Book Review: The Guardians – Andrew Pyper


Book Title: The Guardians

Author: Andrew Pyper

Release date: January 1st, 2011

“There was something wrong about a house people chose not to live in.”

Look, there really is no secret to my adoration of Andrew Pyper and his books. At this point the only two I haven’t read from him were ‘The Guardians’ and ‘Killing Circle.’ Why hadn’t I read them? Two reasons really – 1) Pyper is my grounding author. If I have no Pyper to read, what can I turn to when I’m struggling or in a slump? 2) God forbid, what if the unfortunate happened and for some reason I didn’t like one of them? I know, I know, probably not going to happen, but it’s a worry.

Then life hit. It’s a weird world we’re living in and with COVID-19 creating so much unknown and for many people a loss of enjoyment of normally enjoyable activities, reading has become a solitude for many.

For me – I went two days in a row without reading a book. That’s substantial. So, I decided to abandon my two current reads – and decided to dive into ‘The Guardians.’

I now really regret having waited so long to read this.

What I liked: This may very well be the first coming-of-age thriller/horror story I’ve read from a Canadian author, especially one of this magnitude (does The Troop count?). For me, Pyper is the best writer on the planet for a reason – every single sentence he writes is sublime, but he is always willing and capable of writing the gore-iest, scariest scenes out there. The book takes place in two time periods – Grade 11 in Grimshaw and present day aka 20 years later after the events in the past. We follow Trevor (Trev to his friends) as he returns to Grimshaw after a close high school friend dies. It is through the past and the present that we learn about the secret they kept from all those years ago, and how that secret created ripples through each of their lives until now.

Pyper crafted a gem here. In Canada the writing and pacing of this is akin to the show ‘Corner Gas’ or for the newer crowd ‘Letterkenny.’ This is small town Canada to a T. If you’ve grown up in the middle of nowhere you understand the phrase “Every small town has it’s secrets. Every small town also learns how to forget them.”

We get to see the relationships between the four friends, all members of the local hockey team ‘The Guardians’ and its through this friendship that unspoken things are agreed upon as only childhood closeness can allow.

I absolutely loved the ‘Memory Journal’ aspect that then lead into the present day going’s on. The book is filled with sorrow and despair at how things were and how they are now, but Pyper makes you connect with the characters, feel for them, but also desire to know just what happens.

What I didn’t like: It’s hard to sum up, but what I didn’t like was the main character Trevor and how much he reminded me of myself. Trevor left small town Grimshaw and owned a night club and was a big deal, according to him. He doesn’t want to go back, but he knows he must for his friend and to try and put closure on what happened all those years ago. I did a similar thing. For me, I longed and desired to leave where I grew up as fast as I could and for many, many years, I had my nose raised at those that stayed behind and never left. But who am I to judge? If they are happy, great. It’s their life. It took me many years to let myself let go of my snobbish views. So, reading how Trevor was acting and reacting reminded me a lot of my younger self. Uncomfortably so.

Why you should buy this:  This book is going to stay with me forever, really. The small town setting, the characters, the happenings. It was just a perfect read at a time I needed a perfect read. It was also one of the scariest, nerve rattling books I’ve read in some time. Every time we learned more about the Thurman house and what was going on there, it became creepier and creepier. Pyper did such a stunning job of crafting a heartfelt story that is interconnected by a phenomenal ghost story.

I now only have ‘The Killing Circle’ left to read from Pyper and I’m probably going to jump into that in the next day or two. I’ve tossed aside the notion that I may not enjoy it, because frankly, Pyper is the perfect author voice for this reader. Time and time again he’s answered this horror fans call with a stunning read and he did it once again here.



Book Review: Rise by Jackson R. Thomas


Title: Rise (The White Wolf #2)

Author: Jackson R. Thomas

Release date: March 18, 2020

Big thanks to Glenn Rolfe & Alien Agenda Publishing for sending me this, but also for their continued kindness in thinking of me when new releases are coming out!

‘The Beast of Brenton Woods’ was my introduction to Thomas and what an absolute blast that book was. I’m a massive werewolf fan and Thomas’ take on the legend was such a fun ride. When he returned with ‘Paradise, Maine,’ I gobbled that one up as well and was really excited to see a return to Coopers Mills.

