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Preview: The Mad Ravings of an Entertainment Junkie

The Mad Ravings of an Entertainment Junkie

Updated: 2018-02-22T03:48:20.547-08:00


Shroud of Eternity [Book Review]


This is a tough one for me to write. . .

Goodkind has now written 21 novels and this is the first one that I feel is not a full five-stars. (Obviously there are some better than others, however I have always felt each book deserved five-stars, until now.)

This book just seemed to be highly repetitive. A lot of the storyline seemed rehashed. Perhaps my patience just wasn't there this time around, but more than once, I just wanted Goodkind to "get on with it" - to stop dragging things out.

With that said, there is still a lot to love about this book. When Goodkind nails it, he nails it!

Just to mention a couple of my favorite aspects, besides the ancient, fabled city of Ildakar (where everything is not as it appears); Goodkind has now introduced the Morazeth (while the Mord-Sith are more intriguing, I am looking forward to finding out more about the Morazeth). Also, you will be introduced to Ixax warriors - 15' high behemoths - each one capable of taking on 1,500 enemy soldiers. Good stuff!

Overall - 4/5 Skulls

Kept [Book Review]


Author Theresa Jacobs writes predominantly in the horror genre, so my interest was peaked when I saw that she wrote a science fiction novel.
What did I think? Read on. . .

Genre - Sci-Fi
Year Published - 2018
Length - 176 (digital) pages
Written by +Theresa Jacobs

Plot Summary:
Twelve massive ships leave the dying earth, heading into the great unknown, seeking new life among the stars.
One of the ships, GIA, crashes on Kepler, which is already inhabited. Now at the mercy of the alien race, the humans are held in an underground cavern. 
Would they still have gone knowing that they would be stripped of all humanity?
Under the constant eye of the aliens, a few men discover there may be a way out of the cavern. 
But to where? 
How will they escape and what will they encounter if they succeed?

Jacobs does a good job placing you within the story. She has also come up with some unique "sci-fi" aspects, and there is a touch of mystery involved that keeps you turning the pages, wanting to discover what is happening behind the scenes.

Rating: 3/5 Skulls

A Hero's Birth (Book III of 'The Empire's Foundation' Trilogy) [Book Review]


Genre - Fantasy
Year Published - 2018
Length - 505 (digital) pages
Written by +Ryan Toxopeus

Plot Summary:
After more than four months abroad, Eliza, Thomas, and Sarentha return home in the face of dire warnings and sweeping changes in the empire. They go their separate ways to reflect on their lives and look for ways to move forward. New allies and enemies emerge, and grave challenges face the up-and-coming heroes. They will need to come together, combining their wits and strengths, to overcome ancient foes. In the balance is the world of Illuma: will it enter an age of light, or will it plunge into everlasting darkness, ruled by demons and the undead?

Before I get started, if you have not already read A Noble's Quest and A Wizard's Gambit, you need to read those first. In fact, there are a few short stories written between the novels that you need to read as well. Here is the author's recommended reading order:

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

So, if you have not already been introduced to Toxopeus' world of Illuma, then the above is your gateway. Have fun!

Now, for those of you who have been anticipating the release of this final book in the trilogy. . . man-oh-man, what a doozy!

What I loved the most about this book is that our three heroes start off on three separate quests/journeys, making their ultimate reunion that much sweeter. You will see Thomas begin to fulfill his destiny, Sarentha's becoming a dragon hunter, and Eliza's growth as a leader. And the ending... Whoa! Man, it is difficult to write this review without giving anything away. I better just say this:

Toxopeus has certainly grown as an author. If you like your fantasy filled with intrigue, suspense, and mystery, then this book is for you!

Rating: 5/5 Skulls

Harvest [Book Review]


First Book Review of 2018
Did I pick a winner? Read on to find out.

Genre - Sci-Fi/Horror
Year Published - 2018
Published by Post Mortem Press
Length - 322 (digital) pages
Written by John Leahy

Tagline: "Sometimes being one step ahead is going one step to far."

Plot Summary:
Nick Prentice is a young vice-president at oil company HHI - Hickson Hydrocarbon International. With the company in financial trouble, Nick feels that he may get fired in an upcoming round of cost-cutting. After a chance meeting with Adam Styles, an old high-school football team-mate, Nick thinks he just may have found the answer to all his problems - and the key to untold riches. Adam and his friends have made an incredible scientific discovery that will change Nick's life irrevocably, and the lives of everyone on earth...

I started off 2013 by reading Leahy's CROGIAN (a sci-fi thriller about giant, mutated bugs). I thoroughly enjoyed that one, so I decided to start this year off with Leahy's Harvest. Now, to be completely honest, if I were not already familiar with Leahy, I am not sure that I would have ever chosen this book based on its description. The description does not do this book justice!

