Sunday, September 7, 2014

Severed Souls

I just posted this on my Google+ page...
[ google.com/+JasonBerry]

Be forewarned:
'Severed Souls' will sever your emotional heartstrings!

You will pretty much hold your breath the first 175 pages or so, and then the latter-half of the book is one agonizing emotional rollercoaster ride.

Terry Goodkind does what he does best in this novel, even as heartbreaking as it is.

J

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Specimen [Book Review]

Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2014
Length - my book does not have any page numbers.
(Amazon states 502 pages; Barnes & Noble states 514 pages)
Written by Pete Kahle

Rating - 5+ Skulls

Plot Summary:
From a crater lake on an island off the coast of Bronze Age Estonia...
To a deformed Viking warrior's conquest of England...
To the blood-soaked temple of an Aztec god of death, disease, and resurrection...

Their presence has shaped our world.

They are Riders.

One month ago, an urban explorer was drawn to an abandoned asylum in the mountains of northern Massachusetts. There he discovered a large specimen jar, containing something organic, unnatural and possibly alive.

Now, he and a group of unsuspecting individuals have discovered one of history's most horrific secrets.

Whether they want to or not, they are caught in the middle of a millenia-old war and the latest battle is about to begin...

Review:
I love this book!
I do not recall reading such an epic debut novel, since I first discovered Terry Goodkind's "Wizard's First Rule".

Before I continue, I just have to say that around this exact time, last year, I said that Nick Cutter's "The Troop" would, most likely, be this year's Best Horror Novel.
(I read an Advanced Review Copy of that book, in August of last year, and it was released this past January)
Well, I now have to admit that I was incorrect. That honor now goes to 'The Specimen'.

Kahle (who, at a quick glance, looks like Michael Chiklis) states that he has flirted with the idea of writing, since he was in his teens! I am so glad that he decided to finally unleash his twisted mind upon the world. Fans of Brian Lumley and Richard Laymon will be all the better for it!
(I say this because Kahle's writing style reminds me a lot of Lumley - very descriptive - which is a good thing - and Kahle's characters remind me of Laymon's - again, a good thing!)
I cannot wait to see what Kahle delivers next!

From the very first sentence, Kahle grasps your complete and full attention, and he does not let go until the very end!
(Even then, his epilogue leaves you wanting more!)

For a first-time author, Kahle excels at handling his transitioning, extremely well. As I stated above, this is an epic tale, told over the span of millennia, and Kahle is superb at keeping the flow moving at a steady pace.
(For this reason, this is a perfect book for busy readers. Though as the finale nears, and Kahle ramps up the pace, you will definitely find yourself not wanting to put the book down. He kept me up until the wee hours, last night.)

With all of that having been said, Kahle wraps everything up, nice and tight.
And then comes the epilogue...
(There is a planned sequel to this book, and I cannot wait to read it!)

One more thing - a word of advice:
When you are reading this book and get to the part about teratomas, DO NOT google images! (Kahle's gruesome and, at times, nauseating descriptions are more than enough!)

Enjoy,

Jason

Monday, April 28, 2014

Eaton Falls [Book Review]

Genre - Horror (Werewolf)
Year Published - 2014
Length - 307 pages
Written by Franklin E. Wales

Rating - 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
The township of Eaton Falls, New Hampshire, has a dark history.

Legends vary on its beginnings; some say  it was an unknown virus, rabies, or starvation that brought the madness. Stories even more sinister are told in whispers. They all, however, end with the Christmas Eve massacre that left nearly half the townspeople dead.

Now, a hundred years later, the sins of the forefathers will be laid upon their offspring. Vengeance will be demanded, blood will be spilled, and lives changed forever.

Review:
This is a really tough review to write.
I believe that this is the first non-five-skull rating that I have ever given Mr. Wales.
(If you have ever read any of my past reviews, then chances are that you have heard me praise Wales' works - he is, and continues to be, my favorite independent storyteller!)

