Tag Archives: drama

Frightfully Ever After by Nick DeWolf

As is often the case I received this book free for the purpose of review but despite that I’ll be completely candid about it below.

The nutshell on this book is that it plays much like a cross between Breaking Bad and Cinderella. You’ve got drug deals, shoot-outs, lots of profanity, magic axes and Fairie Godmothers. It’s not very often you get all that between two covers.

To the positive, I was fairly giddy at the concept and remained so throughout the book. While it would be a bit of a stretch to call this all that original, I will say that this is the first book I’ve seen in which this was done so well and with such blatant grit. As the book progresses the protagonists/antagonists evolve into pretty frightful badasses. DeWolf has a talent for action scenes and his descriptions leave just enough to the imagination to engage the reader in total interest. The writing is solid, reasonably well edited and leaves little to be desired.

To the negative, many of the characters are pretty stereotypical and don’t enjoy fully proper development. This should, I think, be viewed as only a slight issue however, since the original genres from which the author draws aren’t exactly known for their deep character development. Faerie tales cop shows deal primarily in archetypes rather than fully-fleshed characters because they’re intended to teach a more generalized lesson that the reader can relate to by filling in the gaps with their own attributes.

In summary, this is a delightful and thoroughly entertaining book. I found myself wanting to know more about their history and what brought them to the various straits in which they find themselves. If the author has it within him, this milieu would make for a wonderful extended series that focuses on more details and fleshes out some of the gaps left in this narrative.

Find the book on Amazon.


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Movies: Bathing Franky byHenri Szeps

CaptureI picked this because it was unreviewed on Amazon. I’m glad I did, though more than a bit surprised along the way…

This is a strong example of an old standard. An older man and his demented mother meet up with a young ex-con. The two generations connect and learn something from each other and they’re both better off. Saying anything more would be spoilerific so I’ll shush on plot points.

To the positive, the characters are wonderfully likable. The older gentleman is nostalgic and funny and full of life. His mother, despite her issues, still has quite a spark in her. The younger, despite being an ex-con is eager to learn and swiftly comes around. Things get extremely weird, dark and “real” at the end in a very satisfying way. All is not as it seems.

To the negative,the middle bits seem far too easy as the characters slide into happiness, but it’s only a trick. Hang on until the end.

In summary, a cute and potently dark movie with series of huge twists. Can’t say I expected ANY Of that.

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*** I started this review out as a minute-by-minute rundown of the action but it started to get interesting so I ended up actually watching it. That says something… anyway, original rundown for posterity

1:00 – Dude in flipflops flying a kite. Maybe wearing a clown nose? Unrelated dude leaving a building. Maybe prison?

2:30 – Looks a lot like two old people having sex. Really they’re just helping each other go to the toilet.

3:00 – Prison dude flashing back to some prison scarification scene… and now he’s making out with a girl. Um.

3:30 – a profound number of things in this movie are purple. Shirts, sheets.

3:45 – Now he’s having sex with the girl but…. she calls it off and yells at him . not clear why.

4:30 – Prison dude now filling out a form… ok, yes, he was getting out or prison. Going to work delivering meals to people.

6:00 – Back to the clown. He’s in his yard entertaining some kids. Prison dude delivering meals to him. Clown tries to chat him up but he resists at first…. starting to come together. I think this might just be a keeper….

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Book Reviews: The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

As is usual I received this book free for the purpose of review, this time from “Shelf Awareness.” Despite that abundant kindness, I’m utterly honest in my assessment.

The book describes itself as a thriller but I’m not completely sold on that assignment of genre. Really it’s more of a personal/crime drama. Our protagonist gets into some pretty tight spots and has to do absolutely anything she can to get out of them including… well, crime.

To the positive, the book is smoothly and well written. The text drips off the page like soft cream and you can get lost in the prose after only a few pages. The pacing is fast and pulls you along very steadily but never really reaches any huge crescendo. As you read you’re immediately plunged into a cloud of mystery on the very first page that’s not entirely resolved until very nearly the end.