The book begins with a fascinating prologue, (roughly 30 pgs) that starts in 1910 and leads up till today, and then the book really kicks into gear!

At this point, I feel that I need to give you just a little more information than the summary above - it  contains a slight spoiler, but is perhaps necessary in this case. (just skip the next paragraph, if you want to be surprised)

After an incredible scientific breakthrough, a "carbon-planet" has been discovered. Upon this planet, the seas and rivers are comprised of crude oil. Imagine what this means to the oil industry on Earth. . . untold riches!, but at what cost?

end slight spoiler

Leahy has written a totally engrossing story - one filled with treachery, blackmail, and murder. He has harnessed the power of greed and its cataclysmic consequences.

Rating: 5/5 Skulls

Year in Review: 2017


Here are the Top Ten Books that I read this year:
[an asterisk* denotes published this year]

*Bane County 2: Returning Moon by +J R Rice​​

Dark Gold by David Angsten

*Death's Mistress by Terry Goodkind

The Dragon's Blade: The Reborn King by Michael R. Miller

*The Dramos Saga by +Franklin E. Wales​​ (even though this one, legitimately, is a short story collection, it reads like a novel, hence its inclusion in this list)

The Hell on Earth Series by +Iain Rob Wright​​ (The Gates/Legion/ and why these books are included in this year's list *Extinction)

*Hex-Rated by Jason Ridler

Nightwalk 2 by D. Nathan Hilliard

The Swarm by Frank Schatzing

*Undisclosed by Steve Alten

BONUS here are my Top Three Short Stories/Novellas from 2017:

Beneath the Ziggurat by +David Dubrow​​ (this was one of the first books that I read this year, and it remained one of my top favorites, all year long!)

The Final Reconciliation by +Todd Keisling​​

Wallflower by +Chad Lutzke​​

If you are still looking for Christmas gifts, any of the above novels, novellas, or short stories will make for excellent gifts, in my opinion!

My Top Twelve Movies of 2017:
(I am giving you 12 this year, because my top two are absolute must-see movies, if you have not seen them already - the other 10 are the ones that I enjoyed over all of the others, primarily for their entertainment value.)

#1 Movie of the Year goes to Wind River
#2 movie of the year goes to Baby Driver

Here are my other Top Ten (in alphabetical order):
Keep in mind that this year I hardly watched any art or foreign films, and a few of these get their nomination simply due to their repeat viewing value with my children...

Beauty and the Beast
The Fate of the Furious [Fast & Furious 8]
Get Out
The Great Wall (I have seen this one on more than one "Worst of '17 List", but I thoroughly enjoyed it!)
Spiderman: Homecoming
Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi
Thor: Ragnarok (this one knocked Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 off the list)
and last, but not least, Wonder Woman

Here are my Top Ten Movies [released prior to 2017]: (again, in alphabetical order)

The Accountant
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
Ben-Hur (the 2016 re-make)
Hacksaw Ridge
Jack Reacher 2: Never Go Back
La La Land
The Love Witch
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Why Him?

Before I sign off, here are My Top Three New Television Shows of 2017 [in order]

The Orville (I absolutely love this show - I looked forward to it each week!)

The Good Doctor (Freddie Highmore is Fantastic!)

Training Day (R.I.P. Bill Paxton)

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you all!


Wrestle Maniacs [Book Review]


Wrestle Maniacs - not just for fans of Wrestling!

Genre - Dark Fiction (Crime/Horror/Humor/Taboo)
Year Published - 2017
Published by *Honey Badger Press
Length - 221 (digital) pages
Written by Multiple Authors

Rating: 3 Skulls

Plot Summary:
A dozen dark fiction masters bring their twisted vision to the world of professional wrestling. Twelve original stories of crime, horror, humor, and taboo. Ohhh, yeahhh! This ain’t no kayfabe, baby. This is hard-hitting wrestling fiction that grips like a Camel Clutch, and pins the reader to the page for the count of one, two…THREE!

Includes a confrontational foreword by ring legend 'Pulverizing' Pat McCrunch (as told to Jeff Strand)… An all-new story starring Nick 'The Widowmaker' Bullman from James Newman’s wrestling noir, "Ugly as Sin"… And ex-boxer turned strip club bouncer Reggie Levine ("Tijuana Donkey Showdown," "Damn Dirty Apes") returns for another action-packed misadventure.

