Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction & Horror, edited by Mark Matthews

Narrator: Rick Gregory

Publisher: Wicked Run Press (2017)

Length: 8 hours 29 minutes

Editor’s Page

This anthology focuses on addiction, mostly drug and alcohol addiction. They range from science fiction to horror to the paranormal. The editor opens with a short foreword about addiction and his hopes that this anthology will provide some insight into the struggle of addicts and hopefully bring about some compassion for those suffering from addiction. Even if this anthology doesn’t do that for you, it’s still quite entertaining, insightful, riveting, sometimes disgusting, usually disturbing, and chock full of examples of bad decisions made.

A Wicked Thirst by Kealan Patrick Burke

Melinda and this guy, our unnamed narrator of this story, meet at a bar. They go back to her place and have sex, sort of. Then he wakes up out in the street being drowned in a rainwater puddle. A specter of Steven Carver, his former AA sponsor, reminds him of his failures. The timeline jumps around a little as our alcohol-sodden character tries to muddle through the night. What’s real, what’s not? What’s in the present and what’s in the past? This tale did a great job of showing the inner confusion of someone deep in the clutches of alcoholism. There’s this scene where this guy is burying his daughter’s dead cat and he cries, not for the cat, not for his daughter, but for himself and stuff that happened during his own childhood. This scene really brought home how this character has so much stuff that’s left unresolved in his life. 5/5

The One in the Middle by Jessica McHugh

Set in a future 2080s Patterson Park in Baltimore, the new drug of choice is Atlas. Heavy users like to inject it directly into their genitals, giving them a long-lasting incredible high. Perry Samson is still obsessed with his ex-wife Serina. He watches her from afar and thinks of her when he masturbates. He needs another high but his junkie friend Loshi thinks it’s high time Perry be the one to score and share. The author shows us the keen edge of depravity in this story. The Atlas junkies are willing to sell their flesh for a hit and some cash. Meanwhile, the rich who can afford the delicacy of well prepared human meat enjoy it in swanky restaurants. It reminded me of high school and college students who would sell plasma to go buy some pot. This was my favorite story in the bunch easily. I love the future SF setting (there’s TVs spread throughout the park showing The Wire reruns with all the hopeful scenes cut out) and yet we still have this drug culture, one in which there’s those who suffer and those who profit from it. 6/5

Garden of Fiends by Mark Matthews

Terra Snyder is in Narcotics Anonymous, living with her parents and trying to get her life back together. Then her former boyfriend Brett unexpectedly shows up. He’s in the Work Release Program while in prison. Against her better judgement, she goes with him to Russell’s place where they used to buy their drugs and hangout. The author shows us step by step how easy it is for someone to be roped back into the users lifestyle. The point of view bounces back and forth from Terra to her dad Gregory throughout the story. Gregory, Heather, and their daughter Terra (somewhat reluctantly) have been working on this urban farm in the middle of Detroit. Heather is one of those always upbeat, optimistic types who would never give up on her kid. Gregory, while not a perpetual optimist, would do anything to keep his daughter safe. This tale really showed how the blame game turns into an excuse to either shuck responsibility for past bad deeds or to commit more bad deeds. 5/5

First, Just Bite a Finger by Johann Thorsson

This bit of flash fiction dealt with a different kind of addiction, but I feel the spirit of it (exploring a new-to-you high) could be applied to any new addiction. Julia, 39, went to a party, buzz wearing off, so she’s looking to try something new. This guy Toussaint bites off the tip of his pinky finger. Julia thinks it’s a trick. However, as the week goes on Julia notices bits missing from her friends. This little horror flick ended a bit too soon for me. I felt there was more for Julia to tell us. 4/5

Last Call by John FD Taff

Ted is in AA but he keeps falling off the wagon, going from group to group. His sponsor Sam reluctantly sends him to a liquor store with a special card, telling him to ask for the last bottle he will ever need. The store owner gives him a little lecture about choosing life or death. The unlabeled bottle is referred to as a shortcut, which I thought was a great way to show later on that there is no shortcut when it comes to dealing with addiction. The story leaps forward 5 years here, 10 years there, etc., showing how Ted’s life has changed and yet how this shortcut bottle is still tucked away, hiding in his closet. The ending is left dangling and I would have liked a line or two to close it out. It would have made the story more poignant or hopeful depending on how things ended. 4/5

Torment of the Fallen by Glen Krisch

Maggie is headed from Phoenix to Aurora, IL to hunt down her long-lost father, Desmond Gabriel. She can see demons and her online paranormal activities, where she goes by Jenny Halloween, have finally given her a hint as to where her father is. Her father, a homeless man, was mentioned on a paranormal chat site, Torment of the Fallen. She meets a short man that goes by Cheddar near the supposedly haunted house where her father sometimes crashes. I enjoyed this story because it had that urban fantasy feel to it where demons were being investigated and a lost person would be found, hopefully. If this story wasn’t in an anthology that focused on addiction, I wouldn’t necessarily have picked up on those elements of the story. I hope we see more of Jenny Halloween in the future. 5/5

