TITLE: Merciful Flush
AUTHOR: Lance Manion
In the vein of Dave Berry and Robert Fulghram, Merciful Flush is a compilation of ramblings that belongs beside the toilet. Be warned, though. Lance Manion is not as family friendly as his funnyman literary counterparts. Without hesitation, he crosses the line from downright crass to just plain wrong.
Lance Manion mixes hilarious first-person stories with a melee of facts, creative fiction and general musings. He runs the gamut between laugh-out-loud funny, uncomfortably awkward and slapstick silly. By the time you finish Merciful Flush, you will know where (and how) Lance pees in a urinal, how he feels about ugly people, and the average flow rate of Lake Itasca.
With some weeding and tightening, Merciful Flush would be a bathroom reader to keep you on the john long after you’re done with business. The problem is, the book spawned from a line of blogs, and reads as such. Unedited, unorganized and in desperate need of a professional eye, Merciful Flush fell short of its potential.
If you want to get a dose of Manion humor, check out Lance’s blog at www.lancemanion.com
. Once there, if you find yourself lingering or laughing out loud, you might enjoy having Merciful Flush on your bathroom bookshelf. But be sure to keep it out of the reach of children.
THE LINKSBuy it on AmazonLance Manion's blog
TITLE: Uno Kudo: Naked
GENRE: Anthology, feminist literature
THE RUNDOWNUno Kudo
is an anthology on its second year, a compilation of art and literature from all walks of life, with one common theme. The title, Naked
, says it all. Risqe, heart-stopping, honest, but not always beautiful, each story and picture has some element of nakedness about it. The images and words within Naked
are sometimes abstract and other times powerfully blunt.
The literature in Uno Kudo: Naked
ranges from poetry to short stories, and the quality of writing ranges from amateur to practiced prose. With a slightly feminist bent, most of the content embraces sexual expression, fear, or awakening. But other times, the theme of emotional nakedness takes place of the physical. With stories about prostitutes, suicide and loneliness, Uno Kudo isn’t the most uplifting collection of stories, but it is definitely thought-provoking.Naked
is, without a doubt, a coffee-table book. With large, striking images, professional-grade paintings and well-placed prose and poetry, the book is a piece of art in and of itself. And in that respect, the publication fell short. In order to truly allow Naked
to shine, the editors needed to weed out some of the less professional contributions and the publishers needed to spend more time producing a quality piece of art. The cover needed to be hard-back, the binding spiral-bound, and the pages needed to be printed professionally in order to allow the art within to truly shine.
If you’re looking for a risqué coffee-table book that will entertain and possibly even shock your visiting guests, Uno Kudo
is worth checking out. But you might want to skip Naked
and wait until they release their next anthology. There were some gems within Uno Kudo: Naked
, but overall the production needed a revamp, with more practiced authors and artists, and a professional printing process.
While some of the individual images and stories in Uno Kudo would have earned a higher rating, the overall production only earns 3 out of 4 stars.
You can find Uno Kudo: Naked
on Amazon here
, Facebook here
and the blog here.
TITLE: Black Crow, White Lie
AUTHOR: Candi Sary
PUBLISHER: Casperian Books
LENGTH: 159 pages
Underneath the glamour of Hollywood is a collection of battered people with broken dreams. In Black Crow, White Lie
, twelve-year-old Carson’s mother is one of those desperate souls. A psychic by day and an alcoholic by night, Carson’s mother plants ideas of grandeur in his head. Carson grows up hopping from motel to motel, all the while believing that he is destined to become a great healer, that his mother can tell the future, and that his father was a war hero. As he treads the delicate line between boyhood and manhood, Carson must grow up to face the truths both around him and inside of himself. Mystical and inspiring, Carson’s coming-of-age story kept me turning pages well into the night.Black Crow, White Lie
is simple and almost plainly written. However, I must give the author credit: the plain writing suited the age of the protagonist. I feel that Candi Sary sold herself short on her first novel by boxing herself within the mind of a pre-teen, but that did not keep me from choosing the book as a Top Pick. Candi’s style is memoir-esque and the beauty within the pages comes not from flowering prose but from heartfelt character development. The story is so gritty and real that even when Carson began to use his healing powers, I did not feel as though I had to suspend my disbelief. While the plot is somewhat predictable, the overall message is worthwhile and the final pages are perfectly satisfying.
