Book Review: The Wehrwolf by Alma Katsu

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Title: The Wehrwolf

Author: Alma Katsu

Release date: September 29, 2022

Honestly, SHAME ON ME! That’s right. SHAME ON STEVE! Chant it – go ahead. I deserve it.

Why? Well, first – you should know my love of werewolf fiction by now. Second – Alma Katsu is not only a phenomenal writer, but also one of the kindest people in the dark fiction community. Not that she’s lost sleep over me not having already read this and reviewed it, but she deserves better from me and I’m happy to say I’ve rectified that by devouring this tasty piece of fur and fanged fiction.

So, as for the novella, back in 1944 the Nazi’s developed a program called Werwolf in which they were attempting to create a force of soldiers that would operate behind enemy lines. This idea was created in the hopes of infiltration and ambushing an unsuspecting group of soldiers.

Katsu takes that idea and marries it with the Brother’s Grimm lore to give us a rollicking fun story.

What I liked: The story follows feeble farmer Uwe, who lives in the deep forests of Germany, far away from the front lines. His wife and daughter are his everything, and up until now, the war has stayed away from them. The village does it’s best to remain away from the war itself and to not choose sides, knowing that whether the Nazi’s win or the Allied forces are victorious, they’ll need to adapt in order to survive post war.

Katsu ramps things up early on, when a body is found, ripped apart, not far from Uwe’s farmhouse. From there, he is pressured to join a militia group, led by bully Hans, to patrol their village at night and keep threats away. What Uwe doesn’t know, is that the group has the ability to transform into the fabled beasts and will do whatever it takes to keep their homes safe.

We get a really solid look at the inner workings of a conflicted man. One who has never been included, never been strong enough to stand up for himself and never developed friendships. Now, that he has joined Hans and his crew, he gets all of that and more, but at what cost? It’s a great metaphor for the real-life political turmoil we often see daily in the news in the US, but up here in Canada, it also rings home with what we saw with the Anti-Vax movement and the ridiculous Freedom Convey. It demonstrates just how quickly someone can change given a little bit of self esteem and comradery and shows the all-too-real threat of peer pressure.

The ending is a blistering climax of decisiveness and horror. We see Uwe seek revenge over a horrific turn of events and how he seeks out others to aide him with what needs to be done.

What I didn’t like: Straight up – if you hate overtly political based fiction, you may want to skip this one, especially if you are a raging fan of the former orange douchebag that somehow was elected. This one’s probably not for you. You can gloss over the political aspect and simply read it as a werewolf story, but that’ll be hard to do and you’ll not want to read the afterword.

I thought the political angle worked really well for this piece, but as always with my reviews, I try to state what someone diving into this may not enjoy.

Why you should buy this: Well, as I said in my hilariously ridiculous intro – if you like werewolf fiction, buy it. If you like Alma’s work, buy it. If you want a piece of dark fiction that’ll have you ripping through it in a single sitting, buy it. It was a blast and definitely one that’ll make you think and question what you would do in that situation.

4/5

3Q’s – Sirius knows the chances of cryptids are slim but never zero!

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A great 3Q’s is on the table for today! I connected with today’s guest back around the time the LOHF Writers Grant was opening for applications. Since then, I’ve really enjoyed seeing their different make up/cosplay photos they’ve posted as well as watching their progress on their various pieces of fiction!

I’m super happy to have Sirius stop by for today’s 3Q’s!

Welcome, Star!

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Steve: What does your process look like once you finish your first draft? Do you immediately dive back into it, or do you take some time away?

Sirius: I am definitely the edit-as-I-go type, so I usually come out with a fairly clean first draft. That being said, I will take a day or two away from it before diving back in for edits. By the end of a first draft, the words all sound the same and my notes are a jumbled mess, so I need some time to clear the brain fog before returning with fresh eyes.

Steve: What’s the one thing you’d change now if you’d have known it when you started writing?

Sirius: I would definitely go back to my past self and tell them not to try and publish every single thing that came to their brain. I wish I had held off on a lot of things and saved myself a lot of embarrassing mistakes. I had a lot of bad covers, a lot of bad formatting, and a lot of really poor editing once upon a time. My writing voice had not even properly and fully developed. The mistakes I made shaped me into a better author, but I could do without the cringe compilation of all my failures that plays behind my eyelids at night. So, yes, Patience is the lesson I wish I could catapult into 20-year-old me’s brain.

