Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Review: E-Rortica by J.K. Moore

Despite having shelves and boxes full of books, as well as a Kindle and folder on my PC nearly full of stories to read I am always on the look out for something new (and, often being that I am pretty literally a starving artist most of time, cheap as well) to add to my library.  So when one day on das FaceBooken there was another writer offering up a free copy of her latest work for review in an erotic writers group I jumped at the chance.  I had sort of "seen" her post in this particular group before, though I had not really read them or taken the time to get to know her.  Within a few days of taking her up on her offer she sent me a message curious to know if I had started reading, what was an erotic story collection, and I replied that I had not as life was going on and that I had quite a backlog of stories to read and review.  She responded back to let me know she would appreciate a review and a rating once I had the chance, and she let me know that I was really going to like her collection, and that if I had purchased it on my own I would have really been glad that I did.

Well, you know, of course, my first thought was, OH, BOY, (and rolling my eyes as I did so).  I felt pretty certain that here was another writer who was grossly overestimating their talent.  I should point out that at this time I had just made it to the midpoint of Danvers Asylum and received a response back from Gina Kincade regarding the problems I was finding with that highly endorsed story.  So once I was finished with that travesty I went straight into E-Rotica, almost sure it was going to be abysmal.  As I read the first story I found myself feeling I was right.  The story itself was not terrible, but it just didn't seem to make much sense, although the truth about what I was reading, what the story was, and was about, became more clear and defined at the very end.  Then I slept on that first story, really thinking it over and letting it sink in.  It was not that the story was insensible that was the problem as I read it, the problem was that it was deep, I had not went into the story thinking it would be deep, so the problem, as both a reader and a reviewer, was actually me.

The realization sank in the more I read.  And the more I considered what I was reading the more I knew that these were not stories you could simply read and "get it" (at least not all of them).  This is erotica for the thinking person.  These are the kind of stories I love!  I did not like every single story, but every single one was well written and well beyond sappy erotic romance and mindless porn scenes.  I would go as far as to say that Ms. Moore has the ability to get into the reader's head and make them reconsider their first impression of a story after they have though about it a little while after they finish it.  If anything I went in underestimating Ms. Moore's ability, and having sent a couple of messages to her since I initially finished reading the collection I believe that she underestimated herself as well, which is a lot to say about someone who has a great deal of confidence in their work to begin with.

What I found in E-Rotica is a great collection that is an excellent addition to my erotic reading library.  In fact I am already ready to take a look at her next collection, as well as getting my hands on her previously released works.  Ms. Moore delivers unique stories that are sometimes hard to pigeon hole or stick into one category, the kind of stories I know from past experience would be a nightmare trying to place on a story site to attract the maximum intended audience

Here's a look at the stories:

Decent Proposal
This first story is the one that had me coming and going.  It's not my favorite story in the collection, but by that same token it's not my least favorite story either.  I really, really kind of hated it until I reached the end.  After a couple of days of thinking it over I began to actually develop a grudging respect for it.  A man has the hots for his neighbor and she claims she has the hots for him as well, but things never seem to happen between the two of them whenever they get together.  A very unique take on the cuckold tale where the participants are not even in a relationship.  I rate it Four Stars due to the fact that the beginning is somewhat muddled.  I think the collection as a whole who have been better served if this was the third or fourth story instead of the lead in.  Still, once you understand there's more to this story than is on the surface it does open your eyes and mind to the fact that you need to be watchful throughout the rest of the collection.

The Pursuit Of Pleasure
The narrator of this story is indeed in the pursuit of pleasure, forever chasing after his neighbor, Ella, an erotic dancer and club performer.  She never really seems to notice him, so he lives a fantasy life in his head, spying on her as she has encounters with other men in the house across the way.  It is the study of a man who begins to realize that perhaps its the ideal of his perfect woman and being the voyeur on the outside means more to him than ever actually being in her life.  Five Stars.

Dark Desires
On a bench by the woods a woman submits to her lover's desires.  This is a true mind fuck story where most of the action occurs as the woman's internal dialogue as opposed to the physical, although it is there.  This one is short and sweet, but still manages to be thought provoking and though evoking.  Five Stars.

Historie d'E
This long story takes up a good majority of the length of the collection, which is saying volumes because the collection itself is pretty big.  I would have to say the Historie d'E is to E-Rotica what The Mist is to Stephen King's Skeleton Crew.  The story really didn't suit my tastes, however that does not keep it from being a good story, and perhaps its only fault was my impression that the individual segments within the story were uneven.  There was a great deal of exposition in the beginning with long scenes, where near the end some were quite short.  Then again, on sleeping on it the style of the story makes more sense considering this is the story of a relationship that becomes a long distance relationship, and if you've ever been there you know that a couple starts off with all the time in the world to spend together before it begins to grow shorter and shorter.  The sex is understated, but as I've already said this is not your standard "erotic romance" or wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am type of stories.  I was initially bored to tears with this story and began to wonder when it was ever going to end.  However, as with Decent Proposal, as I closed in on the end and then slept on the story I really opened myself up to what it was all about.  Five Stars.  This story features a long cameo by Ella from The Pursuit Of Pleasure, although she does not directly interact with the principal characters.

The Best Birthday Present A Girl Could Have
A woman puts on a show for her lover on her birthday with visions of getting a collar in her head as opposed to "simple" jewelry.  The lovers each tease each other as a way of Ms. Moore teasing the reader as well.  Another great little Five Star story.

When You Want Me More
A teasing game turns hot and steamy.  It's short but as you read it it actually feels like a much longer story.  A fair amount of teasing turns into one of the more graphic sex scenes in the collection.  Guy wasn't the only one rising to full mast on this one, and that's a rarity for me when reading other people's erotica.  Five Stars and a Stiffy!

Confessions Of A Stripper
Ella puts in her third appearance in the collection, this time as the story teller, giving a first person account of her own double life.  A great tale of reflection as Ella finds she has to admit that sometimes the different aspects of her two lives overlap and complete a more perfect picture of who she is.  Not as much erotic as expressing feelings of eroticism, but it works quite well.  Five Stars.

The Love And Sex Addicts Anonymous Group
This story was my personal favorite, as Ms. Moore shows a bit of her funny side.  A woman visits the titular support group with thoughts of perhaps seducing one of the other men or women in the group, but struggles with her conscience for even thinking about doing so.  Still it doesn't keep her from showing a little skin and teasing (not in the way you're thinking).  In some ways it does not quite fit in with the rest of the collection, and in other ways it's perfect and could have worked as either the lead in or the closing story.  Six Stars!  Oh, yeah!

Worship Me
A woman visits a fetish club and asserts her dominance over a respectful wallflower.  I usually never get invested in other people's BDSM stories, mainly due to the fact that the lifestyle is a personal and unique thing to every individual involved.  I read stories and a majority of the time I like them or I don't like them, only once in a great while does someone write one I love because it mirrors things in my own experience or it follows closely with my own personal philosophy about the lifestyle.  This is one of those stories I personally loved, meeting my Goldilocks Principal of being "Just right".  Another Six Star story in my book, and when combined with the preceding and seceding stories it is one of the reasons I do something I rarely ever do, and that's give it a high recommendation.

Toying With The Toy
Another BDSM story where a harsh Mistress teaches a novice sub a lesson in obedience and denial.  This one is hot in all the right places, and probably counts as the first story I have ever read that comes off as steamy and raunchy without a great deal of action focused on graphic sex acts, which I personally consider a feat.  Six Stars and a slight Stiffy!

Making Love Slowly
A young woman and her horror artist lover spend their time in deep conversation followed by hot, sweaty, slow lovemaking.  The beginning is paced like a the opening of a horror story, which was my first indication that Ms. Moore writes horror themed stories as well.  That different atmosphere is there, but there's no monsters other than the ones in the drawings, so the couple decides to make love and not monsters.  Five Stars.

Sexual Bliss
A woman stays after hours for some special, one-on-one, lessons from her yoga instructor.  For the most part I know it sounds like your average little trip in the erotic romance cheese cave, however in the hands of Ms. Moore the story is real, interesting, alive and entertaining.  Five Stars.

My Dirty Landlady
When a man has trouble with the boiler in his new flat it's the landlady to the rescue.  They're interrupted as she attempts to fix a little more than his boiler, so she promises to give him a call some other time.  When she finally gives him that call her tennant finds himself getting more than he bargined for.  This one is steamy and comedic as well, showing the lighter side of BDSM (or at least telling a tale people in the lifestyle will probably think is humorous).  Six Stars!

