National Wrestling Alliance: The Untold Story of the Monopoly That Strangled Pro Wrestling is the story of the formation, life, and demise of the NWA....moreNational Wrestling Alliance: The Untold Story of the Monopoly That Strangled Pro Wrestling is the story of the formation, life, and demise of the NWA.
This is the second book in my Kindle Unlimited Experiment. For the 30 day trial, I'm only reading books that are part of the program and keeping track what the total cost of the books would have been.
National Wrestling Alliance: The Untold Story of the Monopoly That Strangled Pro Wrestling details the formation of the NWA due to the need for one recognized world champion instead of each promoter recognizing his own title holder and the monetary advantages thereof. I find it fascinating that forty or so promoters tried to do what Vince McMahon Jr. did decades later, only instead of one man having his cake and eating it too, many men were fighting over how big of a slice of cake they should get.
The books starts in the days before the formation of the NWA and describes the early days, like promoters battling non-members and forcing them to join or go out of business. I had no idea St. Louis was such a battleground in the forties and fifties. I also had no idea Lou Thesz was an unpopular champion with the promoters and not a huge box office draw for most of his tenure as champ. Danny Hodge's father getting so mad at the man wrestling and beating his son that he jumped into the ring and stabbed him with a pen knife was crazy! Also, I never heard of Sonny Myers but getting sliced by a fan in the dressing room and requiring over 150 stiches was really interesting. Other parts, I already knew, like Toots Mondt and Strangler Lewis having a lot of power in the old days.
Wrestling is a morality play, a conflict between good and evil. So how did Hornbaker manage to suck all the fun out of it? Well, most of the writing was very dry. Every time the NWA hit a bump in the road, there were pages of quotes from court transcripts, newspaper articles, and legal documents. For me, the most interesting part was the profiles of all the important NWA champions from Orville Brown all the way to the point WCW withdrew from the NWA.
The book had its moments but I'm glad I didn't pay the $8.69 list price. 2.5 out of 5.
Current Kindle Unlimited Savings Total: $12.18.(less)
When tabloid photograph Johnny Horowitz finds gnawed human bones on a remote stretch of beach, he uncovers a decades old secret, a gate to the Cretace...moreWhen tabloid photograph Johnny Horowitz finds gnawed human bones on a remote stretch of beach, he uncovers a decades old secret, a gate to the Cretaceous period. What creatures will come through the gate and will they be Johnny's last chance at the big time?
This is the third book in my Kindle Unlimited Experiment. For the 30 day trial, I'm only reading books that are part of the program and keeping track what the total cost of the books would have been.
It's my opinion that novellas are a great format for ebooks and Tim Curran is the master of the horror novella. Leviathan is a novella about a small town with a tropical storm bearing down on it and a mysteryous beach that's fenced off and avoided. Turns out, a gate to the Cretaceous period opens there on nights before storms. After an accidental discovery and some tense moments, Johnny Horowitz seems to think photos of prehistoric sea reptiles are his ticket to fame and fortune.
Horowitz is a great character, a guy who knows he's not going to live forever and full of regrets, looking for his one last shot at glory. Since this is a horror novel, things don't quite go that way.
Tim Curran's descriptions of prehistoric megafauna are horrifying but still realistic. After all, the creatures he describes really existed. As the tropical storm draws near, the wheels quickly fall off Horowitz' plan and he draws the attention of something orders of magnitude bigger than he ever imagined.
Since this is a novella, that's about all I'm going to give away. Leviathan is a gripping tale best consumed in a sitting or two. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Current Kindle Unlimited Savings Total: $13.17.(less)
In the span of one day, Laurence Clarke is fired from his job as a magazine editor of Ronald Rabbit's Stories for Boys and Girls, has his wife run off...moreIn the span of one day, Laurence Clarke is fired from his job as a magazine editor of Ronald Rabbit's Stories for Boys and Girls, has his wife run off with his best friend, and has his ex-wife jack up her alimony. What will he do? Write some letters...
