Thursday, December 30, 2010

The End of 2010

We find ourselves at the end of yet another year. Or on the threshold of a new year. I guess the way you view it depends on whether you’re a glass half full or a glass half empty person. It seems the older I get the more I find myself saying, “Where did that year go?” This year is no exception; seems like it just got started and now it’s over.

2010 was a pretty good year for me. Definitely much better than 2009. From the standpoint of my book obsession it was a stellar year. My book collection grew by leaps and bounds. I met one of my favorite authors, Brian Keene. I was able to get to know another of my favorite authors, Scott Nicholson. I found something I seem to be pretty good at and enjoy doing. I read 80 books, by far the most in a year for me. I was able to get this blog moving some and review a number of books I enjoyed. I met a number of new and interesting people and discovered some talented authors. I purchased a Kindle and moved to reading mostly e-books.

All in all, it was a great year for me in regards to my love for books. And the great part is that 2011 seems even more promising. I’ll be doing book reviews for The Bag and The Crow. I’ll be expanding my proofing service. I hope to read many more books this new year and to grow this blog. I’m not going to make a bunch of resolutions because I tend to set lofty goals and I’m tough on myself; but I do have some cautiously-optimistic goals for this upcoming year.

Below you’ll find some of my opinions of books I read this past year. Feel free to disagree; you know what they say about opinions. :) I look forward to getting to know more of you in this upcoming year and can’t wait to share my reading experience with you.

Top 5 Books Released in 2010
     1. Disintegration by Scott Nicholson
     2. Dweller by Jeff Strand
     3. Nightjack by Tom Piccirilli
     4. Brain Cheese Buffet by Edward Lee
     5. A Gathering of Crows by Brian Keene

Top 10 Books I Read in 2010
     1. Swan Song by Robert McCammon
     2. Child of God by Cormac McCarthy
     3. Terminal by Brian Keene
     4. The Little Sleep by Paul Tremblay
     5. First Blood by David Morrell
     6. The Dead Letters by Tom Piccirilli
     7. Disintegration by Scott Nicholson
     8. The Jigsaw Man by Gord Rollo
     9. Identity Crisis by Debbi Mack
     10. Kill Whitey by Brian Keene

Favorite Authors I “Discovered” in 2010
     Gord Rollo, Paul Tremblay, Debbi Mack, Bentley Little, Jeff Strand, Tom Piccirilli

Author I Most Look Forward to Reading in 2011
     William Meikle

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

LEAST WANTED by Debbi Mack

Least Wanted by Debbi Mack is the follow-up to her debut novel, Identity Crisis. In Identity Crisis, we were introduced to lawyer Sam McRae. Spunky and sharp, McRae is a character who is “real”; she makes decisions that a real person would when placed in situations in which the answers are not always black and white. In this follow-up, McRae is back at it and we are given the opportunity to learn more about this refreshing, original character.

In Least Wanted, Sam McRae is approached by a single mother seeking representation for her daughter, Tina, who was involved in a purse snatching that turned into an assault on an elderly woman. Tina is a good girl who hasn’t been in much trouble before. At the same time, McRae is working on the case of a man accused of embezzlement. Both cases seem fairly straightforward, but soon things take a turn for the worse and McRae finds herself in the middle of embezzlement, cover-up, sex tapes and murder. Is she in over her head this time? She has previously tangled with the Mob, but these two cases push her to her limit, as she once again faces dire circumstances.

I really enjoyed reading Least Wanted. The writing is solid throughout and the story is interesting. While Identity Crisis is my favorite of the two McRae books so far, Least Wanted is a very good book that gives us a deeper look at who McRae is and some insight into her past. As with her first book, author Debbi Mack explores pertinent—and difficult—issues. I applaud her for that and hope she continues to do so in her future fiction. As I stated in my review of Identity Crisis, if you’re a fan of J.A. Konrath’s Jack Daniels series, this one is for you.

4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

From me and my family to yours, merry Christmas! We hope you have a happy and safe holiday.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


I’d never read anything written by Gary McMahon; in fact, I hadn’t heard of him before I saw this chapbook. However, the cover blurb by Tim Lebbon immediately grabbed my attention since I’m familiar with his work. I can’t really say that I had much in the way of expectations going into this one, but I did hope for a decent read.

Rob and Becky are renovating an old house. Not a home, but a house. Though they live under the same roof, Rob and Becky are worlds apart. Since the loss of their son they seem to have gone their separate ways. During the renovations, they discover a hidden room—the Quiet Room. The room is aptly named, as there is no sound in the room—none at all. But there are other things in there. Things that may bring Rob and Becky back together...or to the brink of madness.

