Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014: Year in Review

Aside from authors that I generally read, on a regular basis, (of which there were only two this year) I decided, this year, to read books by authors that I was unfamiliar with.
This made for some rather bland reading, sometimes, however I did discover some new authors whose works I will continue to read, such as John Connolly [The Book of Lost Things], Greg Iles [Mortal Fear], and Christopher Reich [Rules of Deception].

Joel C. Rosenberg is the author who I am most glad that I discovered this year. His "Twelfth Imam" trilogy is outstanding!
[The Twelfth Imam/The Tehran Initiative/The Damascus Countdown]

I also was happy to come across a pair of local [East Tennessee] authors, Gary Yeagle & Marlene Mitchell who co-wrote the 'Seasons of Death' trilogy [The Smoky Mountain Murders] (of which I bought all three, yet have only read the 1st one, at this time)

All of the above, is well and good, however they are all pre-2014.
What about this year's releases?

Top Two Books of 2014:
Severed Souls by Terry Goodkind
The Specimen by Pete Kahle

Eaton Falls by Franklin E. Wales
Stand Your Ground by William W. & J. A. Johnstone

Which novel comes out on top?!?

As heart-wrenching a read as 'Severed Souls' was, I have to go with Pete Kahle's extremely entertaining debut novel 'The Specimen' as Best Book of the Year.

TopTen Movies of 2014:
This year seemed somewhat kind-of "blah" movie-wise - saying that, here are the ten that I most enjoyed.
(in alphabetical order)

1. Blended (I am as surprised as you are!)
2. Captain America 2: Winter Soldier
3. Edge of Tomorrow
4. Guardians of the Galaxy
5. I, Frankenstein (I have heard nothing  but awful things regarding this one, however I enjoyed it!)
6. Odd Thomas
7. The Raid 2: Berendal
8. Ride Along (another surprise!)
9. Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For
10. 300: Rise of an Empire

Notable Mentions:

Big Ass Spider (loved this one!)
47 Ronin
The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug (my favorite of The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings films!)

Best Film of 2014?!?
This is a toss-up between Captain America 2 and Edge of Tomorrow, with the latter having a slighter lead.

Best New 2014 TV Show:
Stalker (I have been digging this one!)

Remember that I have cut the cable-cord, so if it's on cable, and I am interested, I just wait until it hits DVD.

Some "newly-discovered" shows that I have thoroughly enjoyed watching, this year, on DVD are:

Army Wives (begins to get a bit sluggish in season 6, though still a good show)
Bones (love this show - great cast of characters!)
Dollhouse (the 2nd/final season is just okay)
From Dusk Till Dawn
The Unit (gets progressively better as the series continues. I actually started watching Army Wives because I wanted something similar to The Unit)

*If you have any other recommendations, let me know!!

Well, I think that about sums up the year in entertainment.
I will leave you with...

My Most-Played Apps of the Year:
Marvel's 'Contest of Champions'
Spiderman Unlimited
Subway Surfer

May you all have a Blessed 2015!


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Severed Souls

I just posted this on my Google+ page...
[ google.com/+JasonBerry]

Be forewarned:
'Severed Souls' will sever your emotional heartstrings!

You will pretty much hold your breath the first 175 pages or so, and then the latter-half of the book is one agonizing emotional rollercoaster ride.

Terry Goodkind does what he does best in this novel, even as heartbreaking as it is.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Specimen [Book Review]

Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2014
Length - my book does not have any page numbers.
(Amazon states 502 pages; Barnes & Noble states 514 pages)
Written by Pete Kahle

Rating - 5+ Skulls

Plot Summary:
From a crater lake on an island off the coast of Bronze Age Estonia...
To a deformed Viking warrior's conquest of England...
To the blood-soaked temple of an Aztec god of death, disease, and resurrection...

Their presence has shaped our world.

They are Riders.

One month ago, an urban explorer was drawn to an abandoned asylum in the mountains of northern Massachusetts. There he discovered a large specimen jar, containing something organic, unnatural and possibly alive.

Now, he and a group of unsuspecting individuals have discovered one of history's most horrific secrets.

