Mini Review: Dear Lover, by Lori Jenessa Nelson (ADVANCED READER’S COPY)

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Pages: 124
Genre: Poetry
Format: E-book
Self-published
This was received for an honest review

This is a poetry book that I never knew existed. There’s a lot of poetry that goes unrecognized because it wasn’t published by a “big four” publisher or a famous small press like Wave Books or something. This is the problem with poetry, it barely exists on mainstream platforms, at least from what I see, and it only succeeds if the author somehow gets their debut to insanity amounts of hype. 

I like this, I don’t love it to the ultimate max because I’m not that much into romantic poetry, but I think it’s great for its genre in general. Much like Decaf by Naveed Khan. This is poetry written for that place in your heart and for those who are always in love and falling in love, people who love the feeling of romance and its grit. 

And you can definitely feel the heat in this one and the flow of it is similar to hip-hop ( or slam poetry) and it is molded into the traditional folds of poetic forms such as the pantoum and villanelle. But at the same time it leaks out of the mold and forms a life on its own. It doesn’t adhere to the strict rules of those poetry forms. 

At first, based on the cover, I thought that it would be catered to the young adult audience, with the composition notebook look. But the inside, completely contradicts this sweet cover. On the inside is a series of letters ranging in happy I-love-yous to exhausted and frustrated I-love-yous. Unlike most romantic poetry, it focuses on the bad and good, it focuses on the awe of relationships to the muttering angry F yous to the lover to the completely breathless leave me alone. 

Rating: 4.5/5



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Mira Corpora by Jeff Jackson

Mira Corpora

Pages: 182
Genre: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Literary Fiction
Format: Paperback
Published by Two Dollar Radio

This book received a lot of well-deserved hype in the small press world. Sadly, I will probably not see this in Barnes N’ Nobles or Book Outlet. I also won’t write a good enough review for it either. No sympathy tears, I just finished this awhile ago, and when that happens it’s hard to get words for it. You can also blame summer laziness in my tardiness of getting stuff down. But I don’t think I will be forgetting this book anytime soon. I guess like I did with MW, I will be doing a listicle review. I will admit that it took me awhile to get into the first part of the book, but as soon the narrator escapes into a reality, I was absorbed into it.

1. It starts off like a journal where he opens up this new world in which he apparently never leaves until he “grows up.”

2. This is the dysfunctional YA I’ve been waiting for. Yes, that sounds a little sick, but let me explain. This book took place for most of the main character’s young life and ends at an age that is towards the end of the young adult phase of life. It’s rough, but not sugar coated, it’s bleak, and it never stops to coddle the reader. It’s quite brutal and deviant much like the punk rock movie poster cover. It’s terrifying.

3. What makes it more harrowing is that this book is so unforgiving and yet it’s so magical. I’ve never read Chronicles of Narnia because I am a peasant, but the prose in this book totally clashes with the horrific stuff the narrator goes through. It has a dreamy, innocent quality, you can’t really tell what’s real or not since for most the book, the narrator was a child for most of the novel. And yes, 20 years old is, according to older people, a kid still. 

4.  The book’s cinematic prose reminds me of how the author is a playwright and you can definitely tell that that carries on as an influence in his writing. In it’s exact but not so heavy use of imagery that seems to flow right with the story, no info dumps of description, and the characters feel real, the narrator is whispering in your head, as he faces nightmares of temporarily leave an unaccepting civilization, only to come back, and die a little inside.

5. As expected, there’s no happy ending, but instead a closure to what is supposed to be left behind, not finished, but wanting to be over with it.

Rating: 5/5


MW by Osamu Tezuka



Pages: 584
Genre: Graphic novels (Manga), Science Fiction
Format: Paperback
Published by Vertical

Honestly, who hasn’t talked about this? Any avid comic reader, especially the ones that pay attention to the  older stuff or the rare stuff, know who Osamu Tezuka is. Need a refresher? Just look up Astro Boy, which is possibly his most internationally known manga, more known for the anime. It’s pretty darn old, my mom saw the show as a kid in it’s original black and white television form. So here’s a listicle review instead:

All of the Hearts:


– The beautiful artwork. Lots of lines and detail, every little line in the buildings and the clouds and the skies. The good old looks.


