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Dec
10

Beowulf by Santiago Garcia and David Rubin

Genre:  Fantasy

Publisher:  Image Comics

Published: 2016

Reviewer Rating:  4 Stars

Reviewer:  Michael D. Griffiths

 

Beowulf by Santiago Garcia and David Rubin came out on my birthday last year and is an exciting new exploration into one of the oldest recorded tales in Europe. Beowulf has enjoyed multiple artistic, literary, and movie interpretations. This new version is a more creative and artistically loose. They let their imaginations expand the horror as well as the triumphs of the great Viking Beowulf.

If you are somehow not familiar with this classic myth, it revolves around the Nordic hero Beowulf. The king of the Danes is under an assault from the horrid monster Grendel. No blades can pierce this beast, and nothing can stop it. It can kill a dozen men a night and race away with anything it chooses.

Beowulf and his spearmen arrive to slay the beast. Weapons do little to stop him, so Beowulf tears off the unholy thing’s arm. It flees back to his mother who is an even more powerful creature. Beowulf then enters her domain and fight a larger creature on its own tuff. Beowulf later insures his entrance to Valhalla by purging the world of a fearsome dragon.

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This graphic novel takes you through these battles in an epic manner. Often small imaging within large boxes paint the tale on multiple levels simultaneously. The monsters are intense and fantastic. The action is fierce. Perhaps best of all, it follows the myth well and the authors do not feel the need to try to ‘improve’ a story that has survived many millennia.

This is an impressive work and if you enjoy graphic novels, I do not think this would let you down. In parts the action is a bit muddled. Beowulf is also a bit nasty looking and appears more ruffian than hero. Maybe I just always expect to see Vikings with beards.

If fantasy action and graphic novels are things you enjoy, you should give this a chance.

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Beowulf by Santiago Garcia and David Rubin i

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Nov
30

Wolf Smoke by Poe Casavant

 

 

Genre:  Science Fiction

Publisher:  Sky Forest Press

Published: 2018

Reviewer Rating:  4 Stars

Reviewer:  Michael D. Griffiths

 

Wolf Smoke by Poe Casavant is a science fiction novel set in the not too distant future. Limited nuclear attacks and other wars have placed the earth in grave danger to the point where something must be done if the life on this planet is going to survive. Sarah is forced to be part of this solution which will involve gladiators replacing soldiers. These competitions will decide disagreements between countries instead of destroying the environments and costing thousands of lives.

 

Sarah and her teammates from the United States had no choice and were forced into being members of the team. Sarah is a thrill seeker, but no soldier. Quite the contrary, she is insecure and shows the primary sign of schizophrenia, which is hearing voices. These voices constantly put her down and tear her apart. These feeling of uncertainty only increase when she discovers she is to be the team leader of USA.

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Despite being a disorganized gathering of individuals, under Sarah’s leadership, the team gets serious, begins training, and maps out the giant multi-level arena. They win their first match which gives them greater confidence and resources. The first match was just with paintballs, but when Sarah is then informed, she will be required to be in battles where she is forced to fight to the death, the mood changes and everyone realizes these are not just games, but a life and death situation they have found themselves within.

Sarah must juggle missing her husband with the tensions of needing support while surrounded by men she is attracted to. She also develops allies amongst the other teams and moves into a position where team USA has the strength to not only take this competition seriously, but to excel not only for themselves but their country. But mixed with this is her personal conflicts, including her mental illness, and her continued self-doubt not just in herself but her ability to keep the teammates she leads alive.

This is a strong novel and would have gotten a higher grade from me if it were not for a few, at least in my opinion, flaws. The first glaring one is the voices. As I stated, this is one of the primary signs of schizophrenia and this illness is not some piecemeal thing which just pops up and can compartmentalized. When you have this mental illness, it destroys your life. I understand this is just a literacy device, to map out Sarah’s uncertainties, but I think a little more research should be conducted before using this as a writing tool. Also, Sarah goes from being an untrained insecure young woman to an unstoppable fighter with little flaws. I like normal people becoming heroes, but to go from uncertain to perfect seemed a bit of an extreme change. Lastly, simply put, the idea of gladiators fighting instead of armies is more than a bit cliché. Sometimes I wonder how much genre reading new authors partake in before they start writing their novels.

