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Truth’s Coffee Talk with December Author Spotlight Brian Bromberg

AuthorpicsiteBrian J. Bromberg
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Greetings!  The Review Board here to feature our second Author Spotlight, Brian J. Bromberg.  To conduct this special interview is our very own Mini Truth.

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Hello Mr. Bromberg and thank you for joining us here today at The Review Board. It’s a true pleasure to be able to be the person that reviews you. Upon having done a bit of research I was able to find many interesting things and I look forward to asking you about them.

Well, I’m happy to be joining you, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about one of my favorite subjects: me. I find “me” endlessly fascinating, and I hope you will too.

1. First, I would love it if you could introduce yourself for those who do not know you. Could you please tell us all a little bit about Mr. Brian Bromberg?

Sure. My name is Brian Bromberg, and I’m a writer. That sounds a lot like introducing yourself as an alcoholic at an AA meeting, doesn’t it? Well, for me, writing is every bit as addictive. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I’ve had many jobs over the years – camp counselor, journalist, teacher, copywriter, content director … there was a stint in there where I cleaned and vacuumed banks. Each job involved telling stories. The story I told myself while cleaning banks, for example, was a wonderful tale about how I was not in fact a janitor. I liked that story.

I’ve always been a storyteller. Through writing, I’ll create a world better than the one we live in, or I’ll create a world in which a Satanic ball of light goes around killing everyone in my high school. I’ve written those sorts of stories too. I have a very diverse list of published work – from picture books for kiddies to more adult stuff like my recent novel, Falling Up, which the kiddies should not be allowed within 150 feet of. So WRITER is definitely a large part of who I am.

But it’s not the largest part. The largest part is my role as DADDY. I have the best, most amazing daughter in the world. She is my inspiration and motivation. As far as jobs go, DADDY is the best one I’ve ever had and it’s what I spend most of my time on. Writing is what I do, but Daddy is who I am.

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2. The novel you submitted to us here at The Review Board was Falling Up, which I happened to love, by the way. However, I also see that you’ve worked very closely with Nickelodeon on some of my son’s favorite cartoons. Could you tell us a little bit about that?

Well, first of all, I’m glad you loved the novel. That’s definitely my “heart work” and one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever written. But yes, I have written a lot for children as well. I’m a very popular writer among people not yet old enough to read.

I think I’m up to 12 children’s books, five video games, one kids’ movie, 8 episodes of Dora the Explorer and 2 episodes of Go, Diego, Go! I started writing for children in 1999 – way before I had a child of my own. I got into it almost accidentally. Owing to my background as a teacher, Nickelodeon hired me as a copywriter for their Consumer Products department, focusing on preschool shows with an educational component. Through that, I became very familiar with the brands, so occasionally, I would write books based on them. My first book for kids was a musical Blue’s Clues novelty book. Eventually, that evolved into writing episodes of the shows themselves. It turned out that I was pretty good at writing for preschoolers, which was initially a surprise to me. In fact, I got an Emmy nod a while ago for an anti-bullying interstitial that I wrote for Nickelodeon. I took the controversial position of “bullying is a bad thing.” And people seemed to like it. Not enough for me to win the Emmy, but it was an honor just to be nominated-blah-blah-blabbety-blah.

So, yes, I love writing for kids just as much as I love entertaining adults. And writing for kids is really not that different from writing for so-called adults. Everyone laughs at the same things, in the end. For example, a preschooler will laugh at the word “bananapants.” There doesn’t even have to be a context. Just say it. A slightly older kid will laugh if someone slips on the banana and tears his pants. A young adult will laugh at a different approach: “Is that a banana in your pants or are you happy to see me?” A more sophisticated adult will laugh at an observation, like, “You just can’t eat a banana in public. There’s no way to look good while doing it. You look like a gorilla in pants, giving a fruit fellatio.” But see how it all goes back to “bananapants?” All comedic writing is “bananapants.” You can quote me on that.

3. Now something that I found incredibly interesting is that you’ve also done Stand Up Comedy. Personally, I love comedy. What would you say is your comedic style and how did it develop?

I got into comedy a few years ago when a co-worker at Comedy Central told me that I was funny and brought me to an open mic night. He urged me to take the stage, and I did. It was my first time, and I got some really big laughs. So that was it for me – I was addicted. I love getting up on stage and making people laugh. For me, it’s like karaoke with punch-lines. I like how it feels – being up on stage and saying things that actually make others laugh. It’s an amazing sensation, like a superpower. I mean, if you think about it, stand-up comedy is a really contrived situation. It’s not like you’re at a party, telling jokes, riffing off others’ comments, having a natural conversation. No, this is an unnatural situation where a bunch of people are sitting there, starting at you, waiting for you to make them laugh, and they’re actually thinking, “You better come through, Funny Man, because I just paid the cover charge and the two-drink minimum, and I told this hottie sitting next to me that this would be a fun second date, so come on, make with the funny.” Being able to deliver on that, and actually affect people’s moods, is a thrill for me.

I have other ways of earning my living, so I don’t need to be funny in order to eat or make rent. So the pressure’s off, you know? I just go up on stage and say things as I naturally would, and I think that’s why it works. My style is a lot of sarcasm, and me being flabbergasted by the incredibly stupid world around us. I like to exaggerate the part of my personality that is just endlessly put-out by other people’s idiocy. Think Lewis Black, for example. He’s a big influence on me. So is George Carlin, and Louis C.K., of course. If you like comedy, you have to like Louis C.K. It’s required. I once got the honor of opening for Louis C.K. – and by that, I mean doing my set right before he did his. It’s not like he asked me to be his opener or anything; it just worked out that way. And I got to talk to him after the show, and thankfully, he’s a really cool guy, just like you’d want him to be, not like a behind-the-scenes dick or anything. And he actually said to me, “You did good out there.” And that was a huge validation. So I just decided to keep doing it. And I live in New York, so there’s never a shortage of material. Just walking two blocks, you’ll see about 80 funny things, if you have the right eyes for it. So I just started writing these things down. They didn’t want to go into a short story or a book, and they were too “adult” for my juvenile work, so I made them into comedy sets and just started performing.

