Friday, March 26, 2010

13 Questions... with Shaun Jeffrey

      1. Name one thing you miss about being a child.
Only one thing. Damn! Okay, the one thing I miss is innocence. 

2. Do you have any phobias? If so, what are they?
Nothing springs to mind. I pick up spiders and throw them out of the house. I’ve sat in the middle of a bar with a snake around my neck. I used to go rock climbing so heights don’t bother me. No, no phobias. 

3. Are you a collector of anything and if so, what?
God, yes. Rejection letters. Books. Bubble bath containers. Lucky charms. 

4. You're about to walk the Green Mile - what do you have for your last meal?
I’m a vegetarian, so I’d go for vegetable balti with naan bread. 

5. What is your favorite cookie?
I’m not that big of a biscuit fan. I used to work in a biscuit factory, and when you see the cockroaches scurrying under the ovens and the stalactites of fat hanging down from the top of the ovens, it sort of puts you off. 

6. Who is your favorite musical artist(s)?
Favourite artists, let’s see: Korn. Slipknot. Rammstein. Richard Wagner. The Prodigy. 

7. What musical artist are you currently into?

8. Have you ever had an imaginary friend? If so, who are they?
Who’s to say what’s real and what isn’t? 

9. What's your favorite word?
Success, because it doesn’t come easily. 

10. What is your current desktop wallpaper?
It’s a McDonalds Dragon thing that I put on for my son. 

11. You're at a Chinese buffet - what goes on your plate?
Tofu with black bean sauce and fried rice. 

12. What person now deceased would you most want to spend some time with and why?
Leonardo Da Vinci, perhaps one of the most diversely talented people that’s ever lived. Painter. Sculptor. Architect. Engineer. Musician. Inventor. Botanist. Writer. The list goes on. I would love to have chatted with him. 

13. What are you currently reading?
I’m going over a manuscript of another novel featuring Prosper Snow, the lead character from my novel The Kult.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Review: The Kult

The Kult
Shaun Jeffrey
Available through Barnes & Noble, Borders,, Book Depository, and Leucrota Press.

In a nutshell, if you like a great mystery/thriller/horror novel that grabs you and drags you along for the ride and doesn't let up til the last minute, this book is for you.

Mr. Jeffrey is like the friendly carnival barker who cajoles you into stepping right up and sitting your butt right down in his dark ride of horror and suspense.
The Kult starts out with a jolt as you strap in and hang on.
The Oracle is a master at murder, each of his kills a work of art, premeditated and rendered with exquisite care.
Our protagonist, Prosper Snow, a police detective is in the middle of this horrendous investigation, seemingly stymied at every turn, as The Oracle taunts the police with photos of his gruesome crime scenes.
Prosper is a driven man. Already dogged by guilt over an accident that has maimed his wife, he is now doubly deviled with this series of crimes.  As if his plate is not full enough, enter the Kult, an organization of which Prosper is a member, who call upon him to carry out a deed that goes against everything he stands for.
How Prosper and Company's actions entwine with those of The Oracle is how this particular ride takes off on a break neck pace that never lets up.
To say more I would have to give away too much and I don't want to ruin the reading experience.
There is gore galore for the gore hound, and disturbing glimpses into how far men are willing to go when pushed.
There were times when I literally became dry-mouthed reading this book the suspense was so great.
There are wonderful stomach churning descriptions of murder and mayhem that become darker with each plot twist.
Jeffrey renders claustrophobic you-are-there descriptions towards the end of the book that had me turning the pages as quickly as possible to:
a) find out what happened next,
b) to get the character the hell out of the mess they were in.
Three times I thought I had it figured out who The Oracle was and all three times I was wrong.  When the revelation did come I was totally unprepared.
The characters are flesh and blood jumping off the page.  He uses clever turns of phrase throughout the book, but not so much that they become cute catch phrases solely to be cute catch phrases.

By the time this dark ride came to an end, I was wrung out...and that's just the way I like it.

Shaun Jeffrey is a British author, one who most assuredly bears watching.
In my opinion, a good horror novel is hard to come by these days - Shaun Jeffrey is the real deal.

