Review: Failure by John Everson (Audiobook)

failure-eversonAbout Failure

Raymond is such a failure, he can’t even kill himself and get it right. Cindy just plain doesn’t care; she’ll get on her knees for anyone beneath the football field bleachers to score a nickel bag hit. And Sal is a frustrated goon with a hook nose and an attitude so sour he can’t nail a girl, even with the lure of free dope and a getaway car.

When these three desperate teens meet Aaron, a failed practitioner of the dark arts, who offers them the best high they’ve ever smoked in exchange for kinky sex play, things only go from bad to worse. Aaron hopes to ensnare and re-birth the spirit of a late witch to capture her power from beyond the grave for his own.

Soon, they’ll all learn the darkest, bloodiest, most terrifying definition of failure.

About the Author

John Everson is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of eight novels of erotic horror and the macabre, including his latest, the Fountain of Youth thriller THE FAMILY TREE, as well as the Bram Stoker Award-nominated tour de force NIGHTWHERE, the Bram Stoker Award-winner COVENANT, its sequel SACRIFICE and the standalone novels THE 13TH, SIREN, THE PUMPKIN MAN, VIOLET EYES.

John shares a deep purple den in Naperville, Illinois with a cockatoo and cockatiel, a disparate collection of fake skulls, twisted skeletal fairies, Alan Clark illustrations and a large stuffed Eeyore. There’s also a mounted Chinese fowling spider named Stoker, an ever-growing shelf of custom mix CDs and an acoustic guitar that he can’t really play but that his son likes to hear him beat on anyway. Sometimes his wife is surprised to find him shuffling through more public areas of the house, but it’s usually only to brew another cup of coffee. In order to avoid the onerous task of writing, he occasionally records pop-rock songs in a hidden home studio, experiments with the insatiable culinary joys of the jalapeno, designs book covers for a variety of small presses, loses hours in expanding an array of gardens and chases frequent excursions into the bizarre visual headspace of ’70s euro-horror DVDs with a shot of Makers Mark and a tall glass of Newcastle.

Learn more about John on his site,, where you can sign up for a direct-from-the-author monthly e-newsletter with information on new books, contests and occasionally, free fiction.

Want to connect? Follow John on Twitter @johneverson, or find him on Facebook at

My Thoughts

[This review was originally published at AudioBook Reviewer,

John Everson’s Failure is an intriguing mash-up of horror, kink, and magic, but one that ultimately fell a little bit flat. If you’ve read the description for this title, then you know what you’re getting into. Sadly, there’s little else beyond the synopsis to capture in terms of depth or plot.

Now, that said, this one is a quick and breezy listen, clocking in just shy of 90 minutes and there are many, many worse things to while away a few car-rides between work and home. Once the story gets all revved up and gunning for the climax, I found myself enjoying the story quite a bit more.

The gist of Failure is stupid teens making one very large bad choice all in the name of good drugs and sex, not quite believing or realizing they’re being lulled into a much darker ritual of ancient magic. By the time they realize how wrong things have gone, it’s six months later and Aaron, the old mage who duped them, is out for blood in order to finish his ritual.

And that’s when all kinds of stuff and things, most of it fleshy and bloody, hit both the proverbial and literal ceiling. Gore hounds should be quite happy with the story’s second-half, where the gruesomeness is the main order of business, alongside some detours flashing back to the sexual shenanigans our three teenage characters engage in under Aaron’s prodding. Things turn awfully vicious pretty quickly, and the proceedings hit a high-note for me when Everson drops the descriptive, vulgar phrase “womb syrup” during a particular mauling.

While Everson’s story, overall, didn’t quite suit my particular tastes, the narration by Joe Hempel was solid and professional, and the audio quality was clear. Hempel was pretty consistent in his mild reading of Everson’s words, but I think I would have liked a little more oomph and emoting, particularly when the story takes a turn toward the nastier side of things. It’s not much of a complaint, but the narration struck me as a little too placid.

