Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Spider Kingdom ('Shivers' #13) [Book Review]

"Do you enjoy being frightened?

Would you rather have nightmares instead of sweet dreams?

Are you happy only when shaking with fear?

Congratulations!

You've made a wise choice.

This book is the doorway to all that may frighten you.

Get ready for cold, clammy shivers running up and down your spine!

Now, open the door - IF YOU DARE!!!!"

So, after reading the above, I recently had to stop what I am currently reading in order to read this book, for my youngest daughter, to make sure that it was suitable and not too scary. . . (per her asking)

The deal that was made with my daughter was "if it is appropriate, after you read it, you need to write me a review".

[I will first give my thoughts, and then I will end with my daughter's review, in her exact words.]

Genre - Children's Horror
Year Published - 1996
Length - 123 pages
Written by M. D. Spenser

(My daughter's) Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot summary:
Follow this frightening fable of Freddy and his pal, Lumpy, as they face the flesh-eating forces of giant spiders.

But, it's all their fault! If only they hadn't killed all those little spiders. If only they had learned to appreciate those crawling creatures. It's too late now!

They're trapped in the Spider Kingdom awaiting trial for their crimes. The mighty Spider King will be their judge. There's no way out, or is there?

Will they find their fate as food fit for a king or will they weave a way out of this web?

Spider, Spider on the wall. . .

Review:
This 'Shivers' series is basically akin to the far more popular 'GooseBumps' series. This series of books is written for ages 8 - 14. (This one is #13) My daughter came across it at our local used book store - not a bad deal for only 50 cents!

After having read it myself, I deemed it appropriate for my 11-year-old daughter to read. I rather enjoyed the subtle message of "how not to act" (being a bully, etc).

On to my daughter's thoughts (in her exact words):

Definitely read this book!

I liked the whole story and how the end of the book twisted all together in a cool, weird, spooky way.

The story is put together very well and is nerve-wracking!

M. D. Spenser did a great job creating and putting together this book! I totally want to read the other ones!

J

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Conjurers [Advance Book Review]

Genre - Historical Fantasy
Year Published - 2016 [June 1st]
Length - 319 pages
Written by David Waid

Tagline: "A gritty fantasy of witches and wizards."

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
A war of shadows spills into the light.

The magical knowledge that returned with crusaders from the Holy Land has spread in secret among the learned few. The world stands poised on a knife's edge between two futures - science or sorcery - and a cabal of ruthless wizards pursues two young people who can tip the balance forever.

When brigands savagely attack an Irish village, Eamon, a peasant's son, flees with his family. The night of trauma and terror that follows triggers a magical ability he doesn't understand and can't control.

Four hundred leagues south, Teresa, the fiercely determined daughter of a Genovese nobleman, uncovers her brother's murder and witnesses her father's wrongful imprisonment. Soon, she too begins to manifest magical power.

The architect of their misfortune is Maestro Lodovicetti, chief of a secret order that knows the truth behind their burgeoning gifts. Lodovicetti will do anything in order to steal this magic and use it to shatter the restraints on sorcery.

Separated by a continent and the circumstances of their birth, Eamon and Teresa must come together and master legendary magic or be sacrificed as the Age of Kings comes to an end and a dark tyranny of sorcerers begins.

Review:
As you can see from the above plot summary, there is a lot happening within the pages of this book! Taking place in the 14th century, this story spans the breadth of Europe, from Geneva to Ireland.

You can definitely tell that Waid put in a lot of research while writing this book. As you read it, you quickly become immersed within its pages, and it is as if you are living in the year 1380.

Due to this being the first book (of a series/trilogy?) there is a lot of groundwork set. The story is slow-burning, but when it catches fire, hold on!
I have high expectations for the next book and expect each book to get better as the story unfolds.

If you are a fan of Robert Jordan, or a fantasy fan in general, then mark your calendars and check this book out on its release date of June 1st!

Jason

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Minus Faction (Episode 1): Breakout [Book Review]

Genre - Action-Adventure/Mystery/Sci-Fi/Thriller
Year Published - 2014
Length - 124 (digital) pages
Written by Rick Wayne

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
The Minus Faction is a super-powered sci-fi thriller about extraordinary abilities and how not to use them.

In Episode One. . .

Beaten. Burned. Broken.

Capt. John Regent returns a paraplegic after escaping months of captivity and torture - except no one knows who took him or what he disclosed.

When a government agent  comes for answers, she discovers John's fantastic secret and sets him at war with his own country. But the veteran in the wheelchair has one last mission, and he'll fight of the powers-that-be long enough to save the life of a troubled soldier - even if it costs John his own.

Review:
I hate to admit this, but this is one of those books that have been sitting in my Kindle app's carousel for who knows how long. (long enough for the covers to change, hence the two different covers shown.)

Let this be a lesson to any authors reading this review - even if it takes me a (long) while, I will definitely get to your book, sooner or later. (I obviously bought/downloaded it for a reason.)

Episode Five of this series was just recently released, which jogged my memory of Episode One sitting patiently waiting to be read...
(Episode One is currently Free, on Kindle! Whether this is due to the recent release of Episode Five, I do not know, but I suggest that you download this book ASAP!)

For those of you who have read my reviews of Ken Preston's 'Joe Coffin' series, this is a series written in a similar "episodic" format. (You can easily picture this story as an episode of a television series.)

Episode One starts off with a bang and doesn't let up the entire time! Wayne has created some well-established characters, (one of which is even named Ayn Rand) and I will definitely be reading the rest of this series!

If you can't already tell, I definitely recommend this one!