(I want to add that The Kult has been optioned as a motion picture to be directed by Kip Shelton, with shooting slated for September 2010.
This is especially good news, as Jeffrey's writing strikes me as being cinematic in nature, and The Kult dead on for a thriller of a film.)

For more information on Shaun Jeffrey, please visit:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Good news for author CA Milson!

Good evening constant reader.
I wanted to share an exciting piece of news about one of the first authors I reviewed, CA Milson:

PR Log - Global Press Release Distribution
Horror Novelist C.A. Milson Strikes Deal With U.S. Based EDGE Publishing Company
By Amanda Clark
Dated: Feb 28, 2010

"The road to writing success for any author can be a difficult and arduous journey, however, Australian native, C.A. Milson, is looking forward to having a partner in his future endeavors. After years of working in the industry alone, he is now happy to say that his hard work has started to pay off. Milson's book, "The Chosen: Rise of the Darkness," first in a horror series now has the true opportunity to succeed. Milson just signed with U.S. based publisher, EDGE Publishing Company.

 "I have been working on my writing for years, but being international and a self publisher, it can be
difficult to get your books on the shelf in many of the large U.S. chains, I knew I needed a traditional
publisher to help me," stated Milson. "I am so excited to be an EDGE author."

 EDGE Publishing Company, through the direction of President, Phillip Vera, specializes in working with authors who are looking for a way to cut through the bureaucratic red-tape and "hoop jumping" of the publishing industry. "When I first read Chris's story, I realized he was a great writer with a unique story and I wanted to be a part of it. This book deserves to be in print," stated Vera. "I am looking forward to a long relationship with Chris and I can't wait to promote his work."

 Furthermore, there are other big things in the works. EDGE Publishing Company recently signed an
agreement with C.A. Link, a Chinese Literary Agency based in Minnesota, specifically for Milson's work.

This agreement will allow Milson's books to be marketed and sold to the Asian market.
 "I was so excited when I learned about the deal with C.A. Link, because I had been approached by them, but I couldn't do anything because I wasn't with a traditional publishing house. EDGE changed that and now billions of people might have the opportunity to read my work," stated Milson excitedly.

 Milson has been the recipient of numerous awards including placing in the Pre-editors & Editors Readers Poll in 2008 and working through deals to turn his book into a comic, a video game, an audio-book and an e-book.

"Chris has a fantastic product and he is an incredible writer. It's great that he is able to get more exposure and audiences around the world are going to be able to see his work in stores," stated Milson's agent, Amanda Clark of Charlotte, North Carolina based, Grammar Chic, Inc. "We are looking forward to getting his books on shelves very soon."

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate CA on this recent accomplishment.  Way to go!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Re-stating the purpose

Good afternoon constant reader.

I'm reading away on the next book up for review and wanted to take this opportunity to re-state the purpose of this blog and generally touch base.

I created this bog to review, at no cost to the author, books in the science fiction, horror, fantasy and mystery genres; books written by first time or just-starting-out authors.   I don't promise a good review, only a fair one.
There are lots of ways to get published these days, but once an author has seen print, how do they get reviewed so they can garner a readers attention?
I know of some sites that charge $175 for a positive review, and $35 to just list the book on their site.
To me, personally, that's blasphemy.
So I started this blog.

What are my qualifications to review books?
I love to read and read constantly.
I love genre fiction and want to give new authors as much help getting known as possible.
I worked in bookstores for 12 years and in a university library for 2 years.  From those experiences I developed a good sense of what it is readers want:
They want a good story.
They want originality.
They want characters that they can identify with on some level.
They want an ending that makes sense (and that doesn't always mean a happy ending).

I include a feature called 13 Questions, where I pose a baker's dozen worth of questions to the reviewed author (if the review is positive) so you can get to know a little bit about them.
From time to time, (as luck will allow is more like it), I will review an established author, focusing on a work of theirs I think needs more exposure, and will try like hell to get the 13 questions answered. 
For example, I'm reviewing a little at a time the Irene Adler books by accomplished author Carole Nelson Douglas, and at the end of that cycle will post her responses to the 13.
There's another established author whose responses I already have (thanks to author Nick Armbrister for making that contact for me!) and I will be posting that review in a few weeks.