All in all, Failure wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, and I would have liked Everson to expand on his characters and give them more depth. I didn’t feel much in the way of sympathy for any of them, with the trio of teens coming across as shallow and a bit single-minded in their highly-questionable motives. The latter half of the book manages to coalesce into some nicely wrought and descriptive horror, though, the finale is sufficiently bloody.

If nothing else, Failure, originally published in print back in 2006, has at least got me curious enough to check out this author’s more recent work to see how he’s refined his style and grown as an author.

Review: Failure by John Everson (Audiobook)

Review: The Red: First Light by Linda Nagata (audiobook narrated by Kevin T. Collins)

theredAbout The Red: First Light

Reality TV and advanced technology make for high drama in this political thriller that combines the military action of Zero Dark Thirty with the classic science fiction of The Forever War.

Lieutenant James Shelley, who has an uncanny knack for premeditating danger, leads a squad of advanced US Army military tasked with enforcing the peace around a conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. The squad members are linked wirelessly 24/7 to themselves and a central intelligence that guides them via drone relay—and unbeknownst to Shelley and his team, they are being recorded for a reality TV show.

When an airstrike almost destroys their outpost, a plot begins to unravel that’s worthy of Crichton and Clancy’s best. The conflict soon involves rogue defense contractors, corrupt US politicians, and homegrown terrorists who possess nuclear bombs. Soon Shelley must accept that the helpful warnings in his head could be AI. But what is the cost of serving its agenda?

About the Author

Linda Nagata is a Nebula and Locus-award-winning author. Her more recent work includes short fiction “Nahiku West,” runner up for the 2013 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and the novel THE RED: FIRST LIGHT, a near-future military thriller that was a finalist for both the Nebula Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Though best known for science fiction, she also writes fantasy, exemplified by her “scoundrel lit” series Stories of the Puzzle Lands. Linda has spent most of her life in Hawaii, where she’s been a writer, a mom, and a programmer of database-driven websites. She lives with her husband in their long-time home on the island of Maui.

My Thoughts

[Note: This review was originally published at AudioBook Reviewer.]

Linda Nagata’s The Red: First Light is a superb military sci-fi thriller, and, for the most part, the narration from Kevin T. Collins does a darn fine job pulling the listener into the story and alongside Lieutenant James Shelley.

Right from the get-go, listeners are put into the elite armored squadron commanded by Shelley as they prepare to suit up in their mechanized uniforms, the squad connected via cerebral implants referred to as the overlay. Shelley and his team are in the African Sahel to maintain the peace as a secularist reformer rises to power. When their base comes under aerial assault, though, they realize — too late — that their peacekeeping efforts are for naught. Shelley, however, has a sort of sixth sense that has earned him the nickname King David from his comrades, who joke that he is able to receive the word of God. The truth, though, is a different story entirely and one that is both consistently captivating and increasingly frightening the more we learn about it.

Over the course of more than thirteen hours of audio, we join Shelley for a series of missions and a harrowing period of recovery after being severely injured early in the narrative. What follows, then, is a search for the truth behind his King David messages and his team’s efforts to halts homegrown terrorists working to incite revolution and tear Texas away from the Union.

The Red is a seriously dark bit of work, and more than a few scenes caught me off guard. Nagata’s first-person narrative manages to shock with sudden flashes of violence and terrific insights into the her characters. Shelley himself is a bit of conundrum – formerly an anti-war protester, he now serves the military to avoid jail time for past crimes, only to find himself increasingly loyal to the military and those who serve beneath him. The large question that looms is whether or not this is a natural growth for his character, or the result of whatever may be messing with his brain and repeatedly warning him of danger. How much of his decision and actions are truly his own? And how long can he rely on the King David insights to keep him and his soldiers safe?

I refuse to give away much more than this, but please be aware that we’re only scratching the surface of the book’s plotting. There’s a great sense of breadth to the events here, and plenty of fantastic military action sequences. The upgrades these soldiers sport is really fantastic, and the augmentations provided by the military make sense in a beautifully cynical and bureaucratic way. Operating at the behest of mega-rich defense contractors, and beneath their constant and subtle warnings of reprisal if ignored, Nagata’s story brings to the forefront Dwight Eisenhower’s warning against the military-industrial complex and their threat to democracy. This aspect makes her story feel all the more timely rather than a far-flung future scenario.

