Monday, April 17, 2017

Free Fall (Space Truckin' Book 1) [Short Story Review]

Genre - Sci-Fi
Year Published - 2016
Length - 29 (digital) pages
Written by Jason R. Davis

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Will was once a truck driver. When he was on Earth, his days were spent alone, traveling the highways for months until he went home to see his wife and family. Then Space Trucking became the new thing, and they didn't want pilots. They wanted men like him, the ones who were used to the isolation. 

Now he is a new breed of driver. He is a Space Trucker, and his job is simple enough. Haul the load and drop the load. Just now he is in space, and his destination; Mars.

Review:
This is a very well-written short story. Davis completely puts you into the main character's head, forcing you to feel the character's isolation and other emotions.
(I certainly cannot imagine​ being away from my family for 8-month stretches!)

I am definitely looking forward to Book 2!

Jason

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Wallflower [Novella Review]

Genre - Fiction (Horror)
Year Published - 2017
Length - 100 (digital) pages
Written by Chad Lutzke

Tagline: "A bleak take of addiction, delusion, and flowers."

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
After an encounter with a homeless man, a high school graduate becomes obsessed with the idea of doing heroin, challenging himself to try it just once.

Review:
Wow! What a story! Do not start this book unless you have at least an hour to spare. This story will grip you, immediately, from the prologue until the very end. (I started this book at 11 last night, figuring that I would read a chapter or two, before bed... Needless to say, I was riveted to the story and just had to finish it.)

This story is as addicting as its subject matter, and just like the habit, you want to stop (reading) but you can't!

I love everything about this book, from the cover (designed by Lutzke himself) to the Chapter Headings (very revealing in their downward spiral).

I will definitely be reading more of Lutzke's work!

Jason

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Blessed Man and the Witch (Armageddon: Book 1) [Book Review]

Genre - Apocalyptic Horror/Supernatural Thriller
Year Published - 2014
Length - 396 pages
Written by David Dubrow

Rating: 3 Skulls

Plot Summary:
How can you possibly prepare for the end of the world? The end of everything? Armageddon is right around the corner, and there's no guarantee that Heaven's going to be the victor. Hell is real, it's clawing at the edges of the Pit, and its demonically possessed servants are right now gathering powerful artifacts as weapons of war. The End Times are coming. Are you ready?

Hector Shaw isn't. A former soldier suffering from PTSD, he's been recruited to work for a clandestine security company under strange circumstances. What do they really want him for? Siobhan Dempsey isn't, either. She's only just gotten her life together when she finds that she can do magick. Real magick. Why now, and why her?

Connecting multiple characters and building to a shattering climax, this is the first novel in a trilogy focusing on themes of supernatural horror, western occultism, and Biblical apocalypse.

Review:
Okay, I first have a confession to make. I have had this book, since its publication - 3 years ago! Mr. Dubrow contacted me, back in 2014, asking if I would be interested in reviewing this book. (So, Mr. Dubrow wins for being the most patient author to wait for a review!)

At the time, I was under the assumption (my own) that this book was a Christian Fiction book. It is not! (Just because a book has Biblical elements/themes, a Christian book it does not become...) The book is chock full of graphic language and gore, so if that bothers you, this book is not for you!

Anyhow, back in 2014, I read the first 22 chapters of this book (roughly 40%), and just could not get into it. So, I humbly let Mr. Dubrow know that this book was not for me. (I do not review every book I read, unless specifically asked by the author. I would rather not bash a book/author if it can be helped.)

Mr. Dubrow graciously understood, and there were no hurt feelings. In fact, since that time, Mr. Dubrow and I have become pretty solid friends, on-line, and we were even able to meet, in person, last year.

If you follow my reviews, then you already know that I am a big fan of Mr. Dubrow's 'The Ultimate Guide to Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse' and an even bigger fan of this year's 'Beneath the Ziggurat'. (So, never discount an author's other works, if you dislike one piece of their library.)

You may be asking yourself why am I writing all of this now? Well, I decided to go back and give this book a try. I re-started it, from the very beginning, and these are my thoughts - good and bad:

I still stand by my original dislike of the book. The first half of the book , for me, seems very disjointed, causing a huge disconnect with the characters. (Too much jumping around for my taste, and I feel that it could have been trimmed down quite a bit.) However, the last chapter of the book (a good 20% chunk) was formatted differently, and seemed much more congruent and fluid.

My biggest issue with the book is the name of the character Siobhan. (Pronounced Shuh-vawn) How is that name pronounced that way?!? Every time I read her name made me dislike it even more, but that is just a personal issue. The character herself is quite intriguing, and leads into a lot of my favorite aspects of the book (*all of the astral travel).

Another aspect of the book, that I loved, was the demon Legion (who anyone who has studied the Bible is familiar with). Mr. Dubrow came up with a very cool concept, regarding the demon, and utilized him uniquely.