This is the fourth book in my Kindle Unlimited Experiment. For the 30 day trial, I'm only reading books that are part of the program and keeping track what the total cost of the books would have been.
I've been aware of Ronald Rabbit for years after seeing Block mention it a few times in Telling Lies for Fun and Profit. When it showed up on Kindle Unlimited, I was all over it.
Ronald Rabbit is a Dirty Old Man is told in the form of letters written by or written to Laurence Clarke, a man beset by troubles on all sides, many of which were of his own making. He responds to his troubles by writing letters and getting into sexual mischief with a carload of teenage girls, a repressed secretary at his former employers, and his acidhead mistress.
Laurence Clarke is a literary ancestor of Seinfeld's George Costanza in some ways. The Ronald Rabbit magazine was cancelled six months before the story begins and he managed to skate by collection a check by making sure he wasn't noticed. He's also a liar and quite bawdy. His antics had me stifling my laughter quite a few times.
The book is also quite dirty, not surprising since Block used to churn out porno books around this same time. In the afterword, he said he cranked out the book in four days. Funny considering some writers can't put out a book in four years. Anyway, Clarke has some sexual adventures in this book, including threesomes with teenage girls and engaging in surprise sodomy with the repressed secretary I mentioned earlier.
Ronald Rabbit is a bit of dirty good fun and an interesting look into the past of my favorite living crime writer. Three out of five stars.
Current Kindle Unlimited Savings Total: $15.74.(less)
This is the fifth book in my Kindle Unlimited Experiment. For the 30 day trial, I'm only reading books that are part of the program and keeping track...moreThis is the fifth book in my Kindle Unlimited Experiment. For the 30 day trial, I'm only reading books that are part of the program and keeping track what the total cost of the books would have been.
The Kick-Ass Writer is a collection of 1001 writing tips, broken down into 31 lists of 25 items each. I do realize that doesn't quite add up to 1001 but it's still a lot tips.
Here are the contents: - 25 things you should know about being a writer - 25 questions to ask as you write - 25 things I want to say to so-called "aspiring" writers - 25 things you should know about writing a novel - 25 ways to be a better writer - 25 things writers should stop doing - 25 things you should know about writing horror - 25 ways to defeat writer's block - 25 ways to plot, plan, and prep your story - 25 things you should know about character - 25 things you should know about description - 25 things you should know about writing a goddamn sentence - 25 things you should know about plot - 25 things you should know about narrative - 25 things you should know about protagonists - 25 things you should know about setting - 25 things you should know about suspense and tension in storytelling - 25 things you should know about theme - 25 things you should know about writing a scene - 25 things you should know about dialogue - 25 things you should know about endings - 25 things you should know about editing, revising, and rewriting - 25 things you should know about getting published - 25 things you should know about agents - 25 things you should know about queries - 25 things you should know about self-publishing - 25 things you should know about blogging - 25 things you should know about social media - 25 things you should know about crowdfunding - 25 things ways to earn your audience - 25 things you should know about hybrid authors
There's a lot of useful tips contained in this book but writing, much like photography, is very much a "learn by doing" kind of activity. Still, Wendig dispenses some useful advice leavened with humor. Quite a bit of it feels recycled from his other writing books, though. Probably 80% of it. Considering how many writing books he has in print, I guess I shouldn't be this surprised. However, there's a lot of repetition between the individual topics as well. The most useful tips were in the writing horror section and the topics related to publishing.
while I'm a tremendous Chuck Wendig fan, I don't think I'll be pickign up any more of his writing books. The humor isn't enough to make me forget I've read most of this before. 2 out of 5 stars.
Current Kindle Unlimited Savings Total: $25.73.(less)
When David Lowe thought his wife was cheating on him, he hired a man to kill her. Now, he's holding an elevator cable and is the only one who can save...moreWhen David Lowe thought his wife was cheating on him, he hired a man to kill her. Now, he's holding an elevator cable and is the only one who can save her life. That is, if the man in the mask doesn't kill him first...