As narrator, Collins handles the material suitably well. Any criticisms I have toward his work here are very, very small, but I will say that it took me a little bit of time to adjust to his inflections and airy tones when narrating dialogue from the female characters. I also didn’t really care for his use of “spoken” shouts during some of the more-intense action scenes that requires characters to be yelling back and forth or attempting to command attention. I would have preferred to just have an actual shout with some pure energy and raw acting talent behind it. But again, these are rather mild complaints and did not take away from the overall listening experience. Throughout it all, the audio quality maintains a level consistency and solid production values, with the narration coming through crisp, clear, and well delivered.

Bottom line: Linda Nagata just earned herself a new fan with this book! I loved it and am now eagerly anticipating the chance to either read or listen to the next two books in this trilogy.

Buy The Red: First Light At Amazon
Review: The Red: First Light by Linda Nagata (audiobook narrated by Kevin T. Collins)

Guest Post: What’s In A Name? by Chris Holm

What’s in a name?

Chris Holm


I have a confession to make: I suck at naming characters.

I’m not kidding. Once, while working on a first draft, I realized my book featured three Jakes. Which, apart from sounding like an ill-conceived second sequel to CHINATOWN, probably made the story a little tough to follow. (Note to self: THE TWO JAKES was a massive flop. Even among hardcore mystery fans, that joke ain’t likely to land. Not that that’s ever stopped you before.)

Even when I manage to avoid repeating myself, the names I’m drawn to have a certain sameness to them, like those parents who name their children Braden, Caden, and Jaden. That’s fine for triplets, I guess. (An aside to parents who do this: I’m being polite because I want you to buy my book. It’s not fine. In fact, it may constitute cruel and unusual punishment.) But in a work of fiction, it pierces the illusion of a wide and varied world, and pulls back the curtain of authority we writers hide behind.

When I sat down to write THE KILLING KIND, I wanted to avoid my usual naming rut. I wanted names that sounded lived-in, authentic. So, as a music geek, I turned to an unlikely source for inspiration: the real names of punk artists who use stage names.

Straight-laced FBI agent Charlie Thompson has little in common with her namesake, whom Pixies fans know better as Black Francis. Ditto her partner, Henry Garfield, who takes his name from Black Flag front man turned spoken-word artist Hank Rollins.


True Detective Season 3?
True Detective Season 3?

Though I changed the spelling a tad, my rockabilly stoolpigeon Eric Purkhiser is named after the late, great Lux Interior of The Cramps.

This guy doesn’t look cut out for Witness Protection.
This guy doesn’t look cut out for Witness Protection.

And Hendricks’ best bud Lester Meyers is named after legendary punk innovator Richard Hell (born Richard Lester Meyers) of Neon Boys, Television, the Heartbreakers, and the Voidoids.

Former Special Forces Lester Meyers is probably way buffer.
Former Special Forces Lester Meyers is probably way buffer.

Not all my characters are named after punk musicians, of course. Rough-hewn hitman Leon Leonwood takes his name from the “L.L.” in L.L. Bean, as a nod to my adopted home state. I likely cooked up Chicago Mafioso Monte D’Abruzzo’s name after a particularly tasty glass of Italian red. Alexander Engelmann’s surname was taken from Glennon Engleman, a St. Louis dentist who moonlighted as a hitman. (Posthumous congratulations, Glennon: you’re no longer America’s most hated dentist.) His alias—L’Engle—was borrowed, with apologies, from Madeleine L’Engle, author of A WRINKLE IN TIME. And casino pit boss Bernie Liederkrantz keeps the stage-name theme alive, although he’s certainly no punk musician—he’s a felt-based game show host better known as Guy Smiley.

“You there! Counting cards! I’m going to have to ask you to come with me.”
“You there! Counting cards! I’m going to have to ask you to come with me.”

