Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Last Days

    The Last Days Of Salton Academy - Jennifer Brozek

      I received a copy of Last Days in exchange for an honest review, and to be honest I had no idea what it was about. All I had was a title and an idea of what it could be about. A school slowly dying. Had no idea that it was a zombie novel, not a clue. The thing is that this is not your typical zombie novel. It's way more than that. It's a character study of a school doing what they can to survive. There a lot of plot lines running through the novel and at times it's very distracting, but if you tried to streamline some of them the novel wouldn't work as well as it does. You have these survivors and their stories connect to the entire plot. It then becomes addicting to see what happens and where all of these threads lead.

     If you're not a fan of the zombie genre and who can blame you? You should still read this because it's a great piece of fiction. Brozek keeps the plot moving at a steady clip and I honestly couldn't stop reading it. I wanted to see where she was was taking us and there are tons of surprises in store for those that read this book. It's a dark book that really shows us what would happen in an event like this. Some of these characters are truly vile, but that's what makes them so interesting. A great story is only as great as your characters and Last Days we have some truly great characters.

     Is it brutal? At times but that's not a bad thing. You can have a great novel that's violent. The point is that this is the kind of novel that you simply don't read. It consumes you, it demands your attention just like a great novel should. If you're a fan of great fiction you should do yourself a favor and pick this one up. You'll thank me later I promise and I also think there may be a sequel in the works. If there is I cannot wait to see what Brozek has in store for us.

Sunday, October 16, 2016


    Amnesia - Matt Hickman 5/5 stars


          Matt Hickman owes me some sleep. I stayed awake to finish Amnesia and by the time it was all over it was almost three in the morning, and I blame Matt because Amnesia is the sort of novel that allows you to think you know what's going to happen and then you realize that you're wrong and it sucks. No one likes to be wrong especially when you're reading a book and you think you know what's going to happen, but then the author decides to throw in a massive twist. It's a great novel that gives you just a hint of what's to come. The biggest question here is why do these people have amnesia? What's going on that we're not being told. Not only is this a decent plot but you have well drawn characters that are stuck together for what's supposed to be a simple drug trial. You know something is going to happen and when it does it's shocking and totally unexpected.

      The thing is that Matt Hickman is a talented author that knows exactly how to pace his story. In such a short time he has written some solid work and Amnesia may in fact be his best yet. This is a formula that we've seen before, but Matt takes us in a new direction and gives us something a bit more sinister. We know that we shouldn't trust the government or any promise of easy money. It seems like such a harmless novel until the storm hits and then all breaks loose. That slow thread of tension slowly stretches out and then it just snaps and we're plunged into total mayhem. Sometimes it's the timing that makes a story so good and Matt has amazing timing. He's like a dude fishing and he sees us swimming along and before we know it he's reeling us in and there's no escape. All we can do is hang on and wait for the ride to end.

        Fans of horror will no doubt enjoy the hell out of this because it's well written and has just enough violence to please those who like their horror a bit violent. Just when you think that there's nothing original or new in horror a guy like Matt shows up and blows the doors off. Can't wait to see what he comes up with next, but the question is can he top Amnesia? Doesn't matter because Matt is certainly an author to watch and no matter what he writes it's going to be one you should check out.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Its Just A Ride

     American Scream: The Bill Hicks Story - Cynthia True 3/5 stars


      I've been an avid Hicks fan for a very long time and I know that people say that quite often, and quite a few times it's all bullshit. The reason I love Hicks so much is that he said exactly what I was thinking most of the time. He connected with his fans on a level that most comedians only dream of and American Scream was finally our chance to learn about who Hicks was. I think most of the problem is True's fear of upsetting his fans. She gives us exactly what we want and we get to know Bill a little better, but as a fan I was expecting more. It's as if she knows that we want a book that respects Bill while talking about his life, and his Legacy. There's very little dirt here, but we do get to experience his frustration with the American audience for not getting him or his material. When you see Hicks live there's so much intensity there, but there's also an intelligence that most people failed to see, or maybe they did, but were too scared to admit it.

     Where the book does connect with readers is during his illness. I kept hoping that Bill would beat this because he was finally breaking through. He was achieving everything he had set out to do and then of course there was that pesky Letterman performance that got banned. We see Bill fading before our eyes and it's not fair. It sucks that no talented hacks get to live while true heroes die. As I neared the book's conclusion I knew what was going to happen, but I didn't want to read it. This is where Cynthia truly connects with the readers as we realize that he's not going to beat the cancer and he would be taken from us sooner than we all expected. It's a man's fight to leave a legacy that really makes the last half of the book so sad and it's where we as fans really get to see what Bill was going through.

