Say Hello to my Little Friend!

Day of the Dead Skull Cane

This is the head of my new cane. Like many of my friends, M.R. Tapia for example, I love and respect Day of the Dead art. So when I found this beauty, I was pretty damn excited! Being disabled, I have to use crutches or canes to get around. But now I’ll be doing it in style, with this handsome helper! The detail is amazing, it even has marigold eyes. Definitely a welcome addition to all the skulls here in the Skull Cave! I think I feel a new collection brewing!

The Review of “Pacific Rising is LIVE!

Pacific Rising
John W. Dennehy
Severed Press
June 26, 2017
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

We are living in dark times. Nothing is really a “sure thing” anymore. Even in rural areas, the majority of the population doesn’t assume they’re safe. We have learned, sadly enough, that the good guys don’t always win and the weather can often turn into a force of mass destruction. Happy times turn tragic way too often.

That is why books of the type we review here are more important than ever. Really. We need to escape the world we live in and take a mental journey elsewhere. Either into strange and speculative worlds, or ones full of suspense and terror. For just a little while we are caught up and taken away from our troubles. Sometimes the best morale booster is to read a book in which the good guys DO win while fighting against impossible odds. For that very purpose, I recommend Pacific Rising by John W. Dennehy!

Nearly everyone is familiar with Godzilla, a huge and destructive beast that rose in the infancy of the world’s Atomic Age. He broke a lot of ground (literally) and gave the world an evil entity to focus all their fears of mushroom clouds, nuclear fallout, and horrible death on. Stop-motion animation, and obvious model cities have reduced our modern-day opinion of him. Godzilla is funny, quaint even, and something that’s okay to let the kids watch. Godzilla is/was a Kaiju – A giant, T-rex type of monster that is highly destructive and nearly impossible to kill. Many folks feel that there could be more than one of these amazing creatures.

In Pacific Rising, Dennehy puts a Kaiju into our high-tech, modern world and this monster has no interest in being quaint. It adapts quickly and seems damn near indestructible! Zamera bursts onto the coast of Japan during a horrible tropical storm that becomes a deadly hurricane. While the storm does plenty of damage and fells multitudes of people, that’s just the beginning of the bad breaks for all involved. While the citizens of Tokyo and its military forces are suffering the actions of Zamera, American forces are doing their best to batten down the hatches offshore in prep for the hurricane. Add in a super-secret missile recovery mission being done by Navy SEALS off the coast of North Korea and you have a suspense-filled action thriller that keeps you turning pages!

Dennehy thrusts us right into the action. People are running from the storm and into the Kaiju by page three! Awesome, right? The story is also quite realistic. A mission into North Korea, the detail-filled reporting about the branches of the military forces involved, hard decisions being made by powerful people, and a child being able to help the Marines at a crucial moment. There are even looters in Tokyo trying to make a buck off of a tragedy, which sounds very similar to recent events in the world. Pacific Risingputs us right in the middle of things with a front row seat.

We follow Master Gunnery Sargent James Penton, Captain Kate Able, Zamera (the Kaiju), Maki and her family, and Navy SEALS Harding and Stiles throughout the book. The pieces fit together quite smoothly and with lots of hard work by the characters who are all trying to do the near impossible. It is only after everything is secured at the base that the Marines are asked for help and they give it their all! Eventually, it comes down to Penton, Able, and Maki. I’m sure everyone has an opinion about this, but I like that the author has the good guys win. It gives us the important affirmation that Good will triumph over Evil in the end. There is also a touch of romance that warms the book up nicely and makes us care about the characters more.

While I hate to say the C-word even before Halloween has passed, I think this book would make an excellent Christmas gift for many people. It’s a fun read, clean on the language, and carries a lot of positive messages. There’s also a cool monster! I recommend this book 100 percent! Good stuff! Last, but definitely not least, I want to say that I think Pacific Rising would make one hell of a cool movie. Chalk up another 5 stars for good guy John W. Dennehy!

About Brian J. Lewis

Brian James Lewis is a published poet and writer who enjoys reviewing speculative fiction and dark poetry. With all the great emerging writers, magazines, and presses, it is exciting to be part of this growing community! Word of mouth and keyboard is more important than it’s ever been, because readers want to know about books before they buy. It makes Brian feel great to see writers he’s reviewed become successful and their work go on to win awards! Whatever happens, he’s always glad to offer encouragement and increase visibility of writers who trust him with their work. You can catch up with Brian on Twitter @skullsnflames76 or on his WordPress blog damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com

Child of Winter is a Deliciously Chilling Book! Check it out!

