Zero Day by Ezekiel Boone #BookReview

Title: Zero Day | Series: The Hatching #3 | Author: Ezekiel Boone | Pub. Date: 2018-2-28 | Pages: 336 | ISBN13: 9781501125102 | Genre: Horror Thriller | Language: English | Triggers: Spiders. Spiders everywhere. Well, kind of. | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from Netgalley for review consideration.

Zero Day

In the thrilling, nerve-wracking finale of Ezekiel Boone’s “hair-raising” (Parade) Hatching series, the United States goes to war against the queen spiders that threaten to overtake the human race forever.

The world is on the brink of apocalypse. Zero Day has come.

The only thing more terrifying than millions of spiders is the realization that those spiders work as one. But among the government, there is dissent: do we try to kill all of the spiders, or do we gamble on Professor Guyer’s theory that we need to kill only the queens?

For President Stephanie Pilgrim, it’s an easy answer. She’s gone as far as she can—more than two dozen American cities hit with tactical nukes, the country torn asunder—and the only answer is to believe in Professor Guyer. Unfortunately, Ben Broussard and the military men who follow him don’t agree, and Pilgrim, Guyer, and the loyal members of the government have to flee, leaving the question: what’s more dangerous, the spiders or ourselves?

Book cover for Zero Day

Zero Day Review

I’ve looked forward to Zero Day, the third book in the Hatching trilogy, for quite a while now. (You can find my reviews of The Hatching and Skitter by clicking on the titles.) Even though Skitter disappointed me with its not-so-tasty-cream-filling status between the decent parts of a cookie, I still held strong for the series. I fully expected Ezekiel Boone to deliver epicness in spades for the wrap up to this eight-legged three-volume arachno-terror.  Expecting anything epic from anyone is always setting yourself up for disappointment. How much you like the author’s writing in general means the disappointment will vary from “Eh, figures” to “My god, good sir, how could you do this to me?”

I was  somewhere near the “Eh, figures” end of the scale.

Zero Day started off with some word play that had me laughing. “Like two bullfrogs mating on a cymbal” is just classic imagery.  However, by the halfway point, the humor felt as forced as when Marvel does an all-star cast superhero movie and tries to give everyone the snarkiest line in the script. It starts off with chuckles, and by the end of the movie, you’ve stopped listening to the painful dialogue and started mentally organizing your to-read-list for the next six months. Luckily, that was me exaggerating a bit, as Zero Day wasn’t quite that bad. I was only tempted to organize the next month’s or so. I think Boone was trying to embrace the B-movie cheese that these books have the potential for.

It wasn’t until there were roughly 80 pages left in Zero Day that it felt like the author started to really draw everything together. Finally, things started to happen that involved the spiders and not politics or other human drama. (Not that I minded the touch o’ love scene with Abuela, mind you!) I was happy at this point, and began to get fully immersed into the story. Bring the pedipalps, the teeth, the eight-legged freaks.  I was ready for some monster killing!

And then at about 30 pages left, I stared at the page. That was it? That was the grand climax? Nope. Not happening. He was going to pull something at the very end. … Yep, apparently he was. And gah! C’mon, it wasn’t even his first time! It’s understandable when someone  cuts loose a bit too early and a touch too unskilled on their first time! Queue footage of me mentally stomping around in my head and throwing things, before forcing a grin and pretending that it was okay. That it ended just fine. I was fine with the touchy-feelies and warm’n’fuzzies afterward and not in the least bit dissatisfied.

Except, no. NO. My happy was not had. He got me riled up and rarin’ to go, and then he finished before I was ready for it. Grr.

Okay, overall, when taking into account that the Hatching trilogy is Ezekiel Boone’s first series (and first three books on the whole, at least according to Goodreads), he didn’t do bad. I think the first book is definitely the best of the three. It’s clear, though, that he had a vision, and he did his best to stick to it. Writing a trilogy about the world being overtaken by spiders was an ambitious project, to say the least, especially since it had mass release and the expectations that went with it. He did a decent job, all things considered.