Everywhere You’ve Bled and Everywhere You Will by Max Booth III

Jeremy, 26, is bleeding from his urethra. Perhaps the hepatitis is getting to him though he asks his lover Eliza if she bit him. He hasn’t told her about his hepatitis yet. At work, it gets worse so he goes to a clinic where he runs into Nick, a former junkie friend. He has one confrontation after another and things get worse and worse for him. Let me just whisper it to you – spiders. Yep. This was easily the most creeptastic and scary story of the anthology! I don’t even have a penis or hepatitis and it made me shudder. 5/5

Returns by Jack Ketchum

In this short tale, Jill Hunt’s husband’s spirit returns from the dead. She’s been drinking since he was run over by a cab. He thinks he’s returned to help Jill get past his death and not succumb to alcoholism. She can see and hear him but she thinks it’s all in her head. This little story was rather sad as it involved a pet and this failed relationship. I felt that things were left a bit unresolved as I wanted to know what ultimately happened to Jill or her husband’s spirit. 4/5

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Rick Gregory did a pretty good job with this anthology. There was a lot of ground to cover, that’s for sure! His female voices were pretty good. Melinda and Terra sounded like women. For the most part, he had distinct characters though in the story Garden of Fiends he occasionally sounded a bit mechanical and the characters weren’t distinct (I had to follow closely the dialogue between Brett and Terra to keep straight who said what). In the entire book, I only caught a single mispronounced word – conflagration. It just happens to be one of my favorite words and that’s why the butchering of it stood out. The pacing and volume were all well done. Over all, a well-done narration.

What I Liked: The variety of substances abused; the different genres; the various tones; spiders!; genital drugs!; great cover art; pretty good narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing, it was an interesting, enlightening, and entertaining anthology.

What Others Think:

Grim Reader Reviews

Horror After Dark

The Horror Bookshelf

Horror Novel Reviews

Book Den

Lee Murray

Bark’s Book Nonsense

Audible Giveaway & Review: Darkside Blues by Ambrose Ibsen

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

Narrator: Jake Urry

Publisher: Ambrose Ibsen (2017)

Length: 5 hours 43 minutes

Series: Book 3 The Ulrich Files

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 3 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone novel.

Following upon his success with the Exeter House mystery, Harlan Ulrich’s private investigation business has been doing quite well. He’s got a decent apartment, an admirable collection of fancy coffees, and a cat. Now he’s been hired to find yet another missing person. However, there’s more than one twist with this one. The missing person isn’t really missing but she’s not alive either.

I do believe this is my favorite of this series so far. Harlan Ulrich is truly becoming a ghost talker. He’s got his paranormal experiences of the past two books to draw on, so with this one he starts off on firmer ground, knowing some of the rules of engagement right from the start.

And we have Sparkles! Well, he was renamed by Harlan. His new name is Beardsley though I don’t think the cat really cares what Harlan calls him as long as there is food in his dish. Beardsley has a thing for coffee too and that mainly involves batting the beans about the apartment once he’s torn a hole in the bag.

Michael Poole has hired Harlan to approach his estranged daughter, Vivian. He says he’s seen her three times in an old neighborhood they used to live in when she was a teenager. However, he can’t bring himself to approach her and needs an intermediary. He’s chosen Harlan to be that man. However, Harlan discovers right away that Vivian died 10 years ago. As he continues to dig into the case, he finds other things that don’t match what Michael told him. Someone is lying. It becomes a tangled web as Harlan tracks down the ex-wife (Laguerre) and speaks with the stepmother (Meredith).

Let’s not forget the apparition that appears to be the teen-aged Vivian. However, she’s walking about with a limp. In life, she was wheelchair bound. Harlan has to unravel the truth about her apparent suicide. As Harlan makes more attempts to communicate with her, she responds in turn. However, her attempts of communication are rather disturbing to both Harlan and Beardsley.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was getting to know more about Harlan. He’s a teetotaler and his father was an alcoholic. This tale provides more glimpses into his past and that also provides a starting place for Vivian to communicate with him.

I really wasn’t sure where the author was going to take me with this one. I liked that I couldn’t guess major plot points right away. The story’s ending hung on a tipping point right up to the end. Will this character go this way or that, will it end in justice or vengeance, will Harlan have nightmares for months or sleep like a man after a fulfilling day’s work? I found the ending to be satisfying and I expect Harlan can live with the horrors he’s seen knowing he helped where he could.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobook Worm.

The Narration: Jake Urry continues to be great as Harlan Ulrich. His British accent continues to diminish with each book as he smooths out his American accent. Harlan sounds like a proper gent who happens to live in Toledo, Ohio. I liked his spooky voice for Vivian, who has a messed up face. Urry also added in a few sound effects here and there that worked quite well. I especially enjoyed the wind sounds in the background of some of the final scenes of the book.

What I Liked: Great narration; Beardsley the cat and his treatment of coffee beans; Harlan’s getting quite good at ghost talking; we learn about Ulrich’s past a bit; unraveling all the lies; very good ending.

