Tag Archives: book thoughts

Interview with Author Natalie Hanson

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

For many years I concentrated on being a screenplay writer. I had mild success optioning scripts, selling scripts and being hired to write, but never felt the joy of seeing something I wrote on the big screen. Scripts are rarely considered a ‘finished product’. There’s always another producer who wants changes.So my angst for having a completed project led me to pursue writing novels. There is something very satisfying when you are truly done.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I wanted to write a female character that can do anything a man can. Traditionally women are judged for making choices a man does every day. Who they can sleep with, how they speak, having children. I wanted to create a protagonist that was ashamed to be who she was.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

In all things, chaos prevails. So just accept it now. The more control you try to have over life the more you will be disappointed.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

In recent years I’ve had a number of folks who have given me the feedback “Your writing is so disturbing. Everyone is so evil!” And I always think “Really, I thought that was just Tuesday!” I guess I live in the dark places where most people just visit. For me, my creative work has always been on the gritty side.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I’d be interested in asking Zalla about her life choices. One seemingly small choice can change your entire life. I’d love to explore how her life might have turned out differently had she zigged instead of zagged.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership? Oh, this one’s a tough one. I will fully admit I am not good at social media. It’s a real skill that requires time and dedication. I strive to improve in the future.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Your writing is going to suck, and it’s OK. It takes thousands of hours to start pumping out good material. So in the beginning, be open to feedback and adjust. Edit out your favorite thing from a story if it’s not working. Be prepared to do anything to make the material better.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

The Zalla series includes five novels. They are all complete and book 4 & 5 are being edited now. I wanted to get all the heavy lifting of writing out of the way so I’d have more time to devote to promotion and the logistics of self-publishing. I am looking forward to getting them all out there into the world!

About the Author

Natalie Hanson is an author and screenplay writer born and raised in Seattle, WA.

‘The Unknown Man’ is the first of five novels chronicling the hunt for serial killers and criminals by FBI agent Zalla Bennbett. This dark series examines the worst criminals humanity has to offer through the eyes of a jaded agent, struggling to keep optimism alive and fight for the voiceless.

Book two in the series, ‘The Butcher’, is an upcoming release.

Her novel ‘Every Moment and Not a Second More’ was published on Amazon in 2018.

Currently she is collaborating on a horror genre comic series based on her screenplay “Dociles.” It tells the story of a teen runaway, kidnapped by a medical examiner who turns the dead into zombies. It’s a fight to not end up as one of the herd!


Splurge Dealers & Banshee Addicts by Douglass Goodman Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A futuristic sci-if thriller explores the power of addiction as a plot to control the world by a powerful threat behind the scenes forces humanity and a secret society to join forces, with two special agents caught in the middle in author Douglass Goodman’s “Splurge Dealers & Banshee Addicts”.

The Synopsis

This book is about addiction and its future. The future is not bright. Here are your two choices for our society’s ultimate fate. Will the rampant addiction be to a new drug (Splurge) that gets us high on rationality? Or would you rather have what’s behind door number two, an addiction to an internet of emotional sharing (Banshees)? I should also mention that this latter addiction is part of a conspiracy to control the world. Are you on the side of Splurge Dealers or Banshee Addicts? Those are the choices of our hero, Hunter, a drug-enhanced agent for the DCIA and his new partner, Sammi, who has her own dark secret.

An imaginative, narrative exploration of addiction. It has the high stakes, deadly suspense and hidden conspiracies of a thriller. The what-ifs of science fiction. The gut-emotional impact of horror. Plenty of outrageous sex and lots of humor. It’s fun, taut, thrilling, but more importantly it gives you characters and dilemmas to think and talk about addiction, its consequences and its possible futures.

The first step is to admit you’re powerless. You can’t help yourself. You must read this book.

The Review

An exhilarating story that teeters between a sci-fi adventure and an action thriller, Douglass Goodman delivers a wonderful book that readers can get easily invested in. The analysis of addiction as a whole and the commentary on how so many people will end up substituting one addiction for another was felt heavily throughout this narrative and brought depth to the sci-fi genre.

The multiple POVs throughout the novel was refreshing, giving readers a chance to explore multiple facets of this futuristic universe the author has created. The dialogue shifts evenly between outrageous humor and inner dialogue to thought provoking conversations where readers have to see what is truly more important: emotions or rational thinking, especially in this narrative where a powerful force is set to weaponize emotions through technological addiction. Can one survive without the other?

