Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for The Z-Day Trilogy Book 0: Creation of the Living Dead by Mark Cusco Ailes

Ted Hollman, the son of Professor Nicholas and Kathy Hollman, has a plan more ingenuous than his parents. Instead of creating a legion of zombies and zombiefied animals for a small zombie park, he wants to build a massive zombie theme park on a remote island. He believes he cracked the formula for making the perfect smart zombie soldiers which his parents failed to achieve. He leaves the United States for an island that his backers purchased where he can continue his parent’s research. The mystery of where the bodies came from that were made into zombies for the zombie park will be revealed. 

My Review:

Creation of the Living Dead is a prequel to Zombie Park.   Even if you haven't read the other books in the trilogy it is still a really interesting book. Even though the ending leaves a lot of unanswered questions, I kind of expected it to happen since it is a prequel, so I wasn't upset by it.  It helped that the author did a good job of setting up a story that pulled me in and makes me want to find out what will happen in the rest of the trilogy. 

I'm not sure if I actually like any of the characters yet. From what I've seen of them all of them are pretty crappy people. No one of them really stood out as being better than the rest. Even the one character who actually cared about the people being experimented on I'm still not sure about.  But the way the story was written it made me interested in finding out if any of them deserve to not get eaten.

Overall even though the book is short and is a lead in to the series it kept me interested and made me want to read more. It's currently free for Kindle so I definitely recommend picking it up.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for Y: The Last Man #1

Written by Brian K. Vaughan (Lost, EX MACHINA), this is the saga of Yorick Brown – the only human survivor of a planet-wide plague that instantly kills every mammal with a Y chromosome. Accompanied by his pet monkey, Yorick searches for his lost love…and the answer to why he’s the last man on earth.

My Review:

I liked reading Y: The Last Man #1.   

The artwork was well drawn and the font was easy to read. Also none of it blurred when I zoomed in on my Kindle, which I've had happen before.

The story was intriguing as well.  It starts off at the present and then goes back to the recent events leading up to the opening. Yes, it jumps between locations as it advances towards the present moment, but I think it builds a steady lead in to when the virus suddenly hits. 

I think if I have any problem with this episode is that I felt that it was cut short.  This volume of the comic ends as it began, right when the virus hits.  It does a good job of introducing characters and setting them up for the rest of the series.  But then it ends. I read the summary before I started reading so I thought there was going to be more of what happens after the virus killed the men on the planet. 

Honestly that was my only issue. Even with the sudden ending it didn't turn me off to the series. I'm putting the other volumes on my wish list and I hope to pick them up in the very near future so I can see what happens to the characters that were introduced in volume 1.  Y: The Last Man looks to be a really interesting series and I'm glad I decided to start it.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for X: A Collection of Horror by C.M. Saunders

This is what happens when you ‘wake up’ inside a dream, when the urban myth you heard turns out to be so much more, and when that hottie you pick up in a bar springs a terrible surprise. But what do you do when your wife gives birth to something not entirely human? When your past discretions come back to haunt you? Or when a serial killer moves in next door? 

My Review:

X is a very interesting collection of horror stories, ten total, hence the X for the title.  All the stories are short, some only a few pages, and self contained. The authors descriptions are amazing. I'd be curious to see how they meld into larger works. Also the stories have a twist that adds to their creepiness.   Between the graphic descriptions and the adult situations X  isn't for the kids. Strictly 18+. But if you're into horror and looking for a new author I definitely recommend picking up X. It gives you a chance to get to know the author in bite size pieces. Bites that will leave you  wanting more, but in a good way.  

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for The Wild's Call by Jeri Smith-Ready

It is seven years after the collapse of modern civilization, and the world is entering a new Dark Age. Can best friends Elysia and Darien trust the animal spirits that are beckoning them to escape into the wilderness and create a new way of life? And will they give in to the mutual passion they've always denied?

