Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Wrestle Maniacs [Book Review]

Wrestle Maniacs - not just for fans of Wrestling!

Genre - Dark Fiction (Crime/Horror/Humor/Taboo)
Year Published - 2017
Published by *Honey Badger Press
Length - 221 (digital) pages
Written by Multiple Authors

Rating: 3 Skulls

Plot Summary:
A dozen dark fiction masters bring their twisted vision to the world of professional wrestling. Twelve original stories of crime, horror, humor, and taboo. Ohhh, yeahhh! This ain’t no kayfabe, baby. This is hard-hitting wrestling fiction that grips like a Camel Clutch, and pins the reader to the page for the count of one, two…THREE!

Includes a confrontational foreword by ring legend 'Pulverizing' Pat McCrunch (as told to Jeff Strand)… An all-new story starring Nick 'The Widowmaker' Bullman from James Newman’s wrestling noir, "Ugly as Sin"… And ex-boxer turned strip club bouncer Reggie Levine ("Tijuana Donkey Showdown," "Damn Dirty Apes") returns for another action-packed misadventure.

Original fiction by:
Jeff Strand
Tom Leins
James Newman
Eryk Pruitt
Adam Howe
Ed Kurtz
Hector Acosta
Joseph Hirsch
Duncan P. Bradshaw
David James Keaton
Gabino Iglesias
Patrick Lacey
and Jason Parent

Wooooo!!!

Review:
Author Adam Howe has started his own publishing label - *Honey Badger Press - "Fearless, Ferocious, FUBAR Fiction" - "grit-lit that just don't care" - and this is the first release.

I have never been a Wrestling fan, but I did not hesitate in purchasing this book - not only to support Howe's new label, but in all honesty soley for Howe's included story, Rassle Hassle (an all-new Reggie Levine story!)

As expected, Howe's story is worth the price of the book (what Adam puts Reggie through... man-oh-man!), though surprisingly it ultimately wasn't my favorite story in this collection - that honor goes to Gabino Iglesias' El Nuevo Santo's Last Fight - I loved this story!

I also really enjoyed Duncan P. Bradshaw's Glassjaw. These were the top three stories, in my opinion - each one worth getting this book.

While some of the stories in this collection are hit-or-miss, there are some others still worth mentioning - James Newman's A Fiend in Need, Patrick Lacey's Kill to be You, and Tom Lein's Real Americans were some of the other stand out stories.

All-in-all, whether you are a fan of Wrestling, or not, chances are you will enjoy a good bit of these stories!

Jason

Friday, December 8, 2017

Dark Gold

"When the world offers itself to you, when it opens like a woman's legs and begs for you to enter, there's no holding back, no stopping, no chain on the madman living inside you. . ."

Three college buddies, two ravishing shipmates, a wealthy yachtsman (and plenty of Mexican tequila) combine and combust in this thrilling tale of a search for sunken treasure - and survival against an awesome creature of the sea.

This one was recommended by author +David Dubrow​. What I love about Mr. Dubrow is that when he reviews a book (or movie) he does not shy away from being completely honest. If something is not worth your time, he will let you know, and if he deems something worthwhile, then you are guaranteed a treat! Such is the case with this book - an excellent read, one you want to take your time with, absorbing each and every word (hence the above quote).

Thank you, Mr. Dubrow, for another great recommendation!

Monday, November 27, 2017

'Seat 6A' and 'Scarecrows' [Two Short Story Reviews]

Over the weekend, author +Thomas S Flowers​ announced his forthcoming new short story collection Beautiful Ugly and Other Weirdness (releasing towards the end of January - you can pre-order your copy now for only $0.99!)

The reason that I mention this is that author +Michael Bray​ did the cover art. This reminded me that I have several short stories written by Bray, that I have not yet read (he had a big sale over the summer and I snagged quite a few of his books).

Anyhow, I chose these two at random:

Seat 6A
Genre - Horror/Short Story
Year Published - 2013
Length - 29 (digital) pages
Written by Michael Bray

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
A routine flight becomes a real life nightmare when a strange man boards flight 444. As the aircraft makes its way into a violent storm, the crew realise that the passenger in seat 6A is more than just a mere man, and must take action to ensure not only their survival, but that of the other passengers before their supernatural passenger can bring the aircraft down with everyone on board.

