Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Gears of War: Aspho Fields (Gears of War #1) by Karen Traviss

img_6530

*Possible Spoilers for the Gears of War Games*

For the first time, fans of the blockbuster Gears of War video games get an in-depth look at Delta Squad’s toughest fighters–soldier’s soldier Marcus Fenix and rock-solid Dominic Santiago–as well as a detailed account of the pivotal battle of the Pendulum Wars.

As kids, the three of them were inseparable; as soldiers, they were torn apart. Marcus, Fenix, and Dominic Santiago fought alongside Dom’s elder brother Carlos at Aspho Fields in the epic battle that changed the course of the Pendulum Wars. There’s a new war to fight now, a war for mankind’s very survival. But while the last human stronghold on Sera braces itself for another onslaught from the Locust Horde, ghosts come back to haunt Marcus and Dom. For Marcus–decorated war hero, convicted traitor–the return of an old comrade threatens to dredge up an agonizing secret he’s sworn to keep.

As the beleaguered Gears of the Coalition of Ordered Governments take a last stand to save mankind from extermination, the harrowing decisions made at Aspho Fields have to be re-lived and made again. Marcus and Dom can take anything the Locust Horde throws at them–but will their friendship survive the truth about Carlos Santiago?

I enjoy playing and watching video games, and the Gears of War series has always been a series that I’ve been casually interested in. I don’t typically enjoy military fiction, but I figured I’d give it a try. So let’s see how Gears of War holds up.

The first struggle I faced with the novel was I became confused about which story was which. The story of how Carlos died seemed to intertwine with the “present-day” story. It wasn’t until near the end of the novel I was able to separate the two battles.

Even though I struggled with the two different stories going on, I felt like you didn’t need to know much about the games to enjoy this novel. This is actually a prequel to the first game in the series. This gives fans more insight into the characters’ backstories as well as for newcomers to learn about the main characters and the overall plot of the games.

I liked how the author not only included quotes from the human characters, but as well as quotes from the enemy leaders. I felt like this gave the bad guys more personality as well as insight into how they’re just two factions both believing they’re doing the right thing in their part in the war.

Both parts of the story were written well. At times, I felt like I was on the battlefield with the other Gears. I could imagine the chaos of gunfire, the bombs, and the constant fight-or-flight senses going off. So if you are a military buff, then I think you would enjoy this novel and/or series.

Overall, I enjoyed Gears of War: Aspho Fields I found it to be action-packed, and somewhat thought provoking. If you enjoy the video game series, or hesitant about jumping into it, then I would highly recommend you start off here.

Posted in Author Q&A

Author Q&A: Duncan Ralston

img_6572

*No Spoilers for Ghostland*

Who do you relate to more, Ben or Lillian? If so in what way(s)?

Mr. Ralston: I relate a bit to both of them for different reasons. With Ben, it’s his childhood illness and love of horror novels. With Lilian, it’s her sarcasm and needs to present a tough, seen-it-all exterior, which I remember trying to project when I was her age.

Was it difficult creating the world of Ghostland?

Mr. Ralston: It was pretty difficult but also a lot of fun. There were really no limits as to where I could take the technology of the park – the biggest hurdle was trying to reign it all in to make for a cohesive story rather than a bunch of random incidents and set pieces strung together.

Did you base some of the ghosts on real-life events?

Mr. Ralston: Not that I can recall. There may be some that were unintentionally inspired by other stories or real-life events, mostly I took the standard tropes and tried to put a fresh spin on them.

What are your thoughts on Halloween in this politically correct society?

Mr. Ralston: It seems like much of the pushback against Halloween comes from the folks who aren’t so interested in political correctness.

Do you have a favorite non-Horror movie/book/tv show?

Mr. Ralston: Favorite non-horror book: Perfume: Story of a Murderer. Movie: currently, Interstellar. TV Show: all-time, LOST.

Would you be surprised if one day we had the technology where everyone could experience hauntings for themselves?

Mr. Ralston: It would surprise me very much as I don’t believe in the existence of ghosts – and the idea of them disturbs me deeply. That we would go on, trapped here on Earth without our bodies. Stuck re”living” past events. Is it purgatory? A way station between life and death? I’d much rather believe in reincarnation, or Heaven or just life being the end of everything. That said, if life after death was ever proven, I’d be all in. Though like some of the characters in Ghostland, I would have moral issues with exploiting them.

Is there any other Paranormal phenomenon you’d be interested in writing about in the future?

Mr. Ralston: I’m interested in just about every possible paranormal phenomenon you can think of – from TK [telekinetic] to UFOs. The second Ghostland book will feature psychic phenomena more directly than the first, exploring some of the powers displayed by ghosts at Ghostland.

