Wednesday, August 17, 2016

'Merica!!

   America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love Letter To Freedom 4/5 stars


      I saw this at my local library and the title alone caught my attention. Based on that alone I had to read it . The premise is simple and not as daunting as most people would expect. Michael and Meghan aren't trying to change your opinions at all and only offer up their insight throughout their road trip in a smelly RV.  How would this play out? These are two people on opposite sides of the the political spectrum on the road to discuss politics. The thing is that the politics of course come up, but to quote from The Dude: It's just like their opinion man. If you're not into politics all that much you may or may not hate this book, or if you're expecting it to explain why this country's so screwed up you may end up hating this book. 

      It's more about their trip and how they interact with one another. That's what the book is really about. Meghan is surprisingly not as annoying as I thought she'd be. There was a few moments when my gag reflex kicked in and I rolled my eyes at not just her beliefs but how she can come off  as this God fearing person and drink as much as she does.  There is a lot of drinking in this book and for the record, Meghan is pretty damn hot. 
                                                               


           Michael is laid back and seems to be at ease throughout the whole trip. While there are discussions and arguments they aren't the type where anyone gets offended for long and eventually everyone is happy and drinking again. He's the voice of reason and when Meghan goes off on one of her reasons why she believes in what she does he's there to remind us that we shouldn't take ourselves to seriously. We all have a tendency to do that though. 

         Overall it's a book that actually gets you thinking a little about politics, but it's not in your face, or overly offensive. These are two people of different political affiliations traveling across the country together and along the way they do meet some interesting people. Regardless of your party there's quite a bit here to make you laugh and even cringe. It's not one of those over the top political books that goes out of its way to make you feel like an asshole or an idiot. If anything, it's a way to look at both sides in a lighthearted manner. Will you learn anything? Maybe, maybe not, but it's a book that you can read and laugh at and then take back to the library and maybe, just maybe you'll read Meghan's book simply because she's hot, and you want to learn more about her. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Gore Carnival Book 4

     Standing Ovation: Gore Carnival Book 4 - Various Authors 5/5 stars
                                                                   
                                                                       



      Here we are fiends. We have reached the end of the carnival and one thing that has impressed me so far is the talent that has graced these pages. Jaded Books Publishing has created an anthology that sets the bar pretty high. This is a company that has left behind the corpse of Fat Lip Press and has made a one helluva statement. If you're a new publisher this is how you get noticed. You don't need a gimmick just a stable of talented authors. I'm not going to lie to you. I was nervous going into book 4 due to the fact that it's been so damn good. There's no way they can keep the momentum going can they? Answer? Yes, they do. Not all of these stories take place in the circus but they are dark and sometimes quite funny. I have a sick sense of humor so I'm sure that some of these weren't meant to be funny.

      Black Swan Song kicks off the set and it's not a bad story. It features a freak show performer with a strange talent. Dutch Walden thankfully steps away from clowns for this and I cannot thank him enough. What I loved about this was that it doesn't end the way you think it would. I like this one because it's different and Walden is a writer that I look forward to reading more from. Standing Ovation isn't all that gory, but the authors featured here are presenting fresh ideas to a box set that could very easily wear out its welcome due to the subject matter. In Standing Ovation you have stories that feature a trip to hell, a strongman who truly hates his job and my absolute favorite story here which is Zombie Hooker: A Love Story. I liked this because it takes a stale genre and puts quite a spin on it. You're expecting a love story but what you actually get is far more interesting. I've read James H Longmore before and he's truly growing as a writer.

      Other high points here are Necrobeard and One Sunday In Hell. It's a nice break from the circus and gives us something different. These authors clearly took risks with their stories and they paid off in a big way. Standing Ovation is a nice end to a well thought out book. Once again, it flows well and allows you to experience other genres without going overboard. You aren't bogged down by gore or forced to sit through a bunch of clown stories. I don't mind them unless I'm reading story after story about clowns and how psychotic they can be. I've written my own clown story so I get it.

