Today's Author Spotlight is author Brett Salter! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: July 19th, 2020 Amazon |  Goodreads...


Today's Author Spotlight is author Brett Salter!

Read on for the full interview.

Publication date: July 19th, 2020

What’s REALLY hiding in the forests of the Pacific Northwest? Could it be The Tyrant King’s army of Darkbrands? Could it be more of Mr. Jones’s liaisons? Or could it be the solution to the problem vexing our favorite heroes? Whatever mystery it is, you can guarantee the boys from Georgia are sure to find themselves deep in the thick of it.


Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 

I would say “The Battle For Verdana” is my best work so far. By this time in the series, we’ve collected all the main characters and gotten to know their quirks and abilities pretty well. Also, the secrets and powers of the Talismans are really beginning to unravel for the reader. Plus, there is a massive battle scene (duh, it’s in the name of the book), and the end leaves the reader on the biggest cliffhanger yet.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

My mother actually dared me to write the first book as it was an idea I had a few years before the publication regarding the two main characters and the plot of the first book. From there, I liked writing so much that I just kept going. Now, I have 11 of the 12 proposed books "done" (Large air quotes there)

When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?

Yeah, so in the beginning, I based my characters off me. Just me. I’ve known myself for a long time, and it was a small cast, so it was easy. That was therapeutic, for sure. But as the books continued and my characters grew in number, I found inspiration in outside sources such as close family and friends. I would not call it therapeutic, but I WOULD call it amusing to paint these extremely caricatured heroes with touches of the people I love. Most of my characters are just too dang goofy to be based on real people though.

Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?

I would say my favorite character to write is Julian Rider. He’s a blast because he is totally snarky and sarcastic, but at the same time, he’s very loyal to his cause. Much like me…smiley face. Plus, his favorite word is “dude”. Also, much like me. There might be a pattern there…

What was more important to you when you were writing: character development or plot?

That's a great question. Unfortunately, they both kinda go hand in hand, don't they? You must have an engrossing plot to develop your characters. And what is a highly developed character with no plot or adventure to embark on? But, I would say I tend to lean more towards plot since I am better at world building than character development.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned (about your story, about yourself, etc.) while writing?

I learned that when I have unlimited free time, I can knock out the barebones version of a book in my series in about 1 week.  The editing process is much slower though.  Man, is it tedious??!!


In your opinion what makes a good story?


I like action in my stories. My series is full of that in spades; and suspense. I find that action keeps a reader's attention better than any other writing device. At least, it does for me.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?


>
It hasn't. LOL. I still write just as frantically and bizarrely as ever. Basically, I try to make each book better than the previous by adding characters, lore, and bigger scenes to the plot. I HAVE found that most of the sarcasm of my youth has lessened over the years. Having kids helped that change as well.


>Do you read your book reviews? What do you consider "good" /"bad"?


Of course I do! It's great to see what others think of your work. I think constructive criticism is the best kind of help there is. I hope you like it too!

What led you to start writing?


I write for a couple reasons. 1. I feel like there is something in me that needs to “create”. I try EVERY day to “create” something which scratches that itch. In my past, I’ve been a musician and a poet. Those were great outlets for allowing that creativity bug to escape, but unfortunately, I found those to be more like fleeting diversions. Writing a book is a project that keeps the creativity pouring out for months at a time. Not that writing music and poetry is easy. It most definitely isn’t! I believe musicians and poets follow the same creative yens that authors do. I just feel like writing a series of books, creating palpable characters, and keeping all the details juggled properly is a larger-scale project with more channels for creative output.

2. I write to inspire others. I remember being a kid and reading things like The Chronicles of Narnia or The Xanth Series and being awestruck and engaged to no end. I want that! I want to inspire others to embrace that creativity gene and nurture it. I tell my kids all the time to practice being creative. Take some time to draw a battle scene of dragons or a kaleidoscope of butterflies! Construct a folded-up, 8-page comic book about a superhero you invented. Make up a dance and share it with you friends so you don’t look like the only weirdo doing it. Use the rainy days to read about new places and explore that part of your brain that dies a little each time you stare at your screens. Egon Spengler famously said, “print is dead”, but it’s not. It’s just evolved. We have more ways to share our stories now than ever. And I just want to be part of that amazing assembly.

