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Eluding Reality

Eluding Reality - Henry Martin

Disclosure: I purchased “Eluding Reality” in November 2014. I do not know the author, but I have had communication with him on the Goodreads site. The comments that follow are my own personal opinion. I received NO compensation of any kind, or from anyone, to provide this review.

This is the last book in The Mad Days of Me series by Henry Martin. I finished this book some time ago and enjoyed this series very much. It's the first trilogy I've read in a long time that left a solid impression and gave me a fictional friend not soon forgotten.

Rudy was a strong, human, real, character. I felt like I knew him and although the entire story takes place over a short time - he became a long time friend. This book was a bit different from the first two, but I felt the writing was stronger and I seemed to draw even closer to the character. The ending was not what I expected, but at the same time, was probably the best way to truly finish Rudy's story.

I would strongly recommend the entire series to anyone. These books left me with the indelible mark of a young man trying to push back his demons, and succeed in a world he barely understood. The satisfaction of this read will last for some time.

The Pendle Curse

The Pendle Curse - Catherine Cavendish Disclosure: I purchased the book “The Pendle Curse” from Amazon. I don’t know the author personally. Neither the author nor the publisher has requested this review. The comments that follow are my own personal and honest opinion. I received NO compensated of any kind, or from any one, to provide this review.

I bought this book as part of my personal attempt to update my familiarity with horror in general and read the new authors in that genre. I have been an avid reader, but of only the older established authors. I was concerned I may have a hard time reviewing new authors and would unconsciously compare them to the masters. This book however opened up a new type of horror novel for me and I was quite impressed with the approach and the depth.

I enjoyed this read very much. The modern day characters were well developed and believable. The 400 yr old saga was well researched and offered up some very interesting characters as well. The story was unique and interesting in many ways and the author told it well. The writing was excellent and the plot followed a logical progression.

There were some minor concerns with the pacing. The author tried to tell both stories (modern day and back story) in alternate chapters and POVs. I found that format a bit off for my taste. The lead in to the next chapter always seemed interrupted and the flow was off. As the author approached the end of the book, she built suspense beautifully and put me on the edge of my seat. The background story inserted at this point jolted me out.

The hanging of the witches seemed anti-climatic. Breaking the tension and pace to relate these details at this point didn’t work for me. I recovered some of the feeling of suspense and foreboding, but by then the story was over. I felt like the book ended very abruptly, but the author may have intended that.

This book does not contain the heavy blood and gore of many horror novels. Personally, I find that a plus. It has the psychological terror, I prefer. I’ve read too much and very little actually frightens me at this point. This book touches on dreams, possession, witches, magic, and death. The characters also engage in a bit of romance and the history is well researched and interesting.

This is a great story and well written. I would recommend it to anyone.

The Cunning Man

The Cunning Man - Robertson Davies As always, Robertson Davies, proves to me why he is one of my favorite authors. Wonderful story and definitely added to my re-read list. Highly recommended.

KSHM Project Presents: Elusive Realities

KSHM Project Presents: Elusive Realities - Henry Martin Disclosure: I purchased “Elusive Realities” Stories with accompanying photos by the KSHM Project. I do not know the author, Henry Martin, personally but have had encounters with him on the Goodreads site. I have never had any contact with the photographer, Karl Strand. The comments that follow are my own personal opinion. I received NO compensated of any kind, or from any one, to provide this review.

The photo titled “Eluding Reality” was quite impressive and the accompanying write up taken from a book I have read, by Henry Miller. They work well together.

The next photo entitled “Light” was of a scene I have seen numerous times before. It has been printed in many different colors and textures, but in this case, the short story made it a unique piece of artistry. It was written in second person and reflected the “grass is greener” philosophy to the extreme. A unique story and take on the idea addressed directly to the reader.

The next photo “The Clown Next Door” definitely tests the boundaries of reality, and even sanity. It left me with an odd chill. Not a favorite of mine.

The last photo “Bus Stop” was an excellent piece of photography and with the accompanying notes became a statement of the human condition, displaying loneliness despite the crowded cities.

These short projects are well done, but I was expecting a but more hopeful theme given the title of this particular project.

Four Vignettes (KSHM Project)

Four Vignettes (KSHM Project) - Henry Martin, Karl Strand

Disclosure: I purchased “Four Vignettes” by the KSHM Project. I do not know the author, Henry Martin, personally but have had encounters with him on the Goodreads site. I have never had any contact of any kind with the photographer, Karl Strand. The comments that follow are my own personal opinion. I received NO compensated of any kind, or from any one, to provide this review.