Original fiction by:
Jeff Strand
Tom Leins
James Newman
Eryk Pruitt
Adam Howe
Ed Kurtz
Hector Acosta
Joseph Hirsch
Duncan P. Bradshaw
David James Keaton
Gabino Iglesias
Patrick Lacey
and Jason Parent


Author Adam Howe has started his own publishing label - *Honey Badger Press - "Fearless, Ferocious, FUBAR Fiction" - "grit-lit that just don't care" - and this is the first release.

I have never been a Wrestling fan, but I did not hesitate in purchasing this book - not only to support Howe's new label, but in all honesty soley for Howe's included story, Rassle Hassle (an all-new Reggie Levine story!)

As expected, Howe's story is worth the price of the book (what Adam puts Reggie through... man-oh-man!), though surprisingly it ultimately wasn't my favorite story in this collection - that honor goes to Gabino Iglesias' El Nuevo Santo's Last Fight - I loved this story!

I also really enjoyed Duncan P. Bradshaw's Glassjaw. These were the top three stories, in my opinion - each one worth getting this book.

While some of the stories in this collection are hit-or-miss, there are some others still worth mentioning - James Newman's A Fiend in Need, Patrick Lacey's Kill to be You, and Tom Lein's Real Americans were some of the other stand out stories.

All-in-all, whether you are a fan of Wrestling, or not, chances are you will enjoy a good bit of these stories!


Dark Gold


"When the world offers itself to you, when it opens like a woman's legs and begs for you to enter, there's no holding back, no stopping, no chain on the madman living inside you. . ."

Three college buddies, two ravishing shipmates, a wealthy yachtsman (and plenty of Mexican tequila) combine and combust in this thrilling tale of a search for sunken treasure - and survival against an awesome creature of the sea.

This one was recommended by author +David Dubrow​. What I love about Mr. Dubrow is that when he reviews a book (or movie) he does not shy away from being completely honest. If something is not worth your time, he will let you know, and if he deems something worthwhile, then you are guaranteed a treat! Such is the case with this book - an excellent read, one you want to take your time with, absorbing each and every word (hence the above quote).

Thank you, Mr. Dubrow, for another great recommendation!

'Seat 6A' and 'Scarecrows' [Two Short Story Reviews]


Over the weekend, author +Thomas S Flowers​ announced his forthcoming new short story collection Beautiful Ugly and Other Weirdness (releasing towards the end of January - you can pre-order your copy now for only $0.99!)The reason that I mention this is that author +Michael Bray​ did the cover art. This reminded me that I have several short stories written by Bray, that I have not yet read (he had a big sale over the summer and I snagged quite a few of his books).Anyhow, I chose these two at random:Seat 6AGenre - Horror/Short StoryYear Published - 2013Length - 29 (digital) pagesWritten by Michael BrayRating: 4 SkullsPlot Summary:A routine flight becomes a real life nightmare when a strange man boards flight 444. As the aircraft makes its way into a violent storm, the crew realise that the passenger in seat 6A is more than just a mere man, and must take action to ensure not only their survival, but that of the other passengers before their supernatural passenger can bring the aircraft down with everyone on board.Review:The tag-line for this one is "*Horror at 30,000 feet*", and that sums the story up nicely. It is a tight-written story. When a flight attendant and the black-eyed man have a battle of wills, you can feel the intensity roll off the pages, and the ending alone makes this a story worth reading!One more thing before I move on to the next one, in case any of you are already Bray fans (this is the first story that I have read by him). At the end of the story, it is mentioned that this story is part of Bray's "Taste of Fear Series" It is stated that next in the series is a story titled The Reef, yet I am unable to find it (or any others in the series) anywhere. . .?ScarecrowsGenre - Horror/Short StoryYear Published - 2015Length - 41 (digital) pagesWritten by Michael BrayRating: 4 SkullsPlot Summary:Once you're in, they'll never let you go...When three teenagers decide to explore the local legend of the crazy old man on Samsonite farm and the army of scarecrows he has built, they soon discover that not all urban legends are false, and sometimes the biggest threat comes from within. For Dwayne and his friends, a battle against a supernatural creature which uses the samsonite scarecrows to do it's bidding will unfold as trust is broken and truth becomes blurred amid the unbelievable reality of the situation they are in and cannot escape from.Review:This one is a great short story that packs a punch!(Even though I rated it the same as Seat 6A, I enjoyed this one even moreso.)I will definitely be reading more of Bray!Jason [...]

