Thursday, August 18, 2016

Lament of the Fallen - The Last Bucelarii: Book 2 [Book Review]

Genre - (Dark) Fantasy
Year Published - 2016
Length - 376 (digital) pages
Written by Andy Peloquin

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
The Hunter of Voramis is no more.

Alone with the bloodthirsty voices in his head, fleeing the pain of loss, he has one objective; travel North to find her, the mystery woman who plagues his dreams and haunts his memories.

When he stumbles upon a bandit attack, something within urges him to help. His actions set him at odds with the warrior priests commanded to hunt down the Bucelarii.

Left for dead, the Hunter must travel to Malandria to recover his stolen birthright. There, he is inexorably drawn into direct conflict with the Order of Midas, the faceless, nameless group of magicians that hold the city in a grip of terror.
All the while struggling to silence the ever-louder voice in his mind that drives him to kill.

Review:
In this sequel to 'Blade of the Destroyer', we discover the ramifications of The Hunter killing his victims with his blade, Soulhunger.

When we last left The Hunter, he had burned his city to the ground and every man of The Bloody Hand along with it. He had killed the Demon of Voramis and his Dark Heresy. Fleeing the city that he lived in for decades, The Hunter is now at war with the voices in his head, demanding blood.

If you read my review of the first book in this series, you will notice that I rated this book 1-star less. The reason for this is that The Hunter is not the same as he was in the first book. (I understand that he is going through a personal journey, and that is why this book still received 4-stars - the journey is great!) My biggest issue is that The Hunter is [***slight spoiler***] the whole book (it is kind of like reading a story about your favorite super hero, without their super powers). This caused a few seemingly erratic moments for me - particularly when The Hunter has a problem with two street thugs, and yet soon thereafter he has not much of a problem with three trained assassins!

Aside from the above, the storytelling in this book is still top notch! Having The Hunter battle his conscious regarding needless killing, and placing the majority of the story in Malandria (City of a Thousand Spires) worked for me. I am still definitely looking forward to the 3rd book in this series ('Gateway to the Past') coming out next year!

Jason

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Awakening [Book Review]

Today is the day - 'The Awakening' is finally being released for your consumption! (I received an advance copy of this book, back in June, flew through it, and have been waiting ever since to post this review!)

Trust me on this one - just buy this book - you will not be disappointed! It is absolutely phenomenal!

In case you are unfamiliar with the backstory, here is some history:

Back in 2014, I read Pete Kahle​'s debut novel 'The Specimen', and it ended up being my favorite book of that year. Since then, Kahle has entered the publishing field and established 'Bloodshot Books'. Underneath the 'Bloodshot Books' banner, Kahle has a "Second Sight Imprint" where he is currently seeking out authors whose published works have gone out of print and republishing them under 'Bloodshot Books'. Brett McBean's 'The Awakening' (which was originally published in 2012) is the first book to be released under this imprint.

Now that the history lesson has concluded, on with my review:

Genre - "Coming of Age"
Year Published - 2016 (a 2012 reprinting)
Published by Bloodshot Books/Second Sight Imprint
Length - 441 (digital) pages
Written by Brett McBean

Rating: 5+ Skulls

Review:
I have to start this review off with a WARNING: Do not attempt to read/start this book until you definitely have some free time on your hands - otherwise, things might not get done! ;-)

Also, if you noticed, I have bypassed the plot summary for this book. (I will post it after the review, for inquiring minds, though I highly suggest skipping it this time around!) The reason for this is that when I read this book, I knew absolutely nothing about it, and I was the better for it.

If you missed my Google+ post yesterday, I posted this quote, "A good book makes you want to live in the story. A great book gives you no choice." This applies perfectly to 'The Awakening' - it is a great book, and you are given no choice but to live it out, consequences and all!

This is a book that allows you to relive your childhood - your early teenage years, where it is the start of summer, being able to camp out with friends, watch late night creature-features, get into mischief, and if you were lucky enough, to also have that "creepy neighbor". . .