Fun At The Hotel
A quickie little scene between a couple visiting Las Vegas.  I found this one a little weak, and it would have probably been a better story for closer to the beginning of the collection as opposed to the end.  I did not feel the atmosphere as I did with other stories in the collection, despite the fact that the details were there.  It's still well written and far from being in the abyss.  Four Stars.

I Love You Forever
On the other side of the coin is a very brief story that is dripping with erotic atomosphere without being too blatantly a scrump scene.  A wife submits to her husband, wishing him to be her Lord and Master, and to totally own her.  Yeah, there's nothing quite like hearing that.  For me it was a trip down Memory Lane seen from the other side.  Very short, but still worth Six Stars!  This story could serve as a prologue for the next and final story in the collection, and upon reflection it could be related to Dark Desires as well.

The Woods
The final story in the collection picks up on the pair from the previous story quite some time later, and the woman in it, Kym, has run off with her old lover and is pursued by her jealous husband, who only has plans to kill whoever she is with.  This is a story, story.  There's not much sex or erotic action, but those things working on a lower level are what drive the story for all involved.  This one has everything to do with that one person who knows how to get into your head and stay there.  The one who makes you question exactly what it is you want enough to make you feel leaving them behind is a bad choice on your part whether it is or not.  It was a well told story that Ms. Moore could have taken into a dozen different directions, in a dozen different genres and made it work, but I think the story she chose to tell was the right way for her to go, on top of being quite effective.  Six Stars!

This is a new one for me, but I give E-Rotica and overall rating of Five & A Half Stars for going well beyond my expectations for any collection or anthology.  Again I certainly can't wait to see what J.K. Moore is going to write next, and knowing she has an Erotic Horror anthology in the works I can't wait to see what her take on the genre is since a couple of  stories in this collection have a definate Horror vibe to them.

You can learn more about J.K. Moore by visiting her blog Kinky Minds Think Alike .

Here is where you can get your copy of E-Rotica by J.K. Moore.  It is currently only available from Amazon, though she is working to release it to more sites very soon and I will post updates once I know it has gone live elsewhere.


Again, this one comes HIGHLY RECCOMENDED and I think it is worth your while to lurk into.

Master Vyle

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Review: Blain's Mates by Sayde Grace

First off I am going to begin this review by quoting what I believe the wolf on the cover is saying:


Now I'm not going to say that Blain's Mates by Sayde Grace is a total dog, however it's not anything to howl about either.  I have done my best not to let my expectations going into the story temper my review, though I do think many readers may start out under the impression that since the story involves werewolves and bisexual men they are going to see werewolves and at least a little guy on guy action.  Well, instead of giving us a hot werewolf scrumpin' scene like the one shown in the film version of The Howling we get a story that has less werewolf in it than The Howling: New Moon Rising (which was 95% scenes of line dancing and beer drinkin', 2% awful werewolf costumes that would not have passed in z-grade 60's horror films and 3% bad acting).  As for the guy on guy action, well it is certainly alluded to but never really materializes.

Blain's Mates is basically the story of Blain Jacobs, second in command and male lover to Shawn Sanders, the Alpha male of the local werewolf clan.  To secure his position as the leader of the clan Shawn must have a (female) mate.  Enter hot and much sought after female member of the clan Raylen Walker, who both are hopelessly in love with (as well as being hopelessly in love with each other).  Magically the participants must all mate together at the same magical moment to seal the three of them as being mated for life, which sounds pretty hot, and it probably would be if it was handled much better.

A majority of this extremely short story is centered on Blain waffling on whether or not he is going to actually join the bond, as well as him thinking about how hot Shawn is (though with a lack of any sexual flashbacks).  The length in the end is the real killer, and the story comes off as neither erotic or very romantic.  Had Ms. Grace perhaps written more it would have made a huge difference, because as I have said before sometimes stories do work and work really well without the elements the readers are expecting in them, but in the case of this story Sayde Grace does not give herself that much else to work with.  Instead the reader is suddenly dropped into a story and Universe without much reference as to what is going on.  It is listed as part of Grace's Moon Creek Series, however thus far Blain's Mates is the only entry and I cannot see that it is enticing enough to get readers to purchase future stories in the series.

In all honesty I have to say that I do think the Ms. Grace has some good ideas and concepts.  However, she needs to really spin this tale out in a longer format.  Her writing style is not awful, but it is not overly thrilling.  I rate Blain's Mates Three Stars, and I hope to see if Sayde Grace does better with stories written in a longer format, because she certainly has imagination.  It just needs to be expanded upon and refined.

Here is where you can find Sayde Grace's Blain's Mates:

All Romance eBooks:

Master Vyle

Review: Hi I'm A Social Disease by Anderson Prunty

Were I to judge a book by its cover I would have this to say of Hi I'm A Social Disease by Anderson Prunty, interesting.  If I were to judge it from a catchy and unusual title I would have to say, very interesting.  However, if I skipped the cover and title and judged it by its content I would have to say, Five Stars overall, and that's exactly what I found this story collection rates.

This was another collection that kept coming up on my suggested reads list, and let me tell you that the cover photo by Michael Omar Berrospe, if you have not figured it out for yourself, is a great piece of visual bait.  Add to the fact that it was offered as a 99 Cent read and I was on the hook.  In this collection Prunty gives us a collection of very well told stories that range from the quirky to the classic.

Here's a look at the stories:

Room 19
Inspired by a Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds song this story is the study of the resident of an apartment building in a post-apocalyptic world.  The landlord is a cannibal and when a new neighbor moves into the room a floor above the narrator begins to take a curious interest in her, and her "diaries".  Unusual and with a slight twist at the end it was not my favorite, but Prunty's unique style and tale had me hooked enough to feel that the collection would only get better.  Four Stars.

Market Adjustment
On the day the Great Depression begins the world goes crazy, in some cases literally.  A man on a mission ascends to the upper floors of an office building where a strange creature holds sway over greed and misery in two different universes.  Dripping with gore and oozing a strange atmosphere this story is almost like a meeting between H.P. Lovecraft and Clive Barker at an Occupy Wall Street rally.  The narrative is timely considering the current world economic crisis and is a good example of contrasting the past and present, whether it was Prunty's intention to do so or not.  Oh, yeah!  Six Stars!

The Dust Season
A cheating couple of carnival workers faces a strange retribution at the hands of their fellow carnies that demotes them from being stars of the show to being part of the freak show.  This review may sound like I'm drawing my comparisons from the decline of Universal's monster monopoly of the 30's and 40's, but this story really is Water For Elephants meets Tod Browning's Freaks!  You might see what's coming in this short little story, but it's still pretty effective.  Four Stars.

The Man With A Face Like A Bruise
A man has a vision of a creature that has haunted him that he has not seen in a long time, then catches his lover in bed with another man.  A tense and gory tale of revenge.  I do not want to give too much away as it if perhaps the best story in the collection.  Another Six Stars!

The Photographer
A man with a taste for abusing young women is haunted by one of his victims from a war torn country.  It's a quick read that gave this reader what he wanted in seeing that the titular photographer gets exactly what's coming to him.  A sweet little Five Star story.

The Funeralgoer
A man with the gift of being able to relive the last moments of a person's life gets more than he bargained for once he finds himself the prisoner of the spirits of the dead.  There seems to be no escape until he hits on a unique solution to his unique problem.  Four Stars.

The Night The Moon Made A Sound
It's a ghost story, but it's not your typical ghost story, similar to some of Scott Nicholson's better work.  I'm not really a fan of this type of story because they either work and are effective, or they do not and are not.  This one most certainly does.  Five Stars.

Hi I'm A Social Disease was more than enough to gain my appreciation for Anderson Prunty and earn a spot in this blog's sidebar as a Kindle Featured Creature.  I hope to get the chance to read more from Prunty in the future.

You can find Anderson Prunty's Hi I'm A Social Disease here:

Barnes & Noble:

In my opinion Hi I'm A Social Disease and Anderson Prunty are a must on any good lurk for list!

Master Vyle

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Review: Dead(ish) by Naomi Kramer

In my review of Her Very Special Robot I stated that Ann Jacobs put the AWE in awful, and in this review I'm going to tell you that Naomi Kramer puts the ABYSS in abysmal.  About the only good thing I can say about Dead(ish) it that it gives me the opportunity to use adjectives like boring(ish), hack(ish), pitiful(ish) and useless(ish).  The only other good thing I can say about this short story was that it was in "Free Read" territory, so at least I didn't spend even a few cents on it.  Had I judged this story by its cover I would have said it was cutesy-funny, but the sad reality is that it is not even that.

