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Category Archives: Reviews

Here you will find either book or movie reviews.

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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Midnight Syndicate – Christmas: A Ghostly Gathering

ChristmasThe group Midnight Syndicate is known primarily to those who have a taste for gothic or darker themed music. In truth if one is to look at their catalog they will find quite a bit of their music features around periods, such as Halloween, like their album Monsters of Legend.  The group has also been involved in movie soundtracks as well doing work on “Axe Giant the Wrath of Paul Bunyan” and “The Dead Matter”.

It is thus a bit of a surprise to see that Midnight Syndicate has come out with a Christmas Album.  They aptly titled the album, Christmas: A Ghostly Gathering.

The songs will bring back a lyric from, It’s the Most Beautiful Time of the Year which states, “There’ll be scary ghost stories”.  I write those words as these are not the cheerful songs that flood music systems from a mall to the radio. These songs will leave the listener wanting to curl up in a blanket by a roaring fire place. They will help harken the listener back to a period before there was Television and radio.  This being a time where people where unplugged with no radio, no television and horror of horror no internet. A time in the world where people entertained each other by telling stories, and all one must do is look at Charles Dickens’ book A Christmas Carol for inspiration.

The album has many tracks with names Christmas music lovers will surely recognize. The titles may be familiar but the group does their own theme on the songs. The music is at times joyful and upbeat but as well there is enough of a gothic overtone underneath that one will look for that blanket to curl into.

The best thing I can say about Midnight Syndicates Christmas: A Ghostly Gathering is how it isn’t your normal offering for this time of year. It may have a dark feel to the music but that is one of the best aspects to the music. A listener will not fall into a diabetic coma from the “sugary” upbeat substance of the music.   The same music you will often hear friends, or family, complaining about as to often it starts before Thanksgiving arrives. In truth, I held onto this review for after the holiday just for that reason as I feel Christmas music should wait till the start of December. I am however kicking myself a bit as this album can be enjoyed at any time due to the way the group worked their musical magic.

I will be putting a track list below but I must pay respect for what I think is one of my favorite songs from the album. It is the piece title “Little Helpers”.  I want to say this title wraps up what I take out of the entire album. There are little bits of childish, but devilish laughter within the song. The bells used are at first upbeat and the whistles used make one picture a sugar plum type of setting. A place where you see people and laughing in a forest of giant candy canes and other upbeat images that comes to mind. It is then that the darker laughter is heard from off to the right, or is it left. Laughter that makes one imagine small little creatures running through the forest causing mayhem behind them in this beautiful landscape. I realize that seems dark but it fits the mold of the album in my humble opinion. As in each well-known title there is just that bit of dark undertone that keeps the listeners imagination wondering what may be next as the listen to the music.

Track Listing:

  1. Christmas Overture
  2. Dance of the Sugary Plum Fairy
  3. Carol of the Bells
  4. Night of the Krampus
  5. Angels We Heard on High
  6. Greensleeves
  7. Up on the Housetop
  8. God Rest ye Merry, Gentlemen
  9. Coventry Carol
  10. Little Helpers
  11. Sing We Now of Christmas
  12. Winter Storm
  13. Into the Stillness
  14. The Parade of Tin Soldiers
  15. Everywhere, Everywhere, Christmas Tonight
  16. Christmas at Midnight
 
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Posted by on December 1, 2015 in Reviews

 

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When The Tik-Tik Sings by Doug Lamoreux

Tik-TikThere are book titles that when you see them you are not sure what you are going to get when you start to read. I have to say that the book, “When The Tik-Tik Sings”, is just such a title. I was thinking is this about some sort of demented coo-coo clock? There’s a chance that Tik-Tik could be a title of a singer or a band. I had no idea what I was getting into when I first saw the title. Author Doug Lamoreux has written some great books so I tossed away my guesses on potential subject and began to read.

The book opens with veteran police woman, Erin, talking her morning run. As she runs through the area and near the peak of Eagle Point Park she is startled by a big black shape. The shape jumps out and goes up scaring the officer so that she falls and lands rather undignified in the wet grass. Whatever the thing was she had heard this odd noise, “tik-tik, tik-tik, tik…” just before it appeared. She was rightfully nervous after being startled and her imagination start to run wild but she was able to re-focus and finish her run.

It’s not long after the run that she is in her patrol car and on her way to work. It’s here that she comes across a speeding car and a very reckless driver in an expensive sports car. She does her job and begins pursuit of the driver, and it’s not long before the chase ends. It’s at the moment that she is about to confront this driver that something unexpected happens. There is a loud scream and it’s followed not long after by an explosion.

The book takes off from this point like the big bang that startled many in this small tourist town in Iowa near the Mississippi River. The next few chapters are filled with action as we are introduced to firefighters and other local police. There are mixes of great sarcastic comments from one character to another. Firefighters Ben and Nestor are some of those characters that fill the reader with some of that great laughter that will be found as the fight those in authority.

Those upcoming chapters also will introduce everyone to what is going to become the scourge of the local police. This being multiple murders that make no real sense. A woman’s body found way up in the air on the top of an old theater. There will be a common thread for most of the murders, but to find out what those are you must read the book.

There is another item in the book I found fascinating and even spoke to some I know who live in the Philippines about. The fact is that Filipino myth and lore will play a large part of what is happening within the pages of the book. Those who live in the country will tell you that the country has many myths and stories and some of those come to live within the pages of the book. In my checks it is clear that author Doug Lamoreux did his homework as he is spot on with how he uses that lore within the book.

When The Tik-Tik Sings has nothing to do with a clock as I originally thought could be possible. The part that a bird may be involved is “somewhat” right but it wasn’t something I was thinking about. The book has non-stop turns of action and with the point of view form used within the pages it is hard to put down. There is a lot of violence but the great thing is that Lamoreux does not do anything to gratuitous. The violence fits the situation and the descriptions do make the imagination work a little as you read. The book will make fans of mystery, suspense and thrillers very happy and is worth the read and is published by Creativia Publishing.

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2015 in Reviews

 

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Red Desert – Back Home (Book 4) by Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli

Back HomeThe media has stories all the time about how humanity is racing to get to our big red neighbor, the planet Mars. There are government, and private industry, all working on what it would take to reach the red planet. There are also books and major motion pictures that have all shown the potential dangers of man going to Mars.

The book Red Desert – Back Home is the final chapter in the Red Desert set of books by author Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli. As readers of the previous books will know the main character Anna is back on Earth along with Hassan. Their ill-fated trip to Mars had led to a remarkable discovery that could almost be ripped from the headlines. There is water on the planet and in this case past readers have found there is more to that water.

The book will use a combination of o some flashbacks to steps into the future to tell a great tale. There are many characters that readers only saw through talks to Earth that will be tossed into the moment. They all will find a massive challenge as something did come back with Anna and Hassan and it is trouble and may be trouble for those in and outside of NASA.

The book is much like the other three in the series as there are many plots and twists. The characters stay true to much that has been learned through the series. There will also be some surprises in some of the earthbound characters that readers are getting their first big glimpse of. The book will not disappoint anyone who has stayed with the series to its conclusion.

The review could be longer but the fact is I want to make this as spoiler free as possible. Readers really should discover the end of this great saga on their own as it is a great read and an accumulation of a great story. It will capture the imagination and plays so well into the world’s appetite regarding Mars. To consider this series is from an independent author that has captured such a sense of the mystery speaks volumes about her. Author Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli has done an impeccable job and uses her background and love of science to create such a real world that the book will be hard to put down till it’s complete.

 

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2015 in Reviews

 

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