Buy Link: Amazon

Rough Riders Vol 2: Riders on the Storm #BookReview

Title: Riders on the Storm | Series: Rough Riders Vol #2 | Writer: Adam Glass | Illustrator:  Patrick Olliffe  | Publisher: Aftershock Comics | Pub. Date: 2017-11-8 | Pages: 144 | Genre: Alternate History Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley for review consideration

Rough Riders, Vol 2: Riders on the Storm

Collecting all six issues of the Riders on the Storm arc!

Three years have passed since the Rough Riders last adventure, but when an assassins’ bullet takes President William McKinley’s life, Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt is thrust into the role of Commander in Chief. As a country mourns the loss of their leader, Roosevelt believes that the assassin is part of a bigger conspiracy, ones whose tentacles reach back to Europe and whose intentions are to destroy humanity through world-wide ANARCHY.

To stop them Roosevelt must convince Harry Houdini, Jack Johnson, Thomas Edison and a surprisingly very alive Annie Oakley to band together again. But time has strained the bonds that once united them and the ideologies of their enemies may have already seeped into one of their own.

Created and written by Adam Glass (executive producer of Supernatural and writer of Suicide Squad) with art by Patrick Olliffe (Untold Tales of Spider-Man). – Goodreads

Book cover for Rough Riders Vol 2: Riders on the Storm

Rough Riders, Vol 2: Riders on the Storm Review

Even though there had been several books between me experiencing Rough Riders Vol 1 and Vol 2, I found myself quickly remembering how much I liked some of the characters, and laughing at the dialogue. And, of course, anticipating a certain one’s return – which I was given rather swiftly. However, unfortunately, I feel like this one had a serious case of try-too-hard-itis going on. While I loved a lot of the action and the witty repartee between Annie and the rest of the Rough Riders was awesome, the repeated twists and turns of the plot had me sighing.

My main problem with Rough Riders, Vol 2: Riders on the Storm were the parallels to America today. I read to escape, so finding myself plunging into a version of our current situation had me wrinkling my nose. And from a certain word to the characters that were obvious stand-ins for some of our politicians in office today, it was impossible to not see the similarities. However, the dialogue between the Rough Riders about democracy, anarchy, and frustration with the system was very plainly put and easy to relate to. And the end of this issue, well, let’s just say it was believable as well. So while I didn’t like that aspect of things, I still appreciated how the writer laid things out.  I do want to comment on a lot more than I currently am, simply because I lack the skill to get my point across.

The other thing is that while I can suspend quite a lot of belief in logic and abilities in search of a good story, Rough Riders Vol 2: Riders on the Storm, just had a few too many cases where I felt like it was pushing the envelope of realism a bit too far. There was a scene in particular involving one of the characters and four horses that had me rolling my eyes.

My favorite line comes from Roosevelt in the first issue (#8) of Riders on the Storm. It’s just an awesome insult.

“For a civil war veteran, I found age and fear had given him the spine of a chocolate eclair.”


As for the individual issues themselves, while I liked the The Big Burn (#8), Maiden of the Mist (#12) was the stand-out winner for me. Mostly because I love Annie, in case I haven’t mentioned that three times already. Strange Days (#13) was my least favorite of the bunch. Given the way Strange Days ended things, I can’t say that I would be interested in picking up any more volumes from the Rough Riders’ series. 

Overall, just can’t recommend this volume, sorry. It had it’s high points, but not enough to make it worth spending money on.

If it sounds awesome anyways, you can purchase Rough Riders, Vol 2: Riders on the Storm via this Amazon Affiliate Link



Transport: Death Mission by Phillip P. Peterson #BookReview

Title: Transport: Death Mission | Series: Transport #1 | Author: Phillip P. Peterson | Pub. Date: 2016-9-28 | Pages: 268 | ASIN: B01M0Y9LRU | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English (Originally published in German) | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Kindle Unlimited

Transport: Death Mission

“Transport? Transport to where, Sir?” “Possibly straight to hell.”

