Monday, October 13, 2014

Gateways by Brian Gottheil

For months, the Continent has been mired in a devastating war: artillery barrages lasting days, the death rattle of machine guns, toxic chemical gas, futile charges across no-man’s-land toward enemy trenches. Caryn Hallom, the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Deugan and the first woman to have achieved such a powerful position in the fledgling democracy, is horrified that she failed to prevent the war from breaking out on her watch. 

When Caryn finds herself trapped together with Michael Ravencliffe, a member of the royal family of Deugan’s main enemy in the war, she seizes on the opportunity to try to negotiate an end to the fighting. Little does she know that a new faction is about to enter the conflict, armed with a frightening magical weapon … or that it will be led by the one person on the Continent who knows the truth about Caryn’s past. 

Gateways has been described as a fantasy novel that reads like historical fiction. Set in an alternate world that resembles Europe during the First World War, the novel combines geopolitics with plots, counterplots and magic, and ultimately asks the question: how far are we prepared to go for peace?

Publisher: Self Published
Print Length: 429

I received a free, advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 
I give Gateways 5 out of 5 stars 

I am going to start this review with a confession: this is not normally the type of book I would set out to read on my own. When Brian Gottheil asked me to review his novel a couple months ago, I agreed because I was searching for something different than my usual story and Gateways looked interesting.

It begins with a "excerpt" from a book or journal about the history of the Great War. Right away, the background for the story is established. I appreciate this unique and intellectual introduction to the story. I felt like I was reading a bit of history and then jumping into history-in-the-making as Gottheil took me to the action. 

The book is a fantastic blend of war strategy, political relations, mystery, and magic. There is something for everyone here. I have to point out, as well, that the story is very well-written. It flows easily and if there are any errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar, I didn't notice. 

The best part of Brian Gottheil's novel is the unpredictability of it. There are enough twists in the plot to keep the reader on his or her toes. The characters are multidimensional and full of surprises. Every time I tried to pin down the good guys or the bad ones, I found myself having to adjust my thinking.

I recommend Gateways to anyone who likes a good mystery, war story, or fantasy tale. It's one of those stories that will stay with you long after you finish reading the book.

About the Author
In his own words:
I’ve been writing as a hobby since, at the age of four, I penned an epic about my then-favourite sport, the charmingly mis-spelled “baceball.” Many years have passed, but I’m finally gearing up to self-publish my first novel, Gateways, and I’m very excited about it. It’s a fantasy novel that reads like historical fiction (or so I’ve been told). 
I live in Toronto, Canada, or as we Torontonians like to call it, “the centre of the universe.” I’m just joking about that… mostly. I’m writing a novel at the moment in which the main character hates Toronto, so that’s been a bit of a challenge. At one point she describes it as a “frenetic smogscape.” To each her own, I suppose. 
In my day job, I work as a labour and employment lawyer with Bernardi Human Resource Law. You might think that writing would be my biggest hobby outside of law, but actually, I spend most of my free time swing dancing and swing dance organizing. (I’m writing a novel based on dancing, too). Swing is an umbrella term for several different partner dances that are done to the big band jazz music of the 1930s and 40s, and it also includes some styles done to later music which evolved from earlier swing dances. I focus on the lindy hop, which was the original swing dance.
Follow Brian on Facebook and Goodreads.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tales of the Forgotten (A Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Novel, Volume Two) by W.J. Lundy

The world is at war with the Primal Virus. Military forces across the globe have been recalled to defend the homelands as the virus spreads and decimates populations. 

Out on patrol and assigned to a remote base in Afghanistan, Staff Sergeant Brad Thompson’s unit was abandoned and left behind, alone and without contact. 

They survived and have built a refuge, but now they are forgotten. No contact with their families or commands. 

Brad makes a tough decision to leave the safety of his compound to try and make contact with the States, desperate to find rescue for his men. 

What he finds is worse than he could have ever predicted. 

This is a Zombie war story, The follow up to: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (Escaping the Dead) 

Publisher: Phalanx Press (May 29th, 2014)
Print Length: 298 pages
Edited by Monique Happy

Kindle version purchased on Amazon
I give Tales of the Forgotten 5 out of 5 Stars 

This book has been on my "to read" list ever since I finished the first book in this series. For a review of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (Escaping the Dead), click here. Tales of the Forgotten is quite a bit longer than Escaping the Dead, but it didn't feel like it. It is one of those books I couldn't put down. 

I notice on Amazon that this edition is described as a "New Edited Version". I don't know what the previous version was like, but this one is flawless. I appreciate the professional "finish" of the book. If there were errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar, I didn't notice them. I don't usually give a lower rating for books with those types of errors, but when I see a book without mistakes, it tells me that the author respects his or her readers and takes pride in his/her work.

I like the pacing of the story. It's fast, but not to the point where the action becomes unbelievable. As I said above, I couldn't put the book down. I carried my Kindle with me everywhere. I read while brushing my teeth, cooking dinner, watching TV... well, you get the idea. I was invested in the four central characters and wanted to keep track of them, hoping they would survive from one scene to the next.

