Everything Else Gallery
Godless Murder Machine - Mike Leon
Review: Personally, I am a very slow and very thorough reader. It usually takes me a few weeks to read each book. I read this one in 3 days. I woke my wife up at 3am on a work night because I laughed so hard at one scene. That's how good this book is. Sid, the world's foremost killing machine, works at Gamestop, where they can sell you a preorder for just about anything. That premise alone is incredible. I loved Rated R, but this sequel is better in every single way. The action was more intense, the characters are much more developed and complex, the writing is phenomenal, and the comedy is as unstoppable as Sid's guns. There is no possible way anyone could read this book and not like it.
Score: 10 / 10 - The first full score I have ever given. Honestly, this book will change your life.
#Justice - Mike Leon
Sid, the world's foremost killing machine (or shall we call him a Godless Murder Machine? Ha, easy joke) has to solve a new mystery. Someone is killing "journalists" from all those stupid Buzzfeed websites, and the bodies are beginning to mount at Sid's feet.
#Justice was packed with a heavy dose of badassery, tons of cool guns and amazing fights, and all the snarky humor you could ever want. Mike Leon continues to deliver knockout blows with the Kill Team One series. I really can't recommend it enough. My only complaint would perhaps be that the book felt short, but maybe I'm just starting to read faster. This one still isn't as good as Godless Murder Machine, though.
Score: 9.95 / 10 - I just loved it. That's good enough, right?
Red Scare - Mike Leon
This one wasn't as good as Goodless Murder Machine, but nothing will ever beat that book for me. Sid goes on another killing spree, this time carving his way through the Russian mob after he falls for a trick that has him believing the mobsters just killed his girlfriend. Oh, and the cover is a nod to the old Doom games. This is a hell of a good book. Plenty of violence, some truly despicable characters (high schoolers, not the Russian mob), and more witty humor on each page. I loved it.
Score: 9.9 / 10 - Another must read from powerhouse author Mike Leon.
Kill Kill Kill - Mike Leon
Review: We've all heard that the governments of the world hide terrible secrets. Unimaginable weapons, criminal evidence, alien landings, Big Foot - they know it all. What you haven't heard about is Graveyard, the mercenary organization that keeps those secrets hidden by any means necessary. Kill Kill Kill is as extreme as horror gets. Every page is exactly what horror should be. Gut churning violence, white-knuckle suspense, surreal monsters, and character development that makes even the most ridiculous plot elements feel real and possible. The end of each installment (of which there are currently 5) drops the reader off a very tall cliff that leaves your head swimming with questions. If he is the bad guy... oh man... that changes everything....
Score: 9 / 10 - Superb action, characters you can love / hate, and a relentless plot that will blow your mind and occasionally overwhelm any sense of morality you may have.
Conquer Your Friends with 4 Daredevil Openings - Maxen Tarafa
Review: (Check out my review of the first book in the series below) I liked this book a lot better than the first one. The openings are crucial principles that everyone needs to know, and the book presents a handful of them in a really easy to grasp manner. The best part is the logical explanation after each opening of why the pieces are being moved as they are. I found that to be really insightful. Mastering the Fried Liver attack / defense has probably doubled my win rate. I don’t know how ‘daredevil’ the openings really are since they’re all pretty common in the chess community, but who cares? They’re fun, useful, and effective. I’ll say that the book is geared toward beginners, so if you are already pretty good at chess, it won’t help you much.
Score: 8.6 / 10 - Really solid guide to openings. Enjoy!
Literature® - Guillermo Stitch
Review: I’ll be totally honest—I wasn’t expecting much based on the cover. That being said, the book is far better than the cover would let on, at least to me. The plot is certainly reminiscent of Fahrenheit 451, a book I personally like quite a bit, but the pacing is much faster, much more terse and compact. I liked that quite a bit. There are plenty of twists and turns, some good action scenes, and just enough world building (especially at the beginning) to not get bogged down while still painting a great picture in the reader’s mind. That’s admittedly tough to pull off. Some of it felt a little heavy handed with a message when all I wanted was some more action, and a little of the writing didn’t exactly gel with my style, but I felt like those were personal distastes, not faults with the novel itself.
