Book Review: The Detained, by @KoyoteKris via @PMMPublishing

 

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Kristopher Triana’s latest release, The Detained, from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, is yet another solid novella among his bibliography. It follows five adults called back to their old high school for a 20-year-reunion, forced to face the most traumatic memory from the halcyon days of their youth.

This novella is a harrowing tale that smashes together The Breakfast Club with Darkness on the Edge of Town.

Naturally, this goes south very quickly. When these five are the only ones to arrive, they realize very quickly that something’s wrong. These characters have matured a bit, but wear adulthood like a mask over the self-destructive high school stereotypes they thought they’d left behind.

The opening is a little slow, but this is to be expected. If anything, the slowness as people awkwardly reintroduce themselves feels very natural, which serves to highlight just how different they are as the story continues.

Those who don’t mind pushing through the occasional block of information will be rewarded with a frantic, surreal ending, where the mundane setting the story opens with is soon replaced by a Jacob’s Ladder nightmare world of anguish and dismay.

The Detained moves fast and hits hard. It’s exactly the right length, providing quality description without needing to dwell on subplots and background info just to reach that ‘novel’ status. The end might be a tad predictable to some, while others might thinks it’s either too nice or too sudden, but it’s definitely the right ending for a story like this.

This story, which harbors both abuse and repentance in its heart, is especially relevant for both the younger and older crowds. Combine these universal themes with a few high school tropes we all love to hate, and there’s something for everyone. A good read I’d rate at 4/5 stars, so I recommend you head on over to Amazon and check it out for yourself.

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Cyborg Sunday, Update 2.18.2018: Five Stars for At the Hands of Madness!

It is four A. M.

Why am I awake right now?

Writers never sleep.

–“Hustle” by Yours Truly

 

WHAT. 5 star review for At the Hands of Madness!

It’s only one review so far, but it’s so awesome to see this book get such praise. Some snippets:

“An emotional rollercoaster.”

“You can perfectly imagine what Holton is narrating and that makes you grin more than once.”

“The tension is constant all through the book, and the author’s imagination tricks you and challenges your mind, even when you don’t expect it.”

“His writing is spotless and his effort in perfecting every detail is obvious.”

Now where is the ‘big grin’ emoji on WordPress…

I’m also polishing the script for These Walls Don’t Talk, They Scream, a novel coming soon from HellBound Books. It’s a big lower budget than the At the Hands of Madness film would be, but as my coffee mug says, Good things come to those who go out and fucking hustle.

No, it actually says that.

In cyborg/diabetes news, Methyldopa, a blood pressure medication, could have the potential to block the DQ8 molecule, which appears in 60 percent of people at risk for Type 1 diabetes! Obviously, this doesn’t help me, but it might help the people you love.

Allegedly, scientists can predict the illness with near 100% certainty, and Type 1 is only 5-10% of all diabetes anyway, but considering that Type 2 is preventable (or treatable) through healthy diet and exercise, we’re well on our way to stamping this bastard of a disease out!

Byte me, big pharma.

An article from last August states that we’re “one step closer” to a T1D cure through islet cell implants thanks to ViaCyte. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen researchers exploring this option, though, so I can only hope these clinical trials pan out.

ONE OF THE TRIALS IS RECRUITING.

I’m ending the post here so I can investigate further.

See you on the other side, kids.

Book review up @TheBoldMom: Brothel, by Stephanie M. Wytovich

Hey everyone,

Here’s a link to my review of one of the most gritty, sexually charged books of poetry I’ve had the pleasure of reading. It’s over one hundred poems about the world’s oldest professions, so it keeps things pretty interesting.

If you like the review, buy the book here!

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Want to support me writing, reviewing books, and doing all sorts of novelist mayhem? Why not show me a little love on my Patreon? The next three pledges get a free ebook, and you get a shout-out on my website!

Book Review: 5 Stars for Megadrak: Beast of the Apocalypse, by Christofer Nigro

Hi everyone!

As you know, I like reposting the reviews I leave elsewhere to generate more buzz. Good writers deserve all the support they can get, so here’s my 5 star review of Megadrak: Beast of the Apocalypse.

