Tag Archives: Book Review

Book Review: You Might Just Make It Out Of This Alive

You Might Just Make It Out Of This Alive by Garrett Cook

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From the Back Cover:

From the Wonderland Award winning author of Time Pimp and Jimmy Plush, Teddy Bear Detective comes a new collection of weird, horrifying, and heartfelt stories.

Featuring:

Re-Mancipator – When zombie Abraham Lincolns start running amuck, John Wilkes Booth, Marilyn Monroe, and other greats from history must save the day!

Dieselpig – The beloved Smiley the Pig is here to save us from the Catholic Church. And he’s brought a shit ton of guns!

Brian’s Girl – A gorgeous woman arrives one day at a man’s door for anonymous sex. It’s not a dream come true- it’s the beginning of a cult that will change the world.

Plus fifteen more strange and beautiful tales.

Now then…

I finished this book about a week ago and I can’t stop thinking about it. Or it can’t stop thinking about me. I haven’t figured that part out yet.

During a late-night reading session, I experienced a poor man’s Cronenberg body-book symbiosis. This very book pulled itself out of my grip, slowly crawled across my chest and began to push itself inward into my stomach cavity in a brutal act of reverse childbirth or some forcible symbiosis.

It became a part of me. It’s impossible for a book such as this not to. It’s horrific and beautiful, poetic and dangerous, and sexually intense in the way great art always is.

This diverse collection of short stories from Cook is not a light read. It’s so apparent as you work your way through the book (and yes, it’s work – you need to strap that thinking cap on tight, Sally) that he’s a heavyweight with the written word. Each story inspires deep reflection, each page is a subliminal message and every sentence hints at ancient code. This book begs you to unpack it and solve its mysteries.

There is so much more than the story between the covers. There is so much more than what is on the page. Garrett Cook has written with such flourish, passion, and skill that you will suspect that what you are reading and what it actually means are two drastically different things…and by god, one day you will figure it out. Call me when you do. Let’s compare notes.

The book will twist your stomach, your mind and your heart. This might not be a choice for reading on a summer holiday, but if you are looking for something to use for your Master’s Thesis, the dense lyrical colors of Cook’s latest may just be the paint for your palette.

Highly recommended.

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Book Review: Space Walrus

Space Walrus by Kevin L. Donihe

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From the back cover:

Space: the final frontier… these are the voyages of… a walrus?

Meet Walter. He is the first walrus in a revolutionary space program. Someday, his blubbery form will float past asteroids, stars, and planets as he journeys through the dark beyond to become a Master of Space. But for now, Walter’s dream is to win the heart of his lifelong love, Dr. Stephanie, who happens to be the scientist assigned to conduct experiments on him. The problem is Dr. Stephanie does not love Walter. She views him as a test subject and nothing more. To make matters worse, Dr. Stephanie appears to be in love with the abusive head scientist, Dr. Ron.

From Wonderland Book Award winner Kevin L. Donihe comes a tragic comedy of unrequited love and inspired determination.

Now then…

Walter is a TALKING WALRUS and he’s going to make you cry.

You say, “No way dude, last time I cried was when MY FAVORITE SPORTS TEAM/CELEBRITY/FAMILY MEMBER did something remarkable. I don’t cry, man.”

I hand you Space Walrus and you go off and read it. You come back weeping.

“GODDAMN that Kevin L. Donihe. He tore my heart out and threw it into the middle of the street,” you pine.

I nod and offer a platonic, non-threatening half-hug that shows you that I care but that I am not some kind of sleazebag looking for a quick grope.

You ask, “Does he really make everyone call him by his full name? The ‘L’ and all that? Seems awfully pretentious for a guy who wrote a book about a walrus on a space station who suffers from unrequited love and daydreams about flying through the universe.”

I nod again and reassure you that he doesn’t make anyone use his middle initial, but if he did, I’m sure it’s only because it’s L for LOVE.

After some sniffles, you start thinking of all the people you could recommend this book to…because it is that good.

Kevin L. Donihe’s Space Walrus is a book that zigs when you expect it to zag; it’s got more heart on every page that some books have between covers.

Highly recommended.

Book Review: Deep Blue

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From the Back Cover:

The destruction of the old city must be prevented. John feeds the machine nightly. The devil in the fridge watches. Nobody wants to be a man-in-a-can anymore. Take in a show at Jeremy’s. Get your head checked at Fred’s. Ride the rails until the tracks are set ablaze by firefighters who fight fires with fire. Tuesday’s coming. Did you remember to bring your coat?

