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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Book Review: Keepers & Killers by Donna Augustine + int giveaway (ends 9/3)

Keepers and Killers (Alchemy, #2)
by Donna Augustine
The story of Jo and Cormac continues on in this fast paced drama.

It's very hard to work with someone who tried to murder me. But when the mysterious senator reappears on the scene, I'm desperate enough to take whatever help I can get, even if it is from Cormac. Dealing with him is nothing compared to losing a few hundred lives and that's the best case scenario. Worst case? I lose them all.

(right now there is an international giveaway going on for signed copies of book 1 and 2 here)

I reviewed book #1 The Killers recently (here) and was blown away by the story and characters, especially the lead pro
tagonist Jo Davids. I think I said it pushed all my UF buttons. Well, book #2 pushed all my buttons and rang my bell! I adore Jo’s character and the fact that she has stuck to her convictions and not jumped into the bed of the man who had her shot... yet. I can’t wait for her to finally forgive and fu… er, I mean forget because the slow simmering sexual tension between these two is killing me. Cormac is a quiet and powerful alpha male who doesn't need to prove himself. Everyone just knows. Jo and Cormac remind me a little of Kate and Curran’s dynamic. If you love the Kate Daniels series then The Alchemy series is for you.

Since this is written in the first POV of Jo we are slowly learning about the hidden alternate universe and magic right along with her. The story unravels at a perfect pace and there is all kinds of suspense building as the characters head towards a surprising end, and Jo discovers her connection to magic is more than anyone could have guessed. Augustine’s prose is clean and tight making for a quick read. Thank goodness it does end because I would still be immersed in Jo’s life right now with no intention of stopping. Yeah, I’m a fan <G> and you will be too once you get a taste of Jo’s wit and Cormac’s… mojo. I talk about the romance a lot, but this story is definitely UF, which means I am more hung up on the topic than Jo and Cormac are.

The ending isn’t a cliff hanger, but the world has been broken; all the rules have changed, and so will the relationships between Jo, her new friends, and Cormac. Please let that woman get laid, she deserves it!

Quote-a-licious-ness: why I love Jo

Not that he came off as ill mannered, but there was something just beneath the surface that picked at my senses in the most disconcerting way and whispered of baser origins.
“Aren’t all of you people really old? That’s what Tracker told me. So, are you like chivalrous type old? Or are you club a girl over the head old?” I watched his stone expression, which didn’t crack a bit.
“Because between the shooting and now the hitting, I’m starting to harbor some suspicions about what era you people really come from. Chemists, my ass.”

Then he turned toward me. “You. Don’t leave this casino.” I watched him walk from the garage.
I've never been good at following directions. All you have to do it look at my Ikea bureau with the crooked drawers to figure that one out.

The guy had shot me, then flirted with my best friend, then stole my trailer and the funniest thing was I couldn't decide which of those was the worse deed.”

“Cell service came back after we’d gotten about five miles away from the space hole. ‘Space hole’ wasn’t the most creative name for it, but it was better than
goddamn mother f***ing thing that popped a hole in my world. Even shortening that into an acronym would still have been a tongue twister, so space hole would have to do.”

“See? He does make a pretty good case sometimes, even for being an idiot,” Dodd said softly to me.
“Whatever. He’s still a dick,” I whispered back.
“A dick with really good hearing.” Rogo said from across the length of the table.
I didn't apologize. He was a dick.

5 “trailer living” Sheep

Sharon Stogner

Where to find the Author:

Sheep Comic Review: Ten Grand #4 by J. Michael Straczynski

Ten Grand #4 
By: J. Michael Straczynski
Published August 7, 2013
Image Comics

Joe Fitzgerald has been to heaven many times...or at least someplace that looks a lot like heaven if you didn't know any better. But now he's going somewhere he's never been before: into Hell itself, in pursuit of the woman he loves. What he finds there will change his life forever

Joe Fitzgerald has a bad feeling that something is wrong in the afterlife, and when his attempts to summon his angelic informant fail time and again, Joe worries Laura isn't as safe in Heaven as was originally promised.

His hunt for the leader of the Divine Will cult has now led to seek out the same man he killed two years ago--the same man who killed him and Laura. And since he can't talk with the angel to find out what's happening, Joe seeks out alternative means, which send him to some haunted ruins in the middle of the city. Once he finds out for sure there's something wrong in Heaven, Joe has no other choice but to sneak into Hell.

The private eye schtick really takes a backseat in this issue, as Joe turns into a crusader to save Laura. I might otherwise be a little annoyed in the wild shift in focus, but the artwork is so mesmerizing and the journey Joe takes in rescuing the woman he loves is so intense, I'm just totally enamored by this series, still.

