The Con Season Review


The Con Season: A Novel of Survival Horror - Adam Cesare

This is my first experience with Adam Cesare’s work. The Con Season has been on my radar since I voted for it on Kindle Scout. I’m a big fan of George C. Cotronis’s covers and can spot them at a thousand paces. It is a fact that I will buy anything with his graphic design work on it if for no other reason than I like supporting his work. “Why, yes, Virginia, I do judge books by their covers.” Then I found Adam Cesare’s YouTube channel and instantly became a fan of the guy. I like his attitude and his knowledge of the horror genre. That alone made me subscribed to him and stalk follow him everywhere I could.

The first thing about the book I will mention is the obvious love of the genre coming off every page like heat waves off desert tarmac. Adam Cesare knows his stuff and is one of the few that can pay homage without blatantly ripping off those who came before him. I dug everything about his killer, but mainly I was impressed that he did something new. Good on you, Adam. In a genre full of impersonators, you manage to stand out with your own designs.

Second, the writing, for the most part, is damn good. The book could’ve done with another proofread or two, because I found many errors early on. The book gets cleaner the deeper in I went, but toward the front, the typos and missing words came at me at least once every three pages. Around the 60% mark, I stopped noticing them, and trust me, I was looking for them, but only because I’d encountered so many early on. Many people think errors and typos are a product of bad writing, but that’s not the case. When I find an author who knows their stuff like Cesare knows his stuff, I tend to believe that multiple errors are a product of editing mishaps. So if you are overly sensitive to typos and the like, you might want to skip this book. That being said, you’d be missing a great story written by a lover of the genre.

Another complaint I have is, early on, around the time I was struggling with finding errors, I also came across what I considered to be filler. There was a lot of inner thought that did nothing for character development and felt like the author was padding to increase word count. I could be wrong, but that’s the way it felt to me.

I highlighted several sections of the books because I was impressed by Cesare’s writing. The paragraph about why chainsaws cause such a visceral reaction in us was exceptionally written. He managed to put into words something wordless. He caught a rare piece of magic with that paragraph, and I must say, I’m jealous. Damn impressed.

Final note: The ending felt a bit rushed for me what with how padded the beginning felt. He built up such a terrific scenario and then sprinted through the final pages. The epilogue actually made me angry. Could’ve done without it.

In summation: I will be reading Adam Cesare again.Tribesmen is on my radar, so I’ll probably be reading that one next. Likely with Janie C. And, yes, I like the cover.

Final Judgment: Great idea if a little inconsistent on the quality.

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Lola Review


Lola: A Novel - Melissa Love

2.5 stars rounded up to 3 because it’s only half bad.

Lola, by Melissa Love, reads like a television drama. If you’re a fan of shows like Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy, you should like this book. That being said, the book is not without its problems.

If you’re a medical professional of any kind, this book is likely to have you rolling your eyes or fuming more than half a dozen times. The medical inaccuracies were ludicrous and easily fixable. Nothing consulting a nurse wouldn’t have fixed. The problems are as follows (slight spoilers ahead):

#1. Character has finger cut off and reattached and contracts sepsis all under 24 hours. I was a CNA for five years, and during that time I was trained and became a certified phlebotomist. I drew plenty of cultures in those five years. Cultures, the tests used to diagnose sepsis, take 24-48 hours to grow results.

#2. The symptoms of infection take hours to develop. Even if they tested this character the minute he hit the ER, there’s no way he could have been diagnosed and admitted for sepsis because they would have had no reason to even check for sepsis.

#3. I’m sure there are shitty hospital employees out there who do not give a shit about HIPPA rules and regs, but who gives out a patient’s diagnosis and personal info to someone who’s only asking for a fucking room number?

To paraphrase:

Person: “Hey, I’m looking for so-and-so.”

Hospital personnel: “Right. He’s in room what’s-its-fuck and by the way they were able to reattach his finger and he was admitted because he has sepsis.”

Person: “Great. I’m so-and-so by the way.”

Hospital personnel: “Oh, cool. He’s been asking about you.”

If you’ve never worked for a hospital, none of this is going to bother you. Needless to say, it bothered the fuck out of me because I was enjoying the realistic feel of the book. It took me over half the book to get back into the story because I was pissed that the author couldn’t be bothered with simple fact checking.

