Book Review: Rise by Jackson R. Thomas


Title: Rise (The White Wolf #2)

Author: Jackson R. Thomas

Release date: March 18, 2020

Big thanks to Glenn Rolfe & Alien Agenda Publishing for sending me this, but also for their continued kindness in thinking of me when new releases are coming out!

‘The Beast of Brenton Woods’ was my introduction to Thomas and what an absolute blast that book was. I’m a massive werewolf fan and Thomas’ take on the legend was such a fun ride. When he returned with ‘Paradise, Maine,’ I gobbled that one up as well and was really excited to see a return to Coopers Mills.

What I liked: This one picks up six years after the events of book one. We are quickly thrust into the return of the white wolf, although this time, it is an offspring of our beastie from book one. Thomas re-introduces Kathy, the police officer to us as well as adding an assortment of cast members. There is no shortage of death and gore in the second installment and we do get some movement on the back story.

The kills are a lot of fun and when a werewolf is involved you know full well carnage will be had.

What I didn’t like: Sadly, I found this one favoured kills over story. With the first book, we knew there was a purpose. The wolf was out there and the town banded together to hunt it down and ultimately attempt to kill it. This one lacked that. It was purely the new wolf wanting revenge and going about killing people. Thomas added in a TV show travel host as a possible plot point, but other than being there to sleep with the women he met, there really wasn’t much point in him being in the book. The ending was incredibly jarring and just came to a halt. We did get an epilogue, but it felt added on and unfortunately didn’t really have much of a purpose other than possibly setting up a third installment. This was true for the character who owned a local store. She appeared to only be used to harbor a third installment. I felt just a big deflation when we didn’t get a big end battle like with book one.

Why you should buy it: If you love werewolf stuff, this one moves along at a break neck pace. We are given some outstanding deaths and it’s always fun to see what is going to happen. I’ll be interested to find out what happens in a third installment (if there is one), but for now, if you loved ‘Brenton…’ you’ll have a fun time with ‘Rise.’



Release Day!

The Boy Whose Room Was Outside Cover


It’s here!

What a fun ride this one was.

‘The Boy Whose Room Was Outside’ has officially arrived in ebook, paperback and hardcover format! Featuring gorgeous illustrations/paintings/digital photographs by my friends Sandra & Miranda and also featuring fantastic drawings done by each of ‘The Kids’ this one is a labour of love!

So, what’s it about?


Imagine how amazing it would be, to go to sleep one night and then wake in a whole new world.

A world filled with animals that could talk and who became your friends?

For young Peter, that’s just what happens.

He wakes in a magical forest and quickly discovers that the animals who live there are just as excited to see him, as he is them.

But something lurks.

Something that doesn’t want Peter to be visiting the forest.

Through the help of his animal friends and a giant, Peter wants to get to the bottom of why this figure doesn’t want the young boy visiting.

A coming-of-age, middle grade/YA story of fantasy, family and courage, ‘The Boy Whose Room Was Outside’ is sure to warm the hearts of new readers and fill the souls of their parents with nostalgia.

How rad does that sound?

This book came about for a few reasons. I have a lot of friends who say – “I want to read something from you, but all your normal stuff sounds too scary!” So, this one is a bridge story – a book that has darkness and thrills but no gore, swearing and no deaths!

I also wanted to write something that inspired my son, nieces and nephews! Hence ‘Steve Stred & The Kids.’ Each of the little folks in my life gave me their favourite animal and an activity which I fit into the story!

So the ebook and paperback haven’t synced yet on Amazon – so here’s the link to the ebook which is and will remain 99 cents!


Lastly – a quick note on the paperback and hardcover pricing. The paperback is released through Amazon. Due to the color photos and the gorgeous cover (another stunning Mason McDonald design!) it has made the book a bit more expensive. When we release books through Amazon we get a minimum release cost. That means, that based off of printing, this is the lowest price Amazon can offer it for.

The same holds true for Lulu, where I’ve released the Hardcover. I’ll talk about the Hardcover in a second.

So the paperback is $20 US or $25 CAD. I understand it is a decent chunk of change, but I really did want to keep the pictures and paintings etc in full color! For full disclosure – I’ll make $0.32 off each US paperback and $0.25 off each CAD paperback. This was never really about making money though, this was about releasing something amazing and inspiring to the little ones.

