Book Reviews

DNF Review @ 41%: And the Hippos Were Boiled in their Tanks by Burroughs and Kerouac

I’d say this cover matches the inside of this book. Blah.


In the summer of 1944, a shocking murder rocked the fledgling Beats. William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, both still unknown, we inspired by the crime to collaborate on a novel, a hard-boiled tale of bohemian New York during World War II, full of drugs and art, obsession and brutality, with scenes and characters drawn from their own lives. Finally published after more than sixty years, this is a captivating read, and incomparable literary artifact, and a window into the lives and art of two of the twentieth century’s most influential writers.

The occasional internal laugh is what kept me reading this through the beginning and in hopes that the noise would materialize into a great story . . . but, it kept going on and on with what seemed to be the continuation of well, just more noise. I realize that this book stands for these influential author’s collaboration before they were even famous, but the problem is that I haven’t read anything by Kerouac before and only one book by Burroughs, in which I only remember one thing from the whole book and do not remember the title. My tolerance is 100 pages of noise before something drops to get me hooked and this book, and I either missed the boat altogether or it’s just plain noise and it gets ★★☆☆☆ two out of five stars for what I happened to read.

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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Review: Big Damn Sin City: The Hard Good Bye: Part #5 and #6

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


Previously, we covered Part 4 of The Hard Goodbye. Now, we have a continuation with Part #5 and #6

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 5

Marv is sleeping. Restlessly. He cannot sleep because he is excited. Thinking about how he hates being seen in the sun of day and there is nothing to do until the sun comes out, he then explains his perspective of the day riders.

Taking to the streets, he gives some guy named Tommy a swirly, looking for more information about Goldie’s death. He personifies Sin City like the place is a “she” and thinks about how great it is to be alive. Another unnamed person gets slammed onto the pavement while Marv is in a car.

Now, he goes to church, but not to pray and what seems to be confession time:

What seems to be a confession, turns into an interrogation of the preacher. about Goldie. The preacher gives a name of “Roark”, which is either a lead or a direct reference to the people responsible for Goldie’s death. Marv isn’t sure of the validity of the preachers information. The preacher reassures Marv it is good information and there is a farm he can go to to find out more, and he also asks Marv if Goldie is worth dying for. Marv kills the preacher with three shots and says, “Amen”, lights a cigarette and steals the preacher’s Mercedes vehicle, stating that all modern cars look like “electric shavers”.

A car approaches. The driver looks like Goldie, the mysterious woman from the end of Part 4 and hits Marv a couple of times with the car and shoots a couple of times.

Marv escapes and continues to drive up the hill, to the farm. He thinks about how the woman looked just like Goldie, but no, it couldn’t have been her. He forgot to take his medicine and that’s why he is “seeing things”. It’s bad when you forget to take your medicine when you have a “condition”.

Big Damn Sin City: The Hard Goodbye: Part 6

The Mercedes gets parked at a diner, about two miles away from the farm, taking to the woods. Marv is scared of the woods and not much else.

Now at the farm, Marv gets a cold sensation in hit gut and he always trusts it because it hasn’t failed him in the past. People have died wrongly here. A wolf comes snarling and Marv fights the “pooch” out of lack of options to avoid it.

There was blood on the wolf’s breath and Marv knows it well. A stranger appears behind Marv as he finds a human bone. The man is wearing Chuck All-Stars and kicks him in the neck swiftly. Marv has great trouble in this fight and ends up getting sledged by a hammer. Marv suspects this is the man responsible for Goldie’s death and then Marv is knocked unconscious:

Marv sees the light at the end of the tunnel, but awakens on a tiled floor.

A woman is here with him. Taxidermized heads hang on the wall, on with a rose tattoo on one of the victim’s jawline. Evidently the man who owns the farm is a cannibal. The woman in the room is Lucille, his parole officer. They conversate about the situation, Lucille is telling Marv that the farm owner is, in fact a killer. The man has already deduced Lucille’s hand and he made her watch him do it. Horrible. Lucille screams about it. Marv gives Lucille his coat for comfort.

Lucille tells Marv that he “has brought big trouble this time” and that “Whoever is behind this has got his connections– right in the department.” Marv is trying to rip the grate out the window to escape.

They conversate some more and Lucille isn’t buying it that someone named Roark is behind all this. Lucille tells Marv that Goldie was a “hooker” and a top dollar one, but he didn’t know that. A car pulls up at the farm, a car with a V8 engine. The car calls out to “Kevin”, and to come quickly. Marv hears Kevin’s name which is the killer.

