Saturday, March 25, 2017

Without Warning

The 3rd book in the "J. B. Collins" trilogy (preceded by 'The Third Target' & 'The First Hostage'), 'Without Warning' is probably my favorite of the three books (beats the first by a hair!)

What a book! Edge-of-your-seat from beginning to end! And what an ending it is! I love when an author bucks the trend - totally refreshing! You will not forget this book!


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Flies [A Short Horror Story Review]

Genre - Horror/Short Story
Year Published - 2016
Length - 51 (digital) pages
Written by Andrew Lennon

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Justin managed to get the day off work. He has plans to make the most of it. Drugs, booze, hookers - total degradation. There's just one problem. Those damn flies!

This is a fantastic short story that leads up to a viciously gruesome ending! I will, without a doubt, be checking out more of Lennon's stories!

Also included in this book are three additional short stories:

Michael Bray's 'Implants' [5 Skulls - a thoroughly engaging tale about the last survivor on Earth - completely unique!]

Shaun Hupp's 'Strands' [5 Skulls - a super short story that is a must read for fans of "spider tales"!]

Norman Turrell's 'Little Angel's' [3 Skulls - while good, this one fell somewhat short of the other stories in this book - my opinion]


Monday, March 13, 2017

The End Is All We See [Dual Short Story Review]

Genre - Sci-Fi/Horror/Short Stories
Year Published - 2017
Length - 45 (digital) pages
Written by M. F. Wahl and A. J. Brown

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
From the minds of M. F. Wahl and A. J. Brown come two horrific tales of struggle and loss you won’t soon forget.

In “Purple Haze”, a crash landing on an uninhabited planet strands Adira and the surviving members of her crew. Surrounded by a quiet world of blue grass, and purple skies, danger lurks within the beauty. Without contact to Earth and light-years from home, they encounter a treacherous enemy that threatens to destroy them from the inside out.

“Run For The Flame” brings us into a world where an ice age has engulfed everything, driving life underground. The Sanctuary holds the last vestiges of humanity, but it's walls are cracking and the ice is slowly encroaching. In their last grasp at survival, the community is forced to send their boys on an all-important run to The Flame... None have returned.

Wahl, a #1 Wattpad featured horror author and Brown, whose stories have appeared in over 200 publications, use their easy styles to draw you in, and hold you close.

Welcome to their nightmares.

This is a unique book that is a set of novelettes. There are two versions - this one, 'The End Is All We See' by M. F. Wahl and the other version, 'All We See Is The End' by A. J. Brown. They are both the same, yet slightly different, as reflected by their titles and covers. Both stories are the exact same, just flipped depending on which version you get. (If this is confusing, the authors explain in an inside letter.)

I have a feeling that depending on which story you read first may just be the story you like best. (Kind of like when Stephen King released 'Desperation' right along side Bachman's 'The Regulators')

My version, 'The End is All We See' starts off with Wahl's story "Purple Haze". The story is well written and then, out of nowhere, it takes a totally unexpected turn. Definitely a story that will stick with you, long after you have finished reading it!

After "Purple Haze" is A. J. Brown's "Run for the Flame".  This is a unique story that will have you invested in the survival of the characters!

Both stories are about the struggle to survive circumstances beyond one's control. I will definitely be checking out more from both of these authors.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Chrysalis [Short Story Review]

Genre - Sci-Fi/Horror/Short Story
Year Published - 2013
Length - 39 (digital) pages
Written by Ray Zacek

Rating: 3 Skulls

Plot Summary:
"Somalia on the Mississippi:" that is where the government sent Coffman. His mission? Strictly need to know. But that mission takes agent Coffman to an overpopulated county morgue to examine an unidentified cadaver. Of course, it is what's inside that counts...

I wish that Zacek would have let this idea percolate in his mind just a little bit longer. The concept (about a parasitic organism) is nothing new, yet Zacek made it his own, creating good characters, etc. I just wish that Zacek would have at least made it novella length, if not a full-length novel. I feel that there is a lot more to be told here.

