Thursday, December 29, 2016

Speaking in Tongues [Short Story Review]

My last review of 2016. . .

This one was a (Christmas) gift from author Ken Preston​ (he who writes the 'Joe Coffin' series that I am fond of) This may not yet be a published story, or it may be in an anthology somewhere - I just couldn't find any information on it through Amazon or Goodreads.

So, in the author's own words:

"A short story about Rock 'n Roll, God, Faith, Prayer, Alcohol, Redemption, and Damnation.
You know, the usual stuff."

If you come across this one, it is worth picking up. It is a super fast read, (I read it while waiting at a Dr's office) and the payoff, at the end, is well worth it!

Thank you for the gift, Mr. Preston, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Until next year ~ Keep Reading!

Jason

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Omen Days (A Christmas Ghost Story) [Short Story Review]

Genre - Thriller
Year Published - 2015
Published by Two Tales Press
Length - 72 (digital) pages
Written by J. T. Ellison

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Autumn disappeared from his life once. And he's not going to let her do it again.

Zack Aukey hates Christmas—despises it, actually. December carries painful memories of his first love Autumn Cleary, who left him during the holiday season. But when Autumn mysteriously shows up in Nashville on Christmas night bearing gifts and apologies, Zack knows this is a holiday he won't soon forget.

And then he sees the police report.

From New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison comes her first Christmas story, marrying the magic of the season with her signature thriller twist.

Review:
Whoa! What a spectacular short story!
This story is currently only $1 on Kindle. I definitely recommend buying it.

Looking for something short and sweet, with perhaps some Christmas flair, I decided upon this story; my first by J. T. Ellison, and it definitely will not be my last!

Ellison had me completely enraptured from the very first page until the very last page! Fortunately, I had just put my kids to bed, because I read this one straight through, uninterrupted (a Christmas miracle!)

Not only will you get a great story, for a buck, you also get some great "special features" - including the author telling you about the story's inspiration, as well as some other author's notes, plus an interview with the author, an essay written by Ellison, and upcoming peeks - great stuff!

Enjoy and have a very Merry Christmas!

Jason

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Best of 2016

My Top Ten Books of the Year:
(these were all published in 2016)

1. The Awakening by Brett McBean
[Coming-of-Age/Horror]
*this was an out-of-print book that was re-printed, this year, hence its inclusion.

2. Bane County: Forgotten Moon by J. R. Rice [Horror/Werewolf]

3. The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer [Action/Thriller]

4. The Conjurers by David Wade [Historical Fantasy]

5. Dreaming at the Top of My Lungs by Israel Finn [Horror/Short Stories]
*this is a book of 10 short stories, all written by Finn, and all terrific!

6. A Facet for the Gem by C. L. Murray [Fantasy]

7. The Fireman by Joe Hill [Apocalyptic Horror]

8. The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone [Apocalyptic Horror]

9. Nest by Terry Goodkind [Thriller]

10. Tijuana Donkey Showdown by Adam Howe [Pulp Fiction]
*while this one is basically an oversized novella, it is too good not to include!

So there are my top ten novels - depending upon your genre preference, I am confident that you will enjoy any of the above listed books.

For those who enjoy Short Stories:
My Top 3 Short Stories (published in 2016)

1. Empire of the Tooth by Iain Rob Wright [Apocalyptic Horror]
* A sequel to Wright's novel Animal Kingdom

2. The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein by Thomas S. Flowers [Horror]

3. Spiders in from the Garden by Jason R. Davis [Horror]
*A short story that links to Davis' novel Hatched

Honorable Mentions:
(these are books that I read this year, not published in 2016)

Animal Kingdom by Iain Rob Wright [Apocalyptic Horror]

The First Hostage by Joel C. Rosenberg [Action/Thriller]

Joe Coffin (Season One) by Ken Preston [Crime/Horror/Vampire]

Leviathan (Book One of the Antediluvian Legacy) by R. M. Huffman [Biblical Fiction/Fantasy]

The Minus Faction (Book One: Breakout) by Rick Wayne [Action/Mystery/Sci-Fi/Thriller]

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah [Historical Fiction]

A Noble's Quest by Ryan Toxopeus [Fantasy]

The Ultimate Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse by F. Kim O'Neill (aka David Dubrow) [Self Help]

Again, depending on your genre preference, any of the above should tickle your fancy!

Honorable (non-2016) Short Story Mentions:

Dawn: A Dwarven Creation Story by Ryan Toxopeus [Fantasy]

Dreadedin Chronicles by David Dubrow [Horror]

Lanmò: A Tale of Southern Horror by Thomas S. Flowers [Horror]

So there you have my favorite reads of this year. I hope that you discover some new authors. . .

My Top Ten Movies of the Year:
(Released in 2016)

1. Captain America: Civil-War
2. The Conjuring 2
3. DeadPool
4. Doctor Strange
5. Don't Breathe
6. Keanu
7. Kubo and the Two Strings
8. Nerve
9. The Revenant
10. The Shallows

These are the movies that entertained me the most this year. Which was my favorite? That honor goes to:
KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS
(by far my favorite film of the year!)

Honorable [Non-2016] Mentions:

Blood Diamond
Coherence
Crossroads
Deathgasm
The Hateful Eight
I'll Follow You Down
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
The Walk

Now, you will notice that both The Hateful Eight and The Revenant were separately listed. I believe that both were released around Christmas, last year. I saw The Hateful Eight last year, and The Revenant was not released here, locally, until the beginning of the year, hence their separation.

I hope that you find something new from my lists above, and I wish you a very Merry Christmas and an extremely Happy New Year!!

Jason

Monday, December 12, 2016

NEST by Terry Goodkind

From the inside flap:

What if you could see evil?
What if evil could see you?

Kate Bishop thought she was an ordinary woman living and working in Chicago. But when she unexpectedly finds herself in the middle of a police investigation into a brutal murder, Kate makes a shocking discovery: she has the ability to identify killers just by looking into their eyes.

Trying to grasp the implications of this revelation, Kate is drawn deep into a world of terror. She is tracked down by Jack Raines, a mysterious author with shadowy connections to those who share her ability. He tells Kate that her unique vision also makes her a target, and only he can help her.

Now, hot on Jack and Kate’s heels are a force of super-predators, vicious and bloodthirsty killers who will stop at nothing until Kate is dead. But even as she fights for her life, Kate still isn’t sure if Jack is really her salvation, or another killer coming to slaughter her.

An explosive mix of action and suspense, Nest is a landmark new novel from worldwide bestselling author Terry Goodkind, and a complete reinvention of the contemporary thriller. Travel with Goodkind on a dangerous journey to the back alleys of the darknet, to the darkest corners of our minds, and to the very origins of what it is to be human.

I am, once again, in awe of storytelling master, Terry Goodkind. I thought it a high order when the above stated that Goodkind has reinvented the thriller genre, but boy has he ever!

