(insert pithy rejoinder here)

RWI REVIEWS

Reviews:

REAPERS WITH ISSUES – Alison

The four horsemen have office problems. I really did not care about any of the characters at all until close to the end when I felt I might understand Grim a little more than the others. Parts of the story were funny, but I felt like I was missing the humor a lot. Guess this one just wasn’t for me.

REAPERS WITH ISSUES – Amy

Do not pick up this book if you have no sense of humor.

I loved this book. LOVED it! I laughed the entire way thru it. If you can’t laugh at something, you are taking it way too seriously.

Seems that no one, not even death can get away from middle management BS. Grim’s budget for OHD, Office of Human Death, has been slashed and his plea for extra Reapers is going to the dogs. God puts Jesus in charge, who has no idea about Reaping souls. Grim tries to help Jesus out with things, but with Lucifer always interfering, nothing goes right. Lucifer gives OHD some of his tormented souls, but they aren’t Reapers. There are workman comp claims, misunderstandings, bribes, all everyday things you hear of in the government, so why would this be any different? At the end the Four Horsemen find their stride and get their act together to take over the OHD again.

The characters are well written and each has their own quirks, which makes it even better! I will definitely be purchasing the other books in the series!!

Kudos to the author H.E. Ellis for having the guts/nerves/balls to write this book.

REAPERS WITH ISSUES – Amy H.

This book was a funnier than I thought! At, first i was a little disappointed at the fact that “grim” the reaper of death does drugs. was about to say that the book wasn’t for me, but the author then turned the attention on his job and left the drug use at that. i got this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. i loved this book and will be buying the second one in this series!

this book is about the “OHD” office of human death. got their budget taken over by lucifer to his place in hell. lucifer got a club and a gym. then god recently retired and had jesus take over the “OHD” god told grim that jesus was going to be watching over him making sure he runs is department fairly. grim wasn’t happy that is new business partner was jesus. jesus then decides that the extra reapers that he was going to hire were going to be souls from hell that has been over crowding the depths of hell. lucifer doesn’t like the fact that jesus got to talk over, so he goes out of his way to make it hard for grim to do his job. he sends over 5000 souls that were matress rippers or tax evadors. none of them were scary or able to choose who dies and goes where.

while grim is trying to please jesus because if he doesn’t follow his rules will be sent to purgatory to be the supervisor.grim decides to take jesus under his wing and teach him what he needs to know about humans and how to act in public. he also teaches jesus about not needing his dads approval for everything, and tell jesus that he will take the fall for him if this program fails. grim then getsd drunk and follows in the ruins of lucifer and all hell breaks loose. about to loose his job, and ruin everything jesus created he needs to find a way to fix it. will grim learn that to be happy he has to put others first or will everything in the “OHD” will be ruined.

REAPERS WITH ISSUES - Andie

Great book!! If religious you might be offended so don’t even bother. I enjoyed the humor of it though.

REAPERS WITH ISSUES – Colleen Bratley

Pestilence, famine, war, oh my. Creativity, shock, and a questioning what, all rolled into one story.

To say this was a surprise read from her other series, would be an understatement. I have to admit, at first I couldn’t wrap my head around it as I first felt shock for the, shall I say audacity, of an author to write some of these things that fly in the face of the religious minded. But if you let the chains on your mind go, you begin to sense the limitlessness of one’s abilities to grasp the different angles your mind can create from a linear line. In other words, black and white can be any sound or color you want, and this story gives you a taste of just that. I would even say it elicited a decadent feel at first. That is until I got free of the chains and started to understand and feel the story with an unadulterated one path mind.

What is great about this story is that there was a morality to it, and characters that still had depth you could feel. Some, of course, took a while to feel anything for due to the nature of the character in your mind before you even began to get into the story, but that’s what makes it intriguing; intimidating even as you wonder as an author if you could have created such a piece.

Many authors like to keep their characters in a positive light by giving them few if any flaws thus hoping to draw the reader into their veneration. But being in a real world, sometimes the flaws, making them feel on the same level as the reader, give the character just the endearment needed to make them your hero, your best friend. What H.E. Ellis makes you feel for these characters, I believe, will actually surprise you. It sure astonished me. It’s a talent that some authors just innately have. I believe Ellis is one of them.

