• Category Archives Book Reviews
  • Book and graphic novel reviews by A.P. Fuchs.

  • Canister X Book Review #10: My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

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    My Utmost for His Highest
    by Oswald Chambers
    5 out of 5

    Man, talk about a wake-up call. Oswald Chambers pulls no punches as he leads you day-by-day through an entire year of Bible-based teaching (with even an extra day thrown in for a leap year), mostly excerpted from his lectures given at the Bible Training College from 1911-1917.

    I’ve never been so blasted with good, solid, Christ-centered teaching in my entire life. Chambers’s point throughout is simple: it’s Jesus or bust, folks. Get with the program or not only will you miss out big time in this life, but also in the life to come.

    His style is direct, his words laced with power. Why? Because he’s preaching the Word, solid and true. Not ever have I been so challenged by a daily devotional as by this one. Most out there are just fluffy thoughts for the day. Sure, some are Christian in nature or even Bible-based, but most just don’t get to the meat of it. My Utmost for His Highest does. This is one of those books that are meant for those who want more, for those who take, or want to take, their Christian walk seriously.

    This book amplifies what it means to be a Christian. A real Christian, first century-style. The kind of Christian God wants.

    If you’re looking for a book to change your life, one that will amplify what the Bible says, then grab a copy of this ASAP. If you’re looking to just sit in the drudgery of the same old, same old, then don’t bother.

    But then you’ll be missing out. Big time.

    Highly recommended reading.


  • Canister X Book Review #9: The Bait of Satan: Living Free From the Deadly Trap of Offense by John Bevere

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    The Bait of Satan: Living Free From the Deadly Trap of Offense
    by John Bevere
    5 out of 5

    The Golden Rule states to do unto others what you would have them do unto you. That message was meant for good things, to treat others well in the hopes you’d be treated well in return. Unfortunately, too many people have used this as a license to treat others poorly just because they’ve been treated poorly themselves.

    The Golden Rule is based on Matthew 7:12, where Jesus says that, in short, you should treat others the way you want to be treated.

    The point of Bevere’s book is offense and how to deal with it. The message is to forgive because the Bible is quite clear that if we don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive us. After all, fair is fair, and God is always fair and is the embodiment of that. It isn’t about how wrong we’ve been treated or how justified we are to be mad at or upset with someone else. Judgment and justice belong to Christ alone so who are we to mete it out? It’s simply not our place and by holding grudges and not forgiving someone, we are passing judgment on them by withholding our love and forgiveness from them.

    Bevere hits the message home with a hard smack, as he’s so good at. His writing style is simple and clear, but very poignant, frequently reminding the reader of what the Bible says about offense and forgiveness without pulling any punches.

    This book is a true gem and a must for the serious Christian’s bookshelf. It is also important reading for the non-Christian because, as it is with truth, truth is universal and applies to everyone.

    This book is important. It is life-changing because it is based on a Word that can divide joints and marrow, and soul and spirit.


  • Canister X Book Review #8: MegaMan NT Warrior, Vol. 1 by Ryo Takamisaki

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    MegaMan NT Warrior, Vol. 1
    by Ryo Takamisaki
    5 out of 5

    In the year 200X, the whole world is connected to the Cyber Network. People jack in to the Net using handheld PCs called PETs, and each person has their own artificially intelligent avatar called a NetNavi.

    Lan Hikari’s is MegaMan, a truly sophisticated and powerful NetNavi programmed by his father.

    Like any fifth grader in DenTech City, Lan passes the time by having NetBattles with his fellow classmates, pitting MegaMan up against any who would challenge him. The problem is, NetBattling is illegal unless you have a special license. But that’s only part of the Lan’s and MegaMan’s problem. An evil organization called World Three is infecting computers with sinister viruses with the hope of one day taking over the world.

    Lan jacks in and sends MegaMan to stop these viruses before it’s too late.

    This manga, which is similar to the anime of the same name, was a blast to read. Ryo Takamisaki’s storytelling is topnotch—quick, exciting and a whirlwind of adventure from beginning to end. His art is your classic manga but with a cartoon flare, and the dialogue is perfect, conveying to us everything we need to know about the story, without it coming off as long-winded explanations for “what’s happening.”

