‘The Cartel’ – Book Review



Though this is a work of fiction, ‘The Cartel’ is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. After finishing the book I went back to the disclaimer at the front of the book which stated, “This is a work of fiction….” That dedication is a list of over 120 journalists murdered or “disappeared” in Mexico during the time frame of this novel (2004-2012). It ends with the chilling valediction: “There were others.” Rereading that disclaimer was like a gut punch that didn’t go away for days. Everything is on point in this book. The story, themes, settings, and characters were all phenomenal. Speaking of the characters, the main protagonist and villain are such grey characters that by the end you don’t even know who’s the hero and whose the villain. As for the other characters, Winslow somehow finds sympathy and compassion in every character, even the most hardened and deranged ones that pull atrocities in the story. I could go on about this book, but let it be known that this is one of the best novels I’ve read in a very long time. A real, no holds bar story that had me glue to the story until the very end.

“…at the end of the day or the end of the world, there are no separate souls. We will go to heaven or we will go to hell, but we will go together.”


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‘Marijannah – Till Marijannah’ – Album Review





Marijannah are a new band from Singapore China, that sits in the center of a Venn diagram between ‘Black Sabbath’, “Sleep,’ and ‘Harry Potter.’ This sludge metal group offers a heavy, psych/stoner rock with slick riffs played in a way you haven’t heard in years. What makes their music work so well is the approach that they took. Only four tracks on an album that clocks in about thirty minutes. That’s right each song is at least five minutes and it’s awesome. From the opener ‘1974’ the riffs begin to smash you while simultaneously throwing you into a fantasy state that will make you feel like your reading a book.  In fact, the second song ‘Snakecharmer,’ feels like a gnarly ode ‘Harry Potter’s: The Chamber of Secrets’ with the Basilisk. Its incredible due to the sense that the album leaves you in an atmospheric state filled with riffs and background vocals for thirty minutes straight. There are some minor flaws that take the album away from perfection. There are some dull moments in one song like ‘Bride of Mine’ that lacked any emotions from me in specific parts of that song. I felt like it was missing an intensity at times. It sounds odd for me to say that given that this band blew me away on the two previous tracks. Yet there were some moments where I sort of got pulled out. Still, besides a minor complaint I have, this EP is outstanding for a debut. Fans of sludge, stoner, even classic metal, should give this a listen. Wow.


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‘Extremity, Vol. 1: Artist’ – comic review



Wow, this took me by surprise. Imagine Mad Max in space with an art style influenced by ‘Studio Ghibli’. The story is about two brutal tribes that are in a conflict with each other. The line between good and evil are blurred on both sides. It’s deep and tragic at the same time. I mentioned the art before and it’s simply astounding. I don’t need to say much about it because well… look at it.

It’s violent, awful, yet gorgeous all the same. The amount of detail the illustrator puts into every character and wound is incredible. And this is just one page. The whole book is filled with beautiful art and scenery.

I reread this book twice and thought a lot about it. For me personally, I couldn’t find any flaws. This was everything I want in a comic book. A great war story with tragic characters who you question their actions. It’s morally grey and it keeps you on your toes making you guess whats going to happen next. I can’t wait for the next volume, Daniel W Johnson created a new comic series that I’m truly excited about.






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‘The Rover’ – Movie Review



Unlike the ‘Mad Max’ series that makes the apocalypse seem like a wacky, arcade game. ‘The Rover’ breaks things down in a realistic and terrifying scenario. In fact, this movie plays out more towards Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’ instead. I think what really makes this film great compared to other what-if apocalyptic films is that this one focuses more on the people/characters instead of the setting.

First off I got to say that Guy Pierce was awesome in this movie. When is this guy going to blow up? I think he’s one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood. He’s been making incredible performances since I first saw him in ‘Momento’ and he’s still amazing. This film, in particular, is one of his best performances, his character doesn’t say much but what he does in this film will make you flinch. Everything about his character gives an ominous feel about him. Even Pierce’s character’s name (Eric)  is never revealed until the ending credits.

So the story is about Eric’s quest to retrieve his car, that was stolen from him by some robbers. In a turn of events, he crosses paths with Rey played by Robert Pattinson who was a robber that was left behind by his companions. You can make fun of Pattinson in Twilight all you want but his performance in this movie is on Par with Pierce’s. He completely immersive’s himself into his role. So Rey is sort of dim-witted and doesn’t understand why he was left behind by his brother Henry and their gang. They thought Rey was presumed dead and left behind in the firefight that took place before running into Eric. From here the movie starts and begins its dark journey towards its devastating ending. But before I go any further that I want to get back into Pattinson. Because of his character being a bit slow, he uses a series of ticks and stutters in his acting that can annoy some folks. Personally, I found it intriguing and it didn’t bother me as much as it bothered my friend whom I saw this movie with.