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These flaws aside, this was a strong novel. I think Casavant took a promise which could lead to nationalist or racist situations and handled them well. I was glad to see none of this in the novel. She also did a great job developing Sarah and many of the other characters. I read this novel quickly which is always a good sign. I wanted to find out how this would work out for team USA and their allies. There were even a few tear-jerking moments which are also hard to pull off.

Wolf Smoke is an entertaining novel and a good absorbing read. I would recommend it to younger readers who like the Hunger Games and such novels. I also think most lover of action-packed science fiction would enjoy this one, I know I did.

 

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Wolf Smoke by Poe Casavant i

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Wolf Smoke by Poe Casavant ii

 

Nov
29

By December 2018, a greater number of people are looking at this outdated pagan festival, turned into a greed vortex, and doing a double take. Sure, most of us love our families and friends and don’t mind tossing them some presents. Great meals and gathering under decorations and lights are fun, but why do we have to do it in the name of some sixth generation watered down bronze aged myth from Iraq? Why, when 1 out of 3 individuals in the USA aren’t Christian and less than half actively participate this outdated myth, is this still a thing? For many, this part of the year is one long scratch of fingernails on the chalkboard and here are some of the reasons why…

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Top Ten Reasons Christmas is a Drag

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  1. Because it’s based on imaginary bullshit
  2. Ah… Christmas carols
  3. Jesus keeps trying to butt into Santa’s gig

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  1. When is an obligatory greed considered a good thing?
  2. It predisposes children to believe in ridiculous flights of imagination like Santa and a divine Jesus
  3. It distracts us from the Winter Solstice, you know the holiday Christmas stole
  4. Hey, I got a great idea, let’s think of a reason for about 50% of the world’s population to all travel somewhere else at the same time
  5. People with epilepsy are screwed
  6. Because it’s so flipping Christian
  7. And it happens every year

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Nov
26

dracula Cha Cha Cha

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Genre:  Vampire Horror

Publisher:  Grinning Skull Press

Published: 2012

Reviewer Rating:  4.5 Stars

Reviewer:  Michael D. Griffiths

 

 

Dracula Cha Cha Cha by Kim Newman is a horror book, but really should be considered a vampire adventure novel. Although it does have several scary moments, it is more of a Dark Fantasy action tale. I must tell you I really enjoyed Newman’s continuing exploration into a world where vampires are the heroes as well as the protagonists.

The story follows several vampires, with one breather in the mix, as they prepare for the undead wedding of the century where Dracula is to marry a princess outside of Rome. If this wasn’t enough, a mysterious slayer of vampire elders is stalking the streets of Rome and seems to be trying its best to take out every elder who arrives before they have a chance to make it to the lustrous wedding.

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With the help of others, Kate, a vampire reporter, is trying to track down who is killing the elders before the killer can strike again. As she moves through the danger and mystery which is building toward the climax of the wedding, she discovers the killer might be something far older and more powerful than the elders flocking to Dracula’s nuptials.

This book is inventive and fast placed. The author mixes character development with action quite well and leaves us hoping the better vampires make it through the dangers lurking for the unwary and wary alike in the ancient streets of Rome. I also liked how historical figures and events were liberally sprinkled through the novel.

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If you enjoy vampire fiction, this should be something you should track down right away. Not too much to poke with a stick here. How the tool of the killer became so powerful is a little unclear. One might think elder vampires would be a bit harder to put to dust. Still, making elder vampires as easy to kill as a common person gives them the higher layer of humanity, which mortality gives us all.

Again, if vampire fiction and adventure is something you enjoy, these books by Newton should be a must. Step aside Anne Rice, Newton’s intense characters mixed with intrigue and action could leave readers saying, Lestat who?

