Book Review – “Pandemic” by Scott Sigler

PandemicHello ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the Casa!

Eight years ago I married to a nice young woman, started at my current job, and listened to my very first podcast novel, Scott Sigler’s “Infected”. Fast forward to eight years, my divorce is nearing completion, I am starting a different work account than what I was originally hired on to, and Scott has released his final book in the “Infected” trilogy, “Pandemic”. 2014 seems a year for some eras to end and others to begin.

As most, if not all of you know, I am a writer when I’m not busy being a family man or working at my day job. Like any other writer, I find influence from so many masters of the craft. It started with Stephen King when I was thirteen, and has grown to include J.K. Rowling, Christopher Golden, Tracy Hickman, and Scott Sigler, among others. Stephen and Scott are two writers whose stories I read almost religiously and are two big reasons why I decided to begin pursuing a writing career that I feel is just starting to show signs of blossoming. I have even introduced my oldest son to both men’s works and he is already hooked on each.

To give you the rundown on the “Infected” trilogy before I dive into my review of the latest book, an alien race sends out satellites containing artificial intelligence and the means to create a virus intended to exterminate any sentient race it comes across. Their purpose is to eliminate any threats they discover long before they branch out into space. One such satellite, called an Orbital, runs across Earth and begins to send out it’s payload, which turns ordinary people into psychopathic killers. As each book progresses, the Orbital finds ways to modify the virus to improve it’s effectiveness.  Blue triangles mark the infected in the first book, “Infected”. One person, Perry Dawsey resisted, but at a brutal cost to himself. In “Contagious”, the virus mutated in the wild, adding a second strain which can pass the virus via a kiss with the result of much death and destruction.  Everyone thought the virus eradicated after that, but they were wrong.

“Pandemic” takes place five years after the events of “Contagious”, and Dr. Margaret Montoya is a shell of her former self. Her marriage to agent Clarence Otto, the special agent assigned to protect her in the first book, is less than happy. She has become recluse, punishing herself by continuously reading Internet posts and criticisms blaming her for the destruction in the second book. After the latest in another round of arguments ends with Agent Otto stating their marriage is over, a telephone call from an old friend in the government calls the both of them back into service. The virus has returned and is even deadlier than ever.

I have waited for this book since I finished reading “Contagious” years ago. Scott brings the characters to life, whether it’s on the written page or his narration in audiobook format. This book is the emphasis of this. I found myself not wanting to write my own stories or fall asleep on time just so I could read a few more pages. I found the story to grip you tightly and not let go until the roller coaster ride is finally done. The ending is EPIC in scope and gives a definitive ending to a thrilling story. I give this book a 5 out of 5.

You can find Scott’s books at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and your favorite local bookstore. If you enjoy science fiction in your horror or vice versa, then I recommend checking out his work.

As always, if you want to leave a comment, please do so below.  Let me know your opinion  and feel free to share mine with your friends, family, and yes, even your enemies.  I’m on FacebookTwitterGoogle +, and via e-mail at dpitsiladis@gmail.com.  And check out my stories in the “Darwin Murders”, “Bump Off Your Enemies”, and “Fresh Blood” anthologies.

And remember… Why so serious?

Donald P.

Book Review – “Dead Men Kill” by L. Ron Hubbard

Dead Men Kill

Hello ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the Casa!

I hope everyone came through the dreaded polar vortex this past weekend warm and well. I know it was a bitter couple of days where travel, sadly, wasn’t on the itinerary. Now we in North Dakota are experiencing a heat wave of sorts (anything above 30 degrees around the middle of January is warm for us). The cold weather did give me plenty of time to get more writing done, spend some quiet time at home fighting a head cold, and getting some more reading done. One such book is by L. Ron Hubbard, the father of the Church of Scientology. Religion aside, I’d always heard his stories fell into the science fiction realm, so imagine my surprise when I found “Dead Men Kill”.

The story itself is a pulpy, noir detective story involving murder, extortion, and zombies of the Haitian voodoo variety. Rich and powerful men are receiving letters demanding payment or face death at the hands of their dead secretaries. The warnings all bear the green signature of a man who calls himself the Loup Garou, or human hyena as they define it in the story. Heading up the case is Detective Terry Lane, a cop eager to dish out a fist to the bad guys as easily as firing a gun. If you are looking for a story that is both cheesy and fun to read, then this story is for you. Personally, I’ve never been a very big fan of the pulp stories, but I did like this one somewhat. My rating is a 3 out of 5, which shows that even I have a limit when it comes to cheesiness.

Before I sign off for the week, I want to send a big Happy Birthday to my dad, George. It is a milestone birthday and I wouldn’t have my work ethic if not for him and my mother. Happy Birthday Dad!