What I Disliked: Nothing – I really enjoyed this one.

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

About Author Ambrose Ibsen:

Once upon a time, a young Ambrose Ibsen discovered a collection of ghost stories on his father’s bookshelf. He was never the same again.

Apart from horror fiction, he enjoys good coffee, brewed strong.

Ambrose Ibsen has penned numerous horror and thriller titles, including The Ulrich Files, Transmission, The Demon-Hearted Series and the Winthrop House Series.

Website ~ GoodReads ~ Twitter

Synopsis of Darkside Blues:

“Ghosts don’t simply latch onto places, investigator. People can become haunted, too.”

A missing person. A city plunged into unforgiving winter. A dangerous spirit.

Though enjoying an increase in business following his last case, life isn’t all roses for private investigator Harlan Ulrich. His newest job, another missing person’s case, is unlike any other he’s ever taken on.

Local businessman Michael Poole hires Ulrich to find his estranged daughter.

The problem?

She’s been dead for a decade.

Join Ulrich on a trip into the darkness, into the frostbitten underworld, as he seeks out a hateful phantom with only a cat and a thermos of good coffee on his side.

Darkside Blues is the third novel in the Ulrich Files series by Ambrose Ibsen.

Audible ~ Amazon

Audio Excerpt

About Narrator Jake Urry:

Jake Urry has been narrating and producing Audiobooks since February 2016, and in that time has released 17 titles, including The Cryptic Lines by Richard Storry, White is the Coldest Colour by John Nicholl, and the PI Harlan Ulrich series by Ambrose Ibsen. His narration work is often dark and suspenseful, and he developing a reputation for Mysteries, Thrillers and Horrors. In 2017 Jake will be working on more work by John Nicholl and Richard Storry, along with a sprinkling of Fantasy adventures.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

GIVEAWAY!!!

Win a 3 month subscription to Audible (US or UK)! Ends June 15th.

Darkside Blues

Medicine for the Dead by Ambrose Ibsen

Narrator: Jake Urry

Publisher: Ambrose Ibsen (2016)

Length: 5 hours 32 minutes

Series: Book 2 The Ulrich Files

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 2 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone novel.

Harlan Ulrich is a private investigator whose coffee addiction has led him into financial embarrassment. He’s about to be homeless, but a homeless man with an excellent coffee maker. Some friends of his insisted on inviting him to the bar even though he doesn’t drink. There he meets an old acquaintance who offers him a place to stay provided he looks after the building, which is being renovated. Of course, Harlan can’t turn this down.

The Exeter House has quite the history but the bar downstairs and the soon to be open apartments on the upper floors promise it another life. Vagrants living in the building has been a problem in the past and now Harlan has to walk the building at odd hours of the night to ensure no one is messing about. Of course, something spooky happens followed by more spooky things happening.

The covers for this series make it look like there will be a gorefest but really, there isn’t. There are a few scenes that depict some horror, but the author uses these wisely and they drive home the torture these spirits are in as unfinished business from their life remains to be seen to. Lucky for them, Harlan can see and hear them. Unlucky for Harlan as this keeps him from sleeping.

I loved the cat Sparkles! He added some amusement and suspense to the story in good measure. I look forward to seeing him in future stories. I think the added responsibility is good for Harlan too. Hopefully he will manage his coffee addiction wisely in the future so that he and Sparkles maintain a roof over their heads.

This tale does have two weaknesses and those are that it has a small cast of characters and there’s only 1 female. There’s Harlan, Sparkles, Harlan’s 2 friends from the bar, the old acquaintance that has him building sitting, and the barman working the bar downstairs. Pretty soon this turns into a missing persons case and there’s only so many players I can squint at suspiciously. Early on it was apparent who was most likely involved. With that said, I was surprised by the number of dead, and so was Harlan. Obviously, I would like a better gender balance but that’s not always possible with a small cast.

Once again, Harlan has helped a flailing spirit set things right. For a few moments there, it looked like things could go very badly for Harlan, but since I know there’s a 3rd book in the series, I wasn’t too worried. This was a very satisfying story, despite being able to pick out the culprit early on. I love how Harlan has to argue with himself, convincing himself of what he’s seen and heard, and then using his detective mind to dig into it a bit deeper. In the first book, he stumbled into the paranormal. In this tale, he’s got the experience to build on and I feel he’s really becoming that paranormal investigator the dead so desperately need.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobook Worm.

The Narration: Jake Urry really brings something to these books. Yes, he does have a British accent for some of the words, but I can totally believe Harlan Ulrich is simply a very proper speaking gent that happens to live in Toledo, Ohio. He does great with the other voices as well, keeping each distinct. Harlan goes through a variety of emotions in this book and Urry brought them all to life.

What I Liked: Spooky but not a gorefest; great use of suspense; Sparkles the cat; quality coffee leads our hero into ruin; satisfying end; great narration.

What I Disliked: Small cast of characters so it was easy to pick out the evil-doer; only 1 female character.