I found the photo “Drawing Pain” and the accompanying write up to be very indicative of our society and enjoyed the insight. The photo “Still Standing” showed a defiance built on personal triumph. The photo “Invisible” showed a real insight into the human condition and our tolerance of the intolerable. The photo “Zen in a River of Concrete” was my favorite, and showed the inner peace and grace that can be achieved in a world of chaos and distress. These short notes left quite an impression on me and I would love to see everyone share the insight and wisdom shown by the two artists.

Waiting (KSHM Project Book 1)

Waiting (KSHM Project Book 1) - Henry Martin, Karl Strand Disclosure: I purchased “Waiting” a short story with accompanying photo by the KSHM Project. I do not know the author, Henry Martin, personally but have had encounters with him on the Goodreads site. I have never had any contact of any kind with the photographer, Karl Strand. The comments that follow are my own personal opinion. I received NO compensated of any kind, or from any one, to provide this review.

I found the photo to be particularly haunting and read the accompanying short story with great anticipation. I feared the worst and although the story has a surprising twist at the end, it is a very emotional experience. This story stays with you for a very long time. The added photo provides a visual that makes it even more memorable. I would highly recommend this story.

KSHM Project Presents: The Phone Booth

KSHM Project Presents: The Phone Booth - Henry Martin, Karl Strand

Disclosure: I purchased “The Phone Booth” a short story with accompanying photo by the KSHM Project. I do not know the author, Henry Martin, personally but have had encounters with him on the Goodreads site. I have never had any contact of any kind with the photographer, Karl Strand. The comments that follow are my own personal opinion. I received NO compensated of any kind, or from any one, to provide this review.

I found the photo interesting and read the short story. The story was written in second person and was quite unique in its perspective. It had a dark twist at the end, and I found it an emotional experience. This story stays with you for a very long time. The added photo provides a visual that makes it even more memorable. I would highly recommend this story.

Nightmare in Greasepaint

Nightmare in Greasepaint - L.L. Soares, G. Daniel Gunn Disclosure: I purchased the e-book “Nightmare in Greasepaint” from Amazon. I don’t know the authors personally. This novella is one of four novellas included in an anthology to be released later this year by my publisher. To ensure full disclosure, my own novella is also being included in this anthology.

The comments that follow are my own personal and honest opinion. Neither the author nor the publisher has requested this review. I’m writing this review at my own discretion. I have NOT received compensation of any kind, or from any one. I also have NOT received a free copy from any source, or done a review swap of any kind with the authors.

I finished reading this e-book in two passes. The first half I found a bit slow and left off about half way through. I finished reading the last half and it was not slow – rather it left me nearly breathless. The pace for the last third of the book was almost too much and I had to re-read a couple sections to keep track of the action.

It’s wonderful when an author can pull a reader along at that pace. For true horror lovers, the tension and suspense of multiple near death experiences, steeped in disgust and blood meets the guidelines for a great horror novella. The characters were well developed and the dark secret behind it all well explained. Various parts of this story seemed to echo other familiar plots, but where it all ended was unique and unexpected.

The only down side was the pace in the first half of the novella. It bogged down with the excessive description. There was a tendency though out the novella to add extensive but unnecessary detail.

Overall this novella is a keeper and I will probably read it again. It has everything needed for a successful horror read.

Winterwood (Childhood Fears)

Winterwood (Childhood Fears) - JG Faherty Disclosure: I purchased the e-book “Winterwood” from Amazon. I don’t know the author personally. This novella is one of four novellas included in an anthology to be released later this year by my publisher. To ensure full disclosure, my own novella is also being included in this anthology.

The comments that follow are my own personal and honest opinion. Neither the author nor the publisher has requested this review. I’m writing this review at my own discretion. I have NOT received compensation of any kind, or from any one. I also have NOT received a free copy from any source, or done a review swap of any kind with the author.

I read this e-book in just over two hours. It kept my interest and given I hate reading e-books – that’s a plus. This story was interesting for the most part. It used Yuletide folklore as the basis for the story. The version of the story I was told years ago was quite different, and didn’t include many of the various elements included by this author. His enhancements made the story far more complicated and gave a richer version of the horror and fear the story was designed to invoke in children, who misbehaved during the Yuletide. The story did not resemble my memories of the tale. The story flowed well. The writer did a good job overall. Pace and descriptions were clear.

