Tag Archives: scifi

Peel Back and See by Mike Thorn (Book Review)

In spaces both familiar and strange, unknowable horrors lurk.

From the recesses of the Internet, where cosmic terror shows its face on an endless live feed, to a museum celebrating the sordid legacy of an occultist painter, this chilling collection of sixteen short stories will plunge you into the eerie, pessimistic imagination of Mike Thorn. Peel Back and See urges its readers to look closer, to push past surface-level appearances and face the things that stir below.

 

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

Peel Back and See is a collection of sixteen (16) short stories that are heavy on unforgettable encounters with hungry creatures, blood and gore, fear, Satan, and (weirdly enough) sexual arousal. 

Some stories stuck with me more than others. Below are my top five (5). 

1.) Mr. Mucata’s Final Requests: Everyone knows you don’t try to double-cross Satan. I mean, come on, don’t even try. Deals with him are also a bad idea. Seriously, the worst possible choice a person can make. If you believe in the devil, demons, and hell, say NO to anything offered. Period!

2.) @GorgoYama2013: We’re raised to know you NEVER go into a stranger’s car. Horror movies have ingrained in us to NEVER go into a strange basement, especially alone. Victor broke all the rules. What he met could best be described as a horrific version of Krang (the brain) from TMNT. If you don’t know who I am talking about, look him up! 

3.) Vomitus Bacchanalius: Okay, people are vomiting. Aliens are eating the regurgitated food. There are goo-faced men. Ugh, this story was gross, BUT good! I loved the nod to Gordon Ramsay too. 🙂

4.) The Furnace Room Mutant: This story stood out more because you’d think an unnatural being would be the monster in the story. I like it when authors step out from the paranormal norm. 🙂

5.) Havoc: This was the first story in the collection, and it made me close my laptop and take one giant step back from it. Read the story, and you’ll understand why. There was only one part I wasn’t too keen on — a flashback scene between student and teacher. I don’t want to divulge too much, but it made my score drop from a five to a four. (for this story only, not the overall score of the anthology)

 

 In Peel Back and See, thirteen of the sixteen stories scored three and above. That’s impressive! I encourage others to read the collection and see which story has you cowering under the covers. 


Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤

Amazon Purchase Link
Journalstone.com

 

 

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Mike Thorn is the author of the short story collection Darkest Hours. His fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies and podcasts, including Vastarien, Dark Moon Digest, The NoSleep Podcast, Tales to Terrify, and Prairie Gothic. His film criticism has been published in MUBI Notebook, The Film Stage, and Vague Visages. He completed his M.A. with a major in English literature at the University of Calgary, where he wrote a thesis on epistemophobia in John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness.

Connect with him on Twitter (@MikeThornWrites) or visit his website for more information: mikethornwrites.com.

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Sand and Shadow by Laurisa White Reyes (Book Review)

Winner of the 2015 Houston Writers House Competition!

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Seven Survivors.

One Monster.

Nowhere to hide.

Mission Specialist Adán Fuentes awakes from cryo-hibernation to discover that most of his fellow crewmates are dead and the shuttle Carpathia is not where it’s supposed to be. Surrounded by a vast barren landscape, he and the other survivors wonder how they can accomplish their mission, to establish a home for future colonists.

When an unseen creature attacks them, the Carpathia’s crew must turn their attention to surviving and solving the true purpose behind their mission.

Inspired by the 50’s sci-fi flick FORBIDDEN PLANET, SAND AND SHADOW plumbs the depths of the human psyche and the power of its influence. As the Carpathia’s crew’s secrets and flaws are revealed, readers may find themselves compelled to examine their own dark places.

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Europa, Jupiter’s moon

Zarmina, Gliese 581g

I received a complimentary copy of this book from R&R Book Tours.
I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

 

What makes Sand and Shadow by Laurisa White Reyes so spectacular is it capitalizes on the possibility and probability certain events in the story can happen. 

Earth is dying. Leading experts are trying to buy us more time, but is it working? And if their efforts aren’t working, would they tell us the truth? Would they disclose how close we are to the end of life on Earth?

See, I do believe it’s probable NASA would be secretive in this knowledge. Humans would go bat-shit crazy if they knew we had so many years…weeks…days…or even hours left. The world would erupt in chaos. 

In the story, life in space wasn’t without major pitfalls. When the astronauts woke up from their cryogenic state, things did not go according to script. When you are exploring or starting over on a new planet, you have to expect the unexpected. The crew members had no way to predict or prepare for what attacked them or what would continually attack them. 

Earth has perished.

Numerous astronauts have died as well. 

But, hope is not lost. 

