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Review: Devoted by Dean Koontz

A nice, solid cover that represents the book’s content well.

Blurb:

Woody Bookman hasn’t spoken a word in his eleven years of life. Not when his father died in a freak accident. Not when his mother, Megan, tells him she loves him. For Megan, keeping her boy safe and happy is what matters. But Woody believes a monstrous evil was behind his father’s death and now threatens him and his mother. And he’s not alone in his thoughts. An ally unknown to him is listening.

A uniquely gifted dog with a heart as golden as his breed, Kipp is devoted beyond reason to people. When he hears the boy who communicates like he does, without speaking, Kipp knows he needs to find him before it’s too late.

Woody’s fearful suspicions are taking shape. A man driven by a malicious evil has set a depraved plan into motion. And he’s coming after Woody and his mother. The reasons are primal. His powers are growing. And he’s not alone. Only a force greater than evil can stop what’s coming next.


Ah, it’s been a while since I have indulged in a Dean Koontz book and this title Devoted does deliver as expected with light and refreshing writing that is an ease to read and follow along with. With not-too-much goings on during the pages we are left with a solid story about Woody, a highly-functioning autistic 11 year old boy that is ( mostly ) mute, but very smart for his age and ends up getting wrapped up in the story line by means of hacking computers in order to find answers about his father’s death. He knows there is more than meets the eye and the answers are out there.

Kipp, the dog is special and communicates telepathically through the wire. Him and a group of dogs are apart of the Mysterium. Because of Woody’s condition, he also communicates through the medium. The looming dark presence in the book centers around a corporation and a an ex-CEO is preying on Woody and his mother and the book also explores some of Woody’s coping mechanisms for his condition which was like icing on the cake here.

Woody’s mother Megan will do anything to protect him including calling the local police in to help and it shows in these some odd 300 pages which were well worth the read. I give Devoted by Koontz a solid ★★★★☆ four stars out of five.

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

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Book Reviews Other Reviews

Review: Savage: The Wild Graphic Novel

Savage: The Wild

Blurb:

Teenage heartthrob. Feral social icon. Dinosaur hunter. Born and raised on an uncharted island full of prehistoric dangers, Kevin Sauvage has a taste of home when a mutant dino threat invades England! From the mad minds of international superstar Max Bemis (Moon Knight) and powerhouse artist Nathan Stockman (Spidey) comes the craziest action book of 2020. Collecting SAVAGE (2020) #1-4.


I completed this review in exchange for a free digital copy via NetGalley.com

All-out chaos and mayhem is what you get when two parallel worlds come together to bring a zany tale of Kevin Sauvage – a celebrity that grew up hunting dinosaurs and other misc. feral beasts in another dimension. Savage now exists in an Earthly dimension in England as somewhat of a star. However, as I write this I certainly do have complaints ( once again ) about pixelated images and the horrid Adobe .acsm viewer combining to make an experience that would have been much better with just a standard PDF file. I have no interest in giving it away and / or pirating anything.

Now, on with the quality of not the digital product experience, but with the quality of the story and artwork: It’s hard to take anything with much seriousness and more than a grain of salt in this story because the basis of it is basically that Savage and his counter parts are against an evil mad scientist, a technological “Project Bizarre” ( a threat to the Earthly dimension because of the creatures it holds ). We are left with not much resolution to the story but a bit of a cliffhanger at the end for the next book. The art, ( besides the fact that the images are pixelated ) I thought was better than the story itself. I had fun reading it, but that was mostly due to the art than the story. Overall, I rate this at ★★✬☆☆ 2.5 stars out of five.

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

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Book Reviews

Review: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Blurb:

Fat Charlie Nancy’s normal life ended the moment his father dropped dead on a Florida karaoke stage. Charlie didn’t know his dad was a god. And he never knew he had a brother. Now brother Spider is on his doorstep—about to make Fat Charlie’s life more interesting . . . and a lot more dangerous.


One cord was absitavely struck while I was reading this book and that is identity. Not only is “Fat Charlie” getting married, he also doesn’t have a full sense of identity because he didn’t know that his father was a God as an incarnate of the African spider God named Anansi. How many of us share that lack of full sense of identity because we don’t know the whole truth . . . even about ourselves?

A second cord that was ringing through quite clearly during my reading was family. At one point in the book, Fat Charlie wishes his brother ( Spider ) away because of all the supposed calamity now happening in his life, which isn’t a surprise since most of us can relate to inter-family conflict. While his brother has brought new things, including super powers passed on from their father ( that Charlie doesn’t have ), Fat Charlie does finally come to grips with everything in a way that wraps the story up perfectly.