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Nov
19

By November 2018, a greater number of people are freeing themselves from the plagiarized bronze aged myths of the middle east than ever before. While turkey can be cooked in more different ways than you might imagine. Have you tried deep fried, damn, it’s fantastic? So, would you rather wrestle through a dozen stores while listening to endless carols and empty out your credit card online or sit with the people you love and enjoy a Bacchanalian repast? I’ll let you muddle over your own thoughts while I outline the…

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Top Ten Reasons Thanksgiving is Better than Christmas

 

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  1. It’s cheaper.
  2. There are no Thanksgiving carols.
  3. Giving thanks for the joys in life is a universal concept opposed to the sixth attempted to rewrite old Persian myths.
  4. You don’t have to wrap anything.
  5. For the US, it is our own holiday instead of the goat herders guide to the universe from 10,000 miles away.
  6. Jesus is so needy.
  7. Instead of exasperation and worry over presents, give people a slice of pie and they’re happy.
  8. There’s less to cleanup.
  9. Thanksgiving doesn’t need a mascot to be awesome.
  10. Turkey is better than bullshit.

 

 

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Oct
31

Whether it comes to movies, written fiction, or true events, some places are just scarier and more dangerous than others. This list is based on events both real and imagined, but in the end, when you are standing alone in a darkened house as a door creaks open on its own or reading about the Fungi from Yoggoth on a cold night in the words, the fear you feel is real and if it gets to bad enough, hell, you might need to move… if you can. But before you decide where to escape to, you should read the…

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The Top Seven Creepiest States in the USA

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  1. Massachusetts

Let’s face it, no state has raised the hair on the back of your neck like the state which hosted the pilgrims and began the Revolutionary War. You have real horrors such as the Salem Witch Trails and well Nantucket, seriously, have you been there? When it comes to fiction, it has Hawthorne’s classics like Sleepy Hallow and The House of Seven Gables, as well as the pride of American horror fiction, H.P. Lovecraft, who set the majority of his macabre tales in this state. Add to this numerous movies, plays, killing Red Coats, and we have to award this one our first place!

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  1. Maine

Let’s keep this simple. Stephen King has been on a life long mission to convince the world Maine is a place of mystery and terror where almost anything can occur. More of his stories take place here than not and he’s done a fantastic job making this isolated corner of the United States a place where many fear to trend.

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  1. Louisiana

Look, we have swamps, fog, and Voodoo, what more do you need? Alligators can’t hurt, neither can crazed rednecks, oh yeah and vampires also dig the place.

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  1. Arizona

Deserts and forests cover this state, which also has the highest population of Tribal Americans in the USA. From Skinwalkers to Chupacabra, this state in the heart of the southwest, is almost designed to be dangerous. Cactus, venomous animals, bears, jaguars, mountain lions, the list goes on. If the predators don’t get you the 117 degrees summers will be happy to finish of the job.

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  1. Alaska

More of the fears involved with this state are grounded in reality. Giant bears and wolves mix with frozen mountains and endless forests. To quote Ventura, “You lose it here and you’re in a world of hurt.”

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  1. California

Biker gangs, drug lords, street gangs, and cults are just the beginning of what this state throws at the unwary and prepared alike. We often think of California as a place of cities, but what about Death Valley and the Black Forest? California is a huge state full of forest fires, earthquakes, and mudslides, but like many places in the world, most of the worst threats comes from people.

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  1. Colorado

Ever been trapped in the mud during a blizzard or been stalked by a huge mountain lion at night? Both of these things, and several more, have happened to me while traveling through this state. Once you move off the roads, you quickly find yourself in a place where the balance of success versus failure rests in you alone.

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I hope you enjoyed these and I’m sure many would be happy to argue and disagree with my choices, but remember I have included fiction within my findings, so unless you’re a horror book and movie glutton, you are out of your league here. However, I’d still like to hear your nays and yays on the subject and oh yeah, Happy Halloween.

 

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Oct
22

By October 2018, Trump’s unbalanced behavior has soured the Vampires to the point where the Camarilla has issued a ban on giving Donny the Eternal Kiss and any vampire to do so will meet their Final Death. Why is this the case? After weeks of research, a very sore neck, and an unexplained craving for spider blood, I’ve been able to compile the…

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Top Ten Reasons Vampires Won’t Allow Trump to Become Undead

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  1. Because he wants them to.
  2. You need at least a 100 IQ to be turned.
  3. How could any creature want to listen to him talk for more than one term let alone multiple lifespans?
  4. Orange isn’t the new black.
  5. They only feed off warm-blooded creatures.
  6. Because he likes his steak well done.
  7. They are worried what he must look like without the solar tanning booth.
  8. Dracula is afraid he’ll call his wives, “A total five at best.”
  9. How could he continue without worshipping his reflection in the mirror?
  10. Vampires think he’d be a better witch, but Baba Yaga won’t return their calls.