From Brian Auspice comes a down-the-rabbit-hole adventure into the depths of the human condition.

Now then…

You are walking down an unfamiliar street. People push past you, a dense mob of angry faces, stiff arms, and muttering voices. It feels dangerous but it offers no thrill. Every ounce of you wants to just run back home. Run back to what you know. To where it is safe.

But you can’t.

Because of that picture.

You happened upon it one day. A peculiar painting. It intrigued you. Then you read the words, just a few simple sentences, but their meaning eluded you.

It was a definitely coded message. This much you were certain. You knew that until you could decipher it, there would be no rest.

That picture and those cryptic words led you here. You stand at the end of an alley, a narrow mildew-coated murder channel. Your gut twists. Hope dies in halls such as these. Amongst the debris and detritus, you spot a faceless man, his back pressed the back wall. He beckons. Bravely, perhaps stupidly, you ignore the scent of wither and woe and push forward. For you must know the answer.

You must!

Curiously, he pulls a chair out from the shadows and gestures for you to sit. You obey. He hands you a straw and a mirror. A line of fine powder sits upon it, expectant and eager.

You wave your hand. Not for you. Emphatically, he points back down to it and your eyes follow. You watch the granules. They begin a dance, pushing to and fro, zigzagging across the length of the mirror. They take a shape – is it a caterpillar? A slug? A simple worm? Whatever it is, it is looking at you.

Then the scream. A most terrible scream!

TOO LATE!

The scream is yours for you have chosen suck in this devil dune of exotic dust.

Your head snaps back. Your chest tightens. A terrible ringing fills your ears. Sweat explodes from every pore. You feel as if you are going to die.

You are most definitely going to die.

Your hands clench your thighs. Your nails dig deep, their purchase met with a slow, warm trickle of blood. Your stomach cramps and you curl forward, as a maddening parade of tiny men sealed in cans sing to you. Mono-color flashes blind you, viciously betraying you with every hue of color. Faces fold and slide through newly formed fissures in the brick.

You can hear your bones crack. A symphony of fractures. Glorious! Then, a choir of laughter. The rise and fall of a cackle. The huff of a guffaw. And lastly, a snicker.

Are you laughing? Are these voices your own?

The abyss calls and you answer. A change of scene occurs…

You wake in your bed.
In your room.
In the house that you know.
All is well.
You cracked the code.
You solved the riddle.
You smile.
You now know a secret.

You have just read Deep Blue.

I give this book a rating of: Five Twisted Little People in Funny Hats.

 

Book Review: SuperGhost

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From the Back Cover:

Mad science, giant monsters, and a whole lot of severed limbs…

Things were bad when Darren lost his arm to a drunken farmer driving a stolen bulldozer the wrong way down a one-way city street. All he had left was the strange tingling sensation where his arm had been and a life that was no longer there. Now, even that is about to be stolen from him.

The foulest mad scientist the world has ever seen has plans for Darren’s phantom limb, and the limbs of all the other amputees he can attack. He is gathering them to build the greatest Frankenstein ghost ever made from phantom body parts – a SuperGhost designed to destroy the world! And it will take Darren and a ragtag band of amputation survivors to bring down the creature and save mankind from total destruction!

Now then…

If there’s one thing my dad taught me, it’s that you can NEVER trust a mad scientist. You can trust an eccentric botanist, a quirky chemist, and maybe a funky geologist — but never, never, never, trust a mad scientist of any discipline.

Author Scott Cole proves my father’s lesson timeless in his fun novella SuperGhost. Scott is one of Eraserhead Press’s New Bizarro Series Authors (NBAS) for 2014 and he delivers a promising debut to the scene. This cozy story presents a classic monster movie dilemma, engaging characters, and hits some nice bizarro notes that will prove satisfying to fans of the genre as well as providing a great entry point for those that are new to the bizarro world.

As I read SuperGhost, I couldn’t help but be happily reminded of Ghostbusters (which has been mentioned in other reviews), Men in Black, and the criminally underrated David Duchovny movie, Evolution. There’s a bit of schlock but a lot of heart here. A great Saturday afternoon read.

Somebody call Jon Lithgow — because if there is one man to play the evil Dr. Rains, he’s the guy.

I give this book 5 full test tubes.

