Book Review: Germination – Feast of Weeds by Jamie Thornton

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I received this book as a free download from the author’s webpage and with Halloween just around the corner, this zombie thriller could not have come at a better time!

The story revolves around Mary, a homeless runaway, who quickly runs into problems when faced with an unknown viral outbreak spreading across the city. The book is enjoyably fast-paced and seldom allows its reader to come up for air before hitting them with another wave of groaning zombies. The plot is strong, while the narrative and characters hook you instantly. Moreover, I liked its perspective and how Mary fits into the story. It’s a unique spin on a genre that has grown significantly over the last few years.

Another aspect I enjoyed about Thornton’s story was that it didn’t only revolve around zombies. The author offers a pretty graphic idea of how difficult life must be for a street kid and doesn’t spare us from the harsh realities that come along with it. That being said, if you’re looking for suspense then you’ve come to the right place; zombies are here, they’re awesome and they are totally taking over.

My only complaint would be that the book felt far too short. At 92 pages (it’s a novella after all), it leaves you absolutely reeling and begging for more. Mercifully, there is more; Germination is the first of four in the Feast of Weeds series.

If you’re a fan of the YA genre and apocalyptic tales of the Walking Dead variety then read Germination – Feast of Weeds.

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Top 5 Horror Books to Scare You This Halloween

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The time of year is upon us, folks! It’s Halloween week. And do you know what goes beautifully with jack-o-lanterns? Candy (seriously, I eat more in those 24hrs than I give out to trick-or-treaters). But even more than a high calorie intake, Halloween is a perfect time to pick up a scary book.

Below are my top 5 favorite horror book recommendations for the ghouls out there who love a good scare.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Yes, I know – total cliché – however the fact that the 1897 gothic horror is still so relevant makes Bram Stoker’s Dracula part of my top 5. The author largely responsible for defining the modern form of vampires we see today but please, don’t settle for the current knockoffs; do yourselves a favor and read the original.

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Ghost Story by Peter Straub

I’d grant Straub’s Ghost Story one of the scarier books that I’ve read. Even the master of horror himself Stephen King pegged it as “probably the best of the supernatural novels to be published”. If you’re a fan of this genre, pick it up. You’ll be happy (and terrified) that you did.

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The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

This is certainly one of the greatest ghost stories of the 20th century. Although it walks a fine line between paranormal horror and psychological thriller, Jackson is genius at setting the tone and the whole story leaves you with an unsettling feeling in the pit of your stomach hours after you’ve finished.

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It by Stephen King

Much of the story revolves around a middle-aged clown going around town murdering people. Need I say more?

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Ghost Beach (Goosebumps #22) by R. L. Stine

Perhaps it’s due to the fact that I watched the new movie this weekend but yes, I’ve listed a Goosebumps novella in my top 5 and no, I’m not sorry. If you were anything like me as a kid, chances are you grew up reading Stine’s series and I’d be hard pressed to believe that you didn’t think they were awesome. All cheesy moments aside, Ghost Beach is a fun Halloween read for most ages.

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(Photos above courtesy of Tumblr)

Book review: The Mine by John A. Heldt

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Time travel stories tend to be a hit or miss for me however John Heldt’s The Mine manages to fall somewhere in the middle. I liked the premise of the novel and the quality of the writing was very good. My main issue is that I feel it needed more drama. Given the situation that the main character was thrown in, I was expecting a fair amount of conflict and chaos. The transition into Joel’s new life and every situation that he subsequently faced seemed to go a little too smoothly for the protagonist. Where is the terror at the realization that he’s just been sent nearly 60 years back in time? Where is the panic?

Overall, the characters were likeable enough. The standout for me was definitely Ginny, who had just the right amount of sass and candor to really bring the character to life. Personally, I believe that Heldt’s strong suit lies in his well developed description of the era. The world the author built made it easy to imagine what life was like in the early 40s.

Did I enjoy The Mine? Sure. Was it an edge of your seat page turner? Not quite. However it did have enough substance and redeeming qualities to make up for the aspects it lacked. Bonus; the twist at the end was absolutely brilliant.

Note: I received an ecopy of The Mine from the author John A. Heldt in exchange for an honest and unbiased review of the novel.

