Sunday, March 30, 2014

Jaspar's War - by Cym Lowell - Fast-paced international thriller

3 of 5 Stars    Review Copy

Jaspar Moran, the wife of the U. S. Treasury Secretary, is thrust into a desperate attempt to save her two children, kidnapped, after the apparent murder of her husband.

Someone is manipulating the world's financial markets, taking advantage of the President's economic stimulus plans for their personal gain.  One more push and they'll reach their goal and plummet the world into financial chaos.

Jaspar is promised she'll be reunited with her children, Theo and Chrissy, providing she remains quiet about anything she might know, instead she is united with the definition of an anti-hero in Nulandi, an assassin who trains Jaspar in his killing ways.  Together they set off on an international hunt for those responsible for the disappearance of her young children.

As much as I love the concept of Jaspar's War, I felt the overall piece was just too unbelievable.  Harsh criticism from someone who enjoys a good zombie story. But that's just it, with a well executed zombie story, you only need to suspend your disbelief for the zombies.  For example, on The Walking Dead, once you get past the zombies, everything else is totally believable.  In Jaspar's War, I found the premise to be believable, but most everything else, not so much.

As exciting as the climax was from a story perspective, I found it's execution to be contrived and to easily accomplished.  Plus, the surprise ending seemed to pander to the reader and wasn't really necessary.

Overall, Jaspar's War was OK, but not something I'd readily recommend.

Jaspar's War is published by Rosemary Beach Press and is available now fromAmazon.com in both Paperback and for the Kindle.  If you're an Amazon Prime member, you may borrow this title for FREE through the Kindle Lending Library.

In addition, all book sales go to support wounded soldiers goo.gl/9xySgq

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Ten Thousand Things: Dead West - Book 2 - by Tim Marquitz, J.M. Martin and Kenny Soward

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Nina Weaver, part Shoshone Indian, and the other survivors of Those Poor, Poor Bastards, Book 1 in Ragnarok Publication's Dead West series are making their way across the western frontier, by way of locomotive, being chased by a demon train controlled by the evil, and seemingly all-powerful, Liao Xu.

Much like it's predecessor, The Ten Thousand Things, jumps right into the action with an attack on their transportation by thousands of crows as their nemesis gets closer by the minute.  "The nightmare train chugged beneath the uncovered moonlight, rounding a bend and charging between two hills, red furnace glow beneath as though it ran on the fires of Hell itself.  Nina swore the cylindrical body and frame twisted on the tracks, bulging, as if something inside strained against its mechanical confines."

It takes more than half the book for the deaduns to show up, but believe me, it's worth the wait.  Plus, The Ten Thousand Things is much more than zombies in the old west.  It's  a battle of good versus evil on a grand scale.

Although, The Ten Thousand Things is a totally enjoyable tale where we meet new characters and lose a few along the way, there is no resolution.  What does the evil Liao Xu have in store for our weary travelers, will they be able to continue to defend against all the things he throws their way, will Nina Weaver be able to call upon the strength of her ancestors to finally defeat the powerful Liao Xu?  Looks like we will have to wait for book 3, The Devils In Reno, due later this year, in order to get those answers.

The Ten Thousand Things is published by Ragnarok Publications and is available now for the Kindle through Amazon.com.

BTW, I strongly recommend reading Book 1 in the Dead West series first.  Those Poor, Poor Bastards is great fun and available now.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Way of All Flesh - by Tim Waggoner - Wonderfully fresh take on the zombie genre

5 of 5 Stars    Review copy

From his fitting dedication to "John Russo, Father of the Living Dead," right through to the unexpected ending, Tim Waggoner weaves a zombie tale like none other.

The Way of All Flesh tells the story of David Croft, a father, ex-husband, twin and, oh yes, he's a zombie.

David doesn't realize he's a zombie, as a matter of fact he doesn't have any idea as to what's happening.

"Maybe...maybe he'd had some kind of accident, been in a car wreck or something.  Maybe he'd suffered brain damage and was in a coma.  People could dream during comas, couldn't they?  And he'd just keep on dreaming until he came out of the coma--if he ever did.

"Or, he thought with a stab of fear, maybe he was crazy, maybe he'd had some kind of mental meltdown, was buckled into a straitjacket and lying on the floor of a padded room somewhere hallucinating with his back against a rotting house on the verge of collapse in a world with a phlegm-colored sky, where ivory-skinned demons carried rifles and people killed and ate monstrous creatures raw.

"Any of those possibilities could be true, he thought.  They all explained why he couldn't remember how he'd come to be walking down the street with Simon.  And they all explained why the world had become such a nightmare.  Anything could happen in a person's mind, especially if that mind was sick or damaged.  And as frightening as either of those prospects was, it beat the Hell out of the last possibility, the unthinkable one, the one that despite all reason his gut told him was the truth.