Review:
The tag-line for this one is "*Horror at 30,000 feet*", and that sums the story up nicely. It is a tight-written story. When a flight attendant and the black-eyed man have a battle of wills, you can feel the intensity roll off the pages, and the ending alone makes this a story worth reading!

One more thing before I move on to the next one, in case any of you are already Bray fans (this is the first story that I have read by him). At the end of the story, it is mentioned that this story is part of Bray's "Taste of Fear Series" It is stated that next in the series is a story titled The Reef, yet I am unable to find it (or any others in the series) anywhere. . .?

Scarecrows
Genre - Horror/Short Story
Year Published - 2015
Length - 41 (digital) pages
Written by Michael Bray

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Once you're in, they'll never let you go...

When three teenagers decide to explore the local legend of the crazy old man on Samsonite farm and the army of scarecrows he has built, they soon discover that not all urban legends are false, and sometimes the biggest threat comes from within. 

For Dwayne and his friends, a battle against a supernatural creature which uses the samsonite scarecrows to do it's bidding will unfold as trust is broken and truth becomes blurred amid the unbelievable reality of the situation they are in and cannot escape from.

Review:
This one is a great short story that packs a punch!
(Even though I rated it the same as Seat 6A, I enjoyed this one even moreso.)

I will definitely be reading more of Bray!

Jason

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Bane County 2: Returning Moon [Book Review]

If you have read my last couple of posts (on Google+) then you are already aware that I have been reading Bane County 2: Returning Moon. Well, I have finished it and here is my review:

Genre - Action-Adventure/Horror/Werewolf
Year Published - 2017
Length - 466 (digital) pages
Written by +J R Rice

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
For nearly two decades, life in the small rural town of Silver Canyon had been peaceful and serene. People went about their daily lives as usual, completely oblivious to the inescapable horror that loomed on the horizon.

All but a select few of Bane County’s residents had forgotten the macabre occurrences of the past. It was hard to believe that twenty-one people, missing or dead, in only three months’ time had been so easily dismissed.

Bryce McNeel and Jackson Campbell had been at the heart of those horrific events, and the tragic memories of that long, bloody season still weighed heavily on them, especially since they knew it wasn’t over.

The time was quickly approaching when a long-slumbering evil would reawaken, and the horrors of the past would revisit the people of Bane County. Somewhere within the dark cavernous depths of the wildlife refuge, something ravenous awaited, longing for its time to rise.

As Bryce and Jackson prepared themselves, they were unaware that an even deadlier adversary would come for them, and once again, they would find themselves in a battle for their lives.

Review
This is the sequel to Bane County: Forgotten Moon. You do not have to read the first book, but I highly suggest that you do, if you have not yet done so (primarily for the background of the characters). If you have not already read my review of Forgotten Moon, I gave that one a five-skull-rating as well. With that said, Returning Moon is even better!!

Like I said in my review of the first book, this book too has excellent mass-market appeal. It is not just for fans of horror or werewolves. It is for fans of really any genre, but especially those who love great action or an intriguing mystery.

The book starts off with an incredible discovery which took place before the first book. The story then jumps ahead, approximately 19 years after the end of the first book. There are returning characters as well as new ones (specifically Iggy, Bryce's best friend, and Fate, Jackson's dog - a possible Rottweiler/Bull Mastif mix.) What I most love about Iggy is his "instant belief" when Bryce first tells him of the beast who hunts within Bane County's Refuge, and Fate is just awesome!

J R Rice is a Master at not only interweaving his different subplots, but also of superb character development. (both for the protagonists as well as the antagonists) You easily become emotionally invested with the characters and become angry when there is wrong-doing against them!

Not only is this a terrific book with a rapid-fire plot, it ends with you craving more, and the good news is that Book 3 [First Moon] is already underway! (and I have a sneaky suspicion that there are going to be several forthcoming surprises)

Make this book (or the first one) your next read. You will not be disappointed!

Jason

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Planet of the Dead [Book Review]

Here is my review of Planet of the Dead:

Genre - Apocalyptic Horror/Zombie
Year Published - 2017
Length - 178 (digital) pages
Written by +Thomas S Flowers

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
News reports speak of mass panic and violence spreading across the globe. Negligent leaders hide behind misinformation. But in an age of paranoia and suspicion, who can say what is true anymore? Struggling to survive against a sweeping epidemic that has engulfed the planet, survivors will have to make hard choices in a world that no longer makes sense. 

