RECENT REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS



  • Bald New World
    Peter Tieryas Liu
    Perhaps a century in the future, all humans suddenly go bald, putting wig factory owners like filmmaker and womanizer Larry Chao in the spotlight. Larry’s best friend, cameraman Nicholas Guan, fights for his own identity in this thought-provoking story where fakery is preferred over the real. Liu (Dr. 2) crafts a vivid, imaginative setting with lush descriptive phrases: “Beijing had become a city of vapors, a metropolis of neon calligraphy... Store names floated in mid-air, Mandarin phrases wandered the alleys like unforgiven spirits, and a sentence cried for redemption, crucified in mist.” What begins as a broad farce with spy girls and gadgets gradually becomes a serious commentary on the nature of self. Nick struggles against those who would reform, use, or manipulate him, trying to find himself in a world strewn with literal false faces. Gorgeous language choices combine with Nick’s philosophical journey of personal discovery to create a deceptively deep story. ~ Best Summer Books 2014, Publishers Weekly - http://best-books.publishersweekly.com/pw/best-books/summer-reads-2014/sf-fantasy-horror#book/book-6



  • Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth
    Andrez Bergen
    "I was totally blown away... his best tale to date." ~ Shawn Vogt , Weird and Wonderful Reads



  • Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth
    Andrez Bergen
    I recently finished reading 'Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth', Andrez Bergen's soon to be published new novel.

    Words really can't describe how much I am impressed by his latest effort. Suffice it to say, I was totally blown away. While containing many of his usual themes, he really takes his storytelling to new levels. Anyone who has visited this page knows what a big supporter I am of Andrez, and this, in my opinion, is his best tale to date. Here's a short synopsis, followed by some thoughts.

    In DCIPG, we are introduced to Mina, a sixteen year old (soon to be seventeen) schoolgirl. Also along for the ride are her small circle of friends, and Animeid, her invisible friend (Yes, you read correctly. Anim also happens to be a bird woman.) Recently having lost her mother (which her friends are unaware of), she's bothered by her lack of emotion. As she trudges through her life, it becomes more apparent that she is a bit of a mystery, especially to herself. So she sets out to find out who she really is, helped along by Anim and Angelika, the new girl at her school. Along the way she visits the Depth Charging Planet Goth, finds love, seeks to find out who Anim really is, and sorts one of her tormentors. Oh yeah, and uncovers a murder mystery.

    I'll start out by saying that I invested a lot, emotionally, into this story.

    A great number of the happenings within I have some amount of experience with. Moreover, I deeply cared about Mina and her well being, due to Andrez portraying her in such a realistic light (Also, she has excellent taste in movies, music, and is a talented hack-writer. Reminds me of someone I know. Her journey to find her place in the world (and later, to find a world where she has a place) is something we have all gone through, to one extent or another. She learns to face her abusers, and stand up for herself, becoming a more complete person. That's the crux of this story. Despite some of the fantastical goings-on, Mina could be you, or me, or all of us. I challenge you to read this and not feel any emotion for her and her struggles. The writing and characterizations overflow with life, and the mystery holds up; I definitely didn't see the ending coming. An excellent tale of the unreality of reality, and how to survive in such environs, and thrive.

    To close, I'd like to say that this is one of the best stories I've read in quite some time, hands down.

    Andrez has really outdone himself on this one. Is this book for everyone? That's not for me to say, but I definitely think it SHOULD be! Gripping, engrossing, can't put down, what have you. It contains a little bit of everything, just like real life. You should get your hands on it and find out for yourself. Head over to the publisher's site, Perfect Edge Books and find out more about this excellent release (it will be out July 25, 2014). ~ Shawn Vogt , Weird and Wonderful Reads



  • Remember to Forget
    Jonny Gibbings
    Gibbings reinvents himself in this quick read. While exploring new grounds, he shows us that life is fragile, love is deep, and stories are told to teach the reader something. It may be titled "Remember to Forget" but this one will stick with you for days. So happy I got to read this! ~ Jason Donnaly, Goodreads



  • Remember to Forget
    Jonny Gibbings
    For a guy who tends to stay within the realm of dark humor, this was a surprising read from Jonny. It's quick and to the point, making you think of all the things you can let go of to improve your life. The premise of the book I believe is something many people have thought up, but Jonny expands on the idea leaving it stained in your mind.