What I liked: This one picks up six years after the events of book one. We are quickly thrust into the return of the white wolf, although this time, it is an offspring of our beastie from book one. Thomas re-introduces Kathy, the police officer to us as well as adding an assortment of cast members. There is no shortage of death and gore in the second installment and we do get some movement on the back story.

The kills are a lot of fun and when a werewolf is involved you know full well carnage will be had.

What I didn’t like: Sadly, I found this one favoured kills over story. With the first book, we knew there was a purpose. The wolf was out there and the town banded together to hunt it down and ultimately attempt to kill it. This one lacked that. It was purely the new wolf wanting revenge and going about killing people. Thomas added in a TV show travel host as a possible plot point, but other than being there to sleep with the women he met, there really wasn’t much point in him being in the book. The ending was incredibly jarring and just came to a halt. We did get an epilogue, but it felt added on and unfortunately didn’t really have much of a purpose other than possibly setting up a third installment. This was true for the character who owned a local store. She appeared to only be used to harbor a third installment. I felt just a big deflation when we didn’t get a big end battle like with book one.

Why you should buy it: If you love werewolf stuff, this one moves along at a break neck pace. We are given some outstanding deaths and it’s always fun to see what is going to happen. I’ll be interested to find out what happens in a third installment (if there is one), but for now, if you loved ‘Brenton…’ you’ll have a fun time with ‘Rise.’



Release Day!

The Boy Whose Room Was Outside Cover


It’s here!

What a fun ride this one was.

‘The Boy Whose Room Was Outside’ has officially arrived in ebook, paperback and hardcover format! Featuring gorgeous illustrations/paintings/digital photographs by my friends Sandra & Miranda and also featuring fantastic drawings done by each of ‘The Kids’ this one is a labour of love!

So, what’s it about?


Imagine how amazing it would be, to go to sleep one night and then wake in a whole new world.

A world filled with animals that could talk and who became your friends?

For young Peter, that’s just what happens.

He wakes in a magical forest and quickly discovers that the animals who live there are just as excited to see him, as he is them.

But something lurks.

Something that doesn’t want Peter to be visiting the forest.

Through the help of his animal friends and a giant, Peter wants to get to the bottom of why this figure doesn’t want the young boy visiting.

A coming-of-age, middle grade/YA story of fantasy, family and courage, ‘The Boy Whose Room Was Outside’ is sure to warm the hearts of new readers and fill the souls of their parents with nostalgia.

How rad does that sound?

This book came about for a few reasons. I have a lot of friends who say – “I want to read something from you, but all your normal stuff sounds too scary!” So, this one is a bridge story – a book that has darkness and thrills but no gore, swearing and no deaths!

I also wanted to write something that inspired my son, nieces and nephews! Hence ‘Steve Stred & The Kids.’ Each of the little folks in my life gave me their favourite animal and an activity which I fit into the story!

So the ebook and paperback haven’t synced yet on Amazon – so here’s the link to the ebook which is and will remain 99 cents!


Lastly – a quick note on the paperback and hardcover pricing. The paperback is released through Amazon. Due to the color photos and the gorgeous cover (another stunning Mason McDonald design!) it has made the book a bit more expensive. When we release books through Amazon we get a minimum release cost. That means, that based off of printing, this is the lowest price Amazon can offer it for.

The same holds true for Lulu, where I’ve released the Hardcover. I’ll talk about the Hardcover in a second.

So the paperback is $20 US or $25 CAD. I understand it is a decent chunk of change, but I really did want to keep the pictures and paintings etc in full color! For full disclosure – I’ll make $0.32 off each US paperback and $0.25 off each CAD paperback. This was never really about making money though, this was about releasing something amazing and inspiring to the little ones.

As for the Hardcover – after having numerous issues with the artwork being usable on the Hardcover, I took a different approach. One of the inspirations for a story like this was “The Neverending Story.” I decided to keep a minimum front cover and went gloss black with purely the title. So, when you open the book, page one is the stunning full color artwork.

The Hardcover as well also fell victim to wanting to keep the color images. I probably won’t sell any (ha!) because the Hardcover is $47 and again – full disclosure – I’ll make $0 on each sale.

If you are looking for a gorgeous collectible – link is here;


Alright – let’s finish this up.

We know the world’s in a poor place. So if you are looking for a distraction, the next chapter of ‘Wound Upon Wound’ is now live!

