Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2013: Year In Review

I am posting this a little earlier than usual, this year, in case any of you have yet to complete your Christmas shopping. . .
(any of the below would make an enjoyable gift, in my opinion, for a loved one)

The Top Ten Novels that I read this year:
(in alphabetical order - * denotes that the book was published this year)

1. * Black Feathers (the Black Dawn -
       Volume One) by Joseph D'Lacey
2. Choke Hold by Christa Faust (Note:
     this book is a sequel to #6, below)
3. * The Companions by R. A. Salvatore
4. Dead Stop by D. Nathan Hilliard
5. '14' by Peter Clines
6. Money Shot by Christa Faust
7. * 'NOS4A2' by Joe Hill
8. * Spiderstalk by D. Nathan Hilliard
9. * The Third Kingdom by Terry Goodkind
10. ** The Troop by Nick Cutter
(Note: #10 will officially be released, next year/month. I have included it, as I read an advanced review copy back in August - see review!)

So, which novel receives the acclaimed "Best Novel of the Year"?
This is an extremely tough choice this year! I am going to have to say #4 - Dead Stop as this novel has remained in my head since the beginning of the year!
I must also state that #8 - Spiderstalk (same author!) was the "most original" story that I read this year.

My Top Ten Favorite Films released this year:
(in alphabetical order)

1. Bullet to the Head
2. The Conjuring
3. Dark Skies
4. Fast & Furious 6
5. The Last Stand
6. Man of Steel
7. Man of Tai Chi
8. Monsters University
9. Olympus Has Fallen
10. Through the Never

Note: This year, I made the decision to wait until theatrical releases hit my local "second-run theatre" - thus saving myself a lot of money - which, in turn, allowed me to build my own Blacksmith Forge...
So, any movies released in the last month or two (cough; cough - 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug') may not be on this list, simply because I haven't seen them yet.

Best Film of the Year? #2 - The Conjuring

Since this post could possibly be used as a potential gift list, here are a few more of my "favorites" this year:

My Favorite Albums released this year:
(in alphabetical order, by artist, not title)

1. Jeremy Camp - Reckless
2. Newsted - Heavy Metal Music
3. Skillet - RISE
4. Stryper - No More Hell to Pay

Best Album of the year? Skillet's 'Rise'!

My Favorite (New) Television Shows released this year:
(in alphabetical order)

1. Bates Motel
2. Orphan Black
3. The Following

Note: I also dropped Cable this year, back in July, so any new shows released since then, I haven't seen yet...

Best New Show of the year?
'Orphan Black'

My Favorite [Android] Apps that I Downloaded this year:
(in alphabetical order)

1. Angry Birds Go!
2. Angry Birds: Star Wars 2
3. Doodle Army
4. Draw a Stickman: Epic
5. Sleepwalker's Journey
6. Vector
7. V for Vampire

Note: If I recall correctly, each of the above apps are/were Free (on Android)

My Most Played App this year:
Most likely 'Sleepwalker's Journey' though 'Vector' was probably a close second!

Well, there you have my year-in-review.
Just keep in mind, if I haven't reviewed it here, on my blog, chances are there is most likely some sort of write-up on my Google+ Profile

Thank you for taking the time to read this post - hopefully it helped you.

May you have a Blessed Christmas and an extremely Happy New Year!


Monday, November 25, 2013

Spiderstalk [Book Review]

Genre - Action/Horror/Sci-Fi/Suspense
(Sub-Genre - Giant Spiders!)
Year Published - 2013
Length - 468 (print) pgs.
Written by D. Nathan Hilliard

Rating: 5+ Skulls

Plot Summary:
Life hasn't been kind to Adam Sellars lately...

In the past year he has broken up with his fiancee, barely survived a terrible car wreck, and had his brother's family vanish while he lay unconscious in the hospital. Since then he has been a crippled shell going through the motions of life with nothing but the search for his brother to keep him going.

But Adam is about to discover that things can still take a turn for the worse.

Much worse.

His quest for his lost brother has brushed up against a very dark corner of the world and something has come out of that darkness with an unholy vengeance.
He can't fight it, he can't hide from it, and not even the police can protect him as his world descends into chaos.

His only hope lies in a mysterious pair of strangers who have appeared out of nowhere with an offer of aid. But they have their own agenda, and his survival may not be their top priority. Now Adam must keep his wits about him and learn to believe in himself again as events send him on a collision course with a monster more horrific than he ever dreamed possible.

If you regularly keep track of my blog posts/reviews, then the name D. Nathan Hilliard may sound familiar to you.
Back in January, I reviewed his novel 'Dead Stop'. I stated then (and still stand by it!)  that 'Dead Stop' is the Best Zombie Novel that I have ever read!
At that time, Hilliard also received one of my 5+ Skull Ratings (which basically means above & beyond; exceptional!)
As you can see, above, Hilliard has accomplished this feat once again!
(now the conundrum lies in deciding which book is his best...)

When I discovered that 'Spiderstalk' had to do with giant spiders, I was giddy with anticipation; as anything small, becoming giant, is right up my alley! However, I am going to tell you right now that the spiders that Hilliard has created are not your typical "cheesy" B-Budget Sci-Fi kind of spiders. Hilliard makes them absolutely terrifying! All you have to do is just read the Prologue, and you will see what I am talking about. But don't stop there!
There is so much more to this book than just giant spiders!

