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review 2018-04-13 19:05
At the Hands of Madness Review
At the Hands of Madness - Kevin Holton
Source: Kindle Unlimited
I loved Earth Abides. Earth Abides was a wonderful book, but it was also solemn and thought-provoking, and there's only so much of that my brain can take. So, after I finished that book, I was looking for something to cleanse the palate. Luckily, I'd snagged this book I had seen talked about on Twitter a few days ago, and remembered vague promises of punnage. It sounded like just what I needed, so I loaded it up. It was exactly what I needed. At the Hands of Madness was B-movie gloriousness, with just about everything a girl could want in it. 

At the Hands of Madness was fast-paced, action-packed, and had characters that made me laugh. There was also an appropriate amount of puns, which made me happy. (Though that 'metal' one was completely groan-worthy.) There is mention of a dead child, but it's not a small child, so it's not as bad. I wish it hadn't been there at all, but at least he didn't go fully there.

Now, technically you could grouch about the fact that this ends on a cliff-hanger, but honestly, it doesn't really feel like it. I felt like the amount of story that I got in this book was perfect. If At the Hands of Madness went on any longer, it would have felt 'too much'. I was happy with it, and satisfied at the end. We got one full arc in it. It wasn't tied up neat and tidy with a bow on it, but sometimes that just isn't necessary.

There were a lot of good quotes in this book. Too many for me to all share here, so I've selected three of my favorites to share with you.

This first one just sort of sets the tone for the book.

“Hey, dudes, I don’t mean to interrupt, but we’ve got a two-headed dimension-manipulating kaiju stomping its way over here, and you should probably get up before it murders the unholy fuck out of you.”


This one... okay, yeah, bad sexist me, but considering it was a guy who wrote this... It had me and a few of the friends I showed it to absolutely cracking up. Because, YES.

“Nanites shapeshift, remember? They don’t need bras.” They passed a second of awed silence before Lisa replied, “And you didn’t want to go full Nanite why?”


And this was one of the first lines I highlighted. I liked that he had a character that was obviously mentally ill, and yet there was rarely a big deal made out of it. The main character really does his best to just appreciate her abilities, and accept her for who she is. And the rest of the troop tend to treat her that way as well.

Allessandra watched from the sidelines, sitting on a cooler, eyes occasionally flicking off to the side to acknowledge something exclusive to her version of reality.

Unfortunately, I can't say I necessarily agree with how things turned out in the end for Allessandra.

(This next part contains very mild spoilers. I've tried to be as vague as possible, but I've hidden it behind a spoiler tag just to be safe.)

(view spoiler)

Now, the other thing that kept At the Hands of Madness from getting a full enthusiastic five star rating from me was the speeches. Look, we all love a good speech every now and then. I mean, can you think of Independence Day without thinking about Paxton's speech right before the alien ship gets sphincter-bombed? I don't think so.  But, At the Hands of Madness is only 151 pages long, and there were at least three or four 'speeches' in it. Not anywhere near the pre-sphinctering level, but still enough to make you think "Another speech (inspirational and/or observant)" and want to skip it.

Overall, though, Kevin Holton has a way of turning phrases that I thoroughly appreciated. His action scenes were clear, quick, and sometimes completely disgusting. His characters were likable, funny, imperfect, and easy to identify with. While there are lots of crude invective, there's no sex or hormones screwing things up. His Kaiju was one of the most different-looking I've read about yet.  So, bad puns, crude insults, gigantic no-headed monsters, pyros, nanos, and lots of 'splosions. What's not to like? Yeah, it has its issues, but it's still vastly entertaining.


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review 2018-03-04 00:00
Mary's Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein
Mary's Monster: Love, Madness, and How M... Mary's Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein - Lita Judge This was a very interesting look in to Mary Shelly tortured life. Who knew she had such a life while living with Percy.
The illustrations made this book all the more haunting.
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review 2018-02-22 00:00
The Leak of Madness
The Leak of Madness - Alice J. Black The Leak of Madness - Alice J. Black what a great introduction to what will be a great series.
This short was quick and introduced us to Peyton, who uses alcohol as a way to blot out the voices.. While at a Manor house for her friends bothers wedding she is besieged by the now deceased owner.
This book had fun, dark and spooky and I just loved Peyton. she wasn't your typical beauty who has it all.
I can't wait to read more about Peyton.
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review 2018-01-10 16:45
Gorilla and the Bird by Zack McDermott
Gorilla and the Bird: A Memoir of Madness and a Mother's Love - Zack McDermott

This is a fantastic memoir by a public defender with bipolar disorder, who occasionally experiences intense psychotic episodes. Zack McDermott is an excellent storyteller and onetime aspiring comedian, so this book will pull you right in, keep you rapt and sometimes make you laugh, despite its sometimes heavy subject matter.

The beginning of the book throws readers right into McDermott’s first psychotic episode: having met with a producer about his comedy routine only a few days before, he walks out of his apartment convinced that he is in the middle of an audition. He wanders New York City for hours, acting wacky for the cameras, until the police pick him up and take him to the hospital. Over the next couple of years, he’s hospitalized several times, struggling but eventually learning how to keep his disease under control. He is supported throughout by his mom “the Bird,” a rock star teacher of underprivileged teens who is there for her kid no matter what. The book also traces McDermott’s childhood – growing up poor in Kansas City with a single mom putting herself through school – and includes a fair bit about his work as a public defender. (I enjoyed those bits a lot; they are as no-holds-barred as the rest of the book.)

McDermott would probably make an excellent novelist, because he turns his life into a compelling story, with humor and sharp dialogue alongside a gripping plot. I read it very quickly, and it’s one of those books that’s hard to review in part because when I return to look at something in the book, I start reading it again. It seems to me that, despite some dark subject matter, the author chose to put an optimistic spin on his life in the book; an essay published the same week includes some of the same material but also discusses trauma that’s absent from the memoir. It seems like the book’s happy ending is true as far as it goes, but also isn’t the whole story. Probably no memoir is.

At any rate, it’s an excellent book. And without ever appearing to have an agenda (the author seems more upset about the way poor people of color are treated in the criminal justice system than anything that happens to him), the book challenges the stigma around mental illness, as well as the notion that a serious mental illness will inevitably ruin someone’s life or end in tragedy. I definitely recommend this one.

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review 2017-10-30 17:21
At the Mountains of Madness / H.P. Lovecraft
At the Mountains of Madness and Other Works of Weird Fiction - H.P. Lovecraft,D.M. Mitchell

I read this book to fill the ‘Monsters’ square of my 2017 Halloween Book Bingo card.

I’ve read a few accounts of Antarctic exploration and At the Mountains of Madness starts out in exactly the same style, but then it veers dramatically off course--the tale becomes an H. Rider Haggard adventure novel crossed with a cheesy horror movie! Lovecraft is very skillful at making the readers use their imaginations—he doesn’t describe the horrors experienced by the men of the expedition. Instead, he shows us a destroyed campsite and lets the expedition leader tippy-toe around the ancient ruins, jumping at every sound. There is a lot of hinting and alluding to mysterious writings, rather than descriptions of actual creatures, which would have become silly quite quickly. Much better to let each reader’s mind fill in the details that they would find the most horrifying.

It has taken me a long time to get around to reading Lovecraft, probably because I’m not much of a horror reader. If you are going to read any significant amount in this genre, a basic knowledge of Lovecraft and his Cthulhu mythos will stand you in good stead. I now realize that I have been missing allusions to his work in a number of short story collections that I’ve read in the past.

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