What makes this book resonate and work so well is that it is both fantasy and down to Earth. It’s easy to read and presents a complex storyline at the same time. I give Anansi Boys a solid ★★★★☆ four stars out of five.

The reason I knocked of a star is that the writing is so simple that a middle school grader could understand, so my craving for complexity in sentence form and for real-world knowledge wasn’t quite filled – other than that, it was a splendid and cuteish.

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

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Book Reviews

Review: Dark Days: A Memoir by D. Randall Blythe

Blurb:

Lamb of god vocalist D. Randall Blythe finally tells the whole incredible story of his arrest, incarceration, trial, and acquittal for manslaughter in the Czech Republic over the tragic and accidental death of a concertgoer in this riveting, gripping, biting, bold, and brave memoir.


One of the most exciting and also dreadful banes of our existence is the fact that our whole lives can change in an instant – for better or for worse. For the worse, it turned out one day when lamb of god touched back down in Czech Republic to play a show after two years of absence when the lead singer Randall Blythe got arrested for something similar to manslaughter for the death of a fan at the previous show and everything in his life changed including and most notably being locked up for over 30 days in a worn-down Czech prison called Pankrác in Prague.

The accusing family of the deceased, along with the prosecutor claimed that Blythe pushed their son off the stage at the concert, he fell off the stage onto his head and died soon after and that Blythe was solely responsible. If that sounds terrible to you, then consider the normal heavy metal concert where all types of calamity happens including what is know as stage diving, where a concert goer manages to make it on stage ( not where they are suppose to be and highly frowned upon by hosts ) and dives off the stage expecting to be caught by the crowd and either let down easy or onto something known as crowd surfing. Daniel ( the deceased ) didn’t make it back up that day.

Blythe continues in this memoir novel to outline his stay in the holding facility and onto Pankrác Prison where he gets doctor’s visits, psych evaluations in a foreign language and fights the prison system just to save face and manage his more than uncertain path in a foreign country. Even after posting bail, then doubling it after an appeal, nothing is certain as he still sat in jail for some time after posting bail in light of appeals to the process by the prosecuting attorney.

My most favored part of this book is when the detectives take him for an off-site doctor’s visit and they buy McDonald’s and some smokes for Blythe and he gets to listen to music. This is a perfect example of how we often mistake and take for granted some of the simplest of things and how we mustn’t forget about how those things in life are the finest.

Finally, at trial time, Blythe is acquitted and set free. Dark Days is beautifully written and highly cohesive and gets ★★★★★ five stars out of five, teaching us that life is stunning and it can take us down one of many paths.

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

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Book Reviews

Review: Graveyard by Robert David Chase

With all these dirty textures and this being in the non-fiction horror category, this cover works well.

Blurb:

“Ghosts are always hungry,” someone once said—and no one knows how ravenous they really are more than Ed & Lorraine Warren, the world’s most renowned paranormal investigators. For decades, Ed and Lorraine Warren hunted down the truth behind the most terrifying supernatural occurrences across the nation… and brought back astonishing evidence of their encounters with the unquiet dead. From the notorious house immortalized in The Amityville Horror to the bone-chilling events that inspired the hit film The Conjuring, the Warrens fearlessly probed the darkness of the world beyond our own, and documented the all-too-real experiences of the haunted and the possessed, the lingering deceased and the vengeful damned.
Graveyard chronicles a host of their most harrowing, fact-based cases of ghostly visitations, demonic stalking, heart-wrenching otherworldly encounters, and horrifying comeuppance from the spirit world. If you don’t believe, you will. And whether you read it alone in the dead of night or in the middle of a sunny day, you’ll be forever haunted by its gallery of specters eager to feed on your darkest dread. Don’t miss the Warrens’ latest film, Annabelle, in theaters now.


If you could picture a book in the middle of a see-saw while ump-teen kids rock back and forth having a blast at recess, in-between classes, this book would be it. Chase features 18 different scary stories with the first eight stories centering around a place call Union Cemetery, in Easton Connecticut.

With all these ghost stories – the main question is . . . Is it scary? Yes it is. For me, the necromancer story was the most scary story out of all of them and had me putting the book down out of fear. Keep in mind: I don’t scare easily.

This book didn’t work well because it’s written in a eight grade reading level and you can’t quite recommend it as children’s reading because it dives into adult themes. Actually, I DNF’d this book @ 67% because I feel like there are better candidates for my time than this. I chose not to list this as a DNF because it’s a distraction thing, not a quality thing even though this book barely made ★★★☆☆ three stars out of five for me. That’s because 9/10 paragraphs were two sentences long and when I wasn’t scared I was just . . . well kind of bored with the whole thing. And, on to the next . . .