My Review:

One more series I've added to my wish list. Unless I win a million dollars I'm never going to have the money to get everything on it!

The Wild's Call is a prequel to the Aspect of Crow series. If the series is anything like this book it will be amazing!

The world Smith-Ready has created drew me in. I want to explore all of it.  I want to find out what happens to the characters introduced in this story. I want to find out about the rest of the world and the other groups that the spirits brought together. I want to find out what other animals are out there as well as what their powers are.

I really enjoyed Elysia and Darien. I fell in love with them. I really wanted to see them succeed. I can't wait to find out more about them in the rest of the books.

 Overall I think the book is a great jumping off point for the series. It pulls the reader in and holds their attention til the last page. The Wild's Call is currently free on Kindle so I definitely recommend picking it up as soon as you can.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for The Vampire From Hell by Ally Thomas

Goodreads Summary:

Rayea isn't daddy's little girl, even if he is the most powerful fallen angel around. He wants her to take an active role in the family business. But she's not interested in his schemes for world domination. Instead she wants to spend her time shopping on the Internet, rescuing humans from a horrific eternity, and practicing martial arts with her seven foot hellhound. Then one day everything changes. Here's the first part of her story about how it all began.

My Review:

Vampire is an interesting story.  It's fast paced. The characters are engaging. Overall it's a good first episode to an interesting series. I say episode because it felt more of a first few chapters then a full book.  It works as an episode quite well though.

I wand to find out more about Rayea and Blick. I want to find out the rest of her story, as well as what happens when father finds out she's posting it on the internet.

By the end this installment does what it's meant to do. It drew me in and made me want to read more. I liked what I've seen of the characters so far. I just wish there had been more. Which isn't a bad thing considering it's the beginning of a series.

The current Kindle price is free.  So I'd recommend getting a copy while it's on sale. I do wish I had had the next part while I was reading but it is already out so I can pick it up as soon as I'm done my tbr list for the a to z event.

Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for Urgent Questions #1 by Joshua Scribner

Five brief horror tales in a keep-you-guessing-to-the-end style, similar to Joshua Scribner's novel Eleven O'clock Fright.

My Review:

Unanswered Questions is an anthology compromised of 5 flash fictions. They're not bad. Actually they're quite good. But I think that if you know the stories are going  to be short before you start reading you'll enjoy them more.  I always forget how short flash fiction can actually be before I start reading it. So I liked the fact that these were all in one book so I could at least enjoy more than one in a reading.

All of the shorts are interesting. All are well written and, with the exception of the first story, are self contained. The first story feels more like the beginning of a bigger story. It is still interesting though, and I would enjoy reading more of it if it was expanded.

I can no longer find Urgent Questions #1 on Amazon, only the link of Goodreads. But if you get a chance to pick it up, or any other work by Scribner I definitely recommend it. I've enjoyed all the short works that I've read by him so far and would love to read something longer.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for The Terminals:Spark by Michael F. Stewart

There is an afterlife. Christian Hell. Buddhist Naraka. Greek Tartarus. Mayan Xibalba, Haida Hetgwauge, Muslim Jahannam. All religions are right. And should the US government need information from one of their dead, the Terminals can send believers in to get it.
When the case file arrives from the Oval Office, the handler, Christine Kurzow, convinces someone of the appropriate beliefs to die early – surprisingly, even the terminally ill are reluctant to let go. Go figure. If there isn’t a military veteran in the database Christine must find a civilian replacement.
Next, Attila Liltay does his magic and creates a bond with the agent that will allow the dour psychic to talk to him while he’s dead.
Deeth sedates the terminal with propofol, An andenosine injection stops the heart and starts the clock.
This is for real. Under General F. Aaron the Terminals have stopped nuclear attacks, found lost submarines, and foiled bioterrorist plans all from Purgatory, their operations on the top floor of the NYC Veterans Hospital.
In Terminals: Spark, Lt. Col. Christine Kurzow, fresh from a failed suicide attempt after she cost 11 of her soldiers their lives, is recruited into the covert unit of Terminals as a handler. It's an easy sell. If she's really determined to die, it’s a chance to give her death meaning.
But her first case—convincing a monk to chase Hillar the Killer into the afterlife to find the location of a missing bus and the children it carried—has her wondering how to make a dead psychopath talk.
Christine must follow the clues sent back by the shotgun-toting monk, who tracks Hillar through the seven deeps of hell, so she can find eleven kids before it’s too late.
Maybe this time killing a man will give Christine a reason to live. 