THE RECOMMENDATIONBlack Crow, White Lie
is a touching coming-of-age story about family bonds, love, and being true to yourself. It is a quick read, and appropriate for adults and young adults alike. I highly suggest putting this book on the top of your reading list.
I’d give this crow nine out of ten feathers: just enough to fly to a Top Pick.
THE LINKSBuy it on AmazonVisit Candi's website
Candi is giving away 5 signed copies of Black Crow White Lie
to our Weekly Newsletter subscribers! If you don't have a subscription already, subscribe
by Friday, February 22 and you will receive instructions under "Book Giveaways" at the bottom of your Weekly Newsletter email.
TITLE: What Would Satan Do?
AUTHOR: Anthony Miller
GENRE: Comic Fantasy
PUBLISHER: Brother Maynard Publishing
EDITOR: Peazy Monellon
LENGTH: 399 pages
With the end of the world upon us, there isn't a much more appropriate book to pick up than What Would Satan Do?
by Anthony Miller. The novel's approach to the End of Days is both comic and original. While some funny books aim to do nothing but keep you laughing, What Would Satan Do?
also delivers an engaging plot.
Satan has realized that when the end of the world comes, he doesn't have a chance. It's already been written that he's going to get the short end of the stick, and God will be victorious. So, instead of fighting, Satan decides to hide on earth in a human body. He's hoping his minions won't find him and force him to carry out his original plans to overthrow the Creator of the Universe.
In order not to blow up entire cities, Satan has to take anger management classes. To kill time, he teaches a college course on the History of Religion. He loves fast cars and soft-serve ice cream. Satan's really just a likeable guy who feels a little miffed by God, and happens to get a kick out of torturing people.
Anthony Miller's writing is hilarious. He takes delight in describing facial expressions and body language in creative ways. That strength, however, is also a weakness. Sometimes, an overly-described aside about a character's bodily function distracted me instead of making me laugh. The only other thing that kept this book out of my Top Picks was the tendency to switch point-of-view without warning.
Despite that, the book still "delivered the funny" as promised by the Shirley You Jest awards. What Would Satan Do?
is well deserving of the Shirley HAH award. From beginning to end, it is engaging and original.
If you're ready to read some raunchy language, laugh at biblical references, giggle over carnage and at least smirk at cultural and racial jokes, pick up What Would Satan Do?
It's not a particularly offensive book if it's taken with a grain of salt, or some happy pills. I have no doubt that Christopher Moore fans will enjoy the book from start to finish. And no, it's not suitable for young adults.
THE LINKSBuy What Would Satan Do?
Find it on Facebook
Follow Anthony on Twitter
Visit his websiteSatan’s Blog
Anthony Miller is giving away five print copies and unlimited digital copies of What Would Satan Do?
for one week only, starting Saturday.
If you have a subscription to our Weekly Newsletter, you will find instructions for the book giveaway at the bottom of your email.
Don't have the Weekly Newsletter? Subscribe now!
TITLE: My Temporary Life
AUTHOR: Martin Crosbie
Martin Crosbie attacks a litany of delicate yet powerful subjects in his sweeping debut novel, My Temporary Life
. Abuse, neglect, divided parents, alcoholism, bullying and pedophilia drives the plot forward in a heart-wrenching tale of forgiveness, love and friendship.
The story begins when the main character, Malcolm, is only just a lad, living in Scotland with his father and dodging school bullies. His best friend is a teenage alcoholic who uses booze to escape from abuse back home. Young Malcolm is pathetic and lovable at the same time, but as the story goes on, he grows into a strong young man and even finds the courage to stand up for his friend.