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

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Book Reviews

Review: All Systems Red by Martha Wells

This digital painting cover works well and represents the source material. 👍

Blurb:

A murderous android discovers itself in All Systems Red, a tense science fiction adventure by Martha Wells that interrogates the roots of consciousness through Artificial Intelligence.

“As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure.”

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.


Wells paints a face-paced adventure tale into a novella-in-size book that packs a punch in your jaw of science fiction. If the sound of things like beacons, androids, sentience, dystopian futures, etc. fancy your flavor then you can get a load of it packed in these . . . ~150 pages. Although I didn’t experience much poetic nature in the book, the writing was quick and detailed just enough still to not only keep my attention and it did entertain at the same time which is what I look for in a book. Number one thing = entertainment. Someone might ask a question:

Q: Well, how well did it entertain you S.D.?

A: Excellent question. It entertained me on a ★★★★☆ four out of five star scale level.

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

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Book Reviews

Review: A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

Blurb:

Bob Arctor is a junkie and a drug dealer, both using and selling the mind-altering Substance D. Fred is a law enforcement agent, tasked with bringing Bob down. It sounds like a standard case. The only problem is that Bob and Fred are the same person. Substance D doesn’t just alter the mind, it splits it in two, and neither side knows what the other is doing or that it even exists. Now, both sides are growing increasingly paranoid as Bob tries to evade Fred while Fred tries to evade his suspicious bosses.


Like a snake eating its own tail, A Scanner Darkly delivers a humorous but paranoid tale of Bob Arctor’s downward spiral through being the prey and the hunter at the same time. Seemingly, no one else besides Arctor falls and because of that, Arctor falls himself into a pit of despair and a classic case of reaping what one sows.

A Scanner Darkly is the second full length book by PkD I’ve read and it worked really well for me, just as expected with paradoxical content that is easy to read, but themes that are muddy to say the least and could be confusing to some readers.

Personally, having watched the film several times ( and it being a favorite ), this was an easy read for me and my familiarity with the story made it just that much better. Like most book to film adaptions, this 300 odd paged book delivers more content than the movie with added scenes and insight into the story PkD writes for us. If I could pick one thing that makes me mad about this story is how the people around Bob Arctor simply let him fall the way he did. However in same sense he became what he wanted to.

If you ever wonder what people act like when under the influence, several scenes in A Scanner Darkly I’m assuming, paint an accurate picture and a humorous one at that. At the back of the book, Dick dedicates the book to his friends that either have died from drug use or suffer permanent, detrimental effects from “playing” in the game and admits to having played himself at times.

Recommendation:

As a distinguished piece of American culture, A Scanner Darkly explores topics surrounding a game of drugs where the hunted and hunter are the same person. The story follows a path of self destruction that should prove a moral of the story consisting of “Drugs are bad. M’kay.” and “You should be number one in your own life”.

Drugs are bad, m’kay

★★★★★ – Five stars out of five for A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick and if you like mind twisting tales, I think you’d agree.

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

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Book Reviews Other Reviews

Review: Big Damn Sin City: The Hard Good Bye: Part #7 and #8

All images are © 2014 Dark Horse Books / Frank Miller, All opinions are my own.

Introduction:

Previously, we covered Part 5 and 6 of The Hard Goodbye. Now, we have a continuation with Part #7 and #8

WARNING: This book most certainly is NSFW and only for adults. I will do my best to leave the vulgarities out of it so that everyone can enjoy. Although, if you can stomach the madness to achieve the full effect, a proper purchase of the source materials is recommended.

WARNING: Spoilers ahead: In depth review including respectable, occasional snaps of the art work and surrounding thoughts.

Big Damn Sin City: The Hard Goodbye: Part 7

Part number seven starts out at the farm we were introduced from part six, where Marv and Lucille are still trapped in the tiled basement. Marv’s efforts to break free aren’t working, at least so far.

Marv trying to escape the basement.

Finally Marv knocks down the door and they are free. Marv makes a mental note that Lucille almost seems scared to leave. A helicopter approaches. It’s the police! Marv finds his gun ( sweet Gladys ) and cocks it. The police exit the helicopter, but don’t see Marv and Lucille.

Sweet “Gladys”, the gun.
The police, stepping off of the helicopter.

