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Smashwords book reviews by brainycat

  • The Second Coming on May 24, 2010

    I'm usually not a big on fantasy books, but I'm always a sucker for post-apocalyptic stories. I am so glad I picked this book up. It's intriguing, well thought out and has better characterization than I've come to expect from Major Published Authors. I sincerely hope there is a sequel in the works. There's more than enough material in this book to flesh out a Robert Jordan-esque epic, but fortunately David is much more judicious with his words and is quite enjoyable to read. I don't have anything to add about the plot, setting etc that hasn't been said already. I must say the setting lends itself to an RPG, and once I'd finished the book I mused upon the idea for a few minutes. I will be incorporating some of the memes into an ongoing modern/horror/alternate history/apocalyptic campaign of mine.
  • The Dead on June 16, 2010

    This is a well written story of the christian apocalypse that takes place shortly before rapture and over the next few days. Personally, I like antiheroic points of view so the pro-christian dogma felt a little heavy handed at times, but it was an enjoyable read nonetheless. The focus is on the interplay behind a handful of friends and family who find themselves together at the family patriarch's funeral when all hell literally breaks loose. The characters each represent a point of view about faith and spirituality; at least the males do. I was very disappointed at the lack of strong female characters; despite being half the cast their entire job is to cry, bandage wounds and die. The characters all blend together in my head. Max stands out as the main protagonist with the most "screen time", and his uncle Buddy stands out because he was such an asshole. All the other characters seem like shades of each other; they only stand out uniquely in one on one conversation but are immediately forgotten again. This may be because they are all white, hetero and middle class. The action was very well paced, but the violence wasn't as gory as I like. The action did keep moving the story along though. There were no steamy scenes, but given the scenario and the pacing sexual encounters would not be appropriate. About half way through the book I realized the main protagonist Max is an allegory for Jesus in the days before his crucifixion, and I was able to wade through the author's sermons because I was looking forward to the next reference. I wasn't disappointed, and the climax wherein Max all but cries "Why hast thou forsaken me??!?" was very well played. Even though I found myself rolling my eyes at the christian point of view, the story is well constructed and the writing solid despite the weak characterization. I made a point of finishing it to claim the moral high ground; I may not agree with the points the author wants to convey, but I'm man enough to listen to all of them.
  • Under the Amoral Bridge on June 16, 2010

    This is a solid, but not groundbreaking cyberpunk adventure. Gary doesn't tread too far off the genre's beaten path, and for most of the book the action and dialogue (though not the vocabulary; sed -e "s/cyberpunk/SomeGenre/g") could be set in any noir story from Renaissance Europe to the far distant future. It's a quick read, and it's full of likable characters. It doesn't suffer from the drawbacks typical of episodically published stories. Each installment flows well into the next, with no unnecessary recaps or useless cliffhangers: thankfully, this book reads nothing like Charles Dickens. The denouement feels like it's tacked on; almost like Gary lit a neon sign on a drizzly evening that says, "Second Novel: Here!" with a huge flashing arrow to the only plot point he left unresolved. I like slimy, narcissistic antiheroes and Amoral Bridge delivers. He's not a total douchebag, he operates by his own moral compass that's tuned to a darwinian inspired nihilism I found myself relating to: Everybody wants to do something nasty and vile to somebody else. Everybody! They're all fucking shitheels with disgusting, immoral, vicious desires buried in their tiny, miserable souls just waiting for an excuse to get out. The sooner it gets out and they all burn themselves up in a fiery orgy of self-destructive gluttony, the happier I'll be. Humanity as a whole is a miserable gaggle of self-pleasuring apes ready to crack you over the head and steal your fucking bananas. This book is a great introduction to cyberpunk for people who might not usually read scifi, and for diehard cyberpunk fans it's a great way to spend a couple of nontaxing hours. I read the smashwords edition, and it suffered from the usual deficiencies that all their epubs have, but was generally well rendered on my reader.
  • Apex Magazine - Issue 10 on June 16, 2010

