Saturday, July 21, 2018

Review of A.L Sirous's "Jersey Ghouls"

Jersey Ghouls

Review

Make sure to read to the end for buy links and contests.

I love pulpy, trope-filled horror novels that are tinged with a bit of humor. And you get that right from the beginning with Jersey Ghouls. It starts with a blonde in a pith helmet in the jungle. And it all stacks up from there. You've got a small town and the trope of returning to that small town after many years absence. Tandem threats to the well being of the town, the centipedes and a big storm. A past-his-prime ex-cop protagonist. Power outages. Blocked highways...

There were some twists and turns, and some inventive characters that made this a really fun read. I unexpectedly loved the character of Mason the most. A self-aware titular "ghoul," he adds a sort of perspective stories like this are often missing.

I was also fairly impressed with the editing. A lot of indie and self-published stories lately have been so full of errors they were unreadable. This, however, only had a few errors that didn't really distract from the read, save for the name-change of a dog midchapter.

All in all I would definitely recommend this book for an entertaining take on this particular theme. Think Slither or The Crazies and you won't be far off. 


JERSEY GHOULS
A.L. Sirois
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Azure Spider Publications
Publication Date: June 15, 2018
A disabled cop and his ex battle giant centipedes and ghouls in a small riverside community that's about to be flooded out.
The rain-drenched riverside town of Sherwood's Landing, NJ is invaded by a species of centipede from Central America armed with psychedelic venom. Former cop Lafferty "Hoff" Hoffman and his ex-girlfriend Beatrice St. John are swept into terror as their neighbors are enslaved by a centipede-generated group mind. Those remaining free must band together to survive the onslaught of ravenous ghouls.

Purchase Links

Book Tour Schedule

Follow the book tour from July 11 - 24, 2018.
Join us and visit each tour stop daily and discover more features, excerpts, reviews, interviews, fun facts and more! To check the latest tour schedule, visit the Jersey Ghouls Book Page at Book Unleashed.
Jersey Ghouls Tour Graphic

About A.L. Sirois

A.L. Sirois
A.L. Sirois is a writer, developmental editor, graphic artist and a performing musician. His publication career began in 1973 with the appearance of the short-short story "War Baby" in Fantastic (It would be called "flash fiction" nowadays.). He has gone on to have fiction in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Fantastic, Amazing Stories, and Thema, and online at Electric Spec, Mystery Weekly, Every Day Fiction and Flash Fiction Online, among other publications. His story "In the Conservatory," from Thema, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. In addition to JERSEY GHOULS, other Sirois works include a children's book, DINOSAUR DRESS UP (Tambourine Press / William Morrow), a graphic novel, THE ENDLESS INCIDENT (2014), and a fantasy novel, THE BOHEMIAN MAGICIAN, published in 2017.
As an artist, he has hundreds of drawings, paintings and illustrations to his credit. Al has contributed comic art for DC, Marvel, and Charlton, and has scripted for Warren Publications. He wrote and drew "Bugs in the System" for witzend #12, the famous comics fanzine started by MAD artist Wally Wood. He lives in Rockingham County, North Carolina, with his wife and occasional collaborator, author Grace Marcus. Together they are writing a Young Adult novel set in ancient Egypt.
Social media links: Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway

WIN FREE BOOK AND MORE
Jersey Ghouls Giveaway Graphic
Prizes up for grabs:
1. Print Copy of Jersey Ghouls by A.L. Sirois
2. Color Rough of the book cover, painted in acrylics on illustration board
3. Drawing of the book cover on tracing paper
4. Drawing of the book cover on layout bond paper
Contest runs from June 15 - July 24, 2018.

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

When Pie is Punishment

I've joined a lot of homesteading and pioneering groups on Facebook recently in an effort to get motivated to work my 1.1 acres here in Hawaii. A recent post had a comment which started, "Take your favorite sour cream and raisin pie recipe..." I laughed aloud because, who has a favorite sour cream and raisin pie recipe? I have a favorite peanut butter pie recipe, and a favorite key lime pie recipe. I also have a favorite apple pie recipe. But sour cream and raisin?

Now, this sour cream and rains pie is a pie with which I am not familiar. I assumed, correctly, that it had to be some regional favorite. I also assumed that it would have to have booze in it.

I was wrong about the latter. Which made me wonder, why would anyone eat a raisin pie without booze in it? It feels like a pie that is made to punish you rather than be enjoyed. Like, oh, you want pie? Fine, but it's going to have raisins in it. I viewed several slices online, and I thought to myself, now if those were blueberries, maybe we'd have something.