What Others Think:

Sci Fi & Scary

My Trending Stories

Interview: Maya Tyler, Author of A Vampire’s Tale

Join me in welcoming Maya Tyler to the blog! She’s the author of A Vampire’s Tale, a paranormal romance. She’s also written the more sensual Dreamhunter, also a paranormal romance.

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

I recently discovered Outlander on Netflix and it has quickly become a favorite show. I’m completely enthralled, borderline obsessed, with it. The show combines my love of romance with my fascination of historical and paranormal.

From IMDB… Outlander is a British-American television drama series based on the historical time travel Outlander series of novels by Diana Gabaldon… It stars Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall, a married World War II nurse who in 1945 finds herself transported back to the Scotland of 1743, where she encounters the dashing Highland warrior Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) and becomes embroiled in the Jacobite risings.

If I were cast as an extra on Outlander, I would love to play any role which has a close encounter with the dreamy Jamie Fraser.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

I would choose a happy ending for Captain Hook of J.M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy, otherwise known as Peter Pan. I happily bought into the “reformed” Captain Hook that ABC’s Once Upon A Time portrayed, seeing him more as a tragic hero than an evil villain.

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold? 

The library has ceiling to floor bookshelves, a sliding, wooden ladder, a vaulted, gothic cathedral ceiling, and a gas fireplace. The floors are worn, wooden planks. Warm sunshine filters in through tall windows, and the room smells wonderful—a combination of musty books and fresh coffee (or tea, if you prefer). In this classic space, I’d curl up in an oversized leather club chair and read a historical romance novel. This dream public library has an inviting atmosphere, a magical space that fosters book love, with the latest in children’s and adult’s fiction and non-fiction books. It contains literary classics, but also the film versions. Books which have been turned into film, and the associated films, will be a feature collection.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

I’d pick a superhero, the gallant Thor, the Chris Hemsworth version, to rescue me! <<sigh>>

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

I have had the great fortune to experience so many fantastic books, movies, and shows so it’s hard to select just one I would like to experience again. What story continues to make my heart stop and my breath catch? After much thought, my choice would be my new all-time favorite TV series Outlander. I’m in the middle of season 2 right now, and I can’t watch it fast enough. After I finish season 2, I’m going to read the books—hopefully this will re-create a first-time experience for me.

What makes you fall in love with a story?

I fall in love with a story that makes me believe. And, with that belief, I become entrenched in the story and invested in the outcome. I absorb it as quickly as I can—reading non-stop or binge-watching—and re-live it again in my imagination. I hope my stories have the same effect on my readers.

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

A warning label is more of an external observation. It’s not always easy to identify your own faults or short-comings. That said, I asked the person who knows me the best—my husband. He immediately said, “Sensitive.” I asked him why, and he hesitated. I knew he didn’t want to offend me. This potentially explosive question could create a dicey situation—similar to the “Do I look fat in this?” scenario. I explained why I asked him, and he elaborated enough for me to determine that I’m…

Sensitive, reacts with emotion.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

I was a quiet, shy kid. I liked school, and I got good grades. I had a few close friends, but, as a bit of a homebody, I also liked to spend time by myself. My favorite hobbies were writing—fiction, poetry, songs—theatre, music, and reading. I wanted to be a writer, an actress, or a lawyer when I grew up. I had even planned on studying journalism in university, but life has its own ideas, and I didn’t return to writing until my twenties.

Places to Follow Maya Tyler

Website

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

Facebook Book Page

GoodReads

Book Blurb for A Vampire’s Tale:

A paranormal romance author who doesn’t believe in vampires? An ancient vampire who wants to tell the world his story?

A Vampire’s Tale

What happens when Marisa Clements, writer of vampire stories, non-believer of vampires, meets Corgan Halton, an actual, real “live” vampire? The unexpected, of course. Picture a cascading journey which propels Marisa into a world she never believed in and exposes her to a danger she never imagined existed. Picture an untold tale about the non-Hollywood vampire. Are you ready to uncover the truth?

Amazon

Author Bio:

Maya Tyler is a romance author, blogger, wife, and mother. She has a degree in Commerce, but writing is her true passion. Her short story “Just for Tonight” is included in an anthology called With Love from Val and Tyne and her debut paranormal romance novella was Dream Hunter, published in December 2014. Her second paranormal romance novel A Vampire’s Tale released in March 2017. She writes paranormal romance with a twist and all her books have a common theme – happily ever after. When she’s not writing, you can find her having fun with her husband and sons.

Interview: Kenny Soward, Author of the Galefire Series

Everyone, please give a warm welcome to Kenny Soward. He’s the author of Fade Rippers, Book 1 of the Galefire Series. We chat about favorite authors, construction work, and the dream board game. Enjoy!