    The banter between Lan and MegaMan is pricelss, even better than in the anime.

    This volume also contains a very intriguing cliffhanger ending and fun bonus story.

    Recommended.


  • Canister X Book Review #7: Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story, Vol. 1 by Nobuhiro Watsuki

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    Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story, Vol. 1
    by Nobuhiro Watsuki
    4 out of 5

    A mysterious warrior named Hitokiri Battôsai arose in Kyoto 140 years ago. A fiercesome warrior, he slew countless men, his efforts helping bring to a close the Bakumatsu era and bringing in the age of the Meiji.

    Then he disappeared.

    In the 11th year of the Meiji, a rurouni—a vagabond—named Himura Kenshin surfaces in Tokyo and befriends the spunky Kaoru, the owner of a student-less dojo.

    With the aid of young new friend Yahiko, a boy wanting to be a samurai himself, Kenshin and Kaoru must ward off those looking to kill them.

    And so the story begins . . .

    Despite its label being a “romantic comedy,” this is by far the most serious out of the manga I read. Nobuhiro Watsuki has crafted an incredible tale, an important story, one that had captured my full attention the second Kenshin showed up in Tokyo (which is pretty much the first page of the book).

    His art is stellar. The detail is astounding (even after the first 22 pages when the art goes from ultra detailed to “just” super detailed). His rendering of Japan from 140 years ago is believable, each panel transporting you directly to the past.

    The big deal about this book is the fight sequences, each chapter in this volume containing at least one battle. I’ve never seen action like this before—so huge, so intense, so detailed, so explosive, with speed-lines everywhere—AMAZING!

    This volumes also includes a special bonus story that was originally published about a year before the now-complete-twenty-eight-volume series began.

    This is a great opening story to what is sure to be a fantastic saga this reviewer looks forward to finishing. (I’m also now eager to check out the anime for this.)


  • Canister X Book Review #6: 1001 Ways to Market Your Books: For Authors and Publishers, 5th Edition by John Kremer

    1001ways1001 Ways to Market Your Books: For Authors and Publishers, 5th Edition
    by John Kremer

    5 out of 5

    This review is for the fifth edition of this book, though I suspect that the fifth and sixth editions are virtually the same save for a bit of info here or there.

    Writing a book is easy. Getting it out there is hard. It’s a challenge for both the big, small and self-publisher alike. 10% of your time and energy goes into creating your masterpiece, 90% goes into bringing it to the masses.

    In 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, author and publisher John Kremer walks you through step-by-step 1001 effective methods to market your book.

    This doesn’t read like a manual or some textbook. Kremer’s professional yet personable writing style keeps you interested and forces you to pay attention to everything he has to say.

    This book is so dense that you can’t just read it once then call it good. It’s a resource, which means it’s meant to be visited each time you publish a book so you can pull out some of the 1001 marketing methods offered.

    Don’t try doing all 1001 things suggested in this book all for one title. It won’t work. Kremer even says so in the opening pages. The idea is to cater to your particular book’s needs and find the marketing methods that work for that specific title.

    Kremer backs up his info with industry stats, gives examples of what’s worked for some publishers and what’s failed for others.

    Take notes while you read it. Even jot down in separate columns on a loose sheet of paper what ideas would work for the titles in your company’s catalogue and mark down the page number in Kremer’s book for each.

    This is a book every serious publisher needs to have on their shelf. More importantly, it’s a book they need to use.


  • Canister X Book Review #5: Rizzo: Year One by Chris Riseley and Sean Simmans

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    Rizzo: Year One
    by Chris Riseley and Sean Simmans
    5 out of 5

    What do you get when you team up a struggling writer and an artist who wears a dinosaur costume all day long? You get Rizzo, a hilarious collection of the syndicated comic strip.

    Rizzo, the character, writes. W. Bill Czolgosz, the character, draws, and these strips follow them on their adventure of trying to make their mark in a world that doesn’t appreciate them or their “art.”