After being apparently murdered (and I say apparently because this muddled mess is so mired in crap disguised as writing that it's at times hard to tell if a murder ever took place at all, which in the end we learn it didn't) by her boyfriend, Mike, and their gay neighbors, Lazarus and Geordie, Linda enlist the aid of private investigator Trent to help solve the crime (?) and make Mike confess so that it will ruin his life.  (Sound like a teenage plot?  Well it certainly read like one.)  Not a single character in this whole mess is anything other than a pathetic whiner, which only aids in making each and every single one unlikable.  Linda dies after she and Mike engage in a four way with Lazarus and Geordie, which helps make it painfully apparent that not only does Ms. Kramer have no idea of what gay is, but she also clearly cannot distinguish gay from bisexual.  (Though even if she could I doubt it would help.)

Some readers claim to have found the book humorous, yet I only found certain parts laughable, such as this line as Mike describes looking into the mirror after the ghost of his girlfriend has pulled a prank on him by painting him while he was sleeping:

"My hair's blue, and my eyebrows are green, and my skin's orange.  I look like a smurf, a munchkin and an oompa loompa had an orgy and I was their love-child."

The only bit of unintentional humor was this line:

"What the hell is the point?"

Which is exactly what I was wondering from first word to last word.

Plus there's an "Obligatory Shower Scene" which is supposed to be some sort of tease scene which only teased me into believing the story was going to get interesting for about 1/4 of a millisecond.  Nothing happens in the big shower scene.  I mean, really, nothing happens in the big shower scene, which is a pretty good indication to me that Ms. Kramer had no need to ever try her hand at writing erotica.

The entire narrative of this story leaves a great deal to be desired.  It is split into several sections, each devoted to a first person account from a different character, however Ms. Kramer quickly forgets the rule and structure that she established for the story to follow, giving multiple points of view in a first person scene.  The entire thing looks as if it was written in one sitting over a one day period, and if any editing occurred it was only to take care of spelling errors.  There was zero effort and zero imagination put into the writing of this story, and that is the reason I am giving it Zero Stars.  As far as her writing goes, unless she has some intention of improvement I think Ms. Kramer should quit(ish).

Readers of this story on Amazon seem a little split, and miraculously this turd is actually the first in a series.  Dead(ish) has around 80 reviews on it, while its follow ups each have less than ten, which indicates to me that like it or not most people did not feel like bothering to trudge through its two sequels despite the fact they are only 99 Cents.  A majority of reviewers on Barnes & Noble placed the story in the One to Three Star range.  It has a high rating on Smashwords despite the fact that several reviewers did not rate it and only commented.  So it seems that Dead(ish) is apparently for some, but not for all.

You can find Dead(ish) here:

Barnes & Noble:

Lurk(ish) this one up if you not squeam(ish) about reading abysmal stories.

Master Vyle

Review: Anything Can Be Dangerous by Matt Hults

As you may have gathered from the past few odd post and reviews that I have a real issue with authors and publishers offering "Free Reads" when the stories are nothing to write home about and definitely do not showcase an author's talents in a way that would entice a reader to pay any sum for the author's work.  However, on the other side of the coin comes Anything Can Be Dangerous by Matt Hults, a short story collection that showcases talent as opposed to utter hack work.

I initially became aware of this collection due to the fact that Hults's novel, Husk, (which shares nearly the same cover) kept coming up in my suggested reading list.  I had in fact put the novel on my wish list before coming across Anything Can Be Dangerous while browsing through other books, and figured since it was a free eBook I would give it a read before committing to buying Husk.  The collection exist in part as a marketing tool geared at enticing the reader to buy the novel (bravo to someone at last) and in fact even contains an excerpt of the story as well as for a couple of stories from another author, one of which looked quite promising.

Overall the reviews on Amazon for both the collection and the novel are pretty positive.  There were a couple of gripey ones (Who says horror readers aren't a nit-picky bunch?  Wasn't me, but if you've read my Danvers Asylum review you know who is).  And quite a few pointed out spelling errors. which for some reason Encyclopedia Brownstains like the duckie duck duckman Jacob M. Drake feel is a great reason to rip another author or story, but the reader has to bear in mind that small press and independents are usually wearing nearly every hat and do not have the money to shell out for editors or book brokers.  My own rule is to say yes it has spelling and/or usage errors in a review, but I never hold the odd misspelled word or tense a spell checker did not catch against the author, unless the author proves they cannot spell at all.  I find that 99.99999999998% of the time a misspelled word here or there does not take away from the overall enjoyment I get out of a story, and I have caught quite a few of them in "main stream" print books that have been on the Best Seller's list.

Here's a look at the stories:

Anything Can Be Dangerous

"Greg knew that for every warning label ever made - especially the absurd ones - there was someone who'd done what it cautioned against and lived to sue about it."

The title story is probably the weakest story in the collection, however Hults lends it enough story telling talent to hold the reader's interest and make them want more of the story and more of his work.  A man who has lived with his mother's words that anything can be dangerous all of his life begins to find new meaning in her warning as plastic bags begin to come to life with the intention of killing every living creature.  The love interest subplot is a little weak, and it's resemblance and homage to the Romero zombie genre is so obvious that Hults even decides to point it out in the narrative.  The end is slightly predictable, but again Hults's narrative style and imagination will keep you reading all the way to the end.  Three and a Half Stars.

Feeding Frenzy
Two restaurateurs and a real estate agent visit an abandoned diner seemingly in the middle of nowhere.  This is the place the undead stop off for a bite, and once you walk through the door you are owner and slave to the diner, left with no choice but to serve an endless line of customers with no way to escape.  An innovative take on the story of the ever hungry undead.  It's a good and humorous piece of horror that leaves the reader with a nice little chill to mull over at the end.  Five Stars.

Through The Valley Of Death
When their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere a family is forced to hike through the snow.  As they pass through a wooded valley they begin to realize that things are not quite right, as evidence of strange horrors begin to present themselves.  However, the true terror begins with the sun goes down, and the family has to face the fact that they many not make it out of the valley alive, or human.  Five Stars.

The Finger
When a pair of friends decide to pull the old human finger in the chili trick they get more than they bargained for.  A story drenched with gore and oozing menace that helps this collection end with more punch than it started with (as every good anthology should).  Five Stars.

Anything Can Be Dangerous also includes a scene from Hults's novel, Husk, which I though was excellent and more than justifies Husk remaining on my wish list until it's time to buy.  It also contains excerpts from two James Roy Daley novels, Into Hell which I felt pretty unsure about and Terror Town which looks very raw and girtty and probably worth me checking out at a later date as well.  Despite a somewhat weak lead in story Hults has a way with words that keeps the reader engrossed with the story, which only builds through the other stories in the collection making it Five Stars overall.

Here's where you can find Anything Can Be Dangerous (aka The Matt Hults Sampler) by Matt Hults:

Barnes & Noble:
iTunes Book Store:
Sony eBook Store:

Be sure to lurk for this good example of what a free eBook should be.

Master Vyle

Monday, November 14, 2011

Review: Her Very Special Robot by Ann Jacobs

Okay, it may sound a little lame to say this, however, there's nothing like a good story and Her Very Special Robot by Ann Jacobs is nothing like a good story.  I also know that maybe it's already getting old for me to be saying this, but here's another piece of cheese from Ellora's Cave.  Now, I know it may seem as if I have some vendetta against EC, considering that three out of four things I have reviewed from them so far are things I have rated pretty low, but the reason I have so many of these "Naughty Nooners" in my reading que is due to the fact that I went through and downloaded several of these "freebies" at the same time.  The reviews are coming as I read them.  I suppose if anything prejudices my views it would have to be the fact that I have the expectation that when an author or publisher offers stories for free it is with the intention of showcasing a great writer or work for free so readers will be interested enough to actually purchase other works from the writer and/or publishing house at a later date.  Why the market is flooded with such substandard stories, for free, totally blows my mind.  Additionally I have read several bios on some of these authors (and that is in general of several putting out free stories and not Ellora's Cave) that claim they are "award winning".  Well, when I'm reading a story that is supposed to entice me to buy a story from an "award winning author" I'm expecting to see what makes that author award winning.

Unlike a few, who from their reviews on Amazon, said they misunderstood that it was not a science fiction story I did read the description, and it actually tells you about 80% of everything you need to know about Her Very Special Robot.  Yes, it's a little quickie that is a fast and easy read, and it was described as taking 25 and 45 minutes worth of reading by a pair of Amazon reviewers who stated that they wished they could have that much time of their lives back.