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“Dear author, we regret to inform you…”

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Let’s not kid ourselves here; being rejected by a literary agent sucks. And being rejected by several agents sucks even more. You spend hours upon hours perfecting your query letter and emailing it to every literary agent you find online only to be met with a slew of very impersonal rejection responses weeks (or sometimes even months) later. Worse are the times that you aren’t even graced with a reply and instead find yourself in literary submission limbo – a place of both wishful thinking and utter hopelessness. As dismal as this may seem, it’s important to note that you’re not the first person to be subjected to this cold fate. Bestselling authors such as J.K. Rowling, Agatha Christie and Dr. Seuss were all rejected by literary agents numerous times before making it in the industry.

Last week, I attended a business seminar and the guest speaker made mention of Howard Schultz who was rejected by banks 242 times before someone loaned him the money to start his business. 242 times – let that sink in for a moment. Today, Starbucks has a net worth of 70.9 billion. I get that this anecdote has little relation to books however it has everything to do with persevering in the face of rejection. If everyone who faced rejection threw in the towel, then my favorite nonfat pumpkin spice latte wouldn’t be available every fall, we wouldn’t have grown up knowing the joys of Green Eggs and Ham and The Boy Who Lived would have never left the cupboard under the stairs.

Basically, what it all comes down to is this: will you have the ability to continue believing in your work no matter how many doors are slammed in your face?

Here are a few lessons that may help you:

  1. Rejection is often an opportunity in disguise. It allows us to examine what we did wrong and gives us insight on how to do it better for the next time. Perhaps your query wasn’t the best pitch for your novel. Or maybe you were sending it to agents that don’t represent your genre. Whatever the reason, a next time is coming if you really believe in your work. See rejection as a challenge and a source of motivation to do better in the future.
  2. Know your worth. Don’t underestimate yourself just because someone has passed on the opportunity to represent you. Allow rejection to build your courage and raise your determination. When you know that your work is of value it’s easier to accept that you may have to crawl through the trenches in order to reach the top.
  3. Ask yourself “What is the worst that can happen?” Seriously guys, being rejected hurts but it’s not a zombie apocalypse. If an agent (or several) turns you down then absorb the blow, brush yourself off and try again. Be unrelentingly tenacious. Most importantly, have the audacity to try again and the determination to understand that rejection doesn’t mean failure.

In short, rejection is unavoidable. In writing especially. You may call it an occupational hazard, but I call it a building block.

“If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, then your goals aren’t ambitious enough.” – Chris Dixon

(Photo above courtesy of Tumblr)

Book Review: Keep from Falling by Amy Vanessa Miller

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This book is different… in the absolute BEST way possible. In a literary world filled with sparkling vampires and bleak dystopian futures, Miller’s novel Keep from Falling is refreshingly unique. The characters are relatable and you quickly find yourself loving them despite their issues (and believe me when I say that they have many). Themes of trust, sexuality and self-discovery are explored throughout the novel in a very believable way and Miller skillfully avoids stereotypes. There are no lulls in this story. The drama begins from the very first page and the twists and turns definitely keep you on your toes. Saying that I couldn’t put it down is an understatement. Miller’s biggest strength (in my opinion) is her ability to write dialogue that feels completely real.

Miller’s work is a prime example of how great books aren’t always published through traditional publishing houses anymore. You got rejected by the literary agents you queried? Doesn’t matter. If your book is good, publish it anyway.

Keep from Falling is a solid debut from self-published author Amy Vanessa Miller and I eagerly look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

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The Moving Van is Unloading…

So, here we are settling into our new blog home! I won’t lie; I hated to abandon my former site however due to reliability problems with the host’s server, here we now are.

As disgruntled I am about leaving my former blog behind, it was time for a change. In addition to the site problem (bad gateway 502, anyone?), my blog goals have (slightly) changed. Like its predecessor, this blog will still center around books though this time around it won’t only be about MY books. Yes friends, you’ve guessed it; I’ve decided to expand my blogging horizons and review books. Book bloggers gave me an amazing platform when I was in the midst of self-publishing and I believe I can return the favor. Besides, I’m always reading something. May as well blog about it.

Those who are a fan of my work, fret not. I will still alert you of upcoming novels and day-to-day writing posts.

I hope you all follow me to my new home (my blog home, not my actual home – that would be super creepy) and that you enjoy my caffeine-hinged rants along the way 🙂

Cheers,

J.D.

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