     American Scream isn't as bad as some critics are saying. As a peek at Hicks and who he was it could've been better. I was hoping for more bits from his stand up so that it would show non Hicks fans just how good he was, but you get very little of that here which shows me that this one wasn't really meant to convert people but to give his fans some sort of closure. Of course we'll never get that because Bill Hicks was different than everyone else. He said exactly what we're thinking but are too afraid to say it. Bill's words still resonate because he wasn't afraid to tell us the truth and if we were offended maybe, just maybe we needed to be. If you want to know who Hicks was look at his body of work. Relentless, Dangerous, even the stand up specials show us exactly who he was and what he believed in more than the book did.

      The bottom line is that it's not terrible and it's a chance for us to remember Bill, but it was lacking a bit and won't do casual fans any good. It stays even throughout so there's nothing to piss off die hard fans, and that's where the book fails. She even admits that she wasn't a fan so maybe that was the problem, She only saw him as an outsider who knew a little bit about him but never got to experience what we all loved about him. It just plays it way too safe and makes the book a worthy while read but not something you're going to pick up and read again.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Dark And Disturbing

Monstrosities - Jeremy C. Shipp

      When my tablet died I had to move everything to my phone. It was a pain in the ass, but I found books that I forgot I had. I balance between digital and dead tree so it's possible that some things just fall through the cracks. Monstrosities is one of those books I had gotten way back when I got my first tablet and just forgot about. Not that there's anything wrong with it I just keep putting it aside and soon forgot that I had it. I have a huge to be read pile and I don't think I'll ever get to everything on the list, but I am glad I found Monstrosities. This is one that I should have read a long time ago.

      Shipp has a style all his own and this is a very short collection. The stories at times seem like ideas that came suddenly and their impact is felt long after you read them. Shipp writes dark horror that borders on bizarro. These are stories that sometimes feel like an assault on your senses. They hit fast and hard and then it's onto the next. Because they're so short it's hard to say that any of these are bad. Shipp is the kind of writer that defies all the rules of conventional horror and has created something unique. You can't categorize any of these, and I dare you too try. There are ten stories in this collection and not a clunker in the bunch. If you're looking for something short and unique to read this is a collection worth checking out.

      This is a writer that clearly writes that stick with you and remind you that fiction is often about taking risks and taking your readers to places they might not go on their own. I plan on reading more of his work just to see what he's capable of. Do yourself a favor and pick this up. You won't regret it. This is for those that aren't afraid to take a few risks and allow themselves to read beyond their comfort zone

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Power Of Christ Compels You!

    Heart Shaved Box - Jeff O'Brien 5/5 Stars

     I've been waiting for this for quite awhile. I saw the cover and thought hey, that chick looks like a sluttier version of Velma from Scooby-Doo. The book took awhile to come out. Seems Jeff had writers block or something. He also got a new dog which probably delayed the process a bit too. After what seemed like an eternity started writing again and the book was finally finished. He was kind enough to give me an advanced copy to review and as I stared at that sexy cover I wondered if they writer's block messed with his head. Is this going to suck? What if it sucks?

     The good news here is that Box doesn't suck. Not one bit. For O'Brien fans that's a good thing, and this may actually be the best book he's written so far. It's also his most offensive. If you're at all squeamish when people make fun of religion, talk about vaginas, and sex, well you are going to hate Heart Shaved Box. This one starts out pretty straight forward and them as novel winds down it seems as if he's lost his mind, or maybe had one of his dogs sit down and write some of this. I bet it was Falcor, he looks like the kind of dog that would write a book like this,


      Despite the offensiveness of the plot this is a lot of fun to read. That's just Jeff's style. While it may seem as if he's trying hard to offend you, he's just a guy writing some decent  B-rate fiction that moves quickly and  keeps you entertained. He's the kind of writer that doesn't follow the normal rules of fiction and that's what makes him such a good writer. Box is at times laugh out loud funny and absurd. It's not for everyone and Jeff doesn't try and be something he isn't. He creates characters that you sometimes cringe at, but then you end up cheering for them. How many books do you know that poke fun at Catholicism, and throw in some lesbian sex? Not too many. Heart Shaved Box is a book that you either love or hate. There's no middle ground.  He never plays it safe, and writes whatever the hell he wants, and I say thank God that Jeff writes this kind of stuff. We need guys like this to keep us entertained and show us that we shouldn't take everything so damn seriously. God Bless you Jeff for keeping the American dream alive. I still think Falcor wrote this though.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

