A review of “The Dog That Laid Eggs” By Jonathan Maas

A fantastical tale of a boy, his dog and monsters

 

Full Disclosure, I was provided a copy of this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Bufkin County is not your average backwoods town as it is the home of Hitch Tull and his amazing dog Salem. What ’s so amazing about Salem is that she lays eggs. One egg eventually hatches to reveal a creature taken right out of the pages of mythology.  How the town handles this anomaly and the subsequent events that follow make for a delightful fantastical yarn that was just too good to put down.

From the Cyclops invasion to Bufkin’s Quattrodecennial Bi-Hemisfair we see a picture of a town that may be down but are not out and will fight to restore and rebuilt. Toss in flying vampire squirrels in the forest and green eyed men that appear in dreams and this story morphs into a tale less of an egg laying dog and more of a fight for survival between the citizens of Bufkin county and the predators of the monster world.

This book, quite frankly is a scream. Not to give too much away, for the first half I found myself laughing out loud at the antics (and names) of most of the citizenry of Bufkin County. To say the names are ‘punny’ is an understatement and many of the residents of Bufkin are a caricature of some sort of stereotype. The story falls somewhere between “Dark Shadows” and the “Three Stooges” with the balancing act that Jon Maas has achieved between the funny and the sinister.  And while the stage is being set for a knock down drag out between the monsters and the Citizenry of Bufkin County…. It’ll have to wait until the next book. Which I hope will be as much fun to read as this one was.

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A review of Blood Memory Season 1 Episode 2 by Perrin Briar

A solid continuation to what is shaping up to be a very good series

This is the second installment in the Blood Memory series by Perrin Briar that follows a group of survivors through the Zombie Apocalypse as they try to start over on the sea.

Picking up immediately after Season 1 Episode 1 ends, we find Jordan washed up on the beach in the aftermath of the storm that destroyed “Haven” and sent the inhabitants of the small ship overboard into the angry sea. While not all survive the storm and subsequent wreck of the Haven, those who remain set out to procure a new boat in an attempt to travel to the Indian Ocean; where it is rumored that calmer waters await.  As the need for a boat sturdy enough to be able to make the perilous journey arises, Jordan and Stan find themselves dealing with the area’s trader, Terry, who is your all around smarmy sort of guy.

Overall I feel that this book was an improvement over the fist in the series and it seems that the little writing quirks that so drove me crazy in episode one were all but gone in this newer installment. This story has quite a few cringe worthy moment and also introduced a few new characters in the form of the rescued Selena and of course the smarmy trader Terry. The inclusion of Terry and his crew also served to remind you that even when the world is falling apart, there will always be someone there to profit from it. It will be interesting to see how the budding rivalry between Terry and Jordan develops and how far Terry will go to reclaim what he feels was stolen from him.

All told, A solid 3.5 stars and definitely looking forward to the next episode in the season.

 

 

A review of “Arcene: The Island” by Al. K. Line

 

Trouble and Adventure seems to follow this girl everywhere

 

Full disclosure, I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

Arcene: The Island, the second book in the series by Al. K. Line, follows Arcene from the Commorancy series as she leaves the relative safety of her home behind for a vacation of sorts and time away from her friends and her child.

The Island picks up immediately after “The Blue Castle” ends with Arcene looking to get home and leave the horrors of the Castle and its strange inhabitants behind. After getting caught in a horrible storm along the way Arcene and Leel are dumped unceremoniously in a forest while her transport continues on without them. Finally managing to make their way to the coast and commandeer a boat in an effort to visit a nearby island before making their way home, they are swept out to sea only to arrive at a second Island days later.

If Arcene thought the inhabitants of the Blue Castle were weird, she hasn’t seen anything yet. After being “Judged” for what is seemingly a minor infraction, Arcene and Leel find themselves transported back to the mainland as the “Prey” in a bizarre televised hunt for the pleasure of the Island’s population. Can Arcene and Leel survive?

Overall I really enjoyed this second offering in the Arcene series and having not yet read the parent series, it wasn’t hard to follow along or pick up on the subtleties of this “world”. There is enough back story provided to keep the action moving without getting bogged down in details. Quite a few new characters are introduced who possess “Awoken” abilities which really helped also to understand the concept and what the Awoken can and cannot do. I noticed what appeared to be a sort of friendship developing between Arcene and Talia and I would love to see what kind of trouble these two could get up to if left to their own devices.

 

Yet another great story that left me curious to see where we go from here.