My Review:

The Terminals pulled me in from the very beginning.  The combination of supernatural, action, suspense and mystery was skillfully woven together.  I enjoyed the authors take on how each persons religion determined their afterlife experience. The action kept the pages turning. The mystery and suspense kept me guessing up til the end. But they were put in in such a way as not to give the reader whiplash. 

My only complaint is I would liked to have gotten to know some of the characters better. The ending seemed to imply that there could be more books written in The Terminals world, but unless they are prequels I don't know if I'll get to find out more about some of them.   It didn't really draw away from the story itself. If anything it just made me want to read more. So while it was a disappointment not to get so know some of them better, it didn't kill the book itself. 

I will say the book has it's fair share of gore, lots of death, of course,  and to a lesser extent sex. So I'm not recommending it to anyone who's not 18+. But if you're looking for an interesting supernatural thriller I definitely recommend picking it up. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

S is for Skating on Thin Ice by Jami Davenport

A billionaire’s mission to bring hockey to Seattle clashes with his passion for the woman who holds his heart. 
Ethan Parker, a billionaire determined to bring professional hockey to Seattle, will stop at nothing to realize his dream. After signing an agreement to purchase another city's team, Ethan plans to make the move to Seattle, but a gag order by the League forces him to keep the sale a secret until the season ends, leaving him no choice but to go undercover as a consultant to study his team during the playoffs. 
Lauren Schneider, Assistant Director of Player Personnel for the Giants hockey team, gets no respect from the team's testosterone-loaded staff. So when Ethan bursts onto the scene, full of charm and genuinely interested in her opinions, she shares the team's weaknesses and discovers a weakness of her own--for Ethan. But when his true identity is revealed, and he starts cleaning house based on her unwitting input, his betrayal cuts deeply on both a professional and personal level. Bound by an employment contract, Lauren reluctantly moves to Seattle to work for the newly christened Seattle Sockeyes and her sexy, infuriating boss. 
Lauren and Ethan must come to terms with their passions--for the team, for hockey, and for each other. Will their situation build a frozen wall between them, or will their love burn hot enough to melt the ice shielding their hearts? 

My Review:

I usually refuse to read sports romance. Sorry, it's just a personal preference. I actually was asked to read this for the A to Z event so it is the only reason I picked it up. With that being said, I have to say I'm glad I agreed to review it for the challenge.  I even enjoyed the hockey. 

I liked the story, the romance, and the world Davenport created. I also like how she worked the hockey into the story as well as how she brought Seattle to life. 

The romance between Ethan and Lauren was sweet in it's own way. Yes, it had it's twists and turns. As well as it's hot and heavy moments. But underneath it all they had a heart touching gentleness with each other. They are both people who have been hurt by life in the past and it makes them tender in how they relate to each other. Both in the work arena and the heart. I really was rooting for them.  

I liked the supporting characters too. Davenport gave just enough to peek my curiosity about them.  I want to read more of the Game on in Seattle series to get to know them better. I already have some ideas of who I'd like to see paired up. 

The author wove in hockey without it being overbearing. Yes, the sport was important to the story, but it wasn't like I had to be a rabid hockey fan to understand what was going on.  I also didn't feel like I needed to rush through the sports talk to get to more interesting parts. 

