Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bad Girls Need Love Too

Bad Girls Need Love Too: Pleasure Yourself with Pulp FictionBad Girls Need Love Too: Pleasure Yourself with Pulp Fiction by Gary Lovisi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bad Girls Need Love Too is a collection of covers of smut paperbacks from the 1960s. What more of a description do you need than that?

This book is almost 200 pages and I'd say maybe 20 have text on them. What little text that can be found are cheesy/smutty excepts from the novels. The rest are covers depicting women in varying states of undress. I could talk about the use of light and shadows or chiarascuro (which I know I did not spell right) but you know what you're getting into if you pick this book up. Fortunately, some great artists got their start illustrating smut paperbacks. There are some by Robert McGinnis and Robert Macguire, for example.

If you're into lurid pulp art, this is the book for you. I would like to read the following books based on the covers and/or titles. If you can find the images online, you'll immediately understand why:
Hotrod Sinners
Invasion of the Nymphomaniacs
Vagabond Virgin
He Kissed Her There
Satan was my Pimp
Sexy Psycho
Lingerie Ltd.
Satan's Harvest
Love Now, Pay Later
Hell's Harlot
Atomic Blonde
Satan's Daughters
Animal Broad
Women in Prison
Swingers in Danger
The Platinum Trap

Bad Girls Need Love Too is fun for the whole family, provided the whole family is into cover paintings from 60's smut novels. For more information, consult Bad Girls Need Love Too: the website.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

The Last Good Man

The Last Good ManThe Last Good Man by A.J. Kazinski

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

According to the Talmud, thirty-six righteous people exist on earth and if they all die, so does humanity. Now, people are dying all over the world with strange marks on their backs and it's up to a Danish policeman named Niels Bentzon to find out why. There have been thirty-four deaths already. Can Niels save the last two good men and save the world?

First off, I received this ARC from Scribner in exchange for reviewing it. This did not influence my opinion in the least. To be honest, The Last Good Man didn't have a whole lot going for it when I read the back cover blurb comparing it to The DaVinci Code and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a book I'll never read and one I'm skeptical of because of all the hype. Still, free is free, and I begrudgingly gave it a read. Despite my initial misgivings, I wound up liking The Last Good Man quite a bit.

The main characters are an interesting bunch. Niels Bentzon, the protagonist, is a hostage negotiator who's manic depressive, can't bring himself to shoot anyone, and is manic depressive. He's a far cry from the macho hero I was dreading in this outing. The female lead, Hannah Lund, is also atypical. She's a divorced astrophysicist with a dead son and difficulty relating to anyone who isn't a genius. Interested yet?

Here's something else to pique your curiosity. This book has so many twists that it could be called The Last Good Man and his One Hundred Red Herrings. Some of the twists are predictable, many are not. One thing that I loved was that Kazinski avoided a lot of the thriller cliches that I hate.

For a thriller, it's surprisingly deep. The nature of good and evil are explored, as well as the existence of God. I liked that the plot was rooted in Jewish texts. The way Hannah figured out how to predict where the final two victims would be was pretty cool. Also, loved the ending. Not what I expected at all when I first picked up the book.

That's about all I can say without blowing any surprises. The Last Good Man is a good thriller and good entertainment for a rainy evening.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Seven Seagulls for a Single Nipple

Seven Seagulls for a Single NippleSeven Seagulls for a Single Nipple by Troy Chambers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A nipple named Wilmorn falls in love with a woman and bargains with the Seagull gods for a chance to win her. Only she's a nun. And a lesbian. And he has to kill her true love to win a soul so he can have a life with her. Man, things are rough for nipples these days...

First off, this is the weirdest book in the 2011-2012 New Bizarro Author Series so far. It's also the best story featuring a talking nipple I've ever read.

This is one of those books I can hardly think of a way to describe beyond the summary. Like I mentioned, Wilmorn is a talking nipple that makes a pact with the Seagull Gods. His naivete is actually a little charming and nicely balanced by Stalin, the baby-faced lobster demon who was a serial rapist in a previous life. Yes, you read that right. No, I did not make that up.

It takes quite a bit for a book to make me shake my head in disbelief but I caught myself doing just that several times during this books slim 60 pages. Most of those were because of Stalin's actions. The ending was a bit of surprise.