        So, should you throw down the 10 bucks and get the entire set? You should because this is a unique volume that delivers on all levels. You not only get a bunch of great stories but you also get to meet a few new authors that you're going to want to seek out. This is a launching pad for quite a few of them and what a way to kick off your writing career. There are a lot of horror anthologies on the market but Jaded has given us something more. A four book box set that reaches almost four hundred pages. There are a couple stories here and there that I didn't care for but it wasn't because they were terrible, they just weren't my style. We all have different tastes so I'm sure that there stories here I love and you don't. At the end of the day I highly recommend this set because of how unique these stories are. They don't offer too much in the way of gore, but they make up for it in story telling. I'm proud to be in this set and can't wait to see what Jaded Books Publishing has up their sleeves.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Gore Carnival Book 3

     Gore Carnival Book 3: Encore Various Authors 5/5 stars
                                                             
                                                             



      Now we've made it passed the intermission, and so far this is one hell of a box set. If you like your horror sadistic and dark then you've come to the right place. There's been a wealth of great talent and all of these stories have been really well written. In a volume like this though you can only hold the momentum so long before you start hitting the clunkers. The confusing thing is that this is titled Encore but it differs greatly from the style and pace of intermission Had these titles been swapped it would have made more sense. The stories in volume 3 aren't as in your face or half as disturbing as book 2. This is my type of horror. When it needs to be it's extreme but it doesn't become the focal point. Case in point the lead off story Chuckles. This is by far a high point of the set and one that slowly follows a clown as he slides into insanity. Well thought out and one that has a hook that you feel right in your eyeballs. Tina Pey's clown reminds me a lot of Shakes The Clown but instead of being an alcoholic he slowly loses his mind. Shakes The Clown is by far the most messed up clown movie  I have ever seen and if you haven't seen it well you should.

     The common theme here is clowns. When you think of horror in a circus it's easy to place clowns in it because it's a fear that a lot of people have, Here you have a tripped out version of an Insane Clown Posse type of nightmare, and it's the one story I didn't really love. It wasn't bad but it just wasn't my style. then you have The Synyster Brothers which shows you that clowns are in fact not fun cuddly types. They will mess you up. Aside from Chuckles is another favorite called Pachyderm PTSD. This was an intriguing story that features a bitter clown, a bitter redneck and an elephant on a bunch of drugs. RD Cervo went in an unexpected direction and it works extremely well and shows that there are more than just clowns at the circus.

     This is my 2nd favorite book in the set because the horror here is organic and not written with the express goal of making you want to throw up or shock you. I think if it had kept going in that direction I would have stopped reading not because the stories were bad, I just would have gotten bored. You have a decent range of stories that have different elements to them. I loved Freak Show House because it reminded me a lot of Clive Barker. It's disturbing and dark but there's also great story telling involved. That to me is what makes a great story and volume 3 was a return to that.

      While all of these books are good book 3 is truly the home run that 2 could have been. The shock value alone was the driving force behind it but the story telling and overall creepiness that exist in Encore is what makes this so damn good. Once again the editors have put together a wealth of talent that flow well together. It's the kind of anthology that gets a publisher noticed and makes fans of the horror genre happy. So far The Gore Carnival is a must read box set but we do have one more book to go so let's hope that the momentum keeps going.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Gore Carnival Part 2

     The  Intermission Book 2 (Gore Carnival Box Set) - Various Authors 5/5 stars
                                                         

      I have to tell you that when I think of an intermission I'm thinking about a break. A chance to stretch your legs a little, hit the bathroom, and grab the snacks. At the Gore Carnival it's not a break from anything. In fact, book one was really just a taste of what's in store for you in later books. Intermission is truly not for the easily offended and offers only one mild story in the form of Let's Go To The Circus. It's an interesting take on the already tired zombie genre and focuses on clowns. It's stories like these that I enjoy the most because it takes something we have fond memories of and promptly destroys it. This is not for those who have coulrophobia or have tickets to the circus any time soon, It's a great story that sets the pace for the rest of Intermission.

     In this volume you have stories that are truly disturbing but just when you think you're safe you have a story called Splatter Cake that will make you think twice about going to your local bakery. I love splatterpunk as well as stories that make you feel a little uncomfortable. That's not a bad thing given the task set up by the publisher. I can only imagine what the rejected stories contained. There were a lot of new faces here and I loved each and every story, but my favorite by far was Stay Most by Rob Glasgow. I'm a huge fan of Full House and reading a story that contains a Full House reference grabs my attention. It was a well written piece that truly threw me for a loop especially when you have clowns armed with dildos. Yeah, just when you think you can face a clown this guy arms them with dildos. Thanks Rob.