I guess the whole Sarah/Debbie storyline was a means to get to the real focus, which is Joe and Laura. Fine by me. Straczynski and Templesmith are doing a bangup job hooking me with this series. It's gritty and poetic and terrifying all at once. And it looks like the fifth issue might do more to push the story even further than this fourth issue. Can't wait to find out what happens next.

5 Sheep
Guest Reviewer: Gef Fox 
Wag The Fox

Friday, August 30, 2013

Comic Review: Comics #1: Sam Kinison by Chris Canibano

Comics #1: Sam Kinison
Writer: Chris Canibano
Artist: Mark Perez
Cover artist: Mark Perez
Blue Water Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release: August 14th, 2013

Sam Kinison was the most controversial comedian of his time, earning the ire of his critics and respect of his peers. Comics: Sam Kinison: Explores his rise from his humble roots as a preacher, to the excesses of his life as a Rock and Roll Comedian and his tragic death.

How about a comic book dedicated to a stand-up comic? Heck, why not? On it's face, I can't imagine it hasn't been done before. If it has been done before, however, I most certainly can imagine it was done much better than this.

Despite being a fan of stand-up comedy, I've never really been a huge fan of Sam Kinison. I basically remember him for his bloodcurdling screams. There was definitely an aura about the guy, though. A bigger than life kind of character that was custom-made for the '80s. It really is astonishing a bio-pic hasn't been made yet, but there's yet to be a bio-pic of Richard Pryor either, and between the two I would much rather watch a Pryor movie.

Anyway, back to the comic book.

The story of Kinison's life is looked at through the conceit of a wannabe comic in present day who has never heard of Kinison. From there, the highlights and lowlights of Kinison's life are laid out in chronological order with all the flare of a Wikipedia entry.

Honestly, there's not much more to the book than that. Just a lot of trivia tidbit strung out atop some of the roughest illustrations I have ever seen in a comic book. I mean, if you thought the artwork behind Beavis and Butthead was rough around the edges, just wait until you check this book out. In a weird way, it kind of compliments Sam Kinison's surreal, downward spiral in life. But after a few pages it irritates the eyeballs.
There's simply not enough to this book to hold interest, which is too bad because if there had been a more dramatic approach to the subject matter, Sam Kinison's life would be great fodder for a comic book series. As a stand-alone bio, however, it's severely lacking.

1 1/2 sheep

Guest Reviewer: Gef Fox

Wag The Fox: Den for Dark Fiction

Author Guest Post: Annette Drake + Giveaway

If I was a Ghost
By: Annette Drake

If I was a ghost, I undoubtedly would be the most boring ghost ever.

I can see myself now, swooping around my children, whispering in their ears, “Did you brush your teeth? Did you floss?” See. Boring. It’s not that the living couldn’t see me; they would choose to ignore me.

I love the idea of haunting people, but where exactly should haunting occur? Do ghosts visit the hauntee in a dream? Surprise them when they’re in the shower? How exactly does one go about haunting?

I don’t think I’m alone in my fascination with ghosts. When my family and I visited Lexington, Missouri, last month to talk about my book, we toured the grounds around the Anderson House, which was used as a field hospital during the Battle of Lexington. The building had closed for the day so we couldn’t go inside, but standing outside looking in, I whispered in Jack’s ear, “Look up at that window! I swear I saw a man’s face there. Do you see anything?” It’s only now, writing this, that I remember one of the audience members during the presentation told me there was a ghost who wandered the halls of the Anderson House.

Which brings me to the question: are ghosts restricted to a location? The spirits in my book, Celebration House, choose to haunt the place in their lives where they felt the most alive or the most useful. For my hero, Maj. Thomas Stewart, that’s near Lexington, where he fought and died in his only battle. Another character, Col. Bartholomew Stratton, haunted the antebellum mansion he built in the 1840s, keeping the riff-raff away, particularly beer-swigging teenagers. That was a fun scene to write.

Other characters in Celebration House haunt their workplace. I make mention of a favorite physician who died but continued to wander the halls of a Seattle hospital where he spent his professional career. He was so relieved not to have to visit the office of medical records to sign charts.

But me, I wouldn’t haunt my work place. Nope. I’ve spent enough time there, thank you. I would  haunt a Parisian caf√©, which offered a magnificent view of the Eiffel Tower. Or maybe Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Or better yet, I would haunt Hugh Jackman. In the shower…

Carrie Hansen spent her life caring for cardiac patients. Little did she know she would become a patient herself. After recovering from her own heart surgery, she realizes she has a special gift: the ability to see and talk with the dead.

