Tag Archives: reviews

Review of With Malice by Eileen Cook

As if often the case I received this book free for the purposes of review. Despite that kindness I’m absolutely candid below.

The summary on this one is pretty typical; we open with our protagonist unsure of where she is or what has gone on for the past six weeks. Her friend is dead and she stands accused. Yet she can’t remember a thing. The novel unfurls as everyone around her tries to figure out what exactly came to pass.

This is a YA novel and I tend to judge those somewhat differently than I do others in the adult genres. The first question to be asked is whether there’s anything in this novel that I wouldn’t want my own kids to read. On that note, it’s a bit rough in the language department. There is a fair amount of profanity and some reference to sex but it’s nothing major or hard core. It’s just something to watch out for. It should be also noted that the overall arc of this story is NOT a lesson that I would want my children to internalize. It’s hard to be more specific without accidentally creating a spoiler but suffice to say that if my kids behaved this way I’d have to shake my head and walk away.

Secondly, is there anything in this book that’s positive that I would consider a positive message for kids. The book demonstrates the creation of a great friendship built between two people in very different layers of society. That is good to see, but unfortunately the rest is a spiraling maelstrom of jealousy and deceit and people just generally being jerks to each other. So there’s not much positive in that.

Lastly, the question is, will readers find it enjoyable. On that count, they just might, mostly on the basis of the complete deficiency of anything positive to say in question two. If you like them dark and beyond any redemption then this is a book for you. It is a very easily consumed little novel that you could swallow in several hours but the question is will you like the taste in your mouth once you eat it?

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Review of: Grape Spunk – Wine Memoirs 2015 by Stuart Reeves

This one appealed to neither me nor my fiancee but perhaps it will do for you. She asked me to stop reading after three pages.

It’s certainly crude enough for even the most puerile partaker of literature and bars no holds when it comes to offending the reader.

In my video review hear my reading of a couple of randomly selected wines

** Original Description:

This superb testament to fine wine fermentation emanates like a huge constipated turd from the Whippet Digest’s Food & Drink team. Featuring the marvellous reviews by their in house connoisseur’s, Felicity Cockstraddler and Roderick Cameron – Nightterror, it provides a cutting edge survival guide to navigating some of the lesser established 2015 vintages.

Flirting a distinct luminous broken nose poca dot colour, infused with hallucinogenic tartan and a prominent cattle ranch nose, this belter of a book has a distinctly unique dry texture, skillfully woven to a completely fictitious fruity frame.

Would pair magnificently on a lazy Sunday morning wash room expedition after a massive bender the night before, particularly if you have run out of toilet paper and read fast. However, this vintage should keep for years in a cool environment and is an excellent choice for refined individuals, who understand not to take life too seriously.

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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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Reviews: Smartbrain (Penchant Series Book 1) by G. F. Smith

51a-zv-JbCL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_As is often the case, I received this book for the purposes of review. Despite that immense kindness, I give my candid thoughts below.

The summary on this one is tough because it evolves quite a bit as it goes on. It starts out mildly creepy techno thriller and ends somewhere completely different with all manner of action bits. I won’t give you much more detail than that to avoid spoilers.

So to the positive, our author is a reasonably good writer. His prose is measured, well constructed and easily consumed. His characters are real and vividly described and you do begin to feel for them. Mr. Smith’s creativity is also obvious as he puts his characters through a dizzying gauntlet of situations and one is left with a sort of whiplash once all is revealed.

The negatives, however, left me gasping in annoyance at the end. This book is exceptionally long and not because of the complexity of what’s going on. His description of events and situations is almost Dickensian in scope but with none of the quaintness of the old classics. One eventually has to skim in self-defense and at the end of a couple pages finds that nothing much has really been missed. Further, the book changes gears dramatically at 37% through (based on my Kindle’s reckoning) and it takes a long time to figure out what’s real and what’s not. This is, I suspect, part of the author’s intent, to keep us a bit confused as readers, but it’s a major distraction in a book that has a lot of difficulty holding the attention of its reader.

Further, some of the book’s most obvious points are in need of a close examination. The cover alone made me fear for the quality of the book and it took considerable reading time to assuage those fears. Unfortunately, the author’s choice of proper nouns is overly simplistic and almost young adult so they add a major distraction. The name of the device, for example: Smartbrain seems like something from a 60s B-movie. Add to that names like Vectren, Athena and ‘Brain Computer Interface’ and the tone of the whole book seems to be in a bit of conflict about whether it’s trying to be mid-20th century or more modern.