But what of my lead character, Michael Hendricks? The truth is, I tried out several names before I found one that stuck. He began life as Michael Stark, after the warrior angel and Donald Westlake’s nom de plume, respectively. But that struck me as too cheesy—like Chase Stone or Slade McFacepunch. Plus, the world’s already got a Ned Stark and a Tony Stark. How’s poor Mikey going to stack up against Iron Man and the Lord of Winterfell? (No, really, fanfic authors: I wanna know.)

So how’d I land on Hendricks? I tend to think of Michael as a little prickly and unapproachable, but oddly compelling. One day, when I was editing the opening chapter of THE KILLING KIND, I read this and it clicked:

“[Hendricks] missed the dark greens and cold blues of northern New England, where even the hottest summer sun failed to warm the deepest hollows of the forest, and the water ran cold all year long.”

Cold, piney, unapproachable, and a little bit James Bond-y… yeah, I named him after gin.

One last thing: Hendricks burns through a goodly number of aliases over the course of THE KILLING KIND—each of them an easter egg, a winking reference. But those, I think, I’ll leave you to discover.

chris holmChris Holm is an award-winning short-story writer whose work has appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies, including Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES 2011. His critically acclaimed Collector trilogy made over forty Year’s Best lists. His latest novel, THE KILLING KIND, is about a man who makes his living hitting hitmen, only to wind up a target himself. For links to Chris on Twitter and Facebook, visit

Guest Post: What’s In A Name? by Chris Holm

Review: Seize the Night: New Tales of Vampiric Terror

seize-the-night_hrAbout Seize the Night

A blockbuster anthology of original, blood-curdling vampire fiction from New York Times bestselling and award-winning authors, including Charlaine Harris, whose novels were adapted into HBO’s hit show True Blood, and Scott Smith, publishing his first work since The Ruins.

Before being transformed into romantic heroes and soft, emotional antiheroes, vampires were figures of overwhelming terror. Now, from some of the biggest names in horror and dark fiction, comes this stellar collection of short stories that make vampires frightening once again. Edited by New York Times bestselling author Christopher Golden and featuring all-new stories from such contributors as Charlaine Harris, John Ajvide Lindqvist, Scott Smith, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Michael Kortya, Kelley Armstrong, Brian Keene, David Wellington, Seanan McGuire, and Tim Lebbon, Seize the Night is old-school vampire fiction at its finest.

My Thoughts

Tin Men and Snowblind author Christopher Golden puts on his editor’s cap here to assemble twenty-one authors to help the mythic horror figure of the vampire reclaim the horror-filled night.

Seize the Night: New Tales of Vampiric Terror is a highly successful anthology, one that puts vampires back into the shadowy, hidden corners where they belong and makes them creepy, chilling, at times downright frightening, and even occasionally sympathetic. There’s nary a sparkly, star-crossed love to be found here. Instead, we’re getting back to the old-school roots of vampiric lore, going back to the heydays of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. As far as I am concerned, this is a vital return to form for these stoic, and historic, universal baddies.

Collected here are twenty brand new and diverse short stories (“Mrs. Popkin” is co-written by Dan Chaon and Lynda Barry) that range from historical period pieces reaching as far back as the Mayan empire to near-future post-apocalyptic wastelands, that takes us stateside and across the pond to the UK and Sweden, from idyllic neighborhoods to a Philippine village ravaged by a tropical storm. Equally diverse are the representations of the vampires themselves, some decimating the world as a viral plague, or appearing as the more common Gothic figures, or water-dwelling creatures of the night.