– “Fate is a strange thing.”

– “Embrace me, Father. For I have sinned.”

– An anti-hero character.

– Isn’t a horror manga, but it’s pretty thrilling and hard to put down.

– A little comedic to me because the anti-hero is so careless in whoever he hurts and he’s just pretty wild.

– For it’s time, it’s pretty deviant, not deviant anymore because time has changed a bit. 

– There’s a devil and a flawed angel duo. (the two main characters.)

– Science fiction, warfare stuff. A commentary on war and nuclear power. The main character is kind of like that “revenge for the past,” type of message. 

– But despite that Tezuka has had political manga in the past. I often wonder if he made this for a message or a social commentary or just entertainment. Because the ending kind of blurred everything.

All of the No:

– The ending was disappointing slightly. “THE EVIL WILL ALWAYS PREVAIL!”

– It made me sad that the priest went “poof.”

– I wish Tezuka showed us more of the brother’s side of the story. The good twin.

– The women in this story are weird. They are very easily controlled. Is that really how potent the pure evil of the main character is? 

– His portrayal of gay men is typical. Maybe it’s the time period of when it was published.

– The evil main character is very hypersexualized. He has sex with everyone. Which makes me question  if he was also  a victim of bisexual erasure because people call him gay, but he seems to like women too? (Am I mistaken here?)

Rating: 4.5/5


The Shortest Review I Have Done In A While: Drifter Volume 1: Out of the Night by Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein (ADVANCED READER’S COPY)

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Pages: 128
Genre: Science Fiction, Graphic Novels
Format: E-book
Published by Image Comics
This was received from Netgalley for an honest opinion

Either Image Comics provides most of the graphic novels on Netgalley or I’m just a religious follower of Image Comics and I don’t even realize it. 

I can’t say much for this. I’m into Saga but not this one. The cover is immaculate. The artwork is pretty decent and the usual for the genre. The inking and coloring inside are very appealing to the eyes, especially the blues and reds. 

The plot however, didn’t interest me much. I had no idea what was happening in the beginning  and then eventually I lost interest. It’s your typical mysterious hero with little memory, or in this case, the storyteller takes forever to reveal things about the past in order to make the character mysterious and as if he forgot everything. There’s conflicts and the main character is exploring this world he crashed into and he’s just like “Whoah,” as the friends he makes, that found him and nursed him, fight off some monsters and dudes. Then there’s this guy who’s doing some nefarious stuff. And honestly I skimmed through most of this and don’t remember anything. Lots of sand, aliens. Borderlands stuff.

There were flavourful coloring and good looks. But the plot just didn’t get me in the first 30 pages. So this was just a forgettable sci-fi volume. Maybe I should I pick it up again if I see it in a library because it looks like it might be a hit. Maybe, I will give it another try some other day.

Rating: 2/5

Saxual Healing by Billy Medicine, Edited by Leo X. Robertson (ADVANCED READER’S COPY)

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Pages: 244
Genre: Satire, LGBTQIA
Format: E-book
Published by Cardboard Wall Empire
This given by the author for an honest review

This novel. I’m worried about your mind, Mr. Writer. Just kidding. I don’t have much to say, I feel because this was just so frighteningly odd. Not odd, as in surrealism, but it’s blunt in its portrayal in violence and mental dysfunction. What popped out the most in this novel was the writing style for sure. It brought back memories of the first Kindle book I’ve ever read on my Kindle, a book called Winterwood by Patrick McCabe. McCabe is most famous for his novels, Breakfast on Pluto and The Butcher Boy. Winterwood has very mixed reviews, I did not like it. It was written in a stream of consciousness, non-linear format that just sounded like the narrator was just blabbing away about the past and the present with little warning of change in tense. By the time you get used to the book it gets stale and then you feel like you’re reading the same thing over and over again, but that could’ve been because I didn’t know how to work a Kindle and I kept going back by accident. But he really did repeat the same thing over again, the same scenario with a bit of difference as if recollecting and correcting the past to his satisfaction. 