    It's been a while since I read this issue, but you cannot go wrong with this magazine IF you like your horror and/or scifi dark, creepy and edgy. The release of a new Apex is something I look forward to every month. I have not been disappointed yet. Sure, some of the content is stronger than some of the rest of the content, but I haven't been disappointed by the selections at all.
  • Apex Magazine - Issue 12 on June 16, 2010

    I finished this issue a couple of weeks ago, but I didn't take any notes so I can't really speak to specific stories. But I will uniquivocally say you cannot go wrong with this magazine IF you like your horror and/or scifi dark, creepy and edgy. The release of a new Apex is something I look forward to every month. I have not been disappointed yet. Sure, some of the content is stronger than some of the rest of the content, but I haven't been disappointed by the selections at all.
  • Dark Faith on Sep. 20, 2010

    I'm a big fan of Apex Publishers, and this collection of short stories and poetry did not disappoint. I cannot recommend it highly enough to fans of horror and dark fiction. The theme of the collection is faith of all types: having faith or losing faith or finding faith; faith in higher powers, faith in the goodness of people and faith in the ugliness of people; faith in yourself and faith in the cold, uncaring machinations of the world around you. Like the other Apex anthologies I've read, there were a few pieces that were a little too abstract for my unsophisticated brain to wrap around. "The Mad Eyes of the Heron King" by Richard Dansky, "First Communions" by Geoffrey Girard and especially "To the Jerusalem Crater" by Lavie Tidhar were too obtuse and deeply allegorical for me to connect with. I leave it to more educated and widely read readers to extract higher purposes from them. I did enjoy reading them at a purely technical level, the writing is superb even if the greater meaning eludes me. The real standout stories will each sit with me for a long time. I especially liked "Ghosts of New York" by Jennifer Pelland, a story about acceptance, remembrance and the tragedies we relive in our heads every day. "He Who Would Not Bow" by Wrath James White has a protagonist I identify with deeply and expores the space between your own awareness and that of omniscience. The next story in the anthology also hit me deeply, "Zen and the Art of Gordon Dratch's Damnnation" by Douglas F. Warrick, another allegory on acceptance, focuses on humility and the way we create our own hells for ourselves. I related this story to my own relationship to alcohol. "Mother Urban's Booke of Dayes" by Jay Lake covers the same territory as "He Who Would Not Bow", but from an entirely opposite angle. For the first few paragraphs, I thought it was rehashing a lot of common characters and scenes, but Jay brings them all to life and makes the story feel vivrant with a freshness and vigor I truly found inspiring. J. C. Hay's "A Loss for Words" is an excellent study of the classical Calliope tale, set in the modern world. As someone who just decided to be a writer it struck a cord and made me question my own creative process. "The Choir" by Lucien Soulban uses Cthulu-esque imagery and plot to show that the best of humanity can come through in the face of the worst horrors. The final story, and a perfect choice for ending the book, "For My Next Trick I'll Need a Volunteer" by Gary A. Braunbeck is a tale of redemption with strong overtones of "A Christmas Carol" and "It's A Wonderful Life", though it's clearly dark fiction. There are several other stories I didn't mention, please don't thing that because I'm a lazy reviewer that they aren't worthy. There aren't any weak pieces in this book; reading it in order like I did is the heroes journey. It starts out in an unhappy place, goes through hell, fights monsters and finally comes out at the end on a positive note. As a collection of stories, it's one of the best anthologies I've ever read.
  • Crimson Velvet - Erotic Stories from the Stately Homes of England on Aug. 04, 2013

    A pair of new stories from Vanessa de Sade. In this collection, the author maintains the stellar standards we've come to expect from her. Ms. de Sade is one of the most sophisticated writers of contemporary erotica, seamlessly blending vanilla and taboo eroticism with complex characters while avoiding cheap prurience.