Review: An American Weredeer in Michigan by Phipps & Suttkus

An American Weredeer in Michigan (The Bright Falls Mysteries Series Book 2) by [Phipps, C. T., Suttkus, Michael]An American Weredeer in Michigan is the newest urban fantasy novel from C.T. Phipps and Michael Suttkus. The book takes place a year after the events of the first book, I was a Teenage Weredeer, and follows the same protagonist, Jane Doe. The entire series takes place in a world that has gone through the “Reveal” a time in which supernatural elements of the world are known to everyone and the world is still reacting to that information. Michigan is, more or less, a safe place to be, but a lot of people didn’t react well to the revelation and a new type of racism bursts forth.
So, when the new Shaman of Bright Falls, Jane, discovers a mass grave of discarded babies she already had a lot on her plate. Someone has been discarding newborns for the last hundred or so years, and it’s an atrocity that can’t go unpunished. Teaming up with her crew from the last book, Jane is on a quest to stop the murder of innocent lives…
Until a few more things come up. First, there’s a cult leader/wizard who wants to find the person or being responsible for the massacre and harness them for his own purposes. Also, money is an issue for the young and inexperienced Jane, and she’s struggling to make ends meet when the current leader of the werewolves wants to buy out her family business. Jane is, of course, reluctant to sell.
Oh, and her boyfriend’s brother is super into her. Her day is going to be a busy one.
Jane is a snarky protagonist in the vein of Harry Dresden and I love her for it.
I like ( a lot) how Phipps makes you feel the tension between Alex, Jane, and Lucien. The relationship, or confusion considering it, between herself and Lucien, and herself and Alex, is something that Phipps and Suttkus build up really well. Robyn, a new character introduced in this story, I like specifically because of her “Watson-esque” role she’s taken over for Jane. She becomes our outsider that helps us understand things while playing a pivotal role to the story, and I love that. She also feels like she came from Straight out of Fangton (another book that takes place in this universe, but not in this series), in her personality, which really helps tie the two series together in a thematic way.
I can’t recommend the Weredeer series by Phipps and Suttkus more. We have books that we read for fun and enjoyment, and we have books that we read as guilty pleasures. This is one of my guilty pleasures, falling into the snarky hero/urban fantasy genre that I always go back to.
5 out of 5, will grab up the next one as soon as it is out.
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Broken Nights: Strange Worlds by Matthew & Michael Davenport

Now Available!!!E Book Cover II

Six months have passed since the Guardian saved Darden Valley. The city’s path to recovery is well underway as the citizens gratefully accept their new protector as one of their own, but for every crime the Guardian stops, two more take its place as the city’s criminals try to make a name for themselves against Darden Valley’s champion.

With new abilities and a computer system that acts and sounds like his departed sister, Jason Night is struggling to adapt to this new world without letting his emotions destroy the momentum he’s built for himself.

As he finally begins to put the pieces of his life back together, Samson arrives. Stronger than any other man and with unbreakable skin, Samson is a warped and twisted vision from biblical legend. Samson’s arrival heralds a new threat to Darden Valley. A supernatural threat that one man with a few clever gadgets is no match for.

Magic is real and the Guardian is powerless to stop it.

Review: Alien Stars, A Harry Stubbs Adventure, by David Hambling

Alien Stars: A Harry Stubbs Adventure by [Hambling, David]Our modest hero, Harry Stubbs, returns in another great adventure!

He’s still reading his science fiction novels, working the jobs only an ex-boxer can get, and working on a correspondence course in investigations that has me super excited for future installments.

In this book, he’s investigating a weird type of meteorite that might have abstract properties, making it dangerous for the owner.

My favorite parts of this book were the parts that define any Harry Stubbs adventure. Specifically, the investigation into the museum, the library research, and the very interesting characters, specifically, his employer in this book and the sultry American visitor.

Harry Stubbs is one of my favorite characters and always a great adventure. David fails to disappoint, bringing an intelligent and intrigue-driven story to a character that could so easily be written as a dumb stereotype. Instead, he’s a smart man, who I would describe as more wise than intelligent, in that he’s always seeking to learn and better himself.

Even if those efforts and his current line of work might drive him mad.
5 out of 5!