A review of “INK: Red” by Al K. Line

Originally posted to Amazon and Goodreads – February 2016

A fast paced read with more than its share of cringe worthy moments

INK: Red follows the story of Edsel (don’t call him ED) through a world approximately 7 years into the global plague known as “The Lethargy”. Kidnapped by The Church of the Eventuals, a religious cult of sorts, he is forced to undergo “the Ink” which consists of tattooing every exposed centimeter of skin a bright red hue. Edsel manages to escape before his inking is complete and returns home only to find his beloved Kathy murdered by the church’s fanatical followers. Wracked with grief, guilt and rage at what he has endured and lost along the way, Edsel sets off to seek his revenge on the Bishop and tattooists who have ravaged his body and murdered his Kathy.

Along the way, Edsel encounters a young boy named Aiden and an older man named Bob, who is himself afflicted with a form of The Lethargy but hides his affliction in order to assist Edsel in his efforts. Together they form an unlikely bond on a quest to seek a measure of retribution against the Church and their followers.

It should be noted that while this book is set in the same world as Al’s “Commorancy” series it appears to be a separate storyline that happens to take place during the same time. While The Commorancy and concepts such as being “Awoken”, “The Noise” and “The Void” are all mentioned they are adequately explained within this story-line so you don’t feel like you’ve missed anything by not having read the other series.

Overall, this book was a very fast paced read with more than its share of cringe worthy moments as Edsel’s condition is described in detail. While the ending was to be expected, there also was an unexpected twist that had me yelling “WHAT!” at my kindle. Overall I very much enjoyed this book and an looking forward to reading the next two books in the series.

A review of “Flare” by Jonathan Maas

Originally posted to Amazon and Goodreads – February 2016

A brilliantly written take on the apocalypse that does not involve Zombies

The earth is hit with a Solar Flare of such magnitude that it practically incinerates anyone and anything caught in the sun’s rays. Those left behind are left to attempt to rebuild, venturing out only at night, seeking shelter during the sweltering light of day.

What started out as your basic “extinction event” that follows two main survivors turned into something deeper in a heartbeat.

Ash and Zeke hear about a place called the “Salvation” a safe place that does not admit just anyone. Once meeting up, Ash, Zeke, Ash’s sister Heather and their companion Courtney all manage to arrive at the Salvation; however not all are allowed entry.

Those expelled from the Salvation continue their journey and arrive at the Dockyards, a place of such depravity that it could only be described as a “hell on earth”

This story really turns the entire “human structure” on its ear. For those with faith, it will be noted that while the “Salvation” is located deep underground away from the sun’s fierce rays all of the tenured inhabitants have adopted angelic names while those who dwell in the debauchery of the dockyards on the surface have all adopted Biblically bereft or down right demonic names.  The contrast between the two and the struggle to free those who are enslaved at the dockyards all contribute to what is definitely a great story of survival and the human spirit.

This is without a doubt one of the deepest and most thought provoking novels I have read in a long time. I look forward to more books in this series if there are any and I trust that they will be just as amazing as this one was.

A review of:”Seasick: A Zombie Horror Novel” by Iain Rob Wright

Originally posted to Amazon and Goodreads – October 2015

The book that started it all!

I am very sentimental about this book. This is the first book by Iain Rob Wright that I ever read a few years back. I was drawn to the “overstressed – almost ready to crack cop who was given a free cruise by his department to get his head together or else” premise. I am also intrigued by Titanic and ship disasters in general and then throw in zombies and a supernatural force causing the day to “reset” in hopes of preventing the apocalypse?

I am so there.

My first read through in 2013 was a rollercoaster of late night under the covers with a (non backlight kindle) suspense. Revisiting this tale almost two years later after familiarizing myself with what whas fast become one of my favourite authors was definitely a treat!

This book falls approximately halfway through what IRW calls the “Damien-Verse”, which is a series of loosely related stores involving a common street thug named Damien Banks and an incredibly rich and extremely “disturbed” child named Samuel Raymeady. While this book is part of a series, it can still be read as a stand alone novel without any gaps in the story. Reading it again after filling in some of the blanks however has made a good story even better.

Yes,this is just another “zombie apocalypse” novel but aside from “Titanic with Zombies” is still pretty unique. Throw in the whole “Groundhog day” aspect and you have a really good read!

A review of “Savage: A Zombie Apocalypse Novel” by Iain Rob Wright

Originally posted to Amazon and Goodreads – November 2015

A great read either standalone or part of the Damien – Verse

 

This book picks up about a year after “Ravage” leaves off.

