Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels

REVIEW: Modo: Ember’s End by Arthur Slade

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*No Major Spoilers*

Based on the world of Arthur Slade’s Hunchback Assignments, Modo: Ember’s End follows the titular character on a new adventure. Modo has been trained by the British to be a secret agent and is about to find more action than he can handle in the wild-west town of Ember’s End.

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I was browsing the virtual library, and the cover of Modo: Ember’s End caught my eye. I thought it would make for a fun and entertaining read. Now that I’m finished reading the novel let’s look at this graphic novel.

First off, I am a fan of westerns with a sci-fi twist; steampunk. I have reviewed other novels of this subgenre, which you can check out here when you’re finished reading this review. Modo: Ember’s End makes it’s way to a family-friendly subgenre with plenty of western hijinks and adventure.

One nitpick I had was how Octavia was portrayed as a dumb brutish blonde. I am not familiar with the Hunchback Assignments series, so I don’t know if Octavia is a returning character or if she only appears in this spinoff. However, either way, it’s nothing major that takes away from this story.

Overall I had fun with the story. I loved the humor the author put into this story, and I think this graphic will be fun for the whole family. I’d recommend Modo: Ember’s End if you’re looking for a family-friendly western for all ages.

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Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Boneyard (Deadlands #3) by Seanan McGuire

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*Spoilers at the very end of the review*

Step right up to see the oddities and marvels of The Blackstone Family Circus and Travelling Wonder Show! Gasp at pit wasps the size of a man’s forearm. Beware the pumpkin-headed corn stalker, lest it plants its roots in you!

Annie Pearl is the keeper of oddities, the mistress of monsters. Her unique collection of creatures is one of the circus’s star attractions, drawing wide-eyed crowds at every small frontier town they visit. But Annie is also a woman running from her past . . . and the mother of a mute young daughter, Adeline, whom she will do anything to protect.

Hoping to fill its coffers before winter sets in, the circus steers its wagons to The Clearing, a remote community deep in the Oregon wilderness, surrounded by an ominous dark wood. Word is that a traveling show can turn a tidy profit at The Clearing, but there are whispers, too, of unexplained disappearances that afflict one out of every four shows that pass through the town.

The Clearing has its secrets, and so does Annie. And it may take everything she has to save her daughter―and the circus―from both.

I’ve been interested in reading this novel for a while now, it’s been on my ‘to be read’ list for a few years. I felt like it was finally time to jump into this Weird Wild West novel.

Annie’s trailer of oddities made me realize just how far we’ve advanced in science and biology. Her “nibblers” are piranhas, she owns a pet lynx named Serenity, and other monstrosities of nature.

Overall I enjoyed this weird wild west tale. It had plenty of spookiness, horror, action, and adventure. It was worth the wait to be able to add this to the “weird wild west” subgenre.

Here’s a short story collection of Weird Wild West

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

In this story, wendigos are the main antagonists, other than the town itself they are a threat to the circus. The wendigos weren’t something to be taken lightly, the town had made a deal with them to keep them from eating the townsfolk during the harsh winters and to keep outsiders away. The wendigos would attack any outsider that came to the town by either killing them on the spot, kidnapping them and taking them back to their lair to save for later. Which I felt like a convenient circumstance so we can have somewhat of a happy ending to the story.

I first heard of wendigos when I was watching a playthrough of the video game “Until Dawn”. With that said, when I found out the wendigos were a supernatural based entity I did plenty of research on them because they captured my interest. I found them unique and fascinating compared to other supernatural beings and entities talked about in average lore.

This is a book I’d recommend to anyone interested in wendigos, the supernatural, circus stories, and mysteries. It is definitely worth a read, whether you get it from your local library or you buy it, it’s definitely an excellent story.

Posted in Book Reviews

REVIEW: Holmes on the Range (Holmes on the Range #1) by Steve Hockensmith

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*No Major Spoilers*

1893 is a tough year in Montana, and any job is a good job. When brothers Big Red and Old Red Amlingmeyer sign on as ranch hands at a secretive ranch, they’re not expecting much more than hard work, bad pay, and a few free moments to enjoy their favorite pastime: reading stories about Sherlock Holmes.

When another hand turns up dead, Old Red sees the perfect opportunity to employ his Holmes-inspired “deducifyin'” skills and sets out to solve the case. Big Red, like it or not (and mostly he does not), is along for the wild ride in this clever, compelling, and completely one-of-a-kind mystery.

“You can follow a trail without even knowing you’re on it. You start out just ambling, maybe get to thinking you’re lost–but you’re headed somewhere all the same. You just don’t know it until you get there.” – Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith

As much as you hear about how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional detective Sherlock Holmes affected pop culture, you really don’t see it much outside of the United Kingdom. I am thrilled to see a western twist on the Sherlockian mystery subgenre. It makes the western genre unique and intriguing, not knowing who’s behind the murder until the unveiling at the end of the novel.

The Amlingmeyer brothers are just trying to survive in the late 1800’s America. When they stumble unto a murder mystery too difficult to ignore, they are in for an adventure. Lives and reputations are at stake as Old Red starts to meddle in places where he doesn’t belong.

The unlikeliness of a poor ranch hand solving an intricate mystery made the Amlingmeyer brothers’ struggle to solve the mystery all the more difficult. Old Red was more of an illiterate Sherlock Holmes and Big Red more of a brother trusting his kin. Big Red and Old Red is the only family they have left, so there’s no other choice but to stick together when things get dicey.