4. We all know that laughter is the best medicine, but have you ever met someone that has not appreciated your sense of humor, and if so I’d love to hear the story?

Well, I’m divorced, so I think we can safely identify at least one person who did not always appreciate my brand of humor. But ex-wife aside, yeah, not everyone finds the same things funny. I remember one time on stage, during a comedy set, when an entire audience just did not laugh at all. You could hear a pin drop, it was so quiet. And these were jokes that had killed two nights before. I had an audience rolling in the aisles with the exact same material. But that night, it was like the club had bussed in a group of Hungarians or something. Either they didn’t understand English, or understood it perfectly and just didn’t get me. And truthfully, that night was one of my favorite comedy experiences. I know it’s a little perverse, but bombing like that was so funny to me. It’s like singing a Guns N Roses song at karaoke really badly. You can’t hit the notes, you can’t dance like Axl, you just look ridiculous. But it’s fun and funny. Inside, I was cracking up at the fact that no one else was cracking up. It was just surreal, and I just started laughing. But I guess that goes back to my personal philosophy. There is nothing as powerful or as important in life as laughter. I believe that. I think the point of life is a great big belly laugh. So do what you love, do what makes you laugh. Hopefully, others will laugh along. If not, then enjoy the fact that you are so alone in finding something funny. Because that’s strangely funny too.

5. From whence do you hail Mr. Bromberg? What was it like where you grew up?

I was born in Queens, New York. My family moved to South Florida without even consulting me when I was 2. I grew up in a place called Coral Springs. When we moved there, it was referred to as “The City in the Country.” Now all that country has turned into malls and department stores. Growing up there was nice when I was under 13. It was the suburbs in the 80s, so all the kids could ride their bikes even when it got dark, go outside and play, hang out, and everyone knew everyone. But a place like that gets old when you’re a teenager. It was a quiet town, with no real crime, which meant it was a crime just to be a teen. The police would harass us a lot because they didn’t have much real work to do. So by the end of high school, I was ready to get out of there. And I always hated Florida weather – I sweat easily, so I basically walked around looking like a drowned rat for nine months a year. I like seasons – even harsh winters. It shows you that time is moving. In Florida, the weather makes you feel like you’re in stasis. Which is great if you’re a retiree, and don’t really want time to march on, but it’s not fun for a restless kid. I still go down there once or twice a year to visit my parents and grandparents, and now that I’m no longer a restless kid, I can appreciate the town a lot more. But it’s always nice coming back home to New York. I love this city, if you couldn’t tell from the book.

6. Would you mind telling us a bit about your family life?

For me, Family IS life. I truly believe that. As I said, being a Daddy is really what I am all about. And not a father – any creature can get excited and spawn. I mean, an involved, loving, always-there Daddy. That is my life. I have an amazing seven-year-old daughter, and I would rather hang out with her than do literally anything else. She’s with me every other weekend, and a few nights throughout the week. And I love our time together. It’s my happy place.

My girl and I are incredibly close, and I think part of that is due to a very unique thing we went through together. For five years, we were separated. She was in Spain, where her mother is from, and I was back in New York. Or more accurately, I was in Hell. Being apart from her was the worst period of my life. I flew to Madrid to see her once a month, sometimes only for a weekend, sometimes for up to two weeks. And I flew her over here to be with me in New York three times a year. The rest of the time we filled in with webcam and phone calls. It was not an easy thing to go though, and it’s not something I would wish on even my worst enemy. But on the plus side, it gave my girl and I this amazing, untouchable, unbreakable bond with each other. She is definitely a Daddy’s girl, and I am lucky to be that girl’s Daddy. She’s my everything. Of all the things I’ve ever had a part in creating, my daughter is definitely my best work.

I am very close with my parents, my brother and sister-in-law, their kids, my grandparents, and my aunt. My whole family is very tight; we’re a tribe: endlessly supportive, always there for each other, crazy like all families, sure, but overall, fun and funny. Once I got over my “tragically cool” phase as a teenager, I realized that I actually did have a really cool family. I enjoy being with them. I know it may be more interesting to come from some broken background with distant parents, but I don’t have that. My family rocks. I don’t know how else to say it. And within that, I must include my incredibly loyal, wonderful, partially psychotic dog who I refer to as my hairy son. It’s amazing how much unconditional love comes from that animal. He’s been there for me through my darkest hours, and he’s every bit a family member. He’s also a great audience. He’s patiently listened to every word I’ve written over the last nine years. Without him as an audience, I might have never finished my final proofing of Falling Up. He’s a great listener. I’m thinking of making him my agent.

7. Apart from writing and comedy, do you have any other hobbies or spurts of creative genius in which you are keen to indulge?

Outside of parenting, writing, and comedy, I barely have time to breathe. So I don’t have a ton of other hobbies. I do indulge in long dog-walks; a lot of creative ideas have come to me while walking my dog in Central Park or exploring a new neighborhood with him. And I read a lot. I go to the gym all the time (not true), and I also love seeking out the best restaurants and bars in New York City. That’s the whole point of living here – eating your way through the metropolis. I also love going to comedy clubs to listen (as well as perform) and live theater, although when you have a kid, many of the shows you end up seeing have puppets in them. They can’t all be Tennessee Williams.

8. What are three things that you simply cannot live without?

My daughter. Laughter. And air. No one can live without air. But since that’s fairly obvious, let’s go with “creative expression” instead. Without all the outlets I have for my creativity, I’m pretty sure I’d end up talking to padded walls. Being creative, and creating, that’s what keeps me going.

9. Let’s play make believe, shall we? Once upon a time Mr. Brian Bromberg found himself caught in the middle of that zombie apocalypse… what happens next?

Oh, I’m eaten. I’m definitely eaten. It couldn’t be avoided. The first thing I do is protect my daughter, get her to safety, lock her in the apartment with me. And we’re safe for a while, no question. Because the building is pretty big, and with the elevator out, and the amount of people in the building, it’s easy to defend the stairwells, and the zombies aren’t making it up five flights of stairs anyway. Plus, the doorman never lets zombies in unless they clearly announce who it is they are here to see, and with their drooling and moaning, they can’t pull that off. So we’re safe. But eventually, I have to walk the dog, that’s the problem. I can’t have him piss and shit all over my rugs. So I take him out for a walk. And we walk quickly – we can definitely outrun the zombies. They really are the worst monsters. I walk with a limp, and I can still run faster than them. They’re really not intimidating. But here’s the thing: New York is very strict regarding the rule on picking up your dog’s crap, and I always have a hard time getting the little baggies out of their carrying case. And then when you do get them out, it takes forever to figure out the end to open them from, and while I’m fumbling with the baggies, BOOM. Eaten. I don’t see how else it could possibly go down.

