Category Archives: Reviews

Aphanasian Stories by Rhonda Parrish

AphanasianStories-coverReview:  A collection of three fantasy stories all based in Aphanasia, the land created by Rhonda Parrish wherein dwells a variety of beings. For lovers of the genre, the themes range from hue, from lighter to dark, so there’s something here anyone might enjoy.

I’d previously reviewed one of the stories, Lost and Found, and had found it to be, “Clear cut and for the most part concise, the author’s story is carefully planned and executed with believable actions, choices and characters, and a plot which is often de rigeur in fantasy tales but has enough twists along the way to keep the reader interested.” These traits can also be found in “A Love Story” and “Sister Margaret.”

The author is multi-talented, and you’ll find, if you visit her site, that she writes in a range of genres and types, on many themes. http://www.rhondaparrish.com/.

Description: “Three of Rhonda Parrish’s beloved Aphanasian stories brought together in one collection for the first time!

A Love Story: Z’thandra, a swamp elf living with the Reptar, discovers a human near the village. When she falls in love with him, she faces the most difficult choice of her life, a decision that will affect the Reptar for generations.

Lost and Found: Xavier, the escaped subject of a madman’s experiments, and Colby, a young lady on a mission to save her brother, must combine their efforts to elude capture and recover the magical artifact that will save Colby’s brother before it’s too late.

Sister Margaret: A vampire hunter and a half-incubus swordsman are hired by a priestess to kill the undead pimp that is extorting, torturing and murdering vulnerable girls.”

  • Available in Kindle and print formats at Amazon.
  • ISBN: 1481249479
  • ISBN-13: 978-1481249478
  • Review copy provided by the author.

My previous review of Rhonda Parrish’s “Lost and Found“, which is set in the same fantasy world.

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Filed under Books, Fantasy, Reviews, Series, Short Story, Writers and Writing

“Order With Chaos” #Art #Exhibition: Zam Johnson at Schloss Bröllin, #NDNs in #Germany

Impressions by Red Haircrow

Impressions by Red Haircrow

With a special style, warmth and flair that is unique to Zam Johnson, his art exhibit “Order With Chaos” opened at Schloss Bröllin on July 6, 2013, attended by several dozen friends who had made the trip up from Berlin, and new acquaintances of all ages.

Pre Gala by Red Haircrow

Pre Gala by Red Haircrow

We gathered in the gallery hall of the sprawling ancient estate, a surprising combination of the latest in electronic equipment housed inside faithfully restored or designed buildings. There we were all treated to a display of multi-textured and realized art that reflected the character and personality of its creator.

Last Touches by Red Haircrow

Last Touches by Red Haircrow

I’d personally made the trip to the schloss, catching a ride with a friend of Zam’s, along with Gian Luca Morleni, the bassist from band 3 Kings on the Hill, and Paul Schwingenschlögl, going from high speed autobahn to more narrow and tighter lanes with plenty of twists and turns. We arrived to find Zam putting some final touches to one canvas, and were welcomed with a brilliant smile.

Excitement and anticipation was in the air, as well as relief for both Zam and his wife, Ziggi. For six intense weeks, preparations to complete and transport such large artworks so many kilometres was a huge task. So this night, this opening, was the culmination of not just recent history but of a lifetime of creativity, desire and dynamics, and a necessary release of tension.

But with Zam, sometimes that’s hard to tell. Always full of energy, funny stories and helpful insight, he seemed totally in his element mingling with guests, helping them feel comfortable with a kind word here and there, a patted shoulder or friendly nudge.

And special offering for the guests? You’ll never guess, not in a million years. Pickles! Zam opened up and shared a large jar of pickles I made, which were a hit with everyone as much as the art! That’s Zam for you: you never know what to expect except it will always be genuine and from the heart.

A spontaneous dedication for Mr. Zam Johnson was created by the young people visiting , which absolutely floored us all. Simply magnificent!

The exhibit lasts through 24 August 2013, and if you are based in Berlin, the train ride to Pasewalk is quite pleasant and easy. At Bröllin, there are overnight accommodations from free camping (bring your own tent and sleeping bags), to rooms in the old schloss (mostly hostel style), to those in the newer parts of the facility. Most are 15€ per night, per person. Meals are also available: breakfast, lunch and dinner, 5€ each. There is a café/bar that serves wine, beer and cocktails for very moderate prices as well.