An extraterrestrial object is discovered off the coast of California; a sphere that transports people to other solar systems. Death-row inmate Russell Harris and nine other convicts are given the chance to save their own lives by agreeing to travel as test subjects on the transporter. But when the first volunteer dies a gruesome death, it becomes clear to Russell and his comrades that the venture is little more than a merciless death mission on which they will all perish. Their only chance of survival is to uncover the secret of the mysterious object, but that too seems hopeless – because no trace of the transporter’s constructors can be found

Book cover for Transport

Transport: Death Mission Review

My understanding of Transport: Death Mission is that it was originally published in German, and then translated into English. I feel like maybe there was something lost in translation because Transport: Death Mission was almost really good. It was definitely entertaining, and managed to successfully hook my attention enough that I sat down and read it in one sitting. But part of that, I think, is because I’m a Stargate: SG 1 fan. And while this doesn’t exactly have an alien joining the team from the get-go, you are going to feel the Stargate vibes. It’s not a bad thing. The nostalgia is most likely what kept me reading.

The set up for Transport: Death Mission is fairly simple. It’s a new America, with a President that has somehow managed to push the death penalty to the point where almost everything will get you shot in the head. A few men (and one woman) are given the choice to avoid the death penalty by going on missions that will probably kill them anyways. Some are good, some are bad, and it’s obvious which is which from the beginning. There’s not a lot of subtlety in Transport. It’s not really a story with subplots and multiple layers.Sometimes that’s not a bad thing, though.

I liked the author’s imagination. Some of the situations that he puts the ‘volunteers’ in  during the course of Transport: Death Mission are pretty gruesome. And some of them are just as awesome. There were worlds that I wanted to know more about,and more than once where things did not go as I expected. Things got rolling extremely quickly, and that pace held up pretty well for most of the book. There is a bit of language, but nothing terribly offensive. There is one scene that might be triggering for people who have experienced sexual harassment where the woman wakes up to discover one of the bad guys in her bedroom, jerking off while watching her sleep.

The only thing in Transport that I didn’t particularly care for was the ending. It felt like a cop-out. On one hand, it wrapped things up nicely enough that you don’t have any real need to keep with the series. On the other, though, it was such a H.E.A., good guys save the day, type ending that it could easily evoke eye-rolls.

All in all, really not a bad book, and well-written enough that even though I could identify it didn’t read quite right, I still wanted to keep reading. Transport: Death Mission is imaginative sci-fi fluff. Definitely good for passing a few hours at night when you don’t want to work your brain too hard.

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Lilac Skully and the Carriage of Lost Souls by Amy Cesari #BookReview

Title: Lilac Skully and the Carriage of Lost Souls | Series: Lilac Skully #2 | Author: Amy Cesari | Pub. Date: 2018-1-17 | Page: 198 | ASIN: B0794CP4J2 | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: I received a copy from the author for review consideration.

Lilac Skully and the Carriage of Lost Souls

Will Lilac Return from the Realm of the Dead?

When her life alone begins to feel desperate, Lilac comes up with a daring plan.

But when she travels to the world of the dead, she realizes it may have been a bad idea. A malevolent ghost is following her . . . and Lilac finds herself facing grim consequences. How will she ever get home?

Join Lilac on a courageous adventure as she leaves Skully Manor, makes unexpected friends, and discovers dangers far worse than she feared.

Lilac Skully and the Carriage of Lost Souls is the second book in the Lilac Skully series. If you like spooky books about awesome little girls with a lot of heart, then you’ll love this fun, fast-paced tale. – Goodreads

Book cover for Lilac Skully and the Carriage of Lost Souls

Lilac Skully and the Carriage of Lost Souls Review

Lilac Skully and the Carriage of Lost Souls is a great follow-up to the first Lilac Skully book. The cover is equally beautiful as well. Amy Cesari has created something special in Lilac Skully, a nine (and three-quarters!) year old girl who is pushed outside her comfort zone by  circumstances outside her control. In the first book she was dealing with her fears of her own house when her father disappears. Things quickly go from bad to worse, and soon Lilac finds herself in a vaguely Home Alone-esque situation, albeit with a bit more feeling of danger involved. One of the things that I appreciated was that Lilac isn’t some spunky go-getter that’s all motivation and no brains. She’s scared, she has doubts, and she’s not at all sure about what she’s doing. However, she recognizes that there’s no one else but her to do it, and so she gets it done.