The problem here lies in the fact that Wales decided to write a full-length werewolf novel, and I love werewolf novels!
[Animals by John Skipp & Craig Spector, Ravenous by Ray Garton, Frostbite by David Wellington, and Autobiography of a Werewolf Hunter by Brian P. Easton are the first few that come to mind.]
Wales, himself, has written shorter werewolf tales, in the past, which I love, so the standard was already set high.

Now, don't get me wrong, Eaton Falls will be sitting on my shelf, right next to the above mentioned books.
The fault lies with me, I am sure. I think that my personal problem was that I just couldn't wait for the action to get going. I say my fault, due to the fact that Wales is the storyteller here, and he knows exactly what he is doing. I have had the pleasure of watching Wales mature as an author. He is taking the time to establish his characters, (there are some great ones in this book) expanding his horizons, and he is beginning to tie pieces of his past works together, which is pretty cool.

Wales made the right call in establishing the characters and their backstories in this book, (I was just too impatient to realize it until after the fact) because when it boils down to it, the book is really about tradition and family.

With all of that said, once Wales kicks it into high gear, you are in for a treat!
Wales does not hold back, in the slightest, when it comes to the brutal, vicious attacks, and he is a master at ratcheting up the tension!

Jason

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bobby Ether and the Academy [Book Review]

"A Dark Secret. A Touch of Magic. An Epic Adventure."

Genre - Fantasy/Young Adult
Year Published - 2013
Length - 4,650 [Kindle App] pages
               *Read on my Note 2 phone
Written by R. Scott Boyer

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
"There is no such thing as magic."
That's what the mysterious stranger, named Cassandra, tells Bobby after helping him narrowly escape from the small army of secret agents who surrounded his house.

What follows is an amazing adventure - from indoor forests to vast archives, from a labyrinth of jade mines to the dark recesses of a bear's lair.

Along the way, Bobby will learn that, while there may be no such thing as magic, there is powerful energy - and he has the ability to control it.

Join Bobby and his best friend Jinx as they avoid school bullies, a suspected assassin, and meta-human henchmen alike as they unravel the many mysteries of the Academy - the ancient and enigmatic monastery in Tibet where kids with extraordinary potential are sent to study.
But is the Academy truly what it claims to be?

Review:
This is the first book of a planned series, so I have gone ahead and given this book a 5 Skull rating, as I have faith that the books will only continue to get better.

While this book is an entertaining read, I felt that it is predominantly setting the stage for what is yet to come.

I am sure that there will be the inevitable comparisons to 'Harry Potter'  (an orphaned child whisked away to a mysterious school of "gifted children"...) however, this book completely sets itself apart from those books - in a good way!
It has more of a 'Star Wars'  "Force" feel to it (you will understand once you meet the Tibetan monk, Jong, who is full of "Yoda-like" wisdom)

The author does an excellent job of creating characters that you both love (the character of Jinx reminds me of the character of Zack - from the television show 'Bones' - at an early age) as well as characters that you despise.

Boyer also does a great job of keeping the mystery - you are never too sure of who you can or cannot trust.

The only downside to the book is its abrupt ending...
Let's just say that I am looking forward to the next book in the series, 'Bobby Ether and the Temple of Eternity' .

Until then,

Jason

Friday, January 10, 2014

We Will Destroy Your Planet (An Alien's Guide To Conquering The Earth) [Book Review]

"People of earth! Your time in possession of this planet is nearly at an end. . ."

Genre - Science (Fiction?)
Year Published - 2013
Length - 234 (print) pages
Written by David McIntee

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
For over a hundred years, aliens have been trying to take over the Earth, but every time they have failed, often in the most unlikely ways. Well, no more!
We Will Destroy Your Planet offers our future alien overlords all of the information necessary to bring humanity to its knees.