So why am I talking about this McCabe novel? Saxual Healing is one of those twisted individual stories. A meta-fiction journal written by a guy named Billy who is a super horny teenager that gets fixated on a guy named Leo. This is supposed to be one of those non-fiction books that aren’t actually fiction, Leo, the editor, once in awhile pops up to censor or fix something Billy says, because Billy isn’t right in the head. Unlike the narrator of Winterwood  I don’t think Billy has ever gone through anything traumatic except the fact that people ignore him because he’s creepy. It’s half anti-coming of age and half satire. Surreal in a sense where the main character is so unbelievably inhumane in the way he treats others, including his own parents. But I guess that’s where the satire comes in, because it’s almost like a slapstick humor, except, I don’t know, I don’t really understand satire, but yet I do read a lot of black humor. 

You can’t feel sorry for Billy, you really can’t. Even when he does show a tad bit of humanity for his one true boyfriend, that he doesn’t obsess over as much as Leo, but still seems to love. He’s still repulsive as hell, and the ending. That ending was just… a bizarro novel, has Leo read any books in that genre? Because this book was so absurd and repulsive it was much like a bizarro novel, a very light one because bizarro usually brings in a magical realist approach. To the point where it was actually kind of hilarious. (I really hope this review doesn’t sound negative, it’s not negative.) 

What made the surrealist feel in the novel, was the narrator’s ramblings of jazz music. The music is his turn on, his euphemism for anything that a kid his age would be scolded for thinking about. Sax music became the new innuedo. Although, his parents already knew already. In a sense he does live a traumatic life because they barely pay attention to him and when they do, he rejects them. I can say that Billy is very misunderstood, yet it’s hard to sympathesize with him, due to his arrogance and self-entitlement to the bodies of others. He’s a strange guy that is desperate for affection to the point of forcing to vomit it out for him.

I was honestly thinking he was going to control the world with his saxophone and make people do his bidding, instead it took a dark turn and I will never see saxophones the same again. Just kidding. This book was filled with sax and some bloody violence with a  twisted mind reminiscent of McCabe’s work. At least to me, the vibe I got. So if you’re into metafiction weirdness and having your mind split in half with deviance. Then this is the place to go.

Rating: 4.5/5

Interview with Stephen Moles

I said that I was going to post it with the book review, but I yapped on there so much, that I thought the blog post would be too long. So now I post the interview, which I enjoyed reading very much. Thank you, Stephen Moles.

1. What do you think is the best in the process of writing? Just going through with it, slamming keys, getting everything down, or reading and editing?
It’s rare that I write even a single sentence without redrafting it at least once, so I progress very slowly and then go back for more redrafting once the manuscript is complete. I’m definitely not a key slammer.
 
2. Who is your writer crush?
I’m polyamorous (in a literary sense), so I have many ongoing writer crushes, but the most intense is probably William Burroughs. After all these years, he still makes me go weak at the knees with his “right-brained” interpretations of “left-brain” phenomena.
 
3. Do you have a soundtrack when you write? If so, what albums or artists? If silence, where’s your comfy writing spot?
As much as I like listening to music, I’m far more productive if I minimize potential distractions, so I usually go to a library to write. My soundtrack is therefore the sound of strangers whispering and coughing.
 
4. What is that one book you read over and over, or read portions of? That one book you will save from a fire?
If a fire broke out in a library or somewhere like that and I had to go in to rescue one book, I probably wouldn’t make it out alive (due to indecision). I doubt I’d even get past trying to decide which Kobo Abe novel should make it into the running for best book before being overcome by fumes.
 
5. Who’s that one writer(s) you wish everyone would shut up about?
Most people accept that because the average mainstream celebrity is incapable of expressing an original idea or even forming a coherent sentence, their “autobiography” has to be written by someone else, but the idea of celebrities having other people write novels for them is a step too far (I’m thinking of the novels “of” Katie Price in particular). When Salvador Dali signed thousands of blank canvases so that forgers could create “authentic fakes” it raised some interesting questions about notions of authenticity despite the fact that it was done primarily for financial reasons; but it was only made possible by the fact that Dali’s signature conferred some kind of artistic worth to the product because he was an expert in his field. The idea of someone with no experience in a field trying to confer worth to something they played no part in creating is either the nadir of creativity or a postmodern joke so sophisticated that I’m unable to appreciate it.
 