The Verdict

A mesmerizing, evenly paced and powerful story that felt like it would have been home in a great late 70’s, early 80’s sci-fi film. This is a must read novel and a great way to kick off 2021. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10



Salamis by Harry Turtledove Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two men and the neutral country they call home are caught in the midst of a legendary battle between two warring Marshalls of Alexander the Great in author Harry Turtledove’s historical fiction novel, “Salamis”. 


The Synopsis

In 306 BC, the small, free, and independent polis of Rhodes is trying to stay neutral between the local great powers, each ruled by one of Alexander the Great’s marshals: Asia Minor, controlled by one-eyed Antigonos, and the Egypt of Ptolemaios. Antigonos’ son, Demetrios, comes to Rhodes seeking an alliance against Ptolemaios. The Rhodians, who trade a lot with Egypt, refuse his offer.

Menedemos and Sostratos take the Aphrodite to Egypt for business…and to tell Ptolemaios what has been going on. Just before they leave, they learn Demetrios has invaded the island of Cyprus, which Ptolemaios dominates. He is advancing on the southeastern town of Salamis, where Ptolemaios’ brother, Menelaos, has concentrated his forces.

After they pass on their news, Menedemos does business in the brash new city of Alexandria while Sostratos travels up the Nile to old, old Memphis to trade there, and to see the Pyramids and the Sphinx. Ptolemaios, meanwhile, readies a fleet to rescue his brother and drive Demetrios back to Asia Minor.

Ptolemaios, needing shipping to carry weapons for the army he intends to land, coerces Menedemos into bringing the Aphrodite along as part of his expeditionary force. And so, very much against their will, Menedemos and Sostratos become small parts of one of the ancient world’s greatest naval battles. 

The Review

A wonderful deep-dive into ancient history, author Harry Turtledove has done it again with a stellar novel. The balance the author achieves with the historical background and events of the war between Ptolemaios and Demetrios and the personal relationships and struggles of the protagonists Menedemos and Sostratos is remarkable. War was an all too common event in this period of history, and getting to know the characters personally who were caught in the midst of this war was fascinating to see unfold.

The author’s use of imagery shone brightly in this narrative, with the cities of Salamis, Alexandria, and Memphis coming to life and exploring pivotal locations in Ancient Greece and Egypt. As a history fan, exploring the aftermath of Alexander the Great’s passing as his successors fought over who deserved to rule over the empire he had built was amazing, and giving the role of protagonist to a small historical figure and a fictitious character both was an inspired choice. 

The Verdict

Enthralling, action-packed, and historically driven, author Harry Turtledove’s “Salamis” is a must-read historical fiction novel. The fifth of the Hellenic Traders Universe that the author has crafted around Menedemos and Sostratos was a massive success, with an evenly-paced narrative and engaging characters that made the story come to life as one of history’s greatest battles became the stage for this plot to come to life. From the way, society ran during those days in places like Rhodes to the bond between a family being tested, especially for Menedemos, made this a truly entertaining read. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Dr Harry Norman Turtledove is an American novelist, who has produced a sizeable number of works in several genres including alternate history, historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction.

Harry Turtledove attended UCLA, where he received a Ph.D. in Byzantine history in 1977.

Turtledove has been dubbed “The Master of Alternate History”. Within this genre he is known both for creating original scenarios: such as survival of the Byzantine Empire; an alien invasion in the middle of the World War II; and for giving a fresh and original treatment to themes previously dealt with by other authors, such as the victory of the South in the American Civil War; and of Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

His novels have been credited with bringing alternate history into the mainstream. His style of alternate history has a strong military theme.


Manufacturing Civility: People Treatment as a Continuous Improvement Strategy by Christian Masotti and Lewena Bayer Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Authors Christian Masotti and Lewena Bayer show readers how to utilize civility to create an overall better work environment and experience in the manufacturing industry in the book “Manufacturing Civility: People’s Treatment as a Continuous Improvement Strategy”.