Troy Chambers is a madman and I'll give him another shot sometime down the road. That's all I have. I don't really know what else I can say about this.

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Trashland A Go-Go

Trashland A Go-GoTrashland A Go-Go by Constance Ann Fitzgerald

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After a pole dance goes horribly wrong, Coco Darling is tossed into the garbage and wakes up in a land of garbage. Can she find her way home without running afoul of Queen?

Yeah, I may have unearthed the gem of the 2011-2012 New Bizarro Author series.

If the Wizard of Oz starred a stripper and took place in a land of garbage, it would be very much like Trashland A Go-Go. Coco is a strong leading lady, not waiting for some guy to come along and save her. She's also tough as hell. Could you dig your way out of a room that has walls made of dirty diapers? Yeah, me either.

Coco's journey is full of funny moments as well as disgusting ones. Imagine a woman walking across a trash-filled landscape wearing an ugly bridesmaid dress and interacting with her talking fly sidekick. The villains are vile, the trash world is utilized to its full potential, and there are parts of the book that will make you want to laugh or puke, or both at the same time. That's pretty much all I can say without giving away too much.

Trashland A Go-Go is one of those first books that you're astonished is someone's first book. The writing is polished, the pace is great, and there aren't any missteps. It's also pretty accessible for a Bizarro book. If you're looking to give the Bizarro genre a shot, you can do a hell of a lot worse than Trashland A Go-Go.

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Cthulhu Comes to the Vampire Kingdom

Cthulhu Comes to the Vampire KingdomCthulhu Comes to the Vampire Kingdom by Cameron Pierce

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

With their frozen world depleted of resources and dying, a vampire couple named Franz and Lola attempt to summon the one being who can save them... Cthulhu! But will Cthulhu save their world or destroy it?

Cthulhu Comes to the Vampire Kingdom is a sometimes funny, all times bizarre tale by Cameron Pierce. It seems to be a commentary on the state of our world, with the world's blood supply running out similar to the way oil will one day and the Science Council standing in for the governments that turn a blind eye to environmental issues. But what I really notice is the monsters!

The characters are a mixed bag. Lola's my favorite, and probably Pierce's, even though doesn't get as much screen time as a lot of the others. Burn Girl was interesting but I don't think she had as much time as she should have. The teenage coven were a little annoying. I liked Bruno and Sarah but they could have also used more time devoted to them. I guess I just wish the book was longer.

Cthulhu has seen better days. He's been spending too much time looking at Lolcats on the internet and has visions of the perfect hamburger running through his head as a result. When he finally makes landfall after being summoned, it's almost an orgasmic moment.

In conclusion, Cthulhu Comes to the Vampire Kingdom was a good read, although a tad on the short side. If you like humorous depictions of Cthulhu and vampires, give it a read.

Old Cthulhu had a farm. E-I-E-I-O!

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The Driver's Guide to Hitting Pedestrians

The Driver's Guide to Hitting PedestriansThe Driver's Guide to Hitting Pedestrians by Andersen Prunty

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Driver's Guide to Hitting Pedestrians is a collection of short stories by Andersen Prunty.

Andersen Prunty is swiftly becoming one of my favorite authors due to his versatility, something that is nicely illustrated in this short story collection. The stories contained within are absurd, hilarious, disturbing, thought-provoking, or a combination thereof.

There are twenty-three short stories in this collection and they're all very different. You get the tale of a driver in a gruesome game where you score points for hitting pedestrians, a man whose teeth leave his gums one day to go see the world, an architect building a skyscraper on his back, and a man who buys his favorite author at a bookstore. And those are just a few of the odd delights contained within.

If you're looking to give Andersen Prunty a shot, this is a good sampling of his work. Plus it will look good on your bookshelf.

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Friday, November 25, 2011

The Crud Masters

The Crud MastersThe Crud Masters by Justin Grimbol

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Crud Masters Boogers and Snuggles wind up on a collision course with a rumble with the NOLA kids. But how can they hope to defeat a bunch of rich kids with a Transformer on their side?

Remember the Outsiders? You know, the book by S.E. Hinton or the movie starring C. Thomas Howell? Whatever happened to that kid, anyway? The Crud Masters is like The Outsiders. Only the Greasers are the Crud Masters and the Socs are the NOLA kids. And their are a bunch of giant monsters and transformable robots. And the kids have sex. Yeah, it's not that much like the Outsiders except for the impending rumble, now that I think about it a little more.