Do you have any writing superstitions?


Nope. Not any I can think of (rubs lucky rabbit's foot aggressively). Yeah! None.


What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?


I am a huge anime fan. And when I was younger, I read every fantasy novel I could find. So, I put the two together for my writing. This genre fits what I am trying to do perfectly.

What is one of your favorite words? OR Is there a word you find yourself using too often?


As I mentioned before....."Dude".  I can't help it.  It's just falls out of my mouth on the regular.  
In writing, I love using words to describe a vocal intonation when a person talks instead of just saying "said" or "declared".  I like to use synesthetic words like "sang" or "harmonized" to touch multiple sense of the reader.  It's for engagement, I think.  

>What are you currently reading?


"The Sirens of Titan" by Kurt Vonnegut.  (I know!)

A lot of authors have a soundtrack while writing. Are there are songs you had on repeat?


I made a Spotify playlist a while back of all the best Punk Rock I grew up with.  There's about 28 hours worth of tunes on that playlist, so, it keeps me entertained.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Start promoting waaaaaaaaaaaaaay earlier!  And hire an editor if you can't get picked up by a publisher.

What are a couple of your favorite movies to kick back with to relax?


The entire MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe).  I cannot get enough of it!  And if I want to "use my brain", anything by David Lynch.

Which animal would you say is your spirit animal and why?


Rhino.  They're fat and lazy, but when they need to get something done, they do it with alacrity and a thundering shake of the plains!

Would you rather live in a haunted mansion or a cottage surrounded by fairytale creatures?


Cottage with fairytale creatures for sure.  As long as there are no Nocturns (bad guys from my series).  Those things are living nightmares, dude!

What is something about the genre that annoys you?

There's not enough words in the English language that are synonyms for "attack"....or "dark"......or "magical".  Or "thesaurus".

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?


I LOVE to give my characters interesting quirks.  It's definitely a huge spotlight of my writing style.  For instance, I have a character that always talks in threes.  And a character that quotes lyrics most of the time when talking.  Or my favorite, a character that speaks in haikus. (He doesn't talk much.  It's tough to write in haikus, dude!)

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?


Ask me anything.  I'm an open book....get it?

Do you have a favorite line that you've written? What is it and why do you like it?

I love EVERY time my character Mr. Jones makes some crazy, wild exclamation using mythological name drops like, "By the rancid stench of the Bonncon!"  Or something just as looney tunes as that.

What advice would you like to pass on to aspiring writers that is unconventional but true?


Use your influences.  That way what you love will come out in your writing.  If you like stories about ghosts, write stories about ghosts.  If you watch TV shows about unsolved crimes, make your series about unsolved mysteries.  If the coolest thing you can imagine is a boy that can secretly transform into a dragon and go on quests with a knight-in-training.....um.  Read my books!!!  And THEN go write about them.

Do you have a WIP? If so, can you tell us anything about it?


Yes.  I can!  In fact, I plan on releasing the 5th book of my proposed 12 by winter of this year!  It needs and edit or two….or three or four.  And it needs some cover art, but it should be out this year.  I can give you a little hint.  Remember when I mentioned the cliffhanger at the end of the 4th book?  Well, that DOES get resolved, but the 5th book opens so much more trouble for our heroes in the form Darkbrand threats.  Plus, we get a ton of reveals regarding the “big bad’s” plans, more Talismans, and we maybe, possibly, definitely get to visit a new dragon den???

Thanks so much for participating in the Author Spotlight! Anything you'd like to add?


I just want to add that I am genuinely appreciative of anyone who reads/has read my books.  You guys inspire me to keep at it.  You are what makes me feel cool for being kind of a big dork.  I hope that if you like my book or ANY book you read, you share it with someone else.  Opening doors for others will never get old, and it will ALWAYS be chivalrous.  Just remember to hold your Talisman tight and keep a wary eye out for portals.  Peace out!
My background in writing stems mostly from the inspiration I found as a kid when I read Fantasy and Sci-Fi books. These include The Chronicles of Narnia, The Xanth Novels, The Time Quintet, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and everything from Shakespeare to Dr. Seuss. In my formative years, I joined several punk rock bands and wrote songs, poetry, and short stories aplenty. As an adult (?) I took on a dare and wrote the first book in my Talisman Series. I loved the feeling it gave me and the idea of inspiring others so much that I kept writing until I had an entire series.

