Posted in Book Reviews, Novels, Short Story Collections

REVIEW: Unloaded: Crime Writers Writing Without Guns by Various Authors

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*No Spoilers*

From best sellers and writing legends to the brightest stars of the next generation of crime writers, the twenty-five authors here have taken pen in hand to say enough is enough. Gun violence has got to stop and this is our way of speaking out – by showing that gun violence can be removed from the narrative, and maybe from our lives.

It’s not anti-gun, it’s pro-sanity. And above anything else, these are thrilling crime stories that will surprise and shock, thrill and chill – all without a gun in sight.

Notable Short Stories:
The Old Man and the Motorized Wheelchair by Joe R. Lansdale-This story of a retired detective who has Sherlock Holmes-like capabilities made for a fascinating read.

The Starry Night by Grant Jerkins- This story exposes how insecure the children’s ward in the hospital can be. Especially when it’s busy, and you have clowns and people in and out visiting loved ones. Gave me the major creeps.

The Business of Death by Eric Beetner- A funeral home director who’s fallen on hard times might make unethical choices if it means some illegitimate money to fix up the parlor. I liked this story, this one is one of the more memorable stories out of the bunch.

The Final Encore of Moody Joe Shaw by Thomas Pluck- I felt this novel to be so sad and heartwarming at the same time. A man who is an outcast and misfit, finding comfort in an elderly lady’s company. The ending will have you reaching for your tissues!

Mysterious Ways by J.L. Abramo- I enjoy a good private eye story, no matter if it’s modern day or 1920s Same Spade. This novel follows a PI as he investigates the assault of the daughter of the man who hired him. A father’s love can make a man make immoral decisions.

Now, I’m not saying all of the other stories in this collection are bad, I’m just listing my favorites. The more memorable ones to me are the ones where I looked at the table of contents and instantly recall the story by the title.

I thought this short story collection was worth the read for the stories I mentioned earlier in my review. However, I thought several of the stories didn’t belong because there was no murder or mystery involved.

I would recommend this collection to lovers of short stories, mysteries, and for supporters of gun control/gun regulations.

More Short Stories HERE!

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Posted in Discussions, Personal Blogs

My Bookshelf

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My mom recently gave me a bookshelf, and my fiance and I put it together and placed it in my room, I quickly started filling the shelves with the books I’ve collected over the past couple of years since I moved in with my fiance.

Some of these books I’ve read, most I haven’t yet. And yes, I still own the whole Twilight Saga. I’m not ashamed to say that at the time even though I found it to be dumb and immature, I still enjoyed the series. I was in middle school, cut me some slack.

The little figure on my shelf is a Pokemon that McDonald’s had in their Happy Meals at the time, and so I got this one. Reshiram is a legendary Pokemon from the Black and White games. It is said that when Reshiram’s tail flares, the heat energy moves the atmosphere and changes the world’s weather.

I just wanted to share what my physical bookshelf has on it. Its shelves are ever growing crowded as I keep finding books that I want to add to my collection.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Curse of Crow Hollow by Billy Coffey

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*No Major Spoilers*

Everyone in Crow Hollow knows of Alvaretta Graves, the old widow who lives in the mountain. Many call her a witch; others whisper she’s insane. Everyone agrees the vengeance Alvaretta swore at her husband’s death hovers over them all. That vengeance awakens when teenagers stumble upon Alvaretta’s cabin, incurring her curse. Now a sickness moves through the Hollow. Rumors swirl that Stu Graves has risen for revenge. And the people of Crow Hollow are left to confront not only the darkness that lives on the mountain but the darkness that lives within themselves.

When I borrowed this audiobook from the virtual library, I honestly wasn’t sure what I was going to get. I thought it might be a cozy mystery disguised as something scary or ominous. However, here lately I’ve had some decent luck with the mystery/horror genre so I thought I’d give it a try.

This novel really strikes home that when a community has something to fear, such as the witch on the mountain, they’re looking for anything to blame that’s not themselves. When people of a close-knit, closed-off community face something that they cannot identify, they need a scapegoat to place the blame.

When the girls of Crow Hollow fall ill, it reminded me of The Crucible. How the main group of girls who went up to the mountain got “cursed” and soon every girl in town started falling ill as well. In The Crucible a small group of girls in an English colony start misbehaving and claiming that someone in the colony is a witch, and soon it becomes too real, but the girls can’t just come forward and said they were making their sicknesses up just to get attention from the townsfolk.