Steve: Of the books or stories you’ve released, which is your personal favorite and why?

Sirius: Uncrowned, absolutely. I am so proud of it. I have loved this world, and these characters, for so long. To finally have a series that, in my mind, does them even an ounce of justice is my greatest accomplishment so far. Not only has it given new life to characters I have known for decades, but the storyline is still growing, the world is still expanding, and I meet new characters and find new connections for them every day. I am so utterly in love with Uncrowned.

Steve: Bonus Fun Question! Would you rather be lost at sea or in the mountains?

Sirius: I would much rather be lost at sea! The mountains are cold, they have mountain lions, bears, and bobcats – and the chances of running into some malicious cryptid may be slim but are never zero. There’s a lot of hiking involved when being lost in the mountains. It’s just not for me.

Endless sea and sky to the distant horizon
Excellent thought process!

Thank you so much, Sirius!

To find all of their work, check their website!

Website: https://www.uncrownednovel.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/palestarsirius

3Q’s – Patrick Barb and why he’s not allowed around duct-tape anymore!

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I love, love, love when I see an author deliver the goods with a release but also seemingly hit a home run multiple times with short story sales and just success all around. Today’s guest has been making me smile for a bit now with their consistent wins.

I’m super happy to have Patrick Barb join me today!

Welcome Patrick!

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Steve: What does your process look like once you finish your first draft? Do you immediately dive back into it, or do you take some time away?

Patrick: Assuming there’s no deadline involved, my preference is to take some time away from the piece. I like to return to it with fresh eyes for revising, so the old words aren’t quite so precious. Ideally, I’d have somewhere between two weeks to a month. But even one day is better than nothing.

And it isn’t like I’m doing no writing. Usually, I’m starting the next project during that post-first draft, pre-revising period for the current project.

Steve: Do you believe cryptozoological creatures exist? If so, which one do you think has the best chance of being proven to exist?

Patrick: I don’t NOT believe they exist. I’m sure there’s some species out there that fit some, if not all, the characteristics of cryptids. For my money, I think one of the smaller critters has the best chance of existing.

So, if there’s one out there in the world, I’m gonna say it’s Chupacabra. Hide your goats, folks!

Steve: Of the books or stories you’ve released, which is your personal favorite and why?

Patrick: I love all my children equally! But I love when my stories can connect with an audience and readers respond to the writing on social media. Helicopter Parenting in the Age of Drone Warfare, the sci-fi horror novelette I published with Spooky House Press, has really seemed to resonate with folks.

It’s a story about the dangers of technology and fears about raising kids in a world obsessed with tech. I wrote this raw wound of a tale and it seems to be the kind of thing readers are looking for. Seeing people review it, tweet about it, post about it…it’s hard not to be fond of a book that garners that kind of response!

Steve: Bonus Fun Question! What was the best practical joke you’ve ever been involved in?

Patrick: In college, some buddies in my dorm duct-taped every loose item in our friend’s room to his wall and ceiling before he got back from break.

Not the most impressive prank on the surface. But he was so pissed. Just spluttering, incomprehensibly angry…

Haha, that’s still hilarious! Thank you so much for doing this, Patrick!

To find more of his work, check the links!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/stores/Patrick-Barb/author/B082FP8J5J

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pbarb

Website: http://www.patrickbarb.com/

Book Review: The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

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Title: The Exorcist

Author: William Peter Blatty

Release date: May 1st, 1971

Way back, in the summer of 1990, a nine year old kid named Steve (hey, that’s me!) stayed up late to watch whatever movie was going to be playing on Super Channel. The goal was to either see bare breasts or have the crap scared out of me. So, it went, weekend after weekend, following this pattern. And on one particular late night viewing, a movie came on that did exactly what I wanted it to do – scare the Holy Hell out of me.

