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Promises by Ardyce Durham

As many fans of history know there are several ways to keep history alive and to record the events of the past. Author Ardyce Durham uses just one of those ways by researching the life of her paternal grandfather to find out the man had lived a very interesting life. She used these historical findings to put them into a very well told story that, although fiction,  gives us glimpses to a period many have forgotten.

Promises takes the reader back into the 1800’s prior to the Civil War and up thru and beyond.  The book opens with the reader getting an introduction to both the Walker and Cartwright families. The main characters are going to be a set of boys who were born just days apart. Their names are Owen Cartwright and Wes Walker.

The story will follow the lives of these two young men as they grow up into adult hood, and go off to war. The story will be filled with things from moments of comedy, to that of sorrow. One of the comedic pieces that stuck out to me is when the young men try chewing tobacco for the first time. I could almost imagine what they went thru as who has not tried something they shouldn’t as a child only to have it backfire and cause sickness.

There is also heartache and tragedy within the pages as often happened in the mid 1800’s whole families could be uprooted from their homes as they must move to where the work is to survive. This happens to both families when the local sawmill where both men work, shuts down. The families are forced to travel and find jobs and we find a lot of the original grit of the human spirit on how they react to these changes. We have to remember there are no paved roads, no cars and worse of all no CELL phones at this time. A trip that today, could be a few hours to a day trip by car on an express way took days, maybe weeks or months during this period.

The story will follow the boys as their families must move to a new town, a new way of living and how they adapt. We will read how they take up fighting in what can only be called an early fight club. The reader will have to take time to see how they do as I want to avoid a lot of spoilers. There again though we get a glimpse at the bond between the boys and also their families.  The bond forged thru their youth will take them into the Civil War and be part of what comes after that conflict.

Readers will get a sense of the bond the boys build throughout the book as they read the stories before and after the Civil War. I am sure there will be some who may suffer with the language used in the book. It’s in no way something you need to have fear about, it’s just that a lot of the language is period based. It fits the story and is something I enjoyed as it took me even more into the story.

There are some great characters developed within the pages of Promises by Author Ardyce Durham. She does a very good job at not just building the story between the boys but the scenery of the era the book takes place within. The backdrop of a strong bond between families, to that of the conflict that put families against families was brought to life with the writing. There are some moments of sorrow, love and anger within the pages but the book is a great telling of a story that is based on the life of the author’s grandfather.

 

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2017 in Reviews

 

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Zombies!!! The Official Board Game Soundtrack by Midnight Syndicate

zombies_cover-250x251As you read the next bit of this review I ask that you picture in your mind that voice you often hear in movie trailers. Now please picture that male voice here as you read these opening lines.

In a world where Zombies have become main stream is there a genre they have not yet stumbled and eaten their way through? My answer is no as here they are in a board game called, Zombies!!!.

You may ask why I start a review in such a manner but I felt it was fitting as people check the game out they must be sure to check on Midnight Syndicate’s soundtrack for the game. The title of which is very fitting as it is called, “Zombies!!! The Official Board Game Soundtrack”.

I will be up front with Midnight Syndicate fans as this soundtrack does have a few tracks that have been re-inspired for the game. I got to say that for me there was no problem with this as the songs worked great with the overall pace of the album. There is of course original songs upon this soundtrack as well that fans will truly enjoy.

Those who enjoy the game will also find the music to fit the game. I have myself not played the game but have researched it and from the videos and information I have seen I could see myself at a table playing this game and enjoying the music. The opening track does its best to get you into the mood for the game as I can imagine players hitting play on the album and listening to the song as they start. The style of the opening helps one imagine what they are in for as hordes are about to take over the world.

The album continues in such a way that as each piece plays you could get more into the game. The themes that come across in the tracks fit so well with the theme of the game. Yes you may moving a game piece across a board but when your mind can get it’s imagination fed more thru a piece of music it makes a game come more alive for the players.

I will say that from that opening track, “It Begins”, to the middle track of, “Town Square” this is easily accomplished thru the long mastered music style of Midnight Syndicate. The creators of the game even lumped praise onto the music in a press release that came out back in September 2016.

