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.

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.


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.

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!


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

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!


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.

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!