Bane County 2: Returning Moon [Book Review]


If you have read my last couple of posts (on Google+) then you are already aware that I have been reading Bane County 2: Returning Moon. Well, I have finished it and here is my review:Genre - Action-Adventure/Horror/WerewolfYear Published - 2017Length - 466 (digital) pagesWritten by +J R Rice​Rating: 5 SkullsPlot Summary:For nearly two decades, life in the small rural town of Silver Canyon had been peaceful and serene. People went about their daily lives as usual, completely oblivious to the inescapable horror that loomed on the horizon.All but a select few of Bane County’s residents had forgotten the macabre occurrences of the past. It was hard to believe that twenty-one people, missing or dead, in only three months’ time had been so easily dismissed.Bryce McNeel and Jackson Campbell had been at the heart of those horrific events, and the tragic memories of that long, bloody season still weighed heavily on them, especially since they knew it wasn’t over.The time was quickly approaching when a long-slumbering evil would reawaken, and the horrors of the past would revisit the people of Bane County. Somewhere within the dark cavernous depths of the wildlife refuge, something ravenous awaited, longing for its time to rise.As Bryce and Jackson prepared themselves, they were unaware that an even deadlier adversary would come for them, and once again, they would find themselves in a battle for their lives.ReviewThis is the sequel to Bane County: Forgotten Moon. You do not have to read the first book, but I highly suggest that you do, if you have not yet done so (primarily for the background of the characters). If you have not already read my review of Forgotten Moon, I gave that one a five-skull-rating as well. With that said, Returning Moon is even better!!Like I said in my review of the first book, this book too has excellent mass-market appeal. It is not just for fans of horror or werewolves. It is for fans of really any genre, but especially those who love great action or an intriguing mystery.The book starts off with an incredible discovery which took place before the first book. The story then jumps ahead, approximately 19 years after the end of the first book. There are returning characters as well as new ones (specifically Iggy, Bryce's best friend, and Fate, Jackson's dog - a possible Rottweiler/Bull Mastif mix.) What I most love about Iggy is his "instant belief" when Bryce first tells him of the beast who hunts within Bane County's Refuge, and Fate is just awesome!J R Rice is a Master at not only interweaving his different subplots, but also of superb character development. (both for the protagonists as well as the antagonists) You easily become emotionally invested with the characters and become angry when there is wrong-doing against them!Not only is this a terrific book with a rapid-fire plot, it ends with you craving more, and the good news is that Book 3 [First Moon] is already underway! (and I have a sneaky suspicion that there are going to be several forthcoming surprises)Make this book (or the first one) your next read. You will not be disappointed!Jason [...]

Planet of the Dead [Book Review]


Here is my review of Planet of the Dead:

Genre - Apocalyptic Horror/Zombie
Year Published - 2017
Length - 178 (digital) pages
Written by +Thomas S Flowers

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
News reports speak of mass panic and violence spreading across the globe. Negligent leaders hide behind misinformation. But in an age of paranoia and suspicion, who can say what is true anymore? Struggling to survive against a sweeping epidemic that has engulfed the planet, survivors will have to make hard choices in a world that no longer makes sense. 

Live. Die. Or become one of the undead. 

In a time where our culture is saturated with zombies, Flowers manages to keep this book fresh, with superb character development, unique concepts (for example, there is a chapter written completely from a dog's perspective, and I am looking forward to finding out more about those on a space station - something I never thought about before), and surprising deaths.

From the very first chapter, this book accelerates like a bullet fired from a gun! The story is very "Romero-esque" which is a good thing, especially since the book is dedicated in his memory. I definitely like the fact that Flowers chose to keep his characters in the dark - not knowing what, exactly, is happening (for instance, one of the characters calling the zombies "*nasties*").

Needless to say, I am definitely anticipating the sequel's release [War for the Planet of the Dead], next year.

Also, just in case you are wondering why the 4-Skull rating - I had to deduct a star as surprisingly (for a Flowers' release) there were quite a few spelling errors - enough so that they sometimes took me out of the story. Other than that, a top-notch tale!


The Swarm


The Swarm By Frank Schatzing

"The #1Blockbuster German Bestseller about an intelligent life force that takes over the oceans and exacts revenge on mankind."

This book is utterly fascinating! I do not believe that I have ever read a book filled with so much informative knowledge! (the amount of research that went into this book is mind-boggling.) Think Steve Alten on Crack The science behind everything is extremely complex, yet Schatzing makes it all completely understandable, and every bit of this story is explicitly visual within your mind's eye.

This is a book that lovers of any genre will thoroughly enjoy. There is something within for everyone.