Quote from Press release….

“The soundtrack is a perfect complement to the game,” added Twilight Creations co-founder, Kerry Breitenstein. “I couldn’t be more excited for the Zombies!! Fans to hear it, let alone the rest of the world.”  End Quote.

Now how does a reviewer like myself able to add much more in the way of praise for this album when the co-founder of the company behind the game states something like those works?  I will say that after I listened to the album I could also see it working with other games, and even turning off the sound of some Android zombie games and letting this soundtrack role as you play the game.

Midnight Syndicate is one of those bands that is able to let a music lover get into the tones and ambience of the music but it stimulates the mind and imagination. The album, Zombies!!! The Official Board Game Soundtrack, is just another accomplishment in this bands ever growing music catalog and worth a listen for game and non-game fans.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2017 in Reviews

 

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Life was Stormy but Brighter Things Are Coming.

I’m sure by now there are those who follow my blog wondering what the heck happened. Where am I? Did I stop writing? Did I maybe die? Did my Multiple Sclerosis decide it wanted to take some joy from my life? No to all of those as I can honestly say that none of those are true and really they are the furthest from the truth. I do need to edit this piece a bit as MS did decide to flare up and I’ll get to that in a bit.

I could go on a long babbling story about what really happened but I want to make this post somewhat short as really it is a re-introduction to what this blog is for. So let me hit the points now to explain how the end of 2016 was stressful and how 2017 is finally calming down.

The month of August saw me traveling to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, not for myself but my mother. She had been dealing with some health problems for a while and just before she planned to take a trip away from her home her hairstylist, of all people, pointed out how she looked jaundice. This led her to get to a doctor and after much testing they told her she had developed cancer. This is what brought the trip to the Mayo Clinic for the first time in 2016 and it would not be the last time. After surgery to remove a spot from her lung, we went back so the doctors could remove the original tumor that was found. She actually had two surgeries on that last visit over a span of a week and being the family we are she was one of the unique ones to be fighting two cancers at one time. I have to say the good news the doctor shared after the primary surgery made being in a hotel over Christmas worth it for us.

As my mom was going thru this my younger brother was dealing with his own life/death situation. He is one of those who likes working outside, and he and his wife own several animals. They have horses, chickens, dogs, and I could go on but really you probably don’t want to read about their small “zoo”. Anyway somewhere between the work around his home and the work in community a horrible infection took hold and he’s been battling that for some time now. As it is his story I will not go on to much more on that except to say that he is doing better and using a strong faith to help him deal with things. This faith along with support from family and friends is helping so much.

As for me, I started reading again and was lining up some reviews. I even have a few I am about done writing and wanted to share but then mid/late February things got weird. My left eye sight started to get blurry in the vision. It reminded me of what my grandmother went thru when she started losing her sight. A look out the center of the eye resulted in blurry vision but my peripheral vision for the most part was fine. I figured with some fatigue and other issues I had going on this was an MS flair up.

I had a normal six month checkup with my neurologist and mentioned the issue to her when I had that visit. A MRI was ordered and after having that done on a Friday, after a day or two of phone tag I got the results. The person who read the MRI said that it was NOT MS related but did state they had found three new lesions in the brain. Okay not the news I wanted when it came to the lesions but that is the disease but I still thought this eye issue was MS related.

This lead to an eye doctor visit a week after the MRI and that is where things got moving, and moving fast. First I got to say I have an outstanding eye doctor as she went well above the normal to help me on that visit. At first there was talk of a fix being glasses but then the retinal exam took place. She was going on about how healthy the right eye looked and the left eye she stopped. She asked if a few other doctors where available and next I knew she was consulting with retina specialists and then on the phone with the on-call neurologist for where I go. It came back that, yep it was MS related and I had a few choices. I could wait till Monday or get into the Emergency Room and get started on steroids that night. As we dealing with my eyes I went in that evening and started a steroid therapy treatment plan. I got to say that after just a few days my eye is feeling a bit better.

