Blog Archives

The Scented Bones: The Svabodina Case Files

Angel Svabodina is a rookie forensic anthropologist, enjoying the beginning of her new career. That joy comes crashing down when she figures out the skeleton she’s working on is not human and then it vanishes.

She throws herself fully into the case without thinking about the parties involved, a psychopomp associate, and paranormal mafia families made up of vampires and werewolves—or the consequences.

When she sees there’s no avoiding the inevitable, Angel has to suck it up and work with the werewolves to solve the case but can she trust them?

Werewolves and witches are in a centuries-old feud, but that doesn’t stop the shivers running down her spine from one wolf in particular. Rights and wrongs become blurred, as she is tormented by her past and accepting who she truly is while searching for the skeleton. What’s more, nothing comes for free, including information. To get what she needs from the werewolf don, Angel has to meet with the fae queen. Can she meet her without repercussions and solve the case?

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Coming Darkness

Coming Darkness

In Susan-Alia Terry’s novel Coming Darkness myths and legends become real. Known as the Other-kin, angels, demons, werewolves, vampires, and other fabled creatures live among one another. When Archangel Michael appears to seek Lucifer’s help, Lucifer’s comfortable life starts to unravel. The Father and the rest of Heaven are missing, there’s a mysterious black ooze that burns the skin of angels, and an unknown race reveals itself seeking to destroy. As Lucifer struggles with this conflict, his lover Kai sets out to prove himself worthy of respect. But with Lucifer gone, Kai realizes how dependent on the fallen archangel he has become.

I love the world Terry has built in Coming Darkness. She wove together characters from myths and folklore, as well as creatures from different religious sects, to create a seamless and fascinating story. Her characters have distinct personalities, which make the reader want to know more about them and who they are. Terry provides glimpses into interesting backstories – glimpses that explain why Lucifer was exiled from heaven and the relationship he holds with Michael.

There was a lot going on in this novel. Terry uses various sub plots to help us get to know the characters and to move the story along. This is a great technique to use – it adds interest and excitement. It also keeps the reader from becoming complacent since so many things are happening at once.

However, there are so many things going on that I sometimes felt lost, every time I felt I had a direction, the story would change or add a different sub plot. Ultimately, I felt there was too much happening.

The world and characters the author has created are fantastic. Angles on Earth have been written about so many times, but Terry is able to imbue her characters with original personalities that sets this apart from most books in this same genre. The ideas presented were interesting, and I couldn’t wait to read more. There are some steamy sex scenes in Coming Darkness as well. Although I felt that they could have been handled more subtly, they do add another emotional layer to this already thrilling story. Terry’s skills as a storyteller are superb which is why I wish that one or two ideas were really fleshed out so that I could immerse myself in this fascinating story.

If you enjoy reading about werewolves or vampires, or find Lucifer and his fallen angels intriguing, this book would be a good fit for you. Honestly, everything about this book pulls me in and makes me want to like it. As I do with any author with great writing talent, I beg for more focus, detail and character development. Coming Darkness showcases Susan-Alia Terry’s talent and I cant’t wait to read more of her work.

Pages: 258 | ASIN: B01D7MM5IM

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Uniquely American

Kwen Griffeth Author Interview

Kwen Griffeth Author Interview

The Law of Moses is a captivating western novel that paints a vivid picture of life in the American west. What were your sources of inspiration as your created this world that Sam lives in?

I’ve always enjoyed Westerns. I grew up reading Louis L’Amour, Clair Huffaker, and even today, I enjoy Craig Johnson and Tony Hillerman. The western is uniquely American and even modern heroes are compared to the tales of Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and such. All too often, in my opinion, the western hero is portrayed as shallow. I asked what if a soldier from the 1800’s became sick with an illness not identified or understood until the late 1900’s? I’m talking about PTSD. I grew up in the west, I’ve studied the west and I spent two decades in the military around men who suffered from PTSD. I was compelled to write the story. I knew I got it right, when I received an email from an 82-year-old veteran of the Korean War and he told me Sam inspired him.

Sam has a tumultuous past and lives a dangerous life while being a very deep character. How did you set about creating his character?

As I mentioned, I was blessed to work for several years in a rehabilitation center for troubled veterans. Many of them had alcohol problems, as the most common remedy veterans find is intoxication. Underneath, the illness attacks the spirit, the humanity of the soldier, and all too often, the alcohol is a secondary problem. Serious? Yes, but secondary. Sam is a blending of several men I worked with. I purposely made Sam a non-drinker (essentially) as I wanted the reader to focus on the real issues suffered by veterans, anger, guilt, loss, failure and loss of faith. It was important to me that Sam, after years of suffering, not meet a beautiful woman and suddenly be cured. In the story, the first “person” Sam connects with is a stray dog. Kind of like Sam, himself.

I felt that the backdrop, time frame and use of guns was very well used. Did you do any research to maintain accuracy?

Anyone who writes historical/fiction is obligated to the reader to do full and complete research. Every gun, the cattle trails, and the battles are accurate. Sam grew up in Elmira New York. In actuality, Elmira was not only a rally point for Union troops going south, there was a POW camp in the later stages of the war. The death rate of the prisoners matched those of Andersonville in Georgia. The Confederate soldiers housed there referred to the camp as “Hellmira.”

Even the weather conditions for the Battle at Antietam was researched as best as records kept for that time frame. The retelling of that battle is accurate with the one exception of the Forty-duce from New York.

What is the next novel that you are working on and when will that book be available?