10. Now it’s time for a question about Falling Up. Please share with our audience where the idea for Falling Up came from and why you felt compelled to write it?

Falling Up actually came straight out of a conversation with my brother, Gregg. We were having a boozy brunch one day, and I was telling him about a new story I was working on, and suddenly, he INTERRUPTS me to say, “Yeah, you really can’t write anything good when you’re happy.” So, first of all, by implication, he was telling me that the idea I was sharing with him was utter shit. And he was right. But also, it’s true that a lot artists feel like they have to act the part of brooding, self-serious, beret-wearing ar-teests. So I wanted to lampoon that. That day, when I got home, I started Falling Up. I loved the idea of a writer who needed to make himself miserable in order to be happy with his work. I loved the idea of a man destroying his real life in order to improve his fiction. And taking him as far down that rabbit hole as I could was such a thrilling journey. He’s so misguided and all his priorities are wrong. On top of that, he says and does things I could never do or say – I think that’s why I enjoyed writing him so much. But it all came from that convo with my brother. And as a tribute to that, not only did I name the main character “Gregg,” but I also put our conversation in the book. It gave me the idea for the novel, so I figured a similar conversation would be the catalyst to inspire my character to sabotage his comfy life. So after all your readers go buy their copies(at brianjbromberg.com or amazon.com), they’ll need to remember to send a mental thank-you to my brother who helped it to all come together in my mind.

Thank you so much for inviting me to babble at you for a while. I appreciate it.

Thanks for stopping by The Review Board to read this Author Spotlight.  Feel free to like, share, and subscribe.  Have a terrific day!

Vision Unleashed on Heretic

hereticrtworthHeretic by R.T. Worth (Doom Absolute #2)
Amazon | Website

Note: This copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Greetings!  The Review Board here to share our thoughts on the second installment of the Doom Absolute series, Heretic.  To share her thoughts, Nikki Vision.

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I loved Doom Absolute and its weird world and creatures, so was excited to read Heretic. In the second book our heroine, Alma, is alive and back in school, coping with all the stuff that teens go through. Except that she is different. She has been dead and is now finding being alive again hard. But she soon meets up with others not too dissimilar to herself. Her transition and those of her friends, is not easy, as they need to be medicated in order to stay alive. Their bodies seem to be their enemies now and strange poisons and life threatening weaknesses are hampering their difficult existence in the normal world.

Although it is well written and believable, I was getting a bit fed up with these initial chapters, thinking that this was going to be just another teen book, but to my joy, the weirdness kicked in again and the author let loose his marvellous creations. For me, RT Worth excels when he writes about the quirky and surreal in his books. More myths and magic unfolds and our heroine discovers that she has a secret inside that she doesn’t want at all. She battles with enemies that are truly bizarre in a struggle to understand who or what, she really is. There are some wonderful characters in this story, but a particular favourite of mine was Pepsi, the cat guardian. I was heartbroken when he disappeared, presumed dead.

There were a few too many POV changes throughout, but not enough to detract from a great narrative, once the supernatural side of things kicked in and the talking cactus arrived, and The Powers that Be took control again. Dream worlds mix with reality and our heroine struggles to live a normal life surrounded as she is by creatures from another world. These crossings from reality to otherworldly settings are often jarring and confusing, but they do add to the overall feel of strangeness and disquiet that heightens the sense of alienation. I assume this is to reinforce the fact that Alma feels uncomfortable in her reanimated body.

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The novel seems to be in two parts, and the second part – Marc v Alma – had me quite confused. As always I enjoyed the narrative and its quirkiness, but the jumps from POV had my head spinning. Heretic is packed with detail, miss a sentence or two and well, you’ve lost the plot. I did find parts of it a little repetitious and I think the novel could be improved with some pruning and editing to make it snappier and less overstocked with storyline, which is a bit complex.

Sometimes it got a bit confusing going between the real and dream/imagination, and I had to stop and think what was what several times before continuing. Maybe RT Worth could have let the POV stay with the main character throughout the narrative. I was often tempted to flick past the school passages and onto the more strange episodes that are truly readable, but I persevered with them in case I missed something.

Vision Verdict: 7 out of 10 TRB Stars

Having said all that, I did really enjoy this book and truly believe that RT Worth is a talented storyteller with an amazing imagination. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a quirky and darkly humorous fiction. There are some wonderful descriptions that bring the narrative alive and keep the reader on the edge of their seat. I eagerly await the next installment.

Now, thoughts from the Unleashed One.

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The action packed fervor in Doom Absolute left me eager to indulge in the second installment Heretic. One may wonder if you have to read the first book in order to enjoy the second one.

In my opinion there is enough recanting of the central parts of Heretic to where I can say one does not necessarily have to; however, I do feel that the reader would be missing out on the magic and mystery of the characters and some of the twists if he/she does not read Doom Absolute first.

Now with that being said, let’s take a look at the strengths.

Strengths (Pros)

The artistic look of the cover: Similar to Doom Absolute, the author used his own illustration as the cover which works to give a crack at the happenings within.

Lots of action: There is plenty of conflict to go around as Simone/Alma attempts to live a normal life at the college she is attending. From dealing with her inner demons to trying to be there for her new friends, there’s no room for any downtime here.

Characters that address real life issues: In Heretic, besides Alma’s predicament, she and her group of friends (Kaisa, Grigory, and Donna) did experience their share of bullying from Imogen and Dooley. Each person reflected the end result of what could occur with the greatest travesty happening with Grigory—which angered me and brought me to tears. Yet it is a very real thing that can happen if it’s not acted upon fast enough.

Great Maturity in the Main Character: I really love the pace of Alma’s development. It matched with her growing responsibilities.