My favorite scene in the book, is when a character (not giving anything away) is handcuffed to a chair. He gets the ability to translate the metal in the handcuffs, transforming them into twin spiked knives. Just an amazing scene, in my head!

While there was stuff that I disliked, there was plenty that I did like (I found the YooTV concept very interesting, and as I mentioned before, I enjoyed all of the astral scenes.)

Overall, I am glad that I decided to re-read this book and push through the first half.

After reading the end of this one, I am pretty much left with little choice but to get the second book in the trilogy. (I definitely want to know what happens next!)

Until next time,

Jason

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Without Warning

The 3rd book in the "J. B. Collins" trilogy (preceded by 'The Third Target' & 'The First Hostage'), 'Without Warning' is probably my favorite of the three books (beats the first by a hair!)

What a book! Edge-of-your-seat from beginning to end! And what an ending it is! I love when an author bucks the trend - totally refreshing! You will not forget this book!

Jason

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Flies [A Short Horror Story Review]

Genre - Horror/Short Story
Year Published - 2016
Length - 51 (digital) pages
Written by Andrew Lennon

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Justin managed to get the day off work. He has plans to make the most of it. Drugs, booze, hookers - total degradation. There's just one problem. Those damn flies!

Review:
This is a fantastic short story that leads up to a viciously gruesome ending! I will, without a doubt, be checking out more of Lennon's stories!

Also included in this book are three additional short stories:

Michael Bray's 'Implants' [5 Skulls - a thoroughly engaging tale about the last survivor on Earth - completely unique!]

Shaun Hupp's 'Strands' [5 Skulls - a super short story that is a must read for fans of "spider tales"!]

Norman Turrell's 'Little Angel's' [3 Skulls - while good, this one fell somewhat short of the other stories in this book - my opinion]

Jason

Monday, March 13, 2017

The End Is All We See [Dual Short Story Review]

Genre - Sci-Fi/Horror/Short Stories
Year Published - 2017
Length - 45 (digital) pages
Written by M. F. Wahl and A. J. Brown

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
From the minds of M. F. Wahl and A. J. Brown come two horrific tales of struggle and loss you won’t soon forget.

In “Purple Haze”, a crash landing on an uninhabited planet strands Adira and the surviving members of her crew. Surrounded by a quiet world of blue grass, and purple skies, danger lurks within the beauty. Without contact to Earth and light-years from home, they encounter a treacherous enemy that threatens to destroy them from the inside out.

“Run For The Flame” brings us into a world where an ice age has engulfed everything, driving life underground. The Sanctuary holds the last vestiges of humanity, but it's walls are cracking and the ice is slowly encroaching. In their last grasp at survival, the community is forced to send their boys on an all-important run to The Flame... None have returned.

Wahl, a #1 Wattpad featured horror author and Brown, whose stories have appeared in over 200 publications, use their easy styles to draw you in, and hold you close.

Welcome to their nightmares.

Review:
This is a unique book that is a set of novelettes. There are two versions - this one, 'The End Is All We See' by M. F. Wahl and the other version, 'All We See Is The End' by A. J. Brown. They are both the same, yet slightly different, as reflected by their titles and covers. Both stories are the exact same, just flipped depending on which version you get. (If this is confusing, the authors explain in an inside letter.)

I have a feeling that depending on which story you read first may just be the story you like best. (Kind of like when Stephen King released 'Desperation' right along side Bachman's 'The Regulators')

My version, 'The End is All We See' starts off with Wahl's story "Purple Haze". The story is well written and then, out of nowhere, it takes a totally unexpected turn. Definitely a story that will stick with you, long after you have finished reading it!

After "Purple Haze" is A. J. Brown's "Run for the Flame".  This is a unique story that will have you invested in the survival of the characters!

Both stories are about the struggle to survive circumstances beyond one's control. I will definitely be checking out more from both of these authors.

Jason

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Chrysalis [Short Story Review]

Genre - Sci-Fi/Horror/Short Story
Year Published - 2013
Length - 39 (digital) pages
Written by Ray Zacek

Rating: 3 Skulls

Plot Summary:
"Somalia on the Mississippi:" that is where the government sent Coffman. His mission? Strictly need to know. But that mission takes agent Coffman to an overpopulated county morgue to examine an unidentified cadaver. Of course, it is what's inside that counts...

Review:
I wish that Zacek would have let this idea percolate in his mind just a little bit longer. The concept (about a parasitic organism) is nothing new, yet Zacek made it his own, creating good characters, etc. I just wish that Zacek would have at least made it novella length, if not a full-length novel. I feel that there is a lot more to be told here.

This story has a somewhat (albeit darker) Men in Black feel, so if that sounds up your alley, give this story a shot.

Jason