While labeled a "thriller", this could also be labeled as "straight-up horror" being that it deals with the underlying, base evil of human nature. (This book could easily make people paranoid!)

If thrillers are your thing, then this book will be right up your alley!

An absolutely phenomenal book!

Jason

Friday, December 9, 2016

Tijuana Donkey Showdown [Book Review]

Genre - Pulp Fiction
Year Published - 2016 (Released today!)
Length - 156 (digital) pages
Written by Adam Howe

Rating: 5+ Skulls

Plot Summary:
Reggie Levine, ex-boxer turned bouncer, and hapless hero, has barely recovered from his ordeal in Damn Dirty Apes, when he is called back to action. Recruited to retrieve a Chinese crested terrier from a fleapit roadside zoo, where the ugly effing showdog has been mistaken for the chupacabra, Reggie soon finds himself embroiled in a deadly criminal conspiracy involving neo-Nazi drug smugglers, a seedy used-car salesman, a wannabe serial killer, an ornery Vietnam veteran, a badass veterinarian, a freakishly endowed adult entertainment donkey named Enrique, and in an explosive cameo, an Academy Award winning Hollywood icon.

Review:
Is the above plot summary not enough?
What more can I say? Just go, right now, and buy this book!

If you compile a list of "best books of the year", then you still have time to read this one, because I can guarantee that it will be included on said list.

Are you still looking for a Christmas gift for the avid reader in your life? Look no further!

You do not have to read 'Damn Dirty Apes' first (a prior adventure starring the character, Reggie Levine, found in Howe's collection 'Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet'), but this book will make you want to read it anyway.

Are you the type to "first look" at a book? If so, you will know immediately, within the first chapter, if this book is for you. Where does Howe come up with this stuff?!?!? I have no idea, but I thank him for it!

I really cannot heap enough praise on Howe and his writing style, you just have to read him for yourself. If explosive action, spattered with a ton of classic movie quotes, is your thing, then this book is for you!

Oh yeah, this book also includes a Bonus Story: 'Clean-up on Aisle 3'. This too is a great story, and I would say that it is Howe's tamest work to date! Speaking of tame, while Howe's "Author's Disclaimer" at the beginning of the book is laugh-out-loud funny, I was a bit concerned at first, but I am thrilled to say that Howe is considering a third Reggie Levine tale ~ YES!!! Please, make it so! Also included, at the end, are Howe's "Story Notes" which I absolutely love - I wish that every author included theirs!

Enjoy!

Jason

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Chemist

If you do not know by now, I like what I like, without shame. Yes, this book is by the author who wrote the 'Twilight' series. That does not matter to me.

Aside from a couple of dips within the middle of the story (too much of a romantic side story, for my taste) this was an enjoyable read.

Recommended.

Jason

Monday, November 7, 2016

A Handful of Dust: Tales of Post-Apocalyptic Kentuckiana [Short Story Collection Review]

Genre - Horror/Short Stories
Year Published - 2016
Length - 54 (digital) pages
Written by J. T. Ford

Rating: 3 Skulls

Plot Summary:
These five tales paint a smeared, bloody picture of what might happen should *Kentuckiana fall when the dead decide to live again.

*Kentuckiana is a region combining the southern portion of Indiana and the northern tip of Kentucky.

Review:
This collection of short stories is a quick, leisurely read. Something to easily pass the time while waiting for something/someone. (I do a lot of that with my kids...)

Ford ordered the stories nicely, in that I feel they go from weakest to strongest.

I am looking forward to seeing what Ford comes up with next and watching him grow as an author.

Jason

Friday, November 4, 2016

Dawn: A Dwarven Creation Story [Book Review]

Genre - Fantasy/Anthology
Year Published - 2013
Length - 61 (digital) pages
Written by Ryan Toxopeus

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
"A great battle brought two heavenly brothers into our existence."

The universe was created through conflicting forces of light and dark, and so it continues. War has ravaged Illuma throughout its history, and this collection of short stories gives readers a sneak peek at four pivotal moments.

Review:
This one is a perfect example of why you should never judge a book by its cover!

I have now read everything that Toxopeus has published, and this one is definitely my favorite! The stories within this book are full of rich characters (as well as wonderful dwarven surnames) and details.

Interspersed between the four tales within this book, is the "Book of Throkden" - a dwarven holy book, which reads like the Genesis account of Creation.

My favorite of the stories has to be the story of Jessica "Lightning" Gordon (perhaps the most common name that Toxopeus has used!) who is sent on a quest, by the necromancer Xenobia, to find Fyuhrlhen - the halls where life was first created... an amazing, intense story!

Jason

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein [Book Review]

Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2016
Length - 56 (digital) pages
Written by Thomas S. Flowers

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Whit had done everything right, but when the world seems against you, can good boys stay good? Whit never drank in excess, never said a bad word to anyone, did his taxes, even called his mom on Sundays, never even had a tattoo...until one night, the night a malicious clown turned everything upside down.

Review:
Thomas S. Flowers has done it again! He has crafted yet another tale that puts you directly into the skin of the main character, where you actually feel like you are within the story itself.

This is a story that you want to read, after having had a really bad day, because I can pretty much assure you that your bad day is not near as bad as Von Whitstein's days. This one is guaranteed to make your day better!

Jason

Monday, October 31, 2016

Macimanito Môswa [Short Story Review]

Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2016
Length - 12 (digital) pages
Written by Ryan Toxopeus

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Hannah, a suburbanite mother of two, runs afoul of a demon-possessed moose on her drive through the wilds of Northwestern Ontario.

Review:
This story is very well written. Toxopeus provides great attention to detail and does a superb job of getting the reader to feel (the main character) Hannah's tension, etc.

My biggest issue is, as with a lot of super-shorts stories, it just ended so abruptly - way too short! Unless that is Toxopeus' intention... leaving the reader wanting more.

If you are up for a super quick read, this one is a good choice.

Jason

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Tijuana Donkey Showdown Release Date

Mark your calendars!
Adam Howe's eagerly awaited sequel to 'Damn Dirty Apes' (from last year's 'Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet' collection) is due to be released on December 9th! WaHoo!!!!!

This is one you do not want to miss!
If you have yet to read 'Damn Dirty Apes' now is the perfect time. . .

Jason

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Newly Discovered Author ~ Michael Bolan

Mr. Bolan  reached out to me, letting me know that he is preparing to launch the 3rd book in his current series.

He writes Historical Fiction with a strong Fantasy element.

'The Devil's Bible' series is an adventure set in the mid-17th century in Central Europe, with a dash of weirdness derived from the religious and superstitious beliefs of the time.

'The Sons of Brabant' - Book 1 in the series - is currently free on Kindle. (link below)

I have already downloaded it, so expect a future review. (In the meantime, why not grab it, while it's Free, and read it for yourself. You may even get to it before I do.)