This story revolved around the four horsemen, God, Jesus and Lucifer. To say it is unlike anything I have read on these subjects would be a most articulate summation. But, the interesting, intriguing, and yet moral story that ensued was a journey of pure artistic enthrall that ripped the seam of complacency and tiresome wide open. It brought the reader to a sense of “win” with the near ending scenes and yet left you wondering what was next.

This book is not for the faint of heart. It has strong language, vivid scenes of a dark nature, an abnormal view of religious characters and explicit sexual indications. If you can get past those things and not letting any stalwart view of religion you may have feel disrupted, then you may enjoy the story for what it is… a skewed take on what really happened with the characters noted above.

REAPERS WITH ISSUES – El Guapo

I’ve been going pretty strong with the limericks lately. Mostly, they’re a fun way to poke fun at cultural icons. Out of all of them though, there has been one so far that I actually wanted to work well.
It was for a blogger I like, and I wanted to convey some of the fun and story of the book she’d written.

Well, she’s written another. And it’s hilarious.
She’ll tell you straight up, it isn’t for the dogmatic. It pokes fun at Jesus. It pokes (maybe bludgeons would be a better word?) at god and at the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
About the only character in this ensemble that comes off like I would expect is Lucifer. Except for the track suit. Too hellish even for him.

I’m not even going to try and explain this one. Think of it as a view of quite possibly the worst middle management situation under…well, under heaven and earth.

Everyone that stops by here has a great sense of humor, and y’all have been able to take some of the most inane jokes. I think you would enjoy reading through the book.

At the very least, you’ll be able to understand the limericks!
The first actually holds to the plot. the second…well, reread it after you’ve read the book. It’ll make sense then.
And possibly make you feel a bit ill while you laugh…

Reapers With Issues
Reapers known as the Apocalyptic Four,
overworked, downtrodden and sore
Lucifer trapped Jesus and his pup.
Managed to gum almost everything up!
But Grim, on his horse, settled the score

Reapers With Issues (for those who’ve read it!)
Each Reaper had a favorite meat-suit
For acting in ill-repute
Jesus would have none of it
While Lucifer made fun of it.
Oh, and Genghis thought the doggie was cute.

REAPERS WITH ISSUES – Marguerite Woodward

Free book for review. I couldn’t finish the book because what was written about God and Jesus. I did not like the book.

REAPERS WITH ISSUES – Sharlene

Before I begin, if you have hangups about death, Jesus or God either let go of them or don’t read this book. (I suggest you let go of them and read this.)

This book was EXACTLY what I needed this last month. With a super hectic schedule it was perfect for picking up and reading its short chapters. It spent many a night in the tub with me, where, I might add the accoustics were great for anyone who was within earshot to hear me laughing out loud…Geez, I hope they know I had a book in there with me…

One would think that writing a book about characters that we can all relate to, would be simple, but Ellis was able to twist them into characters that you just loved to read more about. Yup, even the Devil will make you smile when he appears. It may have been a bit sacriligous to laugh at Jesus constantly but I hope the man upstairs forgives me, as it only made me love him more. ;)

Conflict and resolutions are dramatized much like a sitcom. Well written and easy to read and follow, this book has already had me looking in the bookstores for its sequels.

I look forward to reading more of Ellis’s books!

REAPERS WITH ISSUES – Simply Ennui

This was a fun, quick read, where the author had his tongue planted firmly in cheek. The premise was simple, the implications complex. As earth’s population grows, the Reapers (Death – epitomized by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse) have to work harder and harder to collect and sort the souls of the dying. When they petition Heaven’s bureaucracy for permission to ‘hire’, all Hades breaks loose. Literally. And figuratively.

While I found this short work to be funny, it was also unrelenting. What was humorous in one context became trite in the next paragraph, simply from overuse. The author had a good idea, and for the most part he was able to carry it off, but after a while it became simply too much of a good thing. The humor is based on mocking our culture’s sacred cows, and that could very easily pass from humor to offensiveness. I don’t think it quite reached that point, but I did feel that the author depended too much on the humor to carry the story, somewhat to the detriment of the story itself.