And with that, I must bid you adieu for this week. Until next weekend…

As always, if you want to leave a comment, please do so below.  Let me know your opinion  and feel free to share mine with your friends, family, and yes, even your enemies.  I’m on FacebookTwitterGoogle +, and via e-mail at dpitsiladis@gmail.com.  And check out my stories in the “Darwin Murders”, “Bump Off Your Enemies”, and “Fresh Blood” anthologies.

And remember… Why so serious?

Donald P.

Book Review – “Full Dark, No Stars” by Stephen King

Full Dark, No StarsHello ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the Casa!

So far, it has been a very cold start to 2014 with a blizzard on Friday (more wind than actual snow flying) and this weekend is clocking in with windchills of 40 – 60 degrees below zero. While I’m heartbroken that I am unable to spend time with my sons this weekend, I am making the most of it with house cleaning, writing, and reading (with a bit of video gaming thrown in here and there). The winter so far has been crazy in the temps, but it is North Dakota and we can take it.

A great respite from the cold nights has been Stephen King’s “Full Dark, No Stars”. The book is a collection of four novellas the dig into the darkness that a person can delve into, given the right circumstances. In “1922″, a farmer and his son become upset when his wife suggests selling their land to a corporation so they can move to the big city. The men folk of the family are reluctant to do so, but the only way to stop her is via murder. What they don’t realize is the downward spiral that one act begets. The second story in the series, “Big Driver”, an author on her way home from a book club speaking engagement takes a shortcut and is raped and left for dead. Instead of seeking justice, she sets out for revenge for herself and the man’s other victims. What if you were dying, would you make a deal with the devil to turn your life around at the cost of someone else’s life?  Dave Streeter is offered just that in “Fair Extension. Rounding out the quadrilogy is “A Good Marriage” (coming soon to a theater near you), where a wife believes she had a great life married to a great guy, only to discover she never knew the real person he was.

I found the first story a bit of a slower one, but the rest of the stories more than make up for that. My favorite of the bunch is “Big Driver” because the flow of the story is very fluid. That’s not taking anything away from any of the others, as all the stories are good. It shows that Stephen is still a master of holding a mirror to the darker side of human nature. Because it is Stephen King, you can find it anywhere books are sold.

That does it for now, fellow patrons. Time for me to cuddle under my Snuggie with a good book while the freezing cold stays outside. Until next time…

As always, if you want to leave a comment, please do so below.  Let me know your opinion  and feel free to share mine with your friends, family, and yes, even your enemies.  I’m on FacebookTwitterGoogle +, and via e-mail at dpitsiladis@gmail.com.  And check out my stories in the “Darwin Murders”, “Bump Off Your Enemies”, and “Fresh Blood” anthologies.

And remember… Why so serious?

Donald P.

 

Happy New Year!

Hello ladies and gentlemen!  Welcome to the Casa!

Happy New Year everybody!  It has been a bit since you’ve heard from me, and for that I do apologize.  Christmas was a fun time with my family and children, although the time around it might have been a little better.  All in all, it was still a good holiday.  I hope all of you experienced ‘an even better holiday season.

Now, we are in a new year, which also offers a wealth of new possibilities.  After not doing so last year and having mixed accomplishments this past year, I’ve come up with a resolutions list for this coming year.  In an attempt at keeping myself accountable, I’m posting them here for all to see.  Some of them are professional, while the rest are personal.  I invite you all to share some of your resolutions, I am always curious what other people hope to accomplish.

1. Write 200,000 words in 2014
2. Have at least six short stories and a novel/novella published and/or contracted
3. Focus on paying bills off
4. Start a podcast
5. Blog regularly
6. Get my weight to below 200 lbs. again
7. Take a class or two to better myself
8. Start each day with a small prayer and saying what I’m grateful for
9. Start reading regularly
10. Begin freelance writing and acting

I will be back later this weekend with a review of “Full Dark, No Stars” by Stephen King and quite possibly a short story of my own as a late gift to you all.  For now, I wish to bid you all a fun and very warm night.  Until next time…

As always, if you want to leave a comment, please do so below.  Let me know your opinion  and feel free to share mine with your friends, family, and yes, even your enemies.  I’m on FacebookTwitterGoogle +, and via e-mail at dpitsiladis@gmail.com.  And check out my stories in the “Darwin Murders”, “Bump Off Your Enemies”, and “Fresh Blood” anthologies.

And remember… Why so serious?

Donald P.

Book Review – “The Dark Man” by P.A. Douglas

The Dark ManHello ladies and gentlemen!  Welcome to the Casa!

