Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker Review

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

One of 2018’s most highly anticipated fall reads has to be author Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker’s novel Dracul. The book is the official prequel to the classic literary horror classic Dracula, written by Dacre Stoker’s great-granduncle Bram Stoker. Taking the concept first explored by Bram and showcasing how the legend of Dracula first began, the story puts the Stoker family in the role of protagonists and explores where the myth and legends truly came from. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

The prequel to Dracula, inspired by notes and texts left behind by the author of the classic novel, Dracul is a supernatural thriller that reveals not only Dracula’s true origins but Bram Stoker’s–and the tale of the enigmatic woman who connects them.

It is 1868, and a twenty-one-year-old Bram Stoker waits in a desolate tower to face an indescribable evil. Armed only with crucifixes, holy water, and a rifle, he prays to survive a single night, the longest of his life. Desperate to record what he has witnessed, Bram scribbles down the events that led him here…

A sickly child, Bram spent his early days bedridden in his parents’ Dublin home, tended to by his caretaker, a young woman named Ellen Crone. When a string of strange deaths occur in a nearby town, Bram and his sister Matilda detect a pattern of bizarre behavior by Ellen–a mystery that deepens chillingly until Ellen vanishes suddenly from their lives. Years later, Matilda returns from studying in Paris to tell Bram the news that she has seen Ellen–and that the nightmare they’ve thought long ended is only beginning.

The Review

I will say it now: this is one of my 2018 picks for best book of the year. It was truly amazing to read, and was as engaging as the original novel written by Bram Stoker over a century ago. Capturing the gothic, Victorian era setting and interweaving history, mythology and handwritten notes from author Bram Stoker himself, the authors really did a wonderful job bringing the life of Bram Stoker and his family to life in a horror based setting.

Now while the world knows the works of Bram Stoker’s Dracula to be a fiction horror tale, what fascinated me about Dracul was not only the amount of history and real life individuals mixed into the narrative, but learning about the creation of Dracula to begin with. Readers will be enthralled to learn the true manuscript first written by Bram Stoker was never meant to be a fictional tale, but through the words of Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker’s afterward we learn how the book came to be what we know today, and that large portions of the original novel have never been published before. How much of this horrific and scary tale are fiction as we know it, and how much is fact?

The writing itself was amazing. The story was written in an epistolary format, allowing us to delve into the minds of the Stoker family themselves, as well as associates of the family and historical records to match some of the claims. Fans of the original tale of Dracula will love the similarities and context given throughout this novel, while modern day horror fans and readers will be enthralled with the vast character development and parallels between the life of Bram Stoker (in the novel) and the stories told within his novel years later.

The Verdict

This is a must read book for 2018. As a history buff, classic horror fan and overall Bram Stoker enthusiast, this story really captured my attention from the beginning. From the author’s early years battling illness to the life or death battle with unknown forces he and his siblings undertook, this is the kind of story that comes along rarely. If you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up the novel Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Authors

Dacre Stoker:

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Dacre Stoker, a Canadian citizen and resident of the U.S., is the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker. He is also the godson of H.G. Dacre Stoker, the commander of the AE2 submarine, whose tactics were instrumental in Gallipoli in World War I.

Dacre, who now calls Aiken, South Carolina home, was a member of the Canadian Men’s Modern Pentathlon Team, Senior World Championships in 1979 and coach of the Canadian Men’s Modern Pentathlon Olympic Team, Seoul, South Korea in 1988. Dacre is married to Jenne Stoker and is the father of two children. He is the Executive Director of the Aiken Land Conservancy.

Dracula: The Un-Dead is Dacre’s first novel.

Dacre Stoker’s Links:

https://twitter.com/dacrestoker?lang=en

https://www.facebook.com/DacreCStoker/

J.D. Barker:

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J.D. BARKER is the internationally best-selling author of Forsaken, a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel, and winner of the New Apple Medalist Award. His work has been compared to Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Thomas Harris. His 4MK Thrillers, The Fourth Monkey and The Fifth to Die, were released in June 2017 and June 2018 respectively. He has been asked by the Stoker family to coauthor the forthcoming prequel to Dracula due out in fall 2018. His novels have been translated into numerous languages and optioned for both film and television. Barker currently resides in Pennsylvania with his wife, Dayna, daughter, Ember, and their two dogs, both of whom sit outside his office door daily, eagerly awaiting his next novel.