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

I would probably be the “guy” at the bar having a beer. Or the “guy” at the late night diner having a cup of cheap coffee and piece of pie. Or the “guy” in the coffee shop writing on his Mac and having some expensive coffee. So, I guess just the “guy” drinking a beverage. I’ve worked a long time to perfect that role 🙂

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

I would say a supernatural creature. For someone who writes about supernatural creatures, I have my doubts about their existence. I long to discover something that proves amazing beings do exist outside our own. I guess an alien could pull that off, too. 🙂

What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

There are quite a few now-dead authors I’d like to talk to for various reasons, but I think Ken Kesey might be fun to hang out with. I think he’d blow my mind with some of his thoughts on the power of the mind (and hallucinogens) and how we treat various mental disorders (or even if they are disorders). I’ve always been interested in writing a science fiction novel where the latent power of the mind is unlocked and allows someone to travel to other parts of space. Sure would save on rocket fuel!

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

My worst job was definitely construction work. I did commercial painting (new homes) and spent a lot of time working in the Kentucky outdoors, which meant you could be freezing or burning up any day of the week. And the yards were always churned up, dried mud…real ankle-turning stuff. Just a lot of long hours and tired bones where it takes a super long shower just to feel human again. Writing is a joy compared to those days, although construction work taught me the value of fighting through exhaustion, and it’s really helped me stay strong when writing seems hard.

If you were sent on a magical quest which other 4 fantasy authors would you take with you?

I would take Mark Lawrence first, because we’d need Jorg’s wit. I would take Robin Hobb because she turns an incredible phrase and could probably solve the magical riddles. Jeff Salyards, to write us up a band of brutal mercenaries should we run into orcs. J.R.R Tolkien, for the pipeweed, music, and feasting.

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

Since this series is about to air, and the book is great, I think American Gods would be an amazing card or board game. All the various gods, players, and thugs! So many possibilities to play a faction of warring entities! I would definitely want to play Shadow Moon or Mad Sweeney.

Who are your favorite hero duos from the pages?

I tend to enjoy underdog or anti-heroes, those wonderfully written who live a tragic existence or perish before their time is realized. But as far as interesting hero duos, Louis and Lestat, from Interview With the Vampire. Raistlin and Caramon, from DragonLance. Of course, Gimli and Legolas, from that one series 🙂

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I occasionally get a note from Mark Lawrence who has promoted my GnomeSaga stuff a few times, and I do my best to not sound like an idiot when I respond. One time, I was getting Caitlin R. Kiernan’s autograph, and I said something like, “I just love your work. It’s just…I want to write like you. It’s so cool.” I mean, I had some pretty slick things I was going to say, but everything came out “cool” and “awesome” and “amazing.” I was so embarrassed. Thankfully, she gave me a quiet smile and sent me on my way. You spend so much time reading these authors, and you sort of fall in love with their brains. And then you stand next to them and can’t speak. I guess it’s sort of like a crush.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)?

Well, if it’s one of those where you have to drink a beer every quarter mile, I’d bring Ogre from Revenge of the Nerds. Also Dutch from Predator and Ellen Ripley from Alien in the event there are monsters, really nasty ones. Of course, we’d need a medic and comedy relief, so Hawkeye from M.A.S.H. I heard it’s a tough mudder!

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

Book 3 of Galefire will be out in the middle of summer, and that will conclude the trilogy. The best thing folks can do is sign up for my mailing list where they’ll receive free books and short stories set in the Galefire world. Or, ‘like’ my Facebook page where I’m pretty active.

Places to Find Kenny Soward

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

Mailing List

Book Blurb for Fade Rippers

Lonnie is just your average runner for the infamous Eighth Street Gang when he gets an urgent phone call to back up his crew after trouble follows them home from a drug deal gone bad.

During the ensuing firefight, Lonnie sees some things he wishes he hadn’t, including the gang’s leader, Selix, channeling her powers from a place called the Fade by getting high…and dancing. Memories begin unraveling inside Lonnie’s darkened mind. Memories of dragons and fiends and fire-swept otherworlds. Memories Selix controls with a simple touch.

But what is real and what is not?

In the strange and violent world of Galefire, Lonnie comes to realize not everything is as it seems, including his own identity. But will Lonnie and Selix reconcile the past before they are caught by those who seek to drag them home in chains?

Amazon ~ Audible

Author Bio: 

Kenny Soward grew up in Kentucky in a small suburb just south of Cincinnati, Ohio, listening to hard rock and playing outdoors. In those quiet 1970’s streets, he jumped bikes, played Nerf football, and acquired many a childhood scar.

Kenny’s love for books flourished early, a habit passed down to him by his uncles. He burned through his grade school library, reading Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, C.S. Lewis, and Tolkien. He spent quite a few days in detention for reading in class.

In later years, Kenny took inspiration from fantasy writers such as China Mieville, Poppy Z. Brite, and Caitlin R. Kiernan.

The transition to author was a natural one for Kenny. His sixth grade teacher encouraged him to start a journal, and he later began jotting down pieces of stories, mostly the outcomes of D&D gaming sessions. If you enjoy urban and dark fantasy, paranormal and horror, with brooding, broken characters and fast paced action, you can visit Kenny at www.kennysoward.com.