Jason

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00SWWIWPI/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477394476&sr=8-1π=SY200_QL40&keywords=Michael+Bolan&dpPl=1&dpID=51Cvey3gK2L&ref=plSrch

Monday, October 24, 2016

ZOO, ZOO 2, and ZOO Season One

Once again, I am having issues posting the cover art. :(

Zoo is written by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. It is a quick, enjoyable read with a very well thought out premise behind why animals are suddenly attacking humans. However, if you want to read a book about animals rising up against humans, then I suggest that you read Iain Rob Wright's 'Animal Kingdom', which I found to be even more enjoyable.

I enjoyed Zoo enough that I wanted to read its sequel. Zoo 2 is written by James Patterson and Max DiLallo. This book made me wonder how much James Patterson was actually involved in the writing of this story. This book felt extremely rushed and wasn't near as good as the first book, which was disappointing.

The reason behind me reading the above books is that there is a television show based upon them (the first book anyway), and I prefer to read the source material first, if at all possible. Big mistake in this case! The show is nothing like the books! They changed the characters, added new ones (which isn't that big of a deal), went with a completely different premise behind it all... UGH! 

Disclaimer: Generally, I finish a season before reviewing it, but in this case I have only watched the first four episodes (the 1st disc). I am so perturbed right now that I am not sure if I am even going to finish the season. I just do not understand why they would differ, so much(!), from the source material.

If you have seen the show, and it gets better, please let me know.

Jason

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Ultimate Guide to Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse

Rather than just leaving an average book review, I am attaching the link, below, so that you can just buy this book directly. (Pay no mind to the cover or the  bad font - this book could end up saving your life!)

Written by F. Kim O'Neill (not much is known about him, although he must have an impressive background) this book covers everything that you can think of, and I mean EVERYTHING!

In this book you will learn about the different classifications of zombies (the viral, the supernatural, and the voodoo types). You will learn their strengths and their weaknesses. You will also learn several combat strategies, with many fighting tactics and techniques.

If that isn't enough, you will be taught proven survival methods, such as finding food, water, and shelter, and many, many other skills.

This book is completely engrossing and really should be required reading!

Rating: 5 Skulls!

For those of you who may have already read Max Brooks' 'Zombie Survival Guide', you may be asking yourself if you really need to read this book as well, and the answer is an emphatic YES! You will learn far more in this book and feel much more confident in your ability to survive any type of apocalypse (not just zombie).

Also, if you are a fan of David McIntee's 'We Will Destroy Your Planet. . .', then you will definitely want to read this book as well.

Before I log off and start preparing myself a zombie bug-out bag, I just want to reiterate that this book may one day save your life!

Jason

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00YWCOIE6/ref=mp_s_a_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1476963668&sr=8-4π=AC_SX236_SY340_FMwebp_QL65&keywords=The+Ultimate+Guide+to+Surviving+a+Zombie+Apocalypse&dpPl=1&dpID=51ekegyFMdL&ref=plSrch

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Bane County: Forgotten Moon [Book Review]

Arrrrgghh!! For whatever reason, my Blogger App is not allowing me to post the cover art for this book, and that's too bad, as it is a great cover! 😕

Oh well. Here is my review:

Genre - Horror/Werewolf
Year Published - 2016
Length - 315 (digital) pages
Written by J. R. Rice

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
The large river-island of Bane County has a troubled past; but some histories are eagerly forgotten, especially those written in blood.

Nestled into the foothills of the National Wildlife Refuge, the small rural town of Silver Canyon seems idyllic to most; but a long-slumbering evil is about to reawaken.

Seventeen-year-old Bryce McNeel is your average teenage boy, living on a cattle ranch with his grandparents. Well, average genius, but he prefers to keep that fact to himself, no one likes a know-it-all.

When Bryce learns of a series of grisly deaths and mutilations that occurred decades earlier, his curiosity gets the better of him. Together with his cousin, Jackson, Bryce sets out to learn more about the macabre event; but as they delve deeper into the history and legends of Bane County, the two boys are horrified by what they find.

Unfortunately, history has a way of repeating itself.

As friends and neighbors begin to go missing, or worse, they find themselves embroiled in a battle for their young lives.

Review:
If you are looking for a new, fresh book to read this Halloween, look no further!

If I were to list my top three werewolf novels, they would be 'Autobiography of a Werewolf Hunter',  'High Moor', and this one, 'Bane County'.

What I am about to tell you is a slight *spoiler alert*, so you may want to skip the next paragraph...

One of the things that I really like about Rice's werewolf is that it is simply a beast/monster (with a very "Laymonesque" feel to it) as opposed to a man that changes into a wolf.

*safe to resume*
If you are a fan of movies and music from the 80's & 90's, there is a deluge of musical references (such as Metallica's 'Of Wolf and Man'!) and movie quotes, which just added themselves, perfectly, into the story.

This book moves along at a brisk pace, and then ramps itself up once Deputy Bennett begins hunting the beast.

You can tell that a lot of research went into this book, as the science behind the beast, etc, is very well thought out.

This book has great mass-market appeal. It is not just for fans of horror or werewolves. If you grew up reading Hardy Boys, or enjoy mysteries, then you will definitely enjoy this book as well, and the good news is that this is Book 1! (Book 2: Returning Moon is coming, hopefully soon!)

Jason

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Dreaming at the Top of My Lungs [Book Review]

Genre - Horror/Short Stories
Year Published - 2016
Length - 115 (digital) pages
Written by Israel Finn

Rating: 5+ Skulls

Plot Summary:
Ten Tales of Horror from the mind of Israel Finn:

A man who is faced with the prospect of losing the most important thing in his life— his son— but instead loses his mind. And then finds himself trapped in a waking nightmare with no way out.

A frustrated man who curses life for having the audacity to pass him by, but discovers how it feels to be truly forsaken when the universe chooses to teach him a horrible lesson.

A man who must decide between vengeance and forgiveness in a world turned upside down by war and famine.

A milquetoast trapped in a loveless marriage and a thankless job, who isn't even allowed the small luxury of suffering in peace when he comes down with a terrible case of the flu. The result is something straight out of a nightmare delirium.

A man who is living with a very odd houseguest, a visitor who has no concept of war.

A boy who lives in constant terror of someone who is supposed to love and protect him, but who has betrayed that trust. A horror story that examines the real-life beasts who walk among us every day.

...and more.

Review:
This is probably the greatest collection of short horror stories that I have yet read!