As for the Hardcover – after having numerous issues with the artwork being usable on the Hardcover, I took a different approach. One of the inspirations for a story like this was “The Neverending Story.” I decided to keep a minimum front cover and went gloss black with purely the title. So, when you open the book, page one is the stunning full color artwork.

The Hardcover as well also fell victim to wanting to keep the color images. I probably won’t sell any (ha!) because the Hardcover is $47 and again – full disclosure – I’ll make $0 on each sale.

If you are looking for a gorgeous collectible – link is here;


Alright – let’s finish this up.

We know the world’s in a poor place. So if you are looking for a distraction, the next chapter of ‘Wound Upon Wound’ is now live!

Getting close to the ending now.

You can read everything here;

So, that’s it for this week.

I hope you and yours are safe and healthy and here’s hoping life slowly begins to return to a semblance of calm.


Book Review: Old Order – Jonathan Janz


Title: Old Order

Author: Jonathan Janz

Release Date: February 3, 2018


Janz is a favourite author of mine, one who I’ve never read something I haven’t enjoyed. When ‘Old Order’ was offered up as a freebie in the wake of the COVID-19 news, I snagged this and read it ASAP.

This one is a short but brutal read, one I highly enjoyed.

What I liked: the story follows Horace Yoder, drifter, who arrives at a secluded farmhouse seeking shelter and food in exchange for labour. The family agrees and it isn’t long before some seem nice and some seem off. I loved the character of Yoder and Janz slowly filled in some historical details as the story goes on. It soon becomes evident why Yoder is really there, but by that point, the family has also begun their plans as well.

What I didn’t like: the story is built on dread, on the knowledge that ‘something’ is going to happen. It was almost an immediate shift in tone from when Yoder decides to leave in the middle of the night. While both before and after are fantastic, it was a bit of an adjustment going from slow burn to full throttle.

Why you should buy it: well, it’s still free! But also, Janz is a great guy and a fantastic writer. There is a really indepth/insightful afterword which I found fascinating.

As for the story – the ending is grotesque in the best way possible and one you all should find out for yourselves!




Book Review: Pay the Ghost – Tim Lebbon


Title: Pay the Ghost

Author: Tim Lebbon

Release Date: September 6, 2015

Tim Lebbon is another author who stepped up and offered up some of their back catalog for free to let people enjoy some books and not stress on depleting their bank accounts. I believe I snagged eight(!!) books from him yesterday, but I’ll be sure to buy some of his books here soon as a thanks. I’ve previously read ‘The Silence’ and ‘Eden’ but this one is a very different creature.

What I liked: This story is grief and loss of hope to the extreme. “I lost my little girl on Hallowe’en,” opens this story and from there we see how crippling Moll’s disappearance is. As often happens, husband and wife struggle, they then separate. It’s from this point that Lebbon decides to really crush us with how life takes its twists and turns. This one had some visceral moments that will most likely leave you in tears.

What I didn’t like: The ending felt a bit rushed and I would’ve loved maybe another 100-200 words on what happened from the final moments. This one was written specifically for an anthology originally, so there may have been space limitations, but otherwise this one will stay with you for many moons.

Why you should buy it: once again – FREE. But also, Tim is a stand up guy and super nice. He’s even been kind enough in the past to let me interview him for my day job. I’ve got Coldbrook already from him as one I’ve purchased, but I’ll be snagging a few more for sure.

This one is just stunning with how dark it gets and the setting the characters end up in is just fantastic.

Side – note – I don’t actually know if I’ve watched the movie of this. It stars Nicholas Cage and there was a period where I watched A LOT of movies. I feel like I have, but honestly can’t say positively.


Book Review: Mouse and Owl – Bracken MacLeod


Title: Mouse and Owl: A Novellette

Author: Bracken MacLeod

Release Date: May 22, 2018

As the news of COVID-19 has spread, a number of authors have offered up some of their back catalogs as free ebooks to help calm some stress and allow people to relax and enjoy some books without depleting their bank.

MacLeod offered up a couple, ‘Mouse and Owl’ being one of them. I snagged it and figured I’d read it ASAP and get a review out in the hopes that more folks snag this and then grab some of his fantastic releases. I have ‘Stranded’ by him as well and can’t wait to start that.

