Saturday, April 30, 2016

Fast Draw: One Bullet to Hell

The usual disclaimer: I was given an e-version of Fast Draw: One Bullet to Hell by D.W. Collins in exchange for a review.

Apparently, Fast Draw: One Bullet to Hell is not author D.W. Collins' usual genre, When I looked for the author bio on Goodreads (after having read the book) I found a listing of several books which appear by the titles to be of a more adult-oriented nature. After quite a bit of searching, I finally discovered D.W. Collins is a male (OK, it doesn't matter, but I got curious). On another site the bio is signed Dee. So, I was going to go out on a limb here and assume (yeah, I know; u and me) that the author is female (sure enough, me at least). To be honest I actually learned the truth when trying to post my review to Amazon. So, back for some quick editing. Anyway, my sleuthing done, back to the review.

Fast Draw: One Bullet to Hell is an action story with a twist: a conspiracy theorists playground. So, naturally I enjoyed the heck out of this book. I got so engrossed, I finished it in one day. It is riveting. And, come on, the story has John Wayne in it, it's got to be good, right? Our hero, Bob, is a straight out of the old west quick draw artist. Any similarity to reality ends there however, as he embarks on one of the strangest adventure/quest/vendettas you could ever want to read.

There are government badasses, terrorist (for lack of a better term) badasses, paranormal good and bad guys, and Bob; the baddest of them all. There is lots of action, graphic violence, very mild sex, and a little romance added to the mix. We get remote viewing, telepathy, mind control, all the good paranormal stuff. We also get pseudo-military technologies. world domination plots, all on a truly global setting.

Fast Draw... is the first of, I believe, two books. The ending was not a cliffhanger (thank you very much), but we do know more is to come. Although I don't yet have any way to know for sure, there are plot lines that I would really like to follow into another book. Without giving anything away here; in Fast Draw... the good guys don't always win.

According to the Goodreads listing for Fast Draw... the book is 393 pages long. My e-version however, comes in at 431 pages. I don't know if that is a print vs electronic difference, but I can't think of any part of what I read that should have been edited out.

Bottom line D.W. Collins has written one great book in Fast Draw: One Bullet to Hell. C'mon! John Wayne! Enjoy!


Friday, April 29, 2016


Author JD Mulcey sent me a print copy of Warphan for review.

Warphan strikes me as a mix of Native American Tribalism, Medieval class structure, magic and mysticism. A very good mixture of said themes. Another of those book I knew I was going to like as soon as I started reading. I guess you could say it has an element of coming-of-age, but immediate coming-of-age. The main character "Cayne" has to deal with extreme consequences for his actions while he is learning his life lessons. He is caught between the rivals in a military conflict, having no sympathy for either side.

Warphan is a thoroughly engaging story set in what at times sounds like the American Southwest, and at other times Europe. Even though these are two distinct areas, author Mulcey blends them effectively.

Warphan is the first book in a series (I don't know how many installments are coming), The Anavarza Archive. There are several intertwining story lines. Each is well realized with characters who grab our interest. My personal favorite is actually "Faylin" a skinwalker. The ending is appropriate for a series, yet does not use the device of a "cliffhanger". As you know, cliffhangers tend to tick me off.

If you are a fan of Sword and Sorcery, Good vs. Evil, Lords and Ladies, or American Indian Sprituality, read Warphan by JD Mulcey, it has all of these in good measure.

The only negative? A few too many typos, not so many as to interfere with my enjoyment of the book, but enough to notice. Hopefully they will be taken care of in future editions.

I am looking forward to reading more of this saga as it has really caught my interest. Enjoy!


Saturday, April 23, 2016

12:07 The Sleeping

As per usual; I was given an e-version of 12:07 The Sleeping by L. Sydney Abel in exchange for a review.

12:07 The Sleeping is a seriously dark, eerie, and scary book about things that go bump in the night, and day.

I don't usually read author notes, back page blurbs (not usually present on the e-versions I get) or other hints at what the story is about before I begin a book. Since there is a time lapse between when I accept a book and when I actually get to read it, I often don't remember what the book is supposed to be about.

I explain this to set up my review. 12:07 The Sleeping begins right in the heart of the horror, a character is in the midst of a terrifying event. This immediately sets the tone for the rest of the book. It is dark. Although there are sequences that on the face would not seem as dark, the reader is never far from being reminded of the evil lurking in the wings.