I appreciated the subtle (and not so subtle) characterizations of the main characters and the humor inherent in their interactions. The Reapers had their distinct personalities, which tied in with their roles (Death, Famine, Pestilence, War) and the author had Jesus, Lucifer, and God playing off each other in a way that would make any harassed parent of teenagers sigh and roll their eyes in sympathy. In short, humorous, but somewhat overdone.

FYI: Definite adult language and content. There was a great deal of religious mockery, adult language, and innuendo. The language would be the most likely to offend because its casual blasphemy was a constant – just about every paragraph included some … colorful … phrases.

REAPERS WITH ISSUES – SLaroc

Fantastic! I just finished the first and am planning on picking up the rest of the series. Ellis writes a novel that exposes the ugly truth…you can’t escape corporate politics, no matter what your job is. Even if that jobs involves reaping souls. God was a CEO who gave new meaning to nepotism. I love that there was an author who was ballsy enough to look at religion and faith from a different angle, i.e. the `maybe god doesn’t know everything’ angle. Hilarious book and I am looking forward to reading more.

REAPERS WITH ISSUES – Stephanie Bolen

Very funny. All the characters are interesting more funny than scary. I like the set up for next book, it makes you want to read it.

REAPERS WITH ISSUES – Tansy

Really funny and a great satire on the many elements and Jesus.

REAPERS WITH ISSUES – TrailerTrashDeluxe

Reapers With Issues” is a series of 4 books.  “Reapers With Issues” itself is the first one, followed by “Reapers With Fangs”, “Reapers With Ray Guns”, and “Jesus and the Second Coming: Die Harder.”  The primary author, as I understand it, of the first two is H. E. Ellis herself, with Tom Elias, S. Quinn Shaw, and Mikhail Vlakfeld.  The primary author of the last 2 in the series is Tom Elias, with help from the other three.  Elias is the author of the rousing sci-fi update of “Beauty and the Beast” from H. E.’s collaborative effort of “F*cked-up Fairy Tales,” so it makes sense that he would do something with ray guns.

Enough of the further digression.  “Reapers With Issues” is a short novel, one could almost say novella, with its tongue firmly planted in its hollow cheek (reapers having no physical form).  Though my Bible knowledge is sketchy, the main characters, as I understand them, are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Death, or The Grim Reaper (known mostly as “Grim” and “Head Reaper-In-Charge, Office of Human Death, Purgatory”), War, Pestilence and Famine, as well as Lucifer, Jesus “Skippy” Christ, and the “Head Dude” himself, God.  There are a few minor characters, such as Pedro the drug dealer, Fran the hot secretary, Genghis Khan, and Brian, the “Merry Fucking Christmas” killer, who shot up a shopping mall at holiday time before sending himself to hell.  The main premise of the book is that Grim and his 3 fellow reapers are WAY overworked, beg God for more reapers, have Skippy Christ (imagine William H. Macy in one of his “milktoasty guy” roles, only with long hair) sent in by God to “lead” them, with Lucifer playing pranks on them at every turn, and you have the general idea.

Lest you think this book extremely blasphemous, rest assured it portrays Jesus as nothing but Goodness and Light (with a lot of naivete and a big dash of ineptitude thrown in).  Well, for the most part anyway.  I’m a big fan of the little cutaway scenes in “Family Guy” where someone (Peter?) asks something like, “What if Jesus hadn’t fully applied himself”?, and they show modern Jesus vegging away in his chair, surrounded by screaming kids, loudly asking “Honey, why is the ironing board still out??”, so I don’t mind a bit of fun poked at Biblical figures.  But, still, I sorta felt the need for a cleansing after reading this, because it is nonstop raucous humor at the expense of the Reapers, and doesn’t hesitate to poke lighthearted fun at God, Jesus and Lucifer.

If I had a complaint about this at all, it’s that it took me a while to buy into some of the details of it.  Since the Reapers really have no form, they have to wear “meat suits” (bodies of freshly-reaped people, if I understand correctly) to be able to interact with humans.  I also didn’t really realize that Lucifer was considered to be the brother of Jesus (my 2 and a half minutes of Googling this led me to a confusing array of info, but basically the fallen angel and the unfallen ones are all children of God, or are they really?).  One needs to fully buy into the idea of Lucifer being Jesus’ brother to appreciate a lot of the jokes.