What I liked: This was fantasy-horror done right. We follow Nergui as she watches her husband pay for a crime. It’s short and brutal but one of the best kill scenes I’ve read in some time, a two paragraph death that would take RR Martin 200 pages to write. The story is engaging and drew me in immediately. The ending: WOW. Just a stunning finale that is both heart wrenching but also painted a vivid picture.

What I didn’t like: Fantasy based stories can often be epic-length reads, and with this being a single sitting read (think it took me 35 minutes) I had some questions about some of the small details MacLeod had added in, but nothing too major.

Why you should buy it: seeing as its free, should be a no brainer, but really, this is an amazing novelette that should leap frog you into grabbing more MacLeod work. I really can’t wait to start ‘Stranded’ now, so hoping to get to it this month!


Book Review: Sed de Sangre by V. Castro


Title: Sed de Sangre

Author: V. Castro

Release date: March 10, 2020


I had the pleasure of recently reading V. Castro’s ‘Maria the Wanted’ and was blown away with her re-imagining and re-taking of Vampire fiction.

(Review for that is here; – the book is currently $0.99, so snag that as well!)

Now, in 2020 we’ve been lucky enough to see two Castro releases – her Unnerving Rewind or Die! release – ‘Hairspray and Switchblades’ and this – ‘Sed de Sangre.’

I snagged this one on release day and devoured it that night.

What I liked: Made up of three short stories, V kindly ramps up the erotica and explicitness over each story. This is key for those who may be put off from the term ‘erotica.’ The three stories are ‘Carnival of Gore,’ which was a fantastic story about a special night where the vampires all get to feast, ‘The Four Horseman Inn’ which was a stunning take on the apocalyptic themes of Woe etc and lastly ‘Snake Hips,’ which was a depraved take on two creatures having a fun evening.

As I mentioned, each of these stories has gore, blood and sex, but Castro slowly pushes the gas pedal more and more as it goes.

What I didn’t like: TOO SHORT! Haha! I wished these were each novella length or full length (although with ‘Snake Hips’ it would be like buying a full length adult film and never making it beyond the first five minutes!).

Why you should buy it: Castro has firmly put her stamp on ‘Vampire Gore-otica’ if that’s such a thing. She’s a confident writer who isn’t afraid to spray brain matter or semen and the reader is all the better for it. I, shamefully, still haven’t managed to read her ‘Hairspray and Switchblades’ release yet, but that will be rectified shortly!

Go snag this and support a fantastic writer and a great human!


Book Review: U-10 by Sam B. Miller II


U-10 by Sam B. Miller II

Genre: Science-Fiction

Release date: August 10th, 2019


I had Sam reach out to me via email a few months back, asking if I’d be willing to take a crack at his Science-Fiction book U-10. I looked at my release dates for Netgalley books etc, and said I could, I just wouldn’t get to it until March, which he said was fair.

Boy, if you are a fan of Sci-Fi and Action/Adventure, don’t wait on this one. It’s been out since August 2019, but based on what I’ve read, I hope Sam sees an increase in page views on this.

What I liked: This book is action packed from the first paragraph and never lets up. We are quickly introduced to Koritt, an insectoid type alien who is being sent to Earth to gather some human specimens. As all good books do, there’s a snafu and his ship crashes in the middle of an ongoing war in Afghanistan. From there, Miller introduces us to a number of amazing characters who bring depth and real feels to this read. Sure, there are plenty of gadgets as well as action sequences, but it is the relationships and character building that really catch you and hold you.

What I didn’t like:  an action packed story can be a double edged sword and I found a few times, it would’ve been nice to have moments where the story can breathe a bit. It’s not overly detrimental, but this entire book is essentially a sprint instead of a race.

Why you should buy it:  I don’t want to negatively influence anyone with this reference, but if you enjoyed watching a movie like ‘Starship Troopers’ then this book will be right up your alley. Think about a military-alien-action-adventure movie on your Kindle or in your hands. It’s a blast and a lot of fun and I think fan’s of Science Fiction would do themselves a favour and snag this. I’m not the biggest Sci-Fi fan, but I really, really dug this one.