The Dramos Saga [Book Review]


Do you like vampires? Do you like werewolves? How about zombis? What about Westerns?If you answered yes to any of the above, then The Dramos Saga is for you!If you are looking for something different to read this weekend, then I highly suggest The Dramos Saga - a series of stand-alone short stories - each one leading into the other, yet able to be read individually. (Trust me though, you will want to read the saga straight through!) Here is my review:Genre - Horror/WesternYear Published - 2017Length - 233 (digital) pagesWritten by Franklin E. Wales​Rating: 5+ SkullsPlot Summary:They slaughtered his village in a frenzy of bloodlust and cruelty.He followed them to America, vowing vengeance.His name brings fear to the Undead, for they know of his wrath.His name is Dramos and this is his Saga. Seven Adventures, One Saga.13 STEPS: Thirteen steps up the gallows to the hangman’s noose.FUNERAL COACH: A coachman chained to the seat of a traveling funeral coach.PICKIN' TO BEAT THE DEVIL: An Irishman with a banjo has learned the secrets of the undead.RENEGADE: Two widows slaughtered. The town blames wolves. The facts say otherwise.VAMPIRE'S GOLD: A locomotive loaded down with gold, hired guns and something very old screams through the night.THE VAMPIRE KING: A Vampire King must face the most formidable opponent in its centuries of existence.BLACK WATER: A dead town by day, an undead town by night.Review:I have waited 5 long years for this saga to be completed, and the wait has been paid off tenfold! This book is exceptional! One of those books that you don't want to end! (which is a good thing, especially since when you think this one might be ending, it continues.)The story opens with Dramos at the gallows, preparing to be hung. 13 Steps up to the hangman's noose - one step for each day leading up to this point. You may guess what lies within the Funeral Coach, but I guarantee this tale will still surprise you!In Pickin' to Beat the Devil, you will be introduced to one of my favorite characters in the saga - an Irish vampire hunter who has discovered a unique talent.Renegade introduces another great character - Injun' Joe (and his sister Mary).Vampire's Gold - the action plays out like a movie in your head! (You may have heard me say this before, but I feel that Robert Rodriguez would be the perfect director to bring this saga to the big screen - it would be amazing! - one of my dreams!)The Vampire King is pretty much self-explanatory and Black Water is about a mysterious ghost town.All of these stories are perfectly linked to tell Dramos' story. (each story, individually, receives 5 Skulls) This is a saga that should not be missed!(note: the covers shown of #1 and #2 are off-colored only because I started this in the evening, when the blue-light filter was off on my phone. I then finished the rest the next day, which is how all of the covers look)Jason [...]

Hell on Earth Series (Books 1 - 3) Review


What will you do when the world ends?I am going to be a bit ambitious with this review. Rather than one book review, I am going to give you three. (I thought that I was going to be reviewing a trilogy, however thankfully these 3 books are hopefully only the beginning.  I present to you the Hell on Earth series (Books 1 - 3)Genre - Apocalyptic HorrorYear(s) Published - 2015/2016/2017Length - 346/302/285 (digital) pages(all 3) Written by Iain Rob Wright​Rating: (all 3 books receive) 5 SkullsPlot Summary:What will you do when the world ends? That's a question that needs answering quickly when the gates to Hell open up all over Earth.Taking place across the globe is an apocalypse like no other, and humanity will find itself at war against a smart and merciless foe. The world must come together and fight back against the unstoppable Legions of Hell, because no one is coming to help them. The monsters are real and they will not stop. Welcome to Hell.Follow the struggles to survive with several characters as things go from bad to worse.Humanity is dwindling.When the gates open, all Hell will break loose!Review:Iain Rob Wright is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors. When I finished book one of this series, I immediately had to read book two, and when I finished book two, I immediately jumped into book three. Now, I have to wait like everyone else for book four to be released, which can't come soon enough! Here are my brief thoughts on each book:The Gates (Book One)If I had to choose one word to describe Wright's endeavor with this series, that word would be Epic!. This book is completely character-driven. Some chracters you will root for, other characters you will despise. Either way, you are with each of them on their journey of survival.Legion (Book Two)This one starts off with longer chapters than the first book (I am a fan of relatively short chapters), though in this case, the longer chapters are okay, as roughly the first 35% of the book is filling in the blanks from the first book (which is awesome) and introducing some new characters. (Speaking of new characters, I just have to say that the Caretaker needs his own story/book!)Both books 1 & 2 end with "Collateral Damage" which help explain the flip side of certain parts of the story. (which, again, is awesome!)Book 2 also has two (very captivating) Bonus Short Stories by author Stuart Keane (who I will definitely be checking out!)Extinction (Book Three)Just to give you a time-frame - at the beginning of this book, it has been six-weeks since the gates first opened. You would think, by this time, some parts of the story would seem slightly stale. This is not the case, as Wright in no way makes this story repetitive. In fact, he introduces two new characters in this one (Beedle & Molok) who are, once again, deserving of their own tale. (and the identity of Skullface - whoa!!).Before I sign off, I just have to say that it was hard not talking about any of the characters, as I do not want to give any aspects of the story away. I do want to say, however,  that I love the fact that at the end of book 3, Wright begins to allude to some of his other books (some of which I have not yet read). This opens the door to magnificent potential! There is so much to love about this series! I cannot recommend it enough!Make The Gates your next read - currently only $0.99 on Kindle! [...]