The Crud Masters is a book set in a dystopian future where there's an even bigger divide between the rich and the poor. Giant monsters called Dagoons roam the seas. Technology has progressed but only the rich see the benefits.

At its core, The Crud Masters is an underdog story about downtrodden youths taking a stand against the upper class. Only there's a lot of sex, monsters, and robots. Seriously, the main conflict of the book is between a Transformer and a giant sea monster.

Any gripes? Nothing too huge. I wish the book was longer and I caught an above average number of punctuation mistakes. Other than that, I'd let the Crud Masters crash on my couch. It's an easy 3 and I'd like to see what Justin Grimbol could do with a full size novel.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Zombies and Shit (spoilers)

Zombies and ShitZombies and Shit by Carlton Mellick III

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In a post-apocalyptic future overrun by zombies, twenty people are dropped in the middle of a wasteland, forced to be contestants on the most popular reality show on earth, Zombie Survival! Which will find his or her way to the helicopter and be the only person to leave the Red Zone alive?

Once you read an awesome book by an author, it becomes the measuring stick against which you judge the subsequent books you read by that author. For my money, Warrior Wolf Women of the Wastelands is the measuring stick against which all other Carlton Mellick III books should be measured. Does Zombies and Shit measure up? Sadly, no, and I shall explain.

I've read a few Carlton Mellick III books in 2011 and most of them feature the following elements:
1. punks that are invariably superior to the rest of the characters
2. bizarre sexual fetishes
3. a woman with an unusually large clitoris
4. gore

Zombies and Shit features all of these. To me, it feels like elements of Apeshit and Warrior Wolf Women of the Wastelands were recycled and repacked with Return of the Living Dead style zombies to capitalize on the zombie fad that's currently everywhere. Also, Gogo's zombie fetish felt like it was shoehorned in and made me roll my eyes. It also irked me that the most annoying character in the book was one of the survivors.

At this point, you may notice that I gave it a 3 even though I've spent the review criticizing it so far. Well, I'm not going to lie. It's still a really fun book with the gore and weirdness I've come to expect from Carlton Mellick III. If I hadn't read any other CMIII books, I would have rated this one a lot higher. The inclusion of Mr. T as a zombie-killing machine, the T-2000, made me forget all of my gripes with the book every time he made an appearance.

To sum it up, if you're only going to read one Carlton Mellick III book, I wouldn't have it be this one, but if you're looking to give him a try and you're into zombies, this would be the book for you.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Party Wolves in my Skull

Party Wolves in my SkullParty Wolves in my Skull by Michael Allen Rose

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One morning, Norman Spooter's eyes leap out of his head and go on the run. Norman goes back to bed and wakes up to find a pack of wolves living inside his skull. Once he makes up his mind to get his eyes back, Norman crosses paths with Zoe, who just left her boyfriend, Walter. And Zoe is harboring secrets of her own...

You never know how weird a particular book in the New Bizarro Author series is going to be until you dig right in. While this is only my third book in the 2011-2012, NBA's, I'll be surprised if any of the rest are weirder than this.

Party Wolves in my Skull is an odd book, no two ways about it. How many other books have you read with eyeballs that want to marry each other, pot-smoking wolves living inside a man's skull, and woman-walrus relations? I hope that you say one, including this one.

I'm kind of at a loss for words on this one. The way that the relationship between Zoe and Norman developed was pretty realistic considering one of them always wears stilts and the other has a wolfpack in his head. Walter the walrus was the stereotype abusive boyfriend, though being a walrus set him apart from most of his ilk. Things were resolved nicely by the end. Things got a little dicey when Walter showed up and started kicking ass.

That's about all I have. Party Wolves in my Skull is a road book featuring a lot of strange things. It's the perfect gift for the walrus enthusiast in your life. 3.5 out of 5.

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Placenta of Love

Placenta of LovePlacenta of Love by Spike Marlowe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

On Venus, the amusement park planet, robot pirate Captain Carl is granted free will and creates another life, an AI named Helen that he loves. When he tries to give Helen a living body made from a huge placenta, she runs amok and threatens to destroy the planet. Can Captain Carl stop her without killing the only being he's ever loved?