     Intermission is a wild and insane ride that contains not a clunker in the bunch. I've discovered some new writers and as I read the last story I breathed a sigh of relief but then I groaned again because I still have two books to go? So far this is a solid collection that doesn't just feature a lot of gore and body fluids. These are well written stories that feature both Bizarro and Splatterpunk elements. If you're still on the fence about buying these you should or could wait and see how the rest of the reviews play out. I can tell you I have started on the next volume and holy crap on a cracker.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Gore Carnival Boxset

     The Gore Carnival (Book 1) - Various Authors  5/5 stars
                                                       

      This is a massive box set that I thought about reviewing all at once but that would be a massive review so I am reviewing each book as I read them. Makes it easier for all of us. Delving into book one I was really stoked to read this because I'm a fan of quite of a few of these authors. Anytime you have authors of this caliber in an anthology called The Gore Carnival you're in for a treat and no one here disappoints. If you like your fiction filled with body fluids and bizarre sex practices you've picked up the right anthology. This one is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.

      Kasey Hill has done an amazing job editing this so you get a bit of variety. Not all of the stories are shocking but John Ledger's Three Ring Circle Jerk is a bit of splatterpunk and bizarro mixed together. There's no way to describe it. You have to read it for yourself and fits right into the chaos of the carnival of gore. Jimmy Pudge's Face of Love is another high point of the first volume it's a tribute to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and shows that Pudge can move beyond his comfort zone a bit and write a story that hooks you in from the first paragraph and then takes a turn into a direction you never see coming.

     The fact is that all of these stories are well written and make this a 5 star set. It's short and packed tightly with a lot of great talent. People to keep an eye out for are Cory Cline and Sutter Kane who also bring their A game and keep the Gore Carnival entertaining. These two may be newer to the game but they're two writers I can't wait to read more from. Lastly you have Donald Armfield's poem and I love this guy's stuff. This is another writer that I'm a huge fan of and have never read anything of his that I don't like. That's what makes this so hard to review. I'm a fan of all of these guys so going in I knew that I had to read this. It makes the 2nd book that much harder to read. How the hell are they going to keep the momentum going?

      So far The Gore Carnival is a hit and Jaded Books has certainly made a statement. As a new publisher it's important to make a statement and I believe that they have. You have to have quality writers in order to succeed and so far they're off to a good start. Book One of The Gore Carnival Series is a book for splatterpunk fans as well as horror fans.There's a lot of great talent here. Now I'm going to wrap this up so I can get into book 2.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Imperial Bedrooms

     Imperial Bedrooms - Bret Easton Ellis 3/5 stars
                                                           
   


     The question here is did we really need a sequel to Less Than Zero? If you haven't read that novel you should. It's a fine debut and one that some people regard as a classic. The answer is a resounding no because you can't really do a sequel to a novel like that. The characters just aren't that interesting. They're shallow, and boring so what would the sequel even be about? Then the question of why did Ellis do a sequel and the answers are easy to come by. Money, a career slump? Makes sense and as I began to read Imperial Bedrooms I wondered if I would regret it.

      Bedrooms picks up after twenty-five years after the events of Less Than Zero and the characters once again are shallow and haven't really changed all that much. Clay is now a screen writer and the others are really just props to keep the novel moving forward. Rip the drug dealer actually is a huge part of this one and as the novel wears on the story becomes clear. It's almost like a yuppie mystery with a dead actor showing up and Clay himself is being stalked by someone. The big question is who are these people and why are they so interested in Clay? The first half of the novel is mediocre at best. Ellis just seems to be going through the motions and as usual his writing style is pretty sparse. Everyone it seems is just a prop to move along the story and for awhile nothing really happens.

     Once we met Rain, Ellis comes to life and the story perks up. Now we see why Clay is being followed and we realize that Julian's a bit of a douchebag. It's the second half of the novel that really saves this from being a boring shit sandwich. The characters are still lackluster and the plot while almost an afterthought really moves forward as Ellis begins to hit his stride. The novel is really about Clay and his relationship with Rain. We know why she's with him, and so does Clay but he fails to see that he's not important enough to be truly be with her. This is Hollywood where everyone's shallow and everyone has ulterior motives. None of the characters are likable at all but it's the mystery of it all that makes this sort of entertaining.

