Book Review

Book Review | The Totally Legend of Brandon Thighmaster by Steve Wetherell

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My plans for the weekend went out the window the second I received an email from Amazon telling me about new releases from authors I love. This one in particular is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long, long time. I immediately jumped onto Kindle Unlimited and grabbed my copy.

Brandon Thighmaster, sexually attractive monk from the Temple of the Many Fists, ab-crunched his way into my world when he joined the Authors and Dragons podcast which I’ve been listening to since its inception. I remember his debut episode like I listened to it yesterday, mainly because I almost died from laughing. All that said, you don’t need to have listened to the podcast to enjoy this story.

The Blurb:

“Hi. I am Brandon Thighmaster. Monk. Hero. Inspiration. I enjoy crunching, squats, looking at myself, looking at other people looking at myself, and long walks on the beach. I also do adventures and stuff, and I guess you can read about them here. But enough about you, let’s talk about me. Brandon Thighmaster.”

This tale set in the same universe as the podcast, follows the embodiment of ultimate physical perfection as he embarks on his quest to leave the monastery where he has spent his entire life honing his fighting prowess, and punch his way through the entire back catalogue of fauna and occasionally the flora the world provides.

His character wanders thoughtlessly and aimlessly, always seeing opportunities to look at himself or work on his cardio routine, until he stumbles upon a rouge, Pritti Brightblade, in dire need of rescuing from a group of orcs. After a successful intimidation which is misunderstood by the orcs, he joins his first party of adventurers and joins the good fight to save a nearby settlement.

Written with the same humour Steve delivers each fortnight during the podcast, this was an entertaining read from start to finish. Set in the Pathfinder universe (that the Authors and Dragons podcast is played in) meant I didn’t need to try to understand the world mechanics (like the magical healing abilities of clerics, etc). I already knew the systems of that world so it felt like home.

Hopefully this is the first in a long series, not only by Mister Wetherell but also by the other authors of the podcast. I’d love to read more from this universe.

TL;DR Version

We have a saying at the Temple of the Many Fists. Read this story or get punched in the face. Check out the sample on Amazon!

Book Review | So Not a Hero by S.J. Delos

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Hmmm, where to start. I grabbed So Not a Hero by SJ Delos because I’m going through a bit of a superhero kick at the moment and the story sounded interesting.

It is, don’t get me wrong. The story and world-building is solid and enjoyable. The main character has a ton of back-story and issues she needs to work through and you begin rooting for her pretty much straight away.

The Blurb:

A reformed villain.
After serving two years in a Federal prison, Karen Hashimoto is out on parole and eager to put her criminal past behind her. No easy task, since she’s also the former supervillain known as Crushette. A chance encounter leads to an unexpected opportunity, and she is recruited as the newest member of the city’s premier team of superheroes: The Good Guys.

A new hero.
Now Karen has new teammates, a new code name, and the daunting responsibility of trying to be the hero everyone thinks she can be. Becoming a champion for Truth and Justice is going to be rough, especially for the ex-girlfriend of the notorious Doctor Maniac. Karen will have to do everything in her powers to keep her past from ruining her future.

It was so much simpler being the bad guy.

Some of the support characters seemed a little cookie-cutter though. The story could have done without a lot of the deep-seated misogyny inherent to many of the male characters. The way the author treats the main characters made me a little uncomfortable. Sure, I get there are arseholes out there that treat people like this, but it came across as a little gratuitous at times.

There are a couple of sex scenes, one at the beginning which establishes Karen hitting rock bottom, and one multi-page effort midway through. About mid-way through the second one I found I just wanted the story to skip ahead.

I’m not averse to reading sex scenes, however this one did drag on a little. Plus, I couldn’t help but think it was maybe a little bit of wish-fulfilment for the author. A thought that occurred to me a few times while reading. A sexy, do-anything superhero who madly wants to make love… I’ll let you make your own mind up.

Will I read the next one? Sure. The story arc got me engaged enough to care about the characters and what happens next. The points I take issue with don’t put me off enough to not want to read the next one.

TL;DR Version

Great story with some hard-to-like characters. I recommend checking out the sample on Amazon first before jumping into the whole novel.

Book Review | Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

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There are plenty of people out there who love Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, I however am not among them. This one popped up on a few lists I was trawling through for my next read. Lists like “Funniest books of all time” and “Best books of all time”, and so on… so I admit my hopes were high for this one.

But I found myself fighting not to give up on the book many times. There was just so much waffling I found myself skipping ahead as I pushed further into this novel.

The whole made up religion thing, Bokononism and the various paragraphs devoted to it throughout the novel, I just didn’t find funny at all though it was clear that was their intention. A religion founded on the believe that everything is founded on lies, including Bokononism.