Allie is a widow who lost her husband, Jack, a stuntman, a little over a year ago, and to help her celebrate the holidays his best friend and fellow stuntman, Trace, has given her a weekend at the House Of A Thousand Pleasures resort.  Yes, that's right, because nothing says I'm helping you heal from your husband's death during the holidays like two days at a sex resort.  The supposed ultimate pleasure one can get at this resort is a sex robot who will fulfill every desire.  However, there's no such thing as a sex robot, only Trace's plan with the help of the resort's owners to pass himself off as one.  What follows from there is perhaps the worst example of  "erotic romance" drivel I've ever had the displeasure of reading.

What could have been, perhaps, a deep story is pretty much destroyed by Ms. Jacobs failure to understand how to write either erotica or romance.  The two main characters are a couple of unlikable morons who can apparently only get together through an act of deception.  What may have worked in Revenge Of The Nerds comes no where close to working out in this story.  I suppose if you're an old school General Hospital fan from the Luke and Laura Era and deceptive rape seems like a great way to start a romance, then this story is for you.  Compound that with the fact that, "for a job on an adult cable show", Trace his gotten more stuff put through his junk than a Hellraiser Cenobite, and the fact that Jacobs narrative style is as exciting as a dead fish and you end up with a story that puts the "AWE" in awful.

Trace's whole robot angle is beyond laughable and would be even if there was an ounce of life in the story telling.  Allie is beyond an idiot as evidenced by the one line in the story that was so bad it was the only thing in it that even got a chuckle out of me, after she puts a condom on her "sex machine":

"Even robots do safe sex these days. I guess," she said as she bent and tongued the barbells in his balls."

To which "robot" Trace responds:

"Even robots don't want to scratch your hot little cunt."

Oh, how I wish I had Shain Brown reading me this one in that falsetto Arnold Schwarzenegger voice that he read some of my early erotic stories aloud in.  At least I would have found some of the humor that some of the other readers who have weighed in on this story claimed they did.

There's nothing at all special about Her Very Special Robot, unless you're looking for a list of male genetalia piercings.  I give it One Star, and that's generosity on my part.

Here is where you can get a copy of Her Very Special Robot, which I feel is so bad it has to be read to be believed, and since it is free you've got nothing to loose:

Master Vyle

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Review: Tit For Tat by Delilah Fawkes

It was a couple of months ago that I picked up my copy of Tit For Tat by Delilah Fawkes on Amazon while browsing free stories.  As you may, or may not, know the "freebie" listing on Amazon and many other sites are a great place to find many short works, some fantastic and some substandard.  As a marketing tool for authors and publishers I think it is a great way to showcase new talent, however there are quite a few who choose to showcase whatever, as if it will actually entice readers to pay money when the distinct possibility is that what they will be paying for will be as bad as, if not worse than, what they received for free.

As soon as I opened up Tit For Tat I braced myself.  From the opening line and through the first couple of paragraphs I had a feeling, you know, that bad feeling I get, that I knew exactly where this story was going.  However as I read on I was pleasantly surprised to have Ms. Fawkes spin out a little quickie that was fresh and actually did not end up the way I was thinking it would.

Tit For Tat is the story of Sara, a college student, who along with her roommate Kim, attend a party where they end up paring up with Scott and Jamie, two notorious womanizers who are also known for playing around within their own sex as well.  Once they have a room to themselves they begin to play a little game of we'll play with each other if you'll play with each other first.  I had visions of American Pie 2 in my mind from the beginning, but Fawkes takes it beyond that sophomoric little comedy scene, making it a full scene of consensual same-sex hotness.  I had expected that in the end the guys and girls would pair off, but that never happened, and in my opinion really helped the story further break from the realm of the stereotypical and predictable.

At least on Amazon the story has been attacked for being too short and offering more sample scenes from Fawkes's other work which make up more than half the length of the eBook itself, but that's the nature of independent writing.  The only things I can fault this short and sweet little story with are a couple of spelling and usage errors, as well as a formatting issue that causes the paragraphs to appear without indentations or breaks.  That said this is a Four Star story and for the most part is a good example of an author self-promoting with a free work which includes several good sample scenes as well as a complete story.

Delilah Fawkes has published several short stories and novellas, many with a college theme or setting.  This is one of the best bisexual stories that I have ever seen without any actual bi action, and it gets along without it just fine, as well as doing the job when it comes to getting the blood flowing.

You can find Tit For Tat as a free eBook here:

Barnes & Noble:
Diesel eBook Store:
Sony eBook Store:

Lurk for it if you want a good, hot and quick 20 minute read with both M/M and F/F action!

Master Vyle

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Review: Danvers Asylum by Chrystian Marrero

Those who have read my blog over the course of the past year or so I am sure have learned quite a few things about me.  I'm a hardcore horror and erotica fan, as well as an avid reader.  I'm opinionated.  I tend to be meticulous and research like crazy, not only when it comes to writing stories, but about anything that just plain strikes my fancy as well.  I like to tell it like it is about almost everything, and being that this is my personal blog I don't hold back.

I initially began doing reviews right after I bought my Kindle.  Then I stepped up my reviewing over this past summer.  Most of the stories I initially reviewed just happened to be what I was reading at the time, especially if it was something that I felt a connection with, or on the other end of the spectrum I reviewed some things that were horribly, even laughably bad.  As I stepped up the pace of my reading for pleasure I tended to pick of authors I had gotten to know, or went with ones that they suggested.  I followed suggestions on Amazon, as well as stories that were getting buzzed on Twitter and other social sites.  In August I received my first request for a review from another author who had read this blog and some of the reviews on it.  Then about a month ago I received my first request for a work to be reviewed from a small publishing company.

The request itself came during the time I had been suffering with migraines for several weeks, and the e-mails from Naughty Nights Press owner Gina Kincade and Penny Petersson, her personal executive assistant and NNP's director of marketing and research, sat in my mailbox for a couple of weeks before I checked the address on this blog to see what was there.  I had come to their attention because Ms. Kincade had liked my review of Ray Sostre's Their First Night Together.

I was of course flattered to be offered a chance to review what was pretty much billed as NNP's first straight horror story, Danvers Asylum by Chrystian Marrero, so I accepted the offer to do a review.  However I did issue the warning that I would not hold back in my review, although I would take into account whatever was good and bad in the work.  In fact this is what I wrote to Ms. Kincade on the subject in my response e-mail:

If you have read some of my other reviews you can see that not everyone gets off easy.  As a self-published writer myself I tend to be critical on most all points, but I do look for the good and the bad, as well as trying to put myself in the mind-set of the intended target audience.  I had went the story submission route for a year and found that "comments" on stories were just that, and not reviews.  What I try to give is what I want on my work, critical reviews that say this is where you went wrong as well as here's what you did right on the money.  For stories that have no middle ground, that are just plain awful, I have been less than kind to, although most of my blog followers say they read my reviews because I have no problem telling it like it is.  Another friend and writer has even suggested that I'm sometimes too kind for being able to point out the things that I find brilliant parts in an overall awful story.

I just want yo to know this so you're aware the I do not sugar coat my opinions and feelings.  Even with writers I am acquainted with, such as the editors of One Buck Horror and Mr. Sostre himself, get my opinion, whatever it is, with no holding back.

I received this response from Ms. Kincade, and was pretty sure she knew where I was coming from.  (At least for the most part, because again I temper being positive and negative in my delivery of a review based on the work itself.  Again, there are several reasons that I call myself Master Vyle.)

"The honesty of your reviewing and that you, like me, don't believe in sugar coating the truth, is exactly WHY I'm interested in sharing our works with you.  I dislike those who only sing praises about a work when in reality the author benefits from constructive criticism.  Of course, putting it positively is key but it still MUST be addressed for an author to learn & improve.  I'm a publisher, but I will always be an author first.  I get it and only want my writers to learn & advance."

To say working on this review has been a slight odyssey, with a heavy expression on the odd, would probably be an understatement.  I went into this one feeling that I was about to see something truly awesome.  Here I was being presented with a work that a figure no less than the owner of the publishing company was firmly and totally behind.  In fact Ms Kincade had no problem singing Mr. Marrero's praises, so I almost felt as if she were expecting me to feel like my socks were about to be totally blown off by this story.  She told me in her e-mail that, "I think you'll find Danvers quite unique & interesting for a boy of eighteen to write.  I was impressed the first time with his writing and it only grows daily.  Chrystian will be big.  Bank on it, I do."

Even Ms. Petersson had a great deal of confidence in the work and Ms. Kincade's faith in it.  It was so much so that I in fact asked her to go ahead and send me a copy for review without bothering to look over the excerpts that she had provided with her initial e-mail.

