Tag Archive: book review



Have you ever felt like you would never fit in?  Of course you have, we all have at one point or another.  But for some this is not simply being awkward socially, but much more.  For 10 year old Matica, the problem is a physical one.  She is not growing.  Despite her age and having a younger brother, Matica has the body of a much younger child which has made her life a real challenge as far as making any friends in the little village in Peru where her parents are missionaries trying to help the local tribe.  The tribe finds Matica’s situation strange and tend not to associate with her, making her more lonely than ever.

However, Matica does have knack for making friends.  In this case its a pair of condors, which seems to fascinate the local villagers.  But they are even more surprised when the bond between the undersized girl and the huge birds becomes so strong that when their egg is threatened by poachers they allow her to watch over and care for it.  Soon the egg hatches and Talon is born.  The villagers are more impressed than ever by the young girl as she helps raise the young condor, becoming an expert on the birds and soon Matica finds herself no longer the source of curious glances but a bit of a celebrity.  But her true love for family and her condors never takes a backseat to this new status.  Her dedication to both her families is unwavering and continues to grow just as quickly as Talon who is soon big enough and strong enough to take flight.  But is he powerful enough to grant Matica’s most secret wish?

Aimed at preteens, this is a story that can be enjoyed by any age.  As I said at the beginning of this review, we’ve all felt out of place and thought we’d never find where we truly belong.  Matica’s journey is a tale that everyone can relate to.  Sometimes its not finding where YOU fit in, but making a place for yourself in the world and watch it start swarming towards you.

This is such a wonderful tale, I have not problem giving it the 5-Star rating it deserves.  I’m even more delighted to know that this is only the first installment.  As of the writing of this review, there are four more books in the series.  Needless to say, I’ll be adding them to my library and more reviews will come with time.

And now I will take my hat off to the author Gigi Sedlmayer, may she, Talon, Matica and the rest of this fine cast soar high and far for many years to come.

https://www.amazon.com/Talon-Come-Fly-Gigi-Sedlmayer-ebook/dp/B00J2643PG/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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For those who don’t know, Richard Matheson is one of my many favorite authors.  His work on the original Twilight Zone, caught both my attention and imagination.  To this day, I consider his novel “Hell House” one of the greatest haunted house stories ever written.

But he also wrote about vampires in his classic “I Am Legend” (aka “The Omega Man”).  I was given a copy of this novel last Christmas and had finally gotten a chance to reading it. Having seen several movie versions of the story (including the one with Charles Heston), I was already familiar with the overall concept of the tale about the last normal human being on the planet.  However, knowing how Hollywood likes to put extra spins and its own touches on a story, I was eager to actually read Mr. Matheson’s original vision and I was not disappointed.

We are quickly introduced to Robert Neville, who (as far as he and the audience knows) may be the last normal human being on the planet.  We get to see the strange monotony of his day as he makes stakes, rounds up food and supplies and goes about fortifying his home which is also a kind of tomb for him.  He is surrounded by the memories of his life, when he had a wife and child who were both taken from him, along with all those he knew, by a mysterious plague that killed everyone around him.  But at night, he is terrorized by a more frightening enemy.  Those he lost come out from the places they hide in the daytime, hell-bent on sucking his blood.

Former friends and neighbors try to breach his security measures night after night.  Some of the women try to woo him with the promise of sex and love, while one neighbor constantly calls his name, saying “Come out Neville!”  We witness his plight to hold onto his humanity and sanity amidst these nightly raids, and then follow him during the daytime as he tries to eliminate as many of these vampires.

Mr. Matheson shares Robert’s memories of losing his wife to the plague and burying her, only to have her rise as one of the vampires and his being forced to put her down a second time.  Over a three year period we watch Robert become harder as well as a survivor.  He goes from being just the hunted to seeking answers.  I found this part interesting since, unlike in the most of the movies, he is not an expert in blood or disease.  We watch him educate himself through books and failed experiments as he tries to find the answers to the problem that surrounds him.  Yet all the while, he continues his daytime raids to exterminate those who hunt him.

Finally, after three years of loneliness he meets a woman who can walk in the daylight.  Out of desperation he tries to make friends while inadvertently frightening her.  Robert brings her to his home, against her will but slowly wins her over.  It is an interesting scene watching him trying to remember how to act like a civilized person after three years of no contact with someone who wasn’t trying to kill him.

