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!

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Hunger by Alma Katsu

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*Historical Spoilers* 

This historical fiction novel is loosely based on the tragedy of the Donner Party. The Donner’s and many others decide to give up the life they’d known and travel across Indian Territory to California to start life anew. Many dangers face them along the way, as well as inconveniences and mishaps.

Will they survive the trip? Will they get to California before winter hits? What lies in the darkness just beyond the campfires?

I’ve had to think long and hard about how I feel about this novel. Entertainment wise, I enjoyed it. It was slow at first, got to get the wagon train moving. Once I got about halfway through the book, I couldn’t put this book down.

Historical wise, it was alright. I’m not necessarily looking for a count for a count of what happened to the Donner Party. Most of them died in the woods in the middle of winter with no food and little shelter. So even though they continue to find evidence of what actually happened, it’s kind of fun to put a supernatural twist on the story.

The characters, those based on historical people, and those that are fictitious, were great. They were believable and I could relate to each one on some level or another. The story is told from several characters perspectives. It was confusing remembering who was who, but I quickly got the hang of it.

I would recommend this for lovers of supernatural, historical fiction, and books loosely based on historical events. This is a good book for those looking for a good western adventure! Overall, this was a good book.

Buy this on Amazon

 

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Ballad of Black Bart by Loren D. Estleman

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*No Major Spoilers* 

Between July 1875 and November 1883, Wells Fargo coaches were robbed in the middle of gold country. One bandit, in particular, robbed these coaches a record of 28 times. Soon this mysterious bandit became known as Black Bart, the Po8.

Others know the notorious Black Bart as Charles E. Bolton. A well dressed middle aged man enjoying the riches of the mining industries. Living in the booming San Francisco, Bolton can live in the high life without looking too suspicious.

Hot on the heels of Black Bart is James B. Humes. Lead investigator for the Wells Fargo company. Tasked with the jobs of catching the criminals who dare try and rob from the company. It becomes a battle of wits, luck, and vigilance to bring the infamous Black Bart to justice.

I am not a fan of westerns, being raised with a father who loves westerns (good and bad) and trying to read Louis L’Amour; didn’t leave a good impression of the genre with my young self. I did start liking Bonanza when I got older, however, Gunsmoke still makes no sense to me.

This book, however, caught my eye. The imposing stagecoach, the gentleman in the bowler hat holding the stagecoach at gunpoint made me pick up this book from my local library. I thought I’d give westerns another try.

The story was great! The development of characters and their motives were relatable. Being in California both during the Gold Rush and after the rush would drive anyone to rob just to keep food in their bellies.

In the afterward, Mr. Estleman stated that he took a few liberties with the story. The poetry was fiction, but I think it made the story better. I could tell this author did his research with his novel.

Now for the negatives, the vocabulary at times was difficult. I tried to look up the words so I could understand, but it got so tedious that I quickly gave up and just took my best guesses at what the words meant.

This is a good book, for anyone who loves westerns will enjoy this novel. It’s a nice quick read, and I enjoyed reading this novel. I would say unless you have an excellent vocabulary, or don’t mind having a dictionary on hand as you read, you can decide whether this book is good for you or not.

Buy it now on Amazon (not sponsored)