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M. SEBOURN RSS Feed (Searcy, Arkansas)
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First There Wasn't, Then There Was
First There Wasn't, Then There Was
Price: $2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very different, and very good., June 20, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I'd just finished Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes (highly recommended, too, by the way) and was looking for something new to read, and lo, I bought this. I follow Blackford on Twitter, and I've sampled some of his work, enough to gather that this guy is doing something different with his writing: he's writing what he wants to write, to heck with whether or not it fits squarely into whatever genre is popular at the time.

Speaking of genres, this book doesn't really fit into one at all. Is it a crime thriller? Kinda. Is it a morality tale? Perhaps. Is there something supernatural going on? Possibly. To offer a very brief summary of the work, a group of young employees on a smoke break become curious about the babbles of a strange homeless man… and the real meat of this book is the story that this homeless man tells them.

After reading this, I can state the following with absolute certainty:

1) Blackford is a good writer. Per Stephen King, if you want to be a writer, you have to do two things: read a lot and write a lot. Blackford has obviously done his homework, and he writes with confidence, occasionally dropping some lines that are truly witty. The prose is smooth, and the work is decently proofed and edited.

2) First There Wasn't, Then There Was is a good story, and if you're contemplating whether or not independent electronic publishing is a good thing, this story, for many reasons, is a good argument that it is.

3) This work is really bizarre and thought-provoking, yet simple and straightforward enough that it's an enjoyable, lighthearted read.

If I were forced to point out a flaw, it would be this: the frame tale (about the smokers) could have been more developed; if I'd known more about the smokers, I think the book's ending would have packed a more potent emotional punch. The nature of a frame tale, though, is that it serve as a vehicle for the "real" story… and in that respect, it does its job.

If you're sick of reading stuff that reminds you of just about everything else you've read thus far, give this a shot. It's a pretty darn good breath of fresh air.


Society's Fall (Survival)
Society's Fall (Survival)
Price: $4.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Fast pace, fun to read, April 6, 2014
Society's Fall is a work of science fiction. Specifically, you could safely place it in the post-apocalyptic sub-genre. The story mostly follows a band of folks who have managed to survive the collapse of the world as we know it. Led by a tough guy with a good shot named Rock, this group spends a fair chunk of the novel in battle against intelligent, zombie-like, hard-to-kill creatures as they (the survivors) try to make their way across a post-apocalyptic, all but abandoned landscape. The novel wastes no time getting into the action, and the pace never really slows down at all. Impressive, considering this is by no means a short book.

Some things to keep in mind as you contemplate purchasing this work:

David McNutt describes the story's battles in great detail. Nearly the first 20% of the book is an extremely detailed battle description. If you're into long battle scenes packed with details about weaponry and strategy, you'll get pleasure out of this.

The copy I read could probably use another round of detail and grammar polishing. I've heard another round of editing is in the works as I type this.

Relating to the story itself, the work has, I feel, two weaknesses, which are related to each other: 1) The narrative, at times, gets so frantic that I lost track of who's speaking orders, which character I'm following, etc. 2) That frantic pace I spoke of hinders the character development. You never really get to meet the characters and learn much about them before you're wondering if they're going to get killed or not.

These weaknesses aside, this book will not bore you, and I'm glad I own it. The story seldom, if ever, drags. The creatures-- the Nightwalkers and the Daystalkers-- are interesting, and their characteristics and habitations are described well. And as I said previously, the detail in the battle scenes is a lot of fun to read.


Bloody Mess: The Crimson City Tales Series #1
Bloody Mess: The Crimson City Tales Series #1
Price: $1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fast-paced, entertaining read, March 12, 2014
Bloody Mess is a very quick read, and not just because the book is short, but because the author keeps his foot on the accelerator through the entire effort.

I read this book in a matter of days and would have finished it much sooner if there hadn't been distractions.

If you're interested in an easy read that is essentially 100 or so "pages" of near-constant action, and if you're not offended by considerable amounts of foul language, I think you'll enjoy this work.


