Tag Archives: book review

Review: Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times

1 Jul

witchhunts

Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times

I unexpectedly received WITCH HUNTS as a review copy.  I say unexpectedly, but with Lisa Morton’s name on the cover it wasn’t completely unexpected as she knows I devour her work.  At any rate, for some reason I put this one off despite the fact that it is a graphic novel and would be a quick read.  The only reason I can give for this is that I am not a fan of history… at all!  That being said… after all of the craziness that occurred on Facebook about this book being banned (see Rocky Wood’s blog post here) and also getting to meet Rocky Wood in the flesh, I picked this book up finally.

Remember, I said I pretty much hate history, however this book was absolutely amazing!  I was a little familiar with some of the witch hunt acts that had occurred over the years, but hadn’t heard of nearly as many as Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton compiled into this one graphic novel.  Not only did they have detailed facts about the witch hunts throughout the years, but they wrote about them in a way that was fun to read.  Yes, I just used the word “fun” in referring to history.  Additionally, the artwork that is supplied by Greg Chapman in this book is absolutely phenomenal!  Excluding the cover, the artwork is completely in black and white, but I think color would’ve taken away from the style of this book and the fact that it was depicting olden times.

Whether you are looking for a book to educate yourself quickly on witch hunts or you just want an entertaining graphic novel to read, I’d definitely recommend picking this one up.  I’m actually thinking about re-reading it soon as I don’t retain very well and I’d like to remember a few more of the facts that this book is jam packed full of.  Again, this coming from an anti-history person.  I’m sure some of you history buffs out there will get even more from this very well written and drawn book depicting tons of witch trials that took place over the course of time.

That being said, the book is currently available on Amazon both in print and in Kindle format.  Normally I link to the Kindle version of books only as that’s typically what I read, but due to the artwork in this one I’d recommend having a print copy in your hands.  I’ve linked to both within this text so you have the option, but I highly recommend shelling out a few dollars more to get the print version!  Alternately you can purchase this book directly from the publisher, McFarland Publishing via their website or you can order from them at 1-800-253-2187.

And if my recommendation of this book is not enough for you, might I add that this book even won the Stoker award this year for Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel.  Below is a picture of me with Lisa Morton (left) at the Bram Stoker Awards Banquet holding her two Stoker Awards, the one I just mentioned and another one for Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction for her book TRICK OR TREAT: A HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN.

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Review: Biology of Blood by Mark Parker

30 Jun

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Biology of Blood by Mark Parker

Up front I shall say that I am not a fan of short stories typically as I don’t feel you can get to know the characters well enough to grow attached to them as I do with a novel. With the case of BIOLOGY OF BLOOD, it’s not so much a short story as the beginning of a longer book. If I recall my conversation with Mark Parker correctly, this is the first of two short stories to be published with a third novella length book coming after that to complete the entire story.

In this short, the reader is given the chance to meet mainly three characters: Draymond, his roommate Trevor, and his biology professor Prete. Draymond is concerned about something he read in his biology textbook and is looking to question Prete about it since he was the author of the text. However, what he discovers is a bit more than what he bargained for.

Based on the cover art and title of this series you can pretty much figure out up front what he’s going to discover so the story isn’t really suspenseful at this point, however I think that as Parker expands upon this story there is great potential for things to get interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing where he goes from here as the first short seemed a bit bland for me, like the beginning of many novels out there. There just wasn’t time to get to know any of the characters well enough nor to even see much vampire action. I’ll definitely be picking up “book” 2 to see what happens next as it sounds like things are just beginning for Draymond.

You can currently grab this tale on Amazon Kindle for only $0.99.

Review: Savage Species Part 2: The Children by Jonathan Janz

29 Jun

Review: Savage Species Part 2: The Children by Jonathan Janz

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Reviews, especially of friend’s books are hard to write, but this book is particularly difficult since I’m doing it in segments.  That’s the one problem I have with a serial novel, I don’t want to provide spoilers in my reviews, but it’s kind of hard not to!  (The other problem with a serial novel is having to wait on the next segments to be released, especially when it’s such a great book!)  At any rate, this review as well as those for parts 3-5 shall be shorter than my review from part 1, NIGHT TERRORS, due to me trying to avoid giving everything away.

Continuing straight on from where NIGHT TERRORS left off, Jonathan Janz throws us right into all the action.  Jesse and all the gang are fighting off all the evil baddies and searching for Emma.  His search is not in vain, but trying to get her and everyone out of the area safely is a bit of a challenge.  Janz managed to even make me cringe and feel a bit of sympathy for one of the monsters when I read one scene depicting a most horrible “circumcision”.  (I’ll leave it at that until you read this segment for yourself.)

