Wednesday, November 7, 2018

War for the Planet of the Dead [Book Review]

Planet of the Dead continues. . .

Genre - Apocalyptic Horror/Zombie
Year Published - 2018
Length - 170 (digital) pages
Written by +Thomas S Flowers

Plot Summary:
Following the events of Planet of the Dead, survivors of the expanding outbreak take shelter in homes, and bunkers, and apartment complexes. Across the world, armed police and military struggle to maintain safety. Tensions mount as the worst imaginable comes to pass when nuclear weapons are used on civilian populations overrun with the living dead. Soon afterward, a coup mounts between warring factions of Generals, ruining the best-laid plans of two AWOL soldiers, a cybernetically enhanced veteran, and a scientist, forcing them to fight both humans and flesh-eating hordes of undead as they seek refuge from a planet plagued by war.

The bar has been set pretty high this year, and unfortunately, this one did not really live up to my expectations. It didn't help that just a couple of months ago Flowers released The Last Hellfighter, one of my favorite books of the year. That one was superior in every way!

I really enjoyed Planet of the Dead, however I just wasn't feeling this one. With that said, there are still some enjoyable moments in this one. Particularly, Polk's new prosthetic arm, Amy Horrigan's news coverage on the Siege of Washington, and the disturbing new religious cult that is forming.

There are going to be several more books in this series, so if you enjoyed the first one as much as I did, you are going to still want to read this one, as I am hoping for greater things to come!

Rating: 3/5 Skulls

Monday, October 29, 2018

Scapegoat [Book Review]

Scapegoat - yet another phenomenal book! (I am going to have a tough time narrowing down a "best of" list, at the end of the year.)

Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2018
Published by Honey Badger Press
Length - 224 (digital) pages
Written by Adam Howe & James Newman

Plot Summary:
March 29, 1987. . . For metalheads Mike Rawson, Lonnie Deveroux, and Pork Chop, an RV road trip to Wrestlemania III becomes a one-way ticket to hell. While delivering an illegal shipment of counterfeit wrestling merchandise, an ill-fated shortcut through the Kentucky backwoods leads them to a teenaged girl carved head to toe in arcane symbols. Soon our unlikely heroes are being hunted through the boonies by a cult of religious crazies who make the Westboro Baptists look like choirboys. . . a cult that will stop at nothing to get the girl back and complete a ritual that has held an ancient evil at bay for centuries. . . Until now.

I am a huge fan of Adam Howe's work. (He has never written a bad book!) If you have read his stories before, then you know how difficult it is to peg him into one genre. This is not a problem with this book. This one is straight-up horror! (No need to worry though, as there are still plenty of Howe's signature twisted moments of humor.)

As for Newman, I had not yet read anything by him, though his name has been on my radar (I own Odd Man Out, I just haven't read it yet - that's going to change.)

The collaboration of these two authors is near perfect, and you will understand why once you have read the Story Notes (another Howe staple).

On with my review. . .

First, I just have to say that any book that starts off with a Stryper quote from To Hell with the Devil is a win in my book.

After a completely harrowing Prologue, we are introduced to the main characters of the story - three best friends, since highschool (who formed the Metal Band Wrathbone), who are reuniting years later (the year is 1987) for an RV roadtrip to WrestleMania III (to watch the epic battle between Hulk Hogan and Andre the  Giant). Along the way, they of course end up getting lost and end up taking a shortcut through the woods, and we all know that nothing good ever comes from doing that!

Being a fellow metal-head, I immediately connected with these characters, each of whom are fleshed out enough where you truly care what happens to them. As for the story itself - it is written at a break-neck pace and ultimately hits you like a locomotive! There is an ominous, terrifying portent given half-way through the book and from there on out it becomes a rising crescendo of horrific insanity. (Chapter 47 is extremely difficult to get through!) And the end. . . I just thought to myself that Clive Barker would be proud!