Stop The World [+digital booklet]
Stop The World [+digital booklet]
Offered by SONY Music Entertainment Downloads LLC.
Price: $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Typical-- yet not typical-- of today's rock, August 12, 2013
I got bored with most modern rock music a long time ago.

The formula started long ago, even before Creed and Nickelback and Seether and Staind and Hinder and.... Well, you know: angsty vocals, "heavy" power chords, catchy choruses... nothing too daring, but nothing you'd necessarily play in your grandmother's Grand Marquis, either.

I don't hate this music. I just think it's derivative and has grown boring. Why not listen to the guys who did it right, who stretched their horizons, took some risks, and frankly, displayed a bit more talent? Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Audioslave...

Anyway, I suppose I'm digressing. Aranda are, really, a typical modern rock group. There's nothing here you haven't been hearing on FM radio for at least the last fifteen years. Plenty of catchy choruses and nice guitar licks. A very capable vocalist. Decent, sometimes VERY GOOD lyrics... Nothing revolutionary, though. Yet these guys play this kind of music very well, and their sound is just different enough to lift them above the blandness I was discussing earlier.

These guys are great musicians. They're not to be compared, necessarily, to the guys in Tool or Opeth or Dream Theater, but these guys do more than lay down simple beats and pound power chords over the top of them. Similarly, the vocals on this CD are outstanding, no lousy Eddie Vedder clone here, and the lyrics they're sometimes screaming into the mic are above the standard "My life sucks and I think I want to burn some stuff down" drivel featured in so many of the nine-dozen twenty-first century post-grunge bands.

I'm not going to give Stop the World five stars. This kind of music has existed for a long time, and you're not going to find anything on this CD that makes you raise your eyebrows and say to yourself, "Now this is different. No, this is BRILLIANT."

Yet, you won't be bored with it either. There's a lot of talent on display here, and influences that reach beyond the countless similar bands who have come before.

If you're into modern rock music at all, get this. It's well executed, kinda different, and most importantly, it's fun.

If you're an, ahem, music snob who's way too... sophisticated?... for this sort of thing, skip it. It's not gonna change your mind.


Heritage
Heritage
Price: $13.18
83 used & new from $2.29

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy album to like, February 2, 2013
This review is from: Heritage (Audio CD)
But most of the better things in life aren't easy to digest on the first try.

Opeth has never been an "easy" band. Even by the often-intimidating standards of progressive and heavy music, Opeth require an extraordinary amount of effort. You have to be willing, and you have to be patient. They usually don't care much for choruses. They utilize silence as much as they do volume. They refuse to associate themselves clearly with any one particular genre. And they've always been this way.

And all of these qualities are present on Heritage. And yet, Heritage is a strange departure, even for Opeth.

This album has been, and will continue to be, compared to Damnation, just because of Mikael's exclusive use of clean vocals. But that's all this album has in common with Damnation. Despite its clean and acoustic outer facing, Damnation was in line with what Opeth was doing at the time. It was like a (very fine) collection of clean interludes that they'd trimmed out of Deliverance or Blackwater Park.

Heritage, though, is prog... it's jazz... it's folk.. it's classical. Sometimes, it's all of this in one song. These tracks don't flow together like the tracks on past Opeth efforts, and in the heart of the album-- "Nepenthe" through "Famine"-- there is little or no flow at all, even in the individual songs; on first listen, I thought the heart of this album contained as much silence as it did music. It's almost like the band wasn't patient; as if, while recording, they had dozens of good ideas but didn't bother to tie them together in any logical fashion... And while playing, when in doubt of how to proceed... they just faded into empty space and picked up again a few seconds later with something TOTALLY different!

And then I realized... This is Opeth. For twenty years, these guys have been writing and performing some of the most complex, beautiful, challenging music on the heavy metal end of the rock spectrum. They know what they're doing. If some of these songs seem chopped-up and random, it's because they're SUPPOSED to sound that way.

So I let the CD cool on the shelf, ignored it on my iPod, and returned to it later. This time, I knew what I was getting into, but I still had the benefit of coming to it with fresh ears. (Because, believe me: you won't digest this album on your first listen. Or your second. Or your third. Probably not your fifteenth.)