Opportunities (Cons)

Tidying in POV and scene shifts: In Heretic, there were a lot of different shifts in POV as well as between flashbacks and settings. The way that it was constructed, at moments, proved to be very confusing and at moments I did have to re-read what I just read. There was not enough clear separation to keep things from meshing together.

Side Story Threatened to take over Main Story: Although I appreciated the extra layer of conflict provided as it pertained to the college, it almost (and at many points) succeeded in eclipsing the main story. I was involved in the Donna/Dooley saga, who Grigory was receiving love letters from, why Imogen was just a horrible person—while all that is fantastic, I tended to forget the rest of it was buffer for Alma.

Not enough description of various locations: Heretic is definitely more action centered, to the point where little to no emphasis was given to some of the locations. For the spots where there was description, it was staccato as if the author couldn’t wait to return back to the action. More balance in this area could have definitely been beneficial and served for a more filling read.

I am in agreement with Nikki Vision as it pertains to verdict-

7starsMy Verdict (and overall TRB Verdict)
7 out of 10 Stars

Overall, I am a fan of the concept and am interested to see the full development of Alma as she continues her adventures.

Thanks for checking out The Review Board. Feel free to like, share, and subscribe. Have a great day.

Unleashed Speaks on WWE TLC (2014)

TLC and Stairs BannerTables, Ladders, Chairs (and Stairs)

Greetings everyone! No Labels here to discuss my thoughts on WWE TLC 2014. Survivor Series did amaze, despite the card appearing less than impressive. Would the same magic repeat for what WWE calls its “Demolition Derby”? Before we get into it, Mr. Controversy and I did our predictions. This time, the Kickoff has been included.

Kickoff (The New Day vs. Gold and Stardust)
Mr. Controversy: The New Day
Unleashed: The New Day

Why 3 Black Men (I mean, The New Day): If WWE is enthusiastic about this new push, then the Dust Brothers will experience the shooting star of defeat.

Ladder Match (WWE Intercontinental Title Match): Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler
Mr. Controversy: Luke Harper
Unleashed: Luke Harper

Why Luke Harper: This was a tough one for me because I did think they took the belt from Dolph too soon. Yet it appears that Bray and his former Wyatt family are getting pushes at the same time. To go along with that trend was the reason I decided to stick with Luke to secure the victory.

WWE Tag Team Title Match (Miz and Mizdow vs. The Usos)
Mr. Controversy: Miz & Mizdow
Unleashed: Miz & Mizdow

Why Miz & Mizdow: With a hint at the Kickoff show that Naomi may end up choosing fame over her husband Jimmy, there could be some shenanigans that ensures Miz & Mizdow hold on to the gold.

Stairs Match (Erick Rowan vs. The Big Show)
Mr. Controversy: The Big Show
Unleashed: Erick Rowan (Dark Horse)

Why Rowan: This was actually one of my dark picks so I don’t have a set reason why Rowan apart from momentum. Also, it’s rare they actually let The Big Show win one on the big stage these days.

Tables Match (John Cena vs. Seth Rollins)
Mr. Controversy: John Cena
Unleashed: John Cena

Why Cena: I know, I know, I know … if Cena wins, then it’s he and Lesnar again at the Royal Rumble. But hear me out. It makes no sense for Seth Rollins to win this match because he has the briefcase anyway. Also, wouldn’t people prefer if let’s say Brock loses to Cena and just when Cena is celebrating, Rollins sneak attacks him, cashes it in and ends up being the champ at Royal Rumble? I like how that looks, so I’m going with Cena for the win here to prepare for a bigger win for Rollins later.

Chairs Match (Kane vs. Ryback)
Mr. Controversy: Ryback
Unleashed: Ryback

Why Ryback: I am still not sold on Ryback. To me, he is an imitation Goldberg. However, Kane is getting on up in years and has been serving more of a role similar to Undertaker in putting people over. Therefore, I think Kane will be the Big Red Pusher and put over The Big Guy.

WWE Divas Championship Match (AJ Lee vs. Nikki Bella)
Mr. Controversy: Nikki Bella
Unleashed: Nikki Bella

Why Nikki Bella: As much as I love AJ Lee, WWE needs to quit acting spastic with this belt. Keep it on someone for more than a month. If you want Nikki to have it, let her have it. If not, let AJ win and keep it until you guys make up your mind. So for stability’s sake, let it be Nikki Bella. (although I can’t stand that Glitter Girl)

US Title Match: Rusev vs. Jack Swagger
Mr. Controversy: Rusev
Unleashed: Rusev

Why Rusev: If Big Show and Mark Henry couldn’t get the job done, I’m honestly supposed to believe that Daffy Duck (I’m sorry, Jack Swagger) can do it? WWE is so on again and off again with Jack that it’s just hard for me to get behind him. Yet this whole “fake winning streak” of Rusev is getting played out, too.

TLC Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt
Mr. Controversy: Bray Wyatt (Dark Horse)
Unleashed: Dean Ambrose (Dark Horse)

Why Ambrose: I was torn on this one. On one hand, Bray Wyatt won the last pay per view (even though it didn’t look like it). On the other hand, Dean Ambrose hasn’t won a pay per view since June, plus it is in his home state of Ohio. Surely WWE will put the odds in Ambrose’s favor, so I’m going to go out on a limb and pick him.

Now that picks are out of the way, on with the show:

The New Day v Gold and StarDustConfession: I am still not feeling The New Day. The sad thing is that I should enjoy them. They are marketed to send messages of positivity and determination. Wait, wasn’t that supposed to be Bo Dallas, prior to his mean streak and getting injured? Yet before the repackaging, there were undertones of frustration to where they were to be more like the new Nation of Domination than the BBB (Bubbly Black Brothers) you see before you. I’m just saying.

Not much to sneeze at here, although I was definitely a fan of Stardust rocking the Green and the Gold. I was definitely excited when the Bizarre Ones themselves favored my tweet.

bizarreonesIt was a close call. Goldust didn’t make it in fast enough, but The New Day secured the victory with their new finisher.