6. What book-to-movie adaptation disappointed you greatly?
Every single one except for The Wizard of Oz.
 
7. What book(s) is on your current reading list? (It could be your Goodreads list, on your night table, in your book bag, in your purse, etc.)
It’s a very long list, with books being added quicker than they’re read, but next up it’s Frances Yates’ Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition. Bruno suggested in the 16th century that the stars existed in an infinite universe and could be suns surrounded by planets fostering life; he also denied certain Christian miracles and was burned alive for heresy. It’s sensible to consider whether certain ideas in existence today which seem outrageous and result in persecution when expressed (such as the idea that human beings don’t need to be controlled by a government) could in fact be the modern equivalent of this.
 
8. What was the worst thing you have ever written?
I wrote a lot of bad stuff when I was younger, but the thing that haunts me most is a poem I composed around the age of 15. It’s the only teen angst poem I ever penned, but it somehow won a competition and was read out to loads of people at an awards ceremony. As I sat in the audience and listened to it being recited, it dawned on me that it was a pile of angst-ridden crap, and I vowed never to write anything like it again. After that, I enthusiastically embraced surrealist writing techniques, so it was a useful experience.
 
9. When working on whatever writing project you’re on, do you focus on a schedule of words counts, pages, or just finishing that one chapter? For example, I’ve read that most writers would just write 1,000 words a day.
Since I’m two metres tall and usually write in a public library while hunched over furniture that seems to have been designed for Lilliputians, I usually stop writing when I come to a natural break in my spine rather than a natural break in the text. I suffer for my art in a variety of ways.
 
10. What’s that one book you wish you wrote? There was a guy, I don’t remember his name, but I heard somebody talking about him, who rewrote F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, every word. Just so he could feel what it is to write a hit novel.
That’s an interesting idea, although I prefer the excitement of not knowing how a work is going to be received while I’m writing it. I did have a similar idea that I started working on a few years ago, which was to read a classic novel and then try to write it myself from memory while drunk. I started doing it chapter by chapter with Jane Eyre, getting extremely inebriated in the name of art before each writing session. It was an experimental project, but since I set myself the rule that I wasn’t allowed to edit the writing it in any way whatsoever, I envisaged the end result being an amusing, semi-coherent, typo-filled piece that could be read as a simulation of what Jane Eyre would have been like if Charlotte Brontë had written it while drunk. I didn’t get very far with the project… for obvious reasons.

11. How long have you been writing?
For as long as I can remember. I wrote my first book at the age of ten. It was about a boy who gets abducted by aliens and taken to a planet in the shape of Mickey Mouse’s head. It wasn’t exactly a masterpiece, but it was better than my teen angst poem.
12. What do you prefer in reading and writing? A character-driven or plot-driven story?
I prefer a language-driven or ideas-driven story. Plot is the least important thing to me as a reader and a writer because I see it as just part of the basic structure of the story. If there’s no meat on the bone in the form of the development of characters, concepts or metaphors, then it’s lazy writing. If you’re skillful enough as a writer, you can dispense with the plot altogether.
 
13. Do you write during the day or night?
I like writing at night as I’m a night owl, but if I want to be really productive I have to go out to do it, which means writing earlier in the day to fit in with the opening times of libraries. I pray that one day a library near me will announce it’s opening at night (with a bouncer on the door to keep drunk people out) and updating its furniture.
 
14. Have you self-published or traditionally published a book (small press or Big Four publishers) or are you in the process of doing that? If so what’s it about? If you haven’t published anything, but were published in a literary magazine or anthology, talk about that.
I’ve had stuff published by literary magazines and small presses. My most recent work is Paul is Dead, a novella published by CCLaP. The process of getting the book ready for publication was very thorough and professional thanks to Jason Pettus. The novella is about a man whose life is robbed of meaning because he has the same name as Paul McCartney, but he slowly begins to reclaim that meaning after discovering a big red button that causes the death of a celebrity whenever it’s pressed.
 
15. And finally, what’s your quote or motto? It could be one by a favorite writer or your own.
One of the few mottos I find really useful is: “The only thing I know is that I know nothing.” Since we can’t know everything, it’s a mark of intelligence to be able to factor your ignorance into an equation like a mathematical x rather than remain ignorant of it. When someone is certain about something, they’re closed to new information, which creates cognitive dissonance and irrational behaviour when that information inevitably comes knocking on their door. Knowing your ignorance is a form of knowledge.

