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review 2017-03-13 18:28
A Rage Review of THE ROANOKE GIRLS (Language Warning!)
The Roanoke Girls: A Novel - Amy Engel

I'm so goddamn tired of the same-old, predictable shit. For that reason, among the many more you are about to read below, this review is going to be rage-y as fuck. If you manage to not get offended by the contents, I hope you enjoy this review more than I enjoyed the book.

First and foremost, BOOBS! There were so many mentions of funbags in this book, I had to recheck the cover to make sure this wasn't written by a dude. Every few pages, in the first 30 pages, the author mentions "big boobs" or "plumb breasts" or some variation on knockers/melons/feeders/tigolbitties. I counted eight times in those first 30 pages. Everyone was described by the size of their bosom. We get it. Roanoke girls are stacked! Whoopty-fucking-do. The author goes on to space out her tit-mentioning, but only because the cast doesn't grow. No need to describe the same chesticles over and over again unless they change, right? Right. Moving on...

I don't know if anyone was paying attention when I first started reading this, but I mentioned how creepy it was. That was the first 13 pages. Can we say, "False start?" Not sure what I caught in those first 13 pages, but all that atmosphere dissipated like a good fart, one that doesn't linger and upset the kinfolk, within the very next chapter. Oh, I felt uneasy later on. Don't get me wrong. But that feeling of discomfort was for all the wrong reasons.

Next, and this is a first (paradox?), I had to delete two of my status updates because my jokes, my motherfucking goddamn sonuvabitching jokes, ended up being fucking spoilers. Lemme spell this shit out to you. I was fucking around, goofing off, as I am wont to do, and my goofiness ended up being a plot point. That's never fucking good. Well, maybe if this was a parody, but no, it's serious fiction. Which brings me to...

This novel (for lack of a better word) has the most unintentionally-funny fight scene at the end of it. The big denouement had me in tears not because it was sad but because it was mountainous - or, as the kids are saying, HILL AREAS!

These are the jokes, people. Fuck you, don't judge me.

Sexual dysfunction brought on by childhood trauma seems to be popular right now. Are that many of us being molested and growing into sex-starved fuck-puppets? Is this the new us? Are there any parents/grandparents/uncles/aunts/neighbors/clergymen/pets/inanimate objects in existence who are not out here diddling their children? You'd think this world was nothing but pederasts and pedopiles and hebephiles, what with how it's the plot or subplot of every goddamn literary thriller. I'm not making light of this topic. I have my own past and that's none of your business. But you'd think that, with all the safe-space-seeking readers out there, you'd see less of this stuff, not more.

My point is this: I'm fucking tired of reading about it because it's fucking predictable. Not because it's disgusting or triggering or any other topical reason, but because I fucking expect it. It's gotten to the point that I open up a literary thriller and think "I wonder who's gonna be molested in this one?"

The moment the killer hit the screen, so to speak, I knew who she was, and as soon as the molester hit the screen, I knew who he was. (I called both of them in my second and third updates, which I have since deleted by request because spoilers) As soon as the red herring hit the screen, I knew who it wasn't. There's a long-lost-then-returned love interest. One of the characters is a downhome cop who used to be friends with the main character. (I'm telling you, folks, there's nothing new in this book.) One of the characters is even a motherfucking V.C. Andrews cast member. Oh, you remember ol' V.C. Andrews. Motherfucking Flowers in the Attic motherfucking V.C. motherfucking Andrews. Amy Engel attempted to emulate one of the worst word mills in modern literature. In fact, now that I make that comparison, that's all this book is is a reboot of Andrews' early career. Tom Cruise help us all if this shit gets popular again. In the name of Brad Pitt, amen.

In summation: Holy shit this was bad. If you're looking for a book wherein you can predict the outcome in the first 50 pages, read this motherfucker. If you were offended by this review, damn sure skip this motherfucker. Most importantly, if you were spoiled during this review, good. Now you don't have to read it.

Final Judgment: Contender for Worst Book of the Year 2017... and it's only March. Fuck my life.

Many thanks to the publisher (because I didn't have to waste my hard earned dough on this book) for supplying the review copy of this shit-fest. I think it goes without saying that this is my unbiased opinion. I understand that they can't all be winners, but I've come to expect so much more from your company (Crown Publishing). Then again, good friends of mine loved this book, so what do I know? smooches

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review 2017-01-31 07:20
Rogue One
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - Alexander Freed

The last time I reviewed a Star Wars movie novelization, I mentioned how books based on movies rarely outshine the theatrical production.

 

Rule, meet exception.

 

I loved the Rogue One movie. I had problems with it and didn’t think it was the best Star Wars movie ever (it’s not even in my top three), but I loved it.

 

I loved the book more.

 

Alexander Freed gets into the heads of all the principle characters and develops the living daylights out of them. You want actions and attitudes explained? Done! More comprehensive backstories without bogging down the pace? Here ya go. Character motivation? You betcha! Basically, he did an outstanding job and I freaking loved this book more than the movie, which I loved so much I nearly cried in the theater, and I am not a crier. The book had me even closer to tears. So there you go. Five geeking out fangirly Star(War)s.

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text 2017-01-25 23:10
Reading progress update: I've read 10 out of 319 pages.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - Alexander Freed

The Bone Clocks kind of put me in a book coma. I'm trying to shake it off and read anyway, but I keep finding myself spacing off and wondering how Atemporals would fare in the Star Wars universe.

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review 2016-12-15 21:56
Catalyst: A Rogue One Story
Catalyst (Star Wars): A Rogue One Story - James Luceno

How did people convince themselves to act against their nature; to do something entirely out of keeping with who they imagined themselves to be?