Score: 8.5 / 10 - If you like literary fiction, you’ll certainly enjoy the ride. However, it won’t be to everyone’s taste.
Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge
Review: I’ve said it many times before, and I know I’ll say it again: Coolidge was the best American politician. His autobiography really encapsulates all the reasons why Coolidge was such a great statesman. He was succinct, results-driven, and didn’t mess around with any of the superfluous adages of political life. His writing style is a lot like that. He simply lays out his life, paragraph by paragraph, without any embellishment at all. That’s a style I can really appreciate when it comes to a memoir. He talks at length about how he never really wanted any political offices, yet he was essentially forced into them through circumstance. He only adopted various political mantles because there was no one else for the job, and he didn’t want to see his countrymen suffer in the wrong hands. That’s what makes him an excellent leader. As far as the writing goes, it can be just as quiet and (dare I say) boring as the man himself. That’s fitting, though it doesn’t do much for readability as far as the average person is concerned. You have to have your head in the right spot before opening the first page.
Score: 7.8 / 10 - Dry and humorless, but an excellent memoir nonetheless.
STZ - Andrew Nienaber
Review: When the town good-girl goes on vacation to the tropics, she comes back with more than a tan. Fulton Flats, Idaho quickly becomes ground zero for a sexually transmitted zombie virus that turns everyday folks into sex-crazed, flesh-eating monsters. A recent transplant who finds herself immune to the infection teams up with the local misfits to combat the threat and attempt to save Fulton Flats before the zombies take over. The book is well written, action packed, and full of humor that keeps you turning page after page. It certainly could use some polishing to fix a few typos and repeated words, but don't let that distract you. The imagery is wonderful, the humor is plentiful, and the characters are real enough to make you attached. One of my few complaints was that the gore was always zombie related and (semi-spoiler alert) never involved the main characters, so none of the exposed bones and torn flesh really made me squirm. When I read horror, I want main characters to get mauled and lose limbs. The ending felt a tinge more than contrived and lacked a big plot twist that I was hoping for.
Score: 7.0 / 10 - Don't let the boring cover fool you! STZ is packed with bloody adventure, sharp wit, and gratuitous sex. If you like reading books you'd never want to be seen with in public, you'll love STZ.
Tragic Providence - Chris Eisenlauer
Review: The book was well written and enjoyable, but it meandered quite a bit between disparate genres. What begins as a rather interesting crime thriller / mafia-esque kind of tale quickly transforms into something almost resembling Karate Kid , and then it changes even further from there to become a pseudo super hero novel mixed with the original crime thriller elements. Altogether, I felt like the narrative just wasn’t strong enough to carry the different genres in a cohesive package, and I never really connected with the characters enough to facilitate immersion. I did really like the premise—a book (with a fun nod to Lovecraft) bringing down a crime family—it was simply executed in a way that was completely unexpected. Had the novel been a fast-paced urban thriller with tons of bullets, I think I would have enjoyed it a lot better. Despite some boring sentences here and there and the absolutely awful use of ‘this,’ the book was grammatically sound—something I appreciate. There’s no doubt that the author can write. If he learns from book 1, book 2 will be awesome.
Score: 6.8 / 10 - Needs some work to bring it all together, but solid nonetheless.
Conquer Your Friends with 8 Easy Principles - Maxen Tarafa
Review: I’ve been a casual chess player since I learned the rules sometime around 3rd grade. At the behest of some friends who are also into the game, I recently decided to try and up my skills. I grabbed this book, and I feel like I wasted $3. If you know the rules of chess, you’re already beyond what the book teaches. The book is falsely marketed as something more than what it is. I will say that the manner of presentation is really nice—very straightforward and simple to understand with great illustrations. That was enough to make me get the second in the series in hopes of more advanced content.
Score: 5 / 10 - Extremely basic, but a great design in spite of lacking content.