While this anthology is incredibly strong, there were a few stories that failed to satisfy me, which is pretty common, and frankly expected, in any anthology. Still, there were several authors that I expected greatness from and they definitely delivered; better still, there were a number of surprises along the way to keep me happy. I won’t cover all twenty stories here, but a few worth particular mention are:

  • THE NEIGHBORS by Sherrilyn Kenyon. The familiarity of the plot is properly upended with a fantastic twist in the story’s closing moments and I really adored this one.
  • PAPER CUTS by Gary A. Braunbeck. This one I freaking loved! 5 stars all the way! Great twist on the vampire mythos and the concept, and repercussions, of their eternal nature. This one’s a shade of Eco-horror and really well done. I loved the concept, the little plays on familiar vampire tropes, and the bookish nature it all gets wrapped up in. This one is my absolute favorite of the anthology.
  • WE ARE ALL MONSTERS HERE by Kelly Armstrong – great take on the vampire apocalypse, with the vampirism presented as an uncontrolled epidemic that leads to post-apocalyptic survival. There’s shades of The Walking Dead here, which I’m completely fine with since it’s rather well done. Note to self: buy a bunch of Kelly Armstrong books.
  • THE LAST SUPPER by Brian Keene. How does a lone vampire hold up after an epidemic wipes people off the map? Keene does a great job capturing the emotional turmoil and loneliness of vampire Carter’s walk through the wastelands, right on through to a rather sad ending. Potent stuff for a fairly short story, but easily another one of my favorites of the anthology.
  • SEPARATOR by Rio Youers. Youers gives us a great twist on the vampire mythos by approaching it from the perspective of Filipino culture. David is a Canadian real estate developer tearing down the forest in Palla, ready to evict an old woman from her home in the trees. This causes the locals a fair bit of anxiety, and David is forced to confront a brutal horror. A rock solid entry, with plenty of sex and gore, and the manananggal presented here might be my favorite depiction of the vampire in this collection.

Seize the Night has the singular aim of making vampires terrifying again, and it heartily succeeds in its mission. Golden and the contributors deserve a fair amount of applause for their work here, and this anthology is a wonderful reminder of what made vampires such a popular horror staple, and why they continue to endure across the ages.

[Note: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley for review.]

Buy Seize the Night: New Tales of Vampiric Terror at Amazon
Review: Seize the Night: New Tales of Vampiric Terror

Review: Brother by Ania Ahlborn

brotherAbout Brother

From the bestselling horror author of Within These Walls and The Bird Eater comes a brand-new novel of terror that follows a teenager determined to break from his family’s unconventional—and deeply disturbing—traditions.

Deep in the heart of Appalachia stands a crooked farmhouse miles from any road. The Morrows keep to themselves, and it’s served them well so far. When girls go missing off the side of the highway, the cops don’t knock on their door. Which is a good thing, seeing as to what’s buried in the Morrows’ backyard.

But nineteen-year-old Michael Morrow isn’t like the rest of his family. He doesn’t take pleasure in the screams that echo through the trees. Michael pines for normalcy, and he’s sure that someday he’ll see the world beyond West Virginia. When he meets Alice, a pretty girl working at a record shop in the small nearby town of Dahlia, he’s immediately smitten. For a moment, he nearly forgets about the monster he’s become. But his brother, Rebel, is all too eager to remind Michael of his place…

About the Author

Born in Ciechanow Poland, Ania has always been drawn to the darker, mysterious, and sometimes morbid sides of life. Her earliest childhood memory is of crawling through a hole in the chain link fence that separated her family home from the large wooded cemetery next door. She’d spend hours among the headstones, breaking up bouquets of silk flowers so that everyone had their equal share.

Beyond writing, Ania enjoys cooking, baking, movies, and traveling.

Learn more about Ania on her site,

Want to connect? Follow Ania on Twitter @aniaahlborn, or find her on Facebook at

My Thoughts

You think your family is messed up? Brother, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

You see, deep in the Appalachia woods is farmhouse far off the beaten path. And inside this farmhouse is a twisted little family of cannibals, overseen by their brutal matriarch who has a penchant for killing young women. Brothers Reb and Michael have a relationship that borders on master/servant, or perhaps owner and pet, the dominant alpha and the cowed beta. Taken as a whole, the Morrows are a sick clan where the term ‘sibling rivalry’ barely even scratches the surface.

If you’re a fan of The X-Files like me, you be sensing shades of the episode “Home” about inbred killers, or maybe The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There’s shades of both here, which is absolutely a good thing! And holy hell, is this ever a dark read.