Here is a brief breakdown of each of the ten stories:

Story #1 - 'Stranded' - a story about a man caught in a bizarre time-loop, with a terrific climax! 5 Skulls

Story #2 - 'No Such Things As Monsters' - this is my second favorite story in this collection. Truly horrifying! 5 Skulls

Story #3 - 'Sick Day' - this one ended too soon! (warning: this one will make you gag!) 5 Skulls

Story #4 - 'The Messenger' - my least favorite in this collection, however it is still a solid story! 3 Skulls

Story #5 - 'Deadfall Lane' - this one is, by far, my favorite in this collection! 5 Skulls

Story #6 - 'Water and War' - a thought-provoking story about an alien. 4 Skulls

Story #7 - 'Stones' - another story that makes you think! 4 Skulls

Story #8 - 'Deathbed' - a very well-written story about a father and son. 3 Skulls

Story #9 - 'To Catch a Fly' - a story about a convict. 4 Skulls

Story #10 - 'Ugly' - an absolutely brilliant twist-ending in this one! 5 Skulls

So there you have the ten tales within this collection. I didn't even mention the incredible Foreward (which immediately grabs you!)

Israel Finn writes with spectacularly, vivid clarity. His stories suck you in and are totally immersive! He has a talent, in spades, for great storytelling! I am definitely looking forward to reading a novel by Finn!

Jason

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Wizard's Gambit [Book Review]

Genre - Fantasy
Year Published - 2015
Length - 400 (digital) pages
Written by Ryan Toxopeus

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Thomas, Sarentha, and Eliza will learn that peace never lasts. After fighting for their freedom, wicked forces beyond the Tamorran Empire's borders rise against them. Tamor's king falters when threats of genocide and an undead plague arise. The would-be heroes must fill new roles of responsibility and power to hold Tamor together. When more menaces emerge, each darker than the last, their adventure spans the entire continent. Thomas, Sarentha, and Eliza must make difficult choices and face their darkest fears to uncover their lost history by reviving long-dead wizards. Only by illuminating the past will they be able to step into the future. One misstep could lead to their undoing.

Review:
'A Wizard's Gambit' is Book 2 in the Empire's Foundation trilogy.

There is a lot going on in this book!
(dragon attacks, the training of dragon riders, raising ancient wizards from the dead, a zombie outbreak, etc!)
Fortunately, Toxopeus made a smart move writing a couple of short stories, in between books 1 & 2, that help to fill in some of the gaps/questions.
(I definitely recommend reading the novella 'Demon Invasion' before reading this book.) *see my last post, regarding the preferred reading order of these stories*

For those who have already read 'A Noble's Quest' and are fans of the orc wizard Feng, there is a great battle near the end of this book where he faces off with the ancient dragon Fyrsanthemar: the god crusher. (I just had to mention that, as I am still pumped from that battle!)

Toxopeus bookends each book by having the prologues and epilogues tie into past events, which I love, and definitely makes me look forward to the release of 'A Hero's Birth' next year!

Jason

Monday, September 26, 2016

'1100 BGW' & 'Demon Invasion' [Double Feature Short Stories Review]

These two individual short stories coincide with the 'Empire's Foundation' trilogy, written by Ryan Toxopeus.

My previous review was 'A Noble's Quest' (Book 1 of said trilogy).

Per the author, the recommended reading order of this series is as follows:

'A Noble's Quest' (Book 1)
'1100 BGW' (Short Story)
'Demon Invasion'  (Novella)
'A Wizard's Gambit' (Book 2)
'Dawn: A Dwarven Creation Story' (Short Story Collection)
'A Hero's Birth' (Book 3 - coming in 2017)

So, following the above order, here are my reviews of the two tales between Books 1 & 2:

1100 BGW [Before God's War]
Genre - Fantasy/Short Story
Year Published - 2015
Length - 21 (digital) pages
Written by Ryan Toxopeus

Rating: 3 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Amurtag and her fellow minotaur farmers are called away from the harvest by the priests. Margaff, their new chief, is making a play for power over all the minotaur tribes using a secret weapon. But when Amurtag questions him publicly, he shares his vision for the future. The question is, will everyone stand by and allow him to take control?

Review:
What I liked about this story is that it is centered around minotaurs. Margaff is named their new emperor, and it is his wish to unite all of the tribes and bring peace to all of the races...

Within this story, you also discover that the dwarves may not have been the 1st created race after all, as previously believed in Toxopeus' world. The 1st created race may in fact have been the Aeri - half man/half bird beings, created by the Titans, Air & Earth, to have dominion over the sky and the land.

While not tying in directly with anything that happened in Book 1, this is still an interesting read, taking place in the same world, well before the events in 'A Noble's Quest'.

Demon Invasion
Genre - Fantasy/Novella
Year Published - 2016
Length - 93 (digital) pages
Written by Ryan Toxopeus

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
The demon lord Zeracth has a plan to take an army to the world of Illuma. However, his spawn Glezxnodin has his own plans to save his people and create a demon nation.

Illuma at first appears ripe for the taking, but the world has changed since the demons fled ages ago and many new challenges await them.

Review:
I get that demon's true names are most definitely unpronouncable, however this makes for very distracting reading!
(A perfect example: Ffckookckck)
Fortunately, Toxopeus has included a glossary, at the back of this book, that makes the names much easier. (Still, I found myself skimming over the majority of the names, or just coming up with shorter versions.)

Once you become accustomed to the names, you realize that Toxopeus has actually created a really good, intriguing story. One that I believe to be tying in directly to the Empire's Foundation trilogy.

Stay tuned for my upcoming review of Book 2!

Jason

P. S. Google's Blogger App is still not allowing me to post pictures of the book covers. (I keep being told, "pictures not found") Unless this issue gets fixed, you will need to read these reviews on my Google+ profile, in order to see the cover art.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Noble''s Quest [Book Review]

This review was originally posted on my Google+ profile, earlier this month. For whatever reason, Google's Blogger app was acting up. It looks like the issue has been resolved, however the app is not allowing me to post the book's cover. :(

Here is the review:

Genre - Fantasy
Year Published - 2012
Length - 288 (digital) pages
Written by Ryan Toxopeus

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Two lumberjacks, Thomas and Sarentha, flee everything they know when Thomas murders a co-worker. In the dead of night, a cloaked noble approaches and offers them a sum of coins they cannot refuse. His sole request is for the pair to retrieve an amethyst from a tomb. From there, they are introduced to Eliza, a spirited and head-strong noblewoman who proves her competence with her skills in diplomacy and combat. Together with Thomas’ strength and steadfastness, and Sarentha’s drive and inquisitiveness, the trio makes an odd but capable group. Their adventures take them across the lands of the Tamorran Empire to witness sights they never imagined. With grand plans in motion, everything hinges on Thomas, Sarentha, and Eliza’s success. Artefacts need to be crafted, alliances need to be formed, and above all, secrets need to be kept. Not even their own allies know every facet of the noble’s quest, and he plays a dangerous game by creating plots within plots. Can the disparate trio hold together throughout their trials? What secret does the noble know that causes him to go to such extraordinary lengths to succeed? Dark shadows blanket the Tamorran Empire, and illuminating those secrets will bring a terrifying truth.