When Malcolm’s heroism gets him in trouble with the school authorities, he is sent to Canada to finish school. There he grows up into a fine young accountant and begins a life of his own. He meets a beautiful young woman who holds a dark secret, which takes them both down a dangerous path. The rest of the book is fast-paced, as the adult Malcolm and his new love interest try to right the wrongs of the past.
Although the book was self-published, Martin Crosbie has the literary talent to be picked up by a publishing house. On that same note, he would benefit from the advice of professionals such as agents and editors to hone his craft and direct his story. If My Temporary Life
had been acquired by an editor, it would have been divided into two books, maybe even three. The coming-of-age story was beautifully done, but it was completely unrelated to the fast-paced chase scenes of the second half.
THE RECOMMENDATION My Temporary Life
is a pleasantly fast read with an uplifting message. I have high hopes for Martin Crosbie’s literary career, and will be waiting eagerly to read his next book. However, there were enough plot holes and grammatical non-sequiturs in My Temporary Life
that I feel the book would need a re-write before I could whole-heartedly recommend it.
Martin Crosbie's website
My Temporary Life on Amazon.com
My Temporary Life on Goodreads
TITLE: Tell a Thousand Lies
AUTHOR: Rasana Atreya
PUBLISHER: self-published through CreateSpace
GENRE: literary, women's fiction
If you’re looking for a peek into the lives and traditions of rural communities in India during the 1980’s and 90’s, Tell a Thousand Lies
will be an eye-opener. Pullamma, the main character, is a young girl brought up to believe that one of the worst things a woman can do is get a good education. All she wants to do is get married to the perfect husband and have beautiful children, but this proves nearly impossible when she is proclaimed a Goddess by the local oracle. In Tell a Thousand Lies
, author Rasanya Atrea juggles political corruption, superstition and deep-rooted traditions as she weaves a love story that could break your heart.
Not being familiar with Indian names or traditions, the first few chapters weren't a quick read. But as I kept going, I became familiar with terms and word usage that once seemed foreign, and the book picked up speed. Rasanya’s writing is smooth, but it was not her use of words that drew me in or kept me reading. I was intrigued by the setting and premise of the story.
About halfway through the book, though, I found myself disappointed. While the main character, Pullamma, is written to be a sweet young woman who only wants to do the right thing, she is often shallow and selfish. Even though I rooted for her and turned the pages to find out what happened next, I was never able to identify with her. I cheered for her as she became a more independent, confident character, but the stronger she became the less I could connect to her.
THE RECOMMENDATIONTell a Thousand Lies
is an exciting tale of love, deceit, family values and superstition. If you are interested in the traditions and culture of India, pick it up, but prepare yourself for a heroine who is an emotional wreck. The book is suitable for a young adult audience.
Find it on Amazon
Find it on Goodreads
Visit Rasana's website
TITLE: Loud, Disorderly and Boisterous
AUTHOR: Adam M. Johnson
GENRE: Humor, Historical Fiction
Princess Alethia may be the smartest of the King’s offspring, but that doesn’t mean she is going to inherit the throne. Instead, she is going to be married off to King Otto so that her father can reap the rewards of their union. Complete with cross-dressing princes and quick-witted stable boys, Loud, Disorderly and Boisterous
is the comic tale of a princess’s attempt to escape her arranged marriage. The schemes that Alethia and her companions dream up are off-the-wall, but due to the stupidity of their foes, they get out of one impossible situation after another.Loud, Disorderly and Boisterous
was a fun read, but it wasn’t much deeper than that. In nearly every situation the smart “good guys” outwitted the stupid “bad guys” simply by playing off their extreme gullibility. The comedy was almost slapstick, and I had to remind myself numerous times that I was past suspension of disbelief and simply along for the ride. Still, I loved the strong and able-minded Alethia and rooted for her and her companions until the very end.