Sigh. It's that tired old story. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy and girl get back together. Only the boy is a sentient robot pirate in an amusement park. And the girl is a giant placenta with an AI for a brain and births smaller placentas. Okay, fine, it's not the same old story. What do you expect from a book written by a real life super heroine?

Placenta of Love is Bizarro love story. While on the surface you get a lot of Bizarro tropes like weird sex and dildos, underneath it's surprisingly sweet. Love conquers all, even the Robo-Pope and her Church of Transubstantial Birth Fear.

The writing is polished and I liked the way Spike started each chapter with a description of one of the park's attractions, like the Tunnel of Lust or the Driller.

I'm not really sure what else I can say without spoiling more of the plot than I already have. Jiji the Robo-cat was probably my favorite character. Spankies, anyone? I really liked it when Captain Carl stepped up and embraced his Robo-pirate nature.

If you like pirates, placentas, and popes, this is the book for you. Give Spike Marlowe a chance. I, for one, would like to see more from her.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Karaoke Death Squad

Karaoke Death SquadKaraoke Death Squad by Eric Mays

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Who are the three mysterious women roaming Baltimore's Karaoke scene and why do the men that leave with them disappear without a trace? That's what Odie Wharton wants to find out. Can he solve the mystery of the disappearances without disappearing himself, even with his Karaoke Death Squad watching his back?

The Bizarro genre is a lot like one of those boxes of assorted chocolates. When you pick one up, you could get carmel, crunchy frog, or even something disgusting like coconut. Karaoke Death Squad is one of the more accessible Bizarro novels I've ever read.

If I had to compare it to other books, Karaoke Death Squad reminds of Christopher Moore's Dirty Job and Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys. Like those two books, Karaoke Death Squad is the story of an average Joe thrust into a situation involving beings of godlike power.

The characters are an interesting bunch. Odie Wharton, the lead, is a loser who lives in an "apartment" above his mom's house and works part time at a convenience store. When he's not being a Karaoke superstar, however. When other singers started dropping like flies, Odie doesn't waste time.

There are so many hilarious one-liners in this book that I quickly stopped writing them down. Odie's a character, that's for sure. If they made a KDS movie, he'd be played by Jack Black. The rest of the characters are pretty cool. Boris the Russian was easily my favorite.

There's not a lot more I can say without ruining a lot of the surprises. Karaoke Death Squad was a fun read. Eric Mays won me over with his short story in the Copeland Valley Sampler and continues to impress in this book. KDS should appeal to fans of Christoper Moore, Neil Gaiman's humorous work, and probably even fans of stuff like the Dresden Files. Highly recommended.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Continental Op

The Continental OpThe Continental Op by Dashiell Hammett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Continental Op is a collection of short stories starring Dashiell Hammett's detective character, The Continental Op. Here are just some of the tales contained within.

The Tenth Clew: Millionaire Leopold Gantvoort is found dead and signs point to the mysterious Emil Bonfils. But what of the more obvious suspect, Gantvoort's 23 year old wife to be?

Not a bad way to start the collection. I've never read a story where someone had their head bashed in with a typewriter before. The mystery was pretty good, though I had some idea what was going on about halfway through.

The Golden Horseshoe: The Op goes to Mexico to bring back a rich woman's husband and gets more than he bargained for...

This story nicely illustrates The Continental Op's place in Matthew Scudder's ancestry as the Op bends the law to get a man put away.

The Girl with the Silver Eyes: A poet hires the Continental Pop to find his missing lover. Too bad she isn't who she pretends to be...

This one was a lot more complex than it first seemed and the Op demonstrated his ability quite well, both in detection and in violence. My favorit part, however, was how the poet was exasperating the Op at the beginning of the case.

The Whosis Kid: The Op crosses paths with a two-gun stickup man while on the trial of stolen jewels.

The op thinks his way out of a nasty situation when he gets caught between some double-crossing criminals. I love that the Op isn't afraid to fight dirty and knows he's no knight in shining armor.

In conclusion, The Continental Op is a collection of detective stories that are still influential even today. For it's historical value, it should be a must read for pulp detective fans.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Barbarian Beast Bitches of the Badlands

Barbarian Beast Bitches of the BadlandsBarbarian Beast Bitches of the Badlands by Carlton Mellick III

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Barbarian Beast B*tches of the Badlands is a collection of three novellas set in the world of Warrior Wolf Women of the Wastelands.

