Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Little Heaven

I won a print copy of Little Heaven  by Nick Cutter in a Goodreads Firstreads giveaway.

Little Heaven is, no doubt about it a HORROR story. There are of course, other themes explored within its pages, but understand, if you read this book, it will be scary.

While I usually don't compare authors styles, it is very difficult to not compare Nick Cutter's style to that of Stephen King.  Little Heaven builds in suspense and horror slowly. I felt like I was just going along in the story and then realized; I'm in the middle of something eerie and terrible. Kind of like an  "uh-oh now I'm in trouble" feeling. The terror slowly creeps up on you in this story.

Author Nick Cutter takes no prisoners, leaving no fear button un-pushed. The horrifying action is right there in your face. Graphic language, gory depictions of absolute terror. Cutter does an outstanding job of instilling fear, dread and horror in the reader.

The characters in Little Heaven are well developed, flaws and all. Some may see the story as bad guys vs worse guys. Some may see it as a story of redemption. Some may see it as a story of karmic balance. Compelling arguments can be made for any of these viewpoints. I leave that to the reader. Personally, I see it as all of the above.

I will admit to have a few bad dreams during my time in Little Heaven, Chalk that up to perhaps my habit of reading in bed until my eyes cross and I can't stay awake any longer. But that doesn't happen often, which I think speaks to how well written the story is.

Horror fans, Little Heaven by Nick Cutter is well worth your time. Enjoy (or tremble)!


Monday, September 25, 2017

River Rising

Author John Heldt provided an e-copy of River Rising, the first book in his new series: Carson Chronicles for review.

I will start by saying I have been anticipating the release of River Rising since John Heldt announced it. I have read and enjoyed both his previous series; Northwest Passage and American Journey. I expected his new series would be as entertaining. No fears there, it is great!

Mr. Heldt has changed the approach to his story ever so slightly in River Rising but not to worry, he continues to give us a fascinating and engaging story that grabbed me right from the start and never let up. There were times that I felt my heart beating so hard I it surprised me. The change to which I refer is just a little bit more edge than his previous works. The characters, to me, seem to be less concerned with their effect on history and more invested in fully enjoying and acclimating to the time they find themselves in.

Set for the most part in Johnstown, PA., the characters dive into 1888 head first and make their individual marks. There is still romance (why do time travelers always get the hot girls and guys?), heart pounding suspense (literally), humor, even violence (don't worry, not particularly graphic), hinted at sex, wild west action and history. This time the time travelers do not know the local history; the Johnstown Flood (you may have heard about it, bad news). Part of the suspense of the story because it does not openly warn us but we know it's coming. I loved it, the impending sense of doom that only the reader feels.

Mr. Heldt describes Carson Chronicles as a family saga, so I assume (I know, you and me) we will get to follow these characters through several adventures. I look forward to spending more time with this family as they are brought to life more richly as the saga unfolds. I don't know how many books are projected for the series, but my thought is: Bring em on!

John Heldt continues to give his readers quality story lines, engaging writing, and characters most readers (ok, me) would love to spend time with. Thanks to John Heldt, River Rising allows the reader (ok, me) the opportunity to do just that. I highly recommend River Rising. Enjoy!


Lillith: The Adventures of Xanthus Book 3

Lillith: The Adventures of Xanthus Book 3 is the final book given to me in e-format for review.

Lillith is apparently not the end of the series as the book ends as somewhat of a cliffhanger leading to another installment. The first three installments are all that were supplied to me.

At less than 50 pages this entry is by far the shortest of the three.

With all respect to Francis Mills (the author), Lillith is just a fail for me. I couldn't wait to finish it. The only reason I did is because it is so short. For me the story is unnecessary. As I said, this is not (apparently) the end of the story, but for me it is.

Again, respect to Francis Mills for putting it out there and I respect the effort, but I promised an honest review. Don't give up on writing, you do show imagination.


Eden's Twilight (Deathlands #86)

I recently indulged my need for post-apocalyptic escapism reading Eden's Twilight by James Axler (the house name for any author of a Deathlands story).

Eden's Twilight returns to the theme that hooked me on Deathlands in the first place; straight forward survival-ism. No far-fetched sci-fi techno-action. I enjoyed the down and dirty feel of the story.