Brett, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews!

Publication date: May 14th, 2021 Publisher: Eerie River Publishing Links: Amazon | Goodreads H OW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO GET YOUR SON BACK? Som...

Publication date: May 14th, 2021
Publisher: Eerie River Publishing
Links: Amazon | Goodreads


HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO GET YOUR SON BACK?

Something is lurking within the woods just beyond the young Dreyer family’s new country home. And an evil that has been hiding in plain sight for centuries is about to emerge.

A neighbor is brutally murdered, their 4-year-old son goes missing in broad daylight, and the local town of Bensalem devolves into a cesspool of finger-pointing and chaos.

With nowhere left to turn, Aaron and Ellen Dreyer are forced to venture into the woods to find their son. But in the process, they uncover a force larger and more sinister than anything they ever could have imagined.


Read now

Well, hello there! My name is Drew Starling.

I’m an author of horror and dark fiction. I love writing strong female leads and I’ll promise you one thing: the dog never dies.

If you wanted to trace back the history of my writing career, my mother would refer you to a poem I wrote about bats in a graveyard in 2 nd grade. She still has it, laminated and smashed in a binder of decades old memories from my childhood.

But I started writing horror in earnest about three years ago when something really strange happened to me.

Every year, my friends and I rent a cabin in the foothills of Shenandoah National Park. It’s really out there. No people, no towns, just trees and grass and hills. Three years ago, I arrived at the cabin straight from a trip I took to India, and I had the WORST jet lag I’ve ever had. I’d sleep all day and be awake all night.

Anyway, one night when I was lying awake, I rolled over to my side and gazed out the big front window of the bedroom I was staying in. The view overlooked a gloriously vast meadow filled with pine trees and wheatgrass, and right around 4am, when everyone else was asleep and a new dawn mist was forming in the distance, I saw this large shadowy thing slowly move across the land. I got up to look at what the thing was, but I couldn’t make it out, only to see that it was absolutely huge. It didn’t do anything crazy, it just moved – almost hovered – from one side of the meadow to the other.

After I was done being completely terrified and the sun came up, my mind ran wild with story possibilities. I scribbled an idea down on a piece of paper and recounted it to my friends that very day. Turn it into a short story! Turn it into a screenplay!

I was shocked they actually thought it was… good. So I did, and it started a little thing I was just going to post online until some fellow indie authors encouraged me to do more with it. I spent the next two years writing, and rewriting, and editing, and rewriting, and RE-rewriting, and just last week it finally saw the light of day in the form my first full length novel, Sentinel.

I’ve already got a sequel in the works, and I’m releasing a short story collection later this fall with my best short fiction to date. If you want to check out my work, I’d be utterly delighted if you gave Sentinel a try (free on KU for a limited time). 

Thanks very much, and I hope I get to scare you soon!

DS

An Amazon bestselling author of horror and dark fiction, Drew Starling is a husband and dog dad who loves strong female leads, martial arts, and long walks in the woods with canine companions. He would like to think his plots are better than his prose, but strives to make his words sound both beautiful and terrifying at the same time. He listens to Beethoven, Megadeth, and Enya when he writes, and he’d be absolutely delighted if you’d consider joining his mailing list (which you can find a link to about one and a half mouse scrolls up this page). His only rule of writing: the dog never dies.


Drew Sterling | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon



Sentinel


Book Tour Schedule

May 31st
Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com
Book Dragons Not Worms (Spotlight) https://bookdragonsnotworms.blogspot.com/?m=1
Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com
I Smell Sheep (Spotlight) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

June 1st
Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com
Dark Whimsical Art (Spotlight) https://www.darkwhimsicalart.com/blogs/news
The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

June 2nd
Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com
Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/
The Musings of a Final Girl (Spotlight) https://musingsofafinalgirl.wordpress.com/
Cats Luv Coffee (Guest Post) https://www.catsluvcoffee.com/

