Monday, September 9, 2019

Vine in the Fire

I love discovering a new author, who immediately becomes one of your favorites. Such is the case with Stephen J. Semones. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Semones at a local horror convention, a few weeks ago. He is a super friendly guy, and I ended up buying quite a few of his books, on the spot, as he writes in multiple genres. I took a gamble doing this (I have been disappointed before), but I had a feeling about Semones and that feeling has paid-off ten-fold!

I was actually going to start off reading another of Semones' books titled Gloom (an action/crime drama), but that book is the start of a series (currently 5 books in, with the 6th soon to be released - I bought the first 3). Stephen King's new book comes out tomorrow, so I knew I didn't want to be in the middle of a series, so I went with Vine in the Fire - a stand alone western/horror novel.

Vine in the Fire is written in three Acts, not including the gripping Prologue. (I guarantee that once you read the prologue, you will not be stopping there!) Act 1 is a fast-paced chase sequence, Act 2 takes a 3-month time jump, and Act 3 leads up to the ultimate showdown.

Semones has superb character development skills, giving minute characteristics to each character, making them more relatable, and also giving palatable emotion when needed. I also love it when the title of a book explains itself, which this one does in a cool way.

I am definitely looking forward to reading more of Stephen J. Semones!

5/5 Skulls

Here is the book's synopsis:

After his brother is murdered, Cole Truett leaves the small California town of Temple on a quest to bring the killer to justice. He sets his sights on Jacob Wallace, leader of the notorious outlaws known as "The Wallace Gang". What he doesn't realize is that Jacob harbors an ancient curse, one which makes him not only a deadly adversary, but a terror to humanity itself. Take a ride with Cole Truett through the 'Old West' in this epic tale of evil, revenge, and treachery.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019


If you like to read a book that completely draws you in, then this book is for you! This is the kind of book where you live out the story with the characters - completely immersive.

Wendig does an excellent job with the pacing of this book. Aside from the mystery itself, you will want to keep turning the pages as the characters are superbly developed. It amazed me, that for an almost 800-page novel, even towards the end, Wendig was introducing/creating new characters that you immediately connect with.

5/5 Skulls

Here is the book's synopsis:
A decadent rock star. A deeply religious radio host. A disgraced scientist. And a teenage girl who may be the world’s last hope. From the mind of Chuck Wendig comes “a magnum opus . . . a story about survival that’s not just about you and me, but all of us, together” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).

Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and her sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.

For as the sleepwalking phenomenon awakens terror and violence in America, the real danger may not be the epidemic but the fear of it. With society collapsing all around them—and an ultraviolent militia threatening to exterminate them—the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart—or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Hateful Things [Children of D'Hara: "Episode" 2]

This is the sequel to The Scribbly Man. The 2nd book in the Children of D'Hara Novella series, told in an episodic format. The continuation of Goodkind's Sword of Truth saga.

Hateful Things is slightly longer than The Scribbly Man, clocking in at 210 pages. I know that I said it last time, but I must reiterate how nice these small hardcovers are, published by Head of Zeus. Superb quality.

With the size of these Novellas, I can't really review too much without giving anything away. All you need to know for this one is that Kahlan is pregnant and Richard does not yet know it, as he has been busy attempting to find a way to thwart the new creatures threatening their world. (These creatures have the ability to suddenly appear, tearing apart and slaughtering people, and then departing back to where they came from.) Goodkind continues to ratchet up the tension with this one!

5/5 Skulls

I am not sure what happened, as this book's release was originally scheduled for August 8th. (I am in no way complaining that it was released earlier than originally planned.) I have Episode 3 [Wasteland] scheduled for release on November 14th. So it may be sooner than then, or not. I will be waiting with great anticipation!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Big Cranky: Fall into Darkness

Big Cranky: Fall into Darkness is the first book published by DeadLight Publishing. It is James Pyne's debut novel. I am not sure what genre to call it, so I am going to just classify it as Cosmic Fantasy.

If you enjoy any sort of mythology; stories of ancient, elder gods and goddesses; angels, demons, seraphim, nephilim, and death dealers; then you will definitely enjoy this book!

From the primordial beginnings through the creation of humans, this book is a conglomeration of Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Mayan mythology, with a twist on the "gods" that you think you are familiar with. Throw Cthulhu into the mix. . . yeah, I do not need to say anything more, though I will say one of my favorite parts of the book is when Medusa's dormant Gorgon gene is activated.