I realize these are a lot of excuses and I do HATE making excuses. There were some positives over the end of last year and the start of this year as well. Mid-year in 2016 I got promoted to a Front Line Leader (Supervisor) in the department I work within at my employer. I know have a small team of people reporting to me. The interesting thing my team is spread around the company but I am enjoying the challenges and most of all my team. My wife and I were given a small inheritance from when my mother sold my father’s business. This has allowed us to take on some home projects that we had been putting off. So, it hasn’t been all bad. Of course there is the joy in seeing my wife get ready to go visit her father who lives out of state who she hasn’t seen in a few years.

I just wanted to make sure that those reading knew that although it has been a rough six or eight months it wasn’t all bad. Things are picking back up for the positive and as always I am one that is trying to get back to the things I love doing. This means I do plan on getting those reviews I started out there, and more importantly getting all those authors waiting on a review realizing I did not forget their works. So, get ready as I may have to blow up the zoom in my Microsoft Word right now to write, I will be writing.  This is why the photo I used is one that was taken of a rainbow after a rain as to me it shows that thru all the stormy weather that life can bring something beautiful is waiting just behind it.

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2017 in Personal

 

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Leaders A Twin-Bred Novel by Karen A Wyle

LeadersCommunication is something so much of us take for advantage. One must ask themselves how they would survive if suddenly they couldn’t reach that person they are used to communicating with on a daily basis. A great example is imagine how you would deal if suddenly all the cell phone towers stopped working. I can imagine there would be some panic as so many have gotten rid of their land phone lines. There would be no internet access to talk to someone either. There would probably be some major panic across the world if this happened.

I know this is something easy to grasp but image it one step further and mankind had people living on Mars. Communication has gone blank and neither planet can talk to each other. The thought of concern for those on each planet would be tremendous. Who would send a rescue mission first, Earth or Mars? It’s the type of problem we find the Twin-Bred of Tofarn having to deal with.

Leaders is the latest entry in author’s Karen A. Wyle’s Twin-Bred series of books. I will admit it did help me to have read the first two books in the series before this one. I say that not because Twin-Bred and Reach are great books but the great work Wyle uses in creating the characters and world that is used within the pages of all three books.

The Tofa are different then man and events from the previous book saw much of the twin-bred rocketing into space leaving their home world of Tofarn behind.  Only one of their number had stayed behind and he, and his offspring, are seen as outcasts among those around them. They get second glances from others and hear whispers behind their backs. Some would plot to end them or change how society thinks of them. There of course are others who feel the offspring, Lan-sol, is their future leader. Those that have left the planet are also reaching out to Lan-sol inviting him to come and join them.

This problem communication will suddenly stop between the two worlds. Those who blasted into space have landed on a planet they are calling new Landing. Mara, a scientist behind the twin-bred experiment went with her twin-bred and is trying to live a quiet life. As one can imagine, when things go wrong people look to their heroes to save them. Thus, the twin-bred on New Landing turn to Mara to help solve what has happened with communications. They must also decide if it’s really worth the trouble to try and talk to those back on Tofarn. They chose to leave and other than friends what is there back home to really worry about.

It actually is interesting how events on both planets in a way mirror what is happening on the other. There are of course different characters along with different motives, but the main thing is do we care what happened to the others. This is where author Karen A. Wyle’s talent shows through as she is able to blend the events and stories so well throughout the book. Her character development will leave you wanting to take crib notes to ensure you don’t miss a thing as you read the story.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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When the Devil Climbs by Drake Vaughn

Devil ClimbsThe one thing we learn in life is that our choices can lead us down a multitude of directions. We can choose to take a specific talent and apply it and make a name for ourselves. We can also choose that it would be too hard and have life take us in a different direction. There are times that we may rush to judgment and the results could be disastrous. This would be the case of one Russ Grote who will see his life go in a direction he never expected. He will find himself with an ex-wife, going to prison, a son he never sees and worse stuck working with other ex-convicts.