When I first saw ‘The Exorcist’ I was stunned. Maybe it was because it was far more brutal, graphic and intense than anything else my young brain had experienced on film? I’d read a number of King’s works by then and was used to dark horror, but this wasn’t on the written page. This was being broadcast into the living room where I sat in fright. I also remember thinking that I was close to the age of Regan. That could’ve been me that was possessed!

Now, where I grew up, I didn’t have a lot of access to horror novels. King was plentiful in our Community Hall Library – but I still wasn’t allowed to borrow any of his books, being too young. So, I’d either borrow the books from my neighbor, or I would ask her to take something out for me from the library. As she volunteered there, she had no problem doing that.

I read ‘The Exorcist’ for the first time, back in 1990, shortly after watching the movie, and was spellbound.

As so often happens, the years trickle by and you get to a point of wanting and needing to re-read something that decimated you years prior. I wasn’t sure what to expect re-visiting this one thirty years later, but I was excited to re-experience this one once again.

What I liked: The book follows Chris and Regan, mother and daughter, who’ve temporarily relocated to Washington, which Chris – a movie star – finishes filming scenes for the movie she’s in. Regan begins to act oddly and throughout the book this only increases.

Blatty also gives us solid secondary characters in Karl and Willie, Chris’ housekeepers and Sharon, her personal assistant. The main star though is Karras, a priest struggling with personal decisions and his own faith. It’s this aspect that continues to be highlighted and hammered home, as Regan grows more vile and self-destructive and Chris looks to Karras to help her drive the demon she believes to be possessing her daughter out. The only problem – Karras doesn’t fully believe Regan’s possessed. Blatty does a great job of having this religious character look at these events through a skeptical eye and a scientific eye, something that is often downplayed or outright ignored, especially in fiction. But there are a fair number of Theologians who research and learn with a critical eye.

Once Karras convinces himself that Regan is battling a demonic entity, Merrin is called in to perform an exorcist and we get a mild battle of wills between Regan’s possessor and the scholar, Merrin. The ending closes this off, but also leaves things open for a follow up, which we know arrived in the form of ‘Legion.’

What I didn’t like:  I think time and – let’s call it advancements in visceral story-telling – haven’t been kind to this book for me. Everything seemed subdued and underdeveloped. I know I’m in the minority with this book, people still list it as the most frightening book they’ve ever read or the best possession book out there, but the scenes with Regan are maybe 10% of the entire book and simply revolve around her yelling obscenities and thrashing on the bed.

The scenes with her felt very anti-climatic now and simply not frightening. Especially when you compare it to the darkness and brutality we are exposed to in real life every day, but also with what readers are reading. This definitely was a book that would shock and offend people back in the early 70’s. Now, not so much and it came off like that each time Regan lashed out.

Lastly, the role of the detective Kinderman was a horrible addition and honestly added nothing, except for allowing him to be there for the second novel. He may very well be the most annoying, bumbling, useless character ever written and every time he came around I audibly groaned over his appearance, knowing it would slow up whatever Karras would be working on, or taking away from Chris’ struggle with what was happening with her daughter. Every single time Kinderman showed up, he inevitably asked the person he was conversing with if they’d go to the movies with him and I still can’t figure out if that was because Blatty thought it would be a humorous aspect, or if the character was just that asinine that he needed to say that.

Why you should buy this: Look, I think it’s obvious from my review that I just didn’t have the same experience I did this time, as I did the first time, and hey, it happens. I know people are still discovering this novel and falling in love with what Blatty did and that’s fair. For me, it just didn’t do it and the only reason I didn’t DNF it earlier on, was because I wanted to re-visit it completely and see if anything else is revealed about Captain Howdy that I could no longer remember.

If you’re looking for a possession novel or have heard all about this one from friends for years, definitely dive in. You may find this one works for you and scares you to your core. Personally, it was a big miss for me, but one I’m glad to have re-visited once again, just to see how 42 year old Steve experienced this one, version how 9 year old Steve did, all those years ago.

2/5

3Q’s – Villimey Mist shocks her family!

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I always love seeing the worldwide array of talented author’s that I get to interact with each and every day! Villimey Mist hails from Iceland, and as such, brings a unique crispness to her story telling. I was super excited when she agreed to do a 3Q’s!

Welcome Villimey!