Review:
I absolutely loved the prologue to this story, where we are introduced to humanity's greatest champion and hero, Matthew Strongblade.

The book then jumps ahead 450 years later to where we meet best friends Sarentha and Thomas who, after getting themselves into some trouble, are approached by a mysteriously cloaked figure who offers to send the two of them on a quest. Fortunately for us, the two friends, being the adventurous type, accept the offer.

Toxopeus has crafted a fun, well-thought-out, classic fantasy tale that is perfect for lovers of Dungeons & Dragons and for fans of the Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms books.

This is book one of the series, and I am looking forward to reading the next book. As much I enjoy Thomas and Sarentha's adventures (as well as several other characters - namely a "Rager" dwarf named Thurzin) I am hoping for some more stories from the past. (In Toxopeus' timeline, BGW - Before the God's War)

Jason

Monday, August 29, 2016

Shrouded Voices: Tales of Terror and Fantasy [Anthology Review]

Genre - Horror/Fantasy (Anthology)
Year Published - 2016
Length - 67 (digital) pages
Written by +Zane Dowling​, +Theresa Jacobs​, +David Kummer​, and Peter Vialls

Rating: 3 Skulls

Plot Summary:
A Compilation of Short Stories: Wondrous adventures await you beneath Shrouded Voices. Ageless and timeless, four adventurers set out on journeys all their own, but fate wound their tales together. Lead by the fearless Theresa Jacobs, they threw their lots in as a team with one goal – to vanquish the evil wizard of time, Obscuritmos. Follow their individual tales as they weave together to form the powerful weapon that will one day vanquish their dark enemy to bring their new light into the world. Well maybe not ageless, but definitely timeless, Theresa Jacobs has truly accomplished something great. With Zane Dowling as her Chief Editor, Theresa set out to bring the works of her friends, as well as her own, to this short but powerful compilation of stories. Shrouded Voices showcases not only her own talents as an author, but those of other outstanding authors, Zane D. Dowling, David Kummer, and Peter Vialls. Each of these accomplished authors have novels of their own. If you enjoy their works in this compilation, you are sure to enjoy their individual novels. Please check them out on the internet and let the adventures begin.

Review:
I am not sure how accurate the above description really is, but it does point out that anthologies/short stories are a good way to discover new authors that you may  enjoy, and with that I wholeheartedly agree.

The standout author in this collection is Theresa Jacobs, whose story 'The Followers' makes this collection worth getting. There are also 8 other (very short) stories that were pretty much hit and miss with me. Keep an eye on this one to go free again. You may find an enjoyable tale or two.

Jason

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

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Facet for the Gem - The Tale of Eaglefriend: Book One [Book Review]

Genre - Fantasy
Year Published - 2016
Length - 274 (digital) pages
Written by C. L. Murray

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
In a land of eagle-riding knights, bloodthirsty beasts, and a ruthless prince, no border is safe for long.

As smoke billows from the only blockade standing between the great city of Korindelf and certain doom, young Morlen races to escape the inevitable siege. Thrust from the chaos with thousands of snapping jaws on his trail, he discovers that the abilities he’s buried all his life are awakening - and it could not have happened at a worse time. War has come, and he doesn’t dare rely on his untested talents after stealing the coveted Goldshard, which makes strength and invincibility just a panicked whisper away. His dependency on it carries him through many dangers, until it becomes an enemy far worse than those he must fight hand-to-hand. And the allies he meets on his quest are just as troubled: a legendary warrior too afraid to leave his sheltered paradise, a wizard tormented by his past, and a disgraced king who has lost any hope of saving his people.

A Facet for the Gem brings Morlen from distant kingdoms to sprawling airborne battles, into the fiery breath of a stony dragon, and side-by-side with a lady knight who is the last person in need of rescue. Follow him as his epic adventures culminate in a final showdown against swords, fangs, and greatest of all: his own fear.

Review:
I first have to give kudos to Murray for his superb world-building skills. It is no easy feat for a reader to jump from one world into another. (The book that I read before this one was Hill's 'The Fireman', and I was completely immersed within that story...) However, Murray immediately sucked me into the world that he has created, and I never once looked back!

With names such as Morlen, Felkoth, Nottleforf, and Roftome, and items such as the Goldshard, the Crystal Spear, and the Dark Blade, and enemies known as Shriekers and Ferotaurs, you are immediately thrust into this superb fantasy tale!

Beginning with a fragile alliance between the city of Korindelf and Veldere, where the Eaglemasters reside, and with war brewing along their borders, you have no choice but to hold on for the ride!

If you are a fan of fantasy, then this one is a must-read! If you are a fan of Robin Hobb, then I suggest that you give Murray a shot, as there were some similarities, before Murray completely made it all his own. And for fans of Terry Goodkind, Murray explains the title of the book, brilliantly, just like one of Goodkind's "Wizard's Rules".

Murray dropped several hints, within this story, where he will take us in future books, and I for one am looking forward to the next book!

Jason

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Fireman

Wow! What an amazing book!
A fantastic concept - brilliant from beginning to end!
This is one of those books where you hate that it had to end.

Joe Hill has always been a fantasic storyteller, but this book is basically his 'The Stand' - exceptional in every way! [Stephen King has got to be one proud father!]

Speaking of fathers - if your father enjoys a great book, and you haven't yet purchased a Father's Day gift, then this is a guaranteed good one!

Jason

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Spider Kingdom ('Shivers' #13) [Book Review]

"Do you enjoy being frightened?

Would you rather have nightmares instead of sweet dreams?

Are you happy only when shaking with fear?

Congratulations!

You've made a wise choice.

This book is the doorway to all that may frighten you.

Get ready for cold, clammy shivers running up and down your spine!

Now, open the door - IF YOU DARE!!!!"

So, after reading the above, I recently had to stop what I am currently reading in order to read this book, for my youngest daughter, to make sure that it was suitable and not too scary. . . (per her asking)

The deal that was made with my daughter was "if it is appropriate, after you read it, you need to write me a review".

[I will first give my thoughts, and then I will end with my daughter's review, in her exact words.]

Genre - Children's Horror
Year Published - 1996
Length - 123 pages
Written by M. D. Spenser

(My daughter's) Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot summary:
Follow this frightening fable of Freddy and his pal, Lumpy, as they face the flesh-eating forces of giant spiders.

But, it's all their fault! If only they hadn't killed all those little spiders. If only they had learned to appreciate those crawling creatures. It's too late now!

They're trapped in the Spider Kingdom awaiting trial for their crimes. The mighty Spider King will be their judge. There's no way out, or is there?

Will they find their fate as food fit for a king or will they weave a way out of this web?

Spider, Spider on the wall. . .

