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Here you will find either book or movie reviews.

Eric Olafson: Midshipman by Vanessa Ravencroft

I first want to be honest with all that I was provided with an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) for my review. The review is unbiased and honest as a free copy does not get me to change my opinion or review style. I just wished to put that out first and foremost so all understand how I came about this book.

Eric Olafson: Midshipman by Vanessa Ravencroft is the book I have been referring to. The book is one in a series of books around the primary character Eric. The book will allow the reader to follow along as Eric starts his sophomore year at the Academy on Arsenal II. What awaits Eric and what will become his “gang” will be told within the pages of this very interesting book. I do want to make sure to point out this books setting is in outer space with Eric being a Midshipman in a Navy who’s ocean is the darkness of space.

The story will unfold as we find Eric traveling back to school as he looks to continue his education at the academy. It’s not easy to make sense of who Eric is but within the first few pages we find that he is quite a unique young man as he had made friends with one of the newest member of the Union, the Coven. He even at one point recollects meeting an admiral and discusses how in the past his confusion on whether to dress as a man or a woman.

The reader will also get an introduction into an often used tool within in writing, the interlude. I can see how some readers may get turned off but such a device, but these are well used within the book. They help to give insight into what is going on in the much larger landscape of the story. You will also get to learn so much more about Eric, and who he maybe even if unknown to himself.

The one point most important that I found within the opening chapters about Eric is a simple scene within a bar at Arsenal Gate. He stopped to get a drink and hope to find some directions on how to continue his trip on to Arsenal II. However, when a Midshipman walks into a bar often patronized by hard working men things can get heated. A simple misunderstanding turns into a near fight as Eric is required to defend himself. The whole thing shows that the young man is willing to try and avoid a fight, but if he must he will. The part that stuck with me was how he dressed down the security officers who came to his “rescue”. They did not follow the proper protocols and they ended up in more trouble than the man who tried to pick a fight with Eric. This showed me that he has a sense of fairness and will not just defend himself in a fight but in general.

The scene in the bar sets up behavior that will become a bit more common place for Eric as the story unfolds. We will find out some of stories behind him in his past as the book continues. You will find yourself wishing you had read the previous book just from what was revealed during the story of this book. The author Vanessa Ravencroft does a magnificent job in not just framing the story but the looks of the other species that are found within and outside of the Union. She will take the reader to worlds and species that may not come to the mind till they are introduced.

The book will eventually give us so much more when it comes to the story. One should not go into this book thinking it’s going to take place just within the training confines of the academy. Instead Eric will be on two very special ships of the Union fleet and even be temporarily given the role of one of these fine ships. The reader will eventually be introduced to the Olafson’s Gang which introduces some of the diverse aliens that are introduced within the pages. The one readers will surely come to sense is that there is something VERY BIG on the horizon that will involve Eric. The before mentioned interludes will introduce the reader to what may come and potentially even more on what makes Eric, well Eric.

Eric Olafson: Midshipman by Vanessa Ravencroft is a fantastic book. There are so many primary plots with minor plots woven within the story the book is hard to put down. You will also find yourself wrapped up within Eric’s life and I found myself wondering how I would handle some of the things thrust upon this character. One can honestly find plenty to like about this book as there are elements of drama, comedy, mystery and so much within the pages you do not need to be a fan of science fiction to love the book.

I want to take the last few lines to thank the great people at Inkitt for introducing me to this great book. I can honestly I am hooked and look forward to what may come within the pages of future books by Vanessa Ravencroft that tell the story of Eric Olafson. I must conclude that I did tell a fib as I am a bit biased as Eric is from a planet that is based in some Old Norse mythology. I myself have some Norwegian heritage so really looked forward to that part of Eric.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2017 in Reviews

 

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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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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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Alex and the Wolpertinger -The Monster Inn by Koos Verkaik

AlexChildren’s books can be interesting and often be highly entertaining for both children and adults. The books often are filled with great stories along with creative and color artwork. The stories are often unique and told from the side of a narrator. It’s just such a book that I recently read that has many of these pieces with the pages. The story is well written and I found four things to be key in the book. They are a boy, a cat, a Wolpertinger, and a cheese sandwich.

I’m sure as many read that opening paragraph they will wonder what a Wolpertinger is, or how a cheese sandwich fits into a children’s book.  The fact is they fit very well and as you read the book by author, Koos Verkaik, you will soon learn just how well. The artwork that accompanies the pages will help explain even more what a Wolpertinger is and bring the creature to life within the pages of Alex and the Wolpertinger – The Monster Inn.

So, you want to know what a Wolpertinger is. I hear you asking and a brief answer is they are a magical creature that live in the Downhills and will at times enter the world of man. This is not where the story begins at all as we are introducing to poor Alex who is looking for things to eat in the forest. It is here where he will find himself introduced to a very large prince who will find the boy entertaining enough to take with him back to his castle and put him to work.

Alex ends up working in the kitchen and will introduce the Prince and his family to a simple but tasty treat. Alex will take cheese and have it melted on bread and here is the cheese sandwich I wrote about earlier. This is not the first appearance of the treat as in the instance here the sandwich may be what saves Alex’s life.

Alex makes friends with the staff and eventually even a magician that stumbles, no runs into, the castle. The best friend he will make is the old cat Chum who will eventually follow Alex on his adventure to the Downhills in search of the Wolpertinger. It will be in this land far below our world where the pair will be introduced to many new characters. They will come to trust the young boy and his cat but only after some “trials”.

I realize I am being a bit vague when discussing the book but that is intentional. The point is this is a children’s book and even so does have an interesting plot. The book is one that should be read to fully discover what I mean by some of the bread crumbs I have left within the review.  The truth is many will enjoy this book as we follow along with Alex and Chum. It is the start of a series and as an opening book you will wish to read more.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2016 in Reviews

 

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