    If we could actively pretend to have forgotten the horrors of our lives and those we inflicted on others, who would we be? ~ Larrimore Black, Goodreads



  • Remember to Forget
    Jonny Gibbings
    From the writer of Malice in Blunderland comes this unexpectedly heart-warming novella about a husband and father winning back the love of his family. It’s very well written, well paced and just like his first novel could easily be turned into a film. However, while Malice in Blunderland would be an edgy satirical flick, Remember to Forget reminds me of one of those afternoon made for TV movies that pulls on the strings of your more sensitive emotions, of love and happiness and what the really important things in life are. A guilty pleasure, you’re unable to switch over and are welling up by the end of it. I thought this novel made a beautiful statement about the gifts that family and partnerships have to offer and Gibbings should be extremely proud of what he has achieved. But I also missed the hedonistic laugh out loud storylines from his first novel and the angry political righteousness of his blog. The versatility of Gibbing’s writing nevertheless suggests that there is plenty more to come, and that he is an author to watch out for. Five stars ~ Chris Morten, Goodreads



  • Remember to Forget
    Jonny Gibbings
    Well, just wow. Having been one of the first to have read his first book 'Malice in Blunderland' I was very lucky to have been offered a chance to read Gibbings new book before published. Gibbings had me laugh till I cried, this time Gibbings had me crying my heart out. What a beautiful, emotional and amazingly wonderfully crafted little book it is. The story takes you from the bedside of Richard in a coma, able to hear his family in tatters. Helped by what I think is one of the darkest and best incarnations of what an angel could be, they set about trying to repair his family. Death, love, loss and how we lose sight of what is important. This is truly a beautiful, uplifting and touching book.
    I think this novella will cast Gibbings in the realms of the talent he deserves, this is one skillfully and lyrically written book.

    "The heaviness of the small, empty word worried little about his armour, overwhelmingly crushing him as it fell from his daughter’s lips. He was a vessel, his family his cargo that he selfishly sailed into oceans of isolation and regret only to foolishly run aground. His family now waited on the shore for him to sink from view so they could profit from what flotsam and jetsam would wash ashore. He wanted to open his eyes and look upon his wife. She was the star he once navigated by. He wasn’t foolish, he knew just as all stars, what he saw and what is, were not the same. The distance between him and his star so vast that the love that once shone so bright died so very long ago. Even if he were able to open his eyes they were taped down to protect them from drying out. Not something he
    needed to fear now. Two tiny globes of tear formed in the cusp of each eye."

    If you are a mother, father, been through good and bad times,have strained relationships, this book will touch you quite deeply ~ Wesley Clarke, Goodreads



  • Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth
    Andrez Bergen
    "Surprisingly up my alley, at least half-way through when the story takes that substantial turn into the crime/mystery arena. A very solid tale, meaningful and entertaining." ~ Phillip Calvert, The Crime Solution



  • Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?
    Andrez Bergen
    "Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? combines hard-boiled of the superhero variety in a wonderfully unique and entertaining novel."
    ~ Dan Allan, Aurealis Magazine



  • 100 Years of Vicissitude
    Andrez Bergen
    "Clearly the kind of book that’s bound to win prizes... Fantastically researched, captivatingly written, this is a full four out of four that I would read again, recommend to everyone, and be happy to see in its rightful place among bestsellers." ~ , OnlineBookClub.org



  • 100 Years of Vicissitude
    Andrez Bergen
    When I started reading One Hundred Years of Vicissitude, it was strangely reminiscent of a Salman Rushdie novel — whirlwind of disjointed narrative, an oddly clever writing style and clearly the kind of book that’s bound to win prizes — but frustratingly not hold my attention.

    The story begins with an interesting premise: a man who has just been shot, walking through his after-life, trying to make sense of his new surroundings, but babbling on in an incoherent monologue consisting of too many disparate film, book and mythological references for me to get an idea of where the story is going.

    And then, in chapter two the narrator meets Kohana, a former geisha also existing on the same existential plane as him, and by chapter three — I couldn't put the book down.

    Kohana is able to share with the man, a former Australian business tycoon called Wolram E. Deaps, the story of her life, and is somehow able to do this by changing the imagery around them, so they can walk through and interact with her memories. The novel is spliced like a film — jumping and cutting between narrative; never lingering too long on any one scene — and moves along at an interesting pace that keeps you turning pages, wanting to know answers to the questions that spring up along the way.

    The imagery is vivid, yet not overly indulged, and usually changes with every chapter; and the characters become real and turn into people you start to care about. Most of the story is set in the backdrop of Japan during World War Two, and is filled with amazingly detailed historical tidbits that tie in to the story’s context nicely. Every emotion and scene is subtle and described just enough; you never feel as a reader that you’re being yanked into an emotion, and yet you end up really emotionally invested in the story’s trajectory and outcome.