In summary, I think the author has a solid foundation for this story but it just tries to go too many places at once and takes far too long to get there. I packaged away my incredulity during the first third of book only to have it all spill out repeatedly in the last two-thirds and have to be packed away again. As much story as actually resides between these pages it could be half the length and cause me much less impulse to sigh, “What? You mean there’s MORE!?!??!” and consider hurling my Kindle across the room and taking a belt of whiskey. To quote Emperor Joseph II, there are simply too many notes… or something along those lines.

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Life These Days: With Family And Friends Kindle Edition by Ronald McClure

cover

I picked this up on Kindle Unlimited because it hadn’t been reviewed before. Let’s take a look!

* First off, the concept seems…. well, only interesting to a VERY select group of people. Maybe the author and a few people around him, but let’s give it a fair shot.

page1

* Page 1: A photo of fixing a door. And all the comments from family/friends about said photo. It’s not transcribed mind you, it’s just screen captures of the Facebook posts glued into each page.

* Page 2: “We woke up WHITE! Just thought you’d like to know!” – yeah well, everyone in this book is pretty white, let me tell you.

* Page 3: Photo of an unidentified interior of a building. Can’t tell if it’s a bar or a house. Photos are all black and white and VERY small so even if this was interesting, it wouldn’t be.

* Page 4/5: Merry Christmas greetings, the author and wife in Christmas hats. Lots of one-liner Christmas greetings exchanged.

* A few pages on we get an album of apparent vacation photos. No indication of where they are though. Grand Canyon maybe? Seems like something better posted on Flickr or some sort of… oh, I dunno, photo service?

* Couple pages further… picture of a relative holding a cup of soda in some unidentified diner.

* A few more pages further we are treated to a sampling of a Facebook messenger chat with someone else who is unidentified and his importance is entirely unknown.

OK, enough of that. While I appreciate what a pain in the butt it must have been to put this together, I fail to see the need for this there is in the world. The only people who could be remotely interested in this are already Facebook friends with the author. So while by all means I applaud the desire to capture and document the past, I see absolutely no reason to try to sell copies of it online.

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Books: How To Be Happy: My Child – My Friend by Helena Angel

As is often the case, I received this book free for the purposes of review. This time because it’s on offer from Amazon for exactly nothing until March 24th of 2016.

The nutshell on this book is pretty simple. It’s a brief (20 minute) parenting book that boils down pretty easily to the idea that parenting should be about letting your children, within bounds, be free to figure out who they are and what they should become as adults.

To the positive, at a high level the book is reasonably correct in its assertions. It cautions strongly against the twin parenting issues of trying to live your child’s life for them and that overly passive parenting style in which the TV does most of the child rearing. The intentions of the book are positive and strong and would benefit some of society’s most extreme parents.

Unfortunately, there’s much to be said to the negative. Firstly, the title is misleading and starts things out on a poor footing. Children should not be looked upon as friends. The active and sometimes corrective relationship that defines good parenting is not compatible with the concept of friendship as commonly used in America. Also, while the book is well intentioned, I’m not sure that the majority of parents are going to glean anything new from it. Those on the edges will find something new to them but most parents already know what do to be at least this good at parenting. They just choose not to do it.

From a technical and writing perspective, the book is a bit of a shambles. It’s littered with typographical and grammar issues and the formatting is wobbly at best. The author has invested in some stock photos that do serve to break things up a bit but it falls pretty short of professional. If I had paid money for this book (anything over a buck) then I’d be fairly cranky about it.

In summary, there’s some good, but basic, parenting information in this little guide and it’s not a complete waste of time but it could use some tidying up and doesn’t go much into depth. It merely skims across the surface of this very important topic.

 


Rob Slaven

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Planet Of The Eggs: Mummified Egg

As is often the case, I received book free in exchange for a review. Despite that kindness I’m utterly candid below.

First of all, spoiler alert. The heroes are spat out of a mysterious vortex, find and nearly defeat a mummy though rather mysterious and nonsensical plot points and then get sucked into another vortex. That about sums it up.

To the positive, the author is wonderfully unfettered by the bounds of conventionality. Further, the illustrations are rich and colorful. I say illustrations, they appear to be photos cut out and arranged over each other to create the graphical components.

To the negative, my 10-year-old daughter looked at it and refused to have anything to do with it. Given that the target age range is 8-18 this seems a pretty grim condemnation. If I had paid money for this I would be pretty annoyed. The plot is weak and essentially follows the same lines as a few hundred identical books including the previous two. The particular details of the plot are bizarrely confusing as the eggs travel without legs and obtain whatever items happen to be needed out of nowhere. I understand that it’s intended to be a children’s book but even children need connected series of events to make sense of the action.

To sum up, my kids were EXTREMELY unimpressed. It’s obvious the authors have put a great deal of work into this book but it seems that the execution is almost rushed and never quite came together.


Rob Slaven
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