Well, she could simply tell an adult, but that would kind of ruin the whole plot behind the books. So we’ll ignore that in favor of the story that Amy Cesari tells instead.

The plot of The Carriage of Lost Souls sees Lilac interacting with ghosts outside the ones she just got used to being around. Hatching a daring rescue plan. And finding out that sometimes people change for the better. I liked that the author worked that in there, with hearkening back to something that was talked about in the first book. However, that doesn’t mean there weren’t bad guys in this book, because there definitely was! There was a lot of action in this book, and I laughed at some of the imagery provided by this even while I was eagerly turning the pages to see what happened next. The pacing, and the dialogue were lovely as well.

Now, I will say that one thing about the Lilac Skully books is that they do feel like chunks of one story instead of proper mini stories within a larger story. You DO get a mini story arc, so don’t think she pulls those cliffhangers some indie authors do where it just stops halfway through the book to get you to buy the next one. Her cliffhangers are much more mild in comparison. However, I still left this one feeling vaguely unfulfilled because it felt like she didn’t bring this story arc quite to it’s natural conclusion.

Overall, though, Lilac Skully and the Carriage of Lost Souls was an entertaining read, and I can’t wait to read the third entry into the series. Amy Cesari is doing good.(And, I have to say it, especially with the “Nine and three-quarters” age, Lilac still reminds me of Luna from Harry Potter!)

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Primordia: In Search of the Lost World by Greig Beck #BookReview

Title: Primordia: In Search of the Lost World | Author: Greig Beck | Publisher: Severed Press | Pub. Date: 2017-12-13 | Pages: 248 | ASIN: B0788Y79LR | Genre: Speculative Fiction / Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: Snakes, Spiders, Bugs | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Kindle Unlimited

Primordia: In Search of the Lost World

Ben Cartwright, former soldier, home to mourn the loss of his father stumbles upon cryptic letters from the past between the author, Arthur Conan Doyle and his great, great grandfather who vanished while exploring the Amazon jungle in 1908.

Amazingly, these letters lead Ben to believe that his ancestor’s expedition was the basis for Doyle’s fantastical tale of a lost world inhabited by long extinct creatures. As Ben digs some more he finds clues to the whereabouts of a lost notebook that might contain a map to a place that is home to creatures that would rewrite everything known about history, biology and evolution.

But other parties now know about the notebook, and will do anything to obtain it. For Ben and his friends, it becomes a race against time and against ruthless rivals.

In the remotest corners of Venezuela, along winding river trails known only to lost tribes, and through near impenetrable jungle, Ben and his novice team find a forbidden place more terrifying and dangerous than anything they could ever have imagined.

Primordia: In Search of the Lost World

Primordia: In Search of the Lost World Review

I haven’t read much of Greig Beck’s work but unless memory fails, I’ve liked everything I have read. He’s not a name that immediately pops to mind when I’m looking for a new book to read, but when I lay hands on one of his works, I know to expect a good story. And Primordia: In Search of the Lost World was a very good story. So good, in fact, that it had me up until 1:30 in the morning before I cried uncle and reluctantly put it down to go to sleep.

If you’re a fan of The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle, Beck’s Primordia: In Search of the Lost World will engage you immediately. It’s almost ridiculously fast-paced (not a bad thing), but Greig still manages to weave just enough of a story around the origins of Doyle’s tale to sell it to you. Primordia is a rip-roaring, action-packed speculative fiction adventure filled with chomping and squishing, overlaid with a serious atmosphere of “They’re all going to die” that won’t let you look away. 

Given the type of novel it is, if you’re expecting character development, it’d be a good idea to look elsewhere. There are good guys, bad guys, a smattering of history to bring them together, and a bit of a love story just because sometimes there needs to be a bit of a love story. Most of them are just monster-fodder anyways, so do you really need to believe in their validity as human beings? (If your answer was yes, again, best go read something else.) Most of the middle of the book was spent with me going “Nope. No. You are not going to – !” and then watching a character die. Followed by the intense urge to drag one particular toe-rag out of the pages just so I could investigate what happens to certain dangly bits when someone wearing crampons delivers a well-placed kick.