    The only negative points about the book occur in the first few pages, and are only occasionally peppered throughout — which are several references to characters or plot-lines from books and films that are not always explained fully. If, as a reader, you have never seen the film or read the book referenced, you feel left out of an inside joke. But this also, in a strange way, adds another interesting dimension to the novel, which itself feels like a running film reel.

    It’s a fascinating read, and I was very surprised after the first few challenging pages to be completely drawn into the story. I didn’t want to do anything else but keep reading. Fantastically researched, captivatingly written, this is a full four out of four that I would read again, recommend to everyone, and be happy to see in its rightful place among bestsellers.

    I rate the book 4 out of 4 stars.
    ~ , OnlineBookClub.org



  • Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth
    Andrez Bergen
    "My new favorite Bergen novel... The Catcher in the Rye from a female perspective? So many great things to say about this book. Definitely for book lovers looking for a new style of literature to soak in." ~ Jazmyn Mares, Goodreads



  • Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth
    Andrez Bergen
    My new favorite Bergen novel. It was quite a surprise at the change of voice and tone of storytelling. Reminded me of The Secret History mashed up with Ghost World if it took place in the 80's. Not as surreal as his previous novels but still filled with his signature quips and loaded with references.

    What I loved about this novel was the surprise on each new page as I would continue to read.

    A fresh take on a coming-of-age novel. The Catcher in the Rye from a female perspective... so many great things to say about this book. Definitely for book lovers looking for a new style of literature to soak in. ~ Jazmyn Mares, Goodreads



  • Condimental Op, The
    Andrez Bergen
    "Simply sprawling in nature — overall, an excellent collection, which I would highly recommend." ~ , Weird and Wonderful Reads



  • Condimental Op, The
    Andrez Bergen
    "Fans of Bergen's novels Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat and One Hundred Years of Vicissitude will enjoy this anthology of his shorter and more obscure work, but The Condimental Op is also a good starting point for newcomers. Sample a blend of noir, fantasy, alternate history, dystopia, non-fiction; if one style does not suit your taste — another will." ~ , Aurealis Magazine



  • Twilight of the Wolves
    edward j rathke
    As soon as Twilight of the Wolves begins, you know it’s music. Music made by the hands digging deep into the underground, into determined earth-dirtying of the senses. The symmetry of notes makes this crystalline, each clause engineered into mantra-like potential. “And then he fell away, his life drifted away, the vision inside him, growing, rebuilding, creating newness, wholeness out of neverness. The song, nothing but the song, and Her eyes, ephemeral and purple, galactic dust swallowing him, and he swam in that twilit world of nothings and nowheres until it thickened, viscous, and filled him again.”

    As the book says: “Humanity is murdering itself but it is murdering the planet, too. Burning and laying every- thing to waste, to ash and cinder and smoke. Even the wolves die and hide.” Here, the integration of that pungent truth with beauty is found by looking straight at Death. This is a dopamine-creating book for those who love language and cerebral stimulation exploring realms of ineffable reality-music. Twilight of the Wolves is a little somepn’ somepn’ for your euphoria and redemption-of-humanity needs. You can re-read any random spot for renewed joy because it’s not just there to get across a plot: each sentence juxtaposes surprising, pleasing word combinations that live full-on, avoiding anything resembling cliche or default language. The confidently consistent unique voice makes the breath get bigger, the visual field brighter.

    The landscape is darkly transcendent paranormal, under a redsun and a bluesun, commanding our suspension of disbelief. Gradual revelations of the fluid and complex nature of the characters’ identity propel the story-line. The floating philosophical nature of the world Rathke creates is resembles Kyle Muntz’ Sunshine in the Valley cast in moonlight.

    Sometimes concrete details are replaced with abstract reportage from a voice without human characteristics about a world consisting of things archetypal enough to be labeled with capitals. Skating over that thin ice is my least favorite part of exploring the filigree wonderland.

    The rhythms rocks us through the magical brain-chemistry doorway into the world of meaningful esoteric, geometrical concepts. “All was black and She was Light. They were shadows and she was the sun. Singular. They were Death and she was Life. She was their center standing on the stone altar and they surrounded Her in concentric circles emanating out towards the periphery.”

