Category Archives: Book Review

7th book I read this year: Groo Meets Tarzan

This isn’t much I can say about this book that others won’t. It’s Groo. He meets Tarzan. I ordered this a LONG time ago and was happily surprised when it showed up. As with any Groo literary work, I devoured this book in short time. I mean, it’s Groo. That’s what you do with Groo. You get it, you read it, you laugh and feel a sudden need for Cheese Dip.

6th Book I read this year: Am I Evil – Jack Mangan

Jack Mangan is a good friend of mine. Many MANY moons ago, we both put out podiobooks. His is still available in ebook format and if you enjoy cyberpunk, go get yourself a copy of Spherical Tomi. You’ll thank me.

Last year he launched a KickStarter campaign for Am I Evil, a graphic novel he’d gotten permission to create while interviewing Diamondhead on his show Metal Asylum. Perhaps I should back up a little bit.

Diamondhead released the song Am I Evil in 1980. Most people discovered this song when Metallica (Maybe you’ve heard of them) covered the song in 1984. The song, if you’ve never heard it, is quite the epic tune. Much like the titular character of the song, my mother was a witch. This song meant a lot to me.

So Jack did a KickStarter Campaign that, for reasons, didn’t get traction and failed. But, it saw life when he ran an Indiegogo campaign and it was a success!

The graphic novel is going to happen. It’s coming. I can’t wait. In the interim, Jack produced a novella of the story. Many Metallica and Diamondhead lyrics are sprinkled throughout as well as lyrics from the song that gave the story its name.

To be honest, there’s lots to work with in the song and Jack could have taken it in many different directions. He gave characters names, motivations, more than just revenge and destruction. I have moments where I thought the lyric dropping might get too much, but all in all Jack made it work. I wish I could like to this story for you to pick up a copy. It’s so much fun and Jack even left a little open to go back and add more stories later.

Honestly, I think Jack should do an anthology and invite other authors to write in this world he created (nudge nudge hint hint know what I mean).

Should this novella become publicly available or the graphic novel, I will make sure to bring it to your attention.

5th Book I read this year: Derelict: Trident – Paul E. Cooley

I’ve know Paul E. Cooley for….gosh, I don’t even know how long I’ve known him. I’m a horrible, horrible person.

At any rate, normally when I pick up a Cooley book, I devour the book instantly. Like, in the first day or two of picking it up. Then I’m anxiously waiting for the next book to arrive. I did that with the entire Black series, and with all the first 3 books in the Derelict series. Same with The Street, but you’re not going to find that book officially for sale any where and I’ve got my signed copy hidden away.

I even support Paul on Pateron where he publishes audio versions of his works and releases short fiction.

He’s quite prolific and you should follow him.

Oh, he’s also one of the longest running hosts on the Dead Robots Society. You should check him out over there as well.

All that said, book 4 of the Derelict Saga, Trident.

Lord, where to start.

I began reading this book the day I bought it. The put it down because life. I restarted it around Christmas with the intention of finishing it before the end of the year. Year, best time of the year to try and read a new book, right?

Finally, this week, I decided this was the book I was going to finish. It’s a doorstop of a book weighing in at nearly 600 pages. Like the Lord of the Rings, you think it’s ending….no, it’s still going. You get a tease of an ending…no, really, it’s still going. You want it to end, but you don’t want it to end.

As I stated early on, I’ve read all of Paul’s work before this one (and I’ve got another to read soon). I enjoy his work immensely.

This book was different. Paul can be very dark at times. Usually overtly so. Reading the end of this book and what Paul dealt with trying to get this book done, you’d never know. But Paul was in a dark place. Perhaps I should have noticed sooner. I’m sorry I didn’t.

Paul put into this book, what I feel, is some of his most intense, personal feelings into each characters and the hopelessness and despair they feel. Each character deals with it a little differently. Some get angry, others accept their fate, others try to hide from what’s coming.

Was the book intended to be a look into the mind of Cooley? I don’t think so. I don’t want to be the type to say “Paul made the curtains blue because he was depressed.” The curtains were effing blue, alright. But it’s difficult to look at the oncoming threat in this book and what Paul wrote at the end, and not make the connection. Intended or not, the oncoming darkness and powerful feelings each character went through was hard to read at times. It was unlike anything Paul had written before, but in the best possible way. Yes, this is definitely his voice and his words, but presented in a way he’d not done in previous works.

As I said at the start, every writer grows with each book they write. Every writer has ups and downs in their career. I’m glad Paul chose to add an afterward. I wish he didn’t go through what he went through. He did. He still wrote and finished this work. I poked him on twitter and he’s working on the next installment. As soon as it drops, I’ll be buying a copy. I will devour it instantly.

Why did I wait so long on getting into this book? It’s the 4th in a series. It’s a dark series. Many events take place to get to this point. At the start of the book, both times I began reading, it felt like a middle or transitional book in a series. Perhaps I felt I’d be left wanting in the worst possible way. Perhaps I’d feel like I was reading just to get to the next book with no hope of things ever wrapping up.

I was wrong.