Getting close to the ending now.

You can read everything here;

So, that’s it for this week.

I hope you and yours are safe and healthy and here’s hoping life slowly begins to return to a semblance of calm.


Book Review: Old Order – Jonathan Janz


Title: Old Order

Author: Jonathan Janz

Release Date: February 3, 2018


Janz is a favourite author of mine, one who I’ve never read something I haven’t enjoyed. When ‘Old Order’ was offered up as a freebie in the wake of the COVID-19 news, I snagged this and read it ASAP.

This one is a short but brutal read, one I highly enjoyed.

What I liked: the story follows Horace Yoder, drifter, who arrives at a secluded farmhouse seeking shelter and food in exchange for labour. The family agrees and it isn’t long before some seem nice and some seem off. I loved the character of Yoder and Janz slowly filled in some historical details as the story goes on. It soon becomes evident why Yoder is really there, but by that point, the family has also begun their plans as well.

What I didn’t like: the story is built on dread, on the knowledge that ‘something’ is going to happen. It was almost an immediate shift in tone from when Yoder decides to leave in the middle of the night. While both before and after are fantastic, it was a bit of an adjustment going from slow burn to full throttle.

Why you should buy it: well, it’s still free! But also, Janz is a great guy and a fantastic writer. There is a really indepth/insightful afterword which I found fascinating.

As for the story – the ending is grotesque in the best way possible and one you all should find out for yourselves!




Book Review: Pay the Ghost – Tim Lebbon


Title: Pay the Ghost

Author: Tim Lebbon

Release Date: September 6, 2015

Tim Lebbon is another author who stepped up and offered up some of their back catalog for free to let people enjoy some books and not stress on depleting their bank accounts. I believe I snagged eight(!!) books from him yesterday, but I’ll be sure to buy some of his books here soon as a thanks. I’ve previously read ‘The Silence’ and ‘Eden’ but this one is a very different creature.

What I liked: This story is grief and loss of hope to the extreme. “I lost my little girl on Hallowe’en,” opens this story and from there we see how crippling Moll’s disappearance is. As often happens, husband and wife struggle, they then separate. It’s from this point that Lebbon decides to really crush us with how life takes its twists and turns. This one had some visceral moments that will most likely leave you in tears.

What I didn’t like: The ending felt a bit rushed and I would’ve loved maybe another 100-200 words on what happened from the final moments. This one was written specifically for an anthology originally, so there may have been space limitations, but otherwise this one will stay with you for many moons.

Why you should buy it: once again – FREE. But also, Tim is a stand up guy and super nice. He’s even been kind enough in the past to let me interview him for my day job. I’ve got Coldbrook already from him as one I’ve purchased, but I’ll be snagging a few more for sure.

This one is just stunning with how dark it gets and the setting the characters end up in is just fantastic.

Side – note – I don’t actually know if I’ve watched the movie of this. It stars Nicholas Cage and there was a period where I watched A LOT of movies. I feel like I have, but honestly can’t say positively.


Book Review: Mouse and Owl – Bracken MacLeod


Title: Mouse and Owl: A Novellette

Author: Bracken MacLeod

Release Date: May 22, 2018

As the news of COVID-19 has spread, a number of authors have offered up some of their back catalogs as free ebooks to help calm some stress and allow people to relax and enjoy some books without depleting their bank.

MacLeod offered up a couple, ‘Mouse and Owl’ being one of them. I snagged it and figured I’d read it ASAP and get a review out in the hopes that more folks snag this and then grab some of his fantastic releases. I have ‘Stranded’ by him as well and can’t wait to start that.

What I liked: This was fantasy-horror done right. We follow Nergui as she watches her husband pay for a crime. It’s short and brutal but one of the best kill scenes I’ve read in some time, a two paragraph death that would take RR Martin 200 pages to write. The story is engaging and drew me in immediately. The ending: WOW. Just a stunning finale that is both heart wrenching but also painted a vivid picture.

What I didn’t like: Fantasy based stories can often be epic-length reads, and with this being a single sitting read (think it took me 35 minutes) I had some questions about some of the small details MacLeod had added in, but nothing too major.

Why you should buy it: seeing as its free, should be a no brainer, but really, this is an amazing novelette that should leap frog you into grabbing more MacLeod work. I really can’t wait to start ‘Stranded’ now, so hoping to get to it this month!