June 3rd
Scarlett Readz & Runz (Spotlight) https://scarlettreadzandrunz.com/
Liliyana Shadowlyn (Review) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/
@gin_books_crochethooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gin_books_crochethooks/
Cocktails & Fairy Tales (Spotlight) https://www.facebook.com/CocktailsFairytales

June 4th
@evelovesbooks_travel_art (Review) https://www.instagram.com/evelovesbooks_travel_art/
Phantom of the Library (Review) https://phantomofthelibrary.com/



Book Tour Organized By:

R&R Book Tours

Here is this month's roundup of anticipated horror releases!    The Shape of Darkness   by Laura Purcell Publication date (rerelease): J...


Here is this month's roundup of anticipated horror releases! 


 The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

Publication date (rerelease): June 1st, 2021

A struggling silhouette artist in Victorian Bath seeks out a renowned child spirit medium in order to speak to the dead - and to try and identify their killers - in this beguiling new tale from the queen of Gothic fiction, Laura Purcell.

As the age of the photograph dawns in Victorian Bath, silhouette artist Agnes is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, making enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric has never been easy, but then one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for Agnes, and then another, and another... Why is the killer seemingly targeting her business?

Desperately seeking an answer, Agnes approaches Pearl, a child spirit medium lodging in Bath with her older half-sister and her ailing father, hoping that if Pearl can make contact with those who died, they might reveal who killed them. But Agnes and Pearl quickly discover that instead they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back.


For the Wolf by Hannah F. Whitten

Publication date: June 1st, 2021

The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.

For fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale comes a dark fantasy novel about a young woman who must be sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. But not all legends are true, and the Wolf isn't the only danger lurking in the Wilderwood.

As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he'll return the world's captured gods.

Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can't control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can't hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn't learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole.

The author has provided a list of content warnings here.




Publication date: June 1st, 2021
Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Sadomasochism. Obsession. Death.

A whirlpool of darkness churns at the heart of a macabre ballet between two lonely young women in an internet chat room in the early 2000s—a darkness that threatens to forever transform them once they finally succumb to their most horrific desires.

What have you done today to deserve your eyes?



Malignant Summer by Tim Meyer 

Publication date: June 1st, 2021

It’s 1998 in Hooperstown, New Jersey and people are getting sick. Some citizens blame the local chemical plant. A select few believe something far more terrifying is responsible, a dreadful force that causes nightmarish visions and aberrant illnesses. Bad things are blooming in Hooperstown, and the stench of death is growing stronger...

Standing on the edge of summer break after the longest last day of eighth grade ever, Doug Simms and his two best friends join a group of older kids for an all-night scavenger hunt. It’s supposed to be a celebration, an evening of fun and freedom. But what happens that night will change their summer in the darkest ways imaginable. And not just their summer...but their entire lives.

MALIGNANT SUMMER is a coming-of-age epic where innocence is lost and the path through adolescence is painful. Where dreamscapes merge with reality. Where love seems possible, and the best season feels like it can last forever.


City of the Creeps by Ernie Kaltenbrunner, Jr.

Publication date: June 3rd, 2021

The Crazies meets Day of the Dead, molded for a modern readership.
The virus is smart, learning as it goes, and finding opportunities to thrive.
People are changing. They’re quiet. They’re spacey. They’re harboring something foreign and looking mingle…People are biting. People are chasing. People are spreading a virus that turns even the most civilized into a creature of violence.
Can a small group of survivors make it through the day, will they survive the night?
Survive unscathed? No.
Survive unchanged? No.
Survive uncontaminated? Maybe.


Read now


Queen of the Cicadas by V. Castro


Publication date: June 22nd, 2021

2018: Belinda Alvarez has returned to Texas for the wedding of her best friend Veronica. The farm is the site of the urban legend, La Reina de Las Chicharras - The Queen of The Cicadas.

In 1950s south Texas a farmworker—Milagros from San Luis Potosi, Mexico—is murdered. Her death is ignored by the town, but not the Aztec goddess of death, Mictecacíhuatl. The goddess hears the dying cries of Milagros and creates a plan for both to be physically reborn by feeding on vengeance and worship.

Belinda and the new owner of the farmhouse, Hector, find themselves immersed in the legend and realize it is part of their fate as well.