This story has a somewhat (albeit darker) Men in Black feel, so if that sounds up your alley, give this story a shot.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

My Name is Aktul [Short Story Review]

Genre - Fantasy/Short Story
Year Published - 2017
Written by J. T. Ford

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
A panicked mother and her seven-summered son must flee their home with an aging warrior who, against his pragmatic nature, decides to act in favor of the dreams that have taken over his restless nights. 

The boy, whose fate is enigmatic yet vital, wishes merely for the voices to stop so that at last he will know his place in a life he suddenly has little control over. 

A war between the Nesai tribes and the Empire has erupted, but it is merely a small skirmish compared to the war that looms just over the horizon.

This story is a prequel to Ford's upcoming 'Hands of the Sun' quartet, with Book One being 'Autumn Dreams'.

This story gets the full 5 Skull treatment, as Ford definitely has me looking forward to this series! This is a really good, tight little story - full of suspense, mystery, and action, and Ford has left me wanting more, which is a great sign!


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Final Reconciliation [Book Review]

Genre - Horror/Novella
Year Published - 2017
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing
Length - 106 (digital) pages
Written by Todd Keisling

Rating: 5+ Skulls

Plot Summary:

Thirty years ago, a progressive rock band called The Yellow Kings began recording what would become their first and final album. Titled “The Final Reconciliation,” the album was expected to usher in a new renaissance of heavy metal, but it was shelved following a tragic concert that left all but one dead.

The sole survivor of that horrific incident was the band’s lead guitarist, Aidan Cross, who’s kept silent about the circumstances leading up to that ill-fated performance—until now.

For the first time since the tragedy, Aidan has granted an exclusive interview to finally put rumors to rest and address a question that has haunted the music industry for decades: What happened to The Yellow Kings?

The answer will terrify you.

Inspired by The King in Yellow mythos first established by Robert W. Chambers, and reminiscent of cosmic horror by H. P. Lovecraft, Laird Barron, and John Langan, comes The Final Reconciliation—a chilling tale of regret, the occult, and heavy metal by Todd Keisling.

Another spectacular read by Crystal Lake Publishing!

First let me say that while I have heard the  name Robert W. Chambers, I have never read anything by him, nor was I at all familiar with "The King in Yellow" mythos.
That having been said, Keisling has done a phenomenal job making sure none of that matters. Also, you do not have to be a fan of heavy metal to enjoy this story, but it definitely helps! ;-)

Told in an interview format, (with Tracks instead of Chapters) Keisling's visceral narrative is top-notch. He keeps you hanging with every word, and while you are riding the crescendo, you are simultaneously awaiting/dreading the build-up to the catylismic ending (and what an ending it is!)

Highly recommended!


Monday, March 6, 2017

The Dragon's Blade: The Reborn King [Book Review]

Genre - Fantasy
Year Published - 2015
Length - 438 (digital) pages
Written by Michael R. Miller

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Dragons once soared in the skies, but that was before the Transformation, before they took human form. Now, demonic forces stand to obliterate them. When left mortally wounded, Darnuir, the Prince of Dragons, can only be saved through a dangerous rebirthing spell. He is left as a babe in human hands.

Twenty years later, Darnuir is of age to wield the Dragon's Blade. As the last member of his bloodline, he is the only one who can. He is plunged into a role he is not prepared for, to lead a people he does not know. Shadowy demons ravage his new home and the alliance between humans, dragons, and fairies has fractured. 

Time is short, for new threats and deadlier enemies are emerging...

Have you ever had one of those days where there is so much to do, but all you want to do is read your book? This is one of those books where you want to read every spare moment available!

Miller has created an epic fantasy that every lover of fantasy should read! So much happens in the first 75 pages (5 chapters) that I was in awe of Miller's strong storytelling capabilities.

Aside from the characters and the story itself, what I love most about this story is the bold, strategic moves - the huge (rash?) decisions that are made, the rich history of the realm, and I absolutely love the magic system that Miller has created (very realistic in my opinion).

Even better news - Book 2 was just released last month! I am definitely looking forward to jumping back into the Realm of Tenalp and finding out what happens next!