    The gags are brief, about 3-4 panels long, and you find yourself laughing out loud for most of them and laughing on the inside for all of them.

    This humor, part simple silliness and part commentary, is smart, witty and, to a degree, “observational” ala Seinfeld.

    Rizzo burst onto the scene a few years back and appears in many newspapers across the country.

    This book is a “best of” collection, chosen from over 900 strips. (There are about 300 strips in the book.)

    Too funny. Read it.


  • Canister X Book Review #4: The Life and Death of Hertzan Chimera by Mike Philbin

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    The Life and Death of Hertzan Chimera
    by Mike Philbin
    3 out of 5

    For over a decade Hertzan Chimera terrorized the online writing world both with his brutal brand of fiction and his brutal personality. That was until August 2004, when Mike Philbin, Chimera’s secret identity, killed off the fictional writer and decided to write under his real name. Which leads us to The Life and Death of Hertzan Chimera, Philbin’s much-delayed autobiography on his literary creation.

    In short, The Life and Death of Hertzan Chimera is basically divided up into two halves, the first being a history on Chimera and how he came to be, the last being a series of interviews where Chimera acts as both interviewer and interviewee.

    The reason this reviewer picked up the book was more so not because I was a fan of Chimera’s work—I had only read a handful of short stories; I will state that based on what I read, I enjoyed Chimera’s writing and was more than impressed with his insane amount of creativity—but because I was interested in getting a behind-the-scenes look at what most would consider a demented psyche. But I was only partially satisfied in my quest. The first half of the book gave insight into Chimera’s childhood, who he was and how he came to be, which was interesting but wasn’t really explored in the detail I had hoped. After each section I was left wanting a little bit more. But this is also coming from a guy who enjoys long-winded fiction and detailed explanations so it could be just me.

    The latter half, the interviews, left me cold, I’m afraid. The ones where Chimera himself was being interviewed were fine and had a place in the book, but the ones where he was interviewer read more like filler than needed information. As I read the interviews, one of the biggest things I kept waiting/hoping for was an explanation for Chimera’s distaste with the current state of horror and, more importantly, his hatred for the mass market press. Though these were explained, they were explained briefly and I was hoping for something more in depth, a more thorough argument about horror being a lost art and all that’s left is cookie cutter fiction.

    On the whole, I would recommend this book to those looking for a glimpse into the mind of Chimera and what made him tick. What I am looking forward to, however, is where Mike Philbin is headed now that he’s free of Chimera and is able to just be himself without always putting on a show. That, of course, is the secret to any great writing: honesty.

    Soon Philbin will have his day.


  • Canister X Book Review #3: Angel of Death by Rosanna Filippello

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    Angel of Death
    by Rosanna Filippello
    4 out of 5

    First, let me say I enjoyed this book. The actual reading of it was easy, clear and not once did I have to reread a paragraph or sentence to reacquaint myself with what was going on. (You know how sometimes you get lost in the text and have to reread a section or two; not in this book.) Filippello is clear in explaining to you what’s happening in any given scene. The characters are all in all well-rounded and, since this book is the first in a series, are destined to be even more so. The most enjoyable aspect of Filippello’s story was the hidden light of passion behind each page, a light that shone with her love of being a police officer. I don’t think any author, no matter what research they did, could make the cops in this book as real as they came across. From the dialogue to the mannerisms, this is true police behavior. The kind of stuff you’d see happening in the background of a NYPD Blue episode, but even more so. Except Filippello brings it all to the foreground and, for the duration of the book, you feel like you’re a cop yourself.

    Book Two, I’m sure, is going to be even better. At least, that’s the goal of an author (I hope)—to improve their craft and show said improvement in their latest release. I do it, and I know others who do it, too.

    If I were forced to nitpick this book, there’s not much I could say. I would only suggest that the intensity of the deaths be taken up a notch and for the book’s ending not to have felt like it was rushed. This is not a bad thing, mind you, but I wanted to live in the resolution a little longer and/or experience each second in the final moments before the killer was revealed and the protagonist’s reaction to that revelation, and any and all action that followed.