Please see Schloss Bröllin’s website for more details and/or to make reservations. To learn more about Zam Johnson, please see my previous interview with him, as well as numerous reviews of his performances in Berlin or personal evenings. His website is http://zamjohnson.com/.

THE ART

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Filed under Announcements, Art, Events, Exhibitions, Germany, Main Page, Reviews

Sanctuary by Kris Kramer

Sanctuary-Cover-Final-380x507

Review: One of the first things I noticed about Sanctuary, as compared to a lot of indie books in addition to ones traditionally published, was the length. Sanctuary is well-constructed and balanced, and approximately 260 pages, which especially for its genre, I’ve found to be rather rare.  Some readers want longer books in order to get their supposed “money’s worth”, but if there is too much information, which hinders the story the itself, I’ll take a shorter work that flows well over a longer book that too long lags in places, any day of the week. This one, for the most part, had a flowing pattern though in the way of descriptive passages, showing instead of simply telling and smoother connectives would have improved that for me.

I have a distinct clause in my review request guidelines these days, which was updated not because I do not privately read works that may have religious or spiritual themes of some kind, but for review purposes, authors whose works I have read in those genres and may disagree with some of those aspects have ironically and solely been those abusive in their response to the review. Life’s too short for that nonsense. So, this work was on the edge of the religious themed fiction, as the main character is a priest which influences much of the storyline and dialogue. For the time period, however, even if I found it tiresome at times, this was understandable and in character for Daniel. The location itself, ancient Wales, was of particular interest as due to personal curiosity and a familial attachment, I began studying about Cymru over two decades ago.

Daniel, the protagonist is believable and distinct, but for my personal tastes the Christian overtones and theme as a whole, would limited my return to this world and life. Santuary is a solid read, which lovers of ancient history may very well enjoy, and is descriptive, gripping, and filled with action and emotionally engaging characters and situations. Sanctuary is just one of the publications of The 4th Realm, a collective group of writers specializing in indie fiction and non-fiction.

Description: In 9th century Britain, chaos rules as kingdoms splinter, Vikings invade from all corners, and lives and fortunes are lost to those with the biggest sword and the smallest shreds of morality. When a young priest, Daniel, witnesses a lone warrior save his village from savage raiders, he believes he’s seen a miracle, and he follows the reclusive warrior on his mysterious trek across the island, hoping to find his own path in this brutal and unforgiving world.

Daniel’s journey takes him to places he’d long since left, forcing him to face his past, along with dour dwarves, canny druids, and an army of Viking warriors. When he meets a captive woman with strange abilities amongst the ruins of humanity’s savage and unforgiving past, Daniel will face his true enemy, a powerful demon, who waits for his dominion over man to be complete.

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Filed under Books, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Reviews, Writers and Writing

Chainsaw Corpse Cop by Wol-vriey

ccc-50Review: Chainsaw Cop Corpse is definitely and firmly in the bizarro genre, and in many ways hardcore in its details, yet it’s quirky, straight-forward and cleanly told. Needing to suspense belief and not ask questions such as “Why is this happening or why is this person doing this or that?” it is still enjoyable because it’s different.

Just from reading its description, I would have passed on this work as I do have the clause in my guidelines: “…whether its sexual explicitness or violence: they need to be relevant to the story itself in some ways. Not just description for description’s sake.”  I rarely do it, but I wrote the author and pointed out my clause, but was assured it was relevant to the story itself…and it was.

I like the unusual and weird, even if graphic in content, but honestly, though a story may contain graphic everything, I don’t care for descriptions that might be read by anyone, which contain curse words and slang. That’s for the reader to be experienced by choice once purchased, etc. in my opinion. The other thing that was an issue for me was the format of the story: each sentence or paragraph, usually with no more than one or two sentences, were separated with line spaces. Especially with e-readers, this can be tiring to the eyes and takes up more space than necessary.

Certainly, it’s not to everyone taste,  but if you want a different kind of read, a work that is amusing in its way, shocking at times, but deeply and imaginatively graphic, give Chainsaw Corpse Cop a try.”