Another thing that took me out of the story was zero mention of smog. It’s always clear blue skies and gorgeous vistas in this book. I lived in California for 15 years, was born and raised there. The sky always looked like a smoky bar unless the Santa Anas had blown through. This might sound like me being nit-picky, but not mentioning smog in a story set in southern California is like writing about Egypt without mentioning sand.

Finally, as far as accuracy is concerned, I’ve been a member of three different gyms in my life. None of them allowed you to keep items in their lockers overnight, much less for several days. That being said, some might. So I might be wrong, but I doubt it. Lockers in gyms are prime real estate, and I don’t believe any company would risk tying up lockers by giving them permanently to customers. Besides, they would eventually run out.

All of that killed my rating for this one. The story itself is a five-star read, as is the quality of the writing. A little more research would’ve made this a runner for my book of the year. I loved the characters, especially Lola and Lucy. If the author decides to write a sequel, I’ll definitely pick it up.

In summation: Lola is a terrific story that is well-written yet horribly researched. All of the problems in this book are easily fixable, but it didn’t seem like anyone wanted to be bothered with checking the facts. If you can ignore the impossiblities and inaccuracies, you should dig it, but my life-experience ruined the book for me. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC, which I received for free in return for the honest review you’ve just read.

Final Judgment: Donald-Trump levels of fact checking.

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The Kite Runner Review

The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

The problem with tragedy porn like The Kite Runner is that, at some point, it all becomes a little too much. We get it. Amir had/has a fucked up life wherein nothing goes right. The reader holds out hope that something good must be just around the corner because, surely, life cannot get any worse for this dude. Welp, if you think that while reading this book, you’d be dead wrong.

I did find the surprises engaging enough to keep reading, though. I never knew what new horror was right around the corner. Even though I knew that something horrible was always just over the horizon, I didn’t know what horrible shit would next befall this man. I was constantly shocked by just how bad life became for him and those around him.

I do feel like some aspects of the story were forced into existence, but those are spoilers, so I’ll save them for the Spoiler Discussion at the end. I explain my three-star rating in the Spoiler Discussion, as well.

Thanks to Quarter-Book Day at my local thrift store, I own all of this authors work. But, before I pick up another Hosseini novel, I need to be assured that not everything he does is tragedy porn. If it is, I’ll likely put off reading his other work until I’m in the mood to be depressed for a week. I don’t mind sad stories, but I need some kind of relief ever hundred pages or so.

In summation: Not much else to say about this debut novel. It was sad and sad and sad and then it was sad. There is one small fleck of light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s like finding a grain of diamond dust in a massive pile of elephant poop. You can dig through it if you want, and it might even be worth your time, but you’re still gonna come out feeling like shit.

Final Judgment: I need a shower and some weed.

Spoiler Discussion:


The MC getting a split lip just like his dead friend had when he was a kid was a bit silly to me. Coincidences like that in books always seem forced. It took me out of the story. The ass whupping he took was plenty. No need for the forced scar. Up until that point, this felt like a true story, as if it could have been an autobiography, but after that scene, the author lost the real-life feel of the book and the novel felt overly fictional.

When Sohrab tried to kill himself at the end I just kinda rolled my eyes. I wanted the book to be over so badly at that point. I couldn’t take yet another fucking tragedy. I think that’s what drove my rating down to three stars.

If you’d like to continue the spoiler discussion in the comments below, please use spoiler tags. Thanks for joining me!


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Marked in Ink Review

Marked in Ink: A Tattoo Coloring Book - Megan Massacre

Usually the only time I can find tattooed chicks and coloring books in the same place is when my meds wear off and I am committed to the state psychiatric facility go on vacation to parts unknown. I don’t watch the reality show NY Ink, nor have I heard of America’s Worst Tattoos, so I have no idea who Megan Massacre is, other than her parents gave her a wicked sweet name, yo. I did watch one or two episodes of that one tattoo show with with that chick that banged Jesse James (the biker who cheated on Sandra Bullock, not the train robber) while wearing a Nazi helmet. What’s her name? Cat van Gonerrhea? Kitty von Chlamydia? Nazi vin Fuckstick?