All in all, Primordia was an engrossing, entertaining read with an amazingly clean copy, considering the last few books I’ve read from this particularly publisher have been so damaged by a lack of copy-editing and proofreading that they’ve been just this side of impossible to get through.  Very happy to have this pleasant reading experience instead.

Definitely check this out, folks. Primordia: In Search of the Lost World is worth every penny spent on it. 

Buy Link: Amazon

Hardened Hearts Anthology #BookReview

Title: Hardened Hearts | Editor: Eddie Generous | Publisher: Unnerving | Pub. Date: 2017-12-4  | Pages: 260 | ASIN: B077CNPLC4 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: Child Death, Murder, Suicide | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Kindle Unlimited

Hardened Hearts Anthology

17 stories of difficult love, broken hearts, lost hope, and discarded truths. Love brings pain, vulnerability, and demands of revenge. Hardened Hearts spills the sum of darkness and light concerning the measures of love; including works from Meg Elison, author of The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award), Tom Deady, author of Haven (Winner of the Bram Stoker award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel), Gwendolyn Kiste, author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe and Pretty Marys All in a Row, and many more.
Hardened Hearts dips from speculative, horror, science fiction, fantasy, into literary and then out of the classifiable and into the waters of unpinned genres, but pure entertainment nonetheless. – Goodreads

Book cover for Hardened Hearts

Hardened Hearts Review

Hardened Hearts was a well-put together anthology covering a wide range of stories falling under the sole – but never simple – subject of ‘love’. Reading it, I was never quite sure what the next story was going to bring. I can’t say that I claim to understand the point of all the stories involved in the volume, but I appreciate that the editor tried to make sure that as many aspects as possible were represented.

Because of the topic and the fact that many of the stories strayed from my comfort genres, I can’t say that I was super crazy as about Hardened Hearts. The Death’s Realm anthology was definitely more my style. However, there were a few stories in Hardened Hearts that I absolutely loved, and only a couple that I disliked. Most of them were interesting, but just didn’t strike the right chord for me. The stories were all well-edited, the range of characters displayed was wide, and it was obvious that a lot of thought had went into the curation. This is an anthology that should grow to be very popular within it’s target audience.

I wanted to briefly talk about my favorites in Hardened Hearts. The first one was Dog Tired by Eddie Generous (who happens to be the editor as well). It was well-written, the disease caught me off guard, and I liked the twist on fighting the infection. It was followed by another winner in my eyes – The Pink Balloon by Tom Deady. Normally I hate child death in stories, but this one was done right. Then there was Burning Samantha by Scott Paul Hallam, which made me have a rather serious amount of the sads for the main character. Finally, I really liked Matchmaker by Meg Elison, though some of my affection for the story does come from the fact that I thought it was perfectly placed. It was nice to end the anthology on an up note.

Overall, Hardened Hearts was a pleasant reading experience and none of the stories are ridiculously long, so they’d make for good lunch time reads over a week or two. Can’t say I loved it, but it was well-done nevertheless.

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For my notes on the individual stories, please see below.

40 Ways to Leave Your Monster Lover by Gwendolyn Kiste – This was an interesting read. I like the flashes style the author employs. Can’t say it was scary, or even close to scary, but it was a good read. 4/5

What is Love? by Calvin Demmer – I’ve never heard of the Inpundulu before, so right away I was fascinated. The story itself was a bit disturbing though. Well-written, and gross at the end. 4/5

Heirloom by Theresa Braun – An interesting read about the intertwining of souls, dangerous mirrors, and infanticide. 3/5

The Recluse by John Boden – Wait…WTF? This was weird. Nothing more to say. 3/5

Dog Tired by Eddie Generous – Oh, I liked this one. I think this is my favorite so far. The take on being able to out-last the infection period by staying awake. The furry instead of the other… All good. And well-written to boot!! 5/5

The Pink Balloon by Tom Deady – I don’t like child death in stories. However, this was done right. There was no focus on the dead child’s body. It wasn’t a tragic event used as a starting point for trying again, nothing like that. It was just pain and love and foreboding. Very well done. 5/5

It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I want To by J.L. Knight – Weak and boring. 2/5