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Oct
18

The Witching Well, by S.D. Hintz

 

Genre:  Young Adult Horror

Publisher:  Grinning Skull Press

Published: 2018

Reviewer Rating:  3 Stars

Reviewer:  Michael D. Griffiths

 

 

The Witching Well, by S.D. Hintz is a young adult horror novel. It centers around a fourteen-year-old boy named Murray.  Murray is not doing well. He has just lost his mother to a brutal murderer and has been forced to move into a creepy small town with his grandmother.

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Almost at once, eerie things begin to occur. Most of these revolved around the three older woman, who he quickly began to think of as witches. They meddled with him, threatened him, and gave him a bug which burst into flame and could have burnt down his grandmother’s house.

The tension builds when Murry discovers one of the women is keeping another young boy in her basements. When Murray tries and fails to rescue him, he plays his hand and the women move in to finish their fiendish plans.

As I mentioned, this is a book for young adults, where I would think we are shooting for a younger age, then say, ‘The Hunger Games.’ This novel would be closer to Goosebumps, with perhaps a stronger dose of evil thrown in.

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Weaker points of this novel include the slow build up to a short climax. I am not sure this would be a good book to get your young teen to read instead of finishing his video game. I am not saying it is right or good, but people are going to have to step up their game to keep the attentions of kids who have seen things like the Transformer movies and are playing Fall Out. I do not wish to be mean, but this is just a reality authors will need to face when writing for the cell phone/internet at my fingers’ generation. Murray is also passive during most of the climax.

This being said, this book would be great for young individuals who already enjoy reading and like a strong dash of mystery and horror in what they read. I also might have given this a higher grade if I was a younger reader, but as an adult, it did not move me enough. A good one to grab for the young readers you know to get then ready for Halloween.

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Oct
16

By October 2018, Trump’s evil behavior had caught the eye of many evil creatures, even he who slumbers in R’lyen and waits dreaming. But if you thought these two malign befoulments like and respect each other, you’d be as dead wrong as Charles Dexter Ward or Jamal Khashoggi. Nope, these horrors against humanity hate each other as much as they hate all life outside of themselves and a few choice lackeys. So here, after months of research and countless lost lives and minds, we bring you…

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The Top Ten Reasons Why Cthulhu Hates Trump .

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  1. Because Trump wants his approval.
  2. Cthulhu wants to be the Earth’s worst monster.
  3. He wants to be the one working with the Mad Arab.
  4. Because Cthulhu believes in Climate Change.
  5. Cthulhu wanted to be Putin’s favorite.
  6. Some Deep Ones are starting to invoke Trump instead of him.
  7. He heard Nyarlathotep is thinking about becoming Republican
  8. Cthulhu wanted to sleep another couple of centuries before the ‘End Of Days.’
  9. He wants to be the only undulating horror.
  10. No way does Cthulhu intend to stand being the second most dangerous thing on the planet.

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Oct
06

By October 2018, Trump’s uncouth behavior and Kavanaugh’s boorish entitlement have either caused the citizens of the United States to want to hang their heads in shame or shout, ‘give us more, we can’t get enough of this politics gone wild.’ But instead of focusing on the naysayers and people how follow logic or possess common sense, let’s focus on some of the creatures who support the Republicans this mid-term election, such as the Undead. After several nights of sleepless exploration and losing three pints of blood, I’ve finally able to bring you the…

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Top Ten Reasons Undead support the Republicans in the Mid-Term Election

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  1. Because Orcus asked them to.
  2. Parasites who feed off the working class have to stick together.
  3. Both need functioning brains.
  4. Vampires respect any being who uses his charm to induce humans to act against their own self-interest.
  5. Both fail to give up even though their time has passed.
  6. Why wouldn’t the undead favor things with a cold heart?
  7. Many Republicans are undead.
  8. Like ghosts, they are things which should have long since passed, but refuse to quit haunting the present.
  9. Mummies love climate change.
  10. Something about Trump’s base reminds them of zombies but they can’t quite put their rotting finger on it.

 

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