Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: God of War by Matthew Stover and Robert E. Vardeman

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*Possible Spoilers for the God of War Games*

A brutal warrior, Kratos is a slave to the gods of Olympus. Plagued by the nightmares of his past and yearning for freedom, the Ghost of Sparta would do anything to be free of his debt to the gods. He is on the verge of losing all hope when the gods give him one last task to end his servitude.

He must destroy Ares, the god of war.

But what chance does a mere mortal have against a god? Armed with the deadly chained Blades of Chaos, guided by the goddess Athena, and driven by his own insatiable thirst for vengeance, Kratos seeks the only relic powerful enough to slay Ares . . . a quest that will take him deep into the mysterious temple borne by the Titan Cronos!

From the black depths of Hades to the war-torn city of Athens to the lost desert beyond, God of War sheds a brutal new light on the bestselling video game and on the legend of Kratos.

I have been a fan of Greek Mythology for a long time. With the Percy Jackson series introducing young readers into the mythos in a kid-friendly way, God of War is basically Percy Jackson for adults. The video games are well known for their antihero Kratos, who let his bloodlust go too far and cause pain and death all around him.

If you’re familiar with the video games, then you are familiar with Kratos’ backstory. He is a Spartan who asked Ares to become his apprentice. This decision haunts him as he seeks relief from the nightmares and the decisions his younger self made in the past.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed God of War. The action, adventure, and feelings of other stories inspired by Greek Mythology were enough to keep me enthralled in the story. I haven’t played or watched any of the God of War games myself, but knowing there are novelizations of the games makes me want to continue on the adventure.

I would highly recommend this novel for fans of the Percy Jackson series as well as fans of Greek Mythology in general. There is plenty of action, adventure, and plenty of Greek gods to keep you invested in the story. I can’t wait to jump back into the world and continue on with Kratos.

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Ghostland by Duncan Ralston

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*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, DC comics, Graphic Novels

REVIEW: Green Arrow: Quiver by Kevin Smith

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Collection of Green Arrow (2001) #1-5

*No Major Spoilers*

The original Green Arrow, Oliver Queen, reemerges after years of being assumed dead. But many people, including Black Canary, his ex-lover, Arsenal, his ex-partner, Connor Hawke, his son and temporary successor and Batman, the Dark Knight Detective, want to know how Green Arrow survived the airplane explosion and where he has been.

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Superman and Batman having an intense discussion during Green Arrow: Quiver.

I love Green Arrow! Not the one that is on TV, the one(s) in the comic books are better. I was excited to find this graphic novel at my library, and I’m excited to share my thoughts with you today!

A lot of casual comic book fans like me, feel intimidated at times when selecting a graphic novel. Overarching stories, major events, and other things that cause comic books to become confusing can make selecting a stand-alone story to be difficult. However, I felt this graphic novel explains things that happened previously, in a nice way so I didn’t feel like I didn’t know what was going on throughout the story.

I felt the story was well written and well put together. Even though the story gets “trippy”  about midway through, I was still able to follow along and came out satisfied.

To elaborate on the “trippy” aspect of the story, it kind of reminded me of the Doctor Strange comics at times, with the likes of supernatural beings and realms it gave an interest to the story I didn’t really expect coming out of Green Arrow. Green Arrow is usually a traditional story without supernatural elements, but this one was a nice change of pace.

One downside I found is, there’s not much action, it’s more of deep thinking and philosophying with splashes of magic and kicking butt.

Overall, this book was a good read, the art style fit the moods really well when necessary, the story kept my interest, I would definitely recommend it for the casual Green Arrow fan as well as the comic book aficionado.

 

Posted in Book Reviews, DC comics, Graphic Novels

REVIEW: Batman: Gordon of Gotham by Chuck Dixon

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*No Spoilers*

Collects BATMAN: GORDON OF GOTHAM #1-4, BATMAN: GCPD #1-4 and BATMAN: GORDON’S LAW #1-4.

Gotham City Police Commissioner Jim Gordon stars in this new collection of crime stories from the 1990s that stars the colorful, determined cops of Batman’s home town.

The first story in this volume, Batman: Gordon’s Law, Commissioner Gordon has stumbled upon a coverup of a huge money laundering bust, the only trace is the few remaining $1,000 dollar bills.

Now, without Batman’s help, by Commissioner Gordon’s request, is a man on a mission to set things right and bust up the corrupt cops involved.

