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.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (Book review)

If you strip away the circus aspect of this book, your left with what amounts to a rather typical love triangle. But, the fact that the circus aspect is so detailed and obviously so well researched is what makes this a good read.

The story is told from the point of view of an old man in a nursing home who is awaiting his family to take him to the circus. As he waits he thinks back to his own days with a traveling circus. After tragedy hits his family, a young Jacob Janowski runs away from his responsibilities and jumps a train in the middle of the night. Unbeknown to Jacob, he's just joined the circus.

Soon after he is appointed the circus' vet, and falls in love with one of the performers and later, a large elephant. The girl, however, is married to his boss. A cruel and angry man that has a habit of mistreating animals and people alike.

Sara Gruen manages to pull the reader into the atmosphere of a depression era circus with impressive imagery and highly flawed characters. As a result, what could have been a run of the mill story becomes an entertaining read filled with a few comedic and tear jerking moments.

4out of 5 stars

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bright Eyes: The People's Key (Review)

The People's Key is the new album from Indie hero Conner Oberst and his band Bright Eyes. The cover art is typical of most of their previous albums, with artwork (a wall of fire) only and a lack of band name or album title. Also sticking with Bright Eyes tradition, the first track starts off with something strange to drive away casual music fans. In this case it's two minutes of a man talking about ancient aliens and the evolution of man. This man appears a few more times throughout the album, but in shorter portions.

Oberst has stated that this would be the last Bright Eyes album, I for one hope this isn't true. Unlike his solo work, the Bright Eyes CD's seem far more intricate in both music and lyrics. Changing gears from their last album (Cassadaga) which was far more "Progressive Folk", The People's Key brings back the electronic style that was present on Digital Ash, Digital Urn. The result is a nearly perfect collection of songs.

Oberst is at his poetic best, with complex and intelligent lyrics that throw the verse/chorus/verse cookie cutter format of most artist right out the window. Whether it's the slow, rhythmic beat of  "Approximate Sunlight", the raucous acoustic guitar in "JeJune Stars", or the tribal drums of "A Machine Spiritual", every song is vibrant and refreshing. At a time when artist like Ray LaMontagne, Mumford and Sons, and The Avett Brothers are gaining in popularity with "Progressive Folk", Oberst and company once again show their disdain for the mainstream by reverting back to a music style similar to Tricky, Portishead, or Kenna.

Even so, Oberst is a true word slinger, and it's his mastery of the English language that's most impressive. Along with Sage Francis and B. Dolan, he is the very best in the business.

5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Bearded Man!!

Welcome to the relaunch of my blog, now entitled; The Bearded Man.

The idea for the bearded man actually formed in my mind several years ago as a monthly magazine. With the lack of funds at my disposal to start up a magazine I turned to a free blog. This will not only be a place for me to post my plugs for my work and reviews on other peoples books, I will also review music, video games, and the occasional movie.

Beyond this I hope to feature several guest bloggers to share articles on various topics as they are related to the male point of view. Fellow writers and some of my more enlightened friends will stop by from time to time to share their opinions on topics of their choice. Of course, anyone is welcome to contribute, if interested simply message me at my facebook profile.

Thank you, and enjoy!

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Demon Girl by Penelope Fletcher (book review)

As a self-published writer, I know how difficult it can be to edit your book so that there are as little mistakes as possible in the final form. Hell, it took me several reads to get Avenging Autumn to where it is in the latest Nook edition and I'm sure there are still a couple of things I missed. Not only do I read my own books, I have friends and family read them as well to try and catch all of the errors.

The Demon Girl, however, is so heavily burdened with spelling and grammatical errors that I couldn't make it past the forth chapter. This is an author that could really benefit from some constructive criticism. From what i could tell, the story of a young girl who discovers she's a fairy (demon) in a world where humans despise and hunt demons is an interesting concept. But, the delivery leaves much to be desired.

The two good things about this book (which are the only reasons I downloaded it to my Nook in the first place) is the captivating cover and the free price tag. I think the author has some potential, as long as she can find a good editor or some friends to help clean up her very sloppy work.

1 star out of 5

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Wintermen for $0.99!!!!

The second Book in the Seasons Change Vampire Series is now available for the Barnes and Noble Nook and Amazon Kindle for only $0.99! Here's a 5 star reader review;

"Where Avenging Autumn had a tender love story at it's base, The Wintermen is a father trying hard to uncover the whereabouts of his son in a city that is crawling with rouge vampires and werewolves. 

