Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino

*Spoilers Incoming!*

**This novel contains descriptions of magic, blood, gore, and violence. Rated for 14+**

Tess Matheson only wants three things: time to practice her cello, for her sister to be happy, and for everyone else to leave her alone.

Instead, Tess finds herself working all summer at her boarding school library, shelving books and dealing with the intolerable patrons. The worst of them is Eliot Birch: snide, privileged, and constantly requesting forbidden grimoires. After a bargain with Eliot leads to the discovery of an ancient book in the library’s grimoire collection, the pair accidentally unleash a book-bound demon.

The demon will stop at nothing to stay free, manipulating ink to threaten those Tess loves and dismantling Eliot’s strange magic. Tess is plagued by terrible dreams of the devil and haunting memories of a boy who wears Eliot’s face. All she knows is to stay free, the demon needs her… and he’ll have her, dead or alive.


Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

When I found this novel at my local library it sounded like an interesting premise. Haunted library, demonic possession, and chaos all around; sounds fun right? Well, I tend to be picky about my Young Adult fiction sometimes. When I read a novel, I am more of a ‘don’t beat around the bush and say what you want to say’ kind of person. This whole ‘oh he has to hate me for my simple mistake’ and ‘she doesn’t want me. She wants boy X,Y, or Z.” When they are both clearly into each other is annoying and aggravating. Maybe that’s just me getting old, or maybe I’m not much of a romantic.

This novel is Ms. Bovalino’s debut novel, and I have a difficult time just completely tearing down this book. It has it’s good qualities and it’s bad qualities. My complaints lay with things I consider to be a major factor in my enjoyment of reading. Those being character dialogue and character development.

Now, I can tell that she put a lot of love and care into Eliot. I clearly understood his motives and his backstory. Tess on the other hand, I never fully understood her motives, even though she kept repeating them at least once a chapter. Maybe Tess and I got off on the wrong foot in the beginning, and I’m blowing this out of proportion.

If you wanted peace, you wouldn’t wear the devil’s face.

The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino

Tess’s reasons for going to this boarding school revolve around her parents being bad with money and making poor business decisions while the economy is struggling. She is giving up her dreams of going to her dream college just to make sure she can protect her little sister Natalie. I felt that not only keeping Natalie, who’s 13, in the dark about everything is naïve. I think a 13 year old has the capacity to understand that her parents made bad financial decisions. However, her older sister will still be there for her when she needs someone to talk to.

Tess throughout the story is so concerned about paying for this prep school, surely she would qualify for financial aid or scholarships because of her parents’ financial situation. If she discussed that I must’ve missed it because doing so would’ve helped ease the stress a bit.

Now with Eliot, his parents are wealthy enough he could’ve gone to any school he wanted. However, he goes to the one where his dad used to be on the school board, even though he is closer with his mother. He wants to learn more about the magic he shares with his mother, even though he is the reason he and Tess unleash a demon into the world he is still more than willing to help Tess destroy the book and the devil right along with it.

Overall, I thought this book was okay. The premise was promising, but the execution of the characters and their dynamics wasn’t my cup of tea. If you enjoy YA romance with their paranormal activity then I’d say give this book a shot. Just because it isn’t my cup of tea doesn’t mean you shouldn’t borrow it from a friend or local library.


Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW REDUX: Mammoth Island (Grant Coleman Adventures #5) by Russell James

*No Major Spoilers*

As paleontologist Grant Coleman waits to board a plane for a much-needed Hawaiian vacation, thugs knock him out and kidnap him. He awakens on a cargo aircraft in flight to find he’s an unwilling member of an expedition to a secret Arctic location called Mammoth Island.

Unscrupulous fossil dealer Angelo Destro has assembled the expedition to steal the fruits of a Russian oligarch’s labors The oligarch’s scientists have resurrected extinct wooly mammoths at the island’s laboratory. But from the moment the plane lands, the plan goes to pieces. The lab’s scientists are missing, the compound is a shamble, and it looks like something enormous has crushed the perimeter fence.

Even worse, Destro isn’t the only one after this prehistoric prize. Before Grant and the others solve the destroyed lab’s mysteries, Russian soldiers arrive. Destro’s group is forced to flee into the surrounding forests, where killer mammoths lurk, ready to hunt more human prey.

Trapped between the twin tips of Russian bayonets and mammoth tusks, who among them will survive and escape Mammoth Island?


Rating: 4 out of 5.

I discovered Mammoth Island through the horror authors community that I follow on Twitter. I love how social media can help authors get the word out about their novels, and that’s where I find a lot of my horror books. So let’s dive into Mammoth Island and see what monstrosities await us!

Why doesn’t anyone try and resurrect Pleistocene bunny rabbits? Am I the only person who’s seen the Jurassic Park movies?

Mammoth Island by Russel James

Even though this is the latest novel in this series, I didn’t have a problem jumping in to the story. Grant has been a lot of places and seen a lot of things that some would say were unbelievable. Some of his adventures are so unbelievable to most people that he writes them as monster stories. He seems to be making a decent living off of the profits, but I’m glad he’s still teaching. Grant is a teacher I wish I had.

As for foul language and blood and gore, I didn’t find it to be that offensive compared to other horror novels I read. Only brief descriptions of body horror and mentions of blood. Not much foul language if any at all. Overall, I found this an approachable story.

I love how in the afterword, the author goes into detail about the research he’s done on wooly mammoths and other extinct animals. I mean, it’s fun for some who are interested in archeology and biology. I just appreciate the amount of research that’s gone into this book.

Even though I try and avoid spoilers, I would say that I enjoyed the ending. It wasn’t an “everybody dies” trope ending, but a majority of the characters meet a grisly end.

I would recommend this novel for readers who enjoy monster/kaiju stories, horror fans, and lovers of the wooly mammoth.


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.