Her descriptions of Seattle brought it to life. Not only the place, but the people that live there too. You could feel the authors love for the city in her words. It made me want to step into the book and enjoy a nice cup of coffee and wander around. 

As a bonus, Skating on Thin Ice is currently free for Kindle on Amazon. I definitely recommend grabbing a copy while it's still on sale. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

R is for Realms of the Red Rabbit by Laura Eno

“At last the time has come.” The voice spoke like a clap of thunder, menace choking off the breeze that had sprung up.

“Seven hundred years I have waited for the Red Rabbit to appear once again. There will be much sorrow here soon…and pain. That is what makes the waiting worthwhile.” With that proclamation the pair of enormous emerald green eyes faded back into the darkness.

A spoiled, rich young woman is catapulted into an alternate universe because of an ancient legend. As she fights to find her way back home, she must adjust her way of thinking or remain trapped in the Realms for eternity. Along the way she learns the meaning of friendship, love and honor while struggling against the dangerous adversaries who are intent on keeping her there.

My Review:

Realms seems to be a combination of Alice in Wonderland and Dante's Inferno. The Alyson in this story is sent on a journey through different "hells" created specifically for different sins.

I enjoyed reading it. The biggest draw was purely coincidence. I've been in love with anthologies lately and even though it was the same characters and story throughout, the jump to each realm almost felt like each one was a new story. Since each realm was a new world to explore. I loved all the effort the author put into the world building. The different people and places. The author really did an amazing job of the main characters development and growth from a shallow rich kid to person who cared about more than just herself.  

The ending was definitely a cliff hanger. Plus there were questions left unanswered. I want to read the next book in the series to find out about different characters and to see where the author decides to go with Alyson's story. 

Realms is currently only .99 cents for Kindle. Definitely a steal at that price and I recommend picking up a copy if you have a chance. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Q is for Q: Are We Not Human? A: We Are Corpses! by Richard Knight

Acting as a sequel to A Boy and His Corpse, this free standalone short story concerns teenage necromancer, Alan Chandler, as he wrestles (No pun intended) with the possibility of his undead federation including living wrestlers in its stable of combatants. But Alan and his band of corpses won't go down without a fight! Will the Undead Wrestling Federation become half corpse/half living wrestlers, or will Alan get his way and keep the UWF just that--undead. Find out in this short story of guts, glory, and braaaaains.

My Review:

Q was a fun and interesting read. It can be read without reading the original book. However it did make me curious to find out more about Alan Chandler, his father and their zombies.  Two things that are important to a sequel no matter what the length. I liked the glimpse I got into the world the author created. Seeing how the zombies were controlled and how they affected their controller. I thought it was all well put together.  I would definitely like to read more of the authors work to see how he builds his characters in a larger story. 

 Q is currently free on Amazon and I suggest picking it up while you have a chance.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P is for The Plantation by Stella Samiotou-Fitzsimons

A century has passed since they arrived. Human history has been erased. Children are enslaved on Alien plantations. Some have heard whispers of the existence of a rebel band of humans who roam free in the forests. Most slaves dare not speak of the rebels for fear the mutant guards will grab and make an example of them.

Seventeen-year-old Freya is pulled away in the night not by the mutants, but by her old friend Finn, to join the Saviors, the mythic band of rebel teens. Her bliss fades when she discovers she is the only Savior without a special ability. She is the odd one out, slowly pushing Finn away, defying Damian, the leader of the Saviors, and antagonizing the fierce and beautiful Daphne. In her despair Freya reaches deep within to discover a dark destiny, a truth so heavy it threatens to destroy her.

My Review:

The Plantation is a good start to what looks to be an interesting series. 

I like the futuristic world that the author has begun creating. I want to find out more about the characters. I want to find out what actually happened when the aliens attacked. What's going to happen to the Saviors. 

There were a few things I had problems with. 