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Kaiju fiction has been getting popular over the last few years, and among the writers dedicated to expanding this untapped genre lies Christofer Nigro, whose latest solo work, Megadrak: Beast of the Apocalypse, embodies all that is great about skyscraper-sized mutant creatures that want to consume all earthly life.

This story is set in Japan, 1954, with the Cold War, as well as the Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and Bikini Atoll nuclear detonations as a backdrop for the end of days. The country, its cities, and its citizens are described with painstaking detail, taking care to render the era with an exacting pen. All the Japanese names may at first be confusing to some American readers, but this is kaiju fiction—few people survive more than five to ten pages past their introduction, so there aren’t many lasting characters to talk about.

Megadrak begins with Goro Takiguchi, a fisherman, whose friend is attacked by a mutated bloodworm, soon to be named Glyceracon. These ravenous, fanged annelids descend on a nearby village, draining scores of bystanders dry while he narrowly escapes. The creatures swarm whoever and whatever they come across, leaving havoc in their wake, seemingly the worst bio-organic threat in written history—until the researchers trying to slow and stop their assault come to the conclusion that they must have been feeding on a far larger food source. One with radioactive blood.

Enter the Big Bad, Medadrak, a draconian daikaiju with a sharp intellect and insatiable appetite for destruction. I won’t spoil what it can do, or what it proceeds to do, but I can say it’s everything a Godzilla fan would want, and more, with a dash of scientific terminology to keep the more detail-oriented readers engaged.

Along with Nigro’s extensive kaiju knowledge comes his expansive vocabulary. It’s not enough to say that reading his work might teach people new words; reading his work will absolutely teach you at least a few. His keen mind for synonyms keeps the wording fresh, yet also provides a journalistic perspective, as if this is being described by an academic or reporter, which works really well for this genre.

This occasionally works against the pacing, as some overly formal wording or lengthy descriptions don’t quite fit in the action of some sequences, especially when it comes to dialog. Fortunately, these moments are few and far between.

Megadrak: Beast of the Apocalypse gives readers exactly what they want. Kaiju fans will get all the giant, city-stomping monster mayhem the genre is known for. Those who are newer to the field will take delight in the smooth introduction, starting with littler creatures and progressing to the bigger ones after you’ve gotten to know the main crew. And yes, there’s a giant monster brawl, because what would a story like this be without one?

Tack on a few scattered moments of mutant humans with extrasensory powers, and Megadrak is clearly the start of a larger universe, if not to say Nigro’s own little kaiju franchise. While no one’s flying around or rewinding time in this particular novel, it’s safe to say this author will deliver on that promise soon. Until then, the Beast of the Apocalypse deserves a place on any monster lover’s shelf.

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If you’d like to help prevent the end of the world, consider pledging to my Patreon! You’ll get monthly fiction, ebooks, and even signed copies. I can’t guarantee this will actually prevent the end of days, but it couldn’t hurt, right?

Book review: 4 stars for Attack of the Kaiju: Age of Monsters (volume 1) anthology

Hey everyone!

Reviews are very important to authors, so after posting on Amazon/Goodreads/wherever, I like to repost here, along with a link to the product. Here’s my 4 star review of Attack of the Kaiju: Age of Monsters (Volume 1), an anthology edited by Matthew Dennion and Neil Riebe. If you buy it, be sure to leave a review, too!

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Attack of the Kaiju: Age of Monsters delivers exactly what the title promises. Within the pages lie 15 stories of giant, smashy, beat-em-up doomsday creatures, each ready to deliver varying degrees of mayhem. As with any anthology, some don’t quite measure up to the others, but there’s enough originality and variety here to attract fans of most genres, so long as there’s a large enough place in their interests for a rampaging megabeast.

Overall, the collection is pretty solid. There are occasionally distracting typos (most notably, a few instances of pluralized words being written with apostrophe-s), but Dennion and Riebe clearly put a lot of care and concern into their work. Several writers, including Dennion, have more than one story in this anthology. This can make some tales feel familiar to the others in terms of writing style, but in a niche genre like this, it makes sense to gather several stories from those that are guaranteed to deliver, rather than scour the earth for newcomers.