"This was happening, all of it.  Really happening."

The Way of All Flesh is well written and takes the zombie genre in new directions, yet it still has what the average zombie reader is looking for, including some of the most vile and disgusting descriptions of the zombie lifestyle it's ever been my pleasure to read.

Brilliant in concept and flawless in execution, I enjoyed every word of The Way of All Flesh. Plus, an ending so unexpected, it could only come from the deviant mind of Tim Waggoner.

The Way of All Flesh will be available in ebook and print formats on April 1, 2014 from Samhaim Publishing.

Not to be missed, you can pre-order now through Amazon.com.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

R/T/M - by Sean Douglas -A sexually explicit look into the mind of a misogynistic killer

3 of 5 Stars   Review copy

R/T/M stands for Rape/Torture/Murder and it's all there and much of it is horribly disgusting.  I ask myself, "Why would you even choose to read something so morally reprehensible?" The fact that I even have such conversations with myself may answer that question.

It all started when writer Kit Power gave me a collection of shorts called, Till Death Do Us Part, which I read and reviewed a few weeks ago.  It's a good collection and worth checking out. The title story, "Till Death Do Us Part," was written by Sean Douglas.  It was about a guy trying to rekindle a relationship with an old flame after the zombie apocalypse.  I like it a lot.

As I often do after reading a new author, I check out his online presence.  His description of himself on his Facebook page was priceless.

"Sean Douglas does not want to get to know you and isn't interested if you want to get to know him.  He's not interested in coming to your town and making small talk with you or meeting your unattractive girlfriend.  Sean Douglas is interested in writing books, smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee and not sleeping.  Sean Douglas does not have any distinguishing scars or marks and where he lives is none of your (explitive deleted) business."

To make this long story just a bit longer, I offered to read his novel, R/T/M and provide a fair and honest review.  So here we go.

R/T/M is not for everyone.  It's not even for most people.  I'm certain there is a segment of the reading public which will be drawn to this work, much the same way one's eyes are drawn to the accident scene where the emergency responders are using the Jaws of Life to extricate a body from the wreckage.

In the Foreward, Sean Douglas tells us how the book came about, how he had a friend no one would want to have as a friend and he told him he should write a book.  What follows is the result.

In keeping with the protagonist's desire of anonymity, we don't have his name.  We do know he lives in his parent's basement, but his parents are both dead, his mother from Cancer and his father from grief.  The bulk of the story is about the various methods he uses over the years to lure women to his basement for sex, sometimes rape, occasionally torture and even murder.

The descriptions are explicit and often repetitive.  I don't consider myself a prude, but I did find it all a bit much after a while.

Also, the work could use a good proofreading.  With more than a few errors, I found it to be a little distracting.

Although, I can't really recommend R/T/M, if you want to check it out for yourself the work is Published by Burnt Offerings Books and is available as a paperback and ebook from Amazon.com.




Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Galveston - by Nic Pizzolatto - excellent crime drama from the writer of HBO'S True Detective

4 of 5 Stars

With the resounding success of True Detective, and the recommendation of writer Harry Shannon, I decided to check out Galveston, a novel written by Nic Pizzolatto, the creator and writer of the acclaimed HBO series.

Although I enjoyed the TV series more, there was a lot to like in this story of a down on his luck bag man trying to hide from his crazy ex-boss who would like nothing more than to go to his funeral.

Roy Cady, called Big Country without affection, believes he's dying and befriends a young hooker and her three year old "sister," as he hides from those who would hasten his death. Try as he might, Cady can't break away from the girls.  The story itself is fairly simple, but it's not the tale that makes this a good read, it's the telling of the story that wins over the reader.  Gritty and filled with the harsh realities from the underbelly of the underworld, Galveston is a book which left me wanting more.

Aside from great writing there are really no similarities between True Detective and Galveston, with one notable exception, "The girl sat in the living room's single chair, a large La-Z-Boy where I'd end up sleeping most nights.  An army of empty High Life cans covered the floor around the chair--an actual army, because I'd used a knife to cut little strips out of the can sides so that they folded down, like arms, and I'd pulled the tops upright to resemble heads."

Galveston was Nic Pizzolatto' s first novel and was published by Scribner in 2010 and is widely available in a number of formats.

If you enjoyed watching True Detective, I'm all but certain you'll enjoy reading Galveston.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Till Death Do Us Part: A Collection of Short Stories - Edited by Scott Lefebvre

4 of 5 Stars    Review copy

I love it when I get a chance to read authors I'm not familiar with and come away with a sense of having discovered something valuable. Like it used to feel, back in the 80s, when my youngest son and I would buy a box of baseball cards and discover a Cal Ripkin, Jr rookie card mixed in with all the commons.

