Category Archives: Fiction

The Butcher by Jennifer Hillier

Serial killing…it runs in the blood.

This review is hard to write as everything I start to say gives away part of the plot.

What I can say is that this is one of those books that I didn’t want to put down.  You’ve got a douchey annoying protagonist with a temper and a generally bad personality.  You’ve got Matt’s hunky best friend to add romantic interest with Matt’s girlfriend Sam.  Then you have one of the creepiest characters I’ve met in a long time and that would be Edward Shank, Matt’s grandfather.  It’s a great read that you will be sorry to see finish.

The Butcher was provided by Simon and Schuster on NetGalley for an unbiased review.


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Forty Acres by Dwayne Alexander Smith

Examination of reverse slavery in fictional modern day America.

Mr. Smith can write a good story.  The action is fast paced if sometimes a little implausible, i.e. almost everyone seems to be smoking hot which is OK for the fantasy factor in a book.  The basic story is Martin Grey, civil rights lawyer, beats notorious lawyer Damon Darrel in a hotly contested trial.

This sets up the book for Damon to befriend Martin and eventually initiate him into the manor at Forty Acres, a place of reverse slavery where black men are the masters and whites are the slaves.  This is a great setup that allows the book to progress.

Yes there are some inconsistencies but a little suspension of disbelief about how Martin is able to come out on top without being killed and you’ve got a great read.

The ending will make you realize you’ve forgotten to breathe for a few minutes.

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A Swollen Red Sun by Matthew McBride

Unrelenting, unapologetic violence set against a backdrop of rural meth and country justice.

A Swollen Red Sun details what happens when the law finds $50,000 in cash in a cat s*** filled litter box. This story is tightly written and incredibly well crafted. It also reminds one why you never, never, ever want to get caught up in a world where you are the hunter and the hunted.

Excellent sub-plots about maladjusted “love” put this at the top of my favorite summer reads for 2014.


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Full Contact: The Collection by Daniel Kucan

Daniel Kucan is a master story teller.  He has taken a violent world and filled it with poetry, nuance, and style.  The story follow’s Zach, a MMA champion, not only as he goes from place to place but also as he navigates the interior of your heart and haunts your psyche.  The stories are brutal and yet touching.  Cold and filled with heat.  Heartless and full of joy and love.  I laughed and at times I must have gotten a little dust in my eyes as I found them watering up.  I read this book over a month ago and I’m finding that I still think about it from time to time.  No matter what genre you usually read, I would highly recommend this book.

I received this book for an impartial review from the author.

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Full-Blood Half-Breed by Cleve Lamison

Maligned, rebel, fighting genius engages with the establishment for a one time smack down which ends up being the catalyst for all out war.

I received this book from NetGalley for an impartial review.

Wow, I hate to give a thumbs down on a book I received for free…BUT this one just didn’t do it for me. The initial promise of blended martial arts being used against the evil traditionalists was promising. Unfortunately it went down hill from there. The names of the characters and the various cults were contrived. The scenes and character building was shallow, relying more on telling than showing. The special power of what I started calling the “stoner look” which was used for mind control by the zealots was a little deus ex machina-ish. Those are the acceptable things. What I really didn’t like was that the characters often weren’t true to themselves…when they were they became very one dimensional. Some folk may like it – not me.


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Before My Eyes by Caroline Bock

Gun control or not to gun control?

When Barkley stops bathing, starts hearing voices, and buys a gun you can be pretty sure that the summer by the shore is going to be explosive.

When Matt, who’s senator father wants him to be a great kid, as long he’s able to campaign and not embarrass his politically power drunk mom, wants to buy prescription drugs from Barkley to get him through a soccer injury, you can guess this summer is shot.

When Claire’s mom has a stroke and her father becomes physically and emotionally unavailable, Claire has to assume responsibility for the household and her sister.   Claire starts getting email from an online stranger who “LOVES” her poetry blog.  She’s so excited to meet him face-to-face, but you guessed it, this summer is going to end with a bang.

It all culminates in an angsty teen drama that will keep you tapping your thumb on your Kindle for just one more page.

The characters are well drawn and the interactions between them are dead on.

I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley with no provision for a good or bad review.

Simultaneously published on Goodreads

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January 19, 2014 · 12:50 pm

The Missing Ink by Philip Hensher

Nerd alert.  Unless you are into handwriting, typography, and fountain pens you probably aren’t going to enjoy this book.  Fortunately for me I’m enamored of all three.  Like most people I hate my handwriting.  It’s crabbed, and even when I remark to myself that ah… that’s a nicely turned capital K…when I go back to read it later.  I can’t.

This book feels your pain and embarrassment in a soothing sort of way. While it was a little rambling and often went down odd little paths.  SHINY. If you can bear this (which I can) then you will enjoy Mr. Hensher’s book.

Shout out to Chapter 28 – My Italic Nightmare wherein the author goes on a search for a pen with an italic nib.  He searches all over the boroughs and ends up with the same type of pen, a Lamy, that he already owns…but the journey is filled with adventure.

Again you probably need to have “super geek” powers to enjoy this.  You know who you are…

Top Hat Reviews

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