My Thoughts:

I really didn’t like that Marv killed the preacher, but my suspicion is that when the preacher asked Marv if Goldie was worth dying for, that he heard a death threat and / or made an example out of him. But then again, how does the preacher know about the killer previously? Strange, very strange, indeed.

I’m still partly hung up that Goldie never did die and am looking for an indication that the mysterious woman is or is not, in fact Goldie. There are many convoluted things going on!

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.

Book Reviews Other Reviews

Review: Brandon Sanderson’s Dark One Vol. 1 – Graphic Novel

Splendid cover here representing the true heart of this material.

I completed this graphic novel review in exchange for a free digital copy via


From #1 New York Times Bestselling, Hugo Award-winning author, Brandon Sanderson (The Mistborn Trilogy, The Stormlight Archive series), along with Nathan Gooden, Jackson Lanzing, and Collin Kelly, comes Dark One, the first book in a series of original graphic novels, from Vault Comics.

Some worlds are made to be broken.

Paul Tanasin is a young man haunted by visions of a dark and fantastic world visions he initially believes are hallucinations. But when he discovers they are prophecies from Mirandus, a world in which he’s destined to become a fearsome destroyer, he’ll have to embrace the fear, rise up as the Dark One, and shatter everything. Dark One examines the dual roles we often take on in life―the ability to be a savior as well as a destroyer.

Lets start this out by talking a bit about mental health, which is what our protagonist starts out believing his ( Paul ) hallucinations are a product of his own mind and is seeing a shrink about it. Yes, he hides the delusions at first, possibly embarrassed about what people might think because of his supposed delusions. He doesn’t even tell his shrink. Things like this can fester into an uncontrollable flame if not talked about: but we should hold discretion about who we talk to about it. What makes me especially mad is when people intently fester someone’s mental health flame in the completely wrong way in order for some sort of domination. Fun fact: very little known species outside of humans antagonize out of joy or get laughter from other’s misfortune. If you’ve watched bloopers or funny videos on where people get hurt, then you laugh you have participated as well. Don’t worry, it’s a natural reaction as I have as well; I only aim to get your gears turning . . . I mean, think about it. Don’t get me wrong: a bit of pressure is a good thing, if applied properly – so the line is not very black and white which leads to the main theme in this book along with a contrast between what might be considered a sort of utopian society where black and white is clearly drawn:

A clear contrast between our world and the world beyond in The Dark One Vol. 1

The good ‘ol debate of good and evil, the yin and the yang is what this book hammers into the ground. Brandon Sanderson’s The Dark One Vol. 1 sincerely addresses these lines about how what is good and what is evil exclaims the fact that it is never as easy as black and white and does a stellar job at it by addressing something called the narrative which is a predestine story across two different lands.

If you had to pick a side and the sides were called darkness and lightness, do you know which you would pick? If the narrative was pre-destined would that change your answer? This is deeeeeeeeeeeeep.

Paul is followed by a ghost named Nikka that is his sister, but Paul claims he doesn’t have a sister. Upon reading the book, this becomes clear in the story and Brandon Sanderson and the artists do a splendid job covering the issue of good vs. evil in regards to pre-destiny that is completely re-written as the story closes. Even though I received this for free, I do plan on buying a copy at some point. It was just that good.

I haven’t read any of Sanderson’s other work, but this book leaves me wondering if his other words stand up to this at all.


While not particularly cutting edge in the realm of good vs evil, Sanderson employs modern story telling techniques in order to contrast our world, which is not so black and white with a otherworld where black and white is very cut and dry, leaving us with a the grass is not always greener on the other side mentality, which is great and refreshing at the same time. ★★★★★ Five stars out of five all day, every day.

Do you think there is such a thing as good and evil? Do you know anyone that you believe is completely evil or completely good?

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.

Book Reviews Other Reviews

Review: The Vain (2021) – Graphic Novel

Red water fading to purple? I don’t know if I’d be drinking and floating on THAT. 😬

This review was completed in exchange for a free digital graphic novel via


Spanning nearly a century in time, The Vain chronicles the criminal lives of four sinful and stylish blood bank-robbing vampires. 

Chicago, 1941. A blood bank is held up in a robbery, but no cash is taken—only blood. It’s the latest in a string of similar robberies and as the United States prepares to enter World War II, FBI Agent Felix Franklin is certain it’s part of a wider plot to weaken the United States by depriving it of its blood supply. But the truth is much more sinister.