Here are individual contents, briefly overviewed:

The Odyssey of Draugr, by Matthew Dennion
A Frankenstein-style kaiju created by Nazi scientists goes on a more or less accidental rampage while looking for companionship. “Nazi experiment gone awry” may not be too original, but it’s one of the few stories, in this collection or otherwise, that I’ve seen feature character development for the beast itself. It’s a refreshing change of pace for a genre that typically depicts its namesakes as a bunch of mindless destroyers.

Hunting Grounds, by Breyden Halverson
Revenge is a dish best served wandering around in a swamp, looking for God-only-knows-what. A research mishap leads to a rapidly mutating kaiju set loose just outside of civilization, and one man’s thirst for blood over his wife’s disappearance may be the only thing preventing the creature from harming innocent people. A little jumpy with the POV, but satisfying in the end.

A Day at the Beach, by Cody Bratsch
Kaiju destruction meets social criticism when three friends take a fresh-out-of-rehab heroin addict on a day trip. While the dialog isn’t always believable, the story deals with the subject matter in an engaging, sensitive way, balancing the existential horror of two massive creatures rendering humans insignificant against the much quieter, personal dread of never full escaping one’s personal demons.

Goregod, by Robert Galvin
Blurring the lines between occultism and mad science, “Goregod” lives up to its name, unleashing all sorts of hell on any biological material nearby. From turning mortals into undead warriors, to resurrecting the skeleton of a long-dead dinosaur in a local museum, the kaiju in this story obeys no rules, and leaves no soul unscathed. Not for the faint of heart, or those who dislike weird/Lovecraftian fiction.

The Price of Violence, by Matthew Dennion
Returning for his second of three stories in this collection, this five-page story goes into the fantasy realm, focusing on a league of fairies trying to prevent a newborn dragon from destroying the land. Rife with ecocriticism and a vaguely solarpunk influence, “The Price of Violence” is very conscious of its place in this collection. However, a lot of ‘telling’ without much ‘showing’ leads to an overbearing moralism in the final moments, unfortunately diminishing the impact of an otherwise very original story.

Poseidon’s Wrath, by Breyden Halverson
A story featuring kaiju inspired by real mythological creatures, this tale focuses on a teenage anti-kaiju combat unit, since the kaiju let off radiation that destroys human immune systems, but this effect is diminished in the young. Ultimately, the protagonist, James, plays second fiddle to the brawl between Poseidon’s brood and a single beast of a far different nature–one that might not want to rule the seas, but protect them, instead.

Sky Horror, by Jesse Wilson
Another fantasy-style piece featuring a fledgling mage sent off to stop a mighty creature from ravaging the locals. The mage, Saziz, soon meets a guy named Bill, and in a story like this, an ordinary name can only mean trouble. There are some loose ends, and other matters that perhaps should’ve been addressed, but the writing itself is solid.

A Hard Day at the Office, by Timothy Price
One of the more unique stories here, if only because it’s set entirely in one man’s corner skyscraper corner office, overlooking the city as it comes to destruction. There’s a far more personal story here, as we’re limited to his thoughts, rather than given an overarching view of incredible destruction, but those who’ve come for carnage will still find the ending they’re looking for.

Massive, by Alex Dumitru
Fans of Ant-Man will love this story of a regular human being who, through science and a special suit the narrator doesn’t even pretend to understand, can grow to a “Massive” size, fighting the kaiju in a one-on-one grudge match. There’s a vague threat of something terrible happening if his suit’s battery runs out, but this is never full explained or capitalized, undercutting the tension. Still, reading about a human punching a hundreds-of-feet-tall monster in the face is an easy thing to love.

Four Horsemen, by Zach Cole
Though it draws from obvious source material, “Four Horsemen” is still a clever piece of kaiju fiction, with four beasts descending from asteroids to lay waste to Earth. When society appears destroyed, they turn on each other–and the survivor faces off against a human warrior, neurologically linked to a battle mech constructed from scrap metal. Anyone who wants a religiously-inspired Pacific Rim style story will get a kick out of this one.

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Roof Top Ripper, by Matthew Dennion
For his third and final story here, Dennion gives us a story featuring The Great Detective against a creature that, by all accounts, shouldn’t still exist. Another tale of ecologically-inspired events, this one more subtle, it tracks an older, Waston-less Holmes as Scotland Yard calls on him one final time–to stop a series of murders that, according to all evidence and human limitations, shouldn’t be possible. It’s a slower story than the others, but necessarily so, considering the source material.

