Blog — Crouching Chukar, Hidden Pheasant

Hot New Release – “The Liminal Hymns” by Anaïs Chartschenko

**I’ve only read a little from Anaïs Chartschenko (and, yes, I have to copy/paste her name every time), but so far I’m very impressed by her work.  So, when given the opportunity to help promote her newest creation, I jumped on the chance.  I’m looking forward to this collection and to giving her a listen as well!


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The Liminal Hymns sing the story of moments between, leaving certainties to embrace doubt. Liminal spaces are explored through examinations of mythology, philosophy, and religion. With sardonic shots of whiskey and wit, this collection delves into the sensory and psychological kaleidoscope of the human condition.

See it on Amazon!

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Black Powder4New Ideas10Not Just Jacob


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Anaïs Chartschenko hails from the Canadian wilderness. She has come to enjoy such modern things as electric tea kettles. Her published works include:

Bright Needles
The Whisper Collector
The Weightless One
Perfect Break
The Liminal Hymns

 Follow Anaïs:

www.anaischartschenko.weebly.com 

 

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Review of “Darkest Hours” by Mike Thorn

36309774.jpgIt might be odd to call a collection of horror/noir short stories “beautiful,” but that is the impression I’m left with.  These are incredibly well-crafted, well-written stories from an author I quickly grew to respect.  Thorn’s mastery of prose is an absolute delight to read.  His creativity is refreshing.  His subtle ability to make the horror sneak up on the reader is a gift.  I compared these stories many times to my favorites from Poe, and they indeed share the chilling truth that the worst monsters are the ones within.

The range of stories here was a surprise.  I never knew what to expect from story to story – in one you have a guy unnaturally obsessed with hair, in another you have a ghost doomed to wander, in another you have a terrifying monster that assimilates unsuspecting campers.  In every story,  it was easy to get into the mind of the characters and see the horror through their eyes.  And, again, the writing itself is worth your time.

Any book that has a monstrous blob devouring the works of Derrida has my vote.

5 Stars

See it on Amazon!

Heroes & Villains: A Superhero Collection

Superhero Box Set CoverIn this ten novel boxed set, indie publishing’s greatest superhero authors will introduce you to the heroes that save the world and the villains scheming to destroy it. Whether you like dystopian heroes, modern capes and cowls, champions of a bygone era, or guardians past their prime, you’ll love the high-octane adventure in this boxed set.

1. “Serpent’s Sacrifice” by Trish Heinrich
2. “Morning Sun” by Jeremy Flagg
3. “Action Figures” by Michael Bailey
4. “Supervillain High” by Gerhard Gehrke
5. “Origin” by David Neth
6. “Sidekick” by Christopher Valin
7. “The Kota” by Sunshine Somerville
8. “Super” by Karen Diem
9. “Wearing the Cape” by Marion G. Harmon
10. “Hero Status” by Kristen Brand

Buy Heroes and Villains today and suit up for the ride of a lifetime!

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Superhero Box Set

Review of “The Sea Was a Fair Master” by Calvin Demmer

40033777.jpgThis author never disappoints in coming up with unique, impressively well-written shorts.  This collection of 23 stories has a little bit of everything – from crime to love to androids to the worst English class imaginable.  There’s a great balance of creepy, troubling, sometimes funny (in an “oh, that’s terrible” grinning kind of way), and heart-wrenching tales.

I also love that these stories aren’t straight horror aimed for gore and terror only.  They feel more akin to the works of Poe – there’s a point, if not a message, about humanity in every one.  Some stories are thought-provoking, others intentionally make you sympathize with the baddies, others are horribly sad but have something beautiful thrown in.  And Demmer is a master at last lines.

Give this collection a read!  These stories are super-short, so even if you don’t like one or two, it’s not like you’re wasting time.

5 Stars

See it on Amazon!

 

Review of “Tick” by Allison Rose

25050783Starting this book, I thought it would be a typical YA Dystopian SciFi story, and I was happy enough with that.  But every time I thought I knew where the story was going, it took a swerve and headed in a new direction.  I was NEVER bored with this book, and there were so many twists that the plot pulled me in and kept me reading.  The characters are great too, and I was impressed with the author’s ability to stay so focused on showing us everything going on in Jo’s mind.

And about Jo.  I imagine a lot of readers will find her difficult to empathize with after a while – she is not at all a pure, good hero.   But Jo’s transformation from average SciFi teen to…everything else she becomes was, for me, the best part of the story.  This is about Jo fighting her demons.  About surviving.  About finding redemption.  I felt like her reactions to everything she goes through as the world falls apart were absolutely natural and believable.  I also loved how important art was to her sanity and how it added depth to the story.

It’s hard to avoid spoilers and say anything else about the story, but I will say – HOLY CRAP the ending.  I very much look forward to reading what’s going on in the next book.

5 Stars

See it on Amazon!

Review of “The Black Swan Company” by Luna DeMasi

25442483I’m not an automatic sucker for any vampire book, but this one won me over quickly.  I loved the focus on investigative journalism as a way to dig deeper into the conspiracies and injustices committed by the authorities in this dystopian, semi-post-apocalyptic setting.  There are also elements of paranormal romance for readers who are drawn to that kind of thing, and this was a good way for the author to draw all sorts of emotional turmoil out of the characters.  Melody, as a “strong female lead,” is great because she’s good at her job but also personally flawed in believable ways that make her easy to relate to.