Hilliard has created an epic masterpiece with this novel, dealing with secret societies, Native American folklore, a centuries long tribal war, etc, and he just happens to add some spiders (ranging anywhere from two feet to forty plus feet!) in the mix.

Hilliard is one of those authors that draws you completely into the world that he has created, and once you have entered it is difficult to leave, let me yell you!
(My wife jokingly says that I am not going to be allowed to read Hilliard's next book, as I get so enraptured in his stories.)

I really don't want to say too much more about this book, other than the fact that this book will make an excellent gift for a reader in your life, and not just for horror fans! Anyone who enjoys a quick escape from reality will enjoy reading this novel!


P. S. Thank you, Mr. Hilliard, for the Epilogue. A most excellent way to end a perfect story!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My Google+ Profile

I know that I have posted my profile link here, in the past, however G+ now allows easier to remember (custom) web links, so if you want to follow me in "real time" here is the link to my G+ page:
(here you will find brief posts relating to movies, books, music, etc)

I will still post lengthier reviews here, however this blog has become more for "requested reviews", whereas I post more "personal interests" on G+...


Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Companions [Book Review]

Genre - Fantasy
Year Published - 2013
(Published by Wizards of the Coast)
Length - 5,342 [digital] pages *Read on my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Kindle App.
Written by R. A. Salvatore

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
'The Companions' moves Salvatore's signature hero, Drizzt, into a new era of the Forgotten Realms.

As Drizzt's fate hangs in the balance, he reflects on the lives of the trusted allies who stood by his side throughout his early life - the friends now known as the Companions of the Hall.

Meanwhile, the first stirrings of the Sundering begin. . .

First, and foremost, I have to say that this book is a must-read for any fan of Salvatore's Drizzt Do'Urden series.

I have been reading Salvatore's "Drizzt" books for 25 years now (hard to believe!) and they are just as entertaining now, as they were back then - this particular book especially so!

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with who/what I am talking about, Drizzt Do'Urden is a Dark (Drow) Elf from Menzoberranzan, in the land of the Forgotten Realms.
[Start with the 'Icewind Dale' trilogy, then continue with the 'Dark Elf' trilogy, then the 'Legacy of the Drow' and 'Paths of Darkness' series, and then move into the 'Hunter's Blade' trilogy... this will catch you up.]

'The Companions' is Book One of the 'Sundering' series - six books written by six different authors, creating a major story event within the Forgotten Realms!

I will admit that I was completely confused at the beginning of this book. (the book is now available, however I read an Advanced Review Copy and am unsure if any of it changed - if not, stick through the prologue - you will understand, soon enough, what is transpiring)

This book reunites the "Companions of the Hall" - Bruenor Battlehammer, past King of Mithral Hall and Champion of Icewind Dale (and my favorite dwarf character!) - Wulfgar the Barbarian - the Halfling, Regis - and fair Catti-brie...

The catch - these characters are in a kind of Purgatory where they are being given a choice - to be "reborn" or to go ahead and enter each of their respective "Homelands".
Why, you ask, are they being offered the choice of being reborn? Well, it seems that their dear friend, Drizzt, is going to find himself in quite a predicament, in 21 years time, and they are being offered the opportunity to be reborn (as someone new) and meet again, 21 years later, to help their friend in his time of need.

I am not going to say who chooses what, but I will say that those who choose rebirth keep their past knowledge - all of their prior memories intact - making this a far better decision than just writing an "origin story", and Salvatore keeps your interest high by writing back-and-forth chapters, alternating between each of the characters.

I am looking forward to the next chapter in the Drizzt Saga!


Friday, October 4, 2013

Shadowlands [Book Review]

Genre - "Psychological" Horror
Year Published - 2013
Length - 263 [digital] pages *Read on my Nook
Written by Alan S. Kessler

Rating: 2 Skulls

Plot Summary:
*Shadowlands is the story of a young boy, innocent and malevolent, who endures abuse by creating a world of shadows where he can escape beatings and the dead.

It is a journey across a unique, internal landscape where there is no border land between sanity and madness; only a compelling blending of the two into a power strong enough to summon love and exact revenge.

The main character is not someone the reader will easily forget. He is a ghost, rising from the story's shattering final pages, who asks that before judging evil we first live with those who made it and taste, as he did, what they put into their witches brew.

*The above plot summary is directly from Barnes & Noble - I wrote it, verbatim, as it explains, better than I, what exactly this book is about. (and with much greater fanfare than I would have bestowed)

If you recall, I reviewed Kessler's debut novel [A Satan Carol] back in February.
That review received 2 Skulls as well...

While I think that this book is an improvement over his debut, there is just something about Kessler's writing style that just doesn't click with me.
I'm not exactly sure just what it is.
I think he is just a bit too allegorical for my taste. I equate it as if Hemingway decided to write a horror novel - take that as you will.
Also, I just feel that there isn't enough true character development.

I almost rated this one 3 Skulls, but it all goes back to if I can put a book down or not, and this is one of those books that I just had to put effort into reading.

Do not let my rating deter you though.
If the above summary peaks your interest, by all means, give it a shot!
Perhaps it is just me, and I am completely missing something.