There is sex, not particularly graphic but also not particularly tame. In the context of the greater story, I did not find it titillating, salacious or even gratuitous. It was just a part of the story. The ending of the story is satisfying,... for the moment. But the reader knows.... I suppose there could be a sequel, but it didn't really seem to me that author L. Sydney Abel was setting that up.

The real surprise for me came after the end of 12:07 The Sleeping, while reading the authors' note. What perhaps I should have known at the beginning of the story, but somehow didn't, was explained. What the author shares makes the story all the more chilling. I think I am glad I didn't have this information when I began the book. I do know it altered my reaction to the story. in a most effective way.

I know, like most of my reviews, I am being vague about the actual story. I do this because I believe the more I divulge about the details, the less a person may feel the need to actually read the book. In this case, as most, that would be a shame. If you are at all a fan of dark, scary stories where there is no hiding from the evil, 12:07 the Sleeping by L Sydney Abel fills the bill nicely (or scarily if you prefer). Either way : Enjoy!


Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Dragons' Chosen

I won a print copy of The Dragons' Chosen by Gwen Dandridge through a Goodreads Giveaway.

The Dragons' Chosen is what comes to mind when I think of a young adult book. It's not a particularly graphic book with either the sexual or violence content. It doesn't have to be, it's that well written. As a reader, I don't always have to be told in graphic detail what is happening, one of the reasons I call my blog: Theater of the Mind. In my opinion, what the best books are.

This story, set in a medieval type land is a great take of the dragon/virgin princess theme. The big difference is a character from our world interacting with the princess and her world. The cultural dissonance references are great, as are the many quotes of "Nanas'" wisdom; priceless.

I really enjoyed The Dragons' Chosen (what can I say, I'm a sucker for dragons) even though it is probably aimed at a younger audience than a sixty-year-old man. It is nice to see a clean, engaging, and exciting book. No "F-bombs". Violence, and sexuality are present, but in a tasteful and non-aggressive way. A refreshing depiction of young romance.

Bottom line; a fun read about two very different teenage girls and their introduction to dragons. Hats off to author Gwen Dandridge for giving us a wholesome (some people see that word as a negative, I don't), fun and thoroughly entertaining adventure. Enjoy!


Monday, April 18, 2016

The Bathory Curse

Usual disclaimer: Author Renee Lake gave me an e-version of The Bathory Curse in exchange for a review.

The Bathory Curse is one of those books that as soon as I started to read I knew was going to be good. Guess what? I was right! While reading I often thought; How did she come up with this? It kind of turns the horror genre sideways. Being a reviewer of almost exclusively indie authors, I'm not surprised when a book is very different from the main stream. Author Renee Lake firmly established her position well up on the shore from the mainstream.

I am somewhat familiar with the story of Elizabeth Bathory from those tv shows about evil historic figures. Lake has taken this bit of history and spun a fun (yes fun) story about goddesses, strega & strigoi (never heard of them before), vampires  and other scary creatures. The story spans several centuries in the lives, afterlives, and non-lives of the female side of the Bathory family.

Along the way, Vlad Dracul and his gang are woven into the story as well. A different take on Dracula to be sure. Not really a "vampire" story in the traditional sense. With all of these "evil" characters to contend with you may expect a very dark and eerie book. Yes, there are those aspects to be sure, but I would not categorize this as a "dark horror" story. It is at its core, a story of love and redemption, but yeah it does take place in the context of a horror setting (go figure).Bad guys enough to make the good guys lives miserable at times.

All in all, The Bathory Curse by Renee Lake is a satisfying read that takes a turn through history, mythology, and literature, that you won't quite expect. Enjoy!


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Alternative Outcome

As usual, I was given an e-version of Alternative Outcome by author Peter Rowlands for review.

What is not usual is that I am the first person in the U.S. to review this book. I don't know if I am the first to actually read it here, but I am giving the first review. How cool is that? Cool for me because I get to set the tone, or the bar, for reviews. If I like the book, other reviews may be judged against mine. If I don't like it, that tone is set as well (sound pretty full of myself, don't I? I know, I'm not all that).

On to Alternative Outcome. This book is great! It is life imitates art imitates life. It's mystery, light romance, action and intrigue. Our hero is just an average guy trying to get his book published (much like Peter Rowlands) who gets caught up in a twisting and turning ride when his fictional story comes too close to someone else's reality (that's as close to a spoiler as you're going to get).