Child Of Winter
T.R. Hitchman
Corona Books UK
September 1, 2016
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

This is a collection of nine short stories and a novella that will chill the reader’s blood and keep you looking over your shoulder for something that isn’t there. Or is it? T.R. Hitchman offers simple, clean writing that draws you in and then slices you to ribbons.

In “Tell Me,” Robert is out taking a walk on the beach. It is a beach full of childhood memories and would be full of people if it weren’t for the fact that it’s January. But Robert likes a little solitude now and then from being henpecked. Just the waves rolling in, putting one foot in front of the other, a good place to clear the head. Until he sees a lone man looking so overburdened with depression that he appears to be dead. Well, Robert is “a good listener” and eager to help out this man he doesn’t even know to feel better. Never does it cross Robert’s mind that his actions may produce horrible consequences that will ruin him.

“Every Queen Deserves a King” is an interesting tale about a nurse with a special patient. Poor Hilary Robson is just trying to be a good nurse to a bunch of elderly patients who are heading towards the ends of their lives, when Charles Spencer is brought into her ward. The man appears to be at death’s door. He doesn’t move, just sleeps on his bed all twisted up in pain. Until his wife arrives and helps Charles to a fine meal of Hilary.

“Child of Winter,” the short story that is also the title of this collection, definitely runs strong to the unsettling. An older couple who were unable to have children find themselves idling about after retirement. No kids to stay in touch with or grandchildren to help out with leaves Angela feeling sad and disappointed. Meanwhile her husband makes work for himself to avoid just sitting in the gloom. Until the husband persuades her to visit a cabin owned by a friend for a little alone time for just the two of them. While still grieving for her lost son, Angela meets the children of winter out in the snow and joins them while her husband is napping. She is never seen again. Her husband tries to buck up and keep on, but he can’t. So he calls in his sister for help. She comes but it turns out that she knows a lot more about the situation than she is willing to tell her brother.

Have you ever lived in a house that seemed made just for you? I mean you could practically feel the thing embrace you when you came home! Oh, no? You haven’t? Well then consider yourself lucky not to be like the folks in “Bricks and Mortar.” It seems that this particular house sucks people into its destructive vortex by giving them the love that they’re missing. But nothing comes for free, including this house!

My favorite tale in this book is “The Eye of the Beholder.” Some things are not meant to be fooled with. Such is the case of a man named Will and his special camera that can turn accident victims into ravishing beauties again. Unfortunately, a ruthless reporter gets a hold of Will’s information and pushes him too hard. Not only does Nick start undoing Will’s kind work, he also bullies him. Until Will takes his picture to reveal the evil that dwells inside the rude reporter.

Despite its friendly sounding title, “The Homecoming” is anything but. A family of four living on an isolated farm is ruined by the daughter’s desires to have what she wants. First her Pa, then her brother fall under Constance’s spell and end up dead. She reaps her just deserts by birthing a dead child alone under brutal conditions. Fear and sadness drive her to abandon the incestuous child on the dirty, frigid ground. It disappears. Years later, a much older Constance is alone in the decaying farmhouse waiting out her days, when she’s approached by a young man. Turns out that he’s not exactly a stranger. In fact, what he really wants to do is return home and he will have his way!

Child of Winter is an intense book that will pull you into the darkness quickly. A very satisfying and unsettling read. I encourage you to give it a go! Just don’t expect to escape the cold touch of its author.

this day in crime history: september 26, 1933

Nobody Move!

This one’s a two-fer. September 26, 1933 was a big day for crime stories.

MGKelly

On this date in 1933, George “Machine Gun Kelly” Barnes was arrested by FBI agents in Memphis, TN. Kelly, who was asleep when agents burst in on him, surrendered without incident.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – Machine Gun Kelly

Amsterdam Evening Recorder – “Machine Gun” Kelly, Notorious Desperado, Captured in Memphis

ISP

Also on this date in 1933, ten inmates escaped from the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City. The inmates took hostages using three pistols that had been smuggled into the prison. The escapees included Dillinger associates Harry Pierpont, Charles Makley, Russell Clark, and John Hamilton.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – Harry Pierpont

JohnDillinger.com – September 1933

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