A Savage Ghost by Donna K. Weaver

Narrator: Tiffany Williams

Publisher: Emerald Arch Publishing (2016)

Length: 3 hours 18 minutes

Author’s Page

Set in northern Washington State, the Savage family recently took over an Irish castle that was moved to the US some years ago. Now Lia Savage has left California to help her family renovate the castle and get it ready for it’s new life as a tourist attraction. However, there is a spirit haunting the premises. Add to that, Lia has set eyes once again on Coop Montgomery, who has grown from the boy she knew to a young man. Romance is in the air.

This story starts off pretty good. The main characters are given some dimension and the setting is interesting. Adding the Irish ghost to the mix adds some mystery since the ghost is hunting for something hidden in the castle.

Lia was my favorite character. She’s very much wants to be a chef and she and her California friend are searching for a place to open their own cafe. However, her family would really like her to stay in Washington. Then we meet Coop and, despite his silly name, he provides yet more reason for her to consider staying in Washington.

The romance was cute and moved along swiftly. I’m not big on romance myself but it worked well for this story. The setting was great. I love the idea of an old Irish castle moved brick by brick over to the states and set down in the Pacific Northwest. Lia and her siblings had fun exploring the castle as well as assisting in fixing it up.

Speaking of Lia’s siblings, they are all twins. I think it was 3 sets of twins, though one of Lia’s sisters had died at some point prior to the beginning of this tale. So I couldn’t help but wonder if Lia’s mother was on some sort of egg enhancing drug therapy. Also we never do learn the particulars of how Lia’s sister dies and that left a little string hanging undone. I really wanted to know and it wouldn’t have been much trouble for the author to give us that.

The story winds up to the big hunt for the lost object the ghost has been longing for. It was fun and exciting though I never felt that Lia, Coop, or the kids were in any real danger. Once the mystery is solved, the story wraps up really quickly and I was left with a few questions about the plot hanging there unanswered. I wanted to know about Lia’s dead sister but I also wanted to know what happened with Lia’s friend in California and how their friendship held up to Lia’s ultimate decision.

I received a free copy of this book with no strings attached.

The Narration: Tiffany Williams was a delight to listen to. She had distinct voices for each character, which was not always an easy feat with the twins in this book. While her Irish accent for the ghost was a little rough, it was still enjoyable.

What I Liked: Lovely cover art; good narration; the castle in Washington setting; the mystery of the ghost; Lia and her siblings.

What I Disliked: There were a few questions left unanswered by the end of the story. 

Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Will Collins, Author of A Darker Shade of Sorcery

Everyone, please give a warm welcome to William Collins. He’s the author of The Realmers, a dark urban fantasy series, of which A Darker Shade of Sorcery is Book 1. Scroll to the bottom for info on the ebook giveaway!

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

Awesome question. I’d love to be an extra in any sort of medieval or epic fantasy movie/tv show. I think it would be particularly fun to be the extra during a massive battle scene. I also think playing the part of an elf or orc would be an incredible experience.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

All of the jobs I’ve had have been manual labour, so writing is a stark contrast, but far more enjoyable.

Who are some of your favourite book villains?

Oh, there’s many, often I like the villains more than I do the good guys. I’ll have to give a nod to Lord Loss, from the Demonata Sage and Tyler Durden from Fight Club; if he counts.

What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

Oh it’s definitely a creative mess. I can plan/brainstorm anywhere, but I always have to do the serious writing in my ‘author cave.’ I get into a zone and often write the first versions of my works very fast. I’d proably look like a mad man if I did it in public. J

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

H.P Lovecraft – Creator of the Cthulhu Mythos.

Katherine Kerr – Author of the Deverry series.

Terry Pratchett – I’m sure everyone knows who this is.

Ray Bradbury – Another very famous author, a master of short stories too.

Robert E Howard – Credited for creating the sword and sorcery genre, his most famous character is likely Conan the Barbarian.

I can’t decide where they would rank, but I’d be most fascinated by merely sitting at the table with all five of them and seeing them interact.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

Unfortunately, I haven’t met any other authors yet, although I’ve talked briefly with Darren Shan and Philip Reeve on twitter, but that doesn’t really count. J

The first time a fan gushed over my work was quite a surreal experience. It’s still surreal to me when readers reference the little things in their reviews, such as using the swear words I invented etc. It’s cool though, I haven’t experienced anything awkward. I myself would be the one to bring the awkwardness if I encountered a favourite author.

Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works? What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

I love side characters, they’re often my favourite characters in novels. My favourite side character in Harry Potter is Gilderoy Lockhart, who probably isn’t a character popular with many people, but I think he’s awesome. In my own works a few side characters appear to be liked by many readers, when I didn’t necessarily write them to be likeable, so that’s really interesting to me.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)? 

Can I cheat and jump on Luke’s back like Yoda?

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

You can find the first book in The Realmers Series, A Darker Shade of Sorcery.

Inside the Amazon page are links to book 2 and 3 in the series.

Book 3 was published recently, and I’m currently writing book 4. Meanwhile, I have a spin off set of novella’s that accompany the main series, the first of which has also recently been released. Here is Choo Choo Your Food, Book 1 of The Realmers Chronicles Book 1.

A second novella will be published within the next few weeks, and I’m halfway through a prequel novella for the main series too.