Alien Stars is absolutely wonderful. Get a copy here!

Review: I Was a Teenage Weredeer, by CT Phipps

I was a Teenage Weredeer, by C.T. Phipps is, in my opinion, the best elements of The Dresden Files, True Blood, Mean Girls, and Supernatural all wrapped into one very well put-together package.
The heroine, a weredeer by the name of Jane Doe (get it?) gets wrapped up in a murder mystery a la the X-Files that shakes the very foundation of being a weer-anything. It’s a great book that focuses on a lot of issues, from parental abuse, to family tradition, to racism, to women’s rights, to being a weredeer in a state that’s famous for hunters. Hell, weredeer even get a chance to hunt back. This story hits you right in the feels, dealing with the guilt associated with loss, the emotional destruction left in the wake of rape, and the beautiful reality that is young lust.
Personally, I’m addicted to this book and look forward to the series that’s supposed to follow. It has a little something from every one of my fandoms, and uses them to create an entirely new fandom. Personally, as much as I loved Straight out of Fangton by the same author, I prefer the Jane Doe stories and the emotional rollercoaster that they take you on.

You can pick up a copy by going here: http://amzn.to/2wFtDQt

Review: IT (2017)

This is where I review “IT.”

IT was great. I loved IT. IT was also very scary. Nothing was scarier than IT. I couldn’t get enough of IT.

That being said, IT had strengths and weaknesses, as anything would. IT did more to explain what IT was than the original one, and that was great. I also loved how IT was scary without the overused convention of jump scares that we see a lot of.

As for weaknesses, I felt that some of the characters IT had weren’t as well developed as I would have liked. Specifically, we never meet the parents of Ben Hanscom, which might not seem that important, but everyone else gets a parental growth story of some kind. Either a freedom or a coming to terms in some way. Ben’s parents are completely absent, which is odd for someone who is one of the main characters of focus.

But I digress, as:

IT was magnificent, and I look forward to more of IT if IT becomes something that people want to make more of. Try not to hold my one negative against IT, as IT was 99% solid and only 1% of “Huh, why didn’t they cover that a little more?”

I can’t wait to rewatch IT, share IT, and tell people about IT.

What did you think of IT?

IT could be the new IT thing everyone wants to talk about…

That joke might have overdone IT…

Get IT?

–MD–

Review: Straight out of Fangton by C.T. Phipps

Straight Outta Fangton: A Comedic Vampire Story by [Phipps, C. T.]I’m a Phipps-Fan. It’s a fact, and anyone reading this blog on any sort of regular basis is well aware of that. With that being said, I was avoiding reading Straight out of Fangton because nothing about it sounded appealing to me. Mostly because it’s labeled as a parody vampire novel, and for some reason I tend to ignore parody books even though I only ever enjoy them. For example, I never crave to read anything by A. Lee Martinez, but then I do and I fall in love with it and don’t know why I didn’t pick it up sooner. To follow that example of my thinking, I’ll then forget how much I love A. Lee Martinez’s work and then do the same damn thing when his next book comes out. They’re great books that never disappoint, but I fall into the same, “But it’s funny, so I won’t like it” kind of thinking every time.
That’s what happened with Straight out of Fangton. I read and loved a bunch of Phipps’ books and then I heard about Fangton, and decided to avoid it. Lucky for me, I ran out of things to read and decided to give it a try.
First of all, allow me to clear something up: Straight out of Fangton is portrayed as a parody, but it’s anything but. When I hear parody, I think of Mel Brooks taking on genre films. This isn’t the case with Fangton. I wouldn’t even label it a comedy, although it has comedic moments. This is an original Vampire story in the vein of Blade or Interview with a Vampire. This is good vampire fiction that doesn’t have a problem questioning the things that are kind of silly in other vampire stories (ie: the phrase “You’ve been Twilighted” is used a few times, and it works wonderfully well).
This story follows Peter Stone in Detroit after Detroit has been converted to New Detroit, a new home for the publicly acknowledged undead. The world is essentially the same, except there are more undead folks everywhere. The story kicks off when a Vampire-Hunter turned vampire is found in a bathroom at the gas station that Peter works. He decides he can’t just leave her there and ends up on a journey to stop an Ancient self-hating vampire from eliminating the Vampire-Nation.
The comedy/parody is kept to minimal levels, nowhere near what’s implied if you read the other reviews. The best part about this entire story is the weight of the world on the characters. I’ve pointed out in previous reviews that most of Phipps’ main characters go through an intense amount of development, but in this story he did something different. Peter Stone’s character is well defined and likable at the beginning and throughout, instead, the Vampire Nation goes through development and growth as Peter stands outside of the nest coaxing them to join him in the open world. It’s very different from the usual Phipps-fare, but very well done.
I give this novel a 5 out of 5 and can’t believe it took me this long to get to it.