Book Review: Sed de Sangre by V. Castro


Title: Sed de Sangre

Author: V. Castro

Release date: March 10, 2020


I had the pleasure of recently reading V. Castro’s ‘Maria the Wanted’ and was blown away with her re-imagining and re-taking of Vampire fiction.

(Review for that is here; – the book is currently $0.99, so snag that as well!)

Now, in 2020 we’ve been lucky enough to see two Castro releases – her Unnerving Rewind or Die! release – ‘Hairspray and Switchblades’ and this – ‘Sed de Sangre.’

I snagged this one on release day and devoured it that night.

What I liked: Made up of three short stories, V kindly ramps up the erotica and explicitness over each story. This is key for those who may be put off from the term ‘erotica.’ The three stories are ‘Carnival of Gore,’ which was a fantastic story about a special night where the vampires all get to feast, ‘The Four Horseman Inn’ which was a stunning take on the apocalyptic themes of Woe etc and lastly ‘Snake Hips,’ which was a depraved take on two creatures having a fun evening.

As I mentioned, each of these stories has gore, blood and sex, but Castro slowly pushes the gas pedal more and more as it goes.

What I didn’t like: TOO SHORT! Haha! I wished these were each novella length or full length (although with ‘Snake Hips’ it would be like buying a full length adult film and never making it beyond the first five minutes!).

Why you should buy it: Castro has firmly put her stamp on ‘Vampire Gore-otica’ if that’s such a thing. She’s a confident writer who isn’t afraid to spray brain matter or semen and the reader is all the better for it. I, shamefully, still haven’t managed to read her ‘Hairspray and Switchblades’ release yet, but that will be rectified shortly!

Go snag this and support a fantastic writer and a great human!


Book Review: U-10 by Sam B. Miller II


U-10 by Sam B. Miller II

Genre: Science-Fiction

Release date: August 10th, 2019


I had Sam reach out to me via email a few months back, asking if I’d be willing to take a crack at his Science-Fiction book U-10. I looked at my release dates for Netgalley books etc, and said I could, I just wouldn’t get to it until March, which he said was fair.

Boy, if you are a fan of Sci-Fi and Action/Adventure, don’t wait on this one. It’s been out since August 2019, but based on what I’ve read, I hope Sam sees an increase in page views on this.

What I liked: This book is action packed from the first paragraph and never lets up. We are quickly introduced to Koritt, an insectoid type alien who is being sent to Earth to gather some human specimens. As all good books do, there’s a snafu and his ship crashes in the middle of an ongoing war in Afghanistan. From there, Miller introduces us to a number of amazing characters who bring depth and real feels to this read. Sure, there are plenty of gadgets as well as action sequences, but it is the relationships and character building that really catch you and hold you.

What I didn’t like:  an action packed story can be a double edged sword and I found a few times, it would’ve been nice to have moments where the story can breathe a bit. It’s not overly detrimental, but this entire book is essentially a sprint instead of a race.

Why you should buy it:  I don’t want to negatively influence anyone with this reference, but if you enjoyed watching a movie like ‘Starship Troopers’ then this book will be right up your alley. Think about a military-alien-action-adventure movie on your Kindle or in your hands. It’s a blast and a lot of fun and I think fan’s of Science Fiction would do themselves a favour and snag this. I’m not the biggest Sci-Fi fan, but I really, really dug this one.


Book Review: The Residence – Andrew Pyper


Release Date – September 1, 2020

Skybound Books

Pages: 352


“My dear Clara, it seems that the White House is haunted.”

– Major Archie Butt, summer 1911.

The only written record of ‘the Thing’ that haunts the White House has always fascinated me. Growing up, my Grandma Hankins always had copies of the Weekly World News sitting around her house, and I remember one such story vividly – the ghost in the White House. Is it Lincoln’s son who died while he was in office? Is it Pierce’s son who died in a train accident prior to his presidency?

No matter what it is, Pyper has latched onto an amazing moment in US paranormal history and created a stunning dread-filled story.