While Eric and Rey may not seem likely traveling companions, they are two men whose final possessions in a world of increasing desperation have been stolen. For Eric, it was his car. For Rey, it was his brother’s love. Michôd wisely doesn’t spend too much time defining the terms of his post-apocalyptic vision, allowing his characters more room in the vehicle of this movie. And Pearce and Pattinson rise to the challenge, the former finding the soul of a man who can barely remember happiness. It shows in the moments of the film when Eric starts to trust Rey that seem to startle him more than pain or violence. As for Rey he displays a desperation of a man who may not know a lot but knows he can’t make it on his own. If his brother left him behind, he might as well partner with the man tracking him down.

‘The Rover’ is a character movie with haunting suggestions of how bad things could become. It’s well made, and it’s disturbing, if not overly passion inducing. And it probably will make you rush out and watch/read something positive after the movie ends. Definitely worth watching. One quote that really stood out for me was, “You shouldn’t stop thinking about a life you’ve taken,” Eric advises Rey at one point. “That’s the price you pay for taking it.”






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‘Easy Street: The Hard Way’ – Book Review



Holy crap this book was fantastic. I never thought it would be this good. Perlman starts off the book with the passing of a family member making this book get serious real quick. He then goes into details of hard work and how it took him to where he is with all of its highs and lows. What’s really great about this book is how comprehensive and well written it is. Perlman makes it a pleasure to read, not a chore, about his very interesting life, as well as the projects he’s been a part of. And if your a fan of this guy’s work you will really get a kick out of it. What really caught me off guard to was how profound Perlman was.

There were quotes in this book that had a deep effect on me. Such as his talk about death/mourning. “Death is a thief, the grandest perpetrator of larceny of all. It robs the potential of all the things left undone and reimburses the living with bits of memories that, with each day, pass through the fingers like a handful of sand.” Bravo sir, Bravo.

The only compliant I have would be the last two chapters that have a big liberal rant in them. Granted I am pretty liberal myself, but I can see these chapters turning a lot of people off. Still this book is a beautiful tale of an actors life and it feels ordinary as well as extraordinary at the same time.



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Secret Six, Book 1: Villains United



Where to begin? This book is the definition of a roller coaster ride. At times this book felt like a 9/10 experience. Until the next few pages where I would hate everything. That’s pretty much how I feel about the author Gail Simone overall. She either does incredible work or mediocre stuff. And this book felt like the center of all her books. Some moments are good and some moments are down right awful.

I’m sort of repeating myself but characterization is a roller coaster too. The cast is a group of misfit villains who will do anything for a paycheck. Sort of like suicide squad except their lesser known villains. Except for deadshot. There are some moments where the character dynamic is fantastic and feels very real. And then there are other moments that almost makes the whole book fall flat. For instance we find out Deadshot kills a few animals close to Catman’s heart (I know, theirs a character named Catman). Naturally they get into an intense fight which is great. But somewhere along the way they become best chums…What? If a hitman killed my pet lions, I would rip the dude’s heart out, end of discussion. There are many moments like this. Another one would be a character brutally torturing someone because her lover got killed. But for some reason she can’t find the strength to kill the tortured victim. Until Deadshot comes in and kills the villain anyway. Now that I think about it, I understand why I enjoy Deadshot so much in this story because he gets things done. Even if their not good decisions.

The story is great until you look into the details. The overall story of the “heroes” trying to get revenge while getting paid is great and overall satisfying. Until the plot comes into focus. So The first half of the story you find out Lex Luthor is the main villain. Then it turns out that Lex is not really Lex but someone else and the real Lex hired the Sinister Six. It’s weird but it gets stranger when the super villain, ‘Savage’ becomes the antagonist of the book abruptly for the rest of the story. It’s strange and very disorganized at times.

Outside of the characterization and strange story, my biggest complaint is the sexist stuff in this book. Which always made me split on Gail Simone because she does this in her works. She writes great female characters and then all of a sudden she degrades them. In one scene we have a female antihero come waltzing into completely naked as she’s talking and the only thing covering her boobs and taco are strains of hair. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? strains of hair would not hide nipples let alone your vagina. I was pretty offended that this story had to stoop to this level.

Overall this book is a mess. Its hard to rate it because there were some legit great moments. At the same time there were just as many awful moments as their were good ones. Still I thought it was okay, DC fans will get a kick out of this. But I don’t know if its worth continuing after this volume.