This is H.E., and company’s, fantasy escape story, with humor that is anything but dry.  Very little is politically correct here, with fun being poked at corporate bureaucracy (Office of Human Death being the corporation here) and lots of buddy-making-fun-of-buddy humor.  “Nothing is sacred” isn’t just a statement about this book, it’s basically the theme of it.

If I had any caveat about the book, (I wanted to use “caveat” because every aspiring writer needs to use at least one pretentious word per day), it would be that the first-time reader of H.E. Ellis, if “Reapers” were the first thing they read of hers, wouldn’t know what an excellent author of more “straight-up” fiction she is.  She also is in the process of doing a 5-part series called “The Gods of Asphalt“, which, to be quick about it, is a young-adult series, only more from a male point of view.  I’ve only read the first one in the series (not sure if she’s published the second yet), but it was quite good (expect an actual review when I extract the hook in my ass from the hole in my chair), and, though it had its fair share of brother-on-brother locker-room type humor, was serious and caring without being boring or maudlin.  In other words, she can be funny and she can be serious, and pull off both quite well.  Is either series Pulitzer-Prize material?  Probably not.  Should she be famous and make gobs of money writing someday soon?  As Lucifer might say:  “Damn straight, Skippy!”

REAPERS WITH ISSUES – Very Normal

Right, after all the at the top I can actually review the book, BOOM. I didn’t find any of it offensives, which maybe says a lot about my mind. I do think it was a very light hearted good-natured poke and I think it comes off well. I want to give Grim a hug bless him, he is so stressed.

The story line of this book is very well thought out and well executed. I like the way it brings a modern twist to something that people have been talking about for thousands of years and think its a new way of looking at death. The four horse men are very well written and the dialog between them is very causal and believable. I like that  Heaven, Hell and Purgatory is run like a business. I really like the HR meetings, they really made me laugh.

You can give yourselves a pat on the back for this one guys.

REAPERS WITH ISSUES – Yzabel

I’m always up for stories that poke fun about serious themes, and ‘death’ and ‘angels’ have always been such themes for me. Reapers With issues deals exactly with those: the heavy celestial bureaucracy, with all the defects the latter term entails, and how figures of terror, the Four Horsemen, must deal with very day-to-day, down-to-earth problems regarding death. Their main problem being that there are only the four of them to do the job, while humanity keeps on multiplying. ‘Grim’ and his fellow horsemen go to quite a few lengths to keep their heads up, from filing up reports to indulging in buying weed from Saint Peter’s offspring. I found it very funny to see familiar figures of heaven and hell depicted under various, different colours here, within what is a nice satire of the corporate and bureaucratic world. Lucifer is exactly the kind of smart, manipulative bastard I’d expect him to be. Grim tries to tackle problems as seriously as possible, but let’s just say that between War’s antics and the new management imposed by God, this is proving harder and harder as the story progresses.

The least I can say is that this novel made me smile and chuckle, a lot. Granted, there were a few times when the humour wasn’t very subtle; but I think the author also did a good job in not overdoing it, and when fun is being poked at sensitive themes, it is always done so in a good-natured way, not in a voluntarily offensive one. Also, I commend the editing work done on this book. I didn’t notice any of the usual typos and misprints that tend to spring, and the author’s writing style was fluid and pleasant, both in descriptions and in dialogues.

Really, I can’t find many faults with this book. It made me spend a very good time, it was a short and fun reading, its characters made me laugh, and all in all, it’s a novel I’d easily recommend to my friends.

Interviews:

REAPERS WITH ISSUES – Tom Elias

REAPERS WITH ISSUES

Death killed time rereading God’s memo while he waited for his dealer to show. Semi-baked, he decided, would be the condition necessary to inform his staff that their department would not be receiving the help they so desperately needed and that someone else, an outsider, would be put in place to oversee their operation. As far as Heaven and the Archangels were concerned, the Horsemen were officially on their own.