I noticed something about the main character, Brad, that makes him different from most main characters in this type of story: he is not the "leader" of his group of survivors. He defers to his more experienced, higher ranking counterparts, Sean and Brooks. Brad learns from them and there is absolutely no ego on his part. I point this out only because I find it refreshing to have a main character in this type of scenario who isn't also the leader with a seemingly endless supply of knowledge and extraordinary skills.

I have a long "to read" list and lots of books in my Kindle that are getting dusty (virtually). I will not wait to read book number three in this series. I need to find out what happens next!

Do yourself a favor: read this series!

Click the links above to purchase books 1 & 2-- You won't regret it.

About the Author
W. J. Lundy is a still serving Veteran of the U.S. Military with service in Afghanistan. He has over 12 years of combined service with the Army and Navy in Europe, the Balkans and Southwest Asia. W.J. is an avid athlete, writer, backpacker and shooting enthusiast. He currently resides with his wife and daughter in Central Michigan.
I developed the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot series from notes and ideas I had put together while deployed to Afghanistan. I had been jokingly asked how we would defend against a zombie attack.
I wanted to tell a story that portrays the military that I know, that displays our actual capabilities. These are my thoughts, I hope you enjoy them, and thank you for reading.
Follow W.J. Lundy on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Happy Little Horrors: Freak Show

  No review... just shameless self promotion:

There is an awesome, new book available... just in time for Halloween! 

Happy Little Horrors is an anthology of short stories, produced by author David Reuben and editor Monique Happy. 

Some of the best authors in the horror genre are represented, including Michael Robertson, Craig McDonough, Derrick LaCombe, David Reuben, C.L. Hernandez, Joseph A. Coley, James Michaels, Tania Cooper, Eila Oakes, Brandon Ryals, Michael Clary, Kya Aliana, Allen Gamboa, Dean Wild, John McIlveen, Toni Lesatz, Brandon Cracraft, and Steven G. Bynum.

If you look closely, you might notice my name sharing space with seventeen other amazing authors. It is an honor to be featured in this book!

Don't miss out. Get your copy today! Available in paperback and Kindle format. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Time of Death: Induction (A Zombie Tale) by Shana Festa

When no one or nowhere is safe, where do you go to escape the monsters? 

In a few short days, 37 year old Emma Rossi’s hard work will finally pay off. She will don her cap and gown and graduate with a degree in nursing, but not before she loses her first patient and is confronted with a new reality. In Cape Coral, Florida, a storm approaches. The dead are coming back to life. 

And they’re hungry. 

Infection ravages the Eastern Seaboard with alarming speed while attempts to contain the spread of infection fail. Within days, a small pocket of panicked survivors are all that remain of civilization. Fighting to survive the zombie apocalypse alongside her husband Jake and their dog Daphne, Emma comes face-to-face with her worst nightmare. 

Relying on snarky wit and sheer determination, she is forced to commit atrocious acts to protect her family and avoid joining the ranks of the undead.

Publisher: Permuted Press

Print Length: 198 pages


I purchased Time of Death: Induction from Amazon (Kindle Version)
I give this book 5 out of 5 Stars (5= I love it)

Shana Festa's debut novel Time of Death: Induction is a fun, fast read. I thoroughly enjoyed every page! The story's easy flow, plot, and intensity kept me engaged from the beginning to the end. 

The characters are likable and highly believable. There are no superheroes in this story and no guarantee that the main characters will survive from one scene to the next. This makes for an exciting, emotionally rousing read. 

There are plenty of humorous moments in the book, especially having to do with the main character, who is also the narrator of the story.  The humor balances out the intensity of the story-line just enough to create a few chuckles in the midst of all the gore, death, and horror. 

The zombies in the story are true zombies. Understandably, many authors are trying to make their zombies a little different for the sake of originality. This is the first book I've read in a while that doesn't stray from the traditional idea of a zombie. It's refreshing and made the story that much more fun for me.

I recommend Time of Death: Induction to all fans of zombie books, movies, or television shows. It's a fantastic book filled with all kinds of zombie goodness!

About the Author

Shana Festa was born in Lincoln, Nebraska on October 17, 1976 and grew up in Northboro, Massachusetts. She currently lives in Cape Coral, Florida with her husband and two dogs, Daphne & Casey.
Shana is a registered nurse with clinical experience in mental health, geriatrics, HIV and substance abuse. In addition to her clinical background, Shana possesses over 15 years of experience with project management and data analytics.
Under her alter ego, The Bookie Monster, Shana reviews horror and paranormal books, with an emphasis on (but not limited to) zombie fiction. With a background in Psych Nursing, Shay brings her unique perspective to the literary community.
Shana loves hearing from readers. Visit her author website, for more information on Shana and her writing. She can also be found on Twitter, @BookieMonsterSF, and Facebook,