Moon Lake by Joe R. Lansdale 

Publication date: June 22nd, 2021
Links: Goodreads


Daniel Russell was only thirteen years old when his father tried to kill them both by driving their car into Moon Lake. Miraculously surviving the crash—and growing into adulthood—Daniel returns to the site of this traumatic incident in the hopes of recovering his father's car and bones. As he attempts to finally put to rest the memories that have plagued him for years, he discovers something even more shocking among the wreckage—a twenty-year-old relic that has ties to a twisted web of dark deeds, old grudges, and strange murders.

As Daniel diligently follows where the mysterious trail of vengeance leads, he unveils the heroic revelation at its core.



Camp Neverland by Lisa Quigley 

Publication date: June 24th, 2021

Camp Neverland is special. At least that's what it said on the mysterious brochure. But when Max arrives to discover her tormentor Chuck Snyder is there, too, her hopes for a magical summer are dashed. Still, the bond she develops with her cabinmates feels almost too good to be true. And when kids start dying in gruesome ways, Max hides a frightening secret. She soon learns just how far she'll go to belong.


Read now


Publication Date:  April 9, 2021 Links:  Amazon   |  Goodreads M ore than 20 years after her abduction at the hands of the elusive Pan, Wend...



Publication Date: April 9, 2021
Links: Amazon Goodreads

More than 20 years after her abduction at the hands of the elusive Pan, Wendy Darling is all grown up and a successful detective. But when a local girl vanishes in the middle of the night, her past comes rushing back.

Grieving the death of her mother, Detective Darling wants nothing more than to throw herself back into work. When the Lord Mayor’s daughter, Rosalie, vanishes, she insists on taking the case, triggering memories of her own past abduction. For years, Wendy struggled with her nonsensical memories of her captor, who she only knows as Pan. Yet the more she uncovers about Rosalie’s disappearance, the more Wendy is convinced her worst nightmare has come true—Pan’s back. Her fears are confirmed when the girl suddenly reappears and Wendy realises she’s walked straight into Pan’s trap…

Read Now




Navigating the world of social media 
by liz butcher

As an author, I found myself inherently bound to a multitude of social media platforms. It’s a necessary evil in the world of the indie author and can often feel like you’re tumbling down the rabbit hole a ’la Alice in Wonderland. Start talking about algorithms and click rates and my eyes glaze over—terrible, I know! I don’t pretend to know why one person’s post my garner hundreds of ‘likes’ and another only a handful—I unfortunately lack the savvy knack so many other authors possess. Yet there is a silver lining to the world of social media, and that is the vast number of authors and readers. The writing and reading communities are amazing across all platforms and all of my writer friends are ones I’m made through social media. Most I’ve learned about the do’s and don’ts of self-publishing have come from these talented people sharing their own experiences and knowledge, and in turn, I like to pay it forward. 

I thought that when Tiktok arrived I would draw the line and I said I would never join, but low and behold there I am and I have to say this is so far my favourite way of connecting with other writers and readers. Getting to know the myriad of authors across all genres has not only helped me grow as a writer but taught me so much about the importance of championing each other and celebrating the successes of my talented writer friends. As an author I also appreciate the importance of highlighting those books which I enjoy and sharing the love on social media and in turn, it’s so thrilling when you find readers giving your own work a shout out! So as daunting as it can all be once you find your feet, there is an endless and enjoyable source of knowledge and connections within the world of social media.



OTHER WORKS BY LIZ BUTCHER: 

Camille’s father just inherited the family manor from his estranged uncle, forcing her to leave her friends and city life just before her senior year of high school for the small town of Woodville, England. After seeing a strange old woman lurking on the estate grounds, she embarks on a mission to uncover the history of her new home.

What she finds is wilder than she could have imagined—the murder of her ancestor, Caleb LeRoux, on the same day his six-year-old daughter vanished without a trace. And an unforeseen connection to Camille herself, as the only female LeRoux born to the family in over two hundred years. With the help of her new school friends, Camille delves into the secrets of the manor, uncovering an all-encompassing truth that will change the entire course of her life—past, present, and future.