I’ll admit to being a bit lulled by the early happenings of Brother, where Ahlborn spends a lot of time establishing these sickos and their relationships, building a family history with alternating chapters that plumb earlier periods of Reb and Michael’s life together, along with their sister Lauralynn, who is mysteriously absent from the present-day sections.

There is actually a lot I want to talk about here, but can’t for fear of wading too deeply into spoiler territory. I’ll just say the family dynamics here a bit…complicated, and leave it at that. The resolution is satisfyingly bloody, with a final denouement that felt like Ahlborn was sticking fish hooks into my heart and steadily jerking the line around. The finale is stupendous and horrifying and bleak, with an absolutely marvelous twist.

Ahlborn plays this one like a master locksmith, slowly moving the tumblers into place and then letting everything fall with a satisfying click, revealing all the goods.

[This review is based on an advanced copy received from the publisher via NetGalley.]

Buy Brother at Amazon
Review: Brother by Ania Ahlborn

Review: Stars Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig

starwarsaftermathcoverAbout Star Wars: Aftermath

Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The second Death Star has been destroyed, the Emperor killed, and Darth Vader struck down. Devastating blows against the Empire, and major victories for the Rebel Alliance. But the battle for freedom is far from over.
As the Empire reels from its critical defeats at the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance—now a fledgling New Republic—presses its advantage by hunting down the enemy’s scattered forces before they can regroup and retaliate. But above the remote planet Akiva, an ominous show of the enemy’s strength is unfolding. Out on a lone reconnaissance mission, pilot Wedge Antilles watches Imperial Star Destroyers gather like birds of prey circling for a kill, but he’s taken captive before he can report back to the New Republic leaders.

Meanwhile, on the planet’s surface, former rebel fighter Norra Wexley has returned to her native world—war weary, ready to reunite with her estranged son, and eager to build a new life in some distant place. But when Norra intercepts Wedge Antilles’s urgent distress call, she realizes her time as a freedom fighter is not yet over. What she doesn’t know is just how close the enemy is—or how decisive and dangerous her new mission will be.

Determined to preserve the Empire’s power, the surviving Imperial elite are converging on Akiva for a top-secret emergency summit—to consolidate their forces and rally for a counterstrike. But they haven’t reckoned on Norra and her newfound allies—her technical-genius son, a Zabrak bounty hunter, and a reprobate Imperial defector—who are prepared to do whatever they must to end the Empire’s oppressive reign once and for all.

About the Author

Chuck Wendig is a novelist, screenwriter, and game designer. He’s the author of many novels, including Blackbirds, Atlanta Burns, Zer0es, and the YA Heartland series. He is co-writer of the short film Pandemic and the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus. He currently lives in the forests of Pennsyltucky with wife, son, and red dog.

My Thoughts

The release of Star Wars: Aftermath marks the official relaunch of the Star Wars Expanded Universe into post-Return of the Jedi territory. It is also a release that has been greeted with a rather rabid divisiveness among the Star Wars fandom community. When it released on Force Friday (Sept. 4, 2015 to the rest of the world), it was assailed almost immediately with one star reviews, with online groups devoted to the original Expanded Universe — titles now marketed under the Star Wars: Legends banner — encouraging fans to buy the Legends titles in an effort to outsell Aftermath. That doesn’t seem to have worked as, at the time of this writing, Aftermath is now sitting in fourth place on the USA Today and NY Times Bestseller lists. The more vocal and ferociously devoted fans of the previous Expanded Universe have also taken umbrage at the inclusion of gay characters, strong female leads, the lack of the film’s heroes, and apparently any and all non-one-star reviews posted at Amazon.

Given the intense backlash meeting this new entry to the brand-new Star Wars canon, the immediate question is, is Aftermath any good?

The answer is, thankfully, yes. We’re off to a pretty strong start with the relaunch, with a few enticing teases during this book’s resolution that promises to only get better.

Opening with the immortal words, “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” and giving us a brief “crawl” through recent events to establish this story, you’d be hard pressed to not hear the infamous opening notes of John Williams’ score.