Now, with her new heart failing, she leaves the bustle of Seattle behind and returns to Lexington, Missouri, the small town where she spent her childhood. Here, she sets out to restore an abandoned antebellum mansion and open it as a venue for celebrations.

Carrie’s work is cut out for her. The 150-year-old Greek revival house is in need of serious repair. Her sister, Melanie, tries to bully Carrie into returning to Seattle, predicting “her little project” is doomed to fail. Finally, Carrie’s health gives out on her, requiring emergency surgery.

But she will not give up. Carrie’s unique gift allows her to build relationships with the mansion’s original occupants, especially Maj. Tom Stewart, the handsome Civil War soldier who died a hundred years before Carrie was born. He encourages and comforts her, though not in the physical way they both desire.

Then there’s the builder of the house, Col. Bartholomew Stratton. If there’s one thing this 19th century horse trader cannot abide, it’s the living trespassing on his estate. He delights in scaring these intruders away, even if they are paying guests.

Will Carrie finish restoring Celebration House or will it finish her? And how can she plan a future with a man who has only a past?

Annette Drake’s work is character-driven and celebrates the law of unintended consequences. Her debut novel, Celebration House, debuted on August 1st in e-book format for readers everywhere from Tirgearr Publishing.

Annette left high school after two years to obtain her GED and attend Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. There she earned a degree in journalism before working as a reporter and editor for newspapers in Missouri and Kansas. She earned a bachelor of science in nursing in 1994 from Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri, and worked as a registered nurse in hospitals throughout Missouri, Alaska and Washington for 18 years before returning her focus to writing.

Annette recently completed her middle-grade novel, Bone Girl, and is hard at work revising her steamy contemporary romance, A Year with Geno.

She is the mother of four children. The oldest just graduated from the University of Washington; the youngest just graduated from kindergarten. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. She loves libraries, basset hounds and bakeries. She does not camp.

You can follow her writing at She welcomes correspondence at:

Social links:
Buy link:

Annette is hooking you up with a $10 Amazon gift card! Fill out raffledude below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Comic Review: X #4

X #4 (of 4)
By: Duane Swierczynski
Artist: Eric Nguyen
Dark Horse Comics 
Publication Date: August 14, 2013

It’s a bloody showdown on Arcadia’s rooftops as X is assaulted by the pig-faced Berkshire, a maniac who can no longer feel physical pain! As Leigh fends off a swarm of the city’s thugs, Berkshire shatters the lock around X’s neck . . . and the mask finally comes off!

Duane Swierczynski and Eric Nguyen have thrown just about everything but the kitchen sink into the first few issues of X, so wasn't quite sure what to expect from the penultimate showdown between the X Killer and the corrupt mayor, Berkshire. I just knew there'd be a lot of blood. Well, even with that in mind, X #4 exceeded expectations.

"Eye Without a Face" starts on the top of a high-rise, with X and Berkshre throwing down, and the pig-faced mayor gettiing the upper hand, since he's spent even more time doing his homework on the masked vigilante than he has been sliced and diced by the crusading psychopath. Meanwhile, Leigh, the activist reporter who helped bring these two warring parties together, is left to fend for herself against the rabid henchmen who want a piece of the action.

There was a metric ton of action in the four issues I read prior to this one (four, since there was a zero issue to kick things off), but it all pales compared to the visceral hatred and violence that has been boiled down to its two key ingredients: X and Berkshire. The history of X's motivations come to bear, though enough is left in the shadows to keep readers coming back for more.
With this chapter coming to a close, it will be hard to imagine how Swierczynski and Gnuyen will scoop up what's left of their characters to carry on into the next issue, but I'm keen to find out. X might be the violent--and vital--action comic going in 2013.

5 Sheep

Guest Reviewer: Gef Fox

Alpha Male Diner: Immortal Alchemist by Donna Augustine + International giveaway

PNR author Donna Augustine stopped by the diner to whip up a dish of Cormac, the sexy alpha male Alchemist from her Alchemy series. I read book #1 The Keepers and absolutely loved it and Cormac (review here). Book #2 Keepers and Killers is out now and I can't wait to have some more. Come on in and have a taste!

Cormac (Immortal Alchemist)
recipe by Donna Augustine
Keepers & Killers (Alchemy #2)

*Two hundred and forty lbs of tan muscle
*Midnight black hair
*Pale ice blue eyes
*A heaping dose of arrogance
*Bone deep loyalty and cutthroat ruthlessness in equal measures

Serve with extreme caution. This is a hard dish to master and can turn deadly at any given moment. Best if handled with care and only in the right hands.