The last thing Jonah Sands expected on his thirtieth birthday was to have his life thrust into the hands of a dangerous, red-haired woman—or to be the only person in the world to survive an encounter with her.


As the death toll skyrockets, Jonah and his two best friends, the siblings Tristan and Ava Carter, find themselves at the epicentre of inexplicable phenomena—a stranded ferry transforms into a barge headed for the Underworld; young girls levitate to whisper ancient riddles; technology across the globe is controlled by some unseen hand. And it all seems to lead back to the woman with red hair. When a stranger finds them in the midst of a thunderstorm and offers his otherworldly assistance, Jonah finally unravels the truth about who he really is. And what it means for the rest of humanity.



PRAISE FOR LIZ BUTCHER 

“What really sticks out from the very first chapter is just how fast the author takes  readers into the action and mystery of this story.” Anthony Avina, Top Book Reviewer  Book Sirens 

“Readers will love the larger-than-life characters, mayhem, and magic. I heartily recommend this book and urge you all to grab yourselves a copy if this is your type of story. Or even if it’s not!” Reads and Reels 

“This is one impressive debut from an obviously gifted artist who knows how to blend human drama with metaphysical fantasy and mythology to create a splendidly unique novel with visceral force. Very highly recommended.” Grady Harp, Top Shelf Magazine



Liz Butcher resides in Australia, with her husband, daughter, and their two cats. She’s a self-confessed nerd with a BA in psychology and an insatiable fascination for learning. Liz was previously the former Executive Assistant at the Horror Tree, which is a mainstream resource for authors and has published a number of short stories in anthologies including her own collection, After Dark, in 2018. Fates Fury was her debut novel and LeRoux Manor, her stunning new novel set for release, September,  2020.  
More information can be found about Liz at her website:  

Publication:  August 17th, 2021  by Harper Voyager Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads T he incredible finale of the page-turning, high-octane Sand...



Publication: August 17th, 2021 
by Harper Voyager

The incredible finale of the page-turning, high-octane Sandman Slim series filled with an explosive ending and intense kick-ass action from New York Times bestselling author Richard Kadrey.

It’s been three months since Stark stopped a death cult and a potential ghost apocalypse, and he’s at loose ends. His personal life is a mess. His professional life isn’t much better. And the world…well, the world is going to shit. L.A. is gripped by a viral epidemic that has everyone wearing masks and keeping their distance from each other. But what’s even more frightening is the Shoggot gang and their leader, King Bullet, who revels in the city’s collapse.

Who is King Bullet? No one knows. He seemingly came from nowhere with nothing but a taste for mayhem and an army of crazed killers who follow his every command. What king wants seems simple on it face: Chaos. Destruction. A city in flames. But there’s more to the king and his plans for L.A. and what Stark discovers will change Heaven, Earth, and Stark himself forever.

It's hard to believe that this is the final book of the Sandman Slim series. The series finale finds Stark in the midst of a viral pandemic where everyone is wearing masks. LA is in chaos. And in the midst is gang leader King Bullet, who seems to have a vendetta for Stark. Hold on to your hats because the train is barreling into the station and there's no one at the helm. 

This is a welcome change as the last book in the series, Ballistic Kiss, definitely felt like one of the slower books. Kadrey put a lot more emotion into Stark, with more introspection than the kick-ass action that I have come to know and love from him. King Bullet takes us back to everything that the Sandman Slim series has been. Once again, there is a very eccentric villain (King Bullet) that Stark has been tasked with taking care of. He's questioning why exactly he was tasked with it, lending credence to the idea that Abbott has not been on the up and up with him. 

This pandemic is no COVID, as terrible as that has been. This one causes autophagia, the consumption of your own body. Yes, these people are chewing their lips and fingers, and...ugh. Disgusting.  In a lot of ways, it's a parallel of a lot of what's happened since COVID. Businesses are shuttered, masks have to be worn everywhere, and for other reasons, riots have happened. Honestly, I read to escape the real world, so reading a story about a novel pandemic in the midst of a novel pandemic wasn't really my cup of tea.

Kadrey certainly wraps up all the loose ends with this finale. All the character arcs are settled without feeling like they were quickly tied up for the sake of completion. I think most fans will be happy with the fulfillment of the Sandman Slim series. Don't think we can completely count Stark out though. That ending might just leave the tiniest bit of wiggle room. 