Of course before I go any further I an going to state that I do not want this review to be seen as encompassing everyone or everything published through Naught Nights Press.  In my research into NNP I found that there were several authors there I have read stories from over the past couple of years, authors who do fantastic work.  I know that when I first alluded to doing this review in my post Egomania Runnin' Wild! that I said I was going to grade the publisher overall, but in hindsight and without having read everything in NNP's catalogue I think that perhaps Ms. Kincade "grabbed up" something outside of her element, and the element of her press.

Additionally, as if I really need to because after all it is my personal blog, let me state that the following review is my opinion.  I am pretty sure that most people realize that what is on this blog, the views and opinions of Michael C. Laney (Master Vyle) and House Of Master Vyle, are my own opinions, and in no way reflect the opinion or opinions of every other man, woman and child on the face of Planet Earth.  (Sorry, I'm pretty shitty at doing lame disclaimers about totally obvious garbage.)

Again, I'm pretty nit-picky about stories in general.  I also feel that for the most part that horror fans overall are a nit-picky bunch.  I happen to be a member of several groups that discuss horror films and literature, and if there is anything that I have learned through them is that they're all fairly critical.  No, I wouldn't say we're all beyond stories that lack logic, because a vast majority of the time you do end up hoping someone will do something stupid so that they die a horrible and gory death.  However that also comes the most part in films, because you have that one and a half to two hours to watch the story, so it has to unfold pretty quickly, whether the film itself is a box office blockbuster or z-grade trash.

The written word is another animal.  When you have the words on a page and actually have to go through the action page by page and line by line it takes time, which also gives the reader much more time to think over the action and actions being presented to them.

As I reached the mid-point of Danvers Asylum I found the story to be fraught with problems and inaccuracies.  Also as someone who has read quite a few horror novels and short stories over the years (ranging from brilliant best sellers to horrible hack work) I was finding that despite the inaccuracies the novel itself was not all that, and was pretty much no where close.  So, having been sent the novel to review, I decided that it was best to write to Ms. Kincade about a few of the inaccurate details, as well as what I perceived as a major flaw in the premise of the story itself, listing a few of the things I saw as problems that other readers might have issue with.  Below is my message in its entirety.  I know it discusses details about the story itself that I have not gotten to, but I do promise to explain them where necessary as I get into the actual review of Marrero's novel.

Greetings Gina,

I am about halfway through with Danvers Asylum.  Judging from what I have seen so far I'm afraid that my review for this work will be quite critical.  There are several problems that just jump out at me.  After doing the math I came to the conclusion that Devore, the private investigator, would have been 17 when his daughter was born, making him a genius who would have been in college since he was 13 or 14 years old.  A thousand dollars for a blackmailed PI also seems pretty steep, especially considering the setting of late 1990.

A trip from Bangor, Maine to Boston Massachusetts, by car, would only take just over four hours, and is about 235 miles, which is hardly thousands of miles and flying this distance would take than less than an hour as opposed to the tiring hours of flight described in Marrero's narrative.

Also Devore's youthful past-time of extreme skateboarding it was not likely to have existed in his teen years, because at that time in the 1960's skateboarding was only in its infancy, and even at that point it was mainly done by surfers as practice, which would not likely be done in Chicago, Illinois around that time.

Mr. Marrero presents an interesting idea with the words beginning with capital letters spelling out messages in the books, although sometimes proper names and the first words in sentences are part of the puzzle and sometimes they are not.  He clearly has a great deal of imagination.  However, his age does show, his work revealing that he is lacking somewhat in life experience, and that he needs to better research what to many familiar with the United States and the distances and travel times between them, are going to see as flaws.

I also have to add that even in the 60's Bangor, Maine was a major metropolitan area, and it has been the third most populous area in the State of Maine for over a century, hardly one of the most remote places in America.

Now please understand, I'm not saying that I think he should hang it up.  My own works from when I started writing are lacking, and I've been retro-engineering the first novel I wrote for the past two years to make sure that it works and all the facts are straight, because at Marrero's age I made many of the same kind of mistakes.

I hate to pass a full judgment with only being halfway done, however, in my opinion, this story needs a major overhaul.  Horror readers are a nit-picky bunch, and I personally grew up with the genre, which may make me a little more critical than most.

I just wanted you to be aware of what I am seeing as major flaws with this work, and to show you where my mind is on it, and to give you just a few examples of the things other readers may find issue with.

Be Well,
Michael C. Laney

Now granted I am the one who wrote the above statement.  Even now it looks fairly diplomatic and is even supportive of the author.  It was my feeling that Ms. Kincade should be very aware of the fact that I did not see what she saw in this story, and that my review was going to reflect that.  Of course I didn't expect a response back that was going to be in total agreement with my mid-point assessment.  However, I did expect a response that was going to be perhaps as equally diplomatic, even professional, since it was a response from the owner of a small publishing company.  Instead I got this response (also reproduced in its entirety).  Now this may be my opinion, or even my own writer's Egomanic ego, but this response seems a little snarky.


I appreciate you letting me know.  Although I will admit what you've said, your critique, surprises me.

Your review is just that, your opinion and that is what we do ask for.  However, I would ask you to remember one important factor, Danvers IS fiction, not fact, as is outlines at the start of the book.  In no way is any of the information meant to represent fact or reality but rather, just as an erotic book where characters may get into some physically unbelievable positions or situations, it is intended to entertain.

So far, as you've mentioned to me little else, you have identified things that would be mainly fact based assumptions.

I do have one minor concern, you claim "Horror readers are a nit-picky bunch" and from what I would gather you feel you speak for all of us on a whole.  I too grew up with horror as one of the main reading genres and though I truly enjoined many of the novels by Stephen King, Clive Barker and many more, not for a moment did I sit and analyze whether the story lines were believable anymore than I did the alien movies that were also the rage at the time.

You also say you'd hate to pass judgement with the book only half done but in all honesty, from your critical assessment of what you believe should be factual rather than fictional, you already have.  To say it needs a complete overhaul?  Really.  You've not yet passed judgement?  Hmmm.

I'm not sure why it seems you are taking this as a bit more personal then you did the erotic piece by Ray Sostre.  Almost as if Marrero's age plays a role in your opinion, which of course it shouldn't.  Since you yourself brought it up I could tell you of some works by those of a much more advanced age that would astound you with the seemingly inexperience in life they must have!


When did life experience become a prerequisite for writing fiction?  I've virgins who write some of the hottest pieces of erotic literature I've read and obviously that comes from the imagination only.

You can of course continue or not, your choice, but might I ask a favor of you if you choose - remember that nothing in the book whatsoever is meant to be true.

As a Canadian myself I haven't the foggiest idea how long it would take to get from Chicago to Maine, nor do I care.  I do however, know that in my own travels a train ride from Belleville, Ontario to Kitchener, Ontario takes two and a half hours by car, CAN take eleven exhausting hours of travel time.  Now that IS pathetically fact, but I doubt anyone who read my books would notice.

I hope you can see the opposite perspective on my point and enjoy the rest of the book.

Oh and while I'm writing I might also mention that Penny likely sent you the unedited ARC copy so capitals and such would certainly not have been addressed in said copy.

I was under the impression you were more of one who looked at the story line rather then the editing.  Perhaps I was unintentionally wrong in my assessment based on your review of Mr. Sostre's work,


It happens.  No human can claim to be perfect right.

Have a terrific day!

Lady G

Well, okay then.  Guess I got served there, Lady G.  And by the way, Madame Publisher, it's than and not then.  Plus you may want to be a bit more careful with your punctuation.  And I suppose the fact that it was an unedited copy of a work you wanted a review for does explain the absence of a single apostrophe in the entire work, quotation marks filling in for them for the entire length of Danvers Asylum.  I have to admit the use of asterisks to denote motion the way they are commonly used in Internet chat is a brave choice for someone older than me.  And I have got to say that virgins writing erotica line still makes me nearly piss my pants laughing every time I read it.  I can already admit that had I been given a piece of that hotness I think it might have actually been entertainment, as opposed to the work that she did send to me.

So, did she not make any inferences from my e-mail that it was probably a good idea to check out some of the other reviews on this blog?  Was her assessment of my review style and content based solely on one good review wrong?  Did I misunderstand that she understood what I was saying in my e-mail to her, even though in her initial response she sounded as if she whole-heartedly agreed with what I was saying on nearly every point?

Well, I think that first off I really must have misunderstood the fact that she was not actually looking for a serious critical review.  I guess I was supposed to give Danvers Asylum the same, glowing, Five Star, reviews that the novel has gotten from other reviewers, which in some cases were written much better than the novel itself, and in other cases look as if they're merely regurgitating the description of the story with a slightly different wording.  Maybe I was supposed to say that Marrero's work reminds me of Stephen King and Clive Barker, as some people do according to some of the reviews and interviews I read claim.  It reminds me of neither in the least, not even if the reference was to awful film adaptations of their novels and not the actual novels themselves.