Thanks, Mr. Ralston for answering my questions, and I can’t wait to read the next installment of the Ghostland series!

You can read my review of Ghostland here!

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Ghostland by Duncan Ralston

51zWcZ589ZL

*No Spoilers*

After a near-death experience caused by the park’s star haunted attraction, Ben has come to Ghostland seeking to reconnect with his former best friend Lilian, whose post-traumatic stress won’t let her live life to the fullest. She’s come at the insistence of her therapist, Dr. Allison Wexler, who tags along out of professional curiosity, eager to study the new tech’s psychological effect on the user.

But when a computer virus sets the ghosts free and the park goes into lockdown, the trio finds themselves trapped in an endless nightmare.

With time running short and the dead quickly outnumbering the living, the survivors must tap into their knowledge of horror and video games to escape… or become Ghostland’s newest exhibits.

”If they didn’t get out of there soon, they would all die at the hands of the exhibits, then they too would become a part of Ghostland, a part of Garrote’s ghost army.” – Ghostland

I found this novel when I renewed my Kindle Unlimited subscription. I found the concept of a haunted amusement park to be intriguing and exciting. The thought of ghosts being the museum exhibits instead of the objects or buildings being the exhibits.

I will warn you upfront, this novel gets to be a gorefest at points. So if you are the squeamish type, I’d pass on this one. Otherwise, it is clearly a love letter to the classic horror movies that weren’t afraid of showing blood and letting out curse words.

I love how the author built this universe from the ground up. He even included footnotes for the ghosts and exhibits in case you wanted to know more about these fictional ghosts. Even though you learned about the barebones of the universe through dialogue and the main characters’ knowledge of the exhibits, it was nice to read more into each of the famous attractions. I think my favorite one was about a guy who got lost in his own mirror maze and ended up cutting off pieces of himself to try and keep from going around in circles.

I don’t want to spoil too much, but each character has depth and personality. Both Ben and Lillian change throughout the novel. Not only through witnessing so much trauma and horror, but just by trying to survive the murderous park. Lillian was so affected by Ben’s near-death that she stopped living life.

I was gripped to the edge of my seat until the epilogue. The anticipation of wanting to know who was going to survive, and who was going to have a gruesome demise kept me guessing until the end. One thing I did like was that the author wasn’t afraid to kill any characters. I often wondered if no one was safe.

I often found myself forgetting that Ben and Lillian were only able to see the ghosts through the artificial reality headsets they wore throughout the majority of the story. I kept forgetting about this and was amazed at how the fictional technology seamlessly blended into the background.

Overall, I really enjoyed Ghostland it was a breath of fresh air to the horror genre for me, the author wasn’t afraid to kill off characters, and even though the story is from the perspective of two teenagers, I feel like it was written for adults. If you are looking for a novel to help with your horror genre burnout, then I would highly recommend Ghostland.

Click here to read an interview I did with Duncan Ralston.

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Bitter Roots (Bitter Roots Mysteries #1) by C.J. Carmichael

img_6164

*No Major Spoilers*

Dispatcher Zak Waller prefers working behind the scenes in the Sheriff’s Office of Lost Trail, Montana, but when a newcomer to the sparsely populated town is brutally murdered—and the Sheriff is quick to pin the death on an unknown outsider—Zak starts his own private sleuthing.

On the surface Lost Trail is a picture-perfect western town, offering a simple way of life revolving around the local ranches and ski hill, but Zak knows the truth behind the façade. When his old school friend Tiff Masterson, whose family owns a local Christmas tree farm, moves back to town, the two of them join forces to get to the truth about the murder.

I found Bitter Roots on the iBooks app. They had featured some series starters for free, and this one looked the most interesting. I am not the biggest fan of small-town mysteries, but I’ve had decent luck with them here and there. Now, let’s see how this mystery unravels.

First off, this novel is told from primarily three points of view. Zac who works as a dispatcher at the local sheriff’s office, Tiff who is returning home after her big-city dream turns sour, and finally, Justin who is the town’s only lawyer who has adopted his best friend’s daughter and is helping both of them get on their feet.

I loved how this mystery was somehow connected to anyone throughout the town. You never figure who the bad guy is until the big reveal. However, I came close to solving the mystery before the end. Not too bad of a surprise ending.

There is no romance amongst any of the main characters. Only focused on character development and the murder mystery at hand. I liked how Zac and Tiff just remained “good friends” throughout the story. They not only grew up together, but they solved the mystery together.