Caddis Initiative - Phase One: Infection [Novella Review]


Caddis Initiative - Phase One: Infection

Genre: Horror (tentacle/body horror/medical thriller)/Novella
Year Published: 2017
Published by Bloody Whisper Books
Length - 124 (digital) pages
Written by Cassie Carnage

Tagline: "Don't drink the water!"

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
There’s something in the water. It’s making people sick. Everything is changing. Everyone is changing. The whole world is becoming something else. Something alien. 
Something terrifying. Something deadly.

The infection is spreading and altering everything it comes into contact with; people, animals, plants - nothing is safe from its invisible grasp.

Becca Espinoza’s entire life changes overnight. The whole world is becoming something beyond her wildest imagination and worse than her darkest nightmares. 

Tentacled slime spewing horrors from beneath the sea are heaving upon the shores of New Jersey. They’re spreading a deadly infection, a contagion that kills the strong and mutates the weak into mind numbing monstrosities. 

It starts with sores that are filled with black thread-like worms. Headaches, vomiting, and fever follow. Shortly after, your body is completely infested with parasites, and you die. Those who survive this infection find themselves swiftly turning into something more than human and utterly alien to the world as we know it. 

Will Becca survive long enough to find her girlfriend and get her to safety? Or is everyone living in their coastal town doomed?

In this brutal, gore filled, fast paced, mutant creature feature novella, a butch lesbian plumber faces off with monsters created by science run amok. Inspired by old school horror and medical thriller movies like The Thing and Outbreak.

The most amazing thing to me about this story is that Cassie Carnage was asked to write it! (Thank you, Kelsea, for asking Cassie to write you a story. You must be thrilled at this outcome. I know that I am!)

I will start off by saying that Cassie immediately connects you with her characters which, with this kind of "tension-filled" story, pays off in full, as you will be concerned for each character's welfare.

Another aspect worth mentioning are Cassie's creatures - they are truly the stuff of nightmares! (If I ever hear of a fish-to-human disease, I am staying far, far away!)

With all of that said, I am definitely looking forward to Phase Two: Invasion which can't come soon enough!

Before I go, I do want to point out the $5 price tag on this one, for those who may be hesitant. That price seemed a little steep to me, for a 100+ pages novella, but I will say that you do get your money's worth!




A contender for Best Book of the Year!

"Brown bags littered the gutters like the corpses of squashed rats. The air fluttered with the launching of a dozen different burger wrappers that danced in and out of traffic like kamikaze birds."

The above are just random sentences from the book. You can pretty much open the book to any random page, and find other sentences just as superbly written.

I am not really sure why this book is classified as Fantasy. (because of the magic?) I found it to be more in the vein of a crime/noir/pulp novel, so if you enjoy any of those, then you will definitely enjoy this book!

This book is a page-turner in every sense of the word. It is difficult to put down and will keep you reading late into the night. I am so glad that this is the first in a series. The next book cannot come fast enough! Thank you, Jason Ridler​, for sharing James Brimstone with us!


Dark Designs: Tales of Mad Science [Book Review]