Marv tells Lucille the police are done checking the house, but are coming their way and he says “I’ll show them . . .” Lucille tells the police not to shoot Marv and then he grabs the axe out of the stump to bring it to the gun fight, with the cops.

He takes out all the cops except for the one with the mark on his face. Marv tells the cop that he has a nice coat on.

Marv chases the police officer with the mark on his face with the hatchet and laughing at the same time.

Lucille is dead with the cops.

Big Damn Sin City: The Hard Goodbye: Part 8

Marv

Marv talks about Sin City’s relation to rain and it barely rains most of the time, but sometimes a torrential down pour comes from the desert. Marv likes the rain, it helps him think things through, helps him look at the big picture. He is on alert for more cops. He thinks of what the preacher told him, the name “Roark”.

Every part of him wants to escape his troubles and just run away. He tells himself “I’m as good as dead”. He claims to himself that he is no hero, but he just can’t let Goldie go and he is more scared of dying than living now. He reasons with himself that Goldie knew her life was in danger and that’s why she hooked up with Marv. He feels bad for letting her die in his drunken stupor.

We learn that the “Roark” family has owned Sin City for a long time. Marv wants to kill Patrick Henry Roark. He shoots into the distance.

Finally, he questions himself that he could be wrong about the whole thing. He gets confused and with Lucille dead, he can’t get his medicine now. He tells himself he may be imagining things. Has he turned into a maniac killer? What everyone said that he would?

So, he is going to do something to make sure he is headed in the right direction. He is going to “Old Town” that is alive and bustling by the time he arrives. Old Town was made like it is with lots of dirty business by Roark’s grandfather. Marv asks around about Goldie. There is hookers in old town, so he should be able to find some things out. He sees the mysterious woman that looks just like Goldie and she shoots Marv and the bullet clips his head.

Now Marv is tied to a chair.

One of the other women calls the person that looks like Goldie, they call her “Wendy” and tell her to hit him again. Marv calls her Goldie. Marv questions why someone called her Goldie. Wendy tells Marv that Goldie is her sister. The women think that Marv is lying about Goldie and they think that Marv killed her. He defends himself with talk.

The women that Marv ends up with in Old Town Sin City.

The women level with him and now believe that Marv didn’t kill Goldie.

My Thoughts:

I can’t believe it took Marv this long to question his actions. Wow. I mean, you are avenging the death of someone you just met. Ridiculous. What is the chance that Wendy is lying and she is really Goldie and they have set Marv up? This is muddy, for sure.

Now that he has someone of use on his side, namely Goldie’s. The way the women from Old Town Sin City just start to believe Marv, that transition in the story was a bit cheesy, seemed unnatural, but I think that comes with the territory on this dark comic omnibus.

Let’s see what happens next time after Marv has found and leveled with Goldie’s sister . . .

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

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Book Reviews

Dual Review: Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick

I’m excited to announce, in cooperation with Tales From the Neon Beach, I present you with our dual review of Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said:

Sneak peak at dual review of Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick.

It was a great honor to complete this study with Tales. He was excellent to work with and made the experience that much better seeing this work of art from another side.

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

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Book Reviews

Review: The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark

A finely illustrated cover with creative spark and energy that mostly matches the book’s interior.

Blurb:

Cairo, 1912: The case started as a simple one for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities ― handling a possessed tram car.

Soon, however, Agent Hamed Nasr and his new partner Agent Onsi Youssef are exposed to a new side of Cairo stirring with suffragettes, secret societies, and sentient automatons in a race against time to protect the city from an encroaching danger that crosses the line between the magical and the mundane.


Overall, The Haunting of Tram Car 015 worked well for a ghost hunting story, novella in size. I was surprised at the listing of the book @ 144 pages. It fell short of that size with the last some odd pages being a preview for another book, totaling in at around 75 pages. But, with The Haunting of Tram Car 015 being my second read by this author; It didn’t work as well for me as A Dead Djinn in Cairo ( both these books reside in the same fictional universe ).

Why didn’t it work as well? Simply put, The Haunting of Tram Car 015 didn’t work as well as well as the other book I have read by Clark because it lacked poetic form and mostly just explained things verbosely without much style at all. While some readers prefer the more verbose, I do not and rather to have some abstract thoughts thrown in here and there, just to make sure I’m paying attention.

The only thing that saved this book for me was it’s mention of lore and things specific to the universe and it’s ties into Agent Hamed’s crew and collogues in the adventure to find out what exactly was wrong with tram car 015. ★★★✬☆ Three and half stars out of five for The Haunting of Tram Car 015.

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.