My biggest issue with the novel was the number-one self-publishing scourge: Adam needed to hire a professional editor. I usually forgive the self-published author for a typo or two, but Loud, Disorderly and Boisterous
had more than its fair share of misplaced punctuation and missing letters. Additionally, Adam would have benefited from tightening his prose, and any decent editor would have helped him boil down his words.
I sincerely hope that Adam will consider releasing an updated version of Loud, Disorderly and Boisterous -
one that has been combed over by an editor. Once that is done, fans of Dave Barry silliness and Monty Python slapstick will enjoy Loud, Disorderly and Boisterous
. Until then, I suggest waiting to read Adam’s next novel, which will hopefully be more carefully honed than his first. Although Adam does not market his novel as young adult, the content is perfectly acceptable and may appeal to a younger generation.
Please note: since this review was written, Loud, Disorderly and Boisterous
was edited and updated. The new version should be much cleaner than the original.
Buy it on Amazon.com
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TITLE: A Coupla Shades of Taupe: A Parody
AUTHOR: Court Burback
PUBLISHER: Diversion Books
GENRE: Humor, Parody
THE RUNDOWN A Coupla Shades of Taupe
is the Spark-Notes version of Fifty Shades of Grey
… on steroids and laughing gas. While Grey is the wealthy owner of a company that delivers food to the hungry, Taupe is the wealthy owner of a taxidermy company that immortalizes deceased pets. While Anastasia Steele pines over Grey’s perfectly sculpted face, Alexandria Aluminium fantasizes about picking jerky out of Taupe’s teeth. If you haven’t heard of Fifty Shades of Grey
, you should know that it’s a closet fad made infamous for its explicit sexual content, including whips and bondage. If you don’t think that’s grounds for a riotous parody, stop reading here.
What makes a parody hard to pull off is that the writer is regurgitating a known story. Because of that, plot twists are moot and all originality must come from the writing itself. The reader must turn the page because the writing compels them to read on, not because they want to know how the story will progress. That being said, there are few writers who could pull off the farce that is A Coupla Shades of Taupe
quite so eloquently.
Court Burback makes it very clear that her novel is parody for the sake of parody. The plot is one-dimensional and there isn’t a single redeeming character in the book. What redeems the book is the author, whose sarcastic, twisted sense of humor makes Tucker Max look like a goody-two-shoes and Austin Powers look like a sexy gentleman. Court has a handle on words, and she uses them like a stand-up comic. Her metaphors would get any English student promptly kicked out of class… with a begrudging A plus.
I read A Coupla Shades of Taupe before picking up Fifty Shades of Grey
, but that didn’t keep me from laughing out loud. When I finally got around to reading Fifty Shades of Grey
, memories of the parody had me chuckling when I wasn’t supposed to.
It goes without saying that the material in A Coupla Shades of Taupe
is not appropriate for young adults. In fact, it’s not appropriate for adults, either. If raunchy comedy isn’t your style, don’t pick it up. But if you’re looking for an off-color laugh, A Coupla Shades of Taupe
is an expertly executed parody, and it’s worth reading for the metaphors alone. Court Burback’s no-holds-barred humor will make you inge and laugh at the same time, whether or not you read Fifty Shades of Grey
Buy A Coupla Shades of Taupe
Check out A Coupla Shades of Taupe
Visit Court's website onedumbunny.com
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TITLE: Dragon’s Teeth
AUTHOR: Suzanne Van Rooyen
GENRE: Dystopian Cyberpunk
PUBLISHER: Divertir Publishing
What do you get when you combine a dystopian setting with genetically enhanced soldiers, drug-trafficking and a cynical detective? Dragon’s Teeth
. Although the title of Suzanne Van Rooyen’s debut novel may incite images of characters from a fantasy book, there are neither dragons nor elves between the pages. Instead, we are launched into a world of robots and synthetic food, where having imperfect genetics is a crime, plastic surgery is the norm and no one remembers what the sun feels like on their skin. Dragon’s Teeth
is divided into three parts. Part I follows Cyrus, a private detective and occasional drug dealer who yearns for a time when alcohol was made by fermentation and genetics was only a scientific study. While Part II seems completely unrelated to Part I, it instantly caught my imagination. Part II follows two genetically engineered soldiers in a military camp as they come to realize that they are being fed nothing but lies. But it is Part III, which ties the first two together with a dark, twisted plot that truly makes Dragon’s Teeth
Overall, Suzanne’s world was intriguing, but not thoroughly fleshed out. While most debut authors make the mistake of writing too much, I think Suzanne wrote too little. As a stickler for detail, I found myself wanting more scientific explanations and more world-building. There were fantastic sub-plots that I wanted to explore in depth. Part I, II and III had enough substance to flesh out into a full-blown trilogy. And while that is an endorsement, it is also a complaint. Dragon’s Teeth
piqued my interest and kept me entertained, but it did not stand up to its full potential.