So here I am...reviewing the genre fiction I like to read, discovering some really good talent and sharing it with you constant reader.

Be well.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Review: Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) Love & Friendship

Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) Love and Friendship
Reyanna Vance
Available on for $15.75 trade and on Amazon in a $2.99 Kindle edition.

In a nutshell: by the time I made it to the last page, I felt like I needed to take my eyes out and wash them off.

All right constant readers...this is the first negative review I've had to write and it was a long journey getting here.

I need to go on record and say I have a bias against reading books submitted to me via pdf file, as they tend to lull me to sleep while reading. I've had to resort to reading with my iPod in to stay awake. However, the other submissions sent via pdf were able to hold my interest. Sadly, this wasn't the case with Dies Irae. By the time I reached the end of this book, (506 pages, in two parts), I was more than ready to quit reading.

The world we find our story set in has dragons and humans intermingling, with dragons able to take on human form. Magic plays a role in this fantasy exercise, but not as much as you'd think...or hope.

Samara Callaghan is perfectly content to work her job in her grandparent's tavern until she is paid a visit by a mysterious woman who claims to know the truth behind the death of Samara's parents all those years ago. Samara naturally wants to get to the bottom of things and in so doing, discovers they died fighting the black dragon Cyril, their deaths resulting in his captivity in an orb. Cyril has been plotting to release himself ever since and is on the verge of doing just that, aided by his son, Danteous...who ends up meeting and falling for Samara...who is charged with finding the orb containing Cyril and destroying it before he can be set free to destroy all humanity...and therein lies the conflict.

Vance starts us off with a created world necessary for a fantasy story, but it lacks the details needed to make it come alive. It sufficed for a while, but took a real wrong turn when she introduced a radio and a computer to the mix. This was done in such a jarring way, I was wondering where I missed the fact that this world had electricity and other modern-day amenities. Fantasy books nearly always have a created world (Frank Herbert's Dune is a terrific example) and Vance fails to provide that here.

Character-wise, Samara is ok.
Leela, the mysterious woman who leads Samara to the discovery of what happened to her parents is put across as a hard-ass, hateful person to the point that I felt like she had no redeeming qualities whatsoever and felt like I was being hit over the head at every turn about how tough she was.
Rufus is the surviving brother of an attack against Samara and Leela, and becomes a tag-a-long on the quest. He's the best of the bunch, and is consistent throughout the book.
Kit is an irritating young lady who pick pockets Leela at one point. Due to Samara's soft-heartedness, Kit is brought along on the adventure as well. Kit is annoying as hell and I wanted to wring her neck. She may provide a little comic relief at times, but she is a character that is non-essential to the story.
Danteous is our bad guy, and all he does is smirk, act smug, smile crookedly and kill people. He doesn't seem all that evil, but according to his sister Leela (oh yes, she's his sister, forgot that little detail), he's completely ruthless.
The characters are too pat and paint-by-number.

Once Danteous and Samara meet and fall for one another, we are hit over the head again and again and again with the fact that they must kill one another and are never going to be on the same side. They meet up constantly and fall into each others arms only to part with neither one willing to come over to the others side. Then they kiss...and on it goes. I couldn't work up a lot of sympathy for this pair of star-crossed lovers.
The book would benefit greatly by some judicious editing. The same themes are repeated over and over.
Vance has some talent, but she desperately needs a good editor to bear their expertise on her work.

The book ends with Samara, Leela, Rufus and Kit stranded on a high mountain peak, in a blizzard, low on provisions and money, 2 of the 4 falling out from exhaustion.
I asked myself the question, "Do I really care what happens to these people?" and the answer was a resounding, "No, I hope they freeze to death and so endeth the story."

The saga is continued in Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) Betrayal and Tribulation, which I have. Do I intend to read it and see how things turn out?