Penance Review


Penance - Kanae Minato

I burned through the last 75% of this in one extended sitting. I only stopped to eat, use the bathroom, and update my status on Goodreads when something remarkable happened, which was quite often, I must say.

Penance was the perfect book for me at this moment in my life. I’ve grown impatient with the same old, same old, and this book was anything but that. Oddest of all is, I should have hated this book. It does three things that usually annoy the fuck out of me:

#1. It has something I call the “Vantage Point Plot”, wherein one dramatic scene is told from a bunch of different viewpoints. That normally gets old real quick, but here it was fresh because every chapter showed you the aftereffects of each individual, and each aftereffect was drastically different. Some were creepy as balls, others were tense, some were sad, but every single one of them was interesting. Thank fuck for that miracle.

#2. This is basically a mosaic novel. I’ve not had great success with mosaic novels. If you don’t know what one is, I’ll give you a brief explanation. A mosaic novel is a series of vignettes or short stories that are connected by one central event or theme. Here it works because we’re so close to each character. The detailed explanations of each character’s life at the beginning of their chapters might bore some of you. They bored me a bit. But by the end of each chapter I saw just how needed all that information was. Be patient with this one. Each section pays off.

#3. First-person POVs from multiple characters. This is a style I can’t fucking stand. It rarely works well, especially when each character is speaking to someone off screen, as it were, like in novels based on an interview structure, but here it fits perfectly. In fact, any book I read from here on out that has chapters from different first-person POVs will be stacked and judged against this novel. It was so well done. I was never confused as to who’s head I was in because each and every person got their own quarantined section. Beautiful.

Finally, this was just an easy read. Something I didn’t have to think too hard about, but not so simple that I thought the author was speaking down to me. The translation is terrific. I don’t feel that anything was lost in translation. I can’t say that for certain, seeing as I don’t speak Japanese and have not read the original text, but usually you can sit back and say, “Something about that doesn’t sound right.”

In summation: I am happy as hell that I snagged this one off NetGalley in return for the review you just read. I’ll likely buy this in hardcover or paperback or whichever format it comes out in upon release in the States. It’s rare that I buy books I’ve received ARCs of, but this will more than likely be one of them… as long as it’s decently priced. You never know with this translated novels, seeing as how they have to essentially pay two authors. If you like your mysteries built with abnormal frames, give this one a look-see.

Final Judgment: Some of everything and not a thing bad.



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The White Road Review


The White Road - Sarah Lotz

This wasn’t terrible, but certain parts were fucking annoying.

For one, the entire cast is garbage. All throwaways. Nobody you haven’t read about a million times. In fact, these people are so generic the main character, Simon (or Si), thinks of them as Depressed Harry Potter and Hannibal Lecter, or other famous people. The cast? Nothing to see here.

The plot is all over the place. You start out the book with a prologue that lasts 20% of the whole book. I thought the novel was gonna be about Si in that cave and then I’m thrust into a different scenario and made to get to know new people. Okay. Whatever. Moving on.

Sarah Lotz doesn’t do scary well. She seems to have a very old school sense of horror: seeing things from the corner of your eye, eerie presences, hair raising on the back of your neck… That would be all well and good if she could pull it off. She doesn’t. Here it comes off as cheesy and she ends up looking like a try-hard.

Can we please stop with the goddamn blogger characters in horror fiction? The only thing horrifying about them is how unsuitable they are for horror novels. Paul Trembley proved as much in his godawful A Head Full of Ghosts. They kill the terror with their text-speech.

4 real #nojoke tl;dr but this book is totes meh

My final complaint is the godawful formatting. I hope they fix that shit before publication because reading strikethrough text is fucking distracting and annoying and FUCK YOU, FORMATTER!

I did like the way Lotz wrote and the mixed up structure. That’s probably the only reason this isn’t a one-star review. It wasn’t like everything else, and I commend her for trying something different. That being said, you need to leave epistolary style where it belongs, in the 19th century.

In summation: I was hoping for a chiller and I got a decent mountain adventure. No big loss, as the book was provided free of charge in return for this here review.

Final Judgment: Not terrible.

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If you’re interested in reading and reviewing my new novel before its release on Halloween, drop me a message, comment, or email me at with your contact info and site address and I will add you to the list I’m sending to the publisher. You have until Friday to request one. The only requirement is that you have a blog (Booklikes pages count, too). A Goodreads account doesn’t count, sorry.


About the book:


Lei Duncan has it all: the ideal life, the perfect career, a loving husband. What more could someone ask for? It is with this in mind that Lei takes her morning run.

Belinda Walsh has just lost it all: her home, her husband, her mind. She thought she knew the man she’d married, but one phone call has destroyed all certainty. Now everything she’s known to be true is a lie. It is with this in mind that she goes looking for something—or someone—to destroy.

When the lives of two strangers intersect, something will be born of the connection. For one of these two souls, the truth of the world will shift and morph into something powerful and dangerous. A darkness of the mind, a rip in sanity.

And something will peek through that darkness, beckoned by the sound of broken ribs.

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Becoming Review


Becoming - Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, Glenn Rolfe, Jason Lynch

Glenn Rolfe is a good dude. He has his fans and I’m sure they will feel the need to stick up for him. No one likes to see a nice guy shit on. This is not a personal attack but a critique of the contents of this one book. I wish Glenn all the best and truly hope he finds some patience and stops rushing books out to the public. Then again, as long as people continue to buy his unedited material and praising it as the best thing since KY Jelly and bath salts, I suppose there’s no reason to provide the cleanest work possible. Keep doing you, dude.

