Book Reviews

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


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.

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.


“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.

Book Reviews

Review: All Systems Red by Martha Wells

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


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.

Book Reviews

Review: A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick


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.


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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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

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.