As noted, this book is free of Luke Skywalker, while Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Leia pop up ever-so briefly in cameo appearances (the Han Solo cameo in particular is pretty tantalizing and opens up the door for what should be a pretty solid adventure in its own right).

Our characters here are Norra Wexley, an ace Rebel Alliance pilot, her son Temmin, an ex-Imperial Loyalty Officer Sinjir Rath Velus (whose motivations are explained wonderfully and with a gracious bit of depth and truth for a man in his position late in the book), and a bounty hunter, Jas. Temmin has some robot-building mojo and has updated one of those ridiculous, monotonous, and childishly awful battle droids from The Phantom Menace to be his personal bodyguard. More impressive, Wendig has taken this battle droid, named Mister Bones because of the animal bones it wears as a sort of stylized armor, and because it was named by a 15-year-old, and turned it into something interesting and humorous.

On the villain side, we are treated to Admiral Rae Sloane, who has captured Rebel/New Republic pilot Wedge Antilles, and has organized a meeting on the planet Akiva in an effort to reunite the fractured Empire. Among those gathered are a prominent banker and slaver, who is in the crosshairs of the bounty hunter, Jas.

What could have been a pretty good Star Wars story in its own right takes on an epic scope with a series of interludes. In these vignettes, Wendig is able to explore the ramifications of the war between the Empire and the Rebel Alliance, and the reader is able to get a deeper sense of the state of the galaxy, the threat the Empire still poses, and the process of rebuilding as the Alliance shifts gears towards becoming the democratic New Republic. I loved getting a peek into all these various corners of the galaxy and these characters responses to the conflicts affecting their lives, either directly or indirectly.

Writing in third person, present tense – a stylistic choice that Wendig has used in his previous novels – the story is given a sense of graceful urgency, propelling the reader along through the action. Some have voiced their displeasure at this approach, but I have zero problems with it and, as with previous Wendig books, I was able to sink right in and enjoy.

Star Wars: Aftermath is a good, fun start to a new series of books, and one that provides enough galactic intrigue to start building depth across the gap between this title and the release of the film, The Force Awakens, later this year. If, like me, you had no particular attachments to the previous Expanded Universe, it’s a good time to dive in without worrying about continuity outside of the films. But, if you did have a strong attachment to those prior novels, I still encourage to approach this work with an open mind and decide for yourself.

On a sliding scale to the film comparisons, I’d say it is not as terrible as The Phantom Menace, but at least as good as Attack of the Clones and a solid follow-on from Return of the Jedi. We might not be into The Empire Strikes Back territory, but the set-up promised in the final chapters of Aftermath looks like there’s a very fun story ahead of us.

Buy Star Wars: Aftermath At Amazon

[And if you’ve made it this far and thought this review was helpful, please vote at Amazon to indicate as such. I don’t ever ask for this, but given how often and how quickly positive reviews for this title are getting slammed by the so-called “fan” community, those of us who did enjoy the work would appreciate the support. Thanks in advance!]

Review: Stars Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig

Calling Indie Horror/Thriller Authors! #indieauthors #bookpromo #BadMoonOnTheRise

Michael Patrick Hicks:

Indie authors of the horror/thriller genre should check this out. Teri’s reviewed a few of my titles in the past, and is opening up a chance for free publicity throughout October.

Originally posted on Books & Such:

For the month of October, I’m planning a new series for Books & Such – one I hope todownload (5) continue yearly.  I’m calling it Bad Moon On The Rise – 31 Days of Thrills and Chills,  featuring one author per day, so if you’re an indie author of horror/thriller books, send me your info!  This is your chance for free publicity, to talk up your book, learn about other authors of the same genre, and hopefully sell some books.  Each post will contain any information you’d like to include, such as a book synopsis, author bio, contact links, buy links and a short interview.

I still have some openings, so email me at with your name and title of your book and I’ll send you an info sheet within the next week.

I’d appreciate any help in spreading the word about this – thanks in advance!

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Calling Indie Horror/Thriller Authors! #indieauthors #bookpromo #BadMoonOnTheRise