To the negative, many of the plot-level details were rather implausible. Our deliciously strong protagonist pulls herself out of tighter and tighter spots until you can’t quite believe that any of it was possible. It is only the author’s writing skill that makes this palatable. In the hands of a lesser wordsmith the plot would have fallen to pieces like overcooked fish. As it stands, you take the gravy along with the lumps and never mind a bit.

In summary, this is a book for readers who like a strong and clearly empowered female protagonist who gets the job done but doesn’t feel hindered by the saddle of 100% credibility. “The Passenger” is a book to be gobbled down in one delicious bite on a cold winter day off. It’s not going to win any literary awards but it will keep you mentally engaged and interested in what’s going to happen on the next page.

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Book Reviews: The Hoard – Neil Grimmett

As is often the case I received this book because the author offered it to me for free in exchange for a review. Despite that abundant kindness I give my candid thoughts below.

Categorically, the book is historical fiction-based-on-fact surrounding an unexplained explosion which occurred at an ordnance factory in 1951. Relatively complex and convoluted in its telling, this story twists and turns through many possibilities of a conclusion seeming at times to edge near to the supernatural before gently veering away to absolutely concrete occurrences.

To the positive side, the author’s rendering of place and character is haunting. There are many books which I’ve read over the years that leave their quiet but indelible marks on my memory and this is one such book. Grimmett’s characters are vivid and lifelike and will likely haunt my waking recollections and some of my darker nightmares for much time to come. As I said in the preamble, the story sometimes jogs lightly past what might seem like the supernatural but always manages to come down to something completely mundane and concrete. Also, the author has a keen talent for the graphic. His depictions of violence and sex are eye-popping and not for the fainthearted. Such details are used sparingly, however, and in just the right quantities to convey to the reader that some of Grimmett’s characters are right bastards.

To the negative, this book does require some patience. The author very artfully draws his scene and his characters but it can take a while to come around to a payoff. Once the book concludes it is satisfying enough but I don’t recall ever feeling a moment when I was entirely immersed in what the author had to say. I felt as if I was chasing a wisp of fluff around a meadow and just as I thought I had a handle on what was going on suddenly something new came up that required me to reset and try to untangle what I had lost. The book is satisfying but dense and complex. The casual reader is advised to keep a few simple notes to help keep things straight.

In summary, I get offered a lot of books and most of them get torn cleanly asunder but this one resides in the top percentile. An abundantly magnificent offering that will take you on a delightful journey if you give it sufficient time to develop.

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Reviews: Killing His Fear

Click the photo to visit the review on Amazon

As usual I received this book for free at the hands of the generous author. Also as usual, despite that great kindness, I give my candid opinions below.

On the positive side, the author has a keen grasp of psychopathic behavior and understands well the inner workings of the mind of someone suffering from schizophrenia. The narrative is also reasonably interesting and has a circumspect style told from the viewpoint of both the killer and the police who pursue him.

Sadly, the negatives far outweigh the positives of the storyline. At the simplest level, the grammar and typography is in need of a good, sound editing. Punctuation is misplaced, words are misspelled or misused, and most amusing of all there are two chapter 39s. The whole thing just seems rather slap-dash and it completely ruins the effect of story. Further, the dialog is unrealistic and childlike as characters go through stiff and unrealistic interactions with each other that just don’t sound like natural verbal discourse at all. The author seems to go through phases in which he will use a particular word (one jarring example was the word ‘gonna’ as a form of ‘going to’) 7 times in the space of one and a half pages and then never uses it again in the entire rest of the book. In another case he seems to decide that contractions are bad and just stops using them for several chapters resulting in almost robotic dialog.

In summary, the author knows his subject matter but his mode of connecting the pieces is just a shambles. His strength is portraying the mind of the mentally deranged but anything outside that realm just turns to improbable plot points that come to conclusions that are far too easy and predictable. At the heart of this novel there’s a real talent but it’s buried under rather a dark and murky bushel.