Planning for an interstellar, or even intergalactic, conquest is a complex affair, that even races which have mastered faster than light travel might find difficult. This book offers practical, 'how-to' advice on a variety of topics including logistics, environmental factors, and of course human weaknesses.
It also goes into the big question of 'why' you want to destroy or enslave the Earth, as this is crucial in determining which strategy and tactics to employ. Once that has been determined, the book follows a step-by-step approach to annihilating human resistance, suggesting the best and worst weapons, and giving guidelines on just how much destruction is optimal. With this book in hand, there is little doubt that humans are now in their last generation as masters of the Earth.

Review:
When I came across this book, I immediately put it onto my must-read list. (better to be prepared for an invasion, ahead of time, is the way that I see it!)
I suggest that you check this book out, at your local bookstore, and at least read the Contents and one-page Introduction.
(Once you have purchased your own copy, I would study up on the "Once Conquered - Defending the Earth from other Invaders" section...)

I will tell you, up-front, that this book is not "light-reading". It is pretty heavy and tedious, at times. On the flip side of that, it is extremely informative - chock full of vast knowledge and mind-boggling facts. (In fact, it is probably one of the most researched books that I have read, which is understandable, since this book is all about teaching the Invaders!)

With that said, there are plenty of "pop-culture references" interspersed throughout the book. If you are a sci-fi fan, you will enjoy key points taken from classic books (Heinlen, Lovecraft), comics, movies (Star Wars, The Thing, War of the Worlds), television shows (Doctor Who, Star Trek, X-Files), and video games.

Now that I have finished this book, I feel much more prepared to meet our future alien overlords.

Jason

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2013: Year In Review

I am posting this a little earlier than usual, this year, in case any of you have yet to complete your Christmas shopping. . .
(any of the below would make an enjoyable gift, in my opinion, for a loved one)

The Top Ten Novels that I read this year:
(in alphabetical order - * denotes that the book was published this year)

1. * Black Feathers (the Black Dawn -
       Volume One) by Joseph D'Lacey
2. Choke Hold by Christa Faust (Note:
     this book is a sequel to #6, below)
3. * The Companions by R. A. Salvatore
4. Dead Stop by D. Nathan Hilliard
5. '14' by Peter Clines
6. Money Shot by Christa Faust
7. * 'NOS4A2' by Joe Hill
8. * Spiderstalk by D. Nathan Hilliard
9. * The Third Kingdom by Terry Goodkind
10. ** The Troop by Nick Cutter
(Note: #10 will officially be released, next year/month. I have included it, as I read an advanced review copy back in August - see review!)

So, which novel receives the acclaimed "Best Novel of the Year"?
This is an extremely tough choice this year! I am going to have to say #4 - Dead Stop as this novel has remained in my head since the beginning of the year!
I must also state that #8 - Spiderstalk (same author!) was the "most original" story that I read this year.

My Top Ten Favorite Films released this year:
(in alphabetical order)

1. Bullet to the Head
2. The Conjuring
3. Dark Skies
4. Fast & Furious 6
5. The Last Stand
6. Man of Steel
7. Man of Tai Chi
8. Monsters University
9. Olympus Has Fallen
10. Through the Never

Note: This year, I made the decision to wait until theatrical releases hit my local "second-run theatre" - thus saving myself a lot of money - which, in turn, allowed me to build my own Blacksmith Forge...
So, any movies released in the last month or two (cough; cough - 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug') may not be on this list, simply because I haven't seen them yet.

Best Film of the Year? #2 - The Conjuring

Since this post could possibly be used as a potential gift list, here are a few more of my "favorites" this year:

My Favorite Albums released this year:
(in alphabetical order, by artist, not title)

1. Jeremy Camp - Reckless
2. Newsted - Heavy Metal Music
3. Skillet - RISE
4. Stryper - No More Hell to Pay

Best Album of the year? Skillet's 'Rise'!