Consumed by Madhvi Ramani – This one bothered me. The MC is completely unlikable, and the reason that he does everything… That’s fine, though. However, it did feel like it ended far too abruptly. 3/5 

Burning Samantha by Scott Paul Hallam – This one made me sad. 🙁 Someone trying to be who they felt they really were, peer pressure, isolation… Very well written. 5/5

Class of 2000 by Robert Dean- A man snaps when he runs into childhood bullies that have obviously never changed. Sometimes it happens, so I’m willing to buy it. 4/5

Learning to Love by Jennifer Williams – This one I connected with. I’m not sure why, but it impacted me more than a lot of the other stories have. It’s a little too deliberately vague, but that’s a minor thing. 4/5

Brothers by Leo X Robertson – Honestly, I don’t know what to make of this one. Death, life, love, magic. It’s a confusing story but not enticing enough that I want to read it again to try to figure it out. 3/5

Porcelain Skin by Laura Blackwell – This one touched me. It would be so nice to have a place to slip away to, where everything was peaceful and quiet and you never had to face pain again. But, at the same time, the ballerina aspect is a tad creepy, so that was nice too! 4/5

The Heart of the Orchard by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi – This was interesting. I liked the fairy-tale aspect of it. Most of what was going on was fairly obvious, though a little bit of the ending did surprise me. 4/5

Meeting the Parents by Sarah L Johnson – What the f… Okay, yeah, this was paired perfectly with the one before it. Got a laugh out of it! 4/5

Matchmaker by Meg Elison – This made me smile. They were perfect for each other. I loved the way they got together. A perfect, sweet note to end the anthology on. 5/5

Gregory and the Grimbockle by Melanie Schubert #BookReview

Title: Gregory and the Grimbockle | Author: Melanie Schubert | Illustrator: Abigail Kraft | Publisher: New Wrinkle Publishing | Pub. Date: 2017-11-9 | Pages: 183 | Genre: Children’s Fantasy | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Kindle Unlimited

Gregory and the Grimbockle

Ten-year-old Gregory is about to find out that the enormous mole stuck straight beneath his nose is not just a mole, but is actually a humpy crumpy portal of skin that hides a creature called the Grimbockle.

What’s more? The Grimbockle is just one of the many strange little creatures called Bockles tending to the mysterious threads that connect all humans from one to the other. It is a very important job and one that has long been carried out with incredible secrecy…

…that is, before tonight.

Book cover for Gregory and the Grimbockle

Gregory and the Grimbockle Review

Gregory and the Grimbockle was one of the funniest and cute books that I’ve read with my child in a long time. It was so imaginative and fantastical. We loved the adorable illustrations, but were very glad that the Grimbockle was never illustrated going into or out of his temporary home. The sheer grossness of how that happened was so at odds with the cuteness of everything else, but it worked really well together strangely.

Melanie Schubert has enormous talent that Abigail Kraft complemented perfectly. This story of a boy who doesn’t quite fit in, who is teased and sometimes bullied, and is from a home that is neither loving nor abusive will resonate with a lot of younger readers, I believe. His situation isn’t one of extremes and as a result he’s more easy to relate to. The adventures that he goes on with the Grimbockle are pure fiction, but the truth he learns along the way about the large impact that small gestures can have means is not. As a parent, that truth – that our actions have much more an impact that we might think – is one that I enjoyed having a chance to talk about with my child through the lens of Gregory and the Grimbockle. 

The only thing we didn’t like about Gregory and the Grimbockle was the way it ended. It just felt like it ended too abruptly. The transition from childhood to “okay, he’s growing up now” happened so quickly that we had to re-read to make sure we hadn’t accidentally missed a few pages. While I can see why the author did it the way she did, by the time closed the book, we were both already mourning the exiting of the Bockles from our world.

Gregory and the Grimbockle is a book that any parent should delight in picking up to read with their children. It’s an easy read, a short one, and it helps reinforce an important lesson. You’ll be missing out if you don’t give it a try.