I hope everyone had/is having a wonderful holiday week this past week (if you celebrate U.S. Thanksgiving and/or Hanukkah) and sincerely apologize for the lengthy unscheduled hiatus.  In the past two weeks, I have performed the lead role in “I Hate Hamlet”, been fighting a rather nasty cold or flu, and been focusing on my daily writing.  My current project started out just before Halloween as an intended short story, but has quickly grown into a 17,000 + short story and is still growing.  The premise I started with was “What if Countess Elizabeth Bathory were alive today?”  How could she be?  Do I make a modernized telling of her story or do I find a way to actually bring her to the future?  This longer is really exciting to write about and I am now writing five hundred words or more a day (with the emphasis on ‘more’).  I cannot wait to start bringing the story to you in the form of a published novel eventually and/or as a free podcast sooner than that (depends on divorce and how I want to try to have it published).

As for free podcast novels, I will be starting to record one of my novel length novels as part of my editing process and am planning on releasing it as a free podnovel on a weekly basis in the beginning of the next year.  More details to come as they become available.

When I was younger, I loved the slasher flicks.  A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Halloween, Doctor Giggles (was a big favorite of mine… don’t judge me).  They were all movies where it didn’t matter so much who they killed or why, but how they did the job (and the boob shots… I was a teenager after all).  I always found it fun the creative, funny, or ludicrous ways the serial killers chose to dispatch of their victims.  Freddy Krueger, Jason, Michael Myers, all had a personality that made them as memorable as their looks.  I found a book that captures much of the feel of those slasher icons, “The Dark Man” by P.A. Douglas.

The story is more of a novella length one and has the basic premise of teenagers dropping LSD and being visited by a briefcase carrying, pasty-faced old man in a black suit and top hat.  He can only be seen by those on the drug induced trip and is anything less than feeble or helpless.  He begins a systematic and bizarre killing spree that includes a hammer shaped balloon, mind games, and a lot of confusion.  I had a hard time putting the book down since and asked myself on more than one killing, “Did they really just do that?”  And as if that isn’t enough of a story, there is an extra short story thrown in as well, but I’ll let you read the book to discover the second story.  My rating is a 4.5 out of 5.  You can find this story in paperback, e-book, and audio book formats on Amazon.com.

Well, I feel that is all for now.  I must now be off for more writing work on my Blood Countess story.  Until next weekend…

As always, if you want to leave a comment, please do so below.  Let me know your opinion  and feel free to share mine with your friends, family, and yes, even your enemies.  I’m on FacebookTwitterGoogle +, and via e-mail at dpitsiladis@gmail.com.  And check out my stories in the “Darwin Murders”, “Bump Off Your Enemies”, and “Fresh Blood” anthologies.

And remember… Why so serious?

Donald P.

Book Review – “Afraid” by Jack Kilborn and J.A. Konrath

AfraidHello ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the Casa!

Today marks less than two weeks before I perform in my first stage production in over seven years. I play the lead role in Paul Rudnick’s play entitled “I Hate Hamlet!” The story is about an actor, Andrew Rally, whose once hit television show is canceled. As a way to regroup and bounce back, he moves to New York City and is cast in the role of Hamlet, the Danish prince. Many consider the role as the most challenging one an actor can play, but there is a problem. Andrew doesn’t want to play the Dane. Regardless of the fact that everyone close to him has faith that he can do it, Andrew’s fear of failure hinders him enough to draw the attention of John Barrymore’s ghost. The legendary actor deems it his mission to help Andrew become the actor everyone sees him to be. As with any role, Andrew Rally’s fears are similar to mine, although I’d love the hit television show he had.

Speaking of fear, that leads me directly into the book review for today, “Afraid” by Jack Kilborn and J.A. Konrath. It is a dark night in the lake community of Safe Haven when a helicopter explodes over the lake. What follows is a night of complete terror as a beyond top-secret military unit searches for a single person and leaves mutilated bodies and blood in their wake. I found this story to be a real page turner and a true roller coaster ride. The story, while it did seem a little dragging and clichéd in some spots, kept me guessing almost the entire ride through. I actually didn’t know what characters would survive their run-ins with the military unit members, and that is actually something refreshing for me. I rate this book a 4.5 out of 5 and look forward to any future ones from these authors regardless of whether they take place in this story’s universe or a different one. You can find “Afraid” at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in all forms.

As always, if you want to leave a comment, please do so below.  Let me know your opinion  and feel free to share mine with your friends, family, and yes, even your enemies.  I’m on FacebookTwitterGoogle +, and via e-mail at dpitsiladis@gmail.com.  And check out my stories in the “Darwin Murders”, “Bump Off Your Enemies”, and “Fresh Blood” anthologies.

And remember… Why so serious?

Donald P.