Taste Test

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"Taking a shower before we leave."

"Sleep for a while."
"I'll sleep in the truck on the way."
I watched as he shut the door to my room and slowly closed the distance to where I stood. He didn't say anything but he didn't need to. He didn't rush at me, but purposely took his time, and I realized he was making me silently acknowledge that I wanted him when I didn't move, just waited.
One arm curved around my back as his other cupped my neck, and his lips slowly sucked my lower one before he completely covered mine. And I wanted him, right then and there.
Then he pulled back.

"What are you doing?" I asked as he walked toward the door.
"Giving you time."
"Because there is no turning back, so you better be sure."
Then it hit me. "Because of the contract."
He paused by the door, his eyes intent, and he shook his head. "No, because of who I am. Once I get what I want, I don't let it go."

Keepers and Killers (Alchemy, #2)by Donna Augustine
The Alchemy Series, Book #2: 

The story of Jo and Cormac continues on in this fast paced drama.

It's very hard to work with someone who tried to murder me. But when the mysterious senator reappears on the scene, I'm desperate enough to take whatever help I can get, even if it is from Cormac. Dealing with him is nothing compared to losing a few hundred lives and that's the best case scenario. Worst case? I lose them all.

Where to find the Author:


one winner will get a signed copy of Book #1 AND Book #2!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Comic Review: Vincent Price Presents: collected edition: Volume 6

Vincent Price Presents: collected edition: Volume 6
Release Date: 8/14/2013
writer: Chad Helder, Nick Lyons
artist: Bang Thai

Published by Blue Water Comics
Volume 6 of the graphic novel series Vincent Price Presents features classic gothic horror! One of classic Hollywood's most famous scary men, Vincent Price made a name for himself in classic mysteries and thrillers throughout the 1940s, 50s and 60s. The series will feature some of Price's films as well as developing new frightening ones with his estate. Welcome back to the macabre world of Vincent Price. Story include My Dame, Orok and more!

Vincent Price is my favorite horror actor from old films. He was a renaissance man. He acted, collected artwork, and had a recipe book out (my high school friend had this book). He enjoyed doing comedic roles as much as horror. His films included The Tower of London, The Invisible Man Returns, The Ten Commandments, House of Wax (1953), House on Haunted Hill (1958), The Fly (1958), The Tingler, The Comedy of Terrors, Edward Scissorhands, Peter Cottontail, The Great Mouse Detective, and more , many more, ending at the Heart of Justice. You can find out the other films and more at .

So that there are a comic series attached to him and his estate, well, I gladly took to reviewing this comic and two others. This one contains two detective crossed with the supernatural stories, a twist on the werewolf tale, and a story that shows how dreams and reality can be one and the same sometimes.

The first two have a private detective, Peter Wood who resembles somewhat Price himself, hired to do investigations. The first one a man hires him to find his wife who had disappeared after they saw a movie at the cinema. The man stopped at the restroom while she waited for him outside. All the police found is a few spots of blood. The only clue P.I. Wood found is a coin with blood on it. From there he makes stops around town, then he checks out Romero Park. He finds her all right—no longer alive and just killed two people, eating them. He enclosed her in the trunk of his car and calls the husband. This where there is a twist to the zombie story. And as is quoted in the beginning, “the course to true love never did run smooth.”

The second story has P.I. Peter Wood involved again, this time the theme about what would happen if memories were lost. His client, Jack is a man who seems to forget quite easily. But there is a woman who keeps breaking into his house and he wants her caught. The police haven’t been much help, and he wants his house monitored closely and constantly. Wood stays the night, but the woman gets by him to call the old man by name and tell him she misses him. Then vanish. Though Wood wonders if the old man is losing it, he investigates to see if any enemies and discovered he’d been married. His wife died, but the daughter is alive. She looks like the picture the P.I, found in the house, too. He learns of what is truly haunting Jack. More than ghosts can haunt us.

The third story has Orok, a man of a primitive society who has a young daughter, Do. They live with their clan in a jungle or forest. One night a werewolf attacks them and steals the little girl away. Orok goes after her. Intermingling with his hunting the werewolf who has his child, is the one where his twin brother is attacked and killed by a werewolf and buried, But the werewolf awakens and digs its way out. An elder of the tribe calls his daughter from the belly of the moon. Her spirit will lead him to his twin, who he must slay. This story also has a twist to it. One I didn’t expect. But I admit the werewolf’s story told at the same time as Orok’s confused me. It could have been separated. But that is my only complaint.