Review:
This 'Shivers' series is basically akin to the far more popular 'GooseBumps' series. This series of books is written for ages 8 - 14. (This one is #13) My daughter came across it at our local used book store - not a bad deal for only 50 cents!

After having read it myself, I deemed it appropriate for my 11-year-old daughter to read. I rather enjoyed the subtle message of "how not to act" (being a bully, etc).

On to my daughter's thoughts (in her exact words):

Definitely read this book!

I liked the whole story and how the end of the book twisted all together in a cool, weird, spooky way.

The story is put together very well and is nerve-wracking!

M. D. Spenser did a great job creating and putting together this book! I totally want to read the other ones!

J

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Conjurers [Advance Book Review]

Genre - Historical Fantasy
Year Published - 2016 [June 1st]
Length - 319 pages
Written by David Waid

Tagline: "A gritty fantasy of witches and wizards."

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
A war of shadows spills into the light.

The magical knowledge that returned with crusaders from the Holy Land has spread in secret among the learned few. The world stands poised on a knife's edge between two futures - science or sorcery - and a cabal of ruthless wizards pursues two young people who can tip the balance forever.

When brigands savagely attack an Irish village, Eamon, a peasant's son, flees with his family. The night of trauma and terror that follows triggers a magical ability he doesn't understand and can't control.

Four hundred leagues south, Teresa, the fiercely determined daughter of a Genovese nobleman, uncovers her brother's murder and witnesses her father's wrongful imprisonment. Soon, she too begins to manifest magical power.

The architect of their misfortune is Maestro Lodovicetti, chief of a secret order that knows the truth behind their burgeoning gifts. Lodovicetti will do anything in order to steal this magic and use it to shatter the restraints on sorcery.

Separated by a continent and the circumstances of their birth, Eamon and Teresa must come together and master legendary magic or be sacrificed as the Age of Kings comes to an end and a dark tyranny of sorcerers begins.

Review:
As you can see from the above plot summary, there is a lot happening within the pages of this book! Taking place in the 14th century, this story spans the breadth of Europe, from Geneva to Ireland.

You can definitely tell that Waid put in a lot of research while writing this book. As you read it, you quickly become immersed within its pages, and it is as if you are living in the year 1380.

Due to this being the first book (of a series/trilogy?) there is a lot of groundwork set. The story is slow-burning, but when it catches fire, hold on!
I have high expectations for the next book and expect each book to get better as the story unfolds.

If you are a fan of Robert Jordan, or a fantasy fan in general, then mark your calendars and check this book out on its release date of June 1st!

Jason

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Minus Faction (Episode 1): Breakout [Book Review]

Genre - Action-Adventure/Mystery/Sci-Fi/Thriller
Year Published - 2014
Length - 124 (digital) pages
Written by Rick Wayne

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
The Minus Faction is a super-powered sci-fi thriller about extraordinary abilities and how not to use them.

In Episode One. . .

Beaten. Burned. Broken.

Capt. John Regent returns a paraplegic after escaping months of captivity and torture - except no one knows who took him or what he disclosed.

When a government agent  comes for answers, she discovers John's fantastic secret and sets him at war with his own country. But the veteran in the wheelchair has one last mission, and he'll fight of the powers-that-be long enough to save the life of a troubled soldier - even if it costs John his own.

Review:
I hate to admit this, but this is one of those books that have been sitting in my Kindle app's carousel for who knows how long. (long enough for the covers to change, hence the two different covers shown.)

Let this be a lesson to any authors reading this review - even if it takes me a (long) while, I will definitely get to your book, sooner or later. (I obviously bought/downloaded it for a reason.)

Episode Five of this series was just recently released, which jogged my memory of Episode One sitting patiently waiting to be read...
(Episode One is currently Free, on Kindle! Whether this is due to the recent release of Episode Five, I do not know, but I suggest that you download this book ASAP!)

For those of you who have read my reviews of Ken Preston's 'Joe Coffin' series, this is a series written in a similar "episodic" format. (You can easily picture this story as an episode of a television series.)

Episode One starts off with a bang and doesn't let up the entire time! Wayne has created some well-established characters, (one of which is even named Ayn Rand) and I will definitely be reading the rest of this series!

If you can't already tell, I definitely recommend this one!

Jason

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Black Friday [Short Story Review]

Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2016
Length - 17 (digital) pages
Written by Jason R. Davis

Rating: 3 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Jingle Bells... Jingle Bells... Jing-
Oh, it is that time of year.
The Thanksgiving turkey has been eaten, the afternoon naps have slipped away into the evening camp out. People leaving in the dead of night to set up their tents and wait outside for those Friday morning deals.

Masses are lined up, all waiting like zombies, mindlessly eager to find those early morning deals. . .

Did we say zombies?

Review:
A fun, little short story, perfect to read if you are waiting around for 10 or 15 minutes.

You pretty much get what is expected out of this story. Not only do you get it from the perspective of those waiting in line, you also get the perspective from the retail workers themselves.

I have never been one to fall into the mass chaos of Black Friday, but there is a line that Davis uses in the story which sums it up nicely: "...they were like statues standing before the god of greed."
If that doesn't describe Black Friday, I don't know what does.

Jason

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Empire of the Tooth [Short Story Review]

Genre - Horror
Year Published - *See Below
Length - (not correct) According to my Kindle App, 382 pages (much shorter though!)
Written by Iain Rob Wright

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
*Rather than a round-a-bout explanation, here is the situation in the author's own words: (from his newsletter)

I recently wrote a short story for an anthology. The short story was intended to act as a sequel to Animal Kingdom. It now seems that the publisher I submitted to is making all sorts of false advertising claims and blocking any authors who complain. I doubt any of us will ever be paid for our work. Things such as this are the reason I self publish almost exclusively. While I might have signed a contract preventing me from publishing the short story elsewhere, there is nothing to stop me giving it away to my newsletter readers. So that's what i am doing. If you would like to download the short story, EMPIRE OF THE TOOTH, then just visit bookfunnel at the link below:

http://dl.bookfunnel.com/dmd80xklvc

"Iain Rob Wright"

Review:
So there you have it.

If you have read 'Animal Kingdom' (I reviewed it, earlier this year) and ever wondered what happened to Danny & Joe, then this short story is a must read!

If you have not yet read 'Animal Kingdom' then I highly suggest that you do and then come back here and download this short story sequel. (If you have never used BookFunnel, it is an app that is super easy, and allows you to download a book for whatever device you want)

It has been 5 years since the animals united together  and started their attacks on humankind. After being under constant siege, there is suddenly a lull in the continued attacks. Is whatever happened finally over?

When a (friendly) dog shows up, is he a sign of hope, or is it false?

Read this story to find out the answers, and be prepared for a brilliant twist!

Thank you, Iain Rob Wright for sharing this tale with us, your fans, and I hope that it eventually sees the publishing light of day!