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Forevermore by Jim Musgrave

ForevermoreForevermore by Jim Musgrave

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As usual, I received this book because somebody gave it to me for free. In this case, the author approached me directly with a copy of the whole trilogy as one volume. Despite this kind consideration, I give my candid opinions below, as will quickly become self-evident.

Firstly, a few general comments and a readers recommendation. It is suggested that you read this book in the following manner: read the first chapter and allow the oddness of it to roll around in your head for a few moments. Then sally you forth unto Wikipedia and read the real events as recorded by history. Smirk bemusedly at yourself for a few seconds and then continue to read the rest of the novel. Anything less enigmatic than that is left as exercise to the reader.

On the positive side, our author has picked an fascinating episode of history for his target. Saying more than that will spoil the fun but it is my considered opinion that historical fiction is best when it starts out with some reality that is abundantly screwball in its own right and expands upon it in a realistic way. I won’t go so far as to say that this book is a potential truth of the matter, but the thread of the tale has a pleasant glow of vague plausibility to it that fits well with the genre. Furthermore, the book is easy and accessible but still endeavors to expand the reader’s knowledge of history (and vocabulary) without any significant missteps. The author has done his homework, despite what other reviewers may say to the contrary.

On the negative side, the novel does suffer from some fairly significant editorial woes. At times it’s difficult to tell who the narrator of a given passage is and transitions in time and place are sometimes hard to pick up on. The text is rife with historical references but at times so rife that they feel rather forced. I appreciate the author’s research but one doesn’t have to stuff everything he knows about 19th century life into one book. Lastly, during our dramatic climax the book reads more like an Abbott and Costello routine than a serious mystery novel. As a reader I’m happy to accept either but it is generally preferred if the author picks one or the other and sticks with it.

In summary, this is a very well conceived novel but it must be remembered that readers of the mystery genre especially are punctilious beasts that will pick apart every detail of every sentence you write. They have to because they must find the answer before the end arrives. That’s rather the point of reading a mystery novel. So while this novel is generally good, it’s not quite up to the standards of its chosen genre. As a first novel it’s a brilliant initial step though and I look forward to the next two in the series.

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Sweet Holy Motherfucking Everloving Delusional Bastard by Jerome Segundo

Sweet Holy Motherfucking Everloving Delusional BastardSweet Holy Motherfucking Everloving Delusional Bastard by Jerome Segundo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As usual, I won this book from the author in what I would categorize as a quasi-GoodReads giveaway. Despite that kind consideration my candid opinions follow.

The story masquerades as a not-so-typical twenty-something memoir; our three protagonists, who could not be any more dissimilar, find themselves in a series of amusing and illuminating situations that reveal much about the mental state of men at this particular time of life.

On the positive side, once the reader is properly engaged with the novel (it did take a while for me to get into the flow of it) the story really is quite difficult to pull away from. While the specific hijinks engaged in are difficult for me to relate to personally, the story really does capture one’s attention. The author’s use of language and wordplay, along with the illustration of the relationship between the three male leads is both amusing and intellectually insightful. The group of three guys makes you rather pine for a trio of strong friends to hang out with (though one could do without the felony convictions). Lastly, the author includes some rather vivid descriptions of sexual encounters which are sprinkled throughout the novel at reasonably appropriate intervals. While I’m not typically one who seeks out such things, Segundo executes these descriptions with a wonderful and evocative realism that is rare in the genre.

The only real negative I would point out in any of this is that the book is so thoroughly provocative that it will be difficult for it to find any market whatsoever. Its title alone assures that it cannot make any uncensored appearance on the New York Times Best Seller List. The book has a lot to say and crystallizes well some key differences between the way genders view the world but sadly the whole thing is stuck behind a title that creates such a visceral reaction in many that the message is lost to the universe as a whole.

In summary, you can’t judge a book by its title. Segundo has delivered entertainment and also a strong sociological point that may sadly never make its way to any sort of popular consumption. The author’s use of language is playful, entertaining and well-executed. Another good book doomed to obscurity by insufficient marketing.

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