari Aster as an “auteur” — high praise indeed — and I wonder, can a director who has released only two feature films, with the second only being just released and still yet mostly unseen by the general movie going public, be deserving of such high praise as auteur?

My instincts tell me no, that two movies aren’t enough to put him up there with the likes of the greats such as Wells, Kubrick, Bigelow, Lee, Hitchcock, Kurosawa and others who truly were/are the auteurs – the authors – of the movies they created.

But to me a director is not deserving of the honor just for having such an influence on his or her own movies. To me, he or she must have such an influence on the entire industry.

But that’s just my opinion and what do I know? I’m just an old guy probably a bit too suspicious of the present and far too overprotective of the past…

But seriously, go ahead and check out this review of Michael’s I’m reblogging here and all the other reviews of his. He has a great site.

Film Sentinel

midsommar4.0.jpgHorror has a new name, and that name is Ari Aster. After possessing the minds of Sundance-goers with his unsettling directorial debut Hereditary in 2018, the auteur’s breakout hit enjoyed a wide release under A24 and turned out to be the most profitable release ever under the label. Now only one year later, A24 is banking on the director once again to disturb viewers with Midsommar, Aster’s horrific follow-up centered on a Swedish Pagan death cult. Midsommar definitely isn’t for everyone, but it’s a magnificent and refined piece of distressing cinema, and further evidence the genre has a new king.

Unleashed to unsuspecting theater patrons in June of last year, Hereditary shunned popular horror conventions in favor of scares that were more psychological in nature. While there were still instances of common genre tropes such as Ouija boards and demonic possession, they were present in a script that was…

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