Jason

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Dreadedin Chronicles: The Nameless City [Novella Review]

Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2015
Length - 84 (digital) pages
Written by David Dubrow

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Paige Ashton is an ordinary teenager, just trying to get through highschool. Friendless, she's socially invisible until bizarre occurrences put her in the spotlight. When disaster strikes on Halloween, why is everyone looking for her?

College freshman Ryan Kincaid is living a lie: he pretends to go to class but hangs out and drinks with his friends instead. He's never had to work for anything in his life, so how is he going to save his family from a fate worse than death?

Soon, they'll have to face cannibal zombies, a horrible sleeping sickness, and an ancient evil hundreds of millions of years old, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

Review:
With the short size of this story, I cannot say a whole lot other than I want more of it! (Hopefully, with this being "The Dreadedin Chronicles" there is more coming.)

The prologue of the story is superb!
(The best thing that Dubrow has written, in my opinion.)
It immediately sucks you into the story and keeps you wanting more.

My only fault with this story is that it felt a little too rushed (like there was a lot left on the cutting room floor, so to speak). Conflicts seemed too easily resolved, for instance. I would have liked to have had this story lengthened and fleshed out a bit more, but other than that, I was still thoroughly entertained the entire read.

If you are a fan of Lovecraftian horror, then this will most likely be the best buck that you spend this month!

Jason

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Hatched (Invisible Spiders: Book 1) [Book Review]

'Hatched' (Invisible Spiders: Book 1) is still currently free, on Kindle, through the end of the month. Is it worth the download? Read on to find out. . .

Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2013
Length - 328 (digital) pages
Written by Jason R. Davis​

Tagline: There is not a tagline for this book, but if there were, I would give it this one:
"If you see them, it's already too late."

Rating: 3 Skulls

Plot Summary:
It is the morning hours in the small town of Hammond, and as the town wakes up it finds that there is something spreading. Something that is not seen until it is too late because by then you are already infected. At that point, they are already... Hatched.

Review:
First of all, I just have to say that the concept of this book is brilliant! A completely new, refreshing take on the zombie genre.

So why only 3 Skulls, you ask?

This book started out as a strong 5 Skulls, however as different characters/storylines began to intertwine themselves, I repeatedly found myself wanting to get back to the "spiders" storyline. I understand that this is Book One of a proposed trilogy/series(?), which requires certain set-up, I just felt that some of the important information was left out/forgotten(?) I am hoping that the 2nd book gets back to ground zero, so to speak. Also, there are more than enough typos to warrant a mention here, which also distracts from the reality of the story.

Enough of the negative aspects (nothing that better editing and slightly fewer side-stories won't fix).

On to the positive.
Davis was super-smart to make the spiders in the story of the tiny, small variety (the size that can quickly scurry across your skin, before they burrow underneath...) Let's just say that if you are not already scared of spiders, reading this will make you paranoid/terrified of them!
[true story: while reading this book, I took several opportunities to enjoy the beautiful spring weather, and read the majority of it outside. At one point, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and, I promise, there was a little black spider scurrying across the porch. Needless to say, I held my breath for a moment!]

So, to answer the above question, yes, this book is worth the download (typos aside). Davis does not hold back on the horror aspects, and there is more than enough to keep you awake at night. I am looking forward to reading the next book.

Jason

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Double-Feature Short Stories: 'The Rest Area' & 'Spiders in from the Garden'

Today we have a double-feature from author Jason R. Davis​ who I just recently came across on Google+.

Davis has put two of his short stories up for Free, on Amazon, and they are both worth your time.

I first read 'The Rest Area' which is about a trucker, named Randy, who pulls into a seemingly innocent yet small Rest Stop. Due to the fact that he really "has to go", he ignores the signs (eerily quiet, strange graffiti on the building, etc) that something just may be amiss. . .
Aside from the very end (epilogue), which I felt took me out of the reality of the story, I enjoyed this one.

Next - 'Spiders in from the Garden' - now, this one states "an Invisible Spiders Short Story".
'The Rest Area' was my first introduction to Davis, so I have not read any of his other books. This did not stop me however, as I figured this would be a stand-alone story (which it is).
I do not want to tell you anything about this story, so as not to give anything away. I will say that
I really dug this one, and I will be purchasing 'Hatched' the first book in Davis' 'Invisible Spider' series.

Both of the above stories are quick reads (under 15 minutes) and are, for me, a nice introduction into Davis' work.

Jason

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Nightingale

One of the advantages of having a wife who reads different genres than I do is that I will get to read something that I otherwise may not have even given a second look to. Such is the case with this one.

This book is a riveting page-turner, and exceptionally well written! You will be hooked from the very first chapter!

I highly recommend this one, no matter which genre you generally prefer. 

Jason

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Leviathan (Book One of the Antediluvian Legacy) [Book Review]

Genre - Fantasy/Biblical Fiction
Year Published - 2015
Length - 343 (epic!) pages
Written by R. M. Huffman

Rating: 5+ Skulls

Plot Summary:
More than a thousand years have passed since man's exile from Eden's garden.
The earth is cursed, humans scrape meager livings from the soil, and legendary beasts roam the wilderness.

When a fearsome leviathan threatens his homelands, Noah must find a way to defeat the monster. Desperate to discover its weakness, he journeys to seek the aid of the half-angel giants called the Nephilim.

Meanwhile, the angelic Watchers known as the Grigori have seized the great city of Enoch, and their powerful leader has become obsessed with Noah's bride-to-be.

Friendships and faith are tested, and Noah is thrust into the middle of an impossible revolution against the fallen Grigori. His Nephilim comrades must choose whether to fight on the side of humanity or the angels, and their decision may mean the difference between the earth's salvation. . . or its annihilation.

Review:
And just like that, I have a new favorite author!

When this book arrived in the mail, my 9-year-old son (who has yet to learn not to judge a book by its cover) immediately proclaimed, "that looks like an awesome book!" I am happy to say that my son was absolutely correct. Not only is it awesome, it is phenomenal!

This book is an epic in every sense of the word. It is full of intrigue, espionage, action, violence, treachery, as well as several twists and turns. It has everything one could ask for!

Huffman has written an ambitious, captivating, and richly-detailed tale that thoroughly brings to life the Biblical World.

The book begins 930 years after Creation, when Adam is on his deathbed. It then jumps ahead 206 years later with Lamech swearing to teach his son (Noah) to hold strong to his faith, even if the world turns against him. (and we all know how that turned out)

From there, the story hurtles at a break-neck speed, eventually building into an intensely gripping, emotional story that explores the depth and power of love and forgiveness.

In choosing to tell this "real-world" story, (albeit heavily fictionalized) Huffman stands above other similar genres as he has fleshed out a world and characters that at one time did exist! (and even if you know your Bible, that does not mean there are not going to be any surprises in store)

I am now eagerly awaiting, with bated breath, the release of Book Two. I have no idea when that is going to be, but it won't be soon enough!