My Favorite (New) Television Shows released this year:
(in alphabetical order)

1. Bates Motel
2. Orphan Black
3. The Following

Note: I also dropped Cable this year, back in July, so any new shows released since then, I haven't seen yet...

Best New Show of the year?
'Orphan Black'

My Favorite [Android] Apps that I Downloaded this year:
(in alphabetical order)

1. Angry Birds Go!
2. Angry Birds: Star Wars 2
3. Doodle Army
4. Draw a Stickman: Epic
5. Sleepwalker's Journey
6. Vector
7. V for Vampire

Note: If I recall correctly, each of the above apps are/were Free (on Android)

My Most Played App this year:
Most likely 'Sleepwalker's Journey' though 'Vector' was probably a close second!

Well, there you have my year-in-review.
Just keep in mind, if I haven't reviewed it here, on my blog, chances are there is most likely some sort of write-up on my Google+ Profile
[google.com/+JasonBerry]

Thank you for taking the time to read this post - hopefully it helped you.

May you have a Blessed Christmas and an extremely Happy New Year!

Jason

Monday, November 25, 2013

Spiderstalk [Book Review]

Genre - Action/Horror/Sci-Fi/Suspense
(Sub-Genre - Giant Spiders!)
Year Published - 2013
Length - 468 (print) pgs.
Written by D. Nathan Hilliard

Rating: 5+ Skulls

Plot Summary:
Life hasn't been kind to Adam Sellars lately...

In the past year he has broken up with his fiancee, barely survived a terrible car wreck, and had his brother's family vanish while he lay unconscious in the hospital. Since then he has been a crippled shell going through the motions of life with nothing but the search for his brother to keep him going.

But Adam is about to discover that things can still take a turn for the worse.

Much worse.

His quest for his lost brother has brushed up against a very dark corner of the world and something has come out of that darkness with an unholy vengeance.
He can't fight it, he can't hide from it, and not even the police can protect him as his world descends into chaos.

His only hope lies in a mysterious pair of strangers who have appeared out of nowhere with an offer of aid. But they have their own agenda, and his survival may not be their top priority. Now Adam must keep his wits about him and learn to believe in himself again as events send him on a collision course with a monster more horrific than he ever dreamed possible.

Review:
If you regularly keep track of my blog posts/reviews, then the name D. Nathan Hilliard may sound familiar to you.
Back in January, I reviewed his novel 'Dead Stop'. I stated then (and still stand by it!)  that 'Dead Stop' is the Best Zombie Novel that I have ever read!
At that time, Hilliard also received one of my 5+ Skull Ratings (which basically means above & beyond; exceptional!)
As you can see, above, Hilliard has accomplished this feat once again!
(now the conundrum lies in deciding which book is his best...)

When I discovered that 'Spiderstalk' had to do with giant spiders, I was giddy with anticipation; as anything small, becoming giant, is right up my alley! However, I am going to tell you right now that the spiders that Hilliard has created are not your typical "cheesy" B-Budget Sci-Fi kind of spiders. Hilliard makes them absolutely terrifying! All you have to do is just read the Prologue, and you will see what I am talking about. But don't stop there!
There is so much more to this book than just giant spiders!

Hilliard has created an epic masterpiece with this novel, dealing with secret societies, Native American folklore, a centuries long tribal war, etc, and he just happens to add some spiders (ranging anywhere from two feet to forty plus feet!) in the mix.

Hilliard is one of those authors that draws you completely into the world that he has created, and once you have entered it is difficult to leave, let me yell you!
(My wife jokingly says that I am not going to be allowed to read Hilliard's next book, as I get so enraptured in his stories.)

I really don't want to say too much more about this book, other than the fact that this book will make an excellent gift for a reader in your life, and not just for horror fans! Anyone who enjoys a quick escape from reality will enjoy reading this novel!

Jason

P. S. Thank you, Mr. Hilliard, for the Epilogue. A most excellent way to end a perfect story!