The four robbers are vampires: immortal, physically powerful, and after decades of honing their skills, practically untraceable. But time goes on and the vampires—who call themselves The Vain—stay the same in a world that is rapidly changing around them. As security measures evolve, stealing blood is harder every day. And with every decade that passes, Agent Franklin gets closer to finding them. Capturing them. Ending them.

The Vain is a story about wild, eternal youth, reckless rebellion, endless love, and how in the end…maybe it is better to burn out than fade away.

Vampires killing Nazi’s? Yes. Working in the shadows of the government? Yes. Those things make for a great story telling basis. Nitty gritty situations is what makes for favorable entertainment and the question is: do the story tellers and art magicians succeed in building a solid foundation for the story and get all the little proverbial kinks right?

Example of art style inside The Vain – while not my most favored art style, I am mostly acceptant of it. These artists use texture overlays quite a bit and it turned out well.

For the most part, the answer is Yes. This is presented like a comic should be with consistency in style and form of story with fun and graphic representation of violence and blood, following four vampires through USA history. This story starts off with a bank robbery to get blood stored away in a safety deposit box and is light and fun, not getting too serious about anything, then dives deeper into the government using any resources available for the country, including the four vampires.

I’m not an expert on Vampires or Nazis of things, but that doesn’t matter because I still very much enjoyed with this book had to offer which is a behind the scenes look at American history in the 1940s and into future decades, finally ending in present day, with plenty of impalements for the mortals and blood drinking for the immortals to advance the agenda . . . drugs . . . and vomit.

Variables change with time and so must your strategy. The Vain covers these with different places in different times like the U.S.S.R. and Cuba in regards to illegal activity and spying and USA’s stronghold on it’s national security in relation to organized crimes of Vampires. The Vain weighs in at ★★★★☆ four out of five stars for great fun.

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.

Book Reviews

Review: The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield

I don’t care about this cover. It could have been designed in Microsoft Paint . . . or lithography. It’s not creative, but simple and minimalistic.


The international bestseller.

A book that captures ‘the spiritual moment’.

Are three decades of interest in modern physics, ecology, mystical religion and interpersonal psychology finally synthesizing into a new spiritual ‘common sense’? Are we now beginning to live this new common sense? Can it become the dominant paradigm of the next century?

An ancient manuscript has been found in Peru. Its contents: nine insights the human race is predicted to grasp as we enter an era of true spiritual awareness.

In this gripping adventure-tale, James Redfield offers a compelling vision of the new spiritual understanding that is emerging in human culture. You will instantly recognize the truth of the First Insight: in each of our lives occur mysterious coincidences– sudden, unexplained events that, once interpreted correctly, serve to guide and direct our actions.

Join the adventure and let this synchronistic perception guide you through a daring search for the remaining insights. Each will be found in turn, and each will clarify how a growing link with the spiritual is relentlessly transforming human life.

Reading like a story of high adventure, but having the in-depth effect of a spiritual parable, The Celestine Prophecy will take you on a journey that will lighten your soul, and connect you with a vision and an experience that is already changing the world.

It’s been eight and a half eons ( or so it feels ) since I read this book, even so it resides in a special place inside my mind, one of those books you pick up and it changes your whole perspective on life and everything around, and / or it affirms things you have suspected all along, but never had affirmations. An interesting thing is one of the categories on Amazon lists it as: Occult Metaphysical Phenomena. Don’t be fooled, this book is nothing but positivity and assisting your personal connection with the spiritual energy all around and is presented in a mostly unbias manner.

The format of the book is creatively thought out and is also told this way before you start reading: The Celestine Prophecy is laid out in a fiction format to tell about non-fiction things.

One thing that springs to mind when thinking back about my readings with The Celestine Prophecy are two things that have to do with even our spiritual connection to our distant life partners, plants. According to the book, it matters on how we interact with our plants and our interactions with them can even improve their quality of life. Amazing!

Another thing that sprang into mind about The Celestine prophecy is the way we interact with each other, something called control dramas, and with it details exactly how we as humans give and take energy from each other, including our methods for doing just that, even if we don’t realize we are doing it – We do. It makes perfect sense, but I personally rather favor the mentality of believing that we are in fact one energy, that co-habitating in the best way possible together as a decision as-so-best for everyone involved, that puts me on a less defensive and more comfortable stance than thinking someone is just out to control my energy all day, every day. Don’t get me wrong, it’s enlightening to say the very least, but a bit instigative at the same time.