Luke Harper v Dolph ZigglerOkay, once upon a time, wasn’t Dolph Ziggler billed from Hollywood, Florida? I know I am not the only one who remembers this, right. I have no problem with people saying he’s from Ohio, considering that is actually where he originates. What I do have issue with is WWE thinking that people have forgotten where he was originally billed from. It was only a few months ago when Ziggler was squaring off against Miz for the very title Luke Harper is holding where it was “Hollywood vs. Hollywood.”

This was the best match on the card. Dolph Ziggler was definitely in his element and Luke Harper was holding his own. Luke experienced a great fall that made me cringe.

The ending was a pleasant surprise to myself and Mr. Controversy.

Winner (and now 4 Time IC Champ): Dolph Ziggler

Miz and Sandow v UsosThis match made me upset for a number of reasons.

  • I love Mizdow’s shenanigans but I felt like there was more of that than actual wrestling.
  • The hinted betrayal in the Kickoff show didn’t pan out which could have added extra layers to this match.
  • Nor there was any show of the jealousy angle that was the main hype going into the match.
  • Because Miz couldn’t get the job done (Mizdow never really got into the match) he opted for the team to get disqualified.

Winners: The Usos (but still Tag Team Champions Miz and Mizdow)

Erick Rowan v Big ShowI know WWE at the time thought this was a cool idea. Seriously, how much can you really do with stairs? There’s only so much flinging you can do, since Big Show almost wiped out Cole, JBL, and the King with one segment of them. You can slam someone on them, and you can use the opening to pin someone with it, which is what The Big Show did to secure the victory with Rowan.

It’s just sad that this is the only type of match Big Show can win on the big stage now. Plus, with Luke and Eric both losing, does this mean WWE Creative is rethinking their initial push of these two men? I guess I will have to see in the coming months.

All I know is that I don’t want “Stairs” to be a stay put in this pay per view.

John Cena v Seth RollinsThe things that made this match so boring that I’d rather watch paint dry:

  • The five moves of doom
  • Cena positioning himself on a table so Seth can do his curb stomp
  • Paul Heyman NOT doing commentary
  • The referee getting knocked out and coming to just as (see next bullet)
  • Both Rollins and Cena going through the table at the same time

The things that kept me invested in the match:

  • J & J Security (they did more wrestling than Seth)
  • J & J gets wood
  • Restart of the match by the senior official (excellent call)
  • Appearance of The Big Show (plan Z or whatever you want to deem him)
  • Oh, and the appearance of this guy-

Roman Reigns ReturnsRoman ReignsBelieve in Roman Reigns

Which lead a Big Show getting speared, a Rollins getting punched, and a Cena getting the victory!

Like I said on my Twitter and in past correspondences, I do believe Roman Reigns is being prepped to be the next WWE Champion come next year’s Wrestlemania. Although his hernia injury did interrupt the momentum, I still think WWE is headed in that direction, no matter how much they keep smacking everyone upside the head with Seth Rollins.

Ryback v KaneThis match was going at turtle speed. At least it played out that way. I don’t think even Kane was interested in being in this match. Nor was the crowd and noticeably (in more matches than not) the commentators. Both this match and the Show/Rowan produced the same number of sighs of boredom.

Winner: Ryback

Nikki Bella v AJ LeeI did not know that Nikki Bella was auditioning for a role as a gold glitter stick because she had a lot of it on. I was glad this match lasted for over a minute (not like that crap we were subjected to at Survivor Series). Just as the referee was in the process of throwing Brie Bella out, Nikki pulled a move that I have not seen since the days of the Model Rick Martel.

Up to this point, we had Tables, Ladders, Chair, Stairs. Along with barricades. And now … spray.

Winner (and still the Champ): Nikki Bella

Rusev v SwaggerIt’s a sad day when the Divas Match lasts longer than the US Title Match. It makes you wonder if Vince went to Jack and like “You’ve gotta make this quick. I shortchanged the Divas at the last PPV. Now it’s your turn.” There were a few exciting moments here and there where Jack had a fighting chance but a few kicks to the face was all it took to switch the tide and place Swagger right where Rusev wanted him.

Winner (and still US Champ): Rusev

Dean Ambrose v Bray WyattWith Dolph Ziggler stealing the show earlier, it put even more pressure on Dean Ambrose (another native of Ohio) to come up big. In addition, with Cena not being the main event, this was a test to really see if Ambrose and Wyatt could pull all the stops.

I’m not saying that it wasn’t good. I just felt there was opportunity for more to be done with it. In too many spots, it just seemed that Bray was just waiting for Dean to punish him. It also looked like Dean was working twice as hard as Bray with all of the moves, especially those dives off the ladder.

Maybe I’m too old school but I believe that it is the heel’s job to carry the majority of the match and to bring out the best in the face character. It is tough to have a heel (that is adored like a face) to pull that out.

Bray just wasn’t doing it for me. He should not have won that match and yet, he did.

Winner: Bray Wyatt

Predictions wise, Mr. Controversy emerged victorious with 7 correct while I ended up with 5 correct.

Now my verdict (based on the 5 Point Not Book Reviews Scale)

2.5_stars2.5 Stars out of Five

Besides the very first match and the very last match, this undoubtedly quenched the excitement felt after Survivor Series. Lackluster matches, head shaking endings, and less than present commentary by JBL, Cole and Lawler were a huge part of this rating.

Although it was great to bring in Roman Reigns, I’m not the only one who is missing Randy Orton. We expected Orton at Survivor Series (since it was in St. Louis) but got Sting.

Yet another prime opportunity to extract his revenge on Rollins (while it’s fresh in people’s minds), we end up getting Reigns to hype up Royal Rumble.

Not even Roman Reigns could save this Demolition Derby from being a Disastrous Dud.

Thanks for checking out the wrestling segment of The Review Board. Feel free to like, share, and subscribe. Have a great day!

Wordsmith Vision Unleashed on Doom Absolute

doomabsoluteDoom Absolute by R.T. Worth
Amazon | Website

Genre: Dark Fantasy/Action Adventure

Note: The copy was submitted by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb (provided by Amazon)
We all die –it’s inevitable.
But what if you were offered the chance to come back? Change your ways, live life to the full, do all the things you wanted to do?
Alma is gifted that chance, and she takes it without question. Barely in her teens, her life cruelly cut short in a world even more cruel. She seizes that opportunity with both hands, jumps in with reckless youthful abandon, waves away the small print. Thank you very much.
Now, trapped between the world of the dead and the living she races against the clock, stalked by supernatural forces and even the enemies responsible for her demise –to fulfill her contract before it’s too late and is dragged kicking and screaming to the place with no way out, for the rest of time.