This is the first book in my Kindle Unlimited Experiment. For the 30 day trial, I'm only reading books that are part of the program and keeping track what the total cost of the books would have been.
Deadlift is a tale of iron will, of passion, and of not quitting once the shit hits the fan. And there's a lot of shit hitting this particular fan.
David Lowe is a hulking brute of a bodybuilder. His wife is everything and when he thinks she's been cheating on him, he snaps, hiring a bombmaker to killer her. It's unfortunate that it was all a big mistake and David has to do what he can to save her life. Too bad there's a serial killer and a gun thug also in the mix.
The story of a guy holding a severed elevator cable with his wife in the elevator doesn't seem like it should be that long but Craig Saunders uses flashbacks and viewpoint changes to make it go the distance without seeming stretched. Even though Lowe did something terrible to kick things off, he's still a sympathetic figure and goes through hell for most of the story, getting shot, stabbed, blown up, and falling quite a ways. Tension is high for most of the tale and it was almost a relief when it was over.
The addition of the man in the mask was questionable at first but turned out to be what pushed the book from a 3 to a 4 for me. Like holding up an entire elevator wasn't a challenge enough for David.
The DarkFuse novella series continues to be my go-to source for horror fiction. Four out of five stars.
Current Kindle Unlimited Savings Total: $3.49(less)
A naive 20 year old girl named Jenny encounters a poorly-described tentacle monster who wants to penetrate her orifices.
I'm not a monster porn aficion...moreA naive 20 year old girl named Jenny encounters a poorly-described tentacle monster who wants to penetrate her orifices.
I'm not a monster porn aficionado by any means. This is only the third or fourth one I've read. However, either I've been fortunate thus far and have only encountered some of the better written monsterotica or this one is just bad, even by monster porn standards. Maybe the fault is mine. Maybe I'm expecting too much from free monster porn. I can't deny that the writing is sub-par and the story is weak, even with my limited monster porn experience.
The writing bothers me even more than the implausible things like a woman wearing a bikini to a lab and people having sex while there's a monster on the loose. It reads like a 14 year old boy whose only exposure to sex has been internet porn and Penthouse Forum wrote it.
It's no wonder people use pseudonyms when they churn these things out. Imagine the conversations with co-workers would go.
"Hey, Bill, I heard you put out a story on the kindle. What's it about?" "Well, there's some scientists experimenting on this tentacle creature..." "Cool. Does it escape the lab and go on a rampage?" "No, mostly it just fucks people." "Oh. Look at the time! I think I have a meeting to go to..."
1.5 stars. I think my monster porn days are done. Unless someone finds a free one with a robot or some sort of shark creature in it.(less)
Rush was a sand diver until his son died and he sank into a booze-soaked depression. When a stranger wanders into the bar where he works, Rush has a d...moreRush was a sand diver until his son died and he sank into a booze-soaked depression. When a stranger wanders into the bar where he works, Rush has a difficult choice to make...
Timothy Ward has been one of my Goodreads friends for a while now. When he mentioned needing a few more reviews of Scavenger before he put out another book, I said I'd give it a shot.
Scavenger takes place in the world of Hugh Howley's Sand but I was able to follow the story without reading it. America covered with Sand, there are sand divers looking for the lost city of Danvar, etc.
The plot is the classic "I have your wife so you have to do this for me" scenario. Ward puts a nice spin on it by putting it in Howley's setting. The character of Rush was by far the most interesting part of the tale. His insurmountable grief for his son and descent into alcoholism were completely believable.
Honestly, Ward didn't need the Sand setting for this. He could have easily tweaked it into a serviceable western or crime short story. However, the setting added some grittiness (get it?) to the tale. There were some claustrophobic moments near the end that reminded me of events in Howley's Wool.
About the only thing I had to complain about was that I wanted more. 3.5 out of 5 stars.(less)
50 Keys to Better Photography is a collection of photography tips.
When this popped up in one of my Kindle freebie emails, I decided to take a crack at...more50 Keys to Better Photography is a collection of photography tips.