Suzanne Van Rooyan has an epic imagination. Pick up Dragon’s Teeth
if you’re hungry for cyberpunk, dystopian scenarios and post-apocalyptic landscapes. You won’t be disappointed, but you may be left wanting more. The material is suitable for both adult and young adult readers, but it is obviously aimed towards an adult audience.
LINKSDragon's Teeth on AmazonSuzanne's websiteSuzanne on TwitterSuzanne on Facebook If you enjoyed this review, you can subscribe to the Underground or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
TITLE: Agents of Change
AUTHOR: Guy Harrison
PUBLISHER: Self-published through Amazon and Smashwords
The reason I decided to read Agents of Change
was because the first chapter was humorous, action-packed and suspenseful. I figured, if anything, at least it would keep me entertained. In that respect, the book delivered. Guy Harrison’s writing was non-stop action, and kept me turning pages from beginning to end. Other than that, though, the book fell flat.
The premise of Agents of Change
revolves around a secret institute which uses magical shape shifting and telekinetic powers to “do good.” While this could be an interesting scenario, I found that it was no more than a plot device. The back story behind the shape shifting ability seemed disconnected from the story; a magical arrowhead carved by a Shaman seemed like an easy out. The Agents of Change would simply “swoosh” into their new form, changing in seconds into a new person, and even wearing new clothes. And the Agency’s goodwill mission seemed trite compared to the possible power of shape shifting and telekinesis.
Determined to make the best of the pages before me, I suspended my disbelief and tried to go with the flow. The themes throughout the book were fantastic: the ability of good people to turn bad and the corruption of power are classic topics. However, it seemed as if the book itself was a thinly-veiled attempt to directly address these topics, as opposed to a vivid story that left me pondering them.
At the very least, I hoped that the love story would keep me entertained. In that regard, Agents of Change
did redeem itself. The love triangle that the main character finds himself in was far from hot and steamy, but it progressed in a surprising direction. Still, while all of the characters in the novel were unique, none of them were given enough depth for me to truly connect with them.
As the book went on, Guy lost the humorous tone that originally sold me on his writing and instead relied solely on action. While this kept me turning pages, it didn’t help me enjoy the book as a whole. Guy left behind his voice and style as he rushed to get his story on the page. If Guy had spent more time on his back story, flushing out his characters and analyzing his dialogue, he might have come out with a gem.
Guy Harrison is a good writer, but he made the number-one self-publishing mistake. He published his novel too soon. The book needs deeper characters, better back story, and the theme should be nestled within the plot, not driving it with a riding crop. I can’t, in good conscience, recommend Agents of Change
as your next beach read, but I have no doubt that Guy has enough imagination and talent to carry him further. I am excited to see how his writing career progresses and what new scenarios he creates in the future. LINKSAgents of Change on AmazonGuy Harrison on FacebookGuy Harrison's websiteFollow Guy on Twitter
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