(Great, now if my wife looks at my history, she’s going to see that I Googled “Chlomedia” because I didn’t know how to spell “Chlamydia.” Wonderfail…)

It’s no secret that I like to color. Well, I like to paint, and that’s really the same thing, innit? It is now, because I said so. Anyway, I like adding color to things that lack color. Like toilet water. But I wasn’t too thrilled with this one. Why? Well, I guess I’d have to say that, to me, the pictures were rather boring. I’ve flipped through dozens of adult coloring books and I think this is the most boring one I’ve come across. I don’t know if you have to be a fan of Megan Massacre to “get” these images, but I can’t see the draw of them.

I do, however, like the fact that the opposite side of each sheet is blank. So, if I ever do color any of these, which I doubt I will, I’d be able to rip it out and post it on the wall next to my Howard the Duck poster and my plaque for Bestest Cookbook Reviewer in All of Goodreads and Forever. But being able to tear out these pictures ends up being useless because I just don’t give enough of a fuck for the images to actually color them.

In summation: If you like Dia de la Muerta skulls and pixies and sharp objects, this is the coloring book for you. If you like reality shows about tattoo artists (NY Ink) and people who make bad decisions when choosing tattoos (America’s Worst Tattoos), you might dig coloring and ripping out these pages. But I can think of over a dozen coloring books with better designs, so this one only gets an “okay” from this reviewer.

By the way, thanks to Crown Publishing for the review copy. This one just wasn’t for me, kids.

Final Judgment: Not my style.

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The Hungry Moon Review


The Hungry Moon - Ramsey Campbell

This was my first experience with Ramsey Campbell and a buddy read with the ever-patient Thomas Strömquist. I came to the 80’s and 90’s English horror game late in life, somewhere in the ass-end of my twenties. While everyone was reading the Ramsey Campbells and the Brian Lumleys and the Clive Barkers, I was over here reading Richard Laymon, Bentley Little, and Dean Koontz, back when Koontz was considered a horror author because of such successes asPhantoms and Strangers. I think the only 80’s-90’s horror author I read in the 90s was Stephen Laws, and I remain a fan of his to this day, even though I don’t think he’s writing anymore. If that’s accurate information, that’s a real shame. Laws is/was terrific. Look him up.

The Hungry Moon does some things right and others things that are not necessarily wrong but whacky as fuck. I think the biggest disappointment I had while reading this was a significant lack of character development. If I’m to spend 300+ pages with a group of characters, I want to feel something for those characters. In this book, I couldn’t tell half of the characters apart, and those I could pinpoint upon seeing their names were very one dimensional. I can tell you with 100% certainty who Diana and Nick were, and Mrs. Scraggs and Godwin Mann, but everyone else was basically a toss off. We have the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker… I kid, but there is one character who is called the butcher throughout the book. The guy’s a literal butcher, as in a cutter of meat for the public, and he has a pretty good size role for a toss off, but he is only ever called the butcher. I love how the dude’s not worked in days and Campbell describes him as always smelling like old blood. Does anyone in this town shower after work?

Other than the character development, the writing is fantastic. It’s atmospheric as hell, too. Several times Campbell managed to give me goosebumps, which isn’t easy to do. The descriptions of scenes in the dark were nerve wracking and some of the best I’ve read in any genre, in any decade, period. (I wonder if this book was Tim Curran’s inspiration for Blackout.) Ramsey has some serious chops and is, in my personal opinion, easier on the eyes that Clive Barker’s bloated prosaic meanderings. Campbell seems to say twice as much with half the words as Barker. If I were to have to choose a novelist, English or otherwise, to compare Campbell to, I don’t think I could. No one comes to mind. I’ve never read anyone who writes quite like this guy. For that reason alone, I’ll be sampling more of his work.

The ending is a total and complete copout, though. Campbell takes the easy way out and just makes some shit up on the spot. I know what you’re thinking. This is fiction. Of course he made something up. But that’s not what I mean. The ending is very Stephen King. But we’ll discuss all that in the spoiler discussion, because the ending isn’t the only thing Campbell seems to borrow from King.

In summation: Whenever I set this book down, I was never drawn to pick it back up, but I wanted to know what happened, so I forced myself to. When I did jump back in, I could only read about 20-30 pages at a time. Not sure why. It wasn’t a difficult read, and I loved the writing style, but something was off. I chalk it up to me not having anyone in the book to care about. *shrugs*

Final Judgment: A well-written scary book about some faceless folks.