Recommend: Yes! 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤❤❤1/2

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Bonus material

 

 

About the Author:

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Laurisa White Reyes is the author of the SCBWI Spark Award winning novel The Storytellers and the Spark Honor recipient Petals. She is also the Senior Editor at Skyrocket Press and an English instructor at College of the Canyons in Southern California.
Laurisa White Reyes | Skyrocket Press | Facebook | BookBub


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Mara’s Awakening: The Mara Files (Book One) by Leo Flynn (Book Review)

The first in an explosive science fiction series of short stories, this is an action-packed and addictive book from an emerging author.

 

Mara Keres. A trained warrior and formerly highly respected peacekeeper.

Note “formerly.”

Once, she had her life under control. Once, she had the trust of the galaxy.

Now she rots in the same prison she used to sentence people to. Solitary confinement for six years. Would’ve brought anyone else to their knees.

Not her.

Then an offer resurfaces, almost too good to be true. Ghosts of her past and demons come back to haunt her, will she ever make it out alive?

Sometimes, facing your worst memories is worth the risk.

 

Featuring a badass anti-hero, secrets, betrayals, twists and turns, this gripping story will keep you on the edge of your seat and leave you wanting more.


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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)

 

While the writing was a bit choppy, overall, it was a nice start to a series. There was suspense, action, deception, revenge, and a prison break. Oh, and I mustn’t forget there was a wicked cool weapon — Skyfall Swordbow. As you probably surmised, it’s a weapon used as a sword or a crossbow. That weapon wasn’t the only tool at Mara’s disposal. She also could fire bolts from her hands.

She’s a lethal weapon, one that used to be on the side of justice before wrongfully incarcerated. I look forward to reading what trouble awaits her while she’s on the run. And, I hope to see more backstory on Mara and other key characters. 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: 

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Book Two

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Leo Flynn writes poetry & gripping, action-packed SciFi, like The Mara Files, his debut, an exciting science fiction short story series. Other galaxies, reading, talking too much about writing and music consume his waking hours.

 
 
 

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Gone Green: A Sci-Fi Mystery (Janey McCallister Mystery) by Beth Barany (Book Review)

L’Étoile’s lead investigator Janey McCallister faces her hardest case yet.

On the eve of the hotel space station’s twentieth anniversary celebration, criminals rob the casino’s vault and kill one security guard.

Janey teams up with Orlando Valdez, a sexy undercover cop for the Sol Unified Planets, to hunt down those responsible.

Since the casino has only a day’s worth of cash on hand, she must solve the complex plot behind the robbery before the theft creates a mass panic and puts L’Étoile out of business—and before the killer strikes again.

***

Gone Green is perfect for fans of J.D. Robb’s Eve Dallas books, The Expanse, and Killjoys and CSI. It contains a slow-burn romance, enhanced humans, cool high-tech gadgets, a futuristic vision of the Earth, and a tough kick ass heroine with secrets.

 

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

If you loved Ocean’s Eleven or its sequels/spin-off, then you are going to love figuring out how the contents were stolen from a L’Étoile’s vault. Besides the how, you’ll be racking your brain with who was all in on the heist and why. Trust me, this is not a simple puzzle to put together.  

Sure, you might be able to piece some of it together, but I doubt you’ll have it all figured out with ease. In Gone Green, Beth Barany dropped one bombshell after another, which shocked me and had me rethinking suspects. When I thought she had nothing left up her sleeve, that Beth couldn’t surprise me anymore, she dropped the hammer on me once more. Again, I was left with my jaw hanging open. Wondering, like the characters in the book, WTF just happened and why. 

Beth shocked me, amazed me, and thoroughly entertained me. 

Gone Green is a book worth reading, again and again. 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤1/2

Kindle Purchase Link
Print Purchase Link

 

 


Books in the Janey McCallister Mystery series

Into The Black (Book 1)

Lured By Light (Book 2)

Gone Green (Book 3)

Red Running Deep (Book 4) (Coming Fall 2021)

 

Sign up here to be notified about once a month of book news and special events: http://bethb.net/lblnews.

 

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The Accidental World by K.A. Griffin (Book Review / Author Interview)


 
Ethan Scott thinks he is having a normal Monday evening, waiting for his grandfather, Pops, to return. Pops had left on a mysterious errand the day before, and warned Ethan that if his return is delayed, then Ethan will be in danger. Suddenly, Ethan hears creaking on the footsteps and barricades himself in his room That’s the last thing he remembers as THE ACCIDENTAL WORLD by K. A. Griffin begins before Ethan finds himself transported to a new world that was like nothing he had ever seen.
 