There had been a time when Death, Grim to those who knew him, could single-handedly reap his entire department’s quota of souls and still have time left over to indulge in some high quality herbal recreation. The reality of reaping a population closing in on seven billion left Grim no choice but to seek his recreation locally. It didn’t take long for him to discover that local weed, like local Purgatory, was mediocre at best.

Lack of free time and quality pot were merely symptoms of a larger, growing problem. Reaping while short-staffed had robbed his Horsemen of any kind of life outside of the job, and lately Grim had noticed cracks beginning to show.

Pestilence developed a nasty habit of calling in sick with a new exotic illness at least once a week, and an incident over a cage dancer forced War into court-ordered anger management classes. Only Famine had been able to withstand the pressures of the job, although Grim did notice that he’d been shedding copious amounts of hair lately.

It was on behalf of his Horsemen that Grim requisitioned the Archangel Board to reassign five thousand Angels to his department for Reaping duty. A requisition that Gabriel, Head of the Archangel Board, repeatedly denied. Grim’s decision to go over the Board’s head to the office of Heavenly Affairs yielded nothing but a Heavenly Liaison, and God only knew who the Hell that was.

Unable to make sense of God’s decree, Grim stuffed the memo back into his pocket as he scoped out his surroundings which were, at the moment, in the alleyway behind his office building and the home of the Office of Human Death (OHD for short).

Talk about shitting where you eat, Grim thought to himself as he checked for souls milling about. The last thing he needed was for word to get out that the once great Reaper of Death had been reduced to buying sub-par pot behind his office building in the lamest ‘burb of the Universe.

Paranoia getting the better of him, he walked to the end of the alleyway which emptied into Purgatory’s corporate district, a massive office complex comprised of row after row of generic steel buildings, each one an exact replica of the one that came before.

Finding no one, Grim laughed to himself. Total waste of time, he thought. He couldn’t remember the last time anything bad happened in Purgatory. Then again, he couldn’t remember the last time anything good did, either.

Just the same, Grim thought it best to cloak himself in a human disguise, namely the dead body that until an hour ago belonged to the organic hemp farmer that was his latest reaping assignment. “Meat suits,” as the Horsemen liked to call them, were a necessary evil now that the Archangel Board cut the OHD’s travel expense budget, forcing Grim and his staff to reap by bus instead of horse. All it took was one bad road trip on a bus bound for Newark to make him rethink wearing his cloak while on assignment. Mortals, he discovered, were a lot faster and stronger than they looked.

Grim listened as the clock tower in Purgatory Square chimed one o’clock. Pedro, his dealer, was late. Out of both time and patience, Grim walked back to the rear entrance of the OHD just as the door swung open.

“Jesus Christ, Pedro!” Grim shouted. “Scare me to death why don’t you?”

Pedro stepped out into the alleyway, his eyes darting up and down the length of it. “How’d I scare you?” Pedro asked. “You’re the one in the Jesus suit.”

“Jesus? Really?” Grim asked as he smoothed down the late farmer’s long, sandy locks. “I kinda thought he looked like Clapton.”

“Clapton or not that’s some scary shit, man,” Pedro said, looking Grim up and down. “Someone said they saw Jesus walking around here this morning. You know he’d tell my Pops if he caught me dealing again. My old man believes every word that fool says.”

Though he may have been known throughout the Universe as Saint Peter Junior, “Pedro” earned a reputation in underground circles as the prime procurer of black market merchandise. It didn’t hurt that having a Father who manned the Gates of Heaven gave him access to all the best incoming contraband.

“I don’t know what to tell you, kid. Apostles die hard. Now are we going to do this thing or not?” Grim asked, hoping to get back to work before he was missed.

Pedro stepped away from Grim, eying him suspiciously. “First tell me why you’re wearin’ a mortal in Bland Land. You ain’t reaping.”

Grim pointed to his chest and said, “Lungs.”

“Ah…makes sense,” Pedro said, relieved.

Lungs and pockets were two of the three attachments Grim thought made wearing a mortal’s meat suit bearable. The third attachment he hoped to utilize later on that night.

“Are you serious about Jesus being here in Purgatory?” Grim asked, peering over his shoulder. “Because he is the last person I need to deal with right now.”

“Hey man, all I know is what I heard,” Pedro said. “Why? You gonna kick his ass? Let me know now and I’ll give you odds.”