The writing devices the author uses keep the plot flowing while also giving great backstory.  There are journal entries and letters, back-flashes, and occasional dips into POVs other than the main character’s.  The story often reads like a suspense/crime drama.  A lot of time is spent with Melody and Bastian in isolation, but then there are bursts of action to remind you that the world outside is really, really different from the one we know and the one Melody lost.  And the dialogue is great, livening up the story with colorful side characters whom you grow attached to quickly.

I don’t want to give anything away, but what’s really going on with the Black Swan Company is both terrifying and oddly believable.  I also like that these “vampires” aren’t like your typical paranormal monsters, and the gray areas involved are interesting from a moral and sort-of-political standpoint.

If I have any complaint about this book, it’s that the action at the end happens really fast as things come to a climax, and everything gets wrapped up super quickly.  But it also works this way, since everything has been building to what happens in the end and you kind of know what to expect.

Definitely check out this book if you like your vampire stories a little more on the dystopian/crime side.

5 Stars

See it on Amazon!

Review of “Be Careful What You Joust For” by Ryan Hauge & Ivy Smoak

38739327A lot of new fantasy stories about knights, lords and ladies, and ancient lands feel like “Game of Thrones” these days, so if you’re into that kind of story but more for a YA audience, this book could be for you.  With multiple characters’ points of view, you get a good cast to add depth to the plot.  Also, the authors do a good job of creating a fantasy realm that feels familiar and unique at the same time.

That said, there were some things that bugged me.  For one, the story is a very, very slow build.  This isn’t entirely bad because this is a first book in a series and you want to get to know the characters.  All the political intrigue makes for a good, suspenseful read.  However, when the action finally takes place at the end of the book, it’s over really quickly and you’re left with a cliffhanger just when things are finally getting good.  I also felt like some of the characters were a little blah or set up to be interesting but then didn’t live up to their potential.  Duchess Isolda in particular is introduced as having a complex double life, but then nothing much comes of it.  Oriana is a typical, boy-obsessed princess type.  Terric’s subplot was good, but he was really selfish and kept screwing everything up in annoying ways.  Bastian was easily my favorite, and his pet squirrel might be the smartest character.  But Rixin and Marcus were vague and underdeveloped, and I didn’t care about Garrion at all.

The writing itself is well done.  It was easy to follow the dialogue, and each character had their own voice so that their chapters felt like everything was definitely from their point of voice.  The action was easy to follow.  The descriptions were just enough to put a clear picture in your head without overdoing it.

If you’re looking for a lighter “Game of Thrones,” give this a shot.

3.5 Stars

See it on Amazon!

Review of “Them Rabbit Foot Blues” by Jason Spurlock

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What did I just read?!  And I mean that in a good way.  My mind is always blown when a brand new author debuts with a book so well-written that it feels like the work of a pro.  Don’t get me wrong – this book is all over the place and will be hard for some readers to follow.  But falling down the rabbit hole is also kind of the point.

It’s hard to say what this book is about or exactly what genre it falls into.  The blurb does a better job explaining this than I can. “A cleverly diverting narrative that remixes folklore, pop culture, multiculturalism, gender roles, history, sci-fi, noir aesthetics, and urban decay.”  All of those elements are mixed into a story centered around a combat veteran struggling to figure himself out as he navigates the world(s) around him.

I love flawed characters who are aware of their screwed-up-ness.  What’s even better is when we see the flaws of society through that character’s eyes.  A good writer is supposed to see the world around them and be able to point out what everybody knows in new and interesting ways, and that keen insight of the author/main character might be my favorite thing about the book.  There is plenty of commentary about society, about different kinds of people, etc.

All of this is beautifully weaved into a story where the main character (and you as the reader) are trying to figure out what the heck is going on. At times, the book does get a bit bogged down in its own cleverness, distracting from the plot, but even these sort of side note bits were engaging and interesting insights into something about the world.  The writing itself at times sounded in my head a bit like Dave Eggers and a bit like S.A. Hunt, another veteran author I’ve had the pleasure of reading.

If you’re into literature that pushes your brain, grab this book.

4.5 Stars

See it on Amazon!

Review of “Hardened Hearts”

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I finished this collection the day after Valentine’s Day, which was kind of perfect.  These are not your typical love stories, although “love” is the general theme connecting them.  I was very impressed with each writer, and I didn’t feel like there was a weak story in the bunch.  The writing is solid.  The range of genres in the collection is cool, too.  Most of these stories are so uniquely weird in their own way, and yet how the stories are organized makes them cohesive, like they naturally belong in the same collection.

A few of my favorites were “Heirloom” , “Dog Tired”, “The Heart of the Orchard,” and “Matchmaker.” Honestly, I liked something about almost every single story.  Despite many being short, they packed emotional punches. The immediate weirdness of many drew me in and held my attention.

If you like your love stories a little on the dark side, definitely check out this collection.

4.5 Stars

See it on Amazon!

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