This is my second attempt at reading this book. The first attempt ended when I noticed there were several errors on the very first page: “back hair” instead of “black hair”; the lack of a possessive apostrophe on “anyones”. I contacted the author, who’s an acquaintance of mine on Facebook, to inform him of the errors and he thanked me. He said he fixed the errors and asked me if I wanted to give it another shot. I said yes. And here we are.

There are still errors on the first page. The ones I brought to Glenn’s attention are fixed, but there are still errors, unless the old man really does weigh in “at about eight-nine pounds.” I’m guessing Glenn meant “eighty-nine pounds.” If you can’t even be bothered to make sure your first page is free of errors, well… I’m not sure there’s any use in me pointing anything else out.

One of the problems I had with the first book I read of Rolfe’s, Things We Fear, was the lack of detail. The writing was serviceable and I thought I saw potential. I rated that book two stars (I think) and Glenn contacted me to thank me for my review. He said he was still learning and appreciated my honesty. I’m disappointed to say that all the potential I saw in that book is missing here, and somehow there is even less detail than there was in THINGS WE FEAR. I can only guess that what I saw in that first book was what Glenn was capable of when working with a decent editor.

Now here we are with Becoming, a book that Glenn admits was rushed to publication. I expressed my concerns about an author willingly admitting that he didn’t give the book enough attention and Glenn told me that he hopes people can look beyond the errors and have fun with the story. I’m not that kind of reader. Glenn knew this and still wanted me to read it.

Luckily I received a free copy of this book for review. Had I paid money for it, I’d be fucking livid. The errors are numerous and the writing is well below average. I made it to 7% and there is no sign of the writing getting any better. In fact, page by page, it seems to be getting substantially worse. Whether or not you will be able to enjoy this book depends on whether or not you find anything wrong with the following paragraph, because I think it sums up Glenn’s writing perfectly.

Her parents didn’t agree on much, but of course the one thing they did was her not having her own cell. Something about predators and creeps, and the fact that just because every other kid at school had one, didn’t mean she had to also.

If you can ignore errors and substandard writing and just enjoy the ride, good for you. I can’t. Reading this was like riding through a parking lot dotted with holes and covered in speed bumps inside a car with zero shock absorbers and spikes on the ceiling. I was impaling myself at least twice a page. I’m simply not wired to ignore such a bumpy ride. No need for me to torture myself further.

In summation: Glenn is a great guy but his writing is obviously not for me. Thanks for the review copy.

Final Judgment: Mistakes were made and made and made and then made some more.

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My Semi-Fictional Life #168 (Huge Announcement!)

Finally! I get to spill the beans…

I’m proud to announce that, this summer, Thunderstorm books will be publishing not one but TWO limited editions of my upcoming novel The Sound of Broken Ribs. The first version will be part of their Black Voltage line and will cost $85. The book’s cover was designed by yours truly and will come in a gorgeous 7×10 deluxe edition hardcover with dust jacket. The second version will be a more economical version: a 6×9 hardcover for $45. Both books will go up for preorder on June 2, 2017 and will ship mid-July. They do not expect either version to last long, so mark your calendars.

I was hoping to announce the Diablo limited edition of Fog Warning that Thunderstorm will be publishing but… it’s already sold out?!?!?!?!?! Damn thing sold out before they even publicly announced it. So if you have a subscription (or however you lucky so-and-sos preordered it) you got a true rarity. I will be getting author copies, so at least I can post pics for everyone else. Who knows… I might even do a giveaway.

I will keep everyone up-to-date as things progress. The signature sheets have already been signed and returned. Now we’re just waiting on the June 2 preorder to go live. I’ll give you cover reveals when I have final versions.

Dude, I’m so fucking pumped!

Talk soon,



My Semi-Fictional Life #166 (The Return of Larry Laughlin)

HOPE FOR THE WICKED (probably my most controversial book due to the extreme nature of one scene in particular that upset numerous readers) will be returning to ebook in the next few days in a new expanded edition, which will include a new cover and afterword from me discussing the motivation for the series, the odd marketing of the book as an everyday thriller, and my thoughts on writing for shock value versus writing for character development. PENNIES FOR THE DAMNED will also be returning much later this year. The sequel to HOPE is unrecognizable when compared to the previous publication. So if you’ve read both of these, I highly recommend that you reread PENNIES upon re-release. HOPE is slightly longer but nothing much has changed with the story. PENNIES has been completely restructured and character fates have changed.

PENNIES was mangled by the editors who worked on it, but now that I have the rights back, I’ve returned the story to its original state. Whether you will like it more or less remains to be seen. What’s important to me is that now I am happy with the story. The new versions of these two books are important in that you’ll finally be able to read the rest of the five-book series, which has been finished and locked in a cyber trunk for the last three years. I never published the final three novels because the edits PENNIES received changed the story drastically to the point that the final three books didn’t make sense. Rewriting the final three to fit the new developments would have been near impossible. I’m not even sure the fourth book could have been saved.

FLESH FOR THE ASKING, book three in the Larry Laughlin series is now in editing. Right on its tail, maybe six months apart, will be CORPSES FOR THE GRINDER and JUDGMENT FOR THE RIGHTEOUS. I’m excited to get them out into the world and into your hands. Finally.

If you’re a fan of Larry, I promise you won’t be disappointed.



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