In the end we learn the truth, that the woman he met, named Ruth is infected.  But the germ has mutated in her and others, so that they can control the bloodlust and can walk in daylight for short amounts of time.  And like Robert, they seek to put down the more violent feral creatures that hunt him.  But they also seek his destruction as well.  For he has unwittingly killed a number of them during his daylight raids, including the husband of Ruth.  But she has come to know him and understands his mistake and forgives him.  She even warns him of what is to come down the road, and urges him to move away and go into hiding.

But Robert refuses and a year later, the members of the new society, come and rid him of those who seek to destroy him.  They also take him into custody and prepare for his execution.  Due to his resisting capture, Robert has become fatally injured but is being kept alive for his public demise.  For now he has become to the boogeyman.  The thing who stalks these people in the day, when they have to avoid the sunlight.  He is the monster to them and he knows it.  He is now the creature of legend, in this new society and accepts the fate that awaits him.

Although it is a sad ending, the book is a powerful study in struggling with loss, loneliness, depression, survival and finally, realization.  Written in 1954, this is one of those timeless novels that I thoroughly recommend to all lovers of science fiction, horror, and fantasy.  It is a thought provoking work that will make you think for years to come.


Recently, I tried to get some new reviews for my two novels on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.  I even offered free Read-2-Review copies of the books to anyone who wanted to do a review.  The results… not a single bite.

I couldn’t believe it.  Giving away “FREE” copies of a book in exchange for an honest review is usually one of the very best methods known to get some reviews for a book.  But I wasn’t getting any takers.  In fact I actually heard back from a few people who had read the books and loved them.  Yet when I asked if they would be kind enough to leave a review this is what I kept hearing from a number of them..

“I love to read, but I don’t know what to say in if someone asks me to review their book…”

Does this sound familiar to anyone else out there?  If it does, don’t be embarrassed.  A lot of people feel that way.  Some don’t know what to put down because they see all these other reviews that are like several paragraphs long and go into great detail about the structure of the story, the plot, etc.  Or perhaps you just don’t have a lot of time to sit down and think, much less write up a big ole review.

These are all valid excuses.  But not every review has to be several paragraphs long.  Even the simplest review can be just two or three sentences.  And of course you’ll be asked to give a star rating usually on a 1-5 scale, with 1 being (why did I bother) and 5 being (dear God I want to read more like this).

While you may feel like you cannot convey all you want to say in just a couple of sentences, but that rating and a few words can make a world of difference as to whether that book becomes a hit or not.  Every review added to a book can make it a sensation that spreads across the nation and even the oceans.  Most book buyers want to know what the book is about, which is the writer’s responsibility to convey in their synopsis.  But buyers also want to know what other people thought of the book, especially since we’re all so spoiled for choice these days thanks to Indie Authors, Kindle, Nook and other e-reader devices.

20-30 reviews, even if half or more of them are just a couple of sentences long can help push that book you just finished and fell in love with, to great heights.  The more reviews the better for the author and the book.  Amazon and other places base a book’s popularity through a logarithmic system that is based on the number of reviews a book is given.  If the book has a lot of reviews and ratings they’ll suggest the book to other buyers with similar interests creating more sales.

But if a book only has a handful of reviews, they won’t do much with it.  It’s not the length of the review but how many and how favorable they are.  So if you really want to see an author or a book get the recognition you think it deserves, please go ahead and leave a rating and just a couple of sentences.  The power to make or break an author and their works is in your hands.

So please, support your favorite authors and books by leaving reviews as well as spreading the word about them throughout your networks.  You could be helping someone become the next Stephen King or JK Rowling.  Remember, without readers, we authors are nothing.

Thanks so much for tuning in and please keep writing.


Book review time again.  Today I wanted to share with you my review on what I consider one of THE best  collections of vampire stories ever compiled.  It covers some of the earliest vampire tales known and finishes with more modern ones from the 1980’s.  With the many takes on vampires we see these days from Anne Rice to Stephanie Meyer, I thought it might be interesting for you all to check out some other takes on the vampire genre done by other authors over the decades.  So without further ado, allow me to introduce you all to…

 



THE PENGUIN BOOK OF VAMPIRE STORIES is one of the best anthologies I’ve ever found. Part of the reason is that it covers authors who’ve touched on this subject as far back as 1816 and goes up to 1984. There are a number of familiar names in this book like Clark Ashton Smith, Sheridan Le Fanu, Tanith Lee, and August Derleth to name just a few. But what fascinates me the most is seeing how the vampire legend is explored. We meet the legendary “Varney The Vampire”, the seductive and dangerous “Carmilla”, as well as Stoker’s missing chapter from Dracula which was released as a short story several years after the novel itself was published. I understand in some later printings, it was put back into the novel where it belonged. Alas my copy of Dracula is one of the ones without it, so finding this missing chapter in this collection was a treat for me.