A note from J.D.

As a child I was always told the dark could not hurt me, that the shadows creeping in the corners of my room were nothing more than just that, shadows. The sounds nothing more than the settling of our old home, creaking as it found comfort in the earth only to move again when it became restless, if ever so slightly. I would never sleep without closing the closet door, oh no; the door had to be shut tight. The darkness lurking inside needed to be held at bay, the whispers silenced. Rest would only come after I checked under the bed at least twice and quickly wrapped myself in the safety of the sheets (which no monster could penetrate), pulling them tight over my head.

I would never go down to the basement.

Never.

I had seen enough movies to know better, I had read enough stories to know what happens to little boys who wandered off into dark, dismal places alone. And there were stories, so many stories.

Reading was my sanctuary, a place where I could disappear for hours at a time, lost in the pages of a good book. It didn’t take long before I felt the urge to create my own.

I first began to write as a child, spinning tales of ghosts and gremlins, mystical places and people. For most of us, that’s where it begins—as children we have such wonderful imaginations, some of us have simply found it hard to grow up. I’ve spent countless hours trying to explain to friends and family why I enjoy it, why I would rather lock myself in a quiet little room and put pen to paper for hours at a time than throw around a baseball or simply watch television. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I want to do just that, sometimes I wish for it, but even then the need to write is always there in the back of my mind, the characters are impatiently tapping their feet, waiting their turn, wanting to be heard. I wake in the middle of the night and reach for the pad beside my bed, sometimes scrawling page after page of their words, their lives. Then they’re quiet, if only for a little while. To stop would mean madness, or even worse—the calm, numbing sanity I see in others as they slip through the day without purpose. They don’t know what it’s like, they don’t understand. Something as simple as a pencil can open the door to a new world, can create life or experience death. Writing can take you to places you’ve never been, introduce you to people you’ve never met, take you back to when you first saw those shadows in your room, when you first heard the sounds mumbling ever so softly from your closet, and it can show you what uttered them. It can scare the hell out of you, and that’s when you know it’s good.

jd

J.D. Barker’s Links:

http://jdbarker.com/

https://www.facebook.com/therealjdbarker

https://www.instagram.com/jdbarker_author/

https://twitter.com/jdbarker

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The Plague by Don Lubov Review

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

A look into the near future shows a deadly disease with a mysterious pattern, and the way life moves on from a major outbreak in author Don Lubov’s novel The Plague. Here’s the synopsis:

The Synopsis

The year is 2040. Robots have been safely and efficiently introduced into society. They are an integral part of our world, when a pandemic of global proportions arrives. 

Isolated deaths keep cropping up. Seeming random at first, a pattern begins to emerge. Dave Miller, an investigative reporter, pounces on the story. 

He explores his neighborhood and city, and finds death at every turn. His investigation leads to interviews with experts in various fields. Everyone is mystified. People are panicky. The deaths go global. The world is in chaos. 

Through his investigations, Dave learns that a most unusual plague is responsible. It is swift and thorough—Three billion people die in six weeks. The immediate questions are: What is causing this epidemic? Why does it affect some of us and not all of us?

The Review

This was one of the most intriguing Sci-Fi novels I’ve read. The combination of post-apocalypse style sci-fi with a theme of spirituality was something unique to the genre. The protagonist Dave Miller is our eyes and ears on the ground as this mysterious plague begins to wipe out portions of the world’s population. A man plagued with self-doubt, a case of claustrophobia and a mission to be a better husband than he has been in the past, Dave is thrust into this perilous journey to become the man and the reporter he was meant to be, all while looking into what The Plague truly is.

The story definitely held story telling elements similar to that of Stephen King’s The Stand. Getting to see so many different perspectives and stories from around the world as this plague hits was fascinating to read, while the story itself did a wonderful job of bringing our own problems and struggles in the world to light in a whole new way. The overall theme of love and hope really made me connect to the story as a reader, and the author’s perspective on how to truly evolve as a species was something everyone should read.