The Synopsis

Incivility at work is real. And it is real in manufacturing.According to a Gallup State of the American Workplace report, 75 percent of manufacturing workers are disengaged at work. In fact, the manufacturing industry, according to the Gallup report, is the least engaged industry across sectors.A closer look at the research reveals that a primary cause for this disengagement is poor leadership. Specifically, supervisors and managers with low social acuity are co-creating uncivil workplace cultures.Manufacturing Civility provides a 6Cs formula for solving people problems. These strategies result in continuous improvements that shift workplace culture away from traditional toxic and uncivil organizations towards healthier, more positive workplace experiences for employees in manufacturing environments.The “people-treatment” aspects of the proprietary Manufacturing Civility methodologies have been co-created by 20-year, internationally recognized experts in the field of civility training-Lewena Bayer, CEO of Civility Experts Inc., and a veteran of the manufacturing industry, Christian Masotti. The tried-and-true methodologies shared in the book have been proven to impact individual morale, wellness, and outlook in organizations across sectors, including manufacturing.Civility-when specifically applied to how people are treated at work, is a continuous improvement strategy that has been proven to have measurable impacts on:• Retention and engagement• Performance• Workplace wellness and safety• Innovation, creativity, and problem-solving• Bottom-line business metrics, including profitability.

The Review

This is a truly eye-opening read for those readers involved in the manufacturing industry, as well as those who aren’t. The increase in knowledge surrounding mental health and the treatment of others is well known in our day and age, but its effect on workers in the workplace is not always widely discussed. The author’s perfectly highlight the growing conditions of workers, especially in the manufacturing industry, and how it impacts productivity for companies as well as work conduct.

The authors do a great job of implementing a great number of detailed strategies into the book, especially for a shorter book like this one. From “Interruption Strategies” that showcase techniques to stop disruptive behavior in the workplace to how fear-based leadership and behavior in the workplace can lead to short-term increases, but long-term illness and stress related to work environments, the authors showcase a wide range of data and experience to highlight how treating workers with respect and dignity can go a long way not only for morality but productivity in the workplace as well.

The Verdict

A thorough, quick, and educational read, authors Christian Masotti and Lewena Bayer hit it out of the park with their book “Manufacturing Civility: People Treatment as a Continuous Improvement Strategy”. The read is well-researched and offers readers a step-by-step guide on creating a better workplace environment in the manufacturing industry. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


Can’t Ride Around It (Deadwood Undertaker Series Book 3) by Ann Charles and Sam Lucky

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Santa Fe Sidewinders come back together again to face a powerful new threat to the town of Deadwood after a series of grave robberies and missing bodies lead to a startling discovery in authors Ann Charles and Samy Lucky’s “Can’t Ride Around It”, the third book in the Deadwood Undertaker Series.

The Synopsis

Some things you just can’t ride around …

Jack “Rabbit” Fields knew a good thing when he saw it, whether it was a sound horse, a sure bet, or a pretty sage hen. When it came to locking horns with any curly wolves he ran into along the trail, he tended to shoot first—a notion that had saved his hide more times than he could count. But that was before he came to Deadwood.

Now, someone is stealing freshly dead bodies right out of their graves, and Rabbit and his amigos are on the hunt to figure out who. And more important, why?

Unfortunately, finding the answers to those questions will take plenty of Rabbit’s bullets, and maybe his blood, too. When the shooting stops and the smoke clears, he reckons there will be a whole lot more cold corpses in the Black Hills. With any luck, he won’t be one of them.

Hold onto your hats and saddle up for another action-filled adventure with the Santa Fe Sidewinders, Clementine, Hank, and the rest of the goldurn Deadwood devils!

The Review

A truly fantastic blend of supernatural horror and old school Western/action & adventure storytelling! Authors Ann Charles and Sam Lucky have crafted a masterpiece western tale like no other, as longtime fans of the series get to see the characters grow and adapt to even greater threats, and even have some romance thrown into the mix for good measure.

Although I had not read the first two books in the series, I found it quite easy as a new reader to get sucked into the story and to find myself invested in these characters and their stories. Character development plays a huge role in this series, and I found myself drawn to the adventures shown with Clementine and Boone, who’s relationship is as interesting as the story itself. The deep cut into supernatural mythology was great as well, introducing a monstrous threat to the area that is not quite as well known as saying vampires or werewolves, but the authors still manage this paranormal aspect with ease as the novel still embodies that classic action/western feel and tone, crafting incredible imagery throughout the novel.

The Verdict

A heart-pounding, engaging, and evenly-paced read, authors Ann Charles and Sam Lucky’s “Can’t Ride Around It” is a fantastic entry into the western series the authors have crafted together. With non-stop action and amazing character development throughout the novel, then the humorous and adventurous novel is a must-read this holiday season. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Authors

Ann Charles is an award-winning author whowrites mysteries that are splashed with humor, romance, and whatever else shefeels like throwing into the mix. When she is not dabbling in fiction, arm-wrestlingwith her children, attempting to seduce her husband, or arguing with her sassycat, she is daydreaming of lounging poolside at a fancy resort with a blendedmargarita in one hand and a great book in the other.