After rescuing Emma, the crew flees the area.  Unfortunately, realizing the entrance is not a likely exit, the only place they think to go is back to visit Frank Red Elk, the most creepy man I’ve heard of.  I’m talking a man who has no shame that has an addiction to soft core porn like most of us reading this have an addiction to horror novels.  He’s one disgusting dude that I hope to never meet the likes of.  At any rate, upon returning to his house, they discover that he knows something about these monsters, or rather “the children”, as he calls them.  But just how much does he know?  Janz leaves us pondering the answer to this question until we read future segments of SAVAGE SPECIES.

Switching gears a bit, part two gives us a larger picture of what is going on in the Florence household.  This is actually what I was looking to finding out most about after reading the first segment as it only teased a bit about what was going on with this family.  Now having lost her son, Charly, is beyond devastated and seeks out help from her friend Sam to help her look for her baby as Sam is the only one that seems to believe her crazy story about some monster taking her baby away.  Of course, Eric Florence isn’t happy at all about her asking for Sam’s help and goes to track them down, not to help them, but to prove that there is something going on between them.  (Yeah, that’s the pot calling the kettle black!)  This little trek through the woods ends with them all going into a cave where they hear the baby’s cries.  And you know that a mom isn’t going to let anything stand in her way of getting to her crying baby.  Unfortunately, part two ends before we find out if she gets to him in time or if something more horrific might happen.

I’m sure with the high-paced momentum Jonathan Janz has kept going through this second segment all readers should be hooked by now.  I know I am!  Now to move onto part three, DARK ZONE, which will be released on July 2, 2013.

Contains: Adult Language, Adult Situations, Violence, Gore, Rape

Note:  Clicking on the cover above will take you to the Amazon page to buy.

Review: Savage Species Part 1: Night Terrors by Jonathan Janz

2 Jun

NightTerrors

Savage Species Part 1: Night Terrors by Jonathan Janz

Savage Species is a new serial novel by Jonathan Janz that is being released by Samhain Publishing. There are five parts being released every two weeks starting June 4, 2013. This review covers only part 1, Night Terrors.

Night Terrors starts off with a flashback scene about Shane Dulin, who was helping build a walking bridge at a new state park that was getting ready to open. Upon waking from unconsciousness, Shane tries to think back to how he came to be wherever he is and wonders why he is in so much pain. Once he discovers he is in a cave and has been literally chewed upon he starts to freak out and attempts to get away from the cave thinking that danger could still be lurking nearby. Unfortunately, he’s right about something being nearby and his lack of legs causes him to not make it in time.

Moving on from the flashback scene, Janz introduces us to Jesse, Emma, and Colleen who are headed to the above mentioned state park to do a story on its opening. Colleen doesn’t understand why they always get the “fluff” stories to write, however Emma tries to look at the bright side of things to make it look like a great experience for them. Jesse on the other hand seems to not care one way or the other as long as he gets to spend time with Emma, who he seems to have been harboring a crush on for quite some time.

Janz also branches off to a completely different setting where a family of five is having some problems. Eric, the dad, doesn’t seem to care anything about the family, choosing instead to spend all of his time coaching and going over plays with his beautiful assistant. Eric’s wife, Charly, on the otherhand is stuck at home taking care of everything, including raising two young girls and a baby boy.

Lots of details are provided by Janz about all of the characters mentioned above along with many side characters to allow the reader to start feeling something for them, whether it be sympathy, hate, amusement, etc… Once both scenes are established danger ensues. For the campers at the park, it’s a massacre! Some kind of monsters have started visciously attacking everyone in the park and our three reporters are trying to find a way to both escape and save as many people as possible. As for our dsyfunctional family, someone – or was it something – has kidnapped Charly’s baby boy. She claims it wasn’t human, but there is no such thing as monsters, right?

Not holding anything back, Janz makes the reader feel like they are right there in the middle of the massacre at the state park, and possibly even one of the victims. This is definitely not a book for a reader with a weak stomach, but I’d definitely recommend it to those that can’t get enough blood, guts, and gore.

Night Terrors is currently free on Amazon and I guarantee after reading it you will want to purchase the other segments to this novel. I know I’m ready to move on to part 2, The Children. A review of each segment will be forthcoming.

Contains: Adult Language, Adult Situations, Violence, Gore, Rape

Note:  Clicking on the cover above will take you to the Amazon page to buy.