The last tale, “The Hampster,” begins with three hamsters in a cage. A white hamster has a nightmare where he is a man killed by another man. He tries to explain this to the two others, Bernard and Ricky when he awakes. Tells them he is not really a hamster. The other two also say they are not. Becomes agitated when two young men enter the room they are in, telling Bernard and Ricky that is him and his killer. The teens call up Bloody Mary and will sacrifice a hamster in the microwave. This time though, the hamster convinces his human self to stop the other as he will grow up to be the Bloody Mary killer. He kills the killers, but ends up in prison. And like the other two, there is a twist ending.

Just be sure to read “Vincent Presents. Volume 6” in the light of day; it’s a nightmare of an anthology.

I give “Vincent Presents. Volume 6” 4 sheep.

Guest Reviewer:
Pamela K. Kinney Website Blog Facebook
aka Sapphire Phelan
Website Newsletter Facebook

Bluewater Productions brings a diverse library of titles and talent to the table. With stories that range from classic myths, science fiction and superheroes to Hollywood legends such as William Shatner, Roger Corman, Adam West, Julie Newmar, Ray Harryhausen and Vincent Price, Also reimagining classic titles like "Logan's Run", " SE Hinton's Puppy Sister", "Lionsgate's Leprechaun" and more. Bluewater is a fresh voice in comic publishing. We have now broken into biography comics with our titles FAME, FEMALE FORCE, 15 MINUTES and POLITICAL POWER.

Comic Review: The Killer Vol. 4: Unfair Competition

The Killer Vol. 4: Unfair Competition
Collected Edition Hardcover
Story by: Matz
Art by: Luc Jacamon
Format: 128 pages, full color, hardcover
List price: $19.95
Sale date: 17 July 2013


After his misadventures in Venezuela, our Killer retires to Mexico, but his Colombian cartel friend Mariano and the Cuban agent Katia are not far behind. Soon he finds himself drawn back into the great geopolitical game between Cuba, Venezuela, and the United States, with oil revenues and political independence at stake. Even when he finds himself in unusual territory as the shadow owner of an oil company developing Cuba’s off-shore deposits, the need for his usual skill-set is never far away. 

One of the big advantages graphic novels have over the conventional novel is--you guessed it--the pictures. Add a blatant visual component to the storytelling and a whole new dimension opens up. Such is the case when I looked at the first panel of Unfair Competition, a vibrant portrait of one bustling street in Mexico City. The buildings, the cars, the people, and even the faraway vistas all presented one page at a time in such mesmerizing detail, you'd swear you're looking at freeze frames from a high-end animated film.

Despite having not read the first three volumes of this series, Matz uses dialogue to give a keen sense of his protagonist, Asesino, a professional killer who is world weary yet reticent in his attempts to step away from the life. Teaming up with two associates, a plan is laid out to exploit Cuba's new oil resources, as well as gaining a foothold in Mexico, all with the grand guise of going legit. Big oil is hardly legit it turns out though (no surprise there), and Asesino finds himself wishing for a simpler life, but ultimately drawn back into what he does best.

If not for the absolutely breathtaking artwork in this book, I would have probably stopped reading. Because that's what I did more than anything with this graphic novel: read. The dialogue is astonishingly long and drawn out, and for a thriller about a criminal enterprise, that's about 90% of the book: guys sitting around in pretty places and talking.Had this been a straight-up novel, I would have had no problem at all with dialogue bubbles taking up half of each panel, but this is a graphic novel and the wondrous illustrations are crowded out by what felt like intrusive and incessant jaw-jacking. The silver lining to it is that the dialogue is not the least bit hokey or cliched. The characters do come through with what they say, but it would have been nice if they shut up once in a while and got some dirt under their fingernails.

I'd recommend the book for the eye-candy alone, but if you have an aversion to comic books that feel like novels, then you may want to skip this one.

3 1/2 sheep

Guest Reviewer: Gef Fox
Wag The Fox

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

New Releases in Speculative Fiction Aug 27

New Releases in Speculative Fiction for August 20, 2013

Got some great books releasing today. Which ones are you getting?

Do you have a favorite cover from this week's releases? My favorites are Perdition and Battlepug, which was recently reviewed by guest reviewer Dani Harper, Fiona the pug and Toby the assistant pug.

disclaimer: all these covers are links to our amazon affiliate pages. I Smell Sheep will get a small percentage of all sales through these links as an advertising fee. I Smell Sheep uses the money to pay for sheep s*** and shipping <G>