It’s no secret I’m a Pyper fan. His writing voice is second to none and his novels have a way of immediately capturing your attention and then keeping you engrossed. One such trait Pyper has, that many “high profile” authors lack, is his willingness to go there. The darker areas. The seedier spots of horror. A perfect example is the ending to his last novel ‘The Homecoming,’ or the horrors that he wrapped his readers in with ‘The Demonologist.’ Pyper is willing to make his readers squirm and with ‘The Residence’ boy does he ever.

What I liked: While I was reading this, I tweeted out how this book read like Pyper’s writing in 2020 with the dread he infused in ‘Lost Girls.’ When I read ‘Lost Girls’ I knew something bad had happened, something I didn’t want to know. But Andrew pulled me along and when it came together you felt heart broken and despondent. Much like Andrew Cull’s recent release ‘Remains,’ ‘The Residence’ at its core is a story about grief and how it affects those impacted by it. Both physically and psychologically. There are essentially four main characters playing out here; President Pierce, his wife Jane, The White House itself and the presidency. You see, as things continue to spiral and Jane grows more and more withdrawn, Pierce constantly has to decide what can and can’t be made public and how the perceptions of the people to his decisions will look. Pierce had a presidency marked with highs and lows within the slavery era, and while Pyper touches on that, he does so with delicacy.

The story arc of Jane was really well done, and while you may argue that the main character was Pierce, I’d suggest that the true character to follow was her and her struggles, her acceptance and her resolve.

The secondary characters here were also fantastic. Pyper used them as fantastic set pieces, coming and going as needed and aiding when asked. You could see that they had a singular devotion – to the house and the presidency.

Lastly – ‘the Thing.’ The synopsis tells us upfront that after losing their son Bennie and then moving into the White House, Franklin and Jane begin to experience things. That synopsis does not prepare you in the least for what is to come. Pyper has once again crafted some amazingly frightening moments, parts in this book will stay with you for many, many years to come. To say I was riveted really doesn’t do it justice. Outstanding frights.

What I didn’t like: I loved this book, but there was two small parts that I found wishing for more. The first was Jane’s relative. Because Jane is unwilling to participate in public events, Pierce recruits a stand-in for her. They do develop some feelings towards each other; Franklin struggling with seemingly having lost his son to death and his wife to grief, but then for a period, the relative disappears and we don’t hear much from her.

The second part that I wished for more was hearing about the sisters who rose to prominence in paranormal circles. Pyper does have them both for a period featured and then one of the sisters returns near the end, but the paranormal fan in me was hoping they’d play a bigger role.

Neither of these things worked as a detriment to the overall story, and truthfully – this is more me splitting hairs to show that I can look at and read a Pyper book fairly!

Why you should buy it: This one ticks off a number of boxes for horror/thriller/ghost fans. This has moments that made me feel like it had been influenced by The Shining as well as Books of Blood period Barker. The descriptions are lush yet pointed, creating a claustrophobic setting in a house that is expansive and a mansion.

Pyper, to me at least, is the most confident writer I’ve ever read who is unfailing in his approach to delivering. From the beginning, to the middle and then the ending, everything has a place, a purpose. Just look at the toy mentioned throughout – The General. If you have any plastic army men kicking around, you’ll never look at them the same way after one particular scene.

I know I frequently sing my praises for Pyper – but rightfully so. After delivering a stunning novel in ‘The Homecoming’ to return in such short time with an absolute gem of historical fiction with this shows he’s really found a groove and there seems to be no slowing down.

Recently it was announced that this book had been picked up for production to become a historical fiction/non-fiction series. Now having finished this book, that couldn’t be a more perfect fit.

For new fans or fans of old, Pyper has given us another gift and easily one of his best books. I’m so thankful to have been allowed to give this one an early read and it didn’t disappoint.

Thank you to Skybound Books, Simon & Schuster, Simon & Schuster Canada and Andrew Pyper for the copy for review. Thank you to Michael Patrick Hicks for giving me the heads up that this was available on Edelweiss and thank you to Edelweiss for the approval. I already have the Hardcover and the Kindle copies pre-ordered!


Writing Update!

Hey friends! Welcome back! If you’ve previously missed the note – I’m doing a blog post every two weeks now, just with how hectic life is!

I’m going to keep this simple and straight forward! This weeks is 100% on my writing projects!

What I’m Working On;

Here’s an update on almost every single thing I’m working on right now!