Greetings everyone!  The Review Board here to discuss our thoughts on Doom Absolute by R.T. Worth.  First with her thoughts, Wordsmith Andi.

WordsmithLogoThe Wordsmith Weighs In

My first point of note in reading Doom Absolute is the book’s cover art. A tri-pointed collage of the myriad characters shrouded by mist, it is appropriately allusive to the story contained within. The cover actually does more justice to the story than the blurb provided, which says nothing of the magic, mystique, and strangely alluring blend of human culture/mentality (particularly the extreme consumerism) and anthropomorphic beings, namely the greenmen and fruitmen but not to exclude animals that can speak (but only to those whom have passed on), twisted versions of fairy tale creatures like the gnomes of Peat Valley, and walking and talking insects. Worth might want to rewrite his blurb to include a little more specific detail as to the world you’re dropped into rather than giving us an ambiguous description of something that doesn’t happen (Alma’s death) until almost a 3rd of the way in.

Engaging in the reading, my immediate impression was that Worth’s imagination and style is most reminiscent of China Mieville, whose works absolutely thrills and enchant with a dark vibrancy and near-primal hook. We’re drawn in immediately by an intriguing history description of the book’s setting, a planet akin to Earth, called Illuminara, but existing in a three-star solar system. Illuminara is populated by a plethora of walking and talking plants, called greenmen, and we get to meet one of them personally through the character of FC, or Fantastic Cactus, a surprisingly surly and lethal hand-for-hire who happens to be potted yet also has a movement form in which he utilizes shadows to become mobile. Along with the greenmen we also have the fruitmen, walking and talking fruit. Worth introduces us to Sid Banana, one such fruitman, and his attention to detail in delivering this character is flawless, giving us a clear picture of what a anthropomorphized banana would be like and have concerns for, especially concerning his skin and bruising.

Along with the greenmen and fruitmen, Illuminara is also host to anthropomorphized insects (most of whom only appear in passing, serving as arena fighters or the turncoat Nexus McGurk, a 7 foot tall preying mantis disguised as a human celebrity), humans, speaking animals (not like the ones in Narnia, mind you), and wizards and sorceresses, and greedy, unscrupulous global corporate monocracies like TransAn.

Worth wastes no time in throwing the reader head first into this stunning, fully imagined world where rebel groups battle against the monocracy of TransAn. Alma, a fourteen year old girl who has been imprisoned in a maximum security prison called Axis, is broken out of prison by the aforementioned Fantastic Cactus, and it is from this point that any expectation of predictability flies right out the window. Written at an often break-neck pace that works in perfect tandem to the equally break-neck action and relentless adventure, Doom Absolute is a fantastic, riveting read.

There were points at which I wondered if I was reading a sequel to another earlier book but on further investigation this proved not to be the case, which only proves the point that Worth has one of the most vivid imaginations and knows the world of Illuminara from the inside out. Suspension of disbelief is requisite but completely natural as Worth leads the reader deeper and deeper into a world that gives us more questions about it than answers and does so without us realizing it. For instance, why is TransAn, and thereby Illuminara, ruled over by a fourteen year old boy known only as the Count? Beyond the described atrocities inflicted upon this futuristic world, what exactly were/are the Efika rebels fighting for? What roles did Alma’s adoptive parents/guardians, Jestmain and Contra, play in the revolution that led to the massacre known as Scarlet Magray? There is as much mystery to the back story of Alma as there is action sequence acting as the vehicle for her progression through the story. As such, the wealth of mystery leaves ample room for the actual sequel that follows – a book that I am eager to read in follow up.

R.T. Worth is not an author to idly dismiss. After reading Doom Absolute, I easily and gladly rank this book right up there with Mieville’s works and, accordingly, I cannot wait to devour more of this unique world and writing style.

While the text was intermittently strewn with editing misses (misplaced punctuation, misspelled or misused words – ie, span the car instead of spun the car, you’re instead of your), these misses weren’t so numerous that they negatively affected my review.

I easily and gladly give Doom Absolute a 10 star rating!

blackdividerNext, let’s shine some Nikki Vision in the mix.

nikkibannerfinalI wasn’t sure what to say about this book at first, not because it is bad, but because it is so odd – in a good way. I loved the concept of writing about a place almost Purgatory like, where the dead abide, but have the opportunity to escape. In this strange world, some are given the chance to live again. A young girl, Alma, is offered this opportunity and we are transported into a dream-like universe where plants are people, people are plants, gnomes are evil, insects are huge and some even friendly, and everything is not what it seems. For Alma to return to the land of the living, she must honour the contract she made, but time is running out for our confused heroine and she must battle against other-worldly forces and those responsible for her untimely death, before it is too late.

I really enjoyed reading this odd book. The author, RT Worth, has a vivid imagination. I loved his ideas and the strange occupants of this dead/alive world are truly original. Alma has many odd creatures that help her with her quest to become one of the living again. One of my favourites is The Fantastic Cactus character, or Greenman. He not only speaks, but also helps Alma to escape her death prison and pops up now and then when she is in peril. My other favourite is the cat, Black Knight that Alma saves from Shindy’s Arena. This animal becomes her bodyguard and has some very useful supernatural powers that aid Alma in finishing her quest.

Vision Verdict: 8 out of 10 Stars

The only thing that bothered me and kept my rating from being a 10  is that there weren’t enough detailed physical descriptions of these weird locations. There were times when I couldn’t visualise the setting, which is important in a narrative like this, where places are alien to the reader. Other than that, a great book! The ending does not disappoint either and I was happy to see that there will be more escapades for this unusual heroine. I look forward to reading more from this fine writer.

blackdividerNow let’s get thoughts from the Unleashed One.

cropped-nolabelsunleashedUnleashed Speaks

Doom Absolute is the type of book where you have to definitely give full undivided attention, along with an exertion of a certain level of alertness. In addition, you have to tell reality to take a hike. I know those reading this wonder if that is a good thing or a bad thing. By the end of this review, I will let you come to your own conclusion.