Whether they want to or not, they are caught in the middle of a millenia-old war and the latest battle is about to begin...

I love this book!
I do not recall reading such an epic debut novel, since I first discovered Terry Goodkind's "Wizard's First Rule".

Before I continue, I just have to say that around this exact time, last year, I said that Nick Cutter's "The Troop" would, most likely, be this year's Best Horror Novel.
(I read an Advanced Review Copy of that book, in August of last year, and it was released this past January)
Well, I now have to admit that I was incorrect. That honor now goes to 'The Specimen'.

Kahle (who, at a quick glance, looks like Michael Chiklis) states that he has flirted with the idea of writing, since he was in his teens! I am so glad that he decided to finally unleash his twisted mind upon the world. Fans of Brian Lumley and Richard Laymon will be all the better for it!
(I say this because Kahle's writing style reminds me a lot of Lumley - very descriptive - which is a good thing - and Kahle's characters remind me of Laymon's - again, a good thing!)
I cannot wait to see what Kahle delivers next!

From the very first sentence, Kahle grasps your complete and full attention, and he does not let go until the very end!
(Even then, his epilogue leaves you wanting more!)

For a first-time author, Kahle excels at handling his transitioning, extremely well. As I stated above, this is an epic tale, told over the span of millennia, and Kahle is superb at keeping the flow moving at a steady pace.
(For this reason, this is a perfect book for busy readers. Though as the finale nears, and Kahle ramps up the pace, you will definitely find yourself not wanting to put the book down. He kept me up until the wee hours, last night.)

With all of that having been said, Kahle wraps everything up, nice and tight.
And then comes the epilogue...
(There is a planned sequel to this book, and I cannot wait to read it!)

One more thing - a word of advice:
When you are reading this book and get to the part about teratomas, DO NOT google images! (Kahle's gruesome and, at times, nauseating descriptions are more than enough!)



Monday, April 28, 2014

Eaton Falls [Book Review]

Genre - Horror (Werewolf)
Year Published - 2014
Length - 307 pages
Written by Franklin E. Wales

Rating - 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
The township of Eaton Falls, New Hampshire, has a dark history.

Legends vary on its beginnings; some say  it was an unknown virus, rabies, or starvation that brought the madness. Stories even more sinister are told in whispers. They all, however, end with the Christmas Eve massacre that left nearly half the townspeople dead.

Now, a hundred years later, the sins of the forefathers will be laid upon their offspring. Vengeance will be demanded, blood will be spilled, and lives changed forever.

This is a really tough review to write.
I believe that this is the first non-five-skull rating that I have ever given Mr. Wales.
(If you have ever read any of my past reviews, then chances are that you have heard me praise Wales' works - he is, and continues to be, my favorite independent storyteller!)

The problem here lies in the fact that Wales decided to write a full-length werewolf novel, and I love werewolf novels!
[Animals by John Skipp & Craig Spector, Ravenous by Ray Garton, Frostbite by David Wellington, and Autobiography of a Werewolf Hunter by Brian P. Easton are the first few that come to mind.]
Wales, himself, has written shorter werewolf tales, in the past, which I love, so the standard was already set high.

Now, don't get me wrong, Eaton Falls will be sitting on my shelf, right next to the above mentioned books.
The fault lies with me, I am sure. I think that my personal problem was that I just couldn't wait for the action to get going. I say my fault, due to the fact that Wales is the storyteller here, and he knows exactly what he is doing. I have had the pleasure of watching Wales mature as an author. He is taking the time to establish his characters, (there are some great ones in this book) expanding his horizons, and he is beginning to tie pieces of his past works together, which is pretty cool.

Wales made the right call in establishing the characters and their backstories in this book, (I was just too impatient to realize it until after the fact) because when it boils down to it, the book is really about tradition and family.

With all of that said, once Wales kicks it into high gear, you are in for a treat!
Wales does not hold back, in the slightest, when it comes to the brutal, vicious attacks, and he is a master at ratcheting up the tension!