“Thanks, but no thanks. I’ve had enough run-ins with Skippy Christ to last an eternity,” Grim said, remembering a certain spring day two-thousand years ago that didn’t end well for either of them.

“Skippy Christ,” Pedro chuckled. “I’ll have to remember that one.” Once he was sure they were alone Pedro opened his robe, pulled out a baggie and handed it to Grim. “This stuff’s fresh from Mexico. Lucky for you my old man doesn’t shake down nuns. Mother Superior came in loaded.”

“I guess this is my lucky day after all,” Grim said as he dug the farmer’s wallet out of his back pocket. “How much for the bag?”

“For you? One-fifty. Cash.”

“One-fifty?” Grim asked as he thumbed through the thin wallet. “What can I get for…sixty-five dollars and a condom?”

“Sixty-five’ll get ya’ an ounce.”

“An ounce? That’s it? You do know I’m Death, right?” Grim punctuated his question by slashing the air with an invisible scythe.

Pedro laughed. “Yeah, you keep swinging,” he said. “Everyone knows you work a pen better than a blade now a days.”

“Is that so?” Grim asked, knowing all too well it was.

“Oh yeah it is,” Pedro snickered. “Hey, I got an idea- how ‘bout you write me up? Oh man, I can see it now, ‘Dear God, Pedro wouldn’t cut me a deal on weed, the stingy pendejo. Kisses, Death.’” Pedro doubled over laughing while Grim stood there and seethed.

“Just give me the ounce and shut your piehole,” Grim said, finally.

Struggling to catch his breath, Pedro handed Grim the entire bag. “Throw in the rubber and the bag’s yours. I’m heading down to Lucifer’s club tonight. I’ll put it to good use.”

Grim’s eyes flew open wide. “Are you shitting me? Lucifer’s got a club now?”

“Hell yeah, he does,” Pedro answered.

“Of course…” Grim said in a sigh.

Ever since God in his infinite wisdom promoted Gabriel to President of the Archangel Board, Grim’s budget had been sent to Hell, literally. While he and his Horsemen had to make due with meat suits and bus passes; Lucifer and his crew of demons enjoyed a new office complex with an onsite gym and spa, and apparently now, a club.

Nepotism ad infinitum.

“Hey man, you should come check it out,” Pedro said as pocketed the condom. “Music sucks but the women are hot. Bring a rubber or your pecker’ll burn like Hell for a week.” Pedro dug deep under his robe and scratched.

Grim opened the bag and inhaled. “Kid, if this shit smokes up as good as it smells I’m not going anywhere.”

“Well let’s find out,” Pedro said as he pulled out a lighter and let Grim sample the merchandise.

Grim took a hit and quickly put his lungs to work. In no time the smoke made its way to his brain, filling cracks that had become chasms created by supervisors with agendas and employees with complaints and a Universe dependent on him to hold shit together. Grim took another hit and released the stress of his middle-management Hell along with the sweet smoke he blew out in a slow, steady stream from his lungs. For one perfect moment, Death was happy.

A snapping sound by his ear pulled him back to reality.

“Hey, wake up. You’re vibrating,” Pedro said, pointing to Grim’s hip.

Grim reached down to his pager and saw that he had a message from his secretary. His absence had been noted. Grim paid Pedro in cash as promised, making a mental note to start reaping in more affluent neighborhoods in the future. “Let me know the next time you get another haul like this one,” Grim said, regaining focus.

“Hey no problem. I’ll even cut you a deal if you hook me up with your secretary. That is one fine lookin’ chica.”

“Fran? Sorry kid, but you’re not her type.”

Pedro rubbed his ample belly and asked, “Oh yeah? What’s her type, then?”

Grim stepped through the door and said, “Bony,” just as it closed behind him.

Another urgent page from Fran rolled in as Grim tore down the vacant hallway that led to his basement office. Stopping at the janitor’s closet, Grim pulled the memo from his pocket and then removed his meat suit, swapping it with the cloak he’d stashed there earlier.

Officially in uniform, Grim took a minute to compose himself before he opened the door to his office. Though he knew for a fact he was in Purgatory, Grim couldn’t shake the feeling that he was about to open the door to Hell.

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