On the down side, I found a few issues. The characters were difficult to accept. I have known some very healthy and energetic grandparents, and I could see a grandfather doing whatever it took to save his grandchildren. But the main character’s poor health was emphasized, making that theory difficult to accept. His daughter didn’t believe, but jumped on the band wagon without issue and into another dimension. The tale included weird elements and situations that just didn’t flow well into the plot line or validate the characters in any way.

This book does contain some blood and gore often found in horror novels, but the premise is a stretched Christmas legend with elves, giants, wizards, and man-eating reindeer. This story concentrates on a fearful tale I don’t think any child ever actually believed, but it is suited to the anthology. It may bring back memories of those scary tales told on wintery nights.

The Bear Who Wouldn't Leave (Childhood Fears)

The Bear Who Wouldn't Leave (Childhood Fears) - J.H. Moncrieff Disclosure: I purchased the e-book “The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave” from Amazon. I don’t know the author personally. This novella is one of four novellas included in an anthology to be released later this year by my publisher. To ensure full disclosure, my own novella is also being included in this anthology.

The comments that follow are my own personal and honest opinion. Neither the author nor the publisher has requested this review. I’m writing this review at my own discretion. I have NOT received compensation of any kind, or from any one. I also have NOT received a free copy from any source, or done a review swap of any kind with the author.

I read this e-book in less than two hours and in general found it engaging and fairly well written. It kept my interest and given I hate reading e-books – that’s a big plus.

On the up side, this story was fun and an easy read. The bear was frightening in some ways and reminiscent of those scary childhood moments. The characters were well done. The protagonist, at ten years old, was very real and typical. The mom reflected people I’ve known and seemed real in her emotions and attempts to deal with the horrible situation caused by a spouse’s death – mistakes and all.

The story moved well and flowed in the manner it should when being told by a child. The writer did a good job overall. Pace, characterization and descriptions were clear and well balanced. Plot followed a logical sequence and the ending was effective in resolving the story.

On the down side, I found a few small issues. The stepfather was a bit over the top for me. He intentions were obvious and his scheming blatant. The hatred between stepson and stepfather came off as cliché. With the first attempt to discard the bear, I found the story became very predictable after that. The ending was obvious and in my opinion a little disappointing.

There seemed to be some confusion as to whether this is an adult novella or written for younger readers. Having read it through I can see the confusion. It does read like YA, possibly even Middle Grade. As an adult read, it didn’t really do it, but I’m sure many readers, would enjoy this short read as much as I did. I found some forgotten memories from childhood inside this book.

This book does not contain the heavy blood and gore of many horror novels. Personally, I prefer psychological terror, but this story didn’t really quite go there either. It told a story that concentrates on very typical childhood fears and is well suited to the anthology. This is a good story I would recommend it to anyone. It will bring back things you might prefer to forget.

Evil Unleashed

Evil Unleashed - Mick Ridgewell

Disclosure: I purchased the book "Evil Unleashed" from the author at the Book Expo in Windsor I do not know the author personally but we belong to the same writers group. The comments that follow are my own personal opinion. I received NO compensated of any kind, or from any one, to provide this review.

I bought this book in November and just finished reading it last month. I enjoyed the read, but it was much more gory and bloody than the author's previous books. This book centered on a truly evil vampire out for revenge with his minions to help. The gore is more than I usually like, but the story was well told and the book an easy read. The vampire was the main character and he personified the evil within perfectly. I enjoyed reading this book and give it 4.5 stars.

Finding Eivissa

Finding Eivissa - Henry Martin Disclosure: I purchased “Finding Eivissa” in November 2014. I do not know the author, but I have had communication with him on the Goodreads site. The comments that follow are my own personal opinion. I received NO compensation of any kind, or from anyone, to provide this review.

I enjoyed the Book 1 “Escaping Barcelona” in the “Mad Days of Me” series by Henry Martin. This book is a continuation of the first story. Rudy has escaped Barcelona and arrived on the island of Ibiza by mistake. At nineteen, he still has no money, only a couple street friends who escaped with him, and no way to communicate. This book takes you with Rudy as he attempts to survive on the slow moving resort island and find a way to rebuild his life.

In this book, Rudy matures to some degree. He connects with a young woman from the island and begins an affair. Thanks to this relationship, his health improves, he holds a decent job, and entertains the idea of falling in love. His musings are more reflective on his emotional state and the effect of love on his well being and reactions. His love interest has a very complicated life and Rudy has to decide if he can handle her numerous issues. The other characters in this book were interesting diverse friends, and the story included how they affected his life and his independence. Forced by circumstances, Rudy returns to Barcelona, alone. You will have to read the book to learn more about our young hero.