But raisins?

I don't really like raisins. If my grapes are going to be old, they'd better be in wine.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Review of "The Spitting Post"


I love stories which are reminiscent of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz where a hero or heroine is whisked off to another land and you're not entirely sure whether what's happening is a hallucination, coma dream, or reality.


The Spitting PostWhile not a children's book, Jason R. Barden's The Spitting Post is firmly rooted in that tradition. Our main character (or so we are led to believe) is in a car accident and wakes up in another world. He then embarks on a quest to find the love of his life, The Green Maiden, at a location she has specified. Somehow our main character has inhabited this world before, though he has no memory of it.

The strength in this story lays with the gruesome details and imaginative antagonists the author developed to inhabit his imaginary world. The protagonist is propelled along on a series of quests, and this is a plot definitely driven by events, not by character development.

My three biggest complaints are as follows: I never really connected with the narrator. Some of the extensive song lyric inclusions seemed like an attempt to get word count up and didn't really lend to the story. Finally, I read up to the shaggy dog ending and it hit me like a brick wall, and not in a good way. The ending could have used some rethinking and a polish, since the reader does not get a real sense of growth or change in the final perspective.

Part Secret Window, and part Tarnsman of Gor this book draws on a lot of source material that readers will find familiar and satisfying.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Jersey Ghouls Tour Graphic
JERSEY GHOULS
A.L. Sirois
Jersey Ghouls
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Azure Spider Publications
Publication Date: June 15, 2018
A disabled cop and his ex battle giant centipedes and ghouls in a small riverside community that's about to be flooded out.
The rain-drenched riverside town of Sherwood's Landing, NJ is invaded by a species of centipede from Central America armed with psychedelic venom. Former cop Lafferty "Hoff" Hoffman and his ex-girlfriend Beatrice St. John are swept into terror as their neighbors are enslaved by a centipede-generated group mind. Those remaining free must band together to survive the onslaught of ravenous ghouls.

Purchase Links

Get the eBook copy of Jersey Ghouls for only 99 cents! Offer ends June 15, 2018.

Excerpt

Terry Haggerty was no pushover. She had gone to work at sixteen to save money for college, which is where she met Rook. Before the kids came, they'd often spent weekends at campsites throughout the region. Rook was an avid fisherman and hunter, and although she hadn't had any familiarity with firearms before she met him, Terry now owned two or three guns and was proud of her ability to shoot.
Under Rook’s tutelage, Terry always made sure her guns were in excellent condition. She went now to the gun cabinet in the living room. She kept most of her attention on the sounds from the back porch. From the cabinet she took out her .22 pistol and loaded it. Then she stuck it into the waist of her jeans, and pulled her shirt out to hide it.
She went into the kitchen. She paused at the door to the back porch and drew a breath. Someone out there swore quietly, and there was the tinkle of glass.
Enough, she thought, and opened the door.
Grant White and Rick Carrington stood in the dusk outside. They looked in at her with dull surprise on their faces. She relaxed. She knew them well. They were friends of her late son, Loren, even though they'd been a year ahead of him at school. But what the devil were they up to?
"Hi, guys," she said. "Que pasa?"
Rick snarled in response, and her hackles rose as she realized they were both filthy, covered with mud and dried blood. Something was very wrong here. She pulled the gun out of her waistband. "Just stop right there," she said, pointing it at Rick, who stood slightly in front of Grant at the broken window.
Rick snarled again, but Grant laid an arm on his shoulder. "Hi, Ms. Haggerty," he said in an oily voice. Her hackles rose even further at the sound of it. "We were just wondering where Greg was."
"He's upstairs having a nap."
Grant grinned in a particularly nasty way. She'd never seen such a feral expression on anyone's face. "Oh, I don't think he is," he said. "I think maybe he's out looking for... Jessa."
Unconsciously she took a step or two toward the boys at the window. Their eyes... she leaned forward for a better look.
Rick's arm snaked out faster than she would have believed and seized her sleeve. Terry staggered back and broke free. Rick shrieked wordlessly at her, a sound that didn’t sound as though it could have come from a human throat. Grant shoved him aside and tried to force himself through the broken window. She watched in horror as the glass gashed his flesh. He ignored it. Terry realized she was in mortal danger. She raised her gun and discharged it into his face. He slumped forward without a word. Though her ears rang from the shot, she heard the thud thud thud of Rick Carrington’s feet as he fled into the woods.

Book Tour Schedule

Follow the upcoming book tour from July 11 - 24, 2018.
Join us and visit each tour stop daily and discover more features, excerpts, reviews, interviews, fun facts and more! To check the latest tour schedule, visit the Jersey Ghouls Book Page at Book Unleashed.