The Verdict

This was a fantastic read. Filled with great sci-fi/apocalyptic story telling devices, the message of hope plays strongly throughout this story, and readers will be drawn into the story of this mysterious plague and the true cause of why it choses it’s victims. If you love sci-fi, technology and spirituality, then author Don Lubov’s novel The Plague is a must read and should be gotten today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Photo+of+Don

Don has been happily married since 1976.

He was an artist for 34 years and exhibited his artwork at 3 New York City Art Galleries and the Heckscher Art Museum.

He spent 8 years teaching Art & Design at East Carolina University, McNeese State University, Suffolk County Community College.

He was a guest lecturer at Stony Brook University on “Hyperspace—A Visual Introduction to the 4thDimension”.

In 1985, he received a grant from The Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation for his work combining art & mathematics, with his “Quantum Pictures”.

He has written about spirituality and stress relief since 1971. He is the author of 9 books. 10 years successfully teaching his “Six-Step Path” at College of Central Florida Sr. Center, MTP College, and The Lifelong Learning College in The Villages, FL. He has taught his unique brand of meditation to over 2,000 people, who subsequently achieved a level of inner peace.

Don has written for Yahoo Voices, Beliefnet.com, and Kinja.com. His writings have been published in various magazines and books.

He has written the following 6 books —

     An End to Stress – spirituality and self-help

     The Plague – sci-fi cautionary tale

     Near Death in the Gila National Forest – a memoir

     The Side Job – a novel of a female assassin

     The Writers Bloc Club – an anthology of prose & poetry

     Frosty the Soulman – an illustrated children’s book

He has 3 YouTube videos —

      “The Grassroots Manifesto”,

      “Creativity Manifesto”

      “Spirituality Manifesto”

He created and developed “Pyramoids” – an energy-efficient building system, and taught this system at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA.  One of his “Pyramoid” designs was accepted and juried in The World Trade Center Memorial Competition.

Memberships: The Writers Bloc Club, Del Webb, Summerfield, FL, 2006 – present

                         The Florida Writers Association, 2006-2013

                         The Metaphysical Group, Del Webb, Summerfield, FL, 2007-present

Classes taught: Spirituality (Life’s Purpose, I & II)

                           Creativity

                           Drawing

http://www.donlubov.com/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07GCQQ4MJ/ref=x_gr_w_glide_ku_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_glide_ku_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B07GCQQ4MJ&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Interview with Author Sarah Baethge

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

I’m Sarah Baethge and I’ve always loved reading. After a car wreck derailed my college career, I started reviewing stories and that eventually led to me trying to write my own.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I self published a short novella a few years ago (free on Google Drive now) but it started somewhat abruptly, so I wrote this story to be a prequel for it because the whole story has just kept growing in my mind.

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

I hope that they can enjoy it. I wrote it as fun entertainment.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I like to read it.

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

I’d sit down with Ronald Carpenter, I’d like to know more about his view of The Eclipse company; I don’t feel like I describe it very well.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I like using Twitter, but more people seem to be concerned with my Facebook page.

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

Write what you like to read. Don’t give up just because you aren’t sure how other people will react.

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

I have some plans for about four sequels to this Speed of Darkness book and a couple of Ideas for both a space story and a time-travel story. I’m not really sure which one I will work on first.

Murder in the Heart of It All by Michael Prelee Review

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

An aspiring journalist finds himself in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a disturbing individual in author Michael Prelee’s Murder in the Heart of It All. Here’s the synopsis:

Someone is angry in Hogan, Ohio.

Residents of the small town are plagued by vicious, anonymous letters. The personalized notes land in mailboxes with devastating effect, revealing secrets and deeds better kept unknown. Whoever the sender is, they know the town and the people who live there.

Reporter Tim Abernathy is assigned to the story and tasked with finding out who is sending the letters and why. The letter writer doesn’t want to be found, however, and will kill to keep his secret.

A cat-and-mouse game ensues between reporter and letter writer as the violence escalates, shocking the residents of Hogan. Can Tim discover who is terrorizing the town before becoming the next victim?

I absolutely loved this book. To me it felt like a commentary on the anonymous nature of those who the world has deemed “online trolls”. In a sense, it showcased the overwhelming harshness these individuals faced that made them this way, while also showcasing the painful ramifications these hurtful comments or in this case, “letters”, have on those receiving it.