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Steve: What does your process look like once you finish your first draft? Do you immediately dive back into it, or do you take some time away?

VM: My process is a little bit different because I write everything by hand. So, after I’ve finished writing the first draft in my notebooks (my novels usually fill up 3 notebooks), I type everything up into my laptop. It’s good because then I can catch anything that feels off or doesn’t fit and since I’m an underwriter I can add more things to the draft. Once that is done, I send it over to my alpha reader and my editor and leave it be until I get their feedback.

Steve: Do you believe cryptozoological creatures exist? If so, which one do you think has the best chance of being proven to exist?

VW: Ohhhh, good question! I have an open mind to it. It is commonly known that Icelanders believe in elves or Huldufólk. I have never seen one, but I still make sure I don’t trample or disturb their homes which is in nature.  I know most will probably say Bigfoot or Mothman, but I’m going to my roots and say Nykur which is an Icelandic monster that looks like a horse. We have so many horses here so who’s to say one hasn’t dragged someone to a lake and drowned them?

Steve: Of the books or stories you’ve released, which is your personal favorite and why?

VM: It’s the story “Nails” which can be found in my short story collection ‘As the Night Devours Us.’ I love it because it contains one of my fears (getting my nails ripped off) and it’s a twisted creation from the Tooth Fairy which I’ve always found creepy and odd.

Steve: Bonus Fun Question! What was the best practical joke you’ve ever been involved in?

VM: I’m not much of a practical joker (I was a prankster as a kid, though) but during our wedding, we didn’t tell anyone (except my parents because it was held at their home) that we were getting married. Everyone thought it was just a going away party because we were leaving for Japan that summer. I loved seeing the shocked look on my older brother’s face when he saw the priest waiting outside in the garden.

That’s great!

Thank you so much, Villimey!

To find more of her work – check the links!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/stores/Villimey-Mist/author/B07L5367H2

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VillimeyS

Website: https://www.villimeymistauthor.com/

3Q’s Special – Ramsey Campbell and why you don’t want to be late for a movie with him!

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I’ve had a few living legends on the 3Q’s Interview Feature since it began, but I don’t think I’ve had anyone that comes close to the longevity and genre changing career as today’s guest. Ramsey Campbell has been releasing dark fiction since the 1960’s and continues to release novels and stories that excite and invigorate readers – both long time fans and new readers.

I’m super honored to have him join me today!

Welcome Ramsey!

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Steve: What does your process look like once you finish your first draft? Do you immediately dive back into it, or do you take some time away?

Ramsey: Give it time, certainly. These days I’ll leave a novel unexamined for months while I write a few short stories. When I reread the first draft, I’m usually disconcerted by how clumsy stuff I thought was good turns out to be. Once I would have been depressed by this, but now I feel seeing a problem is simply the first step to solving it. the first draft is always longhand, and I rewrite on the computer. Once I get there, I very much enjoy jettisoning everything I can and improving the rest as much as possible. It then gets printed out, and I give it a final reread, revising further (usually minor changes). I’ll generally make further small improvements while reading the copyedit and the proofs, and then the thing is loosed on the world.

Steve: Do you believe cryptozoological creatures exist? If so, which one do you think has the best chance of being proven to exist?

Ramsey: I’ve really no idea on either issue, but we did do the circuit of Loch Ness many years ago in the hope of a glimpse. Perhaps the collective imagination will generate a sighting someday.

Steve: Of the books or stories you’ve released, which is your personal favorite and why?

Ramsey: I continue to be fond of the trilogy – The Searching Dead, Born to the Dark and The Way of the Worm. It started life as my bid to do more justice to some of the ideas I’d come up with in my first published book (The Inhabitant of the Lake, written in 1961-1962). I wanted to convey more of the cosmic if I could. My old friend Pete Crowther was initially responsible, by challenging me to write a supernatural horror trilogy. I felt and feel the only reason to write in that form is that the narrative demands to be told in three volumes, not just a long novel cut into three. Eventually I saw how it could cover nearly all the lifetime of the central characters and their antagonists, and also show how an obscure cult might eventually operate in plain sight, though still secretively enough to maintain its mystery. I do think the trilogy encapsulates much of what I try to so as a writer.