Here is the book's synopsis:

Forget everything you think you know about myths and legends, James Pyne’s Big Cranky connects them all in an epic web of deceitful betrayal, love, and loyalty. A capricious tale of gods, showing human quirks are not only wasted on the mortals. A tale of many deities treading lightly around a superior as the world begins.

While the book is kind-of all over the place, Pyne has a way with words and a penchant for action/battle scenes. (I almost want to say this story would have been better suited as a graphic novel.) Still, I am looking forward to seeing where Pyne continues with this story.

3/5 Skulls

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Last Call

In the space of a single day, twenty-year-old Trish West purchases her first car, gets accepted into veterinary college, and finds her rockstar father, Jim Gamble, a man who vanished into the streets before she was born and now clings to life in a Toronto intensive care unit.

Eager to establish a relationship with Mr. Gamble, Trish heads out from her Northern Ontario home that very day to stand at his bedside. But along the way, she crosses paths with a man who will upend her life and the lives of everyone she cares about.

Meet Bobcat, a savage serial killer christened The Dentist by the press, a deranged trophy hunter who sees Trish as the ultimate prize.

Last Call is a story of lost innocence, sociopathic obsession, and moral redemption that is certain to haunt you long after you’ve read the last page.

There is nothing further that I need to say as the last paragraph of the above synopsis is the perfect review in and of itself. Here it is again:

"Last Call is a story of lost innocence, sociopathic obsession, and moral redemption that is certain to haunt you long after you’ve read the last page."

Just be aware that Last Call is a dark novel that pulls no punches.

4/5 Skulls

Monday, June 24, 2019


First, let me start by saying that I am a big fan of Dan Simmons (so much so that I have a tattoo of the original cover of 'Carrion Comfort'). With that said, somehow I totally missed the release of this novel, back in the summer of 2011. Thankfully, I came across it during a local Library Book Sale. . .

If I were to make a list of my "Top Ten Favorite Books of All Time", Flashback would definitely be on it! (Yes, I like this one even more than Carrion Comfort.) I was immediately sucked into the story; not only completely absorbed by the characters, but also by the atmosphere of the futuristic America that Simmons has created. I tore through this book! Every aspect of this novel is spectacular, and the near heart-dropping ending. . . Wow! If you have read it, then you know what I am talking about. If you have not read it, head to your local bookstore or download it to whichever device you prefer, but make this one your next read!

Here is the synopsis:

A provocative dystopian thriller set in a future that seems scarily possible, FLASHBACK proves why Dan Simmons is one of our most exciting and versatile writers. 

The United States is near total collapse. But 87% of the population doesn't care: they're addicted to flashback, a drug that allows its users to re-experience the best moments of their lives. After ex-detective Nick Bottom's wife died in a car accident, he went under the flash to be with her; he's lost his job, his teenage son, and his livelihood as a result.

Nick may be a lost soul but he's still a good cop, so he is hired to investigate the murder of a top governmental advisor's son. This flashback-addict becomes the one man who may be able to change the course of an entire nation turning away from the future to live in the past.

5/5 Skulls

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Black Echo

Michael Connelly is an author whose name I was familiar with but had never read, until now.

While at a local Library Book Sale, I was loading up on Nelson DeMille books when a stranger approached me and asked if I had ever read Michael Connelly. I will tell you the same thing that he told me. "If you enjoy DeMille, you will enjoy Connelly."

Was he correct in his assumption?

Absolutely! I loved this book. It is a fantastic mystery/thriller, and I will definitely be reading the others in the [Harry Bosch] series.

Thank you, kind stranger!

5/5 Skulls

Here is the book's synopsis:

For maverick LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch, the body in the drainpipe at Mulholland Dam is more than another anonymous statistic. This one is personal . . . because the murdered man was a fellow Vietnam "tunnel rat" who had fought side by side with him in a hellish underground war. Now Bosch is about to relive the horror of Nam. From a dangerous maze of blind alleys to a daring criminal heist beneath the city, his survival instincts will once again be tested to their limit. Pitted against enemies inside his own department and forced to make the agonizing choice between justice and vengeance, Bosch goes on the hunt for a killer whose true face will shock him.