Now as far as me taking or having something personal against what I was reading, well it really seemed to me that Ms. Kincade was the one taking my poking holes in her belief that this novel was great and that Mr. Marrero is going to be big personally.  According to a couple of interviews I came across of Mr. Marrero discussing his association with NNP he states that Ms. Kincade was the one who approached him about publishing the novel through NNP after she had read the first two chapters on a story site.  I will admit that I did think those two chapters were okay, and in fact would go as far as to say that they were the best chapters in the whole novel.

The thing is there is a huge gap between erotica and horror as genres.  Yes, most readers do not care for facts or logic in erotic stories, although (at least it seems) a majority of writers I have seen who care enough to put them there have checked them beforehand.  No, life experience is not a prerequisite to writing fiction, although it does happen to be a prerequisite to writing believable fiction, interesting fiction, captivating fiction.  And maybe if Ms. Kincade wrote a story about traveling from Belleville to Kitchener no one would care that it takes two hours by car and eleven by train, although I think explaining the reasons for the difference in travel times as well as relating the horrors of traveling by rail would make for an interesting fact based piece of fiction.  However, were I to go from Belleville to Kitchener I can already say that I would be smart enough to take a car.

However, the subject at hand was a flight from one airport in New England to another, and not really a car ride (which was given as a matter or comparison and contrasting), or a hypothetical train ride.  And true, and I'm not trying to make assumptions about Canadian readers based on Ms. Kincade's statement that as a Canadian she doesn't have, "...the foggiest idea how long it would take to get from Chicago to Maine, nor do I care.", (and I feel here I should point out, again, the trip in question was from Maine to Massachusetts) however I can't help but feel that there are more than a few Canadian readers who do care about correct details in a story.  Not to mention the fact that in the Internet Age I am sure that there is a great potential for readers in many other countries, including the United States, where the story is set, to actually purchase and read this story.  And true, some people will have no idea where any of these places are, or what the distances between them are, however those who do and think it matters are going to be more than willing to tear this story apart, as there are many people out there who itch for nothing more than to rip a story up due to inaccurate facts alone.

Now I do live in an area far from the setting of the story, half the continental U.S. away in fact.  I have asked several people (and my local area is a mix of people who grew up here, people from other countries, and even people who once lived in New England) if going from Bangor, Maine to Boston, Massachusetts was a matter of tens of miles, hundreds of miles, or thousands of miles.  The unanimous answer to this impromptu  and eclectic little poll was hundreds of miles.  My wife, who is from New England, actually laughed at the idea that this would be a journey of thousands of miles and tiring hours by air plane.  My friend Alice the librarian (because her name is Alice and she is a librarian), who originally came from the United Kingdom, said to me, "The publisher really doesn't care about any of this?", after I ran down a list of problems within this story that stuck out like a pair of sore thumbs.

I do get the fact that Danvers Asylum is a work of fiction.  However, that fact and the fact that there is a disclaimer (that a majority of readers are going to skip anyhow) that states that it is a story completely from the author's imagination does not exonerate it from being accurate when the facts and logic presented within the story are untrue or totally wrong.  You see for something to be fully the product of the author's imagination you have to eliminate facts PERIOD.  To have a story that is set in a fictitious town, or location, in "the present day" is one thing.  However, once you enter a known fact, a time frame, or even a known location whether they are used in a fictitious manner or not, and these elements are meant to enhance the story, the author looses the right and ability to simply say, "Oh, it's all in my made-up Universe."

Just a little research into the actual Danvers Asylum, which the disclaimer admits is a real location and that the asylum in the story only shares its name with, could have provided some great ambiance facts.  Facts such as Danvers being referred to as "the castle on the hill", or that it is undercut by a "wagon wheel"-like series of tunnels, or that it is rumored to be the place where the pre-frontal lobotomy was pioneered would have certainly made the location come alive as opposed to being just a location on a map chosen at random.

The truth, of course, was that Marrero chose the name of Danvers Asylum for a purpose, and without question a purpose, that being name recognition.  Otherwise he could have pulled any name out of his ass and given the asylum in his story that name.  Marrero further connects his "fictional" asylum to reality by setting the story in Danvers, Massachusetts, the location of the actual asylum, as opposed to Toronto, Canada, or Cardiff, Wales or even Corozal, Puerto Rico.

I felt it was fairly apparent that Mr. Marrero idolizes Stephen King, and to anyone who has read a great deal of King's work it's pretty hard to miss.  From the New England setting of the story, to the fact that his, intended, main character in the story is a famous horror author named John Stephenson, to the fact that Bangor, Maine, a place King mentions quite often as a location or point of reference is home to another character.  Yes even to the fact that he goes as far to say that on Stephenson's bookshelf, "Authors ranged from obscure talents such as Garry Noonan and George Richardson, to the master of horror and suspense known throughout the entire world as Stephen King - the modern day master of English literature.", reveal that Marrero is a big-time Stephen King fan boy.

Now I find no issue with that, in fact I was a huge fan of King's at one point as well.  The thing is Stephen King is so great not only because he can spin a good yarn and has a great memory for detail, but also because he no doubt does his homework when necessary.  King writes a great deal about life in New England and it seems so real, probably due to the fact that King has spent a majority of his life in New England.  If you ever want to reach the level of King, then you have to work, like King.  You see, there's a reason that some of King's early work such as The Glass Floor and The Star Invaders have never been published, and that's because they're fairly juvenile work from when he was just beginning to write.

Now of course I do have to point out, in a little twist of irony, that King has actually at least once used the excuse that he was writing "in his own Universe" when questioned about a song title mentioned in a story set a year before the song came out.  Was he being serious?  Well, it is hard to tell with someone who thinks so much of themselves that they would use themselves as a character in a work of fiction.  However, based on my own experience with King I tend to doubt that when the man is giving facts, maybe other than stating that McDonald's would provide coloring sheets with Mayor McCheese on them several years after Sid and Marty Kroft successfully sued McDonald's to keep them from using the character in Insomnia (according to the mid-90's setting of the story), he is rarely anything but dead on.

Now Ms. Kincade feels I had already passed total judgment on Danvers Asylum at the mid-point.  The truth is that I had not totally made up my mind.  However, I do not let a good story get in the way of the facts, and Danvers Asylum is not a very good story.  I did my best not to take the fact that I though it was bad, from both a writer's and a reader's point-of-view, personally, as Ms. Kincade suggest.  I also did my best not to let her snippy and snarky comments in her response e-mail personally as I went back to finish the remaining half of the novel.  However, to grossly paraphrase Dr. Phil, the number one way to predict how good or bad the second half of a novel is going to be is to have read the first part of the novel.

Yes, halfway in I knew there was nothing that was suddenly going to turn this work into the Six Star novel that Ms. Kincade seems to believe it is, despite the fact that she also claims to recognize that Mr. Marrero needs to learn and grow as a writer.  However I was hoping to find some glimmers of  the brilliance she felt was there, the same things I found in Thomas Scopel's Twitch.

Danvers Asylum is basically, or at least at one point was meant to be, the story of two men, Dr. Eugene Charles and horror author John Stephenson.  Set in October 1990, Charles, the director of Danvers Asylum, in Danvers, Massachusetts, becomes obsessed with best selling local horror author, John Stephenson after learning that two patients at the asylum were inspired to murder their families after reading Stephenson's books.  After reading the books for himself and finding messages spelled out in them with certain combinations of oddly placed capital letters Charles's obsession grows, and he begins to hear a voice that directs him to imprison Stephenson within the asylum to keep him from completing his ultimate work.  To this end he enlist the aid of private investigator, Edgar Devore, and asylum security guards Chuck and Steve.

Stephenson finds himself locked away in the asylum, a prisoner of the obsessed institution director.  The author hears a voice as well, a force that has spoken to him quite often, without him knowing it, directing him to write words that will cause people to kill.  The voice is speaking to John directly now, because they need to be free in order John to pen a final work that will cause the death of millions.

Now on the surface the idea seems somewhat brilliant, in a way, key words (in this case letters more than words) placed in books that would make their readers kill.  True the concept has been used in various ways and to better effect by others, from Lovecraft's forbidden books to the Carrionites using words as reality bending power and scientific magic on Doctor Who.  For me the problem with the concept in Marrero's hands is that it falls apart rather quickly.  He devoted several passages to Charles reading the parts of Stephenson's books where the messages could be found.  The messages are supposed to be made up from the first letters of capitalized words, which might work, however, in some cases (as stated in my e-mail to Ms. Kincade) the first words in sentences and proper names were part of the message, and in other cases they were not.  Maybe that was supposed to be intentional, so the reader would have to work to figure out what the messages were, which would explain how only three people reading a best selling novel would have found the passages.  Plus I find it highly unlikely that a publisher, or editor, would let a work with random capitalized words in it pass, especially, AGAIN, considering that the story was set in 1990, when writers didn't have the convenience of sending a file to Amazon or Barnes & Noble, pressing a few buttons and then having it go live and for sale two or three days later without anyone else ever looking it over.