Steve: Bonus Fun Question – What was the best practical joke you’ve ever been involved in?

Ramsey: When I used to review films for Radio Merseyside another reviewer used to constantly show up at press shows after the film had begun and require to be told what had happened so far. Eventually wickedness possessed me, and I informed him that the central character had murdered someone in the first scene. Great was the bemusement he expressed at the end. I did alert him to the trick I’d played, but I don’t think he forgave me.

Steve: Oh, that’s great! And that would absolutely change every single thing that happened afterwards!

Thanks again for doing this Ramsey!

To find more of his amazing bibliography – check the links!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/stores/Ramsey-Campbell/author/B000APEIRG

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ramseycampbell1

Website: https://knibbworld.com/campbell/

3Q’s – Lucy Leitner and the great baking debacle!

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I’m a huge fan of trying to feature authors from all over the various social media platforms. It’s interesting to me how we’ll have some authors who get a FB following or IG or Twitter or Tik Tok and readers find them there, but they are not on one or more of the other platforms and some readers don’t find them. So, it was a goal to try and cast as wide of a net as I could when inviting folks to do these 3Q’s. Case in point – today’s guest is someone who I connected with on FB and on Tik Tok, before finding her on IG. Love these odd paths we take to meeting up!

Please do welcome the awesome Lucy Leitner!

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Steve: What does your writing time look like? Do you try and write at the same time each day? Do you have a word count you attempt to hit?

LL: Hah! Sometimes my “writing time” is thinking through a scene as I’m on the verge of sleep. That’s usually when I get my best ideas. After a couple weeks of thinking, I’ll start scribbling in my notebook. Or typing phrases and ideas into the Notes app on my laptop while I’m working. Or typing phrases and ideas into the Notes app on my phone while I’m walking. After the initial draft is complete, I’ll usually edit earlier in the evening or during the day when I need a break from other work obligations.

And as for a word count, no. Sometimes I’ll have a burst of creativity and write pages and pages. Sometimes it’s just a sentence. Forcing myself to hit some arbitrary word count so I can feel productive puts unnecessary pressure on myself and ruins what should be a fun activity.

If I’m not in the mood to write and the words aren’t flowing, what I write will be drivel. And I’ll have to rewrite it anyway, which will take me longer than just having done it right the first time. I’m a writer by profession, so I apply the same strategy to my other work. If I’m not in the mood to write a video script, say, I’ll do an Instagram post instead. That way, I always get something done.

So, yes, to me, word counts are counterproductive. I work by getting into a flow state and maximizing productivity when I’m in such a zone. 

Steve: You end up at an estate sale and discover an unpublished manuscript from an author you love. Do you keep it just for yourself or do you share it with the world?

LL: I would share it with my friends and family first. Then with the world. Also, in this fantasy it is a long-lost John Kennedy Toole novel about the continuing adventures of Ignatius J. Reilly and his valve.

Steve: Tell me about your newest release (novel/story/poem/novella) and why someone should read it!

LL: My latest release, Bad Vibrations, is a 140-page, fast-paced horror thriller about a retreat at a wellness cult compound in the middle of unfriendly territory in rural Pennsylvania. Valerie arrives for what she thinks will be a weekend of detoxifying raw vegetables, screaming trampoline hula hoop yoga, and sharing shots of blood to achieve the highest vibrational energy. But, things don’t go as planned.

One thing you should know about me as a writer is I don’t take myself too seriously. I don’t try to take this insane premise and make it dour and bleak. Sure, I have a lot of elements of the darkness of the world in this book, but it’s not dwelled on. I like to find the humor in these situations. The premise of a wellness cult is funny. Many of the characters are funny. This book, like everything else I write is, above all, fun. I want readers to enjoy their time with this short book.

Steve: Bonus Question! You wake up in a comic book. What is your comic book character and what is your superpower?

LL: I’m not sure about my superpower, but it would be acquired during some sort of baking accident. A leavening gone awry.

Haha, that’s great! Thank you again for doing this! To find more of her work, check the links!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/stores/Lucy-Leitner/author/B08WJC5FLK

Website: LucyLeitner.com

Instagram: @lucy.leitner

TikTok: @lucy.leitner

3Q’s – Coy Hall is too shy, hush-hush!