Author Rowlands does not try to grab us with a "slam bang shoot'em up" beginning (thank you), he allows us to meet the main character and get to know and sympathize with him. The mystery builds at a comfortable pace, as does the romance. The best way I can put it is that Alternative Outcome is a comfortable read, it is not jarring beat you over the head prose. There are bad guys (real bad guys), our hero is definitely in mortal danger, and the love interest is a girl-next-door type. Not the usual unapproachable femme-fatale we usually see.

Don't misinterpret my views here to say this is a less than exciting story. Alternative Outcome is a tight mystery, that I at least, could not predict as I read it. The twists and turns are well executed. The reader has to hang on and pay attention. The action is very good, not over the top and unbelievable. Michael (the main character) is not the new super-sleuth on the block. He's not James Bond, Dirk Pitt (or even Brad Pitt).

I guess I've spent a lot of time telling you what Alternative Outcome is not. So what it is, is a great read, a book that will hold your attention and interest, as it builds in excitement and intensity to a conclusion I dare anyone but the author to see coming. The characters are realistic and sympathetic. The bad guys are sufficiently evil to earn our enmity. I realize as I write this; the story is not a roller-coaster of emotion. It is instead a steady climb to a climactic conclusion at the summit.

Alternative Outcome by Peter Rowlands is a great representation of the quality of work that is overlooked or ignored by the publishing world. I encourage everyone to explore the world of "Indie-published" literature. You won't be disappointed. You may just run across a gem like this one. I know I have found several. Enjoy!


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Bloodbaths of Beatrice & Bullsby

First, as usual, I received an e-version of The Bloodbaths of Beatrice & Bullsby from author Brock Rhodes for review.

However, I have to share something here. I was sent this book in August of last year. I had just bought my e-reader and believed the salesman when he said it would accept pdf, mobi, and epub files. So, I accepted an epub version of the book. When I tried to download it on my e-reader it didn't show up. I had downloaded it with several other books and lost track of it, basically forgetting I was supposed to have it. In going through my download history recently, I found the original epub file. But I still couldn't download it! My wife spent several hours convincing my laptop to give up the file so she could just print it out for me (fortunately the book is only 151 pages). So , I finally have a print copy of the file (I guess you could call it bootleg, I hope Mr. Rhodes doesn't get mad). Multiple apologies to author Brock Rhodes for making him wait so long for a review. But I won't let the circumstances influence my review of his work.

 Now; On with the review.

The Bloodbaths of Beatrice & Bullsby is an interesting tale of a group of people, in a medieval type setting, who just want to be left alone. They eventually set up their own village and devise ways to avoid "pests". Beatrice and Bullsby are the main characters (duh) with a fairly large supporting cast. I really enjoyed this book a lot. I even caught the tip o' the hat to Rocky Horror.

There are knights in less than shining armor,  rude dragons, beautiful maidens, psuedo-Lords and Ladies, and heroes a plenty. It is a quick read (as I said, 151 pages) mainly because the story is so engaging, it's hard to put down. I actually read the book in less time than my wife spent trying to print it out.

Brock Rhodes has written a great tribute to the "everyday" man (and woman), at least that's how I see it. Faced with the cruelty of the world, the people kick butt and take names.

Good pacing, good action, good sex, good story. Not much more to say without resorting to spoilers (not gonna happen).

So, if you're into swords without sorcery, knights, dragons, pretty girls, and unlikely heroes, The Bloodbaths of Beatrice & Bullsby by Brock Rhodes, is for you. I recommend it. Enjoy!


Monday, April 11, 2016

Lost in Tanganyika

I was given a print copy of Lost in Tanganyika by Thomas Thorpe in exchange for an honest review.

Since I promise to be honest here, I must say from the start, Lost in Tanganyika didn't really live up to my expectations. It is not a bad book by any means, it just didn't grab me. What can I say.

Lost in Tanganyika is the seventh book in the Damon Mysteries series. I have not read any of the previous books. Other than having the main characters of the Damon's, I don't think it necessary to have read the other books first.

The story is set in Africa (kind of obvious given the title) and the unpronounceable (for me) names and places got in my way (yeah, I know, it's Africa, what did I expect). I wasn't drawn into the vast expanse of Africa, I didn't feel I was a part of the action so to speak. Perhaps more description of the landscape would have been helpful.

