My Brutally Honest Reviews

Allison Hewitt Is Trapped (Zombie, #1)Allison Hewitt Is Trapped by Madeleine Roux
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book started very strong. It was at a fast pace and it made you want to know what would happen next. Allison gives a female voice to a genre that is heavily skewed to the male action hero/everyman type. That was a refreshing change. I did knock one star off for the mid part of the book where Allison just got a bit too soupy over the older man...but the story was still VERY solid.

However, it was at around the midpoint when I believe she got a bit too "girly" for how her character had been reacting up to that point. All of a sudden, we get the "schoolgirl crush" version of what had been a strong female lead. I am not against tossing in the romantic tension angle, but Allison just did not seem "in character" when she was pining over the older (married) man.

View all my reviews The TouchThe Touch by Lisa Olsen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was just bouncing around trying to find something different from my norm. While there is the obvious need for an editor, I still like the story well enough to finish. It did not grab me, and I actually had to come back to it a few times because I just did not "feel" the vibe Ms. Olsen was trying to convey. However, I did see enough to make me want to go back and see something else. I wonder what the author feels is her 'signature' piece...the one she wants to really be known for having written.

View all my reviews Zombie Apocalypse Pro Survival Guide 2nd Edition (100 TIPS & RULES!) (OFFICIAL) (Zombie Pro)Zombie Apocalypse Pro Survival Guide 2nd Edition (100 TIPS & RULES!) (OFFICIAL) by Temper Thompson
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

First, some of these "tips" are repeated. Really? You couldn't come up with a legit 100? Then there is the atrocious editing. For as short and as few words...there simply should not be any mistakes. I won't even go into how very wrong some of these tips are; for example, #17 says not to drink infected water...okay...then it says to filter any water. No Brita alive will knock out bacteria.

In short, this is just not worth memory space on your Kindle.

View all my reviews How to Be a Totally Awesome ZombieHow to Be a Totally Awesome Zombie by Melody Litton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Every so often, a zombie book comes along that does not take itself too seriously. THIS is that book. It is a quick read, and one that you will want to share passages with your friends. They should make a freakin' calendar; it would absolutely be worth hanging on the wall. Get this and be ready to chuckle a few times.

Not everybody is going to survive the Zombie get your Kevlar helmet and learn how to be awesome.

View all my reviews The Zombie Outbreak (Surviving the Zombie Nightmare, #1)The Zombie Outbreak by Daniel White
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The first problem I had was with the cover. How many times do I need to see that image? It has been used on multiple covers, but I decided to keep my mind open. The editing issues early on made that rough.

Once the main character is introduced, we find ourselves following a guy who is an executive, handyman, gymnast, and mixed-martial artist. It just seemed that he spawned abilities as the story went along. I spoke with a friend of my who runs a gymnastics academy when the main character did a running flip over the heads and outstretched hands of a zombie mob, landed on his feet and continued his fight. Nope.

My own personal moment of groaning came when he went down under a mob and came out unharmed. Then there was his antagonistic stand against the soldiers while in quarantine...and they didn't shoot him?

I just didn't get into the book. Maybe others will, but for me, the series stopped here.

View all my reviews The Spirit ClearingThe Spirit Clearing by Mark Tufo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I may be stoned by the masses for this, but I enjoyed The Spirit Clearing even more than the Zombie Fallout series. Don't get me wrong, I totally dig the ZF world (and now the Lycan Fallout!), but this story was something different. This is best described as an alternate-reality-to-an-alternate-reality story.

There are some familiar characters and the story is actually one that readers of ZF have been given a taste of in the past. It involves the infamous car crash with a young Michael Talbot and his friends. I will absolutely give away nothing to spoil your fun here, but what I do suggest is that you take a break from the zombified world and try this one on for size.

View all my reviews No Regrets: A Rock'n'Roll MemoirNo Regrets: A Rock'n'Roll Memoir by Ace Frehley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you have ever been the child caught in the middle of an ugly divorce, you know how it felt for KISS fans over the years with the Gene/Paul vs. Ace/Peter thing. Ace does say that Gene was all business from day one and that the Frehley approach was more about having fun being a rock star. I see both sides...or at least I did until Frehley shared one instance that really hurt him.