Trumpfingers - Daniel H. Jeffers
Review: Not bad, not great. Most of the plots of the different stories were centered on post-election leftists wallowing in their misery, which struck me as a shockingly accurate depiction. I had a pretty decent time overall, especially for a free download. I love political humor (from either side, I really don't care), and I enjoy short stories that make you think. Trumpfingers mostly delivered on those points, but the writing itself just felt really unpolished and poorly executed, like no one ever edited it. As with a lot of indie books, I suspect that's the case. A shame really; there's potential here. I just couldn't really find the immersion. Oh, and KAC being an alien was fun.
Score: 4.8 / 10 - Not bad for free, not worth paying.
Fates Aflame - P. Anastasia
Review: Not a bad YA romance per se, but it wasn’t good. There are some extremely out of place fantasy elements that really bog down the main plot, and the world building just can’t bring enough to keep the story afloat. I made it about 25% before giving up. The romance hadn’t really intrigued me enough to keep me going, and there wasn’t anything else to it. Just bland, predictable (if foolish) characters in a somewhat interesting setting. No immersion with the characters with an overall lack of plot-driving events made me bored.
Score: 3 / 10 - There are better YA romance novels out there. Tons of them, in fact.
Mastering Facebook Ads - Mark Dawson
Review: This is just way too basic. There wasn’t enough meat to be meaningful, and I really feel like I wasted my time. No examples of good images to use, good ad copy, what not to do… just no real advice. This is just a hastily slopped together mess of amateur “advice” masquerading as a tell-all that will turn your career around. Now to get the sour taste out of my mouth…
Score: 2.2 / 10 - If you barely have any idea how to make FB ads, you can start here. If you’re beyond the slightest modicum of skill, move on.
In the Wake of the Exiled - Jim Mannering
Review: This was rough. I won't go into any detail on the plot as I admittedly only made it 6%, but I just couldn't get into it. The writing had some proofing and style issues that really made it hard to follow, and I never got the immersion that I wanted.
Score: 2.1 / 10 - It didn't work for me. And be aware of British spellings and grammatical constructions before you try it.
Past Life Strife - Christina McMullen
Review: Wow, this one needs a lot of work. The very first line—only 4 words in—has a glaring error. Sadly, the technical aspects of the writing didn’t improve. I made it about 10% before throwing in the towel. Even as a free download, I feel like I was ripped off. Let this book stand as a testament to the necessity of good editing. Without it, here’s what you get.
Score: 2.05 / 10 - Stay away. Find something professional to read.
Contamination Box Set, Book 0-3 - T. W. Piperbrook
Review: I picked up this box set for free and really enjoyed books 0 and 1. They followed the tale of a cop and his daughter as they tried to escape from some sort of virus / infection which has turned their neighbors and friends into zombies. The action was good, the writing was decent, and I only found a couple typos. Things went downhill quickly in book 2 and hit rock bottom by book 3 (which I couldn't bring myself to finish). The first issue: massive plot holes. Why is everything happening? What is actually going on? How did these characters know where to look? Why on earth are they acting like children? Like other reviewers of this series have mentioned, the plot holes here are brutal. The second issue: inconsistent zombies. In one scene early on, a zombie intimidates a person and toys with them, all while their appearance is described more akin to a demon than a zombie. I thought, 'Oh cool, maybe this will be about supernatural forces mixing in with zombies, sweet.' But I was wrong. The demon-zombie was a unique, unexplained case. The third issue: these characters are boring. The reader wants to feel emotion toward the two main characters (cop and daughter), but they are left alone by the narration so long you just forget about them. The other characters are pretty boring and typical. Everything about this series, especially after book 1, just falls flat.
Score: 2 / 10 - Don't waste your time. There are better zombie books out there.
Dragon Blood - Lindsay Buroker
Review: I downloaded this book because it was free and highly ranked on the steampunk and fantasy charts. God do I hate authors who lie. This is modern day romance. There are no dragons, there's certainly no blood, literally nothing is steampunk, and the fantasy elements are confined to a single sword just existing. That's pathetic. So for the actual review: the writing was good. As a romance, I actually liked it quite a bit. The characters were believable and fun, and the setting seemed interesting. Too bad I wanted fantasy. Shame on whoever picked those categories.
Score: 0 / 10 - Not worth the single click it took to download it for free.