If any of you out there in "Blogger-land" decide to read this book, please let me know YOUR thoughts on it!


Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Troop [Book Review]

Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2014 (Jan 7th)
Length - 352 (print) pages
Written by Nick Cutter

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Boy Scouts live by the motto "Be Prepared". However, nothing can prepare this group of young boys and their scoutmaster for what they encounter on a small, deserted island, as they settle down for a weekend of campfires, merit badges, and survival lessons.

Everything changes when a haggard stranger, in tattered clothing, appears out of nowhere and collapses on the camper's doorstep.
Before the night is through, this stranger will end up infecting one of the troop's own with a bioengineered horror that is straight out of their worst nightmares.
Now stranded on the island, with no communication to the outside world, the troop learns to battle much more than the elements, as they are pitted against something nature never intended. . .
and eventually each other.

"It begins like a campfire story: five boys and a grownup went into the woods...
It ends in madness and murder!"

If you read my G+ profile, earlier last week, then you already know that I am calling this "one of the best books that you will read, next year - if not the best!"
(on G+, I posted the release date as Jan. 14th, but it is actually going to be a week earlier - Jan 7th, so mark your calendars now, as you don't want to miss this one!)

One of the blurbs about the book states, "Lord of the Flies meets The Ruins..."
This is an accurate quote, so if you enjoyed either of those books, you will definitely enjoy this one!
I would also say that if you enjoy old-scool, "splatter-punk" horror (in the tradition of John Skipp & Craig Spector) then you will love this book as well!

This book is terrifying, not only due to the fact of its plausibility, but also because what is happening in the book is happening to a group of 14-year-old boys.

Cutter does an excellent job keeping you side-tracked from the main storyline, by building up each of the characteristics & personalities of the young boys. This is critical, as the story nears its climax.

I very much want to talk about what happens in the book - the cause behind what happens, however I feel it is in everyone's best interest that you discover the reason on your own. Though do come back here, in January, and feel free to discuss in the comments!

I'll say it once more - if this isn't the best book of 2014, I can almost guarantee that it will be in the top 3!


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Skillet's 'RISE' [Album Review]

'Rise' was just released this past Tuesday (6/25) and being that I haven't yet stopped listening to the album, (I haven't listened to an album like this, non-stop, probably since Metallica's 'Death Magnetic' back in 2008!) I figured that I may as well give a quick review of it...

Band Members:
John Cooper - Lead Vocals, Bass, and Acoustic Guitar
Korey Cooper (John's Wife) - Keyboards/Programming, Rhythm Guitar, Back-Up Vocals
Jen Ledger - Drums and Vocals
Seth Morrison - Lead Guitar

Track Listing:
1. Rise
2. Sick of It
3. Good to be Alive
4. Not Gonna Die
5. Circus for a Psycho
6. American Noise
7. Madness in Me
8. Salvation
9. Fire and Fury
10. My Religion
11. Hard to Find
12. What I Believe
*Note, I highly recommend purchasing the "Deluxe Album"...
13. Battlecry
14. Everything Goes Black
15. Freakshow
*Not only do you get the 3 additional bonus tracks, it also comes with a Live DVD (of Skillet's 'Awake & Live' Tour - featuring some great songs from their 2006 album 'Comatose' and their 2009 album 'Alive', as well as a slew of "Behind the Scenes" and a Documentary of "the making of" 'Rise')

Before I continue, some of you may be unfamiliar with Skillet... (seriously?!?)
They are a Christian Hard Rock Band (before you let that detour you, I have secular friends, including atheists, who dig this band! Just watch the below video, if you still have any doubts) who have been around since 1996. 'Rise' is their 9th album.

Once you listen to Skillet, you will realize that lead singer, John Cooper, has a very distinct singing voice. On past albums, Cooper's wife handled back-up vocals, which she will still do occasionally, however, in 2008(?) Jen Ledger became Skillet's drummer (at the age of 18!) and now predominately handles the back-up vocals (She Rocks! Both her vocals and her drumming!) You should see her drumming & singing, all while being spun around 30+ feet in the air...!
*side-note, I love Korey's voice as well - picture her on guitar & keyboards (back-and-forth) as well as background vocals.
Skillet is indeed a multi-talented band!

I digress... 'Rise' is Skillet's 1st "Concept Album" telling the story of a teen coming into adulthood, in this crazy, mixed-up world of ours...

'Rise' is hands-down my favorite Skillet album (taking the place of their 2001 album 'Alien Youth')

My top 5 songs off of the album:
Sick of It (see the below video)
American Noise
Fire & Fury (love this song! a perfect blending of Cooper & Ledger's voices)
My Religion
also, off of the Bonus Tracks - I love Freakshow!

Once again, you don't have to accept them as a Christian Band (though that is who they are, and they will not shy away from that)
Just think of them as a Rockin' band with a positive message/lyrics...

Here is their Official Video for Sick of It:

(I love that stage!)


Monday, June 24, 2013

Far Far Away [Book Review]

Genre - Children's Fiction/Teens/Young Adult
Year Published - 2013 (Published by Random House Children's Books)
Length - 212 [digital] pages *Read on the MYeebo App (not recommended)
Written by Tom McNeal

Rating: 3 Skulls

Tagline: "Far Far Away is closer than you think."

