Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (book review)

Alright, I purchased this book for the Kindle app on my phone shortly before Christmas. On Christmas day I find a Nook under the tree and suddenly my Kindle app isn't getting much attention. over the coming months i only read The Lost Symbol when my Nook isn't immediately available. The result is that it's taken me about 7 months to finish this book while Nook books were finished nearly weekly. 

That being said; I enjoyed the book immensely. I don't think it was quite as gripping as Angles and Demons or The Da Vinci Code, but it had it's strong points. Perhaps it was the settings of the former two books that I found so fascinating. That and the info about various artist and philosophers whose marks have been left on the culture of France and Italy. And I can't discount the appeal of reading stories set in these locations that I've never visited but have longed to all my life. While the Washington D.C. setting was intriguing in it's own right, I found myself pining for a more foreign background.

The story itself was very compelling and Dan Brown once again proves to be very informative as he weaves another suspenseful tale into various factual topics such as the Stone Masons and the historical sites of D.C. What I've found most impressive, even inspiring, about Dan Brown's work is his willingness to present different ideas about faith, religion, and the bible. There are some that see these ideas as blasphemy, but I see them as interesting theories and ideas that can be taken into account along with a nearly endless amount of possibilities about the existence of man, God, and the universe itself. Pondering the possibilities, after all, is far more fun than committing to a faith entirely.

Then there was the story. While there were a couple of instances where plot points were a little too convenient, the villain was surely warped and creepy enough to keep things moving along at a pretty good pace. As with any of Brown's books, this one is laced with truths, one just has to be willing and able to separate them from the fiction. This is a nice addition to this series and a great read for those open-minded enough to entertain a different interpretation of religion in general.

4 of 5 stars

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The 9 Ghosts of Samen's Bane

  I probably did more research on this book than any other work I've finished to date. Being set in Indianapolis, I wanted to visit a lot of haunted landmarks around town and make the spirits there part of the story. Any one that lives in Indiana knows about the haunted bridge in Avon and Hanna House, their both in there, as well as a few other places. I still remember staying up and working on this all night during a week I had off around Christmas in order to get it done and ready to submit to a writing contest that shall remain nameless in this humble blog. Of the two published authors that were judging the entries, one of them found the first few chapters enthralling and intense while the other had a big problem with the fact that the main character referred to his 4 year old son as a little turd, claiming that this was a form of emotional abuse. This pissed me off to a level I didn't think was possible. Growing up, my dad would always call me and my sister little turds as a term of endearment (as odd as that sounds) and my wife and I do the same with our boys. For this uppity c**t to make a remark like this was an attack at me and my family. Of course her kids are probably strung out on Ritalin and with the nanny all of the time, but that's okay.

I digress.

After being booted out of the contest and trying unsuccessfully to gain an agent, I published the book myself and have received nothing but praise for the story. The 9 Ghosts of Samen's Bane is available now in paperback and ebook form from both Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

The 9 Ghosts of Samen's Bane follows one father's ordeal with the 9 ghosts that have taken up residence in his mind. What do they want? To use him as a conduit for their amazing abilities with the ultimate goal being the destruction of the powerful god and lord of evil spirits, Samen. 
Full of ancient myth, legends from Indiana's haunted past, and terrifying beings from the twisted mind of Derek A. Schneider, this ghost story is sure to result in many goose bumps and sleepless nights.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh (book review)

Toward the end of this book I was thinking 3 stars, but it had a good ending and i bumped it up one.

To start off; I like the plot of this story. After a second depression hits the world slowly but surely falls into decay. Numerous man-made viruses are infecting millions, the unemployment rate at the beginning of the book is at forty percent and declining, crime is sky rocketing and the police have reached the point where they're not milling to risk their lives for anyone. I can see this as a more likely end to the world as we know it than any events depicted by The Bible or the Mayan calender, but that's just my opinion. Some of the stuff in this book is a little off the wall (like bombs that set off massive bamboo growth over vast areas) but if I can suspend my imagination for flying airships and vampires I can do the same here.

The writing was handled very well, with great detail taken in the development of the supporting cast, but the biggest problem I had with the book was its main character. Jasper is in the midst of the end of American civilization yet he thinks and acts like a neurotic school girl, looking for his true love. I'm sure anyone in the situation these people are in would crave companionship, but the way the author set it up seemed a little too labored. If we've learned anything from the Star Wars prequels it's that romance in stories of chaos should be handled much more subtly.

In the end, as unlikeable as Jasper was, the book ended with some good suspense and surprises making it a decent read.

4 of 5 stars.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

God's War by Kameron Hurley (book review)

An intense fantasy world!

Kameron Hurley has created a brutal and unforgiving location for the setting of this story. The holy war between two nations has raged on for so long few remember what started it, the twin suns of the planets solar system create a dangerous atmosphere that creates cancer quickly to those with too much exposure to it, and the wildlife that roam the outskirts of the cities can be savage to those unprepared to fend against it.