This is the life he will be leading as someone opens “When the Devil Climbs” by Drake Vaughn. The book opens with Russ having a conversation with his ex-wife and how he is looking so forward with reconnecting with his son. Russ is even able to primarily ignore his coworker, Harley, as he adds some commentary to things going on as they wait for the boss Slake to arrive. Victor, another coworker shows up and the crew of three ex-cons gets their day started as they load up to go change out the billboard on a large road sign.

The reader will come to understand that this is one of the few jobs that are willing to hire ex-cons. As you get an introduction into each character you may be very thankful they don’t work with you. On the hand you may even know someone who acts like any of these “fine” gentlemen. Russ is at least working on some of his demons as he has gotten help and the others, well. To give you an idea on the others Slake is one quick to action and will find quick to anger as he is the boss of this crew. Harley he is an old timer with no sort of political correctness and enjoys tormenting the new guy on the team, Victor. As the new guy, Victor, will get razzed but he is also Hispanic and there are plenty of off color jokes directed his way by the ignorant Harley.  It will surely make for an interesting work crew and for an eye opening day.

The problem for these men is they have come to fight the law and there decision will haunt them for the remainder of their lives. As they come across a police cruiser and are told to turn they are given an option from life. They could listen or try some stupid stunt. The choice, you may have guessed it, is stupid stunt and they drive around the cruiser to head to their job.  It is not long after this when ominous dust clouds in the dry ground show in the distance and trouble is coming and these four men are going to find out man is not always the key of the food chain. They will learn that even they can become a great meal for something man feasts on around the world.

When the Devil Climbs will really jump into action at this point in the book. The men will see the dust storm and realize it is actually a large group of pigs running wild. Harvey, who stays on the ground to watch the trucks, even will try to play with one of the pigs as they get close. He will find out to late that this group has more on its mind then running free as they are hungry and man is now the “other white meat”.   It won’t be long from this point when the remaining three high on the billboard platform watch in horror as Harley is devoured by the creatures and they realize they are trapped.

The book will see the three remaining men struggle with each other at first. It will not be long before they run out of water, and food and this will lead to self struggles as the mind becomes their enemy as well. Author Drake Vaughn shows a great gift for delving into the mind and characters of each of these men. Their backgrounds and natures will be slowly revealed as they stay trapped up on that billboard platform hoping, and praying, for some help. What will make matters even worse is when help appears to becoming their arrival; well one must read the book.

The truth is that, When the Devil Climbs, does a great job of character development as well as setting the stage for a very psychological horror story. There are moments when we get to read how the pigs fast but in truth it felt to me much of the horror comes as these men realize the trouble they are in and must determine how to react in the face of this danger. This is why I opened the review by pointing out life choices as each man made a choice that somehow lead to them being there at that moment in time when their lives may end.

I must add that for a great book trailer head over to Drake Vaughn’s website and enjoy.

 

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2016 in Reviews

 

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Midnight Syndicate to Release a Zombie Themed Album

midnightI’ve had the pleasure to review several of Midnight Syndicate’s albums. They are a band that uses music in a way to set a mood and paint images in the mind as you listen. It’s why I felt I needed to share this News Release of their upcoming album.

 

Almost 13 years after releasing the first official roleplaying soundtrack to Dungeons & Dragons® game, Midnight Syndicate has teamed up with premier horror game designer Twilight Creations to produce a soundtrack album for the zombie apocalypse-themed Zombies!!! board game. The dark instrumental album, which will feature new and previously recorded material blended with movie-style sound design, is designed to heighten the game play experience. The musical theme will center around the Zombies!!! board game and its 15 expansion sets that pay homage to classic zombie films, especially those of directors George Romero and Sam Raimi.

“I’m a big fan of Zombies!!!,” said Edward Douglas. “With the game celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2016, it seemed like the perfect time to undertake this project. We’re working closely with the Twilight team to create something that really enhances their players’ gaming experience. I think album will also resonate with our fans in the Halloween and haunted house industries.”

