Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Justice in an Age of Metal and Men (Metal and Men #1) by Anthony W. Eichenlaub

*No Major Spoilers*

Things aren’t always easy for the Sheriff of Dead Oak, Texas. Cybernetically modified biker gangs roam the skies, dangerous outlaws prowl the streets, and gunslingers threaten the delicate balance of a Texas gone sour. J.D. doesn’t mind. He’ll hold hard the line of justice, no matter what it takes. 

Sometimes things aren’t so simple. 

When a rancher is murdered, it’s going to take all of J.D.’s skills as a Texas Ranger to track the killer. Every turn he makes he find more threads of a massive conspiracy that could tear his town apart. Every discovery leads him down the darker path of his own past. 

And he’s not the only one doing some tracking. A man in black is on his trail. 

There’s only one thing J.D. knows for sure: One way or another, there’s going to be Justice in an Age of Metal and Men.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

For those who know me personally, I deeply enjoy the subgenre called “Weird Wild West” or “Western Steampunk”. A story that’s futuristic in technology, but still has The Wild West theme and setting. Justice in an Age of Metal and Men is just what I’ve been craving to read. Now let’s dive into this Sci-fi western adventure!

Nothing annoys a man of justice quite like forgiveness.

Justice in the Age of Metal and Men

Most dystopian novels I tend to come across these days tend to be young adult/romance. Or dystopian/zombies. However, this story is it’s own unique spin on the dystopian subgenre. This is a story that takes place after the second civil war, and Texas becomes its own country and envelops the western half of the former states. Dairy and farming have main control of the big cities, even though most farmers don’t seem to realize how much power they do wield.

Watching J.D. traverse a world of ever-changing cybernetics, which he somewhat despises as he’s trying to solve this complex case is interesting as a character study. Even when his new deputy convinces him to use more advanced tech, he still hates feeling the need to have to depend on it.

During the case J.D. travels all over Texas to the dairy factories, the more backwater side of the city, and back again to Dead Oak in the search for answers someone clearly doesn’t want to be answered. “Was this more than just a tragic accident?” “What does Big Dairy have to do with this farm?” and the classic: “Is the wife hiding something?”

Overall, I enjoyed this novel and solving the mystery along with J.D. I can’t wait to dive back into this universe and see what happens next with J.D. and friends. This novel is perfect for those looking for a new series to dive into as well as those looking for a good cyberpunk read.


Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews

REVIEW: Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman

*No Major Spoilers*

*Small trigger warning for brief mentions of gore and torture*

Failed academic Frank Nichols and his wife, Eudora, have arrived in the sleepy Georgia town of Whitbrow, where Frank hopes to write a history of his family’s old estate-the Savoyard Plantation- and the horrors that occurred there. At first, the quaint, rural ways of their new neighbors seem to be everything they wanted. But there is an unspoken dread that the townsfolk have lived with for generations. A presence that demands sacrifice.

It comes from the shadowy woods across the river, where the ruins of Savoyard still stand. Where a longstanding debt of blood has never been forgotten.

A debt that has been waiting patiently for Frank Nichols’s homecoming…


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I started this audiobook not knowing what to expect. At first it was reminding me of The Curse of Crow Hollow by Billy Coffey. The main character comes into this small town and maybe not everything is as what it seems. The end result is something dark and twisted that will leave you stunned.

“That was a mean thought, and not funny at all. I let it turn to sand and blow out of my head.”

Christopher Buehlman, Those Across the River

I love how dark, yet beautiful this story was thematically. When Frank and Eudora were just going to the store in broad daylight, you could feel the heavy and intense atmosphere. The financial strain everyone was facing, the PTSD Frank was suffering, and the aftermath of the ending of the ritual made the world feel unnerving.

One thing I didn’t like was how hard it was to keep track of most of the townsfolk. I’m not sure if that was intentional because that seems to be a trope in the horror genre. Where everyone except the main character(s) are cardboard cutouts and monster/demon fodder. I know it’s a necessary evil to convey how full and alive this town is, but even one of the minor plot twists made me feel indifferent.