When this popped up in one of my Kindle freebie emails, I decided to take a crack at it, since I take about a hundred photographs a week these days.
I'm glad this was a freebie since I found a lot of the tips to be of questionable value. Part of the problem for me was that the book didn't seem to know who its audience was. Some of the tips were geared toward beginners, like explaining the relationship between shutter speed and aperture size. Others seemed geared toward people with top dollar equipment. Others were for film cameras.
A lot of the keys were of the duh variety, like reading your camera manual and taking it off the automatic setting and using a tripod to prevent shakes. One key, entitled Creativity Can Be Taught, infuriated me. Copying someone else's stuff to figure out how they did it doesn't strike me as being creative.
I did find a few of the tips useful, like using your flash to get more vibrant colors. As a fairly experienced shutterbug, I found the book pretty underwhelming.
Since images in reviews are all the rage these days, here are some pictures I've taken.
Everett Singh's father is kidnapped right in front of him. Turns out, Papa Singh was working on a project involving parallel universes and has left Ev...moreEverett Singh's father is kidnapped right in front of him. Turns out, Papa Singh was working on a project involving parallel universes and has left Everett the Infundibulum, the map of 10 to the 80th power parallel universes. Only other people are after it and Everett leaps through the Heisenberg Gate to another world, a world of airships where electricity was discovered much earlier. Can Everett evade the bad apples in the Plenitude long enough to bring back his father home?
I love wibbly wobbly timey wimey parallel universe stories so this one was an easy sell for me. I'll cover the parts I liked first before I turn into Ebenezer Scrooge and crap all over the rest of it.
The worldbuilding was exquisite. I liked the setup of the ten worlds of the Plenitude and the Panopoly, the multitude of parallel universes and traveling between them using Heisenberg Gates. I have no trouble believing corrupt people would exploit parallel universes for personal gain. The parallel earth Everett visits was also well thought out. A world were electricity is discovered sooner and thus the world doesn't become dependent on oil? Pretty cool. Sen and Captain Anastasia were both interesting supporting characters, more interesting to me than Everett.
And here is the wad of dog hair in the omelet. I'm just going to gloss over the fact that 90% of parallel Londons in sf/fantasy literature feature airships and just get right to it. Everett was such a Gary Stu that I wanted to shake the crap out of him. Not only is he a teenage quantum physics genius, able to solve problems the adult scientists have been working on for years in just hours, he's also a great cook. Really? I know that's a staple of YA but it was still irksome.
I guess my main hang up with this book was that I've read similar books in the past and didn't feel like this one brought anything super awesome to the table. I preferred the two Paul Melko books, Walls of the Universe and Broken Universe, to this one.
Three stars. It was fun and had some good world building but wasn't the five-geared awesome machine that I was hoping for.(less)
While leading a flotilla of Battle TARDISes against a Dalek fleet, the Doctor is shot down on the planet Moldox and befriends a human girl named Cinde...moreWhile leading a flotilla of Battle TARDISes against a Dalek fleet, the Doctor is shot down on the planet Moldox and befriends a human girl named Cinder. The Doctor and Cinder find their way back to Gallifrey and must defy the Time Lords, who plan on using a doomsday weapon to destroy twelve inhabited worlds in order to stop the Daleks. But the Daleks have a super weapon of their own and mean to erase the Time Lords from history. Can The Doctor thwart the Daleks and the Time Lords? Of course he can! He's the Doctor...
I got this from Netgalley.
The Engines of War is the first Doctor Who novel featuring the War Doctor, aka the Doctor played by John Hurt in Name of the Doctor and Day of the Doctor. That may be the reason for the problems I'll be pointing out a little later.
George Mann did a pretty good job with what little information we've been given about the War Doctor during the Time War. The Time Lords and Daleks have been committing untold atrocities upon one another for years, escalating to unbelievable degrees at this point in the Time War. The Doctor is caught between a rock and a hard place and does some good Doctoring with Cinder in tow.