The Blurb:

Dr Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding ‘fathers’ of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to the world. For he’s the inventor of ‘ice-nine’, a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. The search for its whereabouts leads to Hoenikker’s three eccentric children, to a crazed dictator in the Caribbean, to madness. Felix Hoenikker’s Death Wish comes true when his last, fatal gift to humankind brings about the end, that for all of us, is nigh…

So what sounds like an interesting premise and something that should appeal directly to me failed to do so. This book that was pegged in a “Funniest books of all time” list failed to raise even a smirk.

Disjointed and rambling are two words that first come to mind when thinking how to summarise the book. Maybe had I been around at the end of World War 2 or experienced the Cuban Missile Crisis first hand I might find more humour in this book, but alas for me it just fell flat.

TL;DR Version

Struggled to finish this one, but others seem to enjoy it. Check out the sample on Amazon and make up your own mind. At least you can’t say I didn’t try to warn you. 🙂

Book Review | The Haunted Vagina by Carlton Mellick III

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“Bizarro fiction? What’s that?” I thought to myself when I first heard the term. Of course, I needed to look up this previously unheard of genre, landing on suggestions. Most of them fall into the NSFW category, and I guess this one – The Haunted Vagina – does too, to a degree. Depends on how prudish your IT department is about the word ‘Vagina’.

Most examples I found looked as if they were trying to outdo each other with outlandish book titles. There are certainly some interesting ones out there…

Anyway, after a bit of a crawl through GoodReads I landed on this one that sounded less disturbing than others I’d seen, and sounded funny enough that it might be a good introduction to the genre.

What’s it about? The blurb:

It’s difficult to love a woman whose vagina is a gateway to the world of the dead…

Steve is madly in love with his eccentric girlfriend, Stacy. Unfortunately, their sex life has been suffering as of late, because Steve is worried about the odd noises that have been coming from Stacy’s pubic region. She says that her vagina is haunted. She doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal. Steve, on the other hand, completely disagrees.

When a living corpse climbs out of her during an awkward night of sex, Stacy learns that her vagina is actually a doorway to another world. She persuades Steve to climb inside of her to explore this strange new place. But once inside, Steve finds it difficult to return… especially once he meets an oddly attractive woman named Fig, who lives within the lonely haunted world between Stacy’s legs.

So that sets the scene. Stacy’s been hearing strange noises from down below for most of her life. One night after an adult-sized skeleton crawls its way out of her, she talks her boyfriend Steve into a mission to investigate.

Armed with walkie talkies and greased up like a Scotsman in an air duct, he ventures forth and finds Stacy is a doorway to an alternate reality.

It’s a short story, novella I guess at around 100 pages, but Mister Mellick packs quite a lot into those pages. The world he describes his both warped yet made vibrant and interesting by his words, and what happens once Steve gets trapped there kept me reading to the end.

Will I read more bizarre? I’m not saying no at this point, but it was a bit of an eye opener as a genre. I’ll see what GoodReads suggests as “also reads” once I’ve marked it as “Read”.

TL;DR Version

Certainly an eye-opener. An enjoyable short read. Check out the sample at Amazon.

Book Review | Phil! A Hilarious Account of Everything by RP Momsen

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I thought I might like this given the sample read similar to Douglas Adams, but it quickly became apparent that the book was basically trying to copy everything of the Hitchhikers Guide. Almost as if the author had read it, forgot parts of it, then had a go at writing the exact same book.

Just the things I noticed before giving up:

  • The Guide-like asides,
  • “Pan Universal Kumquat Juice” – I mean that’s not even trying to hide being a direct copy of “Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters”,
  • Losers sitting around in tatty bathrobes,
  • Spontaneous transformation into potted plants,
  • The Big Bang Bar featuring a show of the universe exploding.

If I wanted to read the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, then I wouldn’t settle for a knock off. I just couldn’t get into this and just found I was more distracted looking for similarities to Hitchhikers than reading the story.

That said, over on GoodReads there are plenty of people who enjoyed it, so maybe it’s just not my cup of tea. I guess you could say this is more like a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.

Book Review | The Rules of Supervillainy by CT Phipps

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This was a funny and entertaining book to read. So Gary, our “hero” of the story leads a dull life where he wants nothing more than to be a supervillain. Of course this wish is fulfilled when the magical cloak of the foremost (and newly deceased) hero of the city turns up on his doorstep.

Suddenly he gets everything he wants and becomes Merciless: The Supervillain Without Mercy. The tautology alone should give you an idea what this book is going to be like.

The Blurb:

Gary Karkofsky is an ordinary guy with an ordinary life living in an extraordinary world. Supervillains, heroes, and monsters are a common part of the world he inhabits. Yet, after the death of his hometown’s resident superhero, he gains the amazing gift of the late champion’s magical cloak. Deciding he prefers to be rich rather than good, Gary embarks on a career as Merciless: The Supervillain Without Mercy.

But is he evil enough to be a villain in America’s most crime-ridden city?

Gary soon finds himself surrounded by a host of the worst of Falconcrest City’s toughest criminals. Supported by his long-suffering wife, his ex-girlfriend turned professional henchwoman, and a has-been evil mastermind, Gary may end up being not the hero they want but the villain they need.