Sam Lucky likes to build things—from Jeep engines to Old West buildings to fun stories. When he is not writing, feeding his kids, attempting to seduce his wife, or tending the goldurn cats, he is planning food-based booksigning/road trips with his wife and working on one of his many home-improvement projects.

He writes the Deadwood Undertaker Series with Ann Charles. The first book is called LIFE AT THE COFFIN JOINT, available now.

The second book, A LONG WAY FROM ORDINARY, will be available this summer.


From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel #1) by Jennifer Gordon Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A woman dealing with a tremendous loss finds herself in a haunting location, battling her own inner demons while desperately searching for answers to the mysteries surrounding her in the gothic thriller “From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel #1)” by author Jennifer Gordon.

The Synopsis

The latest book from the critically acclaimed author of Beautiful, Frightening, and Silent; Jennifer Anne Gordon.

On an almost uninhabitable rocky island off the coast of Maine, a Hotel looms over the shore, an ever-present gray lady that stands strong like a guard, keeping watch. For many who come here, this island is a sanctuary and a betrayal.

This is a place where memories linger like ghosts, and the ephemeral nature of time begins to peel away …like the sanity of all who have been unlucky enough to step foot on its shore.

In the late spring of 1873, Isabelle gave birth to her son Oscar, he cried for three startling minutes, and then went silent. During the months that follow, Isabelle is drugged and lulled into an almost hallucinatory world of grief and fear. Her life begins to feel as though it exists in a terrifying new reality separated from those around her …

When her grieving begins to make her husband, Henry, uncomfortable, he and his mother conspire to send Isabelle away to a Summer Hotel on Dagger Island, where she can rest and heal. While they are adamant that the hotel is not an asylum and that Isabelle will be able to return eventually to her home, Isabelle understands in her heart that it is all a lie. That perhaps, everything about being a woman in this time, may have always been a lie.

Her family has lied to her, and she has lied to herself.

The Hotel, of course, is not what it seems, and the foreboding Dagger Island begins to feel more like a prison than a retreat. Isabelle hears relentless sounds coming from the attic above her room, and the ever-present cries of small children scream in her head almost constantly. Are they hallucinations, or are they connected to the small cemetery she found, filled with the fresh dirt of little graves, the brokenhearted reminders of people that no one believes ever existed?

She meets a fellow guest at the Hotel, a young, enigmatic, and deeply damaged priest, named Francis.

Together they teeter on the edges of reality and try desperately to become free from the fates that their pasts have bound them to.

From Daylight to Madness is a poetic, and haunting Gothic Fiction novel that is both profoundly unsettling and darkly romantic. 

The Review

What a beautiful yet tragic and engaging read! The author has become one of the best voices for the gothic horror genre in recent years, crafting a narrative that incorporates haunting scenes that send chills down the reader’s spine and overwhelming emotional beats in the character’s stories that keep the reader hanging onto every word of every chapter.

The way the author highlights the overbearing role women were placed into in society at this time and how it can be applied to how some people still view women’s roles in society only adds to the depth and tone of this wonderful read. The protagonist Isabelle and Francis and their bond with one another really grab the reader’s attention. Isabelle is an especially amazing character, as she is not only dealing with the loss of a child, but an uncaring husband and his mother, and her own struggles with never having felt the true love of any kind. The haunting reality of whether or not someone feeling that way could ever recognize love if they saw it is something many readers could identify with and adds to the emotional and haunting atmosphere of the novel.

The Verdict

A memorable, beautifully haunting yet heart-breaking and evenly-paced read, author Jennifer Gordon’s “From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel #1)” is a must-read gothic horror tale of 2020. One of the best gothic reads of the year, this novel creates chilling imagery and truly remarkable poetic storytelling that is not to be missed, and with a shocking final chapter that leads into a second novel, this is a story not to be missed. Be sure to grab your own copy of this book today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Jennifer Anne Gordon is a Gothic horror novelist. Her work includes Beautiful, Frightening and Silent (2020) which won the Kindle Award for Best Horror/Suspense for 2020, and From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel book 1), and When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk (The Hotel book 2).