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Big super blast-o-rama of a 3Q’s today! Coy Hall has quickly become a go-to author for folklore based fiction and with his latest he’s now delved into the Western Horror world as well!

I’m excited to have Coy join me today for a new 3Q’s!

Welcome Coy!

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Steve: What does your writing time look like? Do you try and write at the same time each day? Do you have a word count you attempt to hit?

Coy: It draws dirty looks when I say it, but I’m a morning person. Since all my energy is there, I write from 5am-7am each day. My wife is asleep, my dog is asleep, it’s quiet, night is against the window, ambient light in the office gives the right mood, the fresh coffee lands, and I get the writing out of the way before the work day begins.

I don’t do a word count. It’s not good for my mental health. If it’s flowing, I may write 2000 words. If it’s not, I may write 200. A for effort, regardless.

Steve: You’re riding an elevator and BAM! It gets stuck. What two authors (one living and one dead) would you happen to find yourself stuck with?

Coy: To my left is M.R. James. He’s my idol, he died half a century before I was born, so I’m taking full advantage of this. To my right is another idol, Ramsey Campbell. Since this is my fantasy, Campbell asks James questions and I listen. In this fantasy, none of us are claustrophobic, and we trust we’ll be rescued without having someone rappel down the elevator shaft.

Steve: Tell me about your newest release (novel/story/poem/novella) and why someone should read it!

Coy: My latest novel is The Hangman Feeds the Jackal: A Gothic Western. It released in June from Nosetouch Press, and I’m proud of the attention it’s received. The novel mixes gothic horror with the traditional western. As a historian, I wanted to take on the mythology of the Old West, and this novel is the antidote. If the Classic Western emphasizes newness, gain, growth, and the triumph of Good, then my Gothic Western has decay, loss, withering humanity, and the banality of Evil at its heart. It’s not all heavy, though. My favorite remarks from reviews so far are those that call the novel a page turner. That makes me happy.

Steve: Bonus Question! If you were transported back in time, which Pop Band/Hit Band would you hope to find yourself a member of?

Coy: I want Kajagoogoo in 1983, so I can rock “Too Shy” unironically like it deserves. Hand me my keytar, Steve.

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Great choice! I can see you rocking the keytar with them now!

Thanks again Coy!

To find more of his work, check the links!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Coy-Hall/e/B01CC9IL5M

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CoyHallBooks

Website: https://www.coyhall.com/

Book Review: The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher

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Title: The Christmasaurus

Author: Tom Fletcher

Release date: October 6th, 2016

One thing I absolutely love about the various social media platforms is how inevitably you’ll end up discovering a book that you’ll kick yourself you’d never heard of before. Case in point, Tom Fletcher’s ‘The Christmasaurus.’ Now, this may not seem like the typical book that I’d read – that is if you’ve followed ONLY my reviews – BUT, I do have a rabidly dino-obsessed six year old son. One whom I’ve been reading too since he was born. I’d say we’ve probably read close to 2,000 books by now, if not more, but all of these have been Little Golden Books, Step Into Reading Books or Five Minute Story collections, etc. Nothing of any length at one go. Sure, the Five Minute Story collections are often two hundred pages or so, but each story is only five minutes and then you move on. No, this, The Christmasaurus, is one singular story, told over 365 pages, which made it all that more special that we read it and he was kept captivated the entire time.

We have tried to read ‘The Neverending Story’ where we got his name from, but I think we need a bit more time until we get into that one. But you combine dinosaur with Christmas and that got him amped. I only came across this book because my Instagram pal @the.horror.reader had posted it on their stories and I immediately messaged them and was like “WHAT IS THIS?!” I ordered it that day and it arrived the following day and Auryn and I dove in. We did have a break over Christmas, as he also got other books, which we had to read, but once done those, we returned!

What I liked: The story follows a young kid by the name of William. He lives with his dad, who is obsessed with Christmas. William’s mother passed away many years ago (we don’t find out how), and so the two of them live in a small house and go about their lives. William also happens to be in a Wheelchair, something that he doesn’t let hold him back or limit what he can do. William is obsessed with dinosaurs and desperately wants one for Christmas.