As a reversal of sorts, let me start off with the things that could have been improved, or can just be chalked up to an Unleashed quirk. For brevity, we will just say CONS.

CONS

Chapter Length: For me, the chapters felt lengthy, although there was a lot of pertinent information that was provided.

Attention to Detail (as it pertains to location): The focus on the action in Doom Absolute was incredible. However, I just wish the author took additional time to invest that in the locations where Alma and the rest of the revolutionaries traveled. In certain parts, I felt like that distinction was skipped over and would have added more flourish to where the chapter lengths would have been justified.

**That’s about all for the cons. The following are things I noted but did not factor star wise in my rating.**

Observations

Lack of illustrations within the book: The cover illustration I absolutely adored and I would have liked to have seen some in the book as well.  Not necessarily in every chapter but I would have loved to have known what some of the settings were like in the mind of the author.

Slight syntax misses: Even after a second look, the most careful of eyes can miss a few here and there but some of the strange placement of punctuation and spelling distinctions were not significant enough to deter from the read.

Smiley Face

PROS

Refreshing originality: What a gem I have discovered! I have never read a book quite like Doom Absolute. Nothing is as it seems and you find heroism in the most unusual places and treachery in the most unlikely spots. At the end of each chapter, I was anxiously awaiting what would happen in the next due to the subtle inclusion of new information along the way.

Engaging characters: My favorite character was not even the main one, not to say that I didn’t like her maturity and real life situational drama. It was the twist and turns of the plant Fantastic Cactus, the “ride or die” dedication of the Knights, and the gentle nature of Moto. The strength of the supporting cast made me respect Alma the main character that much more and gave credence to the intensity and “never say die” persistence of the villains and others who you weren’t sure were truly friend or foe.

Non-stop action: Each chapter of Doom Absolute had a bit of action. Although the fight sequences may be a bit too gory for some audiences, I definitely appreciated the levels of connectivity and realism. The vivacity made my skin prickle with goose bumps in some area.

Witty dialogue: Some of the dialogue did serve a bit of relief to counteract some of the doom. No, it’s not the type that will make you roll on the floor with laughter but a bit of a chuckle from time to time.

Unique cover: I do have a lot of admiration for someone who can create art. The cover for Doom Absolute is a work of art. It embodied all of the major players that had a role in the action of the book. To do that in a way that is balanced makes me smile.

Unleashed Verdict: 9 out of 10 TRB Stars

For nontraditional characters and non stop action, I highly recommend Doom Absolute and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

9stars9 out of 10 Stars

Now taking all of the ratings and dividing my three, Doom Absolute gets 9 out of 10 Stars from The Review Board.

Thanks for checking out The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share, and subscribe. Have a terrific day!

KARR: Unleashed Speaks on Unrest

DR.Card-CD“Unrest” (part of the Continuous Drips anthology)
by Da’Kharta Rising
Amazon

Genre: Short story (dark drama)

Note: Although there are nine short stories in the Continuous Drips anthology, I will not be covering Misfortune, Afro Shock or Util but will only focus on the other six works in the collection one at a time.  This is part of a challenge in which each author of this anthology would give their honest assessment on the others’ contributions in the collection (and it would be a bit biased if I reviewed my own works on here).  None of the authors have seen the others’ works prior to their compilation and live presentation.

nolabels-tftsWhew!  That was a mouthful.  Now that we have all of that out of the way, I can get started on my thoughts with “Unrest”.

The mini description of “Unrest” did not give me a lot to go on.  All it mainly said was that a young lady was to go through some changes.  Of course, that could be a number of things but I suppose Da’Kharta Rising was vague on purpose.

With all types of thoughts swirling in my head, I proceeded to read and take in the changes of Spywrit the main character.  One was a haircut, then a change in what she would normally wear (from color to style).  At one point, I did start to wonder what the big deal was.  It just sounded like Spywrit was preparing for a date and wanted to make a phenomenal first impression.

shocked-smiley-face-EEKOh how wrong I was!  For me to even try to describe how wrong I was would result in me giving away a huge spoiler, and I definitely don’t want to do that.  All I will say is that it’s not anything you would see coming, no matter how much you go back and try to look for indicator or context clues.  You won’t find them.  (Believe me, I tried.)

Yet, for me, that is where the beauty of “Unrest” lies.  In a lot of modern writing, even those that are supposed to have layers of mystery, there is pressure to just spell out everything.  In this work, there is a bit of rebellion—as if the author wants the reader to use his/her imagination in conjunction with her own.

student-thinking-clipart-as5814
Food for thought: I’m beginning to think that Miss Rising wants to adopt this mannerism in her writing as a staple, since this tendency appeared in another one of her short stories, Vocal Remedy.

If you are looking for very detailed characters, you won’t find it here. Natas in particular is quite blurred.  Is he man, reincarnation, figment of someone’s imagination, or a monster?  At the end, I came up with one answer, yet another reader may come up with a different answer based on the conclusion of the story.

“Unrest” is more action centered and psychologically driven.  Although I’m more of a past tense reader, the present tense of “Unrest” makes things seem significantly more urgent, like I was in the thick of Spywrit’s emotional angst.

The action also has a bit of abstractness to it.  Sexual snaked in with ritual, promise mixed in with pain.  With each read of this work, I found something different to appreciate about it.

8starsUnleashed Verdict: 8 out of 10 Stars

I am a person that likes a read where things aren’t always fully presented.  However, when it comes to different readers, there may be other expectations, particularly with a short story.  Da’Kharta Rising may lose a few with this one since the end raises more questions than answers, so I can’t fully recommend this to those “must have answers now” and “concrete characters” fanatics.

**Yet if some of you are more like me, then I encourage you to check out “Unrest” and weave your own ending.**

Thanks for checking out this special KARR edition of The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share, and subscribe.  Have a glorious day!

Truth on the Side Speaks on Fade to Gray

Cha’Lo Followers! Mini Truth here.

minitruthbanner

So recently I read a short story and thought I’d share my thoughts on it with you all. So, here I am for a tad bit of “Truth on the Side”.