Plot Summary:
It says quite a lot about Jeremy Johnson Johnson that the strangest thing about him isn't even the fact his mother and father both had the same last name. Jeremy once admitted he's able to hear voices, and the townspeople of Never Better have treated him like an outsider since.
After his mother left, his father became a recluse, and it's been up to Jeremy to support the family. But it hasn't been up to Jeremy alone. The truth is, Jeremy can hear voices. Or, specifically, one voice: the voice of the ghost of Jacob Grimm, one half of the infamous writing duo, the Brothers Grimm.
Jacob watches over Jeremy, protecting him from an unknown dark evil whispered about in the space between this world and the next. But when the provocative local girl, Ginger Boultinghouse, takes an interest in Jeremy (and his unique abilities), a grim chain of events is put into motion. And as anyone familiar with the Grimm Brothers know, not all fairy tales have happy endings. . .

Book Trailer:
I do not recall having ever bought a book, strictly from a book trailer, however, this one sold me immediately:

Set in the town of Never Better, is this tale of a shy boy, with an exceptional talent, an outgoing girl, and a ghost from the Zwischenraum (the "space between"). 
The ghost can see, but cannot touch. He can smell, but cannot taste. He can suffer, but cannot weep. He can hasten, but cannot fly. He can rest, but cannot sleep, and he can speak, but cannot be heard, except by the shy boy, Jeremy Johnson Johnson.

It seems that only the troubled remain behind, and the ghost of Jacob Grimm believes that he is the appointed protector of Jeremy Johnson Johnson - protecting him from a dark evil called the Finder of Occasions (someone who lies in wait until the opportunity is afforded to do harm or wreak havoc, without leaving a trace behind).

Will this fairy tale end happily ever after?

What I enjoyed most about this book was McNeal's very visual writing style - extremely vivid - bringing the tale to life, directly in my head.
Recommended for any fans of the Grimm Brothers (tons of history/knowledge about them in this tale), or any fans of fairy tales, in general.


Monday, June 10, 2013

'14' [Book Review]

Genre - Mystery/Science Fiction/Fantasy/Thriller/Horror
Year Published - 2012 (Published by Permuted Press)
Length - I have no idea the actual length of this book - I read it on my Kindle App, on my Samsung Galaxy Note 2, and there it stated 8,330 (phone) pages.
Written by Peter Clines

Rating: 5 Skulls

[***I recommend that you skip the plot summary, entirely, and just dive headlong into the book - that's what I did, and I think it enhanced the mystery of it all***]
However, if you insist, here it is...

Plot Summary:
Padlocked doors. Strange lightfixtures. Mutant Cockroaches.

There are some odd things about Nate's new apartment.

Of course, he has other things on his mind. He hates his job. He has no money in the bank. No girlfriend. No plans for the future. So while his new home isn't perfect, it's livable. The rent is low, the property managers are friendly, and the odd little mysteries don't nag at him too much.

At least not until he meets Mandy, his neighbor across the hall, and notices something unusual about her apartment. And Xela's apartment. And Tim's. And Veek's.

Because every room in this old Los Angeles brownstone has a mystery or two. Mysteries that stretch back over a hundred years. Some of them are in plain sight. Some are behind locked doors. And all together these mysteries could mean the end of Nate and his friends.

Or the end of everything. . .

This book has been on my reading list, probably since January - I kept seeing it pop up, on at least 3 or 4 different occasions, as "Best Book of 2012" and after having now read it, I can definitely see why this was the case, and why it will definitely appear on my list of best books read this year, come December.

Other than the above, the only thing that I knew about this book, going in, was the blurb on the front cover - "A riveting apocalyptic mystery in the style of LOST" (a perfect description by the way! Any fan of the television show 'Lost' should definitely read this book!)
As I stated earlier, above the Plot Summary, I am actually glad that I started reading this book without reading the description first - it added to the mystery, and I would recommend that you do the same.

Peter Clines did an outstanding job writing this book! Each character is well fleshed out and easily related to. The book is perfectly paced - Clines will drive you right to the edge,and then he'll solve pieces of the mystery, just before you think that you'll go mad without knowing what is going on and why.
Just wait until you see what is behind the door of apartment #14!

I definitely recommend this book! (especially if you are a fan of Lovecraft!)

If you enjoy Mystery novels - great!
If you prefer Science Fiction/Fantasy - fantastic!
If you love Thrillers or Horror - excellent!
If you are a fan of only one or two of the above, still give the book a shot - I bet that you will be pleasantly surprised!


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Jenny Ringo and the Cabaret from Hell [Short Film]

Genre - Short/Horror/Comedy
Year Released - 2013
Running Time: 24 minutes
Directed by Chris Regan
Written by Geraint D'Arcy
Cast Includes: Rosie Duncan, Lukas Habberton, Andromeda Godfrey, and Christophe Phillips

Rating: 4 Skulls


Plot Summary:
A short horror-comedy about magic, music, and monsters.

When a spell to help Gavin audition as a singer in a Cabaret club backfires, Jenny finds herself trapped in her flatmate's body! But there are far worse surprises waiting for her in the mysterious Cabaret club where the audience feasts on the souls of the performers, and the MC keeps a terrifying secret in a bucket in her office.

Can Jenny reverse the spell, save Gavin, and defeat the demon MC before they both become lunch for the thing in the bucket?