All the links are at the beginning of this post. I can’t recommend Paul’s work strongly enough. He’s been a great author over the years. This book exceeded my expectations on what he’s capable of producing. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

When I got to the end, the void wept, and so did I.

4th book I read this year – Understanding Gamers

Well, it’s not a novel, but a graphic novel.

I’ve been a fan of Dork Tower for a long time. I’m pretty sure Wil Wheaton blogged about it about it at some point which is what brought it to my attention and I was hooked ever since. I could be wrong. I rarely remember where I discovered something.

At any rate, I bought a swag box during a sale at Dork Tower and this book came in the box. I wasn’t expecting it and it was an enjoyable surprise.

One day I need to review all those I support over on Patreon, of which Dork Tower and John Kovalic at one.

The book in question is from 2003 so unless you’ve been involved in geek culture for a LONG time, some of the moments will be missed. For me, it was like a trip down memory lane as I remember many of the events noted in the book and got a chuckle at how they were portrayed. Lots of fun to be had.

3rd book I read this year – How Not to Die

How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger will let you know right away…your mother was right. EAT YOUR VEGETABLES!

Being mostly vegan, it was still enlightening to read about how certain foods affect the human body. Eating a more vegan or vegetarian diet is good, but avoiding processed foods has a tremendous benefit to one’s health.

I won’t advocate eliminating meat from your diet. I get it. But if you consume a mostly meat and processed food diet, read this book, look at the studies, see the research. Replacing some will help, doing more will, obviously, do more.

2nd book of the year I read.

One of the many blogs I read is News From ME. The ME being Mark Evanier. If you like musicals, comics, comedy, magic, show biz, Mark has one of those memories from all those areas and shares stories all the time. He’s a writer of books, comics, TV shows, it’d ben difficult to collect all his credits in one location. One of his credits was being an assistant to Jack Kirby…yes, THAT Jack Kirby.

When he said this book was being published, I pre-ordered is right away. When Mark speaks about a project I listen. When he mentions one he’s involved with, I pay attention.

I’ve been a comic fan for as long as I can remember. Mark wrote many of those comics I read as a kid. Mostly funny animal comics. I still remember an issue of the Hair Bear Bunch where everything on the menu of the restaurant they were at had cole slaw, so the one who disliked cole slaw decided to get a gumball and instead, got cole slow from the machine. It’s weird to think about things like that.

At any rate, when Mark mentioned that he had an essay in the books, even though I’d read so much about Mark’s time with Jack Kirby, I wanted to get this book.

Yes, I’ve read Fantastic Four many times over the year. I had the version that came with a record and that helped me learn to read. I read reprints, digital editions, and broken up versions. I’ve seen this comic many times. But never like this.

The creators got a hold of an original Fantastic Four #1 in near mint condition and did high quality scans of the pages. They blew up each panel giving it a page of its own. The entire comic is in the back in its original size on the pages. Also included are essays, one being by Mark. It’s amazing to see the up-close detail in the panels and see the coloring and letting. Beyond that, the amazing art Kirby created when almost nothing like this existed. As Mark says in his essay, this book changed comics forever.

It’s true.

The Diabolic – A Review

Yes, I’m WAY behind on my TBR pile. I know this. I’m slowly working through it as I add many more to the stack. It happens.

To be upfront, I won this book in a contest that was run on when the book came out…gosh, 4 or 5 years ago. I loved the cover, knew nothing about the book. It sat on my shelf and if you’ve seen my YouTube videos, might have seen it on the shelf behind me. It wasn’t from lack of desire that I didn’t read it.

We recently took a trip to Florida and Georgia. Long flights back and forth. So, I chose to pick a book off the shelf to fill the time. Again, I knew /nothing/ about this book before diving in.

It was quite apparent after the first couple of chapters, it was a YA book. I almost stopped reading because I wasn’t in the mood for a YA book. But, it was the book I’d brought with and my phone wouldn’t last the entire journey. Therefore, I stuck with the book.

Now that I’m done with it, much like many other YA books of this type, I won’t continue with the series. This is a personal choice as I don’t find books of this type interesting.

All that said, this is a good book for the right audience. I’m not that audience. Yes, I finished the book. I did enjoy it for what it is even though little caught me by surprise. Again, I’m not the right audience for this book. For the right audience, YA, most likely YA females, this book will be right up their alley. I’d recommend it to My Favorite Daughter were she into Sci Fi.

SJ did a good job with building out the politics without being too deep. Good building out what a Diabolic is. There’s even good character building in this book. If you’re the type that loves books like The Hunger Games or even Maze Runner, this book will be something you’d enjoy. Pick it up, check it out. I’m glad to see there is more in the series.

As with any book, there is a fun typo (no book is immune). There’s a scene where someone is thrown into a pit and reaches back up to the main character. Reaches for her “food”. This was supposed to be foot and made me laugh out loud on the plane. 🙂

C3PO and Me

If you’ve watched any of my 5 a Day with Jay videos, you’ve seen I have framed pictures behind me that are often washed out due to the incoming light. One of the is a line art done by My Favorite Daughter of C3PO. Probably my favorite Star Wars character.