In the grand scheme of the IRW world this book is about 6th or 7th in a series of books that involve two pivotal characters. The book is written is such a way that it can be read as a stand alone novel or as part of a series. I read it after reading all of the previous books in leading up to it and had a few “OMG” moments.

SPOILERS AHEAD — YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

When I figured out that Roman was Damien, I was so excited! Finally our bad boy turned good will get his revenge against the man who was behind him losing his hand and bringing the zombie infection into the world.

I was seriously hoping for an epic battle to end all battles between Damien/Roman and Sam but that was not to be. The ending was bittersweet with losing Poppy however there was still hope with Hugo and his girls and Cat’s pregnancy.

Also, I refuse to believe Damien and Sam are dead. There is a possibility that they survived the sinking of the Kirkland and that epic smackdown that I was looking forward to may still see the light of day.

A review of “This is the Night” by Jonah C. Sirott

Originally posted to Amazon and Goodreads – November 2015

This book had so much potential, but it fell short.

Usually I love reading about dystopian societies but this one left me lacking. The only thing I can think is that maybe there were too many things going on?

It was hard to follow the different unrelated yet parallel story lines and at times, I wasn’t even sure where they fit into the overarching story. I think the sheer number of characters and plot lines may have helped to lose my interest. Maybe instead of trying to cram all of this into one 300+ page volume this may have been better explored as a series of books?

I did like the way the country the characters inhabited was subdivided into different sections or zones. This actually is brilliant, because it allows the reader to place the setting practically anywhere in the world based on their current surroundings. Being in America, with all our current political nonsense it was easy for me to pick out areas of North America as these different areas.

I would like to have seen the political aspect explored more. What exactly is “Ideology Five”? This wasn’t really explained and left me wondering how this differed from the current Ideologies of the prime minister and the current ruling class. Who were the “Foreigns” and why exactly is this war still being waged after 22 years? Why aren’t the people sick and tired of sending their sons off to die or come back maimed? The “Classification” aspect of all Homeland individuals and the treatment of the Indigenous was also thought provoking. I could have done completely without the unrequited love bent between Benny and Joe. Truly, I didn’t see where this had any relevance in an already convoluted story line. As the book came to a close, the only real resolution was that the geriatric prime minister dies. The characters are left hanging, with no real resolution. I didn’t hate it… but I didn’t love it and I probably wouldn’t recommend it.

A review of “The Final Winter” by Iain Rob Wright

Posted to Amazon and GoodReads – October 2015

I don’t normally rate books 5 stars but…. wow!

Speaking as someone who likes to review from her perception of the book and the story as a whole more than the “literal relevance and grammatical syntax blah blah blah” this was one Hell of a ride.

The story starts with probably the harshest winter ever seen with record snowfalls all around the globe. The main portion of the story takes place in a pub where several people have holed up to wait out the inclement weather. What they did they not know was that the weather was just the harbinger of something more ominous than a little bit of snow. As we get to know the characters, we find out that not everyone is telling everything. While the storm and apparent paranormal activity rages outside, there is also a danger lurking inside.

To not give too much away this really turns into what can only be described as an “epic” (and I HATE that word) battle of good v. evil. The only problem is the lines between good and evil appear to be blurred at points. It’s difficult to know who is who and when you finally find out, it’s usually with a WTF moment. I was literally screaming at my kindle one minute and cheering the next!

The character backstories (for the ones who matter) are fairly well developed. Overall, this was a great read. And one I can definitely see reading again in the future

A review of “ASBO: A Novel of Extreme Terror” by Iain Rob Wright

Originally posted to Amazon and Goodreads – October 2014

Overall, another good book from a really good author.

Where do I begin with this one? Thug Kids, home invasion, tit for tat revenge and not everything is as it seems. This book was hard to read in some places and borderline predictable in others but the story was written in such a way that it sucked me in. I didn’t want to stop reading and leave the characters in their predicament. I really wanted some to be okay and other to suffer.

Frankie is damaged and focuses his rage and retribution onto Andrew and his family seemingly on a whim. Only until very much later in the book do we find out that there is a connection. Frankie’s brother Davey is caught in the middle; torn between loyalty to his brother and sympathy for a family who has harmed no one. Andrew and his family are typical middle class upscale family who only wanted fish and chips but ended up becoming the brunt of Frankie’s rage over seemingly a pack of cigarettes. Once the story gets going it’s pretty nonstop action until the last page. The epilogue was a nice touch to tie up some of the ends and answer lingering questions.

I have read some less than stellar reviews that would suggest that the author was just writing shock for shock’s sake, but I would have to disagree. If that were the case, this story could have been way more disgusting and traumatic than it was.