 

The first 2 installments in this collection: “Fragment of a Novel” (1816) and “The Vampyre” (1819) were of particular interest to me since their creation were the direct result of a bet made between the poet Percy Shelley, his wife Mary, Lord Byron and John Polidori. The four were spending a summer together and during a particularly boring rainy night they all agreed to a little contest. Each was to create a full length horror story within a certain amount of time. These 2 stories were the entries by Byron and Polidori respectively. Neither is fully finished. In fact Mary Shelley was the only one to complete her story the legendary “Frankenstein”. 

 

Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Carmilla” is another brilliant piece in this collection. Published in 1872, it predates Stoker’s more famous “Dracula” by a few decades. Considered a ‘lesbian’ vampire story since both the victims and the antagonist are women. But it’s here where we really find one of the first demonstrations of the sensuous behavior that has been built upon by so many modern writers of vampire fiction. Yet, it is not love or real affection. I’ll quote a passage from the story so you can see what I mean.

 

“…the vampire is prone to be fascinated with an engrossing vehemence, resembling passion

of love, by particular persons. In pursuit of these it will exercise inexhaustible patience and

stratagem, for access to a particular object may be obstructed in a hundred ways. It will

never desist until it has satiated its passion, and drained the very life of its coveted victim.

But it will, in these cases, husband and protract its murderous enjoyment with the refinement

of an epicure, and heighten it by the gradual approaches of an artful courtship. In these cases

it seems to yearn for something like sympathy and consent. In ordinary ones it goes direct to

its object, overpowers with violence, and strangles and exhausts often at a single feast…”

 

So here we see that alluring nature that is so eroticized these days. But clearly in this passage we see that clearly there is no real affection for the victim at all. It’s fascinating to see how one idea is singled out and made romantic, while the consequences are ignored these days. However, I cannot criticize modern writers for this. Every author wants to put a different spin on an old legend and this can be seen throughout this collection.

 

We have “Luella Miller” by Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman in 1902. No blood letting here, but the title character definitely has a kind of vampiric nature, willing or otherwise. She is almost a sympathetic character in some ways. 

 

Later we find C. L. Moore’s “Shambleau” in 1933, where the author takes us on a science fiction journey to another planet where we meet a vampire-like being, who also shares some resemblance to the legendary Medusa of ancient Greece.

 

There’s also the legendary Fritz Lieber’s offering “The Girl With The Hungry Eyes” from 1949. Or August Derleth’s 1939 “Drifting Snow” where we meet a pair of Snow Vampires. 

 

For almost a century authors have been putting their own spin on this famous myth and many will continue for years to come, myself included. 

 

I give this collection a full 5 STAR rating and highly recommend it to any fan of the genre.


Sometimes its good to check out the classics from way back when.  HP Lovecraft was an author who lived in the early 1900’s and is considered by many to be one of the greatest horror writers in history.  His creations ranged from magical (such as warlocks,  and demonic beings) to creatures from outer space who are so ‘alien’ most do not even conform to any life forms we’ve seen on this world.

But his greatest talent was inspiring terror in the readers by letting them meet these nightmarish things through the eyes of ordinary people like you and me.  We see and feel their terror at meeting things that are so different and (mostly malevolent) that seem to defy the laws of God and man.

Here is my review of one of his collected works.  I may do reviews on some individual stories of his down the road because they are so long that they border on novellas.

So without further ado… Here is my review of “At The Mountains Of Madness”….

 

 

5 STAR RATING by Allan Krummenacker on Goodreads.com

An archaeological expedition into the frozen wastelands of the Antarctic leads to an amazing discovery of strange fossils that seem reminiscent of legendary creatures whispered in the dark pages of the Necronomicon. Soon actual specimens are uncovered in pristine condition but a freak snowstorm blows down the sides of the mountains cutting off the members of the expedition that found them from the rest of their team. Silence follows and a rescue mission is sent out to see what happened at the camp and what has become of the treasured find.