The first being the tense.  Because the story jumps between the current events and Freya's memories the tenses switch back and forth as well.  Sometimes within the same paragraph. It made it hard for me to stay immersed in the story.  I know others who actually prefer first person, present tense POV. So I don't think that this should be held against the book. I'm just mentioning it because it was something that took away from my enjoyment of it. 

The second being that I felt I didn't really get to know other characters, besides Freya, until closer to the end of the book.  Since the book is told solely from her POV and she doesn't really get close to some of the characters until farther along in the book, it stands to reason that I wouldn't be able to get to know them until she did. So it makes sense, but it still made me feel as if I was missing out on more of the story.  

The only other issue I have is that it seems to be set up for a love triangle.... If you've read my blog before you know they are one of my top ten pet peeves.  The romantic relationship wasn't fully explored in the book. If anything it looks to be something that will be expanded upon in the rest of the series. So I can't say whether or not it will be well written into the story. I WILL say that I did like how the author had her character react to the whole romance idea. There's no insta-love, so I am going to go out on a limb and say I would be interested in seeing how the author writes it into the other books.

Even with the issues I had I have to reiterate that I think this is a good start to what looks to be an interesting series. Even with the POV issues the story and the rest of the authors writing was enough to make me want more. Not just to find out the answers to questions that were left at the end, but also to find out more about the world and the rest of the characters. The Plantation is currently free for Kindle. So I definitely recommend picking up a copy. I'd love to know what others think after reading it so please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments after you've finished reading it.

Monday, April 18, 2016

O is for Oblivion by William Butler

A short flash fiction story about a man who knows he is being stalked and in a twisted way allows it to happen...because he is also stalking his stalker.

My Review:

Oblivion is an extremely short flash fiction, only one and a half pages on my Kindle. I'd say it's more of a scene than a short story. But it was a very compelling scene.  It's told from the first persons point of view. However you only hear the authors thoughts and don't even learn his name. 

Despite all of the above, I would definitely want to read the rest of the story.  See where the victim and his stalker end up. The protagonist most certainly is disturbed in his own right. I'm not sure if in a longer story I'd be able to connect with him.  But with those few words the author already pulled me into the story.   

I would be quite interested in reading more by Butler. If he can get me interested in only a page and a half I would love to see what he can do with more. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

N is for New World By Steven W. White

Across the sea lies a newly discovered continent, a world whose forests and beasts are unknown to the recorded memory of elves, dwarves, or men. 

In this land called Mira, the brutal sacking of a young colony links the fates of two opposite characters: a twelve-year-old printer's son named Simon Jones and his long-lost uncle Tiberius Bogg, one of Mira's legendary mountain men. 

Simon is small, but smart; scared but determined. Bogg, with his raccoon-skin cap and smart-talking grammar abuse, is fast as a splintercat and stealthy as a hidebehind. Together, they turn the tables and pursue their attackers (a cruel knight and his soldiers from the old country) through a wilderness full of extraordinary creatures – jackelopes and thunderbirds, fur-bearing trout and four-legged hills – all culled from American tall tales, Indian legends, and backwoods folklore.

My Review:

New World is an amazing book.

I love the world that White built. The characters, the creatures, the entire world of Mira itself. All of it was amazing.  He even created a language for his characters.

His characters were intriguing.  I really enjoyed the interactions between Simon and Bogg. I was drawn into their relationship as it throughout the book. Even the antagonists played their roles in the story beautifully.

The world of Mina is beautiful. All the different creatures, the histories he created for them, the landscapes from the mountains and forests down to the sea. All of it was like I could step right into the page.  Even the language he created... I loved how he worked it into the story.  Sometimes when writers create their own words it makes a story stumble. But White wove them in with wonderful skill.

The end of the story wrapped pulled everything together. While I wanted to read more about the characters and the world it wasn't because I felt as if there were any strings left hanging. I can't wait to get into the next book. Currently it is free for Kindle. I definitely recommend picking up a copy while it still is and diving into White's New World.