Live. Die. Or become one of the undead. 

Review:
In a time where our culture is saturated with zombies, Flowers manages to keep this book fresh, with superb character development, unique concepts (for example, there is a chapter written completely from a dog's perspective, and I am looking forward to finding out more about those on a space station - something I never thought about before), and surprising deaths.

From the very first chapter, this book accelerates like a bullet fired from a gun! The story is very "Romero-esque" which is a good thing, especially since the book is dedicated in his memory. I definitely like the fact that Flowers chose to keep his characters in the dark - not knowing what, exactly, is happening (for instance, one of the characters calling the zombies "*nasties*").

Needless to say, I am definitely anticipating the sequel's release [War for the Planet of the Dead], next year.

Also, just in case you are wondering why the 4-Skull rating - I had to deduct a star as surprisingly (for a Flowers' release) there were quite a few spelling errors - enough so that they sometimes took me out of the story. Other than that, a top-notch tale!

Jason

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Swarm

The Swarm By Frank Schatzing

"The #1Blockbuster German Bestseller about an intelligent life force that takes over the oceans and exacts revenge on mankind."

This book is utterly fascinating! I do not believe that I have ever read a book filled with so much informative knowledge! (the amount of research that went into this book is mind-boggling.) Think Steve Alten on Crack The science behind everything is extremely complex, yet Schatzing makes it all completely understandable, and every bit of this story is explicitly visual within your mind's eye.

This is a book that lovers of any genre will thoroughly enjoy. There is something within for everyone.

Jason

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Dramos Saga [Book Review]

Do you like vampires? Do you like werewolves? How about zombis? What about Westerns?
If you answered yes to any of the above, then The Dramos Saga is for you!

If you are looking for something different to read this weekend, then I highly suggest The Dramos Saga - a series of stand-alone short stories - each one leading into the other, yet able to be read individually. (Trust me though, you will want to read the saga straight through!) Here is my review:

Genre - Horror/Western
Year Published - 2017
Length - 233 (digital) pages
Written by Franklin E. Wales

Rating: 5+ Skulls

Plot Summary:

They slaughtered his village in a frenzy of bloodlust and cruelty.

He followed them to America, vowing vengeance.

His name brings fear to the Undead, for they know of his wrath.

His name is Dramos and this is his Saga. 

Seven Adventures, One Saga.

13 STEPS: Thirteen steps up the gallows to the hangman’s noose.

FUNERAL COACH: A coachman chained to the seat of a traveling funeral coach.

PICKIN' TO BEAT THE DEVIL: An Irishman with a banjo has learned the secrets of the undead.

RENEGADE: Two widows slaughtered. The town blames wolves. The facts say otherwise.

VAMPIRE'S GOLD: A locomotive loaded down with gold, hired guns and something very old screams through the night.

THE VAMPIRE KING: A Vampire King must face the most formidable opponent in its centuries of existence.

BLACK WATER: A dead town by day, an undead town by night.

Review:
I have waited 5 long years for this saga to be completed, and the wait has been paid off tenfold! This book is exceptional! One of those books that you don't want to end! (which is a good thing, especially since when you think this one might be ending, it continues.)

The story opens with Dramos at the gallows, preparing to be hung. 13 Steps up to the hangman's noose - one step for each day leading up to this point.

You may guess what lies within the Funeral Coach, but I guarantee this tale will still surprise you!

In Pickin' to Beat the Devil, you will be introduced to one of my favorite characters in the saga - an Irish vampire hunter who has discovered a unique talent.

Renegade introduces another great character - Injun' Joe (and his sister Mary).

Vampire's Gold - the action plays out like a movie in your head! (You may have heard me say this before, but I feel that Robert Rodriguez would be the perfect director to bring this saga to the big screen - it would be amazing! - one of my dreams!)

The Vampire King is pretty much self-explanatory and Black Water is about a mysterious ghost town.

All of these stories are perfectly linked to tell Dramos' story. (each story, individually, receives 5 Skulls) This is a saga that should not be missed!

(note: the covers shown of #1 and #2 are off-colored only because I started this in the evening, when the blue-light filter was off on my phone. I then finished the rest the next day, which is how all of the covers look)

Jason