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Blog Update

Apologize for the lack of updates on my end. I’ve been busy writing/publishing a short story on amazon. It isn’t much but I loved every minute of it. It’s .99 cents on Kindle and free if you have kindle unlimited. Check it out

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‘X-Men: Magneto Testament’ By Greg Pak – Comic Book Review


Powerful and haunting. This Magneto story has very little to do with superheros or mutants. It could almost be passed off as a historical comic book based around concentration camps. This is in no way a superhero story. There is one moment where you think some super powers will show up but then it gets thrown right out the window. This is a World War 2 story, a story about a Jewish boy and his family who lived in Germany during the war. And that little boy happened to be Magneto and you get a sense as to how he became the famous x-men villain through the horrors of war and genocide.

It’s very difficult for me to describe the story without spoiling anything. But in a nutshell, ‘Testament’ is a sublime tale of the cruelty that humans are capable of committing to one another. Especially against a minority they perceive to be inferior. As I mentioned before this is a story of a boy’s survival that turns him into a vengeful old man capable of bending worlds to his name.

The only flaw is from the art. From time to time the facial expressions seem a bit off. It was a minor flaw but nevertheless it pulled me out of the experience. Outside of that small issue this book is almost perfect.  Even cooler is this book has lesson plans in the back for teachers. It didn’t even occur to me that this book could be used as a teaching tool, but it absolutely could be. In the foreword, Pak goes out of his way to say all of the information in the book is factual, so I could see this being in the Holocaust unit of a middle school history class in the same way Schindler’s list would be used.

It left me emotionally drained at the end of it. Almost like the movie “Requiem for a Dream”. I’m glad I read it, but I probably won’t reread it for another year. A powerful that will stick with you for a very long time.

(On a lighter, different and minor note I always wonder how marvel will change Magnetos backstory later on. Because it’ll be weird if they have a man over 100 years old still fighting teenagers. Like will he be in a wheelchair? I dunno I’m getting off topic but it is an interesting to think about.)




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‘The Heroes’ By Joe Abercrombie – book review



This book is straight up metal. ‘The Heroes’ is the fifth book in Abercrombie’s ‘First of Law’ series and it’s arguably the best book in the series. The story takes place during a forty-eight hour battle. It’s gnarly as hell. The 3-day battle is between the ‘Union’ (a bureaucratic society) vs the Northern people (Nords/barbarians). There are events before the battle and after it but the main bulk of the story is on the battle itself. So much happens in this battle in such a short span of time and it pays off well in the plot.The tale shifts between varying viewpoints, from soldiers to commanders and everything in between. And Abercrombie blends traits together where there really isn’t good guys and bad guys just dirty shades of grey. Each character is layered and have a strange sense of right and wrong. It’s got a fascinating continuity to it too. Old favorites from the trilogy show up while the other half are brand new characters. Its refreshing and cool. Their were minor annoyances and it mainly had to do with certain characters. Its difficult to explain why because it’ll involved spoilers. Let’s just say some characters do things that appear out of touch with their persona. I digress this book was an incredible stand alone in the series. I highly recommend this, if you haven’t read the series yet please do they are wonderful fantasy books that are dark and grim.

“The smell of it. The feel of it.” He rubbed one hand up and down the stained sheath of his sword, making a faint swishing sound. “War is honest. There’s no lying to it. You don’t have to say sorry here. Don’t have to hide. You cannot. If you die? So what? You die among friends. Among worthy foes. You die looking the Great Leveller in the eye. If you live? Well, lad that’s living, isn’t it? A man isn’t truly alive until he’s facing death.” Whirrun stamped his foot into the sod. “I love war!”


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‘The Tao of Wu’ By Rza – Book Review


As a fan of Hip-hop since I was little, I’ve always loved The Wu-tang Clan. To me they are one of the greatest groups in Hip-hop. So when I found out Rza made a memoir I knew that it would be a good and I couldn’t wait to see his perspective on life. What I got instead was something totally different. ‘The Tao of Wu’ is half biography, half spiritual/philosophical book and it came with several flaws.

Now I really enjoyed this but RZA’s writing is very chaotic. I’ll start with the good stuff. Its really nice how each chapter is at the most ten pages. And in-between the chapters are some thoughts on life lessons or meditations. However these short stories are misplaced. His life chronology is jumbled up and difficult to follow. He goes into something called, ‘The pillars of wisdom’ however they aren’t parallel to what hes describing. The Tao of Wu is like starting in a middle of a conversation. Then he throws out goofy stuff like, he is God but Allah is greater. Or how he was reborn yet he’s still dead. He’s not religious but Islam is the way.  The craziest/best one is when Rza claims that the anime, “Dragon Ball Z” represents the journey of the black man in America .The way he talks about subjects such as spiritual gifts feels like ADHD he goes to different topics. Now do I hate this? No, in fact even with these flaws I was still entertained by his ideas. Even through the craziness of this book I still found tidbits of knowledge. The book overall is a clumsy mess but a wonderful mess.



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