Note: This film will be released on the 18th of this month. In order to see it, all you have to do is visit and sign up on the mailing list. You will then be sent a link, on the 18th, to view the film. You will be glad that you did...

For those who may be unaware, this is the 2nd adventure of Jenny Ringo and her slacker flatmate Gavin. (their 1st adventure was 'Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw' - you can read my review of it, posted back in January)
There is not really a need to see that one before you see this one, but I would still recommend it, as it sets the stage for (hopefully) more adventures yet to come.
You can view that film, immediately, at the jennyringo website (above).

As for this adventure... another great one! The circumstances that Jenny & Gavin find themselves in are just too funny! Kudos to Geraint D'Arcy who wrote this adventure - very comical! And another great directing job by Chris Regan and performances from leads Rosie Duncan (Jenny) and Lukas Habberton (Gavin).

While Jenny (a witch) attempts to clean up their messy flat, using magic, Gavin informs her that he never paid the prior month's rent - he was distracted by a potential job opportunity, performing in a Cabaret club. 
Unbeknownst to either of them, the MC of the club is a demon who feeds on the hopes & talents of the performers, all the while marinating them in exhaustion and despair...
This all leads up to a very funny musical number (based on a play that Gavin & Jenny wrote, based on all of the slasher films from the 80's)

Hopefully we will get to see future adventures of Jenny & Gavin, in the future. In the meantime, I definitely recommend that you subscribe to the above mentioned mailing list, and that you check this film out when it is released on the 18th - funny stuff!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Genre - Sci-Fi/Mystery
Year Released - 2013
Running Time - 78 minutes
Directed by Alex Galvin
Written by Alex Galvin
Cast Includes: Elliot Travers, Dean Knowsley, Liz Kirkman, Rachel Clentworth, Amy Usherwood, and Ralph Johnson

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
In the near future, police detective Richard Manning is investigating the most difficult case of his career - the seemingly impossible locked-room murder of a wealthy property investor. 
The more Richard investigates, the more complex the case seems to become. 
He soon realizes his own future and survival depend on him solving everything - and quickly.


This film is the first New Zealand/Hong Kong co-production. It is also director Alex Galvin's 2nd feature film. (the 1st being 'When Night Falls', from 2007, which I have not yet seen - though I just upped it to #1 on my Netflix Queue!)

This film has already been running the festival circuit, and has already received several awards - rightfully so!

Galvin has shot a beautiful film, utilizing superb locations and gorgeous scenery.
Let's hope that this film sees U. S. distribution sooner, rather than later!

In the film, several detectives are paired into teams of two and placed inside of a computer program/game through what is known as "transference technology". 
Within the game, the detectives are to determine not only who committed the crime of murdering a billionaire, but also how and why.

*Slight, very minor, SPOILER ALERT below:
(do not read if you want to be completely taken by surprise)

The twist is that there is a virus in the program that is causing a perpetual time-loop, creating one endless day. As the day goes on, those detectives not pulling their weight, so to speak, are being erased/wiped from the game, so time is of the essence.

Okay, safe to continue reading now...

Galvin has created a very cool concept here, utilizing the "reality-perception" genre, as well as some very cool tech gadgetry.
If you enjoyed 'Soylent Green' or 'Inception' then definitely keep an eye out for this film!


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Reason [Book Review]

Genre - Christian Fiction
Year Published - 2012
Length - 389 [digital] pages *Read on my Nook
Written by William Sirls

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
When facing the impossible, will you believe?

Storm clouds gather over a small Michigan town. As thunder shakes the sky, the lights inside St. Thomas church flicker... and then go out.
All is black until a thick bolt of lightning slices the sky, striking the church's large wooden cross - leaving it ablaze and splintered in two.

When the storm ends, the search for answers begin.

James Lindy, the church's blind minister, wonders how his small congregation can repair the cross and keep their faith in the midst of adversity, and then he hears the words "only believe."

Macey Lewis, the town's brilliant young oncologist, is drawn to Alex, a young boy who has recently been diagnosed with an aggressive type of leukemia. She puts her hope in modern medicine - yet is challenged to "only believe."

And Alex's single mom, who has given everything she can to her boy, is pleading with God to know the reason this is happening... to save her son. But she hears only silence and wonders how she can possibly "only believe."

I understand that this isn't my typical review fare, however I feel that this book needs to be promoted. This is Sirls' 1st book and it is very well written. 
Believe it or not, the above plot summary is only a small portion of what this book is really about - there are several more characters, and the book gets progressively better as it moves along.

One of the things that I loved the most, was Sirls' use of "imperfect" characters. Pretty much anyone can relate to one of the characters in this story, at one point or another, and that brought "life" to them.

Sirls has written an emotional novel that really tugs at your heart-strings - both physically and spiritually.
For anyone out there who doesn't believe in second chances, "believe" and give this book a shot!


Thursday, April 18, 2013

After Midnight

Genre - Horror/Thriller/Anthology
Year Released - 1989
Running Time - 90 minutes
Directed by Jim & Ken Wheat
Written by Jim & Ken Wheat
Cast Includes: Ramy Zada, Jillian McWhirter, Marc McClure, Penelope Sudrow, and Marg Helgenberger

Rating: 5 Skulls

Tagline: "Welcome to Fear 101. There will be a test."