Barbarian Beast Babes of the Badlands: Apple and her boyfriend Sam join the pack of warrior wolf women. How will Sam adjust to his status as Apple's property and his new robot legs?

Barbarian Beast Babes of the Badlands was a nice way to get the collection started and re-introduce the world. It was cool reading about Apple, Talon, and Hyena again. The colossus and metal worms were good villans.

Horrendous Horror of the Hateful Hamburglar: As a band of Outlanders fights against a horde of mutants under the control of brain-eating parasites, the Hamburglar's horrifying past is revealed.

The Hamburglar, greatest samurai that ever lived, was only briefly glimpsed in Warrior Wolf Women of the Wastelands. He takes center stage in this one. My favorite line was "Before he was the Hamburglar, he was an ordinary psychopath."

Ferocious Female Furries in the Forbidden Zone: Set months after Warror Wolf Women of the Wastelands, Slayer steps into a leadership role with the tribe and makes Hyena her second in command. Talon and other Wolves are infected and the girls head south into the Forbidden Zone to find the cure.

The backstory of the metallic worm parasites takes center stage in this one. The culture of the Forbidden Zone was fascinating and the dynamic between the Wolves after Slayer took charge made this the standout of the book.

While I didn't enjoy this one as much as Warrior Wolf Women of the Wastelands, it's definitely a good read and should appeal to everyone who enjoyed the first book. If you're needing a lady post-apocalyptic werewolf fix, look no further.

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Gigantic Death Worm

Gigantic Death WormGigantic Death Worm by Vince Kramer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Dave, his friend Mike, and Mike's girlfriend Suzanne get stranded on a ski lift, that's just the beginning of their problems. Soon, they're being attacked by bears that shoot wolves out of their mouths. Before they know it, gigantic death worms are attacking all the major cities in Arizona. From there, things get a little weird...

Here we are again. An entire new New Bizarro Author Series. Will it match up to the class of 2010-2011? If Gigantic Death Worm is any indication, then yes.

Ever hear of The Aristocrats joke? You know, the one about the guy who walks into a talent agent's office and describes a family doing some of the filthiest things you can imagine on stage? If the Aristocrats joke involved giant monsters, it would be Gigantic Death Worm.  And I mean that in the best possible way.

The characters in Gigantic Death Worm are an interesting bunch, to say the least. Dave, the protagonist, has a fairly interesting power caused by brain parasites. He can make things appear out of thin air. I won't reveal the source of his power but it's a doozy. Ponce DeLeon II: The Revenge, was the lynchpin that stopped the plot from being a bunch of gay jokes. Too bad he went out like he did. Worm-Head Girl didn't do anything for me at first but she rose to the occasion. All that aside, I'd say the Mexican ninjas were my favorite part of the tale. "That Ramon!"

Gigantic Death Worm is hilarious. That's about all I have to say.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Nice Fillies Finish Last

Nice Fillies Finish LastNice Fillies Finish Last by Brett Halliday

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When teh man who gave him a tip on a horse winds up dead, Michael Shayne's reporter friend Tim Rourke goes snooping around the track, looking for answers. When Rourke winds up in the hospital, Shayne takes the case and finds out the world of horse racing is more deadly than he ever imagined...

The more of the Mike Shayne's I read, the more convinced I am that I shouldn't read any of them after Davis Dresser left the Brett Halliday pseudonym to other writers.

Nice Fillies Finish Last has a lot in common with the other post-Dresser Mike Shayne book I've read, Fourth Down to Death. There's the same rape-y subtext, the same cardboard female characters, and the same superhero Mike Shayne.

Much like Fourth Down to Death, the plot was unnecessarily complex and also so tied to betting on horseracing that it was very inaccessible in some places to someone with only a rudimentary knowledge of horseracing and the gambling on thereof.

There were some interesting moments but they were few and far between. My impatience got the better of me in the last fifty pages and I started skimming. Shayne pretty much walks around, has women fall for him, and beats up on bad guys. He's like Mike Hammer, only with a car phone. To top it off, Shayne was barely in the first 60 pages.

While I didn't outright hate this book, I wouldn't recommend it. Read at your own risk.

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