I would highly recommend Bitter Roots for lovers of cozy mysteries, small-town mysteries, and Montana based novels. This novel is a quick read for those who are looking for a book to break a dry streak or to get out of a rut.

Posted in Discussions, Personal Blogs

My Goals for 2020!

close up of text

Happy New Year fellow bookworms! I’m glad 2019 is behind us and we can move and hope for a better 2020.

Here’s a small list of both personal goals and goals for this blog.

  • Get a new pair of glasses-super long overdue for them!
  • Take better care of my mental and physical health-more mental health though
  • Do my job to the best of my ability and hopefully can get hired on permanently-no more seasonal/temporary work for me!
  • Reach my reading goal for this year. I set a goal of 75 because I had already hit the 50 goal around September/October, but due to a difficult situation, I stopped reading and took a break. Let’s get to 75 books in 2020!
  • I am actually going to try and branch out and read some other genres I’m not as familiar with. I’m starting to get a bit bored with monsters and mysteries.

Well, there are some of my goals for 2020! What are some of your goals for 2020?

Posted in Personal Blogs

REVIEW: 2019 in Books

480-4809168_writing-a-literature-review-review-of-related-literature.png

2019 has been a fantastic year when it comes to books and movies! I know every year is a great year for bookworms. Especially for Stephen King or James Patterson fans.

So here is how I decided to do my lists, the list will be my top 10 from my stats from this year. I can make a separate list of my favorites if you are interested. Please let me know!

So here we go! Let the countdowns begin!

Top 10 Posts of 2019 According to Stats *In no particular order*

The Fixer (Lawson Vampire #1) by Jon F. Merz This novel about an underground vampire association who thinks that vampires and humans can co-exist. Only if things were that simple in Lawson’s world. Fighting against renegade vampires is no easy task, and makes this novel the more exciting to read if you’re looking for a new supernatural thriller to read in 2020.

Miao-Shan: The Awakening by G.A.M. Morris This is a novel I was invited to read by the author, I loved this novel and the universe Mr. Morris has created with Miao-Shan and her origin story. This is a well written coming-of-age story full of action and butt-kicking! If you’re looking for a foreign action-packed adventure, then I would highly recommend Miao-Shan: The Awakening.

The Atlantis Code (Thomas Lourds #1) by Charles Brokaw This series is for fans of The Davinci Code and other conspiracy-driven treasure hunts. Globetrotting in hopes of solving the mystery of Atlantis, this novel will leave you breathless and on the edge of your seat.

The Last Straw (Pigeon-Blood Red #2) by Ed Duncan This intense urban mystery that discusses modern racism and how loyalty is a wavering thought. I would highly recommend this novel if you’re looking for a good mystery that has underlining issues to make you think about the current world we live in.

The Curse of Crow Hollow by Billy Coffey This novel has it all, mystery, supernatural elements, and a small town caught in between their strong religious beliefs and an old legend. If you are looking for a small-town horror novel, then I would highly recommend The Curse of Crow Hollow.

Honky Tonk Samurai (Hap and Leonard #9) by Joe R. Lansdale I was actually found this novel on a book recommendation group on Reddit. The person who suggested Hap and Leonard made my time reading this novel to be a blast. There’s tons of humor and action as well as a mystery that others don’t want to be solved.

Ain’t No Messiah by Mark Tullius This novel intrigued me from the beginning. A coming-of-age story about a boy who not only grew up in a religious cult but is the main focus of this cult. I feel the premise alone is enough to catch anyone who’s looking for a unique take on religious cults.

Red River (Edge #6) by George G. Gilman I found this novel while I was in the mental hospital. There wasn’t much of a book selection and I’ve had decent luck in the past with the genre, so why not give this another go? I loved this novel, I felt like I was transported back in time to where the west was wild, and the Civil War was close to ending. This is an adventure worth taking if you’re interested in a quick read.

The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore The history classes I have always found to be lacking in some way or another. Even though this is fiction, a lot of what takes place is historical events. I never knew there was an inventor war between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse. As well as the high demand for Nikola Tesla’s scientific mind. This is a fascinating read if you’re looking for a nonromance historical fiction novel.

The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner I did not know that this was considered a classic novel. This novel takes place in not an Orwellian future per se, but in a world where the pollution is so high that most people have to wear gas masks when they leave their homes and even sometimes when they are at their workplace. If you are looking for a realistic post-apocalyptic novel without the zombie and aliens, then I would recommend this novel.

And that concludes my first list, some of these would be on my personal list as well. So there you have it!

Let’s go into 2020 with a Gatsby-like bang! Cheers!