It Was Aliens

Very True Stories Starring Jeff O'Brien  - Jeff O'Brien 5/5
      What is your definition of truth? Do you believe in aliens? Do you believe that the world has been saved twice by a scruffy dog lover and a Starting Lineup action figure? As a fan of Jeff's I have read just about everything the dude has put out and as I gazed at the cover I knew that I was going to be in for one hell of a read. Jeff writes the kind of stuff that he would like to read, and along the way he's picked up a bit of a following. Whatever he writes it always seems to work, and shouldn't be taken to seriously. The same goes for his latest book which will no doubt piss of scores of people, but I thought it was a lot of fun.

      Are these any of things in O'Brien's book plausible? Does it matter? What's important is that Jeff is a decent writer that can tell you a story while winking at the same time. The Allston Girl kicks things off and here's the moment where you cough and say bullshit at the same time. A vagina monster? Not gonna lie I laughed my ass off at this one and as I read on I laughed more. In these stories Jeff comes off as a bit of a dork, but he manages to save the world twice and gives us tips on how how to keep away a boner while getting a massage. That alone is worth the price of the book. If you follow Jeff on Facebook his love of chem-trails and aliens have made it into Very True Stories which really shouldn't surprise anyone. If there were a contest for bullshit artist Jeff would no doubt win.

      Without a doubt Stories is an entertaining book that may or may not be true. I can't say for sure, but I will tell you that you should pick up this book unless you fail to have a sense of humor. It's a quick read that proves that Jeff is the master of B-rate fiction. I don't mean any disrespect by that because I love b-rate movies and Jeff has brought that into his fiction. In a world gone mad Jeff reminds us that we shouldn't take ourselves too seriously.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Ladies And Gentleman, Lenny Bruce

   How Talk Dirty and Influence People - Lenny Bruce  5/5 stars

     In this politically correct version of the world Lenny Bruce is just as offensive as he was back when he was being busted by the fuzz for being obscene. You see Lenny is an icon that paved the way for greats like Carlin, Pryor, Hicks, and even Sam Kinison. Words themselves aren't dirty. It's the image that they create. Lenny was ahead of his time and he paid dearly for it. It's unfortunate that Mr. Bruce doesn't get the respect that he deserves. He changed the way that people approached comedy and busted down doors that were formerly closed. I know I'm coming off fan boyish, but Bruce is one of those guys that taught me more about life than most teachers. I learned about free speech from Lenny, and I also learned that you don't really have the freedom to speak at all. You just think you do.

     This isn't the first time I read this book I read it back when I was eighteen and I hadn't really seen Lenny perform, and I didn't really know all that much about him. I knew how he died, and how dirty he was, but then again when you looked back at the state of who came after, he wasn't really all that dirty. He knew how to hold a audience's attention but he wasn't trying to offend anyone. He just spoke to them the way he spoke to his friends. If you look on Youtube there are some really good bits of his that still hold up well, while others are quite dated. I fell in love with the book and read it about ten, or eleven times. I thought this was an autobiography, but it's really not.

      It's just a series of stories that seem true, and who knows, maybe to Lenny they were. They are entertaining and what makes it so readable is that they're funny, and you're inside Lenny's head a bit. There are other biographies of Bruce, but this one is special because it's the man's own words before his world started falling apart. We do get a glimpse of his beginning legal troubles, but we don't get the tragic end. Lenny had no idea just how bad things were going to get. Neither did family or fans. Some of the stuff is dated but anytime you read an older book you're going to have this issue. If you're one of those people that are bothered by that then maybe you should avoid the book and read something else.

      It is one of my favorite books though, and one that you should read if you're at all interested in what the world was like for someone like Lenny who actually arrested for saying cock sucker on stage. He talks about his status as a sick comic and we also get a glimpse inside his marriage to Honey Bruce. This was at the time, the definitive book on Bruce and still is. These are somewhat autobiographical tales that will make you laugh and is a great introduction the legend that is Lenny Bruce.