Paul Is Dead by Stephen Moles

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Pages: 140
Genre: Bizarro
Format: E-book
Published by CCLaP

When I saw “Bizarro” and “Paul” I automatically assumed this was going to be a sort of Alt. Lit autobiography about the actual Paul McCartney. And I was honestly surprised to see this in the catalog of CCLaP, at first, I thought “Why would CCLaP publish bizarro?” Since most of the books they publish cater more to the literary genres, slice of life genres, from what I read so far. But then I remember that Scott Navicky’s novel, Humboldt and The Power of Positive Thinking was one of their weirdest novels. So of course, I was wrong, they would publish this. Paul Is Dead is a sort of rare novel/novella in the bizarro genre. It’s fulfilling, meaningful and has a balanced amount of humor, absurdist magical realism, and it somehow gave me that warm feeling of “I read a really good and meaningful book.” The only ones I can think of at the moment that fits that criteria is C.V. Hunt’s Thanks For Ruining My Life  and Caris O’Malley’s The Egg Said Nothing


The main character is named Paul McCartney. He’s not actually Paul McCartney, but the music of The Beatles, the song “All You Need is Love,” dictates his heartbeat and apparently his life. (This music is not my generation and I only heard and liked the album, Revolver, so I’m now listening to this on repeat as I write this.) Unlike the real McCartney, who is apparently filled with love especially since he can’t remain single, I’m not saying you can’t be married at 68 or 72, but… 

“Observing the same morbid observing the same morbid obsessions and hypocrisies passing daily through the glossy pages like faecal matter had caused him to feel permanently disgusted at himself and the world.”


Anyway, this Paul is a misanthrope. He hates everyone and maybe doesn’t trust anyone, he’s socially awkward and isolates himself. He gets some money and lives in a house filled with turkeys, his only friends. He hates everyone at his job, where he is the writer for a Celebrity news magazine that is dedicated to writing mournful articles about dead celebrities, and most of all, he hates celebrity culture and the people who fawn over it.

“Did the maker of the button and sign not realize that their forbiddance was more like an enticement?”

This is when the bizarro kicks in, out of nowhere and for no reason at all, there is a red button where he lives amongst his turkey friends. At first he ignores it but then decides to press it. And guess what happens, celebrities die by his hand. And that’s enough for plot discussion.

“He was the black cloud of the office, always seem to be raining on any parade he drifted over, while he viewed his ability to flood conversations with negativity as an excellent way of exposing the lack of depth of his coworkers.”

Unlike most bizarro novels, the prose is full and lurid, at times containing a musical rhythm. Moles’ writing doesn’t contain the monotone voice of the Alt. Lit generation (not hating on Alt. Lit but Tao Lin prose is getting tired.) I was able to build scenery, which was something that hasn’t happened for awhile with me, lately I’ve been having the hardest time building imagery in my head as I read. The prose and voice are strong enough for me to get absorbed in the book. The whole offbeat humor of this novella was such a nice change in my recent readings. Although, for  a good portion of the novella, I kept imagining the main character as the main guy from Freddy Got Fingered. I wasn’t sure why except for the reason that this novel contains the dark satirical brow lifting humor, much like that movie. 

“The beat of a lonely heart reflecting itself spells death….
Money. Money. Money.
Can’t. Buy. Me.
Love. Love. Love”

Paul Is Dead contains some giggles but also has a moral lesson to it. Yeah, some people will roll their eyes. But it’s like a movie, where the anti-social Paul finally realizes how much of an arse he was and realized that hating himself and everyone else will not give him love. There’s an eyeball and a dude named Ramon who teaches him that. Trying not to spoil stuff. This little tome, which is odd for this genre, was deeply personal in its gut punch way of telling someone that love is indeed the acceptance of yourself, killing off forms of you that are in a sense useless because they prevent mental and physical growth, murdering all of your flaws to love. To love you. To love everyone. Because you know love destroys all, including you, but only the bad stuff.

Rating: 5/5