Overall, this was a beautifully written novel full of small town horror, sophisticated romance, and dark suspense. Frank’s perspective on everything made the townsfolk seem sinister, even when the pastor himself fought to keep the pig ritual reinstated. Frank learns the devil lived in Whitbrow, and the devil soon destroyed the town in the end.

I would recommend this novel to fans of horror, historical fiction, and for fans of The Curse of Crow Hollow and Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics. This story is a great read and would encourage anyone thinking about either getting a fresh take on horror, or just looking for some early Halloween vibes, then I would definitely recommend this book.


Want More Horror? Click Here to see more horror novels I’ve reviewed!

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels, Short Story Collections

REVIEW: X-Files: The Truth is Out There by Various Authors

*No Spoilers*

Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are back in a chilling collection of all-new tales of dark secrets, alien agendas, terrifying monsters and murderous madmen.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

As I always do when it comes to anthologies or short story collections, I take my favorites or most memorable stories and talk about them. For example with other short story collections I’ve reviewed, I usually talk about my favorites and least favorites. However, with this collection, I just did a top five of my favorites. I actually wanted to talk about seven of the stories, but my perfectionism won out, so I narrowed it down to my top five.

There isn’t a bad story in this collection, I enjoyed all of them, but I’m going to be discussing my favorites today. So, in order in which they appeared in the collection, here we go!

We Should Listen to Some Shostakovich by Hank Phillipi Ryan

No X-Files story is complete without some Mulder loves Scully action. In this story, Mulder and Scully have left their jobs at the FBI to get married and decided to start a family. As a wedding present, they receive a mysterious painting from one of Scully’s long lost uncles. As they delve deeper into the painting’s history things get dangerous. 3.5/5 Stars

Mummiya by Greg Cox

When a mummy is shot near a college, it’s up to Scully and Mulder to figure out what’s fact and what’s fiction. This story is a good one for fans of Egyptology. There’s a lot about the history and religious beliefs to dive into. I don’t want to go into this story too much because it is a good one and worth the read. 4/5 Stars.

Male Privilege by Hank Schwaeble

The CDC is called to a small Arkansas town where a majority of the male population has developed breasts overnight after the town’s Sadie Hawkins Dance. Scully asks to tag along because she wishes to study this outbreak and maybe provide some insight due to her medical degrees. Mulder asks her if he could come along as well and she hesitantly agrees as long as he doesn’t pester the locals about aliens. However, things quickly derail as Mulder goes to the local library to look into the town’s history and things more mythological may be taking place here. This one made it to my list based solely of all the sarcastic jabbing Mulder gives the local sheriff regarding his newfound breasts, and how the sheriff wasn’t offended by the jabs. Pure dry humor in my book. 3.5/5 Stars.

Snowman by Sarah Stegall

A couple of military men are climbing up Mt. Rainier tracking a lost group of military soldiers that went missing. Soon they come across not only the remains of the missing soldiers’ camp, but their corpses as well. As they continue the trek they come across Mulder on the hunt for the missing expedition as well. However, something on the mountain is tracking the group and the myth of Sasquatch may not seem so far fetched. I love stories about Bigfoot/Sasquatch/Yeti. This one is worth checking out! 3.5/5 Stars.

When the Cows Come Home by David Farland

Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate some crop circles and cattle mutilations. Soon things become stranger as they found out that the rancher’s neighbor is a Skinwalker and controls his cattle by whistling. This story was alright, but I wish it could’ve gotten more fleshed out. Scoring this one mainly for the Skinwalker, crop circles, and cattle mutilations. It’s the last short story of the collection so read it if that’s your kind of jam. 2.5/5 Stars.

So there’s my five favorite stories of The Truth is Out There. Like I said earlier, all of these stories are good in their own right. So I would definitely check out this collection if your a fellow X-Files fan or into the weird and supernatural.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews

REVIEW: Stoker’s Wilde (Fiction Without Frontiers #1) By Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi

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*No Major Spoilers*

Years before either becomes a literary legend, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde must overcome their disdain for one another to battle the Black Bishop, a mysterious madman wielding supernatural forces to bend the British Empire to his will. With the help of a European vampire expert, a spirited actress and an American businessman, our heroes fight werewolves, vampires and the chains of Victorian morality. The fight will take them through dark forests in Ireland, the upper-class London theater world and Stonehenge, where Bram and Oscar must stop a vampire cult from opening the gates of Hell.