Friday, April 15, 2016

M is for Mind Cafe by Lizzy Ford

The Mind CafĂ©: death’s waiting room and the only refuge for a woman trapped in her body after a tragic accident leaves her unable to do anything but watch the world and think. A fiction, paranormal short story just under 5,000 words, part of a larger collection of stories depicting a day in the life of the unique.

My Review:

I love Lizzy Ford. Honestly I should just put that for the review and then links to my other reviews for her book that I've read. Because even though this story is under 5000 words, I'm pretty much going to just say the same things about this story as I have about her other books. Ford is one of those authors that I will buy based on name alone. I don't need to know what the story is about. If her name is on it I will gladly read it.

OK. Done with the fan girling. I will now get on with reviewing Mind Cafe. lol

The story centers around Rose. A woman trapped in her body as the result of a car accident years earlier. Even though she has the ability to communicate with the outside world via an electronic device her sister created she still finds herself almost completely withdrawn to the cafe inside her mind. A place where she has various people who come to visit her. A place where she has the use of the body that she lost. A place where she can have some form of a life, extremely limited though it might be since she can't leave the cafe.

One of my favorite things about the story? I love the way that Ford never confirms if the people that visit Rose are actually there or if they are only figments of her imagination. There are facts that can't be confirmed, but somehow Rose knows to be true.

One of the most meaningful parts of the book, at least to me, was when Rose explains why she still loves her former lover even though he hasn't come to visit her since her accident. And part of the reason she loves him is because he didn't come to see him. On a personal level it really hit home.

Mind Cafe is currently free. A great addition to any Ford fans library.  A great way to be introduced to Fords writing if you haven't had the pleasure of reading anything by her before. So go grab it while it's still free! Go! Now! While you're there definitely take advantage of picking up any of her other works which might be free at the moment. Her writing covers a wide range of genres so be sure to check them out. Even if I haven't read it yet, I'm sure it will be good.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

L is for The Last Rakosh by F. Paul Wilson

Repairman Jack finds himself at a traveling carnival. During a look through the freak show, he comes across what he believed to be extinct: a Rakosh. Or is it? Jack thought he'd exterminated the vicious creatures. But now, somehow, one appears to have survived. "The Last Rakosh" has all the thrills of a Repairman Jack tale, but shows another side of Jack as he finds himself feeling sympathy for the trapped creature that once tried to kill him.

My Review:

I enjoyed The Last Rakosh. It was interesting and made me want to read the book it's a companion piece to, The Peabody-Ozymandias Traveling Circus & Oddity Emporium.  Even though I want to read more stories involving the characters and their world the novelette was quite a satisfying story on it's own. 

I liked the characters. I liked the world the author created. I also liked the work the author put into the detail of the descriptions of the locations. All of it combined made me want to keep reading. 

The issues I had were personal ones involving  the author's writing style.  The first was something that I noticed more towards the end during Jack's confrontation with the Rakosh.  The author shortened sentences into fragments, dropping the noun/pronoun.  I don't see this style a lot, but I do see it. It's just something that bothers me. The reviewer/beta reader in me reads it and it throws me out of the story because I think it's a grammatical or printing error.
The other issue I had was that there are lines that are obviously thoughts of the main character in their own voice. But unfortunately they aren't italicized or in a different font. I've asked a few authors about this in the past because I wasn't sure if it was a formatting issue or not. They've told me that sometimes publishers prefer to not use italics or another way of differentiating the characters private thoughts. 

I don't think either of these two things are anything to hold against the author or the story. Despite these two things I still want to read more of the authors work, especially any related to this novelette. 

If you haven't read anything by Wilson I definitely recommend picking up The Last Rakosh. It is a great way to experience the authors writing without committing to a larger work. If you already have read his work I think you would definitely want to pick it up so you could enjoy delving into more of his characters lives and stories.