As I came closer to the end of the story it became more and more predictable, despite my open mind, which means it would have actually been better for me to have passed judgment on the first half of the novel, because as it turns out, that is actually the best part of Danvers Asylum.  The last few pages of the novel not only fail to save it, but totally destroy anything that might have been good about it, as you discover the voice in Stephenson's head and the voice in Charles's head are the same voice.  It is this fact that makes the entire story and plot as pointless as the story and plot of Aliens turns out once you factor in what happens at the beginning of Alien 3.  The sad truth is without the erroneous facts in the story to bog it down and devalue it Danvers Asylum is only a Two Star story, and once a nit-picker adds them back in it makes it into a One Star Story.

As far as those problems with facts and logic, they are here aplenty.  Most of them seem to surround the private investigator, Devore, who should be a secondary character, but whose life takes up a good quarter plus of the narrative in the first part of the novel before he is all but forgotten through a majority of the second half.  Mr. Marrero, in at least one interview, states that Devore is his favorite character (the irony there being that Devore is a medical school drop-out).  He is described at the beginning of the book as being "colored", although I actually began to feel I may have been mistaken about seeing that as I read on.  That was until the fact that he was "black" is mentioned several times in his last scene in the novel, as if Marrero suddenly remembered this fact and felt the need to drive it home to the reader, though the fact does nothing to advance the story whatsoever.  Devore also initially wanted to become a priest, and Marrero lets the reader know it was a good thing for the altar boys that he didn't.  It sounded like the start of a possible sub-plot, however since it is only mentioned once, and the reason as to why the altar boys would be glad he did not become a priest is never explored it ends up being nothing more than a worthless, throw-away, line.  I did mention the age problems in my e-mail, as well as the inaccuracy that extreme skateboarding would have existed in his youth.  And of course that his price, despite the fact that Charles was blackmailing him to do his dirty work, $1,000 an hour is steep.  I admit that this is something that I did not research.  However, considering a couple of years ago that Jerry Biggs, my own parasite of an attorney, only charged $100 an hour, I can assume that PIs, who never seem to be living as quite high on the hog as attorneys would charge much less an hour over two decades ago, even if the economy was a hell of a lot better then.

Dr. Charles, the erstwhile villain, is the chief administrator of a state asylum, and is over 70 years old, yet he has trouble going to the bookstore and finding books by a best selling author.  I know, it's one of those facts that no one cares about, but in the 1990s we still had bookstores here in the Untied States.  Not only that, they were arranged by subject and you could find most best selling authors listed alphabetically (last name first) in the fiction section.  Charles's confrontation with the owner of the bookstore is pointless (as is him giving the man an assumed name), does nothing to advance the plot of the novel, or even add any ambiance.

John Stephenson, the erstwhile hero of the story (I guess), is barely in the novel and comes off as an unlikable, wimpy, little pussy.  He has an entity living in his head that drives him to insert these secret messages in his novels that he is described as not being aware of until he entered the asylum at some points, and somewhat aware of before he entered the asylum at others.

The being, who should be described as the major driving force of the story (what little there is), is trying to help Stephenson escape his imprisonment at the hands of Charles, who it convinced to imprison Stephenson in the first place.

Considering the fact that Stephenson is supposedly a genius best seller I would think that the body count from those his books had driven to kill would be much higher, and there would indeed be a lot of people doing some killing.  Since it is not implied otherwise, in the story or by any other stretch of the imagination, I can only assume that two people were actually driven to kill after reading Stephenson's novels.

Of the other two characters who have much relevance in the book, other than the two men driven to kill their loved ones, Chuck and Steve, the security guards, come off as beyond stereotypical rent-a-cops, and I think that calling them a pair of bumbling dumb-asses would actually be a kindness on my part.

The Prologue is what even the most basic reader could easily point out as being "Chapter Two".  There's no logical or even artistic reason to juxtapose it and put it at the beginning.  If Marrero was making an attempt to present the story out of order to fit in with the madhouse setting of the story he failed miserably by doing it only in this one instance.

Stephenson's two novels (both of them his first and second novels) were published simultaneously, which is a great feat.  And they both became best sellers, an even greater feat.  In one scene it states one was published in hardcover and the other was published as a trade paperback.  In later scenes both are described as being hardcover books.

Stephenson's capture by Devore comes after the investigator has stalked him for three days, which is obviously enough time to know everything there is about a suspect as well as their entire routine.  In his investigation inside Stephenson's house the one thing he never looks at is the manuscript for the author's next work, that happens to be laying out just like Jack Torrance's "novel" in King's The Shinning, which is another reason I feel Devore is not, "One of the best private investigators in the country," as Marrero describes him at one point.

When Devore does take Stephenson down he uses a powerful drug Charles supplies him with, M-99, to do the job.  The drug knocks him out, for what will supposedly be hours, yet by the time the guys in the white coats show up to pick Stephenson up he is already waking up.  M-99, at least a drug called M-99, does not exist, and I would think that someone who is a medical student, as Marrero's biography claims he is, would have at least come up with the name of an actual sedative.

Plus, speaking of Mr. Marrero's biography it states he's from Coroza;, Puerto Rico.  If you missed it that's Coroza; ending with a " ; " .  It's Corozal, yet I've seen Coroza; on several sites.  It even kind of jumps right out at you in the novel's description on Barnes & Noble.

There is anarchism after anarchism in the story, and again I remind the reader it was set in October 1990 (about three years before Marrero was born).  These include cell-phones that can fit in a person's pocket, plasma screen televisions and DVDs.  When Charles trashes his office it is described as looking like an Iraqi war zone, despite the fact that military action during the Persian Gulf War did not begin until mid-January of the next year.  When questioned Stephenson says that his favorite television show is CSI, which did not debut until a decade later in 2000.  He also says that he voted for Bill Clinton in the last election.  Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992.  Had Stephenson voted Democrat in the "last election" that would have been in 1988, and he would have voted for Mike Dukakis (who in another of those little ironies was a two term Governor of Massachusetts, as well as still holding that position at the time the story covers).  When in doubt on who was running for president in a modern election in the United States saying that your character voted for Ralph Nader in the last election will probably be correct about 68% of the time.  (Yes, I did pull that 68% out of my ass),

In fact the only period fact which Marrero gets right is that a Glock 22 handgun was something that actually existed in 1990.  It may not have been standard issue for security guards at mental intuitions, but I suppose it was factually possible, and maybe factually plausible.

Beyond inaccurate facts and a weak and pointless plot the novel itself suffers from a bland narrative where the characters are lifeless, and without them being named it would be pretty hard, for the most part, to tell one character from the next.  There's nothing very thrilling about Marrero's style, which as I described it in my Egomania Runnin' Wild! post reminded me of an 11th grader's creative writing assignment.  Then, of course, there are several little gems of narrative and dialogue that are pure, though I am sure unintentional, comic gold, including the line meant to praise Stephen King as, "...the modern day master of English literature."

There are such great lines as:

"He looked the way a kid looks when his mom catches him eating a cookie before dinner or when daddy walks in while he's playing with a box of matches."

I can only imagine Raymond Chandler would be rolling over his grave after hearing a description like that.  That statement was dated when I was 18 years old.  IN 1990!

Or how about this little gem?

"The night Mike Wireman finished reading the final page of the second book was also the last night that his wife and daughter exercised their right to live."

Well, again I hate to pass judgement before reaching the end of something I'm reading, but I actually have to break down and say that Jacob M. Drake sounds better at making a grandiose statement he thinks is so clever and intelligent in an attempt to make his writing seem much deeper than it really is.

"It took thirty seconds - the longest thirty seconds of both their lives, but in the end, Stacy suffered the same fate as her daughter.  She was drowned two feet above her dead baby's body."

So, okay, was that the longest thirty seconds since the last time that they had sex?  To give you a point of reference Mrs. Wireman is being drowned in the bathtub by her husband in this scene.  Now, maybe it will sound a little too nit-picky, but the standard bathtub in the Untied States is about a foot deep.  Impossible?  Well, not if it's a claw foot style tub.  Again, details.