I currently have “Dead Men Walking,” book two of the Nate and Clare series (The Tenth Nail), with my editor. She tells me the book should be ready late May or early June. We are shooting for June 1st. I am working on my first fantasy/crime drama/romance and it is a story of werewolves. As always, I strive to make my characters as “human” as possible. “The Shadow on the Moon,” working title is planned to be ready this fall.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website | Twitter

The Law of Moses (Sam and Laura's Story)Samuel Cardiff had a plan. He had recently graduated from the Teachers College and now he was returning home. The first goal completed, his next step was to find a position and then he could get married.

Samuel was a quiet man, some would say a pacifist. He believed in God, family and education. He was not concerned with the happenings outside his home town.

Outside events, however, were about to drag him from his beloved Elmira. It was the spring of 1861 and Confederate forces had recently attacked Fort Sumter.

Against every moral belief, he enlisted in the Union Army and with his first step toward the south, he changed his life forever.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

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

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Review – Fragile Things by V. Shaw

The Fragile Things (Part I) 4star

Fragile Things is a somber look at the bleak lives of council estate residents (which is a form of government housing) Jennifer and newcomer Ebony.  Jennifer, a recovering heroin addict, struggles for a life that she can call normal while Ebony fights to keep the monster inside of her from coming out. They both struggle to find something to live for in a town where the only interesting thing that’s happening is your routine drug deal. In the midst of their troublesome lives they stumble upon each other and find comfort in each other’s friendship and mystery in each other’s lives.

The first things I noticed about Fragile Things is the writing, very concise contemporary writing that’s intriguing in its simplicity and underlying eerie foundation. I was endlessly interested to see what kind of odd situation Jennifer would find herself in and I was constantly wondering (or worrying) when Ebony was going to let her demons take over and rip someone to shreds. Fragile Things is a short read and ends rather abruptly, but sets up nicely for the rest of the series and leaves you with a definite feeling that something peculiar is going on with the people and the town.

Kindle Edition, 105 pages
ASIN: B00CIF3OD0

Interview – Hugh Sterbakov

The Hungry Monster gobbled up City Under the Moon so fast he bit his little monster fingers off. Well, the Monster got the chance to interview Hugh Sterbakov, author of City Under the Moon, and ask him if he would pay for the medical bills to reattach the Monsters little fingers.

City Under the Moon takes a zombie outbreak approach to the werewolf genre. How did that idea come together for you?

I had a traumatic obsession with werewolves as a child, and I wanted to put that on the page, maybe as a catharsis. I was inspired by the firm grounding Michael Crichton brought to Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain, and that blend of fiction and science thematically contextualizes my childhood fears that werewolves were real and my parents’ promises that they weren’t. So City has more in common with Crichton epidemic thrillers, or Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone and Robin Cook’s Outbreak than it does with zombie films. You’re in the moment with the exponential werewolf outbreak and the immediate response from law enforcement, the military, the White House, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

You’ve worked on Robot Chicken, sold TV and movie scripts, co-created a comic book and now you’re writing a book. Is book writing just another step on your path to world domination or is this something that you’ve just been wanting to do?

It came out of frustration with Hollywood development. I wanted to do something for myself, and for an audience beyond studio conference rooms. I sat down one day just to see if I could do it, and I realized… yeah, I couldn’t.

So I kept at it, studied narrative prose, rewrote countless times, hired an editor, struggled to overcome fear and perfectionism, and one day my wife told me it was finished. It ain’t perfect, but it’s me.

You have obviously done a lot of research for this book. But I wonder how much research did you do for Lon’s character? Lon is an interesting character and in the novel he’s a ‘nerd’ that loves to play Magic the Gathering, blog, and plays video games. Did you spend a lot of time at Magic the Gathering tournaments researching character traits for Lon?

I’m a lifelong comic book collector, an avid gamer and I’ve spent time at Magic the Gathering tournaments playing Magic the Gathering. Lon is me–or at least he’s the self-destructive misanthropic narcissist I (try to) keep locked away.

What was the one book, movie, song, or Rorschach test that most influenced your work for City Under the Moon?

Probably Michael Jackson’s Thriller–not just the video, but the theme and sensation of the song. It has a nostalgic texture reminiscent of the classic Universal horror films–that tone is important to me, and it’s prevalent in the novel– and it captures both the torture of undergoing the transformation and the helpless terror of watching it happen.

What was your favorite scene in City Under the Moon?

In the middle of the book, as the government, military and scientists are attacking the situation with cutting-edge tactics and technology, our heroes discover that the werewolf curse is rooted in old world superstitions. They travel to Romania–to Transylvania–and it’s like a time warp from Michael Crichton to Bram Stoker. I love that juxtaposition.

Random question: What next generation video game console are you going to get. XBOX One, Playstation 4, Wii U, or decline to comment because it would be too controversial?

Ha! I love that you’ve asked this question. I’m an old-school, hardcore gamer, so there are only a few consoles I never had–relatively obscure ones, like the Amiga and the Atari 7800. I mean, I had an Odyssey 2. So I’m sure that by the end of the life cycle, I’ll have both. I was predominantly an Xbox 360 player in this generation, so I’m used to that ecosystem and I’m dedicated to that gamerscore. But the PlayStation 4 has such compelling advantages over the Xbox One, particularly that $100 price difference, that I’m leaning toward jumping. I have both on pre-order, but I’ll probably cancel one and wait for it to drop in price. It’s only mid-July, and there are still details to be revealed before November. So we’ll see. Ask me again at the end of October.

Available at Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com
Pages: 464
ISBN: 0985245611

Also, be on the lookout for the followup to City Under the Moon called Moonrise Duet that will be available December 2013.

%d bloggers like this: