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The Hobbymen

The Hobbymen4 StarsFun. That’s what Tim Owens brings to the table with his 2014 novel, The Hobbymen. It’s just fun. Ghouls, goblins, monsters. Banter. Sarcasm. Interesting settings and a fast pace. While you read, you can tell that Owens had a great time writing the novel and that excitement is transferred to us as we flip each page.

The book starts with Liliana, a down-on-her-luck young nun who’s caught stealing an old loaf of bread in a little town in Mexico and then thrown in a dusty, dark jail. As she sits in the dark basement, wondering if this dilapidated prison is even legitimate and awaiting her outcome, she hears the running of two young men being chased by something she’s never seen before – a scaly monster with fangs and a vicious demeanor. She watches as a fight ensues. After the two boys knock out the strange beast, they take pity on her and let her out of her cell.

We find that the two men, Geoff and ‘Book’, are monster hunters, tracking down the true origins of mythical creatures from legends, stories, and myths. Geoff and Book are friends, though very different in personality and are constantly barraging each other with good-natured sarcasm and other scathing remarks. While originally the boys were simply going to return Liliana to her convent, they quickly become a team. Working out of their shabby van, they go on all sorts of adventures – following leads for any gruesome, dangerous, or fascinating creature. Unfortunately for them, other more nefarious characters have caught wind of these adventures and they have their own vested interests in the creatures that they search for. This all leads to an exciting conclusion involving a huge rock-like monster, severed hands, and incantations.

With The Hobbymen Tim Owens has created a fun read. The dialogue is entertaining. It flies with sarcasm, humor, and references to other fantasy stories like Lord of the Rings and the classic 90s flick Tremors. The storyline is somewhat simple, but the characters and creatures continually pull you in to read more. We watch as Liliana changes from a young runaway with no real plan, to a strong, determined woman who can fight just as well as the boys. And as we flip through each page, we find that like Liliana, Geoff and Book have their own secrets and past hardships which drive them on their quests. And surely there’s chupacabras and voodoo, but it’s really a book about a girl who felt alone due to the mistakes she’d made and then finds a home, a place where she belongs, in an unexpected place and with very unexpected people.

I give The Hobbymen 4 out of 5 stars simply because it’s just good old fashioned fun. For the monster-lovers and supernatural-junkies, I would recommend this quick and light book. Because of the easy writing style and the young characters, the book lends itself well to a young adult audience, though parts might be a little intense for the younger end of that demographic (I mentioned a severed hand right?), but in the end really anyone would enjoy this. Friendship. Adventure. Voodoo. What more could you want in a book?

Pages: 358 | ISBN: 1505283590

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Thing Bailiwick: A Collection of Horror

Thing Bailiwick: A Collection of Horror4 StarsInsensately macabre.

Thing Bailiwick is a collection of short horror stories by the ever-talented Fawn Bonning who pulled no punches in the gathering of these works. Stretching from the horribly, “pus-filled” scenes of stomach-wrenching gore to the much lighter, yet psychologically damming sets and characters, Ms. Bonning did not hesitate to irrevocably leave the reader checking corners and under beds. Her mix of both psychological fear and physical torment coincide within these pages as a ghoul may live at peace within a swamp; the epitome of bliss.

Within this particular swamp, a word I have chosen to use affectionately, there can be found many ghouls and shadows. Containing 12 individual stories, some longer, some shorter, each and every one leaves the reader wondering what would happen next, and what in the world happened throughout! The sense of mystery one feels at the conclusion of each story is enough to drive one insane, not to mention the insanity gained from reading just one or two of these tales. From hell hounds to the trials and tribulations of a young boy, this collection of horror stories has some form of terror for everyone!

I would have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Thing Bailiwick; each story had its own bit of charm and personality to it. The various styles and settings used within the collection make it seem as if there were multiple authors involved, instead of just reading the works of one single artist. As minuscule a feature as that may seem, it was almost unhinging for me personally when multiple stories were read in one sitting or within a short amount of time. The reader was initially in one location learning about the personality of this character and their problems when suddenly you start another story and it is something completely different. Now, this wouldn’t be so unhinging if it wasn’t for the different types of language the author is able to use. It was definitely the changes in dialect and characters ways of speaking that provided me with the feeling of being lost within the book; a feeling I have found to be most fun to deal with within the confines of horror fiction.

While I had a lot of love for this collection and for the authors writing styles, I must admit that the previous mention of mystery at the end of these stories is done much more gracefully in some stories than others. I did find myself wondering what the author meant to imply after finishing two or three of the tales. It is obvious that the beginning of some of the stories foreshadow the endings, but I could not get a handle on some. It appeared that the author attempted to make some endings very deep and pensive in order to allow the reader to continue thinking about the story long after they’ve finished it. I love that angle, it works, and I respect it.

Ms. Bonning has an affinity for pulling the monsters, kicking and screaming, right out of the closet and forcing them into the light. She has taken the seemingly innocent and innocuous and made them into devils, and sorcerers, and anything else one may fear. This collection is phenomenal and I recommend it highly to those who have a taste for horror fiction and psychological trauma! A sure cure for hypersomnia, this collection will prevent you from ever sleeping again!

Pages: 452 | ASIN: B015EQAM02

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Horatio Hobbs and the Calimor

Horatio Hobbs and the Calimor: A tale of adventure by [Francis, L.J]5 StarsAt first glance this novel looks like a story taken from the world of Tolkien, you have trolls, mortals, a mystical race of beings that live in the woods, talking animals, and a quest. That, however, is where the similarities end. L.J.Francis has managed to create in Horatio Hobbs and the Calimor, a magical world that will appeal to readers of all ages. Francis brings in some of the traditional magic and creatures that people come to expect in fantasy novels, such as the trolls and elf like beings, but he turns many of the stereotypes of these fictional beings around. Nothing is as simple as it seams in the sleepy town of Drinkwater and the feared forest of Shadowmere.

Horatio is a young boy about to turn sixteen. In the town of Drinkwater, sixteen is when you become an adult to the community. He was raised by his grandfather Theodore Hobbs. You learn in the book that his mother died during child birth, as for his father, well you will have to read the book to find out what happened to him. Theodore Hobbs is a master furniture maker, and excels in his craft. He is known far and wide for his skill and ability to create the perfect item. At the center of this novel is one of his works of art. The mayoral throne. Unbeknownst to Theodore, he has carved this throne from magical wood. The tree that this wood came from is also the source of a magical acorn, the Calimor, that is delivered to Horatio by a fox. This acorn has a magical and devastating story.

The epic journey begins with Horatio setting out with his pony Thomas for the mysterious woods of Shadowmere. These woods are dark, thick, and filled with magic. The Bloodeye trolls make their home in Shadowmere. The leader of the Bloodeye, King Bovik, hates the mystical race of Eldrin that live in a protected area of Shadowmere called Celeste. When word gets back to him that Horatio has something from Celeste and is headed there King Bovik decides he will intercept Horatio and get information from him on how to destroy the Eldrin. The Bloodeye’s pursuit of Horatio and Thomas lead them on further adventures and bring them into contact with several interesting characters. One character that I feel offers the most passion and heart is Krunger, the exiled Bloodeye troll.

Francis’s ability to portray the relationship between Krunger and Horatio speaks volumes. These two characters couldn’t be more different on the outside but inside share the same goals and passions. The transformation both characters must go through is immense and will pull at the reader’s compassion and provide a renewed sense of hope.

Overall L.J. Francis gives readers a new look in the fantasy novel realm. He turns traditional character rolls around and offers a brightened future for the lands he creates. The easy reading style and lack of extreme gore from fighting scenes makes this novel appropriate for young adult readers. The complex character development and unique plot makes it appealing for adult fantasy novel followers. This book leaves the reader with just enough questions to look forward to the second installment that L.J. Francis is currently working on, but offers a conclusion to the story line in this novel. A well written novel with the promise of more adventures to come.

Pages: 284 | ASIN: B01D1XNPOA

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