The basic plot; our intrepid companions align with a group who would normally be competitors, if not outright enemies. They wind up unlikely and somewhat unwilling allies against an even larger threat. They face more realistic threats (at least for this genre), giving me the escapism I enjoy so much.

The only glaring mistake is when Jak is placed in two different geographic places at the same time (OOPS!).

Eden's Twilight (Deathlands #86, #85 on Amazon) great literature? No. A comment on social morality? Maybe, if you stretch far enough. A place to exercise and indulge escapist fantasies? Bingo!

So the Deathlands series remains my not-so-secret little literary vice. Enjoy!


Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Prophecy (The Adventures of Xanthus Book 2)

I was given an e-copy of The Prophecy by Francis Mills for review.

As even the most casual reader of my reviews easily understands, I try to be positive in my reviews while maintaining my credibility and honesty. The series The Adventures of Xanthus is testing my resolve to stay positive.

The story focuses on the prophesy involving the child of Xanthus (a white warrior) and Ivana (a black witch), white and black here not relating to race or color but good and evil. Those who tend to make things racial wherever possible may interpret the book in a racial context, I don't.

The positive: we still have a good versus evil fantasy here. It is still a light read and, it is a quick read that you won't have to set aside a lot of time for.

The negative: The Prophecy seems to be trying to be an adult oriented fantasy. Not a bad goal at all. Unfortunately, it reads more like the cheap porn books I hid under my mattress as a teenager. The story is just there to fill space between sexual encounters. The dialogue is stilted and at times just ridiculous.

Either the sex is gratuitous and unnecessary to the story, or the story is gratuitous and unnecessary to the sex. I'll leave that to you to decide.

As a continuation of the first book, The Prophecy falls short of the mark. It is not a bad read, but be forewarned that it will probably not satisfy the requirements of the  die hard fantasy reader. And though I am not an authority on the genre, I will venture that it falls short in the erotica genre as well.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Rarity from the Hollow intro to the author

Rarity from the Hollow is a book written by Robert Eggleton.

Below you will see an introduction to Mr. Eggleton, pictures of medals the book has won, an excerpt from the book, excerpts from reviews and various links to the author and purchase sites.

I strongly support the aim of this book and what Mr. Eggleton is doing. With my career history I choose not to read books based on or in the mental health world. I know they are important, but after 19 years I choose to read for escapism.

That does not in any way diminish my support for this endeavor and I hope you will give Mr. Eggleton's work a look.


About the author:

Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. Locally, he is best known for his nonfiction about children’s programs and issues, much of which was published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from1982 through 1997. Today, he is a retired children's psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome maltreatment and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel. Its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines. Author proceeds support the prevention of child maltreatment.

Author proceeds support the prevention of child maltreatment: http://www.childhswv.org/

Excerpt from Chapter 10, “One Moment, Please”

Scene Prologue: In this scene, Lacy Dawn stands up to her abusive father for the first time. Dwayne is a disabled Gulf War Vet who suffers from PTSD, night terrors and anger outbursts. Her mother, Jenny, is downtrodden and weak-willed. Lacy Dawn has just returned home from the android’s spaceship. At this point, her powers were evident but not fully matured. She had been negotiating extraterrestrial assistance to cure her parents of their mental disorders, but rushed home after sensing an emergency there…:  