EDIT: Something I noticed while looking up the control dramas is that they are all negative. Surely there are some positive control dramas. But this book insists on focusing on the negative in that regard.

What do you think about spirituality?


The Celestine Prophecy is way more than essential reading as non-fiction, even though it is presented in fiction format for anyone that isn’t fully or even just getting into being familiar with spiritual energies and relations to the world around yourself and other people. ★★★★★ five 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.

Book Reviews

Review: Borderless by Eliot Peper

I’m absolutely loving this cover artwork. What a blessing.


Information is power, and whoever controls the feed rules the world in this all-too-plausible follow-up to the science fiction thriller Bandwidth.

Exiled from Washington after a covert operation gone wrong, Diana is building a new life as a freelance spy, though her obsessive secrecy is driving away the few friends and allies she can count on. When she’s hired to investigate the world’s leading techno capitalist, she unknowingly accepts an assignment with a dark ulterior purpose. Navigating a labyrinth of cutouts and false fronts, Diana discovers a plot to nationalize the global feed.

As tech and politics speed toward a catastrophic reckoning, Diana must reconcile the sins of her past with her dreams of tomorrow. How she deploys the secrets in her arsenal will shape the future of a planet on the brink of disaster. Doing the right thing means risking everything to change the rules of the game. But how much is freedom really worth?

It literally took me about four pages in this work to realize that I would love this book if it could only keep up with the foundation I had laid eyes on. And it did, filled to the brim with modern affirmations and epiphanies of realization, Borderless moves forward with all the things that wrap our current society with conundrums of . . . how do we move forward in a world where technology is trying to tell us too much?

Diana is an former CIA spy and is wrapped up in a swirling mission to take over a megacorporation called Commonweath that built a system that gives people all their information called the feed and their plan to form a one world government. The feed tells you when your friend is walking toward you down the hallway and that’s just the brunt of it. Every institution is a computer and the feed has all the information about everything. But, is the information being curated in disfavor? Are things being selectively hidden? What will they do to keep America running in this fictional world when this technology is trying to free itself? How will you be free when you are relying on bent, hand fed influences?

“The only way to fight someone that knew your weaknesses was to feign indifference.”

Borderless Pg. 109, Eliot Peper

I learned tons of words and phrases in this book and that makes me excited when they are used properly and put in place like a carefully set stone. While some words were repeated and just fancy names for foreign yogurt ( this was the worst, but still great example of the variety in flavor ), I thought it was great. I have a big long note in my note taking app that has a lot of the words I learned, but here I will pick four of them so that you may get a taste of what Borderless has in store as far as verbiage:

  • in·dom·i·ta·ble
    impossible to subdue or defeat.
    “a woman of indomitable spirit”
  • key·stone
    a central stone at the summit of an arch, locking the whole together.
  • re·al·po·li·tik
    a system of politics or principles based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations.
  • feign
    pretend to be affected by (a feeling, state, or injury).
    invent (a story or excuse).
    indulge in pretense.

Make no mistake, I am no salesman so when I gloat simply for the fact that this is book #2 in the series, it worked so well despite my jumpy list-add clicking fingers, AND the fact that I found it in the first place makes me an extra happy camper today in the reading department.


Presented with more than plausible real-world problems in a not-too-distant future spanning places all over the world, Borderless not only delivers a solid story, bringing all the moving pieces of international adult playgrounds together together quite nicely, it has style, knowledge, form and continuous breaths of fresh air and a perfect pacing to match. There wasn’t a single page I didn’t highlight something of worth or was tempted, then giving in to research a reference to people, places and things. This story deserves ★★★★★ five stars out of five, all day long.

Music Bonus:

Dub FX with Not Cool – Lyrics @ – Get down with the feel good jimmy jams!

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.

Book Reviews Other Reviews

Review: Big Damn Sin City: The Hard Good Bye: Part #4

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


Previously, we covered Part 3 of The Hard Goodbye. Now, we have a continuation with Part 4.

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 4

Part 4 of The Hard Goodbye starts off with a some memories of a friend named Chuck that was retarded, but Marv loved him because he was “dumb enough to think he was a genius” and he compares those memories with his current dilemmas.

“I’ve been framed for murder and the cops are in on it. But the real enemy, the son of a bitch who killed the angel lying next to me, he’s out there somewhere, out of sight, the big missing piece that’ll give me the how and the why and a face and a name and a soul to send screaming into hell.”

