Tag Archives: bizzaro

ensoulment nick askew

Book Review: Ensoulment, by Nick Askew

I won an ebook copy of Nick Askew‘s Ensoulment through Goodreads.

ensoulment nick askew

Every being is infused with a soul upon their creation, but what would happen if a soul was split?

Running from his troubled past, Andrew arrives in LA, greeted by his loving boyfriend and headed for a night of celebration. When Jack gets down on one knee, the last thing either of them expects is Andrew’s sudden death, a tragedy that sets in motion a chain of events that will alter the fabric of reality itself.

As death thrusts him into a strange world full of outlandish and dangerous inhabitants, Andrew embarks upon a mission to reunite a princess with her long-lost prince. As familiar as it feels, he soon learns shadowy forces are working against him, and nothing in this land is as it appears. Andrew’s in a different kind of fairy tale, and he must seek out the other half of his soul if he ever hopes to find his way home again.

my review

Just yesterday I said I was going to make a concerted effort to be more tactful in my reviews, even negative ones. And here, the very first review I have to write after, I find I have very little positive to say, even when trying.

I’ll be honest. I found this immensely dissatisfying. It took almost a quarter of the book to even figure out what was going on (far too long) and, even then I often barely kept up with the erratic plot and perspective shifts. It was so dedicated to being Bizzaro that the plot itself suffered for it.

Then there is the writing. Some of it is just wrong in an editorial sense, like, “They were cold, tried and looking for any excuse…” But there are quite a lot of sentences that might or might not be wrong, but are just off, odd in a way that pulls you out to the story. Here are a few example.

“The ache in his heart, a pain he worked so hard to rid himself of, took bloom once again.”
—Do things take bloom? They take root, take flight. But do they take bloom…or just bloom?

“I left my wife in bed and crept down the hall to get a better listen.”
—You get a better look, does it work the same way for hearing?

“There was energy to his veracity, almost to the fact she wasn’t sure even he knew the reasons he did the things he did.”
—To the fact….or should it be to the degree?

“We were being precatious.”
—You have caution, you are cautious, you take precautions…Merrian Webber says precautious is a word, but man is it awkward in that sentence. Do we actually use it that way?

“He hoped repeating the name Lily would somehow convert the bird to find her…”
—Are we actually converting the bird—it’s possible in this odd book—or do we mean convince?

“As she attempted to lift her head, the dull pain retreated to sharp.”
—Does dull pain retreat to sharp, or should sharp retreat to dull?

You see what I mean, a lot of it is just a little…well, off. Which might be an authorial choice in a book so very dedicated to it’s own weirdness, but I rather think not. Then the whole thing ends with so little conclusion that I feel it better referred to as a fizzle than a bang.

All in all, I think the author had an interesting idea. The anthropomorphic animals were interesting. I liked Andrew to the degree I could, considering we get to know so little of him. But I’m not interested in reading more of this series.


The Influencer

Book Review: The Influencer, by Alex Grass

the influencer alex glassI won a copy of Alex GrassThe Influencer through Goodreads.

A Romanian sorcerer.
A nudist limo driver obsessed with Back to the Future.
A ten-foot-tall vigilante who mutilates their victims.

…and one old man who has been keeping a secret for half a century.

Out in the desert, a chasm opens that glows crimson below.
The possessed, cellphones drilled into their heads, run wild through the streets of New York.
And, a 24-hour MDMA-fueled dance party surrounding a site of ancient evil.

All this and more, in:


Standard ‘elitist’ attempt at erudition that just comes off as smug and self-important instead. It feels very much as if the author expected to throw out a lot of random, drug-fueled ideas and be called the newest Hunter S. Thompson. He takes pot shots at several groups of people, inferring ‘we’re’ smarter than they are and therefore they deserve their horrible fate.

I very much liked Yuma and her relationship with the men of the VFW. But she’s the only positive representation of women in the whole book. And I’ll note she’s very butch, so positively portrayed for enacting traditionally male traits, rather than for actually being female. The only other women of note are literally faceless and included solely for the sexual reward and gratification of a male character. (How very original. *eyeroll*)

The writing and editing are quite clean and the book is easily readable. There are a few stylistic decisions that readers will have to choose for themselves if they like, but they’re consistent throughout. But at 115 pages (the last bit being a preview of part II, though you’ll note that nowhere does this book say part I) this is ~1/3 of an actual story/book. Why do authors do this? It’s the true reason for my low rating. I understand breaking a 1500 page tome into parts for publication, but why a standard, probably 300ish page one? It left me with NO PAYOFF for having read it. No conclusion. Nothing significant learned? No significant desire for more, honestly. What’s the point of giving only the beginning?

Review of Revenge of the Bloodslinger (Jubal Van Zandt #1), by Eden Hudson

I won an e- copy of Eden Hudson‘s Revenge of the Bloodslinger.

Description from Goodreads:
Narcissist, sociopath, and shameless backstabber Jubal Van Zandt is the best damn thief in the history of the Revived Earth…and he won’t shut up about it.

But not everybody in the swampy, soggy, feudal future approves of Jubal’s vocation. The Guild—the religious fanatics who helped rebuild civilization after the collapse—in particular are waiting for their opportunity to slip the noose around his neck.

Which is why when the renowned Guild knight Carina Xiao—a.k.a. the Bloodslinger—contacts Jubal about an off-the-books job that violates Guild Law, he’s too intrigued to say no. He is the best damn thief in the history of the Revived Earth, after all.

Half bizarro ecopunk, half outworld thriller, half odd-couple roadtrip, Jubal Van Zandt & the Revenge of the Bloodslinger is a 150% futurepunk quest for blood and betrayal across the Revived Earth.

I enjoyed this a lot more than the cover suggested I would. Both the main character and his client, Carina, are serious anti-heroes. And while she has her faith, they are otherwise both sarcastic, irreverent and capable in their own fields. There is a lot to enjoy here. Not least of which is the interesting histories of both characters.

Plus, it’s never even suggested that Jubal might be neuro-atypical (by which I mean autistic in some manner) and maybe the author never meant him to be, just a narcissistic sociopath. But there were just so many small example of his behavior that made me think he must be—racing thoughts, occasional overwhelming need for movement, minor self-harm when confronted with emotions, a general lack of empathy or normal emotions, insomnia, germ phobia, food issues, inexactitude in measuring the passage of time, strict categorization of people, etc. I appreciated finding this in a character.

My main complaints are that it went overboard on occasion, ends very abruptly and I didn’t at all like the ending. I see what the author is doing with it, but it soured the book for me a bit. Be that as it may, I’d still read another one.