She had a collection of her mixed media artwork published during spring of 2020, entitled Victoriana: mixed media art of Jennifer Gordon

Jennifer is one of the hosts as well as the creator of Vox Vomitus, a video podcast on the Global Authors on the Air Network, as well as the Co-Host of the You Tube Channel “Talk Horror to Me”. She had been a contributor to Ladies of Horror Fiction, as well as Horror Tree.

Jennifer is a pale curly haired ginger, obsessed with horror, ghosts, abandoned buildings, and her dog “Lord Tubby”.

She graduated from the New Hampshire Institute of Art, where she studied Acting. She also studied at the University of New Hampshire with a concentration in Art History and English.

She has made her living as an actress, a magician’s assistant, a “gallerina”, a comic book dealer, a painter, and burlesque performer and for the past 10 years as an award-winning professional ballroom dancer, performer, instructor, and choreographer.

When not scribbling away (ok, typing frantically) she enjoys traveling with her fiancé and dance partner, teaching her dog ridiculous tricks (like ‘give me a kiss’ and ‘what hand is the treat in?’ ok these are not great tricks.) as well as taking photos of abandoned buildings and haunted locations.

She is a leo, so at the end of the day she just thinks about her hair.







Dead of Winter Break (Cassandra Sato #3) by Kelly Brakenhoff Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A woman working on a college campus in Nebraska finds her first Christmas in the area facing uncertain danger as a killer begins targeting her in author Kelly Brakenhoff’s “Dead of Winter Break”, the third book in the Cassandra Sato series.

The Synopsis

It’s beginning to look a lot like murder . . .

And Cassandra is knee deep in . . .


Her boss is dead, and the police are calling it burglary gone wrong. But when the killer comes after her, it’s going to take more than a pair of furry boots to keep the smart, witty Morton College administrator, Cassandra Sato, out of the deep. . .


Her first Christmas in Nebraska could be her last unless her friends help unravel the mystery and housebreak her dog.

Buy now for a fast-paced, holiday themed whodunit.

The Review

A perfect whodunnit story just in time for the holiday season. The author does an amazing job of setting the pace early on in this story, crafting equal time for humor and a look inside of college campus life while also adding a deep air of mystery and dread with the murder of the protagonist’s former boss. While I had not read the first two books in the series thus far, I found Cassandra Sato to be a strong protagonist who had shown through looks into previous adventures and in this novel alone some serious growth as a character.

In any good mystery, atmosphere and mystery are two of the most crucial components. The author does a wonderful job of including both in this novel, as the story expertly crafts the shocking mystery of who killed Cassandra’s formally retired boss and infuses the setting of this small Nebraskan town naturally into the story itself. Cassandra’s wit and humor pair well with the narrative as well, creating a protagonist who readers can easily identify with and root for all at once.

The Verdict

A fun, exciting, and engaging mystery read, this is the perfect book to cozy up with next to open fire and a nice cup of tea. Author Kelly Brakenhoff’s “Dead of Winter Break” is the perfect next chapter in the Cassandra Sato series, and does an excellent job of showcasing why the mystery genre is one that will never truly tire out, as the author manages to keep the pace and tone of the novel fresh and exciting all the way throughout the novel. Be sure to grab your copy of this amazing winter read today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

KELLY BRAKENHOFF is an American Sign Language Interpreter whose motivation for learning ASL began in high school when she wanted to converse with her deaf friends.

Kelly writes the Cassandra Sato Mystery series including DEATH BY DISSERTATION, a 2020 RONE Award Mystery Finalist, DEAD WEEK, “a diverting whodunit,” (Publishers Weekly), and DEAD OF WINTER BREAK, a holiday themed cozy new for 2020!

NEVER MIND, and FARTS MAKE NOISE are her children’s picture books featuring Duke the Deaf Dog and illustrated by her sister, Theresa Murray. The Duke books have quickly become popular with children, parents, and educators for promoting inclusive conversations about children with differences.

The mother of four young adults and a hunting dog, Kelly and her husband call Nebraska home.






The Children of Red Peak by Craig DiLouie Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Three survivors of a cult reunite after losing a fellow survivor, and old memories of what they endured lead to another fight for survival in author Craig DiLouie’s “The Children of Red Peak”.

The Synopsis

Bram Stoker Award-nominated author Craig DiLouie brings a new twist to the cult horror story in a heart-pounding novel of psychological suspense.

David Young, Deacon Price, and Beth Harris live with a dark secret. As children, they survived a religious group’s horrific last days at the isolated mountain Red Peak. Years later, the trauma of what they experienced never feels far behind.

