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Strain of Resistance

Michelle Bryan

Rating: 3 Shrimp

Strain of Resistance paints a harrowing tale of the apocalypse filled with hardened heroes, twisted creatures, and gruesome deaths.  Bryan establishes a fascinating but dark world.  I enjoyed learning about the battered locales and the vibrant (albeit gritty) characters.

Here is Bryan’s biggest strength.  Her characters were interesting and had a lot of voice.  Some you loved and some you hated.  Luke was my favorite and I really enjoyed his and Bixby’s dynamic.  It was fun to watch the team bicker and see how they overcame terrible situations.

Resistance is told in first person present tense which was a bit of a challenge for me.  My brain kind of struggled to get into the action because of this, but once I got used to the style I enjoyed the ride.

I had fun with Strain of Resistance.  Definitely a dark thrill ride perfect for anyone who loves classics like The Last of Us or The Walking Dead.


Bleak: The Story of a Shapeshifter

Ian Martyn

Rating: 5 Shrimps

The future is not so bleak…well, as soon as Bleak steps onto the scene.  Genetic experiments, political intrigue, and epic battles fill this sci-fi pulse pounder.  Bleak takes place in the wake of a futuristic civil war that has left a corrupt Confederacy in charge of a hegemony of planets.  This is a future society that chokes the truth and manipulates its many members.

The average space faring citizen isn’t the only victim of the Confederacy though.  Bleak is part of a special class of people.  Being a manipulant, a genetically engineered weapon that helped the Confederacy win the war, Bleak is hunted relentlessly.  This of course doesn’t stop the Confederacy hounds from wanting to use him for their own nefarious ends which leads Bleak on a daring mission of self-discovery and interstellar consequences.

Ian Martyn did a fantastic job of bringing the world of Bleak to life.  The writing flowed really well, I loved the characters and their dialogue, and there were some really cool villains and plot points.  All around, I’d recommend Bleak to any thriller or sci-fi lover, especially people who enjoyed Firefly.  I can’t wait to read more from this talented author!


The Macabre Masterpiece: Repressed Carnage

Justin Bienvenue

Rating: 4 Shrimps

It’s coming up on October and Justin Bienvenue’s Macabre Masterpiece: Repressed Carnage is the perfect thing to get you in the All Hallows mood!  This collection of poems is a witch’s cauldron mixture of dark, creepy, fun, rhythmic, and for some, disturbing.  Bienvenue captured a variety of feels in this dark and mystical journey and had some interesting points to make.  His imagery is particularly powerful.

This one’s a swift but fun read, perfect for anyone who’d like to sample a bit of the Horror genre before diving straight in.  It’s the perfect mash up between Shel Silverstein and Edgar Allan Poe.  My personal favorite was the ‘Temple of Madness.’  Be sure to pick this one up if you’re feeling the zombie craving for something dark and, dare I say, macabre.


Environmentally Friendly

Elias Zanbaka

Rating: 3 1/2 Shrimps

Have you ever been a tumbleweed rolling through a fist fight?  If you have, you’re some kind of wizard.  If you haven’t, then maybe you should check out Elias Zanbaka’s Environmentally Friendly.  This short story is a tense action filled romp filled with wonton destruction and a clever twist.  I don’t want to spoil anything because the twist is the best part.

Zanbaka throws you straight into the action as a police officer daringly chases down a deranged criminal.  But all is not as it seems in Zanbaka’s chaotic world.  The action was particularly engrossing and Zanbaka has a talent for description.  Some of the description was a bit confusing for me, and the antagonizing side officer being so cavalier with his life while a chainsaw was millimeters away from his neck was a little off-putting to me, but all around Environmentally Friendly was a fun read.

So non-wizard tumbleweeds, check out Environmentally Friendly if you’re in the mood for some fast paced action.


Escape from Anxiety

Peggy Sealfon

Rating: 5 Shrimps

Sometimes the world can come crashing in with its suffocating girth and you feel like you just need an escape.  That’s precisely what Peggy Sealfon has created for you (the escape, not the crushing world) with her informative text Escape from Anxiety.  This was a powerful and useful read, especially for anyone who struggles with stress or anxiety in their daily lives.

Sealfon weaves together aspects of psychology, scientifically proven methods, and philosophy in a fun, creative, and easy to understand way.  She laid down numerous methods to reduce anxiety and improve your health, as well as your outlook on life, all of which are pretty easy to integrate into your daily hustle.  She also uses a number of pictures that help clarify some of the different stretches.