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Book Review | Goddamned Freaky Monsters by Rick Gualtieri

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I should preface this review with a <POSSIBLE SPOILERS> warning since Goddamned Freaky Monsters is book 5 in The Tome of Bill series. If you’ve not read the first four, maybe look away now.

After reading the first 4 books in quick succession I decided a short break was in order before continuing with the series. That short break turned into 6 months as other books kept demanding my attention.

But finally I’m back on the Bill train, having finished this one over the weekend and lining up to read the next one when I’m finished what I’m currently reading.

The Blurb:

Three months have passed since the fateful encounter in New York City that ended with the disappearance of Bill Ryder – gamer, geek, and legendary vampire. Now he’s back, awakened halfway across the globe with no allies, clothing, or clue as to how he got there. The only thing he’s certain of is that his captors plan to use him for their own nefarious ends and don’t care how much blood they spill in the process.

Escape might be the least of his worries, though. Civilization teeters on the brink of chaos. Mythical beasts, once thought the stuff of fantasy, are breaking through the veil, intent on waging war against mankind. At their forefront stands an ancient evil, the last remnant of a cult thought long dead, and he’s about to cut a swath of destruction through the world not seen since biblical times.

Bill’s only chance is to reclaim his life, reconcile with his friends, and muster every bit of attitude he can – because if he fails, Hell on Earth will become far more than just a corny saying.

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Book Review | Critical Failures V by Robert Bevan

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Robert Bevan is someone I’ve been reading for a long time now, getting into his books a few years back and reading them all multiple times. His latest book in the series, Critical Failures V, has left me a little on the fence.

While each book in the series so far has followed the standard formula of problem at start -> solved at end + new cliff-hanger (introduced to keep you wanting the next one), this one meandered along without much urgency and ended without any real satisfaction.

In this one, the expanding cast of unique characters has been split into multiple groups as they set out to find Tim who they believe is trying to abandon them all in the game. The splitting of the party was something I particularly enjoyed as it allowed some lesser characters the chance to shine on their own, giving us a chance to get to know them better.

Mister Bevan does a great job at pulling together all the divergent paths the characters have taken by the end, but this is where it fell down for me. I looked at the progress bar on my Kindle and thought it must have been malfunctioning. It said 99% and I felt that the climax of the book was about to kick into gear, but instead I was left with a cliff-hanger ending without any real feeling of satisfaction.

I would have gladly waited another 6 months or a year or more to have this storyline play out to a more satisfactory conclusion. As it is, it feels like I only read half a book, and for a book that’s close to 100,000 words, it felt kind of short. Read the rest of this entry »

Hot Tip | Victor Boone Will Save Us

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I’d like to share something I nominated over at KindleScout. The book is Victor Boone Will Save Us by David Joel Stevenson, and it had me hooked from the moment I read the sample.

At the time of writing this it has 14 days left in its campaign, so you should check it out before it’s too late. Of course, you could always buy it later on, but if you nominate it and it is successful, you can snag a free copy.

So what’s it about? The blurb:

Robby does the saving, Victor takes credit.

Victor Boone is a handsome jerk who uses incredible powers to fly around in spandex and save his city’s citizens from evil doers – especially the busty ones. But he’s not a superhero.

In truth, an invisible, insecure and overweight Robby Willis has the powers, but he’s so terrified of anyone knowing he exists that he’s not comfortable with a cliché disguise. The two men form a partnership: Robby does the saving and Victor takes the credit.

Problem is, Victor’s been murdered.

From the opening paragraphs of the first chapter you’re in the thick of the action, and by the end of the first chapter the “hero” is dead. No spoilers there since it says as much in the blurb. After which comes the fallout, with Robby dealing with the death of Victor and the potential new love interest in his life who knows more about him than he’d like. Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review | The Big Sleep by Meaghan Gray

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I very nearly passed this one by but now that I’ve finished it I’m glad that I didn’t. I say I almost passed it by because the way the opening chapters are written didn’t appeal to me. The quick chopping and jumping around between dreams was off-putting, but I skipped past them to where the real story starts. The opening is basically prologue and, thinking back on it now, could be dropped all together.

I get that we need to know the origins of what is happening, but I think it could be worked into the story much easier than how this book opens. Not all styles appeal to all people of course, so you might be different, but I found it difficult.

That said, once the real story starts just before the second Big Sleep, the plot takes off at a fast clip and barely slows down. It was this that kept me reading and why ultimately I enjoyed the book, even if I didn’t like the opening.

Mostly set inside the dream world, Ms Gray does an excellent job of keeping believability alive while injecting plenty of fantasy elements that could only be conjured up in a dream. The concept of the Greymen and the world they inhabit and what they do was a new one for me and were one of the things that piqued my curiosity about this novel in the first place.

A nice fat twist towards the end of the novel makes me want to read the next one, so I’ll be keeping my eyes open for the next book in this series.

The only other notes I made while reading this was Read the rest of this entry »