The Window in the Ground – with David Sodergren for copy editing. Once back, I’ll go through, finish the edits and then this will head off to Ross & Joseph at The Writing Collective for formatting and release prep. Believe we’re looking at a July-ish release!

COMMUNION – I’m done everything on my end. It will head to Sodergren once he is ready for copy editing. Then back to me, finished, formatted and prepped for release. Prob see the light of day in a few months! I’m already feeling a buzz about this one and I think the direction it takes will be well received. FYI – still brutal, still depraved, just more story!

Piece of Me Hardcover – the hardcovers with the limited artwork are now live on Lulu! I would suggest highly that you order from Lulu – simply because it is the lowest price point. I’ve managed to whittle it down to $24 on there, and Lulu frequently has discount codes – which you can apply at checkout. It is now available on Amazon but I can’t control the prices and they are pretty crazy!

Cathedral of the Skinned – the sequel to Piece of Me is about 50% done draft one. While I know that sounds like not much, rest assured, with the way I work, it’ll be through draft two and three within the next few months.

Carry the Moon – the finale in the Sermons of Sorrow trilogy is actually plotted and I’ve written bits and pieces. I’ll keep you updated on that!

Wound Upon Wound – my serial novella has been a super fun exercise! A new chapter added each week. The latest is now live!

Scott: A Wagon Buddy Tale – the sequel to Wagon Buddy, and one I’ve actually been receiving messages about lately, asking when will it arrive, is done and awaiting to be sent to Sodergren. Again, once back, I’ll finish edits and prep for release! I’ll keep you updated!

456 Blatchford Drive – I’ve given bits and pieces about this one. Its a folk tale, its a haunted house tale, and its coming together nicely. I’m about 75% done draft one. I’m still looking to make this a highly limited release. I may only do 5 hardcovers and 10 paperbacks total. We’ll see. I want to create something unique for book lovers! I’ll keep you posted as always!

Mastodon – With so many freakin’ projects always on the go, its inevitable that something will get pushed aside – that is Mastodon. Have I even really mentioned this one that much? Here’s a teaser image;

Mastodon Teaser 1

Have I even given much info on a synopsis?

17 years ago, Tyler’s mother disappeared in the Canadian Rockies. Now, on the anniversary, he receives a phone call from the RCMP – the plane his father was on has lost contact and presumed crashed near where his mother was last seen. Tyler doesn’t believe that it was an accident. Armed with almost two decades of wilderness survival, he decides to hike into the area and search for his dad. Nothing will prepare him for what he will find.

Sound good?

Having seen the synopsis and the cover(which this image is NOT), The Writing Collective is also keen to take a look at the finished product for possible publication. At this point, it’s completely plotted, but I haven’t spent any time writing anything yet. Will keep you posted!

The Boy Whose Room Was Outside – I’ve been putting this one aside recently to work on COMMUNION, The Window and Scott. Recently I read a book called Where the Woods End and it actually helped me with this one. The Boy… is a YA/Middle Grade fantasy story and I think I was struggling with it a bit because I wanted to make sure I didn’t go too dark. After reading Where the Woods End, I’ve been reinvigorated with what I can do! I’ll be focusing on this one the next two-three weeks to really flesh it out before getting prepped for Sodergren.


Before you go!

On Tuesday, February 25th, 2020 my 200th review was featured on Kendall Reviews! That’s right – 200! I probably have another two dozen still to be featured, but its been great to have connected with Gavin and for him to let me share my love of horror. Originally, I was just going to post my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. He said he could host them and the rest is history!

My 200th review was for the amazing “The Passengers You Cannot See” by The Behrg. The Behrg has always been an amazing supporter of my writing and reviewing and this was some nice planning by Gavin on the back end to sync this review up with the 200th!

If you missed the review you can see it here;

{Book Review} The Passengers You Cannot See: The Behrg

So, now you might be asking yourself – what was review #1! I actually couldn’t even remember! I have all of the reviews here on the blog under the Kendall Reviews tab, so I went there and what do you know?! My first review was for another amazing collection by another author who has been amazing since day one!

“Dreaming At the Top of My Lungs” by Israel Finn is a must read collection and what a nice bit of kismet there that those are the two that ended up being my first featured and my 200th!

Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs: Israel Finn (Kendall Review)

Alright, so there we have it!

No new post next week, but a new chapter will once again be added for Wound Upon Wound!

Take care friends!