    The Goddess emerges from nothing eternally, pulsing death out into the illusion of life. Deathwalkers silently record history and take the dead into it, many of the citizens having been burned by marauding soldiers. In some regions, denizens dominate the lushly giving forest and turn it into artificial grids, hunt the sacred wolves, transforming the world into something mechanically in this world that’s ruthless toward the vulnerable.

    Countering that, the wandering Sao nurses a wolf who speaks to him, and curses him, people can enter into Angels, and children open holes in space-time. The adventures take us new poetic places: “It’s as if I stepped into the dream at the very center of my reality and let it go.” Dragons and Arcanes move through the fantasy with literary depth rather than genre predictability. A dying god blesses a man, but is it really more of a curse?

    One wolf scene opened my heart and then shocked it to bits. We get to care deeply about all manner of non-human characters in this poignant novel by Edward Rathke. The invented world is complex, worthy of exploration, not the usual categories of creatures inhabiting it. You can read more about it at http://edwardjrathke.com/novels/twilight-of-the-wolves/. ~ Tantra Bensko, MFA, http://www.speakwithoutinterruption.com/site/2014/03/review-of-edward-j-rathkes-twilight-of-the-wolves/



  • Condimental Op, The
    Andrez Bergen
    I'll start out by saying that The Condimental Op, by Andrez Bergen, is simply sprawling in nature.

    Included within are both fiction and non-fiction; short stories and graphic adaptations, plus alternate and reworked takes on some past fiction. It's got some great art, definitely including the cover. It comes to us courtesy of Andrez's daughter Cocoa, which shows that talent runs in the family. I'll be reviewing this in sections, and concentrating on my favorites, due to the large amount of material contained in this collection.

    So, on to part one.

    The first section of the collection mainly contains stand alone short stories. The forewords by Andrez are worth the price of admission alone. That said, I'd recommend reading the stories first, and then coming back to the forewords. That way you get to have a fresh view of the stories. It's up to you, though. 'Sugar and Spice' tells the tale of two teenage delinquents planning a heist... of a comic book store. Needless to say, all does not go as planned. It may just be me, but I find the proceedings darkly humorous. I can't get the thought of the heist from Reservoir Dogs, via the comic shop from The Simpsons out of my head. Ha! I apologize. Very good story. Moving on, 'Victor Victoria' is my favorite from this section. An action-packed tale of aerial combat in WWI, it reminds me of the Biggles series by W.E. Johns. With a certain sly humor throughout, it definitely entertains. Plus, the ending is hilarious. Rounding out my trio of favorite tales, we have 'A Woman of Sense'. A tale of a female mercenary hired by a petty lord to be his bodyguard... at least that's what he says. Things go a bit off track from the jump, and a bit of carnage ensues. Once again, it;s the humor that really wins me over. Apparently Andrez had a bit of trouble getting this published, which really boggles my mind. Very nice. While these are my three favorites, all the stories in this section are worth reading, and highly recommended.

    The next section contains four stories dealing with the adventures of Roy Scherer and Suzie Miller. Partners in the detective agency of Scherer and Miller, Investigators of the Paranormal and Supermundane, they certainly live up to the agency's title. Through the course of the stories they deal with a zombie (but not really a zombie), a vampire, and a possessed typewriter. The fourth story is a bit longer, and doesn't feature Suzie. It's a prequel, with a much younger and less acerbic Roy, stumbling onto what will be his first case. While a bit hard to pick favorites, if pushed, I'll have to go with 'Lazarus Slept' and 'Revert to Type'. In 'Lazarus' our heroes investigate a possible case of a zombie running amok. Although things aren't quite kosher with the whole zombie identification, Roy's rather blunt approach handles business rather nicely. Things are a bit more complicated with 'Revert to Type'. Called on by a client who claims to have a possessed typewriter, Roy quickly classes the guy as a total nutter. Proved wrong, Roy's usual straight-ahead way of operating blows up in his face. This is really Suzie's moment to shine, and is a total joy. Really great. Half the fun in these tales are watching Roy go about business; the other half is Suzie annoying the hell out of him. Has a whole lot of "laugh out loud" moments throughout the various stories. I'm a big fan of the characters, and hopefully we will see more of them in the future.