Review: Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Hex

Writing horror isn’t easy. There are a lot of pitfalls that an author can fall into revolving around whether something turns too gory, too real, too fake, too hopeless, too unbelievable, or too disconnected from it’s audience. A lot of horror starts out well, but when it comes to the middle of the second act, it falls apart, a victim of it’s own narrative as the author tries and fails to ramp up the tension in new and exciting ways while still keeping our interest in these characters that we’re pretty sure are all going to die anyway.
It isn’t easy.
I point this out because I think that Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt is possibly one of the best examples that I have ever seen of how to take a few classic horror tropes and write them as new and exciting plot devices without being too heavy-handed.

Continue reading

Laptop Woes!

Recently, my laptop has been on the fritz.
When I first got it, it was a refurbished model off of Groupon. I was impressed (at the time) with the hard drive size (500 GB) and the RAM (4 GB), but I was less than impressed with the amount of heat pouring off of it every time I used it. I dealt with the heat issue by getting one of those lap fans everybody uses, but also by researching as much as I could about heat issues with computers.
I ended up installing different BIOS updates and all sorts of other things before finally surrendering to the fact that this computer was just going to run hot.
Since then, the heat (and a few bad USB ports) are the only things I’ve had to complain about. It’s been fine otherwise, and perfect for helping me progress through my writing career.
Unfortunately, after a fun trip this weekend, I might have shoved my laptop into a too-tight bag and subsequently made it annoyingly unuseful for a writer. After our trip, I had some server updates that I wanted to run (yeah, we have a home server. I’m that nerd) and went to my browser on my laptop to access the server via Chrome. For some reason, my laptop decided not to open any icon that I clicked on. After three restarts finally seemed to solve that problem, I began to the type the IP Address for the server and noticed a problem when I got about halfway through it. The 9 button just decided to start typing on it’s own.
I restarted, tested, restarted again, tested, restarted again, and it seemed to fix itself, but the desktop icons wouldn’t open again. I Did one final restart and everything finally seemed to be working.
Then I opened up a word document to start working on the end of Broken Nights: Strange Worlds, and wouldn’t you believe it, the 9 button decided it wanted to help me write the story again.
Very Loud Sigh…followed by cuss words.
That’s no good for an author, but lucky for me, I have solutions.
The real problem for my dilemma is that I don’t want to buy a new computer. This isn’t entirely true, of course. Anyone who knows me knows that I really enjoy buying new computers. The truth is, I don’t want to spend the money.
My wife offered to loan me hers, but my “Maker” ways make me tear apart and mod things that I use. Basically, if she loans me her computer, I’ll want to do things to it that make it very un-hers. My wife is awesome, even for thinking of such a wonderful suggestion, but she’s too awesome for me to abuse her wonderful gift.
I also repurpose laptops for friends when they need them. I swap out hard drives, add and remove RAM, and install different Linux environments so that my friends can have a running laptop. If this solution is good enough for my friends, why not me?
A few months ago, my mother sent me my dad’s dying computer. I installed the latest Ubuntu on it, and was using it as more of a prototyping experiment more than anything. In light of the system failures in my laptop, I started downloading my entire OneDrive (only a few GB) to the Ubuntu box.
My only reason for seeing the Ubuntu laptop as an inconvenience is that I have subscriptions on the Windows machine. Steam, Adobe Photoshop, and Microsoft Office. All things that don’t translate well when switching over to Linux. To be fair, there is a Linux Steam client and GIMP is a great Photoshop alternative, but Microsoft Office is a disappointing service to lose full access to.
The great news is that there are tons of open source (free) alternatives to everything that I’m used to, and Microsoft has online tools that are just slimmed down versions of their downloaded suite of services.
So, my plan for now is to transfer anything important to the Linux laptop, install the programs I need to keep on keeping on, and to transfer the RAM cards from my laptop to the Linux laptop to improve the functionality of it.
What does this mean for my writing? Absolutely nothing. I was using OneDrive as a back up for my important things, including my writing. When I hit save on my story last time I was writing it, it uploaded any changes to OneDrive instantly. All I need to do is sign into Word Online and start typing, or open the downloaded OneDrive backup I did the other night and continue the document from there.
Frustrated at losing a computer’s functionality, but not as frustrated as I could have been! #creativelife!
–MD–