As a person who works with a lot of different people, especially kiddos who struggle with some different issues, Sealfon’s Escape from Anxiety was a helpful resource.  I’d recommend it for anyone, anxiety or no.  Plus, it gives you permission to be playful and humorous, which we could all use a little more of.  So take that suffocating world!


West Running Wild

Gem Stone

Rating: 5 Shrimps

West Running Wild by Gem Stone is your typical ‘boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy has to take care of a billion animals’ story.  Marcus is smarmy and self centered (and a little bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to nonhumans).  Cathy is a strong willed woman with a big heart.  When Marcus’ father dies and leaves him the company (with a creative and fun catch), it sets the two of them on a crash course towards each other.

I love Stone’s humor and her diverse sprawl of characters.  There wasn’t a chapter where I didn’t smirk at least a little.  Her writing flows well and the dialogue is excellent.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t help but relate a bit with Marcus (I’m not exactly a huge animal lover myself).  It was fun to watch the journey both characters took and there were some very heartwarming moments.

I don’t typically get into romance, so this was a fun step into a new genre for me.  It’s a feel good tale of trouble and triumph great for any romantic comedy lover in the room.  Bonus points if you just happen to love animals.


Talking Tales: Puppy’s Bubble

Erica Graham

Rating: 4 Shrimps

Adorable!  That’s the word that comes to mind as you read Talking Tales: Puppy’s Bubble by Erica Graham.  Because seriously, who doesn’t love puppies and bubbles?  Graham lovingly blends together a bit of speech therapy with an easy to read story great for any toddler.

As a teacher, I found Graham’s approach interesting.  For anyone that hasn’t had formal training in child care, Graham takes a moment at the beginning of her book to explain sound formation and word building.  But don’t be fooled, Puppy’s Bubble is just a fun children’s book as well.  I also enjoyed the minimalist style of the pictures.  The art was well drawn and placed, not cluttered and overused, the mistake that some children’s books make.

Again, this is a great book for anyone with a toddler, or for those of you who just love dogs.  I look forward to testing Puppy’s Bubble out on my niece very soon!


Ash Eater

Joanna Emerson

Rating: 4 Shrimps!

Young Miya leads a troubled life.  She’s forced to deal with bullying over a number of different issues as well as some darker family secrets.  Fortunately, Miya’s existence isn’t tied to one world, but two.  She finds refuge in a mystical realm populated by equally magnificent creatures.  Elves, giants, and tree people all help Miya along on her journey towards a greater truth.

In many ways Ash Eater is a modern sequel to The Chronicles of Narnia.  It’s certainly much darker than its spiritual ancestor, but there’s a point to that.  As Miya’s internal journey matched with her physical one, it drew me in as a reader.  The book especially picked up for me when Miya became fully immersed in the other world.  The present tense narration was a challenge for me at first, but I got used to it and didn’t even notice after a bit.  Another touch I enjoyed was how Emmerson added a Bible quote at the beginning of each chapter and connected it to what was happening in the story.

This was a darker journey, but one with its rewards if you choose to walk it.  I’d recommend it for anyone who grew up reading The Chronicles of Narnia.


The Veil: Awakening

Zita Grant

Rating: 5 Shrimps!

Zita Grant would have you believe that The Veil: Awakening is about the clash between two worlds, when really it’s about three.  Awakening follows three characters: Richard, the tortured demon controlled soul; Michael, the righteous butt kicking angel; and Xian, the poor human caught in the middle of it all.  Grant’s characters are the flare of the book.  She paints them vividly in a way that brings the story to life.

Personally, I enjoyed Xian’s moments of being flustered, and then slowly growing to accept her destiny as a holy warrior.  Michael was a little lofty for me, but Richard really stole the show.  His darker journey was fascinating, as was his struggle with morality.  It took me a few chapters to get into Awakening, but once it got going I was hooked.  I can’t wait to read more in the series!

I’d recommend Awakening for any fans of Supernatural or Devil May Cry.


Rag Doll

Troy McCombs

Rating: 3 1/2 Shrimps!

Let’s just face it, dolls are really creepy.  They have soulless eyes and bulbous bodies, and their expressions are often trapped in some private joke the rest of the world isn’t privy to.  Dolls are creepy…a fact that Troy McCombs exploits to its fullest in Rag Doll.

This quick read is laced with plenty of nightmare imagery and tense moments.  Parts of it are a little rushed, but McCombs makes up for it with well written pulse pounding twists and a few touching moments.  The fatherly relationship between Lucas and his daughter Heather was particularly well done and sweet.  I was definitely drawn in by McCombs’ writing style and look forward to reading more of his nightmare spools.