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bobby Ether and the Academy [Book Review]

"A Dark Secret. A Touch of Magic. An Epic Adventure."

Genre - Fantasy/Young Adult
Year Published - 2013
Length - 4,650 [Kindle App] pages
               *Read on my Note 2 phone
Written by R. Scott Boyer

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
"There is no such thing as magic."
That's what the mysterious stranger, named Cassandra, tells Bobby after helping him narrowly escape from the small army of secret agents who surrounded his house.

What follows is an amazing adventure - from indoor forests to vast archives, from a labyrinth of jade mines to the dark recesses of a bear's lair.

Along the way, Bobby will learn that, while there may be no such thing as magic, there is powerful energy - and he has the ability to control it.

Join Bobby and his best friend Jinx as they avoid school bullies, a suspected assassin, and meta-human henchmen alike as they unravel the many mysteries of the Academy - the ancient and enigmatic monastery in Tibet where kids with extraordinary potential are sent to study.
But is the Academy truly what it claims to be?

This is the first book of a planned series, so I have gone ahead and given this book a 5 Skull rating, as I have faith that the books will only continue to get better.

While this book is an entertaining read, I felt that it is predominantly setting the stage for what is yet to come.

I am sure that there will be the inevitable comparisons to 'Harry Potter'  (an orphaned child whisked away to a mysterious school of "gifted children"...) however, this book completely sets itself apart from those books - in a good way!
It has more of a 'Star Wars'  "Force" feel to it (you will understand once you meet the Tibetan monk, Jong, who is full of "Yoda-like" wisdom)

The author does an excellent job of creating characters that you both love (the character of Jinx reminds me of the character of Zack - from the television show 'Bones' - at an early age) as well as characters that you despise.

Boyer also does a great job of keeping the mystery - you are never too sure of who you can or cannot trust.

The only downside to the book is its abrupt ending...
Let's just say that I am looking forward to the next book in the series, 'Bobby Ether and the Temple of Eternity' .

Until then,


Friday, January 10, 2014

We Will Destroy Your Planet (An Alien's Guide To Conquering The Earth) [Book Review]

"People of earth! Your time in possession of this planet is nearly at an end. . ."

Genre - Science (Fiction?)
Year Published - 2013
Length - 234 (print) pages
Written by David McIntee

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
For over a hundred years, aliens have been trying to take over the Earth, but every time they have failed, often in the most unlikely ways. Well, no more!
We Will Destroy Your Planet offers our future alien overlords all of the information necessary to bring humanity to its knees.

Planning for an interstellar, or even intergalactic, conquest is a complex affair, that even races which have mastered faster than light travel might find difficult. This book offers practical, 'how-to' advice on a variety of topics including logistics, environmental factors, and of course human weaknesses.
It also goes into the big question of 'why' you want to destroy or enslave the Earth, as this is crucial in determining which strategy and tactics to employ. Once that has been determined, the book follows a step-by-step approach to annihilating human resistance, suggesting the best and worst weapons, and giving guidelines on just how much destruction is optimal. With this book in hand, there is little doubt that humans are now in their last generation as masters of the Earth.

When I came across this book, I immediately put it onto my must-read list. (better to be prepared for an invasion, ahead of time, is the way that I see it!)
I suggest that you check this book out, at your local bookstore, and at least read the Contents and one-page Introduction.
(Once you have purchased your own copy, I would study up on the "Once Conquered - Defending the Earth from other Invaders" section...)

I will tell you, up-front, that this book is not "light-reading". It is pretty heavy and tedious, at times. On the flip side of that, it is extremely informative - chock full of vast knowledge and mind-boggling facts. (In fact, it is probably one of the most researched books that I have read, which is understandable, since this book is all about teaching the Invaders!)

With that said, there are plenty of "pop-culture references" interspersed throughout the book. If you are a sci-fi fan, you will enjoy key points taken from classic books (Heinlen, Lovecraft), comics, movies (Star Wars, The Thing, War of the Worlds), television shows (Doctor Who, Star Trek, X-Files), and video games.

Now that I have finished this book, I feel much more prepared to meet our future alien overlords.