This is, by far, the absolute best "coming of age" story that I have read! This is the first book that I have read by McBean (a phenomenal storyteller!), and I can guarantee that it will not be the last. (McBean is an author whose entire library I plan on reading!)

I cannot/will not give anything else away at this point. I will tell you this though - I was amazed to discover that I was already 150 or so pages into this book, when I realized that nothing of significance had even happened, yet the story is still fantastic! It is also, right around this time, that the story takes a climactic turn, time jumps, and shifts gears. All I can say is hold on tight and enjoy the ride!

Jason

Oh yeah, I almost forgot, for those of you wanting a plot summary - read at your own risk!

Plot Summary:
For as long as he can remember, fourteen-year-old Toby Fairchild has been afraid of the strange old man living across the street. Along with the rest of the kids in the small midwestern town of Belford, he sees the reclusive Mr. Joseph as the local bogeyman.

Mr. Joseph's life is an unhappy one. The memories of his past fill him with deep sorrow, and the kids of Belford have long been afraid of him, what with his unusual features and awkward gait.

However, when Toby accidentally discovers the remarkable truth about Mr. Joseph, an unlikely friendship develops. Over the course of the summer, Toby will come to know about pain and death; loss and the meaning of freedom, as Mr. Joseph recounts the incredible story of his past back in Haiti.

***I implore you not to read any further, if you want to be surprised - Spoilers Below***

This is a story laced with voodoo spirits, slave plantations, evil sorcerers... and zombis.

Toby will learn that monsters do exist - though not always where you expect to find them.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Lanmò: A Tale of Southern Horror [Short Story Review]

Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2015
Published by Shadow Work Publishing
Length - 53 (digital) pages
Written by Thomas S. Flowers

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
1964 Mississippi.
John Turner, a young black man canvassing for votes in the Delta, is pulled over by local police on a rural, dusty road. After carrying out what they believed was their civic duty, the klansmen believed they'd gotten away with what they did to John. But they  didn't know the powers residing in those dark Delta woods. And they certainly didn't bank on southern voodoo.

Review:
This is a hard-hitting, punch you right in the gut, kind of story!

Flowers excels at putting you in the time-period, living out exactly what happens to John. You can feel the sweat and the terror emanating from the character.

A cringe-worthy, satisfying read!

Jason

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Hatching

You should know by now that I am unable to pass on a book about spiders, and this one is a doozy!

This book is a super-fast-paced read that hooks you from the very first page. Boone has created instantly relatable characters, and the book takes you all over the place/world (in a good way, assisting with the rapid pace).

Even though this book is a quick read, it has a gradual build-up, which leads to apocalyptic proportions!

My favorite line in the book is the final line:

"Leave the Lights On. 'Skitter' is coming!"

I so cannot wait for the sequel - I will definitely be one of the first in line to buy it!

Jason

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bloodshot Books - 'The Awakening'

First, a little history. . .

Back in 2014, I read Pete Kahle​'s debut novel 'The Specimen', and it ended up being my favorite book of that year. Since then, Kahle has entered the publishing field and established 'Bloodshot Books' (I love his tagline!).

Why am I telling you this? Because, underneath the 'Bloodshot Books' banner, Kahle has a "Second Sight Imprint" where he is currently seeking out authors whose published works have gone out of print and republishing them under 'Bloodshot Books' (can you tell I love that name?).

The first book to be released is going to be Brett McBain's 'The Awakening' (which was originally published in 2012). The release date for this book is going to be August 15th, so mark your calendars now, or better yet, it is available for pre-order now!

Trust me on this one - just buy this book - you will not be disappointed! I read it last month, and it is absolutely phenomenal! I cannot wait to share my review with you, next month. I will not be surprised if this book ends up taking the "Best Book of the Year" award at the end of the year.

Jason

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Shadows and Dust [Book Review]

Genre - Horror/Short-Story Collection
Year Published - 2016
Length - 259 (digital) pages
Written by Paul Fairbairn

Tagline: "18 Gripping Tales of Horror and Suspense"

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
From the dark imagination of acclaimed novelist Paul Fairbairn, come these eighteen tales of modern horror, alienation and urban decay -- stories to make a stranger of sleep and reveal our deepest fears in a cold, dead light:

An artist's sculptures may be more than lifelike, but she saves the worst of them for her ex-lover.