Any fans of Annabel or The Boy will be right at home here…if their home is some kind of creepy haunted house or something.


The Dark Proposal

Megan Cashman

Rating: 5 Shrimps!

The Dark Proposal by Megan Cashman is, as the title suggests, a darker take on the vampire genre.  Claire has just graduated college and her boyfriend Daniel is everything she could want.  Things are looking up.  But when Daniel turns out to be an evil vampire hellbent on making her his slave for all eternity, Claire must find a way to stop him.  I enjoyed the darker take on the vampire genre, and Cashman brings things to life very vividly with her descriptions.  This is a good one for any of you bloodsuckers who love vampires out there!



Hetty Crane and P.J. Merchant

Rating: 4 Shrimps!

Hetty Crane and P.J. Merchant put a lot of love into creating the fantasy world of Arethea in their novel Daram.  In Arethea, music has magical properties and is therefore forbidden.  That doesn’t stop Manon from performing a magical ritual to summon heroes that can unite the land.  What she gets is Robin and the other bumbling members of his band.  Daram is a lot of fun but it’s a bit of a slow burn perfect for anyone that likes a bit of depth to their fantasy!


Power Tools in the Sacred Grove

Josef Matulich

Rating: 5 Shrimps!

Josef Matulich returns us to the epic quest to open a Renaissance park in Power Tools in the Sacred Grove.  This over the top fun story picks up where the last one left off.  Marc is still recovering, and still trying to figure out his relationship with the all powerful witch Brenwyn.  But more humorous evil is on the way in poor Marc’s never ending quest to get the park up and running.  This tongue-in-cheek romp is great fun, perfect for any supernatural or Army of Darkness fans out there!


Reminiscences of a Seeker

Kapil Bhaskar

Rating: 4 Shrimps!

Reminiscences of a Seeker by Kapil Bhaskar is an interesting account of encounters with supernatural beings.  This story follows Kapil as evil beings attempt to ensnare him.  It’s well-written, fast paced, but also has a lot of moral depth in its spiritual questions.  A great read for any spiritual or supernatural fans out there!


A Lasting Tale

F.N. Beza

Rating: 5 Shrimps!

It’s a strange innate human emotion to enjoy watching something crumble.  F.N. Beza explores this in A Lasting Tale.  Brother and sister Ace and Mel have been raised by their harsh father to be at odds with one another.  Despite their attempts to cling to love and care, the two end up setting in motion events that will lead to the fall of the Empire.  It’s interesting watching how Beza weaves together complicated emotions and the Empire’s slide into ruin.  I look forward to seeing how this house of cards collapses in the next one!


Darkblade Assassin

Andy Peloquin

Rating: 5 Shrimps!

I always love it when two genres collide in a spectacular way.  We see the rise of a vigilante superhero in Andy Peloquin’s fantasy novel Darkblade Assassin.  Enter Voramis, a fantasy world not too unlike our own.  There’s a heavy criminal element and powerful corporations run much of the land.  But they must contend with The Hunter, a kickbutt assassin hellbent on doling out justice.  If you like Punisher or Daredevil (like me) you’ll love this one (also like me)!


The Art of Balance

David J. Bookbinder

Rating: 5 Shrimps!

Self help guide The Art of Balance by David J. Bookbinder is well organized and easy to read.  It provides a lot of stress-relieving and almost spiritual insights through a series of psychotherapy tools.  I especially liked the cutesy stick figure characters and quotes that helped illustrate Bookbinder’s points.  This is a great guide for anyone pining for a more balanced life or perhaps a bit of self reflection.


The Leaking Brain

Jessica Bland and Susan George

Rating: 5 Shrimps!

The Leaking Brain by Jessica Bland and Susan George was a fun children’s adventure!  It was kind of like if Tim Burton directed a Harry Potter movie.  Poor young Flora has a leaking brain, literally.  She has a hard time retaining knowledge, a huge problem when evil Headmaster Prickles is just looking for a reason to expel children.  This is a really fun read that will surely delight any Roald Dahl fans out there!


Storm Warning

Lynn Hallbrooks and David McKoy

Rating: 4 Shrimps!

When taking their oath, soldiers vow to defend their country from enemies at home and abroad.  This holds especially true for Wrecking Crew, an elite group of soldiers in Lynn Hallbrooks and David McKoy’s Storm Warning.  After being sent on a mission, they discover there’s more going on than meets the eye.  Storm Warning is action packed and full of twists that any Executive Decision or Rainbow Six fans can enjoy!

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