Review: X-Files: Cold Cases

Product DetailsBack in 2008, I moved to Iowa from upstate New York (read that as “Farther upstate than what you’re thinking”). I’m a social butterfly, and I made a ton of friends in my new home very quickly, but that didn’t stop me from having evenings alone. On one of those particular evenings, I made a serious decision to do something silly: I was going to rent all of the sci-fi shows that I had never gotten a chance to see before then and give them a watch (to be fair, I also included every b-rated sci-fi movie as well. For that reason, I’ve seen both Time Runner and The Guyver. For both of those, I thank you Mark Hamill).
This is how I became a fan of The X-Files, staring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson (and a million other stars who would later go on to guest star or star in their own sci-fi shows). I went on every single mission with them and grew to love Mulder’s silly moments and Scully’s skepticism.
And, after binge-watching all nine seasons, keeping magnets at the ready, and learning to fear the year 2012, I faced the inevitable truth that so many others had already learned to cope with.
The X-files was over.
It sucked, and I tried finding more of the snarky Fox wit through the comic books, but it wasn’t the same. The movies came and went, trying to fill the gaps for some of us, but alas, they were a drop of water in a desert. There and gone far too quickly to quench any real thirst. I had to face a cold and hard fact: There were never going to be any more of The X-files.
Life happened and years went by and I was sitting at my computer and writing when my wife blurted out, “They’re bringing back X-files.”
Wait…what?
Not a reboot, and not another movie, but a new season picking up with most of the original cast and some great sounding new cast.
Then the season came, with mixed reviews, but I loved it. The mixed reviews had me worried, though. Would they keep it going?
Yes, it turns out. They are working on a 11th season as we speak.
Absolutely wonderful, but what about the time in between. Do I really have in the vast oceans of time between each of these seasons?
As it turns out, no, my friend, we no longer have to wait idly by. That’s where Audible’s new series, The X-files: Cold Cases, steps in.
Cold Cases is a full cast dramatization, bringing back all of your favorite characters and filling the gap between the end of the first nine seasons and the beginning of the 10th season. It’s cleverly done, and brings to life the characters that have earned so much of our respect. The only negative to any of this was that the writing of the show had to be changed to fit the new format. Instead of seeing something and then getting a snarky Mulder comment or a dry Scully remark, we instead get told that something is happening and then receive the comment.
For example (totally made up and not in the books, but illustrating my point): “Mulder, why are you holding that gun at an odd angle? And why is it covered in paint?” “Scully, lower your eyebrow before it floats away. I’m holding this gun because it’s evidence, and it’s painted this very interesting shade of blue because it’s covered in alien fecal matter.”
See, very descriptive, reminding you that it’s a radio show. I think I might have preferred narration instead, but I honestly don’t know because it’s not an option. This isn’t a complaint, so much as the only thing that made it different than the show we love.
Other than that, you get all of the great sci-fi tropes and monster of the week things that X-files is famous for, as well as some new sci-fi tropes that I don’t think X-files has ever dealt with in the past. You get Smoking Man, Skinner, Reyes, Doggit, and a few more surprises that I won’t spoil for you.
Oh boy, you’re in for a surprise.
I give this a 5 out of 5. I loved it, and I want more Audible Original full dramatizations. I’m moving on to the Alien ones next, and the sequel to Cold Cases will be out in October!
Can’t wait!
–MD–