~

I have read about the supernatural and paranormal in the past, but Stoker’s Wilde comes with a twist. A story about two historical writers coming together and battle the world of the supernatural. I knew I had to read this as soon as I discovered the sequel to this novel has Teddy Roosevelt joining the duo. So let’s dive into Stoker’s Wilde

First off, I love how Bram Stoker was just a friend of Oscar Wilde’s brother in this story. He didn’t want to go on this wild goose chase to hunt a werewolf. Werewolves don’t exist. However, with the help of Stoker’s curse, they soon find the werewolf was the captain on one of the ships in the harbor. Afterward, the duo set off into the world of the supernatural, willingly or not.

One thing I liked was how the story progressed through journal entries and letters to loved ones and friends. However, I was getting confused because I started getting minor characters mixed up. I’m not sure if I would still be confused if I read the ebook or not. However, this was a small complaint I had as I was listening through the audiobook. 

Stoker’s Wilde was a tale full of twists and turns. I couldn’t put this book down until I found out who was the leader of London’s vampires as well as what a member of royalty had to do in all of this puzzle. The conclusion will leave you breathless and ready for more! 

I would highly recommend Stoker’s Wilde for fans of horror, historical fiction, and alternative history. I can’t wait to dive into the sequel of this novel and reuniting with these lovable characters again.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Peaceful Valley Crime Wave by Bill Pronzini

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*No Major Spoilers*

Nothing much happens in Peaceful Valley, Montana. And that’s just how Sheriff Lucas Monk likes it.

Aside from the occasional drunken brawl or minor disturbance out on the reservation, he hasn’t had to resort to his fists or sidearm in years.

That is, until mid-October, 1914, when the theft of a wooden cigar store Indian sets off a crime wave like nothing Lucas has ever seen. Teenager Charity Axthelm goes missing, Reba Purvis’s housekeeper is poisoned with cyanide Reba is sure was meant for her, and Lucas’s gut tells him that this is only the beginning.

It’s not long before the first corpse shows up, bringing the peace in the valley to a thundering end.

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I have read and reviewed a few Westerns on this blog before. Some include The Ballad of Black Bart by Loren D. Estleman, The Hunger by Alma Katsu, Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith, and recently, Modo: Ember’s End by Arthur Slade. Let’s return to the frontier in The Peaceful Valley Crime Wave by Bill Pronzini! 

I enjoyed how the book starts with the theft of the local cigar store Indian, and the chaos grows from there. Sherriff Monk takes the chaos in stride and does his best to investigate with the clues the case threw at him. Next, the attempted murder of a local busybody and her housekeeper. Finally, the murder of a local young woman who supposedly ran away with a traveling merchant.

First of all, I fell in love with Sherriff Monk. I agreed with his idea of justice and doing things more or less by the book. His dry sense of humor had me chuckling along as he’s questioning witnesses and looking for clues. He is honest, and he’s willing to let his deputies participate in the investigations. 

Out of the three central mysteries, I think the attempted homicide by poisoning ended up being my favorite. I think the idea of a murderess killing wealthy bachelors and taking their money and moving to a new town to start again is fascinating. The case reminded me of the frontier serial killer, Belle Gunness.

Overall, I enjoyed The Peaceful Valley Crime Wave. There was plenty of action, mystery, and old fashioned justice. What caused this sudden and brief crime wave Sherriff Monk isn’t sure of by the time the last case wraps up. Maybe Montana is just dull enough to cause people to go a little batty. 

I would recommend this novel for lovers of westerns, mysteries, and historical fiction. I think you should give this a read if you’re looking for a great western mystery. The Peaceful Valley Crime Wave is an entertaining read that I enjoyed from beginning to end.

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