He continues with details of a plan based off the information his mother gave him about the previous visitors looking for him. His plan involves sending him, whoever it is, an invitation and if he doesn’t die in the process, he’ll get a couple more pieces that fit this puzzle.

Now, we have mention from Marv that you can find whatever you need down any back ally in Sin City and we are transitioned into a scene where Marv talks about a bar named Kadie’s and this information is layered with details about how anything that’s worth doing in Sin City is illegal and messed up. He gets free drinks at Kadie’s for favors. One of the workers at Kadie’s is someone named Nancy that likes to shake it to good, old country music:

First mention of a character named Nancy

Nancy is a dancer at the bar Kadie’s with a lasso and an attached cowboy hat. Marv normally just enjoys the dance, but not tonight. No, that’s not what he’s looking for. He picks a fight with someone named Weevil and slams his back out, tells him to spread the word and get some payment for it “because it’s worth it” and give the details about what to spread the word about: his grievance of Goldie. He orders a drink from a waitress named Shellie.

Nancy dances more and whips with her lasso.

Marv goes out back of Kadie’s and talks about how he loves hit men because no matter what you do to ’em, you don’t feel bad. “The worse you do, the better it gets.” Trouble is, they have him at gun point. Marv is making jokes about the guy’s jacket:

Marv puts up a strong fight and it the hit men, they brought coats to a gun fight. Marv takes one of their guns and wins, tells him to take his coat off because he is bleeding all over it:

Marv wins the fight out back of Kadie’s bar. Seems some hit men were trying to off him.

Marv tells the guy with the coat that it must have not been them that killed Goldie, but he interrogates the last man standing to find answers. The man tells him it was Telly Stern that gave the orders and Telly runs the tables over at The Triple Ace Club. Marv kills the man he is interrogating and tells him thank you.

Marv has olfactory hallucinations about Goldie and claims he only needs his medicine. Then, we see a woman peering around the corner:

Mysterious woman peers around the corner after Marv’s fight with hit men out back of Kadie’s.

Marv realizes the sun is coming up and needs to find a place to rest, although he was “just getting warmed up”.

My Thoughts:

Marv likes old, good solid country music. Good on him! He’s not into the feel good, happy music. He more enjoys what feels genuine to him and not washed up. He is taking no safe paths here, only looking to set an example for his quest to find out who is behind framing him for Goldie’s murder.

I didn’t mention this at all last time, but it’s obvious that Marv is just out of prison, with his discussions with Lucille and I’m nervous for the path that he is on. Just can’t catch a break!

Marv has connections in his town, again with women. I’ve yet to see any man friends or people he is getting along with that are of his same gender. Hrm. Marv has characteristics of being intelligent and brutish.

We don’t learn much in this chapter besides mystery. He claims to know the dancer Nancy, but there’s no interaction with her, only fighting and a mysterious woman that peers around the corner after his fight with the hit men. I can’t help but notice that she looks like Goldie and Weevil looks like . . . Wolverine from Marvel comics? Ha, ha! Geez.

Who is this mysterious woman? Who is Telly Stern?

See you next time,

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.

Book Reviews

DNF @ 37% Review: Quantum by Patricia Cornwell

Very well done cover . . . with space balls of some sort.


International bestselling author Patricia Cornwell delivers pulse-pounding thrills in the first book in a series featuring a brilliant and unusual new heroine, cutting-edge cybertechnology, and stakes that are astronomically high.

On the eve of a top secret space mission, Captain Calli Chase detects a tripped alarm in the tunnels deep below a NASA research center. A NASA pilot, quantum physicist, and cybercrime investigator, Calli knows that a looming blizzard and government shutdown could provide the perfect cover for sabotage, with deadly consequences.

As it turns out, the danger is worse than she thought. A spatter of dried blood, a missing security badge, a suspicious suicide—a series of disturbing clues point to Calli’s twin sister, Carme, who’s been MIA for days.

Desperate to halt the countdown to disaster and to clear her sister’s name, Captain Chase digs deep into her vast cyber security knowledge and her painful past, probing for answers to her twin’s erratic conduct. As time is running out, she realizes that failure means catastrophe—not just for the space program but for the safety of the whole nation.

Brilliantly crafted, gripping, and smart, Patricia Cornwell’s cliffhanger ending will keep readers wondering what’s next for Captain Calli Chase.