In the opening chapters, all of this information is thrown at the reader so fast that it's hard to grasp at first, but as you dive further in things settle down and you grow more familiar with the world and it's races. The coolest aspect of this fantasy realm is the use of bugs in nearly every aspect of life. From heating stoves to powering the desert vehicles, bugs are everywhere and the people rely on them for a great many things, including healing the wounded. Extra body parts are plentiful and the only way to kill someone seems to be by cutting off their head.

Nyx is a former bell dame (Government sanctioned assassin) that throws together a team of bounty hunters after being stripped of her title. Her magician, Ryse, is a native of the enemy country whose motives for crossing the border are kept under wraps through much of the story.

Nyx very much reminds me of Stephen Kings gunslinger, Roland, from the Dark Tower series, in that her history is full of despicable deeds and though she wants to consider herself a hero, she will stop at nothing to attain her goals, even if it means sacrificing those around her.

Ryse is the exact opposite of Nyx. He's set in his religious ways and always seeks a non-violent answer to the problems that face the team, yet the two of them are still drawn toward each other, pushing away the feelings both are too stubborn to admit they have for one another.

The supporting players were interesting and the enemies were the some of the meanest and most belligerent characters you could hope for. The violence is graphic and brutal.

Though I shouldn't complain too much because this book was a Free Friday selection for the Nook, the formatting on said device is exactly why this book lost a star in my rating. It wasn't a major issue, but occasionally a sentence would run off the screen and I was left wondering if I'd just missed out on a major plot point or an enticing revelation. 

Overall, this was an enjoyable book written by an author that shows great talent in this debut. Can't wait for the second part.

4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Drood by Dan Simmons (book review)

Beyond genius lies insanity. 

What a wonderfully accurate tag line for this book. Told from the point of view of frequent Charles Dickens collaborator and friend William Wilkie Collins, Drood is the story of Dickens' meeting with the creature known only as Drood after a horrendous train accident. After describing the strange being to Collins, the two authors endeavor into the Undertown of the London streets on the hunt for the elusive Drood. What follows is a twisted tale of madness that keeps the reader glued to the text to see what happens next. 

What's most impressive about Drood is Dan Simmons' careful reconstruction of 1860's London. Every detail, from the deteriorating slums to the cobblestone streets, is handled with great care and clearly endless hours of research. The language is so believable in its authenticity I forgot the author is an American. 

Charles Dickens is portrayed as a brilliant, boyish adventurer that had gained the respect of millions with his tales, while Wilkie Collins is so embroiled in his jealousy of his mentor's celebrity that he spends much of his narrative berating The Inimitable's work. The dialog between these men is smart and eloquent, the twist and turns throughout the story are tense and often goose bump educing in their eeriness. 

A smart, imaginative and often educational read. Highly recommended!

5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bloody Pulp by G.R.V. Stone (book review)

Swashbuckling fun! 

I first became familiar with this author's work through the short stories he used to post in his myspace blog. Seeing as these stories were all completely disgusting yet very humorous horror tales, I was surprised to see his first book is fantasy. 

The story revolves around Pulp, a well known assassin and major bad-ass who is hired to track down a human girl (that could be the last human) so she could become the unwilling sex slave of a dark wizard. After receiving an air ship (that is later named The Bloody Pulp) Pulp and crew set off, but finding the girl isn't the hardest part, it's getting her back that poses a challenge. The ensuing adventure is one of the most thrilling and well written tales I've read in some time. 

I suppose the story mostly reminds me of a final fantasy game, mixed with a little Pirates of the Caribbean, topped off with a monstrous main character that has the no nonsense disposition of Clint Eastwood. The adventure is fast paced and overflowing with a rich cast of enchanted supporting characters. I often found myself laughing out loud at some of the dialog. 

Though the gore is still in place, it's the authors descriptive prowess that really impressed me and had me unable to stop reading. Looking forward to reading more about Pulp and friends.

5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Moonlight Springs Eternal: $0.99!!!

Now on the Barnes and Noble Nook and Amazon Kindle, download the third book in my Seasons Change vampire series for only $0.99.


From the creator of Avenging Autumn and the Wintermen comes; Moonlight Springs Eternal. When the great black werewolf, Glass and the red witch, Tristessa find a way to plunge the country into eternal darkness, it's up to Jack Writeman, Harold Robinson and the witch Medellia to find the source of the power and destroy it before the werewolves overrun humanity. Meanwhile, Frank and Gloria are busy defending downtown Indianapolis, Officer Ed is caught in a chaotic battle to save New York City, and James is trapped in a basement with new witch; Leslie Burton as a werewolf assassin lurks on the grounds above. All of this leads to a pulse pounding climax beneath a full moon, and a startling revelation that may create a rift in the group forever.