Publication: November 30th 2020  by Beneath Hell Publishing Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads " W e’d been in the house two weeks when Tommy...



Publication: November 30th 2020 
by Beneath Hell Publishing

"
We’d been in the house two weeks when Tommy pulled the first bones from the garden.”

When Cassie Baker buys the house on Cedar Street, it’s partly because it reminds her of the house she grew up in in the ‘80s. It reminds her of happier times, when her Mom was still alive, before the cancer had taken her. It seems like the perfect place to raise her baby boy, Sam.

That is, until a friend unearths the remains of a dog, buried in a shallow grave in the backyard.

After the bones come the cockroaches…

The Cockroach King is a new novella written by Andrew Cull, the award-winning author of Remains and Bones.

Read now
 
 

Cockroaches are one of those bugs that most people hate and of which even more have a phobia, with good reason. They hide in the walls proliferating unseen, scattering when exposed to the light, invading our spaces. The Cockroach King not only plays with our innate revulsion of these scuttling six-legged pests, it quickly escalates it. At only 65 pages, this is one novella that excels at tending a feeling of dread and then coaxing it into an inferno of unease. 

Cassie is a single mother, intent on raising her little boy Sam and creating a life. Told from the first-person view, we quickly feel for her. She's just poured everything she has into their very first home after the death of her mother. She's so well written. She's relatable and her grief is familiar. There's a strength to her that you find yourself quickly cheering for. You want her to succeed and something is standing in the way of her hopes and dreams as Cassie soon finds that their house isn't quite the home-sweet-home that she'd hoped it would be. 

From the very first line—“We’d been in the house two weeks when Tommy pulled the first bones from the garden.”—Cull sets the scene for something foreboding and insidious. This is such a creepy little read. The characters are intimate and the pacing is excellent. The writing is deliberate and invokes such great visceral reactions while reading. The tension builds as the reader is given more questions than answers until it all comes down in a culmination of exposed horrific secrets. 

Interestingly enough, while I was writing this review, my husband came in from outside with an odd discovery: a tiny skull in his hand that he found lying next to the driveway.  We've had numerous pet rats throughout the years and they are all buried in the flower garden. I went outside expecting to find the rock pile set on top disturbed and the burial hole open; It was not. I don't know how the skull got where it was but I find any roaches in my house, you can bet I will bug-bomb this sucker to kingdom come. 



Publication date: April 27th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads "M essy divorce? Check. Emotional stability of the involved parties? Qu...



Publication date: April 27th, 2021


"Messy divorce? Check.

Emotional stability of the involved parties? Questionable.

Possibility of bloodshed? High.

Yep; it was definitely starting to sound like one of my cases."

​In addition to being San Diego's supernatural mediator, John Smith is the city's least successful private investigator. Those two careers collide when what was supposed to be a simple infidelity case draws the attention of the local werewolf pack. John soon finds himself pressed into service mediating a separation between the pack's married leaders.

Even under normal circumstances, divorce is hell. But when werewolves are involved? It's murder.

Read now


 

Blood is Thicker Than Lots of Stuff is book two in The Many Travails of John Smith, following Investigation, Mediation, Vindication. We pick up in John's life after his first mediation for the paranormal community went...well, he survived anyway, mostly unscathed. He's back in the PI business and even has a date! He did anyway until the vampires had to show up and ruin it for him. Truth be told, they didn't need to show up for it to be ruined; he's entirely capable of doing that himself. Something about still living in your parent's basement at 25 doesn't exactly lend itself to having a phenomenal dating life. He still has his PI business going for him and it's thriving—until werewolves start trying to kill him. 

John has truly made some interesting life choices along the way. He always manages to end up right in the middle of the mess. Not that he's trying, mind you. It's truly a matter of happenstance and some drunken advertising that has landed him where he is. This time he's been hired by a husband to find out if the wife is cheating. He's still out there giving it everything he's got and it turns out he's actually a pretty decent mediator despite getting in way over his head all the time. 