Genre - Horror/Anthology CollectionYear Published - 2017Published by ShadowWork PublishingLength - 330 (digital) pagesWritten by Multiple AuthorsRating: 4 SkullsPlot Summary:Twilight Zone. The Outer Limits. Fringe.Science without limits. Madness without end.All proceeds from the purchase of this ebook will be donated to Doctors Without Borders.This is a warning. What you are about to read violates the boundaries of imagination, in a world where science breeds and breathes without restraint. A world very much like our own.Within these shadowy corridors you will discover characters seeking retribution, understanding, power, a second chance at life—human stories of undiscovered species, government secrets, the horrors of parenthood, adolescence and bullying, envisioned through a warped lens of megalomania, suffering, and blind hubris. Curious inventors dabble with portals to alternate worlds, overzealous scientists and precocious children toy with living beings, offer medical marvels, and pick away at the thin veil of reality.You can run. You can look away. But don’t say we didn’t warn you.Witness our Dark Designs.Review:As stated in the summary, this is a "Charity Anthology" - with all of the proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders. This is a good book with a great cause, so purchase your copy now (currently only $4).This book is edited by both Thomas S Flowers​ and Duncan Ralston​, both of whom not only contribute their own stories, they also both offer their personal thoughts on the "mad science" genre.This book was immediately a must-read for me, not only because of the genre, but also because it includes stories from Thomas S Flowers​, Chad Lutzke​, and Ken Preston​ (three authors who I totally enjoy!).Rather than break down every individual story (of which there are 16 total), I am just going to tell you my favorites:The stand-out story, for me, in this collection is, without a doubt, T. N. Kaylor​'s Death Ray Potato Bake. This story is worth the $4 alone! (I definitely plan on reading more of Kaylor's work!Other superb stories were Jeffery X Martin​'s Underneath the Foam, Chad Lutzke​'s Discerning the Adversary (which is the shortest story in this collection), Ken Preston​'s Looking After the Parents, and Thomas S Flowers​' The Ascension of Henry Porter.Other enjoyable stories were Daniel Marc Chant's How They Met Themselves, Chad Clark​'s Through the Slip, G. H. Finn's The Hidden War on Terror, and Duncan Ralston​'s The Burden.The other stories are good as well - there isn't a bad one in the bunch - the above we're just my favorites.Jason[...]

Unacknowledged: An Exposé of the World's Greatest Secret [Book & Movie Review]


From the back of the book flap:

The Biggest Lie in History is about to be Shattered.

UFOs are real.
Extraterrestrials have been interacting with humans since World War II.
We mastered gravity control in 1954.
Free, clean energy systems could have replaced fossil fuels long ago.

In late June of 1947, three extraterrestrial craft were downed outside Roswell Air Force Base. Many more followed, revealing dozens of ET species - and a Rosetta Stone to a new physics - an energy generation and propulsion system responsible for interstellar space travel. This new system could have easily replaced oil, gas, coal, nuclear plants and with them, the entire geo-political and economic order on our planet -- only a cabal of bankers, the Military Industrial Complex, and Big Oil stopped it.

We've been lied to. And now, 70 years after Roswell, the witnesses to that lie have come forward to testify in a MUST-READ book that will shock the world.

Look for the accompanying documentary to be released from The Orchard, a division of Sony.

While definitely powerful and thought-provoking, I felt that both the book and the film we're too heavily inundated. (I base my reviews on how things flow, and when the film feels as long as the book, and the book even longer, then there is an issue.)

I do however find myself fascinated with the concept of Zero-Point Energy and the hidden, subterranean bases where Special Access Projects are performed, and for that reason, I highly suggest just reading Steve Alten's ("faction" story) Undisclosed. You learn pretty much all of the hidden truths while being engrossed in a highly-entertaining tale.

Beautiful Tears & Stained [Two Short Story Reviews]


Two (brief) short story reviews for you today:

First, some backstory - this past weekend, my youngest son split his head open while attempting a back-flip into the pool, so I of course left in a hurry and left behind the book that I was reading. While waiting in the emergency room, I started browsing short stories on my phone. (My son's injury was minor, though he did end up with 5 stitches. He was totally fine, sitting in my lap with his head on my shoulder.) The joy of reading a book on my phone is the ability to read one-handed (using the volume buttons to flip the pages).

So, I first decided on David Kummer​'s Beautiful Tears. (If you are not familiar with Kummer, he is a teenage writer with quite a few stories to his name already.)

This is a well-written story that kept me engaged throughout. Kummer definitely has talent. He reminds me of a young Brandon Ford.

Still with time to spare, I next chose Kayla Krantz​'s Stained. This too is well-written story. (I do not even remember downloading it, but I am glad that I did.)

Both of these stories are available for free on Kindle and are worth the read. Especially if you find yourself in need of a quick story like I did!

[No disrespect is meant to either author with me putting both reviews together. I just felt like they were both worth mentioning, and there isn't really much more to say.]


Undisclosed [Book Review]


We've been lied to. . .

[From the inside/back book flap:]

"Zero-point-energy will not just replace fossil fuels; it is the game-changer that will eliminate hunger and poverty, pollution and climate change, disease and war... it will skyrocket the global economy and place every nation on an even playing field. Free, clean energy unlocks the door to humanity's evolution as a species and we've possessed the key for 70 years, only the gatekeepers refused to allow us to use it in order to protect the oil oligarchs and the military industrial complex. It is the new physics that allows us to explore the galaxy and beyond."

"Wait... Are you saying we have the means to travel faster than the speed of light?"

"Yes. Only we didn't invent it. We reverse-engineered it."

"Reverse-engineered it? From who?"