      The beginning of the novel talks about Julian being murdered and when you see how and why it's shocking. At its core the novel has moments of shocking brutality especially when we realize that Clay has a bit of a dark side. As a narrator he keeps things simple and never reveals too much about himself but it's hinted at through other characters. Ellis plays everything close to the vest and doesn't even hint at what's about to transpire and when it hits you truly don't expect it. It's a very short read but not entirely terrible.

     Is it better than Less Than Zero? Are you insane? No, but it's not a book that feels as if it's done to generate some cash flow or make Ellis relevant again. It's a chance to catch up with his characters and see how they are. They haven't changed much, but did you really expect them too? Did you expect Blair to be a stay at home mom? Did you think that Julian would wrestle his demons to the ground and then open up a day care in Hollywood? Of course you didn't. The thing is that most of us never thought about these characters at all after finishing Less Than Zero and seeing them older also makes us feel a bit older.

     The good news is that it's not a terrible book. If you've read Brett's work before you know what to expect. Just don't expect anything new, or some deep insight into the characters. They're all selfish and mostly just props to move the story along. You don't get to meet them or even have some kind of attachment to them which would have helped this book a bit. It's a nice glimpse at characters that Ellis wanted to revisit and if you're at your local library you should pick it up. Don't buy it unless you can find it really cheap.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Cemetery Girl

      Cemetery Girl - David Bell  5/5 stars
                                                         
     

      David Bell's debut novel is a dark disturbing tale that goes places that most novels won't go because they want to create this warm fuzzy feeling that leaves readers weeping and running off to their book clubs demanding that this be their next read. Let's be honest here and admit that the world is a messed up place so why should we read a novel that presents the dark side of human nature? Why should we read Cemetery Girl? The answer is simple. It's as close to reality as you're going to get in popular fiction. We've read the stories about kidnapped kids and everyone lives happily ever after. What if they don't? What if some writer decided to tackle the grim reality of what could happen?

      Bell's novel is full of flawed characters. The parents are divided and on the verge of divorce and it's even hinted at that the wife is having an affair with the pastor. The father refuses to let go which if you're a father you can clearly relate. This is your child you never give up and move on. There's also Buster who is a really shady character with a criminal past. I truly detested Abby and hoped that at some point that she'd get hit by a bus or just go away. Let me be honest and say it; she's a cunt. She clings to her religion like a life raft and decides that after four years it's time to move on and they even have a bullshit memorial for her complete with a headstone.

     Then Caitlin returns and you expect to get to have some feels and you do for a minute but here's where Bell really sticks the knife in our back and the novel just gets even darker. This is where Bell truly shines as a writer. He refuses to give us our heart warming family hug and we see that things aren't going to go as well as we hoped. Cemetery Girl is not an easy book to read and the actions of the characters do in fact seemed flawed but here's the thing. You have to take away the rational thoughts and place yourself in Tom's shoes. Here's a father who has finally gotten his daughter back after four years and the homecoming he envisioned is not happening. His daughter is in love with her kidnapper and wants to return to him.

       It sounds crazy, I know but if you're a parent you can see yourself as Tom. You can see your marriage imploding and your daughter who you failed to protect is now a stranger. These events seem completely nuts but again, this is not your typical aw shucks we got the feels and everyone is so happy. Not every story has a happy ending and Bell is not about to trick us into thinking that everything worked out fine. Caitlin is home so now the marriage is back on track and we can go back to being a happy family. You're not reading that type of book and as a father I can see myself doing exactly what Tom did. As a father you want to know what happened to your daughter. It's a question that would eat at you and you would do anything to have the answers. This is a powerful novel and one that doesn't try and coddle us and tell us that everything is going to be fine. Bell has given us a story that you will either love or hate. There's no middle ground and I think Bell knew that as he was writing it. He was channeling raw emotion and that sometimes clouds our judgement and makes us react in ways that seem almost idiotic to outsiders.

      For a debut he picked a controversial topic but one he handled extremely well, He could have approached this like every other writer and given us the same story that we've read a hundred times. There's no meat left on those bones so Bell went off in search of a fresh prospective and one that tackles real grief and a real life what if  by not playing it safe. Cemetery Girl is shocking and yes, even disturbing. None of the characters behave the way we expect them too and that's okay. Everyone is going to react to this differently which is what's supposed to happen. It's a truly compelling read and for a debut it's really damn good. This is one writer I plan on reading more from and hope it matches the strength and honesty of Cemetery Girl.