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The Sick House by Jeff Strand #BookReview

Title: The Sick House | Author: Jeff Strand | ASIN: B0793MV68L | Pages: 214 | Pub. Date: 2018-1-17 | Language: English | Triggers: Talk of children self-harming | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Kindle Unlimited

The Sick House

It’s a home invasion from beyond the grave in this novel of unrelenting terror from the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of PRESSURE, DWELLER, and WOLF HUNT.

It doesn’t seem like the perfect house, but screw it, it’s good enough to rent for a year. Unfortunately for Boyd, Adeline, and their two young daughters, it’s immediately clear that they chose the wrong place.

The nightmare begins with violent coughs and headaches. Food starts to rot almost as soon as they take it inside. A pet tarantula goes missing. Some family members begin to exhibit creepy behavior.

Then the ghosts arrive, and all Hell breaks loose…

Book cover for The Sick House

The Sick House Review

The Sick House was a delight to read. I had just finished the first novel of Richard Fox’s Terra Nova series, so I was searching for a horror novel to flip to when I came across a friend’s review of this on Goodreads. Her review, along with the fact that it was on Kindle Unlimited, meant that it was an instant grab for me with little thought required. Especially because I’ve previously read Strand’s The Haunted Forest tour and loved it.

My favorite part of The Sick House was without a doubt the family’s dialogue and relationships. The bonds between them felt so real and the quips were exactly the type of thing you’re liable to hear at my house. It made me instantly get attached to all of the characters, and that carried me easily through the book. On the flip side, though, I didn’t like that Gina was also very mouthy. I felt like it would have made the family feel a bit more special if Strand had restrained the banter to just them.

I did like Gina, though. She reminded me very much of the character Gina Silvers from the Amazon series Just Add Magic. (Yes, that’s a kid show, but if you’ve ever watched Just Add Magic, you could totally see her pulling the stunts that happen in The Sick House.) I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil any of it for readers.

A family that I can root for, a house that’s got a serious ‘something’s fishy’ vibe, and the grossness that ensues almost as soon as they move in makes for a lovely read. Well, lovely in an aspect that horror fans will understand at least. Jeff Strand has a talent for descriptions that set the scene perfectly without going into unneeded oodles of detail. It also has perfect pacing, tons of violence, and reads so quickly and easily that it’s an afternoon treat.

Highly recommend horror fans check out The Sick House. Great, fun read.


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Absolute Zero by Phillip Tomasso III #BookReview

Title: Absolute Zero | Author: Phillip Tomasso III | Publisher: Severed Press | Pub. Date: 2017-11-5 | Pages 221 | ASIN: B077755QPX | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Kindle Unlimited

Absolute Zero

When a recon becomes a rescue . . . nothing is absolute!

Earth, a desolate wasteland is now run by the Corporations from space stations off planet . . . A colony of thirty-three people are part of compound set up on Neptune. Their objective is mining the planet surface for natural resources. When a distress signal reaches Euphoric Enterprises on the Nebula Way Station, the Eclipse is immediately dispatched to investigate.

The crew of the Eclipse had no idea what they were getting themselves into. When they reach Neptune, and send out a shuttle party, they hope they can find the root cause behind the alarm. Nothing is ever simple. Something sinister lies in wait for them on Neptune. The mission quickly goes from an investigation into a rescue operation.

The young crew from the Eclipse now finds themselves in the fight of their lives!

Book cover for Absolute Zero

Absolute Zero Review

Absolute Zero just could not hold my attention. I struggled to get through it, and only pressed on because it was only 220 pages. Most of that is because it feels like it did not get the attention of an editor. I can show you what I mean with this one line from the book.

“At the corner, Lieutenant Murray Bell peaked around the edge and screamed!”

Of course, there are the times sentences just outright don’t make sense. Also, the author has an odd sense of timing for using italics. So when he chooses to use them on a wrong word to boot, it’s a bit awkward. (I’ve placed the word Tomasso italicized in bold because of how WordPress does things with quotes.)

“The damage is, around here, unpreparable.

There’s a great story buried within the uneven writing of Absolute Zero. Sometimes the author is able to clearly communicate what he is seeing in his head, and when that happens, the story shines. Other times, though, the writing slips drastically in quality, as the though author forced the words out to be able to move on to the next scene. And, often, it felt like he was trying to meet a certain word count and that meant repeating himself in different ways to up his numbers.