I associate with his paranoia and fear when faced with uncertain situations. His need to be protected. His vulnerability. His need to do the right thing in the face of all that.

I’m currently reading I Am C3PO by Anthony Daniels. Not only the voice of said character, but the man inside the suit. The only character to appear in all 9 of the main Star Wars movies.

I’m fascinated by what it took to create the suit, but also what it took to embody the character. This book gives many behind the scenes looks at what it took to make the movie, but also what it took to get into costume and character. Though I’m only halfway through the book, I only started reading it yesterday. Yeah, I’ll finish this one quickly. 🙂

I feel closer to this character more than ever.

Book Review: John Scalzi – Redshirts – Did I miss something?

Let me start with saying I’m not a John Scalzi basher. I read his blog and for the most part I enjoy what he posts. I read Old Man’s War a long time back and thought it was an okay book. Interesting concept. Adequately told. Just not really my cup of tea. Also keep in mind that I’m not the kind of person that likes bashing a book just for the sake of bashing a book, but because this one has so many great reviews, and awards, I have to wonder…Did I miss something?

I bought the RedShirts ebook thinking this is something new by him. It’s won awards. Been nominated for others. The thing that got me to actually finish this book was that the audio book version was read by Wil Wheaton. As I said, I like John for reasons other than his writing. Wil Wheaton could read the phone book and I would enjoy listening to him. His reading of Ready Player One was brilliant. I had downloaded the sample of chapters 1-4 and thought he really had something here.

Sadly, the only reason I finished this book at all was because of the narration. Wil did a fantastic job reading this book even though ‘said’ was probably the #1 word in the book. Enough that it was like nails in my brain every time I heard ‘said’ over and over and over again.

The writing was okay. The humor, well, if Wil hadn’t been reading it I think it would have fallen flat for me. I giggled at a couple points (sadly only in chapter 1 and 2), but there were no surprising, laugh out loud moments that, based on other reviews, I went in expecting. I mean, award-winning sci-fi here! Am I missing the entire point? It felt, to me, like bad fan fiction with better grammar and decent editing and an actual plot.

Honestly, the short stories after the main part of the book were better, but felt like bloated afterthoughts. Long rambles just to try and up the word count.

As I said, if it hadn’t been for Wil, I would never have finished this book. I’m sad it won awards when so many far better books lost out.

Was it a complete waste of time? No more than sitting and watching a home improvement show or a cooking show would be, and only slightly less entertaining. If I had only ever read Chapter 1, I think I would have loved this book. Everything that followed just kept going downhill at an accelerated rate.

I think Scalzi really wanted to write something that would resonate with Trek Fans, play up the tropes, and have fun. I’m sure he did, but overall it felt awkward, clumsy, and an effort I was not expecting from one of the top sci-fi writers out there in the world today. Like I said, I gave it a shot because I like John’s blog and I like what he stands for. Sadly, this book was a miss for me. Sorry John. I’m hopeful his next book will be a better effort.

Until Next Time!


Book Review: Kevin Pollak – How I Slept My Way to the Middle


I picked up this book because of two reasons. First I saw him on the Ellen show so I found out he had a book to begin with (don’t judge me for watching Ellen. She’s awesome).  Second because he did so well this year on the World Series of Poker and I saw his face many times. He was funny and I knew he was an actor, I just couldn’t place him. At least not until I read the book and had a lot of “That was him in that movie?” moments.

First off he’s a stand up comic and impressionist. That I was aware of because on the Word Series of Poker he did a lot of impressions. He’s a funny guy and made for entertaining television. I had to go back and watch some youtube clips and found a plethora of videos. Far more than I was expecting, but this guys been in the business for years so it shouldn’t have surprised me.

Then he starts to talk about a Few Good Men. HOLY CARP! That was him! Standing next to Demi Moore and Tom Cruise during all those court room scenes. Now I recognized him and all those scenes came back as he told story after story of being on the set.

Let me say right now, he tells a story and everything comes across as funny. Okay, almost everything. He’s never been a major star. He’s always been second banana. So if you’re thinking he’s the guy that went off and married a model or anything like that, well, no. What’s great is that he gives insight as to what’s it’s like to hang around some of these mega stars like Bruce Willis, Jack Nicolson, Tom Cruise, Steve Martin. His take on these people will give you more insight to these actors than any biography will as I’m sure they’ll exclude many things Kevin decided to keep in.

I thought it was funny, given the number of movies he’s been in, that he’s still just an average guy doing something he loves to do. It’s obvious he’s having fun and yet he still isn’t a mega star that’s hunted down by the paparazzi. He can go to get a burger anywhere he wants or play in the World Series of Poker and people aren’t clamoring all over each other to get to him.

There are a lot of moments in the book that hand me laughing out loud and the wife kept looking at my like I’d somehow lost my mind. If you like actors, movies, and a humorous behind the scenes look at what the big stars to and how the industry (on a minor level) works, then this book is loads of fun. If you’d like to read how one boy went from doing lip syncs to Bill Cosby records to being a minor movie star without ever being a star, check out his book. It’s filled with lots of good laughs.

Amazon | B&N