During the reunion, Gene was putting the movie Detroit Rock City together. He invited Ace's daughter to come to California and be in a bit part. She was thrilled and Ace thought it was an amazing gesture from Gene...until the movie came out and his daughter's scene was cut. And, since Gene was in control of the edits, Ace feels no choice but to take it personally. His thoughts were basically, "Do what you want to me, say what you want about me...but when you hurt my kid..." I never took sides in this breakup until that revelation.

In any case, the book is a must for KISS fans and a good read. I would also suggest it for people battling with addiction since Ace spends a lot of time talking about his own struggle.

View all my reviews Children of the PlagueChildren of the Plague by Gregory Carrico
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Here is what I took away from this book...

First thing is that I love it when somebody takes an established genre like zombies and goes their own way with it. There is as much science fiction as horror going on here and it works very well. As you know, I do not offer spoilers, I think you should be able to discover the twists, turns, and icky moments on your own. Just know that there is a very cool vibe and twist on the standard post-apocalyptic tale here that you won't regret discovering. Also, kudos on the strong female characters here.

Gregory does not "dumb" down his story. And I could be mistaken, but there is a noticeable lack of profanity which makes this a title that you can put in front of your younger house members and introduce them to some cool horror without all the cliches of gutter-speak that some might find offensive. Yes, it is still horror, but I can not explain it any more than to say it is handled in a way that opens itself up to young audiences as well as old.

I look forward to whatever Gregory has next and make this suggestion...get this book.

View all my reviews Shards of the Glass Slipper: Queen Cinder (Shards of the Glass Slipper, #1)Shards of the Glass Slipper: Queen Cinder by Roy A. Mauritsen
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Try as I might, this book just did not excite me. The cover is wonderful, but there was simply no enough here that felt new, fun, or exciting. Perhaps if I had read this book four years ago, it would have been more interesting. however, there has simply been a deluge of Grimm stories expanded and re-worked and this one did not stand out for me.

 Forever Road (Peri Jean Mace #1)Forever Road by Catie Rhodes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Forever Road is the debut novel by Catie Rhodes. I suspect there will be many who jump on what is destined to be quite a bandwagon. Having received an advance copy, it was with the understanding that I do not pull punches in my reviews. I am thrilled to say that this was a fun read, and had me scratching my head trying to figure out the "whodunnit" portion. I am always impressed with writers who can misdirect the reader and have them guessing right up to the reveal. Heck, I was ready to pin it all on Meemaw before it was over. Kudos on plot twists and making everybody seem as innocent and guilty all at the same time so that when the "bad guy" is finally revealed, you slap your forehead and then try to remember how many times you suspected and then crossed that person off the list.

So, Peri Jean Mace can see ghosts. People around her think she is a bit off her rocker. Okay, you might think that it has been done, so what makes this any different? What makes it stand out? The answer is simple: The dialog. Many writers tumble when it comes to making their characters sound like individuals...much less real people having a conversation. If Ms. Rhodes has a strength, it is her passages of dialog and how she uses them to not only bring her characters to life, but also how she uses it to propel the story.

Overall, this is an entry book into what will reportedly be a series. It does not bog down introducing you. Again, this is where Rhodes excels in using dialog. If you are still trying to decide if this is a book for you...I say compare it to discovering a little local bakery and being able to tell all your friends. This is some good old, down home paranormal fun.

 Tim2 (Timothy)Tim2 by Mark Tufo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mark Tufo, author of the best-selling Zombie Fallout series has created a world that he can dip into at his leisure and pluck nasty little tidbits from for his devoted fans. Timothy (2) is one of those stories. However, you do not need to be a ZF reader to dive into this book. You don't even need to read the first Timothy book (but I highly recommend doing so).

This is a perfect example of what is so great about the Indie writing scene. Mark Tufo rips away all pretense and delivers some of the nastiest horror imaginable. He is not restrained by focus groups or people telling him what might or might not be acceptable. After all, this is horror.

Timothy has absolutely no redeeming characteristics. He is a vile individual, but you can not help but be sucked into his mind as he allows you to see through the eyes of a cognizant zombie who not only knows what he is doing, but takes pleasure in the terror that he instills in those he meets. And if he isn't scary enough...he makes himself up in the guise of a clown. That should just about cover scaring the bejeezus out of everybody.