Description: “Simon is having a bad fucking week. When you’re a D.C. Detective, every week is a bad week, but this week has been a BAD freaking week.

For starters, some psychopath has been murdering people, stealing their body parts and smearing their corpses with peanut butter.

To make matters worse, the contract killer “Boots” has recently resurfaced, and his girlfriend’s chainsaw arm destroyed his bed when he made her climax.

To top it all off, Simon’s been pissing random body parts for days. Ears, fingers, toes… And if that weren’t bad enough, now he has to drop a deuce!”

  • Published: November 2012
  • Publisher: Bizarro Press
  • ISBN: 0615731287
  • ISBN13: 9780615731285
  • Source: Author

Author Profile:

Wol-vriey is Nigerian and quite tall.

He currently resides in a state of uneasy stalemate with his threatening-to-thin-beyond-redemption hair, and believes there actually are things that go bump in the night.
Wol-vriey recycles the ridiculous into reasonable reality for the reader.

His WEIRRRD philosophy? WEIRRRD = Warp/Write Everything into Realistic Ridiculous Readable Distorted Dream Dimension Descriptions.

He is the author of Alice’s Adventures in Steamland, The Bizarro Story of I, Chainsaw Cop Corpse, and Vegan Zombie Apocalypse.

As well as appearing on Bizarro Central and in online e-zines, his WEIRRRD fiction is featured in numerous print compilations, including the Bizarro anthologies The Big Book of Bizarro and Tall Tales with Short Cocks.

Wol-vriey is also the warped mind behind the band ‘Rocksurface’ (www.myspace.com/rock.ng), and the experimental electronic ensemble ‘Earxygen’ (http://soundcloud.com/earxygen)

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Filed under Bizarro, Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Hard Core, Horror, Reviews

Sons of Suicide by Dan Andrews

page00011Review: Reviewing a memoir can sometimes be more difficult as it’s a person’s life, at least from their perspective. By nature and subject matter, memoirs can be intensely personal as you learn their thoughts, history, etc. as well as how they interacted with or observed others. With memoirs, you are not only revealing aspects of yourself but also those of other people, and that’s where I had a problem with Sons of Suicide.

As a person with painful personal history that is in the process of writing my own memoir, but more specifically as a psychological counselor now, I know that the after-effects of traumatic events can be affective one’s whole life. Those can take a number of forms, as coping mechanisms develop: these vary from person to person. Throughout this work I felt a sense of trying to make themselves look good at the expense of or in comparison to their brother. I don’t question revealing some things as facts, or events that happened, but just as that, so the reader can make their own decisions. Not having a judgement presented to them.

Although having an intriguing and sobering opening scene that sets the tone for the terrible tragedy endured and times of enjoyability when reading, the almost adolescently egocentric streak throughout of not thinking of the consequences of basically slamming their brother and pointedly showcasing how good they’ve adapted themselves really spoiled this memoir for me. Also, personally and professionally, I couldn’t help be aware of the possibilities of the manner in which this story was delivered could affect that relationship. A very good description but the memoir didn’t deliver that for me.

Description: At eleven, Dan Andrews was abandoned by his Mother. Fatefully, she made the timeless drive down Lake Shore Drive in downtown Chicago, parked her car alongside Buckingham Fountain, and, after sitting and smoking a few last cigarettes, drowned herself in Lake Michigan.

His Mother’s grave decision has given Andrews the ability to perceive and contemplate loss in a way not written about in recent history. Shared with brutal vulnerability and skill, sprinkled with humor and sexuality, Sons of Suicide masterfully entertains and enlightens the reader— serving as a catharsis to the feeling of loss, a feeling to which all humans relate.

NOTE: The author, Dan Andrews, has pledged for every copy of Sons of Suicide that is sold, one dollar out of his personal royalty will be donated to The Will To Live Foundation click for more information about this wonderful organization that is spreading awareness and helping with the teen suicide epidemic. Purchase today to help put an end to suicide.

  • Published: Nov. 27, 2012
  • Publisher: Broken Glass Publishing LLC
  • ISBN 0615729118
  • ISBN13: 9780615729114
  • Available: Amazon
  • Website: http://www.sonsofsuicide.com/
  • Source: Author

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Filed under Books, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Reviews