Rating: 5/5 Skulls

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Collected Halloween Shorts: Trick r' Treat [Book Review]

Collected Halloween Shorts: Trick r' Treat
Genre - Horror/Anthology Collection
Year Published - 2017
Length - 304 (digital) pages
Stories Collected by +Kevin J Kennedy

Plot Summary:
If you love horror, Halloween is probably your favourite time of the year. Well… It’s ours, too.

A mixture of authors from Collected Christmas Horror Shorts and Collected Easter Horror Shorts have come back together, and invited a few friends, to make this Halloween an extra special one.

Lock your door, dim your lights, add some pumpkin spice to whatever you are drinking and light your jack-o’-lanterns. This will be a Halloween you will never forget.

Table of Contents

John R. Little - The Halloween Phantoms
Lisa Morton - Pumpkin Rex
Richard Chizmar - Mister Parker
Christopher Motz - The Halloween Playground
Kevin J. Kennedy - Halloweenland
Mark Cassell - A Story of Amber
Peter Oliver Wonder - Dressed For Success
Christina Bergling - Black Widow
Stuart Keane - Hollowed Be Thy
Andrew Lennon - Girlfriend
Briana Robertson - Trick Turned Treat
James Matthew Byers - Jenny Greenteeth
J.C. Michael - The First Shot
Mark Lukens - The Coffin Man
Suzanne Fox - The Devils Fruit
Steven Stacy - Don't Fear the Reaper.

16 horror tales - perfect for this time of year!

The stand-out stories within this collection, for me, are as follows:

Christina Bergling's (horrifying!) "Black Widow"
Mark Luken's "The Coffin Man" (has a Get Out feel to it)
Lisa Morton's "Pumpkin Rex"
John R. Little's "The Halloween  Phantoms"
and Kevin J. Kennedy's "HalloweenLand" (this one reminded me of Richard Laymon's The Traveling Vampire Show)

Another stand-out story is Andrew Lennon's "Girlfriend". This one has a story-within-a-story (Intruder) woven within which elevates it to a 5-Skull story.

Other great stories included are:

Richard Chizmar's "Mister Parker" (this one has a good twist)
Suzanne Fox's "The Devil's Fruit"
James Matthew Byer's (excellent poem) "Jenny Greenteeth"
Briana Robertson's (erotic) "Trick Turned Treat"
Stuart Keene's "Hollowed Be Thy"
and Peter Oliver Wonder's "Dressed for Success"

The other four stories are good as well, I just liked the above stories more.

Rating: 4/5 Skulls

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Infestation [Book Review]

Genre - Creature Feature
Year Published - 2017
Published by Severed Press
Length - 139 (digital) pages
Written by +William Meikle

Plot Summary:
It was supposed to be a simple mission. A suspected Russian spy boat is in trouble in Canadian waters. Investigate and report are the orders.

But when Captain John Banks and his squad arrive, it is to find an empty vessel, and a scene of bloody mayhem.

Soon they are in a fight for their lives, for there are things in the icy seas off Baffin Island, scuttling, hungry things with a taste for human flesh.

They are swarming.

And they are growing.

This book is just what the doctor ordered. After finishing the last (600+ pgs.) novel that I read, I was in the mood for something light & fun, and this book delivered! I was able to just sit back, with my bag of Mackie's Haggis & Cracked Pepper potato chips, and enjoy the first adventure of Meikle's "S-Squad" (a Scottish Special Forces team).

In this mission, the team comes across giant isopods (crustaceans). You definitely do not want to be bitten or scratched by one of these things! The action within the story is fast and furious. (Now that I've written that, this book is kind of like a Fast & Furious film - mindless entertainment, and I mean that in a good way!) In fact, this story would make for a great SyFy movie.

This is Book 1 in the S-Squad series, and I am thrilled that there are already several more!
(Meikle must be pumping these out pretty quickly as this one was just released last year.)