Thanks for having me, and I hope any who read this enjoyed it.

Places to Find William Collins

Twitter

GoodReads

Amazon

Book Blurb for A Darker Shade of Sorcery

The lonely and grieving Evan Umbra is the newest Venator to enter Veneseron, the school for demon hunters.

A Venator is a wizard, a spy and a demon hunter rolled into one. They’re taught how to wield their sorcery and enchanted weaponry by orcs, elfpires and aliens alike.

Their missions range from battling monsters and saving countless lives in the multiple worlds, to the more peculiar, like wrangling killer unicorns and calming down drunken yetis. In their free time Venators enjoy goblin soap-operas and underwater bubble travel, but they also understand that every new mission they’re given could be their last.

Whilst learning how to manipulate the elements, summon creatures to fight for him and shoot Spellzookas, Evan encounters a dangerous rival and meets a girl who makes him feel nauseous; but in a good way. He makes the first friends he’s ever had in the carefree Jed and the reckless Brooke. Whilst Jed gets on the wrong side of a rival Venator, Brooke finds herself falling for the enigmatic demon hunter who brought her to Veneseron, not knowing he isn’t quite human. But it soon becomes apparent that Evan is more than just a Venator. Everyone wants to kill or capture him, from demons to Dark-Venators and even people he’s supposed to be able to trust.

Evan reckons he probably won’t survive his first year at Veneseron.

Amazon

GIVEAWAY!!!

Will Collins is offering up 3 ebook copies of A Darker Shade of Sorcery, open internationally! Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: What country do you live in? Who is your favorite side character? Giveaway ends June 10th, 2017, midnight.

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Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Narrators: Anna Bentinck, Josie Dunn, Bea Holland, Huw Parmenter

Publisher: Macmillan Audio (2017)

Length: 11 hours 28 minutes

Author’s Page

Set in England, David just recently took a job with a group of child psychologists and he and his wife Adele have moved. Louise is a single divorced mother and recently met an attractive man in a bar, making a romantic connection. Much to her woe, that man has turned out to be her new married boss, David. Next, to compound things, she inadvertently runs into Adele (who apparently doesn’t know Louise has been snogging her husband) and they become friends. Pretty soon it becomes clear that there is some deep secret and some serious issues with David’s and Adele’s marriage. Louise is caught in the middle.

I heard a lot of hype about this book and was intrigued. However, it did take me two tries to get into it. The beginning was rather slow for me because I don’t particularly care for romances and this book starts off mostly focused on Louise’s romantic life, or lack of one. Then we get Adele and her secretive nature coupled with David’s controlling behaviors which livened up the story a little for me. Still, there’s a lot of minute character building with lots of tease as to Adele’s and David’s pasts with very little reveal until near the end. So for the majority of the book I was bored. Adele’s character kept me going back to it, wondering what her big secret was.

I’m going to give you a medium-level spoiler: This story is really a paranormal thriller. End Spoiler. I wanted to put that in here because it affects what genre this book really belongs in. However, that part of the story doesn’t really come into play until perhaps the half way point. Once this became clear in the story, the tale became more interesting. Also, the cat and mouse game Adele was playing with Louise and David made for decent reading.

The truly interesting bits were saved for the very last chapters. There we learn more about things that have only been hinted at: David’s history, a certain fire, Adele’s time in a mental health institute and the the friend she made there, and also the big secret that ties Adele and David together. Finally, at the very end we get one last big reveal and it was OK. I found it an interesting twist but not one that sealed the deal for me. The majority of the book was boring for me and the decent ending didn’t make up for that fact. Over all, it was an OK story.

I won an advanced listening audiobook copy of this book.

The Narration: Anna Bentinck, Josie Dunn, Bea Holland, Huw Parmenter all did a great job. This was a quality narration all around. I don’t know who did which role but I liked all the performances. The main narrator for Louise made her sound just as I pictured her in my head – slightly frazzled, good natured, and a just a tad plump. Adele’s voice was cultured and measured and sounded upper crust but still friendly.

What I Liked: The unexpected twists near the end; the secrets that lie between Adele and David; Adele’s special ability; the final revealed twist; great narration.

What I Disliked: I was bored for most of the book.

What Others Think:

Crime Fiction Lover

Clues and Reviews

Birth. Movies. Death.

Material Witness

Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

Narrator: Holter Graham

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2009)

Length: 10 hours 6 minutes

Series: Book 1 Alpha and Omega

Author’s Page

Set in Montana, this book starts up right after the events in the prequel, Alpha and Omega. While it’s not necessary to have read the prequel story first, it does help explain several things about Anna Latham and her first impressions of Charles Cornick. This romance driven tale follows Anna and Charles on their quest to find a rogue werewolf in the wilds of Montana.

Charles is the son of Bran, the Marrock for North America. Bran leads all the werewolf packs and Charles is his right hand man for handling disputes among the packs, hunting down rogue werewolves, and sometimes carrying out executions. Anna just came out of the Chicago pack; having been terrorized by them for a few years, she is now learning what it’s like to be part of a caring and mostly stable pack in Montana. She’s an Omega, which means she isn’t compelled by the werewolf magic and hierarchy to follow the rules all the time. She can be a peacemaker and become the glue that holds a pack together.