I would highly recommend this novel for lovers of westerns, mysteries, and Sherlockian style storytelling. This novel will leave you guessing until the big reveal, and even then you may be surprised to learn the answer to the mysteries.

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Red River (Edge #6) by George G. Gilman

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*No Major Spoilers*

It was a jagged rip in his memory. In jail for a killing he didn’t commit, Edge is puzzled by the prisoner in the next cell. Where had they met before? Was it at Shiloh, or in the horror of Andersonville? This is the sequel to Killer’s Breed, an earlier volume in this series. We revisit the bloody days of the Civil War and incredible scenes of cruelty and violence as our young nation splits wide open, blue armies versus gray armies, tainting the land with a river of blood. And Edge was there.

My dad loves westerns, as I’ve stated in past reviews. This novel caught my attention because of the artwork on the cover and the fact that I grew up near the Red River that borders Oklahoma and Texas. I am not a Civil War history buff, but I thought I’d give it a try.

The title is more of a metaphor for how bloody and brutal the Civil War actually was. I’ve learned in college that the Civil War was more complicated than just the argument over slavery. It was about the seemingly unbalance between the northern and southern states.

I liked how Edge (Hedge in the flashbacks) was always getting into tight scraps, like being captured by Confederate soldiers and being taken to Andersonville. Through the horrors he and a few of his comrades had witnessed, Edge was able to trick his way out of the death camp.

The current day storyline was also enthralling as well. A double homicide, one of which just happened to be bad luck, and gambling don’t mix well. Edge is facing being hanged unless he can prove that he didn’t pull the trigger. That’s not the only obstacle in his way. People with power and big bank accounts want to see Edge hang for the deaths as well.

Overall, this was a nice and enjoyable short story. There was plenty of action, mystery, and Civil War history. I would recommend this novel for lovers of old westerns, historical fiction, and Civil War-related fiction. Even though this novel is older, I think copies can still be found.

Find More of George G. Gilman’s Works Here!

Learn More About Andersonville Here

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels, Short Story Collections

REVIEW: Straight Outta Tombstone by Various Authors

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*No Spoilers*

Come to visit the Old West, the land where gang initiations, ride-by shootings and territory disputes got their start. But these tales aren’t the ones your grandpappy spun around a campfire unless he spoke of soul-sucking ghosts, steam-powered demons, and wayward aliens.

Here then are seventeen stories that breathe new life in the Old West. Among them: Larry Correia explores the roots of his best-selling Monster Hunter International series in “Bubba Shackleford’s Professional Monster Killers.” Jim Butcher reveals the origin of one of the Dresden Files’ most popular characters in “Fistful of Warlock.” And Kevin J. Anderson‘s Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I., finds himself in a showdown in “High Midnight.” Plus stories from Alan Dean Foster, Sarah A. Hoyt, Jody Lynn Nye, Michael A. Stackpole, and many more.

This is a new Old West and you’ll be lucky to get outta town alive!

I don’t read short story collections very often, I find it difficult to jump into a new story after I feel like I know the main characters. However, when I saw this cover at my local library and saw the cover art, I was sold on the concept.

I enjoy the weird wild west genre. Two genres that are polar opposites colliding for one epic story is fascinating to me! This book has fun with the genre, and it’s an enjoyable read!

All of the short stories in this collection are good, but I had some favorites. And some stories that didn’t impress me. These are all good stories in total, but some just didn’t catch my attention.

My Three Favorites (in no particular order)

  • Bubba Shackleford’s Professional Monster Killers by Larry Correia – The first short story in this collection had charm and had my attention from the beginning. The characters were interesting, and I felt the stakes were dire. I would like to hear more from Bubba Shackleford sometime.
  • The Treefold Problem by Alan Dean Foster – A giant mountain man helps a family who is about to lose their home. I felt like this was inspired by Paul Bunyan, the famous lumberjack. I enjoyed the heart and good feelings in this short story.
  • High Midnight by Kevin J. Anderson – I love film noir. This is the story of a zombie detective who lives in a sort of purgatory with all kinds of monsters and the occasional human. The town is throwing a Wild West-inspired celebration. When things start going south, it’s up to our zombie detective to figure out the mystery.

My Three Least Favorites (in no particular order)

  • Chance Corrigan and the Lord of the Underworld by Michael A. Stackpole – This short story had promise, Chance investigates a mining town to figure out what’s going on. With robots guarding the mine, Chance finds a familiar face running the operation. I think this would have been better if it was its own novel. I felt like the ending was rushed and forced. The way this story ended left me disappointed.
  • The Greatest Guns in the Galaxy by Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Ken Scholes – This is the story behind the cover art. Two aliens come to Earth in the 1800s in search of entertainment. However, when greed gets in the way, it’s up to them to deal with the consequences of their actions. Another interesting premise and I felt like the two aliens that caused the mayhem didn’t learn anything in the end. They just call their friends to help them and boom, everything’s fixed. I found the ending to be unsatisfying and I was disappointed.
  • The Key by Peter J. Wacks – The English Crown hires two hired guns to protect this mysterious object called “The Key” from the Russians. With help from some of history’s famous figures, can the gunmen keep the Russian invaders at bay? I felt like this story belonged somewhere else. This was more British undercover mission than western. I enjoyed the premise and ending well enough, but the lack of the Wild West left me bitter.

I would recommend this book to lovers of westerns, science fiction, fantasy, and short stories. This collection was a perfect addition to my Weird Wild West shelf. I would also recommend this if you are looking for new authors or authors you already enjoy.

More Short Stories HERE!