Let me start out by saying I have read some Patricia Cornwell books and loved them mucho construto. I started reading this yesterday and made it over a hundred pages in, which I can say this is an easy read, so that’s not the reason I DNF’d this book.

The Kindle edition has media embedded in it, which was neato-torpedo, displaying some animated images at the start of some chapters. This is apart from the fact that I couldn’t change the background color for this book on my Kindle Fire, assumably caused from the embedded media which was all-together absent from Kindle cloud reader.

This book started out well for me. It was quick, punchy and intelligent. However, Captain Chase turned into a squirrel on assumable hallucinogens and coke, ( not the kind in the bottle ) feeding me every detail that ran through her mind whether it was relevant or not . . . and, it’s filled with ADHD-ish ( coupled with my own ADHD tendencies, it proves to be a bad mix ), panicky inner-dialog that I’m assuming is suppose to be thrilling, but just gives me more anxiety than I already have and a need to know what to pay attention to and what not to, which does become decipherable as you read. I comprehended and processed, but not in a way that I prefer.

A word I learned in this book was:

This is a rambling book, which I didn’t mind in itself, but even rambles need to be organized to become coherent to the reader. There’s not much abstract thoughts of the protagonist’s mind other than “what the hell is happening to me and NASA” and “OMG, something is happening to me that someone else just referring to in passing” ( quotes are sarcastic, summarized version of Captain Chase’s thoughts, not actual quotes from the book ), at least of what I read. Sentence structure could use more variation, at least for me – it felt like I was being pelted with little thought-darts. However, the book does give some background to NASA, which I didn’t fact check and won’t.

I don’t have anymore to say about it other than the people at NASA should have given Captain Chase a sedative or two, in order to counter-act those over-stimulated thoughts way, way earlier in the book.

★★☆☆☆ Two stars out of five and a big-fat DNF for Captain Chase’s first book titled Quantum by Patricia Cornwell.

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.

Book Reviews

Review: Ten Years of Darkness by Kristen M. Chambers and Viktor H. Strangewayes

Color palette here is carefully selected with a feather radiating magic. Nicely done cover. completed this review via a free copy in cooperation with StoryTellers on Tour and the author’s blog tour.

Whispers & Wonder
Westveil Publishing
Beneath A Thousand Skies
S.D. McKinley
Queen’s Book Asylum

For more about this tour visit Storytellers On Tour.


A darkly humorous mash-up of time travel and dark fantasy, in which our heroes discover there is more to our history than we’ve been led to believe. Discover a world of demons and dark Magic, of ancient civilizations and unexpected alliances, hiding just out of plain sight…

A demonic plague carried by time-traveling bats, a dripping mechanical construct from ages past, and a talking quill which gleans the truth from a person’s blood. A few months ago, that would have been enough to make Kristen question her sanity, but after everything she’s seen, they seem pretty par for the course.

After a brief encounter with a mysterious stranger leaves Kristen with an unusual Magical artifact, she begins to realize there is far more to our world than she’s been told, and the very future of humanity may just rest in her hands. Joining forces with some rather unlikely allies – a nervous neighbor whose dreams of Magic are quickly turning into his nightmare; a diminutive yet feisty Lumynar, who may be the last of her kind; and a wisecracking demon who happens to share the moniker of a fictional spy – Kristen sets out on the journey she had always dreamed of, but may not be prepared for.

With potential horrors looming on the horizon, access to Magical resources obstructed by powerful forces, and more questions arising with each encounter, our heroes must band together and fight for their world and the fate of humanity. But for every question answered, many still linger: Have they chosen to support the right factions? Are their goals worth more than those they are fighting against? And worst of all, have they gone through this entire process before?

From the group who founded the Vaal’bara Historical Society, Ten Years of Darkness is a prequel which can be read before Volume One or after Volume Five. The prequel takes place in an unsettling time before many events transpired, yet is simultaneously affected by their outcome, following characters both new and familiar, and bringing as yet untold details to light while also exploring others from a unique perspective. Those seeking to learn the true mission of the Society may very well choose to start here, while other readers who have already traveled the timeways at our heroes’ side will find many clues to further their journey as they look toward the future.

Ten Years of Darkness presents originality in form with handy visual-graphic hints at progressions in story line with visual clues as to what kind of scene transformation is taking place such as time transformation, portal, written document or vision. This element works well and added value.