About A.L. Sirois

A.L. Sirois
A.L. Sirois is a writer, developmental editor, graphic artist and a performing musician. His publication career began in 1973 with the appearance of the short-short story "War Baby" in Fantastic. (It would be called "flash fiction" nowadays.) He has gone on to have fiction in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Fantastic, Amazing Stories, and Thema, and online at Electric Spec, Mystery Weekly, Every Day Fiction and Flash Fiction Online, among other publications. His story "In the Conservatory," from Thema, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. In addition to JERSEY GHOULS, other Sirois works include a children's book, DINOSAUR DRESS UP (Tambourine Press / William Morrow), a graphic novel, THE ENDLESS INCIDENT (2014), and a fantasy novel, THE BOHEMIAN MAGICIAN, published in 2017.
As an artist, he has hundreds of drawings, paintings and illustrations to his credit. Al has contributed comic art for DC, Marvel, and Charlton, and has scripted for Warren Publications. He wrote and drew "Bugs in the System" for witzend #12, the famous comics fanzine started by for MAD artist Wally Wood. He lives in Rockingham County, North Carolina with his wife and occasional collaborator, author Grace Marcus. Together they are writing a Young Adult novel set in ancient Egypt.
Social media links: Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway

WIN FREE BOOK AND MORE
Jersey Ghouls Giveaway Graphic
Prizes up for grabs:
1. Print Copy of Jersey Ghouls by A.L. Sirois
2. Color Rough of the book cover, painted in acrylics on illustration board
3. Drawing of the book cover on tracing paper
4. Drawing of the book cover on layout bond paper
Contest runs from June 15 - July 24, 2018.

In partnership with
Book Unleashed Logo

Monday, April 16, 2018

Review of "Silent Meridian"

I was really exited when I saw this Elizabeth Crowens' Silent Meridian posted as a possibility to review with Books Unleashed. I love steam punk and gaslight fiction. I love stories that incorporate historic figures in fun, imaginative ways, as Seth Grahame-Smith did with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter or in another story I reviewed, Tim Symonds's Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Einstein's Daughter.  In my mind these stories work best when one or two historic characters are thrown into the path of our protagonist. I also love alternative methods of time travel stories, as I am a huge Doctor Who fan.

Silent MeridianSo I gave this story a couple of thumbs-up before I even read it. There are a lot of really interesting elements going on it. For the most part the protagonist is likable and I sympathized with him. I enjoyed the various settings and the mysticism built in.

Ultimately, however, it left me feeling as if it could have used another good edit before it went out to audiences. A few typos and, more jarringly, inconsistencies really pulled me out of the enjoyment of the reading. And the plot never really seemed to gel. I never felt as if I understood what the real struggle was for the protagonist, where he needed to get by the end of the story.

The blurb:

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is obsessed with a legendary red book. Its peculiar stories have come to life, and rumors claim that it has rewritten its own endings. Convinced that possessing this book will help him write his ever-popular Sherlock Holmes stories, he takes on an unlikely partner, John Patrick Scott, known to most as a concert musician and paranormal investigator. Although in his humble opinion, Scott considers himself more of an ethereal archaeologist and a time traveler professor.

Together they explore lost worlds and excavate realms beyond the knowledge of historians when they go back in time to find it. But everything backfires, and their friendship is tested to the limits. Both discover that karmic ties and unconscionable crimes have followed them like ghosts from the past, wreaking havoc on the present and possibly the future.

Silent Meridian reveals the alternate histories of Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Houdini, Jung and other luminaries in the secret diaries of a new kind of Doctor Watson, John Patrick Scott, in an X Files for the 19th century. Stay tuned for A Pocketful of Lodestones, book two in the Time Traveler Professor series by Elizabeth Crowens.




Monday, February 26, 2018

Review of "Scenes and Sequels"






Mike Klaassen has written a book, Scenes and Sequels, that is fairly easy to understand and pretty useful for an aspiring writer. In it, he explains how to use scene and sequel to help craft a better novel. This information could be utilized before drafting or as an analysis tool once a first draft is complete.

In addition to the exploration of the concepts of scene and sequel, Mr. Klaassen provides several concrete examples from novels with which most readers will be familiar. He also uses a fairy tale and passages from his own writing. These help effectively illustrate the structures he is discussing. As a writer myself, I can't over stress the need for writers to first be avid readers, and his analysis helps drive home that point.