And still, after months of ignoring it (and thus, in a way, preparing myself for it), I didn't get it.

Yes, I enjoyed "The Devil's Orchard" and "Folklore." They're easily the most traditional-sounding songs on the record, if you're looking for anything resembling the Opeth of past days... or at least the Opeth of the Watershed era. The rest of it I found to be very strange. Not bad-- these guys are talented, and this is quality music-- but strange.

This is, for the most part, where I'm at still. The beginning of the album has begun to make sense to me. "Heritage" is a nice little intro. "The Devil's Orchard" and "I Feel the Dark" are decent Opeth songs, although not among their classics (to me, anyway). "Slither" is something else entirely. It's almost simple and straightforward-- and enjoyable enough, as it provides a bit of balance-- because there is nothing straightforward about the rest of the collection.

"Nepenthe", "Haxprocess", and "Famine" are growing on me one two-minute section at a time, and "Folklore" really lifts up the album's latter section. The outro to this song is among the best two minutes of music this band has ever recorded.

Despite the fact that I don't love this CD as much as I love every one of this band's other releases, I am giving it four stars because it IS good music, and Opeth, I feel, have earned the right to experiment and receive the benefit of the doubt. Mikael may not be growling like a spawn of Satan on this album, and the overall tone of the music may be softer, but this collection is by no means an appeal to the pop charts. It's an ode to progressive rock, and it's definitely among the most challenging music they've ever released. I do not understand, at all, those giving it one star. To constitute one star, I'd think the music you're listening to would have to be bad, as in: generic, repetitive, void of substance, bland, laughable... This is NOT bad music-- I simply don't see how anyone can call it that. Not your cup of tea? Okay. From the dark side of the moon, even for Opeth... I agree. But bad? As in, garbage, which is what one star theoretically means? I have to disagree.

If you're willing, and you've been with this band for years, I think you should give it time. Lots of time. At least a few of the tracks will begin to grab you after just a few listens. And the rest of the album will probably start to make a bit of sense, too-- it has for me, anyway.

I've also discovered that Heritage makes for excellent "thinking music." It's as good as the most abstract moments from Radiohead if you're needing something to play in the background while you're writing your masterpiece or just needing an hour or so to let your mind wander.


Wrecking Ball (Special Edition)
Wrecking Ball (Special Edition)
Offered by kylakins
Price: $12.49
79 used & new from $5.60

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I feel compelled to write this...., March 6, 2012
It's already been said, but I'll say it again: this is Bruce's best in at least twenty years. It combines a little bit of everything he's done over the past two decades... Plus more.

"We Take Care of Our Own" is great, but is not indicative of this disc as a whole. There is variety here, and heart; the Boss sounds as inspired as he did on The Rising.

I cannot imagine what the writers of these bad-mediocre reviews are hearing. I say: Pick this up.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 10, 2012 12:57 PM PST


Full Dark, No Stars
Full Dark, No Stars
by Stephen King
Edition: Hardcover
571 used & new from $0.01

558 of 598 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars King delivers, November 9, 2010
This review is from: Full Dark, No Stars (Hardcover)
Some of King's best material-- "The Mist", "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption", "The Body", "Hearts in Atlantis", etc.-- can be found in his collections, particularly his novella collections. Yes, he's written some long books, many of them already considered modern classics (The Stand and IT come to mind), but the man has ALWAYS delivered when he confines himself a bit.

By delivered, I mean everything: characters, setting, story, emotion.

Read the first twenty pages of "1922." Try not to despise the utter selfishness of Wilfred and Arlette-- even while you're sympathizing with the unfortunate humanity of their situation. Try not to stare wide-eyed in horror at what Wilfred convinces his son to partake in... and just try to look away from the book (although you may have to-- for a breather-- after one grueling scene).

This is an honest book. Each story seems to revolve around the theme that there is a monster inside each one of us.

King is sometimes accused of being wordy, yet he seems to bat every ball out of the park when he confines himself to the constraints of a hundred or so pages.

Pay no attention to the fools who have chosen to lower the star rating of this excellent collection with their whining about the publishing industry and the expensive nature of their digital "books."