Oh? What book you ask? How did I know you were going to ask that question? *winking*

Fade to Gray

by

S.A. Molteni

23343658

 Goodreads | Amazon

Blurb:

Fade to Gray is a hilarious account of one woman’s attempt to transition to gray as easily and as quickly as possible.

So, what are my thoughts?

student-thinking-clipart-as5814

Here they are, quick and to the point.

What a cute story! I really enjoyed it and got a.giggle from it. The main character while never mentioned by name does a great job in talking about her hair misadventures and the adventure that ultimately follows once she’s made her choice to go gray.
It’s like reading “every woman’s story”. Well written and entertaining.
My only critique would be that I would’ve love a little more.
Thumbs up on this one!

Ultimately, Fade to Gray gets 8.5 out of 10 TRB Stars from me.

ken-nock4

Knock … knock … knock

Well, well, well!  If it isn’t No Labels.  I didn’t expect to see you here.  What brings you by?

Well, you did lend me this particular title and I finished reading it.  I hope you don’t mind me peeking in to leave my thoughts as well.

Don’t worry; I will be as brief as this little tale.

nolabels-tfts

Fade to Gray is a humorous yet very telling take on the process associated with getting older. It made me think of my trips to the store with my grandmother when she would ask me what color in the box would be great with covering her gray. She usually stayed in the color spectrum between chestnut brown and jet black.

This also goes to show that sometimes one must do something drastic to appreciate the beauty in the natural course of things. I do wish that it would have been slightly longer, for I thoroughly enjoyed this tale.

8.5stars

Unleashed (and overall) Verdict: 8.5 out of 10 TRB Stars

Thanks for checking out the Truth on the Side segment of The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share, subscribe, and comment.  Have a wonderful day!

Harmonious Truth on Her Unwelcome Inheritance

herunwelcomeinheritanceHer Unwelcome Inheritance
J. Aleksandr Wootton
Amazon |Amazon Author Page

Note: The copies were submitted by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: Fantasy Fiction

Greetings everyone!  The Review Board here to weigh in on Her Unwelcome Inheritance by J. Aleksandr Wootton.  First, with her observations, Harmony Kent:

harmony2
This is both a Traditional and Urban Fantasy novel. It has all the traditional, classic fantasy elements with faeries and goblins and magic. It has a faery land. It is also mostly set in our normal, everyday dimension. The author weaves the two worlds together seamlessly.

The book opens with a brief, but entertaining history of the fae and “puck”. The first chapter then introduces us to two women who are in the process of burning their house down. Chapter two then jumps sixteen years, and we get more acquainted with Petra, whose earliest memory is that of watching her mother and aunt burn down their house from her pushchair.

She is unaware of the family secret, until Faerie begins to intrude upon her life, and then she is forced to face her doubts and questions. The Faerie are tired of hiding, and the man who has been stalking her mother all these years believes he is the rightful king of Faerie. Both sides of this on-going strife believe that Petra is the key to it all.

The plot, pacing, world building, and character development are all done well. I found a few too many Point of View changes at the beginning, which was a little difficult to keep track of, especially as there were so many characters to remember. However, once I got a little way into the story, and the characters more familiar, this became easier to follow.

A further proofread is necessary to weed out spelling mistakes and missing words, which while not prolific, are enough to stand out. There are also some clumsy sentence constructions, which need shortening considerably. On the whole, the writing style is passive, and the dialogue tags tend to tell something that is already obvious. There is one unannounced shift in POV, but otherwise it stays steady, with each character getting their own section or chapter. Filter words, and delaying action with the use of the “began to/started to” formulation needs weeding down.

Harmony’s Verdict

verdict8starsI thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and any reader of fantasy fiction is sure to love this book. I offer 8 out of 10 TRB Stars.

blackdividerNext, let’s get some Truthful Takes from Mini Truth:

minitruthbanner
Petra is a young girl that does not believe in fairies, or anything fay for that matter. Having been raised by her mother and her “aunt” Petra has never had a stable home or life, like a normal girl her age and that is all she really wants–to stop running and just be normal. The biggest problem is that Petra doesn’t know why her mother and aunt are constantly up and leaving from one town to another. She surmises that there has to be a reason for the constant uprooting. The problem is that Christina has a secret. A secret that will eventually lead Petra to an adventure which will change her opinion of the fay altogether.

Suddenly, two worlds come crashing together.

My thoughts on the story are very simple…

conflictedsmiley
At first it very difficult to connect to the story as I found it very confusing. I didn’t have a clear idea as to what exactly was going on. I was tossed into a world that I knew little about, into the inner working of a set a characters that I didn’t know anything about. As the matter of fact I was tossed directly into that action.

I don’t really mind being tossed directly into the middle of the action, so long as there is some fundamental introduction, if you will.

Luckily, By chapter 3 I had a very clear picture of what was happening. I realized that the author was weaving two worlds together and had opted to start with the fay and then take us to our dimension. Thankfully, when then image became clear, I was then able to wind down and enjoy the story.

We had lots of interesting characters tied into the mix–my personal favorite was Lilith. The author had a very interesting take on her. One that was a bit different than what modern day mythology relates–I’ve always has an appreciation for when an author takes an already established creature from mythology and goes a new and interesting route–this is something we find in surplus in Her Unwelcome Inheritance.

syntaxIf I were to have one major complaint about the work, it would be that the story definitely needs some editing. There is quite a bit of grammatical faux pas–mostly in punctuation. There seems to be an excessive use of the “EM Dash” also known as the “Long Dash” which for the most part it seemed to be used to supplement that “ellipse” or to create an interruption in dialogue, and at times it was a bit put offish.

For a person like myself, the matter of closely knit text was a bit frustrating. I’ll explain. The text was very small, with minimal spacing, and it sometimes caused the text to blur together in my eyes. I would suggest some additional spacing to be added to the formatting of the final product.

I think that with some more editing and proper formatting, and lastly, with a bit more “lead in” at the beginning of the story, this could be a story that many will enjoy.

My verdict: 7.5 stars.

Overall, well done.

Now taking these two scores and dividing by the number of reviewers, Her Unwelcome Inheritance gets 7.75, rounded to 8 out of 10 TRB Stars.

8stars8 out of 10 TRB Stars

Thanks for checking out The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share, and subscribe.  Have a nice day!