    The third section revisits the dystopian world of Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat. Sci-fi filtered through the darkest noir, I'd highly recommend picking it up. The duo of Floyd Maquina and Laurel Canyon are feautured in the first two stories, 'Come Out Swinging' and 'Dread Fellow Churls'. Both stories revolve around a rescue attempt, although the latter is pulled off a bit more smoothly. 'Neck-Tied' features a fellow Seeker (a combination of detective/tracker, Floyd being one as well) in a rather desperate situation. 'In-Dreamed' is a story of Floyd's supposedly dead wife, Veronica; she is apparently alive, after all. The ending is a nice twist. She also features (In my mind, at least. Andrez leaves it up to the reader.) in my favorite of two graphic adaptations included in this section, 'Waiting For Sod All'. As I really enjoyed TSMG, these continuations and off-shoots are greatly appreciated, including the ones not mentioned. All in all, gritty, dark, and shot through with a touch of gallows humor. Really, what's not to like?

    The final section, fittingly entitled 'Ransacking the Archive', brings together a variety of materiel, most of it non-fiction articles. Starting out with a number of prose selections written in 1989, it moves through critiques of food, film, music, and culture. Setting down an account of the weeks leading up to the birth of his daughter, Cocoa, is the most personal of these entries. This may or may-not be your cup of tea, but I found them fascinating. Very glad they were included, since I believe they give a bit of insight on the events that helped shape the author's works. Plus, I just like reading reviews.

    Well, there it is. Overall, an excellent collection, which I would highly recommend. Goes without saying that the forewords and acknowledgements are required reading, as well. Here's where you can pick up a copy. If you'd like to know a bit more about the author, pop over to Andrez's blog. ~ Shawn Michael Vogt, Weird and Wonderful Reads



  • Good Sex, Great Prayers
    Brandon Tietz
    The title and cover art of Brandon Tietz’s latest novel are attention grabbers, but the book extends far beyond the erotic streak that runs through it. Tietz’s writing has matured immensely since his début novel Out Of Touch. Good Sex, Great Prayers is a long work that echoes the style of early Stephen King: detail oriented rambling, high level of characterization, small town politics, and high stakes horror. Some very memorable characters were born out of this book that will always stick with me: Billy Burke, the truck-stop preacher that could easily be found in the ranks of a more radical Westboro Baptist Church and another character with many different names that could be the love child of Patrick Bateman and James Bond.

    Paranoia, high tension, steady pacing, twists and turns–this book whet my appetite with this foundation, but blew me away with the originality and strong writing.

    The author didn’t skimp on his research either. Religion and sex do meet in this book, but not in the way you would expect. The sex is far from pleasant, and so were most of the religious sexual rituals described in some of the chapters. The sex scenes cross in to horror territory.

    In my opinion, this is the author’s shining achievement. I’m excited to see what he will do with his next novel because it will take a lot to top Good Sex, Great Prayers. Since Brandon Tietz is constantly working out his writing muscles, pumping his prose full of steroids, I have faith that he won’t disappoint. ~ Revolt Daily



  • Good Sex, Great Prayers
    Brandon Tietz
    Knowing the author as I do, I expected an irreverent romp in the vein of Jesus Angel Garcia’s Badbadbad, perhaps lampooning religion while vacuous sluts violated Commandments under the auspices of some misguided preacher. Instead, the story (though not the writing) is closer to Chuck Wendig territory, with supernatural elements that took me by surprise—which isn’t a spoiler. It’s a “rural fantasy” with a high body—er, bodily fluid count, and the mature evolution I’d hoped for Tietz. A major leap in that regard, really. Its faith and religious elements are treated respectfully, just like in the characters who embody them. If you liked Tietz’s previous work, odds are good you’ll dig this, too, and even if you didn’t, GSGP offers a clean slate. While the voice of the interspersed sermons from its truck-stop preacher will ring familiar to you, the main story I would not have even recognized as being by the same author. It’s mostly written in very straightforward language that I think would appeal to a mass audience. Pun unintended. As always, his characters are distinct and colorful, enhanced by the small town they inhabit and its collective personality. A fickle flock, prone to gossip and groupthink. Just like readers. Give the guy a chance, for Christ’s sake. ~ Gordon Highland, author of Submission Windows



  • Good Sex, Great Prayers
    Brandon Tietz
    With Good Sex, Great Prayers, Brandon Tietz reveals the danger in believing in things you can never fully understand. The title is a dare, a provocation, a promise—and Tietz delivers with a visceral, faith-based attack that takes your senses and sexuality to the limit. Despite all the intertwined fireworks, the core story is a classic Stephen King setup, as a small town struggles with evil and a normal man has to come to grips with impossible circumstances in order to confront them, resulting in a memorable and unexpected climax (the literary kind, though there’s plenty of the dirty kind throughout). Reading this book cost me 1.2 million ‘Our Fathers’. . . and it was worth it. ~ Fred Venturini, author of The Heart Does Not Grow Back