“Kevin the Vampire”, by Will Madden – Review

Will Madden has created a delightful short novella about a vampire called Kevin. No longer known as Gaius Serverus, Guy, Cevinus, or Qehveenoz; now it’s just Kevin. Being Kevin is entirely appropriate for his new environs within the Greater American Corn Belt. Almost by accident, Kevin the Vampire takes up residence in an old abandoned church, St. Agnews. The church is still furnished with long abandoned furniture and an organ which Kevin uses to sing Billy Joel parody songs with a vampire twist. Engaging in staring contests with the crucified Christ (always a draw until Kevin gets bored), checking out any new nail polish colors at the local Walgreens (the only store open at night), or sampling the pedestrian fare of corn-fed blood, Kevin has an idyllic existence until a vampire hunter comes to town. Edvard von Heusen, said vampire hunter, has come specifically to find Kevin and make him an offer he’d best not refuse. No matter what happens next, Kevin’s life (or death?) will never be the same.

I enjoyed Kevin the Vampire from beginning to end. Will Madden’s witty approach to telling Kevin’s story kept me engaged throughout. Flawlessly constructed, the story is well-told and fresh, a standout from the often-worn genre of common vampire stories. The ending was unexpected and interesting; altogether what you would expect from the Kevin you come to know. If you enjoy vampire stories which don’t take themselves too seriously and are easy to read within a couple of hours, Kevin the Vampire is a fine choice!

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite

“First Flight”, by Zachary Jones – Review

Zachary Jones has written a classic space opera, heavy on the space battle action. In the midst of a war between two human factions, the Federals and the League, a new power inserts itself into the equation by soundly trouncing both groups in multiple surprise attacks. While initially outclassed by the Ascendency forces, Mason, a young fighter pilot, must somehow survive the complete destruction of his fighter group and live to fight another day. While much about the Ascendency suggests a human origin, such as their approach to fighting space battles, there are many other things which suggest they might be something completely new. Mason is seconded to the Special Purpose Branch, a military intelligence arm of the human Federal forces. They are tasked to learn more about the Ascendency, hopefully in time for the knowledge to make a difference.

I am a fan of space operas in general, but normally gravitate to those which have a high emphasis on the overall plot rather than being mostly a series of space battles. Zachary Jones does a fine job of emphasizing the space battles, which he clearly loves, while not losing sight of the need to move the plot forward. The action was believable, in that most of the technologies involved were not radical departures from what physics could one day support. If you are the type of person who loves reading realistic accounts of massive space battles punctuated by human ingenuity under pressure, First Flight is definitely the book for you!

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite

“The Hollywood Portal”, by E. E. King – Review

Eddie Evers is back! Or rather he never went away. The Hollywood Portal continues the story of my favorite electric detective; as he works to find answers to a number of questions surrounding a 50s-era bomb shelter which has somehow become a portal to another world. Not just any world; a version of Earth which didn’t make it through the cold war without shots fired in anger. E. E. King continues the witty dialog as Eddie still sees the world in greyscale, with occasional otherworldly incursions in full color. His deceased daughter is now sending him written notes from the beyond; usually timely warnings which, like most oracular warnings, are not understood until after the events occur. I wonder why oracles even bother!

We learn even more about the checkered past of Los Angeles, with nods to things most Angelinos would instantly recognize. Half of the fun comes from the inside references. My favorite section is:

“Most realtors I know are as honest as lawyers.”
“But not as smart,” Blake said.
“But not as smart,” I agreed.

The story isn’t all humor, as Eddie manages some significant personal growth in addition to tracking down the extra-dimensional villain(s). I enjoyed the book from beginning to end, and look forward to her next installment.

March 2019 Production

I’m in the process of acquiring additional funding for Feral Cat, LLC. In due time, there will be development funding for even more loss-making publications! I’m only paying for it with my life’s blood; which I guess is how it’s supposed to be.

Gaps correspond to funding for Feral Cat LLC
Plenty of projects in queue!

“Electric Detective”, by E. E. King – Review

E.E. King has written a classic detective story set in Los Angeles, but with several delightful science fiction twists. Eddie Evers, a former FBI agent tasked to child abduction cases, has come apart at the seams after his wife and daughter are killed in an auto accident. Eighteen months later, Eddie is still self-medicating with Jack Daniels. To make things worse, Eddie survives a direct hit by a lightning bolt and recovery requires even more Jack Daniels. The shock has left him seeing the world in grayscale, except for things which aren’t real; things like futuristic fruit hybrids, dead bodies, and the man who killed his family. The new vision helps his business as a private investigator, working for local police and the FBI. A society of scientists are also interested in Eddie’s newfound skills and aren’t shy in their pursuit. Eddie, with his electric cat Max, has to unravel a series of murders at some of Los Angeles’ best private schools and the truth is even more unusual than Eddie’s backstory.