There is a lot of action and a lot of cool concepts, like mutant Time Lords powering the possibility engine, the Dalek's new magic eraser weapon that wipes people from existence completely, to the Time Lords and their super weapon. Mann dips into Who history, touching upon adventures from the fourth and eighth doctors, as well has seeing hints of his own future. While he's wearing a different skin, he's still The Doctor we all know and love...
... And therein lies the rub. There isn't enough in the story to distinguish the War Doctor from any other Doctor. I get a sense of world weariness from him, much like the Eleventh Doctor, but apart from not wanting to be called The Doctor, he's pretty much still The Doctor. When the War Doctor first appeared, I got the feeling that he did a lot more than use The Moment to end the Time War. Apart from punching someone in the jaw in this one, there's nothing particularly edgy about him.
Like I said, Mann did the best he could with what little background he had to work with. I'll be reading future novels featuring the War Doctor. 3.5 out of 5 stars.(less)
Wrestlers are like Seagulls is the biography of former wrestling personality J.J. Dillon.
Wrestlers are like Seagulls covers the career on J.J. Dillon....moreWrestlers are like Seagulls is the biography of former wrestling personality J.J. Dillon.
Wrestlers are like Seagulls covers the career on J.J. Dillon. Unlike many similar books, Dillon knows wrestling is the star of the show and his wrestling career coverage starts at the 2% mark.
Dillon talks about working as a referee until getting his break as a wrestler working for The Sheik in Detroit. His career in Amarillo, the Canadian Maritimes, and working for Crockett promotions is covered, as well as his transition from wrestler to manager to behind the scenes booker.
Dillon's account of the behind the scenes part of the wrestling business is why I bought the book and it did not disappoint. He talks about which wrestlers were hard to deal with as well as the logistics involved with taping TV segments and running shows in adjacent towns. He talks about how cable TV and the internet changed the wrestling business forever.
Once his days as an on-air personality were over and he worked primarily backstage, things really got interesting. Dillon talks about how working for the WWF drove him into bankruptcy after Vince McMahon's steroid scandal, and what working for WCW in the declining years of the company was like.
Lastly, Dillon talks about where he ended up when the wrestling business shat him out, working as a thrice-divorced corrections officer in Delaware.
For a wrestling book, it's really well written and surprisingly free of venom. I felt like he might have been holding back a bit but I don't really have any complaints about this book. Four out of five stars.(less)
Picture, if you will, a collection of tales. A robot plays baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers. A man trades his soul for eternal life. A man is able to...morePicture, if you will, a collection of tales. A robot plays baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers. A man trades his soul for eternal life. A man is able to return to his childhood and try to make a change for the better. A married couple goes to Las Vegas and gets a prize they hadn't counted on. A man wakes up and finds he's the last living thing on Earth. Aliens invade a neighborhood. Tales are not always what they first seem to be at first glance, as you realize when you enter... the Twilight Zone.
Stories from the Twilight Zone is a collection of six Twilight Zone episodes, The Mighty Casey, Escape Clause, Walking Distance, The Fever, Where is Everybody, and The Monsters are Due on Maple Street, adapted into short stories by Rod Serling. If you've seen the episodes, this book probably isn't worth the time. However, I've mainly watched the episodes penned by Richard Matheson so this was a pretty entertaining ebook.
Some of the stories have stood the test of time better than the others but they were all pretty good. My favorites were Escape Clause and Walking Distance. Serling's writing isn't spectacular but it's easy to see how his style influenced later storytellers. I think it's cool that most of the opening and closing narration was included with the stories.
Also included in the book is an introduction by Anne Serling, talking about her father and giving a little history behind each of the episodes. I found it interesting but it wasn't essential and gave away some hints as to the plots of each.
My only gripe with the book is that it only contained six stories. However, it was pretty cheap on the kindle so I can't really complain. If you're looking for a collection of stories with endings that bite you in the ass, you can always look... in the Twilight Zone. Four out of five stars.(less)