2013 Brings Changes To My Book Reviewing

2 Jan

As most of you know, I’ve been reviewing for Monster Librarian for the past several years.  For the last year or so I’ve really fallen behind on writing up reviews.  It seemed like I could read a ton of review books, but then I’d put off writing the review, even as long as a year later.  At that point I barely remembered what the book was about and practically had to re-read the book to be able to write the review.  I know, I know, I should’ve taken notes and/or wrote the review immediately upon finishing the book, but with the stresses of work and every day problems, I just didn’t always have the energy to do it immediately.  And then, of course, there was the “I’ll do it tomorrow” problem and as everyone knows, tomorrow never comes.  So… after a LOT of thinking and I do mean a LOT… I’ve decided to give up my reviewing gig with ML.  However, I will still be doing some reviewing.  I know several publishers/authors have sent me books directly to review and those reviews will be going up here on my blog (and most likely cross-posted to Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and GoodReads), though I’m not sure of the exact time frame.  I have a lot of non-review books I’ve been wanting to catch up on so I will be mixing them into my pile as well.  Some of the non-review books might get a quick mention/blurb on this blog, but I will definitely be writing up reviews of the books that have been requested of me.  This might only be one or two a month and if I really don’t care for a review book, it might never get a mention (however that is a rarity for me as I can usually find something to like in all books).  I already have a few reviews to work on posting up here, but I need to get into my New Year groove with working out, housecleaning, etc… as I’ve made several goals for myself  So, I ask of all publishers/authors to please be patient with me as I do want to read & review your books, I just need to limit the stress behind it a bit.  

Yes, I am still accepting review books, but I am limiting what all I take in.  If you would like to submit a book for review, please contact me at my email:  sanddanz at gmail dot com.  I’m not promising a review, but I’ll see how the review pile stands at that point.  

I really hope everyone understands the reasons I’m backing off of things and also appreciate the patience those have shown in the past for my delay in writing up reviews.  I truly am not a flake, but I will be the first to admit that I took on a bit more than I could chew. So… with the new year, I’ve just decided to try to make things a bit more manageable.

Thanks again to all publishers & authors for their contributions and be sure to check back as your review(s) might be the next thing published here.

Happy New Year!

Review: Desdaemona by Ben Macallan

30 Jul

Desdaemona follows the story of Jordan, on the run from his parents, who plan to make him immortal when he becomes of age. While on the run, he helps find other runaways–because who better to find a runaway than another runaway that knows all the best hiding spots and tricks? Enter Desdaemona, or Desi for short, who enlists Jordan’s help to find her sister Fay, who has gotten herself mixed up with some very bad immortals. Jordan attempts to turn down her request, but, as he’s a horny teenager, it doesn’t take much for Desi to convince him to help her out. As their search begins, so do a lot of crazy and dangerous escapades that make Jordan second-guess his decision to help out Desi, despite his raging hormones.

Honestly, I had a really hard time getting through this novel. Some sections of the book I really got into, but then others made me wish I was already on the final chapter. I am glad I stuck through to the end, though, as some of the stuff near the end of the book was quite intense, and I really liked one of the characters introduced late in the book. I will most likely read the next book in the series to see how things go now that the characters have been fleshed out. This first book just felt like the author was struggling a bit with getting his voice and writing style sorted out, but I have hope that in future books this won’t be an issue for Macallan, as he does seem to have some really good tales to tell. The fact that he pulls in so many different creatures, going beyond just the typical vampires and werewolves found in urban fantasy, makes him stand out drastically from many of today’s urban fantasy authors. I would definitely recommend giving Desdaemona a try if you can handle a little frustration along the way, as the book does turn out to be well worth it in the end. Recommended.

Contains: Adult language and situations

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

Review: Die, You Bastard! Die! by Jan Kozlowski

30 Jul

Claire left her past life as far behind as possible, and didn’t want to return home when she received the call that her father had been hospitalized.  He had abused her growing up, which was the main reason she had left in the first place, but she decided to be the bigger person and went home to check on him.  Claire didn’t expect to find that she was expected to use her training as a paramedic to act as a home nurse to him until his condition improved. Nor did she expect her best friend’s suggestion that this would be the perfect opportunity for the two of them to get their revenge on the man that had abused them for the biggest part of their life.  

Intense from start to finish, this book keeps you biting your nails the entire time.  Kozlowski keeps the momentum going throughout this book, giving the reader no chance to come up for air.  Ravenous Shadows promised novellas that could “pack as much punch, personality, and plot as books three times their size” and that they did with Die, You Bastard, Die!  If I didn’t have other obligations in life I would’ve read this in one setting easily, as it was THAT good!  This is a revenge story.  This is an extremely gory revenge story.  I don’t say that lightly.  If you are hesitant to read books that have to do with revenge or contain gore, I’d pass this one by.  However, if you don’t mind either of those things, make sure this one goes to the top of your must-read pile.  Trust me, it won’t take up much of your reading time and you won’t regret it.  I know I can’t wait to read more from Ravenous Shadows and especially from Jan Kozlowski.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Contains:  Adult language, Adult Situations, Sex, Rape, Violence, Gore

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.