The owner of a shock-site finds that there are worse things in the world than even he can imagine.

In the dead of night, a mysterious couple abduct a child. But for what chilling purpose?

The horrors of war are starkly revealed to a young interpreter on his first tour of duty in Vietnam.

In secluded mountains, a forgotten stone circle holds an ancient secret too hideous to be named, waiting to be unleashed.

These and many other horrors are writhing in the darkness, among the shadows and the dust that are our lives. Approach them with caution...if you dare.

Review:
This was my first introduction to Fairbairn, and I will definitely be checking out his full-length novels!

Fairbairn's stories are well-written. They are the kind that suck you into the story itself. They are very descriptive, gruesome when needed, and you can feel the terror of the characters emanating from the pages.

My favorite story, hands down, was "Love's Last Embers". I also really enjoyed "Mara", "Interpretations", and "The Sons of Osiris". "Kramer's Waste" is also an enjoyable read, especially if you have read Joseph D'Lacey's 'The Garbage Man'.
Also, the last story "Summer with Marshall" is completely different from every other story in the collection and was a perfect way to end the book.

If you enjoy short stories, then this collection is worth checking out!

Jason

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Morbid Metamorphosis [Book Review]

Genre - Horror/Anthology
Year Published - 2016
Published by Lycan Valley Press
Length - 291 (digital) pages
Anthology Authors selected by Jo-Anne Russell and Edited by Robert Nelson

Tagline: "Terrifying Tales of Transformation"

Rating: 4 Skulls [overall]

Plot Summary:
This book contains 22 stories from authors around the world. Together they bring you morbidly terrifying tales of metamorphosis, transformation, and deep horror that will follow you for days, long after you've read the last page.
Beware reading this book at night and alone - for the mind is a powerful thing, and you may find you have company in the shadows.

Review:
If you read my Google+ post, last month, then you know that Franklin E. Wales has a story within this anthology, hence my reading it. Wales' story - Pickin' to Beat the Devil - is a continuation in his Dramos Saga (*you do not have to have read anything prior - it is better if you have, but this is a stand-alone story that I guarantee will have you wanting to read the others!) For those of you not familiar with Dramos, he is a [*spoiler*] vampire hunter, and his tales take place, mostly, in the Old West - great reading!
Pickin' to Beat the Devil adds a new (Irish) character (Patrick O'Dea) in the mix, and if you are a fan of Robert Rodriguez' El Mariachi or Desperado, then you will love this character! [Now that I think of it, Robert Rodriguez would be an ideal director to bring the Dramos Saga to the Big Screen. . .]

Obviously, there are other stories/authors within this anthology, so how did the rest compare?

Out of the 22 stories, there wasn't a single one that I didn't like (which is pretty impressive!) Most were 3-Skull quality; entertaining in their own right. Several more were well-above average - just to mention a few... Terri Del Campo's 'The Skully Effect' (an extremely bizarre tale that you won't soon forget!), Suzie Lockhart's 'Vile Deeds' and Cameron Trost's 'The Corkscrew and the Void' were some other well-above average tales. 

As for the stand-outs: Jo-Anne Russell's 'You Are What You Eat', Stacey Turner's 'The Lake' (loved this one!), Tina Piney's 'The Death Vaccination' (cool concept!), Suzanne Robb's 'The Moonlight Killer' [man, the women are killing it this anthology!] Of course, the aforementioned Wales' tale, and then Ken MacGregor's 'Danger's Balls' (If you are a fan of the 1991 flick 'Body Parts', you will definitely dig this tale!)

As I stated earlier, each of the stories within this anthology are entertaining, in their own right - there are many more gross, sick, and twisted tales that were not mentioned. Those that were are just the one that rose to the top.

If you are a fan of anthologies, or are just looking to try some new authors, then this one is for you!

Jason