But only horror awaits the rescuers as the camp is found to have been wiped out in the most bizarre and horrid fashion, with one of the camp’s men missing along with a couple of the sleds. As the search expands more and more questions arise and a trip to the fabulous mountain range reveals a terrifying secret. One that will drive one man mad and leave another shaken as the tries to reconcile himself to the knowledge of how life evolved on our world and what was behind it.

This and other tales of the macabre await the reader, as Mr. Lovecraft weaves tale after tale of horror and madness.

“At The Mountains Of Madness” is one of those tales by the great man that border on science fiction as well as horror. The entities that appear in the story come from the stars and are truly alien and frightening to imagine. His creations were truly not of this world in my opinion. These creatures are not humanoids with funky foreheads as depicted in so many movies or on television.

Perhaps he should be considered among the earliest of science fiction writers as well as horror.

 

*To read more of my reviews on Goodreads.com click on the link below:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/5284559-allan-krummenacker?shelf=read


5.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced,well plotted read May 26, 2014
Verified Purchase
I just read The Ship straight through after reading it in bits and pieces during the months in which Allan was writing and revising it. It was such a pleasure to read as an exciting tale and find myself drawn into it even though I knew in advance how it would all turn out. The author needs to keep writing, because I (and others) want to follow whatever is next in store for the intriguing characters we have met in The Ship and its predecessor The Bridge.

To find a format that fits your e-reader or to order a signed paperback copy click on the link below.  There you will find links to whatever style you want along with news about upcoming books in the Para-Earth Series:

http://allankrummenacker.wix.com/allan-krummenacker


Midwich Cuckoos
220px-Villageofthedamned1960MY RATING:  5  STARS OUT OF 5

I was very excited to finally get my hands on a copy of this book after seeing the 1960 movie “Village of the Damned” that was made based upon it. My wait was not in vain. While the movie followed the storyline and even small details very faithfully, actually reading the story was much more fulfilling.

I can understand the changing of the title, since not many are all that familiar with cuckoos aside from cuckoo clocks. In real life, cuckoo birds are rather parasitic in their behavior. A mother cuckoo will lay her egg in the nest of another bird (who is not a cuckoo) and leave it among the other eggs already there, and take off. The cuckoo’s egg will usually be similar in size and coloring so the foster-mother will not notice the additional egg and will care for it. Unfortunately, the cuckoo egg will hatch way before the other eggs, producing a very demanding chick who will constantly want to be fed and cared for. While the foster mother is away, the chick will evict other eggs or even other chicks when they finally hatch. The cuckoo chick will run the mother ragged to satisfy its own needs. Yes, nature can be cruel and even ugly sometimes.

In this novel, Mr. Wyndham applies this same principle to humans. In the village of Midwich the “Dayout’ occurs. The entire village falls unconscious for hours only to awaken confused and uneasy. Soon it is learned that every girl and woman of child-bearing age is pregnant. The stigma of unmarried mothers as well as the accusations of infidelity runs rampant. The women are on put on spot for quite a while unable to defend themselves.

Mr. Wyndham questions a number of society’s expectations of women and moral behavior within this book which I personally liked. At another point in the story one of the lead male characters talks about women he went to school with. He laments that there were young ladies who were extremely intelligent and had great future prospects, who wound up marrying and losing their chance to fully explore their full potential.

Eventually, the story raises other questions after the ‘children’ are born.  Namely the demands of motherhood, such as breast-feeding. In one scene a woman begins to breast-feed her newborn ‘child’ in public (remember this book came out in 1957, and there’s still a lot of arguments about breast-feeding in public today). The woman feels humiliated but explains angrily that she cannot help herself. The child demands it. Soon other strange compulsions arise from the other children born as a result of the Dayout.

Nature vs nurture comes into question as well. The ‘Children’ do not demonstrate affection or much feelings, except when threatened or angered. They have no problem being housed together away from their families when the chance arises. No matter how much kindness or affection has been given them, there is no affection offered in return.

Before long it becomes apparent these children are much more than human and they soon make it clear their long term goal is to supplant all normal humans in time. Plus they have the psychic powers to do it, which they demonstrate more and more. Even to the point of planes flying far overhead, suddenly dropping out of the sky. The pilots do not necessarily eject either folks. This is a blatant warning to those in authority not to try attacking from a distance or from above.

The book is a fascinating read and raises a lot of interesting questions. It is a classic and thoroughly worth reading. I highly recommend it.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/5284559-allan-krummenacker”>View all my reviews</a>

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