Till Death Do Us Part is such a find.  The only author I had read before was Kit Power whose debut novel, The Loving Husband and the Faithful Wife, was released earlier this year by Black Beacon Books. So, when Kit brought this collection to my attention I decided to take a chance.  I'm so glad I did.  Editor Scott Lefebvre has brought together 9 talented writers, each one telling a story that is 100% faithful to the anthology's theme which is evident in the title, Till Death Do Us Part.

All of the authors come at the subject matter from their own unique point of view.  Some of the tales are stronger than others, but there is not a clunker in the bunch.

"Thrall" by Christinna Viruet - A story of possession and eventual freedom, not necessarily in they way you might expect.

"Promises" by Marta Salek - Comes from grief and a deep sense of loss.

"LI" by Mark McAuliffe Stanley - A compelling tale of a man with OCD and an apt title, as you'll see if you read the story.

"Anniversary" by Tim Jeffreys - About the lengths one woman will go to to make sure her husband won't miss their Anniversary dinner.

"Cold Shock" by Kit Power - One of my favorites.  Great opening , "It takes twenty minutes fir a submerged car to fill with water.  Seth doesn't even wake up for the first four.

"Angie' s Change"  by Deb Eskie - First periods.  Forbidden love.  Murder.  Really creeped me out.

"Till Death Do Us Part" by Sean Douglas - A zombie love story.  Be sure to read Sean's author bio.  It's a hoot.

"Companionship As Solitude" by Lisamarie Lamb - You can't keep a bad man down...er, dead...you can't keep a bad man dead.

"Cadavres de D├ęsir" by T. Fox Dunham - A mortician meets his screen idol in a professional capacity.  What would you do?

Published by Burnt Offerings Books, Till Death Do Us Part is available as a paperback and for the Kindle at Amazon.com.

Recommended.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

White - by Tim Lebbon - An isolated group faces the end of the world in this horror novella

4 of 5 Stars

British Horror and Dark Fantasy author, Tim Lebbon, has started a new ebook venture he's calling Dreaming In Fire Press, mostly as a way to get stuff that's been sitting around out to readers.

His first release is White, initially published nearly fifteen years ago and a winner of the British Fantasy award.

With an effective cover from Elderlemon Design and an attention getting first line, "We found the first body two days before Christmas.", White tells the story of a group of people, cut off by relentless snow, from what might be left of the rest of the world.

Their job was to monitor radiation levels on the Atlantic Drift from "dirty" reactors melting down in Brazil. The job came with a place to live, but times kept getting worse and "On TV, minutes before it stopped broadcasting for good, someone called it the ruin.  Then it started to snow."

And there's something in the snow.  Something not everyone sees.  Something seen from the corner of the eye.  A different something to each who sees it.  And if you see it, there's a pretty good chance it will tear you apart.

Reminded me, at times, of The Thing and it has many of the workings of a good slasher flick.  One of Lebbon' s characters even asks, "...what are we doing coming out here?  Like those crazy girls in slasher movies, you know?  Always chasing bad guys instead of running from them?  Asking to get their throats cut? Oh, man..."

In addition to the main novella, this ebook release of White, includes Tim's short Kissing At Shadows, a wonderful love story set in a similar, if not the same, world as White.

Currently available for the Kindle through Amazon.com with additional formats coming soon.

Recommended.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Hell's Door - by Sandy DeLuca - Very effective horror novella

5 of 5 Stars

A serial killer is stalking Providence, killing mostly prostitutes. Detectives Lacey Powers and John Demmings have a pretty good idea who's responsible, but lack evidence to make an arrest.  They go undercover to keep a close eye on the proprietor of Hell's Door, Ramsey Wolfe, a notorious pimp who rules her territory with an iron fist.

DeLuca does a wonderful job of keeping the reader guessing at the truth right to the final pages with an ending I never saw coming.

The mood of the book is dark, the horror is palpable, and the trips inside the killer's mind are nothing short of brilliant.  

"Hello Detectives,

I admire the work you do.  We all have jobs to do...some more unpleasant than others.  

There are so many of you in this city and I've always wondered just who is looking for me. I imagine what you might look like, and what you might think of my work.  

I left something special for you, because I knew you'd come.  How many times have you asked yourself why I do what I do?

Please understand that I am a savior, taking away pain and loneliness, cutting off all paths to self-destruction.  I am good, so much like you, but you can't see it now.  And their blood, their flesh--remnants of all those girls...the souls of the ones I become...give me the strength to go on...to save others.

So, see you around, I've got killing to do.  I have several names, but for now I am...

--Azrael

Well-written, dark, yet at times lyrical, Hell's Door slowly builds to a crescendo with a climax I dare you to see coming.

Hell' s Door is published by Darkfuse and is available now at Amazon.com.  And, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for free through the Kindle Owners' Lending Library.

This is horror at its finest.  Highly recommended.