Three years ago, N.Y. Times best-selling author Steve Alten was given access to testimonials from military intelligence regarding the undisclosed TRUTH about UFOs, Extraterrestrials, secret subterranean bases... and zero-point-energy - a free, clean source of energy that has purposely been black-shelved since the events at Roswell Army Air Force Base in 1947. All is revealed in the pages of this mind-blowing thriller - a novel of "faction" written to provide a glimpse of what awaits us as a species - depending upon the path we choose.

I will let the book trailer speak for itself. All I will say is that this book will definitely be a contender for my "Best Book of the Year", come December.

Steve Alten​​​ is my favorite "faction" writer, and this book is a perfect example of why. It is a page-turner in every sense of the word!

Enjoy and remember, "The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off."




Skitter - sequel to The Hatching

While I loved 'The Hatching', I was slightly disappointed in 'Skitter'. Where 'The Hatching' had a faster pace to it, 'Skitter' is mostly a lot of build-up for the next book, which may not necessarily be a bad thing, as I am now expecting the 3rd book to pack quite a wallop!

If you have already read 'The Hatching', then 'Skitter' definitely needs to be read, as big (literally) "things" are coming down the pipeline!


The Gatekeeper [Short Story Review]


Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2017
Length - 10 (digital) pages
Written by Kevin J Kennedy

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
If you could have anything you wanted, once a year, in return for completing a simple task, would you do it? What if that task, was to let all of the demons out of hell, for a night of fun and carnage? Meet the GateKeeper. 

This is my first introduction to Kennedy's work and a great introduction it is! A well written story.

I will definitely be reading more of Kennedy's works!


TEETH [Short Story Review]


Genre - Horror/Short Story
Year Published - 2017
Length - 11 (digital) pages
Written by Multiple Authors (see summary)

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Franklin E. Wales originally challenged the authors at Lycan Valley Press to create a multi-authored werewolf short story during October of 2016. The idea was to compose a readable short story with the world's longest byline of co-authors.

Frank threw down the gauntlet and eleven of LVP's finest rose to the challenge. From all the research Frank did, he believes eleven authors coming together for one tale is the world's record.

Featuring work by Kala Godin, Stuart Conover, Jacki Wildman Wales, Nickolas Furr, H.R. Boldwood, Catrin Rutland, Martin Reaves, Roy C. Booth, Jo-Anne Russell, Wesley R. Irvin, and Cynthia Booth...

Simply put, this one is a must read, due to the circumstances behind it. (If you skipped the summary, that will fill you in)

The rules were that each author could write no more than a paragraph; each author must keep continuity with what came before, and each author had to wait a minimum of 24 hours before continuing the story.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well this concept worked. The authors could not have been aware of where the story was going, and yet it flowed smoothly and wrapped itself up well.




Christopher Golden is the author of a Sons of Anarchy book titled Bratva (which was released in 2014). Wondering if Golden ever wrote another SOA book, I looked him up to discover this particular book. While not as good as Bratva, I particularly recommend this one to fans of John Carpenter's The Thing!

Sadly, another SOA book was not found. 😔

Free Fall (Space Truckin' Book 1) [Short Story Review]


Genre - Sci-Fi
Year Published - 2016
Length - 29 (digital) pages
Written by Jason R. Davis

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Will was once a truck driver. When he was on Earth, his days were spent alone, traveling the highways for months until he went home to see his wife and family. Then Space Trucking became the new thing, and they didn't want pilots. They wanted men like him, the ones who were used to the isolation. 

Now he is a new breed of driver. He is a Space Trucker, and his job is simple enough. Haul the load and drop the load. Just now he is in space, and his destination; Mars.

This is a very well-written short story. Davis completely puts you into the main character's head, forcing you to feel the character's isolation and other emotions.
(I certainly cannot imagine​ being away from my family for 8-month stretches!)

I am definitely looking forward to Book 2!


Wallflower [Novella Review]


Genre - Fiction (Horror)
Year Published - 2017
Length - 100 (digital) pages
Written by Chad Lutzke

Tagline: "A bleak take of addiction, delusion, and flowers."

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
After an encounter with a homeless man, a high school graduate becomes obsessed with the idea of doing heroin, challenging himself to try it just once.

Wow! What a story! Do not start this book unless you have at least an hour to spare. This story will grip you, immediately, from the prologue until the very end. (I started this book at 11 last night, figuring that I would read a chapter or two, before bed... Needless to say, I was riveted to the story and just had to finish it.)

This story is as addicting as its subject matter, and just like the habit, you want to stop (reading) but you can't!

I love everything about this book, from the cover (designed by Lutzke himself) to the Chapter Headings (very revealing in their downward spiral).

I will definitely be reading more of Lutzke's work!