I felt like this novel set the tone for the rest of this collection. It was gritty, rough, and brought Gordon into a light not many others get to see. He might be the commissioner of Gotham City, but he’s still a cop no matter what politics may say.

Seeing him take this case on without much of Batman’s aid, makes you truly see how rough and corrupt not only the Gotham Police Department but Gotham City as a whole. Gordon is just one man, but he’s doing his best to clean up the police corruption.

The second story, Batman: GCPD includes three stories from three of Gotham City’s finest detectives. I have read some of the comics surrounding the GCPD, and I have enjoyed them. It’s interesting to see an inside look into Gotham’s police department.

The story starts when Sargent Harvey Bullock beats up a costumed low-life and his partner goes to request a transfer. Commissioner Gordon grants her the transfer, and so she reassigns Bullock a new partner. All while Harvey is dealing with a rampant serial killer, Internal Affairs breathing down his neck, and his partner getting kidnapped on her new case, Another set of detectives are on the hunt for a string of high-stakes thefts.

I found Sargent Bullock’s case the most interesting, someone in Gotham is going around killing seemingly random men and only leaving them with a teddy bear dressed up as their profession. The mystery was entertaining and intriguing.

Overall, I enjoyed this second story in this collection. I would say the writing was good, and the characters had interesting storylines and characteristics.

The final and main story: Batman: Gordon of Gotham is as fantastic as the other two stories in this epic volume. The story is about Gordon opening up to Batman about a time in his past when he was a beat cop in Chicago. An assassin who got away.

I love how Gordon is telling Batman a story about his past. Both are lonely characters and to see them bonding in this way makes me happy. I just figured the this was just Gordon getting something off of his chest. Boy, was I wrong!

After storytime is over, Batman tells Gordon something he already knew he had to do: go get sweet vengeance.

Overall these three stories, I enjoyed each of them for different reasons. I would highly recommend this collection for lovers of crime dramasCommissioner James Gordon, and of course Batman. Even though Batman doesn’t have that much of a presence in this collection, it’s not Batman’s story, it’s the hard-working detectives at GCPD who make this collection worth reading.

Check Out My Review of Gotham Central!

Check Out Some of the DC Comics I’ve Previously Reviewed!

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Honky Tonk Samurai (Hap and Leonard #9) by Joe R. Lansdale

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*No Major Spoilers*

Only Hap and Leonard would catch a cold case with hot cars, hot women, and ugly skinheads.

The story starts simply enough when Hap, a former 60s activist and self-proclaimed white trash rebel, and Leonard, a tough black, gay Vietnam vet and Republican with an addiction to Dr. Pepper, are working a freelance surveillance job in East Texas. The uneventful stakeout is coming to an end when the pair witness a man abusing his dog. Leonard takes matters into his own fists, and now the bruised dog abuser wants to press charges.

One week later, a woman named Lilly Buckner drops by their new PI office with a proposition: find her missing granddaughter, or she’ll turn in a video of Leonard beating the dog abuser. The pair agrees to take on the cold case and soon discover that the used car dealership where her granddaughter worked is actually a front for a prostitution ring. What began as a missing-person case becomes one of blackmail and murder.

I was recommended this series through a user on Reddit. Someone was looking for novels about gay detectives, and this was one of the recommendations. I chose this novel purely on the title, the other novels in this series have unique titles as well so let’s jump into Honky Tonk Samurai!

This novel is one of the more memorable detective novels I’ve read. Honky Tonk Samurai is filled with colorful characters, non-stop action, and redneck/Texas humor. I will say that the language used is very vulgar. So if you’re not into that kind of thing, you might want to pass on this one. In defense of the choice words and jokes, I felt like that was part of the charm.

Hap and Leonard have great chemistry! You can tell they’ve been through a lot together. Leonard made me laugh at his love of vanilla cookies and Dr. Pepper. That kind of reminds me of myself, I love cookies and Dr. Pepper.

The main plot twist left me baffled, but in the end, it all made sense once all of the pieces were put together. So bonus points for me not guessing the mystery! Usually, I’m able to figure out the mystery about halfway through the book. This one kept me guessing and I really liked that about it.

More on Hap and Leonard’s chemistry, with them being like brothers from another mother, it was a nice change of pace from a lot of the other stories I’ve read in recent weeks. Leonard, I’d say, is the rougher of the two characters even though he’s gay. He’s one that does not mess around when it comes to protecting those that need it. Hap, on the other hand, is more of the mediator type, kind of like keeping the rough part of Leonard in control when necessary.