I didn't feel the passion from the main characters. They were separated for about a year, and their reunion was treated in a rather matter-of-fact way. Of course being that the Damon's are British may account for the lack of demonstrable emotion.

The best way I can explain my reaction to Lost in Tanganyika is that for me it read more like a report of what took place, than a story to become lost in (no pun intended). Because the story didn't engage my imagination, I was more sensitive than usual to grammatical errors and typo's. They weren't overpowering but they were noticeable.

So, bottom line, Lost in Tanganyika by Thomas Thorpe is an okay book, but not the gripping page turner I was expecting. I wouldn't try to discourage anyone from reading it. As with any book, there will be those who think it is absolutely fantastic, and those who will be less impressed. Sadly, this time I am with the latter.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Dead Money Run

I was given a print copy of Dead Money Run by J. Frank James for review.

Dead Money Run is the second entry in the Lou Malloy Crime Series which I believe now stands at nine books. I have not yet had the pleasure of reading any of the others. This is a hard-boiled crime mystery in the truest sense of the word. Main character Lou Malloy is as tough as any noir detective you want (or don't want) to meet. There are two other characters who probably are part of the series. If they aren't they should be.  Hilary, the female love interest, who is no pushover herself, and Crusher (I think the name pretty much says it all).

Malloy takes on gangsters, the government, police, and others in a fast paced story of stolen money, murder, and general mayhem. Lots and lots of action, violence, property destruction, and even a little romance thrown in.

People who look for such things may also see this as a morality play (loyalty, honor and such). I don't usually look that deep into the books I read, I just go along for the ride, and a wild and exciting ride it is.

In Dead Money Run, author J. Frank James has delivered on the promise of shoot 'em up good guys vs bad guys, though that distinction is sometimes flipped and always muddied.

So basically, fans of the hard-boiled detective crime drama genre are going to like Dead Money Run by J. Frank James. I know I enjoyed the heck out of it. I recommend it. Enjoy!


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Fog Zombies An Undead Spoof

I won Fog Zombies An Undead Spoof  by Vincent Bracco as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

First, I have to admit here, I broke my own guideline of reading books in the order I receive them. In my defense, Fog Zombies is less than fifty pages long so I decided it would be a good change of pace from longer works. Sue me.

Fog Zombies is a fun idea (Zombifying Fog), it is funny, witty, irreverent and fast paced. The problem for me is that it is too short. With so much action and such a fast pace it reads a bit choppy for me. Characters come and go who we think we should know but don't. A little jarring for me.

The short story Learning From Griff which follows Fog Zombies is a much smoother flowing story and I enjoyed it a lot.

Fog Zombies does leave itself open for continuation, and I would not mind seeing that happen. I would just advise Mr. Bracco to slow down, give us more words and a smoother flowing story.



Pardon Me: A Victorian Farce

James Roberts provided an e-version of Pardon Me: A Victorian Farce for review.

Pardon Me is probably not the kind of book most people are familiar with. It is written in the parlance of 1890's England. Read with today's sensibilities, many would have problems with the writing. It is not PC (Thank God PC didn't exist then, so we don't have to feel guilty laughing at the comments that would offend modern sensibilities) Though to my knowledge, I have never been an 1890's British gentleman, I tried to put myself in that mindset. Race relations were much different at that time, as well as the Colonial British "superiority". The  crux of the story is of the misadventures of Madagan Run (I can't make the little hat over the u on my computer) pronounced "Rhune".

A not particularly easy read because of the language differences from then til now. But very funny, especially if you like British humor (which I do). Magadan (I break my grade-school teachers rule of using first names because of the aforementioned computer weakness) has written a lengthy missive to the Queen detailing the calamity of bizarre circumstances which have led to his incarceration in the Tower of London charged with treason.

He is maybe the most inept, bumbling and clueless representative of the Crown ever to work in the diplomatic corp. It is fun to watch him sink further and further into trouble while having the best of intentions. He has a great flair for euphemisms referring to the unseemly actions and behaviors of the people he encounters.

It took me longer than usual to read Pardon Me, but I had great fun with this story. The surprise ending is well worth the read.

If you like British comedy, irreverence, and non-pc humor, Pardon Me: A Victorian Farce by James Roberts may well be for you. Don't take it seriously, after all Farce is in the title. Enjoy!