 
NHHMM is a futuristic town, blighted by air pollution that is so strong everyone wears masks in order to breathe. Everything is alien to Scott: his surroundings, the buggies that people travel in, his classmates, and the headmistress who seems to know him, but who he has never seen before in his life. But there is one thing that is familiar to Scott, and that is the popular game, Conquest, that he used to play with his grandfather. Scott excels at Conquest, beating all of his classmates. He is chosen to play in the tournament that is attended by many in the town, including the Chancellor. But he soon learns his Pop has been captured and jailed by the Chancellor. Pop is part of an underground resistance that holds the secrets to a powerful technology that the corrupt Chancellor wants to obtain. Nobody is who they appear to be, and Ethan learns the truth about his parents and Pop’s true identity. The tournament is Ethan’s chance to save Pop’s life and those in the resistance who are trying to free him. Pop’s and Ethan’s fate hangs in the balance. What becomes of Pop and the resistance fighters? Will Ethan disappear forever if he wins the tournament, a fate that has befallen previous winners? Readers will have to wait until the publication of Book 2 in this riveting trilogy to find out what Ethan’s destiny is in the accidental world he has traveled to, and that pits good against evil is a world not too dissimilar from our own.
 
 
​BUY THE BOOK:
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I received a complimentary copy of this book from iRead Book Tours. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
 
 
First, I must state that The Accidental World’s cover was sublime! It captured Ethan and his precarious predicament perfectly! Eugene Ivanov, the cover artist, created a beautiful work of art. 

As for Ethan, he’s on quite the adventure. Thrust into another time and place, with only a handful of clues to guide his way, Ethan’s flourished when most time travelers would’ve struggled. His quick thinking and bright, inquisitive mind have been his saving grace. Well, that and he had people watching his back for their reasons. 

As a fan of games, I loved how detailed K.A. Griffin was in the gaming scenes. When the competitors gathered to play Conquest, I felt I had a spot at their table and played alongside them. Truth, I haven’t played this particular board game yet, but it sounds fascinating. Maybe, I’ll need to purchase it for family game night. 

As a whole, The Accidental World was a riveting read. K.A. Griffin kept me on my toes on who was a true ally and who faking a friendship/kindness with Ethan for their own agenda. And, I could practically see Ethan’s mouth drop open when he got a history lesson about Pops and the other main characters. 

After Ethan absorbed the surprise revelations, the pace of the story increased exponentially. Operation Pops was in full force, and the scenes were action-packed!!! 
 
For those who love techy gadgets, you’re going to love all the futuristic inventions. Pops’s cane was wicked cool too. 

This story would be perfect for in-class group reading, homeschooling parents, or for private use.
 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤
 
 
 
 
 
​​Meet the Author:
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Bio: A graduate of Baylor University with a degree in Business Administration, Keith spent his first career managing businesses and distressed corporations. His second career began at Amazon, where he started at the bottom, ensuring we all get the packages we need. He now manages 100 Amazon associates, and every day he still keeps an eye out for the latest novels coming through the building.

At eighteen, he wrote his first short story. It was a murder mystery only thirteen pages long. On Christmas morning, before anyone had the first cup of coffee, his family noticed that the presents under the tree were gone, and in their place were three manila envelopes. Merry Christmas! You must solve the mystery to find the gifts! It was this short story that led to a lifelong love of writing.

Keith currently lives in Texas with his wife, a dog who thinks she is a princess, a horse who knows she is a princess, and a rescue cat who is little more than a source of allergies. There is talk of chickens in his future, but every time he starts to build the coop, a critical tool goes missing. He always blames the cat.

 
 
Do you snack while writing? Favorite snack? Noooo. It makes my keyboard all kinds of sticky.


Where do you write? Anytime or anywhere. I just can’t watch movies or television when I’m writing. I’m not that good at multi-tasking.


Do you write every day? If I don’t write something every day, I get grumpy. Cute animals don’t want to be around me. My wife doesn’t want to be around me. I need to be moving a story forward every day.


What is you writing schedule? I normally try to write a chapter a day. That’s about 4,000 words for me. The most I’ve ever written was 11,000 words. My body ached for a week.


Is there a specific ritualistic thing you do during your writing time? I listen to music. Whatever evokes the mood that I need. I usually put a song on repeat and I may listen to that one song for hours at a time.


In today’s tech savvy world, most writers use a computer or laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper? No. I’ve used an old school typewriter with carbon, but I type everything on my Mac. My handwriting is so bad I would never be able to decipher why I    wrote if I used paper and pen.


If you could go back in time, where would you go? Probably 1988. I would love to have been in Berlin when the wall fell.


Favorite travel spot? Wengen, Switzerland. You have to take a train up small town and when you get off of the train the Alps are right there so close you feel as if you could reach out and touch them.


Favorite dessert? Anything with chocolate. However, adding coconut or nuts to a chocolate dessert should be considered a criminal act.


If you were stuck on a deserted island, which 3 books would you want with you? How to Survive on a Deserted Island, 101 Ways to Prepare Coconuts, and Moleskin notebook to write my next novel.
 
connect with the author:  facebook ~ website

 
 
 
 
Disclaimer: All questions were constructed by the author and/or their representative. 
 
 

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