While reading this book, I was also reading Raymond Chandler’s The High Window. I found myself thinking of the novel's structure in terms of scene and sequel, and being able to see the structure in action gave me some insight into my own writing.

A lot of the work here can be found elsewhere, so if a reader has already explored this topic, he or she may not find anything new, other than the specific examples.

My biggest problem with Scenes and Sequels is the use of filler to increase word count. The author repeats a great deal of information, summarizes chapters at both the beginnings and endings, and includes a large glossary of literary terms, many of which are not applicable to the text. I would definitely feel more comfortable buying this book if the cover price were lower.

All in all, I would recommend this to an author who has yet to put pen to paper, someone who feels as if he or she has a novel inside but does not yet know how to go about organizing it. I think this book could help a writer like that hit the ground running and end up less frustrated in the long run.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Review of "Something Down There" by Nancy Widrew

Review of Something Down There

I was very interested in the premise of this book; the idea had me hooked. I enjoy stories based around cults, and the idea of members of a cult moving into a cave to completely isolate themselves from the outside world seemed like an idea that would hold a lot of tension and potential. The story is a solid attempt by a first-time novelist. Would I read it a second time? Probably not, but I was entertained the first time around and other readers probably would be too.

The basic plot is this: Karen and Jeremy go spelunking, are abducted by the leader of an underground cult, and are forced to assimilate. The tension comes from the couple's desire to reach the outside world again, the failed attempts of a friend to find them, and infidelity on both Karen's and Jeremy's part.

The strength of this novel is definitely in the setting. I enjoyed envisioning the cave, its formations, the waterfalls, and the strange flora. I just recently finished Journey to the Center of the Earth again, and so this was a nice follow-up.

And a couple of critiques. Spoilers ahead!

The cult aspect is underutilized. The members seem more a bunch of misfits rather than a group grounded and ruled by a set of strange, fringe beliefs. Some members claim to be Christian, others not. Fertility rites and gods are hinted at but disappointingly never explored or exploited. The story sort of lost my interest because I was really expecting some "diabolical cult" members, as promised in the blurb. They are cranky and demanding--like squatters sharing a derelict building--but not diabolical. Even the leader, who has somehow mutated to become something subterranean, lacks the charisma, slyness, and fervor I expected.

On top of that, from the very beginning I found both Jeremy and Karen to be unsympathetic. Jeremy is manipulative and downright mean to Karen. I had to question why she was with him in the first place. Because she was weak and gave in to him, I disliked Karen. I wanted her to stand up for herself more than she does.

The ending was unexpected. Granted, at least Karen did not stay with Jeremy, but her change of heart did not seem supported by her point of view leading up to the final decision. I wish there had been more foreshadowing as to Karen's transformation.


FEATURED BOOK
Check out this special feature from Something Down There by Nancy Widrew!
Something Down There Tour Graphic
SOMETHING DOWN THERE
Nancy Widrew
Something Down There
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Azure Spider Publications
Publication Date: November 15, 2017)
Not all caves are uninhabited
Horror erupts when newlyweds, Karen and Jeremy, cross paths with members of a diabolical cult inside a West Virginia cave. Living below the earth’s surface has triggered mutations, rendering the cult members nearly infertile. Their leader, a wild-eyed, cunning brute, refuses to let the couple leave, believing they and their potential offspring hold the key to surviving underground. Are Karen and Jeremy doomed to spend their lives inside this sunless, subterranean wasteland, or do they escape before their minds shatter and their bodies betray them?
[Praise]
- [Name], Goodreads Reviewer

Purchase Links

Available now $3.99 only. Grab your copy today.

Blog Tour Schedule

Ongoing till December 2, 2017.
Get behind the scenes on Something Down There.
Visit each stop daily and discover more features, excerpts, reviews, interviews, fun facts and other extras.
To check the latest schedule, visit the Something Down There Book Page at Book Unleashed.
Something Down There Tour Graphic

Giveaway

WIN A PRINT COPY OF
SOMETHING DOWN THERE *
Something Down There Giveaway Graphic
* Available for US Residents Only
Contest runs from November 1 - December 2, 2017.
Additional Giveaway
Join the Goodreads Giveaway and win a print copy of Something Down There (US Residents only).
Contest runs from September 19 - November 15. Click here to enter.

About Nancy Widrew

Nancy Widrew
Nancy Widrew was born and raised in NYC before settling in New England with her husband. She has two grown children and two four-legged furry ones, always a source of amusement. She has had short stories published in webzines and a print anthology. This is her first novel.
Follow Nancy Widrew on Twitter at https://twitter.com/nancywidrew

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