…Three minutes later, Lacy Dawn stood on the back porch. She was keen to hear a whisper. The yells could be heard half-way Roundabend. She peeked through the kitchen window.  Her mother was on the floor with her back propped against the gasoline can that hid her GED study guide.  Jenny’s nose bled. 
            “WHAT THE HELL ………GIVES YOU THE RIGHT ………………TO THINK ……….…………….that you can THROW AWAY …something that is MINE?” her father screamed.
            Jenny adjusted her position. So did Lacy Dawn to get a better view through the window.
            “Where’s my SWITCH?”  Dwayne left the kitchen. 
            Lacy Dawn felt for her knife. 
            I hope Mommy runs for it.
            Jenny moved the gasoline can to cover a corner of her study guide that stuck up. Dwayne had put the can in the kitchen two winters ago after he cut firewood.  At the time, snow on the path to the shed had been deep. Jenny didn't complain about the can in the kitchen because it turned into her best place to hide her GED book. It was convenient and the mice stayed away because of the smell. When her GED book was hid behind the refrigerator, it lost a corner to the nibbles. She repositioned her bra so that everything was contained.
            If it's okay with him, I'll take it right here with my arms over my face. God, I wish I’d worn long pants today. If he finds that book he might kill me. Maybe that'd be better.  I can’t handle anymore anyway. Welfare would take Lacy Dawn and put her in a group home. She’d have friends and stuff to do and decent clothes. That’s more than she’s got now. Who am I kidding? I’ll never get my GED or learn to drive. I’d be better off dead. She'd be better off. I ain’t no kind of decent mom anyway
            Jenny pulled out her GED study guide. Lacy Dawn burst into the kitchen and, at the same time, Dwayne appeared in the opposite doorway from the living room. Lacy Dawn and Dwayne stood face to face.
            “She didn’t throw away those magazines, Dwayne. I burnt them all!” Lacy Dawn looked him in the eyes. 
            I’ve never called him Dwayne before.    
            “Well, here’s my switch, little girl, and you can kiss your white ass goodbye because it’s gonna be red in a minute.”
            “I told Grandma that you had pictures of naked little girls my age kissing old men like you.”
            “Well, your grandma’s dead and gone now and it don’t make no difference.”
            Dwayne grinned at Jenny and resumed eye contact with Lacy Dawn. Jenny did not move. The GED study guide was in the open. Lacy Dawn straightened her posture. 
            “Not that grandma -- the other one -- your mom. I tore out a page and showed her. She said the Devil must’ve made you have those pictures with naked girls way too young for you to look at. She told me to burn them to help save your soul before it was too late and you ended up in Hell.”
            Dwayne raised the switch to waist level. Lacy Dawn took a step forward. 
            “I was sick of them being in the trunk under my bed anyway. I did what Grandma told me to and now they're gone.”
            “That was my Playboy collection from high school. I bought them when I used to work at the Amoco station before I joined the Army.”
            Dwayne lowered the switch and leaned against the door frame. Jenny sat up straighter and slid her GED study guide back behind the gas can. Lacy Dawn maintained eye contact.    
            He's starting to lose it. Where’s my new butcher knife?
            Dwayne looked to the side and muttered something that she did not understand. He raised the switch and then lowered it.   
            “But, Mom knew I had them when I was in high school and never said nothing. Hell, those girls were older than me back then. I bet they’re all wrinkled now -- with tits pointing straight to the ground, false teeth, and fat asses.” 
            Dwayne muttered again. Lacy Dawn maintained eye contact. 
            I must have hit a nerve. He always mutters when he's thinking too hard.  
            “Anyway, you’re both still getting switched even if Mom told you to do it. But, I won’t make it too bad. She wouldn’t like it.”
            He paused.  The point of the switch lowered to the floor.
            Damn.  I can't think of a new name
            "Tammy, bammy, bo mammy…" Dwayne sang. (Dwayne named all of the switched that he used on Lacy Dawn and Jenny to discipline them.)
            “If you even touch me or Mommy with that thing, I’ll tell everybody about Tom’s garden. (Tom is a neighbor who grows marijuana.) I’ll tell Grandma, the mailman, my teacher after school starts, and the food stamp woman when she comes next week for our home visit. I’ll tell Tom that I’m gonna tell the men working on the road at the top of the hill. I’ll tell all your friends when they come by after the harvest. And, I’ll call that judge who put you in jail for a day for drunk driving if Grandpa will let me use the phone. I swear I’ll tell everybody.”
            “Oh shit," Dwayne said.
            I knew this day would come -- ever since she brought me those DARE to Keep Kids off Drugs stickers to cover up the rust holes on my truck….
            “Lacy Dawn, drugs are bad. I don’t take drugs and hope you never will either.”
            “Cut the crap, Dwayne. This ain't about drugs. The only thing this is about is if you even think about switching me or Mommy, that garden has had it -- period.”
            “But smoking pot is not the same as taking drugs,” he let go of the switch. Thirty seconds later, Lacy Dawn picked it up and hung it in its proper place on her parents’ bedroom wall.
            “I love you, Daddy,” she said on the way back to the kitchen.
            Dwayne went out the back door and walked to his pick-up. The truck door slammed. It started, gravel crushed, and the muffler rumbled. He floored it up the hollow road.
            Things will be forever different
            Lacy Dawn sat down on a kitchen chair, did her deep breathing exercise, smelled an underarm and said, "Yuck."
            Things will be forever the same unless DotCom can help me change them. (DotCom is the name of the android, a recurring pun in the story.)
            Jenny got off the floor, sat on the other chair, scooted it closer beside her daughter, put an arm around her, and kissed the side of Lacy Dawn's head.
            The muffler rumbled to nonexistence.
            “Asshole,” they screamed out the open kitchen window at the exact same time without cue.
            “He used to be a good man,” Jenny giggled and hugged…. (This phrase is an intergenerational familial saying that Lacy Dawn turned into a chant and used to magically elevate above the ground, and to travel back and forth between her home and the spaceship without getting her tennis shoes muddy.)                                                        
                                                                 Excerpts of Two Book Reviews – Gold Medal Awards