On the surface, these both seem like interesting characters. For me, they were OK. Charles is Native American, but that part of his character feels a bit forced. Perhaps it will become more natural as the series progresses. Anna is so submissive and while I get she’s just come through the other side of some hellish years, I expected her to blossom a bit more in this tale. I don’t need her to become some badass archer. I just need her to feel like she can go have a pee without asking permission first.

Asil was the most interesting character for me. His past is a bit nebulous, but he looks Middle Eastern and had spent some quality time in Spain at some point. He’s still in mourning for his wife and adopted daughter after all these years and his mind may be slipping. Lots is going on with this character and I really wanted to know more about him. There was this other really interesting character, but they were eliminated, so I can’t name them without giving out a spoiler. I was bummed. I thought they added something to the story and Briggs could have done much more with that character in subsequent stories.

The ladies in this tale, for the most part, have no status unless the man in their lives has status. Such a turn off. A woman’s self-worth is not inherently tied to the men she’s related to nor the man in her bed. I’m OK with characters believing this, but I need the storyline to show why this isn’t the case, show me how women step outside of the system, or show me the shadow hierarchy among the ‘lesser’ members. That way, we have something interesting going on instead of a worn-thin trope.

Now the hunt for the rogue werewolf was fun. Anna had the chance to show off some of her camping skills, which was great. And who doesn’t like watching werewolves frolic in snowy forests? The mystery surrounding the rogue werewolf was two fold and I enjoyed watching Charles and Anna figure out what was truly going on. There were some chilling moments and I wasn’t sure everyone was going to make it out OK. This part of the tale was well done.

The sex scene was brief. It started off hot and we got just so far before all the truly interesting details were skipped over and the lovers are laying side by side, satisfied. Since this is paranormal romance, I could have used more here. It would have made up for the weaker points of the story.

The Narration: Holter Graham continues to be an excellent Charles and an excellent Bran (the Marrock). His female voices were OK, though sometimes I had trouble discerning one woman from another. I love his accent for Asil! He sounds so much like Puss in Boots, so I kept picturing Asil as a large orange cat.

What I Liked: Gorgeous cover art; Montana woods; Bran’s level head; Asil is a complex guy; the rogue wolf mystery; Anna’s camping skills.

What I Disliked: In werewolf society, a female’s worth is tied to the men in her life; a character I felt had much more to give is killed off; Anna feels she needs permission all the time.

What Others Think:

The Bibliosanctum

Love Vampires

Fantasy Book Cafe

Vampire Book Club

Sarah’s Reviews

Eyrie

Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs

Narrator: Holter Graham

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2013)

Length: 2 hours 25 minutes

Series: Book 0.5 Alpha and Omega

Author’s Page

Set in Chicago, Anna is the lowest in her pack, a werewolf pack she wasn’t given the choice in joining. After years of abuse, she is ready for a change. The Marrock has sent his son Charles to sort things out. Neither Charles nor Anna get what they expected.

I listened to this book as part of a group read and it’s a prequel to Cry Wolf. The Alpha and Omega series is a spin-off of the Mercy Thompson series and is more romance oriented. Honestly, it’s been some years since I read Mercy Thompson but I believe I like that series quite a bit more than this series.

So Charles is a dominant male among the werewolves and he’s a big handsome guy with skills. He meets Anna and discovers she’s an Omega, which is a person who can soothe and bind a pack together. However, her pack isn’t using her skills; instead they are just using her. By that I mean they take a chunk of her paycheck, have her clean and run errands, and pass her around sexually to reward pack members for questionable deeds. Obviously, Charles is not pleased at this at all. There shall be a reckoning!

There was insta-love between Anna and Charles on a primal level in which their inner wolves recognized it but their human sides took longer to figure it out. I liked the dual nature of this aspect of the story. I also like that this tale shows just what the Marrock, Bran, doesn’t want among the North American packs.

While some justice is meted out by the end, I felt that certain wolves didn’t show remorse over their actions, claiming they were ordered to abuse Anna and other lesser members. Obviously, some of these wolves will need further calibration.

The story had some intense moments, but the romance was a meh for me. I felt that Anna’s character was just too submissive all around. There’s the need to survive a bad situation, sure, but we could have used some inner Anna thoughts about how to avoid the worst of it, or change it, or sabotage food. Something.

The Narration: Holter Graham makes a very good Marrock and a very good Charles. His feminine voices were OK. I liked the harsh tones he can adopt when two wolves are squaring off. I also liked his soothing, patient voice for the Marrock.

What I Liked: Werewolves; Chicago; not all that bend are weak; the dual nature of the werewolf; the worst of the batch do meet justice.

What I Disliked: Anna is always bending, giving way; many of the misbehaving wolves showed no remorse over their actions. 

What Others Think:

The Bibliosanctum

Dear Author

All Things UF