I was fortunate to read this prior to its release and can say that this is Mark Tufo's best work to date.

View all my reviews The  Island Part 1 (Fallen Earth #1)The Island Part 1 by Michael Stark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Island by Michael Stark has the distinction of being able to lure the reader in with the first part being free. Stark has truly reaped the benefits from the "old way" that Amazon operated. He got his first part out and listed as free. That keeps a steady stream of people downloading it. Of those, if 10% actually read it (let's face it, a lot of people download plenty of freebies and then never read them, then the ones who enjoy it will move on and purchase future installments. I mention this only because Stark has managed to write an introductory piece that should lure in many more readers.

The story swirls around William Hill and begins just as a strange sickness is sweeping through the global population. He uses this first piece to lay the groundwork not only to his characters, but also the world they live in. This is a compelling read and the characters all make you want to know just a little more about them (especially D. and you you will know what I am talking about).

Overall, this is a clean read. A few editing gaffs, but none that are distracting and glaring. The story is smooth and believable. Grab this for free and you will be back for the additional installments.

View all my reviews The Annihilation of ForeverlandThe Annihilation of Foreverland by Tony Bertauski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Annihilation of Foreverland by Tony Bertauski is now my favorite read of 2013. However, this book came out in 2011, so I feel like I stumbled on to a great party just as everybody was leaving.

The premise is that a group of old men with A LOT of money "acquire" young men who are considered--at least by them-- to be disposable. Nobody will miss them if they vanish. Since it is my rule not to give away any spoilers, I will simply say that there are twists and turns throughout this book that will keep you turning pages or tapping your e-reader depending on your preference.

This is a fantastic story that swirls around Danny Boy. Mr. Bertauski does a fantastic job of keeping you off balance. You want to believe that everything will turn out for the best, but you are always kept wondering.

I highly recommend this wonderful book and have just heard that there will be a sequel later in 2013.

View all my reviews Flesh & BloodFlesh & Blood by Jerry McKinney
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Flesh & Blood by Jerry McKinney should move to the front of your TBR list today. As with his other work, Mr. McKinney is able to stuff an entire novel's worth of entertainment into a very short amount of space. Told from the perspective of a young adolescent teen living in the sticks, this story does some wonderful things. Especially notable is the way it comes full circle from the opening scene to the closing.

There are no distractions as the editing is clean and the story reads very well from start to finish. I would highly recommend that you pick this one up today. It is a front runner for one of my favorite reads of the year and will be used as my benchmark for what other stories will need to do in order to impress me.

The Glass CoffinThe Glass Coffin by Mark Scioneaux
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mark Scioneaux has some good stuff going on in this short story, The Glass Coffin. There is plenty of story crammed in to just a few pages. The chain reaction works as an explanation for how the zombie outbreak spreads from this central location. The action scenes are fast-paced, albeit just a bit generic in spots. Overall, the story is pretty good for a morning read on the elliptical.

On the other side of the coin, there were some things I did have just a bit of trouble with. For one,whether it was in formatting or the writer, there were paragraphs that went on forever. Also, the characterization was a bit over the top and generic. Too much time given to the heel of the story, more could have been done to make the wife sympathetic. There were a few spots (very few) where the editor dropped the ball on some fixes, but overall, it was fairly clean. I wanted to love the story, but the semi-generic quality that surfaced too often just made me like it...a lot, but it could have been better judging by some of what is offered here.

The Quiet: A NovellaThe Quiet: A Novella by Robert S. Wilson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Quiet by Robert S. Wilson has one of those opening scenes that draws you in and has you reading so fast that your eyes get whiplash. It had me on the edge of my seat and anxious. The mood was set and well maintained. I cared about the central character and felt his anxiety and trepidation. You are just as confused as the narrator (in a good way) as he tries to understand.

Unfortunately, I felt that the intensity waned and it just seemed to fade into a so-so offering. Perhaps the author was married to the "novella" idea and simply wanted to reach the end (which was predictably open ended). I wanted the intensity to be maintained. The author certainly showed that ability early on.

It is an okay book. It has the promise of something fantastic, but for me, it fell short.

Callis RoseCallis Rose by Mark Tufo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mark Tufo is well know for his best selling Zombie Fallout series. I was fortunate enough to read Callis Rose before release. I have to say that there is a roller coaster of emotions that flow through these pages. If you are expecting the tongue-in-cheek humor of Talbot or the engrossingly cute Riley, you need to set that aside and allow Mark to show you yet another aspect of his talent.

