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 Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Columbus Day (Expeditionary Force #1) by Craig Alanson

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*No Major Spoilers*

We were fighting on the wrong side of the war; we couldn’t win. And that was the good news.
The Ruhar hit us on Columbus Day. There we were, innocently drifting along the cosmos on our little blue marble, like the Native Americans in 1492. Over the horizon come ships of a technologically advanced, aggressive culture, and BAM! There go the good old days, when humans only got killed by each other. So, Columbus Day. It fits.
When the morning sky twinkled again, this time with Kristang starships jumping in to hammer the Ruhar, we thought we were saved. The UN Expeditionary Force hitched a ride on Kristang ships to fight the Ruhar, wherever our new allies thought we could be useful. So, I went from fighting with the US Army in Nigeria, to fighting in space. It was lies, all of it. We shouldn’t even be fighting the Ruhar; they aren’t our enemy, our allies are.
I’d better start at the beginning…

~

I have been looking for a sci-fi novel that involved first alien contact that didn’t leave the reader with their nose stuck in a military dictionary trying to figure out what was going on. I don’t usually read military fiction because the author can forget that not everyone reading their books may not know all of the military terminologies. Luckily Columbus Day explains all of the jargon and military slang. I like how the main character is telling his story like he’s talking to ordinary people, all of the lingoes is explained, and he explains various types of strategies and the pros and cons of each.

Another thing I enjoyed about Columbus Day is how the main character relates to the enemy as well as their allies. When the Ruhar first attack, Bishop and a ragtag team of military friends abduct one of the enemy soldiers to get intel on the enemy, and one of the other enemy soldiers got hurt by debris. Later, we learn Bishop felt guilty for not being able to check for injuries on the enemy.

“Soldiers are soldiers, whether they have fur, skin or scales. So, logically, the Ruhar lobbed a missile at the most imposing structure in the area, the potato warehouse, and took it out in impressive fashion. I mean, they blew the hell out of it, those soldiers must have had something against potatoes.” – Columbus Day

However, my opinion of the story took a dip when the author introduced Skippy, an all-powerful AI built by ancient beings many millennia ago. I feel like the author hit a roadblock in the story and created Skippy as a way to get the story going again. The author then forces us to read a game of “Pete and Repeat” about everything we had learned up to this point. I felt this dialogue was unnecessary to the overall plot.

I have since gotten used to Skippy helping Bishop and other human soldiers. Once you get over that significant speedbump, the story smooths back out into military space action. Even with Skippy doing a lot of the critical technical aspects of the operation, this doesn’t slow the momentum down.

Overall, if you are looking for a sci-fi space adventure, then I would recommend Columbus Day. I would also recommend this novel if you are a fan of military fiction, space adventures, and just looking for an overall good story. Columbus Day will leave you binging the whole series before the day is over.

~

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Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Oscawana: A Monster Novel by Frank Martin

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*No Major Spoilers*

*Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault/Child Molestation*

Located just forty-five miles north of New York City and isolated in the hills of Putnam Valley, Lake Oscawana is the perfect summer getaway. At least, that was what April’s mother told her when she dropped April and her brother off to spend the season at their uncle’s lake house. It wasn’t bad at first. April thought she might’ve finally found someone that made her feel like family and a place she could actually call home. But April grew worried when she found something living in the water. Something strange. Something growing. She wanted to tell someone and sound the alarm, but April would have to learn the hard way that not all monsters lurk beneath the water.

~

I found this novel on Twitter, a lot of authors I follow retweet their friends’ works. I thought the premise was unique and I couldn’t wait to jump into Oscawana: A Monster Novel!

I feel that the author did a really good job of making Lake Oscawana seem isolated and far away from civilization even though it is in Upstate New York. I felt like I was in the depths of Canada for as far as April had to travel just to get to the nearest small town.

Early in the novel, April stumbles upon the monster when he’s still small and not threatening. They quickly develop a friendship that grows as the monster, who April named Oscar after the lake he lives in, grows in size.

The build-up to the climax is really slow, we’re mostly following April as she watches Oscar grow into an actual killing machine. Even when April comes to this realization, I found Oscar just as adorable and harmless as when April first found him. Oscar reminded me of a genetically modified dog.

April as a character feels so ingenuine from one moment to the next, more or less for the first half of the novel she is your standard teenager who has been let down by the adults around her. Then after the climax, her motives and reasons flip flop. I can’t go into more detail due to spoilers, but it was frustrating.

Shocked, Brad pulled back from the water and watched in horror as what he assumed to be blood spread out like a blooming flower. The crimson tinge was thick and slimy, bouncing a blinding ray of light in Brad’s eyes. He couldn’t look away, though. Brad stared at the ever-expanding slick of blood as it continued to grow until it completely surrounded the boat. –Oscawana: A Monster Story

I feel the ending to be lackluster, the ending feels like there could have been enough for a sequel or even a short story sequel. The ending left me feeling unsatisfying and left me with a lot of questions. Will April reunite with Oscar? Where did Oscar come from? What will happen to Oscar? Maybe these questions will be answered in some way.

Overall, I have mixed feelings towards Oscawana. I think it’s an alright story. I was expecting more monster action but was disappointed when 80% was about the human characters and their drama. If you’re looking for a quick read, I would recommend this novel. The action was great, and the heart and emotion were as well.

~

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