Plot Summary:
A horror anthology about a college professor teaching a course called "The Psychology of Fear".


First, I just have to thank, commenter, "Johnny C" for recommending this movie.
Secondly, I keep asking myself, how did I ever miss this movie?!?
Written & Directed by Jim & Ken Wheat (the brothers who brought us 'Ewoks: Battle for Endor" and who co-wrote 'A Nightmare on Elm Street 4', 'The Fly 2', 'Pitch Black', and 'The Chronicles of Riddick') all movies that I have seen - I have no idea how I missed this one.
Again, "Johnny C", thank you for bringing this film to my attention - I loved it!
In fact, I plan on adding this one to my library of films...

This movie immediately grabs your attention with a strong "wrap-around-story".
As stated in the plot summary, a college Psych professor begins teaching a course on fear, however due to his extreme methods, he is asked to stick to school curriculum. This brings about the professor inviting his students, to his home, where he is not under school authority, thus setting up the "anthology stories".
(I don't know what it was, but for some reason, in my head, I can envision horror author Ray Garton in the professor's role)

Aside from the excellent "wrap-around" story, we are also treated to three additional tales:

The first one is about a couple whose car breaks down, during a midnight excursion. Fortunately for them (or is it?) their car breaks down not too far from an old (presumably abandoned) house... (aside from the "wrap-around", this one is my favorite of the tales)

The second story tells the tale of 4 female friends, out looking for fun, who end up low on gas and getting lost in a warehouse district on the bad side of town...

The third story is about a night-shift answering service worker who is being harassed by a repeat/stalker caller...

Each of the stories are good, in their own right, and tie in nicely with the wrap-around.
The Wheat brothers did an outstanding job directing this film, providing terrific atmosphere!

I definitely recommend this one - my new favorite anthology film!
I can't wait to watch it again, on a dark, stormy night...


Monday, April 15, 2013

Black Feathers [Book Trailer]

A very cool trailer, for a book that I reviewed back on March 1st...
(the book is now available)


Friday, April 5, 2013

Evil Dead [2013]

Do I have your attention?
Good, because this isn't going to be one of my usual reviews - I'll let the above poster speak for itself, and I will also say that I agree that this film, most likely, will be the best horror film that you will see this year! (Yes, it's that good!)
Also, be sure to watch through the credits, as there is a "groovy" clip at the end, that just adds more icing to the cake ;-)

The reason for this post, is to once more bring your attention to the fact that I use Google+ as my social media outlet. There, you will find brief thoughts on other films/books that I watch/read, that I might not otherwise bring to your attention, on this blog.

What were my thoughts on Texas Chainsaw 3D, Sinister, Girls Against Boys, The Last Stand, Bullet to the Head, Jack Reacher, Wreck-It-Ralph?
What about other films, such as , Deadfall, The Tall Man, Abraham Lincoln vs. ZombiesHansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, or the Red Dawn remake?

I will also post on there, the occasional short film that I come across, such as:
The Black Hole, Project S. E. R. A., R'haE. T. A., or Black Metal

You will also learn what mobile games that I'm addicted to, like, Sleepwalker's Journey or Vector...

If any of the above peaks your interest, just circle me on G+
Here's my Profile Link:

With all of that said, I will leave you with the official "Red-Band" trailer for Evil Dead:


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

John Dies at the End

Genre - Horror/Comedy
Year Released - 2012
Running Time - 98 minutes
Directed by Don Coscarelli
Written by Don Coscarelli
Cast Includes: Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, and Doug Jones

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Promising a trip that transcends time and space, a drug called Soy Sauce is sweeping the landscape - and quietly robbing users of their humanity.
Now, it's up to a couple of slackers to stop the psychotropic invasion before it's too late.


                                         Book Cover          

About this exact same time, last year, I started to read the book that this film is based upon. (side note: the book is published by one of my favorite publishing companies - Permuted PressHowever, all I read was the prologue, and it was just too bizarre (yes, extremely rare, I know) even for me!
I put the book aside, knowing that it was being made into a movie, and now that I have watched the film and understand what exactly is going on, I will most likely pull the book back out, dust off its cover, and continue to read it...

This film kicked off last year's Knoxville Horror Film Festival, and I was so looking forward to attending - then, the one time last year that I got sick, was right at that time (and I mean sick as a dog!) Figures, right? I would have loved to have seen this film on the big screen!
However, after having watched it now, I can definitely see this film becoming a cult classic, so maybe one day, in the future, I'll be able to catch it again, on the big screen...

For those who may not be aware of this film (if you're reading this on my blog, I doubt that is likely) it reminds me a lot of Cronenberg's 'Naked Lunch'. So, if you didn't like that film, I doubt that you will like this one.

The film follows David Wong (the author of the book/played by Chase Williamson) telling his story to newsreporter Arnie Blondestone (played by Paul Giamatti). 
We quickly learn about the "sauce" through trippy hallucination sequences (you will know in the very 1st two minutes if you are going to enjoy this film or not!) and about an otherwordly invasion by the demon Korrok...

If this sounds like something you would be interested in, then definitely check this film out! I imagine, from just what I read over a year ago, that this film is a pretty accurate adaptation of the book.