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of writing this diminutive book. Weighing in at only 22 pages, it makes for a quick read. It was a good read—not necessarily a fun one—because the author does a tremendous job at capturing the overwhelming sense of loss and despair of Rob and Becky. I recommend What They Hear in the Dark if you want to be introduced to McMahon’s polished, atmospheric writing. Just be careful if you’re reading it on a dreary day, because that’s exactly the mood in this one.

This is the debut chapbook from Spectral Press, whose mission is to “be devoted to presenting single-story chapbooks, in the ghostly/supernatural vein, in a high-quality but very classic format. Each will be in strictly limited quantities of 100 only, signed and numbered by the author.” Based on this initial release, it looks like there are good things to come from them.

4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Those I Missed

While reviewing my reads from this past year to make my various end-of-the-year lists, I realized there are a number of authors I've been meaning to read but for some reason I haven't taken the chance to yet. Here are some off the top of my head:

1. Simon Wood
2. Joe R. Lansdale
3. David Niall Wilson
4. Dan Simmons
5. Clive Barker
6. Lee Child
7. Guy N. Smith
8. J.F. Gonzalez
9. Jon F. Merz
10. Vicki Tyley
11. Christa Polkinhorn
12. Steve Alten

And I'm sure there are many, many more that I've forgotten. I'm encouraged about my reading during this upcoming year as there a number of very talented authors I'll get to read for the first time. And there's nothing like reading an author for the first time and "discovering" a new favorite.

Who are some authors that you plan to read for the first time in the new year?

Monday, December 20, 2010

MOSTLY HUMAN by Lockley, Meikle, Nicholson, and Savile

I’ve previously stated that I’m a little wary of collaborations because you never know how writers’ styles will mesh. And I was referring to collaborations between two authors. Throw two more authors into the mix and my wariness level exponentially increases. Such was the case with Mostly Human by Steve Lockley, William Meikle, Scott Nicholson, and Steven Savile. I was intrigued by the premise of the story but was also wary about the number of authors, especially since I hadn’t read anything written by three of them (Lockley, Meikle, and Savile). However, I was curious how a collaboration between four authors in four different countries would work out.

To what extremes will loss drive a person? For Jack Spicer, the answer is not pretty. The small-town detective finds solace at the bottom of a bottle. After losing the love of his life to a brutal killer ten years earlier, Spicer has been in a downward spiral. Depending on alcohol to get through each day, Spicer has become a mere shadow of who he once was and the laughingstock of his department. When a body that has been savagely murdered turns up, Spicer is more than reminded of what happened to his love years before. He must summon the man he once was to track down the killer before more blood spills. What he finds is no normal human—just mostly human.

Mostly Human was an enjoyable, fun read. The writing flowed seamlessly throughout the entire book and it made for fast reading. I really enjoyed the story itself and the writers did a great job describing the gloom, both inside Spicer and that which physically surrounded him. I would gladly read similar collaborations in the future. There are some typos throughout the Kindle edition, but nothing that is a major distraction from the story. It’s definitely a good buy, priced at only $0.99 right now.

4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, December 17, 2010

What's in a Name?

What’s in a name? Quite a bit, I believe. Usually, a name is the first thing you learn about a person. Legends and belief systems believe that if you’re able to name something, you have power over that thing.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I recently changed my user name to @bookhound78. One of my reasons for the change is that I felt my previous user name, @Dark_Intruder, was too constraining. I actually adopted it from a Rob Zombie song, and it was geared more towards my love for the horror genre. But as my reading increases I’m branching out into many other genres. Plus, it sounded like I was some stalker who was going to come into your house in the middle of the night.

I also believe my goals for this blog are tied in with my user name, since you are known in the cyber world by your user name. Obviously, I love to read. But I don’t want to just be a book review site. Yes, I enjoy doing them and sharing what I’ve read with others, and I’ll continue to write reviews. I also have an unnatural love for all things horror, but I don’t want to be “locked” into one genre. And finally, I want to focus on offering proofing services in the upcoming year, so a name that’s a little more all-encompassing would be helpful.

So after much thought I’ve decided to use bookhound78. I feel it captures my love for books while not pigeonholing me into one genre or one “type” of blog. I apologize for any confusion and I promise I won’t be changing again any time in the foreseeable future. Be on the lookout for a possible change in the address and title of this blog as I “realign” to better fit my goals.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Graverobbers Wanted (No Experience Necessary) by Jeff Strand was another book high on my “Wanted” list that I finally got around to picking up cheap for Kindle (I believe for only $2.39). And like a few other books I’ve read recently, I had heard a lot of good things about it. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the book, but based on the title and what little I knew about Jeff Strand’s writing style I figured it would be a fun read.