Jason

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Black Friday [Short Story Review]

Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2016
Length - 17 (digital) pages
Written by Jason R. Davis

Rating: 3 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Jingle Bells... Jingle Bells... Jing-
Oh, it is that time of year.
The Thanksgiving turkey has been eaten, the afternoon naps have slipped away into the evening camp out. People leaving in the dead of night to set up their tents and wait outside for those Friday morning deals.

Masses are lined up, all waiting like zombies, mindlessly eager to find those early morning deals. . .

Did we say zombies?

Review:
A fun, little short story, perfect to read if you are waiting around for 10 or 15 minutes.

You pretty much get what is expected out of this story. Not only do you get it from the perspective of those waiting in line, you also get the perspective from the retail workers themselves.

I have never been one to fall into the mass chaos of Black Friday, but there is a line that Davis uses in the story which sums it up nicely: "...they were like statues standing before the god of greed."
If that doesn't describe Black Friday, I don't know what does.

Jason

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Empire of the Tooth [Short Story Review]

Genre - Horror
Year Published - *See Below
Length - (not correct) According to my Kindle App, 382 pages (much shorter though!)
Written by Iain Rob Wright

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
*Rather than a round-a-bout explanation, here is the situation in the author's own words: (from his newsletter)

I recently wrote a short story for an anthology. The short story was intended to act as a sequel to Animal Kingdom. It now seems that the publisher I submitted to is making all sorts of false advertising claims and blocking any authors who complain. I doubt any of us will ever be paid for our work. Things such as this are the reason I self publish almost exclusively. While I might have signed a contract preventing me from publishing the short story elsewhere, there is nothing to stop me giving it away to my newsletter readers. So that's what i am doing. If you would like to download the short story, EMPIRE OF THE TOOTH, then just visit bookfunnel at the link below:

http://dl.bookfunnel.com/dmd80xklvc

"Iain Rob Wright"

Review:
So there you have it.

If you have read 'Animal Kingdom' (I reviewed it, earlier this year) and ever wondered what happened to Danny & Joe, then this short story is a must read!

If you have not yet read 'Animal Kingdom' then I highly suggest that you do and then come back here and download this short story sequel. (If you have never used BookFunnel, it is an app that is super easy, and allows you to download a book for whatever device you want)

It has been 5 years since the animals united together  and started their attacks on humankind. After being under constant siege, there is suddenly a lull in the continued attacks. Is whatever happened finally over?

When a (friendly) dog shows up, is he a sign of hope, or is it false?

Read this story to find out the answers, and be prepared for a brilliant twist!

Thank you, Iain Rob Wright for sharing this tale with us, your fans, and I hope that it eventually sees the publishing light of day!

Jason

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Dreadedin Chronicles: The Nameless City [Novella Review]

Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2015
Length - 84 (digital) pages
Written by David Dubrow

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Paige Ashton is an ordinary teenager, just trying to get through highschool. Friendless, she's socially invisible until bizarre occurrences put her in the spotlight. When disaster strikes on Halloween, why is everyone looking for her?

College freshman Ryan Kincaid is living a lie: he pretends to go to class but hangs out and drinks with his friends instead. He's never had to work for anything in his life, so how is he going to save his family from a fate worse than death?

Soon, they'll have to face cannibal zombies, a horrible sleeping sickness, and an ancient evil hundreds of millions of years old, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

Review:
With the short size of this story, I cannot say a whole lot other than I want more of it! (Hopefully, with this being "The Dreadedin Chronicles" there is more coming.)

The prologue of the story is superb!
(The best thing that Dubrow has written, in my opinion.)
It immediately sucks you into the story and keeps you wanting more.

My only fault with this story is that it felt a little too rushed (like there was a lot left on the cutting room floor, so to speak). Conflicts seemed too easily resolved, for instance. I would have liked to have had this story lengthened and fleshed out a bit more, but other than that, I was still thoroughly entertained the entire read.

If you are a fan of Lovecraftian horror, then this will most likely be the best buck that you spend this month!

Jason

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Hatched (Invisible Spiders: Book 1) [Book Review]

'Hatched' (Invisible Spiders: Book 1) is still currently free, on Kindle, through the end of the month. Is it worth the download? Read on to find out. . .

Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2013
Length - 328 (digital) pages
Written by Jason R. Davis​

Tagline: There is not a tagline for this book, but if there were, I would give it this one:
"If you see them, it's already too late."

Rating: 3 Skulls

Plot Summary:
It is the morning hours in the small town of Hammond, and as the town wakes up it finds that there is something spreading. Something that is not seen until it is too late because by then you are already infected. At that point, they are already... Hatched.

Review:
First of all, I just have to say that the concept of this book is brilliant! A completely new, refreshing take on the zombie genre.

So why only 3 Skulls, you ask?

This book started out as a strong 5 Skulls, however as different characters/storylines began to intertwine themselves, I repeatedly found myself wanting to get back to the "spiders" storyline. I understand that this is Book One of a proposed trilogy/series(?), which requires certain set-up, I just felt that some of the important information was left out/forgotten(?) I am hoping that the 2nd book gets back to ground zero, so to speak. Also, there are more than enough typos to warrant a mention here, which also distracts from the reality of the story.

Enough of the negative aspects (nothing that better editing and slightly fewer side-stories won't fix).

On to the positive.
Davis was super-smart to make the spiders in the story of the tiny, small variety (the size that can quickly scurry across your skin, before they burrow underneath...) Let's just say that if you are not already scared of spiders, reading this will make you paranoid/terrified of them!
[true story: while reading this book, I took several opportunities to enjoy the beautiful spring weather, and read the majority of it outside. At one point, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and, I promise, there was a little black spider scurrying across the porch. Needless to say, I held my breath for a moment!]

So, to answer the above question, yes, this book is worth the download (typos aside). Davis does not hold back on the horror aspects, and there is more than enough to keep you awake at night. I am looking forward to reading the next book.

Jason