Christmas Wish, by Jesse Wilson
When a young boy makes a Christmas without thinking through the consequences, a giant red gorilla with a flaming skull appears to deliver havoc onto his little town. The only way to stop it is by summoning his hero, an Ice Dragon of mythic proportions, but all wishes come with consequences. It’s kaiju-meets-the-monkey’s-paw for this story, though the dialog isn’t always that natural.

Bringing of Chaos, by Breyden Halverson
A deranged older scientist resurrects a prehistoric kaiju, Tiamat, also known as Chaos, to essentially commit a monster-themed purge of society’s evils. Naturally, this doesn’t go according to plan, and it soon becomes apparent that there’s more than one massive creature lurking in the shadowy corners of the globe. The character development feels too fast, but there are some interesting twists and turns here.

The Criminal and the Kaiju, by Christofer Nigro
Drawing on his long-standing love of the genre, Nigro delivers a story full of varied, dynamic characters, swapping perspectives as needed to show his kaiju from every angle. Though this can get a little disorienting, it’s another human-becomes-god-sized piece, leading to a rather epic session of mano-a-mano action. The narration/word choice can get in the way of the pacing/tension, but it’s one of the harder-hitting stories here.

Noregon, the Blue Steel Kaiju, by Neil Riebe
In what’s apparently his first work of original fiction, Riebe delivers a novel premise: in a world full of giant monsters, a cabal of shadowy figures have learned to psychically control these beasts, using them to wage war instead of using their respective armed forces. While it never feels like Noregon’s actually in danger, this creature’s internal struggles fuel the plot quite well. Told from the beast’s perspective, this has the most kaiju character development of any story I’ve read in the genre, leading to the perfect ending for this unique collection.

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While you’re here, be sure to stomp on over to my Patreon for short stories, signed copies, and mystery gifts! 

Book review: 5 stars for Teeth of the Sea, by Tim Waggoner

Hey everyone!

Reviews are very important to authors, so after posting on Amazon/Goodreads/wherever, I like to repost here, along with a link to the product. Here’s my 5 Star review of Teeth of the Seaby Tim Waggoner. If you buy it, be sure to leave a review yourself!

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Tim Waggoner’s Teeth of the Sea is exactly what you want from a sea monster novel. It starts off with a prologue from the creatures’ point of view, proceeds to a scenic introduction to the little island resort of Elysium, then immediately goes full throttle with violence, teeth, and blood everywhere. This is far from a book that uses gore for the sake thereof, though. Every death serves a purpose, whether distracting one of the Pliosaurs from eating the protagonists, to dragging the readers deeper into the story’s emotional waters.
There are quite a few characters to keep track of, but they’re all distinct enough that they don’t overlap (and several die within pages of their introduction). No reader is going to like every character, but there’s going to be someone in the main crew that you wind up rooting for. Besides, if everyone was the same likeable blob, it wouldn’t be as effective a narrative.

As far as action-oriented horror goes, the pacing is pretty solid. Some deride the scenes set from the monsters’ perspectives, but these do wonders for building the tension, especially when the human characters aren’t aware they’re in danger. One or two moments felt forced, yet remained effective in the end.

The monsters themselves are well-described, and fit perfectly for some subtler elements of the story. Let’s just say the bulletproof shell but a soft underbelly could metaphorically describe a few human characters, too. Likewise, two of the monsters, dubbed One-Eye and Brokejaw for their damaged anatomy, have interesting narrative counterparts. I personally had a few misgivings about the creatures’ anatomy, but recognize I’m a stickler for the science side of monsters, and don’t hold these against the writer.

While the ending has a slight feeling of “Haven’t we seen corporations make this mistake before?”, the book is overall an excellent read. Well-written, engaging, and funny without breaking the serious tone, it’s sure to make people think twice about their next island vacation. With Teeth of the Sea, Waggoner delivers a great reminder as to why he’s one of the more prolific horror writers out there today, and this particular book deserves a spot on the shelf of anybody who loves monster stories, but doesn’t plan to go out in the ocean anytime soon.

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