Humor is still a big draw in this series. We've continued with the truly fun chapter titles "In Which ___". For example: Chapter 12, "In Which People Are Strange When You're a Stranger". The vegetable demigod Bill, who is so strangely charming, is absent but he has tasked John with the care of his ward, Jee Sun aka Tiny Flower, who manages to be both adorable and a diminutive terror. John's inner voice is still as quirky as ever and his outside voice is still spewing things that would much be better kept inside. Tullbane's casual writing style hasn't changed but Blood is Thicker Than Lots of Stuff gets darker than the previous book. John is still the average guy trying to feel his way through but the action kicks up a bit more leaning more towards typical UF fare while still avoiding second book syndrome.

I judge a lot of UF by whether you could pick up a book in the middle of a series and still understand what the heck is going on. The Many Travails of John Smith #2 passes muster. A good chunk of the opening is reintroducing characters and bringing the reader up to speed. That being said, the reader would get more enjoyment out of knowing the characters a bit more intimately and immersing in the worldbuilding gradually.  This is a series that is going to go the distance so do yourself a favor and start from the beginning. 









Publication date: March 19th 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads T he stakes are real. The mediator isn't. An exiled vampire queen. A vege...




Publication date: March 19th 2021

The stakes are real. The mediator isn't.

An exiled vampire queen.

A vegetable demigod.

A magic Nintendo.

When supernatural forces collide, it will take a skilled mediator to keep their conflict from destroying San Diego.

Unfortunately, all they have is John Smith.

Read now


 


Investigation, Mediation, Vindication (I'm already tired of typing that) is comedic urban fantasy gold. The story follows private investigator hopeful John Smith, who has an unfortunate genealogy of a long line of John Smiths. Let's be honest; there's a lot of unfortunates about John Smith. He still lives with his parents, he hasn't had a girlfriend in years (might be due to #1), and he's just found himself caught up in a potential war between a noble vampire House and the demigod of nightmares. He's casually enjoying a local Comicon when he's attacked by crab people and kidnapped by vampires for his own good. As it turns out, in one night of drunken bad choices, John posted an ad stating that he was in the business of investigation, mediation, and vindication, and after a hit on all the mediators in San Diego, he's the only mediator left. 

John is a fantastic character. He's nerdy, witty, twenty pounds out of shape, and way over his head. John has absolutely no magic or really any job skills for that matter.  One moment he's trying to survive paying the rent on his business in the not-so-great side of town, the next he's trying not to be killed by the vampires and prevent San Diego from being sucked into a Hell dimension. Pretty much the only thing is he's got going for him is a big mouth that doesn't know when to shut up. He does, however, seem to have an innate ability to avoid vampire whammies, to the displeasure of the vampires. 

There are a lot of secondary characters but they still manage to be unique for such a large cast. The snarky, vampire Juliette who wears Ramones t-shirts and nicknames John "little bird", thanks to his shower singing, is fantastic. However, the real character not to miss is the demigod of nightmares and terrors, Lord Beel-Kasan—who just happens to be a seven-foot-tall asparagus with coal for eyes, a carrot for a nose, and a magic marker drawn mouth—and goes by Bill. Yes, Bill (as if that's the weirdest thing about that sentence).  Thanks to John's immunity to supernatural mumbo jumbo, that's how Bill appears to him. Apparently, to others, he's enormously more frightening. Even without arms or legs, asparagus demigod Bill somehow steals the show.  

From the chapter titles like "In Which Hell is Being Stuck Somewhere With the Wrong Person", to the fact that the war might be started over a classic Nintendo, humor is obviously the main driving force in this urban fantasy.  Ridiculous and irreverent, it still manages funny without quickly nosediving into annoying. John is a huge nerd though so a lot of the dialogue is low brow. For example, after being kidnapped by the vampires, his inner dialogue is trying to decide on names to call the vampires. He settles on "manpire" and "femmepire" and he's really proud of himself for coming up with the second. Sometimes the banter takes a bit too long for the sake of the joke, which drags the novel down a bit, but it definitely gets better the further into the plot it goes. 

It's nice to have an urban fantasy series where the MC truly has no idea what he is doing. There are no magical abilities or black belts in martial arts. No weaponry expert or military background. Just a dorky smart-mouthed guy named John who has stumbled into the paranormal world.