I found this novel to be somewhat predictable. There was a couple of twists I didn’t see coming, so that’s good. It’s not fun when you’re reading the book and know what’s going to happen before the characters do.

I liked the way the author presents the story like you’re having a discussion with the narrator. I thought this was unique and really brought home that southern charm the novel portrays.

All in all, I found The Curse of Crow Hollow to be a fun and entertaining read. If you like small-town mystery, horror, mystery, and small southern town charm, then I would recommend this novel.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner

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*No Spoilers*

An enduring classic, this book offers a dramatic and prophetic look at the potential consequences of the escalating destruction of Earth. In this nightmare society, air pollution is so bad that gas masks are commonplace. Infant mortality is up, and everyone seems to suffer from some form of ailment.

I had never heard of this novel until recently. I was surprised how this novel was originally published in 1973, and how much this book rings true in today’s world and tomorrow’s possible future. I was shocked.

There’s an ingrained distrust in our society of highly intellegent, highly trained, highly competent persons. One need only to look at the last presidential election for proof of that. – The Sheep Look Up- John Brunner

This novel was terrifying in a subtle way. This novel reminded me of the battle with the anti-vaxxers, the vegans, and others who are “different”. The Sheep Look Up also discusses the issues of racial tension and prejudice that seems to have to be prevalent in the news again.

This novel does suffer from one common problem with apocalyptic aspects, too many characters. I don’t like having to take notes while I’m reading a book if I wanted to that I’d go back to college [heavy sarcasm].

Even so, I felt this novel was an excellent discovery and a terrifying read. Everyone wearing gas masks, everyone catching all kinds of diseases just by trying to survive, and all of the animals going extinct.

 

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Here’s my Doctor Who reference for the month!

 

With the fear of bees going extinct, and the rhinos and elephants being killed for their ivory, it is mostly foretold in this novel. The discussion for environmental change is on every page. Even though there are those of us who are trying to slow down the destruction of the world, the rest can’t seem to break those old habits.

You can’t blame the people who can’t hear the warnings; you have to blame the ones who can, and who choose to ignore them. – The Sheep Look Up – John Brunner

I would highly recommend this classic novel to those who enjoy the underrated classics. I think this novel is also for those people who like dystopic and apocalyptic future of our current world and possible future. This book is a great read if you’re looking for an apocalyptic read, but don’t want the zombie kind.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Beast of Barcroft by Bill Schweigart

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*No Major Spoilers*

Ben McKelvie believes he’s moving up in the world when he and his fiancée buy a house in the cushy Washington, D.C., suburb of Barcroft. Instead, he’s moving down—way down—thanks to Madeleine Roux, the crazy neighbor whose vermin-infested property is a permanent eyesore and looming hazard to public health.

First, Ben’s fiancée leaves him; then, his dog dies, apparently killed by a predator drawn into Barcroft by Madeleine’s noxious menagerie. But the worst is yet to come for Ben, for he’s not dealing with any ordinary wild animal. This killer is something much, much worse. Something that couldn’t possibly exist—in this world.

Now, as a devilish creature stalks the locals, Ben resolves to take action. With some grudging assistance from a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and the crackpot theories of a self-styled cryptozoologist, he discovers the sinister truth behind the attacks, but knowing the Beast of Barcroft and stopping it are two different animals.

If you’ve been a reader of my blog for a while, then you’ll know I seem to have a tendency to read the monster subgenre of horror. In most of these novels I read, I felt like the monster was uncreative, and just a personal take on a Xenomorph from the Alien franchise. However, this novel is not one of those.

I liked how this monster only affected a small neighborhood and its residents. It made the stakes feel so much higher. Instead of the monster affecting a large area such as a large town or a whole state, it’s a couple of blocks of cookie-cutter houses, To me, that’s more terrifying than anything.

I won’t spoil what the monster is, but I will say that it’s one I am not familiar with and had to do some light research on it. This author gets bonus points for making me learn! I will give this hint: for something so prominent in Alaskan folklore, how it traveled to Washington D.C. is anybody’s guess.

If you are a fan of Stephen King but want a cohesive story, then this novel is definitely for you! This novel will have you looking in the bushes at night.