So that I can come back to this review, I am going to go ahead and list the others here, as I will definitely be reading them:

Book 2 - Operation: Antarctica
Book 3 - Operation: Siberia
Book 4 - Operation: Amazon (to be honest, it was the cover of this one, just recently released, that drew me to this series)

Still to come - Operation: Loch Ness, Operation: Innsmouth, Operation: Rockies, Operation: UR, and Operation: Mongolia.

Good stuff!

Rating: 4/5 Skulls

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Lion's Game [Book Review]

This is Book #2 in DeMille's "John Corey Series" (#1 being Plum Island).

As much as I enjoyed Plum Island, I am going to say that The Lion's Game is even better! (In fact, it has a completely different feel to it, though it is still chock full of Corey's sarcasm and humor.)

Without giving too much away, this one is about a Libyan terrorist with a vendetta. DeMille  does a fantastic job of writing this character. You almost sympathize with him, or at least understand his thirst for retribution.

This one is an action-packed thrill-ride!
Highly Recommended!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Last Hellfighter [Book Review]

Let's go ahead and add this book as yet another contender for Best Book of the Year.

Genre - Horror/Vampire/History
Year Published - 2018
Published by Darker Worlds Publishing
Length - 394 pages
Written by +Thomas S Flowers

Plot Summary:
In the year 2044, reporters from the Public Relations Ministry gather at the home of Benjamin Harker, the last surviving member of the Harlem Hellfighters.

At the age of 144, he is the oldest recorded man alive. Hidden among them, Clyde Bruner is looking for a different kind of story.

Across the United States, despite the Great Walls and patrol drones built to keep America secure, something has found its way in. And now towns are vanishing during the night.

Entire populations, gone. Only to return after the sun sets, changed, unholy, and lethal. And whatever this evil is, its spreading west. 

According to a bedtime story Bruner’s grandfather told him when he was a boy, Benjamin Harker has seen this before. He’s faced this scourge. Fought this evil. Survived them. Killed them.

From the trenches of the Great War to the jungles of Vietnam to the sands of Iraq, Harker will search his past to save our future. But as each city light extinguishes across the country, is there no time left to stop what's coming?

Before I review the book, how about the cover? I love this cover - it gets my vote for best book cover of the year. Simple yet terrifying! (for the curious, the cover is by author +Michael Bray)

Thomas S. Flowers (author of Lanmó, The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein, and Planet of the Dead) has created a riveting story reminiscent of my favorite book of 2016 - Brett McBean's The Awakening. (Reminiscent as to the style of storytelling)

Rich in character development, this is a character-driven story. Being completely honest, I will say that the "horror" within the story is minimal, but when it is there, it is pulse-pounding! (If the Intro to the story doesn't rivet you to the edge of your seat, I don't know what will.)

I thoroughly enjoyed how Flowers takes us back and forth in time, through the memories of the main character, Benjamin Harker. They are kick-started with music from the era that he is remembering. (Brilliant)

Another unique aspect that Flowers has come up with (aside from the surprising revelation of King Tutankhamen) is that his nosferatu/vampires feed off of the mass bloodshed of war. (a very interesting concept)

Flowers has written a truly immersive story that puts you directly into the setting and into the shoes of the characters. Superbly done!

Rating: 5/5 Skulls

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Black Lotus Kiss [A Brimstone Files Novel]

"The sky was made of dried blood and the sand was crushed teeth. Fingerbones outlined a pathway and pointed toward an onyx tower, surrounded on all sides by a sea of churning mercury. The tower was made of scales that breathed. . ."

This is an example of what you are in for when reading +Jason Ridler's latest installment of his Brimstone Files series.

Just like the first novel (Hex-Rated) this one is a rip-roaring read! Seriously, I have no idea where time disappears to when reading these stories. One minute you are on page one, and the next you are already fifty pages in.

James Brimstone is, without a doubt, my favorite P. I. (I so cannot wait until the next book is released!)

5/5 Skulls