Awesome Indies:
“…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, only instead of the earth being destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass, Lacy Dawn must…The author has managed to do what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse, and written about them with tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…Eggleton sucks you into the Hollow, dunks you in the creek, rolls you in the mud, and splays you in the sun to dry off. Tucked between the folds of humor are some profound observations on human nature and modern society that you have to read to appreciate…it’s a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.

Readers’ Favorite:

“…Full of cranky characters and crazy situations, Rarity From the Hollow sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved… Robert Eggleton is a brilliant writer whose work is better read on several levels. I appreciated this story on all of them.”



Lacy Dawn's father relives the Gulf War, her mother's teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. She has one advantage -- an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It's up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn't mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first.

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. A Children’s Story. For Adults.

“The most enjoyable science fiction novel I have read in years.”
Temple Emmet Williams, Author, former editor for Reader’s Digest

“Quirky, profane, disturbing… In the space between a few lines we go from hardscrabble realism to pure sci-fi/fantasy. It’s quite a trip.”
    Evelyn Somers, The Missouri Review

. "…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse…tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…profound…a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy." -- Awesome Indies (Gold Medal)

“…sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved…a brilliant writer.” --Readers’ Favorite (Gold Medal)

“Rarity from the Hollow is an original and interesting story of a backwoods girl who saves the Universe in her fashion. Not for the prudish.” —Piers Anthony, New York Times bestselling author

“…Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.” -- The Baryon Review

"…Brilliant satires such as this are genius works of literature in the same class as Orwell’s 'Animal Farm.' I can picture American Lit professors sometime in the distant future placing this masterpiece on their reading list." -- Marcha’s Two-Cents Worth 

Purchase links:

Public Author Contacts:

Monday, September 4, 2017

Soul Census

Author A. J. Vega provided a print copy of Soul Census for review.

Soul Census is the first installment in the Soul Census Trilogy, and a fantastic first installment it is.  A. J. Vega is another indie author keeping the quality of indie writing at the highest level. He has set himself a huge task in continuing this story. It is that good.

It is difficult for me to find a genre with which to label Soul Census. It is fantasy, spirituality, reincarnation, love, suspense, history and much much more. Parts of the story are told in the spirit of 50's noir, part in contemporary suspense, at times humorous, horrific, romantic and redemptive. There is just so much going on here. You are starting to see why it is hard to pigeon-hole.

Suffice to say, Soul Census firmly has a place in the category of  "darn good book".

As for the story itself, we enjoy the eternal conflict of good vs evil, eternal love, eternal creation (are you sensing a theme here?). Soul Census touches metaphorically on spiritual, religious and political topics. A very intricate tale with characters whose existences are intertwined across the ages. The story actually spans approximately 1.5 million years and countless lifetimes.

Although not a cliffhanger ending in the classic sense (thank you A.J. Vega), Soul Census does leave the reader hungry to continue the story. There is action, sometimes graphic, At times in the "real" world and at times on the etheric plane. To try and condense the flavor of the story into a few sentences would be an injustice of mythic (perhaps even Biblical) proportion. A complex and intricate story yet surprisingly easy to follow.

Soul Census by A.J. Vega is a fantastic read which I believe will have you waiting as eagerly as I am to continue the adventure. I strongly recommend checking this book out. Enjoy!