Overall this book was something new and interesting that I’d never heard of or thought to look up, the subject matter was a bit different but extremely interesting! If you like a story about rough and tough southern boys and some redneck action, this is most definitely the book for you! Although, like I said if crude and vulgar language isn’t your thing then this book is kind of a pass.

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Invasion (THEM #0.5) by M.D. Massey

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*No Spoilers*

Aidan “Scratch” Sullivan is a former Army Ranger and Afghanistan War vet trying to achieve some semblance of normalcy while he deals with the psychological after-effects of two combat tours in the ‘Stan.

But when the bombs fall and the dead walk, Scratch is forced to risk life and limb to rescue his aging parents before zombies overrun their quiet community. And to do it, he’ll need to traverse half the state of Texas while dealing with out-of-control military units, violent redneck looters, and all manner of evil things that go bump in the night…

I enjoy a good military-minded protagonist to guide the reader through the zombie apocalypse. To see someone who is trained to think and respond rationally, faced with the walking dead makes the tension even greater.

It was odd to me, as Aiden was able to travel around the zombie-ravaged wasteland of Texas and how his truck didn’t bring a constant mob of zombies wherever he went. The most common way a zombie can detect the living is by sounds. Since Aidan’s truck wasn’t affected by the EMPs then that would make the engine a very loud broadcaster to the zombies.

One thing I enjoyed about Invasion was the fact that the author wasn’t taking everything seriously. You could tell in the dialog that they were somewhat aware of how ridiculous their world has become. This was executed in a way where even though the author was having fun with the story, I was able to enjoy both the humor and the overall story.

I would highly recommend this novel for lovers of post-apocalyptic fiction, zombies, horror, and novels that don’t take themselves too seriously. The Invasion was thrilling, action-pact, and humorous in a subtle way.

Read Other Zombie Books I’ve Reviewed

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Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Last Straw (Pigeon-Blood Red Book 2) by Ed Duncan

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*No Major Spoilers*

When a teenage girl witnesses a carjacking went bad, she is marked for death by a crime boss with no apparent motive. A black lawyer and a white enforcer with an unlikely history forge an uneasy alliance to protect the girl from a hitman with an agenda of his own.

After they find out that the crime boss is the father of the black teenage carjacker, Paul Elliott – lawyer and close friend of the witness’s family – begins counseling them.

As the long-simmering feud between Rico and John D’Angelo reaches boiling point, bodies start to pile up in rapid succession… and old scores will be settled.

I meant to have this review up last month, however, life happened and I fell behind. I am thrilled and honored to be sharing this novel with my readers today. The Last Straw is a thrilling action-packed novel that is beautifully written in a way where I didn’t feel the need to read the previous novel in the series.

This novel touches on topics such as good vs evil, modern racism, and even how things aren’t as black and white as we like to believe.

“Paul, I’m certain you could have handled that situation without the gun and without fighting. You would have thought of something. You know how I hate seeing you carry a gun. But I’ll suprise you by saying I guess I’m glad you had it just this once to use as a bluff if you really had to, because I’m sure you never would have shot anyone, even if you’re not.”

Paul turned that over in his mind for a moment. “Maybe you know me better than I know myself. I don’t think I could have shot them either. No, I couldn’t. When we were inside [the movie theatre], I was thinking that when I was growing up, I had friends who could have been either one of those two. Hell, I could have been one of them. My father used to say no matter how far you travel, you can never change where you came from. I was so damned angry back there for a while, I almost forgot where I came from.” –The Last Straw

I enjoyed the mystery of how everything and everyone was connected. Seemingly random characters having a part in the grand scheme of the novel held my attention, I felt like it was put together really well. There weren’t too many characters to keep up with and I enjoyed learning about Paul Elliot’s history with Rico and D’Angelo.

My favorite character is Rico. He is a product of his environment, but he does the best he can for those he cares about (whether he acknowledges it or not). He is a hitman who isn’t afraid to tell his boss ‘no’ when a job interferes with his morals.

I liked the fact this novel isn’t afraid to touch on modern racism. Beverly, the mother of the suspected carjacker, confronts both the racism from her past as well as present day. I’m not going to spoil how Beverly is connected to the overall story, but I did enjoy learning her backstory as well.

If you’re looking for an action-packed thrilling mystery, then I would highly recommend The Last Straw. The story will have you sitting on the edge of your seat, and reaching for the tissues at times. This novel is a thriller with a heart.

Buy “The Last Straw” by Ed Duncan HERE!