There are some elements here that will be reminiscent of Stephen King's "Carrie" but it goes beyond that. One of the real beauties of this story is that, by the end, you really do not know who to "cheer" for. I avoid spoilers in my reviews because I believe that the reader should have the pleasure of that discovery. What I will say is that Tufo manages to make you feel sympathy for the "villains" and almost root against the main protagonist. That is a credit to his talent and the reason he sits where he does in the Top Horror writers on Amazon.

There were some moments where I wanted to think that he dropped the ball, but every twist and turn proves to have a reason. Set aside all that you thought you knew about Mark Tufo and read this book.

Notes to SelfNotes to Self by Avery Sawyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you look at the history of the books I read, you will see that this is not one of my regulars reads. Still, it looked interesting and since the girl on the cover reminded me of Maggie Gyllenhaal, (who I think is amazingly beautiful) I decided to grab it. Once I started reading, I got really engrossed in the story. It is very deep and will wrap its tendrils around your heart. There are some very poignant and emotional scenes as you struggle with the narrator while she tries to piece together her life leading up to the moment when she lost her memory.

This has Hallmark Movie or Lifetime movie of the week written all over it.

Frankenstein: Return From the WastelandFrankenstein: Return From the Wasteland by Billie Sue Mosiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Billie Sue Mosiman is one of the most prolific female writers that I know. Her library is immense and she has had her share of awards and nominations. She had to be very confident in her skill to attempt to enter and add to the Shelley mythology. This is no knock off or cheap grab at an established horror icon, this is a continuation of Shelley's story told in a voice that meshes with the original.

The strength of Mosiman's writing is on display here in Frankenstein: Return From The Wasteland. She has the same ability to use beautiful prose and paint a picture that is terrifying in that classic gothic horror style that does not rely on cheap tricks and gratuitous gore as if that were all it took to write true horror.

Just as Shelley did so long ago, Mosiman creates sympathy for the horrific. I suspect that the original tale was a favorite of hers and that she could not get past the ambiguous ending in the arctic. (For those unfamiliar with the book that the Karloff classic is based on, it is not angry villagers, but rather the monster's own awareness of what he is that is the undoing.) She obviously needed to have her own closure and it is good for readers of good old fashioned horror that she chose to put pen to paper as it were.

This might seem tame by today's standards, but for lovers of the classics, this is a must read.

Miami Spy Games: Russian Zombie GunMiami Spy Games: Russian Zombie Gun by Armand Rosamilia
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have read a few of Armand Rosamilia's titles. Hands down, Miami Spy Games:Russian Zombie Gun is my favorite. If you were not following the episodes of this as they came out, then now is your chance to get the whole package at once and skip the terminally long waits (at least it seemed so) between the serial episode issues.

This rips a story from the news (remember the "zombie face eater in Miami of 2012?) and turns it into a Return of the Cold War thriller that would make Tom Clancy envious. The story actually manages to push the envelope and seem "real" through out. If the James Bond franchise ever wants to dip its toes in the zombie craze, this is the work they would want to use as the template.

One of this stories greatest strengths is the dialog. I am not familiar with Mr. Waters, but I have read Rosamilia's work and he does an exceptional job of making the dialog seem conversational. It also acts as an excellent tool to propel the story and suck the reader in deeper to this world where the zombies have a plausible explanation for their existence.

You don't have to be a zombie fan to get a kick out of this outstanding cross-genre tale. This is, simply put, a well told action adventure.


  1. I loved the original, and Mosiman is a strong writer. This one just jumped a few spots on my list. Thanks Todd!

    1. I agree absolutely, Greg. And it was nice to slip back into a classic feel instead of having somebody try to put a "modern" spin on it.

  2. Thank you for the review, Todd! I very much enjoyed writing this. Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN is one of my favorite novels and it's true I, like the protagonist in my story, wondered about what happened to the monster. I wrote it to find out. I'm very happy people enjoy it. No one is as good as Shelley and I dare not claim such a thing. It was just an ending I wanted to see for her great monster and the man who saw him as a god.

    1. You really captured the voice, and it was a pleasure to read.