From here, Fletcher weaves a story that will make you laugh, get mad and cry. It hit a lot of great notes throughout and had my son and I desperately wanting to keep flipping the pages. We get a devilish villain, the character known as The Hunter who wants to shoot one of Santa’s reindeer so he can hang its head on his trophy wall. We get a bully, who has a really great character arc with Brenda Payne and we get to see William develop the most unlikely of friendships with The Christmasaurus.

The story itself is a really nice look at wanting to below, making friends no matter your differences and never giving up hope. My son and I both loved the comedic elements and the silliness that happens throughout, which made it that much more exciting while reading it.

The ending was really nice and even though there are two more books following this one, does wrap things up and can be considered a stand alone.

What I didn’t like: Honestly, I enjoyed this one from start to finish. The only thing I think I found a bit much might’ve been some of the ruthless bullying tactics that Brenda Payne does towards William. I did have to explain a couple of these to my son and the why these were so harsh.

Why you should buy this: If you like Christmas or Dinosaurs – no brainer, get on this. If you have a young reader in the house and want a book that will have them laugh and get sucked into the pages, look no further. And, if you’re an older reader and just want something that will remind you of how magical Christmas is when you’re little, this one is a perfect book to fit that bill. The illustrations were phenomenal and the relationship between William and The Christmasaurus is worth checking it out just for that.

5/5

3Q’s Special: Tamika Thompson shares her time travel desires!

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Really fun 3Q’s today! My guest came onto my radar in 2022 with her really dark ‘Salamander Justice’ novella. Now, with her newest collection about to drop, I was so happy that she was able to visit for a Special 3Q’s!

Please welcome Tamika!

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Steve: What does your writing time look like? Do you try and write at the same time each day? Do you have a word count you attempt to hit?

Tamika: My background is in journalism, so the transition from working for television and web to working for myself was pretty seamless once I made up my mind to do so. I created a writing practice with a dedicated workspace in my home. But I also have kids! So, I write and revise daily, yet almost never at the same time. When they are at school, I write without interruption. When they are on break, I write at the beginning and end of the day. I ensure that my works-in-progress are also accessible on my phone so I can write and revise on the go. I don’t keep a word count goal, but I do ensure that I complete the creative process on every piece I start. That means write, revise, revise, revise, workshop, revise, workshop, revise, polish, submit.

Steve: You win the lottery, and the only condition is that you need to fund another author’s book to be made into a movie. What book would you choose to be filmed?

Tamika: The entire time I read Tananarive Due’s My Soul to Keep, and, honestly, her entire African Immortals Series, I kept picturing it on the big screen. The imagery is precise and cinematic, and the love story is made for Hollywood. Reading Due’s work and eventually getting lucky enough to participate in one of her workshops gave me the courage to write speculative fiction.

Steve: Tell me about your newest release and why someone should read it!

Tamika: Unshod, Cackling, and Naked is a collection of speculative fiction stories with transgressive characters who often violently break free of the labels, constraints, and boxes that family, society, and country have placed on and around them. The book couldn’t have come at a better time for the United States, when we are facing myriad political shifts, social upheavals, and health and safety catastrophes – the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements, mass shootings and rampant gun violence, the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, the climate crisis, the global coronavirus pandemic, and the ongoing oppressive forces of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia. I hope readers will not only recognize the pressures many of the characters face, but also get angry with them, and gasp (and sometimes laugh) at their responses to those pressures.

Steve: Bonus Question! If you could be an extra on any TV show, which one would it have been and why?

Tamika: If I could time travel, I’d return to the 1980s to be a background performer on any suspenseful episode of Tales from the Darkside. When I was a kid, I’d watch Monsters, Tales from the Darkside, and Friday the 13th: The Series, and Tales was my favorite. Those shows are a big part of the reason I love reading (and writing) speculative fiction now.

Talesfromdarkside

Oh, great choices!

Thank you so much, Tamika! And best of luck with your book launch!

To find more of her work, check the links!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/stores/Tamika-Thompson/author/B07XFFMRNP

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tamikathompson

Website: https://www.tamikathompson.com/