In this first book of the Mayhem series, we are introduced to Andrew Mayhem—devoted husband, loving father, wannabe private eye, and all-around magnet for trouble. If there was ever a poster boy for the slogan “Sh*t Happens,” Andrew is it. In this story, we find Andrew short on money, without a steady job, and owing money for a recent car accident. Enter the beautiful woman with an offer for Andrew and his friend, Roger, they simply cannot refuse. How much trouble can they really get into by digging up a fresh grave? Turns out A LOT. What follows is a wild ride in which the stakes steadily rise.

Strand’s prose is snappy and reads quickly, and his dialogue flows naturally. I don’t normally care much for my comedy and action/horror mixed, but Strand expertly blends them to create a hilarious thrill ride that will keep you turning the pages. Strand’s writing is unique and not quite like anyone else’s I’ve read. The Kindle edition is nicely formatted and there are a very few minor errors/typos. Be forewarned: if you read this book you will want to get the others in the series (Single White Psychopath Seeks Same and Casket For Sale (Only Used Once)).

This was one of the most fun reads I’ve had this past year and I’ll be jumping on the other two books in the series soon. I highly recommend this one to those who enjoy action/horror books. And while there is plenty that is funny in this book, it’s not for the faint-hearted, as the book does get darker throughout and deals with subjects that may be too disturbing for some readers.

5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And the Winners Are...

Thank you to everyone who participated in my "A Very Scary Christmas" giveaway. Welcome to my new blog followers; I hope you enjoy my posts. I appreciate all the comments here and all of the re-tweets on Twitter. Y'all rock. And without further ado, here are the winners:

Second-place winner of The Regulators by Stephen King:


Winner of the first-place prize pack of five books:


Sorry I don't have pictures from the drawing; for some reason I can't get them from my phone to my computer. My son drew the name of the first-place winner and my daughter drew the name for second place. Winners, please contact me at darkintruder(at)live(dot)com with your mailing address. You have three days to claim your prize.

Again, thank you to everyone who participated in this giveaway. Look for new giveaways after the first of the year. Hope you have a very scary Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Kindle Gift Ideas

Do you know someone who owns a Kindle and want to get them some gift books? Have you received a Kindle or think you might get one from Santa? Well, here are a few book ideas for yourself or that special someone. Just click on the image to go to the purchase page; click on the title to go to my review of the book.

The Pack: Winter Kill by Mike Oliveri. Priced at an affordable $4.99 for the holiday season, this one is a must-read for anyone wanting a story full of action and suspense told at break-neck speed. After the holidays, the price is set to return to $9.99 (at least that was the insinuation when the special price was announced for the holidays).

Identity Crisis by Debbi Mack. This is Mack’s debut novel and she demonstrates her talent in it. It would make a good gift for those interested in crime and hardboiled stories. Priced at a low $0.99, this one is a steal. The sequel, Least Wanted, is slated for release in January.

Nightjack by Tom Piccirilli. For those who love crime and dark fantasy, this story would be a great gift. Reminiscent of Piccirilli’s A Choir of Ill Children, this story lacks none of his trademark raw, emotional style of writing. This original-to-digital book is a must-read for any Piccirilli fan.

Disintegration by Scott Nicholson. Written during a low point of Nicholson’s life, this book is an emotion-packed ride into the depths and depravity of humanity. Showcasing Nicholson’s versatility as a writer, this one will keep you turning the pages. Snag it while it’s still priced at a super-low $0.99.

Graverobbers Wanted (No Experience Necessary) by Jeff Strand. I don’t normally care for my comedy and action/horror mixed, but Strand expertly blends them to create a hilarious thrill ride that will keep you turning the pages. Strand’s writing is unique and not quite like anyone else’s I’ve read. Priced at an affordable $2.39, this one is well worth it, especially if you’ve never experienced Strand’s writing.

Dead Earth: The Green Dawn by Mark Justice and David T. Wilbanks. Normally, I’m a little hesitant when it comes to collaborations. I worry that styles will clash or the story will be disjointed. But there was no such thing in The Green Dawn. The writing flows wonderfully and the story moves at breakneck speed. This one is the first book in an ongoing series.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I'm not at home right now, but if you would...