This occurs not only with rephrased individual sentences but with basic ideas as well.

I did like Tomasso’s characters, though. He writes men that aren’t afraid to admit when they’re scared, and strong women. They’re not always likable, and their dialogue (internal and external) isn’t always fantastic, but they are easy to empathize with. I was rooting for the team from the moment they hit the compound.

Neptune is a fascinating planet – I mean, it rains diamonds – and this is the first book I’ve read set on it. I liked the aliens what the crew encounter on the surface. I don’t want to think too hard about them, but I liked them. Tomasso has a solid imagination and you can tell he likes to give the reader a generous portion of action scenes. This is what kept me going even when I repeatedly felt like walking away from the book because of the issues with it.

Overall, regarding the story itself, Absolute Zero is a fun read. However, it was also a mostly painful read filled with repetition, errors, and issues that just generally made me want to smack my head against a wall. It is a big enough problem that I just cannot recommend this book.

Red Rising: Son of Ares Graphic Novel #BookReview

Title: Sons of Ares | Series: Red Rising | Authors: Pierce Brown, Rik Hoskin | Illustrator: Eli Powell | Pub. Date: 2018-3-6 | Pages:152 | ISBN13: 9781524104924 | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from Edelweiss for review consideration

Red Rising: Sons of Ares

From the world of the best-selling YA series Red Rising comes a story of love and loss and rage!

In the future, when mankind has spread across the stars, the hierarchy of man is dictated by the color of one’s caste. The Golds rule all, but what will happen when one falls for a lowly Red? See how a forbidden love will set the course of events for the future and lead to the formation of the formidable Sons of Ares!

Written by author Pierce Brown (The Red Rising Trilogy) and Rik Hoskin (Heroes of Skyrealm, Brandon Sanderson’s White Sand), with art by Eli Powell (Yakuza Demon Killers, The 13th Artifact), comes the in-continuity story of revolution and Red Rising!

Book cover for Sons of Ares

Red Rising: Sons of Ares Review

I’m not a fan of the Red Rising novel series. I think it’s safe to state that seeing that I’ve never successfully made it through the first book without falling asleep. I want to like it – there’s no reason I shouldn’t like it- but the audible version just hits my snooze button instantly. For me, with the trouble sleeping I have, that’s not actually a bad thing, but it doesn’t bode well for my opinion of the book. So… I knew I was taking a risk in checking out Red Rising: Sons of Ares. However, I hoped the graphic novel format would keep my attention a bit better. I was right. I thoroughly enjoyed Red Rising: Sons of Ares Vol 1.

The writing in Sons of Ares is well-done. The story told was surprisingly engaging (though to be honest it did take a couple of issues before I got fully involved with it). I wasn’t expecting to find myself rooting for Fitchner and Brynn, but by the end of the novel I was goggle-eyed at what I thought was going to happen. There might have been a few swears and threats made in the direction of the pages a few times.

Speaking of swears… I wasn’t a fan of the fact that some had apparently taken a black marker to the curse words, though. I mean, if you’re old enough to read about graphic violence that involves people getting limbs cut off, I think you can handle a dirty word or two. Especially given that right after a few swears are marked out, there’s threats of ‘sack’ removal. Someone’s priorities are a bit sideways, yeah?

The pacing for Red Rising: Sons of Ares was great. There was the perfect amount of action. The dialogue was believable. The plot was interesting and I was happy by the end of the volume because I felt like it had been a solid mini story arc. I didn’t like Fitchner, but I don’t feel like I was supposed to like him either. I did like Brynn, though, and there were a few panels that had me cheering her.

My only issue with the graphic novel was the art. The quick, sketchy art style always looks to me like they were more concerned with pushing the issues out rather than taking their time and doing it properly. I’m aware some people like it and feel that it suits the story. I’m not one of them. So I really think it’s just personal preference.

Overall, Red Rising: Sons of Ares is a captivating story that managed to keep my attention even when the art did nothing for me. I know it’s a prequel, but given that I haven’t managed to read the books themselves, I can’t say if it gives any spoilers for the series.

It’s worth checking out.

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