I paid fourteen dollars for this book several hours ago-- not a bad deal at all for a new hardback, I'd say-- and it's worth much more than that.

King is a modern master, and we're lucky to have him.
Comment Comments (25) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 6, 2012 6:17 AM PDT


Blockade Billy
Blockade Billy
by Stephen King
Edition: Hardcover
350 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another solid, honest work by (arguably) the best popular writer working today, May 26, 2010
This review is from: Blockade Billy (Hardcover)
Throughout his career, King has avoided slipping into repetitive mediocrity. He released Different Seasons, a collection of (very fine) non-horror novellas, in the mid-eighties, when his publisher was trying to type him as the "master of modern horror." Throughout the nineties he experimented with mainstream fiction in works such as Dolores Claiborne, Gerald's Game, and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. Insomnia was a long, complicated, experimental novel. Bag of Bones was, at heart, a love story.

I say this to reinforce my opinion that King is a fine writer--a genuinely GOOD writer-- that, despite his unbelievable success, has always been several notches above his pop-culture competition in terms of honest talent and productivity. James Patterson has never written anything as good as Bag of Bones or "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption." Dean Koontz has slipped into the abovementioned repetitive mediocrity and no longer carries the creative torch that he used to. John Grisham strives for literary relevance by dipping his toes into non-courtroom, William Faulkner-esq. waters, but none of these efforts reach the artistic heights that King has reached in much of his fiction, horror and non-horror alike.

"Blockade Billy" is another feather in King's cap. A small, minor feather, of course, because this little story is probably not going to sell anywhere close to a million copies... and King knows that. He wrote it because he wanted to, and he published it because many of his fans will enjoy reading it. The former point is the most important question to consider when judging art. WHY was the work produced?

For those questioning the price/length of this book, consider this... King, for many different reasons, is one of the most important writers of his time. Most King limited editions are priced in triple digits--whether the book is two hundred pages or a thousand. The limited edition of this book was in the neighborhood of thirty dollars. A Stephen King RARITY for thirty dollars! Not bad.

The mass-marked edition, a very nice little hardback, can be found for less than ten dollars-- the price of a throwaway paperback.

And for those calling this work a short story, it is somewhere in the range of 15-20,000 words. That is a novelette, not a short story.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 15, 2010 10:52 PM PDT


Smoke & Mirrors
Smoke & Mirrors
Price: $16.58
39 used & new from $2.75

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yet another solid effort, March 2, 2010
This review is from: Smoke & Mirrors (Audio CD)
On each album, Lifehouse tread into enough new territory (electronic, hard rock, blues) to avoid bland "pop" predictability. It's hard to compare one Lifehouse album to another, despite the band's consistent "Lifehouse" sound, but, with its diversity and slight experimentation, I would say Smoke and Mirrors resembles No Name Face or Stanley Climbfall more than it does their last two, despite its more polished and produced sound.


No Title Available

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Scary, November 8, 2009
I suppose I'll pass off the negative reviews in one of two ways:

1) People with negative emotions towards a certain subject are naturally more driven to speak out about it.
2) It's perfectly natural for a movie of this type to divide the viewing public.

Whatever the reason for the negative reviews, I can speak from experience that this movie is well made and effective.

I am a fan of horror films/literature. I don't consider myself an expert, but I've seen enough horror films and read enough horror novels to understand the genre. This movie did not drive me to sleep with a light on, but then, it's hard to drive me to those measures. This movie, though, DID creep me out. It is very effective.

I saw it in a crowded theater, and while the audience did not react quite as dramatically as the audience in the trailer, there were many screams, and almost every person in the theater (with a pulse and/or an imagination) was visibly uneasy.

If you're not a fan of the horror genre, or you're not a fan of indy films, or you aren't blessed with a large imagination and a tolerance for the strange or different, this movie may not be for you. If you buy into the hype too much, you're bound to be disappointed.

Approach this movie with an open mind and let your imagination off its leash and you'll undoubtedly enjoy it, and you'll probably even find yourself on the edge of your seat.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 5, 2010 10:36 PM PST


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