If you get a chance, stop by and check out my guest post at Misty Baker's (Kindle Obsessed) blog today. It's my review of Jeff Strand's Graverobber's Wanted (No Experience Necessary). I'll post it over here in a few days, but in the mean time go check out her awesome site.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Very Scary Christmas

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “Christmas”? I know for me it’s some good, old-fashioned, spine-tingling horror. I mean, what can be more frightening than the holidays? Fighting the crowds to buy some over-priced gift for someone who may or may not like it. An overweight guy in a red suit that knows everything you’re doing, whether you’re being naughty or nice. For goodness’ sake, he knows when you’re sleeping and when you’re awake. I don’t know, but if you ask me, this guy sounds a bit like a Peeping Tom. And let’s not even get started about all the “fun” that is had traveling during the holidays.

So in celebration of all the horror that occurs during this season, I’ve decided to have “A Very Scary Christmas” giveaway here at my blog. I’m not the most creative person when it comes to these contests and giveaways—plus I’m pretty busy during this time of year—so I’m going to make entering this contest a breeze. There are three possible ways for you to enter:

1. Leave a comment on my blog. You can comment on any post here, new or old. It doesn’t have to be anything insightful or profound, just leave a comment. You receive one entry for leaving a comment; feel free to comment as much as you want, but you only get one entry even if you leave 50 comments.

2. Become a follower of my blog. If you click on the little “Follow” button to the right and become a follower of my blog, you receive an entry for the contest. All current followers are automatically entered.

3. Re-tweet one of my tweets on Twitter about this contest. Again, feel free to re-tweet me 50 times, but you only get one entry for the giveaway.

You may get up to three entries for the drawing if you do each of the above things. The contest will be open for one week and will end on Tuesday, December 14th at 12:00 p.m. EST. At that time, all entries will be tallied and a drawing will be held, with my kids drawing names of the winners.

So, you may be asking, what are we drawing for? There will be a first and second place price, which I think you’ll like:

First place: Winner will receive five—yes, five—physical books. And these aren’t just any books; these are books by some of the most talented horror writers out there today: Vampyrrhic by Simon Clark, A Gathering of Crows by Brian Keene, Snow by Ronald Malfi, The Killing Kind by Bryan Smith, and Joyride by Jack Ketchum.

Second place: The second-place winner will receive a physical copy of The Regulators by Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman).

All books are brand new and have not been read. Due to shipping costs, this contest is limited to U.S. addresses only. ***Winners will be announced here and via Twitter. You will have three days to claim your prize before another winner is selected.***

Good luck and have a horrible…er…I mean, wonderful holiday season!

Monday, December 6, 2010


I love it when I discover a new author by happenstance. Debbi Mack is one of these happy discoveries. I came across her name following Scott Nicholson’s blog tour. I read a little about her and her books and decided to check out her first novel, Identity Crisis, on my Kindle.

Sam McRae is a Maryland defense lawyer. When unexpected visitors from the FBI and local police department pay her a visit in regards to one of her clients, the groundwork is laid for a thrilling story of action, intrigue, suspense, and mystery. Turns out McRae’s client is MIA—and finding her will be an adventure in and of itself. Finding the truth is much more difficult than McRae expected and as she uncovers the facts, the truth seems less and less clear. Is her client guilty? Has she been set up?

Identity Crisis is a refreshing and enjoyable read, with the spotlight on a relevant topic in this age when information is so easily accessible. Mack’s writing is crisp and she keeps the story flowing well. I never felt bogged down or like I just needed to get through any part of this book. She mixes in just the right amount of action and intrigue to keep the reader interested and guessing. It was also great to have a lead character who is a “real” human—one with flaws, who sometimes does questionable things to discover the truth she is seeking. And while this story’s main character is a lawyer, the reader will not be overwhelmed with legalese.

I gladly recommend this book to folks who enjoy mystery/action types of books. If you like J.A. Konrath’s Jack Daniels series, this is a perfect book for you. The sequel, Least Wanted, is due out in January.

5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

'Tis the Season

I can't believe it's actually December now. I'm still trying to figure out where November went. Well, to get into the mood of the Christmas season, I'm going to give away more free stuff. I'm lucky enough to have 10 copies of Scott Nicholson's e-book, The Red Church, for the Kindle to give away this week. I'm going to keep it simple and all you have to do is leave a comment below with your e-mail address. That's it. Don't have to say anything else. For the first ten who leave their contact information, I'll gift you a copy of Scott's most well-known book on Friday, December 3rd, between 1 and 2 P.M.

You don't have to own a Kindle to be able to read the book; you can get the Kindle app for your computer or for a multitude of devices. Click here to get one of the free Kindle apps.

If you want to enter for a chance to win a physical copy of two of Scott's books, The Red Church (autographed) and Thank You for the Flowers, leave a comment to this post.

Happy holidays!