This writer has an excellent command of first person POV and his writing style and the story flowed quite well. The pace throughout the book was good. I found the ending to slow a bit more than I would have liked, as Rudy questions his love relationship. The book read well no obvious errors.

This book was enjoyable and again Rudy came through as a very likable character. This was Book 2 in the series Mad Days of Me. I’ve already started reading the third and final book in the series. I’m anxious to see how it all ends.

Bloody Friday

Bloody Friday - Edmond Gagnon Disclosure: I purchased “Bloody Friday” from the authors booth at Book Expo in November 2014. I do not know the author personally and have had limited communication with him about this book, except for my purchase of a signed copy at the Expo. The comments that follow are my own personal opinion. I received NO compensation of any kind, or from any one, to provide this review.

I found this story overall to be quite interesting and I enjoyed reading it. The author’s familiarity with police procedure made the story come alive. Character development was good overall, setting descriptions were well done, and the plot was believable. The pace was fast and at no point was it boring or did my attention wane.

On the negative side, the book could have used a professional editor. Extra words popped up in some places, there were numerous echoes, and a few formatting errors. Some emotional reactions seemed out of character, especially Jimmy and Megan. These issues (editing and character reaction) worsened toward the end of the book.

I think the only other concern I had was how predictable the story became and would have preferred a few more surprises especially at the end. I’ve read a great many crime/suspense novels, so other readers may not find this to be an issue.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys police/crime novels. The negatives were generally minor and my overall rating will be 4 stars.

The Mystery of the Clock

The Mystery of the Clock - R Patrick James Disclosure: I purchased a signed copy of “The Mystery of the Clock” from the author in October 2014. I do not know the author personally, but we discuss literature regularly at a monthly writer’s club. I have not discussed this book with him. The comments that follow are my own personal opinion. I received NO compensation of any kind, or from any one, to provide this review.

This story is told by the great-grandfather, who takes various members of his family on excursions involving time travel. An old mantle clock and a renaissance mirror facilitate these adventures. This is a fictional account of a Canadian family and in order to avoid spoilers, I will leave other details to future readers.

I enjoyed this book very much. Very well written, this book provided numerous interesting and diverse details. It covered both historical and current events. The characters were well developed and the settings beautifully described. The writing reflects a unique voice and I found the pace, although a bit slow, very easy to read and comfortable. The book followed a family through many years and rather than a complex plot, provided the reader with numerous insights into the family dynamic with enough twists to keep it interesting.

My only negative responses were to the pace, which was slow, and the characters seemed too perfect. There was very little personal conflict in the story. The family patriarch narrated, and I considered it something that often happens in a family situation – I think he was incapable of seeing character flaws in his own offspring. However, none of this hindered the story in any way and I’m giving this book 4 stars.

I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a family story, told in a wholesome context, and reflecting strong moral values with lots of diversion along the way.

Demon Stones

Demon Stones - Michael Drakich

Disclosure: I purchased Demon Stones at the Book Expo in November 2014. I do not know the author personally and have had limited communication with him about this book. The comments that follow are my own personal opinion. I received NO compensation of any kind, or from any one, to provide this review.

This story involves a young farmer named Gar, who inadvertently releases one demon from its stone prison. Pride and immaturity drive the boy to continue to find and open stones until he has a menagerie of demons working with him in the war torn realms of his homeland. The weaving of horror, war, greed, honor, magic, and loyalty thread through the book, and take the reader on an inspired and sometimes sad journey.

The book has several plots that all converge. The pace and separation of the story lines is really well done. The character development (including the demons) is clean and intimate. I found myself becoming quite involved with the feelings and emotions of the characters - even the demons. Although this is speculative fiction, the story is almost believable as the author pulls you in to the conflicts and triumphs.

Demons Stones is the 3rd book I’ve read by this author and I find his stories getting better and better. His ability to enthrall readers keeps me coming back. I enjoyed this read very much and would recommend it to anyone who loves a great story.



Written in My Own Heart's Blood (Outlander #8)

Written in My Own Heart's Blood (Outlander #8) - Diana Gabaldon I am finding the series is becoming tedious. The books are well written, but should have come to a conclusion by now. It is dragging and I doubt I would read any further.