Spoiler Discussion: There are spoilers for some Stephen King books in here too.


How many things did Campbell borrow from Stephen King? Lemme count the ways…

1. Shapeshifting spider creature. Even though IT is not a spider creature, only a shapeshifting creature stuck in the form of a spider, it’s still odd that another author would recreate the idea only a year after King’s book was published.

2. Dumbfuck psychic bullshit that comes out of nowhere. I think I go back to Under the Dome for this one, where a character is suddenly given a vision of where the bad thing came from and is suddenly psychically linked because reasons. I know King has done this a lot in his career, but that’s the most recent use of that bullshit that I can think of.

3. Main character just gets lucky in the end with how to kill the monster even though there no fucking reason for them to be doing what they are doing. Diana start chanting some shit because… well, because I don’t fucking know why. She just suddenly thinks it’s a good idea and starts belting something. We don’t know what because Campbell doesn’t tell us, even though he spent the majority of the book drafting entire songs word for word. (“Harry Mooney” anyone?) Why couldn’t he write something for Diana to sing? Fuck if I know.

One thing Campbell sure as shit didn’t borrow from King is the character development, but I guess he had to stop somewhere.

Thanks for joining me. If you would like to continue the Spoiler Discussion in the comments below, be a friend and use spoiler tags.


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Cook Korean! Review

Cook Korean!: A Comic Book with Recipes - Robin Ha

This was a great idea. All cookbooks should be comic books. Now if only this thing would lay flat so I didn’t have to keep propping it open!

I love Korean BBW.

I think you mean BBQ.

Yeah, well, that too. I also love knowing what all the cool kids are talking about when they call each other “bae” nowadays.

Huh? What do you mean?

“Bae” is Korean for Asian pear.

The more you know.

I dig Kimchi and these kimchi recipes are Asian pears. That didn’t sound right. Are we sure kids these days aren’t just dumb?

No. Not sure. I’ve heard “bae” is Dutch for poop, too, so that’s a thing.

So my choices are Asian pear or poop?




Okay, back to the review.

Short ribs are good, son! And this book right here? This book RYCHEER! This book’ll tell you how to cook some them there short ribs, Cuz. Talking lip-smacking tallywhacker-tempting good short ribs. Don’t have all the fancy ingredients? Don’t worry. Robin Ha says some motherfuckers just use Coca-Cola for their marinade because who has time for soy sauce and ginger and other expensive shit. Just drain a 20 ounce Coke into a plastic bag, drop in your short ribs, and hang out with your Dutch poop or your Asian pears for like thirty minutes, then cook them bitches (the short ribs, not your “baes”, because this is cooking not cannibalism) and you got yourselves some goddamn motherfucking Korean BBQ, you sexy fucker!

But wait, ladies, there’s more!

Need a hot beef injection? Well there’s a recipe for Spicy Beef Soup in this piece! You only need like thirty-seven goddamn ingredients and four weeks vacation time to make it, but holy shit will it make your side dude have main-dude feelings. Also, this Spicy Beef Soup will make your asshole burn. Just warning you. We’re talking nuclear hell hole, got me? We’re talking lava butt, son. Kinda shit that’ll singe your leg hair.

So whataya do after you set your rectum on fire? You eat Cold Buckwheat Noodles, of course! But first you’re gonna need some Yengyeoja… holy fuck, did I spell that right the first time? I fucking did! YEA! Anyway, you’re gonna need some of that Yeng shit. It’s yellow wasabi paste. It’s like regular wasabi but yellower. You’re also gonna need a bae. No, like a real bae. One of them Asian pears, because we all know you’re gonna die alone. Then some rice wine vinegar and some other shit I can’t pronounce and you got yourself some fucking Cold Buckwheat Noodles®.

Finally, Robin Ha gives us some of her very own Korean Fusion recipes like Omelet Fried Rice and Spicy Chicken Tacos because who doesn’t love some hot cock!

In summation: Comic books are a unique way to learn how to cook anything. Korean food especially. If you have $20 and don’t mind a cookbook that won’t stay the fuck open when you’re trying to read the recipes, buy the fuck outta this book. Or don’t. Until next time, I’ll be slurping on some buckwheat noodles dipped in Yengyeoja. Ha! I spelled it right again!

Final Judgment: A hundred different ways to make your rectum burn.

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