In regards to further specifications on format, each chapter is professionally titled and paragraphs are separated by a double-carriage return, being non-indented in the print book and indented in the eBook format. While I didn’t mind the double spaced paragraphs in the print book, the indention and spaced paragraphs did bother me slightly in the eBook as a violation of too-much-wasted-white-space. Albeit the former were small offenses in my vouch for criticism regarding form in writing. All things matter.

Unfortunately, most events or thoughts in the book come in quick passing. It’s fast paced adventure through space and time with magical elements of time crystals, talking quills and a transformational, riddle giving knife. In my readings, I found it difficult to decipher what was important in the book and what wasn’t, being there not much accentuation toward important things and non-important things. Although, with all these details spinning at me I still found escape into a meta-world where things are surreal and interesting in a way that we do not find in our present reality, which was great in seeking escapism and food-for-thought. The writing itself, on a small scale was executed well with little-to-no typos or sloppiness in regards to grammar and punctuation.

“May the quill prove mightier than the blade.”

Page 101, Ten Years of Darkness

I have mentioned before that what I look for most in a book is complete immersion, being enveloped in a proverbial wrap of feeling, giving me emotion ( whether good or bad ) and instilling a sense of complete atmosphere which I found mostly lacking in this book. This is why I believe that happened: there’s not much further explained and proves to be too verbose with not much poetic nature and the writing seems cut short both in character elements and setting when thoughts, actions and setting could be appropriately, even slightly expanded upon to give us a little more background and feeling about what is happening and most importantly: why . . . in order to give my imagination some taste. It could use a good rambling re-cap in spots to tie everything up nicely. This begs the argument against imagination vs too much information, but what I am seeking here is just a little more in regards to setting, character and thoughts to feed that imaginative construct in my mind. It seems that this book might be a product of all the advice online about writing and that presents dangers in itself of lacking soul and individuality that is needed to encompass a complete personal thought as paragraph and a complete feeling as form and book. I feel as if I know nothing about these authors through their writings – neither good or bad in itself.

Now the flip side of this is we are given plenty of room to appreciate the premise of the book being that reality is more than meets the eye, exploring the concept of worlds interacting with our own in ways we cannot presently understand. Then, we are presented an option to decipher importance of specifics on our own – as a feat of imagination and grasp for something more than simply what is presented in front of our face, in the writings. I absolutely loved those magical touches including naming demons after elusive cartoon characters that I personally grew up with via media, thus inciting a correlation previously not thought about, ending in personal amusement.


Ten Years of Darkness presents originality in form and function, while delivering fun themes surrounding time and magic with comedic characters and mischievous events; even not normally animate characters such as knives and quills that interact with the fictional world. But, it lacks depth in regards to the reader deciphering what is important in the story and what isn’t with little-to-no back tracing or reasoning to why things happen or even thoughts. However, I would imagine telling a story that resides outside reality, but delves into meta-reality, might present the same exact problems because it would lie outside common reasoning. Ten Years of Darkness – definitely worth the read @ ★★★☆☆ three 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.

Book Reviews Other Reviews

Review: Big Damn Sin City: The Hard Good Bye: Part #3

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


Previously, we covered Part 1 and 2 of The Hard Goodbye. Now, we have a continuation with Part 3. Life has handed me the brass knuckles and I’ve been short of time. This post only covers one part, Part 3, albeit an important one, where we learn the ruffian’s name and meet some people and relatives close to him.

In this post, I will cover Part 3 of the Chapter titled “The Hard Goodbye”.

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 3

Finding himself in the sewers, after running from the cops the ruffian has bad things to say. He hopes they choke on their breath while they wait for him to surface, however he is coughing himself in the waste. He resurfaces out of the sewers and mentions a person named Lucille, that she has what he needs:

First mention of Lucille

Close call. Ruffian almost gets spotted by a copper walking through. He jumps to hang off the building in a marvelous comic frame:

Now, the scene switches to a female inside, presumably woken up and startled by a noise. She gets out of bed, grabs her gun and realizes it’s just the ruffian, nothing to be alarmed about except he has a swath of small bandages all over his body. He tells Lucille that it’s nothing to be worried about. He had simply gotten “grazed”. Ruffian asks Lucille for a beer and she shrugs it off, knowing that isn’t why he arrived.

Lucille and the ruffian are now in the bathroom and he confirms that ( the alcohol ) isn’t why he arrived with a solid “no”. Lucille throws his a bottle of pills. He eats one immediately. She tells him he is better with pills and he thanks her.