    This is a good read. Buy it. I’m waiting for Book Two.


  • Canister X Book Review #2: L.A. Stalker by David L. Kilpatrick

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    L.A. Stalker
    by David L. Kilpatrick
    4 out of 5

    Pandora Collins, one of Hollywood’s most famous movie stars, has a stalker. To eliminate the threat, she hires a hitman to pop the guy. Quickly, all goes awry as the hitman delves into plans of his own, betrays Pandora, and slips away without a trace every time he strikes. Add a romantic subplot between Pandora and Jerry Leger, the detective assigned to her case, and you’ve got yourself a compelling read.

    Kilpatrick has succeeded where only the best authors do: he tells the story to you straight and not once are you thinking, “Hey, wait a sec. What happened here?” and you’re forced to reread the last paragraph or two or, sometimes, even chapters. But the most important aspect of his storytelling is his ability to make you believe he knows what he’s talking about and that every word you read is truth.

    I’m a huge fan of the small press and of self-published titles. I’ve said it many times, but these “lesser known” books are far more engaging and far more authentic than so much of what comes out from large publishing houses these days. Kilpatrick has written one heck of a novel and the fact he went independent with it instead of selling out to some big name publisher (which he could easily have done), speaks of his desire to keep things simple and give you, the reader, a superb tale, an engrossing story, and an honest-to-God page-turner.

    Being an author myself, it’s easy for me to pick apart someone’s work (I’m not saying I’m perfect, but after writing a few books, you develop an eye for “near-perfection”), and with Kilpatrick’s novel, that is extraordinarily difficult to do. This story is one worth reading several times over and one that gives you a sense of comprehension of how those who have been hurt in the past grow into the adults they become, whether for good or ill.

    Read.


  • Canister X Book Review #1: Killing Faith by Keith Gouveia

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    Killing Faith
    by Keith Gouveia
    3 out of 5

    Reading a Keith Gouveia novel always reminds me of sitting snuggled up on the couch in my parents’ family room, a wool blanket wrapped around me, classic horror on the TV screen. There is a ton of horror stories and novels out there but what sets Gouveia apart from the rest—and I’ve said this before—is his ability to take a horror idea or concept and strip it of all its fluff and unclarity and boil it down to a simple dark tale much akin to your classic horror pictures of the late eighties and early nineties.

    This type of essential-basic-horror is evident in Gouveia’s third novel entitled, Killing Faith. Priests and cardinals are murdered left, right and center by an unknown killer. We quickly learn that this murderer is Julian Moore, a man that had been sexually abused as a child. What’s more, the abuse had been dealt by the hands of a priest. Grown up, Julian wants revenge and killing just one priest isn’t enough to punish the man that hurt him. He wants to destroy the “institution” that spawned him: the Catholic church. Enter Robbie Bachetta, an old cop in dire need of a vacation. He barely sleeps and has an intense passion for the law. But before he can disappear for a while for his own R & R, Robbie is called upon to stop Julian before any more priests are mercilessly butchered. Not only does Gouveia launch us into a game of cat-and-mouse, but he adds his own twist by empowering Julian with supernatural abilities by way of a bargain Julian struck with the demon Moloch, a general in Satan’s army, a demon covered in a mother’s tears and children’s blood.

    A story of revenge and exposing the fine line between vengeance and justice, Killing Faith makes you wonder if something as holy as a church is truly expected to be “perfect” or if it’s allowed to be imperfect. We are all human after all. It isn’t an excuse for our wrongdoings, but it does provide us with a little cushioning when our own negative ways take over and we do something we are not proud of or something horribly wrong. Gouveia’s style is simple, reader-friendly and presents his stories in a quick pace, one thing happening after the next.

    If you’re looking for a classic tale of darkness with a real-world edge to it, Killing Faith is well worth your time. I am happy to share the table of contents with him in an anthology titled, THWN Presents: New Voices in Horror. You’d do well to check out Keith’s story in there as well.