When a fellow survivor commits suicide, they finally reunite and share their stories. Long-repressed memories surface, defying understanding and belief. Why did their families go down such a dark road? What really happened on that final night?

The answers lie buried at Red Peak. But truth has a price, and escaping a second time may demand the ultimate sacrifice.

The Review

A remarkably haunting novel, author Craig DiLouie does an amazing job of capturing the raw horror of surviving a doomsday cult. The novel explores the horrors of the cult and the power that changed the path the cult was originally on, but the true heart of this story comes in the characters themselves.

The characters are the gateways into the heart of this story, exploring how the actions of the cult impacted them each in their own ways. While the powerful and supernatural elements of the story that kicks in towards the climax of the story are fascinating, the true horror that comes into this narrative is the cult itself.

As someone who is fascinated and interested in cults and how they come to form, it was engaging to see the character’s own experiences, as they seem so similar to horror stories that have happened in real life. From the change in the cult’s practice from peaceful worship to blind faith to the insistence of obedience to the cult overall and the chilling actions that resulted in murder, mutilation and cultists disappearing, the true scares and spine-chilling atmosphere explored in this novel comes from the cult, something many readers will be drawn to in this novel.

The Verdict

A powerful, emotional, and horrific modern-day horror novel, author Craig DiLouie’s “The Children of Red Peak” is a marvelous read. The shocking events of the past collide with the horrific truth of the future in this novel, and protagonist David, his sister Angela and the other survivors immediately draw the reader in with their own coping skills in the wake of the cult and their bonds with one another. It’s a perfect read as the holiday season approaches, and the book’s final confrontation will have readers thinking critically about the nature of the universe itself. Be sure to grab your copy of this amazing read today.

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Craig DiLouie is an author of popular thriller, apocalyptic/horror, and sci-fi/fantasy fiction.

In hundreds of reviews, Craig’s novels have been praised for their strong characters, action, and gritty realism. Each book promises an exciting experience with people you’ll care about in a world that feels real.

These works have been nominated for major literary awards such as the Bram Stoker Award and Audie Award, translated into multiple languages, and optioned for film. He is a member of the HWA, International Thriller Writers, and IFWA.




Blackacre Rising (Ivy Spires #2) by John C. Adams Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Loyalties will be tested and lines will be crossed as the fight for humanity wages on in author John C. Adams’ latest entry in the Ivy Spires dystopian series, “Blackacre Rising”. 


The Synopsis

From Horror Tree reviewer and double Aeon Award Longlister John C Adams comes a disturbing tale of scientific experimentation and sadistic cruelty. The sequel to ‘Souls For The Master’, ‘Blackacre Rising’ features a stunning cover by Fiona Jayde Media.

Leaving the chaos erupting in the Metropolis behind, Gerald speeds north to his cousin Brett Flint’s farmhouse, Blackacre. He is certain that their vehicle is being followed, but returning to the capital with Don and Ivy is simply too risky now that Janus Fidens has taken over the Resistance and declared the pair to be outlaws who have betrayed the Revolution. Arriving at Blackacre, Gerald begs Brett and his wife Radclyffe to shelter Ivy and Don under their roof without asking too many questions about why his young companions have had to flee to the sparsely populated uplands and need their presence there kept secret.

Distraught at saying goodbye to Gerald, Ivy admits how much she has come to care for him since they have been battling the authorities together. They snatch a few moments alone together to say a private farewell before Gerald drives back to the capital, hoping to persuade Janus to drop his pursuit of Ivy and Don. En route, Gerald is followed by the same car that tailed them northwards. Lured into stopping to assist at the site of a road traffic accident, the trainee surgeon is captured and transported to a shadowy underground scientific research facility, where he is disturbed to discover that Sinister Tungsten, sister to his arch nemesis Hendra, awaits him.

In the Blackacre library, Don is welcomed by the Seven. This mysterious group includes the Master he fought to defeat down in the Metropolis, five other strange figures with bizarre powers and, of course, the malignant farmhouse itself. Brett, Radclyffe and their twin baby sons reside in the oddest place Don has ever encountered. He reluctantly agrees to become involved in the Seven’s project to assassinate Dr Luther Honigbaum, who funds the facility where Gerald is being held prisoner and runs the asylum in Austria which supplies its young female test subjects.