We learn that Lucille is a “dyke”, but with her figure she could have any man she wants. Lucille gets the ruffian pills from her girlfriend that is a shrink; Lucille’s girlfriend attempted to analyze the ruffian, but got too frightened.

Ruffian tells Lucille that he had to fight the police and she makes sure he didn’t off any of them. Ruffian thinks not, but they know what hit ’em. Then, Lucille questions him about how she will even the situation out, but he tells her no need and “not a chance”.

“This isn’t some barroom brawl or some creep with a gas can looking to torch some wino. This is big and I’m right in the middle of it and there’s no place I’d rather be. There’s no settling down. It’s going to be blood for blood and by the gallons. It’s the old days. The bad days. The all-or-nothing days. They’re back. There’s no choices left and I’m ready for war.”

Frank Miller as unknown male ruffian from The Big Damn Sin City.

The ruffian seems to have excited himself and grabs Lucille by the shoulders.

Lucille attempts to talk him out of his trajectory by bringing up prison, saying it was “hell” for him. But, he deflects and justifies it with defining what hell is. He says something to the effect that hell is not knowing your purpose and he isn’t like that because he knows exactly what his purpose is. He also tells her that someone close to him was killed in prison and that is how he got out. Lucille looks startled at how the ruffian is handling her.

He leaves Lucille’s apartment by, yet again jumping out of the window. While doing some theatrics and hanging off a building rooftop, he mentions “sweet Gladys“, but he will have to sneak past Mom and her hearing has improved since she went blind. He arrives at his Mom’s house, removes his shoes to sneak into his old bedroom. It’s unsettling for him, makes him cry. The memories. No mind because Gladys is here.

We learn that Gladys is his gun.

Gladys, the gun.

He takes time to bond with the gun and explains the situation with Goldie to Gladys. He stole Gladys, the gun from the strongest guy in school, but he levels with himself, justifying taking the gun because it’s previous owner, the strong man was dead when he took it. He named the gun after “one of his sisters from school”.

Mom pokes in the doorway of the bedroom while he is bonding with his gun. Mom calls the ruffian Marvin and he apologizes for awaking her. Mom tells Marvin that people came looking for him that were’nt coppers. Marvin tells Mom about his “new night job”.

Mom and Marvin talking gently.

Mom questions Marvin and he tells her about Goldie, but no specifics such as her death. And, that ends Part 3 of The Hard Goodbye in Frank Miller’s Big Damn Sin City. See below for thoughts and character bios.

My Thoughts:

Let’s talk about being a product of your environment. Do you think Marvin might be a product of his environment? I mean, he is doing a ton of questionable things, but I haven’t seen malice in his actions. Yes, he knocked down the cops. Yes, he took pills. Yes, he is busting into his parole officer’s apartment but, it looks like she accepts that, like he needs her.

Here’s another subject to think about: codependency. Is Lucille enabling Marvin by giving him pills? We have indication that he is better on the pills by her word. Should he learn how to deal with life without the pills? Maybe. We don’t really know how he is off of them, but that is possibly weak justification. Who knows? We don’t even know what kind of pills they are. They could be antipsychotics.

Do you feel like you want to judge Marvin? What kinds of judgements have you made about him? Seriously. It seems like the lines between what is good and bad here are blurry to say the least.

And then, here begs another question: would Marvin be actually be better off to surrender his fight and roll with the punches so-to-speak? No one knows that answer for a fact, but for the stories sake I think not! I want to see this guy win. We don’t know what lead up to this. He is obviously scarred from the past. All we have is what is presented in the story with context clues and diluted dialog.

He seems to bond with women most easily and that’s apparent here in Part 3, where he leans on his parole officer and mother. He got rough with Lucille, which I didn’t like. Thankfully, he didn’t violate her. She seems to know what to expect from him and is acceptant of his behavior when he barges into her apartment.

And, Marvin’s mother and his interaction with her is pleasant. He speaks to her like a son should, although it’s questionable about leaving out details in his story, but I’m guessing his justification for doing that is to not worry her. Poor mom probably worries enough as it is . . .

There’s a lot of detail in these black and white frames. I like the art style. Things pop out at me like the shower curtain not up on the rail in Lucille’s bathroom. Is she paranoid, possibly induced by her environment?

One thing that Marv is redeeming himself on, I can say for sure is using his resources, unlike what I thought about him when Goldie died. Even so, it still makes me wondering if he is operating on a hunch or no about her death. Something is awry.

See you next time,

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.