Now, how about this line which describes Charles's obsession with reading Stephenson's two books cover to cover over a three day period:

"He had only left the office seven times; each of them involving food and beverages."

Huh?  So after he consumed the food and beverages where did they go?  Out the window?  Did the cat get booted out of the corner?  Did Marrero forget to mention that Charles is a die hard World Of WarCraft player and already had a five gallon bucket under his desk?

I think perhaps Charles ended his quest for the truth about Stephenson's work with a nice, warm enema and a big ass handful of prescription strength laxatives.

In describing the noises made by the being in Stephenson's head Marrero tells us that:

"The screaming decibels inside John's head were terrifying enough; the words accompanying those screams were utterly stupefying."

Yeah, that line has me stupefied as well.  Especially when you consider those words are not anything to write home about.  No big revelation.  No alien language being spewed out.  Just a lot of talk about escaping and this and that.

"And if he could've slapped himself in the face he would've done so."

Yeah, I took that one under consideration as I felt it might have possibly made the experience of reading this novel seem a little bit exciting.

"(To be freed or not to be freed?  That was the question.)"

I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  HUH?

On deciding whether or not to let Stephenson out of his cell and help him escape the intrepid Steve and Chuck ponder this:

"Charles was abusing his power and position as the head of the asylum, and that was plain wrong.  But what could they - a mere couple of security guards - do about such a thing?"

Oh, what could this mere couple of mere security guards do indeed?  Gee, I don't know?  Report it to the proper authorities?  Maybe even go so far as to contact the office of Governor Dukakis himself?

No, of course they're going to take matters into their own hands, because that's what moronic security guards at insane asylums in horror stories do.  And I can respect that, despite the fact that neither of these morons really have that much of an introspective or reflective thought between them.

In a complete lack of logic we are presented with this contradiction:

"Charles looked at the shard of bloody glass, which was still safely clenched in his hand and smiled."


However the best little piece of unintentional humor comes in the form of this line where Stephenson is thinking about his writing:

"But that was okay, all that mattered was the fact that he was writing good stuff... great stuff... out-of-this-world and stunningly-mind-bending stuff."

Well, I have to say that I am glad that someone was, but unfortunately it was not Chrystian Marrero.  By no means have I pointed out every bad line, flaw or total lack of logic in this work, but to say that it's lacking in them would be a gross understatement.  Is it the worst thing I have ever read?  Oh, no, by no means.  In fact that distinction goes to Rhymer's Varney The Vampyre and the works of Matt Moreau on Literotica, which are Half, Zero and Negative Star efforts that are so intensely tiresome I would rather saw my own balls off with a butter knife than try to read them.

Having made it from cover to cover I am not sure that I hold the same opinion as I did when I was at the halfway point in the story, that Marrero would be a better writer with the proper guidance and work.  I can say that had he not made an attempt to set a date on the story it would have made it much better, because those facts that Ms Kincade does not believe will matter actually would not have.  However he did, which was a major mistake, especially when you consider it is a year he knows nothing about.  Setting a time frame of 1990 does nothing for the story.  There's no solid reason to ground it in that year.  It adds no ambiance to the story, and really the only thing it does is totally undermine a story that was not all that great to begin with.

Again, it really had the feel of an 11th grade creative writing assignment, it's overall length really the only thing to totally keep it from being one.  I kept wondering if Marrero had gotten his inspiration to do the story from watching some late-night horror movie marathon on WAPA that featured Session 9, a movie set in Danvers Asylum, and John Carpenter's In The Mouth Of Madness, a movie about an author who writes books that make people kill, among other things.

Should he tie a hard copy of the manuscript of Danvers Asylum around his neck, weight his body down with a couple of cinder blocks and wade into the Rio del los Negros and end it all?  Of course not.  The truth is I did make some of the same mistakes that Marrero did when I was writing at his age.  I even made worse mistakes prior to that.  If he wants to write he needs to stick to that old standard, "Write what you know."  That would be the beginning.  Writing stories of this caliber is not likely to land Mr. Marrero a guest interview on SuperXClusivo, just as King's early work would have never slated him a guest interview on the Today show, or mine would have gotten me onto Entertainment Tonight.

I obviously will not speak for others who have reviewed this work.  Four and Five Stars is more than very generous for this novel.  If these reviewers truly found Danvers Asylum a great read then...

Im fraid gd lit is bout 2 b ded.

Now, if you're over 25 what that says is, I'm afraid that well written literature is now a dying art form.

Look, I may have never taken 250 some odd hours in creative writing correspondence courses, but I do have a passion for writing, and I did take a semester of creative writing at Polk Community College.  It was a worthless experience for the most part, because the instructor spent a majority of his time verbally masturbating about Flannery O' Connor, and almost every writer in the class had more talent in their little curlies than this guy had in his whole body.  However, the things that the class itself was lacking in was more than made up for by my classmates and peers.  Unlike in high school, where anything gross was brilliant according to your classmates, and if you followed the rules of grammar the least you would ever get was a B minus, my college classmates were more critical.

In my junior year in high school I wrote a short horror story titled The Rocking Chair for English Honors III.  The teacher, a tough and joyless woman aged beyond her years by being a total bitch, one Mrs. Kalbfliesch, grudgingly liked the story.  My classmates told me that it was so great I was going to be the next Stephen King, a remark I took as the compliment it was meant as, considering most of them (probably like those comparing Marrero to King) had only seen film adaptations of King's work and had never actually read one of his stories.  So, I got off with a B minus and high praise from my friends and schoolmates.  However, when I did a slight rewrite and extension of the story as part of an assignment for my college creative writing class (which let's face it, if the teacher was not going to put any real effort into it then neither was I) it got an A, but my peers ended up being far less than kind with their comments and criticisms.

At first I was mad, totally pissed, because the story that all my friends in high school loved and believed would make me the next Stephen King was being ripped a new one by a collection of writers of such various ages and background that at the time I did not even consider them to be my peers.  Then I looked at the points they were finding issue with and realized that I had to agree that there were certain things about the premise and about the story that did not make any sense, and the narrative was actually lacking a great deal as well.  Looking back not only was it the best thing that happened to me in that creative writing class, but it was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me as a writer as well.

Is there a writer in Chrystian Marrero?  There could be.  For all the faults it has, and despite the fact that Danvers Asylum is juvenile work at best, he did sustain the story long enough for it to reach novel length.  Marrero, if he indeed feels writing is his passion and calling, needs to work, and I mean actually put effort, into refining his writing as his craft.  If story after story is like this he may give a few in the 13 to 25 year old age range a cheap thrill, but unfortunately older readers will view it as bad fiction and hack work.

I also have to note that I hope that Marrero is more passionate and diligent in his medical studies than he is at writing so far.  If not, if I ever end up in an ER in Puerto Rico I really hope not to hear the words, "This is Doctor Marrero and he will be taking care of you."

There are some of you that may say, Man you went out of your way to rip that story and author a new one.  And yes this review could have been shorter, and a lot less interesting.  However, I just wanted to prove that doing a little research, (doing your "homework") can make a piece, no matter how long, or what format or genre, a bit more interesting and alive. 

Ms. Kincade did not sit and analyze the works of King or Barker when she was younger to determine whether they made sense or were accurate because she didn't have to.  King and Barker and a whole slew of authors in several genres across the board are best sellers because they each and every one put effort into their work.

Just the other day my work boss asked me (because I made a comment on something and used pro-wrestling as a reference), why I always used wrestling when making a comparison, and the answer was, "Because it's what I know.  I write what I know and I talk what I know.  Plus a lot of the time it's easy to apply those facts to several 'real world' situations."  (Yeah, I know that's a little ironic.)  That said, over the past few years in the top two wrestling promotions in the United States, the statement has been made that if a wrestler is not there to win the world title then they have no business in wrestling.  What that actually means is not everyone is going to be the world champion, but they should always preform like they will be someday.  Having watched many wrestlers on the independent wrestling circuit, who put everything on the line and give more than most big name stars bother to once they "make it", despite the fact that many of them may never even work in WWE, ROH or Impact Wrestling, all having matches like they're fighting for the world title I find it a shame that it is not the same with writers (independent, small press, or otherwise).  If you are not here to be a best seller, if you are not even here to make an attempt, you have no business writing.  And again, I do realize that everyone has their own definition of success and their own goals, so let me state that in another way.  If you consider yourself a writer and have never dreamed, not even once in your wildest dreams, about being a best seller, and you do not make the best effort to write the best that you can, learn from your mistakes or advance beyond that which you have written before, then what are you doing here?

You can find Danvers Asylum here:

Barnes & Noble:

Lurk for it if you dare.

Master Vyle