Monday, March 25, 2013

13 Steps [Short Story Review]

Genre - Short/Horror/Western
Year Published - 2013 
(this story has just been released as a stand-alone-short ~ it was originally published in the anthology, 'Welcome to Hell', in 2012)
Length - 22 [digital] pages
Written by Franklin E. Wales

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Thirteen steps up the gallows to the hangman's noose:
One step to reflect each day that brought Dramos to this point in his life.

There is a lot more to the Circle Star Ranch massacre than the sheriff knows about...

Book Trailer:

Pay close attention to the 1:20 mark... ;-)

Yesterday, I posted the above book trailer. In my excitement, I failed to realize that I was already familiar with this story. (I, of course, recognized the title '13 Steps' and I was familiar with the name Dramos) I just assumed, after having viewed the trailer, that Wales' had expanded upon his original short story (as stated above; previously released in the anthology 'Welcome to Hell: An Anthology of Western Weirdness' - which I mentioned in my June, 2012 blog post...)

Let me explain a little further:
As you all already know, I am a HUGE fan of Wales' work (my favorite Independent author!) I read everything that the man writes! He is a most excellent storyteller!
This being the case, I have been aware that Wales' is creating his own mythos (now, officially titled 'The Dramos Saga' which, after re-reading this story, I have learned that it is going to be a series of stand-alone short stories, each one leading into the other, yet still being able to be read as individual stories...

On a side note, after you have read this story, take my advice and read another of Wales' short stories titled, 'Homecoming' (see my review of it, posted on Jan. 10th)
It is not officially part of the Dramos Saga (to my knowledge) yet it does, in its own way, tie in to Dramos' tale. (without giving anything away, it has to do with Dramos' Italian heritage)
Also, reading both of these stories will also benefit you when Wales' next full-length novel, 'Eaton Falls' is released (coming soon!)

See, I told you that Wales is building his own, unique universe...
I feel as if I am rambling, in my excitement, so I am just going to tell you to get this story!
$1.00 on the Kindle/Kindle App

For only a buck, you will learn a little of Dramos' past - 13 days, in fact, which lead him to the gallows...



Sunday, March 24, 2013

13 Steps [Book Trailer]

Watch "Serpenteens, 13 Steps Book Trailer" on YouTube

Author Franklin E. Wales just released this 1st book in his new Horror/Western E-Book series (The Dramos Saga)
Yes, series!
Are you as excited as I am?!?!?

Download it now, on your Kindle or Kindle App for only $1!
(as of this writing, it is not yet available on Nook - not sure if that will change or not)
If you are a Nook user (as I am) just download the Kindle App on your smartphone and/or tablet - Wales' is worth it, trust me, you won't regret it!

Stay tuned for a review, in the near-future. In the meantime, watch the attached book trailer (do any names look familiar to you?)

*Note: I posted this directly from my phone (1st time doing so) so I am not sure whether the trailer will appear or just a link... If it's just the link, I apologize. Still, please take the time to follow it and read what people are saying about Wales' work!


Friday, March 22, 2013

Act of Faith [Short Film]

Genre - Short/Mystery/Thriller
Year Released - 2011
Running Time - 9 1/2 minutes
Directed by Tim Pieraccini
Written by Tim Pieraccini
Cast Includes: Sochel Rogers, Kimberley Adams, and Nicole Oliverre

Rating: 3 Skulls

Plot Summary:
A ghost(?) story about a troubled girl haunted by a mysterious blindfolded woman...

This short is filmed, in black & white, in the tradition of the old Val Lewton films, which really helped to add to the atmosphere of the story! I loved the music, which set the mood perfectly! Very well made!

The film tells an engrossing tale of a young woman talking with a priest about a "ghost girl" inside of her head. This young woman no longer believes in God, yet the mysterious, blindfolded ghost girl resembles the young woman's "picture" of what God looked like, when she was a little girl.

When the mysterious figure appears to the priest, to test her faith in God, we learn that she is some sort of "agent" - not sent, but summoned...

Rather than say more, you can just watch the short, for yourself, right here:


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Dead Heart [Short Story Review]

Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2012
Length - 49 [digital] pages *Read on my NookApp on my Samsung Galaxy Note II Phone
Written by Brandon Ford

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
This is a dark and disturbing story that shows just how far one man will go to achieve financial gain, and how far another will go to right the wrongs of the past.
(that is all you get on this one - the less you know, the better!)

First, let me just tell you right now that if you own an e-reader (or an e-reader app) you can pick up this delightful short story, for FREE (on both Nook & Kindle!)
But be warned! Once you read this free story, you will be hooked on Brandon Ford, and you will want to read everything else that he has written...! 
(Don't say that I didn't warn you!)

You can read this one, literally, in one sitting (the 49 pages seem like 5!)
All I am going to tell you about this one is the character of Carl, who is an "expert restorative artist" (on corpses) - when a celebrity corpse crosses his path, you will find out what he is really up to, and you won't believe it...!

An excellent introduction into the twisted mind of Ford!


Pay Phone [Book Review]

Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2010 (Published by Arctic Wolf Publishing)
Length - 187 [digital] pages *Read on my NookApp on my Samsung Galaxy Note II Phone
Written by Brandon Ford

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
While a fierce winter falls upon the streets of New York City, a vicious killer is on the hunt for new blood.
From his third floor apartment window, he watches, and waits, using the pay phone across the street to find his victims. With his voice and with his charms, he lures them to his door...