 

If you’ve ever asked yourself this selfsame question, Catalyst is the book for you. Billed as a lead-up to the Rogue One movie, it’s a comprehensive how-to in manipulating a peace-loving scientific genius into aiding research and development of planet-killing super weapons. It’s a well written, thoughtful book, and yet I didn’t find it very engaging. I was in the mood for some good ol’ Star Wars pew pew, but good ol’ Star Wars political commentary took center stage here. When I’m in the mood for pew pew, quieter books like this can seem a bit boring, so take my mild disappointment with a grain of salt.

 

Edit: Reading back over my review, it feels a bit too lukewarm. Though I was a little bored, this book is still worth reading and has a lot to offer. It starts out I think a year after Ep. II and encompasses the Clone Wars and the shift from Republic to Empire. It ties together elements from the prequels, introduces some great new characters, and I think my Rogue One experience will be enriched for having read it. Knowing the background of the Erso family and what they went through together and the friends and enemies they made along the way probably isn’t essential to enjoying the movie, but it certainly can’t hurt.

 

Edit 2: After seeing the movie, I heartily recommend reading this book first. It's not necessary to get what's going on in the story, but it adds layers upon layers to the Ersos' plight and to the interplay between Tarkin and Krennic.

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review 2016-09-23 01:29
Helltown Review
Helltown: A Horror Novel - Stephen Bentley

This is the first book I've read using Kindle Unlimited. I got the idea to keep track of the money I save using KU from my buddy Dan. But I will not only be judging the amount of money I save. I will also be comparing the money saved to the quality of the books offered. Thankfully, I decided to start my 30 free trial of Kindle Unlimited with this book, because, holy shit, was it bad. Had I paid for it, this review would have been far more rage-y.

DNF @ 18%, but I'm going to review this because the problems I had were with the terrible writing and editing, meaning no amount of good story could have saved this. To those of you who whine about reviewers reviewing books they do not finish, kindly take a flying fuck at a wall of spikes.

The Stephen King references and Easter eggs were cute, but Stephen Bentley is no Stephen King, so they felt out of place. From a store called King's Supermarket to mentions of people with names like Barbie (Under the Dome) and Dodd (The Dead Zone) to the main character having gone to the University of Maine at Orono, where King was not only a professor, but a student. Then we have the Overlook Hospital... Okay. I get it. You've read some Stephen King. Good job. As a King fanboy you'd think that I'd have loved this stuff. But not here. Here it felt well and truly overdone, because all those nods to King occur in the first 18%. I can't imagine how many are in the book total.

The dialog is clunky and silly and at times just plain broken. Bentley fails at even getting the simplest points across without rambling on. Slight spoilers ahead:

Bentley writes:

"I felt uncomfortable out there in the dark with Jessica trading numbers, like I was cheating on Pam or was planning to, but I wasn't, and that's the truth."

No shit, Sherlock, because Pam's dead. You can't cheat on a dead person. I know what he meant, that he felt he was betraying his dead wife, but that sentence if full of unneeded words. Speaking of unneeded words, we get stuff like:

"I saw Jessica swallow hard."

The book is written in first-person, so we know everything seen is from Dan's POV. A simple, "Jessica swallowed hard." would suffice. We know Dan saw it. He wrote the book.

Which brings me to the fact that this poor novel is in serious need of a line editor. Sure, there's a missing word here and there, but Bentley needs help with simple mechanics. He needs to have a professional work with him on how paragraphs are structured and what information should come before what information.

Speaking of information, the first 15% of this novel is nothing but info dump after info dump. Instead of getting to know the characters, like in any other cogent novel, Bentley dives right into these vague scare tactics. "Can't you feel something coming?" Ooooooo, eerie! But not so much, because we don't know the characters, one of which is stolen whole-hog from Stephen King's Dreamcatcher. Barbie is Duddits's doppelganger, right down to the way he talks. But, back to my point about the lack of character development. I can't be scared for characters I don't know. Just because you tell me something is scary doesn't make it so.

There's a bunch of silly shit in here that I won't go into too much detail about, but I wanted to highlight a scene wherein the two main characters are saying this place, Hilltown, is unique because it has ghost stories. Here's the interaction:

"It's amazing isn't it?"

"What?"

"All these stories." She put her pen down and looked at me. "Everyone [the people in Hilltown] has them. Did they have them in Maine?"

"No."

"Didn't have them in Fairlawn, either..."

Fucking what? What town doesn't have ghost stories? Also, I lived in Maine, for 3 years. That state is loaded with ghost stories. It was at this point, 8% into the book, that I lost all faith in Bentley as a storyteller.

Nothing happens in this book for the first 15%, and when something does happen (the characters being teleported ahead two days) they're shocked for all of a minute before going to grab hamburgers at Burger King. What? You just lost two days and your investigative approach is "Wanna grab a whopper?" Fuck off.

We do get a lot of forced foreshadowing. Something is coming. Everyone feels weird and uncomfortable. We get the cliched old man warning of "Get out of town while you still can!" and the strangest fucking bit of forced foreshadowing I've had the displeasure to read:

"Jessica threw the ball into the river. I was glad. Something about it gave me the willies. I had a feeling those pinky balls didn't belong in this universe."

commercial photography locations

There's no reason for this dude to feel the way he does about these pinky balls. No descriptions of odd shadows or the ball sweating or dripping ectoplasm. He just... feels... like... something's... wrong... And that is this book. It just feels wrong. From the info dumps to the terrible writing to the forced foreshadowing to the goofy dialog to the tired King homage, it all just feels wrong.

In summation: Nothing can save this read at this point, so I gave up. Stephen Bentley has written what will likely become my worst read of the year.

Final Judgment: That soupy substance at the bottom of a dumpster.

Thank fuck for Kindle Unlimited. Money saved thus far: $2.99

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