Author to Check Out: Travis M. Riddle!

So over the past month or so I have devoured all the works of a newish author, Travis M. Riddle! I was cruising through Kindle Unlimited, looking or some good horror to read when I came across the above cover (which I think we can all agree is mighty eye-catching). The Narrows had good reviews, so I decided to give it a go.

And sweet mother was it good! The horror elements were great, solid representations of the genre, but what really hooked me was the emotional sub-plot. You could have taken out every horror element, and still have been left with an incredible book about faded friendships, loss, and how you really can’t ever go home again.

So with that under my belt, I just had to see what else he had on offer. And thankfully he has two more books out there:

Balam, Spring is a bit of a slice of life, fantasy, mystery novel. It’s got some poignant moments, and some gut-wrenching loss, but of the three this is perhaps the weakest entry in his catalogue.

Wondrous is hard to categorize. At face value, its a portal fantasy. Only…you come to find out it’s not. What it is, is rich in emotion, with vibrant characters and a neat little bit of world building.

All three books are very, very different from each other. But what connects them is that all three have some of the best, heart-string tugging scenes and lines I’ve ever come across. They leave emotional echoes that resonate with you for days after you’ve put them down, which is powerful, powerful stuff.

So do yourself a favor and click those links and pick up copies of your own!

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Three Awesome Book Recommendations!

So still plowing away at my 52 book challenge (16 deep, hoping to make it 17 before the start of February) and it’s going great. Along the way I have stumbled across a few really awesome books that I think you should check out! Here they are:

Here Be Dragons by David P. MacPherson. If you love a good, heartwarming, funny tale, then this is for you! Do you like stories that leave you feeling better about life and all that after? Like stories that make you laugh? Like amazing donkeys? Then this is the book for you!

This book is great! Heartwarming and hilarious, I literally laughed out loud multiple times. It has a similar vibe to Kings of the Wyld, being funny, and about an old adventurer knocking the dust off and getting back at it. If you loved that you should love this and vice versa.” – My Goodreads review

The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente. If you enjoy fairy tales, and complex stories that weave together, then you will like this. A series of interweaving fairy tales designed for adults, it has left me ever so ready to dive right into the next book in the series.

Teeth Marks by Matthew Weber. If you enjoy creepy horror, then you will love this. The stories, set in the deep south, share a universe and are filled with all manner of things that go bump in the night.

“This is an excellent collection of horror short stories. They were inventive, and creepy, and most of all left me wanting more. The stories had surprising depth at times, and the characters were wonderfully three dimensional.” – My Goodreads review

 

Goodreads Challenge!

So I am trying to get more active on Goodreads (send me a friend request ), and part of that is I decided to take part of their 2019 reading challenge. I set a goal of reading 52 books, which I suspect at the current rate I will reach sometime around the middle of the year. Then I plan to tackle House of Leaves (let me know if you’ve read it, and what you think).

I am also resolving to leave a review on each book I read. As an author I am always desperate for book reviews, and it’s wildly hypocritical for me to not do the same for other authors. And Goodreads makes it so easy to do.

Periodically I will post up what I have read, and if you want to read my typically short reviews of them, check out my Goodreads profile.

Thus far:

1. The Dwarves by Marcus Heitz. Fantasy novel. 3 stars.
2. The Prophecy Con by Patrick Weeks. Fantasy Heist novel. 5 stars.
3. American Hippo by Sarah Gaily. Alternate history novella two pack. 5 stars.
4. Storm Glass by Jeff Wheeler. Fantasy audiobook. 4 stars (5 for production, 3 for the book itself)
5. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. 4 stars.
6. The Sable Quean by Brian Jaques. If you like redwall books, its par for the course.
7. Stephen Fry’s Secret Victoria. Historical audiobook. 4 stars.
8. Emergency Contact by Mary Choi. Y.A….romance? 4 stars.

Book Review: The Ritual

After watching a movie first thing I do is wiki it. I want to know if there is a planned sequel, did I miss something, was it based on a book, etc. So when after watching the Ritual I saw that it was a book first, I zipped over and picked up the kindle version here. And boy was I glad that I did!

Worldbuilding: Set in the modern day, with just a layer laid atop it just doesn’t leave much room for elaborate worldbuilding. What there was, was solid however. The grim forest setting was damn near palpable in places. 4.

Characters: The characters felt real, their motivations genuine. I had a problem however, and will acknowledge this is more of a me thing, and not an actual problem with the text: I hate characters that spend a long time disabled in some way. Be it hobbling along from a gun wound, or staggering almost dead through a desert, any character I follow at length I hate for them to be intensely damaged. And that happened a lot in this book. 3.

Prose: A real strength of this book, the prose was on point. The words painted a picture, which in turn went a long way to building the horror. 4.5.

Plot: The best part of this book. It was similar to the movie, but different in such delightful ways. 4.75.

Total: 4.06

Book Review: Scattered, Smothered, & Chunked

Going forward I intend to get a little more in depth on my book reviews, rather, there will at least be more structure to them. To that end after talking with Derek, we’ve decided to base our reviews on the four pillars of fiction: Plot, Characters, Worldbuilding, and Prose. Each category will get a rating from 1 to 5, which will give an overall average!

So first up I have the excellent Scattered, Smothered, and Chunked by John G. Hartness! A collection of short stories about Bubba the Monster Hunter, this book is a fun as the title and leading character would lead you to think!

Plot: What begins as a series of standalone stories begins to morph into a larger overarching storyline that left me wanting more, far more! I think this is where Hartness’s greatest strength lies, and is why I give it a rating of 5.

Characters: Bubba at first seems a hyper-stereotypical redneck cliché. But as the stories progress I found a surprising depth to him as a character. As you peel back the layers on his worst traits, and find out the origin of why he is the way that he is, he became real to me. I would like to see more of Skeeter going forward would be my only quibble. I would be interested to see him outside of the context of playing sidekick to Bubba. 4.25.

Worldbuilding: As a book that takes place in our own world, just a more monster filled version thereof, there isn’t much to be done in the way of worldbuilding. I do like that Hartness worked in some monsters somewhat outside the ‘normal’ bevy of baddies, like the Rakshaha. And some of his spins on the more typical horror fair were enjoyable as well. 4.

Prose: The prose is punchy and pulpy. Hartness is no Rothfuss when it comes to chaining together words, but there aren’t any glaring problems. The words convey what they need in a workmanlike and humorous way, which really is what you want in a book like this. Too flowery and it would have clashed with the tone and feel of the book. There were a few typos I noticed, but nothing outrageous. 3.75.

Final Score: 4.25

Treat yourself to a copy here.

Warbreaker Deep Dive!

Bob and Superfan Tonya go deep on Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson, while Derek sits in the same room.

Get your own copy here.

Check out this episode!

Book Review: Warbreaker

The 7th Brandon Sanderson novel I have read now, and honestly, I think it is the best. The Stormlight Archive is really good as well, but I will reserve full judgment til it has finished. Warbreaker though…

I think this is the tightest read of all his books. Other than a dalliance that runs a little long with one character, each storyline is nice and tight and builds to a great conclusion. All the little loose ends are wrapped up, while still leaving you longing for more. the magic system, as you would expect from Sanderson, is well thought out and amazingly innovative. The world building is on point, and the characters feel real. If you like Sanderson’s writing, then what are you waiting for?

Get a copy of your own here. Also keep your eye out for Superfan Tonya and I’s podcast deep dive on the book (but warning, its rife with spoilers, so only listen after you have read!).