“Musically, it will be interesting to work in a modern setting,” added Gavin Goszka. “Most of our albums have been set in the Victorian and early 20th century, so this will definitely be something different and exciting for us and our fans.”

“Words cannot express how excited I am to have Midnight Syndicate doing a soundtrack for Zombies!!!,” said Twilight Creations co-founder Kerry Breitenstein. “For many of our players, Midnight Syndicate’s music has already been the unofficial soundtrack to their gaming sessions over the years. To have them working with us to create something specifically for our universe is incredible.”

The soundtrack is tentatively scheduled for release in September in coordination with the release of the Zombies!!! Ultimate Collector Set and Zombies!!! Ultimate Upgrade Kit. To be among the first to hear preview tracks, be sure to SUBSCRIBE to Midnight Syndicate on YouTube!

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2016 in Reviews

 

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Nothing But Echoes by Anne Montgomery

NOTHING BUT ECHOES Cover ArtI do not normally re-post too many reviews, but sometimes one must just make an exception. In this case the closure of a publisher is a good reason to re-post a review. Author Anne Montgomery had such a problem and her book, The Magician, has found a new home and a new publisher in Sarah Book Publishing;. The book also has found itself renamed and is now titled, Nothing but Echoes. The book is still intact from its form I originally reviewed and due to this I am re-posting the review to bring attention to its new name. I do this as no matter what the book is called it is a great read.

The one thing any reporter loves is a mystery. The ability to cover secrets others have not been able to find will bring a reporter to the edge when it comes to getting the story. It’s what entices Kate Butler to her current assignment of uncovering information about the magician.  This mysterious man was found with more than your common funerary items around him when found in 1939. He was also found to be taller than most for the period, which raised questions about his heritage. The Hopi tribe that was helping with the dig almost knew immediately how important this man must have been when the Moochiwimi sticks were found.  Those sticks meant only one thing; this man had been a magician. This is the story that will be uncovered in author Anne Montgomery’s book aptly titled, Nothing but Echoes.

Who was the magician? Where did he come from? Why was he so important?

These are questions Kate will try to uncover as she searches into the man’s past. Her only problem is her main source of information, Dr. Perkins, suddenly will not work with her. Dr. Perkins had been a great asset on her story of the Native American ball courts but now he was nowhere to be found. There had been requests for a DNA source have been routinely turned down by those who wish to protect Native American remains. The Hopi tribe had refused her request as they wished to protect the remains not see any part destroyed for a DNA test. It is possible Dr. Perkins had received pressure not to help Kate, and thus she had to find other sources.

Her friend Jack Cooper had come along with her on this trip and it’s possible his skills as a police officer would come in handy.  She will also be assisted on her quest by Dr. Jerrod Crane and colleagues of his that will help point her in other directions. There is one problem, as Kate visits the museum for the first time another takes interest in her, and her quest to find out about the magician. This man may be up to something and able to get information she cannot.

Along with the quest to find out who the magician was, there are other elements weaved into the book. These elements take us back to the life of the magician. The way the people of the era lived is explained, and they actually come to life.  We will also get to see who this magician was and his impact on the people of that area.

Names such as Woodrat, Deer Runner, Mul, and others will be discovered to belong to those who are central characters in that second feature of the book. The book will intertwine the two stories in such a way that they will complement each story contained within the book.  Montgomery uses as much realistic facts and content as she can during the writing of the book that helps bring the story to greater life.

There is drama, secretive plans, and subterfuge in both stories in the book.  The book reads in such a manner that you will not find yourself confused over the facts in the story. You will instead find yourself holding your breath at periods as the story switches from one period to another. You wonder should I skip a chapter and read a head. The answer is simply NO! Nothing but Echoes is a book meant to be read and enjoyed by those who are fans of History and I have to add Mystery. The elements add up to a great book that tells not one but two great stories. As a bonus the article that Kate is writing even toward the end of the book. So you will see Kate gets her story, but the events to get there are not easy as most reporters will tell you.

Where to find Anne Montgomery Online

 

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2016 in Reviews

 

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