I would be amiss if I didn't mention the publisher, Lampion Press, who did an outstanding job putting this book together - with its art, maps, glossary, pictures, etc.
You helped make the book even more enjoyable. Superbly done!

Jason

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Joe Coffin (Season Two) [Book Review]

Genre - Crime Thriller/Horror/Suspense/Vampire
Year Published - 2015
Length - 385 (digital) pages
Written by Ken Preston

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Joe Coffin is back, and he is madder than ever!

The vampires are increasing in numbers, but Slaughterhouse Mob boss, Mortimer Craggs, wants them all dead.
And Joe Coffin is just the man for the job.

Unfortunately for Coffin, vampires might be the least of his problems. There is a professional killer out there, and he's closing in on Coffin with murder on his mind.

Review:
Season Two is Episodes 5 - 8, picking up immediately after Season One (you need to read these books in order).

Episode 5 is mostly set-up (with some light re-capping), giving some backstory to familiar characters and introducing some great new characters.

This book is more crime than it is horror, and that isn't a bad thing!
Preston knows what he is doing, and I imagine that Season Three is going to be quite the wild ride!

Episode 7 is where Preston decides to ramp up the action, in this book, (the loft scene in "Angel's" is my favorite scene in this book) and it all leads up to an awesome ending!

Just when I thought that one of the characters was seemingly killed off  too easily. . .
this may not necessarily be the case!

Season Three should, hopefully, be released this summer, and I can't wait!

Jason

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Thursday, February 25, 2016

More than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting

I am a father of four, and if you too are a parent, then you are well aware of the challenges of parenting in today's culture.

My wife and I have been taking a parenting class (called "Counter Culture") at our church, over the last several weeks, (where I won this book in a drawing) and it has been eye-opening!

I want nothing more than for my children to grow up, strong and healthy in their faith, and to be full of integrity and compassion towards others. So, I am more than willing to take classes and read books, etc to help me become a better (more patient!) parent.

Having never even seen or heard of this book before, it hit home in a lot of ways. The Amish definitely have a lot of things right, and this book helps point those principles out!

If you are curious and open-minded enough, then I highly recommend this book as a parenting tool!

Jason

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Tongues [Book Review]

Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2016
Length - 276 (digital) pages
Written by Sam Joyce

Rating: 3 Skulls

Plot Summary:
When journalist Catherine Cobb arrives in the East Texas town of Elena, she quickly finds herself fighting for her life. Something is spreading through the population turning ordinary civilians into murderers capable of committing the most heinous crimes.

As the body count continues to rise, Catherine walks into one nightmare after another, uncovering a secret plot involving a group of neo-Nazis, top federal government, and the strange world of the occult - with global implications.

Before long, Catherine finds herself trapped in a terrifying world that she doesn't understand; and might not escape from.

Review:
This is Sam Joyce's debut horror novel.
When he contacted me with a review copy of this book, I had no idea what it was about, (other than the above plot summary) and I am still wondering about the title.

Now, I love all things horror, however there is, for me, something truly terrifying about occult horror. I generally stay away from occult horror, as I believe that there is a real "darkness" behind it.
(A perfect example of this would be tomorrow's theatrical horror release 'The Witch' - I have heard nothing but good things about it, how terrifying it is, etc, but that is one movie that I will not be seeing, as black magic, etc is all too real, and genuinely disturbs my spirit!)

Let me get back on track. . .

This book is an occult horror read, and I could have said no to reading it, but by the time that I realized what was happening "behind the scenes", I was already intrigued. (guess that proves some of the writing talent that Joyce possesses)

At first, things seem normal, then seemingly random, gruesome murders begin taking place, all over town.
What is going on?
Why is this happening?

***Slight Spoilers Below***

Enter the character of Carmen D'Amato - a practioner of a black-magic known as Palo Mayombe (essentially a form of necromancy & animalism). Its practitioners communicate with the dead and the nature spirits.

I have heard of Santeria, but never of the above - basically Palo is an even darker (Afro-Caribbean?) religion.

***End Spoilers***

As I mentioned above, Joyce, by this time, had intrigued me enough to wonder how it was all going to turn out. (there is an even more sinister aspect to everything that is happening)

As for the writing - the book is split into five parts, jumping all around, and this detracted from the flow of reading.
(The fourth part of the book was the most interesting, and is what solidified Joyce's writing ability, enough for me to check out what he comes up with next.)
Also, the ending seemed way to abrupt!

With all that said, not a bad debut!

Jason

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Animal Kingdom [Book Review]

This (author) recommendation comes from Nev Murray​ (who I definitely recommend that you follow, as he pumps out some terrific book reviews!)

When you subscribe to this author's website, (iainrobwright.com) he, in turn, gives you 5! (I repeat, five!) Free books!

After I downloaded my free books, and perused the summaries of each, I decided on this one.
So, on with the review. . .

Genre - Horror/Apocalyptic Thriller
Year Published - 2011
Length - 230 (digital) pages
Written by Iain Robert Wright​

Tagline: "Welcome to the Bottom of the Food Chain!"

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
An ordinary day is about to turn very, very bad.

Divorcee, Joe, takes his wrestling-mad son, Danny, to the zoo for his weekend of custody. Everything goes great until a bizarre snake attack sends everybody running for cover. It's a horrific attack, one Joe's poor son is unlikely to ever forget, but the terror has just started.

There's a lot more going on than just a simple snake attack - and if the hungry lions and rampaging elephants  have anything to do with it, there will be more bloodshed to come. The animals are attacking all at once. Almost like they have a plan.

Review:
Iain Rob Wright has a tagline of his own - "Fear on Every Page" - now, I am not sure if that is on all of his books or not, but it fits well with this book!

Wright wastes absolutely no time , jumping right into the meat of the story, and continues the thrills with rapid-fire precision!

In this book, Wright has created a rag-tag group of both likeable and unlikeable characters who are trapped within the zoo during an animal uprising.
(After reading this book, I am beginning to think twice about renewing my local zoo's yearly membership, next month)

The characters in this book have to deal with lions, monkeys, elephants, reptiles, spiders, scorpions, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, etc. (all except for birds) Now, think about All of the animals in the world, (even just our own pets - dogs, cats, rats, etc.) and imagine if they all turned against humanity. . .!

By the end of this book you are questioning why is this happening?!? And then, brilliantly, After the epilogue, like an "after-credits-scene" in a movie, Wright ties it all together with "mini-stories" that have little tidbits that link directly into the main story. As if this book wasn't already awesome enough - the way Wright pulled off the end solidified me as a true fan!

I will definitely be reading his other books, and I will be hoping for a future sequel to this one!

If you are burned out on zombie novels, this is a fresh take on what could possibly be part of the apocalypse, definitely check this one out!

Jason