The story itself was well developed, and the characters themselves were incredibly engaging. It was refreshing to see a change in the typical “journalist” character. Normally in stories involving journalists they are eager to get the story by any means necessary, often hurting the people involved in that story. However Tim was a thoughtful, kind hearted individual who worked not for his own gain, but for the good of his community. The story also showed how easy it is for people to go to such violent extremes, and how fear of discovery can turn a harmless troll into a violent madman.

In the end this was a thought provoking and engaging read. This thriller allowed us to analyze the anonymous nature of the internet through the lens of a small town setting. Substituting emails or comments for letters, this story showed the power words have in our society, and how we can step above and beyond the pain we endure to become better people. Everyone experiences pain of one kind or another. It’s how you handle that pain and move forward that defines you. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of Michael Prelee’s Murder in the Heart of It All today!

Rating: 10/10

 www.michaelprelee.com

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Video Review: Spirits of the Heart by Claire Gem

Valentine’s Day Book Giveaway!

I wanted to let you guys know that two of my books will be free starting today and ending on the 17th! The first is Blood and Romance and the second is At First Glance.

At First Glance: A Frightening Romance Novel https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008X0NK56/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_umVGAbMERH74E

Blood and Romance: A Book of Poetry and Horror https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0042P5DP6/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_4mVGAbAWZFY7K

Mr. Wonderful by Daniel Blake Smith Review

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

Slight trigger warning: For anyone triggered by storylines involving dementia or the death of a loved one, reader discretion is advised.

A man’s struggle to keep his family and his life from falling apart plays out artfully in author Daniel Blake Smith’s upcoming novel Mr. Wonderful. A dramatic look into the life of modern academia and the struggle of a family man with an ailing father, a troubled adult son and a strained job put him on a path of self-discovery. Here is the synopsis:

In spite of the world’s struggle and sorrow, life sometimes shows us the wonderful.

Brian Fenton’s life is falling apart. A professor at a bankrupt “directional school,” Brian suddenly learns he must either take early retirement or double his workload. As he confronts the embarrassment of his job going south, Brian discovers that his loopy son, Danny, is paying a surprise visit—which can only mean a hand out for money and a need to crash. To top it all off, Brian is fielding frantic calls about his aging father who’s declining rapidly with dementia.

Once a family doctor in Juniper, the small Texas town where Brian was raised, “Doc Fenton” is going down fast—forcefully reminding Brian of his own mortality and the painful issues separating him from his domineering father—a man only his loving wife could call “Mr. Wonderful.”

When Brian’s father passes, the gathered Fenton family partakes in a volatile small-town Texas funeral—at once hilarious and poignant—which produces startling revelations about Doc Fenton that propel Brian and the whole family into a new direction, a new path forward.

In the engaging vein of Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth and Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You, Daniel Blake Smith’s debut novel is at once a comic and heart-wrenching family saga. It offers a piercingly honest window into how we struggle to make sense of ourselves, our families, and our life purpose. If we’re lucky, we discover Mr. Wonderful.

This book was fantastic. The writing was honest and vivid in it’s imagery. Delving into themes of hope, dreams and challenging the definition of family, this story takes the reader on a journey with the characters to not only discover themselves but their place in the world. I’m sure many people in the world can relate to that feeling of staleness and restlessness in both your job and your life. This book captures the essence of these feelings perfectly, making you feel every frustration and painful emotion the characters emote in their dialogue both inner and outer. What struck with me was the story of Brian’s father, as he struggles through his last days. I lost my grandfather five years ago and he was suffering from dementia while in the hospital, and so the raw emotion and pain of dealing with a loss after months of dementia hit an emotional wellspring within me as a reader.

The characters are what made this story flow as smoothly as it did. The contrasting points of view between protagonist Brian and his son Danny showcase two very different views of life, and how two paths on the road to life can converge in unexpected ways. It’s a breathtaking study of family relationships, the complicated ties we have to family and how the past can affect the present and the future.

Overall I loved this book. Due out this Friday, January 19th, 2018, the novel Mr. Wonderful by Daniel Blake Smith is a brilliant read that deserves your attention as the year begins, so if you haven’t yet either preorder or buy your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Twitter: @dblakesmitty
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