...and one by one they meet their fate.

On a gray morning, he spies someone new. Someone different. Someone who reminds him of someone he knows. Someone very, very special. And he'll stop at nothing to make sure that special someone... is next.

Whatever you do, don't answer the phone. It just might be for you.

Brandon Ford has yet to disappoint!
He is one of those authors who makes you feel as if you know his characters personally.
(I will be telling my wife about the story, and it sounds as if I am talking about people that I actually know...)

This story takes place over a two day span (in early January, 1998) where you first meet Jake - a 27-year-old unemployed man, who spends his days watching the streets below his NYC apartment in search of someone new to murder.
(it is no surprise that you will soon discover just how sadistic and mentally unbalanced Jake is!)

Thrown into the mix of characters are Chelsea & Haley (two roommates who despise one another), Susan (a girl from Jake's past), Arlene (a friend of Chelsea's), and Gladys (Jake's unemployment officer).

Stir the above, and you have the perfect concoction that builds up to a riveting, tension-filled finale! What more can you ask for in a great book?

Ford more than delivers in this one!


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Bigfoot Terror Tales - Volume One: Stories of Sasquatch Horror [Book Review]

Genre - Horror/Anthology
Year Published - 2012
Length - 162 [digital] pages *Read on my Nook
Edited by Eric S. Brown & A. P. Fuchs

Rating: 4 Skulls [Overall]

Plot Summary:
He is Mysterious. . .
He is Legend. . .
He is Bigfoot!

Need I say more?

In this anthology, you get 14 stories that will whet the appetite of any Sasquatch horror fan!

As Eric S. Brown stated in his Introduction, this anthology was put together in "an effort to bring Bigfoot back to his rightful place in the Monster Food Chain."
So, if you love a good tale of horrific, bloody Sasquatch attacks upon humans, then this anthology is for you!

What I'll do is just give you a super-quick rundown of each tale:

#1 - 'Small Town, Big Trouble' (by David Bernstein)
       This was an excellent story to start off with!
       This one is about what a man will do to break a curse upon his town...
        I loved this one!
       5 Skulls

#2 - 'Frame 353' (by Francesco Collia)
       This one is about a filmmaker attempting to capture the "perfect shot"...
       3 Skulls

#3 - 'A Forest of Monsters' (by Giovanna Lagana)
       This is a tale about a lab experiment gone wrong...
       3 Skulls

#4 - 'Revenge of the Blood Creatures' (by Franklin E. Wales)
       This one is about a couple of grindhouse filmmakers on the cusp of the "gore genre", 
       making a film called "Terror of the Missing Link" about the Florida Skunk-Ape.
       4 Skulls

#5 - 'The Thing Under the House' (by R. J. and Rosalind Sevin)
       This one is pretty self explanatory - about "something" taking refuge under a couple's 
       house during a storm.
       3 Skulls

#6 - 'Yeiitsoh' (by Suzanne Robb)
       This one is my favorite of the 14 stories! (as well as the most violent/gruesome)
       This is a story about a mother & daughter who were slaughtered, and the father & son 
       who form a hunting party to go after the attacker.
       5 Skulls

#7 - 'Unleashing Terror' (by Janice Gable Bashman)
       This tale is about a group of captured Bigfoot being held aboard a ship within a ship 
       graveyard. Definitely an interesting approach!
       4 Skulls

#8 - 'Witiko' (by Bruce Durham)
       This one is about a group of British soldiers, who stumble upon an inhabited cave, 
       while investigating an outpost that was attacked.
       3 Skulls

#9 - 'Night Stalkers' (by Jason Hughes)
       This tale is about serial murders taking place in a small town...
       Unfortunately, this one didn't do a whole lot for me.
       2 Skulls

#10 - 'The Lord Helps Those...' (by Tonia Brown)
       This one tells the story of an old farmer who claims to have seen a Bigfoot, yet no one 
       believes him... Great story!
       5 Skulls

#11 - 'In the Forests of the Far Land' (by Christine Morgan)
       This one is about a group of Scandinavian(?) friends whose village is wiped out.
       3 Skulls

#12 - 'Ronald Reagan vs. Bigfoot' (by Eric Dimbleby)
       Yep, you read that title correctly... An 85-year-old Ronald Reagan versus Bigfoot...
       The good news is, that it was a good story!
       4 Skulls

#13 - 'Sti'yaha' (by E. M. MacCallum)
       When one of their own goes missing, some Jr. High kids go in hunt of Bigfoot...
       I am sorry to say that I did not like this story - no offense to the author...
       2 Skulls

#14 - 'Bigfoot vs. Grandpa' (by Eric J. Guignard)
       This one tells the tale of a grandpa telling his grandson how his left hand was bitten 
       off by a Bigfoot.
       (for whatever reason, it brought back memories of the grandfather reading to his sick 
       grandson, in 'The Princess Bride' - not sure why, but it did)
       4 Skulls

So there you have a breakdown of each story...

Until next time,


P. S. About halfway through writing this review, something wonky happened (I have no idea what I did - I tried to fix it, but to no avail) Whatever happened, it made my font all screwy/uneven - I apologize for that - wish I could have figured out how to fix it!