My favorite part is how Ben overcomes the depression brought on by his father’s death and his fiance abandoning him. The loss of his dog forces him to pull himself up and get revenge for his furry best friend’s passing. By hunting this monster, he not only defeats the monster itself but also defeats the demons inside himself.

I would highly recommend this novel for lovers of horror, monsters, folklore, and all things that go bump in the night. I felt this was a breath of fresh air for me, no xenomorphs, no predictable endings, just a good scary story.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Double Wide by Leo W. Banks

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*No Spoilers*

After fastball phenom Prospero Stark’s baseball career craters in a Mexican jail, he retreats to a trailer park in the scorching Arizona desert. He lives in peaceful anonymity with a collection of colorful outcasts until someone leaves his former catcher’s severed hand on his doorstep. Beautiful, hard-living reporter Roxanne Santa Cruz, who keeps a .380 Colt and a bottle of Chivas in her car, joins Stark to help him uncover his friend’s fate, a dangerous pursuit that pits them against a ruthless gang of drug-dealing killers.

This novel caught my eye because of the cover art. The imagery of the parched, Arizona desert with the lone camper trailer gave me the impression of a modern-day western.

I found Double Wide to be an entertaining read. Prospero just wanted to disappear from the spotlight after being caught with his best friend who had some cocaine, on top of him losing his throwing arm. However, when the disembodied hand appears, it throws Prospero back into the spotlight as he tries to solve his friend’s murder.

I liked how Prospero ran his own trailer park, and how all of his neighbors called him “Mayor”. I found all of his neighbors to be enjoyable and likable in their own ways. Especially how Prospero would give them rides into town when they needed to go to their jobs. It just shows that Prospero cares about his tenants.

I found Roxanne to be a little annoying, I felt like she was manipulating Prospero to do things that might be considered unethical. Like showing up on the doorstep of the hottest baseball manager in town in the middle of the night. Even though it was all for a good cause, I didn’t like how Roxanne was controlling the narrative when she was involved.

I enjoy baseball from time to time, and I thought a sports-related mystery made this novel and intriguing read! Even if you’re not familiar as the sport, the rules and techniques are explained in a way where anyone could understand what was going on.

If you’re looking for a mystery novel that combines the love of baseball with the struggles of drug cartels along the Mexican border; this is the book for you!

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Rise Again (Rise Again #1) by Ben Tripp

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*No Spoilers*

Forest Peak, California. Fourth of July. Sheriff Danielle Adelman, a troubled war veteran, thinks she has all the problems she can handle in this all-American town after her kid sister runs away from home. But when a disease-stricken horde of panicked refugees fleeing the fall of Los Angeles swarms her small mountain community, Danny realizes her problems have only just begun – starting with what might very well be the end of the world.

Danny thought she had seen humanity at its worst in war-torn Iraq, but nothing could prepare her for the remorseless struggle to survive in a dying world being overrun by the reanimated dead and men turned monster. Obsessed with finding her missing sister against all odds, Danny’s epic and dangerous journey across the California desert will challenge her spirit . . . and bring her to the precipice of sanity itself. . . .

I thought I’d make a return to the zombie subgenre after a hiatus. This novel definitely satisfied my craving for a good zombie apocalypse. There’s action, suspense, violence, and plenty of blood and gore.

My major complaint with this novel was I felt like there were too many survivors that the author focused on. I found it difficult keeping track of who’s who and what motivates them.

I did like how the author made the protagonist a female veteran. Even with what she’s seen during her service and the injuries she’s suffered from, she was still able to feel fear and confusion throughout the novel. I felt this made her more likable and relatable.

My favorite character was Amy, the local veterinarian. Even though she worked on animals before the apocalypse, she was still able to help fellow survivors and give first aid when needed. She slowly gained the ability to lead the others after Danny goes alone to look for her sister.

When Danny goes rogue from her group to go look for her sister, the finality of the apocalypse sets in really strong during this time. Towns abandoned, littered with corpses and abandoned cars. It also foreshadows the coming conflicts between various groups of survivors. You can feel the tension as Danny is on her selfish mission.

I enjoyed this novel, and I am highly interested in reading the next one in the series. I would also recommend this for lovers of female protagonists, zombie apocalypse, and science fiction.