Dr. Harold Robinson's story is told from a first person point of view through a confession note and works to keep the action going in the first part of the book and when Frank finally meets up with Harold, the ensuing scene is one of the most violent and disturbing things I've ever read and I loved every minute. 

All of this led up to the final four chapters which were non stop action and had me enthralled the entire time. I really could not put the book down."

Frank Writeman's search for his son, Jack leads him to New York City, a major hot spot for unclaimed vampires. He soon partners up with Dr. Harold Robinson, a mentally unstable werewolf hunter, in an effort to find his son before the mysterious Wintermen, a race of mutated vampires who want to claim Jack for their own growing ranks. With Frank's fragile probation with the werewolves and Harold's tendency to shoot everything in sight, Jack's chances of being rescued grow more unlikely with every passing day.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

33 A.D. by David McAfee (review)

This was a very interesting take on the crucifixion of Jesus. The author weaved a fascinating conspiracy story involving vampires and roman soldiers into a well known biblical tale. The characters were well developed and despite the actions of Taras, a Legionary assassin, I found myself pulling for him to have a happy ending. Great storytelling, supporting players, and settings, beautifully descriptive. The only negative thing I can say about this book is that occasionally the dialog slipped into what seemed to be more modern terminology than what might be heard in 33 A.D. This is really a minor gripe and does not hinder the story in any way. All in all a very enjoyable read.

4 out of 5 stars

Sunday, February 13, 2011

New for Nook; Avenging Autumn

A brand new, re-edited, and re-formated edition of Avenging Autumn is now available for the Barnes & Noble Nook. For only $0.99 download the book that kicked off the action-packed Seasons Change Vampire Saga. Follow this link; Avenging Autumn to get it for your Nook or smart phone Nook app.


Benny Writeman was a peaceful artist who lived in a small Indiana town with his lovely wife, Autumn. But, when his wife is murdered, then returns from the dead and reveals her murder must be avenged before she can truly rest, he drags her ghost across the country on the hunt for the vampires responsible. With the help of his brother, Jack and their father, Frank, they leave an ever mounting trail of carnage behind as they confront nightmarish creatures around every corner, only to discover a heartbreaking truth at the end of their journey.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks (review)

This blog will also serve as a place to publish book reviews of what I've been reading as of late beginning with my most recently completed read.

The Way of Shadows (Night Angel #1)
By Brent Weeks
5 out of 5 stars *****

Brent Weeks has a talent for creating complex and interesting characters that fit perfectly into the brutal and unforgiving world he has created. Durzo Blint being the most interesting. Here's a character that lives by a creed that states life is worthless, thus creating a roadblock for a guilty conscious, yet still struggles with doing the right thing at times when his job is at stake. Durzo is a wetboy, which is like an assassin, only he uses his Talent (magic) to enhance his abilities. Blending in with shadows, silencing his movements, creating extra hands to carry out his dark deeds.

When Blint takes on an apprentice (Azoth) he grows into an efficient assassin but lacks the Talent needed to become a wetboy. From there the story grows into a fast paced adventure with a cast of supporting characters that are just as deep and rich as Durzo and Azoth and a few villains that are as nasty as they come.

This was a very enjoyable read and I look forward to the second book.

The Way of Shadows on Goodreads

Serpent and the Summer War!

It's finally here!! The thrilling conclusion to the Seasons Change Series is now available on Amazon's Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook. Serpent and the Summer War can be purchased for your e-reading device or smart phone for only $0.99. Plus, look for the first three books in the series, also just $0.99.

War is coming. In an attempt to draw the vampire god, Deppleo out into the open, Jack Writeman and Vlad the Impaler plan to pit the five vampire clans against each other in a bloody conflict of epic proportions. Meanwhile, Harold Robinson, the great werewolf hunter, is sent on a mission to assassinate a dangerous vampire lord and at the same time regain the trust of the young witch that he's been partnered with. Werewolves, hunters and zombies join the fray, old friends return, and all out carnage spirals the Seasons Change Series to its shocking conclusion. 

Seasons Change Series:
Avenging Autumn
The Wintermen
Moonlight Springs Eternal
Serpent and the Summer War