Book Review: Party Wolves in My Skull

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From the back cover:

Norman Spooter awakens one morning to find that his eyeballs have fallen in love with each other. They proceed to tear themselves out of his head, steal his car keys, and take off for parts unknown. So he does what any of us would probably do in that situation… he goes back to bed, hoping it’ll all resolve itself. Unfortunately, in the middle of the night, a pack of WOLVES moves in. The worst thing is, they’re party wolves…

BUT they gave him a security deposit, so he decides he’s going out to get his eyeballs back.
He joins forces on his epic quest with a woman named Zoe, who has a mysterious secret almost as crazy as Norman’s Party Wolves. Besides, she needs him too. She’s on the run from her psychopathic ex-boyfriend, who happens to be a dangerous sociopath, a classic car enthusiast and, worst of all, a fully-grown walrus…

Now then…

Some books you read to learn more about yourself. Some are read in an effort to examine the human condition. Some books will tear the heart right outta your chest, others might fire up your long dead spiritual pilot light.

I read for all kinds of reasons, as I am sure you do as well.

Well, this little book here – this one you read for funsies.

Party Wolves in my Skull is a pure joy. It’s an overflowing bowl of your favorite sugary cereal. It’s a Saturday morning spent watching hours of Scooby Doo and playing with your toys. It’s like staying up too late, playing pranks on your friends, or making fart noises to entertain yourself and your pack.

Author Michael Allen Rose has taken the familiar trope of the road journey, introduced it to a classic Tex Avery cartoon, got them drunk and convinced them both to join him in a three way. The plot is pretty clear in the back cover, but just to be sure you know what you’re getting into:

Plan on hanging out with a pack of party wolves. These bow-wows know how to get down while watching your back. Some of them might be stoned off their furry butts, but they are as loyal as you would even need a friend to be. Plus, they ooze with enthusiasm — just a grab-life-by-the-leg-and-hump-it attitude.

You’ll also meet a generally nice guy with some self-esteem issues. Poor dude – his eyeballs done fell in love and jumped ship. Blinded by love, yep, that’s the thing. Problem is that he had nothing to do with it. Obviously, he’d like his eyeballs back. Who wouldn’t?

And…there’s a stilted woman and a jilted walrus.

How? Why? What?

Who cares?

This is a book a bouncy, jalopy ride through a absurdist yet familiar landscape. It’s got a big heart, memorable characters, and silly jokes throughout. Take a break and hang out with the party wolves for a while.

STOP BEING SO SERIOUS ALL THE DAMN TIME!

I give it FIVE PAWS UP.

Oh, and there’s even a music video!

 

Book Review: Crafting the Character Arc by Jennie Jarvis

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A quick Google search for writing advice will result in approximately 7 billion hits. That’s a craft article for every person on the planet. There is more writing about writing on the Internet than there is actual writing. Some of this advice is good, some bad, and some – I’m pretty sure was put there by highly competitive writers that are hoping you will follow it so that your writing will SUCK FOREVER.

Something one hears often is that characters should be engaging, relatable, and must change over the course of the story. It’s obvious advice. But unless you are already a pro, how to pull this off might not be so obvious. And if you’re a pro, you probably don’t need the advice in the first place – but thanks for reading my book review anyway. You’re a peach!

If you are looking to create a path for your character that will be compelling — a character that your readers will connect with and root for – this book is a great place to start. Jarvis presents the blueprint for a character arc that will put them through the paces, challenge them, and ultimately force them to grow.

The lessons and information provided are clear and practical. The examples used are from popular stories and although you might not know all of them, you are certain to know some. There’s also a dash of wit about it that makes it a fun read, even if you are a peach of a pro.

Crafting the Character Arc: A Practical Guide to Character Creation and Development by Jennie Jarvis is a worthy book for any writer’s reference shelf.

Are You a Book Reviewer?

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I’m still under NDA, but just between you and me and the Internet, I have a new book coming out in a few weeks.

I AM DYING TO TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT….HAVE TO WAIT JUST A BIT LONGER…

My publisher has given me a PDF version for distributing to reviewers. I’m curious if anyone out there in WordPress-land (and the greater WordPress-land area) might be interested? I’m looking for folks with book review blogs and the like.

Quick facts:

It’s a novella. You can read it in an afternoon.

It’s the tender story of a four-armed, war hammer wielding, intergalactic gladiator. Think comedic space opera laced with potty humor.

Interested?

Reply below to secure your review copy today. You can also click on “Contact” on the navigation menu up top.
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