Learning how to transport herself from one location to another shocks Ivy. Unlike Don, who has wielded great power his whole life, her skills as an assassin are more practical in nature, and she worries that having shifted safely to Austria she’ll be unable to return safely. Finally, she is ready to undertake her mission to kill the evil man behind the gruesome experiments that serve no purpose other than to gratify the rampant cruelty of Honigbaum and his acolytes.

Meanwhile, the Seven show Don another facility, this time in Antarctica, where equally cruel experiments take place upon men. When the Seven tell him he is too young to witness exactly what it taking place, he uses his unique powers to advance his age by three years so that he is now eighteen. He gladly sacrifices a part of his natural life to rescue the men kept prisoner there and tormented by sadistic experiments with no scientific value whatsoever.

Arriving in Austria, Ivy is horrified to discover that her cover is already blown and Honigbaum lies in waiting for her. He has a sinister agenda of his own and will stop at nothing to eliminate anyone who resists both his sadistically cruel medical research and his repulsive sexual advances. When Brett Flint’s cousin Henry turns up at Ubersneller, Honigbaum locks him up in one of his asylums high up in the mountains to ensure his silence. He has particularly dark designs on Ivy, and is determined that her close friendship with Don will enable him to reach out to his estranged son. Drugged and forced to comply, Ivy is young enough to provide the ageing Honigbaum with everything he wishes. Gerald’s imprisonment ends when Sinistra’s elder sister Hendra returns and the authorities brutally re-establish law and order, but he is no safer with her than with her sibling.

The Review

A truly gripping, intense, and engaging dystopian sci-fi read. The author does a brilliant job of creating a large mythos in this dystopian world rich with a multitude of main and side characters that readers will be able to both loathe and root for. 

Although I had not read the first book in the series, the author writes in a way that allows readers both new and established to be able to delve into this new narrative, as the central characters find themselves split up and fighting brutal battles all on their own. Each finds their path fraught with horrifying trials and monstrous adversaries, all while their own abilities grow and develop over time. 

The story really benefits from a strong character arc for the central protagonists and antagonists. This lengthy read delves into the hardships and struggles each character undertakes in this world divided by class and exposed to horrors unlike anything seen before. In the midst of powers and action, the author really brings about complex characters that readers can identify and support throughout this narrative.

The Verdict

A must-read dystopian sci-fi thriller, author John C. Adams’ “Blackacre Rising” is a fantastic sequel in the Ivy Spires series. Emotionally driven character arcs and action-packed scenes all come together under strong mythology and ends on a cliffhanger that will leave readers wanting more. Be sure to preorder your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

I’m a non-binary author and critic of fantasy and horror.

I review for Schlock! Webzine, the British Fantasy Society and Horror Tree, as well as placing reviews and articles across a wide range of blogs and magazines.

I have a Postgraduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Newcastle University. I’ve been a Contributing Editor for Albedo One Magazine and the Aeon Award since 2016. Before that, I was a Submissions Reader with them.

My debut horror novel, ‘Souls for the Master’, is 99c on Smashwords retailers and 99p on Kindle. Likewise, my debut fantasy novel, ‘Aspatria’, is 99c on Smashwords retailers and 99p on Kindle. The sequel to ‘Aspatria’, ‘Dagmar of the Northlands’, is out now on Kindle and Smashwords retailers.

Although I write mostly long fiction, since 2015 I have had stories published in anthologies from Horrified Press, Lycan Valley Press, Fantasia Divinity and Jersey Pines Ink. My short stories have also been published in the Horror Zine, Swords & Sorcery, Sirens Call, Blood Moon Rising, Lovecraftiana and various other magazines.

Every emerging writer needs plenty of encouragement right at the start, and entering lots of competitions early on made a real difference to my confidence to press on with writing longer fiction and think about submitting short fiction to magazines and anthologies in due course. In 2012, I was longlisted for the International Aeon Award Short Fiction Contest for ‘The Visitors’ and again in 2013 for ‘We Can Finish Your Baby’s Brain For You’. My writing was also recognised by the Enrico Charles Literary Award (runner up in 2012) and by the University of Winchester Writers’ Conference in both 2012 and 2013, including a Commendation in the First Three Pages of a Novel category, and other nominations in poetry and short fiction.

I read PPE at Somerville College, and I am a non-practising solicitor. I live in rural Northumberland, UK, and I combine my career as an author and critic with raising my kids and caring for a severely disabled relative. I’m always busy!


Twitter: johncadamssf