E.E. King has really knocked this one out of the park, the persona of Eddie fits the wisecracking norm of the detective story while being wholly at home with the science fiction aspects of the story. I especially appreciated all of the witty observations about life in Los Angeles and its history. The tension rises relentlessly as you rush for the final chapter and a strong ending. If you like well-written detective stories and science fiction, look no further, this is a good one!

“I Put Pants on for This?”, by Jackson Banks – Review

Jackson Banks has compiled a humorous collection of short stories, which reads like a memoir written by a seemingly-cursed individual. He does state a good portion of the “I Put Pants on for This?” stories are fictional or embellished, but the feel is authentic. One story details the adventures a young child experienced as a military dependent in Guantanamo, Cuba, another chronicles being held a hostage in the Great White North of Canada due to the vagaries of air transportation. Family vacations do not escape his satirical treatment, whether white-water rafting to Outer Banks camping in the car due to all of the tents blowing away or being in a flood plain. The vagaries of hotel lodging, and those looking for love in the wrong places, are also explored in this short book.

I very much enjoyed Jackson Banks’ witty avuncular writing style which would be right at home being narrated by Garrison Keillor. “I Put Pants on for This?” is well-edited and I read it quickly, although interrupted many times by laughter. Anyone who has experienced the fecklessness of the travel and lodging industries can absolutely relate to the tribulations of his fictional self. A waiter who offers up a special, which they no longer have in stock, because it is their restaurant’s policy to recite a list of specials regardless of whether it can actually be ordered. It’s enough to turn a diner to drink, but funny when it happens to someone else. You too can enjoy the simple pleasures of schadenfreude by reading this delightful book.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite

“One is One”, by Andrew James Greig – Review

One is One relates the story of Tania’s search for her past, set off by the precipitant death of her caretaker grandparents and subsequent discovery of clues concerning the disappearance or murder of her parents on a remote Orkney island. Tania travels there and enlists the aid of a local private detective who appears to be little more than a comic-book reading man-child. Tania, with her African heritage, stands out among the in-bred pale Nordic locals. Meanwhile, a London Metro Police detective follows up on a disappearance case of his own, the only lead is a photo of a flower which doesn’t exist in the normal world. Thomas, a man disconnected from both time and space, is drawn towards something he knows not what; and watched by those whose thought takes no regard of man. Andrew James Greig orchestrates the convergence of all human and supernatural threads to the Scottish island of Rum for a final act.

I very much enjoyed the interleaving of plot lines in Andrew James Greig’s “One is One”. The incorporation of mythological elements into real-life settings gave the entire story an unearthly ambience, almost like the signature fogs and condensate wet cobblestones described within. The book is tightly edited and formatted beautifully with art accents and maps. Characters are well developed and left me wanting to know much more about the hidden drivers behind the plot. Many are the books which invoke the thin places between universes sprinkled around our fair Earth, but very few live up to their promise as well as this one.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite

“Relics of Andromeda”, by Jonathan Michael Erickson – Review

Relics of Andromeda begins the story of Anka and her quest to deal with an alien artifact in accordance with the customs of her people. Jonathan Michael Erickson’s first installment in the Song of Ancients series, is set several hundred years in the future when a cataclysm destroys the man-made pathway between the Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies. Those left in Andromeda have to find a way to exist without the near-term possibility of a return to Earth. The relics of an incredibly advanced ancient race, the Dokaber, are scattered throughout Andromeda and prove perilous when mishandled by humans. Anka’s troubles escalate when the agreements between her tribe and the technology-enhanced are no longer being honored. Somehow, she has to navigate between all interested parties, whose designs range from quarantine, theft, or experimenting on the relics for technological advances. The seemingly sentient relics may have an agenda of their own however.

Jonathan Michael Erickson does a fine job of kicking this series off with a compelling universe, consistently presented throughout. I particularly enjoyed the dynamics of how corrupting absolute power can be, even to the best of friends. There are layers upon layers to the story, so many moving parts it can be a challenge to keep it all straight. Much is made clearer with the handy lexicon provided at the end of the text. This installment ends fairly abruptly, without resolution of many major issues, but it has to end somewhere. What is there, however, admirably sets a full stage for the Relics of Andromeda sequel.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite

Random Quote

“Nothing in nature is objectively synergistic. Only subjective synergy is identified, and who knows if it is even real? After all, it is only a matter of opinion.”
Dan M. Kalin